What a sad night

So this week as been super crappy. On top of the crappiness, I haven't even cooked or baked anything at all. Our dinners this week have been hamburger helper (oh wait, I did make some whole wheat honey drop biscuits to go along with it), breakfast for dinner, healthy choice soup, a lean cuisine, and tonight bowl of hot cereal.

So tonight I got back from the gym and was really in the mood to bake something. My plan was to bake the best chocolate chip cookies ever and bring them to my coworker for her birthday.
I opened my cabinet with all my baking things and realized I didn't have enough brown sugar or chocolate chips. :( I was sad. I stocked up on everything before Christmas and haven't had to buy baking supplies in forever. So then I thought I would give the chocogasm cookies another shot, only to realize I had to let them refrigerate for a while and since it was after 6 I didn't want to wait. Then I thought I would make Peaunt -Peanut Butter cookies but wait, we didn't have enough peanut butter. Very, very sad.

Now, what does a girl do when she can't bake anything and is really sad? Eat 2 big ole spoonfuls of peanut butter with chocolate chips. Yum!

I'll have to hit the store tomorrow after work and stock up and get bakin and cookin'.


100 Calories

Go here for a month of 100 calorie or less snacks.


Easy Dessert

I found this recipe on Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen last Thursday. It sounded so good I knew I had to make it as soon as I got home from work. These were a huge hit with my husband, coworkers, and family. I'll definitely be making them again soon.

Raggedy Top Bars
From Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen


Raggedy Top Bars
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter (very soft)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

*Raggedy Topping I doubled this as suggested
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup chocolate chips
2 TBS butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 325. Grease a foil lined 9x13 pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder and salt just until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 27-35 minutes or until golden on top. Remove bars from oven.

With 5 mins baking time left for bars, prepare topping: In a pan over low heat, stir together the syrup, chips, butter and vanilla until chips are melted. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and nuts.

Place dollops of Raggedy Topping evenly over bars using a greased spoon (do not spread).
Return bars to oven for 2 minutes or until topping is spreadable. Remove from oven and with a buttered knife gently spread topping over bars. If desired sprinkle more coconut and nuts over top of bars. Return to oven and bake for 6-7 minutes more.


Better than Panera

I love Panera's Black Bean soup. I've been searching for a black bean soup to make at home but haven't found one I liked enough to try. I can't remember where I found this recipe but I'm so happy I did.

Black Bean Soup
from ??

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 c. low-sodium chicken stock
3 cans black beans, undrained I drained and rinsed the beans to lower the sodium content of the soup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1) In a pot, heat oil and add onion, celery, and carrot.Stir over medium high heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2)Add bell pepper, cook for 1 additional minute and deglaze bottom of pan with chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add can of beans, salt and cumin; cook for 5 minutes.

3) Lightly puree soup (easy to do with an immersion blender)Add the rest of the beans to the soup. I pureed quite a bit. It made the soup very thick.

4) Combine the cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water. Add the lemon and the cornstarch to the soup; cook until thickened.

Corn Muffins with a Kick

Lately I've become a big fan of corn bread. When I saw this recipe on cooking light I knew I had to try it. It was the perfect companion to the black bean soup and would also be excellent with chilli. If you don't like peppers or onions, these would still be good.

Whole Grain Corn Muffins
from cookinglight

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/3 cup minced red onion I used white onion
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, oil, honey, and egg. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in corn, onion, and jalapeño.

Coat muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon batter into pan. Bake at 425° for 1oish minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately; serve warm.

CALORIES 120( calories from fat 27%); FAT 3.6g ( SATFAT 0.8g, MONOFAT 2.1g, POLYFAT 0.4g ); protein 4g; carbohydrate 19g; fiber 2g; cholesterol 19mg; iron 0.7mg; sodium 325mg; calcium 96mg;


When my friend Sarah moved to NYC, a bunch of us got together and made her a cookbook. My friend Audrey submitted a recipe for Chicken Marsala that I've been wanting to make for months but never have. Last night I finally made it and loved it. The recipe is so simple and so flavorful. I can't wait to make it again.

