I am a newlywed on a budget, just trying to make healthy and inexpensive meals for my husband and I to enjoy. He eats a lot, so cost is a big factor. Though I work 3 jobs, I manage to find time 6 nights a week to cook a full dinner for us both. I am constantly looking for new recipes that are moderately healthy, taste great, and won't break the bank.

On the side, I also own a brownie business called Gersheybars. My passion and love for cooking started when I was just a small child, baking with my mom and grandmother. The brownie recipe has been passed down through 5 generations and I am thrilled to finally have an outlet to share them with everybody else. Friends and family have helped spread the word and made my business as successful as it is today.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cinnamon Buns

Who doesn't love a gooey, sticky sweet cinnamon bun? We were craving some so badly, I decided to give in and find a recipe. Allrecipes.com is my cooking bible -- I turn to it whenever I'm in need of a fantastic recipe. And that's where this one came from. The actual recipe is called "Ninety Minute Cinnamon Rolls."

  • 3/4 cup milk (I used Soy and they were fine)
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened (butter worked perfectly for us)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened (Again, butter is fine)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in margarine; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, softened margarine.

4. Roll out dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with margarine/sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up in 12 lightly greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Remove from muffin cups to cool. Serve warm.

Menu - 9/29 to 10/5

  • Ode to the South Pacific -- Poisson Cru (sort of like Ahi Poke) and fried Wontons. Our favorite meals from Tahiti and Hawaii combined into one dish.
  • Pineapple Jerk Chicken
  • Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Asian Beef over soba noodles
  • Beef chili with beans
  • Salsa chicken over rice

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta

I honestly cannot remember where online I got the recipe. But it's fabulous. I love goat cheese and anything that contains goat cheese. I'll eat the cheese plain, melted, on crackers, however you want to serve me goat cheese, I'll take it.

The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I've found that the few times I make it, the asparagus tends to overcook and leave a nasty, metallic taste, so I use broccoli instead and it tastes just as good. Also, the onion can be overpowering, so I would recommend cutting it in half.

  • 3/4 pound orecchiette (I use rotini or shells, mainly b/c they're much less expensive!)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced (I use 1/4 onion)
  • 3/4 pound medium asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (I used broccoli)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until just al dente. Drain the orecchiette, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the orecchiette and the reserved cooking water to the skillet along with the lemon juice and zest; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the orecchiette is al dente and the asparagus is just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the goat cheese and chives and stir until melted. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cream of Broccoli Soup

This is definitely one of our favorites, but Boudin only serves it on Thursday nights which isn't so convenient for us. So I attempted to make my own, and it turned pretty well actually. I bought some 8 ounce sourdough rounds and made a bread bowl for the soup. Not bad, but maybe a little TOO cheesy, if there is such a thing! Next time, I might add some more milk at the end, just to thin it out a bit.

  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup milk

1. In large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a low boil. Add fresh broccoli and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium high. Melt butter, then add onions. Cook approximately 5-8 minutes until brown and tender.

2. Add flour to onions and mix until thick, then add milk and continue stirring. Pour onion mixture into the pot with the broccoli and chicken broth. Stir to combine.

3. Add 1/2 of the cubed cheese to pot and stir to melt thoroughly over medium-low heat. Be careful not to boil the soup, or the cheese will separate. Add remaining cheese and stir to melt. Mix in ground pepper and garlic powder. If the soup is too thick, slowly stir in about 1/8 cup of milk until you reach the desired consistency.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

After the last batch of mediocre pumpkin cookies, I decided to go on a mission to find a good recipe that wasn't too soft, too runny or too chewy. It took 4 attempts but I think I've finally nailed it. This recipe is so good! They're chocolatey and slightly sweet with a nutty crunch and pumpkin spice aftertaste. Dee-licious, if I do say so myself!

I used a small cookie scoop because I was afraid if they were too big, they would just cook as a lump instead of spreading out. Can't wait to serve these at our invite-only VIP Halloween party!

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 T vanilla (I omitted because I didn't have any)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. Mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Dissolve baking soda with the milk and add to pumpkin mixture. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.

3. Drop by tablespoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, or until lightly brown and slightly firm.

Menu - 9/24 to 9/28

Justin is still back in Maryland until Tuesday night, so today and tomorrow I'm on my own. I hate cooking for just me...how boring!

  • Cream of Broccoli soup in a sourdough breadbowl
  • Apple Walnut salad with grilled chicken
  • Creamy Goat Cheese Orecchiette
  • Yakisoba Chicken

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Easy Tomato Baked Chicken

Yet another Kraft recipe to finish out the week. This is reminiscent of Chicken Parmesan, but better. More flavorful and much easier to prepare. I served it with a side of tri-color rotini.

  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette (I ran out of dressing so I used olive oil, balsamic vinegar and oregano as a substitute)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used about 1/2 cup Asiago)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place onions in bottom of 8x8 square baking dish; top with chicken.

2. Combine tomatoes, dressing and garlic powder; pour over chicken. Cover with cheese.

3. Bake 30 min or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees).

Pumpkin Cookies

Since Fall is right around the corner, I figured I'd better make something with pumpkin in it to kick the season off right. These are really easy to make. Not the BEST cookies I've made, but they're good.

  • 1 box Spice Cake mix
  • 1 15 oz can of Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
  • 1 cup dark Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place cake mix and pumpkin in mixing bowl. Gently mix together with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix or the cookies will be chewy.

