Sunday, June 24, 2012

Italian Beer Bread with Sun Dried Tomato Butter

This was my final contribution to my grandma's happy hour birthday party. Back when Boy #1 turned six in February, he requested Little Ceasar's pizza for his family birthday dinner. Since no one other than my two kids are big fans of that, I made an executive decision to have a happy hour type party for him, so he could still have his pizza, but the rest of us wouldn't be forced to eat it. My brother and his girlfriend came down from Seattle for the party, but she ended up getting really sick while they were visiting, which meant no one wanted to touch our house with a 10 foot pole, meaning my family didn't end up coming over for his birthday dinner. Instead we had our best friends over to celebrate with us. I had this bread recipe slated to make for it, so I went ahead and made it. We all liked it so much I decided to make it again so my family could actually try it!

Italian beer bread and sun dried tomato butter
Source: via Pinterest

3 1/2 cups (15oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 oz. beer
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×5 inch bread pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cheese, baking powder, Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined. Pour in beer and stir until just combined.

Place dough in prepared bread pan. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of butter on top of bread if desired.

Bake bread for about 50-70 minutes or brown and crispy around edges. Cool slightly then remove from pan.

Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup butter, sundried tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in food processor and process until smooth. Serve with bread.

SNAPPY TIPS: Be sure to cook the bread until is browned and crispy around edges so that it’s cooked through the middle. If you don’t add butter to the top of the bread, you can cover the bread halfway through the cooking time to help prevent overbrowning before the bread is cooked through.


Like I said above, I had already made this before, so I knew it was a winner. I love a good quick bread recipe, and this comes together really easily. The sun dried tomato butter is tasty, too, although it is really hard to spread if you keep it in the fridge. This is a relatively easy appetizer to make, and I know it's one that I'll make a lot in the future.

Greek Yogurt Queso Dip

When I was working up what I'd make for my grandma's birthday party, Boy #1 requested cheese dip. I had pinned this queso dip on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. If you remember, I love Greek yogurt, so I was excited to give this a try.

Greek Yogurt queso
Source: via Pinterest

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
12 ounces plain Greek yogurt
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of cayenne
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Stir in the flour, using a wire whisk to stir until smooth.  Add the yogurt; stir until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients; stir constantly until cheese is completely melted and smooth.
Serve warm with tortilla chips and/or fresh vegetables.  (you can keep it on the stove on very low heat, or put it in a crock pot on warm, until serving).

Nutrition stats per 2 tablespoons: 90 calories, 6g fat (4g sat), 130 mg sodium, 1g sugar, 6g protein


Since we had an event to attend before the party, I mixed this up at home before we left and then reheated it once it was time for the party. I really love party food that can be made ahead of time so I'm not having to run around like a crazy woman getting everything ready right before a party. Ha! Who am I kidding?! I'm generally doing that anyway! This was really easy to put together, and I loved the extra zip/tang the Greek yogurt provided. Boy #1 ended up not really being a fan of it, but I loved it and thought it was great. I'd definitely make it again! Actually I bet if it was thinned out a bit with some milk, it would be a great sauce for mac and cheese!

Baked Brie in Bread Bowl

This was another recipe I made for my grandma's 94th birthday party. If you're on Pinterest, it's entirely possible you saw this recipe because it definitely made the rounds. I normally do some kind of baked brie for the party, and this looked awesome. I'm a sucker for a bread bowl--be it clam chowder, spinach dip or whatever--so this appealed to me on many levels!! Plus warm, melty cheese INSIDE bread?! Yes please!

Baked brie in bread bowl
Source: McCormick website via Pinterest

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Mustard, Ground
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 loaf round sourdough bread (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 round (8 ounces) Brie cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix spices and sugar in small bowl. Set aside. Place bread on baking sheet. Cut circle in top of bread and remove bread center to make room for the Brie. 

2. Spread butter on bread. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture. With knife, make 2-inch cuts at 1-inch intervals around edge of bread. Remove rind from Brie and place in bread. Sprinkle Brie with remaining spice mixture. Replace top of bread. 

3. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. To serve, remove bread top and break into bite size pieces. Dip bread pieces in hot Brie.

per serving
Calories: 263
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 30 g
Cholesterol: 32 mg
Sodium: 545 mg
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 11 g


I gotta say, I was most excited for the bottom layer of this, the bottom of the bread bowl that would be coated with melty brie. Kind of like the best part of a clam chowder bread bowl is the bottom of the bowl that's soaked with chowdery goodness. It was pretty awesome having cubes of bread along the side of the brie to just tear off and smear with cheese. Oh, cheese, how I love thee! This was dedfinitely a cool take on baked brie. Not sure if I like this or the typical brie-wrapped-in-puff-pastry baked brie better. The puff pastry version is faster/easier, but this one is awesome having bread right there to dip in it.

