Eric’s Cookie Pizza

This is a firehouse special.  The guys (and girls!) pretty much make a dessert every time they make their dinner.  It’s their house so they live and eat like at home.  They always seem to have ice cream or cookies.  But they will make brownies or cake when time allows it.  Here is one of those desserts that Matt likes to make when he is at the firehouse, however not cheap due to the fruit ingredients.  This time he made it for us at home: we must have been good to deserve it!  It is based on a recipe from his friend Eric (also a firefighter).  I call him Ken (as in Ken and Barbie)!

Ingredients:

Sugar cookie dough (in the tube)

8-ounce cream cheese (at room temperature)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup whipped topping thawed (cool whip).(optional)  I like it, Matt does not. Taste as you go.

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon key lime juice

Fruits: bananas, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries…whatever you like (they are the toppings)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350F

Spread your cookie dough on a pizza stone.  You may have to flour your hands, it’s a sticky situation!  Make it into a circle/pizza.  Cook according to the package.  (10-15 minutes at 350F should do it)

Let this cool completely.

Cookie Pizza (before toppings):

Mix your cream cheese, powdered sugar, thawed whipped topping, vanilla and key lime juice.  Spread on your cookie/pizza.  Top with chopped fruits.

I know this is extremely simple, but the kids absolutely love it and it makes them eat more fruits…along with more sugar but the intention is good, right? :)

Printer friendly: Eric’s cookie pizza

Peace and sugar cookies,

Isabelle

Pumpkin Hummus

Janine heard my plea about having too much fresh pumpkin in my freezer.  I have exhausted the family with my pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads, cakes, cookies….  I needed something fresh and new.  She is the bomb. (or da bomb as cousin Jennifer pointed out!)  We all love hummus around here, and honestly it is such a healthy change from dips.  Not that I don’t love a HOMEMADE ranch or french onion dip but you can’t mess with hummus!

I have some nice whole-wheat pitas that will compliment this pumpkin madness! So delicious!

Ingredients:

2 large garlic cloves

15 oz can Garbanzo beans (low sodium of course) drained

1 cup canned pumpkin (I used fresh)

1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of Chipotle seasoning, but you could use any Southwest style seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a pinch of celery salt)

3 tablespoons onion chopped (about 1/4 onion)

How to:

Put garlic in food processor until minced, add garbanzos process until chopped, add everything else puree until smooth.

Put in your serving dish, cover with plastic wrap and put in your refrigerator until ready to serve.

Great with pitas cut into small triangles, fresh-cut veggies or even whole wheat tortilla chips. So delicious it was perfect, I couldn’t stop eating it! YUM!

Makes 10 servings

Here is the beautiful dish!

Gorgeous and Healthy Pumpkin Hummus

Gorgeous and Healthy Pumpkin Hummus

Printer friendly: Pumpkin Hummus

Thanks Janini (yes that’s what I call her Janini not Janine…)

Peace and garbanzos,

Isabelli (yep that’s what she calls me)

Another Chance Meatloaf

Meatloaf is not really welcome at our house.  Matt and the girls don’t really care for it.  Oddly enough my dad also doesn’t like meatloaf so my mom never made it.  I really love meatloaf, I feel so left out.  Over the years, I have tried here and there to make meatloaf…without much success.  Never have I heard: “wow, that was great, please make that again”.  NEVER.  But I am stubborn, I don’t give up.  So here I am trying to find yet another way to make this so my peeps love it.  One of the failed attempts was putting brown sugar on top of the meatloaf, needless to say I ended up eating it for a week.  No one would touch it.  I even tried putting hard boiled eggs in the middle…didn’t work at all.  I guess knowing your family should be your guide when you try to come up with a new recipe.  I should know this…I do know this.  Here is what “my” basic meatloaf is:

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds ground meat

3 slices wholewheat bread

1/2 cup milk

1 onion finely diced

1 carrot finely diced

1 celery rib finely diced

1 garlic clove finely chopped

salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup ketchup

2 eggs

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce (I actually had to get the bottle out of the fridge to spell it)

splash hot sauce

7-8 bacon strips (I used thick bacon)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 375F

In a small bowl put your bread, I tear mine into “chunks”, then add your milk.  Set aside.

