Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes, Lemon, and Spinach

I found this light recipe on the web site  It was simple to make and tasted great.  As is my usual method of operation, I changed it up a bit and will give you my version of the recipe.  The amount I made would serve 4-5 people.


12 ounce extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons lemon zest
pinch of crushed red pepper
2-3 springs fresh thyme, stem removed, leaves chopped
2-3 springs fresh oregano, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 spring fresh rosemary, stems removed, leaves chopped
2 basil leaves, torn or chopped
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby spinach
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I squeezed half the lemon I just zested)
1 Tablespoon sun dried tomato pesto
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta
sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired

Toss the shrimp with crushed red pepper, half the lemon zest, the chopped herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit while you start the rest of the ingredients.

Heat water for pasta and cook pasta al dente.  When draining, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water to be used for sauce at the end of the cooking.

Heat oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add tomatoes and the remaining lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes.

Add shrimp in a single layer and sear on one side for 2 minutes, flip and sear another minute or until shrimp is cooked through.  Add the cooked pasta, spinach, and sun dried tomato pesto and toss with tomato and shrimp mixture.  Add the lemon juice, season with course salt and pepper, and then add enough pasta water to make a thin sauce.

Serve and if desired, sprinkle on parmesan cheese

Prepping the ingredients

Shrimp mixed with herbs and lemon zest

Cooking tomatoes, garlic, and lemon zest

Adding Shrimp

Finished dish - light and delicious!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Tenderloin - Crockpot

This recipe is one I can make in the crockpot which is always nice to come home to a kitchen that smells delicious.  The tricky part to this recipe, is the tenderloin turns out best if cooked for 4-6 hours.  I'm able to come home for lunch, so this works out for me.  The recipe still works if you cook it longer, but the tenderloin dries out a bit.  I would recommend trying this in a oven bag to see if that helps retain the moisture better for longer periods of time.


2 pound pork tenderloin


1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground savory
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 cup beef broth


1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water

Mix all rub ingredients, except beef broth,  together and rub over pork tenderloin
Put the cup of beef broth in the bottom of the crock pot, then place the tenderloin in
Cook in the crockpot for 4-6 hours

During the last hour of cooking, mix all the Glaze ingredients together and cook in a small saucepan until it gets slightly thick.

Brush over the tenderloin 2-3 times during the last hour of cooking, reserve the extra glaze for serving the tenderloin.

Ingredients for rub

Rub on the tenderloin

Ingredients for the glaze

Cooking up the glaze to thicken

Cooked Tenderloin

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Skinny Pizza Pinwheels

I love this recipe! I have made it many times and it is one of the favorites in our house. It is great as a meal or as an appetizer. It is healthier than most pizzas and at least as good, if not better.

I will admit that this time around I added too much sauce and cheese (didn't use measuring cups) so, forgive the pictures, these ones are a little sloppy but the recipe measurements should prevent that for you! :-)

This recipe comes from a blog called Dashing Dish. She provides the nutrition facts. My recipe is a little bit less healthy because I add a little bit more sauce and cheese but still pretty close to hers so the nutrition facts should be just slightly more for this recipe (her estimate was 120 calories per pinwheel with 6 grams of fat).

Skinny Pizza Pinwheels

  • 1 package of reduced fat crescent roll dough (if you can find the seamless stuff, it works really well but if you can't use the regular stuff and a rolling pin to roll the seams together)
  • 3/4 cup pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning (or a mix of basil and oregano)
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup of Canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, OR turkey sausage (they all work really well)
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up the meat (Canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, or turkey sausage) into small pieces. 
  3. Mix the pizza/spaghetti sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, chopped meat, and cheeses (parmesan and mozzarella) together in a small bowl. 
  4. Line the baking sheet with tin foil or spray with cooking spray.
  5. Spread the dough across either a big cutting board or the baking sheet (I prefer a cutting board but if you don't want to dirty more dishes, you can use the baking sheet). If the dough is not seamless, use a rolling pin and/or your fingers to push the seams together so that it is one big rectangle of dough. Carefully pull at the corners and edges to get the dough as stretched out as possible. 
  6. Spread the sauce mixture over the dough using a spatula. 
  7. Starting at the long end of the dough, carefully roll the dough into a long skinny log. 
  8. Cut into approximately eight rolls. 
  9. Place the rolls on their side (so that they look like a cinnamon roll - you can see the swirl) on the baking sheet. 
  10. Bake for 15-17 minutes (until they look golden brown in color).
  11. You can serve with pizza/spaghetti sauce for dipping if desired. 
Step 6 - Sauce spread across the dough

