Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2011

"Best" Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I absolutely love, and I'm pretty much famous in my family for my chocolate chip cookies. That being said, I'm always on the lookout for something that might be better. When I saw this recipe on a blog this week, I thought I would give them a try. I'm not sure that I would say this is the "best" chocolate chip cookie recipe, but they are definitely yummy. The combination of using butter and shortening gives them a very nice texture. I think I still like my usual recipe a bit better because it only uses brown sugar instead of both brown and white, and mine are a bit chewier, which I tend to prefer. Whichever recipe you choose, you are going to get a great batch of cookies.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (that means sitting it out on the counter for about 20 minutes before you bake)
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups …

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

Last week was a week of new recipes for me. Because my son is at camp, I've been able to make some things that have ingredients he wouldn't eat (i.e. fish, mushrooms). Everything I made last week turned out great! I ended up skipping the Pineapple Pork Chops and the Chicken Packets because of a couple of unexpected changes in our evening schedule. I'll give them a try another time. I think my favorite meal last week was the Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Creamy Cilantro Sauce. Maybe I liked it so much because I don't usually cook fish. :)

This week I have a few new items as well. I will have the recipes posted soon, so be sure to check back. I've had a busy week finishing up computer trainings at school, helping my mom, and visiting my son at Scholars Academy, so my meal planning is a bit behind. I promise to have everything caught up in the next day or so. We did have a great day visiting our son, and we finally got a chance to take a short 15 mile bike ride with him…

Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Bake

This tool longer than 45 minutes to cook. I had to cook it for about an hour and 15 minutes to make sure the rice was done. It was a very good casserole.

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
1 cup whole kernel corn
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
3oz reduced fat shredded Cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, picante sauce, water, corn and rice in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Top with the chicken. Sprinkle with the paprika. Cover the baking dish. Bake at 375°F. for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Sprinkle with the cheese. Let stand until the cheese is melted.

Recipe Source - Campbells

In-N-Out Burgers

Our family's favorite show is not a television show, but rather an audio podcast. I know, we're weird. But, weird is good. :) We started listening to Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon (now called Two Gomers Run a Marathon) a couple of years ago. The podcast is basically these two regular guys who talk about their journey of trying to run a marathon. They are absolutely hysterical, and often talk about pop culture and their favorite fast food restaurants. One of the places they mention several times as being a favorite is In-N-Out Burgers. Now, being from the Midwest, I had never heard of this restaurant. It is a west coast burger chain that is apparently very popular. When we traveled to California for vacation last year, we decided to take the Gomers' advice and check it out. Well, they were right! The burgers are a huge, greasy, saucy, wonderful mess. :) The key to the burger is the special sauce. Since we aren't going on vacation this summer, I thought I would reminisc…

BLT Pizzas

One of my favorite summertime treats is a BLT sandwich, especially when I have fresh tomatoes from the garden. This recipe is a fun twist on the traditional BLT. It combines the yummy combination of the traditional sandwich toppings, but puts in in pizza form. How fun is that! I made mine in the oven, but you could easily do these on grill if you don't want to heat up your house in the summer.

1 package (contains 2 flatbreads) Stonefire brand Whole Grain Naan Flatbread
4 T Miracle Whip Light
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
2 oz. Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 slices Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced
Chopped Romain Lettuce


Preheat oven to 400. Place flatbreads on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the Miracle Whip, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder. Divide mixture in half and spread half on one bread and half on the other. Top each pizza with 1 oz of cheddar…

What's for Dinner Menu Plan - New Blog URL!

A while back, I purchased a new domain name for my blog. I decided "" wasn't really descriptive the the content, and it's simply hard remember unless you are a member of my family. Of course, any combination of "what's for dinner" has been snagged up long ago, so I went with "". Hopefully it will be an easier one for my readers to remember. :)

Anyway, I spent some time the other day getting the new URL all set up, so the blog is good to go again. It was offline for a short time, which panicked some of my readers. Sorry to cause you stress when you were trying to meal plan, my friends. At least I know the site is being used. :) Be sure to update your feed readers to use the new address -

Corey is still gone to "smart kid camp", so I took advantage of the added flexibility in my meal planning. You'll see some seafood items again this week, and even a recip…

Pineapple Pork Chops


4 4 oz boneless pork loin chops
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place pork in single layer. In a bowl, combine soy sauce with brown sugar, ginger, crushed pepper and pineapple. Pour over pork chops. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, basting frequently.

Chicken Saltimbocca

I loved the wine sauce on this dish. I used red because it was what I had in the fridge (therefore the dark color). Next time I make it, I will leave out the fresh sage leaves in the middle.

