Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TJ's Chicken Sausage Ravioli!

How much do I LOVE Trader Joe's? I've tried their Lobster Ravioli so this time I decided to try their Chicken Sausage Ravioli. WOW...these babies were HUGE and cooked up in just 5 minutes! All I added was some bottled Marinara Sauce and Parmesan Cheese and dinner was ready! Hum...maybe I should start my own cooking shows: "10 Minute Meals"! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trader Joe's Pizza Crust = YUMMY!

We LOVE pizza in our house but I haven't been adventurous enough to make my own dough. I've been using the Pillsbury refrigerated crust at least a dozen times now but somehow they never come out quite perfect. (Maybe it's the rectangular shape?) ANYWAY...Greg suggested I try the prebaked kind so I picked up one from Trader Joe's. This one's got Italian seasoning and some cheese already baked into the crust but of course I had to add some more Mozzarella on top. I also used our favorte Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce topped with presliced Pepperoni. (Hey...why not take help from the store if you can right?) YUM YUM YUM! I think we have a winner!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our Second Napa Trip!

We finally went back to Napa and visited Raymond Vineyards. We'd been wanting to go ever since we had that yummy Cab in Sacramento. The weather was just perfect and we got to taste some really good wine. We even got to have lunch at the original Taylor's Refresher. The line was super long but we enjoyed standing in the sun finally getting a tan. I can't wait to visit Napa again!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Super Veggie Tortellini

It's my mom's last night at my place so I wanted to make her something special. She's never had Tortellini (Italian Wonton she calls it!) so that's what I made. There's really not much of a recipe but I cooked the Tortellini along with a bag of frozen veggie mix. Then I tossed everything generously with Thousand Island Dressing (her fav!) and LOTS of Parmesan cheese!

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes for Spring!

Oh how I LOVE spring! I don't think anything says SPRING like Strawberries and these mini Shortcakes were a total hit at work! They're soft and moist and you can't get easier than using Bisquick!

Ingredients: (48 mini muffins)

1¾ c Original Bisquick mix
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup milk
3 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 c thinly sliced strawberry


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a mini muffin pan.

2. In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except strawberries. Gently stir in strawberries. Fill muffin cups ¾ full.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What to do with a box of Corn Flakes???

Make bread of course! I found this recipe on the Kellogg's website and wanted to give it a try. You know me, always wantin' to make creative breads! I added chopped pecans to the recipe so this came out super nutty and the PB flavor really shined through!


1½ c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ c sugar
2 c Corn Flakes
1⅓ c milk
⅓ c peanut butter
1 egg
½ chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

2. Measure cereal and milk into large mixing bowl. Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal is softened. Add peanut butter and egg. Beat well. Add in flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Stir in pecans. Spread batter evenly in greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.

3. Bake for about 1 hour or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Mommy Came to Visit and I Cooked Her Dinner!

My mommy came to visit me for a couple of days and I thought I'd make her another fish dinner since she doesn't like to cook fish much herself. This dish came out SO yummy and the fish was cooked just right! It was also her first time tasting Quinoa and she LOVED it! I made it kinda like a risotto but with green beans added. I hope Greg's not jealous that I'm cooking for someone else in our apartment! :)

Ingredients: (2 servings)

¼ c Panko breadcrumbs
½ c Parmesan cheese, divided
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp lemon pepper
¼ c olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 (5-6 oz) tilapia fillets
½ c quinoa
1½ c chicken broth
1 c green beans, frozen

1 Tbsp butter


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a baking dish with olive oil.

2. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper in a small bowl for crust. Combine olive and lemon juice; brush onto fillets. Evenly sprinkle crust mixture on top of fish.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until fish reaches 140-150°F and crust is golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, place quinoa, green beans and broth into a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 15 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and butter.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yummy Green Muffins

What's so GREEN about these muffins? Asparagus of course! Just add a bowl of soup and you've got yourself a healthy and YUMMY meal! I mean, how can you go wrong with asparagus and Parmesan cheese right?

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
½ c quick-cooking oats
¼ c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ c milk
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c chopped fresh asparagus, blanched
¼ c shredded parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, mix milk, oil and egg; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in asparagus and cheese.

2. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Being Creative with Apples Again

I know it sounds a lil odd, but apples and sour cream really do go together! I actually got the idea from this recipe from Pillsbury.com but made muffins instead of squares just cuz it's easier to share.
Ingredients: (8 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
¼ c (½ stick) margarine or butter, softened
½ c chopped nuts
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c tainer sour cream
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1 c finely chopped, peeled apples


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and margarine; beat at low speed until crumbly. A
dd cinnamon, baking soda, salt, sour cream, vanilla and egg; mix well. Stir in apples and nuts.

