Ever Evolving Food Blog

Hello Everyone! I have had this blog for years now, and as my personal life has changed, so have my tastes and eating habits...for the better!! I am now a fully plant-based eater, so my newer recipes will reflect this lifestyle and way of eating.

All of my old recipes will remain on my food blog, of course, so there will be a mixture of the old and the new for everyone to look through and choose. You can always play around with any recipe out there and make it your own, whether it's plant-based or not. There are always other options!
Thanks SO much for following! Happy Eating!

What's Cooking With Melissa

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

White Sauce Pasta Bake with Italian Turkey Sausage

I'm SO excited because I made this recipe up myself, and it turned out SO well! I wanted a pasta bake, but all I could find were pasta bakes for red sauce. I am a huge fan of white sauce pastas, so I was looking for a white sauce pasta bake. When I couldn't find one, I made my own!

1 lb. Campanelle pasta
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (taken out of its casing)

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

3 diced bell peppers of various colors

1 medium, diced yellow onion

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 tsp. salt

cracked pepper to taste

1 Tbs. Italian seasoning

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - grated

8 oz. mozzarella cheese - shredded

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, transfer to large bowl and set aside. On top of cold pasta, pour 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, but don't mix yet.
Cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Break up the large pieces of sausage and brown until no longer pink. Transfer sausage to a bowl, leaving behind the fat in the skillet.

Add olive oil to the already existing fat in the skillet. Saute garlic, onion, peppers, and mushrooms ~ 5-7 minutes until tender. Add sausage, cream, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Boil over medium-high heat until thickened, ~ 5-6 minutes.

Pour over pasta, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Gently blend until everything is well-coated. Gently fold into a casserole dish, cover with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

This makes a LOT of pasta! It will feed eight people, EASY. It's so creamy and good and makes a great left-over dish! YUM!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Curried Christmas Cranberries

Spice up this holiday favorite with a fancy twist. Instead of serving the same old cylinder slab of cranberry blob with your turkey and dressing, try serving this sweet and spicy version to your family. It's easy, and it'll make your family think you had your side dishes catered!

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbs. honey
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup port wine
3/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

Combine sugar, vinegar, port, marmalade, cinnamon, curry powder, and salt in a large bowl
Add cranberries and mix well so that all the cranberries are nicely coated.
Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in cranberry mixture, cover with foil, and bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes until cranberries are soft. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

This is a very tart dish, so you may want to add a bit more sugar and/or honey to your liking. You could also add 1/2 cup of raisins if you like to sweeten it up, as well. As always, you can tweak any dish and make it your own! Enjoy your holiday! 

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Candy Sushi

This play on sushi is so cute, and kids LOVE it! I make them for my third graders when we are studying cultures around the world. They make a great party food, too!

1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups rice crispy cereal
1 (11 oz.) bag of gummy worms
2 boxes of Fruit by the Foot (or any fruit leather)

Spray a 12 x 17 inch baking sheet with non-stick baking spray.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir until smooth.
Remove from heat and quickly stir in the cereal until it's well-blended and evenly coated.
Press the mixture evenly onto the baking sheet. It helps if you spray your hands with the baking spray before you press out the mixture. (How-to pictures are posted below.)

Starting at one short side of the pan, one inch in, place the gummy worms end-to-end in a horizontal line. It should take 3 worms to do this step.
Gently roll the lower edge of the marshmallow mixture over the gummy worms.
Stop and cut the log away from the rest of the mixture. Continue making logs until you run out of room. You should be able to make 5-6 logs.

Next, cut the logs into ~1 inch pieces. Wrap each piece with a section of the fruit leather. (How-to pictures are posted below.) You may need to sort of mold the 'sushi' pieces a little to get them shaped right after cutting and wrapping them.

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Wild Mushroom Agnolotti topped with Smoked Turkey Sausage, Peppers & Onions

I saw a picture in a magazine, which inspired this dish. I didn't take the recipe, but decided to make up my own instead. It was originally made with sweet peas and Asian pot-stickers. I put my own twist on it!

1 (9 oz.) package Wild Mushroom Agnolotti
(Buitoni, in the refrigerated section)
1 yellow onion, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3 colorful bell peppers, sliced into bite-sized
1 (14 oz.) link of Lean Smoked Turkey Sausage
Extra virgin olive oil for sauteing
Ground pepper to taste
1 (1 oz.) packet of Au Jus Gravy Mix (McCormick)

In a large saucepan, saute the sausage, onion, and peppers between 5-10 minutes until veggies are just going tender and sausage is browning.

In a small saucepan, make au jus according to directions on the package (should make ~ 3 cups). Add to sauteed sausage and veggies, add cracked pepper to taste, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for ~ 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, gently boil the agnolotti in 4 quarts of water for 4-6 minutes.

