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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Source- Meijer Meal Planner

I'm not really sure how I'm going to source these recipes. is the website for the grocery store that H and I shop at.  They have a meal planning tool where you can look through their recipes, add them to a list, and then add all the grocery items to a shopping list which you can then print.  Very convenient and they even offer coupons for some items.  
This was the first recipe H and I tried from the meal planner. 

The pizza crust I bought came with 2, so I actually doubled everything and made 2 pizzas for us.  Leftovers are fantastic.

  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 pre-cooked 12-inch pizza crust or focaccia
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Place pizza crust on baking sheet, brush lightly with small amount of olive oil.
  • Bake 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, leaving oven on.
  • Cut chicken breasts into 1/2-inch wide strips; sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • In medium skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  • Spread barbecue sauce on heated crust.
  • Top with onions, red peppers, chicken, and cheese.
  • Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Next Time-  H and I both loved this pizza.  He actually raved about it for a few days after.  The flavor is awesome.  H will definitely be asking me to make this again.  I think I'd be willing to add more red onion then I did.  I was worried about it being overpowering, but I think baking them took away their power. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Source- adapted from My Grandma

I changed things up a bit with this recipe.  The original is regular ole Banana Nut Bread.  I decided to change things up a bit by adding some chocolate chips because I was craving something chocolate, and lo-and-behold I was out of walnuts. 

I always use bananas that I've frozen and then thawed out.  If you have a banana going brown throw it in your freezer instead of throwing it out.  Then whenever the mood strikes you for something with mashed bananas, you just have to pull out 1 or 2 of these guys and let them thaw.  

If you want to sub the walnuts for the chocolate chips, make sure they are chopped well and you only need 1/2 cup.  

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup mashed banana, I use 2 full bananas
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients- flour, sugar, soda,  and powder
  • Add wet ingredients- banana, butter and eggs
  • Beat until well blended
  • Mix in chocolate chips
  • Spray bread pan with cooking spray
  • Pour mixture into pan
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees (My oven cooks faster so mine only needed about 50 minutes)

Next Time- I really liked the addition of the chocolate chips, as did my H.  I'll certainly be willing to make it this way again.  I also want to try it this way with the addition of the walnuts. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beef & Cheese Manicotti

Source-Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network

I love Giada.  Her recipes are so good, and some of them are so easy.  This one takes a little bit of time, but trust me, it is well worth it.  And since it is just H and I there were lots of leftovers, which both of us love.  Especially since we both liked this recipe so much.

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. 
  • Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.
  • Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. 
  • Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.
  • Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. 
  • Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. 
  • Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. 
  • Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. 
  • Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. 
  • Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. 
  • Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.
Next Time- Wow is this dish good!!  H really liked it too.  It may be a bit time consuming filling the shells, but it's worth it.  Nothing needs to be changed!

Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops

Source-Betty Crocker

Not sure what to say about this recipe.  I was just looking for another pork recipe since I bought a family pack when it was on sale. 

I used up our potatoes with the beer braised beef, which is why I omitted them.  Didn't take nearly as long to cook with just the onions and no bone in the pork.  But faster isn't a bad thing!


  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic-pepper blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups) (omitted)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges
  • 4 bone-in loin pork chops, 1/2 inch thick

  • Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 15x10x1-inch pan with cooking spray. 
  • In large bowl, mix mustard, oil, rosemary, garlic-pepper blend, seasoned salt and paprika. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mustard mixture.
  • Add potatoes and onion to remaining mustard mixture in bowl; toss to coat. Place vegetables in pan.
  • Roast uncovered 25 minutes. Turn and stir potato mixture. Brush pork chops with reserved 1 tablespoon mustard mixture. Add pork chops to corners of pan.
  • Roast uncovered 15 to 20 minutes longer or until pork is no longer pink when cut near bone and vegetables are tender.
Next Time- These had great flavor, and H and I both really liked the red onions.  It'd be nice to try this with the potatoes next time, but nothing else needs to be altered. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beer Braised Beef with Onions

Source-The Pioneer Woman

A sad note, I don't have a dutch oven that is oven safe.  So instead of wallowing in my inability to make this recipe, I decided to adapt things a bit and use my slow cooker.  Took about 4 hours instead of 3 for the meat to reach that fall apart doneness.

