Dec 17, 2010

Creamy Penne Pesto Bake...

On the calendar of meals Saturday was a recipe from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals and good heavens was it amazing (AND EASY!)

Creamy Penne Pesto Bake
-Serves 4

Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces penne pasta
1-1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 (5-ounce) jar pesto sauce
1 (13.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
2 (6 ounces each) packets grilled chicken strips
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 2-1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 1 minute less than directed on package. Drain and set aside. For creamy pesto, in a medium bowl, stir together Alfredo sauce and pesto sauce and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, toss to combine artichoke hearts, Italian cheese blend, chicken and roasted red peppers. Add cooked pasta and creamy pesto. Using a rubber spatula, fold together until well mixed. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.

4. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and oil and sprinkle over pasta. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Aaron is not a fan (or so he says…yet he eats Spinach and Artichoke Dip) of Artichokes, so I left those out.

I also used chicken breasts from the freezer instead of the packaged kind of chicken strips (like Tyson’s). I cut them into small cubes and cooked them prior to using them in the recipe (even more frugal than the cookbook). We already had pesto sauce in the fridge as well as a jar of roasted red peppers meant for a veggie dip that was never made. As far as "Italian Blend" cheese...I used mozzarella because I already had it when I went grocery shopping and new it needed to be used.

In the words of Aaron---“this tastes like we got it at a restaurant” …so I will take that as a compliment and clue to make it again.  We ate it for dinner that night and then I took some for lunch at school and had the rest yesterday for lunch on my SNOW DAY! :O)

Oct 14, 2010

Two new yummy recipes...

Recently I tried a new stir-fry recipe that was similar to one I have made before. It was similar in that the sauce was "orange-flavored" and another Weight Watchers recipe...but other than that it was quite different. 

Pork Stir-Fry with Orange Sauce

4  ounces  uncooked thin rice noodles
1  pound  boneless loin pork chops, trimmed and cut into thin strips
3  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 1/2  teaspoons  cornstarch
1/4  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3  tablespoons  dry sherry
2  tablespoons  thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
4  teaspoons  canola oil, divided
2/3  cup  diagonally cut peeled carrot (about 2 medium)
1  cup  sliced red bell pepper
4  green onions, sliced diagonally

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
While noodles cook, combine pork and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in broth and next 4 ingredients. Set aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook 2 minutes or until pork just loses its pink color. Remove from pan; set aside.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan; add carrot and bell pepper. Sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add green onions; cook 2 minutes or until onions wilt. Add soy sauce mixture to pan. Return pork and accumulated juices to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until sauce is thick. Serve over noodles.

I used brown rice rather than rice noodles. I also used a little bit of ground ginger rather than fresh. I also did not use the green onions. Instead of peeling and cutting a carrot or two I just sliced up some baby carrots. 

And here it is: 

Second Recipe...

Pumpkin Pancakes (from Men's Health)
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup milk
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg

1.Combine the first five dry ingredients in one bowl.  Combine the milk, pumpkin, butter, and egg in a separate bowl and mix thoroughly. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix, or your pancakes will be tough.

2.Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of butter or cooking spray, then add a small scoop of batter to the pan. Cook until tiny air bubbles begin to form on the surface of the top side of the pancake (about 3 minutes), then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

This sounded too good to NOT follow it to a "T" I did. Annnddd....SUCCESS! :O) Aaron loved them much that I don't have a picture. 

Sep 5, 2010

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

Yes...made in about 45 minutes and in a skillet.  Thank you Pillsbury Savvy Shopper's Cookbook


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups sliced fresh carrots
2 cups frozen southern style diced hash brown potatoes
1 jar (12-15 oz) chicken gravy
1 cup frozen peas
1 can refrigerated buttermilk flaky biscuits 
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme and the pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned, stirring frequently.

2. Move chicken to one side of skillet. Add carrots and potatoes; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add gravy to chicken and vegetables; mix well. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally and adding peas during last 5 minutes of cooking time. 

