Thursday, February 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken & Biscuits

I think my husbands' exact words were, "this is damn good".   So simple and comforting, this Chicken & Biscuits recipe was adapted from a recipe I found through pinterest.  Since the recipe only requires half a can of biscuits, I cooked up the extra for some breakfast sandwiches tomorrow.  Even my toddler loved this new "soup" as he called it.  Another great slow cooker recipe for you!  Eat up!!!

Slow Cooker Chicken & Biscuits
3-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 3 large ones, half of the value pack I bought on sale this week at the grocery store)
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 can of chicken broth
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables, approximately 1 1/2 cups (I used carrots, peas, green beans, and corn)
4 grands flaky refrigerator biscuits, cut into 10 pieces (I used kitchen shears to do this)

Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add the butter, onion, parsley, soup, and broth.  Cook on high for 6 hours.  Once 5 hours have passed, add the frozen veggies (if you will not be home, then add the veggies with the rest of the ingredients).  Carefully remove chicken breasts (they will be falling apart), shred them, and return them to the pot.  Add the biscuit pieces and continue to cook on high for 30 more minutes.  Serve hot and enjoy! 

The original recipe can be found at

Whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins

Owen loves "cake" and those of you who have followed my blog know that we make lots of muffins and call them cupcakes.  He doesn't know the difference and its another way for me to get fruits and veggies into his growing body.  Two-year olds can be picky eaters at times, so it calls for some creativity.  I tweaked this recipe from  a regular banana muffin recipe at  I make my muffins  with whole wheat flour and add applesauce for an extra moist cake.  I also added some mini-chocolate chips to bribe my toddler even more.  We loved them!

Whole-wheat banana chocolate chip "cupcakes"
3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup melted butter  (you could substitute canola oil for a more heart-healthy fat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.   Combine the banana, apple sauce, egg, sugar and butter in a large bowl with a spoon until well incorporated.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients just until combined, being careful not to over mix (I find that this makes a softer and more tender muffin).   Add chocolate chips, again being careful not to over mix.  Pour batter into a muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray (I used Pam baking spray) and bake for 18-20 min.  Makes 12 "cupcakes". 

Slow Cooker Meatsauce

Another great recipe for the slow cooker!  I'm always thinking of ways to take everyday recipes to my slow cooker.   Dinner time seems to be a combination of the witching hour for kids and a stressful time for mom and dad as they are coming home from a long day at work.  Everyone needs those one pot meals where you throw everything in and forget about it.  This is a flavorful meat-sauce that cooks all day and you don't need to be home to stir it.  Just come home to dinner being (almost) done!!!  Serve it over pasta with a green salad and Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
1/4 lb sausage and 1 lb lean ground beef, cooked and drained
2 medium onions chopped
1 green pepper chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 tablespoons of sugar (this is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of dried basil
2 (16 ounce) cans of Italian style tomatoes, diced or smashed up
1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker and stir well.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.  Serve over your favorite pasta with a green salad for a complete meal. 

Slow Cooker Minnestrone Soup

Super easy and a guaranteed crowd pleaser!  Perfect for a cold fall or winter day.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped potatoes
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chopped escarole
1/4 cup uncooked cannelini beans
4 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups V-8 juice
1/4 cup uncooked ditilini pasta  (save this until the end)
salt & pepper to taste

Add all of the vegetables and the beans to the slow cooker and cover with the liquids (v-8 juice and chicken broth).  Add salt to taste, stir and cook on low for 8 hours.  Add the uncooked pasta 30 minutes prior to serving.  Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Easy & light mini cheesecakes

My mom made a recipe similar to this growing up, each and every Christmas.  I was craving them and decided to create a recipe that was lighter and only made 12 (since I knew there was a good possibility I would be responsible for eating most of them).  They came out great and I'm making them again this week!  I hope your sweet tooth enjoys these mini cheesecakes!

