Sharing our food successes and failures, new recipes and old favorites
...and throwing in some great money-saving deals here and there!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mar. 31 - Penne w/ Creamy Gruyere & Brie Sauce

So I spent over $10 in cheese on this dish - seriously...$10! (That's a lot to me compared to the $2 bag of shredded cheese I'm used to buying?!) I found this recipe on another blog (I'm going to give a shout out to healthy-ish) and modified it a little bit to suit our liking. I've been really excited to give this a shot for awhile now, and finally decided to make it.

First, the boy tasted it and then began pushing it around with his fork (telltale sign that he's not diggin the dish). I asked him what was wrong with it (in the midst of the screams coming from both children), and he just gave me a half-smile and said, "well, I don't like green beans. And I don't really care for the cheeses." Gah, okay - I'm *trying* here to incorporate some more vegetables in all of our diets and I'm hitting a brick wall with him.

Then I ask Linds what she thinks...and all I get is nonsense-jabbering, screaming (she dropped a noodle on her pants), and the subsequent stripping off of her pants because she didn't want the sauce remnants on them. Double gah. I guess the Auntie Anne's pretzel sticks at 4:30 p.m. weren't such a good idea?

Alas, I enjoyed it, but that doesn't do much for the entire box full of penne's worth of a dish. I'm going to be gone the next two days (traveling home to see the 'rents and taking the kiddos to Hersheypark with Uncle Zach and his girlfriend Rachel), and I didn't want it to spoil in the refrigerator, so I bagged it and tossed it in the freezer - a quick dinner the next time the boy travels and it's just Linds and me.

The original recipe is from Cooking Light, so it's supposed to be a healthy dish despite all the cheese. Hopefully you'll enjoy it more than the rest of my family did?!

Penne w/ a Creamy Gruyere & Brie Sauce
1 box penne (we used Ronzoni Smart Taste)
3 tbsp flour
2 cups skim milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (about 1/2 lb.)
3 ounces soft Brie, rind removed
Frozen green beans

  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Add penne and green beans; cook until penne is al dente. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, add flour and ½ cup milk to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Gradually add remaining 1 ½ cups of milk to the saucepan, whisking constantly.
  5. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in butter.
  6. Remove from heat and let sit about 3 - 5 minutes.
  7. Add cheeses and stir until smooth.
  8. In a large bowl, combine penne and green beans with cheese sauce. Serve immediately.

Mar. 30 - Tacos

We haven't done tacos in awhile, so we made some last night. We like both hard shells and soft, so I usually make some of each. My favorite brand is Ortega (their tortillas taste the best to me), but we use the McCormick taco seasoning on the meat. This is the kit I usually buy:
We load them up with all sorts of stuff - cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and black beans or refried beans (we used refried last night). Linds usually scarfs down at least one or two soft tacos and last night Luke housed some of the meat. I was surprised - it's not too spicy, but there is a bit of a kick to the meat, so the fact that Luke ate some was pretty surprising!

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29 - Valerie's Chicken & Peas

Evidently since I've started writing this blog, I'm not repeating enough dishes, according to the boy. And he's absolutely right - I've had too much fun trying new dishes and experimenting with different cooking techniques. When I grocery shopped last week I told him to pick four dishes he wanted repeated and I'd make them (usually he claims not to have any preference for what we eat, as long as it's part of his normal preferences). One of the repeats he asked for was Valerie's Chicken, so that's what we had tonight.

I've posted this one before, but I'll put it in here again so you don't have to link back to it. It's an easy dish to make and only takes about 30 minutes or so cook time. Yum!

Valerie's Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup of cooking sherry/white wine

  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown chicken breasts; season with Italian seasoning.
  3. Simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Combine cream cheese, soup and wine and pour over chicken. 
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
The recipe originally calls for 4 chicken breasts, but I find there isn't enough sauce if you do that many. If you need to do 4 pieces of chicken, DEFINITELY double the sauce (6 oz. cream cheese, 2 cans soup, 1/2 cup wine). Give it a shot with pasta and rice - I like it both ways!

March 28 - Congrats Katie & David!

My good friend, Katie, was married yesterday in a beautiful ceremony, so I didn't have to do any cooking! The reception was indescribable - an absolute blast! It was held at Kings Mill in Media, Pa., which has a gorgeous facility that sits alongside the Chester Creek. There were so many fabulous photo ops, including a waterfall just out behind the building.

Not only were the facilities amazing, but the was phenomenal! There were (NO LIE!) at least two dozen different butlered hours d'ourves (everything from pigs in a blanket to spinach quiche, meatballs, egg rolls, potato puffs, assorted veggies and cheeses, etc.). The buffet dinner offered chicken cordon bleu, crab imperial wrapped in flounder, vegetable medley, green bean casserole, garlic red potatoes, and baked ziti. On top of all of this food, there were half a dozen different types of cakes to choose from AND a fully-stocked open bar. WOW! I was still full this morning?!

Congratulations, Katie & David - the wedding was fabulous...and here's to a lifetime of happiness!

March 27 - Japanese food at Liki

It was Parents Night Out at Hopewell United Methodist Church, so we ditched the kids at 5:30 and had an adult dinner (no highchairs!!) at Liki Japanese Restaurant with our friends Sarah and Michael. They swore up and down that it was the best Japanese food in the area, and even though it was up in Phoenixville, we decided to go.

We ate way too much, drank a good deal of wine (including a fabulous chocolate wine), and enjoyed some quality company without screaming, fidgety kids. Oh how I love PNO!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brie Recipes

We're going out to dinner tonight, so I won't have any fun recipes to share for dinner. Instead, I figured I'd do a "theme" morning and post a couple Brie cheese recipes that are very tasty. I don't have any photos, but trust me, these are fantastic!

