Friday, August 31, 2007

Quick Apple Cheesecake

This is another great summer-time dessert that is quick and easy to make!

1 Keebler Ready Crust 2 Extra Servings Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1 can (21 oz) apple pie filling, chilled
2 T toasted chopped pecans
1 T lemon juice
Dash salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Mix until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Place crust on baking sheet; pour in filling. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. Spread out apple filling evenly on top of cooled cheesecake. Garnish with toasted pecans.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

TIP OF THE DAY: When cream cheese in on sale, buy several packages and keep them in your refrigerator because they have a pretty long expiration period. There is alot you can do with cream cheese so I always try to keep some on hand.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Shrimp Dip

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chocolate Covered Cherry Pie

This is a yummy and quick dessert perfect for this time of year when it's so warm outside!

1 box (8 oz) chocolate covered cherries, quartered
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1 (9 inch) purchased chocolate crumb pie crust
8 maraschino cherries with stems
Chocolate sprinkles to garnish

In a medium bowl, stir chocolate covered cherries into ice cream. Spoon ice cream mixture into crust. Dip maraschino cherries in chocolate sprinkles and place on pie to garnish. Add additional chocolate sprinkles. Place in freezer until firm.

TIP OF THE DAY: Ice cream can be softened in the microwave. Just be sure to use the defrost mode and 30 second increments.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Quick Apple Cheesecake

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pull Apart Herb Biscuits

These biscuits are a great addition to a soup or stew and disappear very quickly!

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 t parsley flakes
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t dill weed
2 T Parmeasan cheese
1 T onion flakes
2 cans buttermilk biscuits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut biscuits in quarters. In small bowl mix together all other ingredients. Dip biscuit pieces in butter mixture and place in a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy!

TIP OF THE DAY: To make these in a roll form instead of a loaf- just spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and place three to four little biscuit pieces in each one. Decrease the cooking time a bit to 8-10 minutes.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Chocolate Covered Cherry Pie

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I decided to make these for Madison's teachers for a first day of school treat. Who doesn't love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate?

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 T light corn syrup
2 T water
2 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful onto ungreased baking sheets. These cookies do not spread out so you can get alot on a single cookie sheet- put them very close together. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

TIP OF THE DAY: If your brown sugar has gotten hard while sitting in your pantry, put it in your microwave for about 30 seconds and it will loosen right up!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Pull Apart Herb Biscuits

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mama's Manicotti

This is a yummy change from lasagna and one of Madison's favorites. (Note: There would be a picture here but Madison was so excited and starving that I hurried to get dinner on the table and forgot!)

1 (8 oz) package manicotti shells, uncooked
1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 t dried oregano leaves
1/2 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups (14 oz) spaghetti sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Cool in a single layer on wax paper. Do NOT leave in colander in sink or they will stick together and they will be very difficult to get apart without tearing. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large skillet, brown meat. I usually put half of the oregano, salt, and pepper on the meat as it is browning but you can skip that step if you prefer. Stir together meat, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, onion, oregano, salt, and pepper. Fill each cooled pasta tube with about 1/4 cup filling using a teaspoon. Spray a glass 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom. Place filled pasta in dish and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and additional Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes of until hot and bubbly.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

TIP OF THE DAY: When a recipe calls for a small amount of diced onion- instead of cutting up part of an onion and throwing the rest away, use frozen diced onion. Frozen, diced onion can be found in the freezer section and I always keep a bag on hand to use when a recipe needs a small amount of diced onion. A real time saver!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chicken Caesar Pasta

This is a yummy recipe that is a quick and easy weeknight meal. The bonus is that it's healthy too! With school starting this week, quick and easy are really important to me!

1 (8 oz) package bow tie pasta (I use whole wheat)
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 (8 oz) bottle Caesar dressing, divided (I use Kraft Fat Free)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (10 oz) package frozen sugar snap peas
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup torn fresh spinach

Cook pasta; keep warm. Saute chicken in 3 T dressing in large nonstick skillet 4-5 minutes or until done. Add onions, peas, and carrots and cook 4-5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add spinach- cook 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Toss with pasta and serve with remaining dressing.

