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New recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole from Skinny Mom and Sue

27 Jun
A new recipe for us!

A new recipe for us!

Well here it is, the last week of June!

Hooray!!! We made it to summer vacation! I will admit, there were days and nights I didn’t think it would ever, ever, EVER get here, and the final month of the school year was absolutely brutal to get through, but we did it. We have a newly minted junior in high school, an eighth grader, and a sixth grader, and we will finally be back in just two schools again next year, rather than the three from this year.

To help us make it through the year, we relied on many of our tried and true recipes, but there were also a couple of new ones thrown in there every so often. This is one I have been wanting to post for some time now, but I just never had a chance to get on and do it.

I’ve mentioned my friend Sue on this blog a few times already. You can read about Sue, her kindness, generosity and her fabulous recipes here and here.  Sue has this wonderful habit of texting me to let me know that she’s left me a treat in her milkbox. It might be a bag of the snacks I linked to just now, or it might be cookies, or a book, or in one case, a container of a new recipe she had tried out. The recipe was for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole and it was from the blog Skinny Mom. You can view the recipe here.

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

As soon as I tried Sue’s casserole (which was gluten free and low fat, perfect for our family’s needs) I knew I had to add it to one of our two week menu plans. Sue had made some adjustments of her own, adding in mushrooms, using the sauce she likes, and things like that, and I opted to do the same thing. We added in mushrooms and olives, used a sauce we liked, and I even decided to double the recipe, thinking we’d then have it leftover for another night’s meal.

I cooked this recipe in my new Pampered Chef stir fry pan, and as I did, I quickly realized that not only would I have enough leftover for another meal that week, but I actually had enough for two full casseroles: one for that week with leftovers and one to bag up into a large-sized ziploc freezer bag and freeze for a future night. It would just need to be thawed out and baked with cheese on top.

I also tried out a new gluten-free biscuit mix which we flavored with a garlic powder and butter topping, and that went over well too. All in all, I had a new, delicious meal and I had enough for a whole second meal as well. It was a win-win for us. I would most definitely make this meal again in the future. Anyone who loves stuffed peppers or even American Chopped Suey, would love this recipe too! I encourage you to try it, and I thank Sue for sharing it with me!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Salad with a Twist

25 May
Doesn't it look delicious?

Doesn’t it look delicious?

It’s been a little while since I have posted a new recipe and I’ve been wanting to share this one since last month when we first tried it. The recipe is one that one of my daughters found on the back of a Whole Grain Wheat Reduced Fat Triscuit box. Our family loves these Triscuits and we keep them on hand regularly, so once we saw this recipe, we continued to see it on every box of Triscuits we bought. Each time we’d buy a new box, my daughter would say, “Mom, we have to make this!”

Finally over the school break in April, I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients, and we finally made it. I truly enjoy cooking with fresh veggies and it makes me so excited for summertime, when we have our own garden. Tomatoes are a favorite of almost everyone here, and we especially love the more unusually colored varieties along with the typical reds. This time around I bought a large container that had a mixture of several types of tomatoes in it, and it made for such a beautiful salad.

Since one of the girls eats a gluten free diet, I chose to make hers separately with no Triscuits and no red onions, since she doesn’t like those either. Tomatoes are one of her favorite snacks though, so she was just as excited as everyone else for this new recipe.

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we'd be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we’d be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

This was a simple recipe to follow. It is called a Panzanella Salad, but it’s very much like our usual Caprese salads, just with a bit of a twist, provided by the added Triscuits. There is no cooking involved, just chopping, slicing, dicing and assembling, so the preparation was quick. We just had to keep stopping ourselves from snacking as I was prepping.

While I cut up the tomatoes and the cheese, I had my daughter prep the Triscuits, counting out the amount the recipe asked for, and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. That was definitely a “one for me, one for the bowl” activity as well.

We served this with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, and it was the perfect side dish. It’s going to make a great addition to our sides for this upcoming summer. We loved the added crunch to the salad that the Triscuits provided, and my younger daughter enjoyed her gluten free version just as much as we enjoyed ours.