Giada's Stuffed Baby Peppers

We are on vacation once again, however I don't have an internet connection (what kind of rental house in this day and age doesn't offer wifi?!), so I'm just typing this up and saving it and will upload once we're home at the end of the week. We're on the opposite coast this time, spending a week on the Central Coast area of CA with my husband's family. Once again, it's cloudy. At least in CA the clouds usually burn off, although the past two days they sadly have not. THe husband and I are spending the day wine tasting in Paso Robles while his lovely sister watches our kids for us, so that's probably a sure sign the sun will be shining on the beach all day. Oh well, I'll be tasting wine with the love of my life, so I can't complain too much.

You may remember that every year for my grandma's birthday, she likes to have a happy hour birthday party where we feast on all sorts of appetizers and wine. I always spend weeks trying to figure out what my contributions will be. I had seen these in a Giada cookbook when I was searching for dinner ideas and thought they'd be a great contribution. I don't think I've ever gone wrong with a Giada recipe.

Giada's Stuffed Baby Peppers

Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 (2 to 3-inch long) sweet baby peppers

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking sprayand set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add thepancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta anddrain on paper towels. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion, pancetta, cheeses, and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a paring knife, cut 1/2-inch from the stem-end of the peppers. Remove the seeds and veins. Using a small dessert spoon, fill each pepper with the ricotta mixture. Place the filled peppers on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Arrange the peppers on a platter and serve.


We had an event for the husband's work before we went to my mom's for the party, so I assembled the peppers ahead of time and just kept them in a cooler while we were at the event. When it was party time, I put them on a cookie sheet and popped them in the oven. Super easy to get them prepped ahead of time!

These were really tasty, and they're low carb which I need to keep in mind for when we're having low carb weeks, or just to take to things where I know it will be a carb-fest. Let me tell you something about petite peas though--they're a scam!! I stood at the freezer case of my grocery store looking for petite peas. There was one brand that sold them--at three times the cost of a bag of regular peas. But, it was for my grandma's 94th birthday so I figured I'd splurge. You know what? They were the same freakin' size as regular peas. Well played, Birds Eye Vegetables, well played. So save yourself some money and use regular peas.

I will definitely be making these again. There were quite a few leftover (there's always a ton of food at this party), and the husband and I liked eating them cold even. He took them as a side in his lunch for a couple days after the party. Thanks, Giada, for another great recipe!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Penne Rosa

Well, it's another rainy day at the beach. Bummer as far as my vacation fun goes, but at least I'm getting lots of blog posts done, right? We just got rid of cable at our house, so my kids are fascinated at having Cartoon Network again, so at least they're happy being cooped up inside. The sun came out briefly this morning but then quickly got rainy and then windy. I just washed, dried, and flat ironed my hair (a whole lot of good that did with this humidity, let me tell you...note snarky tone in that) in the hopes that it would help bring out the sun because then I'd want to swim but would have to sacrifice my hair to do so. Does that make sense? Basically I'm hoping that my hairstyling will have control over the weather somehow.

With that note, on to my post.

I love me a creamy pasta dish, but since I'm pretty conscious of my calorie intake and eating healthy, creamy pasta sauces are something I tend to avoid unless I'm being really indulgent. So I was pretty excited when I saw this recipe on Pinterest for a creamy pasta sauce that used Greek yogurt for the creamy aspect of it. If you haven't discovered Greek yogurt yet, you need to try it! It's super tasty and very high in protein, which I love. The husband and I go through it like there's no tomorrow. Thankfully Costco sells it for super cheap! We both like it for a fast, high-protien breakfast or snack, plain with a little honey drizzled on the top, or it's delicious with fruit mixed in as well. And you can use it in place of all sorts of things. It's fantastic!! I even used it to make boxed mac and cheese recently when I was out of milk, and the result was amazing.

Now, I'll step down off my Greek yogurt soapbox and get on with my blog post.

Penne Rosa
Source: Back to Her Roots blog via

12 ounces whole wheat penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.

Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their water. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.

Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and pasta sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.


The original recipe called for shrimp, but I left that out because I didn't have any, and my kids don't really like it anyway, plus I thought we needed a vegetarian meal because we hadn't had one in awhile. Wow that was a long sentence. That was the only modification I made. This was a pretty big hit all around with my family. I think it would be delicious with the shrimp the original post used,k but it was good on its own with just the vegetables. It's definitely something I'd make again, especially when I want a creamy pasta fix!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Creamy Poblano Chicken Over Cornbread Waffles

Well, we've been forced inside for awhile due to a torrential downpour, so while we're stuck inside I thought I'd do another blog update. It does not look pretty outside, so I may do a couple posts...who knows!

I felt recently in my meal planning that I needed to break away from using Pinterest for my meal planning, so I pulled out a cookbook my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a few years ago. She was a teacher at a Christian school in San Antonio, and one of the high school classes put together a cookbook for a fund raiser. I pulled the cookbook out for something else recently and decided to flip through it for some meal planning ideas. This jumped out at me, and I had some random peppers in my fridge already, so I thought it was worth a go. Then lo and behold, when I did a search for cornbread waffles, it turns out the recipe is from an old issue of Southern Living because the first search result took me to this exact recipe!

Creamy Poblano Chicken Over Cornbread Waffles
Source: San Antonio Christian School cookbook and Southern Living

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken and mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Cornbread Waffles (recipe below)

Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, chile pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add chicken, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in soup and sour cream until smooth. Add cheese, and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve over Cornbread Waffles.

