Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Intention: Make a small shepherd's pie for dinner tonight for you and hubby.

Problem: You suddenly realize only have potatoes and the small amount of ground beef you cooked last night. You thought you had frozen veggies. don't. You are now in your pajamas and so is your husband since you were both planning on having a quiet night in watching TV.

Question: What do you do now? What can you do with what is in the house already?

Answer: Ground beef + taco seasoning + salsa + cheese + potatoes = Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes.

Yup, I made a bit oops tonight. Let's face it, what is shepherd's pie without veggies? So I was stuck looking for a Plan B. I was lucky enough to have an envelope of taco seasoning in the house and I put my thinking cap on and everything else just fell together - in a completely unintentional way of course!

Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes

About 1/3 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon minced garlic
About a 1/4 packet of taco seasoning (feel free to add more if you really love taco seasoning!)
1-2 tablespoons salsa
2 Medium sized baking potatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)

Place each potato in foil. Punch holes in foil with fork. Bake at 350F 35 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef on stovetop on medium-high heat. Add minced garlic. When meat is fully cooked. Add taco seasoning and salsa. Stir to combine.

When potatoes are done, cool a bit and cut each in half lengthwise. Scoop out a small opening out of the center of each potato half. Place a heaping amount of taco seasoned meat on each potato half. Top each with a generous amount of shredded cheese.

Place in oven at 350F for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

French Toast Yumminess...

About 2 weeks ago there was a book fair at work and while there, I bought "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes." I tried my first recipe out of it this weekend - a knockoff of Denny's "Fabulous French Toast."

I must say it was quite yummy and a lot better than the standard French Toast I make! My husband got a good chuckle when as he walked his cute little but downstairs (and might I add, that it is indeed VERY cute butt) to see me setting up the "photo op" for a plate of French Toast ha ha! Before he dug in he double checked to make sure that it was OK to "eat the artwork."

Men! Will they ever fully appreciate our neuroses?

Denny's Fabulous French Toast

4 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 slices of bread (thick bread preferably)
3 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar

Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium/low heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter. If butter smokes your pan is too hot, turn down the heat.

Drop each bread slice into the batter for about 30 seconds per side. Let some of the batter drip off then drop the bread into the buttered pan. Cook each battered bread slice for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Add more butter to the pan as needed to cook all the French Toast.

Serve 3 slices of French toast per plate. Dust each serving with a little powdered sugar and include some maple syrup on the side.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cookie Exchange!

Just a quick note that I am getting SUPER excited for my Christmas cookie exchange this weekend! YAY!!!! My husband and I put the tree up last night...I LOVE this time of year!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day!

I'm sitting here writing this blog in the last few minutes of Thanksgiving 2007. Why am I up you ask? Well, I dozed off on the couch tonight and when my husband woke me up to go to bed I was wide awake. Rather than toss and turn and keep him up (he has to work tomorrow, I don't) I'm up, doing this.

Anywho, I made this to bring to my husband's grandparents' house for dessert today and it went over quite well! I once again have to thank my friend Janine for this recipe. I swear she has the most butt kickin' recipes of anyone I know!

I have about a half of batch of gingerbread leftover - I think my bowl wasn't quite big enough but that may also be a result of using two 8oz containers of Cool Whip instead of one 12oz container (confession: I am a Cool Whip freak. I can't even keep it in the house unless it's for a particular recipe because I'll eat it right out of the container, frozen too!!). I used sugar free vanilla pudding and cut the brown sugar to just a tablespoon since I was out of my Splenda brown sugar blend (and my husband's family has a few diabetics in it). I figured this was safe since I found a similar recipe online that didn't call for brown sugar at all.

Either way....thank you so much for the recipe, Janine! You ROCK! (but I'm sure you already knew that hehe).

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

2 Packages 14 oz. each gingerbread mix
5 1/10 Ounce vanilla cook and serve pudding
30 Ounce can pumpkin pie mix
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/3 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 Ounce container frozen cool whip

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.

