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Saturday, September 29, 2012


It's been a little chilly and rainy here today, so what better for dinner than chili?  I've never made it from scratch before, I usually just use the premade chili mix and go from there.  Today I decided to give homemade a try.  I'm actually pretty impressed with how it turned out.


    1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
    3/4 cup chopped onions
    14.5 oz can of no salt added diced tomatoes
    14.5 oz can of chili beans
    8 oz can of no salt added tomato sauce
    1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon garlic
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1 cup of water


    Cook the ground beef and onion in a large pan. Add the canned ingredients, water, and spices, mix well. Cook on low for until it reaches the consistancy you prefer, mine cooked for about half an hour.
    Nutritional Info
    • Servings Per Recipe: 4
    • Amount Per Serving
    • Calories: 280.7
    • Total Fat: 11.0 g
    • Cholesterol: 38.8 mg
    • Sodium: 608.7 mg
    • Total Carbs: 31.7 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 9.5 g
    • Protein: 18.5 g


    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta

    This would be a great dish to really make your own.  As I was putting it together I kept thinking of different things I could do to modify it in the future, like adding some cherry tomatoes or bacon.  Maybe topping it with a little extra shredded parmesan.  It's just around 300 calories, so as long as you don't go crazy you can add a few extras and still have it fit into your diet.


      1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
      1 cup fresh spinach
      1/2 cup fresh shredded parmesan
      1 tablespoon garlic powder
      1 tablespoon onion powder
      2 boneless skinless chicke breast, diced
      3 cups cooked spaghetti noodles


      Combine the basil, spinach, parmesan, garlic and onion powders together in a food processor, blend until smooth.
      In a large frying pan, cook the chicken breast until lightly browned. Add the pesto and spaghetti noodles, stir until well mixed. You may have to add a little water so the pesto coats the spaghetti and chicken better (use the water used to cook the pasta).
      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 4
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 293.0
      • Total Fat: 4.6 g
      • Cholesterol: 52.2 mg
      • Sodium: 208.2 mg
      • Total Carbs: 35.9 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
      • Protein: 26.7 g


    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Weekly Menu

    I guess it's already been about a week.  We didn't do a very good job of staying on track with the menu last week, but that's alright.  My husband decided to be a sweety and took me out exploring one day and we decided to pick something up on the way home.  Another day we just weren't feeling what was on the menu, so we substituted something else.
    Hopefully this week we'll be a little better.  Here's the menu:
    Monday: Chili, just plain old from a mix chili
    Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings, rescheduled from last week (might get switched to Thursday if my hiking group goes out Thursday)
    Wednesday: Eggplant Parmesan
    Thursday: German Sausage Chowder
    Friday: Pesto Chicken Pasta
    Saturday: Grilled Steak and Asparagus (if we don't have a cook out with some friends)

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Bacon "Spaghetti" Pie

    I saw a recipe for spaghetti pie and thought it looked delicious, but it was over 550 calories per serving and didn't have any veggies.  I thought I could change it up and make it healthier.  I replaced the pasta with spaghetti squash, which does give it a little sweeter taste, but it works well with the bacon.  A lot of recipes call for half and half or cream, which I switched out fat free evaporated milk.  It still has a creaminess, but without the extra fat and calories.  You could use mozzarella cheese instead of parmesan if you wanted to.


      1 medium spaghetti squash (about 6 cups cooked squash)
      8 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
      4 eggs
      3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      15 basil leaves, chopped
      1 - 12 oz can fat free evaporated milk
      1 onion, chopped


      Cook the spaghetti squash by cutting it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place both halves in a baking pan with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. When it is done, scrape the squash out of the shell with a fork, separating the strands as you do.

      In a bowl combine the eggs, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, the milk, garlic and basil. Add the beans, squash and onions. Transfer everything to a 2 quart round baking pan or a 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Let it cool for at least ten minutes before cutting.

      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 6
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 239.3
      • Total Fat: 9.9 g
      • Cholesterol: 143.2 mg
      • Sodium: 528.2 mg
      • Total Carbs: 20.8 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
      • Protein: 18.0 g

    Taco Chicken Chili

    I love slow cooker meals.  You toss a bunch of stuff in the cooker, put the lid on and just let it do it's thing.  It's really great for when you aren't sure when everyone will be home for dinner or if you have a busy afternoon/evening and you don't what to get stuck eating take out. 

