Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Plan Feb 28-Mar 7

     Well, after last week's bought with stomach flu, our menu for this week looks much the same with a few additions. I think I'm finally ready for real food again!

banana berry muffins (new recipe!)
Chocolate crossants (new recipe!)

Dinner/ Leftovers for lunch
meatloaf, green beans, rolls
beer batter pizza, salad
sausage and veggie lasagna, salad
egg bites and yogurt parfait
pizza roll ups, salad
Chicken Tikka, rice, naan
Chili, cornbread muffins, salad

Still need ideas? Head over to orgjunkie for hundreds of menu plans...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blueberry Cream Cheese Strudel

     I mentioned earlier in the week that our weekend was filled with a lot of company. I've been waiting all this week, so that I could post this sweet on Friday. It is probably my favorite easy thing to make. Ever. We had about half leftover when another friend came to keep me company during poker night. The two of us finished it off. Every last bite! I didn't even feel that guilty about it, since it was made with relatively healthy ingredients...healthy as far as desserts go I guess.
     The reason I picked this recipe for our company is that our friend does not really eat desserts. I figured blueberries and bread was a compromise between a sweet dessert and a pastry. It was a big hit! I think you could eat this for breakfast, too. I would probably eat it any time of day.
      By the way, have you tried agave nectar as a natural sugar substitute? I've been toying around with this a little bit, and I'm really getting into this stuff. It's a little like honey, without the aftertaste, and since it's natural there you don't have to worry about weird chemicals in your food.
     This has been slightly adapted from The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook. This is one of my new favorites. It has a lot of fruit filled, low sugar desserts. Stay tuned later this week for a peanut butter fudge muffin recipe from the book!

2 cups blueberries (I used frozen, since they are out of season)
1 Tbl agave nectar
1 Tbl cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbl brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-lb pizza dough (I actually used 13oz because that's all I could find)
1/2 c cream cheese (I used neufchatel)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbl + 1 tsp agave nectar
  • Preheat oven to 400*. Line 9x13 pan with parchment paper.
  • Cook blueberries, agave, cornstarch, and lemon juice until cornstarch is dissolved and thickens. Cool.
  • While you are waiting, mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half of this mixture down the center of your prepared 9x13 pan.
  • Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle. Press into pan, stretching all the way to edges.
  • In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, vanilla, and agave until smooth. 
  • Spread cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the center of the dough. Top with blueberry mixture, making sure the berries cover the cream cheese. 
  • Fold sides of dough over filling, leaving about 2 inches of blueberries exposed in the middle. 
  • Pinch ends so the filling won't come out.
  • Brush with egg and sprinkle crust with remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
This is linked up with:
Sweet Tooth Friday by All N' Son
 Sweets for Saturday by Sweet as Sugar Cookies

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Best Ever Mac N' Cheese

         I feel like if you are going to eat Mac N' Cheese as the main course of a meal, it should include meat and vegetables. Usually, the standard add-ins at our house are ham and broccoli. As I was eating this amazing dish, I thought, the next time I'm going to add bacon instead, turkey bacon to be exact. Don't get me wrong the ham was fabulous, but bacon would be amazing. Isn't bacon amazing with just about everything anyhow?
         The best part about this super cheesy dish, besides the taste, is that it's made with real cheese that isn't processed. I feel like that has to be healthier. I bought blocks of cheese at the store and shredded my own. You could certainly buy more expensive, fancy cheese too. This recipe has been adapted from this recipe.

    2Tbl unsalted butter
    3-1/2 Tbl flour
    1-1/2 c whole milk
    7 oz extra sharp cheddar (1-3/4c)
    1 oz Jack cheese (1/4 c)
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/8 tsp garlic powder
    6 oz penne
    1oz (1/4 c) extra sharp cheddar
    1oz (1/4 c) jack
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 bag frozen broccoli
    1/2 lb ham
    • To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
    • Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or oil an 8-inch baking dish. Cook penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well.
    • Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix carefully but thoroughly. Add ham and broccoli. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheeses and then the chili powder.
    • Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Crescent Rolls

