Monday, December 5, 2011

New recipes to try...

So I haven't updated since we moved, but now we are finally all settled in to a routine, I don't really have an excuse, unless you call expecting a baby any day now one... I've recently been asked to share some more recipes that I've taken pictures and posted on my FB account of, or spoken of there, so in an attempt to actually get something accomplished on my blog I figured I'd try and get something posted! I'm so bad at that! I'm not going to lie, sometimes I take short cuts, ok, you got me, a lot of times I take short cuts because well, at this point standing on my feet for long periods of time is just not possible. I swear this baby will fall out if I do that! So I cheat by using pre-pared food items in recipes to cut down time and energy. Hey! There's nothing wrong with that, besides I can still be creative with those recipes by adding or changing things, as can you! So here are three tried and true recipes for your culinary pleasure! Enjoy!

EASY Crockpot Beef Stew:


2-3 lbs diced beef (usually you can find it in the steak section, stew meat, saves time)
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 can beef broth
1 small can tomato puree
2 cans baby whole potatoes quartered
4 carrots peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks washed and sliced
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs cornstarch dissolved with 2 Tbs water (don't prepare this until you are ready to add it)


In your crockpot put all ingredients except salt and pepper and cornstarch mix, in. Cook on low for 8-9 hours until well cooked. Add Cornstarch mix and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a loaf of fresh, warm french bread! Perfect for a cold night!

Beef rice and green bean casserole:


1.5 lbs of ground beef cooked and drained of fat (yes you can cook it in the microwave)
1 box of butter herb rice (rice a roni makes this) prepared to box directions
1 can of green beans cut into bite sized pieces
1 can of french fried onions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ground beef, rice and beans together and spread evenly in an 8 x 8 pyrex casserole dish. Cover top with a layer of french fried onions. Cook for 45 min to 1 hr until onions are deep golden in color.

White chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies with white chocolate cream cheese frosting:


2 pkgs of Krusteaz Pumpkin spice bread mix
2 Eggs
2 sticks of butter softened
1/8 cup granulated sugar
3/4 bag of white chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1 8oz pkg cream cheese softened
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Cup powdered white chocolate (you may have to get this at a specialty store or online or you can just omit it, and have a plain cream cheese frosting)
1 stick of butter melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin bread mix, sugar, eggs, butter, cinnamon and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. Add white chocolate chips and mix well. Using a Tbs scoop one Tbs onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and spread each scoop about 2" apart. Bake for 11-12 min until edges begin to turn golden. Remove and cool thoroughly.

While the cookies are baking prepare the frosting in a separate bowl. Add cream cheese, powdered sugar and white chocolate powder and whip with an electric mixer. When smooth, add melted butter in a slow steady stream with the mixer running. Whip until well combined and smooth. When cookies are completely cooled spread a layer of frosting on top each cookie and enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chocolate Souffle? Yes please!

So yeah, it's been awhile, apparently trying to move, selling your house, and gestating a baby, unpacking and getting settled in a new town, can tend to put things on the back burner. Now that we are all settled into our new rental home, it's time to host a dinner party! Of course, knowing me, I like to go for the gourmet dinner, so I will be serving Pork Tenderloin in a Carmelized Pear Brandy Cream Sauce, Salad, French Bread, and yes, you guessed it, Chocolate Souffle with a spiced vanilla creme. It's a perfect fall dinner, minus doing something that incorporates a gourd of some sort. So in posting on my facebook page that I was making Chocolate Souffles for dessert, a number of people begged for the recipe. The good news is that this simple recipe is one you can make a day or two ahead, or just keep a few in your freezer and pull them out and bake them when you're ready. It's so easy and so good, that you really can't go wrong! LOVE this recipe! So pick up a spoon and dive into chocolately gooey goodness!

