Thursday, December 31, 2009

Breakfast Burritos

Welcome to another (rare) original recipe! Yes, I know, eggs and tortillas aren't exactly original, but given my lack of culinary creativity, every little bit counts. ;)

I don't remember how or when I "created" this breakfast dish, but it's a big favorite of ours. We probably eat these at least once on the weekends, and I tend to have it a couple of times during the week. They are fast, easy, and pretty good for you.

cooking spray
1 cup Egg-Beaters, Garden Variety
splash of milk
2 low-carb tortillas
1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese, garlic and herb flavor
1/4 cup Cheddar or Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray very lightly with cooking spray.

Mix Egg-Beaters with a splash of milk and add to skillet.

Spread half of the cheese wedge across each tortilla. Divide shredded cheese evenly between the two tortillas.

Check on the eggs - lift edges with a spatula. Once they're set, break up the eggs with the spatula. When they are thoroughly scrambled, divide evenly on top of the cheese-topped tortillas.

Fold opposite ends of the tortilla towards the center, and then roll one of the other ends toward the other.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Cookies

Ryan really enjoys cooking and baking with me, so I was really excited when I found these M&M Cookies on Sing for Your Supper (originally from King Arthur Flour). M&Ms? Cookies? Christmas? Score!

He helped me bake them first for a cookie exchange, and was really upset when they were all gone.

"But, Mommy... we need them for SANTA!"

I tried explaining that we would make more, that we had plenty of time... but he wasn't convinced.

We baked them again this afternoon to leave out tonight for Santa, and you could practically taste the relief from this kid when they were finished.

I altered them just slightly to include chocolate chips as well. I don't know if it's the addition of milk or what, but these are so delicious; I'm pretty sure Santa won't be able to resist leaving us some extra special surprises this year.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk, optional
  • 1 cup Holiday M&M’s
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Beat together the butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder until well combined.

Add the egg, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat again until smooth.

Add the flour, mixing it in completely. Stir in the milk, then carefully stir in the M&M’s.

Drop the cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. A cookie scoop works well here.

Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, and a bit darker around the edges.

Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the baking sheets.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Mini BBQ Meatballs

Another Friday; another voting session!  Kick off your weekend by visiting HighLowAha to cast your vote for your favorite game food; polls are open until 9pm EST.

This week's secret ingredient was turkey.  I am very happy to present to you a very versatile appetizer - something that is suitable for cooks of all levels.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman's BBQ Meatballs.  I've made them repeatedly, and each time they are delicious.  I've used them in sandwiches, on top of mashed potatoes, mixed with pasta, and on their own; no matter how I've prepared them, they were amazing. 

Now that the cold weather is absolutely upon us, this recipe is the first thing I thought up when trying to come up with a turkey snack.  I frequently make this meal with ground turkey rather than beef in an effort to be a bit healthier, and I actually find them yummier as well.

So for this week, I shrunk 'em down and adjusted the sauce to make these the perfect snack to grab while watching your team.

Perhaps the best part about this is that, truly, anyone can make these.  While they are time consuming, they are very basic and simple.  Short on time?  No problem!  Grab a package of pre-made meatballs and just make the sauce.  Easy peasy.

My three-year-old LOVES these, and so will your guests.  Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • plenty of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons onion
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

Remove from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.

Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or crusty french bread.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pampered Chef

My good friend Brooke recently became a Pampered Chef consultant, and I couldn't wait to host a show to help her out.

She mentioned that hosts get free stuff, and I expected to score a free spatula or something.

What I didn't count on was all the perks!!  I only had 6 people at my show, yet earned enough to pay $48 for what you see below:

The stuff you see pictured should have cost me $181.50.  I got almost $150 FREE!  I feel like I'm posting an info-mercial.  But wait!  Call now and we'll QUADRUPLE your order!

When you host a show, you get credit (sort of like a "commission") for what your guests buy.  Plus, depending on the amount sold, you get percentages off.  For example, I was able to get 50% off of the 2 most expensive items on my order - and 20% off of everything else.

It was awesome to stock my kitchen while helping my friend at the same time.  Plus, it was a great time with my family and friends (and Brooke demo'd the most DELICIOUS pizza ever, and I made it myself almost immediately - blog post to follow).

If you are in the NJ area and would like to host a show with Brooke, go to her website.

If you are NOT local, you can still visit her site to purchase products or to host a catalog show.

I haven't used all of my stuff yet, but what I have used is awesome - especially the bar pan.  It's what I used to make the pizza and it was fantastic.  I definitely want to buy some more of their stoneware.  The mocha-hazelnut sprinkle has also made my morning English muffin much yummier.

(Oh, I also got credit for people booking shows while at my show - so I can't wait to attend theirs and buy more stuff!)