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

TIP OF THE DAY: I always keep a bag of grilled chicken breasts (that I buy at Sam's) in the freezer for those nights when we get home late. When a recipe calls for chicken, I just defrost a few, heat them, and then add them to the recipe. This is one where it works fabulously!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Mama's Manicotti

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Peach Muffins

I found this recipe in one of my mom's magazines back when I was in high school and have been making it ever since. It sounds really simple but is truly the BEST muffin recipe EVER! If you have some fresh peaches, you simply must try it!

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t soda
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup peaches (banana also works great)
1/2 t vanilla
1/8 t almond extract
1/2 cup almonds

Combine flour, salt, soda, and sugar. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add eggs and oil. Stir only until ingredients are moistened. Stir in fruit, vanilla, almond extract, and nuts. Measure 1/3 cup batter for each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

TIP OF THE DAY: To ripen peaches simply place peaches in a loosely-closed ordinary paper bag and set on the kitchen counter for one to three days - away from direct sunlight. Check daily for ripeness. When ripe, the fruit will become very aromatic and give to gentle palm pressure. After the fruit is ripe, it can be placed in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.

Time including baking: 30 minutes

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Chicken Caesar Pasta

Friday, August 24, 2007

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle (AKA Glue)

My step daughter Tootie saw me making this dessert one day. She walked into the kitchen, glanced into the mixing bowl as I was mixing up the pudding part and said "It looks like GLUE". From that day forward, this dessert has been known in our house as GLUE! It is my father-in-law's absolute favorite and I try to make it just about every time we go to visit him. It's usually a huge hit when I take it somewhere so I often make a double batch.

1 pkg. brownie mix (9 x 13 inch size)
1 lg. pkg. (5.1 oz) vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk
½ c creamy peanut butter
2 t vanilla
1 large tub Cool Whip
3 c Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped into small pieces

Prepare brownie mix according to the directions on package. Bake and cool completely. (I usually under-bake a bit so the brownies are gooey!) Cut brownies into ¾ inch pieces using a sharp knife. Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat at low speed for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in ½ of Cool Whip. Place ½ of brownies in a large bowl, top with ½ of the peanut butter cups and half of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers. Cover with remaining Cool Whip.

Time including baking: About 45 minutes if you unwrapped the peanut butter cups while the brownies are cooking.

TIP OF THE DAY: Here's an easy way to make brownies or bars without having to struggle to get them out of the pan and a dirty pan to clean when you are through. Start by lining a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil; allow to extend 2 inches out of both ends. Spray foil with cooking spray and pour batter into pan. Bake and cool for about 15 minutes. Lift foil out of pan. Invert brownies or bars onto cutting board; remove foil and cut. Throw away foil and the pan is spotless!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

I've been making cinnamon rolls for years and over the years have altered my recipe many times. They take some time and are a pretty messy thing to make- but so worth the time and effort. Tony LOVES these more than just about anything and is thrilled when I make them. This recipe makes pans and pans of cinnamon rolls but if I am going to go to the time and trouble- I want to make a bunch!

4 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
2 T yeast
2 T salt
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
10-12 cups flour (yes it's almost a whole bag!)

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
4 t cinnamon

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T milk (or more if needed)

Dissolve yeast in warm water in VERY large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir. Stir in lightly beaten eggs and oil. Gradually begin mixing in flour and salt to liquid mixture. You might not need entire amount of flour. Add enough until dough begins to move away from sides of bowl and is soft but manageable.

Cover dough with damp paper towels or damp dish towel and let rise till doubled. I usually turn my oven on and set the bowl on the oven so that the dough will rise faster.

Punch dough down on flour covered surface and divide in half. Roll out one half into a large rectangle using a rolling pin.

Combine filling ingredients. Spread half of filling over rectangle with rubber spatula almost to edge of dough.
Roll up dough, beginning at long end. Pinch ends to seal. Slice into rolls. Place cut side down in a well greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Repeat with remaining half of dough and filling. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and let rise until doubled. (Usually I make these at night, refrigerate overnight, and then take them out EARLY in the morning to let them rise the second time. I made these last night and got up at 4 to take them out and by the time I got home from the gym around 6 they were ready to go in the oven)

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Check at earliest time to prevent over browning.

For frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; beating till smooth. Frost warm rolls.