Chicken Marsala
(no pictures)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms -omitted - I don't like mushrooms
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry


1. In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and oregano. Coat chicken pieces in flour mixture.

2. In a large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium heat. Place chicken in the pan, and lightly brown. Turn over chicken pieces, and add mushrooms. Pour in wine and sherry. Cover skillet; simmer chicken10 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink and juices run clear.

For the lazy baker.....

Sometimes a girl just feels lazy.... that's how I felt all weekend. I was really in the mood to bake, but it just seemed like such a hassle. When I opened my cabinet with all my baking supplies and a box of chocolate cake mix fell out and hit me on the head I decided to compromise. I'd do a cake mix with homemade frosting.

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
from nickie75 on allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

This frosting is sooo freakin good. It was so hard not to eat this right out of the bowl. It's just so light and fluffy. The taste reminds me of the peanut butter bars I made last month. I didn't let my cake cool all the way, so the frosting didn't spread very well, it ripped up part of the cake. :( I sprinkled some crushed Reese's Pieces on top of the cake to try and hide the messed up parts. :)


A dish Popeye would love

This is one of those recipes that doesn't come out like you expected but still tastes good. Rather than making spinach pockets, I seemed to have made spinach roll-ups. HUGE spinach roll-ups. The picture below is of one of the roll-ups cut in half. I found this on realsimple.com and wanted to try it but was hesitant because my husband doesn't like spinach. He'll eat spin-art dip, but not spinach. In order to make this more husband friendly, I doubled the cheese, and added artichokes. It must have done the trick because he liked these, as did I. We served them along side some Cheese Fondue. (which I didn't take a pic of...) This was also my first time using phyllo dough.

Spinach Artichoke Roll-Ups
adapted from realsimple.com - Spinach Pockets

1 pound cooked spinach, chopped
1 can artichokes, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan I used 1 cup
1/2 cup ricotta cheese I used 3/4 cup
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced I used 3 scallions
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt object
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper object
1 1-pound package phyllo dough, defrosted (12 sheets)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 400º F. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, Parmesan, ricotta, scallions, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. I did this early in the afternoon to save time in evening.

Fold 1 sheet of phyllo in half crosswise and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the top with some of the butter. Top with another folded sheet and brush with more butter. Repeat one more time. Leaving a 2-inch border around the edges, place 1/4 of the spinach mixture at one end of the pastry. Roll up the pastry, tucking in the sides. Brush with more butter. Repeat to make 3 more individual pockets. I just rolled my dough up rather than following this step exactly.

Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.

This dish would also be good as an appitizer at a party by cutting each huge roll up into quarters or the filling would make an excellent dip.

Fondue This

I had Swiss and Extra Sharp Cheddar left over from our last fondue night. Luckily, I found this recipe on Julia's blog that called for Swiss and Cheddar.

Melting Pot Cheddar Fondue
my modifications in italics

3 to 3 1/2 oz beer (I added quite a bit more b/c I added an extra 1/2 cup of cheese)
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, however much you prefer, it can be strong.
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese1 cup Swiss cheese (I added 2 cups Swiss in order to use up the rest of my cheese)

Grate cheese and mix in some flour to very lightly coat the cheese and keep it from clumping.

Mix beer, mustard powder and garlic in the fondue pot, bring to a simmer.Add in cheese in small batches, and stir until the consistency is right. Add in Worcestershire sauce and continue stirring until thickened.

Serve with whatever dippers you prefer. We used sourdough and granny smith apples.


The World's Greatest

I first saw this recipe on the blog Good Things Catered with the claim that these were the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I'll be honest, I was skeptical. A chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie. I made about 3 dozen of these and took 2 dozen to work and my coworkers loved them, they were gone way before lunch. Some of them did say they were the best chocolate chip cookie they had ever had. The dozen left at my house didn't last 24 hours. These definitely beat Toll House.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From America's Test Kitchen

2 1/8 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.

