Dijon Balsamic Dressing

Nick decided that before he departed for Afghanistan that he would try a last ditch effort to get in shape. So we were attempting to put spinach in everything we ate for what seemed like weeks. When it came down to crunch time {both to get healthy and to use up all of the spinach} he was drinking weird green smoothies and eating spinach by the slice.

Really. That is not an exaggeration.

Well, finally after what seems like an eternity we finally used it all up on a salad. But to spice an ordinary salad up {to Nick’s liking} he decided to make his own salad dressing, which just happens to be totally amazing. Take a look.

 

Nutritional Information
Servings: 6
Serving Size: approximately 2 tablespoons
Calories: 93.8
Fat: 9.3 g
Carbohydrates: 1.7 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 0 g
Points+: 3

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from In the Kitchen with David, Comfort Foods that take you home, p. 92

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  • Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped
  • Add the balsamic vinaigrette, mustard, salt and pepper and pulse for 3 to 4 seconds. With the food processor running add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, until the dressing is emulsified, 10 to 20 seconds
  • Enjoy over your favorite Cobb salad! 

 

 

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

I don’t know about you but I love egg sandwiches. I have a particular love for hard boiled eggs layered on top of toasted bread, American cheese, salt and pepper with a drizzle of mustard…. the regular stuff, not that fancy Dijon mustard. I will go through periods of my life where I will not eat eggs but eventually my love for eggs comes pummeling into my life without much warning.

I figured this was a great time to blog about eggs with Easter being right around the corner. If you are like me, coloring hard boiled eggs was a tradition growing up. I still think about doing it, but life is so busy for us right now. Last Easter we found our house and put a deposit on the land to have the house built and this Easter we are dealing with a deployment. Nick leaves Monday. So, you guessed it, I will be shedding plenty of tears! 

Anyway... where was I? Ah, yes, my love for eggs pummeling back in to my life.

That’s exactly where I have been lately. No lie, there was a week where I ate only scrambled eggs for dinner. Yep, every-single-night was the same dinner – fluffy scrambled eggs with some cheese, toast and a side of ketchup (again, the real stuff a.k.a. Heinz). I rekindled the relationship between scrambled eggs and ketchup a few months ago. Nick always eats eggs that way and I used to scoff at him. You know, because that’s the juvenile way to eat scrambled eggs. I held my head low when I realized that ketchup and scrambled eggs would always be a great match.

After that week or so of eating scrambled eggs every chance I could I quit cold turkey; that is until 2 weeks ago. 

Two weeks ago I made the mistake of making hard-boiled eggs. When I took a bite of that hard boiled egg it was instant magic. The sparks started to fly and I fell in love all over again. Making a hard-boiled egg sandwich is a work of art that not everybody has the gift of creating. In fact, I would not suggest just anybody making a hard-boiled eggs sandwich without proper planning and instruction.

Anyway, I was always worried that my eggs would not come out right. My mom, of course, makes the best hard-boiled eggs yet I never considered calling her up for help. I know, stupid mistake. Either way, Nick and I stumbled across the best way to hard boil eggs {interestingly enough, it’s the same one my mom uses. Duh!} So today I don’t have much of a recipe, just instructions to make the best hard-boiled eggs! Take a look!

 

Nutritional Information
Servings: varied
Serving Size: 1 egg
Calories: 80
Fat: 5 g
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 7 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water

 

Directions:

  • Add a layer of eggs on the bottom of a stockpot
  • Cover the eggs with ice-cold water until the eggs are submerged and the water covers the eggs by an inch
  • Add a half a tablespoon of salt to the water
  • Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water
  • Over medium heat bring the water to a rolling boil. Allow the water to boil for one full minute. Then remove the pot from the water, cover and let the eggs sit for at least 20 minutes

VOILA!

 

 

 

Vodka Spiked Spaghetti

I don’t know about you but I happen to love simple recipes that pack a punch. For instance, pasta is an easy dinner any weeknight. I was not one of those kids that loved pasta growing up either in fact I detested it. However, every week, without fail, my mom would make spaghetti. I ate it, but I never understood why we had to have it. I mean, I would have rather had fried shrimp and French fries.

You don’t know this, but I’m chuckling out loud because now it all makes sense. You see, my mom was a hard-working woman who not only had to work a hard day each day, but also had to juggle a picky eater, she had to maintain a household and a husband. She was an amazing mom and woman; she still is. But I never appreciated that spaghetti each week. It was a humble meal, but it was hot and she always put a little twist on it.

I always thought we were having spaghetti because she liked it and wanted to have it for dinner, which annoyed me because I did not want it. I remember she used to pile her plate with spaghetti and top it off with a bunch of grated Parmesan cheese. I do that now, you know. Often times I wonder if it is because my mom did it or if it was the beginning of my love for cheese. I still do that to this day – pile a load of cheese on my spaghetti. It reminds me of my mom. It makes me thankful that she took the time to make me a hot dinner after a hard days work. She could have easily come home and made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; I was lucky!

As I got older I realized pasta was not so bad. I actually like it and crave it now, especially with my individual twists. I try not to use bottled sauces, so my pasta usually comes in different sauce flavors so I don’t get bored with it. Take a look at my newest addiction.

 

 

Nutritional Value:
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 2 ounces pasta
Calories: 421.7
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 52.3 g
Fiber: 5.5 g
Protein: 9.1 g
Points+: 9

Ingredients:

 Recipe Adapted from 6 Bittersweets

  • ½ pound dry angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup half & half
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Salt &pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

  

Directions: 

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain & keep warm.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat
  • Add onion to pan, sauté 4 minutes or until tender
  • Add pepper, garlic and bouillon, sauté 1 minute
  • Add vodka and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half
  • Stir in 1/3 teaspoon salt, pepper and tomatoes then bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes
  • Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly
  • If you have an emulsion blender, puree the sauce in the pan {otherwise, place tomato mixture in blender and process until smooth.}
  • Return tomato mixture to pan. Mix in the cream, and then cook the sauce for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly
  • Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta & basil.
  • Serve & Enjoy!! 