Step 7 - Rolling the dough into a log

The final product - much messier than they normally turned out - I added way to much sauce for this batch and didn't stretch the dough out enough.  Still tasted delicious! :-)

Update: I cooked this again recently and they were more cleanly rolled so the pictures are better. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pesto Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

I made this recipe for a nice Valentine's Day dinner. I have made this recipe a number of times and it is always delicious! When I make it in the summer, I normally make my own pesto from fresh basil but this time around I used store-bought pesto.

It originally came from Gimme Some Oven.

Pesto Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Brussel Sprouts 

  • 1 lb of brussel sprouts (halved) 
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 lb (16 oz) of pasta (the original recipe calls for Orecchiette but I normally can't find it and use whole wheat bow-tie or penne)
  • 10-14 oz of turkey kielbasa or chicken sausage
  • 4 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and cut off the stem part on the bottom. In a bowl, mix the brussel sprouts, about 2 tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Place tin foil on a baking sheet and spread brussel sprouts out over the sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes. Flip brussel sprouts half way through cooking time. When done, remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Start cooking pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done cooking, rinse with cold water.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the kielbasa/sausage for about 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two. 
  5. Combine the cooked pasta, roasted brussel sprouts, and the cooked sausage and garlic. Mix in the pesto and top with parmesan cheese. 
Step 2: Roasting the brussel sprouts
Step 4: Cooking the kielbasa and garlic.

The pesto that I used.

All mixed together.

Ready to enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baked Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken

This recipe is similar to the Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops but baked and with chicken. It was easy and delicious! It was based on a recipe from

I made it for a single serving/chicken breast but it can easily be multiplied to make for more people.

Baked Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken


  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp of lemon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a baking dish with tin foil (or lightly coat with cooking spray).
  3. Chop green onions.
  4. In a small saute pan, heat up olive oil and saute garlic and onions until tender (a few minutes).
  5. Remove from heat and add brown sugar.
  6. Place chicken breast in baking dish, sprinkle lemon pepper over it, and add brown sugar/garlic/onion mixture to the top.
  7. Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes - cooking time will be based on thickness of chicken so make sure to check to be sure that it is fully cooked before serving.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spinach Chicken and Mushroom Salad

If you take the last two recipes : Asian Chicken and Drunken Spicy Mushrooms, you can make a delicious salad which is how I chose to enjoy tonight's dinner.

Slice the Asian chicken into bit size pieces and put it on a bed of spinach.
Add the Drunken, Spicy Mushrooms and use the sauce as the dressing for the salad
Add a few sliced strawberries and you have a delicious salad.   I love the presentation of this meal and it was delicious too!

Drunken Spicy Mushrooms

I enjoy saute'd mushrooms and try to mix up the recipes a bit.  I decided to try to marinate the mushrooms in wine ahead of cooking and I liked the results.


16 ounces portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup sweet white wine
1 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoons garlic chili sauce

1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon water

Clean mushrooms by removing the stems and then dry slightly.
Place all mushrooms cap side down on a baking sheet with edges.
Take the 1/4 cup of wine and pour a small amount on each cap.
Sprinkle a slight amoint of soy sauce in each cap, the salt and pepper.
Let rest for an hour.

Heat olive oil to medium high. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
Add mushrooms with all the liquid in the caps. Cook until tender.

Mix water and cornstarch and add toward the end of cooking to thicken the wine sauce. Add the chili garlic sauce at this time too.   Enjoy!

Saute Garlic
Saute Mushrooms in marinade
Cooked mushrooms in wine sauce

Baked Asian Chicken

Here's a modified recipe that I clipped out of the newspaper when my kids were little. It requires some time to marinade, but it's got a great taste.


