Thursday, January 26, 2012

No Carb Pizza

Last week the husband suggested to me that we have a no carb week this week. He went to Mississippi to visit his best friend and knew he'd be over indulging. Last year we started the year off with a no carb week, but this year we were running a half marathon on January 15th, so going without carbs the first week of the year was going to be more detrimental than helpful. Since we both tend to get tired of the no carb thing quickly I chose all new dinner recipes to try and keep it exciting for us. Enter I did a search on low carb meals and came up with a bevy of ideas. Some have been good, some have been okay, nothing has been awful. I've had an easier time this week than in times past cutting out carbs, maybe because I'm more used to doing it now? I don't know. Or maybe I know we're just doing it through Monday, so the end is near already.

Anyway, the husband and my kiddos love pizza. I'm a fan, but I'm not a pizza monster like the three of them are. This sounded with no carbs in the crust? But I figured it was worth a try.

No Carb Pizza
Source: via

For the crust:
1 (8 oz.) package of full fat cream cheese (room temp.)
2 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sauteed pepperoni
Garlic powder

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9×13 baking dish
Blend cream cheese and eggs and season with pepper & garlic powder
Add parmesan cheese and stir until combined
Pour into buttered baking dish
Bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown
Let crust cool for 10 minutes before adding toppings
After crust is cooked, raise oven to 400 degrees

For the pizza:
Mix together marinara sauce, garlic powder, & oregano
Top crust with marinara and spread evenly
Top with mozzarella cheese
Add toppings
Bake for 8 minutes or until cheese is bubbly


I was pretty skeptical when I pulled the "crust" out of the oven, and I was a bit worried because my universal dinner back-up plan of Little Ceasar's pizza wouldn't work with no carbs. But I forged ahead praying and crossing my fingers it would at least be edible. And you know what? It was actually pretty awesome. Boy #2 wasn't sure about the crust at first and just ate the toppings, but once the husband told him it was cheese and eggs, he was completely on board with it. There was none of this left by the time dinner was done. The husband said he'd even eat it when we were doing no carbs! I used turkey pepperoni as the only topping. It didn't even occur to me to put anything else on it, but I think next time I'd add some veggies or a second meat to make it slightly more filling. this will definitely grace our table again!

Skillet Rosemary Chicken

I've been lazy about uploading pictures to my computer from my camera, and I finally decided today is the day while Boy #2 is engrossed in watching Cars 2 (or "Cars Soup" as he calls it for some reason). We had this one night last week, and it was amazing. I can't believe that didn't motivate me to get these pics uploaded earlier!

This was another Pinterest recipe, but I'd forgotten about it until my BFF made it recently. I thought it looked delicious, yet familiar, when she posted it on her blog. sure enough, I had it pinned as well. I already had chicken thighs on hand from making gumbo a couple weeks ago. I've wanted a cast iron skillet for awhile and finally put one on my Christmas list this year. My awesome little brother came through and got one for me. It was kind of funny because he also got me a cover for the handle, and they were each wrapped separately. I opened the handle cover first and was really confused, then it all made sense once I opened the skillet. I'd been looking for a way to break it in and decided this was the recipe!

Skillet Rosemary Chicken
Source: Minimally Invasive website via Jen's blog and

3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
Kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (6 to 8 ounces each)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved

Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet, place chicken over mushrooms and potatoes and drizzle with any marinade remaining in the bowl and the juice of the remaining lemon.

Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.


I was a little nervous using my cast iron skillet for the first time, but I didn't need to have been. I loved how easy it was to go from the stove top into the oven. Granted I have other pans that can do that, too, but there was just something timeless about using cast iron for this. The chicken browned beautifully, and then the potatoes and mushrooms turned out amazing with the marinade and chicken fat dripping on them. YUM. The husband and I really loved this. Boy #1 freaked out about the chicken being on the bone, but once we took care of that for him he ate all of his dinner. Well, not the potatoes or mushrooms because he doesn't like either of those, but I happily ate them for him. This is definitely something I'll make again! Easy, relatively fast, and super tasty!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been making these chocolate chip cookies since I was in college, and I could not believe that I have never put the recipe here on my blog. These are without a doubt the BEST chocolate chip cookies ever. Well, my friend Kelly makes some tasty chocolate chip cookies, too, but aside from hers these are hands down my favorite. I don't even mind making them, and I generally hate making cookies. The recipe came to me from my college boyfriend's mom. Honestly when he and I broke up I was most disappointed that I would never have his mom's chocolate chip cookies again. Yeah...things had really gone downhill at that point since that was what disappointed me the most. His family also made the most delicious frozen margaritas, but I'd already learned how to make those. Anyway, I eventually put on my big girl panties and emailed his mom asking for the recipe. She was thrilled to hear from me and sent me the recipe. Haha..score! And I've been making them ever since. I used to make them really, really often and had the recipe memorized, but now since I don't make them all the time I have to pull out the recipe each time I want them. And I was reminded yesterday why I don't make them very often...I ate four of them almost immediately. I'm not proud of it, but damn they're tasty.

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Susan, my ex-boyfriend's mom

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 sticks butter minus about 2 tablespoons
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put ingredients in a bowl and cream really well. It will look yucky and then look like a thick whipping cream. I always start with everything right out of the refrigerator.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

I don’t mix this too much, just enough to combine.

Then add chocolate chips (1-2 12 oz bags depending on taste) and pecans or walnuts.

Bake at 375 until done, about 10-12 minutes.