Make Ahead Frozen Chocolate Souffles:


4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs water
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
8oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chopped coarse (or you can use chocolate chips)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs spiced rum
6 Large egg yolks
8 Large egg whites
2 Tbs confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tarter


Butter the inside of 8 1-cup ramekins and coat with sugar. Melt chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water or a double broiler. Turn off heat and stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur, set aside.
Bring sugar and water to boil in a small sauce pan, and simmer until sugar dissolves. With a mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks; beat until mixture triples in volume, about 3 min. Fold into chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites until frothy, add cream of tarter and beat to soft peaks; add 2 Tbs of confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar); continue to beat to stiff peaks.
Vigorously stir 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites until just incorporated.
Spoon into ramekins almost to the rim, wiping the excess filling from the rim with a wet paper towel. Cover with tin foil and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

To bake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake until fully risen, 16-18 min. Do Not Overbake.

Remove from oven carefully and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Can be served with spiced vanilla creme (see recipe following).

Spiced Vanilla Creme:


1 pint Heavy Whipping cream
2 Tbs Spiced Rum
1 Tbs Cinnamon
1 Tbs Vanilla
1/4 C granulated Sugar


Place all ingredients in a small heavy sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until thoroughly heated through. Serve hot with Chocolate souffles, (break the top shell of the souffle and pour in desired amount).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Year, New Recipes!

Yes I do realize I said I'd be posting more often, but the holidays sort of crept up on me. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat, and with a new year, often it brings new resolutions. Obviously I've fallen into the last category for anyone who knows me personally, of course I do have a goal seeing as this year my wonderful husband and I will be celebrating 10 years together with a trip to Hawaii, and goodness knows, I want to look amazing in a bathing suit and not scare people off the beaches there! With that being said, it's hard to lose weight and get in shape when there are so many wonderful and fabulous foods to make out there, but with some simple substitutions you can cut back on the fat and calories significantly, not to mention carbs in some dishes. If you're at all like me, you love your pasta and carbs, I just can't help it! There is something so comforting about taking a big bite of warm pasta on a cold evening! So far, I've lost 7 pounds in just over two weeks, and am doing pretty well (If you can't tell, I'm pretty happy about that! LOL!). A lot of it comes from restraining yourself and changing your thinking to choose healthier alternatives like fruits and veggies to snack on rather than oh, say candy, cookies, and anything that is NOT good for me! It's hard, especially with desserts, I'm not going to lie, I have a major sweet tooth, plus they are sort of my specialty! So I decided to post two pasta recipes that I have altered to be much more low fat and low calories than the typical pasta recipes I have made in the past. Who doesn't love home-made lasagna? Do you have any idea how many calories are in a small square? Like almost an entire day's worth!!! Now there are a few things to substitute that will cut back a lot of those empty calories, but not on the taste, and we all know that diet foods aren't supposed to taste good, but with a few tricks they actually can! I know, shocking isn't it? So with that being said, hopefully my journey towards better health will inspire you to try new recipes with simple substitutions! Bon Apetit!

Jen's Favorite Pasta:


4 roma tomatoes chopped
5 cloves of garlic
1 C pine nuts
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs capers
1 Big can of sliced olives
1 Can Vegetable broth
4 Bags of Shirataki Spaghetti Noodles (These can be found in health food stores and are tofu noodles, don't worry they don't taste like tofu! If you can't find them, you can use whole grain Penne Pasta, but that adds a lot more calories and carbs)
Salt to taste
Fresh Chopped Parsley (I like italian parsley)


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add pine nuts and press the garlic cloves thru a garlic press. Saute until pine nuts are toasted golden. Add broth, tomatoes, capers, and olives. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to med-low and simmer approximately 1 hour.

To prepare noodles, drain the bag and pat dry. Microwave noodles in a microwave safe bowl for 1 min 30 seconds. Drain again and pat dry. Add to sauce and serve hot. For added protein add 2 grilled chopped boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Lower Fat Lasagna


1 pkg brown rice lasagna noodles
1 med yellow onion chopped
2 C Fat-Free (or low fat) Ricotta Cheese
1/4 C egg substitute (like egg beaters)
1 lb ground lean turkey
1 lb ground reduced fat pork sausage (yes they do make that!)
4 C fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 jars of traditional spaghetti sauce (yes I cheat and don't make my own in the effort of saving time)