Easy & Light Mini Cheesecakes
12 foil muffin tin liners (must be foil)
12 vanilla wafers
2 (8 ounce) packages of Neufatel cheese (the 1/3 less fat version of cream cheese)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
cherry pie filling (or your favorite cheesecake topping)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line your muffin tin with foil liner and place 1 vanilla wafer in each muffin cup (the vanilla wafer acts as your crust).  Combine Neufatel cheese, sugar and vanilla until well-blended.  Add in eggs and mix well.  Pour over wafers filling 3/4 of the way to the top (I use an ice-cream scoop to assist in this process).  Bake for 25 minutes.  Do not remove from pan until completely cool.  Top with your favorite cheesecake topping and store in the refrigerator. 

The best EVER Turkey Burgers

I'm obsessed with the turkey burger from Yardhouse restaurant.  Its like nothing I've ever had and had to find a way to make it at home!  Success on my first try!!!  These burgers are not only healthy and low-fat, but packed with flavor and sure to please any crowd - including my red-meat-loving husband who usually orders the beef burger loaded with bacon and cheese.  He couldn't get enough of these burgers!  Plus there are shredded carrots and zucchini hiding with the meat to keep them moist and flavorful, so my toddler was eating veggies without even knowing it. 

I love, love, love these burgers!  Did I mention that they are the best turkey burgers I EVER had???  Husband and toddler approved, I hope you love them too!

Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
For the Burger itself:
1 lb ground turkey breast (sometimes labeled extra lean turkey) or ground chicken (I usually get whatever is cheaper)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt & pepper to taste
fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

Combine all the ingredients listed above (except for the mozzarella cheese) and form into 4-7 patties, depending on the size of your burger buns.  These burgers are very low in fat, which means they will not shrink, so make the burger the exact size that you want.   Cook in a frying pan or on a griddle for 5-7 min each side, being careful to only flip once so that you can allow a crispy, caramel-colored crust to form on the outside of the burger.
Once the burgers are done, turn off the heat and place one thin slice of fresh mozzarella and use a cover or tented piece of aluminum foil to melt the cheese.  Place on your favorite burger buns and top with the roasted tomatoes.   

For the roasted tomatoes:
These roasted tomatoes are so yummy, you won't need any other condiments!  another great way to cut added calories, salt, sugar & fat.  Plus the fresh mozzarella is delicious!

4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray and place the tomatoes in a single layer.  Spray the top of the tomatoes with the olive oil spray and sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.  Place on top of cheesy burgers and enjoy!!!

Blueberry Yogurt Pound Cake

Owen loves to bake and I wanted to make something sweet that was also somewhat nutritious.  I had some fresh blueberries that needed to be used up and found a recipe in my "the best of Cooking Light" cookbook (2004).  I altered the recipe a bit according to what I had in my kitchen and I skipped the icing (we don't need the extra sugar), but if I was serving this at a party I would definitely include it.  My cake is moist and delicious from fat-free Greek yogurt and light sour cream, with the texture of a pound cake sans the calories.  I hope that you enjoy it!!!

Blueberry Yogurt Pound Cake

2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup light sour cream
3 large eggs
1 egg white
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided (you'll take out 2 tablespoons and toss it with the blueberries to help suspend them in the cake)
2 cups of fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces of fat free Greek yogurt (I had strawberry, but you can use anything in your fridge)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray (I use Pam for baking)

Preheat your oven to 350 and coat a 10 inch tube pan with cooking spray.  Beat the sugar, butter, and sour cream until well blended.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, combine the blueberries with 2 tablespoons of the flour.  In another bowl combine the remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yogurt to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Fold in the blueberries and vanilla.  Pour into your baking pan and make for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 min or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a serving dish.  Yummy!!!

(If you want to ice the cake, combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 4 teaspoons of water or lemon juice and drizzle over the warm cake.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mini Monkey Bread Cakes

Ok, so these are not at all diet friendly or have any nutritional value.  In fact, I kinda felt like I was channeling Paula Dean through this recipe, given the large amounts of butter, sugar, and processed foods.  With that being said, they are addictive and oh so yummy!  So next time you want to treat yourself to something decadent and easy to make, try this recipe out for size.  Enjoy!!!

