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!

 

 

 

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!}

 

 

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!!

 

S'more Pretzel Bites

Who doesn’t love a good snack? I, for one, cannot say no to a delicious looking bite-sized morsel of goodness. However, I am not one to choose the sweets over the savory most times. I would rather have cheese, bologna and crackers instead of candy. However, every so often having a sweet snack is something I crave. That’s what happened last week. I had a great idea to make S’mores! Who doesn’t love a puffed up marshmallow with melting chocolate sandwiched between two salty pretzels? However, it’s chilly outside and we don’t have a grill yet or a fire pit to roast any mallows. Of course, that was no deterrent for a determined gal like myself. I remembered a few weeks back Nick and I toasted some marshmallows over the comfort of our fantastic gas stove! He is a great roaster of marshmallows. I am being completely serious; he made the best-roasted marshmallow I had ever had in my life. It was a bit seared on the outside but perfectly ooey and gooey on the inside. Heavenly. Seriously.

However, giving my craving some serious thought I thought maybe it was not so safe to try to toast a S’more sandwich over an opened flame in my kitchen. Come on, burning some grass or outside stuff seemed more acceptable than the possibility of burning down the house, or, maybe even worse, causing damage to our beautiful appliance. So I decided to use the microwave. Yes, I hear you gasping. She used a microwave? Yes, yes. Calm down. Take an aspirin.
They turned out great. Take a look.

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 52
Serving Size: 1 S’more Bite
Calories: 38.9
Fat: 1.1 g
Carbohydrates: 6.9 g
Fiber: .2 g
Protein: .5 g
Points+: 1

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Love from the Oven

  • Pretzels
  • 5 Chocolate Bars {I used Hershey Bars}
  • Marshmallows {You can use either small or large, if you use large just split in thirds}

Directions:

  • Sit the marshmallow pieces on your pretzel; add some chocolate and then microwave for a few seconds, until the marshmallow begins to rise
  • Pull them out; add the second pretzel and let set. I put mine in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  • I stopped at this point, but you could easily submerge these little guys in melted chocolate. I tried with one of the pretzel bites but it was just too sweet for me. I know there are plenty of you out there who can handle the extra chocolate. So go ahead and cover them with melted chocolate.

Enjoy!! xoxo Mel

Strawberry Shortcake Bites

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope your day is filled with love and laughter. This day is not limited to the romantic type of love, either; cram your heart with love from your family and friends today, too! Because I know many of you will be super busy today trying to make it special for the loves of your life, I have a quick and simple recipe for a fun dessert tonight.

 

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Nutritional Value
Servings: 50
Serving Size: 1 strawberry shortcake
Calories: 20
Fat: .1 g
Carbohydrates: 4.2 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: .3 g
Points+: 1

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Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted from Weight Watchers 

  • Angel Food Cake {I used a boxed kind}
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla chocolate, melted
  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Toothpicks 

Directions:

  • Bake the cake according to the boxed directions
  • Cut the cake in half, you will only need half of the cake for this recipe
  • Alternately, thread strawberries and shortcake quarters into each of the skewers/toothpicks
  • Melt the vanilla chocolate over low heat and drizzle chocolate over shortcake bites

 

Enjoy! 

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.

 

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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

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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!! 

 

Valentine's Day Buttons

It seems like this year is already getting by me. I thought life would slow down a bit after we settled on the house, but I was surely wrong. It seems like we’re always on the go and something or another is popping up and demanding our attention.

Owning a home was something to which we aspired, even though so many people told us how demanding it could become. Never once did I believe that the house would be as arduous as people say.

It is. We have had contractors in here almost every week since we moved in because of one thing or another. It is well worth it, but also very stressful. I am thankful we built a house in a community and with a company that has a reputation of being best in its industry and is more than willing to manage some minor problems with the house. Be aware building a new house is awesome, but it comes with thrilling little surprises!

Besides the house sucking time away from us, we got word that Nick is deploying to Afghanistan. Now time seems of the essence. I suspect everything is flying past us because we have so many loose ends to tie up in a very short period of time. Thinking about the details of him leaving me again leaves me breathing heavily and on the ledge of tears. Instead I think I’ll just eat more.

