Friday, September 30, 2011

Penne Alla Vodka

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A few of my bridesmaids came over the other night to help me address, stamp, stuff and seal my save-the-dates. It was a very last minute decision since I had recently found out my shipment would be arriving that morning, and I wanted to get them in the mail as soon as possible. It was a Friday (and who really wants to be licking envelopes on a Friday night?), so I wanted to at least make them dinner and give them some wine as a thank you.  My first thought was to make this recipe and I'm so glad I did. It turned out delicious and they all really enjoyed it!

I love ordering Penne Alla Vodka at restaurants, so I was so glad that this sauce came out the way it did. It was amazing. The red pepper flakes infused in the vodka beforehand added a little heat, and the addition of cream really balanced out the flavors. I'm glad I stuck to my guns and added the prosciutto, because it was a pleasant surprise and added a lot of flavor. This is definitely in the running for my favorite Penne alla Vodka recipe of all time. Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!


  • 1 (12 oz.) box penne pasta
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (8 oz.) can of water
  • 1 cup light cream
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine vodka and red pepper flakes. Set aside for one hour (longer or less time depending on how spicy you want it).

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute prosciutto, garlic, parsley, basil, salt and pepper until prosciutto is evenly brown, about 3 minutes.

Pour in vodka mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in crushed tomatoes with 2 cans of tomato sauce and 1 (8 oz.) can of water.  Simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup light cream and cook two minutes.

Toss with cooked penne and serve. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Source: Adapted from All Recipes

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lemon Sorbet

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Sometimes I just need to make something. Anything. I consider cooking a hobby of mine, and when the mood strikes, I just need to get in the kitchen. This feeling can come at any time, but no matter when it is, I am always determined to make something. Anything. Even if it doesn't really involve cooking.

It struck me this past Sunday morning, when I was sitting around getting ready to go to lunch. I only had about 45 minutes to spare, but I needed to make something. I had the itch and it just would not go away. I even get a little grumpy if I'm in the mood to make something and I don't get the chance to. Ask Chris. It's not a pretty sight!

I flipped through my Betty Crocker cookbook and found a ton of recipes that I wanted to make. All of them took a lot of preparation and even more cooking time, but then I came across this Lemon Sorbet recipe. I know it's fall, and in fall you're technically not supposed to be making sorbet, but it was hot and humid outside so I figured I could let it slide. This took maybe ten minutes to make and turned out fantastic. If you love lemonade, you need to give this a try! I topped mine with frozen blueberries and it was the perfect accompaniment. Your kids will love it, too!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (12 oz.) can lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • Blueberries, fresh or frozen, optional
  • Lemon slices, optional

Combine the lemonade, water and honey in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture in to an 8-inch square glass pan. Put the pan in the freezer and allow to freeze for at least 4 hours. Stir the mixture every half hour or so to make sure you get the sorbet consistency you want.

Garnish with blueberries and lemon slices.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Asian Glazed Drumsticks

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Oh my word. These chicken drumsticks are to die for.

The glaze on these are incredible, and it's not even that hard to make! You basically just brown the chicken, simmer it in the sauce, and then reduce the sauce to make a glaze. How easy is that? And you'll be thankful because these are some of the tastiest chicken legs I've had in a long time. I even had to make them two times in a span of four days because Chris enjoyed them that much. I served them with rice, and the glaze drizzled over it was perfect. Broccoli would be really good with this, too. Hope you enjoy these as much as Chris and I did!


Printable Recipe

  • 8 medium chicken drumsticks, skin removed
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp. scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

In a heavy large saucepan, brown chicken on high for 3-4 minutes with a little spray oil.

Add water, hot sauce, balsamic, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger and cook on high until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.

Remove cover and bring heat to high, allowing sauce to reduce down, about 8-10 minutes, until it becomes a thick glaze, turning chicken occasionally. (Keep an eye on glaze, you don't want it to burn when it start becoming thick).