4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2. tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients besides chicken together.
Place chicken in a 1 gallon bag and pour marinade over the top.seal the bag and massage chicken to ensure it's completely covered by the marinade.
Place in the fridge for an hour or more.
Marinating Chicken

Chicken going into the oven after marinating

Baked Chicken

Heat chicken to 350 degrees ands bake for 25 minutes or until chicken reaches 170 degrees internally.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Whole Wheat Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

For a pancake that sticks with you a bit longer than most, I recommend using whole wheat and oatmeal.

I reviewed several recipes and then came up with my own twist.  I think the almond extract added a nice flavor that I don't typically taste in pancakes.


1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 1/4 cups milk
3 beaten eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix all ingredients together except for blueberries until well blended.
Heat skillet to medium high heat.
Add 1/3 cup batter to the pan, I typically turn down the heat to medium low at this time
I like to hand add the blueberries to each this way, they are evenly placed, or can be placed in fun shapes like a smiley face or a heart...if you have some eaters who do not prefer blueberries, you can leave them out completely.
Flip the  pancake when the bubbles around the edges do not completely fill in.  Allow to cook on the other side, then enjoy.  Repeat until all batter is gone.

Batter and blueberries ready to go

Forming a heart of is getting close to Valentines Day :-)

Evenly spacing blueberries

Finished stack of pancakes

Pancakes also freeze very well to enjoy later.  I usually put two in a quart size bag and place the bags in the freezer.  When ready to eat again, simply put on a plate and microwave for 1 minute.

Baked Brie

Friday nights is a fun low key night to celebrate the end of a new week and also the beginning of the weekend.  With the kids out of the house, there's less of a need to always create a big meal, so sometimes Fridays are a wine and cheese and crackers night.

Brie is a wonderful soft cheese and we've seen a few recipes for baked brie, so we decided to try one.  It's relatively simple.  I would recommend this more as an appetizer rather than a meal.


1 round or wedge of brie cheese
1/4 cup jam - whatever flavor you enjoy
1 package of crescent rolls

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Optional step  - scrape part of the the brie crust off the cheese
Open pack of crescent rolls and unroll dough in one large rectangle
Spread jam on the dough
Place brie in the center of the rectangle and fold dough around brie 
Bake covered brie at 350 for 20 minutes or until dough starts to turn light brown

Scraping off some of the brie rind

Spredding the jam on the crescent rolls (I had some home made mixed berry jalepeno jam for this project.

Place the Brie in the center of the crescent rolls

Fold the dough around the cheese.

Cooked appetizer...spread on cracker or eat as is.  Cook's note : While we picked a wedge to make this appetizer, we Tim and I both thought that a round of brie would cook more evenly.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine Tarts

Since it's close to Valentine's Day and the weather outside isn't all that great, I thought I'd play around with making a heart shaped treat.  I got the idea for this treat from Pinterest, but when I went to click on the link, there was no recipe I'm making this one up from scratch.  The basic concept is using pie crust and then adding cream cheese, raspberry jam, and mini chocolate chips.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4-5 tablespoons ice water
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup raspberry jam (or substitute your favorite flavor)
4 oz cream cheese softened
1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash (optional)
Colored Sugar (optional)

Mix the flour, salt, and butter together with a pastry knife until the mixture resembles pea size balls.  Then add the almond extract and water - 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out pieces of dough.  Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  (Note : you will need two heart for every tart you make.)

Next spread a small amount of cream cheese on every heart, add a small amount of rasperry jam, and then sprinkle on a few mini chocolate chips.

Cover with another dough heart and then use a fork dipped in water to seal the edges of the heart.

If you'd like a little color and extra sweetness for your tarts, brush the tops of the hearts with an egg wash (beat an egg and tablespoon of water together) and the sprinkle with sugar or colored sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

This recipe makes about 24 tarts.

Dough ready to roll out.

Hearts cut out of dough

Prepping the hearts with cream cheese, jam, and chocolate chips

Crimping the edges of the tarts

Finished Tarts

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tortilla Roll-ups

I made two types of tortilla roll-ups for our Superbowl party last week. They are so quick and easy to make and were great -- my preference was for the Ranch Roll-ups but the Taco Roll-ups seemed to be a big hit as well.