 

 

 

Hearty & Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese Croutons

I {sometimes} have a serious addiction to QVC and their food-related products. Often times you could find me sitting in front of the television on a Sunday afternoon watching In the Kitchen with David. I happen to love David. He has a great attitude and personality and, most importantly for QVC I suppose, he’s a great sales person. I would probably buy anything he sells on television. Obviously, I cannot afford to buy everything but I have scored some seriously awesome items from QVC. One of my favorite things, however, is David’s cookbook. My mom gave it to me for Christmas and I got started making his recipes right away.

Oh, and he has an extremely splendid array of recipes. The first one I ended up trying was a homemade tomato soup recipe. I have been dying to make tomato soup with an awesome crouton topping and I noticed he had a great recipe that suited my needs so I gave it a shot.

I have to tell you this is probably the BEST tomato soup I have ever had in my life. Since I made it Nick has been raving about it to everybody who will listen. I think I may have to make it again before he is deployed. He loved it that much. Take a lookie look!

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Nutritional Value
Servings: 6 
Serving Size: about 1 1/2 cup soup + 3 croutons
Calories: 226.2
Fat: 14 g
Carbohydrates: 23.2 g
Fiber: 4.9 g
Protein: 5.1 g
Points+: 6

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Ingredients:

Reciped Adapted from In the Kitchen with David, Comfort Foods that take you Home, 69-70

{Creamy Tomato Soup}

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream 

{Grilled Cheese Croutons, makes 72}

  • 4 tablespoons Smart Balance Butter
  • 6 slices bread
  • 4 ounces American Cheese {I used Land ‘o Lakes deli cheese}

Directions:

To make the soup ~

  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat
  • Add the onion, salt and pepper
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 6 to 8 minutes
  • Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more
  • Sprinkle with the flour to make a roux, and stir constantly for 3 more minutes
  • Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if necessary
  • Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool slightly
  • Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender {or with an immersion blender}
  • Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cream
  • Reheat over low heat just until hot. Do not boil

 

To make the croutons ~

  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat
  • Spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread
  • Place 3 slices of bread, butter side down, in the hot skillet
  • Top each slice with cheese, then the remaining bread slices, butter side up
  • Grill until the sandwiches are toasted and browned and the cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes per side
  • Remove the sandwiches from the pan and allow them to cool slightly
  • Cut the sandwiches into 1 inch squares
  • Serve the soup, accompanied by the Grilled Cheese Croutons
  • Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Mini Stuffed Sweet Peppers

I think it is interesting to make something I once would snub. After I started this blog I knew that my journey would take me to crevices of the food world that would be uncomfortable and require great dedication to control my gag reflexes.

Wondering what I am even rambling on about? Yeah, I ask myself that all of the time. I have this weird way of being able to hear everything I’m saying during conversations, which is a nuisance especially when I am droning on and choose not to stop. For instance, I’m doing it right now. I could easily delete all of these words, yet instead I keep typing.

I need serious help.

Really, help me.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, gag reflexes. I am not sure many of you know this, but I am a picky eater. Seems odd that I would choose to start a food blog, eh? As a kid, my mom used to make meals based on what I liked. And while I appreciated it back then I am convinced it led to my obesity. Of course I am not blaming my mom, but I think there is something to be said about making a well-rounded meal for the entire family. If I did not like that meal and chose not to eat it, it would seem I would have eventually gotten the picture; hunger would ultimately set in and would have been forced to eat whatever was on my plate. But because my mom would make me another meal {separate from what she cooked and I did not like} I became spoiled… and incredibly picky.

Obviously I did not turn to vegetables and fruits. Nah, instead I became a connoisseur for fine fried food and eating out. You get the picture.

However, ultimately I completely overhauled my life and started this blog {fast forwarding through most of my life… you are welcome}. 

Now I find myself having to think about eating foods that still gross me out or don’t sound so appealing. One of those foods is stuffed peppers. I never liked the idea of a stuffed pepper. However, Nick loves them. I attempted making them once way back when I first started this little cooking blog but was ultimately not satisfied. {Still to this day I have to fight the urge to make another meal for myself when I don’t like what is on the table…sadly, sometimes I still revert back to my childhood habits.}

Still I wanted to give Stuffed Peppers a try. I’ve been looking for the right recipe for months. I have scoured the Internet, magazines and cookbooks but none of the recipes ever seemed good enough for me to try. That was until last week.

Something miraculous happened last week. I had 2 pounds of mini sweet peppers I had to use lest they go bad and I knew it was time to attempt stuffed peppers again. I found a recipe almost immediately that seemed worthy of an attempt. I knew it was divine intervention. Take a look!

 

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 7
Serving Size: 2 whole peppers, 4 stuffed halves
Calories: 129.2
Fat: 5.6 g
Carbohydrates: 8.8 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 10.4 g
Points+: 3

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Delish 

  • 5 ounces spinach
  • 2 slices sandwich bread, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, cooked and finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • 14 mini sweet peppers, halved lengthwise & cored
  • Cooking Spray, like pam
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Directions:

  • In a large skillet, cook the spinach over high heat just until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain and press out all of the water. Coarsely chop the spinach. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, knead the chopped bread with the milk, egg and cheese to form a paste
  • Knead the onion powder, sausage and spinach. Then season lightly with salt and pepper
  • Using lightly moistened hands, divide the mixture among the pepper halves and lightly pack it in
  • In a skillet, spray generously with cooking spray. Add the stuffed peppers, filling side down and cook over high heat until well browned, about 5 minutes
  • Turn the peppers over and cook until the skins are browned and blistered, about 4 minutes longer
  • Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth, cover and simmer until the sausage filling is completely warmed through and the peppers are tender, another 6 to 8 minutes
  • Transfer to plates and serve with some rice!

