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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup

Warm, cheesy, chunks of potatoes and full of flavor.  This soup is so easy to make. I threw it together the night before I was going to serve it and transferred it to the crockpot in the morning. I let it simmer all day while we were entertaining guests and by dinnertime the potatoes were nice and tender and I didn't have to spend the day cooking. Everyone loved it!



2 carrots, shredded
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups low sodium chicken Broth
1/4 c flour
1/2 c butter
1 lb lean ground beef, 93/7
1/2 c 1% Milk
6 - 8 Cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded (depending on how cheesy you want it)
Pepper to taste

Optional 2 TBSP corn starch


Brown the meat, drain and set aside.

Melt 1/4 c of the butter in a large 5 qt pot and saute the onions, carrots and the celery until softened. Add cooked hamburger meat and chicken broth.  In another sauce pot, melt the remaining butter add the flour over low heat. Stir until thick and add to the large pot.

Stir well, then add the cheese along with the milk. Stir occasionally until the cheese is melted. Add the potatoes (uncooked).

Transfer the soup to a large crockpot and let it simmer all day on low. About 6 to 8 hours to make the potatoes tender. Depending on how thick you like your soup, towards the end remove 1/2 cup of broth and whisk in 2 TBSP of corn starch. Pour back into the crockpot and stir thoroughly. Let the soup cook without the lid for another hour to thicken.

Serve with a hunk of crunchy bread and season with pepper.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crunchy Peanut Butter Snack Mix

This is one of those snacks that you will have to force yourself to step away from the bowl. It is so yummy and you can throw it together in under 10 minutes! Perfect for a fall gathering or Halloween party. It makes a TON.

4 cups Golden Grahams® cereal
2 cups Cocoa Puffs® cereal
2 cups thin pretzel sticks (2 1/4 inch)
1 cup candy-coated peanut butter candies
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
10 oz white chocolate baking bars or squares, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In large bowl, mix cereals, pretzels, peanut butter candies and peanuts; set aside.

In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave white chocolate and butter uncovered on High about 1 minute, stirring once, until melted and chocolate can be stirred smooth. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, toss half of the cereal mixture with 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar until evenly coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Repeat with remaining cereal mixture and remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Turkey Meatball and Spaghetti Soup

My family has never been huge on soups, unless they are hearty and the broth is pretty much nonexistent. Back when my daughter was born a neighbor delivered this delicious soup to me. I literally ate the entire container by myself. I have been dreaming of this soup for over 2 years and finally decided to make it. I added extra noodles and less broth in hopes to please my picky people. The verdict? They ate it and didn't complain! I even convinced Rich to keep some broth in his bowl (he tends to drain it all and go for the chunks) and he had seconds! I'm slowly converting them :) 



For the soup:
7 cups low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 cups water
2 chopped cloves garlic, divided
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 onion, chopped, divided
8oz can of tomato sauce
pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
kosher salt and fresh pepper
12 oz dry cut up whole wheat spaghetti

For the meatballs:
16 oz 99% lean ground turkey
1 small egg
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder

In a soup pot over medium heat, bring chicken broth, water, crushed garlic, italian seasoning, 1/4 of the chopped onion, tomato sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh black pepper to a boil; simmer about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs by combining ground turkey, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic powder, remaining onion, italian seasoning, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Form into little 1 inch meatballs (about 36).

Drop meatballs into the broth, cook about 3 minutes; add pasta and cook according to package directions. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

Baked Meaty Pasta with Cheese

Had a last minute guest coming to dinner so I had to scratch the planned dish and make something that I had more of.  This makes A LOT so be prepared to freeze some or invite extra people to dinner.  This is super easy to make and always a hit.  Also,  I love that I can make it a head of time and just pop it in the oven when we are ready to eat. Serve it with italian bread and dinner is done! 

1 box of pasta (I usually use rotini or elbow macaroni)
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use Ragu meat flavored)
1 lb lean ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 finely chopped yellow onion
2 TBS Italian Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups part skim mozzarella cheese

1.  Cook the pasta according to box instructions.  Drain well. 
2.  While the pasta is cooking, brown the meat in a large non stick skillet.   Add the 2 TBS italian seasoning, black pepper and chopped onion to the meat and stir well.   Once cooked, drain the grease and set aside.
3.  Heat the spaghetti sauce in a pot until warm. Season to taste if necessary. 
4.  Heat oven to 400.  
5.  Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. 
6.  Add the well drained pasta to the dish.  Then add some of the spaghetti sauce and stir well, until the pasta is covered (just use enough to coat the pasta, keep the extra sauce on the side.)
7.  Add the meat and onion.  Stir into the pasta until it is spread throughout.
8.  Top the meat and pasta with the cheese.
9.  Put in middle shelf of oven until the cheese is melted.  Serve with bread and the extra sauce for dipping. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Italian Sausage Hoagies - kid approved