2. Spoon evenly into greased or lined muffin pan.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring Everyone!

It's the official FIRST day of SPRING and I've gotta say that SPRING is my FAV season! It's the time when everything's so bright and cheerful JUST like my flower cookies! I thought I'd take my cookie press out for another spin and they came out just perfect! I added some orange zest to the batter to give it more brightness and an Easter M&M in the middle for color. These cookies are not only cute, they are super yummy too. TRY eating just 1!

Ingredients: (3 dozen cookies)

½ c (1 stick) butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
½ c brown sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest (half an orange)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ c all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
Pastel M&M's


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in orange zest and extract. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.

3. Using a cookie press fitted with the flower attachment, press cookies 1-in apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Top with 1 M&M.

4. Bake for 6-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Firm is Kicking my A$$!

I just discovered an AWESOME new workout that completely kicked my butt! This DVD combines cardio with light weights and I have NOT been this sore for a while now! I LOVE IT! It's also got great beats and the 45 minutes just flies by. The routines are easy but really effective. I TOTALLY recommend this DVD and can't WAIT till I receive my other ones!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TWD: Yogurt...I mean Ricotta Bread

I know I've been lacking a lil bit with my Tuesdays with Dorie baking BUT I'm back! Of course, I did some tweaking with this recipe. Instead of French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze, mine became Nutty Orange Ricotta Bread mainly cuz I had some Ricotta Cheese left over and ORANGES seemed like such a spring-like addition. The nuts and raisins? Well, I feel the need to add them to just about anything so there you go! :)


1½ sticks butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
½ c Ricotta cheese
½ c orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 c all-purpose flour
½ c whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ c chopped walnuts
½ c raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add Ricotta, orange juice and peel. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts and cranberries.

3. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 3-in loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I Learned from Ellie Today

I was watching an episode of Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger this morning and learned some more useful nutrition facts.

1. Artichokes have the highest amount of antioxidants among ALL of the other fresh veggies! They also aid in healthy liver and bladders functions. What a winner! I just bought a bag of frozen artichoke hears from TJ's the other day and can't wait to start adding them to my diet!

2. Shrimp may be high in cholesterol but it's not the cholesterol in food that causes high cholesterol in our bodies. What a relief since shrimp is SO yummy! They're also low in calories and fat AND really nutritious since they contain Omega-3, Vitamin D and B-12!

3. Fat free milk and yogurt may contain less fat BUT it actually has MORE calcium and other nutrients! I guess taking OUT the fat leaves room for more of the good stuff! I've always been a fat free dairy girl so that's great news for me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cheesey CHEESE Bread

My poor bread machine was looking very lonely in the cupboard so I decided to take it out for another spin. This time I made a CHEESEY Cheese Bread with Mexican Cheese Blend, Ricotta AND Feta, which came out SO good. OMG I could totally eat the entire loaf!


¾ c lukewarm water
½ c ricotta cheese
½ c Feta cheese
½ c shredded Mexican cheese
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1½ tsp salt
3 c white flour
2 tsp yeast


1. Measure ingredients in order listed into baking pan. Select sweet setting and 1.5 lb Loaf. Choose light or dark (I chose dark).

2. Once complete, remove baking pan and allow to cool before slicing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We had 2 open bottles of pasta sauces in the fridge...

...So I made Tortellini! Of course I had to add some meat for my boy. I find that I'm liking bulk sausage more and more these days compared to the good old ground beef. I guess I just like variety. We also have a lot of left-overs and you know how much I LOVE that!


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 lb bulk pork sausage, casings removed
3 c marinara sauce (I used a combo of Vodka and 3 Cheese)

1 can diced tomatoes (I used Italian style)
¾ c heavy cream
16 oz uncooked cheese tortellini
½ c grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms cook until tender. Add the sausage and cook until it's well browned, breaking them apart and stirring often.

2. Stir the sauce into the skillet and heat to a boil. Add cream and tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

3. Meanwhile, cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain the tortellini well in a colander. Add tortellini to the skillet and mix to combine.

Touch of Spring Muffins

Strawberries were on sale at Safeway so I decided to make these muffins from the Taste of Home website. I did make some slight changes by omitting the rhubarb since I didn't have any and just using 2 cups of strawberries instead. I also used 1 c of whole wheat flour along with 1 c of white flour to make them a lil healthier. I also added some chopped walnuts to the batter too for some crunch.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pinto Bean Muffins?

I know you think I've gone off the deep end but these muffins were actually pretty yummy! Think of them as savory corn muffins with some beans. You even get the added benefits of fiber and protein! Hey, if you've got some canned beans laying around, give these a try. They're perfect as a light vegetarian meal maybe with some tomato soup?