Arrange agnolotti on a plate, then place sausage, onion, and peppers on top, adding a bit of au jus and serve! รจ delizioso!

*I think this would have been better with ground Italian turkey sausage. I'll try it next time.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ham and Swiss Stomboli

Want to fix something that's hot, quick, and REALLY easy? This stromboli only has 3 ingredients, and it takes only 30 minutes to prepare and serve! You can also put anything you want into it and make it your own.

1 tube (11 oz.) refrigerated French bread
~7 slices of deli ham
1 package (6-8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese

On a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, roll out the dough. Place slices of ham onto the dough, covering it but leaving an inch of an edge all the way around. Cover the ham with the shredded cheese. Roll up the dough jelly roll style, making sure the seam side is down. Pinch and tuck the ends and make 3-4 small slits in the top of the dough. Bake at 350 for 26 minutes. Slice with a bread knife and serve!

What I love most about this recipe (beside it being SO easy) is that you can make it however you want. You could make a pizza version, a sausage, pepper, and onion version, a veggie version, and the list goes on and on! Have fun with this one!! 

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Vanilla Rice Pudding

Nothing says Christmastime like a steaming, sweet, creamy cup of homemade vanilla rice pudding! This is an excellent dessert to warm you up after playing in the snow or shopping in the cold winter weather! YUM!!!

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup rice (Uncle Ben's Original)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups 2% milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large, heavy skillet, bring water, rice, and salt to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for ~10 minutes until water is absorbed.
Add milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Increase heat to high until it just comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered ~45 minutes until mixture is thickened to a soft and creamy consistency. Stir occasionally and more frequently in the last 15 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat, divide into cups, and sprinkle very lightly with ground nutmeg. Nutmeg can be very overpowering, so be mindful not to put too much. Just a tiny sprinkle will do. Enjoy!!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Low-Fat Lemonade Pie

I just love pie. I especially love pie that doesn't take a whole lot of time and effort to make! This one is SO effortless, and if you like Key Lime Pie, you'll love this tart treat! It DOES take 8 hours to chill in the fridge, so you'll have to have the willpower to wait on it while it sets.

1 (12 oz.) can Fat-free evaporated milk
2 (3.4 oz.) packages of fat-free instant lemon pudding mix
2 (8 oz.) packages reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 (9-inch) reduced fat, ready-made graham cracker pie crust

In a medium bowl, whisk evaporated milk and pudding mix for ~2 min. until thickened. In another bowl, mix cream cheese and vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium for ~1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add the thawed lemonade concentrate and mix for ~1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the milk and pudding mixture and beat until well-blended.

Pour into the pie crust, smooth with a spoon, and set in the fridge for 8 hours until firm. Top with fat-free whipped cream! 

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mexican Pizza

I love making my own pizza because you can put whatever you want on it, and most of the ingredients are fresh. It's also fun to get your family involved in making pizzas!

2 pizza crusts (I use Boboli's thin or whole wheat)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 can black refried beans
1 package Uncle Ben's 90 second Spanish rice
1 - 6 pack of chorizo (Spanish pork sausage found in the sausage section of most grocery stores)
1 1/2 packages reduced fat 4 cheese Mexican (I use Sargento)
1/2 small yellow or purple onion, diced
3 small bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange)
Salsa and/or light sour cream for toppings if you want.

Cut open the chorizo casings and brown it in a pan like you would ground beef for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, then drain and let cool in a strainer over a bowl to catch the juices (which WILL stain your clothes).
Brush the top of each pizza crust with a thin coat of extra virgin olive oil.

Spread half the refried black beans on one and the other half on the other (like you're icing a cake).
Heat the 90 second Spanish rice. Then, with a fork, spread half the rice over one crust and half over the other crust.
Fork out half the cooked chorizo on one crust and the other half on the other crust.
Sprinkle about half a package of cheese over each pizza.
Sprinkle onions and peppers over each pizza.
Sprinkle about 1/4 of a package of cheese over each pizza.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.

I love to top my Mexican pizza with a little bit of light sour cream to off-set the heat of the chorizo. Some people in my family also like to add a little salsa to the top, as well. It's up to you how you enjoy this delicious pizza!!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010


This is my Granny's recipe for lasagna that she passed down to me. I used to help her make it when I was a little girl, and I loved it! I loved making it, and I loved eating it! Delicious!

