Monday, May 24, 2010

Chewy Granola Bars

Whenever I walk past the granola and breakfast bar section at the grocery, my heart skips a beat. Okay, well not really, but I absolutely love granola bars. They are perfect for Sunday baseball games (my husband plays) and if I don't feel like cutting up an apple for a snack during work. Although they are seemingly a simple snack, I have always been to intimidated to try to make them. The one thing that scared me were the oats in them. I have heard that there is a big difference between instant and traditional so I had to search far and wide for a recipe I liked.

Instead of chocolate, I used our favorite candy: Reeses Pieces! This was a wonderful substitution and was not too overbearing. You can still taste the juiciness of the raisins and sweetness of the almonds in every bite as well. This is one recipe I will be saving and making over and over .. and not just because I bought the oats in bulk. The only change I think I will make is less honey and more rice krispies instead of oats. I liked the crunch of the cereal but there wasn't much of it. Also, the bars were REALLY sweet .. like I need a dentist sweet. I also wanted to give a big thanks to my friend Angie who let me use her oven to make these since we are tiling our kitchen (slowly) and all of our appliances are in the family room.

Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from: Big City Cooking, originally Adventures in my Freezer

3.5 cups traditional oats
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup candy pieces (we chose Reeses Pieces)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients except last three (candy, raisins and nuts) in large mixing bowl until well blended. Add in candy, raisins and nuts and mix well. Press the granola into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 18-22 minutes, until golden-brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and slice into bars. Once completely cooled, remove from pan. For ease of convenience, I wrapped mine individually (two for my hubby) with saran wrap and kept in an airtight container.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Creamy Taco Mac

Sometimes I love to just get some boxed foods and make those for dinner but I have grown to despise the taste of salt. I know, totally un-American. During our early years of dating, my husband and I were either in college or fresh out in the new world so Ramen Noodles and Hamburger Helper stocked our cabinets as far as the eye could see. I really hated both because of the insane amount of sodium packed into them. My husband, however, absolutely loved them both. How we ever eat together is amazing to me every day.

So I saw this recipe on Annie's website and thought that my husband would love a "Hamburger Helper" night and I would love that it doesn't have that nasty, bloating sodium taste in it. We were both extremely pleased and I was happy that it made a lot so I could eat it all weekend for leftovers.

Creamy Taco Mac
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Delish

1 1/4 lb ground beef
8 oz dry pasta shapes (I used mini-ziti)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (14 oz)
3 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
shredded cheddar cheese, for topping

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in an extra-large skillet, brown the ground beef. A few minutes before it is done cooking completely, add the onions and cook until done. Add in garlic until fragrant (30 seconds). Mix in diced tomatoes and seasoning and let simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, including the reserved pasta water (except cheese) and mix well until blended. Simmer an additional 3-5 minutes to allow some of the liquid to reduce a bit. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I am the kind of person that will cut corners when I can, but the other night I had no choice; I was out of taco seasning. Thankfully, I saw this recipe on another blog and thought it would be interesting to see if it tasted similar to the pre-packaged taco seasonings. Let me just say that I would rather stock up on all these seasonings than spend $1 on a taco seasoning packet!!! This recipe is really worth taking a few extra minutes to make. I actually cut the recipe in half because I didn't want to use up so much of my spices if I didn't like it. Next time I know I will make a big batch so I have extra for a random taco night. Also we normally get the "hot" packets so I might add more cayenne or maybe some chili seasoning to it. Since I know you are dying to ask, yes I did try the mixed seasoning by itself before putting in my recipe. It tasted excellent and much better (less salty) than the packets in the store!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Mex Recipes

2 tbsp chili powder
1.5 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp paprika
1.5 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp plus 1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (we like ours a little hot)

Mix all seasonings in a bowl and store in airtight container. For seasoning, use 2-2.5tbsp of mixture per 1 lb ground beef. Brown ground beef in pan, drain, return to pan and mix with seasoning.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We've all eaten breakfast for dinner or had something completely out of the ordinary just because we have the sweet freedom to do so as an adult. Well, one of my biggest guilty pleasures is nachos. I can eat them anywhere (Sam I am?). I absolutely love all kinds of nachos but have never made any at home. Maybe because I am lazy or because I just prefer normal meals at home and guilty pleasures at restaurants. Who knows. At any rate I finally got to this dog-eared recipe and decided it was our dinner. My husband didn't complain .. it has meat in it, right!? I really think it was a wonderful change to our normal dinners that I am running out of ideas for. So go ahead and indulge once in a while.