So check it out - your kitchen will thank you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Mini Aloha Calzones

Happy Friday!  You can celebrate the weekend's arrival by clicking here to vote for your favorite pineapple recipe in HighLowAha's weekly Superbowl Snack Throwdown!  Hopefully, your favorite involves cute little umbrellas... ;)

I never had pineapple pizza until our honeymoon.  We found a little pizza place in Lahaina on Maui, and they had this amazing pineapple and ham deep dish pizza.  I'm not usually a fan of ham OR pineapple (well, except for when I was pregnant with Ryan and ate pineapple like it was my job) but this pizza was absolutely amazing.  More than 6 years later, I still remember it.

I've had similar (but not as yummy!) pies since, though most involve a red pizza sauce.  While those variations are good, I much prefer the delicious flavor combination of the ham and pineapple to stand out on its own and not be masked by tomatoes.

When pineapple was selected as the secret ingredient, I knew I wanted to replicate the yumminess of that pizza.  While you might choose to serve these with a tomato sauce for dunking, I prefered to leave them plain.

One of the things I love about this recipe is how versatile it is depending on your cooking ability - or how much time you have.  You can make your own pizza dough or use store-bought.  Fresh pineapple or canned.  Diced deli meat or last night's leftover ham.  This is truly a recipe that will appeal to all ability levels in the kitchen!

They are very fast to whip up and are sure to disappear quickly.  Enjoy!

  • olive oil
  • 1 batch pizza crust
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup diced pineapple (if using canned, drain first!)

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly coat a 9x9 baking dish with oil.

Roll out pizza dough and divide into 16 pieces.  Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Take a piece of dough and flatten.  Place a spoonful of the pineapple mixture into the dough and wrap the corners around to seal.  Place seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake uncovered for 16-20 minutes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms

Welcome to another week of HighLowAha's Superbowl Snack Throwdown! This week's secret ingredient was onions; go to their site to vote for my, uhh I mean your favorite recipe. Voting is on the right sidebar if you scroll down a bit and ends on Sunday at 9pm EST.

When The Pioneer Woman posted this recipe, she opened with, "You want to make these. Oh, you want to make these."

Never have truer words been spoken. I don't think I've ever eaten anything so spectacular. (Dad? Chris? Jonny? If you're reading this, you need to learn to like mushrooms, like, yesterday.)

My house smelled amazing while these guys were cooking. And they were FAST - prep took maaaaybe 10 minutes (and many of those minutes were spent peeling my 3-year-old off of my leg while trying to chop onions) and they need only 15 minutes in the oven. With just a small handful of ingredients and a short time spent in the kitchen, they will make your football party much easier.

Plus, did I mention? They are faaaaaaaaantastic.

The creamy brie and the green onions and the garlic... oh, the garlic! I made about 14 of these little bites of wonderfulness (yes, that is totally a word) and I had to deliberately hide 3 to save for my husband to try.

I ate the rest. And I'm not even sorry.

You need to make these today. It is so important, in fact, that you make these today that I am going to just shut up and get to the recipe so you can get to the store and start cooking.


  • 1 package White Button Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
  • 4 whole (to 5) Green Onions, Sliced (up To Middle Of Dark Green Part)
  • Splash Of White Wine (optional)
  • 1 slice (wedge) Of Brie Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish.

In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and splash in wine, if using. Stir around until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie.

Top mushrooms with onion mixture.

Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted.

Note: mushrooms are best when they’ve been allowed to cool slightly. Delicious.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Low Sodium Stir-Fry Sauce

When I made this Crockpot Asian Beef and Noodles, I thought it was DELICIOUS - but very salty. Since I couldn't find low-sodium stir-fry sauce in the grocery store, I set out to try to find my own for next time.

I came across this one from Spark People and it definitely did not have the same level of saltiness. However, it was also a tad bit lacking in flavor. While I would for sure still use it in place of a bottle, I will experiment in trying to spice it up. For starters, I should have used beef broth and not chicken; perhaps I'll add a bit of low-sodium beef bouilon too.

6 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 cups Swanson Organic chicken broth
4 tablespoons Kikkoman Lite soy sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
6 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
6 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
Crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry 15-30 seconds over medium heat to bring out the flavor. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flake, pepper, and lemon juice. Bring just to a boil, stirring. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and whisk into the sauce. Heat until sauce thickens and reaches a full boil.
Simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.This makes 4 cups of sauce; you can freeze in 1 cup batches for later.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Easy, Cheesy Tortellini Bake

Those might just be the best 4 words to find in a recipe title, and to come across them all at once is pretty much like Christmas morning to me. ;)

I came across this dinner on Spice in My Life and thought it was pretty good. The spinach in it makes me feel like the tortellini and cheese are healthy, so therefore this dinner is GOOD for me, right?

