Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nutella and Banana Crepes

I have been dying to try my hand at making crepes but honestly, I thought that they would be a lot more difficult than they were.  Guess what!  Not at all difficult!  They are too easy!  Which may or may not be a good thing - these Nutella and banana crepes were ah-mazing.  The batter whips up in minutes, they cook in another minute or two and then you slather on some Nutella, a couple of cut bananas and fold away!  Or roll, or fold in half...really your preference.  Also, is it bad that I served these for breakfast?  I mean, they're sort of like pancakes, right?  They would also make for a fabulous dessert.     

So, there's no need to be intimidated by making Crepes...I know once you try them, you'll make them over and over again.  Oooo...with strawberries and whipped cream, or nutella and strawberries, or raspberries...stop me before I go crazy with this!  I can't wait to make more.  And I know that you will have all the ingredients to make, what are you waiting for???  Enjoy!

Makes 8 crepes

Nutella and Banana Crepes

1 cup flour
2 eggs 
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl or batter bowl, whisk together the flour and eggs.  Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine.  Add the salt and butter and beat until smooth (it will be VERY runny - much thinner than pancake batter).

Spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray (I did this in between each crepe) and heat over medium high heat.  Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and tilt with a circular motion so the batter coats the surface evenly.  

Cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown (so it can be easily flipped).  Turn with a spatula and cook the other side for about a minute.  Remove from pan and immediately top with a tablespoon of Nutella and spread over the entire crepe.  Place about 4 slices of banana in the top 1/4 of the crepe.  Fold in half, then half again.

Repeat process with the remaining batter.  Serve warm and dust with powered sugar right before serving.  

(Source:  from

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicken Ranch Roll Ups

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest a little while ago and I'm so glad I did!  This is a super busy week for my husband, which means that it's a super busy week for me...most of the time I'm in the middle of making dinner when he gets home, which means that we both feed the kids, we both get them bathed and ready for bed.  But on weeks like this, where he is working later than usual, recipes like this are my savior!!  Quick, easy and so tasty - something I know that even my toddler will eat.  Yay!  Perfect to serve with a side salad and dinner is done.  

I boiled two chicken breasts so I could easily shred them.  Sounds boring and not all flavorful, but there is plenty of flavor that gets mixed in, don't worry.

 In a medium bowl, mix the shredded chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese and ranch seasoning packet and stir it all up until combined.  

 Then place the chicken mixture on the crescents and roll...

 After they're all nicely rolled up, bake for about 20-25 minutes until they are puffed and golden brown.  

Makes 12 crescents

Chicken Ranch Roll Ups

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded 
2 packages of crescent rolls (8 count + 4 count)
1 8 oz package of reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup shredded Mexican blend shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey jack would also work)
1 packet of ranch seasoning mix
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll crescents onto an 11x18 baking sheet.  Mix the chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese and ranch seasoning in a medium bowl until combined.  Spoon onto crescents and roll up, stretching the sides a little so they are sealed around the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle tops with salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown.

(Source:  Adapted from Jenna's Journey)

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Streusel Topping

 I don't know how it happened, but somehow we turned into an apple family.  I mean, I like apples, not plain, like just to bite into one, but believe me, I won't pass up a big ol' slice of apple pie.  It's just that before kids, we never had apples in the house.  Now, with two little ones, once you find a fruit or veggie that they like, then by God, you stick with it!  Even if you have to cut it up and bribe them with a little peanut butter or Nutella for dipping.

This picture above was taken right before they went into the oven (yum!).  At any rate, since we do have these apples and I bake, I have been using them a lot to make cakes and muffins.  This is actually the same recipe I used for my Apple Cinnamon cake, but a smaller version, with more of a crunchy, oat topping (yum again).  These are moist and dense and great for an on the go breakfast! 

12 Muffins

For the muffins
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups, peeled, diced apples (about 2 apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the topping
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons oats
2 tablespoons butter, diced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place liners in the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together.  In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar and add baking soda to dissolve.  Add to butter/sugar mixture and mix well.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add salt, flour and vanilla.  Fold in apples and cinnamon.  

Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, scoop batter evenly into the liners of the muffin cups.  In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping and start mashing with a fork (or use your fingers) until it becomes crumbly.  Sprinkle topping evenly over each muffin.  

Bake for 25-30 minutes.    

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Parmesan Chicken

This is one of my absolute favorite go-to weeknight meals.  So easy and so good!  A must to serve with mashed potatoes so you can soak up all the yummy sauce.  It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, then let the oven do the rest of the work.  I adapted this recipe from my husband's grandma - Nan-Nan as my kids call her.  :)  When she first made it for us, I said "Oh, I love chicken Parmesan!"...she was very quick to correct me that it's Parmesan chicken, not chicken Parmesan.  I will forever think of that when I make this...which is often.  This is sure to become a staple in your house as well.  

