Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
from Better Homes and Garden (It's their Cheesecake Supreme Recipe with some tweaks)

Here is the recipe I followed:


               1 1/2
cups finely crushed graham crackers
               1 TBSP Sugar
teaspoon ground cinnamon
cup butter, melted
8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
cup sugar
tablespoons all-purpose flour
teaspoon vanilla
 slightly beaten eggs
cup milk
In a medium mixing bowl stir together crushed graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and about 2 inches up sides of an 8- or 9-inch spring form pan; set aside.
Soften cream cheese. In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon peel (if using); beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add eggs all at once, beating on low speed just until combined (do not overbeat). Stir in milk.
Pour filling into crust-lined pan. If desired, top with reserved crumbs. Place on a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch pan, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, or until center appears nearly set when shaken gently.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a sharp, thin bladed knife to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan; cool for 30 minutes more. Remove the sides of the pan; cool cheesecake completely. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. Top cheesecake with sour cream and spoon on seedless red raspberry preserves; swirl with a spoon, if desired. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Click Here for the Recipe

I did not use their "optional" options and I just added half a bag of mini chocolate chips to the top (my friend Diana's idea) and then I topped it with fresh sliced organic strawberries!

Meat loaf Sloppy Joes

Meat loaf Sloppy Joes

Budget Supper
Meat loaf Sloppy Joes are a great way to save money and still eat amazing food

Leftovers make for delicious, inexpensive, and easy sandwiches to take to work or school the next day.

Olive oil spray
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup canned sloppy joe sauce
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound 96% lean ground beef
1/3 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 clove fresh garlic, minced

Preheat the oven 350°F. Lightly mist a 9" x 5" x 3" nonstick loaf pan (a slightly smaller one is okay) with the olive oil spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup of the sloppy joe sauce, and the egg whites. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, or until the oats begin to soften. Add the beef, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. With a fork or clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread so that the top is flat. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup sloppy joe sauce evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink in the center. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into 8 slices and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Per Serving: Calories 229.8, Total Fat 5.4 g, Saturated Fat 1.4 g, Cholesterol 61.8 mg, Sodium 343.5 mg, Total Carbs 15.8 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Sugars 3.8 g, Protein 27.5 g

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

by Williams-Sonoma

Pumpkin puree is a key ingredient in fall pies, but it can also be used in breads, custards, ice creams, soups and a host of other dishes. If you’d rather skip the canned stuff, here’s how you can make it at home:

Roast the pumpkin
Place a small whole pumpkin on a baking sheet and roast it in a preheated 350°F oven until it can be easily pierced with a knife, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. For a shorter roasting time, slice the pumpkin in half and roast it, cut side down, in 1 inch of water in a baking dish until tender, about 45 minutes.

Scoop & puree
Let the pumpkin cool, then cut it in half crosswise (if not already done) and scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and puree the flesh in a blender or food processor or with a food mill.

Now that you have the base ready, try these recipes featuring pumpkin puree. Substitute homemade puree for canned when applicable.

Turkey Lentil Chili with Torta Rolls

Turkey Lentil Chili with Torta Rolls
From the Kitchen of Denise Pugh


1 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups (48 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups lentils, rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, un-drained
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a Dutch oven, cook turkey and onions over medium heat until no longer pink and onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Instead of all lentils I sometimes use a mix of rice, lentils and split-pea. You can also add or subtract the chili powder to your liking.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Susan's Homemade Croutons

Susan's Homemade Croutons
From the Kitchen of Susan Reid

3-4T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 (1 inch) slices French bread, cubed

Combine all ingredients in large zip loc bag; seal and shake well. Spread cubes on a 15X10 jellyroll pan; bake at 425 for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doc's Chili

Doc's Chili

Short on prep time, long on flavor and freezer friendly!

A simmering pot of Doc's Chili was found on the ranch stove every week during Season 2. The invention of contestant Dr. Jeff Levine, this crowd-pleasing dish is short on preparation time and long on flavor.