I didn't follow this next step. I just used my good old PC cookie scoop. Although I did use parchment paper and refrigerate my dough for a bit. For an illustration of step 3 click here

3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)

4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

I found the trick to these cookies was taking them out of the oven before they looked like they were done. They stayed moist on the inside but slightly cruchy on the outside.



I have never been a fan of beef vegetable soups until I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon. Actually, I wasn't a fan of a lot of things until then. Thanks to Jamaica I now love stir fry, Japanese steakhouses, pineapple, and Thai food. (kind of random, I know). I found this recipe in my favorite BHG cook book. I marked back in July as one I wanted to try. Well, with school starting back up I wanted something easy for dinner for the week. I made this Sunday night and now have it for the rest of the week. It is so, so, so good. M and I both LOVE it. Not quite Jamaica, but certainly delicious. It is perfect for this cold weather we've been having.

Vegetable-Beef Soup
Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 85 minutes Low Fat


1-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck
roast, cubed, or beef stew meat
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 14-ounce cans beef broth
1 teaspoon dried
oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried
marjoram, crushed
1/4 teaspoon
black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped, peeled
tomato or one 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (omitted)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel
1-1/2 cups cubed, peeled potatoes

1 cup frozen cut green beans
1 cup sliced
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped


1. In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven (I used a large stock pot)
brown meat, half at a time, in hot oil; drain fat. Return all meat to Dutch oven. Stir in beef broth, oregano, marjoram, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Discard bay leaves. If necessary, skim fat .

2. Stir in tomato, corn, potato, green beans, carrot, celery, and onion. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. (I forgot mine was on the stove and let it simmer for about 90 min...oops!)

3. Makes 8 servings ( about 12 cups)

Nutritional Info: 235 Cal, 7 g total fat (2g saturated), 40 mg chol. 921 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 24 g protein.


A Crock Pot Meal I like

I'm not a huge fan of crock pot meals. I own 5 crock pots but just don't care much for this cooking method. I'd rather have it right out of the oven. I like dips in crock pots and roasts and brisket but that's about it. My friend Leslie recommended this recipe a while back and I finally decided to give it a go.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
My changes in italics

4 chicken breasts
1/2 package of taco seasoning
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup salsa
1 green pepper, rough chopped
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream
4 servings brown rice
1ish c. corn
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
Fresh Cilantro to taste
Next time I'm also going to add 1 chopped red pepper

Place chicken breasts, corn, and chopped peppers in slow cooker with broth. In separate small bowl, combine soup, salsa, sour cream, seasonings and cilantro. Stir until combined. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on low for 5 hours. Chicken should shred easily towards the end of cooking. Serve over hot brown rice.

This was very, very good (and simple - even better!) It will definitely be making an appearance in our house again.


Easy Enough

I found this recipe through Cooking Light the other day. It seemed simple enough and we've never made brisket so this was a good opportunity. We prepared it all the night before and stuck it (it = stoneware from crock pot) in the fridge. In the morning the hubs just popped the stoneware back in the crock pot. I served this with veggies and speedy twice baked potatoes. (Instead of baking the potato in its skin the 2nd time, I put the potato mixture in a dish, sprinkled cheese on top, and baked about 15min. I was too impatient to wait for the potatoes to cool.)

Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket with Beer

Photo by Randy Mayor

1 (3-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/4 cup water
2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 1/2 cups chopped parsnip (about 2)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 (12-ounce) bottle light beer

Rub brisket with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add brisket to pan; cook 10 minutes, browning on all sides.

Remove brisket from the pan. Add 1/4 cup water to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Add onion and parsnip; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Place onion mixture, vinegar, bay leaf, and beer in a large electric slow cooker. Place brisket on top of onion mixture. (M added water so the meat was almost completely covered) Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Discard bay leaf. Cut brisket diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with sauce

M and I were nervous that the brisket wouldn't taste good and be too beery (is there such a thing.... ha!) We were wrong and pleasantly surprised. It was very good. If you're not a beer person you will not like this.

