Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oatmeal Energy Bites

Joyce and I are excited to be featured on Thursday, April 26.  In honor of all the runners of steel, we thought a running snack would be a great recipe to share.

My husband and I are always looking for snacks to eat before our morning runs.  Many days, John brings home snacks the XC moms bring to meets; one morning, he brought home little energy balls that were tasty.  I started searching the internet for similar treats.  When I found a promising recipe, I started playing around with it.  I was thrilled to read in March's Runner's World Fridge Wisdom that flaxseed contains essential nutrients for runners (omega-3 fatty acid, lignans). I added sesame seeds after learning that they provide calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium (they would have gone bad in my cupboard anyway).  John loved them, saying, "These are deceptively good!  I could easily eat them all."

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey (if you spray the measuring cup lightly with cooking spray, it won't be so hard to manage)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (you got that right, I chopped up the ones from my super-sized bag from Costco)
  • 1 t vanilla
Note: This recipe yields 2 1/2 dozen balls.  They are around 90 calories each.

  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl.  Mix well.
  2. Put bowl in refrigerator until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Roll into balls; store in air-tight container in freezer or fridge.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: From start to finish about 45 minutes

Source: I got the idea from an XC mom 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I have made this enchilada recipe for many years, and my whole family absolutely loves it.  It is a simple recipe made even more simple if you use chicken that you cooked earlier in the week while prepping for another meal.  I think the filling is just perfect - I could eat it by itself for a meal!

  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 small chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup salsa (divided)
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 T chopped cilantro (my husband doesn't like cilantro, so I leave this out)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 c shredded cheddar & monterey jack cheese, divided (I use sharp cheddar)
  • 8 flour tortillas 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Heat large skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, cook and stir 2 minutes.  
  2. Add chicken, 1/4 cup of salsa, the cream cheese, cilantro, and cumin; mix well.  Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.  Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese; mix well.
  3. Spoon about 1/3 c of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla; roll up.  Place seam-side down in 13x9 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining 3/4 cup of salsa and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Difficulty:  Medium
Time:  about 45 minutes, including baking time
Source: Kraft Food & Family magazine

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Early in my career, I enjoyed a weekly Happy Hour with the girls from work at Applebees. Their happy hour used to include (may still, but I don't get out much) half off drinks and appetizers. The five of us would each get an appetizer and drink; we feasted. A perennial favorite was the Spinach and Artichoke Dip. When I served this at a holiday get-together, the Happy Hour crowd argued it may be better than Applebees...not sure about that, but it was delicious. Bonus-this recipe uses the leftover Alfredo sauce from the Spicy Chicken Rigatoni.


  • 10 oz box frozen spinach
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 10 oz of alfredo sauce (I used my leftover Ragu from the spicy chicken rigatoni)
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 t pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix one half of mozzarella with all other cheeses and sauce.
  3. Add spinach, artichokes, pepper, and garlic. Mix well.
  4. Pour into an 8 x 8 pan greased.
  5. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until warm through.
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 minute prep, 30 minutes baking time

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

About once a year my mom's entire family head to Buca di Beppo for some sort of celebration. All twenty-one of us circle the huge round table in the Pope's room. Ordering can be a bit exhausting. But one item that always makes the cut is the spicy chicken rigatoni. No one gets to take leftovers from that dish. When I saw this copycat recipe, I figured it would be too hard. It was surprisingly easy and delicious.

  • 1 pound rigatoni, cooked per instructions
  • 6 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t black pepper
  • 1/8 crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 t butter
  1. In large saute pan over medium high heat, cook oil, pepper, salt, and garlic until garlic begins to caramelize. Add chicken and saute to cover in spices.
  2. Add marinara sauce. Next, add Alfredo sauce. Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until sauce thickens slightly and chicken is done (an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Turn off stove top and add butter and peas. Mix.
  3. Toss pasta with sauce. Add additional red pepper flakes as a garnish.
Difficulty: Medium
Time: 30-40 minutes

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pulled BBQ Chicken Crescents

My sister raved about these chicken crescents a while back, and I just had to try them.  When I was boiling the chicken for Chicken Divan one day, I added a few extra pieces to the pot, shredded it, and threw it in the fridge for later that week.  That tiny bit of planning ahead made for a simple, quick, and delicious meal on a busy evening.  The first time I made this, my son ate three whole crescents, leaving five for my husband, daughter, and I to split.  I have since learned to double the recipe and any leftovers go to lunch the next day.

