How it works

How it works...On the tool bar you will find categories of menus I have put together. If you would like to try one out, email me or comment on the most recent post and I will send you the recipes, along with a shopping list (see sample menu). Please remember to include your email. Or just enjoy the recipes I have posted!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Candy Cane Oreos

This week our playgroup held a soup and cookie swap. We figured Christmas was a good excuse to meet and eat food. I love cookie exchanges- it's always so much fun to see what others make for the Holiday's. The soup was an added bonus, it helped fill up our bellies before getting to the treats.

I made Mexican Bean Soup, on of my favorites. It was one of my first posts on my blog so if you haven't discovered it yet, you may just want to "go there." It's a quick soup, very healthy, and so scrumptious!

Candy Cane Oreos
I'm sure everyone makes homemade oreos, which are awesome. For Christmas, I make mine with vanilla frosting and crush up candy canes. I could eat a lot of them.

Candy Cane Oreos
  • 2 boxes Devil's cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 c. oil
  • Vanilla frosting (canned or homemade)
  • Crushed candy canes- I like to do quite a bit, crush very fine)
  • Food coloring- if you desire

Cooking Directions
Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil until moist- it will be difficult. Sometimes I just use my hands at the end. Roll into balls about 1 1/2 in. Bake 350 for 8 min. Smack tray on counter.

Mix candy canes into frosting, frost cookie and sandwich.

*Frosting for regular homemade oreos
8 oz cream cheese
2 2/3c. powdered sugar

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Wreath Cookies

We made these every year when I was a child. As I was thinking of Holiday crafts to make with my girls, I remembered these.
When I took my first bite, it was such a sweet nostalgic taste. These are easy and fun to make but very sticky!

Christmas Wreath Cookies
  • 4 c. miniature marshmallows, or 1 10 oz bag regular
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 4 c. corn flakes
  • Green food coloring
  • Red hots sprinkles
Cooking Directions
Melt butter and marshmallows in saucepan, stirring consistently. Stir in green food coloring to desired green. Stir in cornflakes until mixed well.

On wax paper, using two spoons, drop balls of cereals mix and allow to cool just a bit. With slightly buttered fingers, poke a hole in the ball and spread to look like a wreath. This part can be tricky if it's too sticky. Add red hots and allow to cool.

Chicken Enchiladas

Okay so it only took me half way through December to mentally return from my month-long vacation. It's always hard to get back into real life for me. but I'm back!
It was especially difficult to start cooking dinner again. After driving across the country and eating Wendy's every meal, we needed a bit of "consistency" back in our diet- aka: fiber.
I finally sat down and planned out the next three months. I'm back at it.

I usually don't like Enchiladas very much, they are often too soggy for my liking.
I like these though, and the best part is they make great left overs.

Chicken Enchiladas
  • 2 c. cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 whole onion, diced
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c. salsa
  • 1/2 c. sour cream, add more to desired consistency
  • 2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 tortillas, if you like them stuffed, use 7 tortillas
  • Lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and Pepper, I use Lowry's seasoning salt
  • Cilantro
  • 1 10 oz can Enchilada sauce
Cooking Directions
Combine chicken, green pepper, onion, green chilies, salsa, sour cream, cumin, and salt and pepper in medium bowl. Stir until well blended. Dash in lime juice and stir until well blended. Spoon filling onto the middle of the tortillas and spread to make a line down the middle. Sprinkle with cheese and roll.Place in 13 x 9 baking dish, seam side down. Once all enchiladas are in dish, pour enchilada sauce over and spread with spoon to make sure every tortilla is completely covered. Sprinkle more cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 min, until heated through. Sprinkle cilantro on top.

Serve with shredded lettuce, tomato, corn, salsa, etc.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


My three girls and I are on a family-visiting-getting-fresh-in-the-west hiatus. This means I don't do as much cooking but I will return to updating when I get home.

Have a fantastic Halloween!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Black Bean Soup

My sister shared this soup recipe with me. I added corn to ours simply because we love our sweet white corn. This is an awesome soup, especially with extra lime and cilantro...if you like those.