3. During last 15 minutes of cooking, heat oven to 400°F. Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Cut each into quarters; place in large bowl. Add garlic powder and remaining teaspoon thyme; toss to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. 

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until biscuit pieces are golden brown. Scatter over top of cooked chicken mixture before serving.

Aug 30, 2010

Finally! (a little HGTV moment...)

We have this cupboard in our bathroom that was obviously a re-purposed kitchen 'was' identical to the cupboards in our kitchen currently. 

However, our cupboards in the kitchen look like this...a sort of cream color.

And here is how it looks finally matches the bathroom :O)


Aug 26, 2010

Is it Autumn yet??

The cooler temperatures and big puffy white clouds in the sky have spurred me into "fall mode"...and this includes all things crafty.

Recent creations: 

Leaf Coasters (credits to The Long Thread )

And fall pillow slipcovers...
(credit to Cluck Cluck Sew )

Jul 15, 2010

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled... It's been a long time since I did the stroll

Name that tune! Bet ya can't...

But yes, its been a long time and one very, very busy summer. I might be struck down by some colleagues for this, but "is it September yet?" Working at Chautauqua has made for very long, stressful days...and yes I've been working there a while so you'd think it wouldn't be such a big deal...but this year!?! It's nuts! I'm ready to go back to nice quiet, serene Chautauqua.

Tonight is the first night since school was out that I have been able to try out a new recipe and not just throw together a dinner at the last minute.

Tonight it was.........

Chicken with Parmesan Noodles (Start to finish: 20 minutes)
1 9oz package of refrigerated angel hair pasta
2 Tbsp of butter
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 C purchased basil pesto
1/4 C finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Ground peppers, Olive oil, Fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to packaged directions. Meanwhile, in an extra large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add carrots; cook and stir for 3 minutes.
2. Add chicken; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink. Add pesto; toss to coat.
3. Drain pasta. Return to pan and toss with remaining 1 Tbsp of butter. Divide pasta among four plates. Add chicken to plates. Top chicken with Parmesan cheese; if desired sprinkle with olive oil, pepper, and basil.

Alterations: The difference in price between pre-cooked/refrigerated pasta and buying a box of angel hair pasta and cooking it myself was enough to convince I cooked the pasta myself. I also sprinkled the pasta with some olive oil when it was done so it didn't stick. I didn't time this recipe out well so the pasta was done before the chicken was tossed in the pesto. I also did not use straight Parmesan...I used a mix of that, Asiago, Romano, Mozzarella, and Provolone cheese.

Here it is:

Overall, Aaron and decided it was a yummy, no oven needed, lighter, summer meal that we both would like to have time though MORE PESTO. I was a little gun shy on using the pre-made stuff, didn't want to have a basil overload.

On another note: I now, midway into July, have plants in my garden! :O) YAY!

Jun 15, 2010

Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers...

Last night I tried my hand at a different stuffed pepper recipe. Lately when I have made "traditional" stuffed peppers they have been kind of "blegh" I thought lets kick it up a little. 

Here is the recipe:


  • 6 medium green or sweet red pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1-1/4 cups salsa, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green chilies
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend

  • Directions
  • Cut tops off peppers and discard; remove seeds. In a Dutch oven or large kettle, cook
  • peppers in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.  In a nonstick skillet, cook the beef, onion and celery over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the rice, 1 cup salsa, chilies, chili powder and salt. Spoon into peppers.
  • Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup water to dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and top with remaining salsa. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

Ok...for my "alterations" to this one. 

