Thursday, August 4, 2016

I'm Moving to a new website!

Thank you all for visiting!  I've been here for quite some time but I realize it's time to upgrade a bit.  I'm in the process of moving all my recipes over to my new website.
 Please head on over to my new kitchen to see all your favorite recipes as well as new ones!

And if you need to get a hold of me with questions or concerns, please shoot me an email at:

Much love!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Cheesy Pot Pie Casserole

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m racing through Fry’s Grocery in Scottsdale, AZ.  I waited until the very last minute to buy everything for the camping trip I had planned.  As I ogle the massive veggie section of this Fry’s, I start to run down the list of items I need to feed everyone for the 3 day weekend.  I grab an onion here, a bell pepper there, a few carrots, some celery, and the list goes on and on.  I added in some chicken, a little pasta, and some stuff to make things saucy!  This is going to be a healthy twist on some serious pot pie flavors.

Fast forward to Saturday night where I’m prepping and whipping up a casserole that puts most of my others to shame.  This casserole has the flavor of a high calorie dish but the actual calorie count of something much healthier.  Learning the balance of fats to veggies to proteins can be vital when you’re trying to create healthier dishes in your home.  For instance, you can use evaporated milk in place of half and half or heavy cream (depending on the dish).  This allows the dish to stay creamy but with fewer calories.

This dish is not only healthy, but the clean up is a cinch.  The majority of the dish is cooked in one pot through different stages.  This not only prevents a ton of pot and pan clean up, but it means you’re paying more attention to what’s in front of you rather than spreading yourself too thin across the stove top if you’re not comfortable doing that every night.  And who doesn’t love fewer dishes?

Cheesy Pot Pie Casserole

Prep Time:
Cooking Time:
Serves: 10

8 oz whole wheat egg noodles
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, quartered length wise and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
3 cans low sodium chicken broth (14-16 oz)
1 can fat free evaporated milk (5 oz)
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (halved length wise)
8 oz light Mexican blend cheese
½ c. frozen peas
¾ c. Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Salt
1 ½ tsp pepper

1. Bring a pot full of water to boil.  This will be the only pot you use through the whole dish, make sure it’s a decent size one.  Once boiling, add in the pasta and cook it al dente (cooked just enough to bite through, but it’s still firm).  This should take about 5 minutes.
2. Drain the noodles, rinse until cool and then set aside in a bowl.
3. In the original pot, pour in the olive oil and turn up to medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, stir in the bell peppers, onion, celery, and carrot.  Sprinkle them with just a pinch of salt.  Cook these until the onions are transparent and the carrots are just soft enough that you’re not crunching through them.
4. Toss in the thyme and stir the veggies for another minute.  Transfer veggies to a second bowl.
5. Combine the evaporated milk and 2 of the cans of chicken broth in the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once it’s at a rolling boil, add the chicken to cook.
6. Once the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes or to 155 degrees internally, pull it out of the liquid.  Remove the pot from the hot burner and shred the chicken into bite size pieces.  Heat your oven to 425 degrees at this point.
7. Whisk 5 Tbsp of chicken broth in with the cornstarch.  Bring the pot back to a boil with remaining chicken broth to replenish what boiled off while cooking the chicken.  Add the cornstarch mixture once it’s boiling to thicken.  After 1 minute, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese until smooth.
8. Throw in the chicken, the veggies, the noodles, and the peas.  Season with 1 ½ tsp salt and 1/ ½ tsp pepper.  Mix it well and pour into a 9X13 inch baking dish.
9. Mix the Panko with the parsley and garlic.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.  Put in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Perfect" Steak Tips and Tricks

I've made a lot of steak in my day but before we moved down to Phoenix, we had a grill.  That was easy peasy and the staple of our Friday night grill/game night.  Once we moved to Phx, I had to grow up a little (ok a lot) in the cooking without a grill department!  We were gifted a small George Foreman by an aunt and that was one of the best indoor inventions ever.  But it just doesn't do steak justice.  So I use that for chicken and veggies.
I ended up finally getting myself an inexpensive cast iron pan (as any well stocked kitchen should have) and I have yet to regret my $12 spent!  Here are some tips and tricks I've learned in my researching for making the "perfect" steak!

  • Heat the pan on High but cook the steak on Medium heat.
  • Let the meat rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Pat the steak as dry as you can get it to prevent "steaming" while cooking.
  • Before seasoning, use a basting brush and cover both sides with Worcestershire sauce.
  • Some people believe that salting before cooking is a bad idea.  I say to each his own.  I love to have the salt in the crust of the steak. :)
  • For a 1" steak (kind of a guideline to adjust based on thickness):  Medium Rare: 2.5 mins on each side, 1.5 mins in 400 degree oven, Medium: 3 mins on each side, 2.5 mins in 400 degree oven, Well done: 4 mins on each side, 3 mins in 400 degree oven.
  • If you're doing a compound butter, slab it on top before you put it in the oven.
  • Don't trim the fat off the steak until after it's cooked.  This gives it more flavor while cooking.
  • If you don't finish the steak in the oven, cook on both sides twice.  Usually about 2-3 mins for each flip.
  •  Always remember that a steak continues to cook even after it's out of the pan.
  • Compound butters can be made with just about anything in your pantry.  They make a perfect topping if you want just a little more than the steak by itself.  Once mixed REALLY well, wrap in parchment paper and freeze for when you need it.  Don't be afraid to get creative and fresh herbs give it just a touch of color!
  • Try to shoot for steaks that are at least an 1" thick.  Anything thinner tends to dry out much quicker.
As I come across more tips and tricks I'll continue to add to the list!  These are just some of the different helpful things floating around out there!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Turkey and Pepper Soup

So my love for soup grows every day so I'm trying all kinds of soups and tweaking here and there!  This is also made in the crock pot so it's a huge time saver :)  This soup is really high in protein and low in calories and extremely filling.  Makes for a great lunch or snack.

