Monthly Archives: May 2011

Baked Vermicelli

Since we love pasta around here, I thought I would give this version from Parents magazine’s June issue a try.

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 lb. vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
16 oz jar mild chunky salsa
2 cups cooked cubed chicken breasts
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
1 T chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain and rinse under cold water.

Mix pasta, salsa, chicken, 3/4 cup cheese and cilantro in baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.

Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

We had this with some fresh strawberries and blueberries.

Did I change anything? The only thing we ended up doing differently with this is that my oldest thought it might be a good idea to crumble up some tortilla chips and sprinkle them on top. He thought it made the dish ten times better. 🙂

What did the family think? Everyone who normally likes dinner at our house loved it and had seconds. The leftovers were even requested by our oldest to be sent to school in his lunchbox.

Where did this recipe come from? Parents Magazine, June 2011, p. 58

photo from

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Filed under Chicken, Easy, Mexican, Six Ingredients or Less

Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

I love poached salmon because it is really hard to mess up. You can not dry out poached salmon…it will be moist and tasty no matter what.

2 cups water
1 cup white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each)

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash hot pepper sauce

In a large nonstick skillet, combine the water, wine, onion and celery. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add salmon and poach, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until fish is firm and flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Serve with salmon.

Did I change anything? I cooked all of the fish, but it was too much for us to eat so I am going to save the rest of it for salmon salad later on this week.

What did the family think? Hubby and I were the only ones who ate the salmon. The boys had fish sticks…fish nuggets to be exact.

Where did this recipe come from? Taste of Home

photo from Taste of Home

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Filed under Easy, Fish, Lent

Fruit, Nut or Berry Whole Wheat Muffins

The boys went on a campout last night in our neighbor’s backyard. I made these muffins for them to take along since I knew they would be eating breakfast there. Little did I know (or maybe I DID have an inkling of an idea) that these would end up being a peace offering. Apparently the birds woke the boys up at 4:15 and my dear sweet neighbor got up with them and made them breakfast. Perhaps I should have sent along a little cash, too. (Did I mention that the kids didn’t even go to sleep until midnight?)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour-my ABSOLUTE favorite.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
3/4 cup orange juice
About 1 cup of total filling (berries, fruit, nuts, etc. – see below for details)
Muffin/Cupcake liners
Cooking Spray

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl with a fork or whisk mix the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the eggs, honey, vanilla, oil and orange juice. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together – do not overmix.

Line a muffin pan with liners, lightly spray with cooking spray and fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with batter. Sprinkle 1 – 2 teaspoons of whatever you would like (from the list below or from your own creation) onto the top of each raw muffin in the pan. Then gently mix each one with a fork or spoon. Here are some options to consider for the fillings:

blueberries-this is what I used
diced strawberries
peeled and diced pears
either diced or mashed up bananas and chopped walnuts
raisins and chopped pecans (I add an extra pinch of cinnamon to the muffins with this filling)
grated carrot and chopped walnuts
orange or lemon zest (only add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of zest per individual muffin)
a mix of dried fruit bits

After the filling has been mixed into each muffin slide the tray into the warm oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature and freeze some for a later date. Enjoy!

This recipe made 9 muffins.

What did the family think? Everyone loved them except for our one family member who only likes fresh blueberries.

Where did the recipe come from? 100 Days of Real Food

Photo from 100 Days of Real Food

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Filed under After School Snacks, Bread, Breakfast, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Super Easy to Make, Vegetarian


I have no idea what GORP stands for, but it surely must stand for something. (I looked it up on Wikipedia, it means good ol’ raisins and peanuts.) Anyways, GORP is also better known as trail mix in some circles. I have been making this lately to pack for snacktime at the boys’ school as well as to put in their lunches. I used to make it for them a lot when they were younger, too, for a snack on the go. There are a zillion combinations you could make but this is what’s in my pantry right now.

1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup Multi-grain Cheerios
1 cup raisins
1 large Zip-loc baggie
Other ingredients you might consider: M&M’s, Chex cereal, Craisins, pretzels, Goldfish, banana chips, popcorn, dried fruit bits

Pour all ingredients in bag and shake to mix.

What did the family think? Yum!

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Filed under After School Snacks, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make, Vegetarian

Chicken Bruschetta Pasta

I have been wanting to try Philadelphia Cream Cheese’s new cooking cremes, so I bought the “original” version and tried out the recipe on the back of the container.

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups hot cooked farfalle
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cook chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium heat until done. Add broth and garlic powder, stir and let simmer for about three minutes.

Add cooking creme, basil and tomatoes; stir and simmer for three minutes.

In a large serving bowl, combine pasta and tomato mixture. Stir to combine and serve.

What did the family think? Everyone loved it!

Where did this recipe come from? It came from the back of the cooking creme container, but they have lots of other recipes using their various cooking creme flavors

photo from Philadelphia Cream Cheese

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Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Skillet Lasagna

I LOVE lasagna, but this was way too meaty for me. I changed the recipe a little and will be trying it again in the near future with the revisions I have made below.

1/2 lb lean ground beef, chicken or turkey
1/4 lb Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
6 lasagna noodles, cooked
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, brown beef, Italian sausage, onion and pepper. Drain fat, if necessary. Stir in ricotta, spaghetti sauce, oregano and basil. Simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes.

