Monday, July 21, 2014

One Pot Lunch

I keep seeing recipes for one pot pasta dishes all over Pinterest (you know like this one, or that one) and I finally decided to try and create one for lunch today. I took the risk of making a single portion, just to see how it'd turn out. I've gotta say...I sort of love this concept and will keep trying different veggie combos!

One Pot Pasta Lunch
Serves One
Estimated Point Value: 4 pts.

2 oz Spaghetti
6 oz Chicken Stock
2 oz Mushrooms, sliced
2 oz Broccoli, chopped
1 Tbsp Peas
1 Tbsp Corn
2 fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

  1. I used my trusty kitchen scale for all the ingredient measuring (except for the liquid) then popped a lid on the pan.
  2. Bring the contents up to a boil, stir and cook until the noodles are done and the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Sprinkle on the parmesan and enjoy!

Update: 7/22/2014

Today I tried the following combination:

2 oz Spaghetti
6 oz Chicken Stock
2 oz Mushrooms, sliced
2 oz Spinach, frozen chopped
2 oz Cherry Tomatos, quartered
3 fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
Garlic Salt, to taste

Delicious! Next time I try this combo, I may swap the Parmesan for Feta, I bet that'd be delicious too!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins

On Friday I took my daughter strawberry picking. I always remember doing this with my dad in the late spring, early summer and was excited to take her for the first time. I made Strawberry Shortcake over the weekend as Hubby's birthday was on Saturday and Strawberry Shortcake is his absolute favorite dessert. Mondays at home are my usual routine and I decided to whip up a batch of Strawberry Muffins, partially because I wanted to try out my new Vanilla Extract!

Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

2 cups whole wheat all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cup strawberries, quartered (slightly frozen)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin tin.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and butter.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and yogurt to the sugar mixture.
  5. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  6. Fold in the strawberries (mine were slightly frozen which helped them keep their shape).
  7. Scoop batter into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

DIY: Vanilla Extract

Growing up I remember my mom always telling me about one of my one aunt's friends who made her own vanilla. As a kid I remember thinking this lady must be pretty talented and obviously super sophisticated. Now that I've grown and have learned (am learning) my way around the kitchen I decided to try out this DIY project for myself. After some research, this wasn't such an intimidating task at all! All I needed was some booze (check), vanilla beans (check, thanks Costco), and little jars (basically we're speaking my love language here people!) The type of liquor didn't really seem to matter flavor-wise. Vodka was a pretty traditional choice, but rum and bourbon were also recommended. Being a Bacardi and Diet kind of gal, I obviously chose my go-to white rum. I found 4 oz glass bottles off Amazon for pretty cheap and my Costco started selling whole vanilla beans this fall which was what pushed me over the edge to try this experiment. I even put a semi-cute label on my jars (totally should have reached out to my BFF's graphic artist husband for a cuter time, since there will definitely be a next time!)

Vanilla Extract
Makes 6 4-oz bottles

12 Vanilla beans, whole
3 cups white rum (vodka, bourbon, etc.)
6 4-oz glass bottles with lids

  1. Prep the bottles by washing and letting them air dry.
  2. Slice the vanilla beans in half and then split open length-wise to expose the caviar.
  3. Place four vanilla bean halves into the jars.
  4. Pour ~1/2 cup of rum on top of the vanilla beans until the bottle is almost full.
  5. Place the lid on the bottles, give them a shake, then put them in a cool, dark place.
  6. Every few days for the first week give them a gentle shake and put them back.
  7. Patience...lots of patience...
  8. You'll want the mixture to steep for at least a month, but it only gets better with age! (Mine have been going since January so they have really beautiful color to them.)
Now, some folks will make all the vanilla extract in a larger jar and then strain out the vanilla beans so that the vanilla has a "cleaner" look to it. I chose not to do that because I love the little flecks of the caviar, also in case the recipients of the jars would like to continue adding liquor to their bottles to make additional vanilla (once you've used a bit, you can totally add more liquor to the existing vanilla extract...those vanilla beans still have lots of good flavor left in them!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beautiful Mess Birthday Cookie Jars

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
~ Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

This year the MOPS theme was "Beautiful Mess" and to go along with the theme, I came up with an spin on a Kitchen Sink Cookie for our birthday gift to each of the moms in our group.