I got this recipe from my Cooking Light Magazine and this was a "kid tested & approved" recipe.  I thought I'd try it.  My 7 year old son is super picky but my 2 year old daughter eats anything, so it seemed like a good choice.   And the added plus is that one hoagie is only 300 calories and 7g of fat.  Super quick to make too.  We used 4 sausages to make this but since the kids only split one, we had enough for lunches for us adults the next day -- win win! 

4 hoagie rolls, halved lengthwise (we only used 3 for dinner and saved the next one for lunch the next day)
4 links of sweet turkey italian sausage, cut into 1" thick pieces (they get a little mushy but it's ok)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (to hide it from picky kids)
1 TSP minced garlic
1 cup marinara sauce (more or less depending on preference, we used a bit more)
1 small red pepper, finely chopped (again, to hide it from picky kids)
1/4 TSP black pepper
1 cup shredded part skim mozz cheese

1.  Preheat broiler to high.
2.  Hollow out the top halves of the rolls.   Arrange the rolls, cut sides up on a baking sheet.  Broil 1-2 minutes until toasted (pay close attention so they don't burn).  Set aside.
3.   Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage to the pan, cook a few minutes or until slightly browned, stirring occasionally.  
4.  Add the onion & garlic to the sausage, cook 1 minute longer.
5.  Add the marinara sauce, bell pepper and black pepper.  Bring to a low boil.    Reduce heat and simmer until the pepper is tender (or in my case, let cook on "warm" on the stove for 30 minutes because the hubby was stuck in awful traffic, lol).
6. Arrange about 3/4 cup sausage mixture over bottom half of each roll, sprinkle each with some cheese.  
7.  Place on baking sheet, broil 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with the top halves of rolls.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crockpot Bacon Ranch Chicken

Carmen mentioned the other day that cooking in a crockpot is a form of torture for stay-at-home moms. I couldn't have said it better after smelling this chicken cooking all day long. The chicken was super tasty and perfect comfort food on a chilly day. Also, who doesn't love bacon?!?

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2.5 oz real bacon bits
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
1 can fat free cream of chicken soup (low sodium)
1.5 cups fat free sour cream

1 package of whole wheat egg noodles

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Combine bacon, garlic, ranch dressing mix, soup, and sour cream; mix well. Pour over chicken in the crock pot. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.

Shred the chicken and put back in the pot and add the cooked egg noodles; mix together. Serve with your favorite veggie.

recipe courtesy of Crock Pot Girls

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore always reminds me of my dad. He used to make my grandmother's recipe pretty often and it was always so delicious. I have tried a few versions of the recipe but it never quite compared to what he made. I gave this Skinny Taste recipe a try and it was AMAZING. I can't say it is better than my grandmother's recipe but it came very close to it and that's good enough for me! It helps that it's a crockpot recipe, too!

5-8 chicken thighs, with the bone, skin removed
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (Tuttorosso my favorite!)
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh herbs such as basil or parsley for topping

Season chicken with salt and black pepper and place in the slow cooker. Pour tomatoes over the chicken, top with onions and peppers, add oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir and cover. Set crock pot to LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours. An hour before serving remove the lid from the crockpot, remove the bones from the meat (it will fall apart) and shred the chicken. This will thicken the sauce as well.

Serve over a bed of brown rice or your favorite noodle.

recipe courtesy of Skinny Taste

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

I have made this a couple of times now and each time I can't seem to make enough chicken. We devour this - to put it mildly. I truly don't think you can buy something better at an authentic Chinese restaurant. There is a bit of sauteing in oil but majority of the cooking is in the form of baking, so it's much healthier than the deep fried stuff! Yum!


 3-4 boneless chicken breasts

The chicken coating:
 salt + pepper
 1 cup cornstarch
 2 eggs, beaten (egg substitute is fine)
 1/4 cup canola oil

The sweet and sour sauce:
 3/4 cup sugar
 4 tbs ketchup
 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
 1 tbs soy sauce
 1 tsp garlic salt


Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water and then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs. 

Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through.

Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken.

Bake for one hour and during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes.

Serve over a bed of brown rice and broccoli. Yum!

recipe courtesy of Life as a Lofthouse