Archive | January 2013

Herb-crusted Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

This was amazing. Richly decadent sauce with moist chicken. I paired this with some penne pasta which went really well. Side note, my grocery store didn’t have the exact spices and bread crumbs it called for, so I just used what was closest. It was still awesome.


2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Progresso Garlic & Herb Bread Crumbs
2 teaspoons ‘Perfect Pinch’ Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper Seasoning
1 teaspoon freeze dried chives
3 Tablespoons butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/4 can of Italian diced tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese blend
2 Tablespoons freeze dried (or fresh) basil
dash of fresh ground black pepper
Large skillet
Cutting board
Measuring cup/spoons
Meat mallet
Place bread crumbs, Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper Seasoning and freeze dried chives in a shallow bowl; mix thoroughly.
Place milk in a separate shallow bowl.
In a skillet, heat butter on medium heat. Meanwhile, pound chicken flat and thin for even cooking (if you haven’t done so already).
Dip the chicken in the milk, then coat with crumb mixture.
Cook chicken in butter until browned and cooked through (about ten minutes). Remove and keep warm
In the same skillet, add garlic and saute for approximately 1 minute.
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to loosen browned parts from the pan.
Stir in cream and tomatoes; bring to a boil and stir for one minute.
Reduce heat to low; add Parmesan cheese, basil and a dash of pepper, stir sauce and cook until heated through and thickened. (about 5 minutes)
Serve by pouring the sauce over the chicken. For added flair, serve the chicken and sauce over cooked pasta.

Cheesecake Lemon Bars

This was delicious, it combines my two favorite desserts, lemon bars and cheesecake. I have only one addition to suggest on the recipe, chill for an hour once it’s cooled some out of the oven. It’s much better chilled than warm.


original recipe:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Whisk together 1 1/2 cup flour and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared baking dish to form a crust.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.

Whisk together 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a bowl. Pour lemon mixture into the prepared crust. Skim off any bubbles from the surface of the filling. Mix the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in a bowl until well blended. Whisk in 2 eggs, then spread over the lemon mixture. The mixtures will separate during baking.

Bake in the preheated oven until the filling is set, about 30 minutes.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cake




I hosted an engagement party, which of course called for cake. I also included some pics of the decor I used.

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strawberry cheesecake cake
Yield: 12 to 15 servings
Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill timesCook Time: 1 hour 15 min
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I used this recipe- good, but rather dense & you’ll probably have a bit of extra batter so make a few cupcakes:
I recommend you try this one instead- it looks much lighter:
See *Tips below if you prefer to use a boxed mix.
I’d add a few drops of red food coloring to enhance the “PINK” appearance

12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry puree (frozen strawberries, thawed and blended in blender)
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Fresh strawberries and/or slivers of white chocolate, as desired
1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat the oven to 325dgF. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Wrap a double layer of heavy duty foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan).
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is mixed in. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla (and food color, if using). Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan. Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (4 to 5 hours or overnight).
2. Prepare the cake: Bake two- 9-inch round strawberry cake layers (your recipe preference- see ingreds and tips for suggestions)
3. Prepare the frosting: Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese and the butter, and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla, strawberry puree and cream and continue to mix until well combined. Mix in 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Add the third cup a little at a time until you reach a consistency that you’re happy with. You may not use it all, or you may use more. It just needs to be thick enough to be spreadable.
4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Trim the cheesecake, as needed to match the size of your cake layers (see *Tips). Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake.
5. Frost the cake: Apply a crumb coat layer of frosting to the cake (see *Tips), and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set. Apply the second layer of frosting, if needed. Decorate, as desired, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
*If you prefer to use a boxed mix, it will work just fine (just make two layers in two 9-inch pans). Here’s a link to a jazzed up box mix that has good reviews too.
*You can certainly bake this cheesecake in the oven without a water bath, but you run the risk of cracking the top of the cheesecake. The water bath is a safeguard against cracking.
*Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be slightly larger size round than your cake layers, move it to a cutting board and use a knife to gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake.
*How to apply a crumb coat layer of frosting: use a long, thin spatula or knife to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Wipe off the spatula each time you’re about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won’t be transferring any pink crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don’t worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to “set” the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer.
*If you are serving this cake at a party, it’s perfectly okay to leave the cake at room temperature for a couple of hours (the cheesecake thaws very quickly). Otherwise, keep it stored in the refrigerator. It also freezes perfectly. Freeze it as is, then wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until it is needed. Leftover slices may also be wrapped and frozen.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

I made these in mini cupcake tins so they would be perfect for little hands. I cooked them for 10 minutes instead of the 15-20 for the larger ones.