What else is happening in life? Oh yes, it’s Valentine’s Day week. Hello?! Is this thing on?? Valentine’s day is fast upon us. Let’s talk diamond rings, tennis bracelets, and other expensive jewelry all of you handsome gentlemen should be scouring for at the stores. Or, maybe, because this is primarily a food blog, we should talk about a fun little treat you could make to snack on throughout Valentine’s Day! I think we have a winner! I found these on Pinterest, a love affair that will likely be around for a while. Take a look at these Valentine’s Day Pretzel Buttons! 

 

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 65
Serving Size: 2 buttons
Calories: 63.1
Fat: 3 g
Carbohydrates: 8.3 g
Fiber: .1 g
Protein: .9 g
Points+: 2

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Ingredients:

Recipe inspired by g*rated

  • Square Pretzels
  • Hershey’s Hugs
  • Valentine’s M&M’s 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Place the pretzels on the paper and top each of them with a hug
  • Bake for about 4 minutes until the chocolate is shiny and soft, but not melting. They should still hold their shape
  • Carefully place an M&M in the center of each hug and press down to spread the chocolate
  • Place in the refrigerator to allow them to harden.

Enjoy! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I hope not. It is so hard to believe we are already more than a week into an entirely new chapter. Last year served as an incredibly transitional year for Nick and I. Nick was promoted. We added a new fur baby to our lives. We built a brand new house; our first house. We grew as a couple, we laughed, I cried, and we argued like any two people who love each other do. It was an incredible whirlwind. We slid into the end of the year pretty smoothly – we moved into our house the week of Thanksgiving and took us to the New Year to get acquainted with everything. 

We are still not completely moved in. We still have “stuff” at hour parents house. We have a long way to go with decorating this place – we need furniture, a formal dining room set, a kitchenette table w/ chairs, formal living room furniture, televisions, curtains, and so on. We may be old by the time we get this place in complete working order, but it will be another adventure.

We love adventure. And as long as I’m building a life with Nick, nothing else really matters.

The New Year also brought sufficient pain, which is why it has taken me so long to get back into the blogging world. When everybody else was celebrating the coming of a new year, I was in excruciating pain. I was plagued by kidney stones; still am, kind of. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m trying to pass a huge stone and it’s not fun. 

So I’m starting off slow with this recipe. Starting off slow does not mean I’m holding back on the taste.

Nope. 

This recipe is packed full. Take a look at these fantastically delicious Peanut Butter Chocolate Muffins! I happen to love this kind of combination of flavors. The best cookies I’ve ever known {besides my moms chocolate chip cookies} are peanut butter chocolate cookies. I used to long for grocery shopping on Sunday because I would wander over to the bakery and beg my mom for the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips! 

::Love::

Servings: 20
Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Calories: 232.8
Fat: 16.5 g
Carbohydrates: 22.5 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Points+: 7

Ingredients:

Recipes Adapted from Pass the Sushi

  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter Chips, reserve about ¼ cup for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar and ¾ cup of the peanut butter chips together in a large dish
  • Mix together the milk, oil, egg,  and vanilla extract
  • Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together
  • Spoon the batter into greased muffins tins
  • Sprinkle each with a few peanut butter chips
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are springy and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

(My oven cooked these pretty quickly; keep your eye on them!}

 

Remove & Enjoy!

xoxo Mel 

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 

Peanut Chew Brownie Bites

I think chocolate is a perfect friend to Monday. There is something about coming off a weekend high and diving into a Ghirardelli brownie on Monday morning. Don’t you agree? Well today I took a regular brownie to another level. I added pieces of peanut chews. I love peanut chews. My mom used to give them to me as a child; they were my favorite treat for a long time. I figured the crunchy, caramel flavor of the peanut chews would be a nice addition to brownies.

And, I was correct!

Take a look at these delicious Peanut Chews Brownie Bites!