Black Bean Soup
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1 c. white sweet corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, pureed with liquid
  • 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • Sour cream
Cooking Directions
In sauce pan, saute onion, celery and carrot in olive oil. Cook until tender. Add salt, cumin, coriander, and pepper and cook another minute. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, green chilies, and corn. Simmer about 10 min. Add both cans of black beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and squeeze juice of 1 lime.

Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips and additional cilantro to top with.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

My parents lived in Japan shortly after they were married. As a result, we had a lot of rice dishes in our house.
My Mom's best friend while living in Japan shared a number of recipes and this is one of them, growing up it was one of my favorites.

Sweet & Sour Chicken (serves 4-5)


  • 2 c. diced cooked chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. pineapple chunks
  • 1 1/4 c. water (I substitute with a little pineapple juice)
  • 2 c. carrots, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, cut in strips or chunks
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 c. ketsup
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

Cooking Directions:

Saute onion in 1 Tbsp butter until tender. Add water, carrots, & bullion. Cover & simmer for 5 min. In separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, & ginger. In separate bowl, combine ketsup, vinegar, & soy sauce. Add both combinations to vegetable mixture. Cook until clear & thicken. Add chicken, green pepper, & pineapple. Cover & simmer for 5 min.

Serve with rice.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This soup is awesome! Definitely a favorite staple in our house.
The best part is that it is so easy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 2-3 Chicken breasts
  • 2 can diced tomatoes, can substitute with 1 can Ro-Tel if you like spice
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 2 c. corn, frozen white tastes awesome in this
  • 1-2 Tbsp cumin
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus more at the end
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Handful cilantro
Cooking Directions:
Put butter and garlic in and allow butter to melt to slightly saute garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for four hours.

Top with:
  • Cubed cheese
  • Extra cilantro
  • Lime
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Sheetcake

I love the smells of fall. All reminders of the upcoming Holidays. We've started a tradition to kick off the Holiday season (meaning the blending of Halloween to Christmas). The first Monday in October, we read Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White, for family night. We also bake pumpkin sheet cake and share it with others, just like Rebecca Estelle does in the book. It's a great way to teach our children about serving others and always a great excuse to eat a delicious treat.

Pumpkin Sheetcake
  • 1 15 oz canned Pumpkin
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. veggie oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg or pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions:
Mix pumpkin, sugar, and oil together. Add eggs and mix. Combine dry ingredients then add to mixture. Mix until well blended. Bake at 350 in greased cookie sheet for 25-30 min, once toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c. powder sugar
  • 3 tsp milk
Mix until smooth

Optional: 1 c. chopped walnuts sprinkled on top

Friday, September 30, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This delicious pizza is great to make from the leftovers of BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.
I usually sprinkle lots of cilantro, cause it's just so good!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Crust Ingredients: (or just buy a ready to bake crust)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 3/4 - 3 1/4 flour
Cooking Directions:
Agitate yeast by mixing yeast and sugar in warm water. Set aside until it gets foamy. Mix wet ingredients and slowly add flour. Mix salt in with flour. Use just enough flour so that dough sticks together. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch and roll out.

Pizza Ingredients:
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Red onion, diced
  • Cilantro
  • Cooked chicken, marinated in BBQ sauce
  • Cornmeal
Cooking Directions:
Sprinkle cornmeal on pan. Bake dough at 375 for about 5 minutes before adding toppings. Spread BBQ sauce, sprinkle cheese, chicken, onion, and cilantro. Bake 15 to 20 min.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder

I can't think of any other soup that brings more warmth on a rainy, cold day. I saw this on my calendar and got so giddy. Funny, I'm the one who plans the meals and I still got excited.
That's just how delicious this soup is.

Chicken Corn Chowder
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. diced potatoes
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 c. cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 1/2 c. sweet white corn, (so much better with white)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, the sharper the better
  • Pepper & garlic salt
Cooking Directions:
Boil broth and veggies in large pot until soft. While veggies are boiling, melt butter in sauce pan. Slowly mix in flour to make a paste. Slowly stir in milk, continue stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Once veggies have softened, add chicken, and dash salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add cheese sauce. Let simmer 5 minutes.

