Category Archives: Cooking

Mini Lasagnas

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I am a Phatty. That’s right P-H-A-T. It stands for pretty hot and temptin’ (for those of you not with-it in the late 90’s/early 2000’s). Me and four of my girlfriends from high school called ourselves the Fab Phat Five. Really we were the fab FAT five, but we didn’t think it was nice to call each other fat, so we went for Phat. We even had shirts made that said “Fab Phat Five” on the front. Even though it’s been ten years since we were all in school together we’ve still remained close. We’ve been through a lot together, and recently we got together to have a baby shower for one of the phatties. She’s not the only pregnant Phatty, but this was the first shower, so it was kind of a big deal. Not all the Phatties were there, but 4 out of 5 ain’t too bad. (and I got to see the 5th a few days later so it was all good)! There were also some honorary Phatties there that made the night pretty special overall. I made these gems for the shower, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. I was able to assemble them the night before the shower and then heat them up before. I also am looking forward to making them again and freezing the individual lasagnas for lunch for myself. I highly recommend these!

Picture instructions first then regular instructions…

Saute some S and P, a cup of chopped onion and 12 ounces of ground turkey in a skillet on medium-high for about 10 minutes.

Add a 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix 1 and a half cups ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and press a small wonton wrapper into each cup.

Divide the ricotta mixture in half and then divide that among the 12 cups. Gently press down the cheese with a spoon.

Spoon in some of the turkey tomato sauce mixture into each cup.

 

Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of the turkey mixture. Then gently press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat by layering the ricotta, turkey and mozzarella.

 

Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, let cool, remove from tin and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces raw ground turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (optional: I opted out!)
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
  • 24 small square wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Note on ingredients: In case you don’t know this (I did not), the ricotta cheese can be found in the refrigerated section near the sour cream. Also the wonton wrappers: make sure you get small. They are in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Near the tofu and other organic refrigerated items. You’ll have to look hard, but they’re there.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and saute the mixture about 10 minutes or until the turkey is cooked through. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Bring the pan to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. While turkey/sauce is simmering combine the ricotta, pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano and basil in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  4. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.
  5. Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Next, using half of the turkey tomato sauce, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of mozzarella.
  6. Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer, and repeat step 5.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  8. Let cool and remove from cups.

My Notes…

I’ve never cooked with ground turkey before, but I really liked it. I feel like you could easily use ground beef or whatever meat you’d like. I could only find 19 ounces of the turkey. So I just browned all of it with the other ingredients. This did cause some leftovers, and the turkey to tomato sauce ratio was not great, but I didn’t mind it. Also the instructions do not say to drain before adding the other ingredients. I would. This would prevent the sauce from becoming a bit diluted. Also I didn’t have any dried basil so I just used Italian seasoning. It was just fine.

Also the leftovers heat up great. I also made a nice mostacholi with the leftover turkey sauce. Really liked the flavor of these. They were fun to assemble and I think everyone (especially me) enjoyed them. Also with the wonton wrappers and turkey these little guys come in under 200 calories a piece!! Eat up my friends.

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Reese’s Knockoffs

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Last week I was on a crafting binge at Jo-Ann’s (see previous post). Saturdays at my Jo-Ann’s are out of control. It’s hard to find parking and the line to check-out is always ridiculous. I blame Pinterest. I hate having to wait in line to check-out. Not because I’m impatient, but because I’m the worst impulse buyer ever. The faster I get out of a store, the less likely I am to buy things I don’t need right at the check-out. This trip was no different. First I saw the 20-ounce Diet Cokes glistening in all their chilled glory in the fridge case. Well, my mouth was feeling a little dry after walking around, so I had to grab one of those. Then as I move up a few paces in line I see them. The Reese’s Holiday Trees. Here was my thought process when I saw these beauts: It’s barely November! Trees already. Reese’s should make a PB Turkey. I’d buy it. I shouldn’t buy that tree. I definitely don’t need it. I’m sure it’s a ridiculously high amount of calories.  This Diet Coke will be treat enough… (more waiting in line. Not moving further away from the Reese’s). Well it will be a while until I eat dinner, I guess 1 tree will not hurt. Okay. Doing it. So the tree got in my basket. I finally get up to the register and even the cashier was feeling it! He scans the tree, looks longingly at it and goes “Holidays are the best times to buy Reese’s because they’re fresh. I think I’m going to have to get one of these for lunch.” Oh kindred spirit! I hope he didn’t see my eyes light up too much. It was practically validation that yes, I should be eating that tree. He’s now officially my go-to checkout guy at Jo-Ann’s. I loaded up my car, unwrapped my tree and savored every bite. I was still reeling in the delight of the tree at Kroger when I remembered that we had a staff pitch-in this week and I signed up to bring a dessert. So a quick Pinterest search on my Blackberry revealed a recipe that the author swore tasted like store-bought peanut-butter cups. Could it be? So I had to try myself. I got the few ingredients and triumphantly headed home.

