Monday, October 31, 2011

~Homemade Fruit Leather~

Uhh, can you say yum? These goodies even passed the hubby test! Back in the day, we kids ate fruit leather. Remember? It was really good, and my favorite flavor was always strawberry. I decided to try this since I like a lot of snacks and don't want to snack on junk food. Healthy snacks are the best way to maintain low weight when eating between meals. This recipe doesn't even call for refined sugar (yay!). It does, however, take a while to cook in the oven (and when I say a while, I really mean about 7 hours...). But if you find yourself home on a sunny Sunday, here is a good treat to feat.

Start with about 2 cups of diced strawberries.

Put a little water in a pot or saucepan and stew (covered) for about 20 minutes or so. The strawberries will get mushy and almost pink in color. And your kitchen will smell heavenly.

Put the strawberries in a blender and puree. You can add sugar to make them sweeter, but I added about 1/8 c. of xagave, and you have to remember that when the leather is done cooking, the strawberries produce their own sweetness. So don't add too much sweetener.

Place some parchment paper or seran wrap (I used the latter) on a cookie sheet with a lip. Rub a little vegetable oil on the plastic, just enough to cover it. Then pour the strawberry puree onto the sheet and make sure it is evenly spread. If your oven goes low enough, cook it on 150-170 degrees for about 7 hours or until you touch it with your finger and it's dry. Mine only goes as low as 200 degrees, so I left the oven door open the whole time. My kitchen was so flippin' hot!

Once cooked, it should look like this. Then score the leather with a knife whatever size you like.

The fruit leather will peel right off!

If you want, you can roll it up to make it a fruit roll-up!

The way I cut mine, it made 10 individual snacks. Next time I might try apple fruit leather! This was a lot of fun to make, and of course, like almost everything I make, easy!

I think the best part about this snack is that is costs practically nothing to make. I bought 2 pounds of strawberries from Sam's Club for 3.49 and used less than half of them for this batch. I could make another batch with what I have left. Making these cost much less than they do in the store. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend with Supermom

My mom, whom I refer to as Supermom is my greatest inspiration, role model, and friend. She is such an example of that phrase she always told me as a kid, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." Supermom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer October 2010. Statistics show something like less than 6% of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer live more than 5 years (don't quote me). Words can't really express how grateful I am she is here with us and cancer-free now. With lots of bumps on the way, surgeries, lots and lots of chemo, pained back, and blistered feet, Supermom toughed it out, continued working, and living her life. It was as though nothing changed for her. She didn't complain, curse God for her situation, or mope around. My mom, ever my constant cheerleader and the most positive woman, kept her daily routine with morning and evening walks and swimming every morning, on painful blistered feet no less. She even skiied at Lake Mead. What a woman.

She had surgery last week and was hospitalized for 7 days. When she got to come home, I spent the weekend with her, helping her around, cleaning, cooking, and driving her to her errands. Loved it. We had tons of fun. We baked bread and she treated me to a pedicure. We cheered on my niece Reagan at her soccer game, made a scarf, and watched My Fair Lady.

If I grow to be the wife, mother and friend Supermom is, I will be an amazing woman. We didn't always get along when I was younger and immature. How grateful I am for a loving mother who sets an example to me. Supermom has always been there for me in my ups, and especially my downs. It was a neat experience to be there for her in return. Now we are as close as ever, and I don't know what I would do without her. Love you Mama.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

DIY: Infinity Scarf

I saw this idea on Pinterest and really wanted to try it! I am obsessed with Pinterest. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a wonderful website with a myriad of ideas of everything from home decor to places to visit, work out routines to do-it-yourself projects...such as making your own scarf. You could buy this same scarf from as low as $20 to as high as I've seen it so far for $55. I made this for much, much less. It was actually really easy, and the full and detailed directions are here.

I went to Joann's with Supermom today and we bought 2 yards of knit fabric. Since their pickins' were very slim, I chose this heathery purple. I'm in love with purple right now anyway. All I did was sew up the ends to make a long tube. Then I realized there was a crapload of fabric around my neck and it was 85 degrees today...So I decided to cut the scarf long ways to make two scarves. So now I have two! Yay! I love projects with Supermom. She's the best. I wore my new scarf to a Halloween party tonight with the hubby. After, I stopped by two grocery stores and was complimented on my scarf in both stores. Totally made my day!