Beautiful Mess Birthday Cookie Jars
Adapted from Bakerella
Makes One Dozen Cookies

In a pint-sized glass jar, layer the following:
  1. 2/3 cup Flour
  2. 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/8 tsp Salt
  3. 1/2 cup Oats
  4. 1/3 cup M&Ms
  5. 1/3 cup Chocolate Chips
  6. 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (pack down tight - should be below the neck of the jar)
  7. 1/4 cup White Sugar
  8. 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (pack down tight, it will fit!)
On a recipe card (I used sheets of standard-sized business cards), include the following baking instructions::
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix content of the jar with:
    4 tablespoons butter, softened
    1 egg yolk
    ½ teaspoon of vanilla.
  3. Roll into 1 ½ inch balls.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
I made 80+ jars over the course of the year and they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself, which I just did =) I've enjoyed every precious moment I've spent with my MOPS gals over the past two years and was so excited to be able to come up with a tasty treat to honor each of our mamas on their birthdays!

Much love to all my MOPS sisters, locally and all over the globe!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Knock-Off Pasta Fagioli Soup

Today is a snow day which means Rachael's making soup for lunch! This is the second time I've made this soup and I've determined it's a keeper. This may be my new "go-to" soup for cold weather replacing my Mac & Cheese Soup from a few years ago...

Knock-Off Pasta Fagioli Soup
Adapted from Six Sisters' Tomato Macaroni Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot (or a small handful of baby carrots), diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of chicken/beef stock
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup ketchup
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups small pasta shapes (mini wheels, elbow, etc.)

  1. In a large dutch oven, saute onion, celery, garlic, and carrots with the ground beef until cooked.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the pasta and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add in the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
  4. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

I have been trying to figure out how to recreate PF Chang's Chicken with Black Bean sauce for years. I've never been able to find a recipe and have tried mulling things over in my head with little success. A little over a year ago, a recipe blog I've been following posted a recipe for "Slow Cooker Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken". I decided to give it a shot and change it a bit to see if it'd be a good jumping off point...also to see if this could be made WeightWatcher's friendly.  After several attempts to get it right, here's the current iteration that Hubby has deemed "perfected". It's now one of our go-to dishes and something for which I always have ingredients on-hand!

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Serves 8
Estimated Point Value: 5 pts

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons water
Red pepper flakes, optional/to taste - I just a few shakes, not too much

  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and lay chicken on the bottom.
  2. Spread black beans over top of the chicken.
  3. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, vinegar, chicken stock, garlic powder, soy sauce, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the chicken and beans, cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).
  5. Remove chicken from the slow cooker, shred and return to the slow cooker.
  6. Combine corn starch and water in a small bowl and then add to the slow cooker, stirring until sauce thickens.
I serve this over 3 pts worth of brown rice with a side of our go-to zero point veggie, broccoli (we buy it in bulk because we're crazy people...who love broccoli.) I've frozen the chicken and sauce mixture and it thaws out nicely too if you aren't able to use the entire batch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beef Stew with Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Let's just ignore the fact that I haven't posted a new recipe in ages, okay?

I've been wanting to try this recipe since last winter at some point. I'd been searching for beef stew recipes that I felt would be flavorful enough to counteract Hubby's dislike for your standard-issue beef stew and I think I've got it pretty well ironed-out!

I served this with some steamed green beans because I needed something green and it was gone in seconds. I'll definitely be making this again this fall/winter for sure!

Beef Stew with Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Slightly Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 6
Estimated Point Value: 8 pts

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp light butter, (Land O'Lakes Light Butter is my favorite)
1 lb stew beef
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
Worcestershire, to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
1 cup carrots, diced
8 oz mushrooms, small whole or quartered medium sized
~2 lbs red potatoes
5 tsp Ranch Seasoning
1 Tbsp light butter
2 Tbsp light cream cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil and first tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. 
  2. Brown the stew beef and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the beef from the pan and saute onion and garlic until soft in the deliciousness that the beef leaves behind.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, then add in beef stock, sugar, and a few dashes of Worcestershire, to taste.
  5. Add the beef back into the pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. Add in carrots and mushrooms, stirring to combine. Simmer for a half hour, covered.
  7. While the carrots and mushrooms are simmering, prepare mashed potatoes. In a large pot cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil then cook for ~20 minutes or until done.
  8. Drain potatoes and add in butter, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning (I realize making your own Ranch seasoning is way better for you, but I have yet to find a seasoning combination that I think tastes as good as the classic Hidden Valley's my cooking fatal flaw, we eat so much ranch I know I should find a healthier alternative...suggestions welcomed.) 
  9. Mash using extra beef broth for liquid if necessary (yes milk is more delicious, but...broth has zero points and we're in diet mode people!)
  10. Serve one serving of the beef stew over one serving of the mashed potatoes in a shallow bowl.
Also this is totally one of my 30-by-30 items so I'm counting it as a double-win!