I made these PB bars last night, and let me just say that they are the easiest things I’ve made lately and the tastiest. They do taste just like store-bought, and better because they are fresh. I’m so thankful that I had to make them for a staff gathering so other people will eat them and I will not be eating the entire plate myself. Sooooo good. Highly recommend making these. You will not be disappointed.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter and sugar together in medium bowl. You can use a mixer on low speed or a wooden spoon.
  2. Spread mixture evenly into a small square or rectangular pan. (I used an 8.5 x 6.5 pan)
  3. Melt the chocolate chips using your method of choice. (Mine is the microwave).
  4. Spread evenly over the PB mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.

My Notes

The recipe above is modified a bit from the recipe I found on the internet. Mainly because I didn’t have a cup of PB, so I halved the recipe. So you could easily double this recipe and use a 9×13 pan. (Which is what the original recommended). I would definitely do this if you’re feeding a crowd. Also they can be a bit tricky to cut at first. And you end up with little chocolate shavings everywhere, so just be prepared for that mess when you start to cut up the bars. Also I used store-bought graham cracker crumbs, which are ah-mazing. I highly recommend these for any recipe that calls for them. Sooo much easier than crushing your own (or dirtying a food processor/blender). You could also chill the PB for a bit before pouring on the melted chocolate. I think this would make a nicer separation if you’re going for a pretty-looking bar. If you like PB and Chocolate, these are a must make!!

Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls

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Give me a recipe with the words “Buffalo Chicken” in the title, and I’m going to want to try it. Buffalo Chicken dip with Frank’s Red Hot sauce has to be one of my favorite things. I think I could eat an entire crock-pot of the stuff. The problem is, it’s super calorie-laden and not good for my waistline. These lil’ guys come in at about 100 calories a piece, and I really liked them. I wouldn’t say they were overly easy to make, they definitely take some time to put together. Putting them together is not hard though, and I really enjoyed making them. Also I got a new fancy camera this weekend, so hopefully the quality of my food pics will improve. I highly recommend these for your next tailgate or get-together.

Yumm!

New format for this post: I’m going to post picture instructions, followed by typed instructions at the bottom.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 – 2 cups Trader Joe’s Broccoli Slaw (or another dry slaw)
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles
  • Spring Roll Skins or wrappers

Photo Instructions

PreHeat the oven to 400°F, and gather your ingredients. (If you need a picture tutorial for this, you’re in trouble and probably shouldn’t attempt these bad boys).

Ingredients: Broccoli slaw, blue cheese crumbles, spring roll skins, and a bowl of shredded chicken saturated with Frank’s

I used spring roll skins that you have to wet before using. If you buy square wrappers from the refrigerated section, you will not need to follow all my steps about submerging the skins.

My prep station.

I used spring roll skins that you have to submerge in water in order for them to be pliable. That’s what my cake pan is for. If you get them too wet they’ll be sticky and harder to work with, so just briefly wet them.

This is what happens if you don’t wet the skins.

Next you’ll want to start putting your rolls together!! Here’s the fun part…

Start by putting a “clump” of the slaw about two inches from the bottom of the wrapper.

You don’t need to put in too much slaw. This pic is a bit too much slaw. It was my first roll, and if you put this much in, you’re going to have a long thick roll. A three-inch clump is what you should shoot for.

Top the slaw with the buffalo chicken. I used a fork to do this, otherwise it can get messy real fast.

Next top the chicken with the blue cheese crumbles. Then you start to roll…

Start by folding the left and right sides of the wrap up, then start from the bottom and roll the spring-roll up. If you use the refrigerated wraps, you’ll have to wet your finger and then wet the final edge to get the roll to stay wrapped up. Otherwise the skins I used were perfect. Not a single one fell apart.