Friday, October 28, 2011

~Dinner in a Pumpkin~

Literally. I cooked this meal inside a pumpkin in the oven. And I served this meal in the pumpkin. So when you take the spoon to get the goodness out, you also scoop some cooked pumpkin as well. Yum. This has become a tradition for my little fambam on Halloween to make. Happy Halloween cooking! I love making different things that are festive, too. My girlfriend Brooke requested this recipe; we had her and her hubby over for dinner last Halloween when I made this. It's really good! The cooked pumpkin is adorable served on a platter with smaller pumpkins (not that I did this...). The pumpkin once cooked will get brownish and slightly saggy. The pictured pumpkin below is before it was cooked.

you'll need:

1 medium sized (10-12" diameter, basketball sized, ~10 lbs.) pumpkin
1 pound ground beef
1 pound (a chub.) mild sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons oil

1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 large green apple, diced

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar/mozz/jack cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
dash red pepper
dash pumpkin pie spice

6 cups cooked hot rice or noodles, for serving

get busy:

Remove top racks from the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Cut the top off the pumpkin and remove all the seeds and stringy pulp inside. Season inside pumpkin with a little salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice.

Heat oil in a large saute pan and bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add beef, sausage and onions into saute pan and cook until browned. add broccoli, carrots and apple into boiling water and cook for 8 minutes to soften. (Skip this step if you like a little bite to your veg.) drain vegetables. In your biggest mixing bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese, milk, cheese, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper. stir in meat and onions and veggies. Carefully pour into prepared pumpkin and replace pumpkin top. place pumpkin on a heavy duty cookie sheet or in a casserole dish. Carefully put in oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours at 375 degrees. to serve, scrape sides and bottom of pumpkin to get bits of pumpkin with stroganoff. Serve over hot rice or noodles.

* The recipe may be halved and prepared in a small pumpkin for a cute little family.
**I don't like sausage, so I omitted that from my recipe. You can add any other meat like ground turkey or just have the ground beef.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

~Crispy Parmesan Asparagus~

I love asparagus. And I love asparagus even more when it's on sale or pretty cheap. It has been pretty inexpensive lately, so we've had it every week for the last month. I don't always like to cook veggies the same way every time, but I also don't like getting used to vegetables loaded with butter, cheese and other fattening stuff. Most of the time I try to steam my veggies with a tiny bit of salt. On occasion, I'll make it like this. This is actually a very healthy way to cook asparagus, and it tastes delicious. And did I mention, incredibly easy??

When you pull out the asparagus, they'll be golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside.

Snap off the tough ends (I never cook those). I cut this recipe in half for Jeremy and me.

In goes the flour, parmesan, salt and pepper, and bread crumbs.

After the asparagus is rolled in the egg whites, roll them in the bread crumb mixture until completely coated.

Onto the bake rack they go and into the oven in 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Super easy, super healthy.

you'll need:

1 bunch asparagus (about 30 spears)
2 egg whites, slightly whipped
1 c. whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
salt, pepper
1/4. parmesan cheese

get busy:

Preheat oven to 425. Lay a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Snap off tough ends of asparagus. On two different small plates, add two egg whites (whipped slightly with a whisk), and on the other plate, the bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper and parmesan. Roll the asparagus in the egg whites, then roll in the dry ingredient mixture. Place on rack and cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, October 24, 2011

~Halloween Graveyard Dessert~

My family acquired this recipe many years ago. I still remember the first time we made this; we couldn't get enough of it. I spent the weekend at my parents' the other weekend, and I requested we make it together, as it is an October tradition! I must say, my brother Andrew makes it the best (because he is a perfectionist and he just makes it look perfect), but Supermom and I got it down last time. It is such an easy recipe; it just takes time to make it because each layer needs to refrigerate/set up. Halloween Graveyard is definitely a good go-to recipe for a family dinner or party. In my opinion, any dessert that calls for Oreos will probably be fantastic. This one is no exception!

Look at all of those layers of yumminess.

Once the Oreo layer is refrigerated and jello has refrigerated, pour the jello mix into the pan...and refrigerate again.

Once the jello layer has set up, spread the cool whip over it carefully so you don't ruin the jello.

Make sure the cool whip layer is even.