3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 pound lean ground turkey or lean turkey sausage
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans or 1 can (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
3 cups diced tomatoes or 1 can (28 ounces) roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup black olives
1/2 cup chopped scallions or chopped fresh cilantro

Coat a large saucepan or Dutch oven with a few sprays of cooking spray. Add onions and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and just starting to brown. Add ground turkey and cook over medium high heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, for 6 minutes, or until cooked through. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, mustard, garlic, beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Garnish with olives and green onions or cilantro and serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/4 quarts; 12 (1-cup) servings

Per Serving: 161.9 calories, 5.1 g total fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 20.9 mg cholesterol, 505.5 mg sodium, 19.4 g total carbohydrates, 6.1 g dietary fiber, 1.7 g sugars, 11 g protein

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Chicken Caesar Salad

My Chicken Caesar Salad
From the kitchen of Stephanie

Organic Romain Lettuce
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Texas Toast Caesar Croutons (I choose these because there is no High Fructose Corn Syrup or you can also make homemade ones)
Newman's Extra Virgin Olive Oil Caesar Dressing
Organic Chicken Breasts (2)


1. Marinate the chicken in Salad Dressing (in an oven proof dish) for 1-2 hours
2. Cook Chicken at 375 for 35 minutes covered (in the same dish you marinated the chicken in), 5 minutes uncovered
3. While Chicken is cooking, wash and chop lettuce (I like to put paper towels in the bottom of my bowl and them put the lettuce on top to catch any extra water that drips off. Place bowl of lettuce in fridge.
4. Once the Chicken is done, I take it out and let it sit for about 5 minutes before chopping.
5. While waiting for the Chicken to cool, I shred the Parmesan onto the lettuce and add Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
6. Then add the diced, warm chicken and croutons
7. Finish with adding dressing and toss...serve immediately

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Here's a quick, healthy black bean soup full of fiber and protein

If you don't have an immersion blender, just bring the mixture to a simmer for a minute then transfer to a traditional blender or food processor and puree.

2 (15-ounce) cans 50% less-sodium black beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups water
3/4 cup minced celery
3/4 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeno chile pepper (wear plastic gloves when handling)
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Ground black pepper, to taste
Red-pepper flakes, to taste

Combine three-fourths of the black beans, one-half of the tomatoes, and the water in a large nonstick saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. With an immersion blender, puree until mostly smooth. (Note: When using an immersion blender, make sure not to scratch the bottom of your nonstick pan.)

Add the remaining black beans and tomatoes, along with the celery, onion, chile pepper, garlic, and cumin. Season with black pepper and red-pepper flakes. Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar for steam to escape, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender. Divide the soup evenly among 6 soup bowls and serve.

6 servings; serving = 1 cup

Per serving: Calories 124.7, Total Fat 0.1 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 414.3 mg, Potassium 81.3 mg, Total Carbohydrate 24.8 g, Dietary Fiber 1.2 g, Sugars 2 g, Protein 6.4 g

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Warm Pasta Salad

I love summer for so many reasons, one of them being that I love all of the fresh veggies. I have been making a lot of pasta dishes lately and throwing in whatever veggies I have on hand in the dish.

I also love pasta salad and so tonight I thought I'd try to make a warm pasta salad as a main course. Read the following to find out what I did:

Tonight, I have zucchini, asparagus, sweet onion, green onion, carrots, mushrooms, sweet yellow and red peppers, broccoli, and tomato (I know, it's technically a fruit). All of these are fresh and all of them are organic. While waiting for my pasta water to boil, I chopped these veggies up and set in them in a bowl for later.

I then added 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 of a sweet onion (diced), and about 1-2 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to my wok and sauteed until translucent. I then added all of the fresh cut veggies and sauteed until tender/crisp. While cooking the veggies, I added salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper to give it just a little kick.

While the veggies were cooking, I added the pasta to the boiling water and cooked according the package.

When the pasta and veggies were done, I combined them and added, goat cheese (I told you I have been a little obsessed with it lately), just a little Italian dressing, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

I mixed all together in the wok over low heat, so that the goat cheese would have a chance to get nice and melted. I then topped it all off with parm again!

