Saturday, February 25, 2012

Make-Ahead Unstuffed Shells

Recipe was found in Kraft's What's Cooking Magazine (Festive 2011).

Not as pretty on my plate as in the magazine:

Make-Ahead Unstuffed Shells

4 cups medium pasta shells, uncooked
1 lb (450g) extra lean ground beef
1 jar pasta sauce
1/4 cup cup Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese Spread
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Shredded Cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups Park Skim Mozzarella Shredded Cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package (no salt).

Brown beef in a skillet. Stir in the pasta sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring.

Drain pasta. Wish cream cheese, milk and parmesan in large bowl, add pasta and basil and stir until evenly coated.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan, spread half the meat sauce o the bottom, cover with pasta mixture, then top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil.

Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees... bake casserole covered for 40-45 minutes (uncovered for the last 10-15 minutes)

You can also bake immediately after making for 30 minutes (uncovering for 20 minutes)


This was pretty good... nice creamy cheese, good flavour. It was super easy to make, and everyone ate their plate fulls. Probably not 5 stars, but definitely 4. Will be on the meal plan again, most likely. I don't even have any suggestions on this one for improvement. It was good... just not spectacular!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coffee Creamer

Since my 2nd pregnancy, I still haven't gotten back to black coffee. I love coffee.. but it's like a mini comfort when things are hectic to have that yummy flavoured creamer in my coffee. I discovered this idea a while ago to make my own.

I use the low-fat Eagle brand and skim milk in mine (double the milk of the can of Eagle brand), but boy, does it make coffee even more delicious, and I'm not buying those chemically laden flavoured coffee creamers from the store. I don't think it saves me much money, if at all, but I know what's in it! Maybe I should buy my Eaglebrand in bulk...

Great idea Mrs Happy Homemaker! By the way... it's a fabulous blog you have to check out!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tip on Hardboiled Eggs

I found this pin on pinterest... and HAD to try it:

I mean, I love hardboiled eggs, but they're such a pain to peel.. and chunks of egg come with the peels, etc... hardly pretty at all.

It's a BRILLIANT way to de-shell eggs, and they're perfect EVERY TIME!! It was too good to be true.... so I tried it. Here's what you do:

-Put eggs in pot, fill the pot with cold water (make sure eggs are covered)
-Turn stove to high, and bring to a rolling boil (don't keep boiling)
-Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let sit for 15 minutes
-Pour out water, and fill with COLD water... add ice, keep adding ice until it doesn't melt anymore.
-After 10-15 minutes, pour off all water except about an inch
-Put the lid back on, and shake it gently back and forth for about a minute.
-When you open the pot... the eggs have peeled themselves and the eggs look pretty much perfect. Any shells that remain should just fall off when you pick up the egg.

It could not be any easier... so easy to do while you prepare something else in the kitchen.. do dishes, etc... super simple and perfect... I don't know how this isn't common practice. Thank you PINTEREST! I now can enjoy hardboiled eggs more often, and also make potato salad more often. YAY!

Honey Sesame Chicken

I found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff blog! I love that blog, always lots of great things on it!


Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper (I omitted)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional -I omitted)
4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tbsp water
Sesame seeds

Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt and pepper (I didn't want the extra sodium, so I skipped this), put into crock pot. In a bowl, mix the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes (I actually added some minced ginger in here as well). Pour this mixture over the chicken.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours (until chicken is cooked). Take the chicken chicken from the slow cooker, but leave the sauce. Dissolve 4 tsp of cornstarch into 6 Tbsp of water and add to the sauce in the slow cooker. Stir. Cover slow cooker and cook sauce on high for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. While the sauce is thickening, cut the chicken into small pieces, then put them back in the slow cooker and stir into the sauce before serving.

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.


DELICIOUS. We all really enjoyed this recipe, we even served it to company. I added some minced ginger to it, and I think it made it very good (although I think it would be very good without it).

I think this is one of our new favourites, and it's very quick and easy to make. I didn't even thaw my chicken ahead of time, just put it in about 30 minutes early.

Oh and the toddler asked for thirds!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was on snack duty for preschool for Valentine's Day. I went through a variety of ideas, but of course it HAS to be cupcakes!