Add the rest of the Oreo crumbs onto the top. You can stick Milano cookies into the top that say 'R.I.P' on them to make it a true 'graveyard.'

you'll need:

2 1/4 c. crushed Oreos (or more), divided
1/2 c. sugar, divided (I like to use xagave (better for you than sugar)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 8 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. reduced fat tub of cool whip
2 c. boiling water
1 6 oz. orange jello mix
1 1/2 c. cold water with ice

get busy:

Mix 2 cups of crushed Oreos with 1/4 c. sugar and melted butter. Press mixture into a 9x13 pan. You want enough butter for the mixture to be wet, but not so much that it's soupy. Refrigerate. Beat cream cheese, remaining 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 of the whipped topping. Spread over chilled crust. Boil 2 c. water and stir in jello mix for 2 minutes. Add ice water and stir until thickened a bit.

Put jello in fridge for 30 minutes to thicken a bit before spooning over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 2 hours or so or until jello is set. Spread on remaining cool whip. Sprinkle with remaining Oreo crumbs. Enjoy!

Thanks Mom for making this with me. Love you lots.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

~Portobello Mushroom Lasagna~

Oooooohh my goodness!!! Best recipe I have tried in months! I have to thank my awesome sis-in-law Kelli Hoover for this one. I wasn't sure how it would taste because the ingredients overall seem so simple. Quite the opposite, the lasagna was actually such a burst of flavor in my mouth. I kind of messed up making this one (I untoward and unlike me, right?). I didn't buy portobello mushrooms (oops) and I forgot to put parmesan cheese in the middle layers (oops again!).

I made crispy parmesan asparagus with this lasagna, and I have to say, it went together quite well.

Once you make the sauce and cook the noodles, pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Then you add noodles and cover the bottom, add more white sauce, mushrooms, noodles, parmesan, and repeat, repeat, repeat. I made half of the recipe in a 8x8 and I will still have some delicious leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

More layers, more noodles

And the finished product. Yaaayyyyy!

you'll need:

kosher salt
olive oil
3/4 pound whole wheat lasagna noodles
4 c. whole milk
12 Tbs. butter (1 1/2 sticks) divided
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms
1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

get busy:

Preheat the oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to boil with 1 Tbs. salt and a dash of olive oil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain; set aside. For white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan; set aside. Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute under low heat, stirring with a whisk. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tsp. salt and some pepper over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes or until thick. Set aside off heat.

Separate the mushrooms stems from the caps; discard stems. Slice the caps 1/4 inch thick. Heat 2 Tbs. oil and 2 Tbs. butter in a large saute pan. Half the mushrooms and cook under medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender. Repeat with remaining mushrooms and set aside.

To assemble, spread some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange a layer of noodles on the top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms and 1/4 c. parmesan cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Top with a layer of noodles and sauce and sprinkle some parmesan cheese.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Mine was done in 42 minutes. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before eating it. This has become one of my favorite recipes. Hope you like it!

~Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rolls~

I seriously love trying new recipes. I tried 3 new recipes today (and even though I overcooked one and half-botched another, they all still turned out amazing). Lately, nothing makes me happier than a dish turning out well. This afternoon I made pumpkin spiced cream cheese rolls. They could serve as a dessert or for breakfast, but since I had already had a snack and a smoothie, I decided I couldn't wait till dessert to inhale these pumpkin-tasting goodies. They are really easy to make; I think it took less than 15 minutes to get them in the oven. If you want an easy roll recipe, here it is.

(Picture courtesy of I didn't get a good picture of my rolls.

Roll out both crescent rolls to form 4 long lines/rectangles. Pinch together the seams.

Add cream cheese, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar and mix together.

Spread the mixture onto the crescent rolls.

Leave a half inch on the edges so you can roll them up. Roll them the long way.

I used floss to cut the 1 inch pieces, and even though it was mint-flavored, you couldn't taste it on the rolls at all.

I left a hole in the middle so in case I wanted to put something cute or fruit in the middle, I could.


you'll need:

2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls (8 count each)
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. canned pumpkin (I use Libby's)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (if you have it, I didn't and it was still yummy)

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. canned pumpkin

get busy:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the crescent rolls into 4 long rectangles. Pinch the seams together, and make sure to do a good job, otherwise it will affect the rolling later. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread the mixture over the crescents leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Roll up the crescent rectangles starting at the long end. Use floss to cut 1 inch pieces. You should finish with 16 rolls. Place rolls in 2 separate 8 inch greased pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Don't let them overcook like I did!

Remove rolls and let them cool a little, then spread the icing over them.

Icing: In a small bowl, mix together all 4 ingredients until smooth; spread over rolls.

