Saturday, March 30, 2013

chicken fajitas.


homemade chicken fajitas. 
Take that Chili's! ;)

Here's what you'll need:
Juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 to 2 lbs of steak or chicken strips

Peppers, I used 1 green pepper and small red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers
Onion, I just used a few slices
Tortillas, I used whole wheat 
Sour cream, cheese, salsa, and guacamole, optional additions

Here's what you'll do:
1. Combine and mix all ingredients (lime juice, oil, garlic, chili powder) in a glass jar or bowl.
2. Pour mixture over meat and stir to coat well.
3. Cover dish and marinate meat for at least one hour (I marinated for about 2.5 hours) or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
4.  After marination, place meat in nonstick skillet. Cook chicken until cooked all the way through. 
5.  Add peppers and onions to cooked chicken. Let simmer for a few minutes.
6. You're done! Eat up & enjoy :)

All these webpages helped me formulate this yummy recipe:

Monday, March 25, 2013

baked penne & béchamel sauce.

[adapted from]

I'm not going to beat around the bush or even pretend this is a healthy dish...because it's not. But it may be one of the best pasta dishes your mouth will ever taste.  It is rich, creamy, and comforting to the max

My mom found this recipe while watching Giada on Food Network and it has become a family favorite for several years. And it is quite possible my favorite pasta dish EVER! My mom changed the recipe a little bit and I changed it too (surprise, surprise) so you can check out the link above to look at the differences, if you'd like.


1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)

1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups fat free half & half, at room temperature

1/2 cup low fat milk, at room temperature

Pinch fresh nutmeg

Ground black pepper

1 cup grated Romano cheese

14 oz [fully cooked] sliced smoked sausage

1 pound dry whole wheat penne pasta


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and 

whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the 

milk/half&half and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. 

Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take 

approximately 10 minutes. 

3. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup romano, sausage and season 

with pepper. Set aside.

4. In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. 

Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to 

make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander. 

5. Return pasta to the pot and pour in béchamel sauce. 

Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.

6. Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce. 

Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup romano. 

7. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.

8. Serve with garlic bread and salad [and enjoy, of course]!!!

P.S. For the garlic bread, I first melted some butter and mixed garlic powder into it.  Next, I brushed it onto whole wheat bread.  Finally, I sprinkled a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top and baked it...SO good!!!

*If you try out this recipe, please drop me a message & let me know what you think!*

Saturday, March 23, 2013

slow cooker honey sesame chicken

[adapted from]

I haven't gotten to use my crock pot too much since we got it so I was really excited to try this recipe.  And even better, it was a quick and easy meal to make.  It has some sweetness to it but it's not overkill.  We ate it with leftover brown rice. It was a perfect one course meal!


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

Salt and pepper (I didn't put salt on it since the soy sauce adds enough salt!) 
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (could also use olive oil or canola oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 cloves)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds


1. Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt & pepper, put into crock pot.

2. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. 
3. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. 
4. Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce. 
5. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. 
Stir to combine with sauce.
6.  Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened. 
7. Cut chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving. 
8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles.

banana nut pound cake.

[adapted from Brenda Camp Orbell, grand prize winner of Better Homes and Gardens recipe contest]

This cake is moist and incredibly banana-y.  It's like banana bread...but so much better.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 medium bananas, mashed 
1/4 cup bourbon or fat free milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2. Grease and flour 10 inch fluted tube pan.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined.
5. Gradually add sugar, until light in color.
6. Add eggs one at a time, about one minute each.  
7. In a separate bowl, mix bananas, milk or bourbon, and vanilla. 
8. Alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture. Beat till combined.
9. Stir in pecans.
10. Spread evenly in tube pan. 
11. Bake 80 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
12. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes on wire rack.
13. Remove from pan, cool on rack.
14. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve up & enjoy! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

spicy sausage pasta.

