Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oat Topped Sweet Potato Crisp

Dawn Hoover, the Mobile Register's Spice of Life columnist, sent this to me last year. I've been holding onto it and waiting for the right time to make it. Easter sounded perfect. We had my Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole last year, so this year I wanted to change it up some. My Mom actually made this and brought it with her to my house. Oh. My. Gosh. This was probably my favorite thing we had for Easter Brunch. I kid you not. The swirls of cream cheese throughout the potatoes was scrumptious. The oat topping with the pecans and cranberries and the crunchy apples...Oh...I just can't say enough. You DEFINITELY have to try this. I hope you can make it as good as my Mom did! I will be requesting this from her more often. I even ate the leftovers cold right out of the fridge. Yeah, I guess I'm weird like that because it was awesome!

1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 40-oz. can cut sweet potatoes (Mom used about 7 fresh sweet potatoes)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
2/3 cup chopped cranberries (Mom used Craisins)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
1/3 cup cold butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, potatoes, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon with mixer until well blended. Spoon into 1-1/2 quart casserole; top with apples and cranberries. Mix flour, oats and remaining sugar in medium bowl; cup in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I just use my fingers). Stir in nuts. Sprinkle over fruit layer in casserole. Bake 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

*You can make this the day before and make the topping before you bake it the next day.


(adapted from Kraft Foods- Sent by Dawn Hoover)

Ham-Asparagus Strata

This is another brunch recipe that's quick and easy. Its prepared the night before and stuffed in the fridge overnight. English muffins always go on sale in the grocery stores. This is the time of year for asparagus and if you have leftover Easter ham try it out on this (that is, of course, if you didn't make this for Easter!) I roasted my asparagus to get the most flavor out of it. Trim off the tough ends, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper, and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If you like asparagus, try it out in a dish like this!

4 English Muffins, torn into bite size pieces (4 cups)
2 cups cubed cooked ham (10 oz)
2 cups cut up fresh cooked asparagus (I roasted mine)
4 oz. shredded Swiss Cheese (I used Mozzarella)
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sour cream
1-1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard (I omitted this)

In greased 2-qt casserole square baking dish spread half the muffin pieces. Top with ham, asparagus, and cheese. Top with remaining muffin pieces.

In bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream. Stir in milk, onion, mustard and salt and pepper. Pour over layers in dish. Cover and chill for 2-24 hours (I did mine overnight).

Bake, uncovered in a 325 oven (mine was set to 350. If you do this watch the baking time) for 60-65 minutes or until internal temperature reads 170 (I see if its golden and it its set in the center). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)

Pecan Goody Cups

I totally forgot to take a picture of these! I made them the day before and had to keep Clay and my stepson off of them Saturday night! The little size was just perfect for popping in your mouth. I did change it up by chopping up the pecans and adding them to the filling. They did not look as pretty as these, but I guess that's why these were photographed for a magazine and mine were not! My Mimi said she used to make these and they're called Pecan Tassies. Definitely a Southern thing. The thing that took the longest was shaping the shells in the mini muffin pan. If you had a tart shaper (like this one) it would make things a lot easier. I know what I'm ordering in my next Pampered Chef order! These are yummy and I'm thinking about putting them on the Holiday Baked Goods Gift List.

**Photo Courtesy of Taste of Home

3/4 cups butter, softened
6-oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
48 pecan halves

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, beating until mixture forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes. For filling, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, eggs and butter.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Press onto the bottoms and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups (or use a tart shaper). Spoon filling into cups; top each with a pecan half (I chopped the pecans and added them to the filling).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (Mine were in about 22 mintutes). Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.


(adapted from Taste of Home)

Scrambled Eggs and Sausage in Potato Nests

These are SO yummy! Really a favorite with the men. My brother said its like his favorite Waffle House meal all combined in one little package. Everybody wanted leftovers to take home, but these were the first to go! If you have some of the eggs and sausage leftover, wrap them in a torilla with cheese for a breakfast burrito the next day.

1 20-oz. package refrigerated hash browns
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives (I omitted these)
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 eggs
1/2 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (mine was at 350, so I left them in longer) Grease a large baking sheet; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, the 2 beaten eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used more salt than that...those potatoes are bland!) Shape mixture into 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup each) on prepared baking sheet. I only got 9 mounds out of it. Press the back of a tablespoon into each mound, making a nest. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and set.

Meanwhile, beat together the 12 eggs, milk, the 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper (If you only get 9 nests like I did, 8 eggs would work). In a 12-in skillet melt butter over medium heat; pour in egg mixture. Scramble the eggs with a spatula over medium heat. Fold them around the pan until they are cooked through, but still glossy and moist. Remove from heat.

In another skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spatula. Cook until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels. Add to the eggs and mix in about 1/2 of the cheese. (I still used the 12 eggs and 1 whole roll of Jimmy Dean, but I had lots leftover. I just wrapped them in a tortilla and make a breakfast wrap the next day!)

Spoon about 1/3 cup of egg mixture into each potato next. Sprinkle cheese over eggs. Return to oven; bake about 2 minutes or until cheese melts. If desired, garnish with chives.


(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)

Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake

This cheesecake was exactly what I was hoping for: light and creamy. Cheesecake is not the first thing I would order off of a dessert menu. Most of the time it is too dense and heavy for me. This cheesecake was awesome. I think my father-in-law said, "out of this world!" This is on my go-to list of dessert recipes now. It was very easy to make. And because it chills in the fridge, its great to make ahead of time. The tricky part is knowing when its ready to come out of the oven. This was my first try at a cheesecake and I just left it in a few minutes extra to be on the safe side. There were cracks on the top, so I don't know if that's normal or if I could have done something different to prevent that. Either way, it was divine. This is a must-have recipe!

