Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter mini vacation

I think I'll always consider the lake a vacation. It's sometimes nice to just turn your phone off, not be very connected, and just relax. Some trips to the lake are more relaxing than others, but this one certainly ranked higher up on that relaxing list! There weren't many other people out there, so the dogs could run free, which they loved. The lake was iced over, so you can see Bruno in the picture below "walking on water". He definitely enjoyed that more than Bear did.
Also, I love the new camera Norris got me. It really captures colors a lot better than my old digital, and I think it does a pretty dandy job for a point and shoot!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lightened Up: Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

My meat and potatoes man loved this....and so did I! We just booked a return trip to the resort we went to last summer, which serves as good motivation to watch what's going in more. I know a lot of people are doing that in January, and if you're to the point where you're tired of yogurt and celery sticks (please tell me you're eating more than that anyway!) and looking for some new recipes, I have some great ones to try that we have been re-making lately. (linked at the end of this post)
 This salisbury steak definitely belongs on the list. It's warm, comforting, hearty, delicious, AND decently healthy! Not your traditional salisbury steak, but you would never guess based on the end result! I made mashed potatoes with a tiny amount of butter, skim milk, and roasted garlic and they were perfect with this meal and were also well received!

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Serves 4

1/2 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 tbsp minced dried onions
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 egg whites
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 1/4 cups beef broth
1/8 tsp salt
pinch black pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/3 cup water

Combine the meats, dried onions, onion powder, breadcrumbs, and egg whites in a bowl. Form four patties from this mixture.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and brown the patties on both sides. Remove patties and set aside. Drain skillet if necessary.
Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, or until lightly sweated (some of the moisture comes out of them). While mushrooms cook, combine beef broth, salt, pepper, flour, tomato paste, vinegar, W sauce, mustard powder, and water.
Return patties to the skillet and spread mushrooms evenly throughout the skillet.
Pour broth mixture in the skillet over the patties and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

slightly adapted from Skinny Taste

Other recipes to try if you're looking for some lighter options:

Crockpot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
"The Best" Vegetable Soup
Lowfat Chewy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Vegan Blueberry Banana Breakfast Snack Cake
Smoky Ham and Corn Salad
Shrimp Cobb Salad
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Chopped Apple Salad with toasted walnuts, feta, and pomegranate vinaigrette
Pear and Pomegranate Salad with gorgonzola and champagne vinaigrette
Oven Baked Okra
Macaroni and Cheese with cauliflower
Yogurt Poppyseed Muffins
Greek Chicken Wings with cucumber sauce
Laughing Cow Chicken
Lemon Parmesan Shrimp Pasta
Italian Turkey Burgers with basil garlic mayo
White Whisper Pasta
Steak and Potato Salad with chimichurri sauce

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blonde Chicken Chili

This one's for you, Granddad! My cousins always called my granddad "dadnarg" and I could never figure out why they called him that, so I just never called him that. I guess I figured it was some thing somebody used to call him (you know, like when little kids call their siblings something before they can speak very well and then it sticks). Finally one day in high school (pretty sure it wasn't all the way to college!!), the light bulb came on and I exclaimed "dadnarg is granddad spelled backward!!" as if I was the first one to figure that out. DUH!! Ever since then, Granddad has lovingly called me Blondie:)
PS- I promise I'm smarter than that in real life:)
Anyway, this is blonde chicken chili. I really like white chili and have loved Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili in the past. Our internet was out the day I intended to make Cha Cha's, so I wanted to see a recipe for another version. I based mine off of Michelle's recipe. It reheated really well and on most days, I stirred in a little hot sauce or buffalo sauce along with some shredded cheese. Good stuff!

Blonde Chicken Chili

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cooked and cubed
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz chopped green chiles
30 oz canned great Northern beans, undrained
15 oz white or yellow corn (depending on if you want a bleach blonde or a yellow blonde;)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a medium sized stockpot, cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until all pieces are evenly brown. Stir in the onions. Cook until translucent. Drain mixture and set aside.
In the same pot, bring the chicken broth and green chile peppers to a boil. Stir in great northern beans, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro and crushed red pepper. Stir in the chicken and onion mixture, and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes or longer, adding additional beans from the remaining cans for a thicker consistency as desired.
OR Do what I did and toss everything in a crockpot and eat it when you get home, whenever that may be!:)
adapted from allrecipes

