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.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kung Pao Chicken

Another WW recipe from the Take Out Tonight cookbook. This is a great spicy chicken dish and would work well over white rice, brown rice, or even pasta. I made it with white rice. If you have more veggies laying around, add them! The recipe only calls for bamboo and broccoli, but it'd be great with string beans, carrots or peppers.

  • 3/4 chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (found in a small jar in the Asian foods aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (I used ginger powder and it was fine)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups broccoli
  • 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained

1. Combine the broth, soy sauce, honey, chili-garlic sauce, cornstarch and sesame oil in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken. Stir-fry until no longer pink in the center, about 6-8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli florets and bamboo shoots; stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth mixture and the chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Menu - 12/29 to 1/3

  • Kung Pao Chicken with white rice
Monday, New Years Eve
  • Garlic crusted rib roast, mashed potatoes, green salad, TJ's two-buck-chuck and a Whoopie Pie for dessert
  • Spicy chicken with broccoli
  • Fiery Beef skewers with scallions, over rice
  • Linguine Carbonara

Skillet Pizzas

After hearing rave review about Trader Joe's pizza dough, we stopped by and picked some up to make pizzas for dinner. The 16 ounce dough will make 4 skillet pizzas. I spread it into the pan, topped with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, in addition to our toppings. I made a Greek style pizza with kalamata olives, red onions and feta, while Justin made a pancetta and mozzarella pizza. Both were excellent! And the TJ's dough is really great -- very convenient when you don't want to make your own. And at only 99 cents, it's well worth the cost. So here are a few pictures of our pizzas. Tomorrow I'm making chocolate chocolate chip cookies in the skillet. I'll post some pics and reviews afterwards.

Iron Skillet Cookies

One of my Christmas gifts was a cast iron skillet set for making cookies. Well, not just cookies. You can use the pans for fried eggs, omelettes, fajitas, personal pan pizzas, etc. But when I test drove them yesterday, I made some chocolate chip cookies. Using a standard cookie recipe, I put 1/2 cup of batter in each skillet, pressed it to the edge, and baked at 375 for 12 minutes. Out came a deliciously baked cookie that's HUGE!

This would be a great presentation for dessert, with a scoop of ice cream on top, or to make a giant cookie cake for a birthday, giant ice cream cookie sandwiches, the possibilities are endless. They came out a little crispy for my liking, so my next batch will probably be 3/4 cup of batter to make them a little bit thicker and more doughy.

Overall, I'm in love though. The pans are great, nothing sticks, and they have a thousand uses! If you want some of your own, go to Linens and Things and pick up the box of Skookie skillets.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Another dish from the WW Take-Out Tonight book. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks in my collection! This sauce can be used over shrimp, pork, chicken, scallops, duck breast and so much more. It's very versatile.

  • 4 chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, or 1.5 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used red pepper)
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice, drained

1. Combine chicken with 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch in a medium bowl; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine remaining 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, water, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and soy sauce in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the pork. Stir-fry until almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and pineapple; stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens and the pork is just cooked through, 1-2 minutes.

Chinese Beef with Broccoli

This is one of my FAVORITE take out dishes from the local Chinese hole-in-the-wall down the street. I've tried on several occasions to recreate the sauce, so I was super excited to try the recipe in the WW Take-Out Tonight cookbook. So delicious. Sweet, saucy, and totally yummy. I served this over white rice and it tasted just like the real deal.
4 WW points without the rice

  • 3/4 pound beef top round, cut into thin strips
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon dry sherry (I didn't have any, so I omitted this)
  • 1 pound broccoli crowns, cut into florets
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or 1.5 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

1. Combine the beef with 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine the remaining 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce, honey, soy sauce and sherry in a small bown; set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the broccoli and cook until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes; drain.

3. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the beef. Stir-fry until just cooked through, 3-4 minutes; transfer to a plate.

4. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add the beef and broccoli and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Black Bean & Sausage Soup

This is another WW recipe, from "Take Out Tonight." It's been unseasonably cool here in Southern California, so I got the urge to make soup. We served it with a side salad, topped with fat-free ranch dressing mixed with hot sauce. Great, hearty meal for a cold and rainy night.
4 WW points per serving
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Spray a large nonstick saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate. When it's cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in the same saucepan, then add the onion, garlic and jalapenos. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the beans and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors are blended, about 8 minutes.