Enjoy!!

{P.S. these were the best stuffed peppers I have EVER had. The spiciness of the sausage paired nicely with the sweetness of the peppers and tomato sauce. Not to mention I made some white rice and it all came together well. They also heat up nicely the next day!! No more gagging for this foodie!}

 

 

Reuben Soup

I think it’s safe to say that winter is pretty much over in Northern Virginia, if we can even claim that it started. I would argue winter does not exactly happen here – a dozen cold days doesn’t equate to winter. Sometimes I wish the epicenter of government were in Maine, now that’s something I could get used to. As it happens, I’m here in the DC metro living life until destiny takes me some place else. I figured we would have another cool day or two, so I decided to make a festive soup for St. Patrick’s week. It turned out great. Take a look.

 

Nutritional Value
Servings: about 10
Serving Size: 1 ¼ cup
Calories: 332.4
Fat: 23.3 g
Carbohydrates: 13.5 g
Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 16.5 g
Points+: 9

Ingredients:

 Recipe Adapted from Closet Cooking

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces corned beef, shredded
  • 1 ½ cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup half & half
  • 2 cups Swiss cheese
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Rye Bread {optional}

 

Directions: 

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the onion powder, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes
  • Mix in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Add the broth, deglaze the pan, add the corned beef, sauerkraut, potatoes, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes
  • Add the cream, season with pepper {if needed} and remove the bay leaves
  • Top with Swiss cheese and broil until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes
  • Enjoy!!  

 

 

 

Cheesy Reuben Dip

Soon it will be St. Patrick’s Day. I never really got into the whole drink green beer and party in the street scene. It just was not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I may have had a couple of shots of whiskey while wearing some ridiculous green hat or over-sized green sun glasses; but it was always in the safety of an apartment with my friends…nothing more ridiculous than that.

Now don’t get excited, I don’t have a green beer recipe for you. I know many of you would really appreciate that, but drinking beer is still not my scene. Moreover, having a shot of whiskey is not something I do now anyway. I never quite acquired the taste of alcohol - any of it - so I simply don't drink. I can see you all rolling your eyes

I digress.

However, just because I don’t throw down with you beer-loving foodies, I can whip up a mean St. Patrick’s Day treat without much thought. Almost two weeks ago two of my Reuben recipes were featured in the Huffington Post. Check out these Reuben Eggrolls & Reuben Quesadillas. Well, along with my two recipes there were several others featured in the Huffington Post, so I decided to make one that looked absolutely divine. Can you disagree with this recipe?!

 

Nutritional Information
Servings: approximately 15
Serving Size: about 1/3 cup
Calories:  119.5
Fat: 9.6 g
Carbohydrates: 1.3 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 8.8 g
Points+: 3

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from A Farmgirl's Dabbles 

  • 1 lb. shredded corned beef
  • 8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 14 ounces sauerkraut, drained very well
  • ¾ cup low fat plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup Fat Free Thousand Island Dressing

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together
  • Spoon into an oven-proof serving dish
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is bubbling and nicely browned on top
  • Serve with your favorite crackers or bread {I used thinly sliced rye bread. I quartered each slice and toasted it for several minutes.}  

Enjoy!!

This was an incredible dip. I love all of the ingredients that go into making a Reuben and this was no exception! I lightened this recipe up a bit by substituting plain low-fat yogurt for the mayo. I'm not a mayo girl myself, so it worked perfectly! Make it, seriously!

 

 

 

Sage & Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs

It has definitely been a hectic couple of weeks. Honestly, I don’t even know what happened to the month of February. All of a sudden it was here, Punxsutawney Phil was popping out of his hole, Valentine’s rolled on by and BAM here we are in March!

What the heck?

Today is my anniversary – Nick and I have been together for 5 years. It has definitely been a struggle, but with any great relationship comes hard work and dedication, right?

It would be best if you agreed because any dissent may result in this foodie throwing a temper tantrum in the kitchen.

Anyway, moving along. Nick and I celebrate 5 years today. His gift to himself was volunteering for a deployment to Afghanistan. Therefore, in a couple of weeks he will be leaving me and I’ll be on my own {again} for another year of my life. I know this is something he wants to do and, like a good girlfriend that I am, I supported and encouraged his decision. However, I am still dreading the moment he leaves me and will worry like a crazed lunatic until the moment he comes home.

With all of that being said, I should warn you of something else – I am a stress and emotional eater. And while I would like to tell you all that I make healthy choices I cannot, therefore in the next year I may be making a lot of hearty, comfort foods that may {typically} pack a big punch on your waistline. However, I will attempt to minimize the effects. If you are willing to come along for the ride I will stand by my decision to health-ify those non-healthy-hearty-soul-soothing comfort foods that we all love in moments of stress.

Today I have a light and fun recipe, very similar to the one I made last week. Remember those Cheddar Cheese Puffs? Good! Take a look at these.

 

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Nutritional Value
Servings: 12
Serving Size: 1 Puff
Calories: 74.4
Fat: 5 g
Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
Fiber: .1 g
Protein: 2.5 g
Points+: 2 

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Cookin' Canuck

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage
  • ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese {you could add more if you want!} 

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 400 degrees F
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the water, butter and salt. Do not boil the mixture.
  • Once the butter melts, stir in the flour. Stir quickly until the mixture binds together.
  • Continue to stir for another minute, while the pot sit on the heat
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let the mixture cool slightly. Stir in the 2 eggs, one at a time.
  • Ensure that the first egg is fully combined into the mixture before adding the second egg
  • Add the minced sage and crumbled Gorgonzola. Stir to combine.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spoon the dough onto the parchment paper. Each puff should be 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and they should be spaced an inch apart.
  • Bake, without opening the door, for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F for another 15 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and crisp on the outside.
  • Pierce each puff with a small, sharp knife to release the steam, which will stop them from becoming soft
  • Serve immediately. 

