Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lazy Mango Salsa with Fish

Since we are trying to save money, I like to make Saturday night's dinner a little more special than a weekday. But, I had a sore throat and wasn't feeling really good last night, so I did this the lazy way.

I have a recipe for a mango/pineapple salsa that has an ingredient list about a mile long. I just couldn't manage that last night. So, I improvised and it actually turned out to be very tasty.

I diced up a mango and mixed it with Newman's Own pineapple salsa. I warmed it a little and served it over the fish. For the fish, I just salt and pepper it and saute in a little oil.

So much easier than the fresh mango/pineapple salsa.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What I've Been Up To...

This is what I've been up to this week:

I can name and point out 200 of the 206 bones in the human body (we haven't covered the little bones inside the ear).

I love my Anatomy and Physiology class!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Banana Pudding Parfaits

I was inspired by a recipe I found here. I had to make it quicker and easier.

I used sugar-free Banana Cream flavored instant pudding, light Cool Whip, banana slices and crushed gingersnap cookies. It's just layered in a nice glass. Done!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stuffed Shells

Delicious stuffed pasta shells for dinner Saturday night... I added spinach, so it would at least feel more healthy. It's really not that unhealthy if you eat a reasonable sized serving.

And, lucky us, we get to eat the leftovers for dinner another night.


16 jumbo pasta shells (about half of 12 ounce box)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce (I used Ragu Chunky Sundried Tomato and Sweet Basil)

Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix ricotta cheese and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl.

When the pasta is done, drain and let it cool just long enough to be able to handle it. Fill each shell with cheese/spinach mixture.

Spray an 8 x 11 baking dish with cooking spray and pour in a small amount of sauce just to cover the bottom of dish. Place stuffed shells in dish and pour over the rest of the pasta sauce. Cover with foil.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

By the way, this dish is also good for the budget. It costs under $7.00 to make the whole thing. That's about $1.75 per serving.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

I have always been bored with any chicken noodle soup I've ever had. That's probably because they all came out of a can. So, I wasn't real excited when Eddie requested that I find a recipe for chicken noodle soup. Because I love him, I searched the internet for a recipe... I found this at Recipezaar and adjusted it to my liking. It was really good!


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced or diced carrot
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
2 teaspoons chicken base (Better than Bouillon)
2 cups shredded or chopped, cooked chicken
4 to 6 ounces egg noodles

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrot and onion; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Add thyme, poultry seasoning, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, chicken base and chicken. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Creamy Pesto Pasta Sauce

This is a simple, but versatile, creamy pasta sauce. A variety of added ingredients will give you something different each time.

It's pictured here with cheese tortellini, diced prosciutto and marinated artichoke hearts. (My favorite!)


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons prepared pesto
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. With a wire whisk, stir in flour. Add milk, stir constantly and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until thickened. Stir in cream cheese, pesto and Parmesan.

Add desired ingredients and cooked pasta and mix with sauce.

Pasta: angel hair, tortellini, gnocchi, linguine, bow ties

Added ingredients:
(3.5 ounce package) diced prosciutto and (6 ounce jar) artichoke hearts
diced prosciutto and chopped spinach
diced pepperoni
artichoke hearts and spinach

Yield: 4 servings

Here it is with angel hair and pepperoni.

What other ingredients would you use?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Improved Skillet Lasagna

I posted this Skillet Lasagna the first time last September. I told you then that it was really good but could use some improvement. I finally got around to making it again.

I used diced tomatoes and tomato sauce with basil, garlic and oregano seasoning (Hunt's brand). I added more red pepper flakes and some Italian seasoning. Now, it's really great!


1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, oregano flavor)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
8 ounces curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths (about 10 whole noodles)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (basil, garlic, oregano flavor)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
8 ounces ricotta cheese

Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a quart measuring cup. Add enough water to the tomatoes to measure 4 cups.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain grease if necessary.

Sprinkle the noodle pieces evenly over the meat. Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning over the pasta – don’t stir. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and the basil. Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta over the noodles. Cover the skillet and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Louisiana Red Beans

I can't remember where this recipe came from, but I recall that 'they' had it named Authentic Louisiana Red Beans. I wouldn't know if that was true or not since I've never been there. I just know that it's delicious!

So, next time you have about three hours to spare...


1 pound dry kidney beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced or diced (I used Lite smoked sausage this time.)

Rinse beans, then soak in a large pot of water overnight.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery in oil for 3 to 4 minutes.