Here is the recipe according to the Triscuit box:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 18 Triscuit Reduced Fat Crackers, coarsely broken
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

 

Directions:

Combine  first 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Mix  dressing and garlic until blended.

Add to cracker mixture; mix lightly. Let stand 30 min.

Tear  basil into small pieces. Add to tomato mixture along with the pepper; mix lightly.

 

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

 

 

 

My new favorite pan with my forever favorite recipe

25 Apr
These granola bars were the best ones I'd ever made, thanks to my new pan.

These granola bars were the best ones I’d ever made, thanks to my new pan.

Good morning!

It’s been a very long time since I did a blog post! An entire month! I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long between posts before, but it’s just been a very busy time here. We have had some work being done in the house since February, regular work, school and activities going on, and even a little computer virus thrown in there on my work computer for good measure.

Through it all, we’ve been plugging along and I even had the opportunity to finally try out a new pan that I’d received after my January virtual Pampered Chef party. It was my last tool that I had yet to open, and when I finally did, I fell in love. Again. Pampered Chef is just the best.

The new pan is their Brownie Pan, and it’s one I’d always thought about getting but never had. I’d heard that there were so many things you could do with it. With 12 spots, it creates 12 corner piece brownies, but it also can create anything you’d like portioned out into individual portions from Shepherd’s Pie, to muffins, to lasagna, to really anything at all. No matter what I’m making, I always love the corner pieces and even my mom will save them for me when she bakes, so this pan really appealed to me.

I loved the perfect portioning, and I loved that every piece was a corner piece.

I loved the perfect portioning, and I loved that every piece was a corner piece.

For my first time I decided to try one of our favorite recipes I’ve been making as an after school snack for years: homemade granola bars. I had originally posted it here in 2012 but I hadn’t made them in a little while. I knew the kids would be excited and as soon as they walked in the door, they’d know what was on tap for snack. I chose to make the chocolate version, which always gets rave reviews.

The granola bars were even more of a hit than usual! They came out evenly portioned and evenly cooked, and by far were the best I’d ever made. They were also gluten free because I used gluten free oats. I promised that I’d make a double batch the next time, which is going to be sooner than later, for sure. Normally I like to make enough to have leftovers for lunchbag snacks, but these went so quickly, they didn’t seem to last very long at all.

You can order the pan here through my consultant Marcia’s website if you’d like to give it a try! I’d love to know if you already have the pan and if so, you can write your favorite thing to bake in it, other than brownies, in the comment section below.

Have a great week!

 

 

Happy Birthday Don and Alexandra!

23 Mar

So what’s the best birthday gift *you* ever gave someone?

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 23, 2012

Today is a very special day.

Today is Alexandra’s birthday.

Today is also Don’s birthday.

That makes me the best wife ever because seven years ago for Don’s birthday at 1:22 am I gave him our third daughter.

I know, I know, best gift ever, right?! It’s hard to top that one though, so I don’t really try. I’m back to t-shirts, pajama pants and stuff like that for his birthday gifts.

Alexandra’s First Birthday 2006

Since sharing his birthday with his daughter, Don has been blessed with getting to have a Snoopy party, a My Little Pony party, a Dora party, a Purple party and this year…Hello Kitty. Technically they’re not his parties obviously, but you see what I mean.

Birthday crowns all around on Alex’s second birthday.

Thankfully, my parents have this neat tradition that they started with us where we celebrate the adult birthday parties at their house each year and we “kids” get to choose our meal and our cake. I choose….well I won’t tell you what I choose until it’s my birthday this summer. But Don chooses a totally opposite type of meal and cake than I would choose, so I guess it’s good that we each get a chance to choose our own, to choose what we like. Don chooses meatball sandwiches (made with my mom’s homemade meatballs and gravy) with lemon cake for dessert. It’s probably the only time all year we have it and he really enjoys it.

Therefore, today I thought I’d share with you the recipe for Don’s birthday cake of choice each year, the lemon cake. It’s really yummy, I particularly love the corners.

