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I made this spinach and artichoke dip recently for a baby shower, and I was reminded again how easy this was to make!  It’s also delicious… I think it’s the reason I was invited to many parties after college (“We’re having a party!  Can you come and bring your dip?”).

Easy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 1-10 oz. package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed (press all water out of spinach as well)
  • 2-14 oz. cans of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

If desired, chop quartered artichoke hearts into smaller pieces.  Combine all ingredients and spread into a baking pan (9×9 inch square or 11×7 inch pan- 13×9 inch pan will work in a pinch; just reduce cooking time).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until edges are brown.  Serve with crackers or veggies, and enjoy!

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I’m always trying to find new, tasty and healthy snacks for my children. I was feeling inspired to experiment today and came up with these Tablespoon Tortilla Treats. The only measuring implement you’ll need is a regular kitchen tablespoon.

2 full tablespoons sugar
1 “level” tablespoon cocoa powder
1 “level” tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 small flour tortillas

Optional:
1 full tablespoon wheat germ

** Wheat germ must be kept refrigerated. If you choose to use the wheat germ (which is what makes this sack somewhat nutritious and the whole point of this exercise), either toss out any left over sprinkle mix or store it in the fridge and use it right away.

Dump all the ingredients into one of those take and toss sippy cups that has a large opening for the liquid to come out. Cover the hole with your finger and gently shake until everything is mixed.

Place a flour tortilla on a plate or cutting board. Sprinkle with the mix. Use a pizza cutter to cut the tortilla into strips.

Place on a toaster oven tray and toast!

Although he looks nonplussed, this little scoundrel scarfed down more than his fair share of these tasty treats!

Ok, so my mother made some brownies for a potluck at work today.  She saw this recipe (if you can call it that) in some random cookbook at some point in her life and finally decided to try it. 

To say it was a big hit would be an understatement.  These things are just white trash heaven.  So here’s what you do:

Buy your favorite chewy fudge brownie mix (the richer the better). Make the brownie batter according to directions and spread in your pan.  (We also used real butter versus stick margarine for our batter because….. well…….  we’re Southern).

Get a bunch of mini Mounds bars. (We bought 2 of the 10 pack “sheets”). Lay them out on wax paper and smash them flat with a glass.  Lay them on top of your brownie batter to make your second layer.

Pop open a can of sweetened condensed milk and drizzle the whole can over everything as evenly as possible.  Bake according to the directions on the brownie mix.

Let them set and cool because they fell apart horribly when we attacked them fresh from the oven.  However, if you’re like us and have no objection to eating brownies with a spoon, then go ahead and attack them fresh out of the oven.  You could even spoon this stuff over ice cream as a topping while it’s hot, come to think of it.  Oh my gosh, this stuff was so worth the 2.3 seconds of guilt…….

Fruit!

My children are obsessed with graham crackers right now. It vexes me to no end that they won’t eat any other snacks (translation: healthy snacks) and insist on graham crackers. Yesterday as I spread peanut butter on a graham cracker for the umpteenth time, inspiration hit me!

When I was little, my mother made peanut butter and banana sandwiches for herself. I found the concoction to be quite odious and always turned my nose up to it. But in a desperate attempt to make my children’s snack a bit healthier, I channeled my mother and got to mashing!

1 cup peanut butter
1 very ripe banana

Mash together on a plate with a fork until the banana is pulverized. Mix together well.

I mixed up enough to last for several days and stuck it in the fridge. Because the banana is exposed to the air, the mix will darken but it’s okay to eat.

I was pretty proud of myself. My daughter has started refusing bananas lately and my son wouldn’t eat a piece of fruit even if Thomas the Tank Engine delivered it personally. Then I thought, “Why stop with a banana?” Why not try it on a few other fruits?

Once our stash of pb & banana is gone, I’m going to try it with some other fruit. But which fruit? My concern is that the real juicy fruits would turn the peanut butter into soup. I will probably start out with some freeze dried strawberries we have in the cupboard.