  • I only did 4 peppers because they were gigantic peppers (thank you Brigottas)
  • I did not have any green chilies on hand so they were not a part of this
  • I only used maybe 1 tsp of chili powder...last time I followed a recipe when it came to chili powder I couldn't see straight because my eyes were watering
  • I also added a small can of V8 juice because the rice/meat mixture just seemed too dry...
  • no mexican cheese blend...just good old fashioned shredded cheddar tonight
  • I also only cooked them for maybe 30 minutes in an 8x8 pan since I was doing four instead of six...AND I "pre-cooked" the peppers in the microwave, we don't have a dutch oven (I keep meaning to get one of those :op)

They were definitely very good that Aaron said they were by far, and this recipe is by far, his favorite when it comes to Stuffed Peppers for dinner.

I made cheesy garlic bread to go with it...

Overall, another successful recipe! Woo hoo :O)

Recipe from Taste of Home 

Jun 8, 2010

Time to catch up...

It certainly feels like the end of the school year...and boy was that evident today. Lots of tests, lots of flashcard making, study guide making, and study games being played. In between that, Memorial Weekend, a wedding, and a picnic/bbq I managed to do a few things (both in the crafty and cooking department).

Recently Aaron and I disagreed on whether something would fit in the trunk of my car. He was adamant that said item would NOT fit...and I was pretty sure it would...or at least I wanted to try. With some quasi-reverse psychology I told him that if he could get the item to fit I would make him a Boston Cream Pie (one of his favorites). It fit of course...and so Boston Cream Pie it was.

Instead of making an entire cake I decided to make mini cakes. I made a yellow cake mix, custard, and a chocolate ganache...and went for it.

Here's the process pictorially...

I also made one kick butt dinner the other night...Chiavettas Chicken Shish Kabobs...check out these beauties :O) And these were definitely NOT premade at the store, even though Wegmans does do a fine job...these were made by moi.

The wedding I spoke about earlier...well I made the gift for the happy couple.
I took a few ideas I saw floating around here in blog world and made them my own...

And up close all together...

May 29, 2010

A refashion...

I have this issue with buying jean capris...

The issue is: I can't.

They either end up having a huge gap in the back...which I hate...ooorrrr they look like mom-pants, and I'm not there yet.

So...instead I decided to take a pair of jeans I no longer wear and refashion them.

Turned out pretty well I think...


And after....

May 24, 2010

Sweet and Tangy Pot Roast

Recent recipe:

Last night we had "Sweet 'n Tangy Pot Roast"...I used the crock pot and cooked it slowly so it just fell apart last night.

Here she is...
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 lbs)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine (or beef broth)
1 envelope brown gravy mix
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Cut meat in half and place in slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the water, ketchup, wine or broth, gravy mix, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder.  Pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or until meat is tender.

I normally do NOT buy the pre-mixed rice type of side dishes, but I had a coupon AND it was on sale so it was only about  $.98. So Uncle Ben's Wild Rice it green beans.

AND we were able to eat out on the porch last night.......YAY SUMMER!!

Try this out:
My Stick Family

May 12, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

Mmmmm these were soooo yumm-o.

I got the recipe from the McCormick recipe book I've been using lately.
4 eggs
1/4 c milk

1 c diced ham
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tortillas
1 tbsp butter
cheddar cheese

Mix eggs, milk, ham, seasoned salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Melt butter in a skillet. Add egg mixture and allow to cook through. Once the egg mixture has firmed up, spread some cheddar cheese on a tortilla and place egg mixture on top of cheese. Add more  cheese to top and roll up the tortilla. It is that easy!

We had wheat toast and orange juice with this was breakfast for dinner afterall. :o) And yes we used paper plates...already had enough dishes to in the sink!

Tonight I am working on two new has been started already :

May 11, 2010

A Tempetuous Tuesday


              definitely describes my Tuesday, in more ways than one.

To combat's my afternoon/evening pictorially.

and tonight we will have Grilled Cheese and Soup (tomato for me ;o] )for dinner. It only seems appropriate given the weather and my lack of enthusiasm for making dinner. Plus it's what I planned to have anyway....

Maybe I'll get ambitious and do some more organizing...we'll see.