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a 9 x 13 casserole dish smooth a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the dish. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbs olive oil over med-high heat and add chopped onions. Saute until soft and mostly translucent. Add meats and cook through. Drain fat and set aside. In another bowl add egg substitute, 2 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, and ricotta cheese. Stir until well combined. Add 2 C spaghetti sauce to meat mixture and stir until well coated. Layer in the casserole dish one layer of noodles. Gently spread thin layer of cheese mixture on top of noodles. Spread layer of meat mixture on top of cheese mixture. Sprinkle thin layer of mozzarella cheese. Layer another layer of noodles, then cheese mix, then meat mix, then shredded cheese and another layer of noodles. Repeat process until dish is almost full. On last layer of noodles smooth thin layer of cheese mix and then thin layer of meat mixture adding more sauce if necessary to make it thin. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for 1 hour. Remove, slice and enjoy. *can be made vegetarian, using chopped carrots, celery, olives, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. (just chop 4 C of mixed vegetables and saute with the onions until soft and follow remaining directions using veggies instead of meat).

For those of you curious to know where I'm learning to eat better and substitute items, I have found a new website/cook book that I absolutely love. So far the recipes have been fabulous and very tasty! Look at the Hungry Girl cookbooks and website for recipe ideas and substitutions. AWESOME stuff!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Smokes I haven't updated in how long??

Ok, I realized it's been a little while since I've updated my blog... when I actually checked it out, it's been over a year! My goodness I'm such a slacker! Anyhow, with the holidays around the corner I thought it would be good to try and update with a few holiday inspired recipes. There is nothing like a creamy butternut squash soup and hot apple cider to warm you up on a cold night, or a change in the typical pumpkin pie dessert. Most of these recipes are quite easy especially if you can find ways to take shortcuts! Because you probably know me and have figured out that I'm all about the shortcuts! haha! Ok so here goes, feel free to improvise, change or experiment! I mean that's what cooking is all about! :)

Hot Caramel Apple Cider:


1 Jug Apple Cider (I like the unfiltered kind)
4-5 Cinnamon sticks
1 C Orange juice
1 C Caramel sauce

Put all ingredients in a pot or slow cooker and Heat on High heat to hot. Reduce heat to medium low and ladle into mugs. Drizzle top with caramel sauce and add a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup*


1 2-3Lb Butternut squash (or two packages of the pre-cut cubed butternut squash from Costco)
2 boxes of Chicken stock
1 qt Heavy Whipping Cream (no not the sweetened kind)
1 Tbs Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Butter
1 large Onion chopped


If you purchase a whole squash, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush olive oil on the flesh and place in a preheated oven 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour to soften up the flesh. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Pour the chicken stock into a heavy stock pot. Add onions and squash and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 1/2 hour. In a food processor or blender, ladle the squash and onion mixture in batches and process until smooth and creamy. Return the processed squash and onion mixture to the stock pot and add nutmeg, butter, and cream. Stir and cook on medium heat for 20 min. Add salt to taste. Serve with pepitas for garnish

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake*



9 whole graham crackers
¼ C granulated Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
¼ C Melted butter


4 – 8oz Packages Cream Cheese room temperature
1 – 15 oz Can Pumpkin Puree
1 ½ C granulated Sugar
3 eggs
1 C Heavy Whip Cream
9 oz White Chocolate chopped
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice


For Crust: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wrap double layer of heavy duty foil around the outside of a 10” springform pan. Combine graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor. Blend until graham crackers are very finely ground. Drizzle butter over graham cracker mix. Using pulse on the processor, blend until crumbs stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom (not sides) of the pan. Back until crust is slightly golden, approx. 10 min. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing the filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add pumpkin, whip cream, and spices. Beat until just blended. In a double broiler, melt chocolate on stove at medium – low heat. Cool to luke warm but still pourable. Add to filling mix and stir until just combined.

Cook in a water bath ½ “ water, 1 – 1 ½ hours until slightly puffed and softly set, and top is golden. Transfer to a rack and cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with whip cream and white chocolate shavings.