Turkey and Pepper Soup

*Makes 6 servings

1 lb. Ground Turkey
3 Bell Peppers, any color (chopped kinda big)
1/2 Onion (chopped)
2 cups Cauliflower (minced)
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 can Tomato Sauce
1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
3 cups Beef Stock
1/2 tsp. Basil
1/2 tsp. Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Brown the turkey in a pan.
2. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mom's Texas Sheet Cake

My mother told me the story of how we came into the posession of this recipe.  It's pretty neat actually.  A lady called up my grandmother and asked if it would be ok to bring a cake to my parent's reception.  My grandmother agreed and so this kind lady brought a Texas sheet cake to the party.  It was a nice contrast so the guests had their choice of chocolate or vanilla wedding cake.  My mother fell in love with the cake and spent years trying to track her down for the recipe.  Once she got her hands on it, she made it as often as possible!  I rarely remember desserts unless it was this or her Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake sitting on the counter! :)

Mom's Texas Sheet Cake

*Makes 1 11X17 pan full of cake **cookie sheet for those who don't have their tape measures handy :P

1 Stick of Butter
1/2 C. Crisco
4 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 C. Water
2 C. Flour
2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Buttermilk
2 Eggs (slightly beaten)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Vanilla

1 Stick of Butter
4 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
6 Tbsp. Milk
1 lb. Powdered Sugar (sift!)
1 tsp. Vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour a cookie sheet.
3. In a saucepan, (for the cake) melt butter, crisco, coaco, and water.  Bring to a rapid boil.
4. In a bowl, add flour and sugar.  Pour the melt over this and stir.
5. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla and stir.  Don't over work it *don't want to activate the glutens*.  Just stir enough to get the lumps out.
6. Pour into the cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
7. **15 minutes into the cake baking**  In a saucepan, (for frosting) melt butter, cocoa, and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Mix well, keep stirring until it's smooth.
8. At this point the cake should be just about done.  Pull it out and frost while the cake is STILL HOT.  This allows the frosting to melt more and seep into the pores of the cake!
9. You can stop here and let the cake cool or you can go one step further and sprinkle chopped pecans on top before the frosting hardens.

*fun fact, this cake is great for freezing!  Cut up and wrap individual size pieces in saran wrap and store in a Ziploc bag*

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Baked Taco Salad Shells

If anyone has EVER read this blog, you should all know how much I love Mexican food!  And let me tell you, taco salads are no exception!  (although I make mine more on the unhealthy side versus a REAL taco SALAD. :)  It essentially turns into a huuuuuuuuge tostada!  Anywho, to make them a touch healthier, I bake tortillas to make the shell rather than buying crap fried and packaged ones!  They come out great, nice and crispy with great flavor rather than tasting like oil!

**I do have to admit, I'd kill for the as seen on TV shell mold! But to save money, I just use wide mouthed bowls that are corningware.

Baked Taco Salad Shells

*makes however many you wanna make but I can only fit 2 in my oven at a time.

Burrito Sized Tortillas (I have used a ton of different types of tortillas and this brand is the absolute best.  They don't burn, they crisp up nice!)
Non-Stick Spray

1. Set oven to 275 degrees.
2. Spray both sides of the tortillas with the non stick spray and put in whatever dish you choose.  (I just use wide mouth corningware)

3. Put the dishes on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Check regularly after about 20 mins because the time varies with ovens.

4. When it's browned to your liking, pull out and fill with all your favorite goodies!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Perfect Green Smoothie

Ah the smoothie...  What an intimidating meal when you don't have a worthwhile blender!  I must admit I went years without making them just because of that!  Between my lack of breakfast choices and my grumbly tummy every morning at work, I decided that it was probably time to get on the ball.  I asked the Shrinking Jeans community for tips, pointers, recipes, ideas, etc.  The diversity is endless based on your own personal preference!  This chart lays out the perfect ratio for a green smoothie, but you have to have quite a large blender of some sort for it, so below, I'm going to share my amounts that makes just the right amount for one person in a Magic Bullet (which is what I happen to have).  My smoothies are low in calories, gluten free, full of protein, and super tasty!  What's not to love?!

My Single Serving Formula:

*makes 16oz smoothie

1 C. Almond Milk
1/2 C. Spinach
1 Scoop Protein Powder (I go with Vanilla Whey Protein but you can go Soy for dairy free options)
1 C. Fruit

The directions are the same as the picture above and it comes out perfectly full every time for me :)

Different fruit combo choices:
*I'm a touch biased when it comes to fruits I like.  I also use frozen fruits because it's easy to portion and defrost the night before.*


(I like to add peanut butter and use chocolate protein powder in this one)




Go bust out your blender/Bullet/Ninja or whatever else you have and get some green in your diet! :)