Great served with pieces of cooked bacon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chinese Beef & Snow Peas

We love ginger root in this house. I use extra ginger in this dish to get the perfect burst of flavor. Delicious!

Chinese Beef & Snow Peas
  • 1 1/2 lb steak, thinly sliced, pounded
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce plus 1 tsp
  • 2-3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz snow peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in strips
  • Oil, for cooking
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 c. beef stock
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
Cooking Directions
Place meat in bowl, mix soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and stir into meat. In small cup, dissolve cornstarch into beef stock. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok and add onion. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes. Add beef and snow peas and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add beef stock, sesame oil, and extra soy sauce. Stir until sauce boils and thickens. Serve over rice immediately.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Independence Pasta

My sister introduced me to this dish, which happens to be an explosion of all good things with every bite. I love it! I took liberty to tweak it to my preferences but how she does is always just as good. She marinades her chicken in Caesar dressing instead of balsamic vinegar, and doesn't saute her onions, I prefer mine a little less potent.
Either way, your salivary glands will still be pleased.

Independence Pasta (serves 6-8)
  • 1 lb Pasta, any variety, cooked
  • Cardini's brand Caesar dressing
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pt cheery tomatoes, halved length wise
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in thin strips about 1/2 in long
  • 2 c. fresh basil leaves, slightly chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
Cooking Directions:
Cut chicken into chunks and place in oven dish. Pour balsamic vinegar mixed with a little olive oil over chicken to cover. Marinade at least 1-2 hours. Bake at 350 about 20 or until it's almost done. Remove from oven.

In large sauce pan, add onion and garlic to 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook about 2 min, until onions begin to soften. Add tomato and chicken and cook 1 min. Remove from heat, add pasta, basil, and 1/2 c. dressing. Stir to coat, add more dressing according to taste. Stir in generous amount of Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some cookies for a rainy day.

Chocolate chip cookies are such a delicate treat. Everyone has a favorite recipe or knows someone who makes them the best. I have tried a number of recipes and finally tweaked mine so it's just how I like it. I've been told they taste like Hot Chocolate, I'll take it as a compliment.

Thought I'd share my recipe in case any of you are still on the hunt for one you like (my hunt will likely never end).

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 c. butter flavored shortening (they never turn out for me if I use butter)
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar + 2 Tbsp (give or take)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp real vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Chocolate chips- lots!
Cooking Directions:
Cream shortening and sugars. Beat in one egg. Beat in second egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients then add. Stir in chocolate chips. Do not roll, use cookie scoop or spoon.

Bake 350 9 minutes, then check, or until light brown. I usually go about 10 minutes. Drop the cookie sheet of the counter and remove cookies to cooling rack.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Two of my sister-in-laws have had homemade granola on hand for quite some time. I've always enjoyed it so I finally started making my own. I kind of combined the components that I like from both of theirs into this one.

This is good granola. When I'm really watching what I eat, I pound this stuff. When I'm not watching so well, I really pound it. Enjoy!

  • 4 1/2 c. whole oats
  • 1 c. bran flakes
  • 1 c. rice krispies
  • 2 c. nuts, seeds, etc (you can add more bran flakes, rice krispies, etc)
  • 1 c. coconut
Mix these in a large bowl and set aside.
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey (I use mostly Agave nectar)
  • 1/4 c. water
Microwave in glass bowl for 3 to 5 min, until boiling. Remove and stir in:
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Slowly pour over oat mixture and stir to coat. Spread evenly on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 275 for 20 min. Rotate racks and bake an additional 15-18 min.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and allow to cool. If you like crumbs, fluff with fork before it cools, if you like it chunky, let it cool first.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hot n' Sour Soup

School has started, the leaves are starting to fall, but it's still hot. As I've said before, by the end of summer, I get so excited for soup. So even if eating dinner makes me sweat more, it's time.

I love this soup. It's light, so very satisfying, and a mix-up from your standard soup.

Hot n' Sour Soup (serves 4-5)


  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 1 pkg extra firm tofu, cut into 1-in chunks
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 2 c. mushrooms
  • 1 c. scallions, chopped
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cooking Directions:

Place mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Cover and let stand 10 min, until tender. Drain water and dice mushrooms. Set aside.

