Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Minestrone Soup

This soup is inspired by the The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. She also includes roasted zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms to add right at the end of the recipe, but I didn't have any on hand (well I did but they weren't lookin too hot after I pulled them from the back of the fridge!).

On Sunday I bought a bag of frozen green beans and a bag of frozen sliced carrots because they were only 87 cents a bag and lucky I did because they came into handy for this soup!

My soup really soaked up the chicken broth so you can either add more than 8 cups or add water at the end if you like more broth.

I even made a special trip to the PA Bakery to get a French baguette. I was really excited to have some good bread and while it was good and we ate it all, it wasn't authentic and made me miss those days when I was studying in Paris and had real baguette every night for dinner. Then again, I don't miss all the weight I gained eating like that but it was so good and I must say, worth it!

Also as you read the recipe, you may think, wow, this sounds bland, but it really is not. The chicken broth gives great flavor as does all the vegetables. It's also key not to over cook the veggies.

Anyway, back to the soup:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 whole carrots, washed and sliced (I used frozen carrot slices)
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
8 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed
1 cup (heaping) cut green beans, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
1 cup medium or small pasta shells or macaroni, uncooked
1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoons Turmeric (optional - I didn't use but I am curious to how it would taste.)
Parmesan cheese, shaved

In a heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, and celery and stir to cook for 3 minutes. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

Add green beans. Cook on low for five minutes. Add pasta and cook for an additional five minutes. Add cannelini beans, canned tomatoes, stir, and cook for an additional five minutes on low heat. Check for seasonings, adding salt, pepper and tumeric if using.

Add roasted vegetables at the very end. Stir and allow to simmer and heat for a few minutes before serving. Be sure to check seasoning! Add more broth if necessary to increase liquid amount.

Serve with Parmesan shavings and crusty Italian bread.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wegman's Pizza Dough

When I was at Wegman's a few weeks ago I bought their in-house pizza dough. I put it in the freezer when I got home to use for a quick meal for a work night.

(Photo from

So on Monday morning I put the frozen dough on the counter and when we got home 10 hours later, the dough was thawed and had risen immensely!

I took it out of the packaging and attempted to stretch it out onto an oiled baking sheet. I did not have luck. It was very elastic and would not keep it's shape. Therefore we ended up with a very thick pizza! But the crust was quite delicious. I would buy it again if only I knew how to make it into thin crust. A couple people reviewed the dough on the Wegman's site and said it was enough dough to make 2 pizza's but I just don't know how I'd manage that. Maybe I should leave the pizza making to the professionals!

Anyway, we enjoyed our deep-dish style pizza. I picked up a jar of pizza sauce and some shredded mozzarella cheese, sauteed some portobello mushroom slices in olive oil for a few minutes and then put them on the pizza along with hand-cut slices of mini pepperoni. The mushrooms look a little like sardines too!
The dough packaging has baking instructions.

We certainly got our carbs that day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cayenne Chicken with Avacado Salsa & Chili Sweet Potato Wedges

I am quite sad I haven't posted in awhile! It's not that I haven't been cooking but it's just that I haven't made to many unique or special things. I know that shouldn't matter. But today I have pledged to post much more often. We'll see how long I can keep the fresh posts!

Last week I was searching for something very easy to make for dinner with the ingredients I had.

We had pan seared chicken breasts with avacado & tomato salsa and chili sweet potato wedges. A very coloful and spicy meal!

For the chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the cayenne and salt. Add chicken to the pan and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.

For the salsa:

1 avacado, peeled, pitted and chopped (I kept the chunks large)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I kept the chunks large)
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. You can also add chopped red onion or diced jalapenoes if you have any.

For the sweet potatoes (a favorite recipe from Everyday Foods, Jan./Feb. 2006):

2 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges. If the wedges are too thick slice them lengthwise again.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet toss the sweet potatoes with the oil, sugar, chili, salt and pepper, until coated. Arrange wedges on a single layer, cut side down.

Roast potatoes until browned and tender, 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lentil Soup

Here is another recipe in a group my aunt gave me. She really enjoyed this soup and wanted to pass it on. I think it's the perfect fall soup. It's very hearty and the lentils give great protein.

The bacon gives the soup a smokey flavor but you could also skip the bacon if you would like a vegetarian/vegan option, or if you don't have bacon.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart Living, March 2005.

3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) - or 3 1/2 cups -chicken broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

In a 5-quart pot with lid, cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.

Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.

Add lentils, thyme, broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes. You may need to ad more water if the soup gets too thick. Do not over cook because lentils will fall apart and become mushy.

Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.

I did take some to work the next day to heat up and it was still good but it's best to eat immediately.

Cake for the Dogs

Today is Baxter's birthday. And we had his grandparents over to celebrate. Baxter and Trapper both got tasty bones and very squeaky toys.

We had cake but it was only for the doggies. I was inspired by the Brown Eyed Baker's Dog Birthday Cake. I thought her blog post was just so cute and I have been preparing to make this for months. I think both Baxter and Trapper enjoyed their special treat!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1 egg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

I used peanut butter for the frosting and some dog food to spell out the B.

The dogs want evenings like this all the time!


Happy 1st Birthday, Baxter!

Stayed tuned for photos of his cake from his party this evening!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chicken Gyros

Last night I made chicken gyros with tzatziki and they were very delicous and sooo quick to make! My Aunt Bet gave me this recipe and I will definitely be making it again! The chicken preparation alone is good to put on a green salad!

And to top it off, this is a healthy meal!

A lot of the ingredients call for "Weis Quality" so I assume this recipe is from the Weis grocery store.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 glove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 chicken breasts, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped (we omitted because we don't like raw onion)
4 pitas
1/2 cup feta cheese

For sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chicken to the pan and cook until browned and juices run clear, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for tzatziki sauce in a small bowl. Stir to blend and set aside.

Warm pitas in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes and without slicing, fill each pita with 1/4 of ingredients. Fold pita in half and serve with sauce.

We slathered the warm pita with the tzatziki sauce first.

We chopped the small tomatoes from our garden!
These were so good! With lunch time appraoching, I wish I had one to eat today!
And this photo has nothing to do with gyros but I had to show it off because it's just too cute! This is Adam with my friend's little girl, Alexandra. The two have become great friends!