         I'm not above buying the crescent rolls in a can at the store, but they probably aren't the most healthy addition to your meal. This recipe is actually a little more dinner roll like than the store bought crescent rolls, but it tastes better and is much healthier since it is made with whole wheat flour.
         I used half of this recipe to make a crust for this breakfast pizza, and half for dinner rolls with dinner the next day. I also used a couple to try an idea for a dessert...I put about a tablespoon of cream cheese with a couple chocolate chips and a couple cinnamon chips on the dough before rolling it up. YUM!
    adapted from

    2-1/2 tsp yeast
    3/4 c warm water
    1/2 c sugar
    1 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    1/2 c shortening
    3-1/2 c whole wheat flour
    7 tsp wheat gluten
    1/4 c butter, softened
    • Dissolve yeast in warm water and a couple tablespoons of the sugar.
    • Stir in the rest of the sugar, the eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until smooth. Scrape the bowl and knead.
    • Cover and rise until doubled. about 1-1/2 hours.
    • Punch down dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 12 inch circle. Spread with butter. Cut into 10-15 wedges. Roll up, starting with the wide end. Place rolls, with point under, on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
    • Cover and rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
    • Bake at 400* for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (If you plan to freeze half of your rolls, bake until set but not golden. Remove from oven, cool, and freeze. When you want to use them, thaw, and bake until golden)
    • Brush tops with butter when they come out of the oven.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Burrito Nachos

         Sometimes, when we eat Mexican inspired dishes at home, I feel like they are very heavy or salty or greasy. Not that I don't love the taste, but I do try to eat such foods in moderation. This recipe, adapted from The Biggest Loser, is a perfect compromise, and it's delicious too! In the cookbook, this is served as a tortilla free burrito. I feel like I need to have some kind of carbs at every meal, so I served mine with baked tortilla chips.

    1-lb ground turkey
    1/4 of medium yellow onion, chopped
    1 c diced bell pepper
    1 Tbl chili powder
    1tsp cumin
    1 tsp mustard
    1 tsp oregano
    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    10oz frozen chopped spinach
    baked tortilla chips
    shredded cheese
    • Simmer turkey onion and bell pepper until cooked through. Drain and return to pan.
    • Add spices and stir well.
    • Stir in beans and spinach. Cook until heated through.
    • Top with shredded cheese and serve with tortilla chips

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Menu Plan Feb 20-25

         This weekend was so busy. We went to a birthday party for a special two year old (I think my daughter is beginning to wonder if she gets to have a birthday, since we've been to four birthday parties since Christmas!). We had an old friend come for dinner. We hosted "poker night" at our house. We also had a list of other errands to run...including getting some things done for my daughter's birthday party. With all these gatherings, I did get to try a few new recipes. Two of these came from Alli N' Son  and were fabulous. Check out her rosemary foccacia and spicy chocolate chip cookies. I followed both recipes as stated (except I used whole wheat flour for both) so I won't be making a separate post about them. I used the foccacia as a bread for my jerk chicken sandwiches. The cookies were made for poker night, and I offered extra chips to the person who could guess the "secret" ingredient to make them spicy. No one got it. The cookies were gone at the end of the night, so they must have been a hit. I'll try to post some other recipe throughout the week. One of them is a very good and somewhat healthy blueberry cream cheese dessert!


    Dinners/leftovers for Lunch
    Chicken smothered with Jack con Queso ; Zucchini and Corn Saute
    Red Beans and Rice
    omelets, yogurt and fruit parfaits (Wow, I need a better picture of that!)
    sausage Lasagna
    Chicken and black bean quesadilla, salad
    pizza roll ups, salad
    meatloaf, rolls, green beans

    Head over to OrgJunkie for hundreds of menu plans!

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Ikea Meatball Gravy

         I have fallen in love with the Swedish meatballs from Ikea. The last time I went I even bought the bag of frozen meatballs to buy at home. I also bought a package of the gravy mix and the jelly, too. Unfortunately, I didn't know you need two packets of the gravy mix since one packet is used to make half the bag of meatballs. What's a girl to do when the nearest Ikea is two hours away? Find a copycat recipe, of course.
         I searched the web, and could not find a recipe that used the ingredients I had in my house so I had to make a couple of substitutions. The result was very close to the real thing. Now, I just need to find a copycat meatball recipe and I'll have it made.