Baked Brie
Wedge of creamy Brie
Jam of choice
Tube of refrigerated crescent dough

  1. Line a baking pan with 3/4 of the crescent dough.
  2. Break up wedge of brie into smaller chunks and place on top.
  3. Cover with half a jar of jam.
  4. Piece the remaining dough on top.  
  5. Cook on 350 approx 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

Candied Brie Dip
8 oz of Brie
1/3 cup candied pecans (i used crushed regular pecans)
1/3 cup dried cranberries

  1. Place brie in 2 qt crockpot and cover with pecans and cranberries. 
  2. Cook for two hours or until brie is gooey all the way through. 
  3. Serve with cracker and sliced apples.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mar. 26 - Leftovers

We spent the day at the library and ACAC in West Chester (MOMS Club activity - they have a moonbounce, giant inflatable slides, and an inflatable obstacle course set up for an hour of running around and playing, and then we swim in their indoor kiddie pool for an hour - SO FUN!). Afterwards, we had our new friends, Christy and Logan, over to hang out and kill the rest of the afternoon so we wouldn't sit at home bored, staring at the clock. Needless to say, by the time dinner rolled around, the last thing I felt like doing was cooking!

I reheated the black bean pie for dinner and I must say - it is even better the next day. There are certain foods that just taste better reheated, and this is definitely one of them. The boy and Miss L had ziti leftovers, which they both scarfed down. I forgot to repost the ziti recipe yesterday, so I'll repost it now:

Baked Ziti
1 lb ziti noodles
1 lb ground sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
3 cups mozzarella cheese
3 cups marinara/spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cook ziti in boiling water; drain.
  3. Brown meats; drain off fat.
  4. In a large baking dish, layer ziti, meat, cheese and sauce; repeat until everything has been used.
  5. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake about 30 - 40 minutes until bubbly.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Mar. 25 - Black Bean Pie

    A MOMS Club friend of mine (hey Barb!) is a vegetarian and made me a killer black bean pie after Luke was born. It was so delicious that I wound up eating the whole thing myself (though not in one sitting!). I've been wanting to make one for myself for awhile now, but the boy doesn't understand the whole vegetarian thing and unless there's meat, he's not too interested. We had leftovers in the fridge, so I figured he could fend for himself while I enjoyed my black bean pie.

    It's simple to make, but a rather lengthy cook time. Prep work was about 5 or 10 minutes of chopping up veggies and then 15 minutes of simmering them stove top before transferring them to a pie crust and cooking for an hour. It looks like an easy one to make ahead and freeze or refrigerate, however, so you could always try that. Here's the recipe:

    Black Bean Pie
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 small green bell pepper, chopped
    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
    2/3 cup salsa
    1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    3/4 teaspoon chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 (9 inch) unbaked 9 inch pie crusts
    1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and green pepper until tender. Sir in beans, salsa, red bell pepper, chili powder, cayenne and black pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

    Spoon half of the mixture into one of the pie crusts and cover with half of the cheese.

    Repeat with remaining beans and cheese. Top with remaining crust. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. I'd also let it sit for about 5 or 10 minutes before cutting into it so that it has a chance to firm up.

    Next time I make it, I think I'll add in some garlic and maybe some corn. It was delicious, but it needed just a little more "oomph." Or maybe I should just have Barb make it next time ;-)

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Happy 1 yr. Wegmans Anniversary!

    I feel like I need to celebrate - today is my one year anniversary of becoming an official Wegman's lover customer. How in the world do I remember when I converted, you ask? Well, it's actually quite simple! Every time I've shopped there, I use their online grocery list creator. Honestly, it is the BEST invention ever. The store is overwhelmingly large, and sometimes it's tough to find what you're looking for (especially coming from another chain of grocery stores). If you use their online grocery list creator, however, it will give you a list of the products they carry, their current price, nutritional information, etc. You can adjust the quantities you want to buy, compare prices of generic vs. name-brands, look for all sorts of those "weird" products (bamboo skewers, for example - where the heck are those?!)...and so much more that I'm not even elaborating on. The grocery list printout will list the cost of the item, the quantity, and the exactly location in the store (bamboo skewers are in the International Food section/Asian aisle in case you were wondering).

    Now you're probably trying to figure out why on earth I'm raving about this thing. Well, every time I've made a list, I just save it with the date of when I'm going shopping. I saved my list today with, "March 24" and didn't think much of it, until I went to print it out on my desktop. I signed in and went to print out "March 24" and realized that I had a "March 24, 2009." Now, I started looking for an earlier month (I feel as if I've been a loyal shopper there much longer than just a year), but that was the first instance in 2009.

    I was thinking of buying a cupcake or cookie to celebrate, but realized that was probably a bit silly (and way too caloric). Instead, I saved $30 with coupons (my obsession with coupons is paying off nicely!), came home, and snuggled up on the couch with my Herr's tortilla chips (half-price from the factory store) and my Wegman's black bean dip, and watched an episode of Shear Genius.

    So happy first year, Wegmans! May we continue to enjoy each other's company for many more to come.

    Mar. 24 - Baked Ziti

    I froze a batch of ziti a few weeks back when I made some for a fellow MOMS Club member who had a baby, and I knew I wanted to grocery shop as soon as the boy came home, so I figured that would be the perfect quick, easy meal. Well, Linds and I ended up snacking on soft pretzels at the mall today and by the time we got home neither wanted to eat. I think the boy heated some up, but I'm not even sure?! He'll be eating it tomorrow when I make black bean pie (recipe courtesy of my friend, Barb, who made it for me right after I had Luke) - the boy does NOT do vegetarian dishes. ::sigh:: I'll convert him someday to the deliciousness of non-meat dishes! I'll also repost the recipe tomorrow :)

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Mar. 23 - Spaghetti & Bread

    We're coming dangerously close to grocery shopping time (I'm hoping to go tomorrow night), so we're eating some random stuff that we find still lurking in the almost-bare cupboards. I did up some spaghetti with jarred sauce and the leftover bread from yesterday. It's my anti-meal - I did nothing more than boil water, so I feel like it wasn't even cooking, but sometimes those effortless meals come in handy. Yesterday's bread still tasted just as delicious, too! I can't wait to make another batch.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Mar. 22 - Beef Stew, bread & applesauce

    I was up around 3 a.m. with Luke, who was, again, fussing throughout the night (teeth come in please!). As I tried rocking him back to sleep, I was thinking about how our gorgeous, sunny 70 degree weather was going to come to a crashing end come morning. I realized I had all the fixings for a beef stew, except the beef was frozen. I finally got him back to sleep, ran downstairs and pulled the beef out, and then went back to bed.