TIP OF THE DAY: When slicing into rolls, using dental floss instead of a knife. Just pull off an approximately 12 inch piece of unflavored dental floss, slide under the roll of dough, cross over the top and pull on each side. It cuts easily and perfectly every time!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle (aka GLUE)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cool Whip Cookies

I got this recipe from a student's mother during my first year of teaching 16 years ago. I can NOT believe it's been that long because I remember the boy- Brandon- and his mother- and her cookies- just like it was last week. She brought these cookies to our Christmas party and they were so good I HAD to have the recipe! When she gave it to me, I could NOT believe that they contained Cool Whip. But they do and are so simple that you can always have the ingredients on hand. By simply changing the cake mix, you can make a ton of different varieties!

1 box cake mix any flavor (I usually use lemon, strawberry, or chocolate)
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
2 eggs
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix first three ingredients together in large bowl until well mixed. Chill in refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. Using a cookie scoop (see Tip of the Day) scoop a ball of dough into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll around until the entire ball is coated (I use a spoon to do this so my hands don't get sticky). Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes. Cool for only 2 minutes and move to wax paper or these cookies will stick!
Prep Time: 40 minutes (including chilling time)
Bake Time: 15 minutes per batch of cookies

TIP OF THE DAY: The BEST tool for making cookies hands down is a cookie scoop. They make dropping cookies super simple and super quick! You can purchase one at Wal-mart or Target or a Bed, Bath, and Beyond type store. They come in both a large and small size (I use both depending upon the kind of cookie I am making) and are a must have when making cookies!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Oooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Super Simple Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These are so simple that I almost didn't post this recipe but decided that sometimes we all need super simple ideas it is! My grandmother always kept the two items for these cookies in her refrigerator and when we visited she would make us a few to enjoy while we played SkipBo. There was nothing better than a few fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk! YUMMY!

1 tube peanut butter cookie dough (of course you could use any kind of cookie dough)
1 package Reece's Peanut Butter Cups

Spray mini muffin pan cups with cooking spray. Cut off one an approximately 1/2 inch slice of cookie dough and then cut into two equal pieces. Place one piece in each mini tin. Bake at 350 degrees for between 7-9 minutes. Immediately upon taking the cookies out of the oven, press one peanut butter cup into each cookie. Do this quickly so the peanut butter cup won't melt onto your hands. Cool for about 5-10 minutes before taking cookies carefully out of the muffin tin.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Baking Time: 10 minutes per batch

TIP OF THE DAY: Place Reece's Peanut Butter Cups in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you need to use them. When they are frozen, it's much easier to peel the papers off.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Cool Whip Cookies

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

This is a variation of a recipe that I found in a Southern Living cookbook years ago and is one of my favorites. These are super sweet but oh so sinful! When I am making these to take somewhere, Tony sneaks them out of the refrigerator so I always have to make a double batch!

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup thawed egg substitute (this is the key to keeping the dough the kind you can safely eat raw)
1 tsp. vanilla (I use Mexican vanilla because I think it is the very best)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 (12 oz.) package miniature semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 package chocolate almond bark

Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg substitute and vanilla; beat well. Add flour to butter mixture; beat well. Stir in miniature chocolate morsels. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Shape mixutre into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper lined cookie sheet. Cover (with wax paper)and freeze balls until very firm. Place a few cubes of almond bark in a 1-quart glass bowl; melt in microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Melt again for 30 seconds and stir. If bark is not melted, continue microwaving in 30 second increments. Using two forks, quickly dip frozen truffles into melted chocolate, coating completely. Place on wax paper to harden. Store truffles in refrigerator 2 to 3 days.

Prep Time: 10 minutes plus chilling time

TIP OF THE DAY: If you have never used almond bark before do NOT be scared- it's super easy to work with. It can usually be found in your store next to the chocolate chips and comes in both chocolate and white chocolate. When melting it in the microwave, be sure to use a microwave safe bowl and only melt a few squares at a time. If it starts to get clumpy, microwave it again for a few seconds until it melts.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Super Simple Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Parmesan Basil Chicken Burgers with Basil Mayo

I cook with ground chicken quite a bit because it's a healthly alternative to ground beef . Although Tony would prefer ground beef, I've created some recipes that even he loves! This one is my newest and was a big hit!

Basil Mayo:
1/2 fat free mayo
3/4 t fresh basil (or 1/2 t dry basil)
dash of lemon juice

2 lbs. ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup part skim Mozarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t minced onion
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
1 T lemon juice
Mix mayo ingredients together, cover, and refrigerate while cooking the burgers.