40 Nilla Wafers, crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla, divided
3 eggs
1 8-oz. tub cool whip, thawed

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix wafer crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Beat 3 packages of cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until center is almost set. I baked mine an additional 5-10 minutes. The cake still "jiggled" but the top was set when I touched it. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake (I don't know if you are supposed to do this right out of the oven, or after it cools slightly. It pulled some of the cake up when I did it). Cool completely in pan.

Beat remaining cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in cool whip; spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate 4 hours. Remove rim of pan before serving cheesecake. Garnish with fresh berries.


(adapted from Kraft Foods)

Easter Brunch Menu

I am really looking forward to Easter on Sunday! We do Easter at my house, and so it is really a chance for me to get to show-off in the kitchen :) The Menu I have planned for this year should be a winner. I have made most of the things before and they are fantastic! I am going to post a pasta dish Thursday for dinner and then I'm going to take some "cereal" nights. I will have SIX recipes to share with you guys for Easter! I thought maybe I would do it a little different if you wanted me to. I usually post the recipes after I make them. Since I've made most of these, I thought I might go ahead and post them in case you would like to add them to your Easter spread. I can add the pictures and any comments after Sunday. Let me know if you would like to see it done that way this week. The recipes are awesome!

Taco Pasta Toss- Thursday 4/1

Easter Menu 2010:

Ham- courtesy of my Mimi and Papa
Oat Topped Sweet Potato Crisp
French Toast Mini Loaves
Ham-Asparagus Strata
Scrambled Eggs and Sausage in Potato Nests
Pecan Goody Cups
Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake

My mouth is watering already. I love getting in my kitchen and cooking a great, delicious meal for my family. I know you guys want to come over too! My house is small, so I can't squeeze you all in...but I can post the recipes early if you'd like me too!!

Happy Early Easter!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Post on Saving Money Living Life

Heather from Saving Money Living Life contacted me a few weeks ago about The Fairhope Foodie and wondered if I would be interested in doing a Guest Post for her blog. Of course! Heather runs a frugal blog based out of Birmingham, Alabama called Saving Money Living Life. Be sure to check out her blog. And while you're there, see what I had to say in my guest post!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Frozen spinach is a great bargain at the grocery store. Just think of all of the bags of fresh spinach it would take to wilt down and fit into a 10-oz. frozen box of spinach. A lot! This recipe is a great way to sneak spinach into your diet. My husband even ate it! I made him some without the spinach, but he said that the ones with the spinach were just as good! If you have a small family, go ahead and make this whole recipe. Cook half now and freeze the other half of the shells for later. Freeze the stuffed shells (without the sauce) and then store in a zippy bag. Top with sauce and cheese before baking. You could use Italian sausage, ground beef or Jimmy Dean like I did. Change it up to use what you have on-hand!

1 box jumbo pasta shells (I didn't use the whole box)
1 lb. Italian sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 10-oz. box frozen spinach
3/4 cup shredded or diced carrots (I forgot these!)
1 26-oz. jar spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet cook sausage over medium-high heat until browned, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon. Drain. Thaw spinach in the microwave. Squeeze out all excess liquid.

In a medium bowl, stir ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded cheese, spinach, carrots and sausage (I was going to cook the carrots with the sausage to soften, but I forgot!)

Spread about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce over bottom of baking dish. Fill the shells with the cheese sausage mixture. Arrange shells, filled side up, on sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over stuffed shells. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered 5-10 minutes longer until cheese is melted.


(adapted from Eat Better America 2010 Calendar)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crunchy Asian Slaw

I would have to say that this is probably my Mom's signature salad! She makes this all the time and it always gets rave reviews. Secretly though, I think she makes it because she loves the leftovers! I love the sweet crunch. This is perfect as a side or add some chicken and make a wrap. I made the Sesame and Ginger Chicken last night with some quick fried rice and made it into a one-bowl dinner. Talk about good! It makes a lot though. I only used 2 bags of coleslaw mix and didn't use all of the dressing. My Mom uses 3 bags of coleslaw mix and all of the dressing. It can feed an army! This would be great on the Easter table too!

2-3 bags shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
2 3-oz. bags slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds (keep these in the fridge)
1 package chicken flavored ramen noodles

1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Accent
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
flavor packet from ramen noodles
6 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider)
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix dressing ingredients together ahead of time and refrigerate (makes a lot). Toss and bake almonds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds together at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes ( I didn't do this and its still good...just better if they are toasted). In a large bowl layer 2 bags of cabbage, seeds and dry ramen noodles (crush the noodles). Right before serving toss with dressing. When it begins to wilt down you can add the 3rd bag of cabbage (if you used ALL of the dressing) to add volume and crunch.


(adapted from The Madison County Cookbook)

Pineapple Dessert Skewers

The Sara Lee Pound Cake was on sale this week at Publix (along with the pineapple) so I knew I had to give this one a try. The weather was great for grillin'! I must say though, that these did not turn out quite as yummy as I had hoped. Don't get me wrong, they were good, I just felt like they were missing something. So I added a little vanilla ice cream! I almost felt like the pound cake should have been soaked in something before I skewered them. I don't know what though. And if I soaked them, they might have even fallen apart. This is a great recipe to welcome Summer!

1 pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 frozen pound cake, slightly thawed, cut into 1-inch cubes
honey, for drizzling (optional)
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Soak 8 wooden skewers in water. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Alternately thread 4 cubes each of pineapple and pound cake on each skewer. Grill, turning once, until lightly charred, about 1 minute per side (I got distracted with Emme so mine were on there a little longer!) Drizzle with honey or serve with vanilla ice cream...or both!


(adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine)

Cream Cheese Pancakes

Let's start this one out with a tip: ALWAYS read the recipe all the way through when planning your meals! I had intentions of making Cheesecake Pancakes. I read through the ingredients and knew I had everything to make them. Simple. I'll whip them up. Wrong! I was supposed to slice the cream cheese and allow it to sit in the freezer 8 HOURS or overnight! Well, that just wasn't going to happen this morning at 8:00! So, I started to look for a different cream cheese pancake recipe. I found one and combined the two together. The result was fantastic. I would rather have homemade pancakes over the frozen ones any day. The only thing frozen I will buy and actually enjoy is Eggo waffles. I guess it just brings back the feeling of childhood. These pancakes really aren't that much more difficult than whipping up some Bisquick. One of the original recipes called for self-rising flour (which I do not have) so I made my own and reflected it here in my adapted recipe. The maple syrup and strawberries added that perfect touch. I hope you enjoy these!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1-3/4 cup milk
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. cream cheese, cubed (small)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture (or you could just use 2 cups self-rising flour and 2 tablespoons sugar).

Combine egg, milk, softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla, stirring well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Add the small cubes of cream cheese and stir to mix in (you can slice the cream cheese and stick in the freezer while you're preparing the other ingredients so its easier to cube).

Pour 1/4 cup batter (or less) for each pancake onto a hot (over medium heat), lightly greased griddle pan. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges appear cooked; turn and cook other side (second side cooks much quicker). Serve pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries.

*I have made extra batches of pancakes and frozen the leftovers. That's one way I'll eat frozen pancakes :)


(adapted from Southern Living and Betty Crocker)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't Forget To Comment!

I search the Internet a lot looking for different recipes to go with key sale ingredients. I love the sites that allow the readers to type in comments. Its nice being able to see if people were able to substitute ingredients, if they changed the cooking time or method, or even if the darn the was good! I have a lot of readers on this site and I know you guys are cooking some of this stuff. Don't forget to take advantage of the comment section and leave your comments. Let the other readers know if you swapped an ingredient, if you would have liked to change something, or if it really wasn't that great. These comments really help everybody. I generally change the recipes up that I follow to suit my tastes and to use the ingredients that I have in my pantry. So, I know we all tweak recipes here and there. Share your stories! I know we all will be grateful.

I'll have to do the Cheesecake Pancakes tomorrow morning. As some of you know, I recently started shopping and couponing for my daughters' preschool. We did a Publix run this morning. We spent about $55 and saved about $127!! Its so nice to be able to give back. Now, I've just got to share some recipe secrets with them :)

Go ahead...start commenting away....

And thanks to those of you that already do!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones

I don't know if I'm just tired, but I just can't think of an intro for this! This was good, but not fabulous. I enjoyed the Italian Sausage Calzones better. The recipe was pretty basic, so you could use additional ingredients to jazz it up a bit. My husband enjoyed it though. He just likes meat and cheese, so that's how I fixed it. Once I had my piece plated, I added mustard and pickle relish. Now, it really tastes like a cheeseburger! Play around with it, and come up with a version that your family enjoys. And if you haven't already, check out the other calzone recipe too. Yummy!

2 tubes pizza crust (I used thin crust)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
4 slices bacon, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 cup shredded cheese
mustard (optional)
pickle relish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown beef and onion. Drain off excess fat. In a separate skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain and combine with the beef mixture. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Roll out one dough and top one half with half of the meat mixture. Top with additional shredded cheese if desired. Squeeze ketchup over the top (no more than 1/4 cup per calzone) Fold over to seal. Crimp edges with your fingers and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with other dough. This could be done carefully on the baking sheet so that the calzones don't have to be transferred (that's what I did).

Cut a slit in each calzone to vent. Brush with olive oil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


(adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feta Cheese Chicken Breasts

I get so tired of fixing chicken the same way. I buy a lot of chicken breasts, because when you can catch a sale they are very affordable for quick dinner options. So, finding new tasty ways to fix them is a happy day in my house! Not everybody is a fan of feta cheese. If you're wanting to branch out and try new cheeses, feta is a great place to start. Its a milder cheese (unlike blue cheese) and its great on salads. I found out tonight that its also great melted on top of tomatoes and a chicken breast! More like awesome. This is also a great meal to entertain with because it looks like it took you a lot longer to prepare than it really did. The presentation is pretty. Serve it with a green salad to really make the colors pop. Publix has their feta cheese on sale this week. I had chicken breasts in the freezer, and had cherry tomatoes leftover from the Bacon and Tomato Frittata. You will love this change on the chicken breast!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 large Roma tomato, sliced (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to broil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pound chicken breasts slightly in a large zippy bag to even the thickness for easier cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in skillet on one side for approximately 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip over. Baste the cooked side with Italian dressing. Cook for approximately 4-6 minutes. Place chicken in an oven safe dish (if your skillet isn't made to be put under the broiler- I don't know if any are!) Top chicken breasts with tomatoes and feta cheese. Place 4 inches under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with rice and green beans or a salad.


(adapted from

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Apple Walnut Oatmeal

I wanted to do something light and healthy for dinner tonight. I know I posted an oatmeal recipe Saturday (Baked Oatmeal with Berries) but it was so good it left me wanting more! I bought some Granny Smith apples the other day when I was going to make the grilled cheese for supper. Anyway, I changed my mind, so I never made it. This oatmeal sounded perfect because it cured my craving for oatmeal and used up my apples! Try it this weekend. A healthy, quick breakfast is perfect. The walnuts give the oatmeal great texture and the maple syrup was the icing on the cake!

3 cups water
2 medium tart apples, chopped (1 large would be fine)
1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats (I used quick cooking)
dash salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped almonds (I used walnuts)
maple syrup and/or milk (optional)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Add the apples, oats and salt; cook and stir for 5 minutes (2-3 minutes for quick-cooking).

