Thursday, June 29, 2006

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Weekly Dinner At Mom's
This week mom faked me out. She had told me earlier in the week that she was making Stuffed Peppers and American Chopped Suey. (We had both of these dishes a lot when I was growing up, so they are comfort foods to me). When I got there, she was making Linguine with Clam Sauce, Roasted Veggies and a Fresh Salad which was fine with me.

It seems that whenever mom is straped for time or isn't sure what to make for dinner, Linguine with Clam Sauce is what she whips up. She doesn't have a recipe, she just throws together the ingredients right from the pantry: Chopped Clams, Clam Juice, Olive Oil, Vermouth, Garlic and Parsley. If it is a special dinner, she will use fresh clams instead of the can. The can works well in a pinch though.
Dessert, in case you're wondering, was Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. YUM! This was ONE of my Father's favorite cakes when I was little.

What FOOD brings you back to your childhood? Do you still eat it today?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chicken with Spinach, Artichokes and Red Roasted Peppers

I just sort of combined two different recipes to make this dish.

I was flipping through an old cookbook I got when I was in college - Italian Cooking For Dummies® by Cesare Casella and Jack Bishop.

Ok, don't laugh, I have made a few good dishes from this cookbook, but I don't really like a lot of the cooking methods. Or should I say, the way they explain the recipes. Sometimes I feel like a Dummie when I'm trying to follow some of the steps in their recipes. Lets just say that if it is supposed to be written for dummies, it should be a little more user friendly.

Back to the Chicken. I used:

4 Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts (pounded to even thickness)
1 (10 ounce) package Frozen Spinach (thawed and drained)
1/2 small jar Red Roasted Peppers (from a jar)
Artichoke Hearts (1 Can (8 ounce) )
Fresh Lemon Juice (from 2 lemons)
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (Canned)
2 cloves Fresh Garlic (Chopped)
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley
1/2 cup Freshly grated Parmigiano Cheese
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Flour (seasoned with a dash of Garic Powder and Bell's Seasoning)

In a medium bowl, add the artichoke hearts, chopped garlic, half of the parsley, 1 T. olive oil, roasted peppers, and spinach. Mix together and set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly flour the chicken and saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes on one side or until golden brown and 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and add juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup) scrap up brown bits and add chicken broth. Cook for about 2 minutes or until it comes to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and add the spinach mixture and chicken. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Add the parmigiano cheese and the remaining parsley. Serve with your favorite pasta. (I used whole wheat penne, drizzled with olive oil and parsley and then mixed it in the spinach mixture, after I took the photo).

The two original recipes from the cookbook that I combined and altered were; Chicken Cutlets with Spinach and Chicken Cutlets with Artichokes.
Both original recipes call for 1 cup of white wine which I replaced with chicken broth. I don't use wine very often in cooking and most times substitute chicken broth. To replace the missing acid from the wine I added juice from one extra lemon since the original recipe called for only one. The recipe for Chicken Cutlets with Spinach called for plum tomatoes or tomato and basil sauce which I also opted not to add. I just did'nt feel like eating a tomato base sauce. I decided to add the parmigiano cheese which rounded out all the flavors. I also added some seasoning to the flour for additonal flavor.

All in all I think it turned out well. If I had to do it again though, I would definately peel the outer leaves of the artichokes. They were sort of hard and pointed around the edges. And if you don't like a sharp lemon flavor, just use the juice of one lemon instead of two.

Do you use wine in cooking and if not what do you use to replace it?
Do you have a common substitution in recipes?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Butterscotch Pudding

How simple is this? Butterscoth pudding in a box, add milk, cook and pour over sliced banana. Add some toasted almond slices and you've got a pretty damn good dessert. Perfect for a light snack too.
Actually, because I use Simply Smart Fat Free milk, it's great for dieters too. This milk works great because of the way it's processed, it's thicker than skim milk so the pudding is thick and creamy.
The nuts are just the perfect topping on this flavor pudding. Plus, I feel more satified with something crunchy on top of my pudding. Maybe it's just me, but somehow I will not eat as much if it's topped with a crunch.

