Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Green Beans with Feta

This wonderfully simple side dish was the star of our dinner last night!  It was based on a recipe found in one of my new Cooking Light cook books.  I'll tell you what I did to make it shine & what I would have done had I made the time to go to the grocery store to make it even better!

Green Beans w/ Feta
1 bag of frozen petite french green beans (you can regular green beans or fresh Green beans, this is what I had on had)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbls butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
Crumbled Feta

Boil green beans for approx 5 min (until tender), drain & set aside.  Preheat a saute pan, add butter, onion & garlic.  Add beans, salt & pepper.  Toss to coat.  Cook until onions are translucent.  (At this point is where I would have added a toasted nut such as walnuts, pine nuts, or slivered almonds.  I didn't have any, so I skipped that step.)  Transfer to serving dish & top with feta.  Enjoy!

Couscous Pilaf

We love couscous! I don’t usually do much to it when serving it as a side dish, but when I saw this recipe I decided it was worth a try.  I had everything on hand except for the pine nuts. It was great without, but I will definitely add them next time. I love toasted pine nuts in couscous. Enjoy!

Couscous Pilaf
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used red onion)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (I used the roasted red bell peppers in the jar)
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (since I didn't have any I topped with a little feta)

1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 7 minutes.
2. While vegetables cook, bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in onion mixture, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle with nuts.
Calories 225, Fat 5.5g

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inspiration has arrived!

So can I just say how much I LOVE presents!  I mean who doesn't???  Big or small, expensive or clearance item, homemade or hand me down... it's not so much all of that, but rather the fact that someone was walking around in their own busy life and stopped for a moment, paused and though of ME.  That my friends, is an extremely flattering feeling!  If you are wondering what is prompting this let me share...

Last night I came home from work.  I was standing in the kitchen rambling about how I was going to go to the grocery store but I decided that I should come home and put together my weeks' worth of menu first... when I was distracted by a shipping box sitting on the counter.  "What's this babe?" I asked.  "Oh, it's just some gifts for you."  He answered nonchalantly.  I peeked in and noticed two items, each wrapped, tied with a ribbon & a cute little card.

What's in them you ask... well if you are at all familiar with my recent random musings, you too know I've been looking for some new reading material.  I was simply asking for some title suggestions,  but this far too generous friend & very observant reader went the extra mile and got me these!

I can't wait to dive into these recipes!  I was up pretty late last reading night the Annual Recipes 2010 book.  That over 750 recipes!  I'm not sure where to even start!  One thing's for sure... as I was reading through them, I had my eyes open for all the "Very Vegan" possibilities that can be served as thank you dinners!

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Cakes...

Two weekends ago I did this sweet little Tinkerbell cake.

This last weekend I had an order for cupcakes and a cake for a bridal shower.  The theme was Princess & the Frog...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oriental Surprise Salad

Well you know what they say, ask and you shall receive! Just as I was blogging that I needed a new recipe, my uncle just so happened to come into my office and ask if I by chance wanted a copy of this recipe! He had printed out an extra copy for someone over the weekend and they forgot to take it. Since I commented once on how much I enjoyed this salad so he thought I might like a copy of it. Now how’s that for timing! And what’s better on a hot summer day than a dinner that doesn’t require turning on the oven? Not much if you ask me! Plus the whole thing took hardly any time at all!

The recipe is called Oriental Surprise Salad. What’s the surprise? Well I’m not sure, if I had to guess I’d have to say the curry powder. Typically I can’t stand curry. Would never think to order anything with the word curry in it & would certainly never think to try a recipe that called for it. Lucky for us though, I had tasted this one before without knowing that it contained curry powder. Hence the surprise… for me anyways. I was sold. I loved it. I mean come on, it’s got frozen peas, cashews & those awesome little chow mien noodles! How could I not be won over?? Now just so you know, I added the shredded cabbage part since it was our main dish. I wanted to be more “salad like”. And boy oh boy it was a great addition! But you don’t have to add that. You also don’t have to add the chicken. The first time I had it, they had chosen to leave it meatless. I also think some green onion would be a fantastic addition. Enjoy!

Oriental Surprise Salad
1 ½ cups diced, cooked chicken or turkey
2 ½ cups celery
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 Tbls fresh lemon
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 (24 ounce) package frozen peas
1 cup cashews, broken
1 (5 ounce) can chow mien noodles
1 bag of shredded cabbage*

Combine meat, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic & curry in a large bowl. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to over night. When ready to serve, remove from fridge, add frozen peas and toss well. Place a bed of shredded cabbage on each dinner plate, spoon salad over cabbage and top with cashews & noodles. (You can mix the cashews and noodles in when you add the peas, but if you plan on having any leftovers, they will get soggy.)

Monday, July 19, 2010


OK, so I admit I've been seriously lagging on the blog posts lately!  Don't worry, I've been seriously lagging in the healthy cooking too!  Last nights dinner was fairly healthy, but it was so not blog worthy - read BORING.  I spent the entire day in the kitchen baking.  I did an adorable cake (which I'll blog about later) and then after I delivered it, I came home and out of boredom & to use up leftover frosting I suppose, felt the need to bake another cake and a dozen cupcakes!  Just because... My poor boyfriend he loves it and hates it at the same time.  I'm treading on thin ice here!  If I don't stop with this baking insanity he may kick me to the curb.  (that's a joke)  But in all seriousness, maybe I need some new inspiration.  Healthy cooking inspiration!  Anyone have any ideas?  I absolutely LOVE my Fresh Food Fast cookbook by Cooking Light.  It's what got this ball rolling.  I may need a new book to join it on my shelf.  Any suggestions?  I'm all ears!  Until then, it's back to the the ole standbys... I promise I'll pull out something totally blog worthy this week!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Saturday we packed up and headed over the hill to Reno.  Lots of great friends, family, good food, wine (too much wine!), and all around fun times squeezed into a two day trip.  I did a lot of eating, but I didn't really do much cooking... so, I'll dig through my archives of photos and give you a few cakes of my past.  Most of you have already seen these, but for those of you that haven't, enjoy!