Transfer chicken to a platter and pour glaze on top. Top with chives and sesame seeds and serve.

Source: Adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kicked-Up Baked Mac and Cheese with Chicken

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The temperature has been slowly dropping in DC, so I figured it was finally safe to turn on the oven. I try to avoid doing that at all costs during the summer because normally the sequence of events goes something like this:

Turn on the oven.
Start to sweat.
Turn on the fan.
Put the food in the oven.
Start to sweat more.
Grunt while walking up two flights of stairs to put on shorts and a tank top.
Walk back down two flights of stairs.
Sweat some more.
Remove food from the oven.
Sweat one last time.
Turn off the oven.
Start to freeze from the AC.
Grunt while walking back up two flights of stairs for a pair of sweats.

Yes, I try to avoid this at all costs.

Besides finally being able to turn on the oven, there are a bunch of other things I love about fall. Boot weather, warm soups, apple picking, and comfort foods are just a few of them. But the one thing I absolutely hate is waking up and driving to work when it's still dark out. When is Daylight Savings again? I guess I don't really mind as long as I can have the brisk mornings and the nice, cool temperatures throughout the day. Nothing beats this time of year. Oh, plus it's football season. Go BLUE!!!

One of my favorite types of comfort food to make in the fall is macaroni and cheese. Making it from scratch is so delicious and a lot easier than you would think. This baked mac and cheese recipe doesn't even require much attention or diligence. Normally you would have to constantly stir the sauce over the burner while it thickens, but for this one, all you have to do is cook the macaroni, combine the wet ingredients, and then pour it all over the top. Simple! Plus I spruced it up by adding some chicken and diced jalapenos. Yum! Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 (12 oz.) box elbow macaroni
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. Lawry's seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 cups reduced-fat Cheddar and/or Mexican blend cheese, shredded (plus extra for top)
  • 1/4 cup jarred jalapeno slices, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. 

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Season with seasoned salt, paprika and cayenne pepper. Heat a medium skillet and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk two eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and cheese and stir well. Add chicken and chopped jalapenos and stir until blended.

Put cooked macaroni in the bottom of the sprayed casserole dish. Pour milk mixture evenly over top. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Sprinkle reserved cheese over top during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baked Apple Oatmeal

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It's an annual tradition for my family to go apple picking. All twelve of us. I love my family to death, but I'll be the first to admit that we're all a bit screwy. Not the kind of screwy like we need to be locked up in a mental hospital. But the kind of screwy like we found a random string in between two apple trees, so we all started clapping and singing and doing the Limbo. And it's a sight for sore eyes when you're watching a group ranging in age from 3-39 doing the Limbo. Not your average family. But boy, do we have fun.

We always manage to get pounds and pounds of apples when we go apple picking...often more than we know what to do with. This year I told myself I would try out a few new recipes other than the standard apple pie and apple bread. This baked apple oatmeal was the first one I tried, and I automatically ruled it a success. Since the weather is getting a little chilly, it's nice to wake up in the morning and have a warm bowl of oatmeal with crunchy apples. Enjoy!

Oh, and just for are some pictures of us doing the Limbo. We're not very talented:


Printable Recipe

  • 2 2/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 medium apples, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
  • Additional milk, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In 2-quart casserole, mix oats, raisins, 4 cups milk, the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt and apples.

Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed. Top with walnuts. Serve with additional milk.

Source: Betty Crocker

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fresh Corn Salad

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This past weekend, I went to the Farmer's Market for the first time all season. Shame on me, I know. They had a wide selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and herbs, and everything looked amazing. One of my favorite things that we bought was a delicious focaccia bread that was topped with tomatoes, spinach and onions. I'm definitely going to try to recreate that one of these days. I was also quick to purchase a selection of fruits and vegetables that filled up the fridge.

