Friday, April 13, 2012

Healthy Low Fat Caesar Dressing Made From Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons fat free Greek Yogurt
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix well and you have guiltless Caesar salad dressing!  Makes about 4 servings.

How to make Cookies with Cake Mix or Brownie Mix

I used to be SUCH a cupcake person. Until I realized how easy it is to make cookies out of cake and brownie mix that taste just as good, if not better. And the best part? They take about 10 minutes instead of waiting 40 minutes for a pan of brownies, or over 20 minutes for a tray of cupcakes.

Brownie Mix Cookies:

Mix 1 bag brownie mix, 1/3 cup oil, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons water. Drop in heaping tablespoons on a greased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Voila. Brownie cookies. I suggest making twice as many as you think you need. These go fast.

I use the Ghirardelli brownie mix that has chocolate chips already in it. But feel free to add chocolate chips and/or nuts to your mix!

Makes about 12 large cookies.

Cake Mix Cookies:

Mix 1 box cake mix, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 eggs. 

Drop heaping tablespoons on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. 

For mine, I used carot cake cookie mix and added a few raisins, and then added cream cheese frosting to the top. The combinations for these cake cookies are endless!  Red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting, devils food cake cookies with white frosting, Yellow cake cookies with chocolate frosting. YUM. 
Makes about 16 large cookies.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Carrot Cake Cookies

These cookies are soft and chewy on the inside like a cupcake yet have a slightly crunchy bottom like a cookie. So deliciously amazing and the Easter Bunny will love you for leaving these out for him when he visits your house.

1 Box Carrot Cake Mix
1 Cream Cheese Frosting
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine carrot cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and raisins. Your dough will be very thick. Place dough in heaping tablespoons on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookie turns slightly golden brown on the top. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, frost with cream cheese frosting!

Easy Shredded Chicken for salads, tacos, and soups

Shredded Chicken is such a great thing to have cooked and ready in the freezer. It's so easy to just take however much out that you need, and add it to your dish for a quick meal. I make this in huge batches so I can quickly add some chicken to pasta, quesadillas, tacos, or a salad. This recipe is for a pretty basic, plain chicken so that it can be added to any dish. I used 6 chicken breasts and 4 chicken legs in this recipe, but feel free to use your preferred cut of chicken. While we really like white meat, it is nice to add a few chicken legs to give it a bit more flavor from the dark meat.

6 Chicken breasts
4 chicken legs
2-4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
6 Cups Water

Rinse the raw chicken and place it in a large pot. Salt and pepper the chicken. Add 6 cups water and your chicken bouillon cubes. Bring slowly to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. Once done, the meat will be tender enough to shred with your hands or a fork. Remove from dish and let sit for a few minutes to cool, and begin shredding. You can refrigerate for 2 days or freeze immediately. I prefer to freeze mine as it takes no time at all to defrost.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

5 Minute Salsa

1 can Rotel
1 Small onion ( or 1/2 large onion)
4 small cloves garlic
1/8 tsp dried cilantro 
1/8 tsp garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste

Throw everything in your food processor and blend. The longer you blend, the more pureed your salsa will get, so it just depends on your taste!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Martha Stewart's Pasta Pie

Love this pasta pie for it's great presentation. Adapted from Martha Stewart's Pasta Pie. Only Martha could turn basic pasta into a 2 hour project...


  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 8 oz  mozzarella cheese, grated 
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt (to taste)
  • peper (to taste)
  • butter  


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in nonstick pan. Add ground beef, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until meat is browned.Drain excess fat from meat, then add your crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Rigatoni Noodles:

Cook an Entire 1 lb box of Rigatoni. Trust me when I say you will need the whole box. They will fit perfectly in your spring form pan, so careful not to drop any down the drain when draining them in the sink.

Boil Rigatoni for 2 minutes less than indicated on the box. The box said to cook for 14 minutes, so I cooked for 12. The noodles will not be fully cooked as they will cook more once they go in the oven. 

Drain noodles completely, rinse in cool water, and coat in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Make sure pasta is evenly coated with olive oil, then toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Butter your 9-inch spring form pan and then tightly pack your rigatoni noodles into the pan, standing each piece on it's end.


Putting it together:

This is the time consuming part! pour your meat sauce a little bit at a time on top of your noodles. take the back end of a fork and stuff the meat sauce down into each noodle. Make sure you get every noodle! 

 Reserve some of the meat sauce for pouring on top of your pasta later.



 Preheat overn to 400 degrees. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove pasta from oven and sprinkle 8 oz of Mozzarella cheese on top. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown on top. 

 Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Once it cools slightly, it will set and be much easier to cut (and not fall apart). Trust me and wait.

 Cut your pie into slices and serve!

If you'd like, pour extra sauce on top of your slice and enjoy!

Handmade Sausage Filled Ravioli

Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have tried making this Sausage Filled Ravioli, adapted from My Italian Grandmother's handmade ravioli recipe. We started making Ravioli at around noon on a Saturday so we wouldn't have to rush to make it around dinner time. Little did I know it would take until dinner time to make it, but.. the end product was definitely worth it.

Meat Filling:

1 lb ground Italian sausage (you can substitute ground beef)
1 small chopped yellow onion
5-6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup diced celery 
 1/4 cup freshly grated romano
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 egg
olive oil

Cook onion, garlic, carrots and onion in oil until they are soft. Just a few minutes.

Then add your ground sausage and stir continuously with a wooden spoon, constantly breaking up the meat into very small bits. Once meat is browned, drain excess fat from pan. Then, put mixture into your food processor and blend. Be careful not to over blend unless you like your ravioli filling to be the consistency of cat food.

Marinara Sauce:

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes (to taste)
dried basil (to taste)
oregano (to taste)

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add crushed tomatoes and spices. Heat sauce until it bubbles, then turn heat down to low, letting sauce simmer, stirring occasionally.

Ravioli Pasta Dough:

3 cups flour
5 eggs
salt (to taste)

Be forewarned- this part is a workout. Your arms will hurt tomorrow. And possibly the day after. 

Place your eggs and a dash of salt in your stand up mixer. Stir in flour a little bit at a time with the dough hook attachment. (Do not use all of your flour, save some for kneading it by hand later.) After it is completely mixed, knead dough in mixer for 5 minutes until it is smooth and easy to handle. Then let your dough rest for a half hour at room temperature.

 Take out small bits of dough at a time, place on a floured cutting board and start kneading! Knead for 2 or 3 minutes with a bit extra flour if needed. If you have a pasta machine, whip it out now. If not, start rolling! Flour your rolling pin and roll your dough until it is flat, about 1/8 of an inch thick.The thinner the better, but not too thin or your meat filling will burst out the sides when they are cooking.

The easiest way I found to make the raviolis was to cut rectangles that are about 3" by 6". Place a scoop (use a tablespoon) of your meat filling on one side of the rectangle and fold the other side over. Press around the meat filling to squeeze out any air, and smooth edges flat. Use fork to press down the sides so that they are sealed together.

As you are making your raviolis, line them up on a lightly floured cookie sheet or a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once you fill up a sheet, stick them in the freezer. Once completely frozen you can move them to zipcock bags and store them in your freezer until you want to use them. Otherwise, you can just start cooking them!

Drop Ravioli in boiling water, carefully. Cook until they float to the top.
When they float, they're done!  

 Serve with marinara sauce, parmesan cheese, and with homemade garlic bread.



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