“Man is not truly one, but two.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I think I have a split personality.  I love the opposite ends of every spectrum. I’ll go all out with Christmas decorations but love that single candle in the window. I adore a black tie affair but cherish my no make-up Mondays. I’ll spend $$$$ (I’m ashamed to say) on a purse but will buy a $5 pair of shoes at a thrift store and love them both equally. The list goes on……..

I’m having a cat scan on my head next week – it will be interesting to see what’s up there.

The same goes with food – my Thanksgiving Turkey this week is going to be a royal, time consuming affair and I’m going to love it. But last night I made a quick and easy baked ziti recipe that I found on the back of the zita pasta box.

It’s my new go to meal.

Back of the Box Baked Ziti

  • 1 (16 oz) package of ziti
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (26 oz) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375º.

Start by cooking pasta according to directions.

Saute meat and onions in large skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked, drain off excess grease.

Stir in pasta sauce, tomatoes (I squished these a little with my hand first), Italian seasoning, and pesto into meat mixture. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix sauce with pasta.

Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour mixture evenly into dish.

Top with cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned.

yummo!

Let countdown to Thanksgiving begin!!!!

abp

Advertisements

“I can spend hours in a grocery store. I get so excited when I see food, I go crazy.” ~ Cameron Diaz

As you know – this girl loves her some pasta! Give me good ol’ spaghetti or lasagna any night!! But since our trip to Italy, I have been wanting to try more authentic Italian dishes.  One recipe that I ran across on Pinterest fit the bill and is actually very simple.  I probably would have never tried this recipe because Italian sausage is not my favorite but……….

One Saturday (not my typical shopping day – waaaaay too crowded) I took the DH to the grocery store with me and they had the samples set up – so off he goes to “sample”  – he comes back with a coupon and a pack of a new kind of Italian sausage – we have to get this he says. (I wish I had kept the packaging to tell you the name – because it was really good!).

Well, ever since then that pack of sausage had just been sitting in the freezer so I started looking for a recipe to use it in – and it didn’t take me long to find this one.

Italian Sausage and Tomato Pasta

(adapted from Avocado Pesto)

  • 12 ounces Italian sausage, halved or quarter and thinly sliced
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 8 ounces pasta (I used linguine)

Start by preparing pasta, according to directions.

Next sauté sausage over medium-high heat until brown and a little crispy.

Add onions and cook until tender (I had to add a little olive oil because there was not enough fat from the sausage). Then add garlic and cook for about a minute.

Toss in cherry tomatoes and cook for around 5 minutes or until juices start to flow.

Reduce heat to low, add cream and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Serve over pasta and garnish with the scallions.

Very authentic and very simple!

I’m so glad the DH stumbled upon the sausage and insisted we get some – I will be making again!

abp

“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!” ~ Author Unknown

After a great weekend with friends, football and food I pondered the busy weeks ahead of me, there is so much going on and well, I admit – I feel a little overwhelmed. I know it’s just my OCDness that kicks and makes me feel this way, so I am going to make a very concerted effort to not stress about all the details and just enjoy every minute of this busy time in my life! And I am going to start enjoying this time by making cookies!!!!

Chocolate Mint Dream Cookies

(adapted from Nestlé)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (I could not find these so I chopped up a cup of Andes Candies and added 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325º and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars in stand mixer until well combined.

Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.

Slowly add dry ingredients into mixer.

When well combined, stir in chocolate/mint pieces.

Scoop well rounded tablespoons of cookie mixture onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until cookies are set.

Cool on sheet for a few minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

And so the cookie kick continues…….

abp

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

What a week!!

There is so much going on and it’s not even officially the holiday season!

The past six months just seem like a blur to me – 4 major events – our wedding, the reception a couple months later, our honeymoon to Italy and my surgery. Thrown into that were football season (tailgating), getting a new house in shape and my new blog ( 🙂 )

Don’t get me wrong! I have loved every minute of it! Well, except the surgery, although I did enjoy the time off from work – that was awesome!. It’s just everything is going so so fast! I can’t believe Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away!! And it will be my first officially Thanksgiving in my new house! YAY!

ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness!!!

Starting then I’m pretty sure we will be having all kinds of traditional holidays foods for the next several weeks but this week and next weekI’m sticking to the normal everyday things I like to make.

You know I LOVE pasta and you know I LOVE Mexican food. So why not combine them??

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest – I knew I must try it!