Remove from the heat; stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with walnuts. Serve with maple syrup and/or milk if desired. I drizzled mine with maple syrup and right before serving poured over a splash of milk. Yummy! The maple syrup was awesome. I halved this recipe, so I got two good servings out of it. The other half is breakfast tomorrow!


(adapted from Taste of Home)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Menu 3/24

Publix had a lot on sale this week to inspire me. Most of the recipes I originally came up with were for desserts. I can't very well do an entire Menu of desserts, so I conceded and put some "real" food on here too! I actually had to narrow my selection down. I had so many that I wanted to make! I hope I picked some good ones. Most of them are ones I've been eye-balling for a while.

Apple Walnut Oatmeal- Wed 3/24
Feta Cheese Chicken Breasts- Thurs 3/25
Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones- Fri 3/26
Cheesecake Pancakes- Sat 3/27
Oriental Slaw Salad- Sun 3/28
Sesame Ginger Chicken (previous post, making to go with slaw)
Pineapple Dessert Skewers- Sun 3/28
Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells- Mon 3/29

Items highlighted from Publix Weekly Ad:

Hunts Tomatoes B1G1
Classico Pasta Sauce B1G1
Ground Beef (using the $1.50 off Classico coupon)
Kraft Shredded Cheese 3/$5
Publix Feta Cheese 2/$3
Breakstone Sour Cream $.99
Philadelphia Cream Cheese 5/$5
Pillsbury Pizza Crust 3/$5
Jimmy Dean Sausage 2/$4
Oscar Mayer Bacon 2/$6
Pineapple $2.99
Baby Carrots $1.29
Publix Cole Slaw $1.29
Strawberries 2/$4
Sara Lee Pound Cake 50% off

Items from my stockpile:

Quick cooking oats
Granny Smith apple
Brown Sugar
Maple Syrup
Graham Cracker Crumbs
Vanilla Extract
Chicken Breasts
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Italian Sausage
Pasta Sauce

Non-Sale Items needed:

Plum Tomatoes
Jumbo Pasta Shells
Frozen Spinach
Red bell pepper
Butterhead lettuce

I'm kind of cooking from the pantry Wednesday, because I won't be able to do my shopping until Thursday evening. The Feta Cheese Chicken should be easy enough to throw together with some Rice-a-Roni.

I said that I was "maybe" going to do the sausage/spaghetti squash dinner tonight. Well, the maybe turned into a "no"! My oldest daughter is spending the night with her YaYa, so we only will have the baby at home. I think its cereal night! I'm going to finally get to sit down and watch a movie during the week!

Next post: Oh So Good Oatmeal Wednesday

Monday, March 22, 2010

White Bean Tortellini Soup

Lindsay, a reader, sent me an e-mail today asking for this recipe. It was on the menu a couple of weeks ago and I never got around to making it. I almost just e-mailed her the recipe, but it really sounded good! So, I decided to make it tonight. It was so fresh and delicious and exactly what I wanted. Thanks Lindsay! I know its going to get better in the fridge, so I'm really looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow. The weather has turned cold once again, so this warm soup hit the spot. Most ingredients in the recipe are pantry staples or past sale items at Publix. I did call my husband and get him to grab and onion and zucchini at Publix on his way home. He's really good about doing stuff like that for me! Make this great soup as a farewell to winter!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 32-oz. carton chicken broth
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
1 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 19-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 19-oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 9-oz container fresh cheese tortellini 
*optional- 1/2 lb diced cooked sausage
diced cheese, for garnish
parmesan cheese, for garnish

**I also have recently started adding diced conecuh sauage to this soup.  I chop 1/2 of a 1-lb package and saute it in a separate pan.  You can either sprinkle the sausage on top of each bowl, or stir it directly into the pot once its ready.

**I added tortellini at a later date after posting this recipe years ago.  This soup is one of our family favorites and it gets made often!

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat, then add onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and beans. Bring to a boil. Add tortellini and zucchini and cook according to package directions.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes.
Serve with diced monterrey jack cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


(adapted from

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Its Sunday afternoon and time to bake! I had everything on hand for these so I though, Why Not? The last time I was at Sam's I bought a big bag of walnuts. I keep nuts in the freezer to extend their shelf life. Nuts have oil in them, and the oil can turn the nuts bad quicker in the pantry. I love keeping walnuts and pecans on hand at all times. Nuts are pretty interchangeable in recipes, so use what you have on hand.

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub an 8-inch square baking pan with butter.

With a mixer, beat butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup each chocolate chips and walnuts (I added them all...OOPS) Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts (all of mine when IN the batter).

Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clan, 40-45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.


(adapted from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baked Veggie Macaroni

This is a great dish to make as a side dish (for a crowd) or as a vegetarian main course. I have a feeling this is going to be my lunch this week. It makes a ton! I even used only 3/4 lb. instead of the full 1 lb. the original recipe called for. This is not a typical cheesy macaroni. The cheese is cubed then stirred in. I love how it melts while it cooks and you get little pockets of cheese in the noodles. Yummy! The veggies are so good, and so good for you! This is simple to put together. Take the time while its baking to get the kitchen clean. Double duty on a weeknight is a must!

3/4 lb. elbow macaroni pasta (I used 3/4 box Smart Taste)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. white mushrooms or baby bellas
1 onion, finely chopped
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 10-oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus 2/3 cup
2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons (feel free to use less)
2 cups mozzarella cheese, cubed (I used 12 oz. Monterrey Jack)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally , about 7-8 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot (off of the heat).

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spinach. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Spread the softened butter in a 9 X 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture in the dish to coat.

In the pasta pot combine the vegetable mixture with the cooked macaroni, cubed mozzarella and the remaining parmesan cheese. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining bread crumb mixture, and dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake until top is golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.