Cornbread Waffles
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups frozen white shoepeg corn, thawed

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together egg and next 3 ingredients; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Bake in a preheated, oiled waffle iron just until crisp.


There were mixed reviews on this meal at my house (and from my BFF who was over briefly after dinner. I loved this. The husband was confused by the cornbread waffles because he expected them to taste like regular waffles would. Once he told himself to expect cornbread instead of waffles, he liked it a little better. Boy #1 wasn't home, Boy #2 ate it okay. I really liked it, but only if the bites were really saucy. Jen thought it was okay when she stopped by. We decided it might be better as a pot pie filling instead of served over the waffles. Or over biscuits. The husband thought it could be spicier, and I agreed. I wasn't sure what kind of peppers I was using or how hot they'd be. Someone at the husband's work had brought in peppers from their garden that he brought home, but we had no idea what they were. They were too small to be Anaheims, they were too big to be jalapenos. I still have no idea what they were. But I could have used another one or two for a bit more oomph.

I don't know if I'd make it again...I really liked the flavor, but since everyone else in my house that ate it was pretty indifferent about it, I don't know if it will come into rotation in our house again. Maybe in a different form, but probably not like this. But, I thought it was tasty!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Coleslaw

I'm on vacation in Florida right now with my two kiddos, my mom, and some extended family. We're spending a week pool and beachside with three of her cousins and their families. It's a blast so far!! My boys were in the pool for over six hours today before we pulled them out to go to the dollar store to get some beach toys. Boy #2 fell asleep in the car on the way there and is still snoozing (so I volunteered to stay back here with him), and Boy #1 is back at it, either swimming or going to play on the beach, I'm not sure.

We had a four hour plane ride yesterday, and I was alone with my kids. In my mind, they'd spend the entire flight enthralled with various new movies I'd purchased for the trip and basically leave me alone except for the occasional DVD switch or another snack (you have no idea how much food I take along on an airplane stems from a mantra of "when in doubt, feed them" from when we traveled with our boys when they were babies). While they were busy being fixated with movies I was going to spend the flight updating my blog, be one of those people typing away on my laptop on the plane. Now, if you have kids you're probably shaking your head at me right now, and I don't blame you. I should have known better. No one wanted to watch a movie for more than 10 minutes, and I was constantly picking up a backpack so they could find something else to do or trying to come up with something to entertain them. My laptop stayed packed away in my backpack in the overhead compartment the whole trip.


But, I'm at least hoping to get caught up on some entries while on vacation. I mean, I can't spend an entire week laying by the pool or on the beach eating tasty food and having delicious adult beverages, right? Ha! Who am I kidding? That sounds awesome, so this may very well be the only post I do. We'll see. I can't let Boy #2 sleep too long or he'll never go to bed tonight.


I recently found ground turkey on sale for BOGO, which I love. And then a day or two later I happened to see this recipe on and thought it would be a perfect addition to my meal plan for the week. I wasn't sure about the coleslaw on the burger but figured it was worth a shot. Plus I don't think I've ever been disappointed with a recipe I've made from her website! And one more thing, we really love anything deemed "buffalo" so it was worth a shot!

Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Coleslaw
1 1/2 cups broccoli slaw
1/4 cup skinny blue cheese dressing (recipe below)
1.25 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
2/3 cup grated carrots (grate in food processor) 
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs 
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 tbsp red onion, grated
1/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce
salt and fresh pepper
oil spray
5 slices reduced fat cheddar
5 whole wheat burger buns (I used Martin's 100 calorie Potato Whole Wheat Buns)

Directions: In a medium bowl combine broccoli slaw and skinny blue cheese dressing. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, carrots, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Makes 5 equal patties, 5.5 oz each. Servings: 5 • Size: 1 Burger  
Calories: 358 • Fat: 15 g • Protein: 38.3 g • Carb: 22.7 g • Fiber: 5.6 g • Sugar: 5.9

Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
6 oz fat free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mash blue cheese and yogurt together with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic powder until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup.

Servings: 8  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons •  Calories: 46.8 • Fat: 3.0 g • Protein: 2.8 g • Carb: 2.2 g • Fiber: 0.3 g 


As I've mentioned before, my children are very anti-spicy food, so before adding in the Frank's I pulled out enough of the mixture for a burger patty each for them and set it aside. I was pretty liberal with the Frank's, but I really could have put more in it. Oh, and I skipped the garlic and onion and instead went for a bit each of garlic powder and onion powder. I'm lazy, and neither was enough of an amount to deal with using the real thing. We loved these burgers!! I will warn you, with the slaw on top they were very messy, but they were oh-so tasty. I would have eaten another if we'd had it, I loved it so much. The slaw on top was a great addition, too. Mellowed out the tang and heat of the Frank's and added an interesting texture. I think if you weren't a fan of blue cheese (which I just don't understand) you could easily substitute ranch dressing for the blue cheese dressing when mixing up the slaw. My kids were happy with their normal burgers, the husband and I were happy with our tasty buffalo burgers, so it was a win-win all over!!