    3-1/2 oz (105ml) whole milk
    1 Tbl melted butter
    1 c beef broth
    1/4 tsp soy sauce
    1 Tbl flour
    1 Tbl butter
    salt, to taste
    white pepper, to taste
    • Melt butter in pan and add flour, whisk till golden brown and flour is cooked.
    • Add beef broth, milk, soy sauce, and more butter. Stir and cook until desired thickness
    • Season with salt and pepper
    • Serve over meatballs (or potatoes)

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

         I mentioned being inspired by Jerry and Elaine that last time I made a babka. I had the opportunity to make a dessert for our friends who don't like super-sugary snacks (wouldn't we all be so lucky?), so of course my mind went straight to a babka. It's like a yeast bread with hints of cinnnamon, or chocolate, or apples, or whatever you decide to fill it with. The next time, I'm using Nutella! Why didn't I think of this before? I've also toyed with the idea of using these new caramel chips that I found at the store a few weeks ago.  The list could go on and on.
        This time I decided to use cinnamon and chocolate. Jerry and Elaine couldn't decide which was better, so I figured combining them would be the best option. This babka was "no lesser babka!" I agree with Jerry, Cinnamon should be on tables along with salt and pepper. You can never have too much cinnamon...or vanilla...or chocolate. The recipe did not disappoint. It was fantastic and had just the right amount of sweetness. Perfect just out of the oven after a traditional English dinner of Yorkshire pudding and roast.

    makes 1 babka--takes 3 hours!
    4oz warm milk (no warmer than 110*)
    1-1/2 tsp yeast
    1/4 c sugar
    1 egg, plus 1 yolk (save the white for egg wash)
    2-1/4 c flour (take away 4-1/2Tbl if using whole wheat)
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/4 tsp salt
    5 Tbl butter, cut up, room temperature
    1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
    1/4 c butter
    1/2 c flour
    1/2 c brown sugar
    2 tsp cinnamon

    • Dissolve yeast and 1tablespoon of sugar in warm milk. Let stand until creamy. 
    • Mix eggs,the rest of the sugar, and yeast mixture. Whisk until combined. 
    • In bowl of stand mixer, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture and beat until combined. Switch to dough hook. Add butter and knead 10 minutes until a smooth dough forms.
    • Cover and let rise until doubled...about an hour
    • Butter a loaf pan. Add parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.
    • Punch down the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. My one year old loved doing this!
    • Roll dough into a 16inch square. Brush edges of the dough with egg wash. 
    • Spread chocolate chips over dough leaving 1/2inch around edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon...or use cinnamon chips (up to 1/2 cup)
    • Roll the dough up, pinching edges are you go. Twist the rolled dough 5-6 times to make it longer. Fold into a horseshoe shape. Cross the ends to form a figure eight, and twist two more times. Fit the twisted dough into the prepared pan. 
    • Let rise 45 minutes.
    • Preheat oven to 350*
    • To make streusel, combine butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut into mixture until it resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of loaf.
    • Bake 50 minutes rotating pan after 25. Turn temperature down to 325* and back 15-25 minutes longer, until golden brown and knife inserted comes out clean. Do not underbake. 
    This is linked to

    Sweet Tooth Friday by Alli N' Son

    SweetasSugarCookiesSweets for Saturday by Sweet as Sugar Cookies

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Sloppy Joe Meatloaf

         Meatloaf is a great main dish to have when you are trying to save money. Besides, the leftovers are almost better than the first time and can be made into sandwiches for a quick and easy lunch. This recipe takes a personal favorite, sloppy joe, and turns it into a not-so classic meatloaf. So good!
    Adapted from Biggest Loser Family Cookbook

    2/3 c oatmeal
    1/3 c + 1/4c + 1/4c canned sloppy joe sauce
    1 egg, slightly beaten
    1-lb ground turkey (or beef)
    1/4 c minced green bell pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced
    optional: shredded carrots, green pepper, or zucchini
    • Preheat oven to 350* and spray a loaf pan.
    • Combine oats, 1/3cup + 1/4 cup of the sloppy joe sauce, and the egg. Let sit for 3 minutes, so the oats can soften. 
    • Add meat, onion, and garlic.  Mix until well combined.
    • Pour meat evenly into prepared loaf pan.
    • Spread the remaining 1/4 cup sloppy joe sauce evenly over the top.
    • Bake for 30 minutes, until no longer pink.
    • Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

    Captain Crunch Chicken Nuggets

        Homemade chicken nuggets are so much more tasty, and healthier than those at the store. Even with the addition of sugar coated cereal, these are healthier because they are made with real meat.
         I found this recipe several years ago when I was looking for a way to use up some Captain Crunch cereal. We have made this several times, and I'm always reminded of how good "kid's food" can taste. You can see in the picture, we went School Lunch style this night, complete with green beans and macaroni and cheese.