I love cheese.

Love it.

Love, love, love, LOVE cheese!

When I was in high school, our Sunday night ritual was for my mom to cook up a pot of nachos on the stove and we’d sit around dipping our chips in it and wiping our noses because they were so spicy.

I love cheese!

I just finished eating about a quarter of a cube of mozzarella. MMM!

So when I started thinking about what I could snack on tonight while watching my DVR programs, can you guess what came to mind? CHEESE! GLORIOUS CHEESE!!!

I just took dinner out of the oven — taco pie — and some of the cheese leaked out of the crust and was baking in the dish. Mmmm… crispy, cooked cheese.

Inspiration!

I took out my smallest casserole dish and sprinkled a heafty portion of whatever chedder/combo pack I had in the fridge. I cooked it at 425 for 10 minutes and it was yummy crispy goodness! If you have some dried herbs or seasonings you’d like to add in, go for it! Fresh, minced garlic is a great add-in.

After letting it cool for about five minutes, put a few layers of paper towels on top to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Let it rest until cooled, then cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

The most common question I’m asked as a vegetarian is, of course, “Why don’t you eat meat?” To which I’m always tempted to answer, “Why do you eat meat?”

It’s like asking someone why they use Pantene Pro-V, or why they like cheddar over Swiss. It’s a personal preference.

My second favorite question is, “Where do you get your protein!?” Do people really care about my health, or is that insult-laced concern? I think we know the answer to that. The next time I see someone turn their nose up at spinach I might ask, “Where do you get your fiber!?” You get the idea. So, for all those concerned about my protein intake, here’s one of my easy go-to recipes that’s packed with it! The best part… you won’t even miss the meat!

Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas
2 cans black beans
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 can corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chili’s (or 1C salsa)
1 large can enchilada sauce
8 large flour tortillas
taco seasoning packet mix
8oz shredded quesadilla cheese
8oz Monterey jack cheese
serve with salsa/sour cream/guacamole if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drain and rinse black beans and add to skillet over medium heat. Add can of Rotel, corn, and taco seasoning mix. Simmer together for about 15 minutes.

Spread a little of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan so the enchiladas won’t stick.

Spread refried beans inside the tortilla, and divide the bean/corn filling along with the quesadilla cheese, between the enchiladas.

Roll them up and place them seam-side down in the pan. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce and 8oz of Monterey jack cheese.

Bake 30 mins or until top is bubbly and enjoy!

Have you heard of The Sneaky Chef? One word — amazing. Okay, two words — amazing and brilliant! I absolutely love the idea of adding more nutrients into every day foods by adding fruit and veggie purees. I started using recipes from the Sneaky Chef cookbook in an effort to get a few nutrients into my three year-old son who is an incredibly fussy eater. Yes, my poor son was the target of all these strange orange, white, purple and other purees. At times, I’ve felt like a mad scientist, but there’s no denying that we could *all* do with more fruits and vegetables in our diets. It’s become second nature for me to add pureed carrots and yams to all my marinaras (50/50 canned marinara and orange puree!).

I’ve even started making my own Sneaky recipes, based on the principles I’ve gleaned from The Sneaky Chef. And here it is 5:30 am, I’m wide awake and I’m making Sneaky Peach Nectarine muffins for my son’s preschool class. MUHAHAHAHAAA!! Those boys in his class won’t know what hit them! I’m sure I’ll be giggling about it all day!

I grabbed the base recipe from All Recipes. It’s a serviceable recipe that I can adapt with any fruits I’d like. But I couldn’t let this opportunity pass to add more goodies into the batter!

My modifications:

50/50 white/whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
Double the fruit, roughly chopped then pulsed in the food processor to a fine dice

Because my fruit wasn’t super ripe and naturally sweet, I let the fruit macerate in the sugar instead of blending the sugar in w/ the dry ingredients.

