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! 

 

 

Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Frittata

Breakfast and brunch around here are a big deal, especially on the weekends. During the week Nick usually scoots out the door with a mug of coffee and a lunchbox full of leftovers, but Saturday and Sunday are a different story. Usually Nick waits until mid morning to tell me he is hungry, which is usually his way of suggesting some sort of delicious brunch. Well, I usually don’t put up too much of a fight. He works hard all week and he happens to love breakfast. Sometimes I poke fun at him, but it is all in good humor.

Recently, we had some spinach to use up {we foolishly purchased two HUGE bags full of spinach and then ended up traveling around a bunch for a month.} We hate wasting food, so we did not want the spinach to spoil. Therefore, I knew it had to be put to good use for breakfast. Take a look.

 

Nutritional Information
Servings: 8
Serving Size: 1 piece
Calories: 94.8
Fat: 6.3 g
Carbohydrates: 1.5 g
Fiber: .18 g
Protein: 7.8 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from In the Kitchen with David, Comfort Foods that take you Home, p. 49

  • Vegetable Oil Spray
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 ½ spicy sausage links
  • 1 ounce sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Spray an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet with the vegetable oil spray
  • Heat the skillet over medium heat
  • While the skillet is heating up, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy
  • In a blender, add the tomatoes, basil, garlic, spicy sausage, salt and pepper and pulse until everything is small diced
  • Add the sausage and tomato mixture to the eggs and combine
  • Add the egg mixture to the skillet and cook without stirring until the eggs begin to set on the bottom, about 1 minute
  • Top with the spinach leaves
  • Carefully loosen the edges with a heat-proof spatula ad continue to cook for another 1 or 2 minutes
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the frittata is puffed and golden brown
  • Place a plate large enough to hold the frittata bottom side up on top of the skillet
  • With the plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert the frittata onto the late
  • Sprinkle with the Parmesan
  • Slice into thin wedges and serve
  • Enjoy!! 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!! 

 

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 

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 

 

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Gravy

Happy Friday foodilicious friends! I never thought I would be a dog person; my mom never let me have a dog. I had a cat growing up. Her name was Mitten and she was the cutest little kitty cat in the world. It was not until I was a senior in high school that she got sick and at that point my mom refused to get another animal, even though I thought we should have a fur baby around.

When I met Nick he had a Pippy. If you don’t know what a Pippy is, take a look. How could one not love a fluffy boy with a smile? Pippy was the first dog I ever loved. Now, I have a Sophie, too. I’ve never had a puppy before so there is a huge learning curve with this little four-legged fur baby. She’s kind of crazy.

Pippy

Wondering what the point is? I am wondering the same thing, too.

Oh yes.

I used to think dogs smelled bad. Sometimes I would gag. Now my both of my little fur babies are probably the dirtiest dogs on the block and I still pick them up and love them. I still kiss them and let them sleep next to me.

I’ve gone crazy.

Pets will do that to you, I suppose.

Sophie

Nick and I have decided to forgo children. We love our fur babies and believe they will be enough of a challenge for us. However, we also thought that having dogs would make life easier to manage; i.e. travel, outings, vacation, work, meetings, etc. While many of you parents will argue that raising children takes much more work than having pets I have to tell you everywhere we take them they have a bag.

Yep, they have a legit travel bag. It’s bigger than your traditional diaper bag. Having a second dog is a serious commitment.

Whew boy.

Let me not get started about how Sophie is under my feet all of the time, especially when I am in the kitchen. For instance, the other night I was making this fantastic breakfast for dinner meal. I was in a crazed state of haze running around the kitchen checking up on everything. One of the things I was making was this delicious Spicy Sausage Breakfast Gravy. I love biscuits and gravy. Who doesn’t?

Anyway, on top of it all I had to make sure I didn’t kill the pup. She is tiny and is always foraging around in the most inappropriate spaces. In fact, she tries to jump into the oven AND the dishwasher.

I’ve almost had a heart attack about 100 times.

Oy.

