Thursday, February 28, 2013

Turkey Pasta Bake

While perusing the pasta aisle of the grocery store, I spotted these adorable little pasta rings called Ditalini that I just haaaad to try. So I designed this yummy and healthy dish. I definitely need to find more reasons to use this fun little pasta guys. This recipe is a great start!

Turkey Pasta Bake

Shopping List:

1 box Ditalini Pasta

1 lb Lean Ground Turkey

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

1 can Progresso Recipe Starter Cooking Sauce
Fire-Roasted Tomato

1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes

28oz can Tomato Puree


 2 Tsp Minced Onion, divided

2 Tbsp Oregano

2 Tbsp Crushed Red Peppers

2 Tsp Parsley Flakes, divided

2 Tsp Black Pepper

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 1/2 - 2 C Shredded Mozzarella, divided

1/2 C Panko Bread Crumbs

1. Prepare pasta according to box directions. Drain. Stir in EVOO. Set aside.
2. In saute pan, brown turkey over med-high heat. Stir in 1 Tsp minced onion, 1 Tbsp oregano and 1 Tsp parsley flakes. Let cook for approx 5 mins. Set aside.
3. In sauce pan, mix Progresso Recipe Starter, petite diced tomatoes, tomato puree, salt to taste, 1 Tsp minced onion, 1 Tbsp oregano, crushed red peppers, 1 tsp parsley flakes, black pepper, and maple syrup. Let simmer over med-low heat for approx 5 mins.
4. Add ground turkey to sauce and simmer an additional 5 mins.
5. Add meat sauce mixture to cooked pasta. Add 1 - 1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella. Stir and spread in a greased glass baking dish.
6. Top with remaining 1/2 C shredded mozzarella and panko bread crumbs.
7. Bake for 25 mins at 400. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Smashed & Seasoned Potatoes

Today is a Pinterest day. I had to try these potatoes I had been eyeing up on Pinterest for quite sometime now. They looked amazing! And upon trying them... they DID NOT disappoint!! Check them out HERE. These puppies will go great as a side to any meal. AND! You can sub them in when you are craving some french fries (and you know I love some fries)! Same delicious crispy taste! Much healthier option!

Smashed & Seasoned Potatoes

Shopping List:

2 1/2 lbs Small Red Potatoes
(I bought a bag of them that was already
 cleaned and ready to cook!)

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Chives (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil on stovetop. Season with salt.
2. Boil potatoes (approx 20 mins) until tender). Drain.
3. Preheat oven to 400. Grease cookie sheet.
4. Spread out potatoes on cookie sheet. Smash - I used the bottom of a measuring cup. Any flat surfaced tool will work.
5. Season potatoes with sea salt, pepper and chives.
6. Bake until crispy (approx 15-20 mins). Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lemon Lime Cupcakes

I was looking for a relatively light, zesty dessert to go with a meal, and these cupcakes did just the trick! The best part? The cake mix and diet soda combo makes it count as only 3 points on the Weight Watchers scale! Tasty and guilt-free!!

Lemon Lime Cupcakes

Shopping List:

1 box Lemon Cake Mix

1 can Sprite Zero

4 Tsp Lime Juice

1 container Lite Cool Whip

Grated Lemon Zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in cupcake tins.
2. Blend together cake mix, sprite zero, and lime juice on medium speed for 2 mins.
3. Pour batter into cupcake papers and bake for approx. 20 mins.
4. Frost with Cool Whip and top with lemon zest. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mandy's Fresh Avocado & Feta Salsa

Today, is our first guest recipe post! Our good friends Mike & Mandy Parker had us over for lunch yesterday. They made a delicious Mexican meal for us and all of the Young Life Leaders! They are such good cooks! But the one recipe that stood out the most to me was the Fresh Avocado & Feta Salsa! Wow was it good! And it was unlike any salsa or guac I've had! I knew I had to ask her to post it on the blog. So Mandy, thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us!!

Mike, Mandy and their 2 adorable kiddos, Katrin and Jakin

Mandy's Fresh Avocado & Feta Salsa

Shopping List:

1 pt Cherry Tomatoes, quartered

1/2 Red Onion Chopped

1/2 Bunch Cilantro, chopped

1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 Ripe Avocados, chopped

1/2 C Crumbled Feta Cheese



1-2 Tbsp Lime Juice

2 pkts Splenda or 2 Tbsp Sugar

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Adjust lime juice, salt and sugar to taste.
3. Serve w/ tortilla chips.