1.5 pounds lean ground beef (crumbled & browned)
1 large yellow onion (diced)
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cans diced petite tomatoes (I use Hunt's with fire-roasted garlic)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 rounded tsp. oregano
2 rounded tsp. parsley
1 bag of shredded, reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 box lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat)

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the following, then set aside:
8 oz. light sour cream
1/2 container of light Parmesan cheese
1 leveled Tbs. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil

Boil noodles in a large pot with ~1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil and ~1 tsp. salt for 12 minutes. Drain and shock with cold water. Set aside.

Saute onion in a little extra virgin olive oil with garlic and sugar. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, parsley, and browned, ground beef. Stir and heat on low ~5-10 minutes.

In a casserole dish, layer noodles, beef mixture, 1/2 the bag of mozzarella, and ~9-12 dollops of the sour cream & Parmesan mixture. Repeat this whole process once more. Cover the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes or until top starts to brown and insides are bubbling.

I like to serve my lasagna with lots of garlic bread! It doesn't take much of this dish to fill you up. It's SO filling and yummy! And, NO....this is NOT one of my healthier dishes. Enjoy! ;)

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bizcochitos (Mexican Sugar Cookies)

These flavorful cookies are traditionally served to children after church on Christmas Day. They are also usually in the shape of the fleur-de-lis. They are flavored with anise and cinnamon, which gives them a burst of flavor that goes really well with a steaming cup of coffee or hot cocoa!

1 cup margarine
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. anise flavoring
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. milk or brandy
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Beat soften (NOT liquid-melted!) margarine at high speed for 30 seconds until whipped. Add half the flour, anise, egg, sugar, milk, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour. Divide dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.

One at a time so they don't get too warm, take the balls of dough out of the fridge, roll them into logs on a lightly-floured surface, and slice dough into 1/8 - 1/4 inch circles. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, and bake at 375 for ~6-8 minutes or until bottoms and edges turn light brown.

You can roll out the dough and cut it with cookie cutters, but slicing them when the dough is chilled is faster, easier, and less messy. They are still good, no matter WHAT shape they're in!!

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Boston Cream Pie

This is a really easy and quick way to make an old favorite, Boston Cream Pie, which is actually a cake. There is another recipe for this dessert in which you make everything from scratch. I prefer the easier route, myself!

1 pkg. Pillsbury Reduced-Sugar yellow cake mix
1 pkg. Jell-O brand, sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
~3/4 cup water

Spray two 9-inch, round cake pans with non-stick baking spray and set your oven to 350. Prepare the cake mix according to directions, divide it between the two pans, level batter and bang out the bubbles. Bake according to box instructions (~29 minutes). Then let cool outside of pans for ~20 minutes on a cooling rack.

Prepare the pudding according to the box instructions, then leave in fridge to set (at least 10 minutes) until you're ready to use it.

Cut the rounded top off of one of the cakes to level it. Spread on the pudding, all the way to the edges. Place the other cake on top.

On low heat, melt chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan. Once completely melted, remove from heat and add the vanilla and sugar. Blend well (it may look too dry and chunky, but it will smooth when you add the water). Add the water and stir vigorously over low heat until well blended and able to pour. You may need to add a little more water to get the right consistency. Pour over cake and spread all the way to the edges. Chill and serve.

This is a lower calorie, lower fat version of this yummy dessert. Although it's only about 100 calories and 0.5 grams of fat lower per serving (1/12 of the cake) than the original recipe, it's better than nothing! It all counts in my book! Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chicken Fried Rice

This fried rice recipe can be done in five easy steps. As you can see, it doesn't look like traditional fried rice with carrots and peas. That's because I don't like carrots and peas, so I simply switched out the veggies!

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 large eggs, beaten
2 packages of brown, 90 second rice (I use Uncle Ben's)
1 (12 oz) package frozen 3 pepper & onion medly
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 package of Fried Rice seasoning (I use Sun Bird)
2 Tbs. Light Soy Sauce (I use La Choy)
Promise or Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing

1. Saute chicken in a large pan with about 2 Tbs. of Promise, then set aside.
2. In the same pan, scramble the eggs, then set aside.
3. In a large pan, saute the frozen veggies and rice (do not microwave the rice first) in ~2 Tbs of
extra virgin olive oil for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, seasoning packet, and soy sauce and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add in the chicken and cook for 1 minute.

You do not have to use chicken. You could use pork or just leave it as a veggie dish if you want. You can also use your choice of frozen veggies, as well. As always, make it your own and have fun!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Whole Wheat Sprial Pasta with Sweet Basil Meat Sauce

I feel like I'm cheating a bit with this dish, but it's one of our staple dishes, and it still good food, so I'm putting it on the blog anyway. It's quick, easy, and filling.