Mix all burger ingredients in large bowl till well combined. Shape into 8-10 patties. Be sure not to make the patties too thick because ground chicken does not reduce like ground beef does. Grill outside on BBQ grill or inside in skillet over medium heat.

Serve burgers with basil mayo, spinach, and tomato on wheat or onion rolls. Enjoy!
Prep and Cooking Time: Approximately 35 minutes

TIP OF THE DAY: To save time, cook once, eat twice. Try to find things that you can cook once, modify, and serve again to your family. This recipe is a perfect example. I make twice as many burgers as we need and then crumble them up and serve them a second time (minus the buns) over some rice or pasta.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Spicy Hot Cole Slaw

This is a fabulous alternative to regular cole slaw and goes great with burgers! To make it quick and simple, use a bag of cabbage cole slaw mix found in the produce section. Be sure to make it the night before- the longer it sits, the better it is!

4 cups cabbage (or 1 bag precut cabbage)
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 onion, minced
1/4 t salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
4-6 whole jalapenos, diced

Dice cabbage, green pepper, red pepper, and onion. Place in large bowl. In small bowl mix together salt, sugar, oil, vinegar, and water. Mix well. Pour over cabbage, peppers, and onions and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, mix well. Enjoy!

Prep Time: Only 10 minutes if using bagged cabbage; 20 minutes if you cut up your own

TIP OF THE DAY: When cutting jalapenos- be very careful! Wear gloves (even baggies on your hands will do) and be super careful not to touch your face!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Parmesan Basil Chicken Burgers w/ Basil Mayo

Friday, August 17, 2007

Peppermint Pattie Cake

This is a cake that is made using a mix and is super easy! If you like Peppermint Patties- this is the cake for you!

1 package Betty Crocker SuperMoist triple chocolate fudge cake mix
1 ¼ cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

1 box (4 serving size) white chocolate instant pudding and pie filing mix (I use sugar free)
2 cups milk (I use skim or 2%)
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tub (12 oz) Betty Crocker whipped milk chocolate frosting
¾ cup coarsely chopped chocolate covered peppermint patties (I use a whole bag)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, and eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Bake for 32 to 37 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Poke top of warm cake every ½ with handle of wooden spoon.

In a medium bowl, beat pudding mix, milk, and ½ teaspoon peppermint extract with wire whisk about 1 minute- just until it begins to set. Immediately pour pudding evenly into holes in cake. Cover loosely and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.

Stir ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract into frosting. Spread frosting over top of cake. Sprinkle with peppermint patties. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Prep and Baking Time: 3 hours including baking and chilling time

TIP OF THE DAY: When cutting up candies that may be sticky- like peppermint patties- put them in the freezer for a few minutes (or the fridge overnight) and they will be much easier and much less messy to cut up. If you are still having trouble- sprinkle a little sugar on your cutting board. This makes it a snap!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Hot Spicy Cole Slaw

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peanut Butter Silk Cake

I typically make cakes from scratch, but there are times when I use boxed cake mixes for time and convenience sake. There are some great recipes that can jazz up a cake mix and make it fabulous. This is one cake that starts with a mix and is yummy!

1 package Betty Crocker yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup (heavy) whipping cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners' sugar (I just use the whole box)
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped peanuts
OR use one tub milk chocolate frosting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with cooking spray and with waxed paper circles on the bottom. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, 1/2 cup peanut butter, the oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pans. Bake 32 to 38 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cakes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In 2 quart sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling; boil and stir 1 minutes. Remove from heat. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. BE SURE TO ONLY LEAVE IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR 10 MINUTES OR IT WILL HARDEN LIKE GLUE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN AND IT WILL TAKE A SWEET FOREVER TO GET IT OFF!