In a large bowl put your meat and all your ingredients except your bacon.  Add your milk soaked bread.  Using your hand, best tools you have! Mix everything well, but do not overwork your mixture, otherwise it will break down your meat and actually remove “meat” flavor.

In a Dutch oven or an oven proof pan, shape your meatloaf into a “you guessed it” loaf!  Dress with your bacon, let’s take a look:

just like a little bundle of joy

I like to tuck the bacon under the loaf, making a nice little packet.  Put in your preheated oven for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and careful set your loaf on a serving platter.  Let this rest for 1-2 minutes.  Slice and serve!

perfect bacony package!

And here is one of our plates, served with smashed potatoes and gravy.

comfort food zone….right here!

OK….ready for more?

Quick gravy:

Using your pan from the oven, remove your loaf but do not clean the pan (but do remove excess fat!).  Add 1/2 cup of red wine and reduce for 1-2 minutes.  Add a green peppercorn gravy mix or brown gravy mix. (really, just use your favorite) Add 1 cup of beef broth.  Bring to a simmer and let this thicken.  Serve.

Printer friendly: Last Chance Meatloaf

Peace and Gravy;

Isabelle

NOTE: THANK YOU for reading my blog….It truly means the world to me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

Note #2: my recipe is also featured on Delightfully Dowling:  Mangia Mondays

as well as: Savannah\’s Savory Bites

Scalloped Potatoes and Broccoli

Sometimes you just want to see greens.  I guess what I am trying to say is: “oh goodness, I am sick of this weather and I want winter to END!”  I don’t know if this is just in my head but this winter is the longest one ever… OK, OK, I know it’s not, it just feels like it.  I just want to see leaves, grass, sunshine, flip flops…aaaaaah!  So in order to trick myself, I have been cooking a lot of green food.  This may sound ridiculous to actually trick your own self.  But if you know me…it is doable!  Sad but true!  Feel better about yourself?  You should, I get that a lot!

I am not a big potato eater.  Fact: as a child if we went to McDonald’s I refused to eat the french fries and I would order the fish sandwich.  I am an odd duck…always have been!  So although I had a few potatoes to “use up”, I needed to add some GREEN to them.  Here comes: scalloped potatoes and broccoli.

Ingredients:

3 cups broccoli florets

5 red potatoes thinly sliced (if you do this ahead of time keep your potatoes in water so they don’t brown)

1 small-medium onion diced

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 cups shredded cheese (go crazy…use what you have in the fridge!)

How to:

Preheat your oven: 400F

Butter an 8X8 or 9X9 square dish (or what ever is clean and ready to go…)

In a large sauce pan melt your butter and add your onions.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add you flour and stir everything around cooking your roux (a cooked mixture of flour and fat used as a thickening agent in a soup or a sauce) for a few minutes more.  Add your chicken broth and milk, using a whisk, break up all your “lumps”.  Bring to a gently boil and let this thicken 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each).

Time to assemble: place half of your potatoes at the bottom of your dish.  Top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Next, add two ladles full of your white sauce.  Top with your broccoli, 1/2 cup of cheese and a couple more ladles of sauce.  Finally the rest of your potatoes, 1/2 cup of cheese and all your sauce…you may have to work gently so the sauce has time to “get down” ( like Cool and The gang…oh dear).

Here is a picture of part of the assembly (part of it):

Cover with foil and put in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.  Remove foil, top with your last 1/2 cup of cheese and cook for 20 minutes more.  Serve.

Right out of the oven:

And a serving:

So good and the kids loved it!