Last night I decided to use the fresh corn, tomatoes and basil I bought to create some sort of salad. I think fresh basil is one if the best smelling things and it always spruces up a dish, so I knew I wanted to incorporate it. I did a few Google searches to get an idea of what to dress the salad with, but decided on a basic dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. This salad was very refreshing and had great flavor! I think the basil really added a lot to it as well. Plus it was a great way to round up the end of summer. You could probably even use this as a dip/salsa if you wanted to. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 fresh ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Cut the kernels off of the cob. Toss in a large bowl with the bell pepper, tomato and shallot.

Drizzle the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper over top. Toss to combine. Add the chopped basil leaves just before serving.

Source: SK Original

Friday, September 16, 2011

Streusel Coffee Cake

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In the winter, I have oatmeal for breakfast.

In the summer, I have fruit and a granola bar.

On the weekends, I always treat myself to eggs and hash browns.

But on certain days...days when I feel like I've been extra good and deserve a little treat...those days, I have something sweet.  And this past week that something sweet was Streusel Coffee Cake.

This cake was delicious. I made it the night before and had it for breakfast the next day, and the cake was moist and the crumb topping added the perfect amount of sweetness. I highly recommend this for brunches or group gatherings. Everyone will thank you for it. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe



  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan and set aside.

Topping: In small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Cake: Sift 1 1/2 cups sifted flour with baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together beaten egg and 1/3 cup melted butter. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Pour batter in greased pan.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly on top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Source: My random recipe binder

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Impromptu Pasta Salad

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Ending off the summer and cleaning out the fridge = this pasta salad.

You really can't go wrong with a pasta dish in my house. And I mean any type of pasta dish. Hot, cold, sauce, dressing, vegetables,'s all accepted and loved just the same.

I'll be honest with you though...this pasta salad was my own little creation, but I kind of played off of a pasta salad that Chris is known for making. It's simple and basic, but oh-so delicious. I'll eventually get around to posting his on here, but in the meantime I'll leave you with my version. 

We both use Italian dressing (a staple for any pasta salad in my opinion), but I varied the ingredients based on what was stocked up in the fridge. My mom bought me a Costco-size jar of kalamata olives, so those went in. We also had a Costco-size bag of pepperoni. In they went. The feta was left over from this tortellini salad I made a couple weeks ago, and the rest are normal staples in the house. The dish was easy and delicious. Very satisfying for an "everything but the kitchen sink" type of pasta salad. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (16 oz.) box tri-colored pasta
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. pepperoni, sliced in half
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup fat-free Italian dressing, or more to taste

Cook pasta as directed on box.  Cut and prepare all other ingredients and set aside.

Once pasta is done, drain and run under cold water. Put pasta in a large bowl and combine with the olives, tomato, bell peppers and pepperoni. Pour Italian dressing over top and toss to combine. Sprinkle feta cheese over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: SK Original

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatball Sub

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Last week we were trapped inside due to looming hurricanes, torrential downpours and flooded streets. It seemed like the perfect time to make some pasta with homemade sauce and meatballs. The best comfort food.

The next few days, these meatballs subs were our go-to. They are a cinch to make and are a perfect comfort meal, especially with all this crazy weather we've been having. Not to mention football season is starting back up, and meatball subs are delicious to eat while enjoying the game.

All you have to do for these is heat up the sauce and meatballs, put them on some warm, crusty bread and stick them under the broiler with some cheese. You'll have yourself a comforting and delicious snack in no time. And you hardly have to move from your couch. Enjoy!

With cheese? Without cheese? With cheese!! Duh.


Make marinara sauce as directed, or use store-bought sauce. Add meatballs to the hot sauce and allow to heat through. 

Cut Italian bread in half. Top with meatballs and sauce. Place a slice of Provolone cheese over the top. 

Place under broiler on high and let heat until cheese beings to bubble, about 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Friday, September 9, 2011

Best (Frosted) Brownies Ever

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Diet, schmiet. Sometimes you just need something sweet! And my something sweet comes in the form of thick, chewy brownies with chocolate chips and coated in a decadent, rich chocolate frosting. So sue me!