    I put together the stew this morning and let it sit in the crockpot for a good 8 hours. I love how simple this recipe is - honestly, it takes *maybe* 15 minutes to put together. Originally, I only used 1 1/2 cups of beef broth, but toward the end (especially with the addition of the packet of stew mix), it looked a little too thick, so I added the cup of water.
    Later, when the kids were napping, I put together the bread (Jo's Rosemary Bread from and tossed it in the bread machine. I tell you what, the more I use that thing, the more I fall in love with it. It could be one of my favorite kitchen appliances. The loaf I made today was, by far, my favorite as of yet!
    The meal was a hit with everyone - even though the boy isn't a huge stew fan. I mixed up some olive oil and cracked pepper to dip the bread in and it was strikingly similar to Romano Macaroni Grille's recipe. Delish! I also made up some applesauce to round out the meal. Here are the recipes - enjoy :)

    Beef Stew
    1 1/2 - 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 bay leaf
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 onion, chopped
    1 1/2 cups beef broth
    3 potatoes, diced
    4 carrots, sliced
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    1 cup of water
    1 packet beef stew mix

    1. Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. 
    2. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, celery, water and packet of stew mix.
    3. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

    Jo's Rosemary Bread

    1 cup water
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    2 1/2 cups bread flour
    1 packet of yeast

    1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. 
    2. Select white bread cycle; press Start 

    6 apples, peeled & cored (I used Gala this time)
    4 packets of Splenda
    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 cup of water

    1. Combine ingredients in a deep pan and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
    2. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
    3. Blend in food processor to desired consistency. 

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Mar. 21 - Cobb Salad

    Oh, my...there are days when all you want to do is sit down and enjoy your dinner (whether with kids, your husband, all of the above or none of the above)...and there are days when you just want to put everyone to bed and eat all by yourself. After tantrum after tantrum, today was a day when I put everyone to bed and ate alone at the kitchen table at 7:30 p.m. I was starving, but the blissfully quiet meal was worth it!

    When we made the honey chicken skewers last week, I had the boy grill up two other chicken breasts to go along with them. I figured we could either make chicken salad, reheat them with some veggies and rice, or make a salad out of them. Since we didn't feel like cooking tonight, we decided to make some salads with the romaine (before it went bad) and tossed the chicken in with it.

    The boy and Linds had some basic grilled chicken salads - chicken, romaine, carrots, cheese, croutons, bacon bits and dressing. I opted for a Cobb salad - chicken, avocado, romaine, carrots, bleu cheese, croutons, bacon bits (didn't have any defrosted regular bacon), hard boiled egg, and a fat-free Maple Grove Farms of Vermont balsamic vinaigrette (only 5 calories per serving!). The salads were filling and delicious. I'm excited to make a lot more of them this summer!

    More Munchin' Mamas Recipes

    I have more to add to March's Munchin' Mamas recipe collection - if you don't remember, this month's theme was "green" - green-colored food, organic dishes, food served in a green dish, etc. I tasted both dishes - and I have to say, the veggie chips were AMAZING! I sat there eating them for a good hour or so as we chatted and didn't feel a bit guilty when they were gone since they are good for you. The honeydew soup is also very good - I don't think I had done cold soup before and it was a unique taste and texture, but in a good way. Absolutely yummy dishes!

    Veggie Chips
    Thinly sliced veggies (potatoes, parsnips, carrots, kale)
    Olive oil
    Salt, pepper, garlic powder (any other assorted spices)

    1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
    2. In a bowl, toss thinly sliced veggies with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. 
    3. Place the veggies on a generously oiled cookie sheet making sure they don't overlap. Sprinkle with salt (I used the garlic and sea salt combo grinder). 
    4. Bake, checking often, until the pieces are browned and crisp. 
    5. Flip the pieces halfway through the cooking time. The kale takes about 8 minutes, parsnips and carrots about 10, potatoes about 16. 
    6. When the chips are done, transfer them to a bowl or plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

    Honeydew Melon Soup
    4 cups ripe honeydews, cut into small balls
    4 teaspoons lime juice
    2 teaspoons honey
    1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
    1/2 cup honeydew balls (to garnish)

    1. In a blender container, combine honeydew, lime juice, and honey. Blend until smooth. 
    2. Pour into a bowl and add yogurt. Beat with a fork or wire whisk until blended. 
    3. Chill several hours. Serve cold. 
    4. Whisk before serving and garnish each bowl with a few melon balls.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    I made Wegmans' Twitter page!

    I just have to share my shock and excitement - Wegmans mentioned Dining with the Rissers on their Twitter page! I wrote about their Half-Plate Healthy event yesterday and they found my post, added themselves as a follower of my blog, and gave me a shout-out on their Twitter page. I'm so honored to be mentioned, I can't even explain it. It's so cool for a large corporation to acknowledge one single customer of their millions. This is, again, all part of that love affair with Wegmans!