In large pot, combine broth and garlic. Bring to boil. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Add tofu, vinegar, soy sauce, and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 min.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 c. of cold water and stir well. Pour cornstarch mixture into broth and boil. Let simmer about 5 min., until thickened, stirring frequently.

Slowly pour egg whites into broth, stirring gently with a spoon to break up clumps of egg. Remove from heat and stir in scallions, sesame oil, and chili paste. Add more paste for more spice

Monday, September 12, 2011


My friend Angelica introduced me to Fennel. I love Fennel. It gives ground beef a sausage taste which makes lasagna taste better and a bit cheaper.
I love a lot of spinach in mine, I add almost a whole bag and the kiddos never even notice.

  • 12-15 no cook lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb ground sausage, or ground beef
  • 2 15 oz cans diced tomato
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 c. chopped spinach
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 1 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 3 c. mozzarella cheese
  • Parsley, oregano, basil (fresh is best), fennel seeds (if using ground beef)
Cooking Directions:
Crush 1-2 tsp fennel seeds. Saute garlic and onion in a little oil for about 1 min. Add sausage or beef (add fennel seeds). Cook until no longer pink. Drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and dash oregano and basil. Simmer about 5 min.

In separate bowl, mix cottage cheese, Parmesan, and 1 tsp parsley.

In 9 x 13 pan, spread a little sauce on bottom. Lay noodles on top. Then layer with cottage cheese, chopped spinach, meat sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Lay another layer of noodles and repeat layers. End with a layer of noodles and top with a little meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 25 min, uncover and bake an additional 5 min.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thai Basil Chicken

This is just good. You should try it.

Thai Basil Chicken
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce, more or less for spice
  • 1 c. basil leaves
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 scallions, sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 c. snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
Cooking Directions:
Combine soy sauce, lime juice, basil, and tomato in a small bowl. Mix and set aside. Heat about one tablespoon oil in a wok. Add garlic and chili sauce. Stir-fry 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until 1 min, add scallions and red pepper and cook until chicken is lightly browned. Add snow peas and sauce mixture. Reduce heat and simmer 2 min, until chicken is cooked all the way through. Top with extra basil leaves. Serve immediately over rice.

*Add more chili garlic sauce at the end if you like spice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Red Pepper Pasta

I returned home from an EPIC family vacation two days ago. My entire family went to a Lake house and we had a blast! One of the best parts about it was bad to no cell phone coverage and internet service. Love being off the grid. I liked it so much that I pretended I wasn't home for just one more day.

Alas, here I am and I needed something to warm my heart so how about some great tasting pasta. This dish will always cheer me up. I know you'll enjoy it too.

Red Pepper Pasta
  • Pasta- any variety
  • 1 (12 oz) jar Roasted Red Peppers, well drained
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • Optional: cooked chicken, cut in strips
Cooking Directions
Cook pasta and set aside. Combine peppers, cream cheese, milk, basil, garlic salt and parmesan cheese in blender. Blend well and pour into pan. Add broccoli (and chicken), salt and pepper, and heat through.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Green Chilies & Cheese Burritos

I know bean burritos aren't very original.
Here's how I like to "dress up" a very basic meal.

Green Chilies & Cheese Burritos (serves 5-6)
  • 2 cans Refried beans
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 7 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • White corn
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cumin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c. milk
  • Sour cream
  • Tortillas
Cooking Directions:
In sauce pan, saute the onion in a small amount of butter about 1 minute. Add refried beans, milk, diced chilies and dash cumin. Cook until heated through, add cheese and stir until melted.

Layer beans, corn, tomato, sour cream and cilantro in tortilla. Wrap and enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Margarita Pizza

Margarita Pizza (makes 2- 15in pizzas)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 3/4- 3 1/4 flour
  • Sprinkle Pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary
  • Cornmeal
Cooking Directions:
Mix yeast and sugar in warm water, set aside until well agitated. Pour into mixer with olive oil. Mix all dry ingredients with one cup flour. Add to wet ingredients and slowly add flour until dough sticks. Set aside and let rise until doubled. Punch and roll out. Sprinkle cornmeal on sheet under pizza dough. Bake dough at 375 for about 5 min before adding toppings.

