Saturday, May 25, 2013

Taking a Blog Break

My dear friends, I apologize for my absence, it's been an insane but wonderful few months.  We've gotten visits from siblings, as well as both sets of parents, the kids are playing soccer and we're getting ready to pack up our things and trek across the country, visiting friends and family along the way. 

Life is exciting and busy!

And since I'm learning to let things go when I have to, it unfortunately means that I'll be going on an indefinite hiatus.  I'm hoping to return, but I can't begin to guess when.

But I hope to stay in touch!  I still pop in on your blogs regularly, and I'm usually very available on Facebook, so feel free to drop a line anytime.

In parting, I leave you with some New York pics from when my brother and sister-in-law came to town, a very fun week.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pizza Monkey Bread

When my family gets together we love to ask each other questions like "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?" or "if you could pick your real dream job, not having to worry about making enough money etc, what would you do?" or "what is your honest opinion about ."

It makes for some riveting discussions and I always end up learning something new about the very people who I grew up with.  One day someone (probably me) asked, "if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?"  Tough question!  Especially for a person who essentially likes everything, with the exception of goat cheese, I know, I know.

But truth me told, I'd have to say pizza.  Not a very foodie answer, but I've got to be honest.  I LOVE pizza.  And I love how versatile it is, there are endless combinations which would keep it from ever getting boring.  Plus, I mean, c'mon, it's pizza.  It's hot, gooey, comforting, full of flavor, and always ready for a party. 

I got really excited when Barbara from Barbara Bakes posted her Pizza Monkey Bread.  Not only does it have all the great elements of a food I already love, but it's in a different and fun form that kids love.  Who wouldn't want to tear off a piece of this and dunk it into it's warm, homemade marinara.  It really is a party.

Click here for the original recipe and for a great video on how to make them.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Creamy Enchilada Soup with Black Beans

My heart goes out to the victims and families in Boston.  I hope that they find peace and healing during such a difficult time. 

It's finally starting to warm up out there!  The sun is starting to come out and I'm sure we can all relate when I say that it feels like Prozac from the sky!  Oh how I love the sun.  But, it's still not too warm for another rich and creamy soup to keep us company during the cooler evening.  I made this after discovering a random block of cream cheese in my fridge.  I'm sure at some point I had a reason for purchasing it, but it had long escaped me, never to return.  However, I'm glad I did, because otherwise this soup never would have made it's grand entrance into our home.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I love salsa verde.  I love ANYTHING that calls for it, so I knew that I would love this soup before ever trying it.  It's got such a smooth texture, but a nice tangy flavor, making for a very satisfying meal.  The rice and beans really bulk it up too.  The only change I would make for next time is only adding a half a block of cream cheese instead of the entire thing.  It would be enough to make it creamy, but not quite as thick.

Creamy Enchilada Soup with Black Beans
Adapted from Scattered Thoughts of a Craft Mom


32 oz chicken broth
2 cans of green enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe's salsa verde.  It packs a punch, but I liked it.)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup corn, canned, fresh or frozen
 24 oz chicken breast, cooked and shredded, or chopped
1 can black or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 block cream cheese (I used reduced fat), cut into cubes
3/4 cup dry rice
salt and pepper to taste

tortilla chips
cheddar cheese
green onions


In a large pan, combine broth, enchilada sauce, water, cumin, chile powder, onion powder,  and garlic powder.  Bring to a boil.  Add rice and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 30 minutes, until rice is cooked through and soft.  Add corn (no need to thaw if frozen), beans, and chicken.  Cook for about five minutes.  Add cream cheese, stir until melted and combined.  Remove from heat, and serve.  Garnish as desired.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Clam Chowder

When I was about twenty-three I took a week long trip to San Francisco.  I immediately fell in love with that glorious part of our country.  The wharf, the trolleys, the funky winding roads, I couldn't get enough.  And of course, one thing I got plenty of, besides truckloads of Ghirardelli chocolate, was lots of creamy clam chowder.  Sitting in an outside cafe, right next to the water and a slab of barking seals, eating fresh clam chowder out of a sour dough bread bowl was about as close to heaven as it's going to get for me!
And while this isn't being eaten out of a homemade sour dough bowl, it's still pretty delicious and definitely reminds me of my blissful week in the Bay Area.  A rich, creamy, chowder chock full of all you love about clam chowder, with less calories.  Bacon, potatoes, lots of clams, and a thick broth, which has a slight and delightful sweetness thanks to the white wine.