Speaking of not eating as much...
To control the portion size of the pudding and to make it more portable, I let the pudding cool a bit, then put it in these cute little fruit containers I had saved. You know the ones, there's apple sauce in them, mixed fruit, etc. Then I cover them with Glad press n seal and I can take them to work. YUM!
I don't normally like using boxed mixes that contain a lot of preservatives and hydroginated oil, but once in a while it's just too easy and good to pass up.
Do you make pudding from scratch or use the box mix?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Who Ate My Parsley?

There's an animal out there with very good breath.

Last summer I planted a big container herb garden on my deck. It consisted of all my favorites- Parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. Half way through the summer something started eating it. I got so many different ideas from people as to what may have helped itself to my pot of herbs. I thought it was deer. Someone suggested it was chipmonks and others said maybe it was rabbits.

This year my friend Jen from work planted me some parsley from seed and tenderly took care of it as it grew until it was ready for transport. She brought it to me at work and I was so excited. I brought it home, planted in my new terra cotta pot and put it in a nice sunny spot on the deck.

The next day I went outside to water my plants and was stunned. All the leaves were completely eaten off. It was on the rail of my deck as seen in the picture. I can't imagine a rabbit getting up there and I can't see deer bothering to jump up to get to it. So that leaves those dastardly chipmonks. They are cute but a cannot be trusted.

Does anyone have any other ideas as to what could be eating my parsley?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What a Bloomin' Bargain!

Look what I got for $15 bucks.
There's 20 plants there, even a few perennials. Impatiens, mini carnations, sweet potato vine and a bunch more I can't pronounce.

There is a small local plant store that displays plants outside the shop close to the sidewalk that often puts signs out saying "Hanging Plants $10.00" or "Plants $5.00" to lure in passerbys. Well, I have been there a few times before and got some pretty good bargains, but not like this time.

I hit the Mother Load this weekend when I saw the sign "Plants $1.00". I thought it was a gimmick just to get people to stop in, but there were many plants for just that- $1.oo! After I picked out 15 of the best plants, the owner threw in 5 more plants for FREE.

The girls at work think I was probably flipping my hair and batting my eyes, but I didn't have to. Hey, maybe he likes me but I'm not complaining.

The sad part of the story is they are still just sitting in their containers on my deck because of all the rain. Hopefully tonight after work I can get a few in the ground.

Blueberry Clafouti

What is a Clafouti you ask? Well I didn't know either so I looked it up in the dictionary and here is the definition: A baked dessert composed of a layer of fresh fruit topped with a thick batter.

A few weeks ago I was watching Good Deal with Dave Lieberman and he made this. It sounded so good and looked so easy to make, that I printed out the recipe from and made it.

I changed the recipe a bit to lower the calories and fat-the result was very good. It has a unique texture, sort of soft and spongy. Since this was the first time I've ever made this dessert, I'm not sure if this texture is the way it's supposed to be or if it turned out this way because I omitted 2 egg yolks. I replaced the fat from the 2 egg yolks with 4 teaspoons of Canola Oil. I also cut out 1/4 cup of sugar. I thought it was sweet enough since the recipe calls for sprinkling the top with powdered sugar anyway.

Every summer I always look forward to making something delicious and unique with fresh blueberries. Especially when they are abundant, at their peek and on sale!

Is there a recipe, fruit or vegetable you look forward to making every summer?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Peacan Pie

Weekly Dinner At Mom's
Dinner at Mom's is always a treat. The dinner is always good, (this week she had Baked Shrimp, Cheezy Broccoli and Cauliflower and Baked Sweet Potatoes), but the dessert is the star of the show. As I've mentioned before, there are always at least 3 desserts to choose from. This kills me because if you were'nt planning on having dessert, it's three times as hard to resist.

The choices were: Strawberry Jello with Fruit, Brownies and Peacan Pie. I chose the latter. Is there any question, really? My mom always makes her own pie crust, but in this instance time was an issue, so she used a refrigerated dough. This was the only so-so part of the pie. It tasted a little oily. The pie itself was absolutely delicious. She used the recipe on the back of Karo Light Corn Syrup bottle. The only thing she did differently, which I would suggest you try, is reduce the granulated sugar by half. The pie was still very very sweet, so I can't imagine more sugar improving it.
I took 2 small pieces with me so I could let my friend Jen from work try a piece (she loves Peacan Pie too), but I forgot it in my fridge at home. What a shame. Of course, I told her what she was missing and she was very sad. She suggested that it would still be good on Monday, but somehow I don't know if it will last that long in MY fridge. If you know what I mean!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

My inspiration for this dish came from the Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice recipe by Giada DE Laurentiis on the Food Network's Everyday Italian. I actually made and posted about, the Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice on Easter and they were awesome.

