Monday, June 10, 2013

Chicken & Artichoke Pesto Pasta

I made this tonight and we really liked it.  I've combined a few recipes and some store ought shortcuts to make this really simple.


1 chicken breast, sliced thinly 
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts (mine was 7.5 Oz) (I drained most if the liquid out)
2tsp. Minced garlic 
1 small jar of traditional pesto
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3-4 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup milk ( I used 2 %)
1-2 tablespoon of oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash original
1 tablespoon of dried minced onions
3/4 pound of angel hair pasta
1/2 cup of Texas pecans

Put pasta on to boil in well salted water.  Cook until just under al dente.

Put oil in a large medium high sauté pan.  Add chicken and salt and pepper the chicken.   Cook until about 3/4 done then add garlic and Mrs. Dash.  Continue to stir for about a minute then pour in the artichokes and sun dried tomatoes.  Continue stirring another 2 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta and stir.  Next, add half the pesto jar (or more if you want more) and stir until it is all covered and mixed well, stir in milk and cook another minute or two, stir in pecans.  Turn off the heat and then add in the cheese and stir.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread. Serves 4 and could easily be doubled.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Learning Week 1...ART

For this summer's activities, I sat down with my son and we came up with a list of topics or themes that we will work on each week.  I plan to do a learning activity, a craft, and an away from the house activity each week that revolves around the theme for that week plus our weekly trips to the library will focus on the topic as well.  For week 1, we have Art as the topic and I am focusing mainly on painters.  I put together a slide show to show my son some of the different styles of art and so I thought I might share it here in case anyone else would like to follow what we are doing.  Our craft will be doing pointillism art or dot art painting with q-tips!  Some of the other themes for later weeks are Dinosaurs, African Animals, Sea Creatures, Transportation, Navigation, Cooking, and Building/Architecture.

If you would like a copy of the slide show, I am happy to send you the file, just leave a comment for me.


Happy Summer!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pancake Squares

I just made these this morning and they are super easy and good...two of my favorite combinations!

Pancake Squares 

The original recipe comes from this blog

I tweaked it a tiny but and doubled the below recipe to make a 9x13 sized pan and I think I probably 

Could have put it in a bigger pan for shorter pancakes.  These were big and fluffy and good and great with fruit and any of your favorite toppings.  We had them with fruit smoothies and they were great!

One thing I really love about this recipe is that everyone can eat at the same time and you are not having to make 

Batches and batches...and spending forever in the kitchen.

If you have egg allergies in your group, I think you could use an egg substitute with this without any problems.


3/4 cup milk
2 T. melted butter
1 large egg
1 T. sugar
1 cup flour
2 t. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish ( or 9x13 or larger if you want short pancakes and doible the recipe).  i just turned on the mixer and let it go as i added the ingredients.  i had it on medium high until it was time to add the flour, then took it down to low.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together milk, butter and egg. Add sugar, then gradually beat the flour in (1/4th -1/2 cup at a time). Carefully stir in the baking powder and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 3-5, depending on their love for pancakes.  I'm going to put leftovers in the fridge and warm up again tomorrow.  They visually remind me of corn bread because they are light in color and look like cornbread but they are light and very much e consistency of regular pancakes.  I think next time I will spread butter on it a few minutes before it's done to see if I can make it a little more golden colored.

Hope you love 'em!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I made these last night for our family night snack and I love them.  They have turned in to my favorite granola bar and I am planning on making them again.  My batch made 12 bars and I used Brown Rice Crispies instead of regular ones but I am sure either would work since they taste about the same.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
2 T. peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled)
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used what I had which were chips that were actually a little bigger than normal, I just tried to chop them up a bit, but did a pretty lousy job of it so I have big chocolate chunks)

In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey, peanut butter and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes.  Take off the heat and pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness.  If you want to fill the entire pan, I would double the recipe.  I used a glass cake dish that was 14X9 and I filled it about half way.  Make sure you firmly press it together so that it is compact and looks like a large granola bar.  
Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a counter top to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Makes about 12 bars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Planning

I mentioned earlier that I am trying out some new recipes here and there and I have been doing pretty good about my menu planning, so I thought I would share my menu for this week here.  I will post the recipes as I make them.  Some of them I have used before but I am going to tweak them a little bit and then I will share the recipe and how it turned out.  Some of these are brand new recipes I am giving a go!  Happy Eating!

My menu is planned for the week:

Tuesday-Ham and cheese quiche with spinach salad and rasbberry orange scones
Wednesday-Mustard Roasted Fish with carrots, sweet potatoes and salad
Friday-Pizza night with salad
Saturday-Tilapia Piccata, carrots, sweat potatoes, salad
Sunday-Swedish meatballs with mushrooms, egg noodles, green beans and salad

Monday-Angel hair pasta with Alfredo sauce (It is a lower fat recipe but it is good) with spinach salad and roasted vegetables.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mexican Steak Tostados

Mexican Steak Tostados

3 spray(s) cooking spray
12 corn tortilla(s)
1 pound of thinly sliced sirloin steak (or buy it thicker and cut it thinly when it is done) or flank steak
1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to sprinkle on steak
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup(s) salsa
1/2 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped, divided
1/4 cup(s) shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican
1 medium plum tomato(es), diced
1 small avocado, diced
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 head of shredded lettuce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place tortillas on prepared pan; bake until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning over half way

While those are crisping up, coat a large skillet or cast iron skillet with cooking spray; heat over high heat. Place diced red pepper in skillet and cook until edges are turning brown. Remove from skillet and place in small bowl. Next place the chopped onion in the same skilled (may need to add a little oil) and cook until caramelized then remove from skillet. Sprinkle steak with cumin, salt, and pepper. Make sure the skillet is nice and hot, Then place the seasoned steak on the skillet to get a nice sear. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn to sear other side. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, thinly slice steak into strips then cut them into inch long pieces.