Cheeseburger Cupcakes & Sugar Cookie French Fries


The Firetruck Cake

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My name is Kristen, and I am an addict...

OK, you got me!  It's official!  I am addicted to my panini maker!  I had one for dinner last night.  Am I ashamed?  NO!  It's the perfect sized mini sandwich!  It's thin, crispy and oh so ooey gooey!  It's just WAY too easy and WAY to fun to play with!

My dearest wasn't hungry last night due to a late lunch, and honestly, I wasn't really starving... I was however a bit bored.  As it turned out, I had some nicely marinated chicken in the fridge that was begging to be tossed on the grill.  That combined with a.) some left over french bread, b.) "Garlic Goop" (the most wonderful thing EVER!!!  Brought to us by my bestie The Sassy Little Chef, you must check it out... this stuff is to DIE for!!!), c.) plenty of cheese and tada!  Of course if I would have and more goodies in the fridge we could have cluttered up the kitchen a bit more... but this one was simple, delicious and to the point.  And the point being... I'm addicted!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You say po-ta-toe...

I love potato salad.  I love many variations of it too.  This is an outstanding one that I turn to often.  It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I keep on hand because it never disappoints!  The great thing about it, is it doesn't have 10 million ingredients in it, yet it always gets rave reviews!  Thank you Ina!  From her kitchen, to mine, to yours... Enjoy!

Potato Salad
3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Red, white & blueberry cupcakes...

Made these little gems for two different parties over the weekend.  Had a couple of great helpers too! (thanks mom & Kelli!)  They turned out pretty scrumptious.  These are the kind of left overs that we don't mind having in the fridge!  The blueberries on top totally make them healthy right??

Monday, July 5, 2010


Oh the day after a Bar-B-Que... many left overs, a hungry boyfriend, and a shiny new panini maker just begging to be put to the test!  Of course it wouldn't be a cluttered kitchen if we had just made one kind of panini... sheesh, where would the fun be in that??  We'll have a smorgasbord of paninis and make three different types.  Oh variety is the spice of life my friends!

No real recipes here, just guidelines to give you ideas...  Jump in have fun and enjoy!

For panini number one, I smeared some pesto mayo on some leftover french bread and added leftover tri tip.  (I like to chop it making it easier to bite into.)  Topped with chopped sun dried tomatoes, shredded mozzarella cheese and since I have a HUGE weakness for American cheese I threw a slice of that on there as well.

For panini number two I used the same pesto mayo on french bread and added sliced, grilled chicken breast.  Topped with chopped sun dried tomatoes, shredded mozzarella cheese, a balsamic drizzle & fresh cracked pepper.

Finally, for panini number three I went with plain mayo and Dijon mustard.  Added sliced, grilled chicken breast and topped with sharp cheddar cheese.  Now believe me, I was tempted to open up a package of bacon and fry up a piece just for this one, but decided that was a bit ambitious.

So there you have it... three delicious paninis in less than 15 minutes all with the leftovers I had on hand.  Just go with what you like and what you've got & you cant go wrong!  And don't forget, if you don't have an awesome panini press like me, you can always improvise!  Enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Repeat...

So with all the chaos of getting ready for a very busy weekend, I decided to forgo a new recipe a revisit a previously blogged about dish last night.  I knew I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I went with the Grilled Chicken with Rustic Mustard Cream and just like the last time it was darn tasty.  The Green Beans w/ Country Mustard and Herbs are the perfect side dish for it and oh so yummy.  So, if you didn't notice it before, take another look... trust me on this one!

Cute as a button cupcakes...

So I decided to forgo a "Push Sasha, Push" cake (seen here) for my dear friend's baby shower and go a little less vulgar with some cute as a button cupcakes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Betcha Believe Me Now Chicken and Couscous Salad

So Chad’s dad didn’t know I knew how to cook anything healthy. He only knew of my previous style of cooking… you know, that really, really good but really, really bad for you kind of stuff. I tried to tell him, I’ve found a new way. (No, I didn’t forget the old way, don’t worry.) I tried to tell him that we’ve been eating all this great healthy stuff. But you know what… I don’t think he believed me. He didn’t think I could change my wicked little ways… that is until he happened to discover this Blog! That’s right; the Big Boz himself took time out of his very busy day to read my Random Musings! And you know what? He wanted to try one of those healthy dinners. So Chad's parents joined us for an impromptu dinner. I found this recipe on the Cooking Light web site and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  As long as you don't mind a little bit of chopping, this salad is so simple and it is off the charts delicious!

Chad and I love couscous, and since I knew we had a box on hand I decide to go with it. But I’m sure you could substitute my new buddy Quinoa & it would taste just as great! I upped the veggies, added a tomato for the tomato fans, avocado for the avocado fans, doubled the dressing and served it over a bed of raw baby spinach.  Oh and I used my new panini maker to grill some whole wheat pita triangles that I served on the side.

Chicken and Couscous Salad
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (5.7-ounce) box uncooked couscous (Try the Near East brand Toasted Pine Nut. It's so good I always keep a box on hand.  It also makes a quick and easy side dish.)
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup diced radishes (about 3 large)
1/2 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

To prepare salad, bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Spoon couscous into a large bowl; cool slightly. Add chicken, onions, radishes, cucumber, parsley, and pine nuts; toss gently to combine.

To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss to combine.

Note: You can toast nuts quickly in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Stir frequently, and as soon as they become fragrant, remove the nuts from the pan.
Calories: 334, Fat: 10.9g