    Chili is one of those things that you can really make your own.  If you like it hotter, just add some extra chili powder or jalapenos to the slow cookers.  If you're like my husband, you can add a bunch of cheese, crushed corn chips and sour cream (or ranch dip).  If you're more like me, it tastes great just as it is.  This recipe will make a lot, so you can make it when you have company or save it for leftovers.  It's just about 200 calories for a one cup serving, so you could even splurge a little with the toppings or an extra serving.


      1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
      1 cans no salt added stewed tomatoes
      1 can chili beans, undrained
      1 can green chili peppers, undrained
      6 ounces frozen corn
      1 packet lower sodium taco seasoning
      1 tablespoon cumin
      1 tablespoon chili powder
      3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with visible fat removed


      Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a crock pot. Lay the chicken breasts on top and cook for six to eight hours on high. If it looks a little dry add a small can of tomato sauce.  About 30 minutes before serving, take out the chicken and cut or shred into small pieces. Don't worry too much if it looks a little watery, most of it will will absorbed after you shred the chicken.
      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 8
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 209.7
      • Total Fat: 1.9 g
      • Cholesterol: 40.0 mg
      • Sodium: 945.7 mg
      • Total Carbs: 32.0 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 7.3 g
      • Protein: 21.6 g 

    Creamed Asparagus and Ham

    I don't know about you, but I love having breakfast for dinner.  Especially on those lazy days that you didn't want to get out of your pj's.  Plus you can have the leftovers the next morning.  This is great over whole wheat toast, which is pretty impressive for me to say since I don't like whole wheat toast like I said the other day.  I didn't include the toast in the calorie count because it can vary.


      2 cups asparagus, fresh, cut into 1 inch pieces
      1 table spoon cornstarch
      1 1/2 cups 1% milk
      2 tablespoons unsalted butter
      1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
      1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
      1 1/2 cup cooked ham, cubed
      1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


    Steam the asparagus until tender, set aside. In a sauce pan, mix cornstarch with two tablespoons milk (before turning on the heat). Add butter, garlic salt and remaining milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add parsley, ham, cheese and asparagus, cook until cheese is melted and ham is warm. Serve over toast or biscuits.
    Nutritional Info
    • Servings Per Recipe: 6
    • Amount Per Serving
    • Calories: 201.6
    • Total Fat: 12.2 g
    • Cholesterol: 49.3 mg
    • Sodium: 740.8 mg
    • Total Carbs: 6.8 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
    • Protein: 16.7 g

    Slow Cooked Beef and Beer Open Faced Sandwiches

    So I know the last recipe I posted wasn't the greatest, but I think I'm making it up with this one.  This is definitely something most men would enjoy, especially after you tell them it has beer in it.  There's a couple of different ways you can shred meat, I tried something new.  It was the Mix and Chop from Pampered Chef.  I had some doubts about how it would work, but it did really well.  My timeline for finishing this up was I got the rolls in the oven and tossed some veggies in the microwave.  Then I shredded up the beef and stirred in the flour.  Pulled out the rolls and got the table ready while the veggies finished up.  I think it took me maybe ten minutes, at the most, to get this finished up and on the table; making it perfect for busy days.


      1 pound roast
      1 can of light beer (miller 64 has the fewest calories)
      1 cup low sodium beef broth
      1/4 cup flour
      6 onion rolls
      1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


      Place the roast in a slow cooker. Cover with the beer and broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the roast from the slow cooker and whisk in the flour. Shred the beef using whatever method you like and return it to the slow cooker. Mix everything together, it should form a somewhat thick gravy.