I chose to add mini chocolate chips to the original recipe because I wanted them to turn out more sweet than bitter. It worked and also kept the brownies moist in the process. Some of the chips didn't melt all the way so there were little bits of chocolaty surprises mixed in the dough. Those are more than welcome to stay!

I seriously think these are the best brownies ever. They stayed very moist after baking, and I think one of the tricks is to make sure you do not overcook them. Make sure you bake them just until they begin to pull away from the edge of the pan and the middle is set. Not a minute longer, or else they'll turn into bricks. Stick to this and you'll have fail-proof brownies. Enjoy!





  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • Creamy Brownie Frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.

Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Add chocolate chips and combine well. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare Creamy Brownie Frosting; spread over brownies. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies.

Creamy Brownie Frosting

  • 3 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 tbsp. Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk
Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency. About 1 cup frosting.

Source: Adapted from Hershey's

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grilled BBQ Chicken Salad

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This used to be one of my favorite meals during college. I don't know about all of you, but the "freshman 15" definitely knocked on my door and came to stay during my college days. Considering the dining hall was directly across the hall from my dorm room and they constantly had self-serve ice cream...well, that didn't really help.

When I finally moved off of campus and could finally make my own meals, this was a salad that I would make often. All the ingredients are fresh and healthy, and there's really no need for extra dressing since the combination is so flavorful. I would sometimes drizzle some extra BBQ sauce over top of the salad, but that's all it needs. Delicious I tell you! And it really worked as part of my diet! Well that and spending every day in the gym. But it worked! Enjoy :)

Here's the grilled chicken prior to slicing.

Delicious salad! 

Printable Recipe
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • BBQ sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Corn, canned, heated through
  • Black beans
  • Roasted red peppers, sliced thin

Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill on one side. Flip to cook the other side and coat the cooked side with BBQ sauce. Once cooked through, flip the chicken to brown the BBQ sauce. Coat the other side with BBQ and flip to brown that side as well. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Spread extra BBQ sauce over top.

While chicken is resting, layer lettuce, corn, black beans and roasted red peppers. Slice chicken and lay on top. Drizzle with additional BBQ sauce.

Source: SK Original

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Happy Labor Day! Talk about good ol' southern BBQ sauce! I knew the Neely's recipe wouldn't disappoint. I left out the white sugar since I'm trying to not eat as much of that addicting substance, but Chris and I both thought it was great without it! The sauce was actually a tad bit spicy, which I like, so I'm sure the extra sugar would mellow out the flavor if you prefer it that way.

We grilled chicken and then brushed the BBQ sauce over top of each breast about 5 minutes before they were done. We found that this way works better than marinating the breasts in BBQ sauce prior to grilling because then the sauce will burn after being over the flames for so long. This way is a no-fail method! Enjoy!

Spread it on grilled chicken or whatever you prefer!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Source: Adapted from The Neely's

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crustless Quiche

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Sometimes I like to eat whatever I want and not feel the slightest bit guilty about it. I think an earthquake and hurricane all in one week is a pretty darn good excuse to do that!

And this is what I eat the next day.

If I have a carb overload one day, I like to avoid those devilish (yet delicious) little suckers the next day if possible. This quiche is perfect for breakfast or a snack. It's low-carb, but very filling and tasty. This is what I've been having for breakfast the past week, and it's a great start to my day. Enjoy!


Delicious and healthy!

  • 8 eggs, beaten (or 2 cups Egg Beaters--either regular or whites)
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup frozen green peppers and onions, chopped
  • 5 slices Canadian bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch glass pie dish and set aside.

Stir together the eggs and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a small pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add frozen onions and peppers. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender.

Add peppers and onions to the bottom of the pie dish. Top with egg mixture. Spread Canadian bacon pieces over the top, and use a fork to submerge them.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original