Thanks Mandy, for the guest post! 
You are welcome to share your recipes here anytime!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Garlic, Herb, & Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

If you had a chance to try my Garlic and Herb Green Beans, you'll love this recipe! You'll also remember my all time favorite "secret ingredient" for veggies Wegman's Garlic & Herb Basting Oil which we will again use in this recipe. Even if you're not a Brussels Sprout fan, you HAVE to try these. I know these veggies gets a bad wrap, but if done right, they can taste just like candy!! Mmmm. Thanks, Dad for making me try Brussels Sprouts!

Garlic, Herb & Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Shopping List:

1 lb Fresh Brussels Sprouts

4 C Water

Salt to Taste

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tsp Panko Bread Crumbs

1. Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add salt to taste.
2. Clean brussels sprouts and slice them in half.

3. Turn heat back to medium and boil brussels sprouts for 3-4 mins. Remove from heat and immediately place in an ice bath for 5 mins. (This process helps sprouts keep their color and crispness).
4. Remove brussels sprouts from ice bath and dry completely with paper towels.
5. In a medium bowl, mix brussels sprouts drizzled with basting oil, balsamic vinegar, and panko bread crumbs.
6. Spread out on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 mins. Enjoy!

These brussels sprouts we ate with last night's dinner while watching my current favorite movie Pitch Perfect! I've seen it 4 times in the past week and, lezzbehonest (movie joke!), I'll probably watch it once more this afternoon before I have to return it. If you haven't seen it, GO SEE IT NOW!!

Acca-Scuse Me?
Acca-Believe It!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

McCormick Gourmet Garlic & White Wine Chicken Scaloppine

Ahhh!! I missed my first day!! I knew it was bound to happen. Oh well, picking up where we left off... Tonight, I tried a new recipe that was excellent! Definitely going to be repeated in this household.  Although, I have to give the majority of the credit to McCormick since I almost followed this recipe to a "T." But hey! Why reinvent the wheel?

McCormick Gourmet Garlic & White Wine Chicken Scaloppine

Shopping List:

3 Tbsp Flour

1lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

6 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
(this is a deviation from the original recipe)

8oz Sliced Mushrooms
(optional - I did not use these, 
simply because we didn't have any)

1 1/2 C Water

1/2 C White Wine

1 Box Orzo Pasta
(this is a deviation from the original recipe)

1. 1. Mix flour and 2 tablespoons of the Seasoning Mix in shallow dish. Coat chicken with flour mixture.

2. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Cook 1/2 of the chicken pieces 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken. 
3. Meanwhile, prepare orzo, according to box directions. Drain. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil to orzo and stir. Also, add 1 Tbsp salad seasoning to orzo and stir. (The original recipe calls for only 1 C orzo, but I thought making more made the recipe go much farther).
3. Stir mushrooms into skillet, adding additional oil if needed. Cook and stir 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add water, wine and remaining Seasoning Mix. Bring to boil, stirring to release browned bits in bottom of skillet. Stir in cooked orzo. Place chicken over orzo. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dark Chocolate Boston Creme Cupcakes

Boston Creme Donuts have always been my favorite donut, so when I heard about Boston Creme cupcakes... I couldn't wait to try them! This recipe is sure to be a hit! Its easy to make as well. Sounds like a good dessert for this weekend to me!

Dark Chocolate Boston Creme Cupcakes

Shopping List:

Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix

3 Large Eggs

1 C Water

1/3 C Canola Oil

Creme Filling:

1 3.4oz pkt Instant Vanilla Pudding

1 C Cold Skim Milk

1 Tsp Vanilla


Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Dark Chocolate Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake papers in cupcake tins.
2. Prepare cake mix according to box directions and bake according to box directions (bake 18-21 mins). Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and vanilla until well blended. Allow to chill (approx 15 mins).
4. Insert knife at a diagonal into the top of the cupcake and cut the whole we around the top of the cake (see pictures). Remove the top, add a dollop of pudding mixture, and replace cupcake top. Frost with dark chocolate frosting.

