Monday, September 27, 2010

Create-Your-Own-Pizza Bar

Every Sunday night we have our small group over for dinner before we meet. This fall we are starting Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace series. We're hoping it will help us all become better stewards of our wealth and learn how to save money. There is about 10 of us eating dinner and everyone helps by bringing something, but when I host I still try to make it as easy as possible. So this create-your-own-pizza worked amazingly. You can just use any leftover ingredients you have in your fridge. The basics are just tortillas, cheese, & tomato sauce (or just use fresh tomatoes sliced). I like to add sliced zucchini, grilled chicken strips, and sprouts. For this meal I had diced onions, carrots, and celery. Plus mexican cheese, mozzarella cheese, pecorina romano, and sliced fresh mozzarella. Then I make sure we have good spices; italian seasoning, garlic salt, fresh minced garlic, red pepper, paprika, & chili garlic sauce.

I use olive oil spray on a piece of tin foil place the pizza on top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees or until the cheese is fully melted. 

Curried Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite blogs to read is Roni's Weigh. She also has several other blogs, one of which is Green Lite Bites which has good recipe resources. I stole this recipe from her website and was able to cook it up for my family this past weekend as a side dish for Sunday lunch. I was first introduced to quinoa from another blog called Leading the Weigh (another weight watchers inspired blog) and I was looking for other ways to include quinoa into my meals besides the shrimp & veggies which I usually make with it. Though I don't eat a lot of Indian-spiced food, this was a great recipe and my in-laws surprisingly enjoyed it. Even Grandpa Fisher was raving about it! That was the best part.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings

This dish is definitely outside of my comfort zone. But I'm so proud of how it turned out and surprised at how good it tasted. It feels like a good Lancaster County comfort dish and I don't really get excited about those. Don't get me wrong there are lots of Lancaster County foods I love (not hamloaf) but I don't know how to make any of them. That's what my mother-in-law is for! So I was pleasantly surprised with this outcome.


  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • fat free oil spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 lb. chicken breast
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sifted whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

I'm not so sure if this picture looks appetizing -- but trust me they were good!


  1. In a large saucepan, stir together the cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Spray cooking spray over medium-high heat cook chicken strips, onion, carrots and celery. Sautee until chicken is cooked through, and onions are tender. Transfer the chicken mixture to the soup pot, and mix well. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Season with celery seed and black pepper.
  3. To Make Dumplings: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tablespoons of oil. Pour into the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
  4. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into simmering chicken stew. Cover pot tightly, and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 12 to 15 minutes - without peeking! Ladle into bowls, and serve hot.

The Ultimate Cosmopolitan

For cooking club this month we had to make each other's favorite dishes. I got to make my friend Courtney's favorite cocktail, cosmos! It was a lot of fun -- doing the research, shopping in the liquor store, and making the final product. The first thing I learned is there is a lot of recipes out there. Do I use regular cranberry juice or some other type like cranberry-apple or cranberry-pomegrante? Do I use triple-sec, vermouth, or cointreau? What type of vodka? Store bought lime juice or freshly squeezed lime juice? Then the hardest part, how much  of each? I wound up gathering several different recipes, watching a couple of videos online, and then merged them together to create my masterpiece.

1 Part Vodka (I used Smirnoff Cranberry flavored)
1/2 Part Cointreau (orange flavored, better than triple sec)
1 1/2 Part Cranberry Juice (I used Diet Cranberry Juice)
1/4 Part Lime Juice (I used Rose's Lime Juice because a lot of recipes included it)
Garnish with lime wedge

I wound up making this recipe for 10 people so I had to multiple the recipe by 10. Luckily, I had a martini shaker big enough to hold it all. 

From Target -- Holds 64 oz!!!

Final Product:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This Week's Dinner Menu

Ok, I admit it, i'm not perfect.

There I said it. You'll never see me post that again, so save it forever.

I set out for the week with the best of intentions. We try to eat out less than we did in the past, we try to eat healthier, and I try to have dinner ready for my husband when he comes home. I plan all my meals ahead of time, go grocery shopping a week in advance, pre-prepare and meals that I can. But this week didn't go well. I forgot to defrost the chicken, I realized that the meal would take too long to prepare, we had to squeeze in a 1.5 hour P90X yoga session and cook chicken & dumplings which take 2 hours to prepare. I didn't want to make TOO many Mexican dishes, so I had to make a change to that. Small group is coming over for dinner, it's easier to do a Pizza Bar than to do a Taco Bake. Plus I didn't know that this week was Oyster Festival @ Annie Bailey's!!! So needless to say, I threw last week's dinner menu out the window and am starting fresh this week. You may see some repeats...get over it...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spicy Zucchini Mexican Casserole

I live for the weekends. Though I enjoy my job & believe it's what I'm meant to do I really need time to recuperate from it. Being a school teacher, I look forward to getting time away from irrational middle-schoolers. I enjoy those jam-packed weekends full of fun, but really I just love weekends that are commitment-free. Then I use that time to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Today's Saturday Challenge was this casserole. (But only after I finished all my grading!) I found this one from which is one of my favorite websites. I've been using it for years even though I only started cooking seriously in the past 2 years. What's nice about it is the Recipe Box where I've stored some of my favorite recipes over the years. The Spicy Zucchini recipe is a newer one. I enjoy using it when I need leftovers to eat for lunch or when I'm making a dish for friends. It has a nice kick to it and it's pretty flexible. I use what's in the kitchen and deviate from the original recipe.