 

 


 

Cheddar Cheese Puffs

I used to be a chocolate addict. Really, I could eat it by the pound. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you know what I’m saying. However, the last couple of years have been a completely different story. While I still have the occasional need to satisfy my sweet tooth, it usually includes Sweet Tarts, Smarties or Lemonheads & friends. My mouth is watering just thinking about all of those sweets that I love so dearly. Honestly, when I start eating those things I cannot stop eating them. I can seriously go through one of those large boxes of Sweet Tarts in a couple of days. I eat them until my tongue is sore.

I need help; maybe candy anonymous meetings?

However, most of the time I crave comfort food. You know the kinds of food I’m talking about – macaroni and cheese, gumbo, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, cheesy filled carb-rich foods that force people to the gym wear sweats for two days.

Ahhh, yes. That is what I crave eighty-five percent of the time.

Well, I was craving bread this weekend but I did not want to make any ordinary kind of bread. Instead of making regular ole biscuits I decided to make fluffy, light and airy puffs of heaven. Oh, yes, they are heavenly. Take a look.

 

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 16
Serving Size: 1 Cheddar Cheese Puff
Calories: 138
Fat: 10.4 g
Carbohydrates: 5.9 g
Fiber: .18 g
Protein: 5 g
Points+: 4

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Simply Recipes 

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced {or garlic salt}
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  • In a medium sized saucepan, add the water, butter, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir rapidly. The mixture will form a dough ball that will pull away from the sides of the pan. It helps to use a wooden spoon to stir, as the dough will be rather thick. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes. Stir so the dough cools more evenly. You want the dough to be warm, just not hot so the eggs do not begin to cook when they are added to the dough.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until the eggs are incorporated into the dough. The dough should become rather creamy
  • Stir in the cheese, rosemary and pepper
  • Spoon out small balls of the dough onto a baking sheet, with at least an inch separating each spoonful
  • Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes at 425 degrees
  • Lower heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden
  • {At this point, if you wanted, you could easily sprinkle the tops with additional cheese/garlic or brush the top with buttery garlic spread. I found the original recipe to be somewhat bland so we added the garlic to heighten the flavor just a bit. It’s totally your call!}

Enjoy!!

 

Enchilada Casserole

I don’t know about you, but I happen to love Mexican food. Having lived close enough to throw a rock across the Mexican border, I became used to getting good, quality and authentic Mexican cuisine whenever I wanted. I remember when we first moved to Sierra Vista that is all I wanted to eat. I think we ate at a local restaurant, La Casita, 4 times a week for the first few weeks. Shameful. I know. I really could not get enough of it, and I knew it was a winner because Nick didn’t tire of it easily. It was a huge win for me!

Often we would go there on a Friday or Saturday night for a date night. There was usually an insignificant wait for such good food. I would probably have waited all night for a table; however, luckily I never had to do that! We would sit there for hours eating chips and salsa, delicious Mexican cuisine, and some sweet desserts. We would talk about politics, life, careers, dreams, everything and anything. It was one of the best times of my life. I loved living near the MI installation. I loved seeing soldiers in their uniforms every single day. And, I loved living across the country. I loved the distance between what was once my life and the path that was beginning to be my future.

However, our stay was short lived. We ended up back on the east coast and every time I crave Mexican I think of Sierra Vista. Last week I was in the mood for Mexican so I decided to whip something delicious up. Take a look!

 

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 12
Serving Size: 1/12th Square
Calories: 321.6
Fat: 15.7 g
Carbohydrates: 25.5 g
Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 20 g
Points+: 8

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 Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff

  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • 3 cups salsa
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups shredded cheese
  • Lettuce, tomato, cilantro, optional

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain
  • Stir in the salsa, sour cream, cumin, and taco seasoning
  • Lightly coat a casserole dish with cooking spray
  • Layer a generous amount of the meat mixture on the bottom, sprinkle with shredded cheese
  • Place a tortilla on top of the meat mixture. Layer with another generous serving of the meat mixture and more cheese
  • Repeat this process for as many layers as you like or until the meat mixture runs out
  • Top with shredded cheese
  • Cover with foil {that has been greased with cooking spray} and cook for 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbly
  • Top with lettuce, tomatoes & cilantro if you so desire!

Enjoy! xoxo

Tuscan Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo Ravioli

The last few days have been a whirlwind. Since Nick and I bought our house our parents have been encouraging us to come pick up some of our belongings from their homes. Time was beginning to become tight because Nick’s parents recently built a new house, sold the one they live in now and are planning to move out in mere weeks. So, with a government holiday on Monday, we decided to take the plunge. That’s just what we did. For 5 days we rode all around Pennsylvania and Virginia in a big Penske truck. Other than a bout with a stomach bug that quickly halted all plans on Saturday and Sunday we had a great time.

While in Pennsylvania we celebrated Nick’s mom’s birthday. It was a great time. We actually went to an awesome place called the Accomac Inn. It has a rich history and beautiful home by the Susquehanna River. I cannot wait to go back there. I had Scallops with Andouille Sausage followed by the Surf & Turf, which included lobster, steak, scalloped potatoes, and fresh vegetables. It was so good, but so much food. I mentioned to Nick that I should have ordered another Scallop appetizer instead of the dinner. I would have been satisfied with that! If you’re ever in the area it is definitely worth stopping by for great food and fantastic service. I certainly cannot wait to go back there!

Before we left on our great journey northward I made an awesome ravioli dish. Please excuse the pictures; it just doesn’t do the recipe justice. I promise it was delicious, hearty and filled with great creamy and tomato flavor!