3. Transfer 2 cups of the bean mixture to a blender or food processor and puree. Stir the puree and the sausage into the soup. Simmer, uncovered, until the soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro and serve.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pasta with Spinach and Feta

I made this the night we left to go home for Thanksgiving. I had a few things in the fridge that I wanted to use up, and just sort of threw it together. It was light, flavorful and super easy to make.

  • 6 ounces penne
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 15 oz can Italian style chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1. Boil pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach, stirring to coat with onion/garlic mixture. Sprinkle with sat and pepper to taste; add a dash of crushed red pepper for heat.

3. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until tomatoes are warm and spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir in pasta and feta.

Dave's Macaroni & Cheese

This came highly recommended by my brother and sister-in-law. It's a staple for them and they passed it on to me. Definitely a unique twist on traditional mac n' cheese, but quite tasty!

  • 8 oz cooked macaroni or any pasta shape you'd like
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese, small curd
  • 8 ounces fat-free sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar
  • paprika

1. In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, sour cream, egg, salt and pepper. Add shredded cheese; mix well. Add cooked macaroni, stirring to blend well.

2. Pour mixture into greased 9 inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove foil and top macaroni with paprika. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until lightly brown and crusty.

Brownie Ice Cream

So earlier in the week I had a slight mishap with some brownies and ended up having about 4 or 5 rejects that I couldn't sell. Rather than eat them or give them away, I figured I'd make a batch of ice cream and toss in the chunks of brownie. I used Alton Brown's ice cream recipe along with my Kitchenaid ice cream attachment. I swear by AB's recipe. It is THE BEST. This recipe makes about 1 quart.

  • 9 ounces sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3 cups 1/2 & 1/2
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups brownie bits

1. Over medium heat, bring the cream and 1/2 & 1/2 just barely to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until they're light and creamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar until light and THICK. You want the mixture to fall from the whisk slowly and sort of clump when it reaches the bowl. If it's runny, keep whisking. It takes a while to get it to the right consistency.

3. Slowly add 1/3 of the cream into the eggs while whisking constantly. Once that's mixed and the eggs are tempered, slowly add the remaining cream into the eggs and whisk to combine.

4. Return cream/egg mixture to the heat, and stir on medium low until it reaches 170 degrees. Move mixture to a metal bowl and cool in sink filled with cold water. Once mixture reaches room temperature, refrigerate to 40 degrees.

5. Add mixture to ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions. When ice cream is finished mixing, add in the brownie pieces and enjoy!

Roasted Sesame Pork & Garlic Broccoli

For Hanukkah, I got a fabulous new cookbook. Weight Watchers, "Take-Out Tonight." I was hoping for some great Chinese food recipes, Thai and Italian, and this book definitely delivers. Tonight I made a Thai Sesame Pork and paired it with some Chinese Garlic Broccoli. Both dishes were excellent!

Roasted Sesame Pork

  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover roasting pan with foil.

2. Combine soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, ginger and garlic in bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then add to soy mixture and turn to evenly coat.

3. Place pork in roasting pan; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Roast to 160 degrees, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer pork to carving board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Broccoli with Garlic Sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups broccoli, cut into florets

1. Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (through sugar) in small bown; set aside.

2. Heat nonstick wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then garlic. Stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Menu - 12/9 to 12/13

  • Sesame crusted pork loin and garlic broccoli
  • Black bean and sausage soup with side salad
  • Chinese beef & broccoli with rice
  • Lemon-garlic roast chicken with red potatoes
  • Sweet and sour chicken over rice

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Menu - 12/1 to 12/5

I have quite a few recipes from the week of Thanksgiving that I have yet to post, but I'll get those up this week.

  • Chinese Chicken - using leftover broth/sauce from our take-out dumplings and making it into a sauce with chicken and veggies over rice.
  • Root Beer pulled pork sandwiches and salad
  • Easy tomato baked chicken with pasta
  • Turkey burgers and roasted potatoes
  • Jerk chicken with pineapple pasta