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 160(28% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 1.9g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 20.5g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 20mg; SODIUM 232mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 1.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 5.6g


The Lighter Side

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. I was in the mood for something light and spring-like so I turned to my RB's and found this recipe that Lolo posted. It's filling but not heavy, easy to prepare, and it seems pretty healthy too.

Basil Chicken over Angel Hair Pasta

sorry my picture sucks

1 package of angel hair pasta
2 tsp of olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped (I used 2)
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups of boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook angel hair pasta about 8-10 minutes in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In large skillet (while pasta is cooking) over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken, basil, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, cover skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until tomatoes are soft.

Toss the sauce and pasta together in a large bowl. Top with bits of mozzarella and/or grated Parmesan cheese.

This dish will definitely be something I make again. The meal was complete with rolls, a salad, and a couple glasses of wine!


Last night I had a Secret Santa exchange with some of my fabulous friends. It was a blast. I made beer dip and decided to make some cookies. I've been looking for an excuse to make these for a while now. With the name Santa's Surprise Cookies, I thought this was the perfect occasion.

Santa's Surprise Cookies
from Bright Ideas

1 bag DOVE® Brand Milk or Dark Chocolate *
1 bag SNICKERS® Brand Miniatures **
2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
2 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on a medium to low speed until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in the flour, salt and baking soda. Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours.

3. Unwrap all SNICKERS® Brand Miniatures.

4. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1-tablespoon pieces and flatten. Place a SNICKERS® Brand Miniatures piece in the center of each piece of dough. Form each piece of dough into a ball around the SNICKERS® Brand Miniatures piece.

5. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Baking time and temperature may need to be adjusted if using more than 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie.)Let cookies cool on baking rack or wax paper.

6. When cool drizzle melted Dove Chocolate on top.

* Instead of using Dove Chocolate I used the rest of the almond bark I had in my pantry.
** This recipe says it yields 2 dozen cookies, mine made over 3 and a half dozen. I ran out of Snickers, so I started using different flavor Hershey Kisses in the place of the Snickers. The cookies with the Caramel Kisses are awesome.


Not what I was expecting

I've been dying to use Connie some more but I'm not quite in the mood for cookies, brownies, or cupcakes. I found this recipe and thought it was the perfect thing to make... that is until I read the directions and it doesn't require a mixer. Oh well. This was still pretty good. I'm not a huge coffee cake fan but the hubs lurved it.

New York Crumb Cake
from Martha Stewart

Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart
(mine really did look like that though!)

Makes one 9-by-12 1/2-inch cake

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for pan
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

2. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

3. Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


New Meal for the New Year

The other day I decided that today I would make soft tacos. They're easy and we had all the ingredients. Yesterday was a super slow day at work so I spent a good chunk of time looking at food blogs. I found this recipe on Julia's blog. I knew I had pretty much everything in my kitchen so I thought it would be a delicious meal to start the New Year.

Black Bean Enchiladas
(is there such a thing as a good picture of enchiladas!?)

This filling for these Enchiladas is actually a Tex Mex Black Bean Dip from allrecipes. Click here for a picture.

For the bean filling: (my modifications in italics):
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. oil
1 cup chopped onion (I also added 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers and 1/2 cup chopped green peppers)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn kernels
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (I used a can of Rotel - drained)
1 cup salsa
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. lime juice (I didn't have any lime juice so I used 1.5 tbsp of lemon juice)

For the enchiladas:
3 cups black bean filling (above)
8-10 medium flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese (about 2 cups) ( I used the Monterey Jack Cheese)
1 can enchilada sauce (I used green)

To make the black bean filling, place the black beans in a medium sized mixing bowl. Partially mash the beans. In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Mix beans, corn, tomato, salsa, cumin, and chili powder into the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in cheese, cilantro and lime juice. Stir until cheese is melted.

Grease a 9x13” baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°. To make the enchiladas, spoon some of the black bean mixture down the center of a tortilla. Top with some cheese and roll up. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over the tops of the enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese and bake 2-3 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

These were so good. The dip makes a fabulous filling. I'll definitely be making them again.