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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thai Chicken

I got this idea from one of our favorite dishes at the local Thai restaurant, and sort of recreated it on a whim. The coconut milk makes the sauce almost buttery and really silky smooth. Great when served over white rice or wide vermicelli noodles.

  • 1-2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1/4 inch wedges
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk (I used regular coconut milk, because I think the light is a bit too thin)
  • 1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 red pepper (I roasted mine, or you could purchase a jar of pre-roasted peppers)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until lightly brown. Add coconut milk, curry paste, black pepper and chicken. Stir together and bring to a simmer.

2. Cook an additional 8 minutes until chicken is done. Stir in cilantro, fish sauce, salt and red pepper. Heat 1 minute and serve over rice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pan fried steak & onions

Super easy, but extra tasty way to make steak and onions. I like my steak on the side of rare, to medium rare, which is about 130 degrees. Flat iron steak gets tough and rubbery when overcooked, so the use of a meat thermometer may be your best bet.

The onions taste just like onion soup, but are much easier to prepare. The picture really doesn't do them justice. They come out of the oven smelling divine, with bubbling cheese and looking totally scrumptious.

  • 1 lb flat iron steak
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1. Combine Old Bay, paprika, salt and garlic powder. Rub both sides of steak with seasoning. 2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat with 1 tbsp oil. Fry steaks 2 min on each side, then reduce temperature and cook to 130 degrees (about 4-6 more minutes).

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • about 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese

1. Heat oven to 400. Spray 8x8 glass dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut onions in half horizontally and place in dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

2. Remove pan from oven. Pour beef broth over onions and drizzle each slice with soy sauce. Return to oven for 60 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.
3. Top with gruyere cheese and bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday of the year. I love dressing up and especially baking festive desserts! Today, we decided to frost some cupcakes to munch on during our carving get-together tomorrow night. The cupcakes are a standard diet coke cake recipe with a triple chocolate cake mix, and the frosting is as follows:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (do not substitute margarine)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • food coloring

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, then turn to high until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl often. If frosting is too thick, add milk in 1 tsp increments and beat, until desired consistency.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spicy Chicken with Black Eyed Pea & Rice

This is an old Cooking Light recipe that I cut out and never made until last night. So so so tasty! And easy. I love searing chicken on the stove and then oven-baking it because it keeps in all the juices.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1.5 cups cooked rice
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Franks Red Hot)
  • 1 15.8 oz can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine paprika, seasoning, sugar and 1/4 tsp salt; sprinkle over chicken on both sides. Add chicken to pan, cooking 2 minutes on each side. Wrap handle of pan with foil and place in oven. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Stir in rice, 1/4 tsp salt, hot pepper sauce, and black-eyed peas; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Spoon about 3/4 cup rice mixture into bowl and top with sliced chicken breast. Sprinkle each serving with green onions.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Extra Gingery Gingerbread Cake

This is one of Justin's favorite foods, and we've been searching for a good recipe for a few years now. I once worked in a bakery that made incredible gingerbread cake around the holidays, but unfortunately, I quit before being able to swipe the recipe! Anyway, this is the best one we've tried so far. I got the recipe off AllRecipes.com but I made a few slight adjustments noted in bold.

Overall the cake is definitely spot on as far as taste goes, but I slightly overbaked mine so it's a bit drier than I'd like. Also, the recipe calls for a full cup of molasses. I'm not a fan of molasses at all, so I halved it and only used 1/2 cup. Justin had no idea until I said something after he'd tasted it. He agreed that a full cup would've been too overpowering.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark molasses (I only used 1/2 cup and it was plenty)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (We couldn't find any in the stores near us, so I omitted. It still tasted very gingery and delicious!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour a 10 inch springform pan (I used a standard bundt pan instead).

2. Stir together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, mix sugar with oil, juice, molasses, eggs, and fresh ginger in a large bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Stir in flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 1 hour, or until cake tester comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge to loosen cake, and release pan sides. Serve warm. (I baked this for 60 min and it's slightly overbaked. Next time, I'd recommend 50 minutes.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Maple Glazed Chicken with Apples

It's getting cooler at night here, and I was in the mood for something Fall-ish. I came across this recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook and I have to say, it's good, but next time I'd definitely do some things differently.

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 firm apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken breasts

1. Line broiler rack with foil; preheat the broiler. In a medium nonstick saucepan, mix the apple cider, apple, maple syrup and thyme; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (I would recommend mixing the cider, syrup and thyme first; boil about 5 minutes, THEN add the apple. Otherwise, the apple gets too mushy.) Cook until the apple is tender and the sauce is reduced by half (Make sure the sauce is a syrupy consistency before removing from the heat. Otherwise it won't caramalize properly when broiled on the chicken). Remove from the heat and keep warm.