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 48
Serving Size: 1 Brownie Bite
Calories: 75.3
Fat: 3.3 g
Carbohydrates: 10.5 g
Fiber: .4 g
Protein: .6 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 package Ghirardelli brownie mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 package peanut chews

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, egg, oil and water. Mix together until the mixture is completely incorporated and smooth looking
  • Break the peanut chews up into pieces
  • Add the peanut chews to the brownie mixture
  • Pour into mini cupcake tins
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • Remove. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

These little guys are so easy to eat so beware!!

xoxo Mel

Bite Sized Hot Chocolate Brownies

A very happy Monday to all of you foodies! I am sitting in sweats and a t-shirt on a beautiful fall day, so I cannot complain. This just happens to be the beginning of my favorite time of year. I like the changing of the seasons, particularly from summer to fall. There is such great things attached to this time of year: frosty mornings, changing leaves, hot drinks with whipped cream, sweaters and jeans, a/c off and windows up, and crisp fall evenings.

However, while the fall makes me happy, the best thing about fall is the ever-present winter. I love winter. I love the possibility of lots of snow – I am in love with snow.  I always have been. I will press my nose against the window and wait for the flakes to fall. Seeing snowflakes descend from the heavens has always made me warm and excited inside. The last couple winters have been mild ones for me, so I am anxiously awaiting a cold fall and wicked winter. Many people may be appalled by my wish, but I am sick of the heat. I have spent the last few years living through intense summer heat and incredibly mild winters. I have been patient enough. Mother Nature if you can hear this: I want COLD days and a WICKED winter – snowmageddon of 2012-2013 is the kind of winter I want!

Now I know I must have lost plenty of you with my last statement, but I am prepared to win you back. Monday’s are notoriously bad days; while I think Monday’s get a bad wrap most weeks I have not escaped the wrath of the first day of the work week. I know how bad it can be. So I have a recipe packed full of chocolate. Knock, knock, knock I said CHOCOLATE!

Oh whew, you’re still there! Take a look at these delicious Hot Chocolate Brownies. I promise these little bite sized pieces of goodness will make any week great!

Nutritional Information:

Servings: 33
Serving Size: 2 Brownie Bites
Calories: 99.1
Fat: 3.9 g
Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.3 g
Points+: 3

Ingredients:

 Recipe Adapted From Meet Me in the Kitchen

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cups miniature chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons Nesquick
  • Powdered Sugar {optional}

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside
  • In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and Nesquick
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar and eggs
  • Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips until combined, leaving a few to sprinkle on top
  • Pour batter into baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips
  • Baked about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • Sift powdered sugar over the entire batch, if you so desire. {I desired!}

I cut these into small bite sized pieces because they were super rich in flavor. I knew it would be a problem if I left them in my house, so I sent them to work with Nick. I figure I get the contact high from making them, testing the batter, and enjoying one or two then I can send the rest away into oblivion for somebody else. I don’t need all of those calories!

I hope you give these 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 

 

Mini Taco Bites

I cannot believe it is already Tuesday and the third week of August. Holy crap. Where does the time go? I know time flew by this weekend because my bestie, Scott, was visiting. We spent most of Saturday at our new property. I love going up there because it is a constant reminder of how much I will love living there. Because our community offers so much in the way of activities and amenities we thought it would be a great adventure to take Scott up to explore a little bit. Also, it doesn’t hurt that we have two professionally designed and signature golf courses. So we decided to hit a round of 18. After 18 holes we sat down and stuffed our faces at our country club for dinner. Seriously, we ordered almost everything on the menu. It was nice to catch up over dinner. It doesn’t hurt that we can check up on the construction of our house. I think we will go up again to play some golf this weekend, too.

I cannot wait to get out of Fredericksburg and this apartment complex. It is such an incestuous building that we are living in that it feels like the walls are closing in on me the moment we drive through the gate to come home. It does not help the cause that we live in close proximity to some of the most intolerable people that have graced my life in quite some time. I mean, the husband smokes like a chimney, doesn’t appear to appreciate personal hygiene and may be dumber than a pile of bricks {he attempted to make an argument that unions were not protected by the constitution}. At that moment, almost a year ago, I wrote him off. I cannot talk to somebody who has the potential to spew ignorance and believe in it.

