Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bruschetta Crackers

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Bruschetta is a simple snack that is packed with flavor. The bread is usually toasted and then fresh tomatoes are mixed with a variety of different ingredients and scooped on top. The freshness of the topping makes these perfect for a hot summer day.

My usual go-to has all the necessary components: tomatoes, olives, basil and cheese. These little Ritz cracker bruschetta bites definitely stood up to my taste test. They were very easy to put together and using crackers makes the toasted bread part a lot easier. The Italian dressing gives them a nice flavor and the use of two different cheeses makes them gooey and delicious. The fact that they are bite-size makes them perfect for get-togethers, potlucks or a quick snack on a busy day. I made these again on a separate occasion using canned diced tomatoes with green chilies and a Mexican cheese blend, and it was a nice little spicy twist. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp. light Italian dressing
  • 2 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 36 Ritz reduced-fat crackers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix tomatoes, cheese, onions and dressing together. Spoon 2 tsp. of the tomato mixture onto each cracker. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Place on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Source: Kraft

Monday, May 28, 2012

Parmesan Garlic Green Beans

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These were a quick and easy side dish that I made one night on a whim. I always serve a vegetable with dinner, whether it be a salad, a can of corn or something homemade. I always grew up having at least one "green thing" on the table, and I continue to do that to this day.

Chris usually just likes the main entree part of the meal and sticks to that, but I think it's important that we both have our fair share of vegetables (such a mom thing to say, isn't it?). Including flavors that we like makes these healthy side dishes a little more tolerable, so adding Parmesan cheese and garlic to plain ol' green beans really took them up a notch. And it was easy, too. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook green beans according to directions on the bag.

Heat olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cooked green beans and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Everyone seems to have their personal "go-to" chocolate chip cookie recipe and there's definitely nothing wrong with that. Since there are so many different types, it's not surprising either. Some people like them chewy, some crunchy. Some people like them super chocolaty, and some not so much. A lot of people like soft cookies, while others like harder cookies that will soak up some milk. One thing we all want is a delicious cookie, though. And I think I finally found my new "go-to" for that.

It didn't surprise me that Nestle would have an awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe. The packaged dough they make that you slice and bake was always a favorite of mine growing up. We'd often times find ourselves only baking half the dough and munching on the other half uncooked. Don't lie, I know you all did this, too.

These cookies were chewy and soft and would be perfect with a tall glass of cold milk. If soft and chewy are your type of chocolate chip cookies, give these a try. You'll love them!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Nestle Toll House

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Knead French Bread

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I was a little hesitant to make this bread at first. My Dad knows his bread. He loves his bread. Call him a bread "connoisseur" if you will. When we have a family dinner, he goes to buy the one else. Once my mom bought the wrong type and my Dad went back out and bought the "right" loaf. Doesn't matter what we're having, he knows what store to go to and exactly what type he wants to get, and that's the end of that.

Knowing how important the bread choice is for my Dad, I was a little worried that this wouldn't live up to his expectations. I mean, making a bread recipe and having my Dad not like it would pretty much be the most devastating thing ever. Well not ever, but it would be hard for me to recover.

After all the rave reviews and comments about this recipe, I decided to give it a go. It was quick, it was easy and it sounded delicious. Even if it turned out bad, it's not like I had spent hours and hours making it...

...but I would have.

This was everything I could have wanted. It had a nice, crispy crust and was fluffy and light on the inside. Just how I like my bread. But even better, just how my dad likes his bread. I would definitely make this again and again. There's no reason not to. Enjoy!

I was even able to make two log loaves with the other half of dough.

 Printable Recipe

  • 3 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Place the water, yeast and salt in a very large mixing bowl. Dump in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is nice and moist. You may need to add a little more water (just a few tablespoons at a time) to get it fully combined. Then you're done mixing!

Cover the bowl loosely and let sit until it has risen and deflated a little (at least 2 hours, preferable 3 hours). Now your dough is ready to be baked or stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To bake the bread: (If the dough is coming from the refrigerator, let it come to room temp before continuing) Lightly dust your hands with flour to prevent your hands from sticking and grab a piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit). Form it into a boule by pulling the sides of the dough towards the underside of the dough ball and rotating the dough until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. You can also shape the remaining pieces of dough into logs or braids.

Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or a cornmeal-dusted cutting board. Let the dough rest and rise for about 1 hour.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, put a cast iron skillet or pizza stone on the center rack of the oven and place a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Dust some flour over the top of your risen loaf and cut a few slashes into the top about 1/4-inch deep. Transfer dough onto the skillet or pizza stone, quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and shut the oven door to keep the steam inside. Bake for 30-40 minutes for a boule shape (20-25 minutes for a log) or until the crust is nice and brown. Cool completely before cutting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Salad

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Today's another post from the Secret Recipe Club, and I was so excited to be assigned Melissa's blog over at Melissa's Cuisine. We have a lot in common, such as our love of cooking, running, family and the fact that we both desire to switch up our typical lunch menus! Really, who doesn't have that problem? She has so many amazing looking recipes on her blog, so I was so upset that I had to narrow my options because of this silly little wedding diet I'm on (no biggie). Luckily I was still able to find a handful of recipes that fit my diet restrictions, and that really helped me since I usually get in a cooking rut.
This chicken salad was delicious and flavorful and it came together in minutes. I'm doing a low-carb diet at the moment, so I served my chicken salad on a Romaine lettuce leaf and it was a perfect lunch-size portion. I really enjoyed the creaminess and different flavors! Melissa suggested sprucing it up with some tomatoes, so I went ahead and did that and they added a nice texture. I also added some avocado because, well, why not? As soon as I'm off of this diet, better believe I'm going to march right back over to her blog to make her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge. That's a fact! Enjoy this, guys!

