Thursday, December 30, 2010

MAKEOVER "DIRT" DESSERT


I whipped up this quick dessert last night after much begging and pleading for dessert from my kids 
(as they do EVERY night!) If you're not familiar with "dirt" dessert, it's kind of like Cookies n Cream ice cream but just not cold. It's considered "makeover" because it's been made with lower fat ingredients and uses sugar free pudding. The whole family gobbled it right up! 

MAKEOVER DIRT DESSERT
Recipe from Light &Tasty

6 ounces low-fat or fat free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup skim milk
1 package (1 ounce) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 carton (6 ounces) frozen reduced-fat or fat free whipped topping, thawed
10 (or so) reduced-fat Oreo cookies (I used mint filled), crushed

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for two minutes; let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Gradually stir into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped topping. Stir in Oreo cookies. Serve scooped into a dish and garnish with a full Oreo cookie. Can serve chilled if desired.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SKINNY VEGGIE SOUP AND SWEET POTATO ROSEMARY BISCUITS


After eating a lot of rich, rich food for the past week or so, this soup was just what we needed. And, with the New Year's goal of eating better, I'm sure this won't be the last time I make it. Loaded with veggies, it was healthy and filling. You can pretty much use any veggies you like in it, and adjust the spices to change the overall flavor each time you make it. I opted for the Italian spices this go-round. 

The sweet potato rosemary biscuits were a perfect compliment to the soup. Another great recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod; the nuggets of sweet potato were a detectable yet mild addition. I opted to use mostly wheat flour (to try to convince myself that they were much healthier this way!)

SKINNY VEGGIE SOUP
Makes approx. 12-14 cups
(Printable Recipe)

4 garlic cloves, minced (4 tsp)
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
3 celery stalks, diced (1 1/2 cups) -- I only used 2
1 pkg (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
8 cups (2 qt) low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 cup sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
1 zucchini, diced (2 cups) -- I used yellow squash
1 cup chopped green beans, fresh or frozen -- didn't use cause I didn't have any
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen (1/2 medium head)
3 cups cabbage, roughly chopped (1/2 head)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
seasoning blend options:
spicy creole (very spicy): 2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 Tbsp. paprika, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. thyme
Italian: 2 tsp. dried parsley, 2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. sage, 1/2 tsp. black pepper
garden herb: 2 Tbsp. chopped thyme, 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil.

1. In a large nonstick stock pot coated with cooking spray (I also added a tiny bit of olive oil), saute garlic, onion, celery and mushrooms over medium heat until tender, approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add the stock, carrots, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower florets, cabbage, canned tomatoes and bay leaves. If you've chosen spicy creole or Italian blend, add it now. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Add the vinegar and cook for an additional 2 minutes. If you've chosen the garden herb blend, add it now. Remove bay leaves before serving.

SWEET POTATO ROSEMARY BISCUITS
makes approximately 12
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 c. white wheat flour, 1 c. a/p flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup diced roasted sweet potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the minced garlic and fresh rosemary. Mix in cold butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add roasted sweet potatoes and gently stir. Pour buttermilk over all of the ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.
3. Drop round spoonfuls of dough, about four tablespoons, onto prepared baking sheet. (I used an ice cream scoop.) Brush biscuits with melted butter. Bake 15-17 minutes ( I only baked mine for 13 minutes), or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve war
m.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

BAKED TRIPLE VEGGIE DIP




I haven't done a post in a little over a week for two reasons: 1. Too busy with the hectic holiday season, and 2. I have been in a major "blogging" slump lately. I contemplated giving up because I just can't keep up with the "Jonses" of the food blogging world. 
Well, this post is proof that I haven't completely given up. I have been worried about letting my few, but very cherished followers down by not having a lot of posts, or having boring content, or pictures that aren't pretty enough, etc. But I have to remember the real reason for this blog; I do it because I love to cook and share recipes, and hope to inspire others to cook more and have confidence in their ability! 
So, pressing forward.....


I decided a few weeks ago to start trying more recipes for appetizers and dips to use as a "filler" between coming home from church and meal time. For some reason, everyone is starving after church, no matter what time it is. This is also my husband's favorite time, to just nibble here and there, relax, and watch football.
I thought I was prepared with all the necessary ingredients to make this, but soon realized I was short on the cream cheese! I scratched my head for a minute and came up with a substitution that ended up being great! Nonfat cottage cheese that I pureed in my food processor. I'm always pleased with myself when I'm able to adapt a recipe to utilize what's already in my fridge or pantry! The best part of all, my kids devoured it, meaning they might have actually got a good amount of veggies in them for once!

BAKED TRIPLE VEGGIE DIP
makes 4 1/2 Cups
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 C. 100% GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
1 CAN (1 LB. 3 OZ) ASPARAGUS SPEARS, DRAINED & CHOPPED
1 PKG (10 OZ) FROZEN CHOPPED SPINACH, THAWED & LIQUID SQUEEZED OUT
1 CAN (8 1/2 OZ) ARTICHOKE HEARTS, DRAINED & CHOPPED
1/2 BLOCK (4 OZ) REDUCED FAT CREAM CHEESE, SOFTENED
1/2 C. NONFAT OR LOWFAT COTTAGE CHEESE
1 GREEN ONION, CHOPPED
1/4 -1/2 TSP. ONION POWDER
PINCH OF SALT
1/2 C. MAYO MADE WITH OLIVE OIL (KRAFT)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 F. RESERVE 1/4 C. OF THE PARMESAN CHEESE; SET ASIDE.  IN MEDIUM BOWL, COMBINE REMAINING PARMESAN CHEESE, ASPARAGUS, SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE HEARTS.