***********************************************************************************

LEMON CAKE

A cake *just* for Daddy!

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water

2 beaten eggs

Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix

1 can lemon pie filling (divided)

DIRECTIONS

In bowl by hand, mix together oil, water, eggs, cake mix.

Add 1/4 can of lemon pie filling into the mix.

Put into greased 9×13 dish.

On top, distribute the rest of the pie filling.

Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cool, glaze with:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Add a little hot water if necessary.

Quick and Easy Garlic Parmesan Broccoli

21 Mar
The "after" picture

The “after” picture

“Oh yay! This is my favorite broccoli!”

I kid you not. Those words were spoken at dinnertime tonight when I put this side dish on the dinner table.

This broccoli recipe has in fact, become a new favorite. It might even be neck and neck in line with this one as a favorite broccoli side dish.

We were given this recipe at our local Whole Foods store one Saturday afternoon. Although I don’t do a ton of shopping there, I do have a few things that I need to buy that I can only find there, so one afternoon we were all together and we stopped in to pick up those types of things.

 

Such a simple recipe!

Such a simple recipe!

Being a Saturday afternoon around lunchtime, the samples were in full swing. Roaming a store, trying out new things, is one of our family’s favorite things to do. On that day we were given samples of a new favorite granola and of this Garlic Parmesan Broccoli. Although my family tends to really like broccoli, they really LOVED this recipe. As we took our samples, the employee at Whole Foods handed us the paper copy of the recipe. I folded it and put it in my purse and kind of forgot about it. It was late January or early February when we were there, and it was probably the end of February when I remembered I had it and tried it out one night. Sometimes when you make something at home after having had it out, it might not come out the same way. This recipe was seemingly impossible to mess up, and it came out great. I don’t always have fresh broccoli on hand, but I use my Pampered Chef hand-held food chopper to chop frozen broccoli florets after they’re cooked, and it works out great.

Looks unexciting in the bowl, but gets rave reviews every time!

Looks unexciting in the bowl, but gets rave reviews every time!

And so, tonight when I made it again and I got the exclamation that this is the favorite broccoli recipe, I knew I had to share it with you today. It’s fast and easy and delicious. There’s almost never anything left over, which is always a good sign of a great recipe. I also like that although we got it from Whole Foods, which tends to have a reputation for being very expensive, this particular recipe is very budget-friendly. You can use frozen broccoli, a jar of minced garlic and sprinkle cheese, or you can use fresh broccoli, fresh garlic and fresh grated cheese, depending what your budget looks like and what you happen to have on hand. You can also do any combination of fresh and not fresh also.

Next time you’re looking to spice up a plain side dish like a bowl of steamed broccoli, give this one a try! You never know, you might find that your kids have a favorite broccoli too!

In honor of Pi Day: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

13 Mar
Life-changing, indeed!

Life-changing, indeed!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day!

No, silly, not PIE day, PI Day!!

You know,”Pi: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, approximately 3.14159, an infinite number which has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.” (For more information like this about Pi, Pi Day and related celebrations, click on the link above!)

Pi Day also falls on the same day as Albert Einstein’s birthday. How great is that?!

Pi Day does have some similar qualities to Pie Day though (and if there isn’t actually a Pie Day, there should be), in that many people like to encourage the eating of pie of any kind to help with the celebrating of the mathematical concept!

To that end, my oldest daughter’s Algebra class will be celebrating Pi Day tomorrow with some sweet treats during class, so I said I’d send in a pie for them to use as part of their Pi Party. I had a single crust in the freezer and just enough ingredients to make the newest pie that I’ve fallen in love with this winter: a chocolate chip cookie pie.

This pie recipe was sent to me by a friend during the first blizzard we had in January as one of 23 different Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes to try out. The list claims to be a life-changing experience. If this pie recipe is any indication, I’d say they’re right!

This is a really quick pie to put together. Few ingredients, few steps. You don’t need to pre-bake your crust and the cook time is about an hour give or take, depending on your oven. The recipe is found on the Love from the Oven blog, and she has credited the original recipe to Nestle.

