Monday, August 31, 2009

Amazing M&M Cookies

In lieu of a main dish this week, and in honor of my classmate's birthday, I made M&M cookies from my favorite cookie recipe that I originally found online many moons ago. I love soft cookies and would rather eat a soft cookie over any other dessert. These cookies definitely pass the test as they stay soft days after being baked. I hope you enjoy!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups M&Ms (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the M&Ms. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I used silicone liners to prevent cookies from browning on the bottom). Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

This recipe is not exactly healthy, but it's worth the occasional indulgence!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lasagna Toss

This week, I picked this twist on a family favorite from Kraft food & family magazine. I actually had all the ingredients except the noodles in my pantry already, so it earned easy points in my book. Logistically, I didn't have a big enough pan to cook the entire recipe together. I ended up using two skillets, and then combined them back together in just a large pan. It tasted wonderful, so it was worth the pan switch-a-roo. I hope you enjoy!
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 12 oven-ready lasagna noodles, broken into quarters**
  • 1 cup Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Brown meat in LARGE pan; drain if necessary. Stir in peppers, garlic, spaghetti sauce, water, and dressing; bring to boil. Add noodles; stir. Cover. Cook on medium-low heat 10-15 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese; cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with steamed vegetables or a fresh spinach salad.

**If you don't have oven-ready noodles, substitute regular lasagna noodles, increasing water to 2 cups and cooking 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sausage and Pepperoni Calzones

To put a twist on a traditional homemade pizza, I made sausage and pepperoni calzones with ingredients that I already had in the fridge and freezer. This is a simple recipe that is easy to adjust depending on what meat or veggies you have a available. Tim enjoyed it, and I hope you will too!

Calzone Dough (makes 6 personal-sized calzones):
  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
  • 4- 4 1/2 cups of flour (wheat and/or all-purpose)

Calzone filling:

  • 1/2 lb of ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • olive oil (for pan)
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper (from jar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey pepperoni (or regular pepperoni)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • Jar of marinara, pasta sauce
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Dissolve sugar in water. Add yeast package and stir gently; let set for about 5 minutes until frothy. Stir in flour until well mixed. Tip dough onto floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until elastic. Place dough in well-oiled bowl and let double (approximately one hour).

Meanwhile, coat a small skillet with olive oil. Saute chopped onions on medium heat until transparent. Add sausage and cook until brown. Add chopped red pepper and pepperoni to warm through. After dough has doubled, divide dough into 6 sections. (Note: you can just get the dough you need and freeze the remainder for another dinner). Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out sections into ovals. On one half of the oval, spoon a layer of marinara sauce staying about 1/2" from the edge of the dough. Place approximately 1/3 cup of sausage mixture on marinara sauce. Add green bell pepper and cover with mozzarella cheese. Repeat with all calzones. Fold other half of oval over filling. Press down seam firmly with a fork to ensure the seam is secure. Bake on greased pan for 15-20 minutes or until brown and crispy. Either use a knife and fork or eat calzone like a hot pocket. Be careful when eating as filling will be extremely hot!

Dessert Pizza

Tonight, I'm making a pizza themed dinner- ending with a lovely, healthy dessert. (If desserts can be considered healthy in the first place). Because I don't want to spend time making dessert after dinner, I went ahead a made it beforehand. This is a really easy recipe that even lends itself to fruit creativity. I hope you enjoy!

"Crust" aka cookie dough:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet choc. chips


  • Cool Whip or other whipped topping
  • fruit of your choice (I did strawberries, kiwi, and bananas)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugars, butter, oil, vanilla, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread dough either on a round pizza pan or in a 9 x 13" dish. Press down firmly. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. It may look like it's not done in the oven, but will be firm once it cools. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Once completely cooled, top crust with a good layer of cool whip. Arrange sliced fruit in design of your choice. I used an egg slicer to thinly slice the strawberries. Refrigerate until served.

**Using only whole wheat flours makes this dish healthier than a normal cookie crust at only 120 calories per serving! However, all-purpose flour works just as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Crab and Avocado Quesadillas

Inspired by the clear blue waters of Pensacola, Florida, I decided to combine seafood with my favorite genre of food, tex-mex, in this cooking light recipe from August (2009). It wasn't my favorite recipe thus far, but if you're a huge fan of fish tacos this might be the recipe for you!