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Owl Birthday Cake

A fun night with a girlfriend making a first birthday cake definitely went better than either of us expected! Her sweet baby girl is turning one in a couple of days and was an owl for Halloween, so an owl themed birthday party was a perfect fit. We made a two layer lemon cake with chocolate buttercream between the layers, iced it with white buttercream, then put store bought pink fondant over it. We made the owl out of rice krispies, then iced her in different colors of buttercream (we stuck the head to the body with toothpicks and those are the only stabilizers we needed to use). The letters are glittery sticky letters that we "glued" with buttercream. We made about 30-40 cupcakes in varying colors to go with her and they turned out really cute! This was a really fun project!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Balsamic Chicken

This chicken will be making many reappearances in our house. Grilled, baked, on its own, with pasta, in a cold pasta salad, with sauteed onion and bell pepper, and any other way we can think of it. I had low expectations going in, but we both loved it.
Toss the chicken in the marinade in the morning and it will be ready for you to cook when you get home from work. If you forget, just give it a twenty minute bath in the marinade and you'll still be set. Throw on the pasta water, cook the pasta and chicken at the same time, and you have a (less than) thirty minute meal!
Tonight I doubled the marinade and served the chicken over whole wheat spaghetti and sprinkled it with feta. Flavor combination winner! I kept thinking how very good it would be with some sweet onion or a little cilantro over the top. Basically all those ways I listed above are all the ways I talked about how I would like it while I was eating it:) Enjoy it any way you want!

Balsamic Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar

Combine vinegar, chicken broth, seasoning, garlic, and brown sugar and stir well. Marinate chicken in mixture for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. Cook whatever way you prefer--if you want the sauce, reduce the marinade on the stovetop (make sure it boils for at least 90 seconds). If you are cooking the chicken on the stovetop, cook it for about four minutes on each side, then add sauce and reduce for about five minutes (leave chicken in pan).
**To serve it over pasta, I doubled the marinade and reduced all of it.

adapted from
Happy New Year from our house to yours!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crockpot Steak and Potato Soup

Woah, I just signed on to post this and it told me my last post was my 500th. That's a lot of rambling and a lot of food! It will be fun to look back on and is a great place to store my recipes for my own reference. Hopefully someone out there is also finding something that works for you!

After I sat down to eat this, I finally realized it was basically beef stew in the crockpot. DUH. I jazzed up a version I found on Betty Crocker and came out with a good, comforting product. Norris loves this Campbell's steak and potato soup and I made this in an effort for him to eat the real stuff instead of the canned stuff. I served it with blueberry muffins and it made a great, filling, hot meal, even for my meat and potatoes guy!

Crockpot Steak and Potato Soup

8 cups beef broth
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 lb beef steak (whatever cut you would like to use...the only good looking and good priced ones at my store were petite sirloins, so I used those)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb small red potatoes, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour

**fresh spinach

Combine everything except water and flour in 5 qt crockpot and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.
Whisk flour into 1/2 cup water until well blended. Pour into crockpot and cook on high for thirty minutes, then serve. While you wait for that, bake up a batch of fresh bread to serve with the soup!

**I had some extra fresh spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, so I tossed a large handful in my bowl on top of the soup then stirred it in to wilt. I really liked the addition!

Makes 8 large bowls

adapted from Betty Crocker

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

White chocolate peppermint fudge brownies

This title seems wildly inappropriate for a January 3rd post, but I forgot to post it during the holiday season and don't want to forget about these!
A friend posted a picture of her holiday treat plate on facebook and I had to know what these little beauties were. She shared the source with me and we put them on our holiday baking list. I am sure glad we did because I really enjoyed these and I finally have a homemade brownie recipe that I really like! 
In the past, I've tried homemade brownies and they just never quite did it, but these are it: fudgy, rich, decadent...all the qualities of a perfect brownie. I definitely won't wait until next holiday season to make these brownies again, but I'll try out some new toppings...the caramel/pretzel topping I've seen floating around sounds pretty spectacular!
The parchment overhang is a really handy technique for taking the brownies out without butchering them. But if you're like me and want to pretend you didn't eat any because you just ate the ones that didn't come out very well, forget the overhang and just spray that pan!

from Real Simple

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies (about 15 candies)

  • Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  • Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
  • In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.
  • Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).
By Dawn Perry,  December 2011