Friday, May 31, 2013

Oven Roasted Sausages, Potatoes & Peppers

I'm not sure why I was in the mood for comfort food today. Perhaps because I woke up early or maybe the dark skies and heavy rains. Whatever the reason, I am so glad I found this recipe, Oven Roasted Sausages, Potatoes & Peppers on pinterest! The recipe was simply delicious! Fortunately, I had everything called for in this recipe, except the rosemary, so there were no trips to the store in the rain for this cook!

I used Johnsonville smoked brats for the meat, new red potatoes, red peppers, vidalia onions, plus the other ingredients listed. I did feel 3 Tbs. of creole seasoning was a bit much, so I only used 2 Tbs. and I substituted parsley flakes for the rosemary.

One of the great things about this recipe is that it can be easily adjusted to fit your tastes. If you have young children, you may want to go very lightly on the creole seasoning. You could also add some sliced carrots, corn or squash.

One word of caution...I simply quartered the new potatoes and that may have been too big. They did not cook through in 30 minutes, so I left the pan in the oven an extra 7 minutes. While the potatoes were just done, the peppers had begun to burn.

The aroma of this dish filled the whole kitchen and made it very difficult to wait patiently for the first bite! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Biggest Loser Pancakes

It was a long holiday weekend, and I know we were negligent in posting. But, the good news is that I was cooking up a storm and have several great recipes to share with you this week!

These Biggest Loser Pancakes were a risky recipe to me. Seriously, do these ingredients seem like they would yield anything besides mush? I was not sure how it would end, but I was willing to give it a try as I have missed pancakes a lot since beginning this low carbohydrate diet.

My parents were in town this holiday weekend so I figured it was the perfect time to try out a low-carb, low sugar recipe. We slept in most of the weekend, so this ended up being more of a brunch than a breakfast. So after putting all of the ingredients in a food processor, I scooped out 1/4 cup of the batter into little circles and I must admit, I was still skeptical. Afterall, while it did look more like pancake batter at this point, the scoops of batter were tiny and the pancakes looked quite small compared to the giant cirles I am used to making. Fortunately, they did spread more as they heated and ended up yielding a decent sized pancake.

The final product definitely looked like a pancake, and the taste was pretty close to a fluffy pancake. The texture was more dense, but that is even true with oatmeal added to regular pancakes, as I often do for added fiber. The two year old thought they were great, while my discerning 11 year old wasn't as impressed. The adults all enjoyed them and were satisfied through the lunch hour. This is definitely a recipe to keep for a sweet craving on a weekend morning.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oven Tacos

Family friendly and healthy are sometimes a hard combination to find in a dinner. However, Google and I attempt it each week during meal planning. This recipe caught my eye, because how could you improve on tacos I thought? This recipe, Oven Tacos is really simple yet really improved the Mexican night in our home!

First of all, I really loved the idea of lining the shells out in the pans, having them easily propped up and ready to fill. Since I am in calorie counting mode, this made it simple to measure out the ingredients to ensure I was getting what I was supposed to and not more or less. This made for easy portions later.

As you can see from the picture below, I actually made two different kinds of tacos. The first tacos, as the ones on top, follow the original recipe. The tacos below, I added strips of sweet peppers to the tacos before the cheese. Trying to squeeze in enough veggies in my new low calorie diet is sometimes a challenge for me as I am not a veggie person. This was simple and really added new flavor to the tacos, or as my son said, made them the grown ups pan!

The reviews on the original recipe had some people complaining of the taco shells getting soggy, but mine were actually quite crispy still. I did follow the recipe author's suggestion of letting the moisture cook out of the beef as much as possible. This not only concentrated the taco seasoning flavor, but also kept my taco shells as they were meant to be.

The final product as you can see above, was perfect. The toppings were perfectly portioned and actually quite easy to keep the taco together, as the only loose toppings were the lettuce and salsa. The kids really enjoyed this recipe and it will definitely be added to my future meal plans!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

Last week and this week my oldest son has baseball three days and martial arts three days, meaning we aren't home much! I was looking for easy slow cooker recipes, and this one seemed to fit the bill. Cilantro Lime Chicken seemed like something my kids would eat and my husband would find filling. This recipe definitely fit the order!

This recipe is super simple. You put all of the ingredients in a ziploc bag, then freeze or in my case, put in the refrigerator, since I didn't let it wait long enough to need to freeze it. Then in the morning, you put all of the contents in the crockpot, set to low, and off you go. In the evening, I shredded the chicken and then we debated how to eat. We decided the best way to eat it was to put it over chips with cheese. It made healthy, flavorful nachos! This specific website suggests serving it on tortillas, but this recipe is on a variety of websites and several have other suggestions, like serving it on chips.