  • 1/4 cup diced onions**
  • olive oil (for the pan)
  • 1 cup peeled and diced avocado
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • ground cumin
  • 4 medium flour tortillas
  • 4 tsp diced green chiles
  • 1/2 cup chopped crabmeat (canned is fine)
  • 4 tbsp shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • salsa and/or sour cream
Saute onions in olive oil until translucent. In a bowl, combine cooked onions with avocado, tomatoes, cumin, salt and pepper. Lay tortillas flat and spread 1/3 cup of the avocado mixture, 1 tsp of green chiles, 2 tbsp of crab meat, and 2 tbsp of cheese on each. Fold tortillas in half and place in pan coated with nonstick spray. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes per side or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream. Makes 4 quesadillas.

Nutrition Info (from cooking light): 395 calories per serving; 16 g protein, 16 g carbs, 10 g fat (2.5 g sat fat), 5 g fiber.

**New cooking tip from my roommate Jackie: place the onion in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you're going to use it. It prevents the tear-jerking moments while cutting up the onion.

Sorry about the week's delay- More recipes to come!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lou's Pecan Pie

Today's dessert precedes itself with a story. A couple weeks ago, I brought a chocolate chip pound cake with chocolate icing to my rotation site (a P&O clinic where I get hands-on practice in prosthetics and orthotics). Thinking that this would surely win everyone over, I was severely mistaken when I found out my boss' boss (The Big Man) doesn't like chocolate. So, I asked him what's your favorite dessert? He replies "Pecan Pie." So...having never made a pie, yet alone a pie crust, I accepted the challenge from the Big Man to make his favorite dessert... pecan pie. He's highly intimidating and can severely affect my future in the field, so this better go well. I credit the crust to my second Mom, Mrs. Anita Owen, and the filling to my new favorite friends at Karo syrup, hehe. Enjoy!

Mrs. Anita's Pie Crust:
  • 1/2 stick Crisco
  • 1 1/3 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup water
Measure flour and salt and mix well. Add Crisco. If you don't have a pastry maker (like me), take 2 knives and cut in the shortening until the consistency is little white crumbs. (Reminds me of feta cheese). Pour water in and stir with a fork. Smush with hands into a ball and place dough on flour covered counter. Sprinkle flour on hands and rolling pin. Roll out dough to desired size; 9" pie pan. Place in pie pan and smush edges to desired texture.

Pecan Pie Filling:
  • 1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of pecans
Stir the first five ingredients thoroughly using a spoon. Mix in pecans. Pour into pie crust. Bake on center rack of oven for 55-60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Finished product!

Dixie decided she wanted to help!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Abbey's Homemade Pizza Dough

  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
In a large bowl dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover losely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for a thin cursth or leave whole to make a thick crust. (**Abbey's tip: if you're going to freeze the dough, do so now) Form into a tight ball and let rise for an additional 45 minutes, until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further, or to desired size. Place on well-oiled pan. Pre-bake for crispier crust for 8-10 minutes. Then top with toppings and bake an additional 8 minutes. Enjoy!

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

Tonight I made mini-deep dish pizzas! Yum-O!
(Recipe from Rachael Ray's show, if you didn't get the yum-o comment)

  • 1 can of biscuits (Pillsbury) or 1 Pillsbury pizza crust dough
  • cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 lb. Italian sausage (or turkey sausage)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped (turkey) pepperoni
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers (jar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut biscuits in half, press into cups of sprayed muffin tin, making sure they go all the way up the sides. Place in oven and bake until golden brown. About 8-10 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, place a medium skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add in the onions and mushrooms and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the pepperoni and roasted red peppers and mix to warm through.

Take the muffin tin out of the oven and fill each pizza crust with about a tbsp of sauce, a tbsp of sausage-onion-pepper-mushroom mix and sprinkle with cheese. Place under the broiler until light brown and bubbling about 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Things I would do differently:
1. I would make my own pizza dough (see recipe above) instead of the biscuits because they rose in the oven, completely ruining the little crust shape I had created.
2. I would use turkey sausage for a healthier version.