Printer friendly: Scalloped potatoes and broccoli

Peace and fish sandwich,

Isabelle

Lime Basil Chicken

I had no plans on making my own recipe.  I had a perfectly delicious Rachael Ray recipe for Basil, Chili and lime Chicken….then I went to the store and found Ponzu!  Say what?   Bottom line -  Ponzu is a sauce with lime sometimes with either soy, mirin, and/or rice wine vinegar, doesn’t that sound delicious?  No worries if you can’t find it, I’ll tell you what to do…it is not really earth shattering news but you will be good to go!

Here is a picture of Ponzu:

Now, I had a new mission, just because I know how much Mr. Man loves lime and basil.  I had a new game plan: new sauce, more basil and add some vegetables.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons fish sauce (found in the asian aisle)

3 tablespoons ponzu sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons sugar

1 medium onion diced

4 garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped

2 cups snow peas (I roughly cut them in half…more or less )

3 pounds chicken breast or tenderloins (what ever is on sale) cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups basil leaves roughly cut

1/4 cup green onions about 3 0r 4, for serving

Rice or noodles for serving

How to:

In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, ponzu sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside

In a deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add your onions and garlic.  Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until tender.  Remove to a side plate while you cook your chicken.  Working in batches (and adding olive oil as needed) cook your chicken until no longer pink.  When all your chicken is cooked, return all to your pan.  Add your snow peas and onion mixture.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  We like our snow peas crunchy not mushy but it’s your meal, so I trust you will make the right decision!

Add your sauce.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add your basil.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes and time to serve.  I served our chicken on a bed of rice but any long noodles would work great as well.  I also had more soy and ponzu on the table for anyone wishing to splash some more flavor!  Don’t forget to sprinkle the green onions on top of it all!

By the way, this should feed about 6….interestingly enough I didn’t have a single piece of chicken leftover for my lunch!  Matt said that as soon as I type the “printer friendly” version he wants a copy!  Not bad for a recipe on the fly!

Printer friendly: Lime Basil Chicken

Note: if you can’t find ponzu sauce: 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce (preferably low sodium), 1-2 teaspoon of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar (regular white vinegar is fine)

Peace and Ponzu,

Isabelle

Note my recipe is also featured on Real Sustenance’s blog: Seasonal Sunday

A Sweet Reminder….

” Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  DR. SEUSS

That’s a BIG boy! Look at the tiny little bird following him, funny!

A moose…not a Canadian one but a moose still :)

The bear…actually it’s a cub and momma is somewhere near!

These are but 3 of the HUNDREDS of pictures we took when we went to Yellowstone 1 1/2 year ago.  What an amazing place, wonderful trip…A MUST!

Have a lovely day!

Peace and bear,

Isabelle

Blond Beer Chicken Stew

This is something else that came to me while I was sweating it out at the gym.  Maybe I get really hungry or maybe I just find my zen in food!  A lot of us have either had beef stew in a dark lager or heard about it.  I have made it with Guinness Beer and although I am not in the least a beer drinker, the stew was delicious.  Did I say I am not a beer drinker?  I am REALLY not a beer drinker, give me a bottle of wine and we’ll talk….or I will anyway!  So for me to think of a stew that would be cooked in beer, that’s a far stretch of my imagination.  Here I go anyway, because since that lovely thought entered my mind I have not been able to get it out.  I need to feed the thought and the belly of course!

I did look and look for a recipe that would include chicken and beer.  It didn’t sound so complicated to me but I honestly haven’t found a whole lot to work with.  So I decided to make my own chicken stew with a blonde beer.  I have to say this turned out to be a hit.  Mr. Man and both our daughters LOVED it.  The flavors are so delicious and there is a “creaminess” that works so well with the chicken.

Here is what came of it….

Ingredients:

8 chicken thighs bone-in skinless (salt and pepper on both side please)

1 carrot chopped (pieces about 1/2″, I wanted to see my carrots!)