2.5 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar {or sweetener of choice}
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ripe bananas

Let the Baking Begin!
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray tin with non-stick cooking spray or line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners.
2. Place all of the ingredients, including bananas in a blender or food processor, and blend until oats are smooth. {I added the oats a cup at a time and blended in between}
3. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Rocky Road Cookies

This was a rather odd cookie. It ends up similar to a meringue cookie because it has no flour and uses only egg whites. That being said, it was yummy and would pair excellently with coffee as a light tasting treat for guests. My hubby loved them even though they were different.

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 extra large egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2.5 oz sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk in the salt. Add the egg whites and vanilla and whisk until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds.
Use a disher to portion out small mounds on to the parchment paper, then top each cookie with 4-5 marshmallows. Pop into the freezer for 5 minutes to chill slightly (this prevents them from spreading too much in the oven).
Bake for 12-13 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown. Let the cookies sit on the paper for a few minutes to set, before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

Parmesan Chicken Manicotti

This was pretty easy to do, although slightly more time-consuming than my other dinner posts. The sauce however was beyond easy, so I still recommend it for those of you who like something quick to whip up.


Parmesan Chicken Manicotti
Please double the recipe if cooking for a larger group.
7 pieces Manicotti, cooked according to instructions
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 egg
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and black pepper
1 can Italian style crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
6-8 basil leaves
In medium bowl, combine cooked shredded chicken, Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, oregano, salt and pepper together and stir until well mixed.
Stuff each cooked Manicotti with about 1/4 cupful of the chicken and cheese mixture carefully so that the Manicotti doesn’t tear.
Add the crushed tomatoes in saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves and stir frequently, until it starts to bubble. Simmer until heated through.
Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place the stuffed Manicotti in it. Pour about 1 cup (or more) prepared sauce over the Manicotti. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place basil leaves.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I used reduced fat sour cream and olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

1 lb chicken breast, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 flour tortillas, softened (8 inches each)
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese or 1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
In frypan, cook chicken and onion together in oil over medium-high heat until chicken is just done.
Divide cooked chicken evenly between 8 tortillas; add 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese to each tortilla.
Roll enchiladas and place seam-side down in 9×13″ baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan; stir in flour to make a roux; stir and cook until bubbly; gradually whisk in chicken broth then bring to boiling, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and green chiles; pour sauce evenly over enchiladas.
Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese (baking dish may be double-wrapped and frozen at this point) and bake at 400F for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce near edges of baking dish is bubbly.

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Bread Pudding


Jack Daniel’s Bread Pudding


2 lbs coarsely chopped bread (Texas Toast works well)
1/2 t. Ground Cloves
1/2 t. Ground Nutmeg
2 t. Ground Cinnamon
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/8 lb. (2-3 T.) real butter, melted
8-10 eggs, beaten
1/2 quart Half & Half
1/2 quart heavy whipping cream
1 T. Mexican vanilla extract (get the real stuff)
1/4 c. real Jack Daniel’s Bourbon (Black Label)
1 c. raisins


Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, F.

Put bread cubes into a large container and allow to dry while whipping up the ‘pudding’.

Combine the brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in another large container. Mix well until blended.

Add the eggs, melted butter, half and half, heavy whip cream, vanilla and bourbon to the brown sugar mix. Mix with a wire whip until well blended.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and mix gently. Add the raisins and mix them in.

Spray a 13 X 9 X 2 inch glass baking pan with buttery flavor non-stick spray. Pour the bread mixture into the pan and jiggle the pan to settle the bread. The top will be jagged. Don’t worry about that.

Place the pan into the 325 degree oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick can be stuck in and pulled out of the middle of the pudding clean and moist. Do not overcook. Ovens vary in their cooking time, so watch the time carefully.

Jack Daniels Bread Pudding Bourbon Sauce


1 lb. butter
1 lb brown sugar
1 cup heavy whip cream
2T. to 1/4 c. Jack Daniels Bourbon


Melt the butter in a heavy pan on the stove top at a medium setting (do not burn the butter!). Add the brown sugar a little at a time until mixed. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth and almost to the point of simmering. Don’t boil the sauce! It will crystallize.

Slowly add the heavy whipping cream while continuing to stir. Blend well and immediately remove from heat.

Add the Jack Daniels Bourbon and mix well.

Serve the sauce over the Bread Pudding and go to dessert heaven! If you want even more calories, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream! You can get all of your daily allotment of calories in this one dessert!