I love how colorful the dish gets as you add each ingrident.


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 - 3 medium zucchinis, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 - 2 carrots, shredded
  • garlic salt
  • paprika
  • italian seasoning
  • red pepper
  • 6 - 12 oz of pasta or no yolk noodles
  • 15 oz can of northern beans
  • 1 1/2 cups of medium salsa
  • 1 cup 2% shredded mexican or cheddar cheese cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bowl a large pot of water and add pasta or noodles. Cook according to package.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, and onions; cook and stir until tender, about 10 minutes. 
  4. Season with garlic salt, paprika, italian seasoning, & pepper, and continue cooking and stirring until fragrant. 
  5. Mix in the beans and salsa and cook just until heated through. 
  6. Mix i pasta & mix in 2/3 cup of cheese until well blended. 
  7. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish and top with remaining Cheddar cheese. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Finished Product!

Fruit Smoothie

I love to make fruit smoothies in the blender.  For this one I just used 1 cup of frozen strawberries from Costco, 1/2 cup of skim milk, 1 container of weight watchers raspberry flavored yogurt, and 1 small scoop of vanilla flavored low fat whey protein. It came out to be only 3.5 points for about 2 glasses worth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Open Faced Tuna Melts

Tuna Melts are one of my favorite meals from my childhood. My father makes the best tuna fish! I know that's a strange thing to say, but it's true. He puts so much effort into it. He drains it, dries it out as much as possible (we like it that way). Then thinly chops up celery & onions into tiny tiny pieces. It's just perfect. I tried to recreate the concoction the best I could, but I just went ahead and did it my own way. With a little inspiration from Good Ol' Gina. I used pre-chopped celery, onions, & carrots (from Darrenkamps of course). I also added some garlic salt, a little light mayo, and some vinegar.

My daddy makes the best tuna fish & my husband makes the perfect grilled cheese. So I entrusted him to cook the sandwiches in the pan. We used fat free oil spray instead of butter. We cooked them on the stove for a little while. But then we wound up putting them in the oven under the broil setting which made them even better.

I didn't have any sliced cheese so I used Mexican shredded cheese. Each individual sandwich was 2.5 points.

Turkey & Mozzarella Sandwich

Last year I was the Lean Cuisine/Smart Ones/Healthy Choice Queen when it came to lunch at work. First off, this slew low fat frozen meals aren't really that healthy. Sometimes they taste pretty good. But Second of all, they just get old after awhile. I don't know what I was thinking, really. I'm so much happy cooking meals and eating leftovers for lunch. They are healthier and taste better. Plus I'm saving money! So as I continue my search for lunch alternatives I've found a good-old fashion sandwich is the way to go.

I've been using sprouts -- which is something I remember eating a lot of when I was younger, fresh mozzarella (awesome!), slices of tomato, onions, sometimes carrots or zucchini. For some protein I've been using some tuna or Hillshire Farm Ultra Thin Cracked Black Pepper Turkey. Sometimes I use a little bit of Mayo. But my new guilty pleasure (which I don't really have to feel guilty about) is 1 or 2 ounces of fresh avacado used as a spread. AMAZING! The sandwich above is only 3 Weight Watcher Points and is still pretty filling with a side of fruit, crackers, or salad. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spicy Chicken Burritos Part 2

Tonight, after a great P90X workout, we chowed down on the chicken burritos that have been patiently waiting in the crock pot.

I use LaTortilla Factory Brand High Fiber Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas that are huge, but only one point each! And of course, I can only seem to find them at Darrenkamps...

I also use part-skim Mexican cheese & Fat Free Sour Cream. My husband added some Chilli Pilli Garlic Sauce (from Kenya) and the meal was complete.

I don't know if this picture can fully capture the deliciousness...

Mmmmmm mmmmm good. Paired with a diet coke makes for a great meal.