  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce, mix with basil, garlic powder, and oregano
  • 4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
Layer toppings on crust and bake an additional 15 min.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cookies n Cream popcorn

A sweet treat for Saturday
This has been one of my signature treats that everyone goes crazy over. I hesitate posting it because I'd like people to think I've created some crazy concoction. Not the case.

While I lived in NYC, I discovered Dale and Thomas popcorn. Every time my family visited, it was a must. Unfortunately as the economy went further down, so did Dale and Thomas. So I decided to throw together my favorite popcorn treat from there and it turns out it was easy, tasted just as good, and for the $6.50 I would have spent on one bag, I could get about 6 bags.

So here's my "secret"...

Cookies n Cream Popcorn
Ingredients: (these portions are guidelines, alter as desired)
  • 6-8 c Popcorn, when I'm in a hurry I use 2 microwave bags
  • 6 oz White chocolate, melted. can even use almond bark, although real chocolate obviously tastes better
  • 1 1/2 sleeves Oreo cookies, crushed
Cooking Directions:
Pop the popcorn and mix with crushed Oreo's. Drizzle white chocolate and stir. Add chocolate until you get the desired consistency. Enjoy and share just a little.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Veggie Baked Ziti

My sister-in-law served this dish to us a while ago and I finally got a hold of the recipe, we've made it twice already this month. A great way to get the kiddos eating veggies, tastes great, and so easy. You can add any vegetables but I really like it like this:

Veggie Baked Ziti
  • 1 lb ziti, cooked
  • 2 medium zucchini, can substitute or add 1 yellow squash
  • 3 c. chopped spinach, or more
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 3 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • Basil, 1 tsp dried, 1/2 c. fresh, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper taste
  • Olive oil
Cooking Directions:
Saute onion and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil. Add zucchini. Cook until tender. Add spinach and cook another minute. Add marinara sauce, cottage cheese, ziti, basil, salt and pepper, and half the mozzarella. Stir and pour into a 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Bake at 425 for 10 min or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The only downside... having a weekly menu and a budget is that today it is raining. Even though it is still 81 degrees, I really want to make soup, maybe Mexican Bean with extra cilantro. I seriously look forward to Fall so that I can make soup again. It's kind of a rule for me, we just don't eat it during the summer months. In fact, my four-year-old said the other day, "we haven't been having soup for too long." I totally agree.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baked Burritos- Enchilada style

Baked Burritos (makes about 8)


  • 2c. cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 1 can diced green chilies (4 oz)
  • 2 c. cheddar cheese
  • 1 3/4 c. salsa
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 c. sour cream, plus extra for topping
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Burrito size tortillas
  • 1 can Enchilada sauce, I like green on this
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • Lettuce

Cooking Directions:

Mix chicken, beans, olives, chilies, salsa, sour cream cumin, salt, pepper and 1 c. cheese. Spoon into tortillas and fold like burritos. Place on lightly sprayed sheet, seam side down. Bake at 425 about 15 min. Remove from heat and cover each burrito with enchilada sauce and sprinkle with more cheese and scallions. Bake an additional 5 min. Serve with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.

*If you like some spice, use 1 can Ro-tel instead of salsa, use hot enchilada sauce, and sprinkle with pepper-jack cheese on top.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chicken Salad Sandwich

A summer classic worthy of appearance as a quick and tasty meal. We always have corn on the cob (have I mentioned how amazing the white corn is here in NJ?), and watermelon with it.

Chicken Salad Sandwich


  • 3 c. shredded chicken breast,
  • 2 c. Red grapes, halved
  • 1-2 stalks celery, cut in thin slices
  • Cashew halves (optional)
  • 1/3 – 2/3 c. Mayo
  • Salt & pepper to taste, more salt if not using cashews
  • Croissants or rolls

Mix ingredients, stuff and eat!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Balsamic Chicken

I first had similar chicken in a salad at a friends house and it was heavenly. I have felt the same way ever since, a very light marinade. We had it with asparagus, berry mix, and caprese salad. So refreshing.