______________________________

Nutritional Value
Servings: 8
Calories: 250
Fat: 13.1 g
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 9.6 g
Points+: 6

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

  • 17.5 ounces refrigerated cheese & basil Ravioli
  • 1 ounce Sun Dried Tomatoes, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • Garlic salt
  • Ground pepper

Directions:

  • Prepare pasta according to packaged directions
  • Meanwhile, heat butter over low heat until it melts completely to coat the bottom of a large pan
  • Increase the heat to medium heat, pour in the half & half a little at a time while whisking continuously to smooth out any lumps that may form.
  • Add the lime juice, tomatoes, pepper, garlic & sun dried tomatoes and whisk a bit more.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese then remove from heat*.
  • Pour over the pasta & enjoy!

*The cheese will thicken the mixture quickly. So remove as soon as you find the right consistency and before the cheese begins to separate in a funny way.

xoxo Mel

Heart Shaped Pizza

Oh boy. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Is it a total cliché that my heart flutters with excitement about all of the flowers and chocolates, and all of the diamonds that float around during this particular hallmark holiday. Oh, don’t worry. I am not one of those people that actually get spoiled on Valentine’s Day. Hell, I have to remind Nick what day of the week it is most weeks, so remembering to plan something for Valentine’s Day is an expectation that I need not have.

Really it is okay. I realize I may sound ungrateful or jealous or something along the lines of pretentious. I don’t pretend not to be those things sometimes, but not because of Valentine’s Day. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was about to sing the praises of Nick. He spoils me everyday. I don’t need a special day for him to go beyond what he already does for me. What does that prove after all? He is the best thing to happen to me and I am beyond excited that he’ll come home on Thursday evening, having worked a long 12+ hour day, and I will have a special meal for him. Because, let’s be honest, every meal I make is special.

So I think I just simultaneously praised Valentine’s Day and snubbed my noise at it. See there is the pretentiousness I was talking about. I am really pulling out all of the stops for this post.

If you want to do something special for your love on Valentine’s Day or surprise your kids you should totally consider this very easy recipe. There is no hiding I am slightly obsessed with pizza. Well, I decided to cookie cut pizza dough in the shape of hearts. Oh yes, hold your applause. These little heart shaped pizzas will be a great surprise for your kids’ lunch boxes or a nice snack for your love when he gets home from work on Thursday.

 

_____________________________

Nutritional Value
Servings: 6 pizzas
Serving Size: 1 heart pizza
Calories: 42
Fat: 1.5 g
Carbohydrates: 5.4 g
Fiber: .3 g
Protein: 1.5 g
Points+: 1

_____________________________

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Quick & Easy Recipes

  • Pizza dough – homemade or store bought {I sold out and went with store bought}
  • Sauce
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • Heart shaped cookie cutters

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Grease a baking sheet
  • Cookie cut pizza hearts out of the dough
  • Arrange the pizza hearts on the baking sheet
  • Add the sauce and sprinkle with cheese
  • Bake for about 8 minutes
  • Remove & Enjoy!! 

 

Guest Post: Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast

Good Morning everybody! I'm so excited to have a guest blogger today - Bobbi, from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen! I love Bobbi. She is always so bubbly and is always so friendly! Like me, Bobbi has battled weight issues during her life. It is always inspiring to find people who can sympathize and encourage you along this journey of life and food. She managed to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. Much of what she blogs about is inspired by her need to stay healthy without compromising flavor or quality. She's totally my type of girl! When she agreed to do a guest post for me today I was elated, and she doesn't disappoint. I practically drooled all over my keyboard when she shared this recipe! 

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Blog | Facebook | Twitter 

My name is Bobbi. Just like Mel I did not coming from a “cooking” background. Quick and easy and fast food were what was on my menu most of the time. Due to those choices my weight skyrocketed and I ended up faced with a huge life decision. I chose to have gastric bypass surgery. After my sugery and subsequent weight loss. I learned to change my thinking when it came to food. I used to be all about quick and easy. Then I realized it was more about quality. I learned to love fresh herbs and veggies, and found out I really enjoyed cooking for my family and friends. Where food had been my enemy for so many years, it was now my friend.

Now food has also allowed me to meet new and wonderful friends via food blogging. I have to admit I did not jump enthusiastically. My kids basically pushed me kicking and screaming into it. I thought they were crazy to think that other people would want to read my rantings or cook my food. But I promised I Would give it a shot. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Oh my kids get a real kick out of that and never let me forget that they were the ones that made me do it. But all joking aside, they are my biggest fans and I adore them!

Mel is one of the first “foodies” that I got to know when I started this journey, we clicked off the bat and I am so proud to say she is my friend. But I don’t have to tell you how wonderful she is right? OK I will anyway, she is true gem that I will treasure always! I am so thrilled an honored that she asked me to guest post. I hope you all enjoy it!!

I have talked about how my slow cooker had been banished to the bottom of my pantry some time ago. I don’t know why exactly. I guess it had something to do with the fact that I could never find slow cooker recipes that my family enjoyed. It seemed all I had to do was mention I was thinking about making a slow cooker meal and the whole family would groan. Not a big vote of confidence that the meal would be met with enthusiasm and praise.

Also, many recipes called for canned condensed soups or packets of seasoning mixes. I am not saying that using those things are a bad thing, but when I am trying to reduce calories, fat, and sodium, those ingredients don’t really fit the bill. So that left me with trying to come up with flavorful recipes that my picky family would eat, that didn’t use those items and still wouldn’t break the bank. A challenge I shied away from for quite some time. But I have now chosen to pick up the gauntlet and face the challenge dead on. WOW that was quite dramatic wasn’t it? I will bet you would never guess I was a theater major in my younger years? No way right? Ok Bobbi quit yapping and get to the food!