The flavor of this chicken was very similar to the flavors of Chipotle, where the rice bowl is my personal favorite. I am sure you could easily serve this like a rice bowl at Chipotle and have a gourmet meal at home. My husband was really excited about this dish and has asked that I make it again in the very near future. It will definitely be added to my make-ahead freezer recipes collection!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Upside Down Pineapple Muffins

Looking for a dessert that reminds you of the delicious cakes your mother made when you were little? Upside Down Pineapple Muffins are it! All of the flavor and perfectly portioned!

I wanted to replicate the recipe to the exact manner my mother made her wonderful upside down cakes, so I made a few small changes to part of the batch and could fairly compare the outcomes. I put a very small amount of butter in the bottom of some muffin cups and added chopped pecans, just as my mom did! And, as you can see from the picture, I used the pineapple slices in some and cut up chunks in others. Although the rings are great, the cut up chunks fit average sized muffin pans far better. If you are going for wow, use the slices; for convenience use chunks or tidbits. You may also wish to cut the maraschino cherries in half; just remember to place the cut side up in the muffin tins. I also felt the white cake was rather bland. I will use a yellow or pineapple flavored cake mix next time. The recipe does not say, but I highly recommend unsweetened pineapple.

An easier way to measure the right amount of brown sugar needed in each muffin tin is 1 tsp. Because I love brown sugar, I used a rounded tsp...just remember that I am speaking of a measuring tsp. There is a difference! The batter measurement is approx. 1/4 cup per unit.

This recipe is delicious and made a wonderful mothers' day dessert! Thank you, Mr. Food for reminding me what a terrific cook my own mother was and how some recipes bring back those sweet memories!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Huevos a la Mexicana

This Mexican egg recipe, Huevos a la Mexicana is perfect for a leisurely breakfast any day of the week! The flavors are light, so you don't walk away from the table feeling like you need an antacid to get through the day! If your children like vegetables, this dish is sure to please them as well. The recipe says it feeds 4-6. If you are feeding adults, I would only count on it feeding four, but could feed six, if children are in the count.


This recipe is not very time-consuming and vegetables could be chopped in advance. I thought the flavors were in perfect proportion. However, my husband, also my guinea pig, would have preferred slightly less cilantro. The smell of jalepenos, onion & tomatoes cooking filled the whole kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

As you can see from the pictures, I served this dish with a whole wheat English muffin & fresh fruit for a wonderful, healthy breakfast! Ole!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Easy Cheese Danish

I was in a breakfast kind of mood this weekend and made this fabulous looking easy cheese danish. This is a very common pinterest recipe with many blogs and websites posting this concoction. Because it is common and many people I know have actually already made this recipe, I questioned what value this recipe would bring to The GOOD Pins. However, within the recipe, is a low-fat, healthier version.

I am a perpetual dieter, trying to fight against the genes of wide jeans, so this interested me! I made the recipe exactly as the low-fat version describes. It was a bit dry and the flavor of the crescent rolls was strong from the lack of filling. Also, I used an artificial sweetener in place of sugar and the chemical taste of the sweetener was over-powering to this more delicate dessert.

Now, that being said, this wasn't a bad start to a healthier breakfast dish. I think you really need to keep the filling at 2 bars of cream cheese. One really was not enough. I also think the cream cheese filling could be sweetened with less chemical flavor by using half sugar, half sweetener, or perhaps honey or agave nectar instead. The crescent roll crust baked up nicely and the egg white brushing gave it the perfect top. Another variation I considered was no sweetener to the cream cheese, but a light powdered sugar icing drizzled over the top.

Please feel free to comment below if you have had this recipe and have a suggestion for improving this as I really wanted to love it. I wanted to have a new Go-To weekend breakfast treat, this just wasn't it as the recipe stands.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best Guacamole Ever

Best Guacamole Ever truly tastes like guacamole you would find in Old & spicy! The flavor is excellent, the recipe can be halved or doubled, the spices can be adjusted to your taste buds and one batch will certainly serve 6-8 people.

Personally, I like my guacamole a little less spicy, so I generally add sour cream to taste. In this case, I believe the sour cream could be added without compromising the taste or texture. Adding sour cream would also allow you to stretch the recipe to accommodate extra guests! For those of you who enjoy black olives as much as I do, garnishing the guacamole with them would only add to this dish!