    1-lb chicken
    1/4 c flour
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 egg whites (or 1 egg)
    1/4 c milk
    3 cups Captain Crunch cereal (no berries!)
    • Preheat the oven to 350*
    • Cut the chicken into one inch square nuggets. 
    • Combine flour, garlic, onion, and salt in a resealable bag.
    • In a small bowl, beat egg and milk.
    • Coarsely crush cereal and place in another resealable bag.
    • Place the nuggets in the flour bag and shake.
    • Place the coated nuggets in the egg bowl to moisten.
    • Place the nuggets in the cereal bag and shake.
    • Spray a cookie sheet. 
    • Place nuggets on the cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes.
    • Flip the chicken over and bake 10 minutes more, until done.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Menu Plan Feb 13-18

         Happy "Biff" Day, friends. Spring is in the air...or at least it feels that way up here. This week, we have highs in the 40s or 50s everyday. Don't tease me, Spring; stick around.
         For the menu this week, we are planning some oldies, yet goodies. I was so excited to see whole wheat lasagna noodles for the first time last week. Of course, I have planned accordingly.
         I mentioned, last week, a recipe for homemade frozen yogurt. The texture was really good, but the flavor was pretty tart. It wasn't quite what I expected, so I'm trying again this week and hopefully will be able to post the results.

    Lemon blueberry muffins (these were fabulous, recipe to come!)
    egg roll ups with english muffins
    peanut butter banana split
    hashbrown casserole

    homemade frozen yogurt

    Dinners/ leftovers for Lunch:
    Stir fry with chicken, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots; brown rice
    Out for "Biff" Day....Peanut Butter apple wrap for lunch next day
    Chicken Lasagna w/whole wheat noodles
    Tacos with homemade seasoning
    Birthday Party @ friend's

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Pita Pizzas

         Sometimes when we visit my mom, we have a "make your own pizza" party. It's easier than trying to get ten people to decide on the same toppings to order a pizza....and the kids love it! You can buy individual size pizza crusts, make your own small crusts, or just use pita bread. This picture is a pizza made with whole wheat pita bread and my toppings of choice. You could be creative or traditional.

    pita bread (or crusts of your choice)
    marinara sauce (or pizza sauce if you prefer...or BBQ)
    toppings: (your choice)pepperoni, mushroom, ham, bacon, ground beef, chicken, sausage, tomato, basil, mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, etc...

    • Place pizza "crusts" on a cookie sheet.
    • Top as desired. 
    • Bake until cheese melts.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Pumpkin Dump Cake

         One day my friend showed up with a scoop of this delicious cake, and I had to have the recipe. Don't worry, I asked if I could post it. It's not a secret family recipe or anything. I actually made this a few weeks ago, and it's been sitting in my "to post" file waiting for the right opportunity. Sweet Tooth Friday's @ Alli N' Son and Sweets for Saturday @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies just gave me an excuse to post. 
         My favorite thing about this cake is that it is like combining pumpkin pie and cake. Talk about comfort food...How could this taste bad?  The second thing I like is that it's super easy. Seriously, it's called "dump cake" for a reason. 
         This recipe makes a lot (9x13) pan, and it's super rich so it's probably a good idea to make this for company. We still had some left over, so we ate it for breakfast the next morning too. It tastes great with coffee. Hey! Don't judge me. Pumpkin is healthy! 
         I used some of my homemade pumpkin puree to make this, but the recipe calls for (29oz) canned pumpkin. You could go either way. If you are less into pumpkin or you only have one little can, use the smaller (15oz) can, and it would turn out fine. Your pumpkin layer at the bottom would just be thinner.