Balsamic Chicken
  • 2 Chicken breasts, pounded
  • 1/3-1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar, more or less
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking directions:
Place chicken in baking dish, cover with vinegar, olive oil, and salts and pepper. Bake at 350 for about 20 min, until just barely done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Black Bean Tostadas

If you are one of those people who looks at a recipe and says there are way too many ingredients and you pass it up. Stop here. This is relatively quick, very tasty and a refreshing Mexican meal. If you choose to make the cilantro-lime rice, it takes a little more preparation. Just cut up all the garlic and cilantro together to save on chopping time.

Black Bean Tostadas
  • Tortillas
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 c. onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 c. Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice, or juice of 1/2 lime
  • White corn
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, cut
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro Lime Rice (optional)
Cooking Directions
Spray both sides of tortillas with nonstick spray and bake at 350 until crisp, turn over once.

Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic, and cumin in olive oil in sauce pan. Add black beans, tomato sauce, cilantro and lime juice. Stir and cook until heated through.

Layer ingredients on tortilla and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Phad Thai

We love Thai food in our house, Phad Thai is a favorite. I've tried a couple recipes and blended them into this one. I'm happy to say that my brother, who served a mission in Thailand, said it tasted exactly like something he would have eaten over there, but with way less spice.
Phad Thai
  • Thick Rice Stick Noodles, or I often just use fettuccine noodles
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked meat, shrimp tastes awesome, Tofu tastes great for vegetarian dish
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c. scallions, chopped
  • 1-2 c. bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 4-5 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (add more for extra spice)
  • 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Chopped roasted peanuts
Cooking Directions:
Soak rice stick noodles in warm water until soft, or cook fettuccine noodles. Set aside. In small bowl, combine tomato and Teriyaki sauces, peanut butter, brown sugar, and lime juice.

Heat wok with small amount of oil. Add garlic and chili sauce. Cook about 2 min. Add egg and stir to scramble. Add sprouts and scallions and cook another minute. Add noodles, sauce mixture, and shrimp. Stir and cook until heated through. Serve immediately, sprinkled with cilantro and crushed peanuts on top.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Caprese Grilled Sandwich

I don't even need to say much about this sandwich. Just take a look. I'm salivating. I love anything with basil and balsamic vinegar.

Caprese Grilled Sandwich
  • Bread
  • Roma Tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh Basil leaves, washed
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Pepper
  • Butter
Cooking Directions
Butter outsides of the bread. Layer cheese and tomatoes on bread, dash pepper on top. Grill both sides of sandwich. Remove from heat, add basil leaves. Dip into Balsamic vinegar as you eat.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mexican Layered Salad

Another simple meal that always seems to hit the spot.

Mexican Layered Salad


  • 3/4 to 1 lb Ground Beef
  • Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. Scallions, sliced
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Lime juice
  • Taco Seasoning, about 4 Tbsp
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cooking Directions:

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add beef and cook, until no longer pink. Stir in taco seasoning and 1/3 c. water. Bring to boil then simmer. Squeeze a bit of lime juice beef is cooking.

Build your own salad with all the toppings. Use salsa and sour cream as dressing.

Breakfast Sandwich

I know this isn't extremely original or healthy. But it tastes so good and it's nice to mix things up a bit and always makes the kids happy. We dip it in syrup for an added health bonus.

Breakfast SandwichItalic
  • Bun of choice: English muffins, croissant, bagel
  • Meat of choice: bacon, sausage, ham
  • Cheese of choice: cheddar, colby jack, etc.
  • Fried Egg
  • Syrup- optional
Cooking Directions:
Cook meat. Fry the egg and melt the cheese on top. Layer in Bun. Dip in syrup!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pesto Quesadillas

This is a quick and tasty meal. I refer to it one of our weekend meals. We replace with pizza night and the kids are just are satisfied.