Finished product!! (Almost)

Place the roll on a parchment-lined pan, and repeat the steps until all your rolls are finished. Then spray them with butter-flavored spray and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Then enjoy!!!

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix the chicken and sauce together in a small bowl. You can add more or less sauce depending on how spicy you want the rolls to be.
  3. Get a station ready for assembling the rolls. You’ll need a shallow bowl or plate of water for the spring roll wraps, your slaw, chicken, blue cheese crumbles and a pan lined with parchment paper.
  4. Start by getting the paper ready by submerging it in the water. Then place it on your work station. Place a small amount of slaw in the bottom center of the wrap, about 2 inches from the bottom.
  5. Top the slaw with chicken and then blue cheese crumbles.
  6. Fold the right and left halves of the wrap over. Starting from the bottom, fold the wrap up, tucking in the sides if needed. Place the roll on the pan and repeat until you’ve created all your rolls.
  7. Spray the tops of the rolls with butter-flavored cooking spray and then bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

My Notes…

The rolls will not become a golden-brown like what you’re used to seeing. That’s because you’re baking them and not frying them. So don’t leave them in the oven until they become golden-brown on top because it will never happen. I cooked them until they were crispy on the edges. Sooo good! You could serve them with ranch or blue cheese dressing or whatever you normally enjoy with buffalo chicken.

Blackberry Bonanza

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I’m not a huge fan of fruit, but I do love me some blackberries. Tart, yet sweet, and totally popable. Also I have a strong emotional attachment to blackberries. My grandpa used to grow them, and when I was little we would go pick them. It was the biggest thrill to find a huge blackberry that wasn’t rotting or had a bite out of it. We would take the berries back to my mom and grandma and they would make a pie or cobbler or we would have blackberry shortcake. I very much prefer blackberry shortcake to strawberry shortcake. Given my affinity for this lil’ berry, I was anxious to try this recipe:Blackberry Crumb Bars. It’s from my girl Martha, and it was pretty easy. Great summer dessert. Also a great way to use up blackberries from the farmer’s market!!

 

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, and 1/2 cup (1 stick), room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 containers (5 ounces each) blackberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter and flour paper, tapping out excess.
  2. Make topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; add 1 cup flour, and mix with a fork until large moist crumbs form. Refrigerate topping until ready to use.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with blackberries, then chilled topping.
  4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

My Notes…

I used Pam to spray the parchment paper, and I didn’t flour it. I don’t think it’s really necessary with parchment paper. I thought these were really tasty, and the recipe is pretty straight forward. Also, I’m pretty lazy, and don’t usually mix the dry ingredients in a bowl before mixing them with the wet stuff. But that’s up to you. Personally I think it all gets mixed in, and I don’t like having to clean another bowl. Also, I cut these into much smaller bites. These are pretty rich with all the butter, but I enjoyed them.

Rocky Road Brownies

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Saturday I finished my second triathlon. I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but I thought that finishing the tri itself warranted some dessert. The triathlon was a 500 meter open water swim, followed by a 10 mile bike run, and then a 3 mile run.  I wasn’t as fit for this tri as I would have liked, but I’ve still been trying to eat 1200 calories a day.  But after busting my butt for an hour an a half, I felt like I deserve a calorie-counting free day and some chocolate.  If you’re calorie-counting, you might just want to stop reading now. These rich guys are definitely not for those dieting.  However, they were super, super easy to make, looked amazing, and you don’t even have to get out your stand or hand mixer. If you like rocky road, then you will definitely like these. I would absolutely make them again. Oh, giving credit where it’s due. I got these from the Martha Stewart website, but I tweaked the directions a bit, so you might want to check out my notes to simplify the process. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as cashews, pecans or walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
  2. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove mixture from heat; stir in sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes
  4. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, then marshmallows and nuts. Bake until chocolate is shiny and marshmallows are puffed, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

My Notes…

First of all, I did not have an 8 x 8 pan, so I used a 9 x 9 pan. I really preferred this (if you have the 9in pan) because these were so rich, that if they would have been thicker it would have been too much. Also I didn’t heat the chocolate chips over hot water. I used the microwave. I think it’s easier, and works well. Just follow the heating instructions on the package of chips. I used walnuts and thought they tasted great. It was nice to have the crunch with the chewy gooey goodness of the chocolate and marshmallows. Also, they’re difficult to cut, but cutting them in to 16ths makes huge brownies. I would recommend 25 brownies, or at least 20. Make sure you have some milk on hand. Good stuff.