I figured why not try it with portobello mushrooms. I used the same rice stuffing and just replaced the tomato shell with the portobello. I did still use tomatoes in the rice mixture though.
Also, to make it quick and easy, I used Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (Brown Rice). It takes 90 seconds to cook and the brown rice is much more nutritious than plain white rice. For you sceptics out there, you wouldn't even know it was brown rice because there are so many fresh herbs, cheese and seasonings that give it such a great flavor.

It worked out quite well. Fresh herbs are a must here. Give it a try!

Do you have a recipe that can be changed easily depending on what you have in the fridge?

Chicken Piccata

This is the best Chicken Piccata recipe. It is from the Food Network's Everyday Italian with Gianda DI Laurantiis. It is so simple and makes a great quick weeknight dinner in no time.
I love the melding of flavors, it is just enough citris to liven up the chicken broth with a little tang from the capers. It is one of my favorite 'Go To' recipes. Give it a try. You'll be gald you did!
Do you have a favorite quick and easy weeknight recipe to share with me. I could use some more.

I Love This Tea.

I didn't start drinking tea until a few years ago.
I never liked it.
I was a coffee drinker all the way. I dabbled with herbal tea for a while (peppermint, cammomile, ginger etc.) but still preferred coffee. Then a few years ago, I found out that I had acid reflux disease. The doctor said "NO MORE CAFFEINE". I nearly died. At first I thought he was kidding, but he assured me he wasn't. Then I asked him almost hysterically if he was serious and how could anyone live without coffee?
He calmly told me that it was possible, because he himself had given it up and his acid reflux had greatly decreased. I thought to myself "OK I can do this". It took me about 2 months to totally get over it and I stopped having withdrawals in about 2 weeks. Now I am a social coffee drinker and drink tea everyday, twice a day. I alternate from black, green, red, white and still occasionally drink herbal tea as well.

I discovered this tea last month and it's worth trying.

Madagascar Vanilla Red Tea

This is a perfect after dinner tea. It has a unique aroma, very warm and almost intoxicating. It seems like I'm drinking a Latte or Coffee drink but it contains no caffeine and I don't use milk or sweeteners.

It is known as ROOIBOS TEA which is brewed from the leaves of rooibus, an African shrub (pronounced roy-bus). It is also known as red tea or red bush tea. According to the inside flap of the box, it is naturally caffeine-free, antioxidant-rich and is found and sustainably cultivated only in South Africa's Cedarburg Mountains. It also states that for centuries the local people have enjoyed rooibos for its delcious flavor and healthful properites.

Here is a little narrative from the side of the box: "When the king of the animal kingdom has tea, he sips Madagascar Vanilla Red Tea. With its magnificent fragrance and lush taste, this naturally caffeine-free red tea flavored with real Madagascar vanilla bean resonates with the wonders of Africa. South African red tea is prized for its refreshing flavor, hot or iced, and as a source of antioxidants. Wrap yourself around a steaming cup or capture the chill of roaring good refreshment!"

Do you have a favorite tea? How do you take it?(with sugar, honey, lemon etc.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tapioka Pudding with Fresh Grapes

Simply Refreshing!
The basic recipe is right on the box of instant Tapioka.
I used Simply Smart Fat Free Milk, reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup and added fresh grapes once it cooled a bit and it turned out great.

I always seem to make this recipe in the summer, probably because it is so light and refreshing.

Share one of your favorite summer recipes.

Monday, June 19, 2006


I know what your thinking. It's not like Annie to eat pancakes for dinner. Well, sometimes you just have to give in to your cravings.

I had been eyeing a box Krustez Blueberry Pancake Mix in my cabinet and decided what the heck. Even though the blueberries are imitation (gasp, I know, I know)... It was'nt bad. According to the nutritional info on the back of the box, for 3 small pancakes it's 240 calories and the fat was fairly low too.