I prefer this Cheesy Baked Tortellini instead, however. I loved the addition of spinach, so I will probably merge the two recipes next time.

  • 1 large (25+oz) packages cheese tortellini
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions; drain.

Bring marinara and Alfredo sauces along with spinach and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir cooked tortellini into sauce, then pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cheese has melted and turned golden brown.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Burgers

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday; as long as you avoid the Black Friday madness, it's one of the few holidays that are really centered around family and NOT consumerism. The huge meal full of comfort food doesn't hurt either.

This year, I have much to be thankful for, and I have to add Rachael Ray's Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf Burger to that list (and Juliann, from whom I got this recipe!). When it's April and you're craving a Thanksgiving meal but don't want to do the work, this is a pretty great alternative!

This burgers were perhaps the most delicious and flavorful patties I've had in a really long time. I had one leftover, and it was so good that I didn't even eat it on any bread. I just warmed it up and ate it. Heavenly!

I served them with sweet potato fries in an effort to be as Thanksgiving-y as possible.

(I probably should have remembered to take a photo BEFORE putting the top bun on the burger, huh...)


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small mcintosh apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small rib celery, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (about 2/3 palmful)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • Sliced sharp white cheddar, for topping
  • 1/3 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 4 large sandwich-size sourdough English muffins, split and toasted
  • 4 thin slices red onion
  • 4 leaves red-leaf or red romaine lettuce

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter to melt, then add the apple, onion and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs, then transfer to a bowl to cool; reserve the skillet. Mix in the turkey, egg, parsley, mustard and poultry seasoning; season with salt and pepper. Form into four 4-inch patties.

Wipe out the reserved skillet and add a liberal drizzle of EVOO. Warm over medium-high heat, add the patties and cook, turning once, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with the cheddar during the last minute.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cranberry sauce, sour cream and chives.

Serve the patties on the English muffins with the onion, lettuce and cranberry-sour cream sauce.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin Banana Chip Muffins

I love baking muffins, and I couldn't wait to get going on some pumpkin flavors this fall. I have a great recipe courtesy of my friend Brooke, but I was in the mood to try something different. As usual, a trip to my google reader presented me with exactly what I wanted.

These muffins from Cooking and Eating in the Windy City were exactly what I was looking for. I had some bananas that needed to be baked and an eager three-year-old to help me lick the spoon.

The only change I made was, as usual, to add some chocolate chips instead of the topping listed below.

These were gone in NO TIME. Seriously, I don't think they lasted 24 hours in my house. Delicious.

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oats/nuts
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Spoon into greased muffin tin, and top each muffin with 1 Tbsp of topping. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Layered Fiesta Casserole

I have been receiving complimentary copies of Food and Family from Kraft, as I'm sure many of you do. Even though it's usually one big commercial for their products, I've certainly found my share of yummy things! They recently started charging for this, and as much as I enjoy it, I won't be subscribing.

I found this recipe for a Layered Fiesta Casserole in their last issue and added it to my menu immediately. It absolutely did not disappoint - it was easy and fantastic.


  • 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
  • 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen corn, thawed
  • 4-6 corn tortillas (12 inch)
  • 1-1/2 cups KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided

HEAT oven to 375°F.

BROWN meat with peppers in large skillet; drain. Return to skillet. Stir in salsa, tomatoes and corn.

SPREAD 1 cup meat mixture onto bottom of 9x9-inch baking dish; top with 1 tortilla. Cover with layers of the remaining meat mixture and cheese; top with remaining tortillas and meat mixture. Cover with foil.

BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until heated through. Top with remaining cheese; let stand 5 min. or until melted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving! While you are digesting your turkey and pie, click here to vote in this week's Throwdown, where the secret ingredient was wine. Scroll down a bit and vote for your favorite on the right.

For many families, Thanksgiving and football really go hand in hand. My family, however, has recently begun taking that relationship to new levels; yesterday, they played in the 2nd Annual Gellar Bowl (yes, we're a little obsessed with Friends here).

Prior to the feast, a bunch of the guys get together for a football game played on an open stretch of grass across the street from my house. Little by little, this game gained a life of its own, including jerseys, playbooks, and a delivery of pylons to my front door.

The Sparkling Wiggles (my brother-in-law, husband, and cousin):

Two-time champions, Semper Fun (my cousin's husband flanked by my two brothers):

After a champagne victory celebration and a few showers, we sat down to our traditional Thanksgiving feast. We've been hosting it at our house since 2003, and enjoy the coming together of both of our families.

While I really look to making things as easy as possible for myself (especially since I have to simultaneously care for my toddler and infant!), I also love to try new things. This year, I decided to ditch the cans of Ocean Spray and try my hand at homemade cranberry sauce.