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, PULSE CREAM CHEESE, COTTAGE CHEESE, GREEN ONION, ONION POWDER AND SALT, UNTIL SMOOTH. DUMP INTO BOWL WITH SPINACH MIXTURE AND ADD MAYO. STIR UNTIL WELL COMBINED.

SPOON INTO GREASE 2 QT BAKING DISH.  SPRINKLE WITH 1/4 C. RESERVED PARMESAN CHEESE.
BAKE 35 MINUTES OR UNTIL LIGHTLY BROWNED.  SERVE HOT WITH CRACKERS OR ASSORTED CUT UP VEGGIES.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BROWNIE COVERED COOKIES

Brownie covered cookies?? Who has ever heard such a thing? Well, leave it to Picky Palate to come up with such a fun idea. If you are not familiar with her blog, you should check it out. She's always putting a creative spin on baked goods!
She did brownie covered Oreos, but I also had gingersnaps and some Keebler cookies in my pantry, so I tried all three. I couldn't decide if I liked the Oreos better or the Keebler cookies better. My husband preferred the Oreos, then the gingersnaps, so to each his own I guess.

BROWNIE COVERED COOKIES
makes enough for a full package of Oreos
(Printable Recipe)


1 package brownie mix, prepared as directed on box
Cookies of choice such as Oreos, Keebler Chips Deluxe, Gingersnaps, etc. (as long as the diameter fits in a muffin tin, it will work)
White chocolate, melted
Sprinkles or other decor, optional

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Generously spray a few muffin tins with cooking spray.
3.  Prepare brownie batter as directed on package.
4.  Dip cookies in brownie batter, flipping with fork to coat evenly.
5.  Drop cookies into muffin tin.
6.  Bake 12 minutes.
7.  Remove from oven and IMMEDIATELY run a plastic knife around each muffin tin cup to loosen sides of brownie covered cookie so it won't stick.
8.  Let cool in pan a few minutes, then remove to wire rack that has been set over aluminum foil.
9.  Let cool a few more minutes, then drizzle with melted white chocolate* & sprinkle with colored sugar or other decor.

* To melt white chocolate chips, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave 25-30 seconds, stir, then microwave another 20-25 seconds, stir until smooth. Do not warm too much or it will scorch and be ruined.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE WINNER IS....


**Grrrr.. I have a lot to learn about blogging still! I couldn't get the widget to work properly on here, but the random number was 1, so the first comment was from Cheri.
Congatulations to Cheri! I will contact you to arrange delivery / shipping! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


I don't mean to sound desperate, but I am!
 come on...
show me some love and give yourself a chance
to win these cute little lambies. Don't be afraid. I double dog dare ya! Look how good your
chances are!

Winner will be announced Thursday evening. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MY 100TH POST & MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!

Wow! My 100th post. Already? To celebrate, I am hosting my first giveaway!
Enter today through Thursday morning. Winner will be announced
Thursday evening!


These little lambs are SO darling! They are hand made with real wool
by a girl my sister works with. They would be fun decor for the holidays
or as a permanent fixture in a nursery.

To enter, simply leave a comment at the end of this post telling me
what kind of recipes you'd like to see more of on my blog.
The winner will be selected by a random number generator and
announced the evening of Thursday, Dec. 9th.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

SOFT GINGER COOKIES AND UPCOMING...MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!



First up... My first giveaway! I will be celebrating my 100th post by doing a giveaway. Be sure to check my blog Tuesday for your chance to enter! The winner will receive some way cute little lambs made by Liz from LizzyLou's Lambs. These would make a great holiday decoration, or something to leave out all year!

Ginger cookies are not typically a type of cookie I crave or even consider making when I'm in the mood for a good cookie, but my sister has been raving about this recipe for a while so I thought I'd better try them. Yep, they are good..and soft. I think the softness is what I like about these, and makes me view ginger cookies in a new light. I wondered if my kids would like the bold, unique flavor, but they had no hesitation eating several!

SOFT GINGER COOKIES
recipe from Kim Thompson
(Printable Recipe)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 3, 2010

MACARONI GRILL BREAD


Those of you who have eaten at Romano's Macaroni Grill, know how delicious this bread is! And with the dipping oil-- yum! This bread is super easy to make at home and turns out so soft and light. The key is to use FRESH rosemary, not dried from a bottle.  Another key component is to use KOSHER salt on top, not table salt. I served this with dinner the other night and set out a dish of good quality olive oil sprinkled with fresh cracked pepper and italian dried herb seasoning with good quality balsamic. Macaroni Grill doesn't use balsamic with their oil, so do what you like.

MACARONI GRILL BREAD
makes two small loaves or one large loaf
recipe from food.com
(Printable Recipe)

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons butter

Kosher Salt
 
1. Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl or food processor and allow mixture to become bubbly.
2. Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour.
3. Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary.
4. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in food processor about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
5. Add more flour if necessary.
6. Oil a bowl, put dough in it and cover with a towel.

7. Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour until doubled.
8. Punch down dough and divide in half.
9. Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
10. Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
11. Shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves.
12. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon of rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface (I found that they didn't stay put very well, so I just use the full amount inside the loaf and just salt the exterior)
13. Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
14. Preheat oven to 375°F.
15. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
16. Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter and sprinkle generously with salt.