(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Baked Oatmeal with Berries

Yum Yum Yum! I have to be honest. I wasn't quite sure how this was going to turn out. I didn't know if we would have oatmeal squares, crumbly oatmeal, or regular oatmeal. What we got was a creamy version, a more hearty version, of regular oatmeal. This was sweet and delicious. I served it with milk (in the bowl) and strawberries on top. Even Ella liked it! I have tons of oatmeal in the pantry and will definitely be making this again. The true test is going to be if Clay likes it. He's not an oatmeal fan, but I'm going to make him try this one! (**Update: Clay did like it. He enjoyed his bowl when he woke up!)

1-1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Berries (fresh or frozen- defrost frozen first)
Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 8 ingredients together and mix well. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread the batter out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Once out of the oven, use a spoon to scrape the oatmeal into a bowl. Serve with milk, warm berries and brown sugar.


(adapted from

Bacon and Tomato Frittata

I really liked this one! I love cooking with eggs and this was a fresh change for dinner. This would be great served at a brunch though. The colors are very pretty. I did half the recipe below though but used 7 eggs (instead of 6). I also sauteed the tomatoes and spinach for about 2-3 minutes before adding them. This is perfect for Spring. Publix has bacon and eggs on sale this week. I grabbed the produce from my local farmers market. And I got some beautiful plants too. Let's see how long it takes me to kill them!

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups, 1 lb.)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (the only salt I use)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (yes, mine comes from a can)
1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (or 1 medium tomato, chopped)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
12 eggs, slightly beaten
parmesan cheese
additional bacon and tomatoes for garnish

In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, cook bacon pieces until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towels. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from pan.

Carefully add potatoes, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Remove from heat.

Top potatoes with bacon, spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella. Pour eggs over mixture. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes or until center is just set.

Place on wire rack; immediately sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Let stand 10 minutes.

To serve, cut into 8 wedges. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with additional bacon and cherry tomatoes.


(adapted from a Publix publication)

One Pot Beefy Rotini this was one of the ones that didn't turn out good. I've seen this written several times in magazines on the side column as a Ragu ad. El-Yucko. Don't waste your time. If you want to try it for its simplicity, use the chicken broth instead of the water. It tasted exactly like what it is: watered down tomato sauce pasta. It has potential though. It reminds me of a simpler version of One Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs. My opinion, just go for the meatball recipe. WAY more flavor and only a few additional ingredients.

Here's the recipe anyway, in case you want to try to improve it:

2 lb. ground beef
1 jar Ragu (the BIG one- 2 lb. 13 oz- I used 1-1/2 regular jars)
4 cups water (use chicken broth for more flavor)
1 lb. uncooked rotini pasta
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef in 6-quart saucepot; drain. Stir in sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Stir in uncooked rotini; return to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 14 minutes or until rotini is tender. Remove from heat; sprinkle with cheese. Let stand covered until cheese is melted.

(adapted from All You Magazine)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Menu 3/17

This looks to be a good week at Publix! I sure wish they would start running better sales on their meat though. Everything has been so high these last few weeks. I've been going to Winn Dixie or Bruno's for our meat. I will be going to Allegri's again this week to get some of my produce. And they're ferns are BEAUTIFUL!! I love this time of year. I know when Art and Crafts weekend rolls around in Fairhope, Allegri's will have their gorgeous ferns hanging outside just calling my name! You will notice also that I have have left a couple of days blank next week with the recipes. I am going to start taking some nights off. I am allowing myself some "cereal" nights because I am just too pooped these days to get in my kitchen and cook every night. I am getting burned out. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of gal, and I don't want that to happen with this blog. I REALLY enjoy doing it, so I don't want to burn myself out. I hope that you enjoy the recipes this week. Those blondies looked too good not to make :)

One Pot Beefy Rotini
- Wednesday 3/17
Bacon & Tomato Frittata- Thursday 3/18
Baked Oatmeal with Berries- Saturday 3/20
Baked Veggie Macaroni- Sunday 3/21
Blondies with Chocolate Chips & Walnuts- Sunday 3/21
White Bean Soup- Monday 3/22
Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Greens- Tuesday 3/23 (maybe)

Items highlighted from the Publix Sneak Peek:

Prego Italian Sauce B1G1
Muellers Pasta B1G1
Sargento Shredded Cheese 2/$4
4 Grain Eggs 2/$4
Hormel Bacon 2/$6
Strawberries 2/$4

Items from my stockpile:

Creamer Potatoes
Parmesan cheese
Quick Cooking Oats
Baking Essentials
Elbow Macaroni
Diced Tomatoes
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Italian Sausage

Non-Sale Items I'll Need:

Cherry Tomatoes
Ground Beef
Frozen Spinach
Granulated Sugar
Granny Smith Apples
Baby Spinach
Spaghetti Squash

Tonight I may make the White Bean Soup if I'm not too tired! If I don't get it made/posted e-mail me at and I can send you the recipe

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicken Parmesan Quesa-nini

What's with that name? Well, this started out in my head as a panini. Once made, it resembled more of a quesadilla. So this is the name Clay came up with! Spaghetti sauce has been on sale every week at all of the grocery stores these last few weeks, so I'm stocked. Shannon from The Bargain Buggy and I were brainstorming ideas to use the Flatout bread that Publix had B1G1 this week. This is what we came up with. This is super easy and great for a weeknight dinner.

4 Flatout breads
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
1 cup spaghetti sauce, plus more for dipping
1-1/2 cups shredded mozarella
parmesan cheese

Heat chicken and sauce together in a skillet over medium heat. Preheat panini grill. Lay out the flatbread. Divide half of the cheese evenly among the 4 pieces. Top each with 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Top with remaining cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan. Fold over to cover chicken. Spray panini grill with a cooking spray. Lay the quesa-nini's on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is slightly crisp. Repeat with the other two quesa-nini's.
Remove to a cutting board. Slice into 3 triangles. Serve with additional sauce and a side salad.