In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form; set aside. In another medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup peanut butter and the brown sugar mixture on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture; beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Split each cake layer horizontally to make 2 layers using a serrated knife. Fill each layer with about 2/3 cake peanut butter mixture to within 1/2 inch of edge. Put in refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

To make frosting place the butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar and cocoa, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

Frost side and top of cake. Press peanuts onto frosting on side of cake. Store covered in refrigerator.
Tips for Using Whipping Cream: There are two simple but very important rules for using whipping cream. First, make sure that your bowl and beater are perfectly clean. I always wash and dry them right before using them for whipping cream. Second, put both the bowl and the beater in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before you plan to use them. These two things seem to be the key to whipping cream easily!
Total Prep and Baking Time: 2 and 1/2 hours

TIP OF THE DAY: When using peanut butter in a recipe, spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before adding the peanut butter to easily remove the peanut butter from the cup.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pasta Fagioli

This recipe did not originally have meat in it- but after Tony and I got married, I added it so that he would enjoy it too because he is a meat and potatoes guy! It originally was a WW recipe and was only 4 points per serving- so I figure it is approximately 7 with the ground chicken in it- depending upon how much pasta you eat. I personally think it's best the second day so I usually make it the night before we have it for diner. Enjoy!

1 tsp. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
4 garlic cloves; minced
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
1 cup small carrots, diced
3/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Dash garlic powder
2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 can low-salt chicken broth, 10 1/2 ounces each
15 oz cannellini beans
15 oz can kidney beans
14 1/2 oz diced tomatoes; undrained
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 package uncooked ditalini or small elbow macaroni

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray; add oil, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Add chicken or turkey and brown meat. Add carrots and next 8 ingredients; cover, reduce heat, and cook 45 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Cook pasta and drain. Ladle soup into bowls on top of pasta; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Prep and cooking time: 1 hour

TIP OF THE DAY: To keep pasta from boiling over, spray a tiny bit of cooking spray in your water before you put it on the stove. It will keep the water from bubbling over so you'll have no more messy stove top to clean up!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apple Enchiladas

For a Mexican themed dinner a few months ago, I searched for a dessert idea and came across this yummy treat! I've made it with canned apple pie filling when in a time crunch but last night made it for a Bunco party with fresh apples and it worked great!

1 pkg. (10 count) flour tortillas (our Kroger has fresh cinnamon tortillas but regular tortillas work just as well)
6 Fuji apples (they aren't the prettiest apples but are the best for baking)
1 t lemon juice
1 T flour
1-2 t cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 oz. cinnamon (or regular) applesauce

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Wash, core, peel, and dice apples into small pieces. Place in large bowl and drizzle lemon juice on top. Stir and set aside. In small bowl combine 1/2 sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Pour into bowl with apples and stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add applesauce and mix well. Place 1/2 cup of apple pie filling in center of each tortilla and roll up. Lay seam side down in baking pan. In small saucepan mix all syrup ingredients and heat on high till mixture boils, stirring constantly. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Immediately pour on top of apple enchiladas and let sit for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
Prep and cooking time: 1 and 1/2 hours

TIP OF THE DAY: When buying applesauce to use in a recipe, instead of buying a jar (that once opened, seems to spoil rather quickly), buy the snack package of 6 little tubs. These can be stored in the pantry for quite a long time and the 1/2 size is usually perfect for the amount needed in a recipe.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Hands down, this is the MOST requested recipe I have. Every time I make it I am asked for the recipe. I think it's so popular because it combines two favorite desserts- pecan pie AND cheesecake. It takes a while to make but boy is it worth it! For a dessert that your friends and family will rave about, try this one!

1 (2 lb) pkg. frozen pecan pie
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 (8 oz) pkgs. Cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
½ cup half and half
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T all purpose flour
pecan halves or pecan pieces
caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Thaw pecan pie according to package directions. Cut evenly into 20 thin slices, keeping wedges intact and set aside. Prepare springform pan by spraying with cooking spray. Stir together graham cracker crumbs and next two ingredients. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 ½ inches up sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Arrange pie slices in a spoke design in prepared pan. Beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream, half and half, and vanilla; beat until blended. Fold in powdered sugar and flour. Carefully pour cream cheese mixture evenly over pecan pie wedges in pan, making sure wedges remain in place and are covered. Arrange pecan halves/ pieces evenly around the edge of cheesecake. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Turn off oven and let cheesecake stand in oven for 1 hour- this step is VERY important! Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight before serving. Drizzle with caramel sauce before serving.

Prep and cooking time: 2 and 1/2 hours

TIP OF THE DAY: When making a cheesecake to take somewhere, I always place a circle of waxed paper on the bottom of the springform pan before pressing down the crust. When I take off the springform pan, it makes it much easier to transfer to a serving plate.