Skinny Baked Penne with Spinach

This recipe was stolen from Gina's Skinny Recipes and adapted to suit my needs. See her Low Fat Baked Ziti Recipe Here

When using other recipes, even if they are low fat already, I tried to cut out as much fat and calories as possible. I use a lot of low fat substitutes, like these:

Since I'm currently doing weight watchers again I'm looking for foods that are high in fiber like this penne pasta: 

I like to pre-cook my meals, when possible. So I made this on Sunday and my husband and I are eating it for lunch all week. It's healthy, good-tasting, and saves us money.

Finished Product

  • Box of high fiber pasta such as Ronzoni Smart Taste (The grocery story didn't have ziti, so I used penne)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 - 8 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic)
  • 2 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tsp oregano or italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 8 oz fat-free ricotta
  • 1/4 cup low fat Parmesan
  • 1 cup part skim mozzarella
  • Fat free oil spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with oil spray.
  2. Cook pasta according to instructions until al dente.Drain and return to pot.
  3. In medium saucepan add olive oil and sauté garlic. Add chopped spinach, garlic salt, and chopped tomatoes. Season oregano, italian seasoning, and salt & pepper. 
  4. Add sauce to the pastaAdd 2/3 cup of Mozzarella Cheese, Parmesan cheese and Ricotta Cheese. Mix well. 
  5. Transfer to the baking pan.Top with the remaining mozzarella.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned.

Sauce with Spinach

Pasta with Sauce & Cheese

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Why I Love Darrenkamps

    Darrenkamps is the locally owned grocery store nearby my home. At first I thought it was just like any other grocery store. But after a year or so of shopping there I realized how much I love shopping there. The employees are so pleasant and helpful. Also, they have a whole section in their produce department of pre-cut food. I know this might seem useless and a waste to some shoppers. But for someone who values their time over a few bucks I find this to be a life-saver! I cook a lot and not having to spend time chopping & dicing makes a big different for me. Maybe I'm just a bad slicer & dicer, but for me to chop up these vegetables myself would take an hour. And that's an hour I could spend reading a book or being with the ones I love. It's worth it. Thank you Darrenkamps!

    Pre-diced celery, onions, and carrots

    Pre-cut melons, pineapple, and watermelon

    Chicken Ropa Vieja Burrito Bowl

    My favorite blog to look at is Gina's Skinny Recipes. She posts unique, healthy, and delicious meals. Plus she shares the weight watcher's point values so I can know if I should be making the meal or not. I've tried several of her recipes so far, but this here is one of my favorites: Chicken Ropa Vieja.

    Finished Product

    Ingredients For Chicken:
    • 3 chicken breast halves
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 2 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled 
    • 1 tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 1/4 cup white whine (dry, and not sweet)
    • 3/4 cup chicken broth (or just use the reserved chicken broth from crock pot)
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • garlic powder or garlic salt
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Ingredients for Salad:

    • 1 15.5 oz can of black beans or pinto beans
    • 1 can of corn, or 1 cup of fresh corn, or 10 oz of frozen corn
    • 2 - 3 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • 1 lime, juice of
    • 1 tbsp cilantro
    • 1 cup of shredded cheese
    • 1 head of lettuce

    1. Place chicken & tomato into crock pot. Add water until covered.
    2. Set to high for 4 hours until the chicken is tender. 
    3. Separately chop lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and avacado. Mix into large salad bowl.
    4. Top with beans, corn, cilantro, lime juice, and shredded cheese.
    5. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic & onions. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes.
    6. Stir in chicken, tomato sauce, white wine, and about 3/4 cup of the reserved broth to create a nice sauce. Season with cumin, garlic salt, and pepper. 
    7. Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes more adding more broth and seasoning if needed. Shred chicken using two forks if needed. 
    8. Top salad bowl with chicken. Enjoy!

    Fresh corn & fresh avacados really make the salad! 

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Dinner Menu

    Spicy Chicken Burritos Part 1

    This recipe is from my favorite cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes. 5 years ago when I was getting married, I registered for a slow cooker on thinking that it was a nice luxury item to have. So I went ahead and registered for the cookbook also. My cousin got me both as a wedding gift and I was surprised to see how often I used both the crock pot and the recipe book. 

    • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
    • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 jalapeno pepper
    • 2 - 4 sweet peppers, variety of colors
    • 1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped
    • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch strips
    • 8 ounce bottle of taco sauce
    • 1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • any type of tortilla, preferably low fat, high fiber
    • 3/4 cup shredded Montery Jack or Mexican flavored 2% cheese
    • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
    • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream

    So, this is what they looked like before I let them cook in the crock pot. Stay tuned for a finished version later in the week...


    1. In a 3.5 to 4 quart slower cooker combine zucchini, all peppers, onion, and celery. Top with chicken strips. 
    2. In a small bowl combine taco sauce, bouillon granules, and cumin. Pour over chicken.
    3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3.5 hours. 
    4. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among warmed tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, tomatoes, sour cream (optional). Roll up & enjoy!
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...