I haven't mastered food pictures yet so I apologize for this picture (and for past and future pictures too) BUT believe me when I say this is one yummy dish.  (Plus I use my phone camera to take pictures so that doesn't help much either!) But anyway, I made a lot of changes to this recipe so if you 1) don't trust my cooking and/or 2) do not like straying from original recipes then you should go to the link above and use their recipe. :) (I would list everything I changed but that would take awhile.) I will not be offended at all if you don't make the changes I did, as long as you try this meal by one recipe or another!  ;)

1 lb turkey smoked sausage
1/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 oz Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup fat free half and half
8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
black pepper
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. Brown sausage and onion in a non stick skillet. Next, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add broth, Ro-Tel, half & half, pasta, and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1 cup cheese. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Turn heat to low. Put lid back on for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
4. Eat up, my friends!!

An excited Grant ready to eat :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

bbq ranch chicken sandwich.

[adapted from]

Sorry I couldn't get better pictures for this post but you'll just have to trust me when I say this sandwich is delicious! The carrots give it a crunchy texture without actually making it taste strongly of carrots.  I shredded the chicken with a Kitchen Aid mixer and I grated the carrots with a small food processor.  


Chicken, cooked and shredded
BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1-2 whole carrots, shredded or grated
Ranch dressing
Sandwich buns 
lettuce (optional)


1. Cook chicken then shred it.
2. Shred or grate carrots. 
3. Mix chicken, carrots, and BBQ sauce together in bowl.

4. Spread ranch dressing on one side of the bun.  Top with the chicken mixture and lettuce (if desired).
5. Tastes delicious when served with chips and salsa or these sweet potato fries.

Friday, March 15, 2013

crispy sweet potato fries.

[adapted from]

I love sweet potato fries.  Call me cheap but I hardly ever order them at a restaurant because they're usually more expensive than regular fries.  They also tend to be kinda soggy which is no good either.  When I found this recipe for crispy fries, I had to try it! I was seriously amazed at how wonderful these tasted.  

Here's what you'll need:
Sweet potatoes 
Olive oil (or any kind of vegetable oil)

Here's what you do:
1. Cut sweet potatoes to medium thickness.
2. Soak them in water for an hour (or up to half a day). 
3. Dump the potatoes into a baggie with 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Shake them around until they are lightly coated.  
4. Place coated fries on a nonstick baking sheet and pour 1-2 tablespoons (or more) oil over fries. Make sure every fry is coated in oil.  
5.  Heat oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes.
6. Check on the fries. Toss them and bake 5 minutes longer.
7. Serve and devour!

Some notes...I only used one potato since there's just 2 of us and because I didn't want any leftovers. Step 2 is optional but recommended.  For step 3, make sure there is some air in the bag when shaking it.  For step 4, the amount of oil is up to you.  The more oil you put on, the crispier the fries will be but they will obviously be way less healthy too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

chicken bacon ranch mac & cheese.

Grant got this recipe from the house he lived in during college. His roommate and good friend, David found it and changed it a little bit too.  It is so. good. As Grant said, it combines some of the best things in life. Bacon AND mac & cheese. So what's not to love? This is some ultimate comfort food.  


8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
4 slices bacon
8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this)
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
5 oz condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup bottled ranch dressing
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more)


1. Cook pasta according to package.
2. Cook bacon in large non stick skillet over medium heat until crisp.
3. Remove bacon from pan. Reserve drippings in pan.
4. Chop bacon and set aside.
5.  Season chicken with garlic, onion, and salt.  
6.  Cook chicken in bacon drippings on medium high heat for 6 minutes or until done.
7. Melt butter over medium heat in large saucepan. Sprinkle flour into butter. Cook 2 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. 
8. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk, then gradually add milk mixture to saucepan and stir. 
9. Bring this mixture to a boil, cook 2 minutes or until it is thickened.  Add ranch dressing and 1/2 cup cheese, stir until cheese melts.
10. Preheat broil.
11. Spoon pasta mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with bacon and 1/4 cup cheese. 
12. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  
13. Dish up and enjoy!

Monday, March 11, 2013

lemon blueberry cheesecake cookies.