1 med onion, chopped
2 cups uncooked Minute brown rice
1 3/4 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
4 boneless chicken breast halves
4 slices Hormel Deli Honey Ham
4 fresh sage leaves(optional - I'm going to leave them out from now on)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c white wine (I used red wine in the dish in the photo as it's what I had in the fridge)
1/4 c fat free sour cream
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced fresh sage (I used dried)


In a large saucepan, saute onions until tender.  Add rice and stir to coat  Stir in broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 more minutes.  Fluff with fork. 

Meanwhile, cut a slit lengthwise through the thickest part of the chicken.  Fill with ham and sage leaves. Sprinkle with  pepp…

Grilled Italian Sausage Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

Melt-in-your-mouth goodness is how I would describe these stuffed mushrooms. They were simply amazing. The hint of wine combined with the sweet, spiciness of the sausage was delectable. And anything topped with cheese has to be good, right? :)

4 large portabello mushrooms
8 oz. Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (4 links)

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic 
1/2 cup red wine
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz. coarsely chopped spinach leaves
2 T chopped fresh basil 
2 T chopped fresh parsley 
2 oz grated part skim mozzarella
1 T olive oil
1 oz grated part skim mozzarella


Preheat grill to high heat. 

In a nonstick skillet, crumble Italian sausage into pan and cook about 5 minutes, breaking apart with spatula as it cooks. When sausage is well-browned, remove to bowl.

In the same skillet, saute onions until they begin to soften. Add garlic and continue cooking until onions are starting to brown. Add Italian sausage back into pan, then add red pepper f…

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Packets

This recipe is just for one portion. Make as many as you need for your family. 

1 small boneless skinless chicken breast half (1/4 lb.)
1 pineapple ring
1 Tbsp. Barbecue Sauce


Heat grill to medium heat. Place chicken in center of large sheet of heavy-duty foil; top with remaining ingredients. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.
Grill 15 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF). Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packet.

Recipe adapted from Kraft

Steakhouse Cheeseburgers

The saucy tomato topping really makes these burgers.

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Miracle Whip Light
1/4 cup A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce, divided
1 French bread baguette (16 to 20 inch)
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onions
4  2% Milk American Singles

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine tomatoes, dressing and 1/2 tsp. sauce. Cut baguette lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 4

Mix meat, onions and remaining steak sauce. Shape into 4 (1/2-inch thick) oval patties.

Grill 4 min. on each side or until done (160°F); top with cheese. Add baguettes, cut-sides down, to grill. Grill 1 min. or until baguettes are lightly toasted and cheese is melted. Fill baguettes with cheeseburgers; top with tomato mixture.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from Kraft

Grilled New Potato Packet

This is a nice side dish when grilling.

1 pound new potatoes (about 2 per person)
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Heat grill to medium heat.
Place potatoes in center of 18-inch-long piece heavy-duty foil; drizzle with water and oil. Bring up foil sides.
Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.
Grill 18 to 20 min. or until potatoes are tender.
Cut slits in foil to release steam. Open packet. Top potatoes with remaining ingredients.

Recipe from Kraft

Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

This is a simple, tasty meal that's great during grilling season (which happens to be year round at my house).

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I use the frozen kind from Wal-Mart)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Dash red pepper

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the cilantro, oil, chives and garlic. Add the shrimp; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the sauce:
In a blender, combine the sauce ingredients; cover and process until blended. Chill until serving.

Thread shrimp onto four metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill covered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink. Serve with sauce.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Raspberry Creamsicle Delight

This frozen dessert simply says summer. It's fruity and creamy and great on hot summer days. Substitute different sherbet flavors to mix it up.

2 cups raspberry sherbet, softened
1 cup cold skim milk
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Sugar Free Fat Free Jello-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 tub (8 oz.) Fat Free Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed


Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil. Spoon softened sherbet into prepared pan; freeze for10 minutes or until soft set.

Beat the milk and pudding mix in large bowl with whisk for two minutes or until well blended. Gently fold in the Cool Whip; spread over sherbet in pan.

Freeze 3 hours or until firm. To remove from pan, invert pan onto plate and carefully remove the foil. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes to soften slightly before slicing to serve.

Makes 12 servings

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

Can you believe it's already the third week of June? Our summer has been a hot one so far, with temperatures in the mid 90s since the beginning of the month. That's not normal for southwest Missouri. It's usually pretty nice this time of year. Luckily, this weekend we finally had a drop in temps and it was fantastic! I couldn't have asked for a better anniversary present (yes, I've been married 19 years!). We got to enjoy our backyard fire pit on Saturday, and we took a day trip to see the Ozarks Medieval Fortress. My son loves knights and castles, so this was right up his alley.