      Cut the rolls in half and evenly divide the cheese between them. Broil the rolls at 500 degree for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

      Top the rolls with the beef and enjoy!
      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 6
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 437.4
      • Total Fat: 17.2 g
      • Cholesterol: 47.9 mg
      • Sodium: 575.5 mg
      • Total Carbs: 35.6 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
      • Protein: 27.8 g

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Baked Herbed Fish

    I know how good fish is for you and I've been trying to find a healthy way to eat it that I would like.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure that I've found it yet.  The only way I've had fish that I I actually liked was my grandmother's beer battered catfish, which I don't think is really all that healthy for you (something about the deep frying that kinda kills the health benefits).  I'm not saying that this wasn't good, just not to my taste.  The hubby liked it, but he did make a comment about it maybe tasting more like health food.  He added a little lemon juice to his fish, I didn't think it made much difference.
    I served it with what I call baked potato slices.  Basically it's a potato sliced into 1/4 inch slices, sprinkled with some herbs or spices (which ones depend on the day) and then cooked in the microwave for five to ten minutes.  You wanted them tender, not crunchy.  I discovered these when I was trying to make homemade potato chips one day.  They didn't work for chips, but they were pretty taste and they've stuck around the menu.
    Now on to the fish:


      8 oz tilapia filets
      2 tablespoons flour
      2 tablespoons garlic powder
      2 tablespoons onion powder
      1 tablespoon basil
      1 tablespoon rosemary


      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
      Combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, basil and rosemary in a shallow bowl. Coat both sides of the filets by pressing them into the flour mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through.
      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 2
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 199.3
      • Total Fat: 3.3 g
      • Cholesterol: 45.7 mg
      • Sodium: 92.5 mg
      • Total Carbs: 18.5 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
      • Protein: 25.9 g


    Weekly Menu

    I think I'm going to try something new.  At the beginning of every week (Sunday or Monday), I'll post up a picture of my meal plan for the week.  I'm great at planning it out, but it doesn't always get followed.  Although it is nice that I don't really have to think about dinner every day, I just look at the board and pull out the appropriate stuff.  And I don't have to worry if I'll have ingredients to make it because I generally go shopping the same day I make the menu.  Since my husband has a couple of days that he'll be working late, I have a couple of slow cooker dinners so they're ready for whenever he makes it home.
    So, here's what we're having this week:
    Sunday: Creamy Smoked Sausage Pasta
    Monday: Oven Fried Fish, salad and baked potato slices
    Tuesday: Beer Soaked Pot Roast, broccoli and rolls (slow cooker meal)
    Wednesday: Bacon Spaghetti Pie
    Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings (slow cooker meal)
    Friday: Manacotti if we don't eat at my husband's company cookout thing
    Saturday: BBQ Chicken Pizza (on the grill)

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Smoky Sausage Pasta

    This is something to throw together real quick when you forgot to plan for dinner, like I did tonight.  I actually had the sauce done before the pasta was.  It smells fantastic while it's on the stove and tastes just as good.  By sauting the sausage for a little bit before adding the rest of the ingredients you develop the flavor a little more.


      6 ounces of pasta, cooked
      10 ounces turkey smoked sausage
      1 can of sodium free diced tomatoes
      1 small can tomato sauce
      1/2 cup light sour cream
      2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
      1 tablespoon garlic powder
      1 tablespoon onion powder


      Cook the pasta according to the package. Slice the turkey smoked sausage into 1/4 inch rounds and lightly saute in a large pan. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sour cream, worchestershire sauce, garlic powder and onion powder to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the noodle and serve.
      Nutritional Info
      • Servings Per Recipe: 4
      • Amount Per Serving
      • Calories: 359.2
      • Total Fat: 9.3 g
      • Cholesterol: 67.9 mg
      • Sodium: 1,079.3 mg
      • Total Carbs: 49.1 g
      • Dietary Fiber: 3.5 g
      • Protein: 19.4 g


      Wednesday, September 12, 2012

      Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken over Grits

      I love having this in the fall or winter.  There's pumpkin in the grits that give it a seasonal touch, not to mention a great added boost of vitamins that plain grits wouldn't have.  I used just plain Kraft barbecue sauce, but you can use whichever is your favorite and it'll change the flavor just a little.  Last time I made this I used Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce and my husband thought it was just a little sweet, this time it was right on for him.  You can also add a little sour cream, chopped chives or cilantro to your bowl if you'd like.


        For the chicken:
        1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
        1/2 cup chicken broth
        1 cup barbecue sauce
        1 can no sodium chopped tomatoes
        1 tablespoon chili powder
        1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

        For the grits:
        2 1/4 cups water
        1 cup quick cooking grits
        1 cup canned pumpkin
        3/4 cup shedded cheddar cheese
        1/2 cup chicken broth


          For the chicken:
          Combine 1/2 cup chicken broth, the barbecue sauce, chili powder, can of tomatoes (including liquid) and cinnamon in a slow cooker.  Whisk to make sure everything is combined. Add the chicken and cook on low for five and half hours. Using two forks, shred chicken and let cook for another 30 minutes while you cook the grits.