Ingredients: (12 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c cornmeal
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 can of Pinto Beans (or whatever beans you like)
1 c milk
4 Tbsp butter, melted


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease or line 12 muffins cups.

2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, egg, beans and butter; stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Pour into muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cornbread comes out clean.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Lamb!

Seeing how my first lamb meal was so appreciated, I decided to make some more! This time I bought some lamb loin chops and simmered it in a Russian dressing sauce. I also served it on top of some mashed red potatoes and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Unfortunately Greg thought this meal was good but the first one was better. Oh well...just another reason to keep trying right? :)


3 lamb loin chops
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c prepared Russian salad dressing
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese

Mashed Potatoes:
2 medium red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 c milk
1/4 tsp garlic salt


1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Drain well. Add the butter, milk and salt; mash.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in butter for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Add lamb chops and pour in salad dressing. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half.

3. Plate mashed potatoes, top with chops and pour mushroom sauce over. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Triple C Muffins

The Triple C comes from Cool Cucumber Corn Flake Muffins! I have NO idea where I got the inspiration (except maybe Cucumbers being on sale at Safeway?) but they came out yummy and super healthy! Look Ma NO butter!

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

2 c Corn Flakes
¾ c all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ Tbsp baking powder
¼ c milk
¼ c firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
¼ c vegetable oil
1 c shredded cucumber
¼ c chopped pecans or walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease or line a 6-cup muffin pan.

2. Stir together flakes and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt and baking powder; set aside.

4. In large mixing bowl, beat together milk, sugar, eggs and oil. Stir in cucumber, corn flakes and nuts.

5. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into muffin pan.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend with my Mommy

Greg went to his bro's bachelor party so I got to spend a whole weekend with my mommy. We started with dinner at Red Lobster on Friday where we fully enjoyed their Lobster Fest! Look at that HUGE lobster tail and creamy shrimp skewer! Everything was SO yummy, especially their famous Cheddar Biscuits! :)

We shopped all day Saturday and then I made a gourmet Red Snapper dinner for my mommy. These fillets were covered in a spinach tomato sauce and topped with LOTS of Parmesan cheese. I even made enough for left-overs so my mommy would have dinner waiting for her when she got home on Monday.

Ingredients: (2 servings)

6 oz uncooked egg noodles
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 (6-oz) Red Snapper fillet
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 c diced plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
¼ c chicken broth
2 c baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese


1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer to serving plates.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove fish from pan and keep warm.

3. Heat remaining olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add tomato and sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; simmer 2 minutes. Add spinach to pan; cook for 1 minute or just until spinach wilts.

4. Return fish to pan and spoon mixture over fish; cook 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree.
5. Arrange fish over pasta and pour tomato sauce over fish and pasta. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My FIRST Colored Pencil Drawing!

I ordered this book called "No Experience Required - Colored and Water Color Pencils" a few weeks ago and finally started reading it. It's GREAT and I totally recommend it for anyone who's just starting out with colored pencils or have only a lil bit of experience. The examples are great and it really teaches you pretty much all the basics including what paper and pencils you need. ANYWAY...This is my first drawing! Stay tuned for more! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

More to add to the Healthy Eating List

I was watching Healthy Appetite this morning and found a few more "little things" to add to my daily food list.

1. Garlic
Why? Cardiovascular health, Anti-Inflammatory, Protection against cancer
How? Add chopped garlic to microwaved veggies for dinner.
Calories? 4 for 1 clove (1 Tbsp chopped)

2. Oregano
Why? Most antioxidant (for herbs)
How? Add to salads for lunch.
Calories? 3 for 1 tsp dried

3. Chili Peppers
Why? Cardiovascular health, Boost immunity, Anti-inflammatory
How? Tabasco on EVERYTHING!
Calories? 0 (as in there's no way I'll use enough for it to count!)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Whole Wheat + Carrots...Can It GET Any HEALTHIER???

As an Iron Chef would say: "My inspiration for these muffins came from a bag of baby carrots sitting in my fridge that I totally forgot about." And boy are these SO much yummier! These muffins have such a light flavor with just a hint of sweetness from the brown sugar and dried fruit. They're also crunchy and nutty from the walnuts and whole wheat flour. DEFINITELY something you'll wanna have for breakfast or a morning/afternoon snack!

Ingredients: (6 muffins)
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) margarine, softened
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c grated carrots (I used baby carrots, grated in a food processor)
1/4 c Tropical mix (dried fruit)
1/4 c chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to at 350°F. Grease or line a 6-cup muffins pan.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In another bowl, beat the margarine, orange juice and egg on medium speed for 1 minute. Stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in carrots and dried fruit.
4. Fill muffin cups half full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
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