Maple Pecan Shortbread

Happy Birthday Dad! My Dad loves shortbread cookies. We used to always buy him the Walkers Shortbread cookies in the red tins when we were younger. Now, since I'm better in the kitchen, I decided to make some. You all know I love maple syrup, so these were as much for me as they were for him! We were both happy with the results! The dough can be made the night before you need to bake them. I still don't have a rolling pin, so I deconstructed my paper towel holder again. And if you don't have a round cookie cutter don't fret. I used a small Rubbermaid lunch container (the one you would put dressing in or something). They turned out great. I ate my fair share last night then bagged up some for my Dad and brought the rest to work. These cookies are Delish!

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten

Combine flours and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup chopped pecans, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add the maple syrup, egg yolk and vanilla; beat on medium speed until well combined. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Dough should be smooth and pliable. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, 1-1/2 hours or overnight (I chilled mine for about 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (I just used a non-stick cookie sheet).

On a lightly floured work surface (my big wooden cutting board), roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds using a two-inch cookie cutter; place one inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg; sprinkle centers with remaining 1/4 cup pecans. Press pecans into the cookie lightly.

Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10-14 minutes. Mine did not turn really golden. The thinner ones turned more golden and they were crisper. The other ones were more "blond" and they had a softer texture when done. So, just keep an eye on them. I leaned more towards the 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to four days...if they last that long!


(adapted from

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sausage Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Cheesy Polenta

Hummm....not really sure what to say about this one. Although it wasn't one of my favorites, it doesn't go on the "never-make-again" list. If I do make this again, I would change some things up. This was my first time cooking and eating polenta. It is a thicker, creamier version of grits. And, yes, it was thicker. And being a Southern Gal I am used to grits being a certain way. If I were to make this again, I would thin it out with some more chicken stock (I did add an addition 1/2 cup or so, but it was still too thick). Although Clay said, "Why don't you just make grits next time". Good point. I have made this chicken before, but I used the apple gouda flavored chicken sausage. That was better in my opinion. The original recipe called for 1 lb. of sausage to be split among 4 chicken breasts. I used about 1/2 lb. between 4 and I thought it was still too much. Less sausage and maybe add some cheese. If you have polenta pointers, feel free to share. Next time I'll stick to what I know!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
4-oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pound each chicken breasts to around 1/8" thickness (not too thin because the chicken will tear). Season both sides with salt and pepper. Divide the sausage among the chicken breasts and roll up. Secure with toothpicks.

In an oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan seam side down and cook, turning, until browned all over (about 5 minutes per side or until golden). Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes (I cooked mine an extra 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk, eater and salt to a gentle boil. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook 15-20 minutes, until creamy, lifting the lid and stirring every 3-4 minutes to prevent sticking (I added additional chicken broth to thin out while stirring. Maybe around 1/2 cup or so). Remove pot from heat, stir in pepper and butter. Gradually stir in cheese.


(Chicken Stuffed Sausage adapted from Rachael Ray)
(Cheesy Polenta adapted from

Friday, March 12, 2010

Santa Fe Soup

I love making soups because they're easy (one pot) and the leftovers always taste better the next day. Totally true with this soup. My Mom shared this recipe with me several years ago. I love it because most of the ingredients are pantry staples. Brown some meat, throw in some beans and seasonings and you're done! The flavors really come together the longer it simmers, but it can be ready in as little as 30 minutes. I got a late start tonight, so once it came together I simmered it for 20 minutes. And, boy was it good! I did change up the beans this time and just used what I had on hand from the Italian Sale at Publix a few weeks ago. Feel free to use what you have. You'll notice that this recipe calls for the beans not to be drained. So I added the beans and all of their juice. I also do not salt the soup because of the sodium in the beans. My sister-in-law makes this and she drains her beans. If you do drain them, add more chicken stock or water to get to the desired consistency. Either way, this soup is going to be great!

2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz. can pinto beans
1 16-oz. can black beans
2 16-oz. can kidney beans
2 16-oz. can corn
2 cans Rotel
2 packages Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1 package Taco Seasoning
2 cups water (I used chicken broth)

**Drain corn- NOT beans

Brown beef and onion in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Drain off excess fat. Add seasoning packets and stir. Add beans (do not drain), add corn (drained), add Rotel (do not drain), add water (or chicken stock). Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at least 20 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and Tostitos.

**I used 2 16-oz. cans black beans, 1 19-oz. can garbanzo beans, and 1 19-oz. can white beans


(adapted from Sandy Sumlin)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Awesome Carrot Muffins

I wish I didn't like to bake so much. I really do not need any of this mess in my house. These muffins are a little more on the good-for-you side though! The oil is reduced by using applesauce, and there's only a moderate amount of brown sugar. This is the first time I've made these muffins using the applesauce and I really was impressed (see the link for the original recipe). I think I will look for that substitute in future recipes. These muffins freeze well, so its good to make a whole batch and stick some in the freezer for easy breakfast on-the-go. Ella likes these too! I was cooking from the pantry this week, so I had all of the ingredients and only paid $.79 for the carrots. These would be great to take to a school for an Easter party with some cream cheese frosting! But that defeats the healthy part, doesn't it?!?

1 cup raisins
2 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups shredded carrots

Combine raisins and water in a small bowl. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain raisins, discard water and set raisins aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce and brown sugar; beat well. Combine egg mixture and flour mixture; mixing until just moistened. Fold in carrots and drained raisins. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool before 30 minutes if you frost them (I eat mine as is).