[adapted from]

I had no idea what dessert to make for our life group so I let Grant decide. He LOVES cream cheese, fruity dessert, and cheesecake so he picked these blueberry lemon cheesecake cookies.  I'm not a huge fan of fruity desserts but I even liked these.  They are cakey yet chewy yet doughy all at the same time.  You just have to try these for yourself.  If you are a cheesecake lover or even just a cream cheese lover, these cookies are for you!


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cup flour
1 cup blueberries
1/2 pkg cream cheese, cut into 1 tsp cubes

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. 
3. Blend in the lemon zest, juice and eggs. Make sure to scrape off any bits of zest that stick to the mixer paddle.

4. In a separate bowl whisk together the baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour then mix it into the wet ingredients. 
5. Gently fold in the blueberries so as not to burst any. 
6. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 – 20 minutes to make it stiff enough to roll.
7. For each cookie, roll 1 heaping tbsp of dough into a ball then flatten it slightly into a disc shape. 
8. Place a 1 tsp cream cheese cube into the center and form the dough around it creating a ball again. 
9. Bake them for about 10 - 14 minutes until the edges brown slightly. 
10. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

monster cookie bars.

[adapted from]

ooey gooey. delicious. that's all.

1 stick Butter
1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1-½ cups of Creamy Peanut Butter
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
4-½ cups Quick Cooking Oatmeal
1 package (12 Oz. Size) Chocolate Chips (I didn't have these on hand so I chopped up chocolate candy pieces!)
1 package (12 Oz. Size) of milk chocolate M&M's

1. Combine the butter and sugars, blend well.
2. Blend in eggs and baking soda.
3. Add peanut butter in mix and blend until smooth.
4. Then cup at a time, start mixing by hand the oatmeal.  
5. Slowly add in the M&M’s and chocolate chips (by hand).
6. Spread in a well greased 9x13 pan for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees– do not overbake! These taste better just a little on the soft side. Store in an airtight container.

chicken pot pie.

[adapted from]

This comfort dish is creamy, rich, and flavorful plus better than frozen because you know exactly what's inside! I made it last night which turned out to be the perfect meal for a snowy evening. :)

I did change the recipe.  The original link to the recipe is given above if you want to see the changes I made.  For example, I cut some of the butter out; I couldn't really tell though. 

 I also made my own bisquick because I don't buy it.  Here's the homemade version I use from  It makes about 2 cups of "bisquick".

2 cups flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening (I use butter or canola oil)

Combine first 4 dry ingredients in a bowl, stir to mix. Cut in the shortening with two forks, or a pastry blender until mixture resembles course crumbs. 


For the Bottom Crust:
1 cup Bisquick
2 tablespoons milk
For the Filling:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Bisquick
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas & green beans)
1¼ cups chicken broth
1½ cups cooked, cubed chicken
For the Top Crust:
½ cup Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Prepare the Bottom Crust: In a medium bowl, stir the milk into the bisquick until it begins to form a ball. Pat the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes, or until just turning light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. Prepare the Filling: Heat the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until melted. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the Bisquick, chopped onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, then stir in the frozen vegetables.
4. Return the mixture to the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil. Once a full boil is reached, continue stirring for another 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken. Pour the chicken mixture into the prepared crust.
5. Prepare the Top Crust: In a small bowl, whisk together the Bisquick, milk and melted butter until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly over the filling. Use a rubber spatula or offset spatula to gently spread it to the edge of the pie plate.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

crispy parmesan zucchini fries.

[adapted from]

These were so yummy and simple. Definitely my new favorite way to eat zucchini. Grant even ate them!


3 large zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 large eggs
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
Salt, pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 
2.Wash the zucchini and cut into matchsticks.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the grated parmesan, dried bread crumbs, oregano, basil, paprika and mix to combine.  
4.  In another medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs.
5. Dip each zucchini stick into the egg mixture and then dip them into the bread crumb mixture to coat the outside.
6. Put the zucchini on a greased, rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, check on the progress after 15 minutes and toss them around a little bit.
7. Serve them plain or with marinara sauce.