As a side note, I'm going to try making this with a gingersnap crust this year. But like I said, experiment and see what you like! :)

* As another side note these are not low fat recipes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hearty Taco Soup

I made this soup the other day because it was cold and icky out and just a good day for a hot hearty soup. This is one of my favorites because it is so easy to make and just really hits the spot on cold days. I serve it with warm skillet cornbread, and it just makes a nice meal that really is filling. The great thing about this soup is that you can make it on the stove or in the crockpot and... there's always leftovers! YAY! Who doesn't love leftovers? I find it almost always tastes even better the second day! How's that possible? All the flavors have a chance to really blend in together. Even my kiddos like this soup, so it makes for a good family meal. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Hearty Taco Soup


1 can tomato sauce
2 - 15oz cans kidney beans - undrained
2 - 15oz cans stewed tomatoes - undrained (cut up, I use kitchen shears and it works great)
3 Cups water
1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 pkg frozen white corn kernels
1 envelope taco seasoning (if you like it spicy get the spicy mix or add peppers)
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips


Brown meat with onions in a frying pan on the stove and drain excess liquid. (Another way is to cook your meat in the microwave and drain, don't add the onions if cooking in the microwave). In a large pot add all ingredients except cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 min. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips. Crock Pot Method: Brown meat in microwave, drain. Add all ingredients to the crockpot including chopped onion. Cook on High for four hours, or low for 6 hours. Serve with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Easiest Marinated Flank Steak EVER!

One of my favorite recipes for steak is something we found in the newspaper in San Jose, CA. It was so simple yet so amazingly flavorful. I tell you, nothing beats a good grilled flank steak, the way it melts in your mouth as you take that first yummy bite... Mmmmmm! We serve this at the Lodge and it is probably one of our most requested dishes ever. Everyone seems to love this steak. It is so flavorful, but the flavor doesn't overpower the taste of the steak itself, it enhances it. This is a great dish for summer or anytime as long as you have access to a grill. This dish is definitely one that needs to be barbequed. I like a longer marinating time, if you can marinate the steak for 48 hours that is ideal, but 24 hours works well too. Hope you enjoy this steak as much as we do!


1 large flank steak
1 bottle dark beer (guiness, port or stout work best)
1/2 bottle soy sauce
12 garlic cloves


Place steak and all ingredients in a large ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours prior to grilling. Place steak on preheated grill (Medium - High heat). Grill approximately 10-15 min per side, or until desired "doneness".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cedar Plank Salmon...

My mouth waters just thinking about it. We were figuring out a recipe for salmon for our summer menu at the lodge and trying to come up with a way of cooking the salmon that was different than how we'd been serving it thus far. Not that the salmon from the winter/spring menu wasn't super yummy, but mostly just to change things up a bit. I'd always wanted to try making cedar plank salmon but wasn't sure how or where to start for that matter. I did a search for recipes on cedar plank salmon and it was a bit overwhelming. I finally decided to try a recipe for cedar plank salmon with a toasted pecan beurre blanc sauce. Oh my goodness! It was amazing, and after a couple of trials and errors, figured out the perfect amount of time to soak the cedar planks for a wonderful cedar flavor with a hint of smokiness to it. The salmon alone melted in your mouth, but when you add the beurre blanc sauce to it, a whole new dimension in taste explodes in your mouth! If you have cedar planks available to you, I'd highly recommend stocking up on them, because once you make this, you won't want to go back to regular salmon again!

Cedar Plank Salmon with Toasted Pecan Beurre Blanc Sauce


3 TBS Shallots Finely chopped
3/4 Cups white dry wine
1 TBS Champagne wine vinegar
3 TBS Heavy Cream
1/4 Lb sweet cream butter
3 TBS Chicken Stock
3 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/3 cup toasted pecans
5 salmon fillets


*Soak Cedar Planks in water for two hours prior to grilling.

STEP ONE: Toasted Pecan Beurre Blanc Sauce--
Combine all ingredients except the salmon, butter, and pecans in a medium saucepan and bring to a vigorous boil.
Reduce stock down to about 1/3 and adjust heat to a medium flame.
Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time, until completely melted, and strain.
Add salt, pepper, and toasted pecans.

STEP TWO: Preparation of the Fillets-- brush with olive oil, and and place on a prepared cedar plank and grill until fish is tender and flaky (about 6 to 7 minutes on each side). Serve fillets topped with Beurre Blanc sauce.