Serve immediately....hoping the left overs are just as good cold as warm! :)


2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 tbsp EVOO
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
a pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Whatever veggies you have on hand (here is what I used):
Sweet Onion
Green Onions (the whole thing)
Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
Goat Cheese (I like a lot...about 1/2 to 3/4 of a tub)
Freshly Grated Parmesan
Italian Dressing (I prefer Newman's Own Organic Tuscan Italian)

1. Cook Pasta according to directions
2. Dice/chop veggies and saute with EVOO, garlic, and seasonings
3. Mix pasta and veggies together in sautee pan, over low heat, and add goat cheese and Italian Dressing.
4. Heat until Goat Cheese is soft.
5. Top with Parm and serve

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

A new tradition that we've started in our family is having breakfast for dinner once a week.

This started because Madison LOVES breakfast and she doesn't always love what we eat for dinner. Madison is a great eater, but she definitely has some favorites, so I try to accommodate them when I can. Thus, breakfast for dinner.

Tonight we are going to have pancakes, scrambled eggs with goat cheese, and apple smoked bacon.

For the pancakes I just use Trader Joe's Pancake mix (I cut the recipe in half when we have other items served with it)

For the Eggs, I use equal whole eggs to egg whites. So, tonight I will use 4 eggs and 4 egg whites and about three tablespoons of milk. I whisk them all together and scramble them in a frying pan. When they are just about done, I will add about three tablespoons of goat cheese to the eggs and finish cooking while the goat cheese melts through.

For the Bacon I also use a favorite from Trader Joes, Apple Smoked Bacon (containing no nitrites or nitrates)!

Adding breakfast once week has also saved us money. I typically have most of these items on hand already, so it's one less meal a week that I have to buy ingredients for!

Take a break! Enjoy breakfast for dinner one night this week! If you do, share what you had...I think next week we'll have crepes!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
From the Kitchen of Kelly Hunt

• 1 cup unsalted butter
• 1 ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Cream together butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugars. Beat in eggs.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter. Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour.
3. Form dough into balls, roll in sugar, gently fork top to create cookie shape.
4. Roll into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 9-10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.
5. You can put a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle once baked if you wish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fall is Coming

I love Fall!

Fall has such fun recipes!

I was given a sneak preview of Fall in our recent trip to Tennessee. During one of the rainy days there, we had a most delicious lunch that I had to share with you.

My friend Renee prepared the "Roasted Red Pepper" Soup from Trader Joes...she heated it on the stove and then added some of her own seasonings to fancy it up (garlic, salt, and pepper) Then just after pouring each bowl of soup she topped it with Goat Cheese...genius!

True Confession: I am obsessed with Goat Cheese right now!

Anyway, so she topped each bowl of soup with Goat Cheese....which translated equalled the equivalent of food heaven. I will definitely be doing this A LOT this fall with all different sorts of soups (pumpkin and butternut squash soup comes to mind).

We also had yummy grilled cheese sandwiches (another favorite in our house).

An aside: I have never liked tomatoes, but just recently (about a month ago) I started adding them to things and I've since decided I really like them cooked...not such a fan of them cold (in salads and such), but I do like them warm.

Okay, back to the grilled cheese sandwiches. Renee used Sour Dough (our bread of choice as well for a grilled cheese) and then proceeded to spread pesto (a favorite of mine on pizza and paninis) and filled the sandwiches with munster cheese (another favorite) and thinly sliced tomatoes...who'd have thought! I've had grilled cheese with tomato soup, but never tomatoes in grilled cheese. I LOVED it!

Well, last night we were feeling a little under the weather so we made soup and grilled cheese. I mimicked the grilled cheese, but also added some black forest ham. So fun!

Then tonight, I was in the mood for it again (I mean I had the fresh tomatoes, so why not). Tonight I made it a little differently. I did pesto, munster, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms! Oh my goodness, I loved it...wish I had also added some spinach!

I can't wait for Fall to truly arrive here in Southern California because soups and stews are calling my name, along with A LOT of Fall baking!

If you have any Fall recipes that you'd like to share, I would LOVE to post them and to also try them!