2. Place the chicken on the broiler rack and brush on both sides with half of the maple mixture; broil 4 inches from the heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and brush the top with the remaining maple mixture; broil until the chicken is cooked through, about another 4 minutes. Serve with apple wedges on the side.

I served this with white rice, cooked in chicken broth with 1 Tbsp olive oil to keep it fluffy.

The apples in my dish were good, but they got a bit mushy from cooking too long. I also cut the apple in 16 wedges, not realizing it should've been 8, so hopefully with a larger piece of apple and less cooking time, they will remain crunchy, but cooked. Overall, this was tasty, but it needed some work. I do plan to make it again with some modifications to the sauce.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Menu - 10/14 to 10/19

  • Tilapia Parmesan with roasted potatoes and broccoli
  • Moroccan meatballs with egg noodles
  • Chicken Caeser Salad
  • Linguine Verde (spinach, watercress, and tomatoes)
  • Maple-Glazed chicken with apples
  • Lemon Chicken and rice

Miss Penelope's Pearple Pie

While shopping this morning, I saw pears on sale for 2 pounds for 99 cents. Who can resist that bargain?! Right next to the pears were apples, 3 pounds for 99 cents. So I knew I had to combine apples and pears into something delicious, and that something delicious is Miss Penelope's Pearple Pie -- a perfect balance of sweet and tart, soft and crunchy. Bartlett Pears, Granny Smith apples and Jonagold apples. Topped with a sweet brown sugar streusel, this pie is perfect for Fall.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

1. In medium size bowl, mix flour and salt together. Using a pastry blender, or paddle attachment on a mixer, cut in the cold shortening, until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Slowly drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice water into the mixture. Combine until evenly mixed and dough comes together. Don't be afraid to add a few more drops of ice water, if the dough still hasn't come together after 3 tablespoons.

2. Gently combine dough pieces into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Roll dough in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. This will make it easier to put in the pie plate. Gently place dough on top of pie plate and set into place. Trim excess dough.

  • 4 large Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 12 equal pieces
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 16 equal pieces
  • 2 large Jonagold apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 16 equal pieces
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

1. Place cut up fruit in bowl. Combine with sugar and cornstarch. Let sit 5 min before filling pie.

Streusel Topping
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted but not hot

1. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Press mixture together and set aside. Fluff with fork to make small crumbles before gently patting pieces on top of pie.

Pie Assembly

Pour apple/pear mixture into prepared (unbaked) pie crust. Make sure to overfill the crust, as the fruit will settle during baking. Top with streusel and bake uncovered at 425 for 35 minutes. Cover pie and bake another 10-15 minutes, until fruit is tender when pierced with a knife. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fettucini with Spinach Sauce

I had a bunch of leftover fresh spinach from dinner the other night and wanted to find a good pasta recipe to use it up in. This recipe comes from the same Weight Watchers cookbook, "Cook it Quick." I love how simple and fast these recipes are, and most use regular ingredients that I already have in the kitchen.

This dish is saucy and cheesy and just really hearty. Took about 20 minutes to prepare, so on a late work night like yesterday, it's a great dish to prepare. This recipe uses ricotta cheese, which is a great alternative to high fat heavy cream. You really can't taste the difference and it's much better for you.

  • 6 ounces fettucine
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped (I used 1/8 white onion instead of shallots)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I used the Italian spiced ones for added flavor. I ended u putting the whole 15 ounce can in, as we like saucy-ness! Drain the tomatoes though to avoid a runny sauce)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, pureed
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. Cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Drain, and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a nonstick saucepan, then add shallots. Saute until softened, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach wilts.

3. Add ricotta to sauce and mix thoroughly. Add fettuccine to spinach and cheese mixture and toss to evenly coat. If sauce is too thick, add 1-2 Tbsp hot water and stir. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Menu - 10/7 to 10/8

Sunday, 10/7
  • Tortellini Soup and garlic bread
Monday, 10/8
  • Peanut-flavored Ginger Beef & Vegetables
Tuesday, 10/9
  • Pasta with Kale & Sausage
Wednesday, 10/10
  • Fettucini with Creamy Spinach Sauce
Thursday, 10/11
  • Garlic & Herb crusted pork loin with roasted potatoes and onions

Tortellini Soup

Fresh tortellini was on sale this week, so I was searching for a recipe that wasn't just pasta and sauce. I wanted something new. So when I came across a Tortellini soup recipe, I had to try it!

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 2 cups cleaned spinach or other greens
  • 1 16oz can small white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, minced (I added these, but would really prefer the dish without them)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook the tortellini according to package directions, until just tender (do not overcook).

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the broth, garlic and rosemary to a boil. Stir in the spinach, beans and tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer until the spinach and tomatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tortellini; simmer 1 minute longer. Sprinkle with the cheese, and serve.