Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jello Punch Slush

For the baby shower, we went with a Jello punch recipe from allrecipes. My friend remembered having it at a retirement celebration last fall, and if it's good enough to remember for the next shower, it must be good! We just cut the sugar drastically and it was plenty sweet. This was good stuff, and fun because you can make it whatever color you want! Keep the pineapple and orange juice in mind--we didn't think about that and turned out with green punch when we intended to have blue. It turned out perfect because it matched our green cupcakes, but keep the color combos in mind:)

Jello Punch Slush (Luscious Slush)
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
2 (3 oz) packages jello (whatever flavor you like)
46 oz pineapple juice
juice of 4 lemons
1 quart orange juice
2 (2 liter) bottles lemon lime soda (diet works great)

Bring sugar, water, and jello to a boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and stir in juice. Place in ziploc bags or containers and freeze overnight. About thirty minutes before serving, place slush mix in punch bowls. Pour the soda over the slush mix about five minutes before serving and break up any big chunks.

slightly adapted from allrecipes

Monday, February 27, 2012

Little Slugger's Baby Shower (and cream cheese icing)

My friend/coworker is having a baby within the next few weeks and our department was honored to host a shower for her. They are doing the nursery in baseball/Yankees theme, so we went with it for our party. Another friend/coworker made some cute invitations with a baseball theme and then we got together to make the sweet treats for the shower. It was right after lunch on inservice, so we just served dessert. The shower turned out great and the mom and dad to be both enjoyed it!
We used scrapbook paper in baseball themes to decorate the table. The punch was supposed to be blue, but once we mixed in the flavorings, it was green, so we went with it. We decided it tied in the green of the grass on the cupcakes:) We rimmed the punch cups with a little corn syrup (hard to get sugar to stick to plastic) and blue sugar. To make blue sugar, I just put 1/2 cup of sugar in a mason jar along with about 5 drops of blue food coloring and shook it up. It looked like our department was serving margaritas at a school baby shower:)

For the treats, we made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and devil's food cupcakes with buttercream. The friend I decorated with had the great idea to make grass as the icing and then put our baseball picks in them. I found the baseball picks at Hobby Lobby for a great price and the monogram picks in the clearance section! We were planning on making them, so I was a little relieved to find them already made at a great price.

Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
~4 cups powdered sugar
~3 tbsp milk
splash of almond or vanilla extract

Cream together cream cheese and butter for about two minutes with electric mixer. Add in powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, then milk. You may need more milk depending on the consistency you're going for. Add in the flavoring. Whip icing for about two minutes to incorporate more air. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

After smashing the first potato, I thought I was destined to be the next entry on craftfail. (If you have ever heard of Pinterest, or even if you haven't, you have to check out that site. hilarious!!) The directions specifically say that you should smash them but leave them in one piece. I am not a very gentle person, so smashing something to me means you should really smash it. It burst and spewed out all sides of the towel. I started using the side of my bench scraper and just slowly pressing down on that and it worked beautifully. Now don't get worried--this is not a difficult recipe!! In fact, I like that it is broken up into three fifteen minute chunks because I had time to do other stuff in between, like respond to a few emails, work on homework, and walk Bear around the block(not a long attention span for the first two items on that list!).
I LOVE vinegar. I used to think salt and vinegar chips and anyone who ate them were disgusting. Now I'm one of those disgusting people who loves them. My roommate in college (hi, Gma!) would tell me that they're so gross, they're good. Well they're totally not gross, but I can finally understand where she's coming from!
Good tip from Ms. Stewart herself (doubt she learned this in prison): you can boil and smash these, then refrigerate them until you're close to service time and bake them off when you're ready. Great for dinner parties or just planning ahead!
Well, enough dialogue about potatoes. I served them with some steamed peas and thyme roasted chicken drumsticks. And a couple thin mints for dessert:)