I perused several recipes online and came up with what you see below. This dish was fabulous and super easy to create. It is elegant enough to grace your Thanksgiving table, but also casual enough for a laid-back football get-together. And as an added bonus, your house will smell fantastic as these are cooking!
  • 1/2 cup white zinfandel wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 12oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in the crockpot. Cook on high for two and a half hours, stirring every half hour or so.
After two and a half hours, mash the cranberries. Continue to cook on high for a half hour, uncovered.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Please visit HighLowAha and cast your votes for your favorite recipe this week! Look over to the right and scroll down a bit; you have until this Sunday at 9pn EST. Thank you!

When Kate and I were first given the guidelines for this competition, we were informed that we could submit something we've already made/blogged about. I mentally scoffed at the idea; I entered this contest to hone my culinary creativity, not to just repost stuff that's already here.

When tortilla was chosen as this week's ingredient for HighLowAha's Superbowl Snack Throwdown, however, I couldn't get this dish out of my mind. I tried, I really did, to come up with something else, something that would be creative and all that. But I couldn't. I am so infatuated with these that they're all I can think of when I hear tortilla. Or Morningstar. Or taco seasoning. They've taken over my mind.

I wish I could, at the very least, present you with some alternative or adaption, but quite frankly, I haven't deviated from Hungry Girl's original recipe at all. There's no need to. They are delicious, easy, cheap, fast, and healthy - absolutely perfect.

These delicious little quesadillas are sure to be a hit at your next get-together; my husband and I eat them for lunch at least once a week.

Make these now - don't even wait for Sunday's games. You will not be sorry.

4 large low-carb tortillas
1-1/3 cup frozen ground-beef-style soy crumbles (like the ones by Boca and Morningstar Farms)
1 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
2 wedges, The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tbsp. chopped scallions
1 tsp. dry taco seasoning mix
Optional: additional fat-free sour cream, for dipping

In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine soy crumbles, cheddar cheese, scallions, sour cream, and seasoning mix, stirring thoroughly. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, and set aside.

Lay tortillas flat and spread 1/2 cheese wedge evenly over one half of each tortilla. Top the cheesy tortilla half with soy crumble mixture and fold over.

Bring a medium-large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat, and lay quesadilla on it (or more, if they fit). Cook for about 1 minute, until slightly toasted on the bottom.

Flip and continue to cook for about 1 minute, until both sides are toasted. Remove from heat and cut into four triangles. Serve with sour cream or ketchup for dipping, if you like. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Spicy Harvest Muffins

Happy Friday the 13th! We're back to regular weekend voting, so scurry on over to HighLowAha to cast your vote by 9pm EST on Sunday! (You can also vote for the secret ingredients for the next two weeks.)

First, thank you all a billion times for participating in last week's festivities; I certainly had a blast!

Kate won the Halftime Competition, so in addition to a week's victory, she also was granted the right to select our next ingredient. She did a very good job giving herself the upperhand; she must have known that I am not a cayenne person and that this week would be a challenge! :)

Unfortunately, I must once again present you with a very mediocre photo. I brought my baby, uhh I mean my camera, to be fixed after its little tumble, and it's not yet ready. Bummer, too, because I was really hoping to have it for Ryan's pirate party this weekend. Arrrgh.

Don't let this crappy picture fool you; I LOVE these little muffins! I had no idea what to make with the use of cayenne, so I visited my friend Google; these spicy pumpkin carrot muffins from Fancy Pants Foodie popped up. I really wasn't sure about them at first, but I figured I'd give them a shot, and I am glad I did. The flavor in these guys is just unbelievable. I actually took some liberties with the title because I wanted the name of these muffins to truly harness the fact that they really embody so many fall flavors.

If you are really hesitant about the cayenne, it can easily be omitted. I did leave it off of about half because I was afraid Ryan wouldn't eat them otherwise. Both versions were equally fantastic!

These will go very quickly - not just during your football games, but also during Thanksgiving or any event this autumn.


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter @ room temp
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. molasses, unsulphured
  • 2 eggs, beaten, @ room temp
  • 14 oz. can pumpkin (or equivalent amount cooked, pureed pumpkin)
  • 1-3.5 oz. container carrot baby food (or equivalent amount cooked, pureed carrot)
  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries, raisins or currants
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne powder (smoked if you have it)
  • cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using fresh, cooked pumpkin, strain puree for at least 30 minutes in cheesecloth or a wire sieve.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter at medium-high speed until soft and lightened in color.
Add molasses and 1 1/2 c. of the brown sugar, beating until combined and light in texture.
Add the eggs, pumpkin and carrot, and mix on medium speed until blended.
In a separate bowl or on a flexible cutting board, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into wet ingredients and gently fold together, being careful not to overmix.
Fold in the cranberries, raisins or currants.
Using a spoon or large disher (what I used), fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Sprinkle muffins with cinnamon sugar and with cayenne to taste.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Haltime, Day 5

Good morning!

