Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake


I have been enjoying this cake for Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. It's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. My Mom used to make it and now the task usually falls to me. This is a rich, creamy bundt cake full of mini chocolate chips. It's perfect by itself or with some vanilla ice cream, yum! Making this cake is surprisingly simple but result is a cake that looks like it took a lot of time to make. Using a bundt pan makes the edge really pretty and the glaze is a perfect amount of sweetness to make this cake perfect.

I have no idea where the original recipe came from, I can now make this cake from memory, it's that easy!


1 box vanilla or white cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 bag chocolate mini morsels

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1-3 tsp milk (enough to make it smooth)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

2. Mix first 5 ingredients together with a hand mixer

3. When smooth and well mixed, stir in bag of mini morsels.

4. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 60 minutes

5. To make glaze, mix together confectioner sugar, oil and milk. Add more milk if necessary until the glaze is smooth and thin enough to pour.

6. Drizzle glaze over fully cooled cake and let set.

Traditional Pecan Pie


This year we had the pleasure of having my husband's family down for Thanksgiving. My Sister-in-Law got married the Sunday before Thanksgiving so we had a wonderful week with the whole family in town. My Mom decided to host the dinner because her house had more room than mine, so I brought a lot of dishes over to pitch in for the big Thanksgiving dinner.

I decided to try a traditional Pecan Pie recipe for one of the desserts. I used frozen pie crust and only a few ingredients to make this pie. It came out wonderful, gooey in the middle and caramelized on top. I will definitely be making this again!

Traditional Pecan Pie Recipe from RecipeZaar


3 Eggs
1 Cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Pecan Halves (I like them roughly chopped)
2/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Frozen Pie Crust


1. Preheat Oven to 350 F
2. Beat eggs lightly with a mixer until fully combined
3. Stir in corn syrup, butter, suger, and vanilla extract
4. Stir in Pecan halves
5. Pour into frozen pie crust

Tip: Cover edges of pie crust with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes of cooking to avoid burning the crust

6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a knife comes out clean

Let cool for at least 10 minutes and Enjoy!

Creamy Cajun Pasta


I found this pasta recipe on Cook Like a Champion and decided to give it a try. It's a perfect weeknight recipe, really quick to prepare. I have never made a creamy past a sauce so this was a first for me. This dish really is delicious and the smoked paprika really makes the dish unique. I found the paprika at Penzey's spices in Winter Park but it's available at most supermarkets.

The first time I made it I used the heavy cream as called out in the recipe, but you can substitute regular cream or half and half, you'll just have to add a bit more and cook it down a bit. You can also use cajun sausage or shrimp in this dish instead of chicken, or make it vegetarian, it's very versatile.


1 lb Chicken - cut into chunks and cooked (optional)
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 sweet onion - finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic - minced
1/2 Cup white wine
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Cajun Seasoning
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb Rotini or Penne Pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste
freshly chopped Italian parsley for garnish


1. Heat olive oil to medium-low heat in a large saucepan
2. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent
3. Increase heat to medium and add white wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add tomato paste and spices and mix well
5. Add heavy cream and heat up sauce until it reaches a slow simmer. Simmer on low for 5 minutes.
6. Mix in pasta and chicken to the sauce and serve


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

This is one of those recipes that always turns out fantastic and gets my family excited for dinner time. This is not a quick recipe, the longer it sits on the stove the better, so it's great for a weekend meal. I make it often for Sunday night dinner. I usually have enough left over to freeze a meal, just defrost it and heat it up in a saucepan when you are ready to have it again.

The other reason I love this recipe is because it sneaks in a lot of veggies, which is great if you have picky eaters in the house. The veggies are chopped up really small and softened in the sauce so they add to the overall flavor of the sauce without being too "chunky". I cook with wine a lot and this recipe has plenty of it. It cooks off over hours of simmering so there is no alcohol left, just a very flavorful meat sauce. The final trick to this sauce is the cup of milk. Do not omit this ingredient, it breaks down the meat and makes it soft and velvety. Yummy!

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


½ cups Olive Oil
3 Carrots, Grated or finely chopped
1 whole Large Red Onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Ground Beef or Meatloaf Mix
2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Dried Basil Flakes
1 can (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 cups Red Wine2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
2 cans (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes (smoosh them with your hands as you add them to the sauce)
1 cup Milk
Salt And Pepper, to taste
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Preparation Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and then add in the ground beef. Cook for a few minutes until brown.