I have found that 11 minutes is the optimal baking time for these cookies. They will look a little underdone at that point, but trust me when I say that's the best time to pull them out. Otherwise they're too crunchy. Not that they're bad then, but they're much better when they're soft in the middle. I don't ever add nuts to mine either, mostly because I don't have those nuts on hand, and I'm not really a fan of nuts in my cookies. I always mix these up in my Kitchenaid mixer because it's super easy to let it do all of the work. I think that's another reason I like this recipe--I don't end up dirtying a ton of dishes, and that's one of the big beefs I have with baking. Why does it seem to always produce more dirty dishes than just cooking?

Oh, and I really like milk chocolate chips in these, although the batch I made yesterday I used a bag of milk chocolate and half a bag of semi sweet chips that I had in my pantry.

Anyway, try these cookies. Now. You won't be disappointed. And if you make them and think your chocolate chip cookie recipe is better, send it to me! I'm down for a taste test!

This is also the only cookie dough I like to eat.

What's a plate of chocolate chip cookies without a glass of milk?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

Ah, a quiet Monday afternoon. The husband and Boy #1 are off at a hockey game, Boy #2 is upstairs watching Dumbo, I took a power nap on the couch, rolled out some king cake dough, and decided to update my blog. I wanted to get laundry put away and clean up our toy room a bit, but since the boy is upstairs watching a movie I've decided to put all that off and deal with it later to enjoy some peace and quiet downstairs. Ahhh. I have to revel in it now because I know it won't last long!!

This was another new recipe we had for dinner this past week. I had limited grocery money to use, but I had a lot of the items for this on hand already. It came from (surprise, surprise) Pinterest. I love a good casserole and this one sounded really tasty. Pasta, chicken, spinach, and cheese? Sounds scrumptious! Oh, Pinterest, where would my life be if I hadn't discovered you. If my husband were answering that question I'm sure he'd come up with some witty comment about how our house would be clean, laundry would be done, and we'd eat dinner on time every night. But, he's not, so I'll go on with my Pinterest obsession fascination.

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake
Source: Adapted from Saving Money Living Life blog (found via Pinterest)

8 oz uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 (10 oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed
3 c cubed, cooked chicken breasts
1 (14 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 (8 oz) container Philadelphia chive & onion cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1½ c shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Spread oil on bottom of 9x13 baking dish; add onion in a single layer. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or just until tender. Transfer onion to large bowl, set aside.

Drain chopped spinach well. Stir pasta, spinach, chicken, & next 5 ingredients into onion in bowl. Spoon mixture into dish & sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.


I only changed up the original recipe slightly. It called for rigatoni, but I like whole wheat pasta, but my grocery stores don't carry whole wheat rigatoni, so I used rotini instead. I also added in the ricotta because 1) I was worried it wasn't going to be creamy enough, and 2) I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up. Plus we're all about extra cheeses here at my house. The original recipe also called for baking it covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 15. I didn't want to wait that long to eat, and I really didn't see the point in it since all the parts were cooked already and it just had to combine and heat up. It worked out fine that way. if I had more time I might try it the original way to see how it compared.

This was a total hit with everyone in my family. The husband and I especially dug it, and Boy #2 had more than one serving. Boy #1 I guess was more lukewarm about it now that I think back to dinner that night, but he still ate most of his and didn't complain. No complaining about a dinner, I take that as a win. This is definitely something I would make again. The husband and I really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next couple days, too.

By the way, I calculated this to be 279 calories per serving, assuming seven servings (based on the portions I served myself and the husband).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

Happy New Year, everyone!! Are you excited about what 2012 has in store for you? I'm hoping it has more blogging in it for me. I've kind of decided to just go forward with my blog here and potentially not go back and fill in the missing posts I had wanted to do. I don't know...I can't decide. I figure I'll start current and then when I have some time I'll add in old ones here and there. Otherwise I just get too overwhelmed and don't do anything.

My childhood best friend posted on Facebook recently about calories for a Mexican lasagna she makes. I asked her for the recipe because it sounded tasty just from the title. She sent it to me, and I had most everything on hand already, so I put it into my meal plan for the week. Worked out great because I was low on grocery money this week. I was excited to try it--and that it was low cal! 2011 was the year I got fit, so now I'm really focusing on staying that way, so tasty and low-cal recipes that come highly recommended are fantastic!

Mexican Lasagna
Source: Adapted from my friend Sarah (who has a really funny blog about Jason Segel)

1.25 pounds ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
Taco seasoning
28 oz can enchilada sauce
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can refried beans
4 whole wheat tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brown ground turkey and onion in skillet with salt, pepper, and taco seasoning (no more than one packet...use however much you like to taste...or throw in random taco seasoning spices like chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and paprika if you don't have actual taco seasoning). Pour enchilada sauce into skillet and add in vegetables (you can use others, too, whatever floats your boat or what you have on hand). Simmer.

In separate pan, heat can of refried beans.

Coat a 9x13 dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the turkey and vegetable mixture in the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the refried beans, spreading to cover as best you can. Top with two whole wheat tortillas, then half of cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Cut into eight servings.


I didn't change this a whole lot from how Sarah sent it to me, just added in more veggies and used flour tortillas instead of corn. I had intended on using corn originally, but I ran out of time to make them like I'd planned and didn't have any on hand, so whole wheat flour tortillas is what I ended up using. It worked out fine...I probably could have used a couple more so the tortilla layers were thicker, but no one complained.

This was super easy to put together and SO GOOD. Well, the husband and I both thought so. My kids weren't really fans. Boy #2 ate his up once I mixed some Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream, which we didn't have on hand) in it to cut the spice a bit. Boy #1 picked at his even with the yogurt mixed in, but he did end up eating a decent amount of his serving. I will definitely make it again.

Oh, and I calculated it to only be 310 calories per serving! Not bad at all--and it was so filling!