Today's challenge is, I think, pretty damn fun.

First - while I didn't have the highest number of participants, I do have to thank my friend Dawn for nominating her babysitter; Peggy won! :)

Okay, today.

You have almost the whole weekend for this (ends 5pm CST on Sunday).

Take a picture of yourself and send it to

Easy, right? ;)

Your picture MUST INCLUDE the following:

1. A sign with the team name (Holiday Armadillos)
2. The team color (pink)
3. A kitchen utensil

Again, the team with the most number of participants wins 2 points, and the team with the winning picture (most creative) wins 1 point.

Now, I'm down by 2 points, so I need to win in BOTH categories in order to win this week!!

Grab your cameras and have fun!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

A few weeks ago, I had a little date with my buddies Ryan and Daniel at IHOP. I ordered some kind of omelet, and it came with three buttermilk pancakes. As I was ordering, however, I noticed a sign for their season pumpkin spice pancakes. For a mere $1.67 more, I quickly requested to swap out the buttermilk for the pumpkin.

They were AWESOME, and as soon as I got home, I searched for my own recipe. I found this one, however, for pumpkin waffles on the Betty Crocker site. I made them the very next day in my awesome circus animal waffle iron that my brother gave me for my birthday.

They were absolutely delicious! The pumpkin flavor was just enough to be noticeable without being too overpowering for my less-than-enthusiastic-about-pumpkin husband. I chose to not make the apple butter, but I'm sure that would have been yummy too!


  • 2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Powdered sugar, if desired

Heat waffle iron; grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening. In large bowl, beat all waffle ingredients except pecans and powdered sugar with wire whisk or hand beater until blended. Pour batter onto center of hot waffle iron. Close lid of waffle iron.

Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops and waffle is golden brown. Carefully remove waffle. Sprinkle with pecans and powdered sugar. Serve with syrup.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halftime, Day 3

Good morning!

Yesterday, I did not have the winning # of entries, but I DID have the winning entry selected - thanks to my friend AMANDA for picking the screwdriver! That's what Claudia will have to use for her novel-writing celebration. Should be interesting...! :)

They worded everything better than I could, so I'm just going to copy and paste part of HighLowAha's site for today's instructions - a virtual wave. I'll get 2 points for having the most number of entries (only one per person today) and 1 point if my wave is deemed most creative.

Make sure that, in addition to your single word, you include that you are part of Team Holiday Armadillos!

Once again, THANK YOU!!
Today Team Danko Defenders and Team Holiday Armadillos will create their very own virtual waves. The wave with the greatest number of participants, and therefore lasts the longest, wins 2 points. The wave voted most creative by our panel of judges wins 1 point.
Here's how...
I'll supply the very first word.
Building off of that word, create the most compelling statement for why your captain (Kate or Lauren) reigns supreme. BUT... each team member may only post one word. One word at a time and only one submission per person!
Here's what it might look like if I was fielding a team...
Starting word: The
Person #1: reason
Person #2: Claudia
Person #3: must
Person #4: be
Person #5: crowned
Person #6: winner...
and on and on and on, until 9:00 p.m. CST.
One more time... Create a compelling statement about why your defender should reign supreme. Statements must be written one word at a time. No person may post more than once during the day. In other words... one word per person! Lauren and Kate (or their appointed designee) must place the final punctuation mark on their statement no later than 8:59 p.m. CST.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halftime, Day 2

Good morning!

First, I want to thank you all for helping me get as far as I have in the Superbowl Snack Throwdown. When I first started this, I figured I'd ask you all to vote for me each week and that'd be it. But you guys go way past that - you solicit YOUR friends and family by posting on Facebook, on your message boards, whatever... and there's no way I would have won even a single week if not for that. So THANK YOU!!

The site is doing a "halftime" week this week. There will be no cooking, so there's no voting this weekend. However, all week they will be posting little challenges where my competitor and I can earn points. The person with the most points at the end of the week earns a point in the overall scoreboard, AND can pick next week's ingredient!

Yesterday, I won the quantity part of the contest by ONE. I had ONE more comment than Kate did. WAHOO! Thank you!

Today's challenge is to select a cookie cutter. Go here and select the cookie cutter that you think will be the most difficult to connect to a holiday - it needs to really be a stretch for a baker to figure out how to incorporate it. Then, visit HighLowAha and post your choice in the comment section. Make sure you add that you are commenting on behalf of the Holiday Armadillos!

(A cookie cutter can only be posted once, though, so the earlier you do this, the better.)