The recipe was adapted from a blog called "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly."

Ranch Roll-ups

  • 1 block or container of cream cheese (I prefer whipped cream cheese, which is easier to mix)
  • 2-3 tbsp of ranch dressing mix (I used the whole packet but got comments that they were very salty so you probably don't want to use the whole packet)
  • 3 green onions (chopped)
  • 6-7 burrito-size tortillas
  1. Leave the cream cheese out for a few hours (it is much easier to work with when it is room temperature). 
  2. Chop the green onions.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, mix the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix together with a fork. After you're done mixing, you may want to taste a little bit to make sure it has the right amount of seasoning and add more if necessary.
  4. Mix in the chopped green onions. 
  5. Using a spatula, spread the mixture over a tortilla in a thin layer all the way to the edges. 
  6. Tightly roll the tortilla up. 
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for each tortilla (my mixture made 6 tortillas). 
  8. After all the tortillas are rolled, put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes so they get a little hard, which makes them easier to cut.
  9. Remove the tortillas from the freezer after 15 minutes and cut into about 3/4" slices. 
  10. Place on plate/tray to serve.
The cream cheese mixture.
Rolled tortillas before being cut.

Taco Roll-ups

  • 1 block or container of cream cheese (I prefer whipped cream cheese, which is easier to mix)
  • 2-3 tbsp of taco seasoning (Once again, I used the whole packet but the flavor was pretty intense that way so I'd recommend not quite using the whole packet)
  • 3 tbsp of Mexican cheese (or any other type of cheese you want)
  • 6-7 burrito-size tortillas
  • Salsa (to serve with)
  1. Leave the cream cheese out for a few hours (it is much easier to work with when it is room temperature). 
  2. In a medium-size bowl, mix the cream cheese and taco seasoning together with a fork. After you're done mixing, you may want to taste a little bit to make sure it has the right amount of seasoning and add more if necessary.
  3. Mix in the Mexican cheese. 
  4. Using a spatula, spread the mixture over a tortilla in a thin layer all the way to the edges. 
  5. Tightly roll the tortilla up. 
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 for each tortilla (my mixture made 6 tortillas). 
  7. After all the tortillas are rolled, put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes so they get a little hard, which makes them easier to cut.
  8. Remove the tortillas from the freezer after 15 minutes and cut into about 3/4" slices. 
  9. Place on plate/tray to serve with salsa to dip in.
The mixture spread across a tortilla.
All rolled, cut, and ready to eat!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tilapia and Tropical Quinoa

There are nights, I feel like I'm on one of those cooking shows where you have 30 minutes to put a meal on the table.  OK, probably it's because I just didn't get around to thinking about dinner until dinner time, but there are days like that :-)  Last night was one of those nights, but I was pretty happy with the results.  I decided on making tilapia and quinoa.  Tilapia is a great fish - easy to thaw in warm water,  so it can go from freezer to frying pan in 15 minutes or less.    The quinoa is a grain I like to play around with, but it definitely needs some flavor, so I ensure that the liquid I use to cook it in is not just water. 

Ingredients for Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Old World seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Country French Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Place tilapia filets on  a plate, squeeze lemon juice on each filet, then sprinkle with lemon zest, and all the seasonings.  Warm the olive oil in a skillet and add the seasoned filets.  Cook 4 minutes each side or until done.

Ingredients for Tropical Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
1 15 ounce can pineapple chunks - will use juice and pineapple in separate parts of this recipe
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 green onions chopped

Drain juice from pineapple chunks in to a 2 cup measuring cup.  Add enough chicken broth to make a full two cups of liquid.  Add liquid and quinoa to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling turn heat down and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, add dill weed, garlic salt, pineapple chunks, green onions, and diced tomatoes, cook for another 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. 

Seasoning the Fish

Cooking up the quinoa
Cooking up the tilapia

Finished dinner!

Cook's Note: start cooking the quinoa first and both the fish and quinoa will finish about the same time.