Monday, September 30, 2013

The Return of Chili Season!

For the first time in awhile, I actually waited until official Fall to make a big pot of chili.  Usually the first day under 70 degrees, I get excited and go for it, but with all the wedding craziness in the past month, I had lots to distract me.  So imagine my excitement over this delicious chili on the third day of Fall. 

In our house, we make all kinds of chili.  A couple of our favorite (and most frequently made) ones are chicken chilies (like this and this one), but this time I decided to make a good old-fashioned beef chili like both of our mamas always made.  Well, sort of...  I started with a good old-fashioned typical chili base - beef, tomato, beans, onion, and chili powder, but added some Eddie favorites, too.  We have unique tastes in our household, so green/black olives, garden jalapenos, and a little Cajun seasoning were also involved.  All three of us LOVED it!  Here's how Mama makes it for her loves:

Family Favorite Beef Chili
(8 WW pts per 1 c. serving)
- 1 lb. ground beef (5% or less fat)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
- 7 oz. can chopped green chilies
- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- two 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- two 2.25 oz. cans sliced black olives
- 1/3 c. sliced green olives
- 2 c. chicken stock
- 1/4 c. chili powder
- 2 T. Cajun seasoning
- 1 t. cumin
Serving suggestion:  top with small amount of reduced fat shredded cheese (may affect WW pt values)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam

Here's a yummy WW-friendly treat my Michael grilled for us the other night.  My homemade tomato jam is the perfect compliment to this tasty turkey burger, but you could always substitute ketchup.  This could easily make 4 burgers, but my hubby refuses to make burgers any smaller than 1/3 lb.  Here's how Mama & Daddy make it:

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam

(makes three 1/3 lb burgers, ... 9 WW pts each)
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1/3 c. onion, chopped
- 1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 t. cumin
- 1/4 t. oregano
- salt & black pepper, to taste
- 3 low-fat buns
- 3 T. tomato jam

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Brother's Mario Groom's Cake

I just had to share a picture of the groom's cake I made for my brother, Travis's wedding last weekend.  The top two layers are fondant on cake boards, and the bottom layer is a white almond confetti cake with buttercream icing and filling (because my brother's awesome like that).  After it's fair share of issues, the cake actually turned out really cute. 

"you are my star; together we are invincible"
I couldn't think of a better way to tie in the Mario theme
to the marriage of my brother and his bride
We've been playing Super Mario since we were kids, so this cake is not only fun, but it also reflects my brother and a little piece of our childhood.  Because what's a wedding without tradition?

Of course, you want to see this beautiful bride and handsome groom, too!


And what wedding would be complete without an adorable flower girl ;)

I just couldn't resist a picture with my Travi - didn't he look great?!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gluten Free Mini Dutch Apple Pies

It is so cool to see all the new gluten free products that are becoming available lately.  A new one I tried recently was this Pillsbury Pie Crust.  It comes in a tub like butter and after a little kneading, is ready to roll out and use.  It makes two crusts or 1 muffin pan full of mini crusts.  Since I was short on time and had friends coming over, I decided to avoid the flour mess and just press them into the muffin tin.  Amazingly, the proportions were perfect for 12 little mini pies!  Using a quart of my pie filling and some gluten free flour to make a crumb topping, it made these perfect little pies. We decided not to tell Michael and see if he noticed a difference.  Impressively, he said he's have never known it was gluten free.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Gluten Free Mini Dutch Apple Pies 

- 1 tub Pillsbury gluten free pie dough
- 1 quart apple pie filling (or about two cans of filling)
- 1 c. gluten free flour mix
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. salt
- 6 T. chilled butter cut into chunks

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kale Chips

As I've mentioned before, my baby is now absolutely crazy about kale chips.  And by kale chips, I mean pieces of kale that have been washed, dried, tossed in olive oil and salt, then baked until dried and crispy.  It's that simple, but soooo good!  And don't tell Peanut, but it's super healthy, too!  Thanks again to my friend Brittany for introducing us to another favorite tasty snack.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Kale Chips