Obviously I did not make the Pi Day pie and then eat it myself, so my photos here are from the second blizzard of 2015, when I made this pie for dessert one night. It was a keeper for sure, and that’s the only sad thing about sending away a pie for Pi Day….we got to smell it baking, but didn’t get to eat it!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Quick, easy and perfect for Pi Day 2015!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie Recipe from Nestle
Preheat oven to 325

1 unbaked pie crust, homemade or store bought
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Beat eggs in a large mixer until foamy.

Now add in flour and sugars. Beat until well blended. Beat in the softened butter.

Stir in your chocolate chips and nuts.

Stir and pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake at 325 for  50-55 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (optional).

Fun Friday: Chocolate Raspberry Brownies from My Soup for You

12 Feb

1Happy Friday!

It’s very cold here and today’s recipe will warm your heart. It’s from my friend Paula’s blog, My Soup for You, and it’s a delicious fudgy brownie with a hint of raspberry.

To me, there’s nothing more decadent than chocolate and raspberry together. I have always loved it. I love it in chocolate raspberry chip yogurt, in a big box of chocolates and pretty much any other way I can get it.

So on Superbowl Sunday night when this link appeared on my Facebook timeline, I gasped out loud. I don’t like football, but I love my friend Paula’s blog, I love a great brownie recipe and I love the addition of raspberry jam in the recipe. I examined the ingredients and I had them all, as long as I substituted the same amount of brown sugar for the turbinado sugar, and as long as I used the Pillsbury Gluten Free flour blend that I’ve been using in most of my baking so that everyone could eat them. In fact, as luck would have it, I’d just bought a new jar of raspberry jam that very afternoon, so I was in business.

2The new recipe gave me the opportunity to use a new cooking tool from my Pampered Chef hostess gifts, the small micro-cooker. I had decided to start small and order the small one first and if I felt I needed the next size, I could order the large one at a later date.

I really loved this new tool! I was able to melt my chocolate, butter, brown sugar, white sugar and jam all in this one small cooker in the microwave. It made making these brownies very easy and with minimal cleanup afterwards since I used so few bowls. I am someone who has burned chocolate chips in the microwave in the past, so this was a great addition to my cookware and I was relieved not to see any smoke or charred chocolate this time around.

I also used another little Pampered Chef tool that I got from my hostess benefits: the test and release tool. It’s a cake tester on one side and a tool that allows you to go all around the edges of your baked goods to easily release them from the edge of the baking dish. It’s curved just enough to get underneath the baked goods a bit. I’ve used it with cupcakes, banana bread, and now brownies, and I love it every time. Pampered Chef always seems to know what we need and creates it for us. This was such a simple concept and yet, so helpful.

Our brownies were a huge hit on Superbowl Sunday and throughout the rest of this week as we munched away on the leftovers. I’d most definitely make them again. Making them gluten free did not seem to change the recipe at all. The consistency of the brownies was great, and the taste was perfect.

3I’m also sharing a tip with you today. I shared it on Facebook on Sunday night as I was posting about my brownies and some people had heard it before, while some people had not, so I thought I’d add it in here as well. Last year I was cutting still-warm brownies at some event or other and they were getting all gunked up on the knife that I was using. My Grandma Grello, (who happens to be a die-hard Patriots fan, by the way) was watching and she said to me, “You need to use a plastic knife. If you use a plastic knife, the brownies won’t do that.” I suddenly remembered her advice when I was getting ready to cut the brownies last week, which were in fact, still warm. I went into my pantry closet and got a plastic knife. Sure enough, they were very easy to cut, with the knife sliding right on through each and every row. Grandma Grello has 95 years of experience under her belt and she’s been cooking and baking with the best of them throughout those years. I take anything she says as pretty solid advice. I wouldn’t pass it along to you if I didn’t!

With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, this would make a great treat for you or your loved ones and it’s certainly cold enough here to enjoy a warm treat, just make sure you use a plastic knife when you cut it!

Have a great weekend!

 

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