May 10, 2010

Chicken Lasagna short cut :o)

Chicken Lasagna Roll-ups…
Takes about 30 minutes to make, 45 minutes to bake…and makes 5 servings of 2 rolls each.
What you need:
10 lasagna noodles
1 container (15 oz) of ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 jar (24 oz) marinara sauce
2 C rotisserie chicken
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

What to do:
1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Boil the lasagna noodles for 8 minutes. Drain/rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking. Set aside.
2. In a bowl mix ricotta, egg, Italian seasoning, garlic, and parsley
3. Spread 1/2 C of the marinara in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread each noodle with some ricotta, chicken, and mozzarella cheese. Roll it up and place it seam down in the baking dish. Repeat 11 more times :-p. Spread leftover marinara sauce on top of roll-ups.

4. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 min. Take off the foil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes more.
so delicious

Now…alterations: I used part skim ricotta just to keep the calories/fat down. I also used dried parsley because I didn’t have fresh. For the garlic, I just crushed a clove myself…cheaper than the jarred stuff. I also did not have any "leftover rotisserie chicken". This is one of those cook once, eat thrice ideas...but I just cooked chicken for this recipe because this is what I had planned for tonight. On that note, I also decided to boil the chicken this time rather than bake it or fry it...and WOW I will boil it if I ever need it for something like this again. This may sounds silly or inexperienced of me but boiling the chicken made it MUCH easier to shred it for the roll-ups.

I served it with a  salad…and MILK of course. I must have milk with meals like this. Yum!

Now after dinner...I will enjoy this:

and my book! :o)

May 9, 2010

Mother's Day...

Today, following church, we went to home to spend the day with my mom....

And while chili for dinner might sound weird for was oh about 40 degrees tops today...oye Mother Nature is cruel sometimes.

For dessert we had "Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake"...seems a little redundant but it is VERY lemon-y so this recipe means it! 

I found it at Joy the Baker's blog. 

For those of you who live around here or are from around here...I would compare this to Lemon Loaf from Upper Crust in Fredonia or Starbucks Lemon Cake.

It was YUMM-O! 

May 7, 2010

My bargain of the day...

When I was younger shoes were it for me. I looooooooooved shoes. We're talking many, many, many pairs, and I never wanted to get rid of any.

I have since curbed this obsession some and limit myself when it comes to shoes. However, tonight I found one very cute pair...and at a steal.

They were originally $22.99, but I got them for $8!! Eeeeeeiiii!! :o) And I THINK they will go quite well with the skirt I made last night. I know it seems like a little thing, but to me its a big thing.

May 6, 2010

The source of my pride tonight...

I have a few "occasions" coming up that I need to somewhat dress up for. I found this fabric the other day on a trip to JoAnns and tried to imagine a skirt as I stood there staring at it and contemplating buying it. Well obviously I did, and I am very glad I did. I pictured a very "Mrs. Cleaver" type of skirt and me making it with that cheesy music on those Kelly Ripa commercials for Electrolux Appliances playing in my head. This however did NOT happen. I don't know about anyone else who tries their hands at sewing clothing but patterns are pathological liars. I looked at the measurements and decided I needed to make a size 12 (not my typical size, mind you! only another reason to hate patterns)...BUT when I cut it all out, darted where I needed to put darts, and sewed the zipper in........

IT  DIDN'T FIT!!!!! >:O and oooh I was fuming.

Thank goodness I have a patient husband who knew this and knew that his "suggestions" and my  barking back were purely because I was upset that this image of a perfect little skirt was quickly fading. And if I'm going to be really honest, he is the one who gave me the suggestions for how to make it work out. I took out 2 of the darts suggested on the pattern and voila! :o)

So tonight I made this...

What do you think?! =)

May 5, 2010

Pieces of tonight...

Tonight--> Big thunderstorm = quiet, crafty time, while Aaron watches Ghost Hunters.

Sneak Peeks:


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