3 lbs. lean ground round
2 (24 oz.) jars of Traditional Sweet Basil pasta sauce (Classico Traditional Favorites)
1 (16 oz.) bag of whole wheat spiral pasta (I use Hodgson Mill)

In a large sauce pan, brown the meat. Stir in the 2 jars of pasta sauce, mix well, cover, and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

While the meat sauce is simmering, boil the pasta in a large pot for 14 minutes with a little salt and olive oil. After 14 minutes, drain, then add the meat sauce. Mix the meat sauce and the pasta together until well blended and serve right away.

I know this isn't fancy or even really 'homemade'. It's out of a jar and a bag, but let's be real. Every night can't be spectacular because a lot of people work and are tired when they get home or don't have a lot of time to cook an elaborate meal. This is something that is quick and easy, and it's warm and filling. It will SEEM like you spent a long time making it when, really, it only takes about 15-20 minutes!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicken & Shrimp Alfredo

This is one of those dishes that can be tweaked to your liking. You could use just chicken, just shrimp, add broccoli, or just have the linguine and Alfredo sauce if you want! I like it any way you serve it!

1/2 box whole wheat linguine
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
6 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
juice from one lime or 1 Tbs of lime juice
1 can(10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use Bertoli)
extra-virgin olive oil

Boil a large pot of water with 2-3 Tbs of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 pinches of salt and boil linguine for 10 minutes. When it's finished, drain water and 'shock' the pasta with cold tap water. Drain and set aside.

Heat a saucepan on medium-high heat, melt 3 Tbs. butter and cook the chicken pieces until golden. In another, smaller saucepan, heat the other 3 Tbs. of butter, garlic, and lime juice on medium heat until bubbling. Put shrimp in and saute for ~3 minutes. Place cooked shrimp into the saucepan with the cooked chicken.

To the shrimp and chicken, now add the soup, milk, cheese, and linguine. Stir and mix well over medium-low heat until warmed through and well-blended.

This is a very creamy dish. It will seem a little sticky on your fork, but it's VERY creamy when you eat it. It's not too rich but has a really nice flavor. Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crock Pot-Style Beef Stew

I love this easy way to make beef stew. It takes about 20 minutes prep-time, and then you just leave it for 7 hours. It makes your house smell wonderful and the crock pot does all the work!

2-3 pounds cubed stew beef
3 diced bell peppers (red, yellow, & orange)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 Yuk0n Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into disks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into disks

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs. chili powder (or 1 packet)
2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground mustard
ground pepper to taste
2 OXO cubes (or any beef bullion cubes or paste)

Put the first 6 ingredients into your crock pot, gently mixing (I use my hands) to separate the ingredients and make sure they aren't clumped together. Mix the next 8 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and then gently fold into the meat and veggies. Boil 4 cups of water, then add 2 OXO cubes and stir until cubes dissolve. Pour bullion over the meat and veggies in the crock pot, then gently stir with a large ladle until well blended. Cook on high for 7 hours, stirring occasionally.

Beef stew is great because picky eaters can pick out parts they don't really like, which leaves more for those of us who like everything! Plus, there is something exciting about leaving your crock pot to cook, leaving your house to run errands, and then walking through the front door again and into that fabulous smell of something yummy cooking!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mashed Red Potatoes

I loved mashed potatoes, and these are just another version of this yummy side dish. There is a secret ingredient that makes these even better. Trust me!

a 2-pound bag of red potatoes (leave skins on)
6 Tbs margarine (I use Promise)
pinch of Kosher salt
4 Tbs light sour cream
1 Tbs light ranch dressing
1/2 cup 2% milk
table salt

Boil potatoes with 2 Tbs margarine and salt for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and let sit for ~20 minutes. Put potatoes in a large mixing bowl with 4 Tbs margarine, sour cream, milk, dressing, and table salt to taste. Mix until well blended. If you like your potatoes a little more runny, just add more milk (or sour cream).

This kind of mashed potato WILL have chunks in it, so if you like your mashed potatoes smooth and creamy, these aren't the ones for you. =)

The little bit of ranch dressing gives these potatoes the tiniest little kick they need to be super yummy! They are a bit thicker than regular mashed potatoes and more filling, so you probably don't want to make these ALL the time, but they are great for something just a little different every now and then!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu

This simple way to make chicken cordon bleu only takes about 15 minutes prep time with 30 minutes baking time. I always used to wonder how chefs got the ham and cheese inside the chicken. After I realized how easy it was, I had to laugh. If you can make a burrito, you can make this dish. It's really not fancy at all once you know how to make it, but it sure is good!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or however many your family will need)
8 pieces of reduced fat, sliced Swiss cheese
(or 2 per chicken breast)
~1 cup reduced fat, shredded mozzarella cheese
4 pieces of 96% fat free, sliced ham
(~1/4 inch thick)
1 packet of Italian-style Shake-n-Bake
(or Progresso Italian bread crumbs)
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pound and flatten chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper on a hard surface with a kitchen mallet. (You can get these at your local supermarket for under $3 OR just use the heel of your hand...but it starts to hurt and takes longer if you do this.) Once all the chicken breasts are thinned out evenly to ~1/4 - 1/2 inch in thickness, lay one piece of Swiss cheese at one end of each piece. Lay a piece of ham on top of the cheese and then place another piece of cheese on top of the ham. Sprinkle on ~1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella. Now carefully, from the loaded end, roll up the chicken like a burrito so that the seam is tucked under at the bottom.