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

serves 4
12 red, fingerling, or golden sweet yellow baby potatoes
Olive oil cooking spray or olive oil (time to get a Misto!!)
Sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Malt vinegar, to taste (~1/4 cup)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, then reduce heat to a "rapid simmer" and cook potatoes in water for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain potatoes.
While potatoes cook, preheat oven to 450 F.
Lay a dish towel or paper towel flat and place a few potatoes on it. Lay a paper towel over the top. Carefully (ha!) smash the potato with the heel of your hand or the side of a bench scraper. It should be kind of flat but all in one piece. Do this to all of the potatoes, then carefully place on a lined baking sheet. Spray the potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 15-20 minutes on each side, then sprinkle with malt vinegar, to taste.

found on Pinterest and traced back to Martha

Had a great time at the Martina McBride/George Strait concert this weekend! We had really good seats and as soon as I figured out the flash, I got some better pictures. Martina is so awesome in person. No zoom on that pic of George walking in...but yes, there was some zoom used on the singing shot! Great concert!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake

My Valentine loves mushrooms, so I put this on our menu for the 14th. He got me a beautiful orchid and some of my favorite treats, and he got mushrooms in return:) The only thing I'd change for next time is to add mustard into the sauce to add to the flavor, so I'm adding that in to the recipe here. If you love mushrooms and pasta, this is one of the many I have here suited perfectly for you!

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake
serves 4
8 oz uncooked whole wheat pasta
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup diced onion
12 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
2 cups skim milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup grated Italian blend cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
Spray 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about two minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms, thyme, s&p, garlic, and W sauce. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about five minutes. Remove mushroom mixture from pan.
Add the flour to the pan and start whisking. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk and whisk to form a ball, then slowly pour the remaining milk in, whisking constantly. Stir in the mustard and simmer for about five minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings (can add your favorite seasonings here...nutmeg, cayenne, whatever you like).
Remove sauce from heat and stir in the mushroom mixture. Pour into baking dish, top with remaining cheese, and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven, let stand for five minutes, then serve.

adapted from Cooking Light

The "octagon of doom" packed with purple for the K-State/KU game! We put up a decent fight, but left without the W. We had fun and totally paid for it the next day after getting home from Manhattan at around 1 AM!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spicy Mustard Shrimp

I'm going to make a bold statement here (well, bold for me and food anyway) and say that this is my favorite Cooking Light recipe to date! I have tried a lot of CL recipes and really enjoyed a lot of them, but wow, this was a winner. The couscous I put with it definitely has something to do with it, but this combination of flavors and textures was right up my alley! Plus, this is practically thrown together since it took all of fifteen minutes to make. It is fresh, light, and yummy!!

Spicy Mustard Shrimp

Makes 4 servings

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp canola oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce
1 cup diced pineapple
chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
4 lime wedges

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock

Bring chicken stock to a boil, add couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Allow couscous to cook for about 10 minutes while you cook the shrimp.
Combine mustard and hot sauce.
Heat oil in saute pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp and saute one minute. Add mustard mixture, stir, and saute another two minutes. Stir in pineapple and let heat through. If your sauce reduced too much, add a tablespoon or so of water (you want it to be on the thick side, but depending on your heat source, it may be clumpy...add water if you need it!).
Serve shrimp over couscous and top with chopped cilantro. Squeeze lime wedge on each serving before eating.

slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grown Up Spaghettios

I am finally going back through the last 3.5 years of posts and tagging things to make this site easier to search, and I noticed I have a lot of soups on here. Seriously, a lot. When I finally finish tagging, I'll put the tags up on the page and you'll see how many soups are on here!
Well, here's one more! Like Nicole, I didn't grow up on spaghettios, but I like veggies and tomato soup and am always looking for a new healthy soup to take to work. This makes six large (two cup) servings of soup that (according to Nicole's calculations) are right around 200 calories each. Not too shabby considering there is pasta and sausage in this! This will fill you up through the afternoon snack time and reheats really well, too! I would suggest putting the spinach in only the portion you will be eating. Reheat the soup, then stir in the spinach each time you reheat a portion. Your spinach will wilt from the heat of the liquid, but it won't get mushy from being in liquid and being reheated.
I tasted canned spaghettios just to see the resemblance, and the liquid part of this really does taste a lot like this (except it tastes more like real food). If you like spaghettios, I think you'll really like these.

