Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Home Made Alfredo

I have hated store bought Alfredo sauce for a while now.  I buy it for my girls because that's their sauce of choice when we have noodles and I try to like it but when all is said and done, I just don't.

Monday night I finally decided that enough was enough!  I was making my own Alfredo!  And so I did and it was delicious.  You should make it too.  Here is the recipe:

4 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1tsp onion powder
1/3 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste (I did about 1/2 teaspoon of both)
4 cups milk
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Melt butter in a large pot.  Saute garlic and onion powder for 2 minutes.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes.  Slowly add milk, stirring until smooth and creamy.  Stir in Parmesan and Monterey Jack cheeses; stir until cheese is melted.  bring just to a boil and then turn down heat to low.  Allow to simmer until sauce has thickened (about 5 minutes).

I adapted the above recipe from this one.  I changed quite a bit because I didn't have half and half, I thought onion chunks would be weird in it and I thought a tablespoon of salt would have killed all the other flavors.  I was really pleased with how mine turned out.  I think it would have been good to add the tomatoes and sour cream but I didn't have any.  I also chunked up 2 chicken breasts and basted them with olive oil mixed with Italian Seasoning and then grilled them on my George Formen grill.  It was all very yummy.  My kids still preferred the store bought stuff, but I will never go back.  I liked this so much better.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cream Cheese Stuffed Lemon French Toast

I found this recipe on Our Best Bites a couple of weeks before Valentine's Day and thought it would be so fun to surprise Dustin with breakfast for the Day O' Love.  Little did I know (until 11:30 PM the night before) that he was planning on leaving for work by 6:25 AM that day.  Luckily, these were all prepared and waiting in the fridge for him to pop in the oven at 5:20 AM so that we could eat by 6:20 and he could be out the door on time.  How romantic of me to have him put his own surprise breakfast in the oven at that early hour!  Be aware that the reason that these were all prepared is because after you get them in the sauce, they have to sit for 8 hours in the fridge.  They are a little bit of a high maintenance meal, but so tasty and fun, especially for a special event. Here is a little tip: instead of buying expensive croissants, look for them in the Day Old section of your grocery store.  I got mine so much cheaper that way.  Plus they're supposed to be a little dried out.  Perfect!  They come partially dried out!

Cream Cheese Stuffed Lemon French Toast
adapted from:

4 large, stale croissants
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened (I accidentally used the lower fat kind *gasp* and it was still great)
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar, divided
2 lemons
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
strawberries, sliced
sweetened whipped cream

Grease a 9X13 baking dish.  Slice the croissants in half lengthwise and set them aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, 3/4 c. of the powdered sugar, zest of one lemon and the strained juice of one lemon.  Mix it with your electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over one half of each croissant and replace the top.  You are going to put quite a bit of cream cheese on each croissant, using up all of your cream cheese.  Cut each croissant in half and place them in the baking dish.  They get pretty squished in there together, but that is okay.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, zest from the other lemon, juice from the other lemon and the rest of the powdered sugar (1/2 cup).  Pour it evenly over the croissants and cover it with tin foil.  Refrigerate it for 8-10 hours (that is why overnight is such a great idea!).  When you are ready to bake it, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the tin foil and bake it for another 20-30 minutes.  The croissants will be golden and the liquid will be mostly absorbed.  After you take it out, let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes.  Serve it with sliced strawberries and sweetened whipped cream.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Honey Ginger Glazed Tilapia

I found this recipe the other day on Our Best Bites.  We loved it and I have already passed it on to Nicole, who also gave it a thumbs up.  On the Our Best Bites website they paired it with a creamy dipping sauce, which I made and then put it in the fridge and completely forgot about.  However, the fish was not lacking without the dipping sauce.  Did I already say we loved this fish?  Because we did.  We loved it so much that I named it before I ate it.  Just kidding.  That would be weird.  Like when my dad tried to get us to eat our pet chickens when I was little.  That was weird, too.

Honey Ginger Glazed Tilapia
adapted from:
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. oil
4 4 oz. tilapia fillets

In a shallow dish, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic and oil.  Marinate the fish in the mixture for at least 20 minutes.  

When the fish is done marinating, cook it in a frying pan, sprayed with cooking spray, for 4-6 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Red Velvet Pancakes

For Valentine's Day this year I decided we needed to try something festive.

Pancake Batter
1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups red velvet cake mix (I had about 1 1/2 cups of the dry cake mix left so if I made this again I'd probably use 1 3/4 cups to split it evenly between two batches).
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 -2 cups milk

Whisk all the ingredients for the pancake batter, but adjust the milk as necessary to your desired consistency.  Use small children if available.