I did have pure maple syrup on top, but the peach did healthy it up a bit which I sauteed in a little Smart Balance Spread.

The good thing about eating something so sweet for dinner is that I didn't feel the need for dessert!

What do you crave for dinner that's not so good for you?

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I wanted to let you all know that I made a few mistakes on two posts...The Grape-Nut Pudding recipe and the Cereal Bar recipe. I made the corrections and reposted them, so if you already printed them please note the changes. Sorry :(

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Lobsters are Rejoicing!

Whole Foods, the nations largest organic food retailer, will not sell live lobsters or soft shell crabs anymore. They are not satisfied that the standards of catching or selling the lobsters are humane.

Do you agree or disagree with Whole Foods decision?
I Agree, because it is cruel to catch, sell and eat lobsters.
I Agree, because I don't like lobster anyway.
I Disagree, because I don't think it is cruel to catch, sell or eat lobsters.
I Disagree, because I enjoy eating lobster and I don't care about the cruelty issue.
I'm not sure.
I've never heard of Whole Foods.
I've never heard of Lobster.
Free polls from

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

There's nothing more comforting than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So just imagine how comforting a peanut butter sandwich cookie is.

Tonight I stopped over my Mom's house after work for dinner. She made stuffed peppers, they were very good as usual.

So after dinner my Mom says, "Ok what is your choice for dessert?" You see, Mom always has at least two or three desserts to choose from. So it's not, "Do you want dessert?, "It's what dessert do you want?"

She had lemon meringue pie, boston cream pie or peanut butter sandwich cookies, all made from scratch. As you can see I went with the latter. And what a good decision. These babies were incredible. I had never felt so comforted. After I finished off a small platter of them, I decided to take a photo and share what was left with all of you.

They are actually somewhat 'healthy' for you since the peanut butter packs in the protein, and the cookies are made with oatmeal which we all know by now is great for our cholesterol. There are even walnuts in the cookies which add a little omega fatty acid.

Can you tell I'm trying to make myself feel better for eating so many?

What is your favorite comfort food?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Grape-nut Pudding ala ANNIE

This was my first attempt at Grape-nut Pudding and even though I never made it before, I decided to put my own spin on it. (That's just how I am)

The Recipe:
1/2 Cup of Grape-nuts
2 1/2 Cups of warm Milk (I used fat free Simply Smart)
3 Eggs
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1/3 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Raisins
1/4 Cup of Cranberries
1/4 Cup of toasted Walnuts
3 Tablespoons of unsweetened Coconut
Dash of Nutmeg

Soak the grape-nuts in the milk for 10 minutes. Mix all other ingredients except Nutmeg until well incorporated. Mix in the grape-nuts and milk. Pour into a buttered oven safe casserole. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Place the casserole in a large pan filled half way with water. Bake for about 1 hour or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center. Mix twice during the first 1/2 hour of cooking (optional).

After making this recipe, I've decided that I am going to make pudding more often.
1. Because it uses up my milk which I usually end up pouring 1/2 a carton down the drain at the end of the week.
2. Pudding is a good source of calcium and by using the fat free Simply Smart Milk, it's lower in fat. And in this case I'm getting a serving of fruit, fiber from the grape-nuts, and omega fatty oil from the walnuts. Actually even the coconut has some nutritional value.
3. I don't feel as guilty eating a dessert that is good for me.
4. Because I like it!

What is your favorite pudding recipe?

Half Empty Boxes of Cereal in the Cabinets?

Have no fear, Cereal Bars Are Here!

These bars are crunchy goodness and habit forming. This is a great way to use up any leftover cereal that you just got sick of eating half way through the box. It is my version of a recipe found on a box of Post Selects(R) Maple Pecan Crunch Cereal.

In my case, I had Total Honey Nut Crunch. It's not bad but I just became tired with it and moved on to a box of Honey Nut Cheerios (which I never get sick of).

It's a simple recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You make a shortbread base - 1 1/4 cups of Flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter or margarine (I used Smart Balance Spread) and bake about 15 minutes until it's light brown . For an extra thin and crispy bar, use a baking sheet, otherwise use a 9 inch pan.

Next just mix about 1 1/2 cups of cerel with 1/3 cup of maple syrup, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine, 1 slightly beaten egg and nuts if you so desire.

