I have to admit, I'm pretty sad that the Thanksgiving holiday is over. I love getting together with family and enjoying great food. We started our Thanksgiving by doing the Turkey Trot 5K in Springfield. Eric and I both got a 5K PR, and Corey had another good run after coming off of an injury during cross country. It's a very fun race because of all of the families spending time together doing something good for their bodies. There were over 8000 people there this year!

After the race, we headed to my mom's house in Monett. My brother Kevin and his family joined us, and we had a great time together. The weather was gorgeous so we all took a walk together after our dinner. My family stayed through the weekend to help mom get the house ready for Christmas. It was definitely a weekend focused on family, which is my favorite.

This week's menu has a couple of new items, so check back later to see photos. I have book club later in the week, and Eric's parents will be visiting on the weekend. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Beef Fajitas, Strawberries (yes, I found some out of season that were good!)
Monday - Turkey and Dumpling Casserole, Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Leftovers from Monday
Wednesday - Baked Cheddar Chicken with Cream Sauce, Broccoli, Salad
Thursday -Salisbury Steak, Day Before Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Book club - I will be making Sausage Potato Soup
Saturday - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com.  
I've seen this recipe in several places online, and I adapted it to make it somewhat lower in calories.


4 3 oz. chicken breasts
1 sleeve reduced fat Ritz crackers
1/8 t pepper
1/2 C skim milk
4 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
1 t dried parsley


1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
2 T fat free sour cream


In a gallon size baggie, smash ritz crackers into crumbs.
Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.
Dip each piece of chicken into the milk, cheese & crumbs in succession.
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan.
Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.
Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Combine the sauce ingredients into a microwaveable safe dish, and cook until warm.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
I thought this would be a great way to use some of the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. You could also use chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken would be perfect). It really does taste just like chicken and dumplings! Yum!

3-4 cups of cooked chicken or turkey
2 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1 can Campbell's reduced fat cream of chicken soup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in the microwave and pour that into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Shred the chicken and spread it on top of the butter.

Whisk together the milk and the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly pour over the chicken.  Don't stir.

Whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Very carefully pour over the flour and milk mixture.  Don't stir.

Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is light golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken
This pasta dish is my take on French onion soup - pasta style. :) It's loaded with super foods - caramelized onions and tons of yummy mushrooms. I use a high-fiber pasta, so this is pretty good for you. Even the hubby liked this one. I love when I make up a recipe and it is successful.


4 oz. Ronzoni Smart Taste Spaghetti Noodles
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 t. olive oil
1 T reduced fat parmesan cheese
1 t parsley


Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, saute the onions in a non-stick skillet sprayed with olive oil over medium  heat. Cook until they are well-caramelized. Add the sliced mushrooms, garlic and wine, cover and cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Drain the pasta and mix in with the mushroom and onion mixture. Mix in the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 2 servings.
Thanksgiving dinner this year will be at my mom's house, but I still get to help cook (thanks, Mom!). :) I'm not going to experiment as much as I did last year (I haven't been watching Food Network), and instead, I'm going to focus on family favorites. Here's what's on the menu:

Turkey (stuffed this year) with Savory Sausage Stuffing

Sausage and Stuffing Criss-Cross Pastry (maybe)

Hot Rolls

Cream Cheese Corn

Green Beans Almondine

Day Before Mashed Potatoes


Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Roll-Up

I have to admit, I'm not a pie person. I'm especially not a pumpkin pie person. This isn't usually a problem until Thanksgiving comes around. Then, everyone expects you to eat pumpkin pie for dessert. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to pumpkin - I just don't like it in pie form. I'm always on the lookout for alternative recipes to make for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie. This year, I've decided on this one. I haven't made a pumpkin and cream cheese roll-up for years (which is why you are just now seeing this on the blog), but I love them. Moist pumpkin cake swirled with cream cheese filling - yum!

3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10x1 inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment paper/waxed paper; grease and flour the paper.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt into bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick and fluffy; beat in pumpkin. Stir in sifted dry ingredients all at once. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly with rubber spatula.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched with a fingertip.

5. Loosen cake around edges with a knife. Invert onto clean damp towel dusted with confectioners sugar; peel off wax paper. Trip ¼ inch from all sides. Roll up cake and towel together from short side. Place seam-side down on wire rack; cool completely.