- 1 bunch kale; chopped, washed, and dried (I used some pre-wahed bagged kale leftover from making soup)
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 t. salt, or to taste (or try other spices, like seasoned salt, garlic, or cayenne)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Casserole

Here's a delicious, hearty Weight Watchers meal that was a hit with the whole family.  The portions are big and it combines veggies, meat, whole grains, and dairy all in one dish.  Not to mention, it yields lots of leftovers for the rest of the week - a definite plus for a working mama!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Casserole

makes 8 servings, 9 WW pts each
- 12 oz. uncooked whole wheat rotini
- 1 t. olive oil
- 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
- 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- 8 oz. cooked Italian chicken sausage, thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium uncooked onion, chopped
- 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
- 1/4 c. sliced black olives
- 2 T. water
- 4 c. marinara sauce (I didn't have this much, so I used 3 c. marinara, 1/4 c. tomato paste, and 3/4 c. water to make up the difference - this does not affect point values)
- 1 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wedding Cake Timeline

Recently, I had the honor of making a small wedding cake for some of our closest friends here in Indy.  I also made 15 or so pies, but that's another story (read about it here)...  The cake itself was very simple and classy, just a small two layer 6" round white almond cake with apricot filling and buttercream icing.  Like the wedding, the bride asked that it not be too fussy - just simple, elegant, and tasty.  Super easy order, right?  Well, add in a full time job (including working pretty much up until the ceremony that day), a very curious toddler, and 15 pies to make the day before, and now it seems a little more daunting.  Completely doable, but definitely requires planning.  So I started researching timelines for making wedding cakes, in terms of when to bake, fill, crumb coat, decorate, and if/when to freeze, how to store/transport, and so on and so forth.  It's amazing how much goes into this one little tiny piece of the wedding!  Who knew? 

Basically, what I found was that it is pretty common to bake the cakes a few days before and freeze them while still warm.  This locks in the moisture, makes the cake easier to fill/ice, and saves you some time as you get closer to the big day.  Definitely not an essential step, but made absolute sense for me.  Here was the timeline I used (and loved!):

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bacon, Egg, & Tomato Jam Breakfast Sandwich

I just had to share this morning's quick but delicious breakfast sandwich.  A toasted whole grain English muffin, hard fried egg (using just a little cooking spray), and a slice of microwave bacon, with just a bit of tomato jam.  It was heavenly.  And only 7 WW points - unbelievable compared to most restaurant breakfast sandwiches. 

Peanut helped me make another big batch of tomato jam yesterday to use up all the cherry tomatoes before they go bad (we just can't keep up lately!).  She loved getting to help stir (before the pot was too hot), and cleanup with the vacuum attachment.  I love that she's started the Mama's little helper stage - so adorable!

Bacon, Egg, & Tomato Jam Breakfast Sandwich

- 1 whole grain lite English muffin
- 1 slice microwavable, pre-cooked bacon
- 1 egg, hard-fried
- cooking spray
- 1 T. tomato jam (can substitute a little cheese, dijon mustard, or your favorite savory sauce if you haven't jumped on the tomato jam bandwagon yet)
- freshly ground black pepper


1.  Spray a small omelet pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the egg and a little pepper.  Meanwhile, toast the muffin and heat the bacon.

2.  Flip the egg and continue cooking until yoke is solid (break it if you have to in a pinch).  Add a little more pepper.  Assemble the sandwich - egg, bacon, jam.  Eat if you have time, or wrap in foil to go.  I felt so spoiled!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gluten Free Tapioca Cheese Rolls

The Gluten-Free Goddess strikes again!  My friends Brittany & Jen came over for a dinner feast last week and made these AMAZING gluten free rolls.  They were beautifully light, fluffy, cheesy, garlicky, and super simple.  Plus, they're made in a mini-muffin tin so you feel less guilty about eating, oh, say 8 of them.  I can never believe how delicious gluten free can be, but this girl is making me a believer.  I snapped some action shots while she was cooking, because I just do that sort of thing.  Here's how we made it:

Gluten Free Tapioca Cheese Rolls

(makes about 36 mini-rolls, 1 WW point each)
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 2/3 c. skim milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1 t. salt
- 1 1/4 c. tapioca flour
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
Serving suggestions:  garlic butter/spread, tomato jam

Monday, September 9, 2013

Adventures in Canning: Tomato Jam

Maybe it's just me, but I find it sort of strange that the first jam I've ever made is tomato.  Honestly, I hadn't ever heard of such a thing until I was looking for ideas for preserving cherry tomatoes (since we have an overabundance this year).  I happened across the idea to make tomato jam, which was perfect since it doesn't require you to skin or de-seed the tomatoes (can you imagine trying to skin 5 lbs. of tiny tomatoes!?).  The skin and seeds actually add to the flavor and texture of the jam, too.  After researching the idea a bit, I came up with this recipe and I must say, it rocks!  Sweet and savory, tomatoey... but not too acidic.  I just can't wait to see all the fun recipes we will come up with using this jam!  I imagine it would be awesome on burgers, splendid on sandwiches, and divine on a biscuit or English muffin.  Only time will tell, but for now, here's how Mama makes it:

Tomato Jam

Ingredients:  (makes about 3-4 pints, depending on how long you cook it.  Mine made exactly 6 half-pint jars.)
- 5 lbs. tomatoes, chopped (I used a mix of small and large tomatoes)
- 2 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. cloves
- 1 T. salt
- 1/2 T. red chili flakes (or more if you like it extra spicy)
- 1/2 t. cumin

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Post-Pie-Pocalypse Wedding Bliss

Well, as many of you have seen or heard, I made it through the pie-pocalypse.  Fifteen pies in about 10 hours was nothing short of magic.  But with lots (and lots) of planning ahead, it was incredibly manageable.  I'm pretty sure all of these recipes have been on my blog before, so no new ones to share, just lots of fun pictures and links! 

I just love pie at weddings!
fit the setting and the people so perfectly

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pie-pocalypse Preview

Yesterday I had an out of body experience. I watched as my crazy type A personal took over and I churned out 15 pies and a wedding cake all before 5pm. I still can't tell you how I managed it, but I think I took pictures so I'll be sure to post some later! I know there was tons of planning involved, a few prayers, some help from one of Annalyn's favorite pseudo-Aunts, and possibly some fairy dust.  Here's a quick preview of a few of the blueberry peach pies. Seriously the prettiest pies I've ever made: 
No cracks, no collapse, the perfect amount of beautiful blue drips. This is going to be one awesome wedding! So happy for Jeff & Kinzie's big day and that I got to help with such a special part of it.  Feeling awfully blessed this morning!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peanut Post: Backyard Berry Bliss

Is there anything sweeter than fresh picked raspberries? Maybe picking them yourself! Mama says we can't eat all of them though. There's jam involved so I'm not arguing (this time).

But back to the thicket!  I see lots of pretty red raspberries to eat, I mean help Mama pick (the green ones taste yucky, steer clear of those!). 

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dinner Party Menu

This post isn't so much a recipe as a menu.  Since I usually only post about new dishes I make, I rarely write about an entire dinner menu.  So a couple weeks ago when we had Michael's Aunt Beth & Uncle Clark, and Josh & Chloe over for dinner, I decided to snap a few pictures of the end result - the menu - instead of focusing on one specific dish.  Overall, the dishes complemented each other well and made for a lovely dinner (of course the good company didn't hurt, either).  My general formula for planning a dinner party menu is 1.) a go-to favorite, sure to please; 2.)  something a little more adventurous, but something we've tried; and 3.) something new we can all taste together (and get feedback on).  Of course, I usually toss in something sweet, too.  Here's what Mama made for this meal:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler

Here's a quick and easy dessert idea that won't leave you in the kitchen while entertaining.  As an added bonus, it will make your house smell AMAZING!  We served this at a dinner party with some of Michael's family recently and it was a big hit.  I loved having dessert already made, but still fresh and warm.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler 

makes 8 generous servings
- 1 quart apple pie filling (or 4 c. sliced apples, 1/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon)
- 2 c. Bisquick mix
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. milk
- 1 t. cinnamon