Pesto Quesadillas


  • Tortillas (I like them with whole wheat, better texture)
  • 3-5 Roma Tomatoes, sliced
  • Pesto Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Cooking Directions:

In large fry pan, cover one tortilla with cheese. Lay an additional tortilla on top and heat to melt cheese. Remove from pan and spread about 1 tablespoon pesto sauce over the top tortilla. Place sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Place on cookie sheet and broil in oven for 2-5 min, depending on oven, until cheese is melted.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicken Bacon Bake

Every time I ate at the Cheesecake Factory I would order this dish- which I can't even remember what it is called. One day, I thought, I can make something like this. And I did. What's not to like about chicken slathered with cheese and bacon? I like to on top of mashed potatoes and we always have it with garlic and honey glazed asparagus. It also works great on the grill.

Chicken Bacon Bake (serves 6)


  • 3 Chicken breasts, cut in half length wise to make 6
  • 1 to 2 c. BBQ sauce
  • 1/3 c. any Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 c. Red or Sherry cooking wine (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 Scallions, diced
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced into pieces at least 1 cm thick
  • Bacon, cooked

Cooking Directions:

Mix all the sauces, garlic salt, and pepper together, add a little water and stir. Pour over chicken breasts in 9x13 pan. Marinade chicken at least an hour (if you have time). Cook chicken in sauce for @ 20 min at 350 or until almost done. Cover chicken with cheese and top with bacon. Bake for another 10 min until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with scallions.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

German Pancakes

In my house we called them hootenannies, my husband's family calls them Big Dutch babies. Either way, we all love them. We have them for special occasions and occasionally for every day occasions. The more they rise, the better.

I remember as a child, looking through the oven window watching them rise and waiting until they were puffy enough then screaming, "they're done!"

Corners are the best...I received a tip to do them in a muffin tin, it changes the texture a little but they're still good! I call them Little Dutch babies.

German Pancakes
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4-6 Tbsp butter

Cooking Directions:
Put butter in a 9 x 13 class pan and place in the oven while preheating to 375. Throw the eggs, milk, four, and salt in a blender, and mix for a couple minutes. Once butter is melted, pour batter in dish and bake 20 to 25 min, until puffed up and light brown. Good with syrup, fresh fruit, and/or whipped cream.

Tips: butter and more time helps it get more puffy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Santa Fe [Chicken]

This is a very versatile meal. It's great on rice, in tortillas, as a vegetarian dish or just by itself with tortilla chips -I serve it without the chicken as a chip dip for company sometimes.
It is very simple, tasteful and makes great left overs. If you have cilantro, I would definitely sprinkle it on top. Can't go wrong with cilantro!

Santa Fe Chicken (serves 5-6)


  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen white corn
  • 1 can Ro-tel (replace with a little extra salsa if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 small can green chilies, mild
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless (can use frozen)
  • 1-2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 8 oz package cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    *For vegetarian meal, don't add chicken, can add an additional 1/2 can of beans

Cooking Directions:

Combine all ingredients except the cream cheese in a crock-pot. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hrs (depending on crock pot). Shred chicken and mix in cream cheese, cook another 10 min, until cheese is melted. Stir and serve.

Serve over rice, in tortillas or w/ tortilla chips.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Featured Menu

In case you checked out the sample menu tab, here is the featured menu. Who doesn't like quick n' easy? And this week happens to be very summer friendly as well.

Week 2- Quick n’ Easy

Helpful Hints

*Leftover Tomatoes used for Mexican salad can be used in tomato/cucumber salad so chop all the tomatoes for the week and stow for next meal.

*Left over lettuce can be chopped up and served on the side with the burritos.

Day 1

Tomato Cream Pasta (serves 4)


  • Penne pasta or other tube pasta
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1t dried basil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 1/3c parmesan cheese
  • Optional: Red pepper flakes- if you want a kick
  • Broccoli
  • Optional: Chicken or shrimp

Cooking Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and keep warm.

Cook tomatoes over medium – high heat in skillet until thickened about 5min. Add basil and cream. Bring to boil then reduce heat. Add frozen broccoli and meat. Cook until thickened. Toss with pasta and cheese. Serve immediately.

Suggested Sides: Salad and French or Italian Bread

Day 2

Mexican Layered Salad


  • 3/4 to 1 lb Ground Beef
  • Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, slightly heated
  • 1 c. Scallions, sliced
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Lime juice
  • Taco Seasoning, about 3 Tbsp
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cooking Directions:

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add beef and cook, until no longer pink. Stir in taco seasoning and 1/3 c. water. Bring to boil then simmer. Squeeze a bit of lime juice beef is cooking.