Printable Recipe


  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 plum tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and diced
  • 1 tsp. Splenda sugar (optional)
  • 2 pita pockets, cut in half (optional)
  • 2 Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)

Combine chicken, corn, beans, mayonnaise, vinegar, tomato and sugar in a bowl.  Add the avocado pieces and gently stir.

Serve in pita pocket or on Romaine lettuce leaf.

Source: Adapted from Melissa's Cuisine

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cole Slaw

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I think cole slaw is an underrated side dish that deserves some credit. It's always served on the side at BBQ joints, never fails to show up on the table at a summer get-together, and can always be found in the grocery store behind the counter just waiting to be packaged up. That's got to mean something. I think it means that people really do like cole slaw, but sometimes just forget about it.

This cole slaw is some of the best I've ever had. It was just creamy enough with the right amount of tang and sweetness. It would be perfect as a side dish on a hot summer day or even on top of a pulled pork sandwich. Whatever way you decide to eat it, I promise you people will gobble it up. I made it when my friends came over as a side dish to mini crab cakes, and it was gone by the end of the night. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. sugar (I used Splenda)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Place cabbage, onion and carrot into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over top veggies and toss to coat. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. The longer this sits the better it tastes.

Source: Adapted from Lauren's Latest

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baked Mini Crab Cakes

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I love to entertain. I was always the one to throw parties in college, was the first one to volunteer to host cookie parties during the holidays, and still love having my friends over for "girls night" every Thursday. My mom is the same way, so I think it's just in my blood. When Chris and I were looking for a house, we had the choice of either having a bigger house further away, or a moderate sized house closer to our friends and family. We (hands-down) chose to buy a house that was closer by, because if I wasn't able to entertain often I think I would go crazy!

My friends came over for dinner and drinks one night, and I decided last minute that I would make dinner for everyone. I made these crab cakes before everyone arrived, and since I didn't want to have to stand over the stove for a long period of time to fry them I decided to bake these instead. About 20 minutes before we were ready to eat, I put these in the oven to cook and they were ready before we knew it with minimal hassle.  I served these with a side of cole slaw and tomato, mozzarella, and avocado salad. Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. lump crab meat
  • 8 reduced-fat Ritz whole wheat crackers, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Form the crab cakes into round patties (about 2 tbsp. each). Put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

    Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator and place on greased baking sheet. Cook for 8-10 minutes, then flip and cook the second side for 8-10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

    Source: SK Original

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

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     Chris recently went to New Orleans with sixteen (yes, sixteen!) of his buddies for his Bachelor Party. I wanted to do something nice for them, so I thought I'd send down a little care package to help them get through the weekend. The package consisted of 16 cigars (one for each guy), a plastic flask, Advil, Chex Mix, Cheetos, Pringles, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids, Dots, beef jerky, mini Gatorades, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and these peanut butter cookie cups. I wanted to make sure they had something to help celebrate, something to snack on while celebrating, and then something to help them recover from celebrating too much. Not a bad care package if I do say so myself.

    My love for the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is no mystery, so that fact that I "accidentally" made too many of these and they all didn't fit in the container was no surprise. I was able to nibble on the few that were left behind and I'm so thankful I did. These were so good and I know the guys gobbled them all up, too. They'd definitely be the perfect treat for a get-together, potluck or just a night in with your family. Enjoy!

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 tbsp. milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, removed from their wrappers

    Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Beat together sugar, brown sugar, shortening and peanut butter until blended. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture. Beat well.

    Grease a mini muffin tin. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and push firmly into and up the sides of muffin tins. Bake 6-8 minutes or until cooked through.

    While still hot, push a mini Reese's into the cookie. Place back in the oven for 1 minute.

    Allow to cool in the pan 15-20 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

    Source: Stephanie Cooks

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Italian Cream Cake

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    This Sunday is Mother's Day (and my mom's birthday--happy birthday, Mom!), and what better way to show that very special person in your life how much you love her by baking her this delicious cake. It's a moist and light white cake, with surprises of shredded coconut and chopped pecans throughout. Then it's topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting and garnished with additional coconut and pecans. What's not to love? It definitely says "I love you" and I know it will make her very happy. Enjoy and Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

    Printable Recipe


    For the cake:
    • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
    • 2 cups cake flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
    • 2 cups shredded coconut
    • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    For the frosting:
    • 2 (8-oz.) packages 1/3 fat cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar, sifted
    • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, for garnish
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, for garnish

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in batches alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

    In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter. Add the coconut, pecans and vanilla and fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the three prepared cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

    While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Ice in between the layers and then the whole cake. Garnish with pecans and shredded coconut. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to eat.