 Serves 2-3

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place the chicken breasts in a baking dish.  In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.  Stir well and evenly top each chicken breast with the mixture.  Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the bread crumbs over each piece.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.

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Chicken and Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

This is my version of Pioneer Woman's Penne a la Betsy and it's absolutely divine!  I love a good, creamy pasta, especially one that mixes tomato sauce with a cream sauce.  In her original recipe, she used shrimp and I will definitely try that version next time.  

 Pouring the half & half into the tomato sauce mixture...

Lots and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

 And stir all together...

Serves 6

Chicken and Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

3/4 pounds Penne pasta
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
1 cup half & half
Fresh basil (about 8-10 leaves), chopped or chiffonaded
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4- 1/2 cup, divided)
Salt and Pepper

Cook penne pasta according to package directions, until al dente.  Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet.  Add chicken, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until done throughout, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  

In a large, deep skillet, heat the butter and remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes or until it becomes fragrant.  Add the white wine and let evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomato sauce and stir well until combined.  Add the half & half and continue stirring.  Turn heat to low and let simmer.  

Add chicken back to cream sauce, give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add chopped basil and stir until combined.  Finally add the cooked pasta, stir, add the Parmesan cheese and stir again.  Serve and grate more Parmesan cheese on each serving. 
(Source:  Adapted from Pioneer Woman's Penne a la Betsy)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Mousse

You will not believe how unbelievably easy this dessert is.  And how unbelievably delicious.  In the mood for pumpkin pie but don't really feel like making it?  Try this!  It's seriously like eating the middle out of a pumpkin pie.  This might even replace pie at Thanksgiving...what a great dessert to bring to your family's next Holiday get together.  

 5 (1/2 cup) servings

Pumpkin Pie Mousse

1 package of instant vanilla pudding (4 serving box)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup cold milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups thawed reduced fat whipped topping, divided

Mix pudding mix and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.  Add milk and pumpkin; beat with a wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended.  Gently stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping.  Spoon mousse into serving bowl or 5 dessert glasses.  

Refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors.  Just before serving, top with remaining 1/2 cup whipped topping.  
(Source:  Adapted from McCormick website)

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lemon Cheesecake

As I'm sitting here typing this recipe, I am able to look out my window and see my lemon tree with about 6 almost full size lemons growing on it (it's a small tree).  We've had this tree for 3 years, but it never produced any lemons until this year.  We were so excited!  I honestly thought we got a defective plant.  

My lemon tree..

So, the lemon for this cheesecake did not come from my tree, but believe me, first chance I get, I'll be sure to use one and let you know.  

I love the buttery, graham cracker crust and the creamy lemon topping.  It's not a super thick cheesecake, in fact, it almost reminds me of more of a tart, but it's really decadent and so tasty.

Makes 1 Cake 

Lemon Cheesecake 

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 (8 oz) bars of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest (1 lemon)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from the same lemon)

Preheat oven to 325 and prepare crust.  In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.  Stir until moistened.  Press into the bottom of a spring form pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Place the cream cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice; blend until smooth.

Pour mixture over hot crust in pan and bake until set, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool completely, cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge.  Serve cold.

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Cajun Chicken Salad with Salsa Ranch Dressing

I love a good, chopped salad.  A BIG salad if you of my many references back to Seinfeld - it's just too easy sometimes.  :)  "It's a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it" says Elaine trying to explain to her waitress.  And I can just picture her face - makes me laugh every time. 

But, I digress.  A big, full-of-great-stuff salad can make for an excellent dinner.  And that's exactly what we did last night.  I marinated chicken breasts in a super spicy mixture of salt, garlic, peppers and thyme and blackened them in my skillet.  

Add black beans, corn, some chopped tomatoes, cheese and you have yourself a nice little meal!  I must warn you, this is extremely spicy!!  Easily toned down by scaling back on the cayenne pepper or using a mild salsa so as not to add anymore heat to the ranch dressing. 

  Serves 2-3

Cajun Chicken Salad with Salsa Ranch Dressing

For the chicken 
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons dried thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad 
2 bunches of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 cup corn 
1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup light ranch dressing
1/4 salsa (medium or mild)

Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you end up with 4 thin pieces.  In a large zip lock bag, combine garlic powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt.  Add chicken breasts, seal bag and shake to cover each piece of chicken with spice mixture.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  

Heat olive oil over medium to medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet.  Pull the chicken out of the zip lock bag, shaking off the excess seasoning and place in skillet.  Cook until done throughout, about 5-6 minutes per side.  When done, set aside, allow to cool slightly and then slice for the salad. 