2. Add nuts and chocolate chips, stirring to combine.

3. Scoop dough onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saucy Parmesan Chicken

This chicken is SO quick and easy to make. It's another Kraft recipe. We paired the chicken with some Vietnamese noodles, topped with garlic butter, oregano and crushed red pepper. Delicious!

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 Italian dressing (I only had Balsamic vinaigrette and it worked out wonderfully)
  • 1/4 Grated Parmesan cheese (I used Asiago)

1. Place all ingredients in large resealable plastic bag or container. Turn bag/container several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing and cheese. Lay flat so chicken does not overlap.

2. Refrigerate chicken 30 min to marinate. Preheat oven to 425. Remove chicken from marinade; discard bag and excess marinade (I poured it over the chicken before baking, to add extra juices). Arrange chicken on foil-covered baking sheet. Bake 20 min or until cooked through.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Easy Italian Stew

Another Kraft recipe. This is definitely a hearty and warming dish for those cold or dreary nights. It's full of flavor and would work well with some red wine and crusty bread. This makes about 5 servings, depending on how hungry you are.


  • 2 T Italian Dressing
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 2 cans chicken broth (I only had 1, and it was plenty. 2 would've been too runny)
  • onions, peppers, or other stir-fry vegetables (I used peppers, onion and snap peas)
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (I only had Asiago and it complemented the dish quite nicely)

1. Heat dressing in large saucepan on medium heat. Add sausage; cook 8-10 min or until cooked through, stirring occasionally to break sausage into small pieces.

2. Add broth, stir-fry vegetables, beans and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 8-10 min or until macaroni is tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Ladle into 8 serving bowls and top with cheese.

Saucy Tomato and Pepper Steak Fajitas

This is a Kraft recipe for the steak, and we just served it in fajita wraps instead of on a plate. If you aren't doing fajitas, don't slice the beef. Just top beef medallions with the vegetable mixture.

  • 1 tsp each chili powder and ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 lb sirloin stead
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 each red and green pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese (we omitted the cheese)

1. Preheat broiler. Mix chili powder, cumin and cayenne; rub over both sides of steak. Place on rack of broiler pan.

2. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or to medium doneness (150 degrees). Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions; cook and stir 3 min. Add peppers and garlic; cook 5 min or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes; stir. Cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

3. Cut steak across grain into slices. Place in center of fajita shell and top with vegetables and cheese.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Menu - 9/15 to 9/20

This week's menus all come from the Kraft Food magazine I get for free in the mail.

Saturday, 9/15
  • Easy Lemon Chicken
Sunday, 9/16
  • Sushi with Carrie & Dave
Monday, 9/17
  • Steak Fajitas
Tuesday, 9/18
  • Easy Italian Stew
Wednesday, 9/19
  • Tomato Baked Chicken
Thursday, 9/20
  • Saucy Parmesan Chicken

Easy Lemon Chicken

This is originally a Kraft Foods recipe that I clipped from somewhere. It's quite tasty, not too lemony, and overall, a nice change from our typical chicken dishes.

Make sure you use
GELATIN and not PUDDING. I made the mistake of using lemon flavored pudding and the sauce was REALLY starchy and thick. It tasted ok, but the texture was bad. Really bad. Don't make the same error I made!

I also added some broccoli I had laying around -- I think any veggies would work well in this dish, so use whatever you've got in your fridge.

  • 1 T oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups snap or snow peas
  • 1/2 small red pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 3/4 package (4-serving size) lemon flavored gelatin
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1.5 T Italian dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 min or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add peas and peppers; cook and stir 2 min.

2. Mix dry gelatin mix and cornstarch in small bowl. Add broth, dressing and garlic; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add to skillet. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 min or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently.

3. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Chicken Gyros

Ever since our favorite Greek restaurant was bought out by a new and craptacular owner, we've been on the hunt for some good Greek food. I've never made gyros before, and though these aren't the traditional beef and lamb ones, they are quite tasty and really simple to make. View the original recipe, here.

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic, minced- divided use
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/3 cup nonfat yogurt, plain or low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 2 gyro bread or pita bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Combine lemon juice, oil, 1/2 t of the garlic, mustard and oregano in a gallon zip top plastic bag.

2. Add chicken and seal bag.

3. Turn bag and gently move chicken around to distribute marinade evenly.

4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

5. In a small bowl combine cucumber, yogurt, dill and remaining garlic. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (NOTE: Cucumbers have a lot of moisture in them so if you want your sauce to be less runny really drain them well and squeeze the water out if you want.).
I drained my cucumbers between some paper towels to get all the water out.

6. Drain chicken, discarding marinade.

7. In a large nonstick skillet saute the chicken for 7-8 minutes or until juices run clear.

8. Spoon half the chicken on each pita and top with cucumber mixture and sliced onion.

9. Lettuce and tomato may be added if you like.

10. Fold in half and enjoy.
We served these with a side salad of lettuce, tomato, onion and mozzarella, drizzled with a light vinaigrette.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Menu - 9/2 to 9/4

Since we're leaving for Hawaii on Wednesday, I only had to menu plan for 3 nights! Only 1 new recipe this week though.

  • Nathan's Hot dogs, broccoli salad, and kraut. We were supposed to bonfire, but couldn't find a pit on the beach b/c of the holiday.
  • Chicken gyros with salad
  • Mozzarella stuffed meatballs, penne pasta and garlic bread.
The rest of the week will be filled with ahi poke, fresh sushi, and other fine Hawaiian delights! Mahalo!