(adapted from

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

I absolutely love this recipe! I first made it several years ago for Bunco. Its a little more labor intensive than most of my other recipes, but it is totally worth it. I actually made this one Sunday afternoon. I doubled the recipe and divided it between 3 aluminum casserole dishes and put them in the freezer. Just top them with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture before baking. I'm cooking from the pantry this week, or the freezer in tonight's case, and it feels good to be able to do that. I hope that you enjoy this recipe. Its really one of my favorites!

9 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/4 teaspoons pepper
1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature (2 % would suffice)
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spread 1 tablespoon butter over a 13 X 9 baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-sized pices and put in a large bowl. **You could totally skip this step and grill the chicken breasts or use 1 rotisserie chicken**

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture into the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1-3/4 teaspoons salt and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil (watch this though and don't let it boil over!) Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce and peas (I totally forgot to add these!) to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

**I doubled this recipe and divided among 3 aluminum baking dishes and froze them. I figured if I was going through all the trouble to make this I might as well get the most bang for my buck! Thaw the casserole in the fridge the night before you want to bake it (mine was still pretty much frozen tonight). I baked it covered in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. I uncovered it and topped it with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture. Turned the oven up to 450 degrees and baked uncovered another 35-40 minutes. Delish!


(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I almost didn't make this tonight. I still needed to get baby spinach at Publix because they were out when I did my shopping last Thursday. The weather was starting to get bad and I just didn't want to get out. But, I had really been looking forward to this recipe. I am really glad I braved the rain and made this. Awesome! It really tasted like it came from a restaurant. I kept it simple and served it with Rice-a-Roni and green beans. The original recipe had bacon wrapped around each chicken breast. I didn't have any, but feel free to try it that way! Since I didn't use the bacon, I seared both sides in a skillet and finished it in the oven. See the original link if you want to try the bacon. This would be perfect for entertaining. It is so pretty with the green spinach and cheese coming out! And be sure to pound the chicken breasts out thin enough. The thinner you pound them, the quicker they will cook. It also helps when trying to wrap them around the filling to close.

1 10-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or monterrey jack)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless chicken breasts- pounded to 1/4" thickness
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place spinach in a large glass bowl, and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring at 1 minute intervals, until wilted. Stir in sour cream, shredded cheese and garlic.

Lay the pounded chicken breasts on a clean surface. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the spinach mixture onto each one. Roll up chicken to enclose the spinach. Secure with toothpicks. Sear in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Finish cooking in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until no longer pink. When you take the pan out of the oven be sure to put an oven mitt over the handle so you don't burn yourself, because that handle is HOT! I have burned myself a countless number of times from touching the handle.


(adapted from

Menu 3/10

I have decided to cook from my pantry this week. There was nothing on sale at Publix that I needed and I see no sense in spending money when I don't have to! I have plenty in my pantry as you saw in my post, so I'm am going to make the most of it and cook dinner this week. I will have to go to the farmers market to get some veggies. Most everything else I have on-hand. I've got some yummy recipes coming this week for you!

Chicken Tetrazzini- Wednesday 3/10
Awesome Carrot Muffins- Thursday 3/11
Santa Fe Soup- Friday 3/12
Buttermilk Pancakes- Sunday 3/14
Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Cheesy Polenta- Sunday 3/14
Chicken Parmesan Panini- Monday 3/15
White Bean Soup- Tuesday 3/16

Since I am not going by the Publix Sales Ad I am not going to do a breakdown of ingredients. If there is a recipe you'd like to see before I post it, e-mail me at fairhopefoodie (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send you a list of ingredients. The Chicken Tetrazzini is in my freezer! The last time I made it I doubled the recipe, so I'm going to cook it Wednesday and post the recipe. We'll enjoy leftovers Thursday, so I wanted to post these great Carrot Muffins that I'll eat for breakfast the rest of the week (these also freeze well). We're having company Friday night, so soup is a great crowd pleaser and very easy to prepare. I've got my daughter's birthday party Saturday, so I'm taking the day off :) I have buttermilk leftover from the Avocado Pound Cake that needs to be used and I LOVE these buttermilk pancakes. Its a copycat recipe of Cracker Barrel's and they're so good! I also have the yellow cornmeal I bought for the pound cake and so I wanted to give polenta a try Sunday night. I am going to Publix to get the Flat-out bread to make the Panini's Monday night. We all have jars of spaghetti sauce stocked up, so Shannon from The Bargain Buggy helped me come up with this one. And I wanted to make use of all of the beans I stocked up on a couple of weeks ago so the White Bean Soup sounded yummy after a Monday at work.

I hope you enjoy this week. Its kind of nice to do it without structure! :)

Tonight its Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Avocado Pound Cake

I really had high expectations for this cake when I saw it on Joy The Baker last week. And I am proud to say that all of those expectations were met! This cake is so good! Definitely not what you would think of when you hear "Pound Cake". Its almost a cross between a pound cake and a quick bread. The cornmeal gives it a slightly different texture, though not as grainy as cornbread. My only disappointment is its not green enough! Clay thought it was good until I told him it had avocados in it. After that, he wouldn't have anything to do with it! I enjoyed my fair share tonight. The recipe makes two loaves. I wrapped one loaf and stuck it in the freezer. I kept two slices for me to snack on tomorrow and the rest is going to work. I told the guys at work that I am getting them ready for bikini season with all of the snacks I'm bringing them! But, hey, avocados are good for you right?!?

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
flesh of 1-1/2 avocados, mashed (just over 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (I used Pam) two loaf pans and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Set the four eggs on the counter to come to room temperature while you beat the butter and sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until softened and pliable. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (mine was still a little crumbly). Add the avocado and beat another minute to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, all of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.