Anyway, take a look at this delicious creation! It’s the best creamy gravy ever!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 8 to 10
Serving Size: 1 biscuit and ½ cup gravy
Calories: 323. 2
Fat: 14.2 g
Carbohydrates: 34. 8 g
Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 11.6 g
Points+: 8

Ingredients:

1 to 1 ½ pound Spicy Italian Sausage Links

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups Fat Free Half and Half

1 container Flaky Biscuits {or homemade}

Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cook the biscuits according to directions

In a large skillet, lightly grease and preheat over medium – high heat

Add the sausage links and cook all the way through, about 10 minutes

Remove to a cutting board and set aside

Over medium heat, whisk the flour into the same skillet with the sausage grease. Whisk until the flour is completely incorporated and then slowly add the half and half. Whisking continuously over medium heat add the entire 2 cups of half and half

Bring the cream to a boil and reduce to medium – low heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes

In the meantime, cut the sausage links in half and add them to your blender

Blend until the links are chopped up into small pieces

Add the sausage pieces to the cream gravy, and then add the pepper and red pepper flakes

Allow to simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes

Pour about ½ cup over a biscuit and ENJOY!!!

I love this meal. Really, I LOVE it! It is hearty and packed full of such terrific flavor. Seriously, I could eat it once a week. I can only ever eat 1 biscuit with gravy at a time. It fills me up that quickly. I am really not complaining but the flavors in this gravy make my heart happy and I always want to eat more than I can fit into my stomach!

I hope you make it this weekend!!

xoxo Mel 

Bite Sized Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Happy, Happy Wednesday! Last night was breakfast for dinner in our house. I love breakfast for dinner because it’s easy and delicious. How can you go wrong with breakfast food? However, last night I got carried away for some reason and it was pretty stressful in the kitchen. It must have slipped my mind that I don’t cook for an army of people, it is just Nick and I. Needless to say, Nick has breakfast for the rest of the week.

One of my favorite things in the world is a fluffy pancake. It was not until I moved here that I was able to perfect pancake making. That is a fact. One day it just came to me and now my pancakes are out-of-this-world delicious. I decided to make a new version last night to switch things up a bit.

Oh. Em. Gee.

That’s all I have to say.

I may make pancakes again tonight just because they were that good. Take a look at these Bite Sized Apple Cinnamon Pancakes.

They are heaven on earth.

Nutritional Information
Servings: 7
Serving Size: 2 pancakes
Calories: 87.8
Fat: 1.9 g
Carbohydrates: 15.2 g
Fiber: .7 g
Protein: 2.7 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from The Chatty Mom

1 cup Bisquick

½ cup skim milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup applesauce

1 tablespoon Splenda

Directions:

Heat skillet/griddle to 375 degrees F

Mix the bisquick, milk, egg, cinnamon, applesauce and Splenda in a bowl until fully combined

Grease your skillet/griddle

Pour about ¼ cup of the mixture on your griddle to create a bite-sized pancake

Repeat until you use all of your mixture

Serve with some syrup & ice cold milk!

Honestly, one of the biggest reasons I love pancakes is so that I can drink ice cold milk. I am not a huge milk person, but I will drink a glass or two with warm pancakes. LOVE!

Enjoy!

xoxo Mel 

Mini Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins

Attention, attention my bestie is in transit and I’m super excited. I fear that I’m about to fail him in the fun department because I have absolutely nothing planned. Really, who would want to be my friend? I’m sure I can have Pippy and Sophie entertain Scott until Nick gets home! On top of it all, I have nothing planned for food. Hopefully that will work itself out by tomorrow morning, but that still leaves the slightly awkward issue of dinner tonight.

Oh well.

Today I have a fantastic kid friendly recipe. Take a look at these Mini Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins. I heart them tremendously.

Nutritional Information
Servings: 24
Serving Size: 1 Corn Dog Muffin
Calories: 85.8
Fat: 6.6 g
Carbohydrates: 4.8 g
Fiber: .2 g
Protein: 1.7 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup Splenda

1 egg

½ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup white cornmeal

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 all beef, cheese filled, hot dogs, cut into 1 inch bites

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine

Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add heavy cream and whisk to incorporate

In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt. Stir to combine. Whisk into wet ingredients in two batches

Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray, and spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup

Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup

Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool and enjoy!!

These little guys were so good. You could easily use boxed cornbread instead of making yours from scratch. Either way these little guys will be the hit of the meal!

xoxo Mel

Four Cheese & Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

I happen to love Macaroni & Cheese. I learned to love it at an early age because my mom used to make me some kick ass macaroni and cheese when I was growing up. I never imagined that I would be making the same macaroni and cheese years later, all on my own with my mom’s recipe. Even when I started making the macaroni with cheese I always thought I would have to call my mom to help me through the process.

Nope.

Now I just throw all of the ingredients together and voila I’ve got a delicious dish! I’ve been adding and adapting the recipe along the way to make it perfect for me {of course} and I think I finally did it.