1 medium onion chopped

8-ounces sliced mushrooms(any variety will work)

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 12-ounces beer; I used a blond wheat beer, I would not recommend you use a dark beer for this.

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 cup chicken broth

Egg noodles for serving

How to:

In a large Dutch oven/or large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Working in batches, sear your thighs (chicken that is…I guess you could also sear your own thighs…)  Place seared thighs on a side plate (they have to wait until everyone has a turn!).  Set seared thighs aside while you get everything else going!

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan, add your carrots and onions.  Let this cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until translucent and fragrant.  Add your mushrooms and garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes more.  Add your beers, tomato paste, rosemary, bay leaves and chicken broth, bring this to a gently boil.  Time for the chicken thighs to meet up with everyone! Place your thighs in the pan, making sure the get covered with the beautiful broth!

Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 1 hour.  I like to peek in there now and then, it won’t hurt a thing!  You may also want to stir things up as well…kind of blend the flavors even more!  After an hour, remove the lid and check your seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  Bring this back to a boil, gently not raging inferno!  This will help reduce your sauce to a magical creamy thickness!

Serve over a bed of extra-large egg noodles, or rice, or couscous, or…you get the idea! :)

Printer friendly: Blond Beer Chicken Stew

Peace and beer,

Isabelle

PB and Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats!

I couldn’t stop thinking about these while I was working out today.  It was to the point where I couldn’t even focus on what I was doing at the gym.  For me, that is a very dangerous situation, being that I am Queen Clumsy already.  I do not need to be obsessing about crispy rice treats.  But I wanted to make them with peanut butter and then I wanted chocolate…it was crazy.  So I did what I do best.  I went home, dropped everything and made them.  WOW, they are so good.  I couldn’t stop eating them.  I had to hide them from myself…I know that’s silly…but I do have a few ‘blonde” moments when I don’t remember where I put stuff…

Inspired by Ellie Krieger’s Peanut Butter Treats (in Health Mag. Sept. 2010)

Ingredients:

6 cups crispy rice treats

1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter (don’t use low fat…well do what you would like but it won’t work exactly the same)

1/2 cup Agave Nectar (found in your baking aisle) or honey (I am not a fan of honey…don’t send hate mail)

How to:

Prepare a 9×11 or 8×10 pan, spray with cooking spray (you could also use butter).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix you cereal, peanuts and chocolate chips, set aside.

In a medium pan, slowly heat your peanut butter and agave nectar (or honey) until soft and well blended. DO NOT bring this to a boil.  Your heat should be on medium-low.  When ready, pour your “soft” peanut butter on your cereal mixture.  Using 2 rubber spatulas (that’s what works for me) mix everything gently (you don’t want to crush all your cereal) until all coated with peanut butter.  Pour in your prepared pan, gently press down.  Put this in your refrigerator until set; 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cut into squares and yummy yummy in my tummy: ENJOY!

Note: these won’t hold together like a regular “marshmallow” rice treat would.  They are a bit more “loose”…but they are so delicious!

Printer friendly: PB and Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats

Have a sweet day!

Peace and treats,

Isabelle

Note: my recipe is also featured on Sweet as Sugar Cookies: Sweet for a Saturday #8

Spicy Shrimp Arrabbiata

I have made this for my sister-in-law Kerri (Mr. Man’s sister) pretty much every time she comes to visit us.  I must have struck a nerve when she first asked me to come up with this recipe.  She loves extremely spicy food and I wanted to make sure it hit the spot.  Mind you not everyone needs to have it so spicy.  You know your crew, see what works best at your house.

Ingredients:

1 lb raw shrimp, cleaned, deveined and no shell

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion diced

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon crushed red pepper (or to your liking)

2 garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped

1 jar marinara sauce 28oz (even Giada sometimes uses the jar stuff!)