Back to School Banana Cake

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August means only one thing to me: The end of summer vacation, and the beginning of a new school year. This is my sixth year of teaching, but this year is just so different from all the other years. I’m really excited about all the new techniques I’m going to try this year, as well as meeting all my new students. One of my favorite things about school is my lunch group. Every day I get to eat with the same group of teachers. Several of us have had lunch together since my first year of teaching at this school. Our lunch group is kinda notorious for being a little rambunctious and often inappropriate. And that’s why it’s my favorite part of the day. After minding every word you say around a bunch of middle schoolers, it’s nice to kick back and say what you want with your friends, if only for 20 minutes. In honor of the first day of school, I decided to make this cake for my lunch group. I’ve been dying to try it for a while because it just sounds so delicious. Also I had some brown bananas, so that was perfect. In my opinion it’s an impressive cake and very easy to do. I also think the icing/frosting would be great on other cakes. I had a great first day, and a slice of cake with my friends at lunch was just icing on the cake (pun intended).

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter Frosting

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (See! Told you it was easy)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown bananas, smashed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Cake Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare pans. (I used two 9in rounds)
  2. Combine cake mix, oil, water, eggs, baking soda and cinnamon and beat on low for 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed a little bit and beat for 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the bananas and chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick to be sure your cake is finished.
  5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then flip out on a wire rack to cool completely. Frost.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Icing Instructions

  1. Cream butter and peanut butter.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp. water, salt, and vanilla and cream again.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar. After all the sugar is added, beat in another 1-2 Tbsp. water.
  4. Beat in the honey until creamy.

My Notes…

First of all, make sure you don’t prepare the cake according to the package. The measurements have been adjusted to compensate for the bananas. I wouldn’t recommend using regular chocolate chips over the mini. You could, but the mini’s are by far much better for this recipe. With the frosting, I didn’t have 4 cups of powdered sugar. I just used what I had, which was probably closer to 2 cups. I would recommend starting with 2 cups, and then adding more if you needs a thicker consistency. I thought mine was a little runnier than most icings, but the flavor was good (not too sweet), and it was great on the cake. It’s a rich cake, a little goes a long way. But if you like bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter this cake is for you! So good. I also sprinkled some of the mini chocolate chips on top of the cake if you’re confused by the photo. Why? Because I love chocolate and I could. I did not regret it.

Happy Birthday America!!

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American Flag Cheesecakes!

Ah The Fourth of July. Probably  my favorite holiday. Seriously. I think it’s because it’s so close to my birthday, but I love this day. Good food, time with friends and family, and fireworks. Since I was little I’ve loved the American Flag and the red-white-and-blue combo. When I was in second grade I dressed up as Betsy Ross for “Hero Day.” No joke. I was “that girl.” But anyways, I love this day. And what better way to celebrate today with some cute 4th of July treats!! These are an easy, but impressive treat. I posted this recipe earlier (see my Black-Bottom Mini Cheesecakes), but I made some changes for the 4th. Basically I wanted to make a red, white, and blue snack. So check it out and I hope everyone has a Fantastic Fourth!!

 

Ingredients

  • 9 Graham Crackers
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Blueberries and strawberries for topping

 

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and spray the cups with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, crush the graham crackers. Add the butter and process until fine crumbs form. Spoon the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared baking cups and press with the bottom of a glass to compact. Bake for 5 minutes, or until almost set. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the goat cheese, then add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking cups, filling them three-quarters full.
  4. Bake the cheesecakes for 15 minutes, or until slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and place your topping of choice on each cheesecake. Transfer the muffin tin to the freezer and chill the cheesecakes until set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecakes from the pan and peel off the foil baking cups. Transfer the cheesecakes to a platter and serve.

    These can be refrigerated for up to four days.

My Notes…

If you don’t like goat cheese, you could easily use 6 ounces of cream cheese instead. I sliced the strawberries to get them to fit. These cheesecakes are pretty bland, so you might want to also use some strawberry jam in addition to the actual strawberries. As you can see from the photos I got 20 cheesecakes, I think the recipe definitely makes more than 12. Next time I want to try vanilla wafers as the crust instead of graham crackers.