Oh, yes, I have FINALLY DID IT. I think I make the most delicious, perfectly creamy and super cheesiest version of macaroni and cheese. I can die happily now…

Well, actually, I would like some time to make a few more pots of this macaroni and cheese first.

::Warning:: This is not the healthiest recipe I have ever made. However, take a look at this Four Cheese & Bacon Macaroni and Cheese. Try not to drool.

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 25
Serving Size: about ¾ cup
Calories: 260.2
Fat: 16.2 g
Carbohydrates: 16.8 g
Fiber: .8 g
Protein: 13.3 g
Points+: 7

Ingredients:

1 cup pepper jack cheese, cubed

2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed

1 cup white American cheese, cubed

½ cup fat free cream cheese, room temperature

1-cup skim milk

1-cup heavy cream

2 cans cheddar cheese soup

1-box pasta shells

4 slices bacon, cooked extra crispy

1-tablespoon pepper

1-tablespoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

Boil Pasta according to box, drain and set aside

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the 2 cans cheddar cheese soup, milk and heavy cream

Whisk together until the mixture is completely incorporated and beginning to bubble slightly

Add the pepper, red pepper flakes, the pepper jack, cheddar, American and cream cheeses to the mixture

Mix until the cheese has fully melted and the mixture is now a nice creamy and thick mixture

Now at this point you have 2 options: First you can pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a crock pot and allow to cook on low for 2 hours OR you can combine the cheese sauce and pasta together in a large stock pot.

Either way, add the crumbled bacon to the mixture right before you are ready to eat

ENJOY!

This makes a TON of pasta. Seriously, you could feed 15 people with this recipe so be prepared. I NEVER make just a little bit of macaroni and cheese so Nick and I have been eating it all week so far. It will likely last until Friday and I’m perfectly okay with that. If you want to cut the recipe in half, just reduce each of the ingredients by half. It’s that simple!

Enjoy!

xoxo Mel 

Summer Fruit, Feta & Candied Pecan Salad

So I just finished a bowl of macaroni & cheese and a cup of diet coke. I think it all equals out… I think. You will see the recipe for this macaroni & cheese later this week, be prepared. Arguably, I think it is the best mac ‘n’ cheese I have made to date. *Gasp*

It is that good.

I started writing a blog post earlier and was sidetracked. My alternate path led to this blog post on Because Life is Complicated Enough… go read it!

Anyway, after being a glutton with my macaroni & cheese I thought it important to talk about a really healthy salad for these warm summer days.
See, I’m giving you very, very healthy meals so you can save your calories this week. Believe me after I share this macaroni & cheese recipe you will start saving your calories just so you can eat as much as you want.

Really, it is THAT good.

Okay, okay. I won’t mention it again… at least not in this post. Let’s get down to my salad, which just came to me one day. Take a look at this Summer Fruit, Feta & Candied Pecan Salad.

Oh man, it’s so drool worthy.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: about 8
Serving Size: about 1 ½ cup
Calories: 95
Fat: 5.2 g
Carbohydrates: 9.5 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 3.8 g
Points+: 3

Ingredients:

18 candied pecans, chopped

2 bags of salad mix {choose your favorite}

½ cup feta, crumbled

¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 pear, chopped

1 peach, chopped

1 plum, chopped

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and ENJOY!

This recipe is super easy and perfect for any summer evening. It’s been very hot here lately and this comes together in minutes and doesn’t require any heat in the kitchen.
Enjoy!

xoxo Mel

Stuffed Feta & Spinach Sliders

Have you all heard about the Pennsylvania State University {PSU} scandal? I guess you would have had to be living under a rock since November to miss it. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania; I was born and raised there. State College {home to PSU} is right down the street from me. Many of my friends were and still are die-hard Penn Staters.

I never was.

I do not know why I chose to rebel against PSU. I grew up obsessed with Notre Dame. When I was in department stores I would make a beeline toward the Notre Dame apparel; I mean, who doesn’t like a warm college sweatshirt in the fall? I had to navigate all around the PSU gear.

Though I have never been a fan of Penn State I never harbored any resentment or hate for the school. And while I never was attached to the school I do have some serious opinions and analysis of this scandal that has unfolded for the past 6 or 7 months.

I will not express those opinions on this section of my website because I think it may garner a response that will be ugly. However, I will say this: we must remember that innocent children were harmed, assaulted and victimized at the hands of an adult. As a society it is our duty to protect and nurture children. Those actions {and inactions} that led directly to the abuse should be punished. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the lawful thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do.