Stir the pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.

Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Refrigerate overnight.
And on that note:
Happy Thanksgiving to All!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great minds think alike....

So last Friday my BFF Michelle emailed me a recipe she intended to make for last Saturday night to bring to her future father-in-law's house. Her intention was to ask me if heavy cream was where she thought it would be in the supermarket. It took me about 1.2 seconds to realize that I too intended to make the same dessert for Saturday night to take to our friend Matt's apartment!! What are the chances of that? Well, I suppose considering we both get the free Kraft Foods magazine, a probably better chance than normal, but still! (hint: go to and you too can susbscribe to the free magazine they put out 4 times a year - thanks Kraft for great recipes!)

Either way, this recipe came out good but SUPER won't want to take too big of a piece of it! But it's a nice dessert to whip up on the double!

Chocolate Truffle Pie

1-1/4 pkg. (10 squares) Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup thawed Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place chocolate in large microwaveable bowl. Add whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended; cool slightly.

Add eggs, sugar and flour; beat with wire whisk until well blended. Pour into lightly greased 9-inch pie plate.

Bake 35 min. or until outer half of pie is puffed and center is slightly soft; cool. Serve topped with the whipped topping.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And just as a quick "p.s."

Red Sox Nation can sleep a little better tonight because....
He's coming baaaaaaaaaaccccccccckkkkkkkkk!

Glutton for punishment

So it's almost 10:45 on Monday night and I just finished wrapping up the last of the goodies I made for tomorrow's bake sale at work. It is for the Good Neighborhood Energy fund. The company does this fundraiser every year - and there are lots of good things besides baked goods - raffles, hot lunch, crafts, etc. Here's the website if you're interested in taking a look:

Ok, mind you, I cheated on almost all of these....I used boxed mix. But when it comes to bake sales volume tends to speak louder than..............than..................what's the word I'm looking for? "Homemadedness." Let's face it, I can bake a lot more stuff if it comes from a box than if it's homemade which equals more money that can be raised.

Ok, I'm sure "homemadedness" is not a word in the Webster Dictionary but I'm tired so you have to give me a free pass. I should probably mention I did some of this baking last night, believe it or not, so I've been busy. Then of course I had to package and label them all - because that's just me. Even though this stuff isn't homemade I figured I would share some pictures anyway. For those interested in what I made - mini banana breads, mini cranberry breads, pumpkin muffins, cinnamon streusel muffins, chocolate peanut butter chip cookies (thank you Pilsbury Doughboy and Betty Crocker). I also made sugar cookies (non-prettily shaped ones) which were actually homemade (although I didn't take a picture before they got bagged and labeled so you'll have to live without that). I'll share the recipe later. I'm honestly too tired to see straight now. Nighty night, all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How I love my Crockpot, let me count the ways....

Who invented the Crockpot? Does anyone know? And if they do, how do I find this person and give them a hug? And I love the SmartPot! You can set it to turn off at a certain time - can it get much better?

Seriously, Crockpots are the best inventions around. Nothing is better than coming home from a long day and having your meal all done and ready to go. I love that I can smell what's been yummily cooking in my kitchen before I even get the door open when I arrive home. Yum! If you don't have one, I suggest you get one. And if you don't use yours, use it...because I said so :-P
So last night we had pork chops in the crockpot....different recipe from the one I last posted but once again from my trust "Fix It and Forget It Cookbook". I promise I do actually make a lot more in my crockpot than pork chops!

BBQ Crockpot Chops

4-6 Boneless pork chops
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon seasoned meat tenderizer
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water.

Place chops in crockpot. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over chops and cook on low for 6 hours.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Just made these tonight so my husband has something good for dessert for his lunches this week. I snuck one to taste test it though....YUM!!

Chewy Coconut Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used my smallest cookie scoop).

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Buffalo chicken calzone...

So a few posts ago I shared a buffalo chicken dip recipe....