Rinse beans and transfer to a large pot with 6 cups water. Stir cooked vegetables into beans. Season with bay leaves, cayenne, thyme, sage, parsley and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Yield: 6 to 8 main dish servings

You don't like that it takes three hours, do you? Remember, it makes 8 good size servings, freezes well and it's inexpensive (more savings if you use regular smoked sausage instead of andouille). So, maybe it's worth three hours. You don't have to stay in the kitchen the whole time, just go in to check and stir every 20 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Finally, here's a picture of Ashley looking cute! She was rolling in the floor acting goofy. She does this sometimes when she wants to be brushed.

Oops! I got caught taking pictures. Party's over.

Pumpkin Pudding Snack

This is not a pumpkin pudding dessert that you would serve to guests, just my new favorite healthy snack.

Just mix a container of vanilla yogurt (I use one that's fat-free or "light") with 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree. Add a little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. I also add one packet of Splenda to sweeten it more.

Half a cup of pumpkin is only 40 calories and has 5 grams of fiber! So, it adds alot of volume without adding many calories. In fact, if you are a "weightwatcher", the pumpkin will not add any points to your yogurt.

I had one can of pumpkin left over from the holidays. I hope I can find some more, I heard there's a shortage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Sorry, I'm not sure you can make Split Pea Soup look pretty. But, don't worry, it tastes really good if you like this sort of thing.

I guess a garnish of some kind or a cracker might have made this look a little better.


1 pound split peas, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped ham (divided)
8 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

Place the peas in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and set aside for 1 hour. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 cup of the chopped ham. Cook for about 5 more minutes.

Drain the peas and add them to the vegetables along with the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until the peas are softened, about one hour. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer some of the soup to a blender, filling it no more than halfway. Puree until smooth. Repeat with the remaining soup. (I used an immersion blender right in the pot instead of transferring soup to blender.) Return the soup to the pot, add remaining 1 cup of chopped ham and place over medium heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.

Yield: 6 large servings or 8 smaller servings

I found this recipe at and revised it by adding the ham.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana

Seems to me that most recipes called Chicken Parmigiana call for mozzarella cheese in addition to the Parmesan. Should we call it Chicken Mozzarella since there's actually more of that in this recipe?

Whatever! It's yummy.


1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (24 ounce) jar Pasta Sauce (I recommend Barilla marinara for this)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine breadcrumbs, flour, and ground red pepper in a small bowl, and set aside.

Place chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

Dip 1 chicken breast in egg whites, and coat with breadcrumb mixture. Dip again in egg mixture, and coat again in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken breast.

Cook chicken in oil over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until done.

Place chicken breasts in a single layer in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Top evenly with pasta sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Top with cheeses and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow in Suwanee, GA

It's really cold here, it was 16 degrees this morning and hasn't gone above freezing today. But, I was very dissapointed with this tiny amount of snow!

But, look at this! The roads were clear except for right in front of our driveway. Someone wanted Eddie to stay home from work today.

He went to work anyway, drove my SUV in case there was snow or ice on the way.

There's still time this winter to get some real snow. I can dream!

Crunchy Onion Chicken

Quick and easy and really tasty recipe from the canister of French's Crunchy Onions...

I didn't change a thing except that I always pound the chicken breasts to make them thinner.

You can find the recipe at the French's website.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


We've had temperatures in the teens and twenties lately. So, Woodrow is enjoying the fireplace.

Woodrow is so sweet and photogenic. You know, I have another cat, Ashley, that I love just as much (maybe a tiny bit more), but she's not very photogenic.

Simple Pineapple Rice

Our delicious dinner last night.....

I make a Pineapple Fried Rice that gets a little complicated when your short on time. So, I came up with something easier. I served sauteed Caribbean seasoned shrimp on top of it and we had Spicy Caribbean Pumpkin Soup on the side (I had this pre-made in the freezer and just microwaved).

This dinner only takes the amount of time that it takes the rice to cook, about 25 minutes. When the rice is almost done, you can put on the shrimp, they only take about 5 minutes to cook.

1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 small can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 cup regular rice
1 teaspoon ham seasoning base (Better than Bouillon)

Cook the rice according to package directions, with the addition of ham seasoning in the water.

While the rice is cooking, saute the red bell pepper, onion and pineapple until onion and pepper are tender.

When the rice is done, stir in the pineapple mixture.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year Resolutions

I'm not sure it's really a good idea to make resolutions. Half the time, they don't work out, or I just feel too much pressure and give up.

So, let's call this an unofficial list...

Lose some weight (some of the same weight I lost last year and gained back).

Stop spending so much money (try really hard to reduce the grocery bill).

Reduce Diet Coke intake to just one a day.

Resume exercising on a somewhat regular basis.

Make an A in Anatomy and Physiology class.

I'll let you know how it's going in a month or two.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Wish I could say "I'm not fat, I'm just fluffy", but my blue jeans are telling me otherwise!

Time to start the New Year's diet...

Happy New Year!!!