Transfer each chicken piece carefully to a foil-covered baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. If any shredded cheese falls out the sides, just gently push it back in. Brush each chicken piece with olive oil, making sure to coat all sides. Sprinkle and pat on the Shake-n-Bake, covering the tops and sides of each chicken piece.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Now that you know how easy it is to make chicken cordon bleu, you won't want to pay so much for it at those fancy restaurants anymore! Now you can make it at home in no time and for a fraction of the price, the fat, and calories! 

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Playful Pancakes

Kids won't eat? Need a project for them to do? Maybe the grandkids are coming over or your little one is having a party. Instead of decorating cookies, try using pancakes instead! My little boy will normally only eat one pancake, but he'll eat about 5 or 6 of these!

PLUS...They are low in calories & fat and high in fiber, so they're pretty healthy as far as carbs go. And if you're on Weight Watchers, Fiber One pancakes are only 1 point per pancake!

Pancake mix (I use Fiber One Complete)
Cookie cutters
Sugar Free syrup
(I use Log Cabin)
(I use Promise)

Okay, so this is more of an idea (and not an original one, at that) than a recipe, but my youngest son and I were bored one afternoon, and he was hungry, so we decided to make these playful pancakes. He got to help mix the batter, pick out which cookie cutters he wanted, and cut them out! This is a perfect project for an afternoon at home!

Mix pancake mix according to directions on the box (YES, I have a homemade pancake recipe, but let's get real here.... why reinvent the wheel when box ones are just as good and SO much faster and easier to make.). Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.

Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and serve! My son has his syrup on the side instead of poured over his pancakes. This way, he gets to dip his pancakes and I get to be in control of how much syrup he uses.

Just think of the possibilities with using cookie cutters with pancakes. You could have birthday pancakes, Halloween pancakes, Christmas pancakes, beach pancakes, and on and on and on! They're fun, your kids will eat them, and they are much healthier for them, too!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Turkey Meatball Sandwich with Sauteed Peppers & Onions and Melted Provolone Cheese

I had never made a meatball in my life until I made these sandwiches. I don't know why, but for some reason I was afraid to make them. I have a feeling that I will be making meatballs for a very long time now that I know how to make them! Yum!

1 pound ground turkey meat
1 Tbs dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp. minced onion flakes
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp coarse Kosher salt
1/2 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1/2 yellow bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1/4 yellow onion (sliced or chopped)
4 slices of provolone cheese
1 sliced green onion
Soft Cuban bread

Cut bread into two pieces (~8 inches long each), cut each piece down the center, but don't cut all the way through. Hollow out the center to make room for the meatballs. Put back into the bag it came in so it doesn't dry out and save for later.

In a large bowl combine turkey and the next 8 ingredients. Mix with your hands until well-blended. Form 1 inch meatballs. One pound of ground meat will make ~16 meatballs. In a saucepan, heat olive oil (about enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and sautee half the meatballs until brown and cooked through, turning often and lowering heat if browning too quickly. This will take ~10 minutes. Place sauteed meatballs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with foil and put in oven at 200 to keep them warm while you sautee the other half of the meatballs. As long as they are covered, they won't dry out.

While the meatballs are keeping warm, sautee the bell peppers and onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. If there is any excess oil on the veggies after they've been sauteed, you can always drain them in a small bowl with a paper towel in it.

Once the veggies and meatballs have been sauteed, get out your bread, put 2 slices of cheese in each sandwich loaf, place the meatballs on top of the cheese, then top with sauteed veggies and fresh sliced green onion. (You may want to add a little light mayonnaise on the bread before you add the cheese to give it a little more moisture, but it's not necessary.)

What a GREAT sandwich! And to be honest, I could just eat the meatballs on their own!! SO YUMMY!!! These meatballs could be made to go on a party tray, too! 

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love to make my own chicken noodle soup. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, and it not only tastes SO much better than the stuff out of the can, but it's also MUCH more filling. It's really easy to make, too!