In a 10-in. skillet, spread 1/4 cup of the meat sauce. Top with 3 noodles, cutting to fit as needed. Spread half the remaining sauce and half the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Top with remaining noodles, meat sauce and Parmesan.

Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low; cook for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and let stand for 10 minutes covered. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Did I change anything? I changed quite a few things in this recipe like adding the ricotta and Italian sausage and reducing the amount of beef and green peppers. I also didn’t have the herbs that the recipe calls for so I used Italian seasoning instead.

What did the family think? Everybody ate it…no complaining!

Where did this recipe come from? Taste of Home

photo from Great Meals in 30 Minutes

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Almond Encrusted Fish

No more fish sticks (even the really good for the environment/made out of real fish ones) for our kids. We took the leap tonight and we all ate fish.

¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 or 3 more tablespoons for cooking the fish
1 1/2 lbs pounds white fish (I used cod, but something like tilapia or grouper would work as well)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sliced almonds, chopped into small bits or crushed in food processor
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour the white wine and 1 tablespoon of cream into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook gently until it is reduced by half.

Meanwhile mix together the almonds, breadcrumbs, and cheese in a shallow dish.

Next, coat the fish with the egg and then transfer it to the almond mixture. With dry hands coat the fish thoroughly with the almonds, breadcrumbs, and cheese.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a non-stick sauté pan (if you have one) and set it over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the fish and cook it for several minutes on each side adding more butter if necessary to keep the coating “wet”. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and cover with a lid.

While the fish is cooking check on the wine. Once it has been reduced by half add 1 more tablespoon of cream and then 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk the sauce together and keep it warm until the fish is ready.

Once the fish is flaky in the middle it is ready to be served. Whisk the sauce one more time and then pour it on top. Enjoy!

We had this with a salad and a baguette.

Did I change anything? One pound of fish was not enough for our family of four, so I bought a little more.

What did the family think? They ate it! Our youngest, of course, insisted he eat his with ketchup. Whatever, he ate it.

Where did this recipe come from? 100 Days of Real Food

from 100 Days of Real Food

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Filed under Everybody Ate It, Fish, Lent

Penne with Sausage Meatballs and Kale

There was very little talking going on at the dinner table last night…we were too busy eating. Seriously. Good.

1 T olive oil
12 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 bunch Italian kale, center rib removed, leaves chopped (about two firmly cupped packed cups)
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
3 T tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Break off small meatball-sized bits of Italian sausage (1 heaping tsp) and roll between your hands to make into a ball. Place them in the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and saute, stirring occasionally until the sausage is cooked through.

Add the kale and rosemary and saute until the kale is wilted. Add the tomato paste and wine, stir to combine, cover, and reduce heat to low.

Cook pasta per the directions on the package. When you are ready to drain the pasta, reserve 2/3 cup of the pasta water.

Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the sausage mixture, bring to a simmer, stirring to coat the pasta with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta mixture into a large serving bowl, toss with Parmesan and serve.

Did I change anything? The original recipe called for 2T of tomato paste. I added a little more. Also, I added maybe 2T more wine than the recipe calls for. Also, I didn’t use spinach, but I bet if you didn’t want to use kale you could substitute fresh spinach instead.

What did the family think? This was the best dinner we have had in a long time.

Where did this recipe come from? I found it in our local newspaper. They got it from Ivy Manning.

photo from


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Brown Bag Popcorn

We stopped buying microwavable popcorn quite a while ago because of all of the extra stuff that’s in it that doesn’t really need to be in popcorn. Plus, it’s pretty expensive for what it is. So, I bought a popcorn popper, but quite frankly, it’s a pain in the tush to clean. This recipe from 100 Days of Real Food is the answer to all of our popcorn problems.

1/4 cup popcorn
2 teaspoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Paper lunch bag
Optional: butter, seasoned salt

Put popcorn, oil and salt in lunch bag. Fold lunch bag over so things don’t going flying everywhere and shake to mix.

Place bag on its side in microwave for about 2-3 minutes or until there about 5 seconds in between pops…you don’t want it to burn.

Open bag carefully and pour into serving bowl. Add melted butter, seasoned salt, M & M’s…whatever your family likes in their popcorn.

Did I change anything? The original recipe wanted me to staple the bag shut, but I didn’t have any staples so I just folded it over and it worked just fine.

What did the family think? Perfect…we just needed a little butter on it.

picture from NASA


Filed under After School Snacks, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make, Vegetarian

Green Beans Almondine

My mom used to make this quite a bit and I loved it and it was easy enough that she would let me help her in the kitchen and make it. However, I don’t think I have ever made these before as an adult, which really surprises me since I loved having them growing up.

1 lb. frozen French-style green beans
1 T butter (add more if you’d like)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp lemon juice

Cook green beans per the instructions on the package and drain.

Melt butter in a pan and add almonds. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almonds start to get golden.

Pour almond/butter mixture over green beans. Add lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Did I change anything? My mom always used canned French-style green beans, which would work fine too.

What did the family think? Everyone in our house who eats green beans loved them. I bet you can guess which one of our lovely dinnertime friends doesn’t eat them. 🙂

photo from Serious Eats

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Side Dish, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make, Vegetarian