Today we dropped him off at Missouri Scholars Academy (a.k.a. "nerd camp"). It's a pretty big honor to be selected to attend, and I know he'll have a great time hanging out with other smarty pants kids, but I'm definitely going to miss him. Because he's gone, I'll get to eat some things he won't usually eat, so you'll actually see fish on the menu this…

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

Summer has definitely arrived in Southwest Missouri! The temperatures have averaged around 94 degrees each day, with the heat index hovering near 100 because of the high humidity. Usually it's in the low 80s this time of year. I'm glad I had a lot of grilled items on the menu for the week so I didn't have to turn on the oven. I did skip my Ott's House Casserole for that reason and did leftovers instead.

To escape the heat, we went down to the Buffalo River in Arkansas to go floating with my brother and my nephews. The water felt great, but was very low, so we dragged bottom a lot. Usually we float in May, so I wasn't prepared for the river being so low. We still had a wonderful time. On the way down, we stopped in Harrison and ate at the Neighbor's Mill Bakery & Cafe. They have the most wonderful cinnamon rolls! They are soft, sweet and topped with the most amazing cream cheese frosting. It's definitely worth the splurge. Their lunch items are also fabu…

German Sweet Chocolate Freezer Pie

My mother-in-law always has one of these in her freezer, and it is definitely a family favorite. I choose to make without a crust to save calories, and I'm simply one of those people that doesn't like crust with pies. :)


1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker's German sweet chocolate
1/3 cup skim milk
2 tbsp. sugar
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
8 oz. fat free whipped topping


Heat chocolate and 2 tbsp of the milk in saucepan over low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.  Beat sugar into cream cheese; add remaining milk and chocolate mixture and beat until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping, blending until smooth.  Spoon into a glass pie plate (or use a graham cracker or chocolate crust if you must).  Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.  Store any leftover pie in freezer.

Recipe adapted from one from Bonnie Matzat

June Bug

This is a fun, non-alcoholic cocktail that's perfect for summer. I served them at a picnic-themed dinner in mason jars with colorful straws.

3 cups ginger ale
4 T. grenadine
4 T. orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet (1/2 cup each)

Blend together ginger ale, grenadine, orange juice, and sherbet. Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses.

Note: If you use diet soda, you can lower the calories to 134 per serving.

Recipe Source - Better Homes and Gardens

Chewy Vanilla and Fudge Bars

These are yummy bars that have a brownie-like texture. Be sure to let them cool completely before cutting them.


1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/3 C applesauce
1 (14oz) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 C dark chocolate chips
2 T butter


Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix with the egg and applesauce.  Mixture will be dense. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish.  If need be, lightly grease your spatula or your hand with oil to aid in pressing the mix.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk together in a large, microwavable bowl.Warm the mixture for about 2 1/2 minutes; stirring after 1 minute.  Pour over the cake mix layer.

Drop the reserved 1/3 of the cake mix in small spoonfuls on to the top of the fudge layer. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cut into 18 squares.

Recipe Source - Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Aspargus Stuffed Chicken

This is a super simple recipe that looks very impressive. It's definitely a company-worthy recipe.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
9 asparagus spears, washed and trimmed of woody lower stem
1 1/2 slices reduced fat Swiss or provolone cheese (I used Swiss)
olive oil in a mister bottle
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, but don't cut all the way through. Stuff each breast with a half slice of cheese and 3 asparagus spears. I like to leave the top tip of the asparagus sticking out of the breast. Secure the chicken with toothpicks, and place on a baking rack sprayed with no-stick spray in a baking dish. Lightly spray each breast with olive oil in a mister bottle. Sprinkle the chicken with the garlic, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until juices run clear.

Recipe adapted from Sweet & Savory

Apple Butter Glazed Chicken

My friend Rachel made me some wonderful apple butter for a gift, and I thought this would be a great recipe to use it on. I was right! This simple chicken dish is very tasty. The glaze is a nice combination of sweet (from the apple butter) and tangy (from the Dijon mustard). If you are looking for a great marinade, give this one a try.

3 4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T apple butter
1 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t low sodium soy sauce
garlic powder

Season chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper on both sides.  In a small bowl, mix together the apple butter, mustard and soy sauce until well combined.  Evenly spread mixture over both sides of each piece of chicken with a basting brush.  Place in refrigerator and let marinate for at least one hour (best would be four).

Preheat grill to 375 degrees.  Oil the grill grates.  Place the chicken directly over the fire and grill 7-10 minutes per side (depending on thickness) or until the chicken regist…