I am happy to say that this recipe was able to fit all of my criteria. The family loved it, the flavors were fantastic, and at about $15.00 for ingredients it was a great budget meal! 

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast   

Nutritional Value:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Beef bottom roast (about 3 ½ pounds)**
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (can sub 1 teaspoon dried thyme if fresh isn’t on sale)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ½ cups beef stock
  • Mashed potatoes 

 Directions: 

  • Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel and rub the inside of the slow cooker. Season the roast with salt and pepper and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the onions, garlic, and carrots around the roast. Pour the stock and the vinegar into the cooker, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  • Remove the roast and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the roast and serve alongside the vegetables and mashed potatoes. Drizzle with the sauce.

ENJOY!!

**I bought my roast on sale. You can use a chuck roast if that is on sale though. The veggies can be swapped for whatever you enjoy and/or can find on sale, and I always have balsamic vinegar in my pantry. 

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Nutritional Value*:: Servings: about 10; Serving Size: approx. 6 ounces; Calories: 327.9; Fat: 16.8 g; Carbohydrates: 2.4 g; Fiber: 0 g; Protein: 39.7 g:: Points+: 8

*Nutritional Value estimated based on the remaining liquid not used. Mashed potatoes not included in calculations. 

Weekend Breakfast Roundup!

People tell me breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why I routinely find myself rummaging through the refrigerator for leftover Swedish meatballs or pizza and, let's not forget, macaroni and cheese. You see, if this is the meal that is going to count why not eat the good stuff up front? Who needs grains and oatmeal, or cereal? All of that stuff can be snacked on throughout the day. 

I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So I decided to compile some of my favorite breakfast recipes for all of you to drool over. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Enjoy! 

Vegetable Pasta with Pepper Jack Cheese

Happy Monday Foodies! I cannot believe it is Monday already. This weekend was pretty low key; Nick and I shopped around for furniture and other miscellaneous new house items. I love this part of the process and am having a good time trying to find awesome pieces for our new house!

Unfortunately, however, we were not able to go up to the house. The contractor told us that nothing new had changed from the previous week. I look forward to going to the house every weekend so one absent of that adventure makes me somewhat sad. Fear not, kind folks, I will be going up this weekend for sure. In fact, this is a big weekend because most everything will be finished AND we should be able to pick out our furniture. I’m so excited!

I know I have not been posting regularly, like I used to. Much of that can be attributed to being busy with the house and our business. I apologize for my sporadic presence lately. I hope to post regularly toward the end of the year or by January. Don’t worry though; I will definitely have recipes, just not every day! I apologize.

Speaking of recipes I do have a fantastic one for today. It’s light, yet hearty, packed full of great flavors AND super healthy!   Take a look at this Vegetable Pasta and Pepper Jack Cheese!

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 8
Serving Size: 1 ½ cup
Calories: 170.6
Fat: 5 g
Carbohydrates: 22.8 g
Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 7.6 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked
  • 1 bag green beans, cooked
  • 1 bag peas, cooked
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, juice drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded

Directions:

  • Turn on the broiler to high
  • Cook pasta according to boxed directions, drain and return back to the pasta pot
  • Microwave the diced tomatoes on high for about 45 seconds
  • Combine the cooked vegetables, tomatoes and pasta together in pasta bowl
  • Add the garlic salt, red pepper flakes, and 3 ounces pepper jack cheese. Incorporate all of the ingredients together
  • Fill oven proof dishes with the pasta {I used my beloved crocks} and sprinkle with the remaining cheese
  • Broil the crocks in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and browned
  • Remove and ENJOY!

This recipe is super easy to make, obviously. Plus it is packed full of tons of vegetables and spicy flavors. It was a huge hit with Nick; but he LOVES vegetables. I don’t have a particular affinity for vegetables.

If you need something easy and delicious as a side dish make this!

xoxo Mel 

Creamy Pasta w/ Spicy Italian Sausage

I thought about honoring hump day with a Wordless Wednesday post. As I began editing the pictures and internally smiling about how much I loved the recipe and couldn’t wait to share it with you all, it suddenly hit me. How could this be a wordless Wednesday post when I wanted to slap the recipe {filled with words and explanations} onto the pictures.

What a big let down.

So instead of a wordless post now you have all of these random thoughts about a post that slipped through my fingers and should be more of an afterthought than it is.

Some of you may already know this, but some of you may not: we are building a house. We started the process at the beginning of the year and now it is in its final stages. This is the best part by far {at least for me!} I love seeing everything come together. However, with building a house comes a bunch of other responsibilities, namely packing, thinking about packing, hiring people to move us, buying fun things and not so fun things and making sure our business continues smoothly.

My head spins every day because I don’t want to fail any of you and I definitely don’t want to fail our clients. Oh, and then there is the small issue of two doggies that demand attention every single minute of the day. Not even when they are asleep can they attention to be diverted from them.

They make my life so much better. Secretly, all I want to do is play with them all day long. If their love and loyalty could pay the mortgage and bills I would stop everything and become a professional player-with-the-doggies. That’s not going to happen so I must continue along. 

While I may be making a lot of the same things lately, I do have room to squeeze in new recipes. This one has quickly become our favorite and has earned its way to the permanent rotation. Take a look at this delicious {one pot} Creamy Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage.