Chicken Taco Pasta (adapted from Bev Cooks)

Serves 4-6

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. favorite taco seasoning
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can drained and rinsed kidney beans (or black)
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 2 cups pasta shells
  • 4 oz (half a block) cream cheese
  • 2 Tbs. greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • coarse salt and pepper

(FYI – the pictures below are a double recipe)

Start by putting pasta onto cook according to directions. Reserving 1/3 cup pasta water.

Brown your chicken over medium-high heat. (I must admit, I’m not really a fan of what ground chicken looks like while it’s cooking)

Add onion, garlic and taco seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes.

Next add corn, beans, green chilies and salt/pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and toss to combine.

Stir in cream cheese and yogurt.

Combine meat mixture with shells. Add pastas water bit by bit if it is to thick.

Serve with plenty of fresh cilantro.

This recipe was very filling and had great flavor but I must warn you – wear your chopping gloves because there’s a whole lot a choppin’ going on!

I can tell you – my wrist wanted to revolt against me.

But it was worth it. 🙂

abp

“When life gives you lemons, add sweet tea!” ~ unknown

I’ve decided that I really like making cookies.

Strike #1,343,987 against my goal of losing a few pounds.

Oh well, I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Because of this new cookie obsession, I have a feeling I will be trying out several recipes this holiday season. This week was no exception.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies (adapted from LDS Magazine)

  • ½ cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.

Next whip in vanilla, egg, lemon juice/zest.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients through flour and slowly add to cream mixture. Thoroughly combine.

Put powered sugar on a plate, roll batter into heaping teaspoon balls and roll in powdered sugar.

Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until barely brown and they have a matte look to them. Cool on sheet for a bit, then transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling completely.

This was a very simple recipe that makes delicious cookies! They would make great gifts this holiday season! The problem with this is keeping myself and the DH from eating them before I can get them wrapped up! 🙂

abp

“Appetizers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite.” ~ Joe Moore

What a busy wonderful weekend!

We had dinner with friends at a nice restaurant on Friday, ate barbeque ribs, pork tenderloin and many yummy appetizers on Saturday for the Bama game (I think my pulse may finally be back to normal after watching that nerve racking game) and on Sunday for the first time in a long time I had the whole peanut gallery over for dinner – Taco Pasta – more on that later in the week.

The appetizer that I quickly made up on Saturday for the game was Cream Cheese Sausage Balls adapted from Plain Chicken.

I like these sausage balls because they do not dry out like other sausage balls and this is of course because of the cream cheese. I also got a great tip from the the Plain Chicken blog and that was to mix the sausage ball ingredients up with the dough hook on your mixture.  This was huge for me – I sometimes avoided doing these pretty easy to throw together appetizers because I hated mixing the dough up by hand and with my current wrist condition – there was no way I would be able to, so with this helpful tip – I can pull this together in NO time!

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls

  • 1 lb hot (or mild -your heat preference) sausage, uncooked
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups Bisquick (or all purpose baking mix)
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 400º

Place all ingredients into stand mixer with dough hook attachment.

Mix until well combined.

Roll into 1-2 inch balls, place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown.

Now that I know I can quickly mix this up with the dough attachment and since I usually have all these ingredients on hand (I buy the sausage when it’s buy one get one free at Publix and freeze it), I’ll be making these a lot for a quick last minute party or breakfast.

I hope everyone had a weekend that was as enjoyable as mine!

abp

“Don’t compare yourself with someone else’s version of happy or thin. Accepting yourself burns the most calories.” ~ Caroline Rhea

As mentioned earlier in the week – all I am craving is the “sweet stuff” but man can’t live on sugar alone (although goodness knows I could but my waistline could not) so…….

I found a couple recipes from Cooking Light I would like to try and tonights will be Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken.

  • ¼ cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 4 (6 ounce) chicken cutlets
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon minced rosemary
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425º.

Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.

Add chicken to mixture, turning to coat.

Heat small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko bread crumbs to pan, cook 3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.

Combine panko, nuts, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and dredge in panko mixture.

Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet, coat with cooking spray and arrange chicken on rack; spray chicken with cooking spray.

Bake for 13 minutes or until chicken in done.  I served mine with wild rice and a salad.

Having this for dinner (292 calories, 9.6 grams fat/serving) made me feel better about all the Chocolate Chip Nutella Cookies I ate!

I hope to try more Cooking Light recipes soon!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

abp