If anybody can say otherwise needs a reality check.

Now football season is officially on the path to game-day. I mean the Steelers reported to camp this week, right? One of the best things about the fall is all of the delicious tailgates associated with football. I have a FANTASTIC recipe for your first tailgate… OR for your next cookout. Take a look at these Stuffed Feta & Spinach Sliders!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 8
Serving Size: 1 hamburger + 1 Slider Bun
Calories: 255
Fat: 10.1 g
Carbohydrates: 18.5 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 20.5 g
Points+: 6

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

½ cup feta

½ to 1 cup chopped spinach

1 teaspoon lemon juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make 16 small round beef patties

In a medium bowl mix together feta, spinach, lemon juice, salt and pepper

Take about half a tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the middle of 8 of the hamburger patties

Top each of the stuffed patties with the other patty

Seal the edges completely so the mixture is secure and will not ooze out while grilling

Grill until the beef is fully cooked and the cheese is nice and melted

Grill a hamburger slider bun, top with some extra spinach, tomato and mustard!

ENJOY!

I hope you give these a try. They are delicious!

xoxo Mel 

Spicy Grilled Corn Salad

For as long as I can remember I have been going to the county fair every summer. There is nothing like eating fun foods once or twice a year that are completely unavailable the remaining part of the year. I try to “be good” in the weeks prior so I don’t feel so much guilt when I eat fried vegetables, cactus taters smothered in cheese, pizza, Hawaiian ice, lemonade with more sugar than water, funnel cakes, cheesesteaks, gyros, meatball subs, and more. You name it I probably had some of it last week.

It was great visiting my mom and catching up with her. I think we may make another trip to visit her over a long weekend to go to Knoebals Grove. If you don’t know what Knoebal’s is, do yourself a favor and Google it!  That is another place I think I have gone every year since before I was born. I cannot imagine missing it this year!

I thought I might as well give you an explanation about my miniature hiatus last week.  I was stuffing myself with unhealthy foods and loving every minute of it!

Now it’s back to living semi-healthy. I’ve got the perfect dish to get Nick and I back in the swing of things. Take a look at this Spicy Grilled Corn Salad! It is delicious, spicy and has a perfect mixture of great flavors!

Nutritional Information
Servings: about 6
Serving Size: about ½ cup
Calories: 125.6
Fat: 8.7 g
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 5.2 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

Recipes Adapted from Simply Recipes

4 ears of corn, do not shuck

1 large red bell pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced

½ tablespoon ground cumin

½ cup feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Prepare your grill for high, direct heat

Oil the grill grates

Rub a little olive oil over the bell pepper

Place the corn {in their husks} and red bell pepper directly on the grill grates

Cover the grill.

Turn corn occasionally so that every part of the husk begins to blacken

Turn the red bell pepper occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it

This should take about 20 minutes

Let the corn cool down for a few minutes and pull back he husks

Stand the corn husks vertically, tip facing down, in a large shallow bowl

Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob

Once the bell pepper has cooled a bit, remove the outer peel

Cut open the pepper, remove the seeds and stem then chop the bell pepper into small pieces

Place grilled kernels, chopped bell pepper, cilantro, and Serrano pepper into a large bowl

Add the cumin, olive oil, lime juice and Feta cheese

Mix gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Serve and Enjoy!!

This salad was K-I-L-L-E-R! I loved the spiciness of the Serrano pepper with the sweetness of the corn and tartness of the lime juice. This is the perfect side dish. Hell, I ate so much of it that it became my dinner. I could not eat more than a bite of the burger you’re going to see tomorrow!

xoxoxo Mel 

Feta & Strawberry Balsamic Summer Salad

I don’t come from a big family; in fact, I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I am okay with it… now. Obviously as a kid I wanted a companion to play with or a brother to defend me, but I coped and realized having no siblings guaranteed my privacy, something that is incredibly important to me.

Text Redacted

I have decided for the sanity of my boyfriend to redact all of the paragraphs that once existed. Never did I believe my rants would create such drama, as I periodically have much to rant about. To ensure that the dynamic between Nick and his family does not change I have decided to delete much of my text. 

I knew I had to take my approach to cooking to another level… nothing extravagant, but just something that would make him happy. Nick LOVES salads, so I decided to make a fun summer salad last night for him. He LOVED it, which made me happy! Take a look at this Feta & Strawberry Balsamic Summer Salad! Yummo!