    Mar. 20 - Good & Plenty/Venice Pizza

    Today we had Scott's grandfather's 85th birthday party at Good & Plenty in was a good ol' traditional Pennsylvania Dutch meal, complete with a few types of meats, starch, more starch and even more starch! Haha - in reality, we had meatloaf, ham and fried chicken (quite possibly the best piece of fried chicken I've ever had - not greasy, but moist and very tasty), and then there were sides of bread, mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, corn and green beans. For dessert, they had homemade shoofly and apple pies, homemade chocolate and vanilla ice cream, rice pudding and jello. It was a great meal, and a blast to catch up with extended family (the boy's aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, etc.). We usually only get to see all of them a couple times a year, despite everyone being geographically close, so I'm always stoked when we have an excuse.

    Despite having a huge meal, we were pretty hungry by 6:30. I was planning to do grilled chicken salads, but the boy mentioned pizza and it was all downhill from there. We ordered a cheese pizza and a buffalo chicken pizza and literally had enough to feed three families. We can add all of that to the piles of leftovers sitting in the fridge! At least we'll have food enough for days - perhaps I can postpone grocery shopping another few days?!

    Mar. 19 - Leftovers

    We have soooo many leftovers sitting in the refrigerator that we opted for a leftover night. Linds ate some ham and sweet potato french fries, and the boy and I finished the steak. I had the asparagus a few fries, too, while he literally just ate the meat - and quite a good bit of it! I love easy meals like that.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Mar. 18 - Best. Steak. Ever.

    My dad came for a visit today, and I haven't seen him since his birthday in late December?! My mom is in Texas for a few days visiting her family, so I told him I'd make sure he had at least one good dinner while she was gone (she's away for five days). It's always been a family joke that I am a bad cook (check out my food fail post and it will explain why), so I wanted to prove that I've grown in talent.

    I bought a few steaks and asparagus from Wegmans yesterday, and also made some mashed potatoes. Usually, I just slap on a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic onto my steaks and have the boy grill them up, but instead, I decided to marinade them. Now, I didn't want anything too thick or distinct in flavor - I like the meat to do the talking, so to speak. Nothing annoys me more than having to slather on A1 or BBQ sauce because the meat has no flavor.

    I found a marinade on one of my favorite sites (All Recipes) and edited it to suit our tastes. The result? The Best. Steak. Ever. Even my dad agreed that it was, by far, the most delicious marinade. I also used a little marinade on the asparagus and grilled it. Again, the perfect flavor - light, but juicy. I highly recommend you try this!

    Best. Marinade. Ever.
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1 tablespoon concentrated lemon juice (or 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice)
    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon dried basil
    1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

    1. Place all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Knead bag to mix ingredients.
    2. Place steaks inside bag and marinate for up to 8 hours (I did 4 hours and they were perfect).
    3. Feel free to use some of the marinade on your veggies - it tastes great! Have I mentioned that?!

    Half-Plate Healthy Event

    Normally, you would NEVER see me in a Wegmans on a Saturday - it's pure madness and chaos! And if I didn't have a Risser family event on Saturday, I'd for sure go to this. Wegmans is having a "Half-Plate Healthy Event" where they have about 10 stations set up offering samples of different healthy foods. Wegmans is amazing when it comes to pushing nutrition and healthy living, and one of their main campaigns is this "half-plate healthy" - fill up half of your plate with fruits, vegetables and salad, and then fill your other half with whatever you want. It's a pretty novel idea - most people don't get enough of the "good stuff" in their daily diet - and it's a flexible eating challenge that lets you choose your own food (versus so many diets out there).

    So, from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (and for FREE!), check out a Wegmans near you. Here's what they'll have:
    • Veggie Station: Swiss Chard and Beet Greens
    • Produce: Rainbow of fruits topped with yogurt dip
    • Bakery: Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Whole Grain Naan topped with Bruschetta and Cheese
    • Prepared Foods: $6 meals
    • General Merchandise: Half-Plate Healthy Kids Coloring Contest
    • Nature’s Marketplace: CLIF Kid ZBar & Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Organic Apple Juice
    • Frozen: Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Special Blends Broccoli, Cauliflower & Pine Nuts
    • Grocery: Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Fruit Cups
    • Seafood: Shrimp Scampi
    • Pharmacy: Blood Pressure Awareness and Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Juice Blends
    Free food that's good for you? Man, I would be ALL over that! On another note, wonder if Wegmans would pay me to market their chain? I'm beginning to do a lot of that on here... ;-)

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Mar. 17 - Honey Chicken Skewers

    The nearly-70 degree grilling weather trumped any plan to do something green or Irish in nature for the St. Patty's holiday. I've been wanting to do the skewers, but hate waiting until Scott gets home from work (usually around 6:30 p.m.) to get dinner STARTED. I like to eat as soon as he walks through the door - not wait for him to make it?! He was off today for Lindsay's dance class (it was parent observation day), so we took advantage of both the weather and the fact that he was home to make the honey chicken skewers and some roasted veggies.

    Before I delve into the specifics, I'm super excited - I learned how to turn on our grill! For the past ten years, Scott is in charge of "outdoor cooking," while I've been in charge of anything indoors. I've always wanted to learn how to grill, but never challenged the unwritten rules. But 2010 is bringing in some changes in the way I cook (remember my ribs?!?), so I asked him to teach me how to turn on the grill and some of his basic "grilling principles." You might all laugh at me - but I'm so naive when it comes to this!

    So, anyways, back to the meal! I made the honey chicken skewers and then roasted some corn and broccoli to accompany the chicken. The corn was just frozen kernels and then I bought some fresh broccoli from Wegmans today. I drizzled them with a little olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper, then roasted them in the oven for about 25 minutes on 450. They turned out really well - crisp and flavorful...although the corn was a tad overdone (the broccoli, however, was perfect!). The honey chicken skewers were super easy - here's the recipe:

    Honey Chicken Skewers
    1/2 cup ketchup
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    kosher salt and pepper
    bamboo skewers

    1. Place twenty 8-inch wooden skewers in water to soak. Heat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, honey, and Worcestershire sauce; set aside.
    2. Slice the chicken lengthwise into twenty 1/2-inch-thick strips. Thread each strip onto a wooden skewer. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    3. Lightly oil the grill. Cook the chicken, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes, basting with the ketchup mixture during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
    Lindsay LOVED the fact that she could eat these chicken pieces right off of the bamboo stick - finger food is always a hit in our house! The boy thought the chicken was good - very light with it being cut up that small - and suggested it accompany corn on the cob in the summer. He was still starving after dinner (I only made 10 skewers - 4 for each of us and 2 for Linds), but if he had two or three cobs to eat with the skewers, then he'd fill up quickly. I'd suggest making the full 20 skewers for a family of 3 or 4.