6. Unroll cake. Spread with Cream Cheese Filling. Reroll cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Filling:
Beat together 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar, 1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth.
Last year around Thanksgiving, I watched a lot of Thanksgiving cooking specials on Food Network. I'm not sure why, because I really don't watch a lot of television, but I did. And, it got me to experiment with some different recipes for my Thanksgiving dinner menu. I tried a new stuffing recipe (it was ok, but I prefer my mom's recipe, or even better yet, my stuffing roll), I roasted fresh Brussels sprouts, and I made a "fancy" roux for my gravy (and yes, I forgot to get photos of these items in my rush to get dinner on the table). Now, you know me, I don't usually make a lot of stuff that calls for butter or pan drippings, but I have to admit, this was the best gravy I've ever made. Before adding the roux (recipe below), I deglazed my pan with a little white wine, added in a little water, and heated it through. I then whisked in the cooled roux. Best gravy ever! Follow the directions exactly (adjust proportions to match your needs), and you'll have an amazing, lump-free gravy that your family will love.

4 tablespoons of pan drippings and/or butter
6 tablespoons flour

Heat fat or over medium high heat. Add flour all at once whisking vigorously. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and cut back on the whisking. Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Roux can be used immediately to thicken a liquid that is at or below room temperature. To thicken a hot liquid, allow roux to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate.

Tightly wrapped, roux can be refrigerated for up to a month. Simply break off pieces and use as needed.

Makes enough roux to thicken 1 pint of liquid.

Recipe source - Alton Brown
This is my mom's recipe for stuffing that she always uses to stuff the turkey on Thanksgiving. I modify it slightly by using turkey sausage (lower calorie), and I don't chop up the giblets and put them in the stuffing (just grosses me out). My family loves this stuffing and looks forward to eating it every year. I'll try to snap a photo in a couple of days. :)

Heart, neck, gizzard, and liver of turkey (you'll find these in the giblet packet in your turkey)
1 pound turkey sausage
1 onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 loaves of bread, toasted and diced (I use Sara Lee 45 Calories & Delightful 100% Whole Wheat with Honey - lower calorie and higher fiber than using white bread)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Boil heart, neck, gizzard and liver in water until done (approx. 1 ½ hours). Take neck meat off the bone, and chop up the rest of the giblets very tiny or puree in the blender if you don't want "chunks" (NOTE: I leave this out - too gross for me.). Save the cooking liquid.

Fry the following together until soft: sausage, chopped meat from above (which I omit), onion, celery.

In a very large bowl, mix with your hands: bread, eggs, fried ingredients, poultry seasoning, and 1 cup leftover cooking liquid.

Stuff body and neck of turkey with dressing mixture and cook turkey according to package directions.
Well, my "catch-up" menu from last week wasn't the most successful menu. :( My goal was to make the recipes I had skipped in some recent weeks. Three of the four items listed were new recipes -Chicken Enchilada SpaghettiGnocchi with Sausage and Spinach, and  Biscuit Pizza Pot Pie. The chicken enchilada spaghetti is the only thing I would make again. The other two were definitely fails for my family. I still posted the recipes, though, because maybe they will be good for someone else, and I like to show that not everything you try in your kitchen is going to be a success. :)

This week is a short week for us at school. Corey and I are off for Thanksgiving vacation starting Wednesday, and our family will be with my mom from Thursday-Sunday. This past weekend we spent in St. Louis with Eric's family, so needless to say, I didn't get a chance to go to the grocery store or make up a menu. We're going to call this week's menu "scrounge" week. I'm just going to wing it a bit until Thanksgiving, and then I plan on eating leftovers. :) Here's this week's menu. I know it may not be that helpful, but I share it with you anyway to show you that we all have crazy weeks where we have to be creative. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken (from Wal Mart), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Monday - French Onion Pasta with Mushrooms and White Wine (sounds fancy, doesn't it? - I'm making this up, so we'll see how it goes. If it's successful, I'll post a recipe later.), Brussels Sprouts, Peaches, Salad
Tuesday - Mini Pigs in a Blanket (turkey little smokies wrapped in reduced fat crescents - told you I was scrounging), Applesauce, Green Beans
Wednesday - Hamburgers on the grill (I have some patties I pre-made in the freezer), French Fries, Apples
Thursday - Thanksgiving (I'll post a separate Thanksgiving menu later tonight)
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - More leftovers :)

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com.  
Thanksgiving season always means lots of extra cooking, and for me, it starts now. :) This week at school we are doing a fundraiser for United Way that involves some cooking contests and special luncheons. I also have to teach two after-school computer workshops, and my friend Stefanie and I are in charge of Friday morning snacks for the faculty. That means lots of extra cooking this week.