          For the grits:
          In a large sauce pan, bring the other 1/2 cup of chicken broth and water to a boil. Stir in the grits and pumpkin. Lower the temperature and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the cheese.

          To serve:
          Place the grits in a bowl and top with the chicken mixture. If you would like, you can top with sour cream, green onions and/or cilantro (these haven't been calculated in the nutritional info.)

          Nutritional Info
          • Servings Per Recipe: 8
          • Amount Per Serving
          • Calories: 256.6
          • Total Fat: 3.1 g
          • Cholesterol: 35.6 mg
          • Sodium: 806.2 mg
          • Total Carbs: 40.9 g
          • Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
          • Protein: 17.4 g

        Tuesday, September 11, 2012

        Taco Turkey Meatloaf

        This is one of my favorite recipes just because of how easy it is.  Just mix some stuff together and toss it in the microwave.  I was lucky enough this time around to test it out on a couple of our closest friends.  They loved it, which is saying something because one of them doesn't like turkey meat too much.  Kind of like the Cheddar Ranch Burgers from a couple of weeks ago, this has so much flavor in it that you don't realize that it's ground turkey.  I like to use the Deep Covered Baker for stuff like this in the microwave because it has a lid and it's microwave safe, but you can use anything that is microwave safe and just use plastic wrap to cover it.  You can also make it in the oven, it just takes a bit longer but then you can use any pan you have.


          1 pound ground turkey
          1 red pepper, chopped
          1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
          1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
          1/2 onion, chopped
          1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
          1 tablespoon lemon juice
          1 tablespoon chili powder
          1 tablespoon garlic powder
          1 cup salsa
          1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


          Combine the ground turkey, peppers, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, taco seasoning, lemon juice, chili powder and garlic powder together in a large bowl until well mixed. In a microwave safe glass or stoneware container, form the meat mixture into a loaf shape. Loosely cover with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave for 15 - 17 minutes. Top with the salsa and cheese, microwave for another 3 - 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.

          To use the oven instead of the microwave, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the meatloaf for 30 - 35 minutes.

          Nutritional Info
          • Servings Per Recipe: 4
          • Amount Per Serving
          • Calories: 242.8
          • Total Fat: 4.8 g
          • Cholesterol: 55.0 mg
          • Sodium: 928.6 mg
          • Total Carbs: 16.5 g
          • Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
          • Protein: 31.8 g

        Friday, September 7, 2012

        Recipe Tweak: Salty Caramel Cups

        This was originally a Pampered Chef recipe that tasted good, but it had 100 calories and 6 grams of fat per cup.  As much as I liked them, I thought they could use a little improving.  I made a few swaps in the recipe and cut the calories in half.  The fat grams were reduced from 6 grams to 1.6 grams.  The bite size makes them great for potlucks or cookouts.  And as far as the "guy tested" requirement for recipes I put on this blog?  I took them to one of my husband's Army functions, about 25 guys said they liked them and didn't even realize that they were reduced fat!


          2 cups pretzel sticks
          5 tablespoons light butter, melted
          1/3 cup powdered sugar
          1/2 cup sugar free cool whip, thawed
          6 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
          1/4 sup sugar free caramel syrup
          1 square (1 ounce) semi sweet baking chocolate


        Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

        Crush the pretzels into very small pieces and combine with the powdered sugar and melted butter. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin and put about 1 tablespoon of the pretzel mixture in each cup. Press down hard in the center to form a small indentation.  Bake for six minutes. When they are done let them cool for a minute or two in the muffin tin then let them sit on a cooling rack for about five more minutes, or until completely cooled.