3. Throw in oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have it; if you don’t, it’s fine.

4. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat.

5. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together.

6. Add Worcestershire and stir.

7. Add canned tomatoes.

8. Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours—the longer the better.

Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Baked Whole Wheat Chicken Taquitos with Grilled Corn

My family loves Tex-Mex food but I hate how fattening all of the recipes are. It seems like everything is fried or covered in cheese. I found this recipe on another blog and changed it to use whole wheat flour tortillas. You can use corn tortillas as well but I've never been a big fan. To get shredded chicken, I usually boil 1 cup of chic

ken stock (1 cup water plus a bouillon cube) in a skillet, cover and simmer the chicken breasts for 7 minutes per side. They are fully cooked and shred easily when done.

I loved the way these turned out, they were really crispy on the outside and soft and melty on the inside. There was just enough cheese to make it rich without being overly fattening. We dipped them in salsa and sour cream. I served these with yellow rice and grilled corn.

Baked Whole Wheat Chicken Taquitos

Adapted from Pennies on a Platter


3 ounces cream cheese, softened (low fat optional)
1/4 cup salsa (green or red)1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
2 Tbsp sliced green onions (optional)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese16 small whole wheat tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray


1. Preheat your oven to 425˚F.

2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly. (If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)

3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat t

hem in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds).

4. Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.

5. Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle wi

th kosher salt.

6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

7. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

**To freeze: Before baking, chill the taquitos on the baking sheet in the fridge. Once completely cooled, wrap each taquito individually with plastic wrap. Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze. To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes

Grilled Corn


4 fresh cobs of corn, husks and silk removed

oil (for grates)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the grill to HIGH

2. Cook corn in boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked, but not too soft.

3. Oil the grill grates

4. Cook the corn on the grill for about 5-10 minutes or until slightly charred.

I like to cut the corn off of the cob, that's the way our family likes it. You an also leave the corn on the cob and season them with butter and salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

This recipe is a copycat version of the Chicken and Gnocchi soup at Olive Garden. I had that soup for the first time last week while at lunch with my friend Tiffany and I knew I had to find the recipe. This did taste a lot like the restaurant version, it was a big hit with the boys so I will definitely be making it again. I followed the recipe I found, which called for heavy cream, but I will make it with whole milk next time to reduce the fat content.

I meant to make homemade focaccia bread with the soup but I didn't have time, but I will make it next time. I think bread would go really well with this soup, but it was fine on it's own. I also had a glass of Bogle Chardonnay, it was a great dinner.

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 cups heavy cream (or whole milk, for lower fat)
4 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
16 oz package potato gnocchi


1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and saute carrots, onion, and garlic until soft and translucent.

2. Add chicken stock, thyme, salt and pepper, cream, and chicken and bring to a boil.

3. Add gnocchi and boil for 4 minutes

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes

5. Add spinach and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicken Souvlaki with Fresh Pita Bread

I have seen this recipe on so many blogs that I just had to try it for myself. Every time I go out to lunch with coworkers to a diner near the Space Center, I order the chicken souvlaki, so I decided to make this version I got from Joelen's Culinary Adventures.

I did make my own pita bread but I wasn't thrilled with how it came out. I like a crispier pita and these were very soft. They tasted great, but I will experiment a bit more before post the recipe. The yogurt sauce can be a taziki sauce or a yogurt dressing. I mixed plain yogurt with red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a dill spice blend.


3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed into bit sized pieces


1. In a bowl or freezer bag, combine ingredients and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Soak wooden skewers in water to prevent charring on the grill.

3. Skewer marinated chicken and discard excess marinade. Grill on high, 5-7 minutes for each side until juices run clear.

4. Serve with pita bread, yogurt sauce, and greek salad.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken

Since being on maternity leave, I have had a hard time getting a healthy lunch in the afternoons. I don't want to cook something because it takes way too long. I also don't want to have a lean cuisine or other processed meal because they are usually full of sodium and aren't very tasty. I went to Park Avenue in Winter Park last week on a shopping trip and had a bit of my little Sister's lunch at a restaurant called The Briar Patch. She had a salad with spinach, blue cheese, bacon, and grilled chicken with a balsamic vinaigrette. I liked it so much that I decided to create my own recipe with stuff that I like.
My salad has the spinach and a very small amount of bacon, feta cheese, Apple, grilled marinated chicken, and my favorite vinaigrette recipe. I plan on experimenting with the ingredients in the future, maybe using blue cheese or adding walnuts or almonds. Either way, it came out great! I will definitely be making this again.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken

1 Marinated chicken breast, grilled
1/2 Apple, sliced into small pieces
2 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons feta or blue cheese (such as gorgonzola)
Crumbled bacon (optional)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe below)


1. Toss spinach in with salad greens.

2. Sprinkle salad with cheese and bacon

3. Slice chicken breast on a bias and place on top of the spinach.

Balsamic Vinaigrette ( makes 1 cup)

3/4 cups Olive Oil
1/4 cups Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Mix balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

2. Slowly add olive oil while mixing with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beef tips with gravy

I found this recipe on a few different cooking sites, so I figured it would be a good one to try. I make A LOT of chicken so I figured we could try a beef meal that tastes good but is still inexpensive (strip steaks are so pricey lately!). You can adapt this recipe to make large batches, just increase the amount of ingredients proportionally.

This recipe was made in the oven but could easily be adapted to the slow cooker if you are not home during the day. TIP: If you make a smaller-size batch in the slow cooker, place the ingredients in a smaller baking dish inside the slow cooker, it'll cook the food the same but won't have that burnt smell that you can sometimes get in a slow cooker.


1-1.5 lbs beef tips or beef stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low fat version works too!)
1 can french onion soup mix


1. Mix beef tips, cream of mushroom soup, and french onion soup mix in a baking dish (or slow cooker).

2. Cook at 325 F for up to 4 hours our until beef is tender. For a slow cooker, cook on high for 4-6 hours.

Serve with egg noodles or rice and a veggie and voila! Super easy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yummy Pork Chops and Potatoes

Now that I am on maternity leave I have some time to plan meals and make some yummy new dinners for my blog. I lately bough the book Skinny Italian by Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I am actually not a huge fan of the show, but when I saw an episode where they were canning their own tomatoes for sauce, I got curious about her cooking and decided to buy the book from It turned out to be a really good book, I'm glad I bought it. It has a lot of good recipes that don't use a lot of fat, just a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Last night I decided to try her Pork Chops Alla Salvia and Rosemary Potatoes recipes. Both turned out really good, but the potatoes were a huge hit. My husband and Nate both loved them and wanted seconds (which I didn't have), so next time I'll be making a bigger batch!

Pork Chops Alla Salvia
From Skinny Italian


1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Four 8-ounce center-cut pork loin chops, on the bone (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato or marinara sauce


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle the pork with the salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sage.

3. Add pork to skillet and cook, turning once until browned on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).

4. Add the tomato sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sage and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until the pork is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the pork, the juices will run clear).

5. Serve hot with the sauce

Rosemary Potatoes


6-8 Red-skinned Potatoes, washed and unpeeled
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
or 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper


1. Pierce each potato a couple of times with a fork and place in a microwave-safe baking dish and cover with plastic wrap.

2. Microwave on High until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Carefully remove the plastic wrap (it will be very steamy), and allow the potatoes to cool. Cut potatoes into quarters when they are cool enough to handle.

4. Heat the oil and rosemary on Medium-High heat until the oil is hot

5. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until crispy and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Nate loves his pork chops and potatoes!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shrimp Salad Recipe

After months and months of neglecting my poor cooking blog, I am finally ready to start updating again. The reason for the little “break” is the baby that I’ve been baking for almost 9 months now! For most of this pregnancy I have not been able to even look at food blogs without getting queasy, but now I am finally feeling much better. I will hopefully be updating my blog on a more regular basis while I want for our little one to arrive, and then during my maternity leave, I plan on rearranging and organizing our pantry, which I will also blog.

This recipe was sent to me from my sister-in-law who made this for our Christmas Eve dinner a while ago and it was really good. She served it on crispy toast, yummy!

Melissa’s Shrimp Salad
(I got this recipe from Paula Deen on and tweeked it a
1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined
(I boil mine with salt and a little bit of Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil,
drain and then peel them)
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 or 2 celery stalks, minced
1/2 cup mayonaise
Dash of onion powder
Salt (or I just use some Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
Bread (to toast and put your shrimp salad on!)


Place shrimp in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. (I also did
this first with the celery I chopped.)

Transfer the minced shrimp and celery to a bowl and add the eggs and mayonnaise.

Add seasonings, to taste, and stir to combine

Spread the shrimp onto toast or whatever you would like!