Divide the dough between the two loaf pans and place in the oven. turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cakes come out clean (Mine ended up baking for almost 30 minutes longer. I cranked it up to 350 for the last 10 minutes). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


(adapted from Joy The Baker)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Asparagus Pasta with Pecans

This is going to be my lunch all week! Publix had asparagus "on sale" this week. Its still not a great price, but I couldn't wait any longer to post this recipe. I first made this Easter last year. Its a Southern Living recipe, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. Its great as is, or you could add chicken and bulk it up as a main course. Leftovers are even great cold eaten more as a pasta salad. And did I mention that it cooks in about 15 minutes. That's right. Quick, easy and delicious!

1 box penne pasta
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, mined
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup pecan halves

Prepare pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain (I forgot to rinse).

Snap off tough ends of asparagus, and cut into thirds. Saute asparagus in a hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes. Stir in red bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Stir in salt and pepper.

Toss together pasta, asparagus mixture, parmesan cheese and pecans. Garnish with additional cheese and pecans, if desired.


(adapted from Southern Living)

Caramel Popcorn and Peanuts

I love finding new snack food recipes. This would be great to serve at a party. Even better for movie night with the family! I found this recipe in this month's All You magazine and thought it was perfect this week because Publix had popcorn and peanuts on sale. I think it tastes a lot like Crunch-n-Munch. Clay has some for lunch tomorrow and the rest is going to my Office to get it out of the house!

1 bag popped popcorn (I used Butter Light)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, in pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper (I used foil because that's what I had). Pop popcorn in microwave. Transfer to a large bowl, add peanuts and set aside.

In a large pot, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook without stirring until mixture turns a light amber color, 4-6 minutes. If parts of syrup turn darker, tilt pot to even out heat (mine never really turned amber).

Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla and salt. Stir the popcorn and peanuts into the sugar mixture to completely coat. Scrape mixture onto papered baking sheet and let cool about 15 minutes before breaking into pieces and serving. Store in a large zippy bag.


(adapted from All You Magazine)

Jennifer's Pasta Alfredo Bake

I had a lot of alfredo sauce that I bought the other week and wanted to find a new way to use it. My sister-in-law Jennifer shared this with me. Its a take on a ziti bake. Five ingredients and super easy. Not to mention, delicious! I have to credit Shelley with the cooking for this one though! She made this while I stood around and kept her company :) Thanks Shelley! I'll let the recipe speak for itself.

1 box penne noodles (we used Smart Taste)
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (we used Italian Blend)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium high heat. Drain off excess fat. Pour jar of spaghetti sauce over meat and heat through.

Drain pasta and return to pan. Pour in alfredo sauce and mix well. If it is too thick, you can thin it out with a splash of milk.

Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Spread a think layer of the meat sauce in the bottom. Top with the noodles and meat sauce in this order: noodles, meat, noodles, meat. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until bubbly. Serve with garlic bread and salad.


(adapted from Jennifer Ammons)

Chicken Salad Pita Pockets

This is the version of chicken salad that my Aunt Susan makes. I've made it before for showers and served it on croissants. It is my favorite version. You can use chicken breasts like I did this time, or use a rotisserie chicken. That's what I've done in the past. I forgot to get the celery so I had to leave it out this time. I really like it for the color and the crunch, but it was still delicious without it. Make it the night before to get the full flavor out of it. Leftovers are great to use throughout the week for lunch. I ate mine on the way to Enterprise Friday to visit Shelley. Not only was it yummy, but it saved me $5 at a fast food drive thru!

4 cooked chicken breasts, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup celery, diced
pita pockets (or croissants)

In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise and lemon juice together. Mince the garlic. Sprinkle salt over the garlic and rub the back of your knife over the garlic to flatten into a paste (the salt acts as an abrasive and it breaks the garlic down to help it more evenly distribute throughout the mayonnaise). Mix the garlic paste into the mayonnaise. Add chicken, cranberries, pecans and celery. Mix well. Serve in pita pockets or croissants.


(adapted from Susan Lisenby)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maple Syrup Pancake Muffins

I have been eye-balling this recipe for some time now. I doubt that maple syrup (the real thing) will ever go on sale. I just buy mine at Sam's and keep it in the fridge because I love it so much. But this week Publix has Aunt Jemima syrup on sale, so I thought close enough. Time to break out that pancake muffin recipe! You could probably substitute the Aunt Jemima if that's what you have on hand. It won't be quite as yummy, but I'm sure it would still be great! These muffins were wonderful. I have never browned butter before, so I was a little intimidated. No need to be though. It was simple. Just keep an eye on it, and once it starts turning brown, remove it from the heat. I loved the texture, the flavor and the maple glaze. Fabulous muffin. I don't think Joy The Baker has probably ever made anything less than wonderful. Don't forget that I'm going to try her Avocado Pound Cake Monday night!

7 tablespoons butter (I used I Can't Believe Its Not Butter Sticks)
1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or Aunt Jemima)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the Maple Glaze:
3/4 cup maple syrup (you could try Aunt Jemima)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan (I noticed mine around the edges). The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye (Mine took approximately 5 minutes from the first bubbles). Remove from heat.

Whisk, milk, egg, yolk, maple syrup and vanilla until combined. Add the brown butter slowly to the egg mixture, whisking to mix. Combine well (Add it slowly so the heat from the butter doesn't scramble the eggs).

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the milk and butter mixture all at once and gently stir to combine.

Divide the batter among muffin cups evenly (Its supposed to make 12, but I got 11 out of it). Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

While the muffins are baking make the maple glaze. In a small saucepan simmer maple syrup and lemon juice, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick syrup. This will take about 15 minutes over low heat.

Remove from heat and let it cool slightly to thicken. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, poke a few holes in the muffin top with a toothpick and dip each muffin top in the maple glaze. After dipping all twelve muffins, start with the first muffin you dipped and dip each muffin again.


(adapted from Joy The Baker)