Many, many thanks to everyone!!

Crockpot Asian Beef and Noodles

This crockpot meal was another winner from my friend Colleen. There is nothing better than dumping stuff into a crockpot and sitting around a delicious-smelling house while an appliance cooks dinner for you!

I tried to heed her advice about finding a low-sodium stir-fry sauce, but alas, I was also unsuccessful. Later, I googled a recipe for making my own, so I will try one of them next time.

Saltiness aside, this was absolutely delicious, and I'll definitely make it again!

Sidenote: I've never before had Ramen noodles. I've heard people mention how cheap they are and how it's the major food group of college students and starving artists, but I had no idea exactly how cheap they are. Dude, I got a package of 6 for 99 cents! Wowzers!

  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 2 - 2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle stir-fry sauce, any flavor
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles, broken
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Coat a 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place frozen vegetables in the bottom and top with stew meat. In a medium bowl, stir together stir-fry sauce, water, and red pepper. Pour over stew meat and vegetables in cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 4 1/2-5 hours (I recommend low, it will help to break the meat down more).

At the end of cooking time, discard spice packets from ramen noodles. Stir noodles and green onions into meat mixture. Cover and let stand 10 minutes more. Stir before serving. This can be kept on warm for 1-2 hours.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese Breakfast Rolls

When I saw these Breakfast Rolls on Picky Palate, I knew that they'd be perfect for Halloween morning.

My trusty sous chef, Ryan, helped me, as usual, which made them even more special. I love cooking and baking with my little guy!

I learned something during this endeavor, however. Usually, when I don't think it matters, I buy store brand stuff. So I bought (or THOUGHT I bought) 2 tubes of Stop and Shop brand crescent rolls. When I went to cook them, however, I realized that I bought one generic and one Pillsbury.

I still didn't think it mattered, even when I noticed that the Pillsbury ones were much easier to work with. They rolled better, pinched better, and sliced better.

But I really learned that in this recipe, you have to go with the real one! Check out these rolls after baking:

Guess which one is generic and which is brand name? :)

When it came down to flavor, however, they both tasted the same - absolutely delicious! They made more than we could eat at once, and didn't reheat super well, so next time I will likely only use one tube - of the Pillsbury ones, of course!

  • 2 packages/cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 4 0z cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup canned pumkin (Libby’s)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll crescent rolls to form 4 rectangles placed side by side. Pinch seams together to form one long rectangle. Place cream cheese, brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixer; beat until well combined. Spread mixture over crescents leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges. Starting at long end, roll up then cut into 1 inch pieces. Place around 2 9 inch cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. I left the centers open so the rolls form a circle.

2. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting recipe below.


  • 4 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon canned pumpkin (Libby’s)

1. Mix all ingredients into a large bowl until smooth. Spread over warm rolls.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Cheeseburger-Ka-Bobs

In the middle of Disney World, the idea for these Cheeseburger-Ka-Bobs popped into my head for this week's edition of HighLowAha's Superbowl Snack Throwdown. Make sure you visit their site and vote on the right for your favorite this week!

Due to my Rebel's untimely fall during our vacation last week (on our last night, luckily), I had to use my Cybershot for these pictures. Coupled with the lack of natural light here in New Jersey these days, I doubt I'll be scoring any photography points this week (and for as many weeks as it takes for my poor camera to be fixed!). But that's okay, because what I miss out on from behind the camera, I'm sure to make up for in taste!

While shopping for this appetizer, I stumbled upon Grill Mates Hamburger Seasoning. I've never used it before (I've actually never even seen it before!) but grabbed it to use in this recipe. I am SO glad I did; I might never make a burger without it. The perfect blend of spices made these mini burgers as tasty as they are cute.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to these little guys is the very valuable lesson I learned: my kid will eat anything on a stick. Over the course of 24 hours, he probably devoured close to half of these (minus the onions, aka "the yucky purple things"). If I had given him a cheeseburger with all of these ingredients, he'd probably have 8 bites and call it a meal. Shrink things down and impale 'em with a toothpick, though, and you've got a kid who's in dinnertime heaven!

These adorable and delicious little snacks are perfect for your Sunday (or Monday!) game watching, and if I may deviate from the football theme slightly - they'd also be perfect for some World Series viewing. Go Yankees!!

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Grill Mates Hamburger Seasoning
  • 24 cubes cheddar cheese
  • 1 red onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 24 pickle slices
  • 24 cherry tomatoes

Combine the beef and seasoning in a bowl. Create golf-ball sized patties (I got 24) and flatten slightly; grill outside or on a stovetop grill pan.