Yes, I have a low threshold for stupid. But, can you blame me? He cannot take a breath without spewing his liberal banter {not that I mind liberal banter… I tolerate it as much as I stomach conservative banter} and puffing on a cigarette. He’s giving everybody around him lung cancer. Oh and each time I see him I have a hard time not breaking out in hysterical laughter. That piece of the puzzle inhibits most conversation.

I crack myself up.

I’m sitting in my office and I’m making myself giggle at the thought of this entire soliloquy.

Anyway, I didn’t cook much of anything this weekend. That was not my plan, actually. But I have to roll with the punches. However, I do have a fantastic appetizer recipe for you. Well, I guess I am a little biased. I love tacos. I love crescent rolls. Because of this love I decided to marry the two together. How about some Mini Taco Bites? They are delicious. Take a look!

Nutritional Information
Servings: 15
Serving Size: 1 Taco Ball
Calories: 82.8
Fat: 5 g
Carbohydrates: 6.8 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 3 g
Points+: 2

Ingredients:

¼ pound ground beef, 90% lean

2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

1 container crescent rolls

¼ to ½ bottle taco sauce {hot}

Cumin

Cayenne Pepper

Paprika

Pepper

Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cook the beef, drain and return to the skillet

Add ¼ cup water, taco sauce, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper to the ground beef

Mix thoroughly and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens up

While you wait for the mixture to thicken up, roll out the crescent rolls. Do your best to real seal the perforated edges of the crescents {instead of crescent triangles we you want a pizza – like rectangle}

Now cut the rectangle into 15 squares {slice lengthwise into thirds and then widthwise into 5 sections}

Fill each square with ½ tablespoon of the taco meat mixture and sprinkle with a bit of cheese

Seal completely

Place each crescent ball on a pre-greased baking sheet

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown

Enjoy!

They are super easy to eat, so be careful!! You could also dip it in some extra salsa or something. I didn’t have time for semantics; I just started popping them in my mouth. But we all know I have a slight self-control issue.

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

Broccoli Cheese Bites

Yesterday a dog in our community was bitten by a water moccasin. Let’s talk about being terrified. I checked up on the status of the dog this morning and she is doing well; thank God! I would have been mortified if something like that happened to Pippy or Sophie.

I love my little fur babies, even though Sophie has been barking all morning. I really mean that, she has been barking the ENTIRE morning. She is essentially trying to get Pippy to play with her. She’s so adorable, yet widely annoying at times. I love them both. The best part about the entire situation is that Pippy is in old man mode and could care less about this little fur ball. He’s going to wallop on her in a minute. Then she’ll go back to barking at her toys instead. She usually barks for two reasons: she wants to play desperately or she is terrified.

Last night I had to put her in Pippy’s crate while I was cooking dinner because she kept getting under my feet. Imagine a 3.5 pound pup chasing your toes while you’re handling hot food, raw food, and everything in between. I seriously think she would jump in the oven if she had the chance. Anyway, I put her in Pippy’s crate and she got lost in the blankets.

Yep, you read that correctly.

She got lost in his blankets. Terrified she began growling, crying and barking to find her way home. The worst part about it was that I could not save her because of the food I was handling. I mean, these Broccoli Cheese Bites were just one thing I was handling…. Raw eggs? I couldn’t just pull her to safety. {She was not in danger… don’t think that!}

Now that I’ve written too much information about my pups, I might as well move along to these delicious Broccoli Cheese Bites. They are great!

Nutritional Information
Servings: 15
Serving Size: 1 bite
Calories: 128.6
Fat: 8.5 g
Carbohydrates: 6.6 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 8.9 g
Points+: 4

Ingredients:

Recipe Adapted From Stacey Snacks

16 ounces chopped broccoli, thawed and drained of liquid

1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl

With your hands, form small patties and lay on a slightly greased baking sheet {I made larger palm-sized bites|

Bake for 25 minutes, turn the patties after the first 15 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

I seriously made these larger than I think I should have, but they were a perfect size for my Panda Bear. You can easily double the amount this recipe makes by making smaller broccoli bites.

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

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