Build your own salad with all the toppings. Use salsa and sour cream as dressing.

Day 3

Bistro Ham Sandwiches


  • Sandwich Bread
  • Butter
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb Deli Ham slices
  • 1/3 lb Deli sliced Swiss cheese
  • Mustard, any type
  • Pepper

Cooking Directions:

Spread butter on outside of bread. Spread mustard on inside of bread. Layer ham, cheese, and apple in sandwich, sprinkle with pepper. Cook in skillet on medium-high on both sides until cheese is melted.

Suggested Sides: Tomato and Cucumber salad:

2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2 in. pieces

1 cucumber, cut into 1/2 in. pieces

1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp. Honey

Feta- sprinkled

Salt & Pepper to taste

Fruit of choice

Day 4

Green Chilies and Cheese Burritos (enough for about 5 burritos)


  • 1 can Refried Beans
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1/2 c. Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c. onion, finely diced
  • Burrito size tortillas
  • Milk
  • Salsa
  • Butter

Cooking Directions:

Sauté onions in a small about of butter in a saucepan. Add beans, chilies, cheese, and small amount of milk in saucepan. Heat through. Top with salsa and fold into burrito.

Suggested Side: Salsa, White Corn, Lettuce

Shopping List SS means it’s a Suggested Side

Already in the Cupboard


Lime Juice

Taco Seasoning

Mayo or Butter


Olive Oil




Produce, Deli, & Bakery

3 large Tomatoes- 1 is SS

Romaine lettuce, enough for 2 salads


1 bunch Cilantro

1 Cucumber-SS

Fruit of choice - SS

1 onion

2 Granny Smith Apples

1/2 lb Deli sliced Ham

1/4 lb Deli sliced Swiss Cheese

French or Italian Bread- SS

Meat, Dairy, & Freezer sections

1 lb ground Beef

Frozen shrimp (can replace with chicken breast)

1 bag frozen Broccoli florets

1 bag frozen Corn- SS

1 c. Whipping Cream

Feta- SS

Sour cream

8 oz Cheddar cheese


Penne pasta

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can pinto beans

1 can refried beans

1 can diced green chilies


Shredded Parmesan cheese

Sandwich Bread

Tortillas, burrito size

Tortilla Chips

Cilantro Lime Rice

This rice is a great addition for any Mexican meal but also good with any Asian dish.

Cilantro-Lime Rice


  • 2-3 c. rice
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 chicken bullion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Oil for cooking
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

Heat a little oil in skillet. Add garlic, cilantro, and rice. Sauté 3-5 min. Put in rice cooker or sauce pan with lime juice, bullion, pepper, and amount of water called for on rice directions. Cook as directed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My sister-in-law brought this dish to a family dinner two summers ago and ever since it's been a favorite. Especially with all the fresh vegetables at my disposal here in Vineland. Yum!



  • 1 zucchini squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into strips
  • 1-2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • Pepper-jack cheese, use monetary jack if you don’t like spice, sliced
  • 2 tsp Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Basil Leaves

Cooking Directions:

On a baking sheet, toss both squash’s and onion with olive oil. Spread on sheet and salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 15 min or until squash is tender. Add tomatoes and cheese and bake until cheese is melted. Add basil leaves and enjoy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

A year-round staple for us. Easy- delicious meal. And once you've found Trader Joe's BBQ sauce, you can't get enough of this sandwich.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich (serves 4-5)


  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • Your favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 c. Honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c. Red onion, diced
  • Rolls (we like Portuguese best)

Cooking Directions:

Place chicken breasts in crock pot and fill half way with water (I usually dump a little BBQ sauce in for flavor). Cook on low for 2-4 hours, depending on your crock pot. Drain water, and shred chicken. Pour ample amounts of BBQ sauce over. Pour honey, mustard and sprinkle garlic powder over. Cook for another 20 min.

Serve on rolls with cilantro and onions to add on top if desired