  • 2 cups shredded chicken 
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 container (8 count) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix barbecue sauce and shredded chicken.
  3. Spread a layer of the chicken mixture over the crescent roll triangle.  Sprinkle lightly with cheese.
  4. Gently and loosely roll the crescent as instructed on the can.
  5. Brush with egg.  Sprinkle the top lightly with cheese.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Difficulty: Very easy, especially if you cook the chicken while you are making dinner the night before.
Time: If using cooked chicken, about 10 minutes prep.  If not, add the time it takes to cook the chicken.  Bake time 12-15 minutes.
Source: adapted from's Pulled Chicken Crescents

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Crispy Asparagus Fries

Our family gets tons of asparagus in our CSA box in May and early June so I look for different ways to prepare it. I found this recipe on pinterest. The asparagus looked SO good! The bloggers at SpoonForkBacon who shared the recipe had directions to make three dipping sauces as well, but that was a bit too much for me. When I read the directions, the words dredge and food processor stood out to me. I don't like the mess associated with dredging and the additional dirty bowl, and I don't own a food processor. Despite my cooking shortcomings, I made them (and it has gotten easier each time I make them). They did not disappoint. My husband and kids enjoyed picking up the fries and eating them. John even requested that I only prepare asparagus this way; he must really like them because he will eat ALL of them.

  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound of asparagus, cut in half (dont' skip this step, it is much easier to work with when halved)
  • salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grind up panko and almonds in food processor until a fine powder (since I don't have one, I used a took awhile). Pour into a shallow dish.
  3. Dredge spears in flour and shake off.
  4. Dip spears in egg, followed by panko mixture.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lay on aluminum foil covered baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake 15-20 minutes.
Difficulty: Medium
Time:20 minute prep, 20 minute baking time
Source: SpoonForkBacon blog

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chicken and Ham Stew

I generally make a turkey for Christmas and my mom makes ham for Easter, so I don't often find myself with much in the way of leftover ham.  Several years ago, however, I decided to change things up a bit and make ham for Christmas.  We had so much leftover that I was searching for recipes to use the remaining pounds.  I ended up using much of it in this great slow cooker recipe.  Sometimes I think too much ham in one meal is overwhelming, so I love that this strikes a balance with both ham and chicken.  My kids love it, too.

  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 2 cups diced boneless chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • (2 Tbsp cornstarch)
  • (2 Tbsp water)
  1. Combine soup, ham, chicken, vegetables, and seasonings in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours or high 1-3 hours.
  2. If you like the mixture a bit thicker, mix the cornstarch and water in a bowl, stir it into the slow cooker and cook for 10-15 minutes longer.
  3. Serve with warm buttermilk biscuits.

Note:  Because this recipe has ham in it, it does tend to be a touch salty.  If you are able to use low sodium cream of mushroom soup, I would recommend it.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 15 minutes or less prep, 1-5 hours cooking
Source: Adapted from a Crock Pot Chicken recipe book

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

    Every once in a while, I just want to make a yummy dessert. On a cold, windy day I didn't feel like packing the kids in the car to pick up ingredients for many of my desserts. So I looked through all of my pinterest desserts and scoured my cabinets...finally a tempting dessert that I had the ingredients to. Plus, I got to use the condensed milk I buy on sale each year and never use-score for emptying out the pantry. My daughter said they were amazing and asked if I'd make them for her birthday party. The trick is to share these with people because they are delicious and it is hard to stop at one!

    • yellow cake mix (ok, I cheated and used leftover Christmas funfetti cake mix minus the candy bits)
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 can sweet condensed milk
    • 2 T butter
    • 2 t vanilla
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in mixer.
    3. Press into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan; reserve 1 1/2 cups of cake mixture for topping.
    4. In a small saucepan, melt chips, butter, and sweet condensed milk. Once melted, remove from heat. Add vanilla.
    5. Spread in pan.
    6. Crumble remaining cake mixture on top.
    7. Bake 25-30 minutes.
    8. Cool and cut.
    Difficulty: Medium
    Time:15 minutes prep; 30 minutes baking