Stack the mini burgers along with the rest of your ingredients. Stick a tomato at the top of your toothpick, with a pickle underneath, then an onion chunk, then a burger, and finally the cheese as a base. Continue with the rest of your ingredients. Serve, eat, and enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Pigs in a Thermal Blanket

Week 7 of HighLowAha's Superbowl Snack Throwdown is upon us, and the black bean is the secret ingredient. Please make sure you go vote from now until 9pm (EST) on Sunday!

When I made these hot dogs a year or so ago, I remember thinking that they'd make a great little snack if you scaled them down. So when the black bean was selected for this week, I immediately started thinking about a mini version: Pigs in a Thermal Blanket! (Ha, get it? Thermal? 'Cause they're warmer now? You know? Oh... never mind.)

You really have a few options here. You can follow the above recipe to the letter and just use coctail franks, or you can really take a shortcut and use canned chili; no one will be able to tell. ;)

But whatever method you decide to do, you will LOVE these. Seriously. Ryan ate a ton, and I didn't even bother cooking dinner because Patrick and I just keep grabbing them. The flakiness of the croissant coupled with the hearty chili is going to please everyone. They are sure to be gone before the coin toss!

  • 1 tube of croissants
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese - I used a Mexican blend, but you can use Cheddar or whatever floats your boat!
  • 1 1/2 cups of black bean chili, warmed (I love this recipe - you can also use a can)
  • 16 mini hot dogs (or 8 hot dogs cut in half)
Preheat your oven according to the tube of croissant dough.
Unroll the croissants. With a sharp knife, cut each triangle in half length-wise so you have two long pieces of dough.
Sprinkle the cheese at the wide part of each triangle, and top with a spoonful of chili. Place a mini hot dog on top of everything, and start rolling down towards the narrow end. This part might get messy!
Place each little hot dog on a baking sheet, and bake according to the tube of dough.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Frittata Bites (with pics now!)

Here we go - week 6! I think. Are we on 6 already? This is going by fast! Make sure you go to HighLowAha to vote for ME! :) Voting last until Sunday night at 9pm EST - tell your friends!

These little Frittata Bites are another little snack that you can really customize to your own liking. Don't like mushrooms? Leave 'em out. Prefer peppers? Throw 'em in! Like cheddar? Go for it! This is such a versatile recipe, and it's certainly inexpensive enough to make a few variations.
And just FYI - the leftovers (if there even are any) make a great breakfast!

inspired by Giada DiLaurentiis
  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 6 large eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and mushrooms and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and saute 2 minutes longer.

Add the veggie mixture to the egg mixture and pour the mixture into the muffin tin; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake uncovered until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 8-10 minutes. Let the frittatas stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the tin and slide them onto a plate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A THOUSAND Cheers for Babies!

Many of you "know" my friend Brooke and have been touched by her story.

Her blog, which chronicles her roller coaster of a journey, has been nominated on for best multiples blog. The winner receives a thousand smackers!

Click here to cast your vote and feel free to check out the ridiculously adorable baby pictures she shares!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Mom's Cheesecake Cups

While I am proud of the snack food I've presented so far during this competition, I thought it was about time I threw in something sweet. After all, no party is complete without a little dessert!

So when sour cream was announced as week 5's secret ingredient, I decided to share with you my mom's delicious Cheesecake Cups. Please head on over to HighLowAha to place your vote; last week I lost by ONE vote, so make sure you vote from as many computers as you can - and tell your friends!

Since we are very unexpectedly without my car until we go buy a new one (don't get me started!), the boys and I are stranded in the house. As you know, Ryan loves helping me in the kitchen, so I figured he'd have a blast helping me whip these babies up. He was a great helper and poured the eggs in so carefully! You could really see the concentration on his face. LOVE that kid.

(Sidenote: this might be my new favorite picture of Ryan, and yes, he wore the hat and boots ALL day - even for his nap.)

My mom makes these sometimes, and I have always loved them. While this might not be the most figure-friendly meal, it is beyond delicious. The cupcake is just so moist and smooth and rich without being too heavy, and the topping adds such a decadent layer of flavor. You can really use anything in place of the cherries - blueberries, chocolate, a banana slice, candy... the possibilities are endless, so you can really have fun making it your own.

Aside from the baking time, these are really so easy and inexpensive to make. I love food that you just dump and combine, and it's an added bonus when they come out looking so elegant and impressive!

I've made these a couple of times since my mom shared the recipe, and they are always a hit. So whether you are celebrating your team's victory or nursing an ego-busting defeat, grab one of these delicious treats!

For the cheesecake:
  • 3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened - don't use lowfat!
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs (I use egg substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the topping:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 cans cherry pie filling
Preheat the oven to 300 and line 2 12-cup cupcake trays with liners.