Mini Monkey Bread "Cupcakes"
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg pillsbury grand buttermilk biscuits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a muffin tin (either with cooking spray or more butter - hey, why not?). 
Combine melted butter and brown sugar and spoon 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each muffin cup. 
In a large ziplock bag, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Then cut each biscuit into 6 pieces, (there are 8 biscuits in a package, so it yields 48 pieces).  Toss the biscuit pieces in the cinnamon sugar mixture until well coated.  Place 4 pieces into each muffin cup and press down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Allow them to sit in the pan for 1 minute, then invert them onto a large dish (the caramel created from the butter and brown sugar will ooze over the top of each "cupcake").  Serve warm and enjoy! 

This recipe was adapted from

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I'm always looking for slow cooker meals on cold winter days.  I've seen many variations of beef stew, but I wanted to try out my own recipe, something that was let greasy.  It is basically a two pot dish, prep in the morning, cook all day, and enjoy at your convenience.  So simple!  I served mine with biscuits and a simple green salad.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!!

Beef Stew

1.5 - 2lbs extra lean round beef (either cut it yourself into 2 inch cubes, or purchase it already cut up)
4 heaping tablespoons of flour
1 tsp each salt & pepper
2 T olive oil
Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat.  In a large ziplock bag, mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.  Add the beef and toss.  Add the beef to the pan, reserving the seasoned flour for later.  Brown the beef on all sides and add to the crock pot, removing with a slotted spoon. 

2 T olive oil
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock (stock has more flavor than broth, but broth can be substituted)
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
Add 2 more tablespoons of Olive oil to the hot pan (after beef has been removed) and the remaining flour, whisking the oil and flour together.  You are making a rough that with thicken the gravy for the stew.  After is has combined into a paste and browned slightly, add the red wine, continuing to whisk it together preventing any lumps from forming.  Let the red wine simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate, and stirring often.  At this point, the sauce will be very thick and bubbling.  Then add the beef stock and tomato sauce, stirring until smooth.  Add the gravy to the crock pot along with the following:
1 medium to large onion, cut in a medium dice
4 small to medium sized potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into medium dice (I kept the skins on, but that is up to you)
2 stalks of celery, diced small (I prefer to have the celery there for taste, not have large pieces of it)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (you can substitute 1 cup of baby carrots)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can substitute 1/2 tsp of dried thyme)
salt to taste (I added another 1/2 tsp)

Stir to combine and set the slow cooker to high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-9 hours.  If the gravy is not as thick as you would like, take the cover off for the last 30 min on high.  Serve with biscuits or rolls on the side or if you would prefer, serve over biscuits, rice, or noodles.  Enjoy!!!


So after spending most of November and December, organizing, packing, moving, unpacking, and re-organizing, we are FINALLY settled into our new home in Boston.  And its actually starting to feel like home too!  Yes, moving from Miami to Boston in the middle of the winter is a shock to the system, and yes, I already miss my friends and the weather; but nothing can compare to the wonderful time spent as a family these last few weeks, or the increase in job satisfaction I've already seen from my husband.  This life in Boston as already brought so many blessings our way and I'm so excited to see what the days, weeks, and months ahead have in store.

With all that said, it is time for me to get back into the kitchen and do one of my most favorite things:  create yummy dishes that my family and friends can enjoy.  I did a ton of cooking over the holidays, (large ham dinners, my first ever prime rib roast, lots of yummy appetizers for both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve), and now that I'm 33 weeks pregnant with our second child, I'm feeling the pressure to get in as much baking and cooking as I possibly can before my body (and or attention) gives out. 
I hope to post many recipes in the next few weeks before baby Nina's scheduled arrival on February 17th!  And as always, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Happy cooking!