1 (32 oz.) container chicken broth (I use Swanson fat-free, 33% less sodium)
1 large carrot (cut into disks)
1/2 the meat from a rotisserie chicken, shredded
~1/3 of an 8 oz. bag of noodles (I use No Yolks cholesterol free egg white pasta)
ground black pepper

In a 2 quart pot, heat broth and carrots over med-high heat until boiling. Add shredded chicken, noodles, and generous amounts of pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Stir often. That's it! You're done!

I like my soups pretty chunky and more like stews, so I put in a lot of noodles. Just add less noodles if you want yours to be more 'brothy'. You may also want to add in other veggies, like celery.
The sandwich in the background that I served my soup with was a grilled provolone & roast beef on rye.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baked Lemon-Pepper Tilapia on a bed of Long Grain & Wild Rice

I never liked fish until I started making it myself at home. If you're not a huge fish fan, you may want to try tilapia and put some seasoning on it, like I do. It's not got a strong fishy taste, and you can add whichever type of seasoning you like.

5-6 tilapia fillets, thawed (again...I just use my local supermarket's brand because there IS no expensive part of the ocean)
2-3 Tbs. margarine (I use Promise), melted
Lemon-Pepper seasoning (or whichever seasoning you prefer)

Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place thawed fillets on the baking sheet and brush or drizzle with melted margarine. Sprinkle or coat each fillet with seasoning to your liking. Bake fish for 25-30 minutes or until the edges start to go a little crispy and golden. Keep an eye on your fish. You don't want to under-cook it because it's going to be runny, and you don't want to over-cook fish because it will be too dry.

The rice I served the fish on was Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice. It takes about the same amount of time to cook on the stove as your fish will if you start them at the same time. Perfect!

The beauty of baking fish like this is that you can have your family put in their orders for which kinds of seasonings they prefer. My husband likes garlic salt on his instead of lemon-pepper. You could also try something bolder like Jamaican or Fajita seasonings.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cherry Turnovers

I am a much better cook than I am a baker, so when I saw this recipe, it scared me a little. Well, guess what? These turnovers are so quick and easy to make, that I can't wait to make them again as soon as someone will volunteer to gobble them up!

1 (17.3 oz.) package frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farms)
1 (20 oz.) can light cherry pie filling
2 large egg whites, beaten
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Roll one pastry sheet onto a flat, floured surface. Cut into 4 squares for larger turnovers or six squares for smaller turnovers. Brush egg whites around the edges of the squares, spoon on pie filling in the middle, and fold the squares over to make triangles. Press the edges down with your fingers to seal the pastry.
*You don't need to put too much filling in the middle of the squares because it will run out everywhere when you fold and seal them.

Place triangles on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

These were SO quick and easy to make! They are so cute, and you can put any filling you want inside them. If you need something to take into work or to a party, these are perfect if you want to take in something homemade!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pulled Barbeque Quesadillas with Mild Cheddar & Red Onion

My family loves quesadillas, but I was getting tired of the same old thing all the time. I thought of using pulled barbecue, and then I found this recipe from The Food Network! These are so fast and easy to make, but you DO need to have a quesadilla maker. They are so handy to have in the kitchen. They run between $24-28, but they are a good investment!

Tortillas (I use low-carb, high-fiber flour tortillas)
Shredded 2% mild cheddar cheese
Sliced red onion
Pulled barbecue (I used Cades Cove brand, which I found in the refrigerated meat section)

Heat barbecue according to directions on the container (unless you've made your own barbecue in a crock pot). Spread barbecue in a thin layer over a tortilla, leaving about an inch around the edge. Sprinkle well with cheese, top with onion, then put a 'lid' tortilla on top.
Put in the quesadilla maker for 5-10 minutes until it is golden brown and hardened. Remove from quesadilla maker, let cool a little, then cut with a pizza cutter.

With this type of quesadilla, you could serve it with corn or other type of veggie or black bean salsa, but these are SO filling that they can just be served on their own. They look thin, but there is a lot of meat and cheese in each one! I usually split one with someone else and only end up eating 3 pieces.

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I LOVE a good Reuben sandwich, but sometimes restaurants put on too much sauerkraut for my liking. I decided a long time ago to try and make my own version and found out how super easy it is to make these sandwiches! If you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, you can make your very own Reuben!

Jewish Rye seeded bread (I use Pepperidge Farms)
Swiss Cheese
(from 2% milk)
Light Thousand Island Dressing
(I use Kraft)
Corned beef slices
(either from your deli or from the refrigerated meat section)

Put a layer of Thousand Island dressing on both pieces of bread. Put on one slice of cheese, then layers of corned beef, then sauerkraut, and one more piece of cheese. Grill your sandwich on both sides over medium high heat in a small saucepan with margarine (I use Promise). It only takes about a minute on each side.