5 cups bite-sized tortilla chips (6 oz)
1 lb ground beef
1 can black or pinto beans (15oz), rinsed and drained
1 cup salsa
1.5 cups shredded cheese, mexican blend (6 oz)
Optional toppings: lettuce, green onions, cilantro, etc

Spread half of the tortilla chips in an 11x8 casserole dish and set aside. In a large skillet, cook the beef over medium heat until brown. Drain off fat and add beans and salsa. Spoon half the mixture on top of the tortilla chips. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat layer with chips, beef mixture and cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve on individual plates, topping with additional optional topings if desired.

Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole

I know that this doesn't look like much, but usually that means it makes up for it's lack of beauty by having wonderful flavor. This casserole does just that! I love chicken and cheese and my carbs. This puts all of my favorites in one dish. It was really hard for me to have just one serving (see, I am a health coach and I know what size dinner really should be). Also, I haven't ever admitted it before, but I am completely obsessed with tomatoes. I could eat them on anything .. trust me. I think they bring a ton of wonderful flavor to any dish, especially something so cheesy and carb-loaded. Come to think of it, this would be a great dinner before a workout (about an hour is ideal).

Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 can chicken broth (14 oz)
2 cups water
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup chopped, seeded tomato (2 medium)
3 tbsp canned diced green chile peppers, drained
1 tsp dried basil
1.5 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz)

For the cooked chicken cubes, I chop the uncooked chicken into cubes and boil with 80% water and 20% chicken broth. Once boiling, I cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

In a saucepan cook onion in hot oil over medium heat until tender. Stir in rice, oregano and paprika. Cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. The liquid will not all be absorbed, which is fine.

Transfer the rice mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the chicken, tomato, chile peppers, chili powder, basil, cumin and pepper. Transfer to a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees. Uncover and sprinkle cheese on top and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chipotle Bean Burritos

Wow, it's really been a while since I have posted anything. I truly apologize and hopfeully my next few posts will begin to make all nine of my readers drool as they are some of my favorite, most recent dishes. I started this blog in the beginning of winter so all you know of is the winter Kelly. Well let me introduce summer Kelly. Summer Kelly loves to be outdoors, continuously perfect the lawn and garden (especially now with a complete redo of our new home) and be near water. I had no idea just how little I went outside in the winter until now. I had tons of free time to blog, cook and be indoors even with our mile-long to-do list. I think this will be the ultimate challenge for me. My goal is to go through an entire year of blogging without huge gaps. I think if I can do that, then I will have much more confidence when I go back to school next summer and have to juggle even more things on my plate.

Almost forgot to tell you about this dish! Well if you know me, Mexican is a household favorite and any variation is welcome in my kitchen. These were a wonderfully different version of normally greasy and unhealthy burritos. I like lighter foods in the summer and definitely get more than my share of fruits and veggies because they are so plentiful! This is a must-try weeknight dinner.

Chipotle Bean Burritos
Adapted from: Pink Parsley Catering, orignially Cooks Illustrated

2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1.5 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp adobo sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
dash salt
1/3 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
6 tbsp fresh salsa
6 10-inch tortillas heated for 10-15 seconds in the microwave (when ready to fill)
1 cup shredded cheese, mexican blend
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
1.5 cups chopped lettuce
6 tbsp sliced green onions
6 tbsp sour cream (or you can sub Greek nonfat yogurt)

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat and add the garlic and spices. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) and then add beans and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add in salsa. Mash mixture with slotted spoon.

After heating the tortillas, fill 1/3 cup of the skillet mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Top each with 2.5 tbsp cheese, 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tbsp green onions, and 1 tbsp sour cream. Roll tighly and serve immediately. Hint: To keep a stubborn tortilla from unfolding, simply stick a toothpick through the top.