    We also agreed that while the ketchup sauce was good, you could also get the same tastiness from some good ol' Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce. It might not have been the recipe that kicked ass, rather the skewers and smaller portions (i.e. how it was cooked). All in all, it was a fantastic dinner (finished off well with some Girl Scout cookies, courtesy of our niece, Caroline, and a few Coronas and lime)...but a few small changes could have made it perfect!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Mar. 16 - Spaghetti Pie

    It was absolutely gorgeous today - low 60s, bright sunshine - the perfect pre-spring afternoon! We spent a good chunk of the day outside, Linds playing with her Cozy Coupe, trike, "purple car," ball, etc. and Luke and I sitting on the blanket reading books and playing toys. The sunlight was perfect for some great shots- they aren't food photos, but I think they're cute :)
    But, anyways, since we were out there past 6:00, I needed a quick dinner to throw together. I figured a spaghetti pie would be perfect - used up the rest of the ricotta that needed to go, was quick to make and was light enough for this type of day. At only 325 calories/serving, it was a good addition to my already high-calorie day (darn yummy lunch).

    Spaghetti Pie
    4 oz. uncooked spaghetti
    1 cup garden-style spaghetti sauce
    1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
    3 egg whites
    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

    1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
    2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and 1 egg white; set aside.
    3. Drain spaghetti; add Parmesan cheese and remaining egg whites.
    4. Press onto the bottom and up the side of a 9-in deep dish pie plate coated with nonstick cooking spray.
    5. Spoon ricotta mixture into crust. Top with spaghetti sauce.
    6. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.
    7. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.
    8. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. 
     Yields 4 servings.

    March Munchin Mamas Recipes

    For March, the Munchin Mamas had a "green" theme. Food could either be green in color, organic, served in a green dish, etc. - it was all up to each participant. If you remember, I made a coconut-pistachio pie, but there was so many other delicious dishes there, too! Here are recipes for some of the others:

    Green Pepper Dip
    2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese
    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons white vinegar
    1 large green pepper (chopped into chunks about a quarter inch in size)
    1 onion, chopped

    1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until softened. 
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine eggs, sugar and vinegar over medium heat until it thickens. 
    3. Pour over cream cheese and blend. 
    4. Stir in green peppers and onions. 
    5. Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with crackers and/or pretzels.

    Spinach Cheddar Bake

    1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and undrained
    1/3 cup crushed saltine crackers (I used regular ritz crackers)
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    salt to taste
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

    1. In a bowl, combine the spinach, saltines, egg, onion powder and salt. 
    2. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. 
    3. Transfer to a greased 2-cup baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
    4. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

    Harvest Fluff Dip
    1- 10 oz jar pumpkin butter (I got mine from Kitchen Kettle Village)
    1- 8 oz container marshmallow creme
    16 ounces cream cheese
    Apples, pears, crackers, or ginger snaps for dipping (I used cinnamon-sugar Ritz crackers.)

    1. Blend cream cheese and marshmallow creme until smooth. 
    2. Add pumpkin butter and blend thoroughly. 
    3. Place in refrigerator to chill. Makes about 10-15 servings.

    * More recipes from March's Munchin Mamas Club to come!!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Mar. 15 - Hearty Beef & Potato Casserole

    This is a very simple recipe - only takes 15 or 20 minutes of prep work (although the prep is tossing stuff in the microwave) and then it cooks for 15 or 20 minutes in the oven. It's low-cal (350 for one serving) and a good source of protein (almost 30 grams in a serving)...the downfall? It's LOADED with sodium. I mean, I'm talking all of your daily sodium intake pretty much in one dish - 1400 milligrams. If you don't mind being bloated, by all means, give it a shot! But, if you're at a risk for heart disease, stroke or kidney failure, you may want to try something a little less laden with sodium. I don't make it often, and when I do, I try to limit the sodium during the other parts of the day. Linds and the boy enjoy this one a lot, so I do it every once in awhile.

    As far as Luke's eating is going, it's been awhile since I've updated. We've slowly started trying some finger foods with him and he's doing pretty well with them. He's a fan of Cheerios, Gerber puffs, goldfish crackers, saltines, cheese, pretzels, bread, and as of today, hot dogs! He gummed half of one for lunch in addition to a jar of food. For dinner, the kid ate like a ravenous monster - 2 jars of green beans, a jar of pears and a jar of beef mac-n-cheese with vegetables. Normally, he eats a jar or *maybe* a jar and a half. Four?! That's just crazy!

    But, back to our it is:

    Hearty Beef & Potato Casserole
    1 package scalloped potatoes
    1/2 cup milk
    2 T butter
    8 oz. sliced fresh carrots
    1 pkg. (17 oz) precooked beef tips w/ gravy
    1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
    1 T red-wine vinegar
    2 T Italian seasoned bread crumbs

    1. Heat oven to 425. 
    2. In a large glass bowl, prepare scalloped potatoes for baking (using 2 cups boiling water, ½ milk and 2 T butter). 
    3. Place bowl in microwave and cook 5 minutes; stir and cook 5 minutes more. Set aside. 
    4. In a medium bowl microwave carrots and 1 T water, covered, for 5 minutes. 
    5. In a 1½ or 2 quart baking dish, stir together beef, cooked carrots, drained tomatoes and vinegar. 
    6. Spoon potato mixture over beef mixture and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Spray top with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

    Starting my own garden

    I've always wanted to start my own vegetable garden, but never went forward with the idea. I love veggies and am always trying to get the boy and kids to eat more of them, so what better way than by growing them myself? I think Linds is old enough, too, to enjoy watching the garden grow.