  • 1 whole Chuck Roast, 2 1/2 To 5 Pounds
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste (Be Generous!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 whole Onions, Peeled And Sliced Thick
  • 5 cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 2 cans Beer
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • ½ teaspoons Rosemary Leaves
  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven over high heat.
  • Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Sear meat on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove meat from pan. Lower heat to medium.
  • Throw in onions and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Pour in beer, and add thyme, rosemary, and salt to taste—about 1 teaspoon. (Do not undersalt!) Add meat to pot, put to submerge, and place lid on pot.
  • Cook in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is fork tender and falling apart.
  • Shred meat with two forks. Serve on dinner plates and spoon juice and onions over the top.
  • Serve with very crust bread to sop up the juice.
Next Time- I wish I had had the crusty bread Ree mentions!!

Chicken Ranch Tacos

Source-Betty Crocker

H and I are big taco fans.  I make them usually about 1 a month, which is often when you're making as many new recipes as I am.  When I saw this come up while searching Betty Crocker I wanted to try it as something a little different for our taco "fix."

Preparation Note- I hate doing anything in the microwave.  I cooked the chicken on the stove
and added the ingredients to the pan.


  • 1 box (4.7 oz) taco shells (10 shells) (used regular soft shells)
  • 3 cups cut-up deli rotisserie chicken (from 2- to 2 1/2-lb chicken) (used 3 chicken breasts and cooked myself)
  • 1 package (1 oz) taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (4 medium), if desired
  • Thick 'n Chunky salsa, if desired
  • Additional ranch dressing, if desired
  • Heat oven to 325°F. Heat taco shells in oven as directed on box.
  • Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, place chicken. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix; toss gently to coat. Microwave uncovered on High 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in 1/2 cup dressing.
  • Spoon warm chicken mixture into heated taco shells. 
  • Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese and onions. 
  • Drizzle with salsa and additional dressing.

Next Time-These were a great change, but still filled that taco craving.  Nothing needs to be changed.

Chicken Pot Pie Penne

Source-Joelen's Culinary Adventures

I made this recipe for my H.  He loves pot pies, but the frozen kind are so bad for you.  I'm not a fan of those crusts.  So I thought we both could win with this recipe.  It certainly didn't disappoint.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (used a small can)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup half & half or heavy cream  (used milk)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas & carrots mix
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (used dried)
  • 1-2 cups whole wheat dry penne pasta (or any penne pasta will do)
  • water for boiling pasta
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. When done, place hot penne pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the better (or oil if using) in a large skillet over medium high heat. 
  • Cook onion, garlic and mushrooms in the skillet until golden brown. 
  • Sprinkle in the flour over the mushroom mixture in the skillet and stir. Cook for a few seconds to rid the floury smell then add the broth, half & half (or heavy cream) to the skillet. 
  • Deglaze the skillet, scraping up any bits of fond at the bottom of the skillet. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered until the liquid is slightly thickened.
  • Add the chicken, frozen peas and carrots mix, lemon juice, and thyme to the skillet.
  • Cook until heated through and season with salt & pepper to taste. 
  • Place the hot penne pasta into the skillet and toss to combine. 
Next Time-  This turned out good, and doesn't need any changes.  Although I think I would try it with the heavy cream instead of milk to see if the sauce is a bit thicker. 

Dripping Roast Beef Sandwich

I found this recipe while going through the coupons one weekend.  I love little gems that are hidden in uncommon places.  

  •  1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed French Onion Soup
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef
  • 4  Soft Hoagie Rolls with Sesame Seeds
  • 4 slices deli provolone cheese cut in half
  • 1/4 cup drained hot or mild pickled banana pepper rings (omitted)
  • Heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Heat the soup and Worcestershire in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. 
  • Add the beef and heat through, stirring occasionally.
  • Divide the beef evenly among the rolls. 
  • Top the beef with the cheese slices and place the sandwiches onto a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 3 minutes or until the sandwiches are toasted and the cheese is melted.  
  • Spoon the soup mixture onto the sandwiches. (Put into a bowl and dipped sandwiches)
  • Top each sandwich with 1 tablespoon pepper rings.
Next Time- These are sooo easy to make, and are tasty.  Next Time I'd saute some peppers and onions up to put on top of the meat under the cheese.  I loved how the bread got crunchy. 