What I like so much about making Reuben sandwiches at home is that I can put on however much or little of these strong ingredients I want, making it my own. Plus, you can opt for light or reduced-fat cheese and dressing, making it a bit lighter if you choose!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pan Sauteed Chicken with Vegetables and Herbs

This is a Swanson's recipe that I have seen in several different magazines. It's easy, fairly cheap, and SO good! If you have someone coming over for dinner, this is a great dish to put together, and everything is right there in your roasting pan, ready to serve!

1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 heaping Tbs. all-purpose flour
3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

extra virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, quartered
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed with skin on
4 large carrots, peeled & cut
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. oregano
1 Tbs. fresh thyme

Combine pepper, paprika, and flour in a shallow bowl. Coat chicken with flour mixture.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until it is well browned on all sides (it doesn't have to be cooked ALL the way through because you'll be baking it in the oven later to finish it off). Remove chicken from skillet and arrange in a roasting pan. (I sprayed my pan with nonstick cooking spray.)
Add onions and potatoes to the same skillet with the juices and oil still there from the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, stock, lemon juice, and oregano. Heat to a boil, then add it all carefully around the chicken in the roasting pan. Make sure the juices get evenly distributed. Sprinkle fresh thyme on top.
Cover roasting pan with foil and bake chicken and veggies at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 20-30 more minutes until your potatoes & carrots are tender.

I like this dish a lot because everything you need for your meal is right there in the roasting pan. No need for extras or sides unless you just want them! Yum!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce

I normally make traditional enchiladas with canned enchilada sauce, but I saw this recipe in a magazine and thought they looked wonderful. I had never used tomatillos until I used them to make the sauce for this recipe. I have to say, they are not the most attractive things I've ever seen, but they sure did make a FABULOUS

3 cups roasted, pulled chicken (I just used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1 pkg. 90 sec. Spanish rice (I use Uncle Ben's)
1/2 can black beans, drained & rinsed (I use Bush's seasoned recipe black beans)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) container light sour cream
1 (8 oz.) pkg. reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
12 (8-inch) low-carb, high fiber tortillas

Tomatillo Cream Sauce
1 (28 oz.) can tomatillos, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

Spray 2 small or 1 large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together chicken, rice, beans, cream cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Mix will be thick, so make sure you get all the cream cheese mixed in there really well (it likes to hide in clumps within the other ingredients). You can just keep this mixture in the fridge until you're ready to roll the tortillas. To roll them, lay the tortillas flat, scoop about 3 large tablespoons of mixture onto one end. Carefully roll them up, fold ends in, and lay them side-by-side in your dish until it's fill end-to-end.
Pour tomatillo cream sauce (see directions below) generously over the tops of all the enchiladas. Top with a layer of shredded cheese, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

How to make Tomatillo Cream Sauce
In a large skillet, combine tomatillos, broth, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. (I broke apart the tomatillos into smaller pieces for this part.) Remove from heat. Pour into a blender once it's cooled down a little and pulse mixture several times until it's smooth. Pour back into skillet, add whipping cream, and cook on low heat for ~2 minutes, stirring gently and continually.

I topped my enchiladas with sour cream and sliced green onions. This freshly made sauce topped the canned enchilada sauce I usually use! I'm so glad I wasn't afraid to use the tomatillos!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rustic Summer Veggie Tart

This was a great meal! I made two of these tarts, and three of us shared them between us. I really like this recipe because you can put in whatever you want! Next time, we are going to leave out the squash and zucchini and put in mushrooms and chicken in their place for a change.

2 refrigerated thin crust pizza crust (I use Pillsbury)
3 carrots (peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
4 parsnips (peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
3 large Yukon potatoes (peels and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 medium yellow onion (peeled and cut to your liking)
2 yellow squash (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
2 zuchinni (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
~1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
Roasted red bell pepper from a jar (you'll just need a couple of pieces)
extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg (beaten)
ground pepper
1 Tbs fresh thyme

In a saucepan, sautee squash and zucchini in ~1/4 cup of olive oil for around 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Once cool, put ALL cut veggies, ~ 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp ground pepper into a gallon-sized ziplock back and gently toss and turn until all the veggies are well coated. (Make sure you hold the top of the bag tightly. I've had them break open on me before and all my yummy veggies fell to the floor.)

Lay out one of the pizza dough crusts on a flat surface. Using a 10 inch bowl or lid (I used a Tupperware lid), trace a circle with a sharp knife. Pull up the extra dough and put to the side for another project or discard. Put your round dough piece on one end of a foil covered baking sheet that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Do the same with the other pizza dough crust. Lay them both so that they fit on the baking sheet side-by-side, and you can bake two tarts at once.