I was trying to come up with something fun, but decided to stick with the classic chocolate cupcake, and then for icing, I decided to come up with a strawberry jam buttercream. There's one kid in the class that has a red dye allergy, so I had to not include anything pink or red.... but a natural pinkness would be perfect.

I also decided to try a trick I saw on pinterest:

Source: via Tamara on Pinterest

Heart shaped cupcakes!

Here's the result:



I made a strawberry jam buttercream once before, but it wasn't this perfect. I used that one to top a peanut butter cupcake (and it was a delicious combo), but I think I perfected the recipe this time!

Strawberry Jam Buttercream Icing

1/4 cup butter
1/2 bag of icing sugar
3/4 cups strawberry jam (used my homemade jam from this last summer)
3(ish) Tbsp milk

Using a hand mixer (or you could use a stand mixer), thoroughly mix the butter and jam. Add icing sugar and milk until you have reached the desired consistency. I'm not exactly sure how much milk I used, but I did use half the bag of icing sugar, and just splashed a bit of milk here and there.

Super simple... just buttercream with jam in it.... maybe it was the difference between store bought and homemade preserves.... or maybe I just had the proportions better this time, but it was DELICIOUS... like lick the bowl out delicious.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cream of Broccoli - Cheese Soup

This recipe is one from Weight Watchers - Simply the Best Cookbook.


Cream of Broccoli-Cheese Soup

1 onion, chopped
4 cups chopped broccoli
3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups skim milk
3 packets low-sodium instant chicken broth and seasoning mix
1 carrot, shredded
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Spray a large sauce pan with nonstick cooking spray; heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, potatoes and 2 cups of water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender. Puree, then return them to the liquid. Add the milk, broth mix and carrot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring as needed until the carrot is softened, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat; cool about 1 minute. Add the cheese, sage and pepper; stir until the cheese is melted.


Review: TASTY! we really enjoyed this soup. The only thing I might change next time is either cook and puree the carrots with the rest of the veggies... or throw some extra chunks of broccoli and potatoes in after pureeing, so there are more chunks. The only chunks being carrots was kinda weird... so I'd like either more or less. The soup itself was delicious and had great flavour, and my suggestions are just totally personal preference.

I didn't get a chance to make my own buns that day, so ended up scoring some clearance ones at the store to accompany our soup.

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

We love curries, so delicious. I was excited to try this super easy crockpot recipe.


Recipe from Kraft, in my What's For Dinner magazine (fall 2011).

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

10 bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed)
1 jar thick and chunky salsa
1 chopped onion
2 Tbsp curry
1/2 cup cream cheese spread

Place chicken ini slow cooker. Combine next 3 ingredients, and pour over chicken. Cover with lid.

Cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 5 hours.

Transfer chicken to platter; cover to keep warm. Add cream cheese spread to slow cooker; whisk until cream cheese is melted and sauce is well blended. Spoon over chicken.


Review... rather flavourless.... I think it would have been better with more different indian spices. Doubt we will make it again... our favourite chicken curry is still this one: Chicken Curry

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hawaiian Turkey Stirfry

Here is a Weight Watchers recipe. It's from the book Weight Watchers' Simply the Best : 250 Prizewinning Family Recipes I used chicken instead of turkey, since that's what I had on hand.

Hawaiian Turkey (Chicken) Stirfry


1 tsp canola oil
2 carrots, julienned
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cubed cooked skinless turkey breasts (or chicken)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 20-ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks (with juice)
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried sage

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add carrots, celery and onions. Cook, stirring as needed until softened (6-8 minutes).

In a small bowl, combine the flour with 2 Tbsp cold water, mix into a smooth paste. Gradually add chicken broth, and mix until smooth. Pour into the skillet, cook stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens (2-3 minutes). Stir in the turkey, mushrooms, pineapple and it's juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until heated through (3-4 minutes).

Serve on top of rice.


I had high expectations of this recipe... I love pineapple, carrots, celery, and pretty much everything in it. It was good, but bland. I did have to add a little extra broth, just to give it more moisture. I think I adding some teriyaki sauce would make it a super yummy recipe, and compliment the existing ingredients. I did like that it was healthy (but what stir fry isn't, that isn't overloaded in sauce). I think I will try it again, but with some tweaks.