Spread this mixture over the warm shortbread and bake for around 15-18 minutes.

Note: If you don't have maple syrup, you can substitute corn syrup.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Not Impressed.

According to Cooks Illustrated Magazine Progresso Whole Tomatoes with Basil are the best canned tomatoes on the market.

I followed one of their newest recipes on Streamlining Marinara Sauce this weekend using these tomatoes.

The result: BAD! The sauce was very acidic, lacked flavor and the overall effect was poor.

I was really disappointed since I used the sauce on stuffed shells that I made and it ruined the whole dish.

I think I'll stick to the San Marzano Tomatoes from Italy. They are a little pricy but worth it.

My mom suggested Tutto Rosso Tomatoes, but I haven't tried them yet. Has anyone else out there tried them?

Give me some suggestions, Please?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Homemade 'shake n bake' Chicken

The inspiration for this dish came from one of my issues of Cooks Illustrated Magazine.
They had a recipe for Shake N Bake Pork Chops. A lady wrote in a request for a shake n bake recipe that would be as tasty and easy as the box, but without all the foreign ingredients often found in prepared boxed foods.

The secret ingredient turned out to be: MELBA TOAST. Crushed and seasoned. Then the pork chops are dipped in egg and coated with the melba toast mixture. They are placed on a baking rack in a baking sheet and baked until crispy.

So I tried it with chicken breast halves, which I pounded to make them thinner. They were very good. I will definately try it with the pork chops too.
Leave me a comment if you want the entire recipe.

Annie's mini Meatloaf

For a lighter meatloaf I use ground Turkey mixed with ground Pork. I do the traditional mix all the usual ingredients: Salt, pepper, chopped garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs or bread soaked in milk, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, grated parmigiano and romano cheeses, and fresh parsely.

The reason I make a mini meatloaf is because I often make meatballs with the other portion of meat. I just leave out some of the ingredients, such as the worcestershire and ketchup.


Yes another Frittata. I'm sorry to bore you with eggs and veggies again, but as usual I had my leftover roasted veggies that needed a new purpose.

I updated my recipe a bit with some tips from Cook's Illustrated Magazine.

First, I added a little milk which I normally wouldn't. They suggested Half and Half but I didn't have any so I used Simply Smart Fat Free Milk.

Second, I used a little less olive oil (2 teaspoons) instead of 2 tablespoons.

Third, I kept the heat on medium instead of medium high and stirred the eggs as they set. And when the eggs formed large curds with the top still wet I placed them under the preheated broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Forth, once the top was lightly browned, but the inside still a bit runny, I moved the skillet to cooling rack for about 5 minutes, where the residual heat gently completed cooking the center of the frittata.

The result was a perfectly cooked frittata. Thanks Cooks Illustrated.

Cranberry Orange MUFFINS

...with a hint of GARLIC. Yes you read right.
I didn't mean for them to have a garlic taste.
I had a little mishap while making these muffins.

I started off really well, everything was going great. I had all my ingredients out and I thought to myself, 'these are going to be the best muffins ever'. Well that was essentially the kiss of death.

I actually forget an ingredient. THE APPLESAUCE. About a 1/4 cup to be exact. I use applesauce in my muffins to replace 1/2 of the fat. So instead of 1/2 cup of butter (or in my recipe-Smart Balance Spread), I use 1/4 cup of fat and 1/4 cup of applesauce.

I noticed this when they were already in the oven for about 5 minutes. I was so bummed. But I figured that I may as well just let them finish baking and see what happens.

In the meanwhile, I was preparing something for dinner and I was chopping shallots and fresh garlic. The timer rang for the muffins and I preceeded to unload the muffins from the pan with my very garlicy fingers.

The heat from the hot muffins melted the garlic on my fingers right into the already 2nd rate muffins. What could be worse? Now I had dry, garlicy orange cranberry muffins.

However,after all was said and done, the muffins really weren't all that bad. They looked good-they had a nice shape and had risen well. They really were not that dry even though I forgot the applesauce and other than an occasional bite of raw garlic flavor, the taste was pretty good. LOL!

Use this as a learning experience though. Always have ALL your ingredients in front of you when preparing to bake something and NEVER, handle fresh out of the oven baked goods with raw garlic hands.