That’s it! That’s all I did differently. But the kids are getting extra fruit, follic acid and vitamin E that wouldn’t have been in the original recipe along with extra fiber. They’ll never taste a difference but their bodies will welcome the added nutrients.

Next time, I might even get adventurous enough to replace some or all of the sugar with honey!

So, add wheat germ to your grocery list along with some whole wheat flour. Pre-mix 50/50 on the flour and store it for whenever you bake. Don’t be afraid to toss a sprinkle of wheat germ on your grilled cheese sandwich, into your casserole, or your baking. Make some purees and freeze them so you always have some ready to add into your meals.

Bottom line – don’t be afraid of your food! Nutritious meals can be fun and very yummy … but let’s keep that secret to ourselves.

I’m not much of a recipe kind of gal. My husband calls my style of cooking “Iron Chef Cooking”. It’s dinner time and what do I do? I stand in front of the open deep freeze and just stare. Then I do the same with the fridge. And the fridge’s freezer. Then I move to the cabinets and open and close them a few dozen times or so, taking in all the food. I stand and stare and await inspiration.

Tonight, inspiration hit big. My family ate this up and my husband told me several times that I could make this every week and he’d be very happy.

1 box Goya rice and beans, prepared according to instructions
1-2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 packet Old El Paso taco seasoning
1 tube of pizza crust dough
shredded cheddar

Prepare your Goya rice and beans as directed. Brown and drain your ground beef, then mix w/ Old El Paso seasonings as directed.

Spray a Pyrex casserole dish with some Pam or Baker’s Joy and roll your pizza crust out into the dish. Stretch out the long sides so they lay slightly over the sides of the dish.

Sprinkle a generous amount of cheddar along the center of the dough. Lay out four lines of filling, alternating rice, meat, rice, meat. Sprinkle more cheese on top then fold the sides up over the top of the filling. Pinch down the ends and sprinkle come cheese on top if you want.

Bake for about15 mins at 425. Take it out when the dough is golden and crispy. Let it rest for about 10 mins before cutting.

I love appetizers. But not when I have to make them. It seems like a lot of work for a tiny bite of something, ya know? I’m always on the look-out for easy appetizer recipes to serve when I have friends come over. This past week, I had three opportunities to entertain and here’s what I made:

Easy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Éclair Dessert – I suggest doubling the amount of peanut butter and then doubling the filling amount. With the amount of filling the recipe made, I didn’t have enough to do two filling layers. This filling is so delicious that you’ll be glad you doubled it!

Favorite Topped Deviled Eggs – Personally, I hate deviled eggs but I know so many people who love them and we always have tons of eggs. This was an easy way to use up our eggs. Instead of Neufchatel, I used cream cheese. I sprinkled with a bit of cayenne pepper instead of paprika. Check out my previous post for info on hard boiling eggs.

Ranch Dip – This is supposed to be a bacon ranch dip. If you know one thing about me, know that I have a long standing love affair with bacon. I don’t like ranch anything so I refuse to sacrifice bacon into a ranch dip! I adapted this recipe by not adding the bacon. Cut the top off an orange or red pepper and serve your dip in the pepper!

Sharon’s Orange Dream Cake – You can modify this recipe a million ways. You are only limited by your imagination!

Four easy recipes that are a cinch to whip together and serve. They may not be fancy, but they are definite crowd pleasers!

 2 cans diced tomatoes with diced onion
1/2 T dried garlic or dried garlic mix
1 set pork ribs

Heat a little oil in a dutch oven (or deep pot) until hot. Put the pork ribs in meat side down and let them sear. Don’t forget to take the time to sear the ends too.

Dump in the dried garlic and two cans of tomatoes. Cover and turn the heat to medium.

You’ll keep cooking like this, and adding water as needed, until the tomatoes are mush and the ribs are thoroughly cooked. It took me about half an hour and two or three glasses of water. The meat will be tender and flavorful! We’re serving this with French fries for an easy meal!

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