Nutritional Information:
Servings:  2
Calories: 159
Fat: 6.5 g
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Fiber: 0* g
Protein: 18.5 g
Points+: 4
*Fiber content for fruit/salad content not calculated

Ingredients:

1 bag salad mix

1 ½ cups strawberries, sliced

½ cup blueberries

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

3 ounces grilled chicken, sliced

2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

In a medium sized mixing bowl add the sliced strawberries and the balsamic vinaigrette.

In a large bowl, add the salad mix, strawberries covered in balsamic vinaigrette, blueberries. Mix together thoroughly

Top with the sliced grilled chicken and feta

Enjoy!!

This was so easy to make and such a great dinner on a warm summer’s eve. I hope it cheers you up like it cheered us up!!

xoxoxo Mel

Cucumber and Balsamic Tzatziki Salad

I have an unhealthy addiction to Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Pieces, particularly the cheddar cheese variety. It started with me picking up a bag here and there when we went on car trips {short or long, it didn’t matter because I took any excuse to buy a bag at Sheetz}. Now I just buy a bag at the store and “snack” on them whenever I look at the bag. I use the term snack on them loosely, a bag doesn’t usually last more than 48 hours in my presence.

I usually knock back a few handfuls with a fruity flavored slushy and believe the world is mine for the taking. I don’t usually realize what has happened until the drink and food are gone. By that point there is no hope for recovering.

It seems like I have quite a few addictions to unhealthy foods. #foodieproblems

Anyway, in an attempt to even out the unhealthy aspects of my life I decided to whip up a cool and delicious summer salad. Take a look at this Cucumber and Balsamic Tzatziki Salad. Oh yes, it’s green on top of green with a little creamy texture mixed in and it’s FABULOUS!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: Varied
Calories: 175
Fat: 9 g
Carbohydrates: 10.2 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 13.75 g

 Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, sliced thin

1 bag shredded lettuce

½ tablespoon pepper

½ tablespoon Splenda

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

¼ cup Tzatziki sauce

1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, small dice or shredded

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together. Top with additional pepper and ENJOY!

It’s super simple to make. Nick and I loved it. Well, Nick loved it more than I did. He happens to love salad and vegetables. I’m convinced he was a rabbit in another life. The night I made this I had already downed 4 slushes that day and I’m pretty sure I ate leftover 4 cheese mashed potatoes. Don’t judge me, I do enough of that for myself! Nevertheless, we really enjoyed this salad. It’s perfect for summertime!

xoxo Mel 

Gyro Pizza

Happy Tuesday! I’m running very, very behind this morning. I cannot believe it is almost 11:30 and I’ve accomplished next to nothing. It’s okay, beating myself up over it will lead to nothing good so I will push along like it was 5 AM; the time I actually got up this morning.

Yesterday I promised some terrific use of that Tzatziki sauce, do you remember? If not, go skim the blog post and check out the recipe. You’ll see what I’m talking about now! Well I come to you this morning with a fantastic recipe. FANTASTIC. If you’re not sitting down right now, you should definitely think about it.

I am about to knock your socks off.

Are

 You

Ready

?

Okay, take a look at this Gyro Pizza.

Oh yes, you read that correctly – GYRO PIZZA! You haven’t lived until you pack a thin crust of sweet pizza dough with all of the fixings of a gyro. I can die happy now.  I mean, look at that picture!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 15
Serving Size: 1 square
Calories: 75.6
Fat: 2.2 g
Carbohydrates: 9.8 g
Fiber: .3 g
Protein: 3.9 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

1 thin crust pizza dough {I used the Pillsbury brand}

3.5 ounces sliced lamb, seasoned according to your tastes

¼ cup tzatziki sauce

¼ cup crushed tomatoes, juices drained

1 tablespoon shredded cheese {optional. You could crumble some feta on there but we were completely out #epicGYROfail}

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Bake the pizza for about 6 minutes or until it is just beginning to turn a golden brown on the bottom and top

Layer your ingredients, beginning with the tzatziki sauce, lamb, tomatoes and cheese

Cook for an additional 6 minutes or until the dough is completely cooked through and is nicely golden brown

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with some additional pepper and add some lettuce

Enjoy!

This was such a fantastic pizza. Nick and I loved it. We love gyros, but never thought about adding some of our favorite flavors to a pizza on our own. It was weird that we had such an enlightened moment. We have ordered gyro pizzas before but never attempted to make our own. That ends now! Next time I’ll make my own dough, but hey for the first time this really worked out!

xoxo Mel