My new griddle (this is the first time using it) ended up happiest at about 375, and I eventually didn't burn a few of these.  I attempted heart shapes but I'm not sure if it was noticable in the end.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the cream cheese and butter, then add powdered sugar and milk until you're satisfied. Don't add 2 cups of milk instead of 2 Tbsp, no matter how early in the morning it is. I already tried that and it didn't work out.

Add some sprinkles to the pancakes to make them into even more of a dessert.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Have you ever eaten a Brussels sprout?  Well, I hadn't until a couple of weeks ago.  I joined a food co-op, in the hopes of eating more fruits and veggies (a New Year's Resolution) and on my first week, I got Brussels sprouts.  Yay!  I love the idea of being forced to try new foods.  It is so opposite of how my children feel, and reacted when they saw what we were eating.  But, I must say, Avery gave these a sideways thumbs up.  Not a straight up thumbs up, but not a thumbs down, either.  So I was pleased.  And, I now love Brussels sprouts!  In my ignorance, while I was preparing these, I picked apart an entire sprout, looking for whatever I was supposed to be eating.  And then I realized, it is like a mini cabbage.  So cute!  How can you not love these as a child?!  They were super easy to make and tasted so great.  Think of how yummy and cute these would be for your green St. Patty's Day dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 1/2 lbs. brussel sprouts
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse your sprouts, trim off the hard end and remove any yellow leaves.  In a large Ziploc bag, pour your olive oil, salt and pepper and mix it with your hands to combine it well.  Add the Brussels sprouts, seal the bag tightly and shake it to coat your sprouts with the oil mixture.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil.  Dump the Brussels sprouts on the lined baking sheet and bake it for 30-45 minutes.  Stir your sprouts every 10 minutes or so, for even browning.  When they are done they will be dark brown, almost black.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apple, Potato & Sausage Waffles

This recipe comes from a waffle cookbook that Nicole gave me, and I liked it.  Lynnette and I made it together one night for dinner.  The added sausage, potatoes and apples make it a more filling waffle and a heartier meal.  

Apple, Potato & Sausage Waffles
adapted from: The Best of Waffles and Pancakes

1 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
6 oz. sausage
1/2 c. peeled, chopped, cooked potatoes (I used 2 small-ish ones)
1/2 c. peeled, chopped apples

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the milk, eggs and butter and stir it well.  Stir in the sausage, potatoes and apples.  Grease your waffle iron and cook it as you normally would.  Serve it with maple syrup.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lasagna Soup

Thanks to the ambition of Paula Deen's sons to break away from their mama's traditional foods and make healthier yummy meals (not that we all don't love a lot of love in our food, just like Paula), I found this delicious soup recipe that I tried out tonight.  I chose it for Matt because I always make the kind of food that sounds good to me, but I thought this one would be tantalizing for him, what with all that Italian sausage and peppers and what not.

And how wonderful it was to hear him say it may be his favorite soup recipe, that it tasted like a soup you might get at Olive Garden.  I also loved this soup.  I bought sweet Italian turkey sausage (Matt's response: "Of course you did") which was to my liking.  I'm not much for spicy Italian sausage.

Just as much as the sausage and peppers made it awesome for Matt, the lasagna noodles, basil, cheese, and tomatoes made it wonderful for me.  And although Paula uses love in the form of 2 c. of cheese in her recipe (love you Paula), I thought 1/2 c. was plenty for this soup.  I wouldn't have liked any more than this.

Bobby's Lighter Tastes Like Lasagna Soup
from the Deen Bros


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces broken whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
8 Whole-wheat breadsticks or grissini (optional)


Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick saucepot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, 8 – 10 minutes.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes. Add the noodles; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly and the noodles are tender, 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Serve with the breadsticks, if using. (whole-wheat lasagna noodles take a little longer to cook.)

Nutritional Information:

Per Serving (1 cup) 225 Cal

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Moist Banana Bread

I didn't really know what to call this.  I wanted to convey to you that this is not your normal, run of the mill banana bread.  I am not a big banana bread fan.  I liked the coconut lime banana bread recipe, but so many banana breads are a little too dry for my taste and kind of blah.  That is not true for this recipe.  There is no better way to describe it but as super moist.  I shared it with Lynnette and you know how she described it?  Super moist.  It is super delicious and (have I mentioned?), super moist.  It has changed my view of banana bread.  And maybe my life.  And maybe it will change your life, too.

Super Moist Banana Bread
from my friend Jen P:

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
3 crushed bananas
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a bread pan.  Cream together the sugar, butter and eggs. Stir in the bananas.  Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix it well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.   Pour it all into the pan and bake it for approximately 1 hour.  My oven bakes a little slow and it took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for mine to cook completely.  It is done when a fork poked in the middle comes out clean.