    I'm not sure what I'm going to start off planting, although I'd definitely like to do some zucchini and peppers. We also eat a lot of beans and carrots, but I'm not sure how easy those are to grow. I'd also like to do some fruit (maybe strawberries?), but I'm not sure if this is too ambitious.

    If you are an "expert" and have any advice, I'd love it! Luckily the boy's family is big into farming (his grandparents are former farm owners and his parents have a great crop from their own garden each summer), so I do have some resources. I'm excited - I can't wait to start growing some of my own food!

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Mar. 14 - Uno Chicago Grill

    We had a gift certificate for Uno Chicago Grill and decided to have a "family afternoon" and go bowling and have dinner there. We wanted to hit up the BounceU in Exton, but they only had open bounce early in the afternoon, which would have conflicted with naptime. I'm not usually a schedule freak and don't mind skipping a nap here and there, but these two were in desperate need of a nap by noon, so bowling it was! The boy isn't a bad bowler (nothing hugely impressive, but not too shabby), and I'm pretty crappy at it, but somehow I won by 6 points. Linds even impressed us with her skills - both using the ramp and rolling it down the lane.
    After bowling, we headed over to Pizzeria Uno and had our dinner. Linds got some mac-n-cheese, but spent most of her meal eating Scott's and my calamari appetizer. We also split their pizza skins (deep dish pizza crust filled with mashed red potatoes, cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives) and lobster sliders (lobster in a mayo sauce with lettuce on slider buns). The calamari was as good as you can get in a non-seafood chain restaurant, the pizza skins were absolutely delicious (and probably a good million calories or so?!?) and the sliders would have been better with far less mayo (and I love me some mayo!). The boy and I also split a pitcher of sangria which was excellent (and gave us about 6 glasses in the $15 pitcher - not bad at all). All in all, it was a decent meal and a great adventure of a day!

    Mar. 13 - Beer Glazed Ham

    Our wonderful friends, Joy and Kortney, came over for dinner last night, so I made the 3 lb. ham I had bought during my last grocery trip (I knew it would easily feed 5 of us without having too much left over). I have had this recipe for a beer glaze for what seems like forever, but never used it...what better time to try than now?! It was so simple and tasted great! J&K brought over some delicious au gratin potatoes and asparagus with prosciutto to complement the ham. The meal was almost as good as the company :)

    Beer Glazed Ham
    1 boneless fully cooked ham (3 lbs.)
    1 can beer
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    2 T balsamic vinegar
    2 tsp ground mustard

    1. Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Score the surface of the ham, making diamond shapes ½ inch deep. 
    2. Set aside 2 T beer. Pour remaining beer over ham. 
    3. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 1 hour. 
    4. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and reserved beer; spread over ham.
    5. Bake 40-45 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 140, basting occasionally.

      Friday, March 12, 2010

      Mar. 11 - Sesame Chicken & Lo Mein

      There's nothing I love more than a good bowl of Chinese food! The downfall, however, is the high caloric content. I found this recipe on Wegmans website and at 540 calories per serving, you can't do too much better. It's quick to make (only 20 minutes of active cooking time - no prep or bake time otherwise) and uses prepackaged ingredients (if you shop at Wegmans). If you don't live near a Wegmans, you can substitute a garlic stir-fry sauce for the Wegmans-brand garlic sauce (Kikkoman has one out there). You'll also need a large size wok for this one - mine is a bit small, so I was thinking of getting something like the one above.

      So, anyways, if you are a fan of sesame chicken from your local Chinese restaurant, give this one a shot - definitely a keeper in both the boy's and my opinion!

      Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein & Green Beans

      1 pkg (12 oz) Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Green Beans
      1 pkg (16 oz) Asian Classics Lo Mein Noodles (Frozen Foods), thawed per pkg directions
      1 lb Wegmans Seasoned Chicken Breast Strips for Stir-Fry
      3 Tbsp Wegmans Vegetable Oil, divided
      2 cloves Food You Feel Good About Peeled Garlic, minced
      1 pkg (12 oz) Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Asian Slaw
      Salt and pepper to taste
      1 cup Wegmans Garlic Sauce (International Foods)
      1 Tbsp JFC White Roasted Sesame Seeds (International Foods)

      1. Blanch green beans in large pot of boiling salted water 3-4 min. Remove beans with slotted spoon; drain and set aside. Add noodles to blanching water; blanch 2 min. Drain and set aside.
      2. Drizzle 2 Tbsp oil around sides of stir-fry pan; tilt pan to distribute evenly. Heat oil in pan on HIGH until oil faintly smokes. (If oil smokes too much, pan is too hot.) Stir fry chicken 4-5 min; remove from pan and set aside.
      3. Drizzle remaining Tbsp oil around sides of pan; tilt pan to distribute evenly. Heat oil in pan on HIGH until oil faintly smokes. Add garlic, Asian slaw, and green beans. Stir and toss, 2-3 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
      4. Add chicken, noodles, and garlic sauce to stir-fry pan. Stir briefly to heat through, 2-3 min. Garnish with sesame seeds.

        Wednesday, March 10, 2010

        Mar. 10 - Jambalaya

        Traditional jambalaya can be made one of two ways - either Creole-style or Cajun-style. Creole-style involves simmering and adding tomatoes, while Cajun-style omits the tomatoes. My recipe is more Creole and is fairly quick to make. The prep time and cook time are all meshed into one and takes under 40 minutes.  I like my stuff a little extra spicy, so I usually add a little Cajun seasoning to it before simmering. Linds doesn't eat usually enjoy this (too spicy), so she and the Critter (my friend's son who is hanging out with us tonight) are having dinosaur nuggets and sweet potato fries.