Asian Orzo

Source-Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

I have come to love Mary Ellen's recipes.  I have never been steered wrong when I try something she has posted.  I knew I wanted to make the Chinese BBQ Pork Chops that I got from her website, and I went in search of a side dish to serve with them.  Lucky me my search found the side dish on her blog!

  • 1 c dry orzo pasta
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Heat olive oil in a small pot
  • Add onion, saute 3-4 minutes or until soft.
  • Add orzo, toss to coat/toast for 1 minute
  • Mix the broth with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Add the broth mixture to the pot, stir, bring to a simmer then lower heat and cover.
  • Cook on low heat, covered, for about 15 minutes or until done. The broth should just be absorbed as the pasta finishes cooking.
  • Stir to fluff and serve.

Next Time- This was easy to make, and had good flavor.  But it was just missing something.  I'm not a chef, so I don't know what it was missing.  I just know it needed something more.  Someone have an idea?

Layered Mexican Bake

Found this recipe in the Kraft Magazine.  I'm slowly working my way through recipes I've ripped out of magazines.  I like when they turn out as well as this one did. 

  • 3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef (used 1 1/4lbs)
  • 1   onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp.  chili powder
  • 1-1/4 cups Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
  • 1 pkg.  (10 oz.) frozen corn
  • 3 high-fiber whole wheat tortillas (8 inch)
  • 1/2 cup  Light Sour Cream
  • 3/4 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided

  • HEAT oven to 375ºF.
  • BROWN meat with onions and peppers in large skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in chili powder; cook 1 min. Add salsa and corn; mix well. Simmer 5 min.
  • SPREAD 1 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch square baking dish; top with layers of 1 tortilla, 1/2 cup meat sauce, sour cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with 1 tortilla, 1 cup of remaining meat sauce and 1/4 cup of remaining cheese; top with remaining tortilla and meat sauce. Cover with foil.
  • BAKE 25 min. or until casserole is heated through. Top with remaining cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or melted.

Next Time-  This was pretty easy to put together.  And leftovers were great.  Nothing needs to be changed.

New Potato Chicken Stew

Source- Adapted from

This recipe sounded good as listed on the site.  But before adding it to my grocery list I read over the reviews by others who had made the recipe previously.  I took their advice and added a bunch of extra stuff to the recipe. 


  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets or snap pea pods
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup water 6 new red potatoes, (3/4 pound), cut into fourths
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, (3/4 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 jars (12 ounces) chicken gravy

  • Mix all ingredients in 3-quart saucepan.
  • Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. 
  • Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink in center.
Next Time- This was a great stew.  The only thing I really need to change it to hold off on adding the pea pods awhile.  They completely came apart by the time the stew was ready to eat.
  1. Mix all ingredients in 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink in center.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Sign Language

When I first heard about this concept I loved it.  I've always been interested in sign language, and know the alphabet, but that's the extent of my knowledge.  So getting to learn signs while teaching them to my baby sounded awesome.  

The idea of teaching my son "words" so that he could communicate with me at an early age seems so amazing.  I've heard of so many success stories.  Some parents worry about a delay in speech development, but as long as you are saying the word when you sign it the child will learn both. 

Since Baby Rebel has been born I've checked out 2 different books from the library.  And they have sat mostly untouched at our house until it was time to return them 3 weeks later.  Since Baby Rebel was getting older, and the small amount I read in the books recommended starting around 3-4 months I knew I needed to make a decision.  So, this past weekend armed with a 30% off coupon I bought Baby Signing Time.  The reason I went with a video is that it gives me a person actually making the sign so that I can see how to do it right, and it frees up my hands from a book when I'm learning to sign. 

It arrived last night, and Baby Rebel and I watched it right before bedtime.  I really like it so far.  Together, we just watched the first chapter, which was about eating and drinking.  The woman shows the signs, sings a song, and then they show babies and toddlers of different ages showing how they make the sign.  I think that last part is important so that you can get an idea of what a child making the sign is like, since they aren't precise like the lady.  

Obviously it will take time (read: months) before we see any signing from Baby Rebel, but we have to start sometime.  H and I watched more together when he got home.  We need to be on the same page, and consistent, in signing if we really want the baby to learn.  

I'll keep you updated on any progress.  :)