Grown Up Spaghettios

8 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 oz lean turkey sausage
29 oz tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups whole wheat macaroni
4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
1 large zucchini, rondelle

Brown and crumble sausage in a medium stockpot. Remove sausage, drain stockpot of any fat, and return to the heat. Saute garlic in bottom of pan for about thirty seconds, then add chicken stock and tomato puree. Bring to a boil, then add noodles and boil for 12 minutes. Add zucchini and Italian seasoning, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in baby spinach and adjust seasonings to taste.

slightly adapted from Prevention RD (Nicole)

Check out what we did this weekend: WWE Raw at the downtown arena. I've never been to a wrestling event before and it was pretty entertaining. It's so funny how so many people get into fake fighting! As long as you go into it with a sense of humor and don't believe what's going on, it's decent entertainment. Thanks to Thayne for hooking us up with the box seats!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 6

2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon cold water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup lite soy sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

3. Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Bistro Dinner Salad

This hearty main dish salad is kind of a twist on one of my favorites, breakfast for dinner. With bacon, fried egg, walnuts, feta, and pear, it feels rich and indulgent, but is light on the calories. All of those ingredients pack big flavor in small amounts, so you don't have to add much of any of them. If you're going for a "meat light" dinner that's big on flavor and satisfying, this is it!
For someone who said she didn't like eggs or bacon about two years ago, this is a big turn around. Bacon is quickly moving up my list and eggs with a runny yolk are the only way to eat them! (I mean it, the only way I'll eat them:)

Bistro Dinner Salad

serves 2

2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 ripe pear, chopped
mixed greens
2 sliced center cut low sodium bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 eggs

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Heat small skillet to medium heat and add nuts. Stir frequently until toasted. (They'll give an aroma so you know they're done--don't burn them!)
Cook eggs how you like, but a runny yolk is the best! I like to heat a nonstick skillet to medium heat and crack the egg directly into the skillet. Allow to cook for a minute or so, then I baste the pan with water. I pour in just enough to go under the egg and cover the surface of the skillet, then cover the pan with a lid for about a minute, and get a perfectly runny egg!
To make dressing, combine vinegar, honey, and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste.
Toss greens with dressing, then pear and cheese. Plate greens, top with egg, then top with walnuts and crumbled bacon.

slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, February 2, 2012

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

Oooooh, this stuff was good! I know I've said this before, but Norris said I should make this every week because he liked it so much. The funny part is that I put out the same extra sharp white cheddar cheese to snack on a couple weeks ago and he crinkled his nose and wouldn't eat it. I put it in this pasta and now he wants to eat it every third night! (that Salisbury steak with mushrooms from last week was on his rotation along with something else that I can't remember. I obviously didn't listen to the request to have this every third day..that wouldn't be any fun!!) This is creamy and almost tastes like alfredo, but with some tang from the cheese. I dropped the cheese to half of the original amount because I think part of the point of using really flavorful cheese is that you don't have to use as much. It really was plenty, even for my cheese loving husband. Give it a try when you're in the mood for a comfort food pasta dish!

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

Serves 4 generous portions

1 lb chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced (I used onion powder and some dried onion since Norris will eat those, but not real onion!)
1 tbsp flour (might need a little more)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup fat free half and half
4 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (start here and add more if you feel it needs it, but I didn't think it needed any more)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano

8 oz pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions

Heat olive oil for chicken in large skillet. Add chicken to skillet, brown on both sides, and cook until cook through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
In the same pan, heat the additional olive oil. Saute the garlic and onion for about three minutes, or until soft. Add flour and whisk to combine. Whisk in 1/4 cup of chicken stock, being sure to get the clumps of flour whisked in. Cook for about one minute, until bubbly, then add the remaining chicken stock, mustard, half and half, thyme, and oregano. Simmer until mixture thickens some, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and cook until melted. Add the chicken and pasta to the skillet, toss to coat, and serve.