        2 T butter
        1 medium onion chopped
        1 cup bell pepper
        2 cloves garlic/minced
        1 1-lb Hillshire Farm smoked sausage (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
        1 cup converted rice
        2 cups chicken broth
        3 T Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce
        14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

        1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. 
        2. Add onion, pepper, garlic, and sausage for 5 minutes. 
        3. Stir in rice, broth, Tabasco, tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning and bring to boil. 
        4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25 minutes. 
        5. Let sit 5 minutes.

          Mar. 9 - Herr's Factory Tour & Pizza Hut

          The kids and I took a trip to the Herr's Chip Factory with the MOMS Club of Coatesville and it was a blast! The tour was stroller-friendly (thank god - my 21.5 lb. baby would never have made it in my arms the whole time) and took us all over the Herr's plant. We were able to learn how they make their pretzels, chips, and popcorn, and then learned how they distribute everything. We even got to munch on fresh chips, hot off the conveyor belt! Something about those fresh chips beats out any of the bagged stuff I've eaten. Scrumptious!

          We wrapped up by about 3 p.m. and decided to get some "lupper" with three other moms and their kiddos. After a roundabout drive through Oxford, we settled on Pizza Hut. The nine of us split three large pizzas - a thin crust with spicy jalapeños and mushrooms, a half-cheese/half-pepperoni pan pizza, and a chicken supreme pan pizza. Pizza Hut is always a treat since the closest location is a good 20 or 30 minutes from us, so we definitely enjoyed it!

          Monday, March 8, 2010

          Mar. 8 - Crab cakes

          There was a sale on crab meat at BJs a few weeks ago, so I stocked up on a big tub for crab cakes. I paired them with green beans and mashed potatoes for a fabulous dinner tonight - Linds loved the crab cakes and Luke ate a big bowl of the potatoes. Everything was super easy to make (the green beans were a box of frozen Birds Eye veggies) and mashed potatoes aren't tough (I like to leave the skins on mine and sprinkle them with chives). Here's the recipe for the crab cakes:

          Crab Cakes
          16 oz. crab meat
          1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
          1 egg
          2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
          1/4 tsp. dry mustard
          2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
          1 tsp. lemon juice
          1 Tbsp. mustard
          1 Tbsp. melted butter
          1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
          1/2 c. breadcrumbs

          1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except crab meat.
          2. Shape into cakes.
          3. Pan-fry 15 minutes, turning half-way through, until both sides are golden-brown and cooked through.

          Sunday, March 7, 2010

          Mar. 7 - Grilled Chicken

          Okay, it was 57 degrees out today - wahooooo! After the weather we've been having, it was almost as if we should have been in bathing suits and flip-flops...well, okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but still - 57 felt GREAT. I still hadn't separated the chicken I bought earlier in the week, so I had a ton in the fridge to use. I rubbed a little olive oil on the chicken and salted and peppered it (we dipped it in some A1 then for extra flavor). I also made some broccoli and cheese rice and braised carrots, which could possibly be my favorite vegetables to eat! They're easy to make and so delicious.

          Braised Carrots
          1 lb bag of baby carrots
          1/2 cup water or chicken broth
          1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
          1 tablespoon brown sugar
          1/2 teaspoon salt

          1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan.
          2. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until water/broth evaporates.

          Mar. 6 - Night out in Philly!

          My dear, dear friend, Katie, is getting married in a mere three weeks, and needed a proper send-off into matrimony. We decided to plan a night of debauchery for her and her 12 closest friends in Philadelphia - a bachelorette party of crazy proportions.

          Before we went out, I met up with my sister and spent some quality time with her (a rarity without kids). She helped dress me for my night out (to ensure maximum cuteness) and then took me for drinks at Time Restaurant just down the street from her apartment. We ordered calamari and sliders and had a few glasses of Allagash beer. The restaurant was cute and the food was excellent! Definitely a good choice.

          Mar. 5 - Stromboli

          The ham-and-cheese loaf I made before (see Jan. 15) was a smashing success, and I decided to play around with the recipe a little to do something different. I used ham, salami, sandwich pepperoni (bigger slices), Heidi Ann swiss cheese, shredded Mexican cheese, and mustard, and then rolled it all up in the Pillsbury pizza crust. I brushed it with some melted butter and baked it at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. Absolute perfection - easy to make and quite tasty, too!

          Mar. 4 - Tortellini

          After all of the delicious Munchin Mamas food, I couldn't take a single bite more! The boy and Linds got tortellini and jarred sauce - a nice easy meal.

          Thursday, March 4, 2010

          Mar. 3 - Loaded Baked Potatoes

          I've been hungry for a baked potato lately, so I thought I'd turn it into a meal and make loaded baked potatoes and do a salad, too. It was a hit! They tasted fantastic and the toppings were delicious. I bought two of the microwavable baked potatoes (you nuke them for 8 minutes a piece or 12 minutes if doing them at the same time) and I was skeptical about their taste, but they were perfect. A nice, easier way to make the potato without feeling like you have to start dinner before you even had lunch.

          We topped ours off with bacon (which I cooked in the oven - 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes), cheese, sour cream and chives. I was going to do some broccoli, too, but forgot until we sat down. Go figure?!? The boy and Linds scarfed them down, so we'll have to do that again soon. I'm going to label this as a vegetarian meal despite the bacon we had on ours since it can easily be adapted. Here's my potato and salad:
          Oh, and if you're interested, my salad was bagged romaine lettuce (the kind with the cabbage and carrots), Craisins, bleu cheese and fat-free/5-calorie basalmic vinaigrette (it is my favorite salad dressing!).

          Coconut-Pistachio Pie

          We had our 2nd meeting of the Munchin' Mamas today (more recipes to follow!) and our theme this month was "green" - the interpretation was up to us (the food could be green, it could be organic, served in a green dish, etc.). I had a recipe for a coconut-pistachio pie that I've wanted to try out for so long, but no one in my house besides me will eat either of the main ingredients except me, so I used this as my opportunity to give it a whirl.