5. Keep chilled and Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chipotle & Coconut Beef Tacos

I was really excited to try this recipe! Tacos are a great, quick and easy recipe that almost everyone enjoys! The best part is that you can create a taco bar and let your whole family make their own tacos, just the way they like it! I had to try something new and a little different though since everyone already knows standard tacos. So let me know what you think!

Chipotle & Coconut Beef Tacos

Shopping List:

2 lbs Lean Ground Beef
(I used 90/10)

2 pkts taco seasoning

1 7oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

1 1/2 C Water

2 tsp Minced Onion

Flour Tortillas
(I used 6" whole wheat)


Shredded Lettuce

Diced Tomato

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Coconut Flakes

Guacamole (optional)

1. Begin browning ground beef in a skillet over med-high heat. Add 1/2 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can use the whole can if you don't mind spicy. We really liked using the whole can!). Also add minced onion.
2. When you can see no more pink, add taco seasoning and water.  Reduce heat to med-low and allow meat to simmer  (approx 10 mins). When meat and sauce have thickened, remove from heat. I removed the whole chipotle peppers at this point since they can be really spicy and difficult to eat. 
3. Warm tortillas in microwave and set up your taco bar.  A friend of mine tuned me in to using coconut flakes with tacos and Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm it gives it this awesome sweet kick contrasting the spicy chipotle peppers!
4. Fix you tacos just how you like them and, Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Garlic and Herb Green Beans

So I promised I would put a recipe for some vegetables on here. Welp... here it is! This is one of our favorites! And let me tell you about this special "secret" ingredient I LOVE to use when cooking vegetables. It will change your life... well maybe not quite, but you get the seriousness of it. One of the things I miss about living in Pennsylvania is Wegman's Grocery Store.  That place is like Christmas morning! And Wegman's has an entire line of products that are absolutely awesome!  My favorite product is their Basting Oil with Garlic and Herbs. You can find it here. Drizzle a little of this stuff on all of your veggies, and BAM! (is Emeril in the house?). Awesome vegetables!!

Garlic and Herb Green Beans

Shopping List:

1 lb Fresh Green Beans

Wegman's Garlic and Herb Basting Oil

1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

Kosher Salt

1. Wash green beans and cut ends (if desired).
2. Add green beans to a large sauté pan. Drizzle with basting oil. Add garlic and a pinch of Kosher salt.
3. Saute on med-high heat for approx 10 mins. Enjoy!

You have to try this stuff! If you don't live in a 
state that has Wegman's (like me), track one down on your 
next trip and check it out! Every time I leave PA, 
I make sure I have a few bottles of this stuff packed. 
Gotta get my fix!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken and Quinoa Dinner

Happy President's Day!

Yesterday I committed to posting some healthier recipes so, I'm starting with Chicken and Quinoa Dinner! I discovered Quinoa a few months ago and absolutely love it now! The best part is that its so versatile. You can mix just about anything with it. Sometimes, I just check what's left in the frig, and mix it with a box of quinoa. And did you know it has so many health benefits?! Quinoa is high in both protein and fiber! Mix it with some lean chicken and veggies and you've got a delicious, healthy dinner!

Chicken & Quinoa Dinner

Shopping List:

12oz Box of Quinoa

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 lb Chicken Breast

1/2 Lg. Tomato, Seeded and Diced

3 Tbsp Green Onion, Diced

1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes

Salt and Pepper

1. Prepare Quinoa according to instructions on box.
2.  Meanwhile, heat EVOO in a sauté pan. Add chicken and cook until most of the pink is gone (approx 5 minutes).
3. Then add tomato, green onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes.
4. Combine chicken and veggies with Quinoa. Serve and top with extra parsley flakes. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes

I am so excited about these cupcakes!!! It took 4 batches to get them juuuussstt right, but persistence pays off. One thing I love is Starbucks (yes I am a Gold Card Member and I've already earned 4 free drinks!) and these cupcakes are inspired by the Starbuck's Salted Caramel Mocha. They are the perfect dessert to bring to any party or just to eat at home on these cold, wintry nights... Perhaps with a Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha drink in the other hand?

Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes

Shopping List:

Duncan Hines Classic Devil's Food Cake Mix

3 Large Eggs

1 C Hot Water

2 Tbsp Instant Coffee

1/3 C Canola Oil


Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Frosting Starter

Hershey's Caramel Syrup

Sea Salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in cupcake tins.
2. In large mixing bowl combine cake mix, eggs, and oil.
3. Add instant coffee to hot water BEFORE adding water to cake batter. Dissolve completely.
4. Mix ingredients at medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly into cupcake papers.
5. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, begin adding Hershey's caramel syrup little by little to frosting, stirring to mix well. You will want to add enough to be able to taste the caramel in the frosting, but not too much that the frosting becomes to runny. This ratio is best found by adding a little bit at a time and stirring. Chill frosting and syrup in refrigerator for 20 mins BEFORE frosting the cupcakes.

7. Once you have frosted the cupcakes, drizzle the top lightly with caramel syrup and add a dusting of salt - I used a sea salt grinder and only added a pinch to the top of each cupcake. Just enough to get that salty sweet flavor!

Like I said, these cupcakes are now a favorite recipe of mine! 
You'll have to try it! Some of you are probably thinking, 
when is she going to stop posting just sugary desserts!! 
Can you tell I have a serious sweet tooth?! 
But don't worry, eating healthy is important to me. 
So stay tuned this week for some healthy dinner recipes. 
Who knows? I might even throw in some vegetables...

But only after I enjoy one more cupcake tonight
while watching the Season Finale of Downton Abbey!!

Photo credit goes to:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

What's a Saturday morning without homemade pancakes? I remember as a little girl, my dad making pancakes for my sister and me for breakfast on most Saturdays. And I LOVE pumpkin and I LOVE chocolate, so had to try them together. Turns out it was a de-licous combination! Saturday morning pancakes might have to become a tradition in this household... especially if they are pumpkin chocolate pancakes!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Shopping List:

2 C HeartSmart Bisquick

1 Egg

1 3/4 Skim Milk

3/4 C Pumpkin Puree

3 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tsp Cinnamon

Chocolate Chips

1. Mix Bisquick, egg, milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Blend until creamy.
2. Spray griddle with nonstick spray and heat to medium-high heat. Pour batter to make pancakes. Immediately add a few chocolate chips to each pancake. 
3. When the bottom of each pancake starts to brown, flip. Cook until pancake is browned on both sides.
4. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, syrup and butter. Enjoy!

Makes 14 pancakes.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Filled Crepes

By adding an additional 1 C of skim milk to thin the batter, 
you can also many some yummy chocolate-filled crepes. 

1. Add extra milk to batter until it appears very runny. Blend until batter is smooth.
2. Spray griddle with nonstick spray and heat to medium-high heat.
3. Pour batter onto griddle and using your spatula, spread batter out into a circle, making batter thin.
4. When the bottom side of the crepe begins to brown, line chocolate chips down the center of the pancake, fold sides in, and flip. Cook until both sides of the crepe are browned.
5. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of syrup.

***Note*** In this picture, we drizzled with strawberry syrup. Mmmm!!

I see no problem with serving breakfast for dinner!! As we did last night. 
I have to thank fellow Young Life leaders Jacob Jenkins, 
Kyle Buxton, Logan Imber, and my good friend Kate Nelson for helping 
with this recipe.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Baked Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Happy Friday! I made this 9x13 dish of baked creamy cheddar mac & cheese, planning on keeping 1/2 of it as leftovers for the weekend, but it was so delicious that by the time the dish got back to the kitchen it was empty! So much for the leftovers, but I'm glad everyone enjoyed it so much! This is sure to be a hit around your dining room table as well!

Baked Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Shopping List:

16oz Macaroni Pasta

1/2 C Butter

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 C Flour

3 1/2 C Skim Milk

1/4 C White Wine

1/2 lb Shredded Velveeta Queso Blanco

1/2 lb Cheddar, cubed

1/2 C Italian Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs

1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes

2 Tbsp Butter, Melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.
2. Cook macaroni according to box instructions and drain.
3. Melt 1/2 C butter in a saucepan and add salt and pepper. Stir until completely melted, then add flour and continue stirring until completely smooth.
4. Add milk and wine and bring to a boil while whisking. Add cheddar and velveeta cheeses. Stir until smooth.
5. Pour cheese mixture over pasta in glass baking dish.
6. In a small bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, parsley flakes, and 2 Tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle over macaroni.
7. Bake for 30 mins. Enjoy!