Next, in a bowl, mash beans and salsa with a fork or potato masher until well-blended and most of the beans are mashed; stir in 1/4 cup cilantro and salsa.

To assemble chalupas, spread 1/4 bean mixture over each tortilla (slightly less than 1/4 cup); top each with about 1/3 cup of thinly sliced steak and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake until cheese melts and topping is hot, about 3 minutes. (Broil pizzas to brown cheese even more, if desired.)

Next, in a small bowl, toss together tomato, avocado, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime juice.

Remove chalupas from the oven and serve with chopped lettuce, caramelized red peppers and onions, sour cream, and avocado mix.

We all loved these and agreed to add them into our regular food rotation!

Pictures show chalupa right out of the oven and then one topped with avocado and lettuce.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Another new recipe!

We had this on Saturday night and it was another hit!  Hope you like it, too!

I originally got this recipe from
and I followed it almost to the T.  Here is my slightly altered version below.  Also, I had some left over chicken so I pulled out my wok today for lunch and stir fried up some veggies and added the chicken, a little beef broth (like 1/3 cup) and a little more soy sauce and it was great with some leftover brown rice.

The recipe says this will make 6-8 lettuce wraps, so I doubled the recipe.

For stir fry sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon fresh red chili paste (I use Sambal Oelek--pictured below--by Huy Fong Foods, you find it in the Asian section but you could just use 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes)
¼ teaspoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For Cashew Chicken:
2 raw chicken breasts (about ¾ lb. total), diced
8 leaves of greenleaf or iceburg lettuce
3 tablespoons canola oil (or oil of choice)
1 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup cashews, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For stir fry sauce:
  1. Mix all stir fry sauce ingredients making sure to dissolve brown sugar. Set aside.
For Cashew Chicken:
  1. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Add diced chicken and brown (about 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks). Remove chicken from oil and set aside. Add onions, garlic and 1 teaspoon soy sauce to pan, saute until starting to caramelize and brown on edges. When onions and garlic are brown and tender, add stir fry sauce, browned chicken, and cashews. Saute mixture for a few minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Spoon chicken mixture into individual lettuce leaves.   I served it with brown rice on the side.
Hope you love it!

Easy Peasy Tangy Chicken

I have been trying out a bunch of new recipes lately and here is another good one that I want to share.  What I like best about this recipe is that I can bake this with some veggies tossed in olive oil and dinner is all done at the same time in the oven and I am not having to be in the kitchen.

Easy Peasy Tangy Chicken (Dang, I forgot to take a picture!)

Turn oven on to bake at 425 so it will be to temperature before you put them in.

4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts either pounded so they are thinner that normal or cut so they are the same height all the way across
1 cup of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise (I actually used a combo of low far sour cream and yogurt)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (I used grated but the tiny bits would also work just fine)
1cup of Italian bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs and sprinkled in some Italian seasoning because that is what I had on hand.)

Take the Parmesan Cheese and mix it with the sour cream (or yogurt or mayo) in a small bowl.  Then take each chicken breast and coat both sides with the Parmesan mixture and then coat them with the bread crumbs.  You can either sprinkle on the bread crumbs on both sides or put the bread crumbs in a plate and lay the chicken down in them for a more thorough coating.  Play the chicken breasts in a baking dish (I used a glass cake dish that was 9X13 that I had lined with parchment for easier clean up) and put them in the 425 degree Fahrenheit (218 Celsius) and bake for about 25-30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through and has no pink in the middle).

Now, just set your timer and wait!  I had chopped up sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus before I made the chicken, tossed them in olive oil, spread them out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled on some salt and pepper to roast them at the same time, turning them about half way through.

The chicken is really moist and has a nice tang from the sour cream mixture.  Everyone at my table, from the 6 year old on up, liked it!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Broiled Cod with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce

I tried out this new recipe tonight and we all loved it. It reminds me of my favorite Thai restaurant in Australia called Jasmine Rice. I think you could also do this with roasted chicken, if you aren't a fish person. It is also gluten free! You could use tilapia as well. Yum!


2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, white to pale green, chopped
2 heaping teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 (13.5 fl. oz) can coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4-6 (5-6 oz) Atlantic Cod fillets ( I got mine at Sam's in the freezer section)
Salt to season tilapia with

3 cups hot cooked brown (cook according to the package directions)

Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add peppers and green onions; cook about 5 minutes until cooked through, stirring periodically. Stir in curry paste and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil) and let summer about 5-10 minutes, depending in how thick you want the sauce. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Preheat broiler.

Brush fish with 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with a little bit of salt on both sides (my fish were almost completely thawed, I had set them out a little earlier). Place fish on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray (I put foil on the baking sheet for easier clean up). Broil for about 3 1/2-4 minutes on one side, turn fish over and continue broiling for another 3 1/2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce and rice, I added roasted vegetables on the side. Serves 4-5.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hello 2013

Wow, where did that last year go?

Seriously, it ZOOMED by.

I am working on my goals for 2013 and will try to get back going on my blog now that I am back in the USA.

I wonder what my word will be this year?

Stay tuned!


Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!