Nutritional Value
Servings: about 8
Calories: 354.2
Fat: 19.5 g
Carbohydrates: 25.3 g
Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 18.3 g
Points+: 9

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted From Kevin & Amanda

  • 1 pound Spicy Italian Sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 {14.5 oz} cans diced tomatoes {drain the tomato juice from 1 of the cans}
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup whole milk
  • 8 to 10 ounce pasta
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon pepper
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack Cheese

Directions:

  • Spray a large oven safe skillet with cooking spray
  • Heat the skillet over medium high heat
  • Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove and slice into small ¼ inch rounds
  • Return the sausage to the skillet and continue to cook for another 4 to 6 minutes
  • When the sausage is sufficiently browned, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes
  • Add the broth, tomatoes, green chilies, milk, pasta, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Bring to a boil, cover skillet and reduce heat to medium – low
  • Simmer until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in ½ cup cheese then top with remaining cheese.
  • Broil until cheese is melted and bubble 

 

 

 

This recipe is incredible! Really, Nick and I totally love it. It’s super simple to make AND it is created in ONLY ONE dish! Hello? Clean up is a cinch. You can change the pasta, the types of cheese you use or even the flavors in the dish to mix it up a bit. I cannot help getting excited about this recipe.

Give it a try! Seriously!

xoxo Mel 

Spicy Sausage Juno

I’ve been trying to start this blog post for more than an hour and I cannot seem to get motivated to find the words. There is no reason why I should be without words, but for some reason I am speechless.

I decided I would just begin writing with the expectation of some divine intervention where the words would spill onto the page. That didn’t work. I started to write about things irrelevant to this portion of the website.

Then I took a break to yell at Sophie who keeps sucking and licking portions of the carpet; or more recently just tried to lick an active surge protector. Really?! I’ve given her rawhides, ice cubes, and various other toys to chew on and she wants to eat the carpet and lick on surge protectors? I hope she grows out of this.

Did I tell you guys I tried to cut her bangs? Rewind. I should probably tell you this little monster is afraid of almost everything: the peanut butter jar, the immobile vacuum cleaner, the tape gun, blow dryer, etc. She’s afraid of everything, but those things I think she should be afraid of like the oven or the dishwasher. She wants to jump into those things because curiosity takes hold and she cannot stay away. Well, she is officially afraid of scissors. I attempted to cut her bangs and now she looks like a hot mess. I feel horrible, yet it fits her personality. Well, that is what Nick says. That could have been his way of making me feel better.

Anyway, I haven’t been cooking that much lately. Well, I’ve been cooking easy things or recipes I’ve already prepared before. However, this week has been different. I have been cooking up a storm and one of the recipes I worked on is this Spicy Sausage Juno recipe.

Nick is the first person to have introduced me to Juno’s. If you don’t know what a Juno is it is simply a mixture of diced potatoes, cheese, breakfast meat, eggs and various spices {of your choice}. The best thing about making this recipe is it is super easy and super delicious. Check it out!

Nutritional Information
Servings: 6
Calories: 343.8
Fat: 20.3 g
Carbohydrates: 18.6 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 21 g
Points+: 9

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Spicy Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced into rounds
  • 3 to 4 white potatoes, diced
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Fill a medium saucepan with water, add a dash of salt and bring to a boil over high heat
  • Add the potatoes and boil under the potatoes are fork tender, drain and set aside
  • Coat a large skillet with cooking spray
  • Over medium  - high heat add the sausage slices and diced potatoes to the skillet and allow to cook for about 3 minutes.
  • While the cooked sausage and potatoes are in the skillet, add the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk until the eggs are light and fluffy
  • Reduce the heat to medium
  • Add the eggs and the cheese to the skillet and allow the eggs to set for about a minute or two
  • Using a spatula begin to flip the ingredients around like you were making scrambled eggs {which is essentially what you’re trying to do… scramble the eggs while coating all of the sausage and potatoes with the cheese and eggs}
  • When the eggs are completely cooked remove and enjoy! 

I love Juno’s because I love potatoes, cheese, eggs and spicy sausage. I mean, who doesn’t love those ingredients? I have been thinking about making them again this week with bacon. I am salivating sitting here thinking about this meal!

I hope you give it a try!

xoxo Mel 

Cheesy Breaded Chicken Breasts

My mind is racing 100 miles per minute over everything but this website lately and I apologize. Usually when I am stressed out I eat, but I’m desperately trying to lose a couple of pounds so instead I’ve been shopping for clothes. I am an addict when it comes to shopping, yet I have done my best the last two years to quell that urge. That streak all fell apart last weekend and now I cannot stop myself. I have baskets, yes BASKETS, full of clothes in several online retailers websites. I feel guilty for buying anything else, so I just stare at them periodically throughout the day.

Being stressed means that I somehow squander away hours of the day without even knowing it on things I cannot even remember dedicating time to. I have a serious problem. Life may be better when we close on this house, but I am not holding my breath.

Sometimes I think life will be better tomorrow, but I have to remember my life is today and tomorrow is not promised. I know the grass is not greener on the other side; and, honestly, when I start thinking that way it only makes my stress level rise. Anyway, usually when I get stressed I eat. I told you all that, right? I tend to gravitate toward unhealthy things, which doesn’t help me in life at all. The foods I choose tend to be macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, pizza; anything with cheese, starch, and carbs really does the trick. Well, I attempted to make my choice slightly healthier than usual. Take a look at these Cheesy Breaded Chicken Breasts.

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 6
Serving Size: 1 chicken
Calories: 212.7
Fat: 6.5 g
Carbohydrates: 13 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 25.1 g
Points+: 5

Ingredients:

  • Oil
  • 2 or 3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 serving {1.1 ounces} cheddar goldfish crackers, crumbled
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2  eggs, whisked
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup Bisquick 

Directions: 

  • Cut the chicken in half and pound it to ¼ inch thick
  • Take three bowls: in one place the Bisquick, in another the whisked eggs with salt & pepper, and in the third the crushed goldfish crackers and parmesan cheese
  • Dredge the chicken, first cover in the bisquick, then the eggs and finally in the goldfish crackers
  • In a large frying pan, add oil and heat over medium heat
  • Add half of the chicken and fry until golden on the outside {and the chicken is completely cooked}
  • Remove and repeat with the remaining chicken

Enjoy! 