To make the cheesecake, combine the cream cheese and sugar in a mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and beat for 3-4 minutes. Pour into liners, 3/4-full, and bake for 35-40 minutes. (They will NOT brown!) Let cool for 5 minutes, but leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, make the topping by beating the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together. Once the cheesecakes have cooled, divide evenly among the cakes (I used about a half-tablespoon per cake). Top with the cherries (or your decoration of choice) and bake for another 5 minutes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zippy Turkey Bake

With a name like that, who cares what's in it? It just sounds so fun and delicious, and this dinner from Colleen absolutely lived up to its name.

As is usual for a casserole dish, the photo doesn't do the dinner justice. But this blend of cheese, rice, and summer veggies was perfect, and I know I'll make it again.

  • 1 1/3 pound package lean ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved vertically and sliced
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups rice, cooked (I used a boil-in-the-bag rice which yielded 3 cups of cooked rice)
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chilies
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 or two 8 x 8 baking dishes.

Cook turkey over medium heat in large skillet, drain. Add butter, zucchini, mushrooms, and green onions; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Drain if necessary. Stir in chili powder, salt, and garlic powder. Remove from heat.

If the skillet is big enough, add rice, green chilies, sour cream, and 1 cup shredded cheese to turkey mixture and stir to combine. If not, add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix.Turn mixture into baking dishes. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and slightly bubbly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Sweet Potato Hummus

Make sure you head right over to HighLowAha to vote for my recipe in Week 4! Voting is over on the right sidebar; you may have a scroll a bit. You can also vote for next week's ingredient.

The timing of this week's ingredient, the potato, was impeccable. Just days before, I was browsing the internet for some fall recipes and found several variations of Sweet Potato Hummus. When the potato won your votes, I couldn't wait to try my own.

I searched online and studied different recipes, but ultimately I once again created my own dish. I know - I'm shocked too! Using the hummus recipe I made a few months ago as a foundation, I had a blast incorporating the orange spud into the classic dip.

I've really never even had hummus up until a few months ago, but it's such a simple thing to make, and a definite crowd pleaser. I could have eaten this with a spoon, and it did not last long at all. The sweet potatoes give it a different flavor and texture that really works. At the last minute I added a shake or two or pumpkin pie spice, and I regretted it immediately - but it was a great impulse! It really gave the hummus a warm, harvesty touch - perfect for watching the game on a fall day.

Don't mind the little fingers in the photo below. If you're a regular reader here, you've seen Ryan's hands intrude their way into many shots - and you've heard me say that the best way to get my kid to eat is to tell him to get out of my way while taking pictures. I don't know what is so suddenly appetizing about watching me photograph our food, but I'm not complaining!

(By the way, he probably ate a third of this by himself in about 8 minutes.)

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 12-oz can chick peas
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp+ tahini (sesame paste), divided
  • juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • couple of shakes of pumpkin pie seasoning
Peel the potatoes and chop into 1" cubes. Steam for about 10 minutes.
Drain water from the can of chick peas into a small bowl and reserve.
In a food processor (or blender), mix together the chick peas with the remaining rest of the ingredients, being careful to add second half of lemon juice and tahini slowly, stopping to taste.
Slowly add some of the reserved liquid from beans and a bit of water for correct consistency,(about 1-2 minutes) until a smooth, slightly fluid paste is formed.
Refrigerate for at least 30 mins before serving. This changes the taste of the hummus by allowing the flavors to form.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Superbowl Snack Throwdown: Fiesta Sliders

The third week of the Superbowl Snack Throwdown brought us cheese as a secret ingredient. Please make sure you head over to HighLowAha to vote for your favorite snack, as well as the next ingredient! The last two weeks have been VERY close, so every vote counts.

At first I was excited about cheese because the possibilities are endless. But on the flip side, the possibilities are endless - I had so many ideas and it was hard to narrow them down. I ended up channeling a burger I've had for awhile and turning them into a bite-sized snack: the Fiesta Slider.

These little treats came out even better than I expected. They are so versatile and anyone can adapt them to their own tastes and preferences. They were juicy and flavorful, and they vanished in no time!

  • 1 lb ground meat (I used turkey, but beef would be great)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 160z jar salsa, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese
  • Breadcrumbs, unseasoned, as needed
  • Optional add-ins: cilantro, onion, tomato, olives, etc
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, tomato, lettuce, etc
  • 12 slider rolls

Preheat grill or grill pan; spray with cooking spray.

Combine meat, taco seasoning, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 jar of salsa, cheese, and optional add-ins in a medium bowl. Mix with a fork. Add breadcrumbs, just a little bit at a time, as needed if the mixture is too moistForm into 12 mini burger patties and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, or until done.

Meanwhile, smear a little sour cream on the inside of each bun. Add the patty and top with a spoonful of the remaining salsa. Add more shredded cheese, lettuce... whatever your heart desires!

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