        Finely chop the chocolate square until it's almost the consistancy of a powder. Mix with the cream cheese, caramel syrup and cool whip. Put the mixture in a ziplock bag and cut the corner off. Pipe equally among the cups.
        Nutritional Info
        • Servings Per Recipe: 24
        • Amount Per Serving
        • Calories: 50.0
        • Total Fat: 1.6 g
        • Cholesterol: 5.4 mg
        • Sodium: 123.9 mg
        • Total Carbs: 6.8 g
        • Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
        • Protein: 1.3 g 

        Wednesday, September 5, 2012

        Salisbury Steak with Red Wine Sauce and Cheese Toast

        This is another of my husband's favorite dinners.  There's a lot of herbs in it, so it's really flavorful without adding oils or butter.  I know you need some fat in your diet, but I try not to add too much while I'm cooking.  The red wine in the sauce really adds a richness to the sauce.  And it might look like it would take a while to make this, but it comes together pretty quickly.  I start by preparing the toast for the oven and getting the steaks ready for the pan.  After I get the steaks in the pan they don't need much attention until it's time to turn them, so I use the time to mix the sauce ingredients.  The toasts are usually ready to come out of the oven just after the steaks get turned.  Soon as they come out of the pan the sauce goes in and I toss some broccoli in the microwave.  Then it's just a matter of getting the food on the plates.
        This is one of those dinners that can be altered easily to please husbands that don't want "diet" food.  For my husband I add a little extra cheese to his toasts and mix the broccoli with a bit of butter and garlic powder.  That way we're both happy and I don't have to make two different dinners.


          For the steaks:
          1 pound lean ground beef
          1/2 cup finely chopped onions
          3 cloves garlic, minced
          1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
          1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
          1 1/2 teaspoon basil

          For the sauce:
          1 cup beef broth (preferably low sodium)
          1/2 cup dry red wine
          2 tablespoons flour
          1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
          1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
          1 1/2 teaspoon basil

          For the toast:
          2 onion rolls, halved
          2 tablespoons butter
          1 teaspoon garlic powder
          1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


          For the toast:
          Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Combine the garlic powder and butter, spread equally between the onion roll halves. Top with cheese and bake for three to four minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

          For the steak:
          Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Form into four thick patties (roughly one inch thick). Cook in a large pan on high for about three minutes on each side. Remove from the pan but leave the drippings (if there are any) in the pan to make the sauce.

          For the sauce:
          Combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup.  After removing the steaks from the pan, add the sauce mixture to the pan. Let it come to a boil on high heat for about a minute, then turn the temperature down to medium high and simmer for an additional four or five minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce should be the consistancy of a thick gravy.

          To serve place the steaks on the toast and top with the sauce.
          Nutritional Info
          • Servings Per Recipe: 4
          • Amount Per Serving
          • Calories: 371.4
          • Total Fat: 13.9 g
          • Cholesterol: 82.5 mg
          • Sodium: 563.1 mg
          • Total Carbs: 21.0 g
          • Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
          • Protein: 31.1 g


          Tuesday, September 4, 2012

          Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

          I was in the mood for something fresh, so I came up with this.  I had some leftover cream cheese from another recipe and threw it in to add a little more creaminess.  I used real parmesan, the type that comes in a wedge and you grate yourself.  It's more expensive but you don't need to use as much of it.  I like throwing veggies into pretty much anything I make, partially because it's easier to get my husband to eat them if they have a little sauce on them.  Its also makes dinner stretch a little further.


          4 ounces uncooked pasta, cooked according to directions
          2 boneless skinless chicken breast (about 10 ounces), cut into bite sized pieces
          3 cloves garlic, minced
          1/2 cup chopped onion
          10 ounces package of broccoli, cooked
          3 tablespoons grated parmesan
          15 fresh basil leaves, snipped into 1/4 inch pieces
          2 small lemons
          2 ounces cream cheese


          Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, set aside. Steam the broccoli (I just use the microwave steamer bags), set aside.

          In a small bowl combine the snipped basil, parmesan, the zest and juice from the lemons with the cream cheese. Set aside.

          In a large pan, saute the chicken, garlic and onions together. Add the pasta and broccoli to the pan and let them warm a little. Add the cream cheese mixture, stirring until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately.

          Nutritional Info

          Servings Per Recipe: 4

          Amount Per Serving

          Calories: 217.2
          Total Fat: 2.6 g
          Cholesterol: 39.3 mg
          Sodium: 311.2 mg
          Total Carbs: 29.2 g
          Dietary Fiber: 6.0 g
          Protein: 23.3 g