    Source: Adapted from Food Network

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Garlic Tilapia

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    Before having this meal, Chris wasn't a fan of tilapia. I'm not sure if that was because he had never had it before or because he prefers other fish instead, but either way, it was never something he wanted.

    But one night, he didn't have a choice. I saw some tilapia on sale (that's one of the good things about's always so cheap!) so I decided to pick some up and give it a try. If he wasn't a tilapia fan before, he definitely was after this meal!
    It literally took 4 minutes to put together and then another 7 to cook. That's it! The flavors are simple, but the garlic tastes delicious after sitting under the broiler for a few minutes and the other spices really stand out. You can serve this with lemon, but I didn't even think it needed any additional flavor. Enjoy!

    Printable Recipe

    • 6 (6 oz.) tilapia fillets 
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1 tsp. parsley
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 lemon, for serving

    Wash fish and pat dry. Line broiler pan with tin foil. Place fish on the tin foil and season with salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and top with crushed garlic.

    Set broiler to low and place fish about 8 inches from the flame. Cook until fish is cooked through, about 7 minutes (be careful not to burn garlic). Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Source: Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Bacon and Brie Mini Quiche

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    These turned out to be such cute little appetizers! And who wouldn't like that they're jam-packed with bits of bacon and creamy Brie?

    That's what I thought.

    I made these the night before and then we just served them at room temperature when guests arrived the next day. We heated up a few just in case that's what everyone preferred, but I honestly thought they were delicious both ways. They were pretty easy to make (although rolling, cutting and fitting the dough into the pans was a little time consuming), but it was totally worth it. I kept popping these babies in my mouth and I'm pretttty sure you will, too. Enjoy!

    Printable Recipe

    • 1 package pie crust
    • 4 ounces, weight Brie cheese (rind removed)
    • 4 ounces, weight Swiss cheese, shredded
    • 10 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained, crumbled
    • 6 whole large eggs
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup light sour cream
    • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 dash each fresh nutmeg, salt, pepper

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Roll out pie crust. Cut into 24 2-inch rounds. Fit each round into a 24-cup nonstick mini muffin tin. Press dough on the bottom and up the sides of the mold. Remove excess dough.

    Crumble cheeses in the bottom of each lined cup. Add crumbled bacon on top. Mix all remaining ingredients thoroughly and divide evenly among cups.

    Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

    Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Spicy Lime Salsa

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    In the summer, just give me an outdoor patio, a big bowl of salsa, some salty chips and a margarita and call it a day. That's one of the best combinations in my book and it's the perfect way to kick off summer.

    In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I'm sharing this spicy lime salsa recipe with you. It's so delicious and even tastes similar to many authentic restaurant salsas I've tried before. The green chilies and jalapeno really kick it up a notch, but the other ingredients mellow it out so it's not too overwhelming. I like that this is made in the food processor because I was able to make it the consistency I like. I prefer a few small chunks, so that's what I ended up with. If you want a chunkier consistency, only pulse it a few times and then you're ready to go. Enjoy!


    Printable Recipe


    • 1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
    • 1 (4.25 oz) can green chilies
    • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • Juice of 1 lime (about 3 tbsp.)
    • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
    • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. cumin
    Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until just combined for chunky salsa or pulse more for smoother salsa. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to enjoy!

    Source: Eat Yourself Skinny

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

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    I love buffalo chicken, but I don't like wings (too much work, obviously) so as soon as I saw this recipe for a buffalo chicken meatloaf I knew I had to make it. I'm a big fan of the buffalo chicken sandwich I made a while back and buffalo chicken dip is one of my favorite appetizers. I only recently became a hot sauce fanatic (thanks to my obsessed fiance) so all these buffalo chicken-type recipes really live up to their name and taste just like their namesake.


    All you have to do for this recipe is mix the ingredients, put it in the loaf pan and bake it. I was able to put this together, pop it in the oven and do a quick run on the treadmill while it was baking. And, lo and behold, we were both done at the same time. Now those are the kinds of dinners I like to see! Enjoy!


    Printable Recipe

    • Cooking spray
    • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
    • 1/3 cup fat free milk
    • 1/3 cup hot sauce, plus more to sprinkle on top
    • 1 lb. extra-lean ground chicken breast
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
    • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
    • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced fat blue cheese

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 9” x 5” x 3” nonstick loaf pan with cooking spray.

    Combine oats and milk in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix well. Let stand for 3 minutes or until oats are softened. Stir in hot sauce until well mixed. Add chicken, celery, carrots, onion, egg whites, and salt. With fork, mix ingredients well. Add blue cheese and gently mix.

    Transfer mixture to pan and spread so that top is flat. Top with hot sauce and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Cut into 8 slices.

    Source: C+C Marriage Factory