My creative side got the best of me this week when I thought to myself..."Self, how about you modify that dip and use it as a filling in a calzone and make it a full meal?"

Below is the result...warning: this made a GIANT calzone with lots of leftovers for my husband and I....but it came out quite tasty. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Calzone

4 oz. of neufatchel cheese (aka 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

1/4 cup light bleu cheese dressing

1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce

1/2 cup 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2lb bag refrigerated pizza dough

2 cooked bonless chicken breasts cut into chunks*

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese bowl. Microwave 1 minute to soften. Whisk in salad dressing, Buffalo Wing Sauce, minced garlic and cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken.

Take dough and roll out into oblong shape with rolling pin. Place chicken mixture on half of the dough leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges free of filling. Fold over dough and close edges with fork to seal.

Bake 30 minutes or until dough is cooked though.

*I seasoned the chicken breasts with a little bit of salt, pepper, and italian seasoning before cooking*

Friday, November 9, 2007

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Pea soup, yellow to be exact (any good girl of French Canadian descent will tell you yellow is the only way to go!). Not many people like it...well not a lot of people I know like it at least. But too bad! I do!

In my quest to keep eating healthy while keeping my taste buds amused, I was looking for a good, healthy soup recipe that I could take to work for lunch (since my husband will not join me in my love for pea soup) that will fill me up and keep me satisfied. When I ran across this recipe on, it certainly did the trick!

I put this overnight in my crockpot for 10 hours and took it out in the morning. I skipped the celery (didn't have any in the house) and the blender step since once I stirred the soup around, it seemed to reach a desired consistency (and I figured why not save myself the trouble). I found it very thick when I reheated it though, but I added a little water before popping it in the microwave and that did the trick. If you like yellow pea soup but don't like the project of soaking your peas overnight, etc. this recipe is for you!

Crockpot Yellow Split Pea Soup

8 cups water
1 package (1 pound) dried yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
3 medium carrots, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 cup diced Canadian-style bacon (5 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In 5 quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until peas and vegetables are tender.

Place 2 cups of the soup in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth; pour into bowl. Repeat with 2 more cups soup. Stir all blended soup into soup in slow cooker.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Toffee Blondies

Blondies....they're brownies...but not chocolate. So I guess they really aren't brownies....but you catch my drift. Here's a recipe I used this weekend that I found on Deborah's Culinary Confections (she calls them "Hodgepodge Blondies") which is a GREAT blog by the way, check it out. I made them decidedly Toffee Blondie because my husband and I are big fans of toffee. That being said, I used a lot of toffee in this recipe, so feel free to cut it down if you so choose.

Toffee Blondies

1 stick of butter, melted

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup toffee bits

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, combine butter, and brown sugar. Beat on low speed with mixer until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract on low speed with mixer.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt and beat in on low speed with mixer until well combined. Fold in toffee bits with spatula.

Bake 20-23 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool before cutting into squares.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apple Pecan Cobbler (or Cobblah as we say here in RI)

Stop. Apple time.


I made this dessert on my husband's birthday a couple of weeks ago and we ate it for breakfast. Certainly not the breakfast of champions, but it was at least the breakfast of birthday celebrators... ;-)

I should note that the original recipe (found on called for standard granulated sugar, but since we were having my parents and in-laws over that night for dinner and my father-in-law is diabetic and cannot eat cake, I knew he'd be having a slice of this instead. I have to say it was still delish even with the Splenda. I always have Splenda - both the white sugar variety and the brown sugar blend in my cabinet because of him and you know what? Sometimes I even use it when I'm not making something for my father-in-law - it is a great way to save calories!! (Public service announcement over).

Apple Pecan Cobbler

4 cups thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a 2 quart baking dish.

Arrange apple slices in an even layer in the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup Splenda, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup pecans. Sprinkle mixture over apples.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, 1 cup Splenda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, evaporated milk, and melted butter. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture all at once, and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over apples, and sprinkle top with 1/4 cup pecans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.