Now sprinkle each pizza dough crust with cheese, leaving about a 2 inch edge. Carefully put ~3 handfuls of your veggies in the middle of each crust. Sprinkle the tops with more cheese (not too much because this kind of cheese is pretty strong). Now cut up two of the larger pieces of one of the roasted pepper slices and place them on top of the pies.

Fold the edges of the pies up so they hug the edges and hold in all the fillings. Brush the pie crust with the beaten egg, sprinkle on fresh thyme over the pies (~1 Tbs each over both the filling and the crusts), and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

You can make these tarts your own! Put whatever kinds of filling you want in them. They can even be used for desserts, as well, by putting something like a peach cobbler filling inside! Oooh....maybe I'll try that!

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Healthy Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

YES, this cheesecake really does taste just like the full-fat version! I was so surprised when I tasted it. VERY yummy! I'll be honest, I like a traditional graham cracker crust better than this Melba toast version, but I'll stick with the original recipe, since that's how I made it. Doing it over, I would use a graham cracker base, though.

15 plain Melba toasts (not Melba 'snacks')
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs sugar

14 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt (I use FAGE)
7 large egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon

To prepare crust:
Boil a kettle of water for water bath (~7-8 cups). Coat a 10-inch spring-form pan with no-stick cooking spray. Tightly wrap the bottom and outside of the pan with a double layer of foil. Preheat oven to 325.

Crush the Melba toasts to crumbs and put in a bowl. Add oil and sugar. Mix until evenly moist. Press crumb base into the bottom of the pan and bake until lightly browned (~10 minutes). Let cool for ~30 minutes.

To prepare cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl with mixer until smooth. Add yogurt, egg whites, and cinnamon and beat until well-blended. Pour over crust.

Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the side of the spring-form pan. Bake cheesecake in the center of the oven until it's set around the edges but the center still jiggles (~45 minutes). Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Let it cool on a wire rack for another hour (I KNOW....torture, right?).

I topped my cheesecake with cherry filling and fresh blueberries, but I normally like it just as it is. You know how you like your cheesecake, so make it your own and enjoy! 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Chicken Casserole

This is an old favorite in my house. Out of all the fancy dishes I try and make, this easy casserole is of my most requested meals. It just goes to show that no matter how expensive or technical a dish is, sometimes it just can't beat the good old fashion comfort foods!

1 rotisserie chicken (with meat removed and shredded)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. margarine
(I use Promise)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 small jar of sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
(I use McCormick's)
Herb-seasoned stuffing
(I use Pepperidge


Low-fat shredded mild cheddar cheese

Heat margarine in a medium skillet and sautee onions, garlic, and sugar. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the onions, chicken, soup, sour cream, mayonnaise, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning with a spoon until well-blended. Fold into a 8x8x2 casserole dish and even out with a spoon. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. Add a thin layer of dry stuffing. Then sprinkle another coating of shredded cheese on top (but not too much because it will end up burning). Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

I served my chicken casserole with fresh corn on the cob with tomato-basil-garlic butter and steamed broccoli sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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Peanut Butter Cookies (an oldie but a goody)

I think these have to be one of the easiest cookies in the world to make. You only need 4 ingredients, and you don't even need a mixer! Kids like to help with these cookies because they can make the famous criss-cross marks on the tops.

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients with a spoon in a medium-sized bowl until well blended. Roll teaspoon-sized balls from the mixture and place them on a baking sheet sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Make criss-cross marks across the tops of the cookies with a fork. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 
IMPORTANT: let cool 15 minutes before you take them off the baking sheet or else they will fall apart!
Makes 20-24 cookies (depending on how big or small you like them).

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

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Maryland Crab Cakes

There are several different recipes that I've tried for crab cakes. This one is simple and lower in fat. If you can make a hamburger, you can make a crab cake!

1 lb. cooked crab meat, picked through for shells & cartilage (I just use my grocery store brand. It's cheaper and tastes just the same. As someone once told me, there IS no expensive part of the ocean!)
3/4 cup herbed seasoned stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm's brand)
6 scallions, minced
1/4 cup low-fat milk (1 or 2%)
3 Tbs reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 Tbs. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
reduced-calorie margarine (Iuse Promise) for frying

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except flour and butter (as you would when making meatloaf), and gently mix together until well blended. Moisten hands to avoid sticking as you form your crab cakes. This recipe should make around 8 cakes. Place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place flour on wax paper and lightly coat each crab cake on both sides with flour. Melt margarine in a large skillet, and cook each crab cake until golden brown and crispy. It takes around 5 minutes for each side. I like to cook 2-3 cakes together in the skillet.

I served my crab cakes with freshly squeezed lemon, fresh corn on the cob from a local vendor, and a salad of mixed greens with tomato-basil feta and honey dijon dressing.

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