Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

Not the greatest picture - and it isn't fancy, but honestly, this was fairly easy and pretty tasty!!

I asked George to try and make it...I think he was a little intimidated by making the white sauce. We'll have to build up to that. :)

Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

Ingredients: 4 quarts water
2 cups uncooked rotini (about 8 ounces corkscrew pasta)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fat-free milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cubed light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light)
1 teaspoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped reduced-fat ham
Preparation Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add pasta; cook 5 minutes. Add broccoli; cook an additional 5 minutes or until pasta is done; drain. While pasta cooks, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a medium saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and next 4 ingredients (cheese through pepper). Combine pasta mixture, cheese sauce, and ham.

Yield6 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

Nutritional InformationCALORIES 288(15% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 2.5g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 296mg; CARBOHYDRATE 42.6g; SODIUM 937mg; PROTEIN 19.1g; FIBER 2.6g

Monday, July 14, 2008: POKENO!!

Now I am sure that there are plenty people out there who don't know what Pokeno is. Basically, it's a cross between poker and bingo. Most importantly, however, it is a monthly gathering of close friends to share stories, their lives, laughter, tears and a few songs, even. The host for the month makes dinner for everyone - and buys the prizes.
Well - it was my month!!!
The menu consisted of the makings of a salad bar, melon salad with orange lime dressing, and cheesecake on a stick.

The salad bar was inspired by an excellent salad that I used to get at Portillo's in Chicago - a chopped salad with chicken and bacon and blue cheese and an amazing balsamic vinagrette. Another message board person perfected the recipe and it's now one of my favs! I also added croutons, regular cheese, all sorts of options for the Pokeno salad bar.

Chopped Salad


1/3 pound Dole Iceberg Lettuce
3 cup romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Dole Green Onions
1 cup red cabbage
1 cup sweet red pepper(s)
chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 oz gorgonzola cheese
5 oz cooked chicken fillet
2 tsp bacon bits
1/2 cup Eden Organic Kamut ditalini
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 clove garlic clove(s)
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp Durkee Pepper, Black Ground
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions mix together all of the salad ingredients - lettuces, cabbage, peppers, green onions, tomatoes, bacon, gorgonzola, pastaput balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, sugar all in blender. mix. drizzle in EVOO while running until emulsified.

The melon salad is a Pampered Chef Recipe - while I was cleaning out the cookbook pile I have, I found all of my recipes that have come with all the Pampered Chef things I have...this came from the Utility Knife. I liked it better after it had sat for a day in the fridge. The cantaloupe wasn't as ripe as I had hoped - so the dressing helped that.

Melon Salad with Orange-Lime Dressing

1/4 c frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
6 T lime juice
2 t lime zest
1/2 t vanilla
1 cantaloupe
1 honeydew melon
2 c seedless red grapes

Combine the OJ, lime juice, zest and vanilla. Chop up melon and place it and grapes into large bowl. Toss with dressing.

So simple - and really tasty!!

Then for the cheesecake on a stick!! I have been browsing blogs that are food related and I found out that there is a group called the Daring Bakers. Turns out that they all bake the smae thing during the month and then post it on a set day. A few months back they made these. So I tried it out - and decided that I am going to try and join them in be looking for that! But for now...the cheesecake.

The cheesecake was great - the process was a little difficult, but worth it. And George loves cheesecake - so he approved!!

I'm not going to post the whole recipe and process...but here are the pictures!!

First I baked it in a Bain Marie
Then I rolled them, dipped them in chocolate, white chocolate, and peanut butter - and then sprinkles!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's been awhile! This weekend had been busy as I prepared for hosting Pokeno and giving the house a deep clean. So, Sunday night I made some comfort food, suggested by a message board friend.

It's called Toad In A Hole and she got it off of a website called

We liked it - but both felt like it needed a little "something" in the bread top - some seasoning of some sort. But it was easy and fairly cheap....and gives one a good excuse to use a cast iron skillet.

Toad in a Hole

POINTS® Value: 6

Servings: 8


1 pound raw turkey sausage

2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp table salt

2 egg

2 1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

Instructions: Fry the sausage in a large iron skillet. You can shape it into patties first if you like, or just smash it into little pieces as you cook it. Be sure to cook it all the way through.

While the sausage is frying, get out a bowl. In it, combine the flour, salt, eggs, and milk. Stir it up really well, so the batter is creamy and smooth. You can combine this batter in the blender if you prefer.

When the sausage is done cooking, drain off most of the fat. You will need a little fat left in the pan to make this dish, so don't drain off all of the fat. Next pour the batter into the hot skillet, over and around the cooked sausage.

Bake the mixture at 450 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top for the last 5 minutes of baking. The bread will be puffed up around the sausage like a giant popover. It will be golden brown and crispy all over.

Cut the dish into 8 wedges and serve.

Monday, July 7, 2008

T-bones, grilled onions, baked potatoes, salads, heaven

I am a big fan of the markdown section in the meat department. I always stop, check it out, look at dates, ponder if I can make something out of it - or get it to a freezer fast. That's how we ended up with 2 big T-Bone steaks. They called to me, they called to my grill.
So, George heated up the grill and baked the potatoes and marinaded his new favorite veggie - mushrooms.
Sidenote: I don't like mushrooms. I just don't. I don't understand them. And while I pride myself in being able to cook nearly anything simple and basic....I never paid attention to the mushroom. So now, my Fiance who likes a very limited number of veggies decides he likes these. I'm in a crash course learning how to cook them!! Tonight - marinade in teryaki and then grill.

Anyway - Steaks dressed simply with pepper, salt, garlic powder. Onions sliced thicked, drizzled with canola oil and sprinkled with salt. Thrown on the grill. This is my new fav side dish. Anytime I fire up the grill, onions are usually a part of it. The yummy soft texture and sweet flavor that just melts in my mouth. So simple and easy.

Baked potato with butter, salt and pepper.

Salad with leftover grilled red and orange peppers and onions, tomato, and ranch dressing.

Life doesn't get better than this on a summer night.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Appliances = Inspiring!!

So this weekend we got our new appliances. George and I spent weeks looking and debating and researching and drooling - and now they are finally here!!! And early wedding present from his mom...generous and appreciated and sooo exciting!

Aren't they beautiful? Should I name them - like a car??

Now that I have rearranged the cupboards that I lost due to the height of the fridge and the addition of the hood/microwave, I have the time to figure out what I really want to use these wonders to create!! I'm open to suggestions.

Today, we christaned the stove top with bacon and the oven with monkey bread - a breakfast favorite and totally unhealthy. Monkey bread is my mom's trademark. She makes it on vacation - have bundt pan, will travel. I remember when she got the recipe for the first time - at a Tupperware party she hosted. Since then - in the early 80s - it has been THE celebratory breakfast food. This is what is left of ours from this morning.

Then, this afternoon, I matched George's request for cookies - and tried Paula Deen's Coconut White Chocolate cookie recipe.

I should have read the reviews first - as they were indeed a little drier than I had hoped - but they are still good.
Looking over the day - perhaps I need to get back on track towards the healthy!!

We'll see what this week brings us - I can't wait!!