          The hardest part about making this was toasting the coconut - and that was pretty easy! The rest was a snap - and boy did it taste great.

          Coconut-Pistachio Pie
          2 1/2 cups lightly toasted coconut flakes
          1/3 cup butter
          2 cups cold milk
          2 packages (3.4 ounces each) pistachio pudding mix
          1 cup whipped topping
          2 T chopped pistachios

          1. In a small bowl, combine coconut and butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-in pie plate. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until firm. 
          2. In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. 
          3. Spread 1½ cups over crust. 
          4. Fold whipped topping into remaining pudding; spread over pie. 
          5. Sprinkle with pistachios. 
          6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

            Wednesday, March 3, 2010

            How to Toast Coconut

            I'm making a coconut-pistachio pie for my Munchin Mamas club, which I've never made before. It called for 2 1/2 cups of toasted coconut, but in all of my cooking experience, I don't think I've ever toasted a single flake of coconut. So, I went and "Googled" it and found a few different methods. I went with the oven, so here's how I did it:

            1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
            2. Spread coconut flakes across baking sheet in a single layer.
            3. Bake, checking every 2 - 3 minutes. They burn fast, so you have to make sure you keep a close eye on them. Mine took about 10 minutes or so.

            My love affair with Wegmans

            Tuesday was grocery shopping night! I usually go as soon as the boy gets home so I can take my time, meandering through the aisles, looking for all sorts of treasures that unfold in Wegmans. Of course last night he didn't get home until well past 7:00, and I had to stop at BJs, but that was okay - I was kid-free and nothing important to rush home to.

            There's just something calming about having a cup of hot decaf tea, my shopping list, and a world of products to explore (half of which I don't even know what they are?!). The international section fascinates me - all sorts of authentic Japanese, Mexican, and French (amongst many other cultures') products. I'm still not ready to buy much of anything in that aisle, but by the end of this year, I will work myself up to it! The cheese department is another one that intrigues me...I've always wanted to be a cheese connoisseur, so I try to pick up a new cheese each time to try out (of course I forgot yesterday). On top of the food, they have aisle upon aisle of fun little holiday items, cookware, dishes, kitchen supplies, etc.

            And their latest addition - a beer section - just makes this perhaps the greatest store ever! Now I can grab my beer when I get my groceries and avoid another stop. I did learn, however, that you cannot walk around the store with an open beer (no, I didn't try - but I was curious and had to ask!).

            As if this place couldn't get any better, their staff is just the most amazing group of people. I couldn't find stew meat except for in their club savings section, so the butcher separated it, repackaged and re-priced it so that I didn't have to buy 6 lbs. of beef cubes. Then, as I'm walking toward a register, opting for the line with only one woman ahead of me who was already being checked out, an employee comes running over and opens an aisle to check me out. Seriously? I was only going to wait in line for another couple minutes, but he made sure I could be helped immediately. On top of all of that, they have their "Helping Hands" who will walk your cart to your car and load your groceries for you!

            I didn't think I could go on this long about my love affair with Wegmans, but here we are. Some women get their hair or nails done to No, I go grocery shopping!

            Mar. 2 - Hodgepodge

            I grocery shopped tonight, so everyone got a hodgepodge dinner (tortellini for Linds, crackers and cheese for me, chips for the boy...his doing, no mine!). At least Linds got a healthy dinner?!

            Monday, March 1, 2010

            Mar. 1 - Parmesan Garlic Chicken

            I'm trying to do less casseroles, in favor of more lean proteins and veggies - these last few pounds of baby weight isn't going to lose itself! Tonight I did Parmesan-garlic chicken, buttered noodles and green beans. The chicken was cooked just long enough to still be juicy (thank god I didn't overcook it as usual?!?) and although the buttered noodles aren't the healthiest option, they're a traditional favorite in the boy's family. Since I've learned to make them comparably well (albeit without the homemade noodles), I like to treat him to a batch every so often.

            The dinner turned out to be a huge hit with Lindsay - she polished off helpings of each and seconds on the noodles. I will say, though, I refuse to make them again anytime soon - she couldn't get them on her fork and screamed throughout the entire meal. That, coupled with Luke's "I really need to sleep" cries, were about to drive me over the edge. It didn't help that the boy wasn't home until after 7 and I was juggling these two exhausted, cranky kids alone. But, I digress - here's the recipe:

            Parmesan-Garlic Chicken
            4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
            1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
            1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
            1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix

            1. Combine garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and Italian salad dressing mix  in a large ziploc bag.
            2. Rinse chicken and shake to coat in bag. Place in shallow baking dish.
            3. Cook at 400 degrees F for 20 - 25 minutes.
            As far as the buttered noodles, the secret to making them perfectly is to buy Kluski noodles and then melt the butter in a small frying pan until it browns. Once browned, pour them over the noodles and toss with a little salt and pepper. When the butter is brown, there's just an extra hint of delicious flavor - you don't to burn it though, so keep a close eye on it.

            Feb. 28 - Domino's

            I was ready to cook, but the boy requested some Domino's, and laziness won out. I used to HATE Domino's with a passion - like, honestly, blech, yuck, hate. But since they've redone their recipe - oh my gosh, it's fantastic! The hand-crossed crust is like a garlic bread and I've always enjoyed their thin-crust style. They're running a deal for 2 mediums for $5.99 each, so the boy's pizza was the hand-tossed crust with extra cheese and sliced Italian sausage, while I got a thin crust with the white sauce (it's not's more like a lighter Parmesan-garlic sauce) with spinach and feta cheese. I feel infinitely less guilty when I eat the thin-crust pizza, and now that they have spinach as a topping, it *really* feels like I'm not binging on a ton of calories and fat.
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