For the bread bowl, since I just didn't have it in me to bake me own, I just hollowed out a store bought kaiser roll.  It actually held up very nicely and made the perfect amount to feel warm and satisfied.  My kids also thought being served out of a roll was the coolest thing ever!

Clam Chowder
Adapted from The New Way to Cook Light


1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
1/2 cup unoaked chardonnay (I used white wine)
1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 slice bacon, chopped
3 cups diced red potato
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup half and half (I used fat-free)
3/4 cup reduced fat milk
2 cans chopped clams
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped thyme


1.  Combine 1/2 cup onion, wine, and next 2 ingredients (through bay leaf) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.  Cover and cook 2 minutes; strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid.

2.  Wipe pan clean.  Melt butter in pan.  Add bacon to pan; saute 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining 1 cup onion, potato, celery and red pepper; saute 4 minutes.  Stir in flour; cook 1 minute.  Stir in cooking liquid and 1/3 cup water; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in clams, half-and-half and milk; cook 1 minute or until heated.  Stir in herbs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently enamored with all things buffalo chicken wings.  It's a fairly new obsession, but there is just something about that tangy, messy, meaty phenomenon that I can't get enough of.
 Since hot wings are typically a bit spicy for kids, I thought I'd tone it down by making these wonderful Buffalo Chicken meatballs.  Since the sauce is incorporated right into the meat with blue cheese, and other seasonings, it has great flavor without so much heat.  Of course, if you're like me, you're going to drench it in sauce and blue cheese before popping it in your mouth because you LOVE that flavor!
Serve this up with celery as a great appetizer for just about any occasion.  The original recipe can be found HERE at Shrinking Kitchen (yes, this is a skinny recipe too!!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spinach and Smoked Gouda Quiche

 After a lot of contemplation, my husband and I have concluded that we eat enough eggs in this house to make it worth owning a few chickens.  Seriously, if the end of days were to come, we will have to be sure to have a cellar packed with nothing but eggs, and perhaps a bit of chocolate, and we would be just fine.  Every single morning all of us enjoy eggs, cooked a variety of different ways.  My son relies on them so much that if for whatever reason he misses them in the morning, he will insist on eating them for lunch.

So when I sat this savory pie in front of them and told them it was "egg pie," there was rejoicing around the table, and everyone ate happily ever after.

The flavors in this are just lovely, slightly smoky, and ever so creamy with the smoked Gouda.  The spinach gives it a perfect pop of color and texture that really brings it all together.  I served this with a salad and sauteed veggies for a delicious meatless meal.

Spinach and Smoked Gouda Quiche
From The New Way to Cook Light
(Be sure to either start the crust early in the day so it can chill, or make the night before)


6 tablespoons butter softened
2 tablespoons 1% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
3/4 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash of grated nutmeg
3 large eggs


1.  To prepare crust, place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Combine 2 tablespoons milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.  Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Add flour to milk mixture; beat just until combined.  Press mixture into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap cover.  Chill for 1 hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 350°.

3.  Unwrap and place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.  Roll dough into a 10-inch circle.  Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.  Freeze 15 minutes.  Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.

4.  To prepare filling, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add onions; saute 5 minutes or until tender.  Add spinach, saute 2 minutes.

5.  Combine 1 cup milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Stir in spinach mixture.  Pour filling into crust.  Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

Serves 10

Per Serving: 205 cal, 12.9g fat, 7.3g prot, 15.4g car, 11g fiber

Linked with Taste and Tell Thursdays

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

 I eat a salad for lunch almost every single day.  I love filling a bowl full of bright greens and other colorful veggies for a healthy midday meal.  But if you're going to have a salad every single day, you've got to be careful to keep it interesting, otherwise you'll get so bored that you'll end up coveting your sons mac and cheese and pigs in a blanket (not that I have ANY idea what that's like.)
This is a salad that I'm already looking forward to making again.  I love peanut sauce, so to have an entire salad coated in it's velvety, sweet flavor is just heaven.  There is a lot you can add to this salad to keep it fun, hot cooked rice noodles, crispy wonton strips, chopped sweet peppers, or you could sub shrimp or pork instead of chicken. 

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing
From The New Way to Cook Light


6 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless cooked chicken breast (go rotisserie!)
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup sliced celery
2/3 cups light coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 tablespoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
4 lime wedges, optional


Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine coconut milk and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) in a small saucepan, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, and cool 2 minutes.  Pour warm coconut milk mixture over lettuce mixture.  Sprinkle with peanuts, and serve with lime wedges, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Per Serving: 262 cal, 11g fat, 27g prot, 17g carbs, 4g fiber

Linked up with Taste and Tell