These were really fun to make and tasted oh so good. Not to mention, our home smelled phenomenal.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

~Butternut Squash Soup~

Another wonderful recipe my sister found! This soup makes for a perfect fall dish coupled with some homemade rolls. I made it last night, and it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish to make. I personally really enjoy butternut squash. I mentioned before that I was on a pumpkin kick as of late, and this is really no exception. Butternut squash is in the pumpkin family, so I'm keeping it going folks!

Cut up the squash in cubes. The smaller you cut the pieces, the faster it will cook. I have found it is much, much easier to cut the squash if you peel the squash until you see the orange show through.

This is what it should look like after you add the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat so it simmers.

Once the squash is soft, transfer it to a blender and puree it until it is smooth. Then pour it back into the saucepan.

Bring it back to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the cheese. Voila!

you'll need:

5 leeks (white portion only), sliced
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)
2 Tbs. butter
4 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
2 Tbs. thinly sliced green onion

get busy:

In a large saucepan, saute leeks in butter until tender. Stir in the squash, broth, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender.
In a blender, cover and process mixture in small batches until smooth; return to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add the cheese and stir until the soup is heated through and the cheese is melted. Garnish with sour cream and onion if you want. I didn't do that last time, but it tastes great either way.

Make 6 servings. I made the full recipe and froze half of it for another night, so now I have a meal all ready for another night. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

~Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta~

Oohhhh, I love cooking with alcohol. Ha, that sounded a little weird, but not only do I love mushrooms, but mushrooms and pasta is a bite of heaven in my mouth. And if I see wine or vodka in a pasta dish, I will try it guaranteed. This one was amazing!! Such a burst of flavor in my mouth, thanks to the mushrooms mmmmm. I made this with whole wheat penne, but I think I prefer normal pasta because whole wheat seemed to dull the overall flavor a bit. To each her own, I guess. Coupled with this pasta, I made baked asparagus. We love asparagus these days.

you'll need:

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
12 ounces of mushrooms (or more!)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, divided
1 lb. pasta (I recommend penne)
3/4 c. Marsala wine
1/2 c. fresh Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
4 Tbs. butter, divided
salt and pepper to taste
fresh Italian parsley (optional) for garnish

get busy:

Season cut chicken with salt and pepper. Melt 1 Tbs. butter in a large skillet and cook chicken until lightly browned. Put the chicken on a plate when it's done.

Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta. In the same large skillet, melt 1 Tbs. butter and add the garlic, mushrooms, and onion until all are sauteed. Add the chicken to the skillet with the sauteed vegetables. Add the chicken broth, Marsala, and cream and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce until it thickens.

Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and add the last 2 Tbs. of butter. Add the chicken mixture and a 1/2 c. Parmesan and cook about one minute. Serve with parsley and/or Parmesan.

Makes enough for about 6 adults. Since I love pasta so much, I made the entire recipe so I could have leftovers.

Side note: Next time I will try carmelizing the onions. I think it will add even more flavor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

~pumpkin pancakes~

Alright, I admit I am on a pumpkin kick as of late. I made the pumpkin bars the other night, I had pumpkin cake at Relief Society tonight, and I made pumpkin pancakes for dinner last night. Yes! They are so good; they literally melted in my mouth, AND they are much healthier than normal pancakes because you use whole wheat and if you can, you should use real maple syrup because it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup and butt-loads of sugar. But if you don't have real maple syrup, which I didn't last night, I just made my own. Lots of sugar still, but no HFCS. Somehow that makes me feel better.

My sister, Ashley, gave me this recipe. If you like pancakes and you like pumpkin, you cannot go wrong with this one.

you'll need:

1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. vinegar
2 c. whole wheat flour
3 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

get busy:

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. That's it!

The rest you should already know how to do. Heat up a griddle and get cookin'!

This recipe makes 12 servings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

~fabulous pumpkin bars~

This time of year I find myself working out more and more so I can eat fabulous fall treats and not get fat. I have been dying to make these since I saw the first fall leaf turn orange. I snagged the majority of this recipe from They don't take very long to make at all, and they are soooo good! Every time I walk by them I slip a bite (or two) in. Lately all I want to do is cook and bake, cook and bake. Such a fun time of year! Now, if it would only get a little colder so I can wear boots and a scarf...

you'll need:

4 eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz.) packed pumpkin
2 c. flour (whole wheat is healthier)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 package (8 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbs. milk

get busy:

Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin together in a bowl. Next, add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 (or 10x15 pan if you have it) and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Icing: Beat cream cheese, sugar, butter, vanilla and milk in a small bowl until smooth. Spread over the bars only when they are cool.

Serves 24, or a hubby and wifey for a week...or less :-) enjoy!