This was my weekend with my mom. She had a Bunco party this weekend, so I made a fun appetizer to share with her guests. Be sure to check out these BLT Roll-ups. They are quick and easy to make, and they are very tasty.

I'll share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes soon, so be sure to check back later in the week.

For our family menu, I'm going to try to go back to the recipes that I skipped the last couple of weeks for various reasons. Because of my evening workshop obligations, I will be making most of these things ahead of time on Sunday so I can just heat them up as needed this week for dinners. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti, Salad, Peaches
Monday - Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach, Salad, Applesauce
Tuesday - Biscuit Pizza Pot Pie, Green Beans, Salad
Wednesday - Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Eat at Grandma's
Saturday - Eat at Grandma's

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com.  
Well, this recipe was definitely a fail for my family. We really didn't like the gnocchi at all. The texture was just too strange (not really a noodle, not really a dumpling, just weird), and it wasn't very flavorful. I have to admit that we actually dumped it and ate leftover chili instead. But, maybe this recipe will be good for someone else. Either way, I wanted to still share so that you know everyone has failures in the kitchen. This was a huge fail for me. :) (Even the photo was bad.)


1 package gnocchi
1/4 cup gnocchi cooking water
1 small onion, diced
3 links fully-cooked Artisan Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan


1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.

2. Sauté onions in large skillet over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken sausage. Allow the sausage to brown and heat through, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic and baby spinach, toss and continue to cook until spinach is wilted.

3. Add cooked gnocchi into the skillet with the sausage and spinach, top with olive oil and the reserved cooking water. Mix together. Top with Parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Fake Ginger
These are a tasty appetizer, especially if you can use fresh tomatoes from the garden. Make them healthier by using low-fat/high fiber tortillas, reduced fat cream cheese, and light mayo.


8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light mayo
8-10 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 eight-inch flour tortillas (I use Mission carb balance)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce


Mix the cream cheese and mayo in a bowl. Add the crumbled bacon and diced tomatoes. Spread mixture on tortillas and top with lettuce. Roll up tightly and refrigerate for an hour. Slice into 1/2 inch slices.

Recipe adapted from Kraft

What a wonderful weekend we had! Corey went on the state cross country trip and enjoyed being with the team. Eric and I had a great date night at our favorite local sushi restaurant. And today, our family had a great time running the Bass Pro 5K(Corey and me) and Half Marathon (Eric). Eric and I both got a PR in our races, and Corey was able to run a great race after being out of commission this cross country season due to an injury. He placed 7th in his division, and 29th overall. On top of that, my brother ran the New York marathon in under 4 hours! What a great race day for our family.

Now that cross country season is over, our evening schedule will lighten up a bit. We do have a couple of extra obligations this week, but it's so much better than it has been. Our best news is that after three-and-a-half years, Corey finally gets his braces off tomorrow. If only it was still corn on the cob season. ;) He is so excited. This is my weekend to play personal chef for my mom, so I'll have to see what I come up with for the weekend menu. :)

Last week's stuffed pork chops were wonderful. I promise to have pictures up soon. I didn't get to the pizza pot pies, but I'll put them back on the menu soon. Here's this week's menu. Enjoy and have a great week! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to get fast updates from the blog. :)

Sunday - Brisket with Burgundy Sauce, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
Monday - Chicken and Noodles, Green Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Pork Medallions with Cider Sauce, Green Beans, Salad, Apple Sauce
Wednesday -Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti, Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Thursday - Cross Country Banquet/Book Club
Friday - Boys eat leftovers; Mom's choice :)
Saturday - Braided Spaghetti Bread, Broccoli, Salad

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com.  

This was easy and pretty tasty. I needed to use up some extra pasta, so you'll see spaghetti and wide noodles in the picture.


1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 pound of dry whole wheat spaghetti
2 10-ounce cans of red enchilada sauce
4 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
cilantro for topping

Boil water for pasta and prepare pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onions until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then stir in chicken, cumin, cayenne, paprika and chili powder, along with the cans of enchilada sauce. Turn the heat down to low, drain the cooked pasta, then add pasta to the skillet. Fold in cheese and mix thoroughly to combine. Toss with a set of kitchen tongs until everything is mixed, then serve with a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Recipe modified from How Sweet It Is