Split the lettuce, black beans and corn evenly into 2 large serving bowls.  Top with chicken, then cheese.  Combine the ranch dressing and salsa in a small bowl and spoon on top of each salad.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

It's that time again...where pumpkin flavor everything starts showing up...and I LOVE it.  Pumpkin spice coffees, creamer, ice cream, you name it right?  Fall is definitely my favorite season.  These pumpkin chocolate chip bars are one of the first things I make when I spot those cans of pumpkin appearing on my grocery store shelves...

Fall also means a relief from the ridiculously hot temperatures in the South.  Today there is no humidity, a nice breeze and I'm sitting here tying in my sun room with all the windows feels heavenly (it's still 83 degrees, but what a difference no humidity makes!).  What a perfect day to start some fall baking.  

As I do with most of my cookies, I left these just a bit underdone.  I hate dried out cookies! These are moist and dense and almost take on a pumpkin pie consistency.  I kept them in the fridge after they cooled. 

Makes 24 bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Mix in pumpkin puree.

Combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  On low speed, mix dry ingredients into wet until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Cut into 24 squares.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Shrimp Bisque

 This past weekend was pretty fabulous.  The weather was wonderful (still hot, but wonderful) and we spent Saturday and Sunday morning walking and flying a kite on Tybee Island, which is the beach we live about ten minutes away from.  Just an all around great time with the family!  All that time on the beach had my husband and I craving something seafood-y and I have been dying to try the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for shrimp bisque.  But, before I go any further, I just had to share a couple of pictures of my cute family (shameless, I know!). 

 Max Monster heading straight for the water...he's such a beach baby!

Love that my kids love the beach...

 Julesy-Bean...such a cheeser

 Go Jules ~ flying her kite! 

What a great way to end such a fun weekend, with a fantastic dinner.  The weather actually started to turn just yesterday ~ you could feel the humidity leaving and we just knew it was going to start to be a little cooler (thank goodness!  I mean one person can only take so much).  This recipe was just the perfect way to introduce fall ~ warm and creamy and so flavorful.  I faked out seafood stock by simmering some shrimp tales in chicken broth, but you can also follow Ina's recipe exact by using seafood stock (she has a recipe to make homemade as well).  This was even better the next day for lunch.

I love that Ina recognizes in her cookbook that bisques are not typically simple to make...that they require a million steps.  She simplifies it for us already, which is honestly why I was able to make this rich and delicious soup in no time at all.  

Shrimp cooking away with green onions, garlic and sherry.  Looking good already... 

 Serves 4-6 

Shrimp Bisque

1 pound shrimp, peeled, cleaned and deveined (shells and/or tails reserved)
4 cups chicken stock 
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped green onions (both green and white parts)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the shrimp shells and chicken stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain and reserve the stock.  Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add the green onions and cook over medium-low heat until they are tender but not browned.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sherry and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes longer.  Transfer the shrimp and onions to a food processor and process until coarsely pureed.  

In the same pot, melt the butter.  Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling.  Serve hot with a French baguette and some garlic butter croutons.  

(Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home)

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich

One of my favorite things is rifling through my cookbooks and seeing pages crumbled or stains from various spills.  Silly, but seeing the years of use and wear makes me happy.  One of my absolute favorite cookbooks is Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home, and surprisingly, it still has the dust jacket on it.  But it's pretty crumbled, from years and years of love and use.  I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to try to cook my way through Ina's cookbooks and this is another one of those tries.  I substituted some things and omitted others, but this is my version of her sandwich and I must say it turned out excellent!

My absolute favorite way to cook chicken is to roast it (thanks to Ina!) is moist and flavorful and perfect for a sandwich like this or it makes a fantastic chicken salad.  If you have not tried it this way, you must!  Hope you all enjoy this sandwich as much as my family did! 

My rumpled cookbook...and a few of my other favorites! 

Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pound of bacon
Caesar dressing 
3 ciabatta rolls
A few Romaine leaves
2-3 ounces of Parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-35 minutes until cooked through.  Cool slightly and slice meat thickly.  Set aside.  

Meanwhile, place the bacon in skillet and cook until crisp.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.  

Slice the ciabatta rolls in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom.  Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up for 5-7 minutes; cool slightly.  Spread the cut sides of each piece with the Caesar dressing.  Place a Romaine leaf on the bottom piece of bread, then layer in order:  bacon, shaved Parmesan, sliced chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with another Romaine leaf.  Repeat with the other 2 rolls.  Serve at room temperature.  

(Source:  Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home)

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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