As an aside, for years, I peeled the avocados, then cut the meat off the seed. Recently I read that if you cut completely around the avocado, pull it apart, remove the seed, then scoop out the meat with a spoon, you will save significant time & energy...and boy, did I!

You may also want to roll the lime on your counter with the palm of your hand. You will be able to squeeze far more juice from it!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Juicy Lucy

This week one of my recipes was the Joosie Loosie, a personal favorite of my family. We currently live in the Minneapolis area, the home of the Jucy Lucy, Juicy Lucy, aka Joosie Loosie. My husband fancies himself a burger expert, and orders one just about everywhere we go. So the Man VS Food episode has drawn us to several local joints that advertise great Juicy Lucy's in town.

The great thing about this recipe is that the burger recipe itself is a typical hamburger recipe. No bells and whistles, just a sound, tasty recipe. The key is getting the cheese into the burger in a way that keeps it inside while cooking and before serving. It took us several practice tries to keep the cheese inside of the burger, but by the last 4, the cheese was staying where it is supposed to and my expert husband was fancying himself a real burger chef.

The burgers aren't simple to put together, but the tips we found to work best was making two thin patties, fold a slice of cheese in fourths and place it on the center. Then place one patty on top of the other, press down on the edges with the burgers sandwiched between two pieces of wax paper. Make sure the patties are thin enough to cook through stacked, but thick enough to not leave cracks where cheese will inevitably leak out when melted.

Those these burgers were a lot more work than a standard hamburger, my family gave this a double thumbs up and we will definitely make these for special occasions in the future.

Baked Corn Casserole

Corn Casserole from has a pleasant taste, but was far richer than I prefer. After reading a few recipe suggestions for this dish, it is apparent that most cooks felt that 4 Tbs. of butter would have been preferable and I certainly agree. Next time, I will also reduce the amount of cheese called for in the recipe. I would suggest one cup of cheese in the batter and none on top. This is a very mild dish and could be made with a little cayenne pepper or minced jalepenos, if you prefer a little more kick.

I would also suggest you use this in place of bread rather than using it as a traditional side. Our dish was served with Mexican food, but would also be delicious served with ham or chicken.

Friday, May 3, 2013

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

For this recipe, I dug deep in my personal Pinterest favorites for something different. This recipe, No bake Peanut Butter Bars was a simple breakfast idea. In fact, I seriously thought it was too simple. Only 3 ingredients??? So, I spent naptime yesterday setting out to create these bars. The prep time involved was literally 10 minutes at the most. The hardest part was realizing I had to wait to let them set to try a bite!

My family spotted them last night and decided they had set long enough for an after-dinner snack. These bars are fabulous! They brought back childhood memories of having peanut butter and honey sandwiches as an alternative to jelly. Texture-wise, they slice up nicely into bars although the oats are a little rough. If you aren't a fan of whole oats in things like granola, you might want to make them with quick oats. I really liked the hearty taste of the old fashioned oats though and appreciate the extra fiber content. My only complaint was that the recipe calls for a 9 x 9 pan, and the bars were really thick. I think I would make them in a 9 x 13 in the future to get a thinner bar, closer to a commercial granola or breakfast bar. But this is more of a personal preference.

To be fair to the review, I insisted the guys leave me enough bars for us to try them this morning, following the recipe guidelines. The bars were just as good this morning and very filling. These are definitely sweet, my favorite for a breakfast. You may be able to cut back on the honey a bit, but not too much or the bars may not take on the great, portable shape they were in this morning. This is a really easy breakfast item to make and one you can make quite healthy. Using organic honey, natural peanut butter and old-fashioned oats, it is really a wholesome choice. I think the next time I make these, and there will be a next time, I will add some raisins, a few nuts or maybe even some chocolate chips. The alternatives could make a variety of breakfast bar choices.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Honey Beef and Broccoli

This 5 star recipe for Honey Beef and Brccoli definitely deserves its five star rating! There are just enough varied flavors to tickle your taste buds without overwhelming them! The recipe is easy to follow and ingredients can be prepared ahead. For those of you on tight schedules, I would suggest cutting the sirloin & onion in advance, cleaning & cutting the broccoli and buying a jar of fresh minced garlic...wonderful time savers in the evening!

Another bonus to this recipe is that it can be easily varied. If you like it less spicy, cut down/out the pepper flakes; add carrots or mushrooms if you want additions; increase the sauce ingredients if you want more sauce; the variations are endless.

I served this with brown rice, but it would also be delicious with white rice.

Just as recipe suggests, do not overcook the broccoli. Following the suggested times is highly recommended!