Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2011

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

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 vis…

Baked Cheddar Chicken with Cream Sauce

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.

Chicken (or Turkey) and Dumpling Casserole

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

French Onion Pasta with Mushrooms and White Wine

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 2011

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

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…

Roux for Gravy

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 a…

Savory Sausage Stuffing

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 o…

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

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'…

What's for Dinner Menu Plan

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 we…

Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

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 sausag…

BLT Roll-ups

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's for Dinner Menu Plan

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…

Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti

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 ton…