    1 (29oz) can pumpkin
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    3 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp salt
    3 tsp cinnamon
    1 box yellow cake mix
    1 stick butter, melted
    1 c chopped nuts, (optional---I didn't)
    • Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Dump into a 9x13 pan.
    • Pour yellow cake mix over the ingredients. Spread evenly.
    • Pour melted butter over the cake mix. This makes a nice crispy crust!
    • Add chopped nuts if you want.
    • Bake @ 350* for 50 minutes. (If you use the smaller can of pumpkin, cook until pumpkin is set like pumpkin pie)
    This is linked to
    Sweet Tooth Friday  

    SweetasSugarCookiesSweets for Saturday


    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Menu Plan Feb 7--Feb 12

         Last week, I was so glad to have planned my menu over the weekend. We got 4 inches of ice on Tuesday, then 3 more inches of snow on top of it later in the week. Needless to say, we were going crazy being stuck in the house, but we had enough food to eat! I'm so thankful our power didn't go out like some people in our area.
         Sticking to my goal, I have my menu planned again this week. We are ready of there is any crazy weather, and we are definitely looking forward to this weekend's "unseasonably warm" temperatures!
         We spent $57 this week at the store. This includes all we will need for the week and a couple extra things, just in case!

    Canadian bacon english muffin sandwich
    breakfast scramble
    blueberry muffins
    waffles, which my one year old calls "awfuls" A word we need to work on, I guess

    homemade frozen yogurt (recipe later...if it's good!)
    greek yogurt (it's my first time!)
    peanut butter on rice cakes
    carrot sticks
    hummus, baked chips

    stroganoff, green beans (moved over from last week)
    meatballs, broccoli, baked sweet potato
    spaghetti with sausage sauce and zucchini
    New Mac N cheese recipe with ham and broccoli
    --visiting friends for a traditional English dinner! I'm making a chocolate chip babka!

    This is linked to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday. Check out her site each week for tons of menu plan ideas! 

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    World Nutella Day!

         In honor of World Nutella Day, I thought I would re-post some recipes I've made with Nutella.
    I was first introduced to Nutella when I was about five years old. My uncle, who lives in Germany, sent us a package with special treats. Nutella was one of the special treats. I'm not sure when they started selling it here in Indiana, but we were so excited to finally get to have it again. When I visited my uncle, we ate it every day on brochen, a German bread that is hard on the outside and soft in the middle. Love it!

    Nutella Crackers
    Nutella NoBakes


    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

        For my husbands birthday, he said he wanted something with peanut butter. I was trying to think of something I had seen, but all I could come up with was this torte. The problem was, the recipe calls for artificial sweeteners which I try not to use (I feel yucky if I do). I wondered if it would still work if I adjusted it to more natural ingredients (including wheat flour). I didn't see how chocolate and peanut butter could turn into anything that wasn't edible, so I went for it.

        The result was a very rich, think gallon of milk, fudgy chocolate cake and creamy rich peanut butter topping which I made into a trifle. Truth be told, I was a little worried the peanut butter topping would be too heavy for the cake and it would collapse...that's why I made it into a trifle. It's so good...and even better the next day!

         I was a little worried when I saw that you add boiling water after the batter is mixed, especially because it made the batter really runny. But the result was a very rich, moist, fudgy cake! 

         Sorry about the pics...these don't do this cake justice!

    1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1-3/4 cups minus 3-1/2 Tbl whole wheat flour)
    1-2/3 cup sugar
    3/4 cup baking cocoa
    1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup fat-free milk
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup canola oil
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup boiling water
    1-3/4 cups cold fat-free milk
    1 package (3.4 ounce)  instant vanilla pudding mix
    3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jiff Natural)
    2 oz milk chocolate chips
    • Coat two 9-in. round baking pans with cooking spray; line with waxed paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray and sprinkle with flour; set aside.
    • In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg substitute, oil and vanilla; add to flour mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. Stir in water. Pour into prepared pans.
    • Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
    • In a large bowl, whisk 1-3/4 cups milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes; let stand 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in peanut butter. Add a little milk (2Tbl), if needed.
    • Place bottom layer in trifle bowl (or glass bowl); spread half of filling over cake layer; top with second layer and remaining filling. Chill for 1 hour or until serving.
    • For topping, in a microwave, melt chocolate. Stir until smooth. Drizzle on top of trifle before serving.

    This is linked to:
    Sweet Tooth Fridays at Alli N' Son
    And Sweets for Saturday at Sweet As Sugar Cookies

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