1/2 cup red wine (optional)

1 lb linguine or any pasta you like (I used whole-wheat this time…I like variety…in my pasta that is!)

How to:

In a large saucepan, heat your butter and olive oil.  Reduce heat to medium and add your onion.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add your mushroom and garlic.  Cook for 3-5 minutes more.  Add your wine and reduce for 2-3 minutes, pour your sauce in your pan and cook for 10-15 minutes.  When almost ready to eat add your shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Do not over cook your shrimp or they will get rubbery and tasteless.

Add a couple spoonfuls of your red sauce to your pasta, mix well.  Plate your pasta and top with LOTS more red sauce and shrimp.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

I served this with a great bread called: Parmesan Pull-Aparts! Delicious!

Parmesan Pull-Aparts from Ry Ry: Life Behind the Grill blog (so good and so easy): Parmesan Pull-Aparts

Printer friendly: Spicy Shrimp Arrabbiata

Sooooo delicious!

Peace and pull-aparts,

Isabelle

Chicken Shells

The name is an exact translation from my mom: shell au poulet.  The shell is a puff pastry.  My mom made this for our family so many times when I was growing up.  I loved it then and I love it now.  I did change a few things…because I can’t leave well enough alone.  My mom has approved of my changes.  They are subtle changes nothing crazy, just fresh herbs and some chicken broth as opposed to only milk in my bechamel. (white sauce)

I also have a delicious recipe that I will share with you soon for Salmon and Eggs Shell, it is so good (shell-like above, not shell-like what the egg came in)!  I can’t wait to make them.  Sadly Mr. Man doesn’t care for salmon.  He will eat any fish you serve him.  However, he will only eat salmon if served to him as a guest.  I am not complaining, he has a very very short list of yuck items: arugula, salmon and olives.  That’s pretty good in my book.  He’s a keeper! :)

OK, back to my chicken shells, this is perfect if you have leftover chicken.  If you don’t, simply grab a few (about 3) boneless chicken breasts.  Cook them in a lovely bath of white wine and chicken broth.  Easy does it!  You need about 3 cups of cooked chicken.

Ingredients:

6 shells (Pepperidge farms frozen section)  Usually one per person unless you are feeding Matt, he needs 2…at least.

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup warm chicken broth

1 1/2 cup warm milk

3 cups cooked chicken cubed (I like large piece, I like to know I am eating chicken!)

1 cup carrots diced (small)

1/2 medium onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 piece celery diced small (even the leafy top, very tasty)

1 cup frozen green beans thawed and cut in half

3/4 cup frozen peas thawed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme finely chopped

salt and pepper

How to:

Following the package instructions cook your shells and set aside (removing the top) .  I usually cook them while I make my sauce.  But I am such a multi tasker (not! I try)…and I burn everything at least once…I always have a backup!

In a large pan (I use my creuset 5 quart pot) melt your butter.  Add your onions, garlic, carrots and celery, let this cook for 5 minutes until tender.  Add your flour and stir well.  Cook for 1 minute more.  Add your chicken, stir everything around so everyone has a chance to say Hello!  Carefully and slowly (that’s more for me than you!) add your broth and your milk.  Bring this to a gentle boil, cook for 5-10 minutes until nice and thick.  Now time to add your peas, green beans and your fresh thyme.  Salt and pepper.  reduce heat and keep warm.

When you are ready to serve, place one shell on each plate and pour (for lack of a better word) your beautiful hot chicken and bechamel over each shell. Top with the little top….you’ll see what I mean! :)

Here is the box to look for at the grocery store:

Puff Pastry Shells

Puff Pastry Shells

Here are the shells:

 

such a flash back to my childhood!

such a flash back to my childhood!

hard to resit!

hard to resit!

Here is my delicious supper:

feels and smells like my mom's cooking :)

feels and smells like my mom’s cooking :)

Printer friendly: Chicken Shells

Have a wonderful day!

Peace and sea shells,

Isabelle