Super Sized Breakfast Panini's

Tuesday, September 11, 2012.

It was eleven years ago on this very day that I was a college freshman getting ready to attend my very first college function. I was a naïve kid that knew nothing of the world. I had been sheltered and guarded from almost everything known to man, including the ways of the world.

I remember I was running around on my dorm floor trying to figure out what my new friends were going to wear to this required event for college freshman. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning, not unlike today. And then it happened: our country was attacked with a brutal intensity; an intensity that I had not yet known as a young adult. That day, forever, will remain seared into my brain… into everybody’s brain.

Each year on this date it is like a vacuum sucks me back to the infancy of 9/11/01. I remember the moments unfolding, my new friends huddled around my small dorm room television, my friend writing quotes in her journal, my RA asking us to give blood and the college requiring all of us to remain on campus.

You see in the infancy of the attacks there was a hijacked plane over rural Pennsylvania. I was going to school in a small western Pennsylvania town. And there was a plane unaccounted for and somewhere in proximity close enough to my school that it could have become an issue. We were safe. We now know that a group of brave people retook that plane to save people in this country. That plane went down in Somerset just an hour from my school. In those moments of uncertainty all we were required to do was stay put and safe.

My life was forever altered that day. I was a naïve college student that knew nothing of the world. I was foolish. I was youthful and inexperienced. In the years since 9/11 I have traveled to Europe, Africa and Asia. I furthered my education. I lost touch with those girls that I once sat around my freshman dorm watching events unfold. I have lost 175 pounds. I have met the love of my life, a soldier. He is my hero. His buddies continue to be in the trenches of our mission to protect the USA and her allies. I fell in love with two Yorkshire Terriers. I learned how to cook and started a blog. I have started a business. I have started building a house. Many things have changed in the last 11 years, yet on this day every year I feel like my 18-year-old self, grasping for explanation, frenzied in disbelief and appalled for reasons beyond my comprehension. I see the towers hit and fall. Each year I relive {we all do} the same moments we once lived more than a decade ago.

This day will always be the same to me. It will always feel the same. I will always be a naïve college freshman listening to the banter of others better educated than myself analyze and discuss the horrors of this attack. I will forever feel like a sponge to the knowledge that exists to be better and know more.

In the years that have passed so much has changed for me. I mean, I’m sitting here writing a blog post for hundreds and thousands of potential people to read. Never could I have imagined I would have a large audience of people to communicate with. I have a very easy and delicious recipe for you today. I happen to love bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. So I decided to take it up a notch. Be prepared, because this is a HUGE breakfast sandwich you may not be able to eat the entire thing. {Sadly, I could not}.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 1 or 2
Calories: 483.25
Fat: 17 g
Carbohydrates: 47.6 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 7 g
Points+: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked crispy
  • 2 tablespoon skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1 Torta Sandwich Roll

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper until light and fluffy
  • In a medium skillet, over medium heat, cook the egg like you would cook an omelet. Remove.
  • Heat your George Foreman grill. Spray it with cooking spray.
  • Now, cut your sandwich roll in half. Add the bacon to the bottom of roll. Add the egg. Then top with the cheese of your choice {I used extra, extra, sharp aged cheddar cheese. Of course!}
  • Grill your sandwich on the George Foreman until the cheese is fully melted and the sandwich has nice little grilled marks on the bun.

Eat and enjoy! I loved this sandwich, but I was only able to eat ½ of it. I was so sad because I love bacon, egg, cheese and the ROLLS! Oh, the rolls are heavenly. If you have a huge appetite, this is the breakfast sandwich for you.

xoxo Mel

Jalapeño Popper Macaroni & Cheese

I have serious addictions in life. One of them is to McDonald’s breakfast. I went off of it, cold turkey, last year. However, a couple of months ago I decided to split a breakfast value meal with Nick and I’ve had McDonald’s on the mind. Today I woke up and could not talk myself down from the ledge and caved.

Yep, I went to McDonald’s for breakfast. As I always do, I feel incredibly guilty. I never feel good about myself after I eat something that isn’t exactly healthy for you. I’ll regret it for the next 48 hours.

I’m slightly crazy.

Anyway.

Other than that particular addiction, it is no secret that I have a particular affinity for macaroni and cheese and all things jalapeno popper. It was only a matter of time before I decided to pair the two together.

Take a look at this deliciously cheesy and spicy Jalapeno Popper Macaroni & Cheese!

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 20
Serving Size: about ½ cup
Calories: 241.7
Fat: 12.8 g
Carbohydrates: 20.8 g
Fiber: .9 g
Protein: 12.6 g
Points+: 7

Ingredients:

13 ounces Cheddar cheese, cubed

6 ounces American cheese, cubed

6 ounces Cream Cheese, softened

1 can Cheddar Soup

2 cups half and half

1 box pasta {you pick your style}

4 pieces bacon, extra crispy

2 jalapenos, small dice {remove the seeds if you want lessen the spicy blow}

Salt

Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions. Drain and set aside.

In another stockpot, add the cheddar cheese soup, half and half and pepper

Over medium heat, incorporate the two until the soup is fully melted

Add all of the cheese and whisk until the cheese is fully melted

Taste and adjust seasoning according to your pallet {you can add some salt now if you want to, but the cheese should have enough sodium}

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and incorporate fully

Add the diced jalapenos, red pepper flakes and bacon

Incorporate all of the ingredients and serve it up!

This serves as a meal on its own… even for Nick. If you want to pair something with it maybe you could add a side salad? However, if you decide to cut this recipe in half {because you’re not as crazy as I am about having tons of macaroni and cheese} this would be a perfect side dish with some chicken or steak and vegetables!! It can add to a balanced meal… if you’re not like me, that is!

Enjoy!

xoxo Mel