Stir Fry Green Beans

Tender green beans sauteed with soy sauce and garlic.

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Stir fry green beans… I’d get them in droves at the local Chinese Buffet.  I’d go back for green beans (and crab rangoons…shhhh…) before getting seconds on anything else and so would a couple of our daughters – so of course when they challenged me to make some at home like our favorite place, I jumped on it!  And when the girls ask for “your green beans”, I know exactly what they mean 🙂

These are a perfect side for any type of meal and I whip them up year-round and you can make a couple batches ahead of time and toss them in the slow-cooker on warm to serve at a potluck or grad party.  AND… If you have a husband or son who aren’t big fans of green beans – they might just go back for seconds after trying these, mine do!

Stir Fry Green Beans

  • 1 lb. green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant garlic
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  1. In a large saucepan, combine butter, oil, soy sauce, green beans and instant garlic.
  2. Saute on medium-high heat, stirring constantly until beans are tender and slightly shriveled, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat, stir in garlic powder and serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • You only need to trim the stem end of the green beans, the other side you can leave.
  • If you prefer garlic cloves, use 4 pressed or diced.  Of course adjust the amount of garlic and garlic powder to suit your taste.
  • I use this pan – it’s large but gives me all the room i need for a double batch, which I usually make – Cuisinart 5.5 Quart Saute Pan

Prep Time:  5 Minutes     Total Time:  25 Minutes     Servings:  4

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 4 servings – 60.

Lemon Bundt Cake

Moist lemon cake with tangy lemon icing.

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I.  Love.  Sweets.  It’s hard for me not to have something sweet everyday and I do have the willpower to deny myself those sugary treats on most occasions but when I can’t, I typically gravitate towards fruity desserts rather than rich or heavy desserts.  Don’t get me wrong, chocolate is totally my thing too – but I’d rather eat a lemon bar over a brownie any day.

And then there’s cake… I have to be craving cake to want it and usually walk right past it if there’s something else to pick from –  unless it’s lemon cake, I could eat slice after slice of lemon cake!

This Bundt cake completely fulfills my sweet tooth craving without being overly sweet or topped with tons of frosting.  It’s moist and sweet and the icing is just the right consistency to drizzle over the cooled cake – and has the perfect amount of tangy lemon zest to give your mouth just a little pucker.  And don’t think this is just a dessert for summer, serve this year round for sure, and top with fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries in the summer.

Lemon Bundt Cake

  • 1 – 15.25 oz. box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 – 3.4 oz. box of lemon pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • 6 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon vest

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350, butter and flour a Bundt pan.
  2. In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand up mixer, add the cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice and vest.  Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping down side of the bowl a couple times.
  3. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan on wire rack completely.
  5. While cake is cooling, make the icing and set aside.
  6. When completely cool – turn cake out onto plate or cake carrier and drizzle with icing.
  7. Store cake in a covered cake carrier or airtight container for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • I find that 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp flour is the perfect amount to coat the pan.
  • You’ll need 2 lemons to get the amount of fresh juice needed for the cake and icing.
  • There will be some icing that pools up in the middle of the cake, use that to slather onto your slice!
  • I use this cake caddy, it’s air tight for storage and perfect for carting around Wilton Cake Caddy.

Prep Time:  5 Minutes     Total Time:  45 Minutes     Servings:  16 slices

Estimated Calories per Serving  – based on 16 Servings – 345.  Based on regular sour cream and 1% milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

A rich, meaty spaghetti sauce to pair with your favorite pasta.

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Spaghetti – one of our family staples for sure.  We like our sauce on the sweeter side of things and the kids always make sure I’m on top of that when I make spaghetti for dinner.  I know how convenient it is to buy pre-made sauce at the store but it really is just as easy making homemade sauce and really, nothing compares!  I’ll use this sauce for all sorts of pasta dishes too – as a topping to cheese stuffed shells or lasagna.  I’ll use it when we have spaghetti and meatballs too, I’ll just keep the beef out and make the sauce without it.

You can make this in the slow-cooker too, just ground the beef up first and toss everything else in and cook on low 4-6 hours.  You can even toss in your cooked pasta and serve it straight from the slow-cooker for a super easy, weeknight meal.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does, served with a nice big hunk of garlic bread and a perfectly chilled red wine – Salute!

Our Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ tsp instant garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 28. oz. can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  1. Brown the ground beef with salt pepper and garlic.  DO NOT drain!
  2. Mix in the remaining ingredients and slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid splattering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve with 1 ½ lbs. of your favorite pasta.

Recipe Notes:

  • Not draining the beef, I know – but it really does add extra flavor to the sauce and does not turn out greasy.  If it really bothers you, go for ground sirloin, there’s less fat %.
  • Use a wine on the dryer side like a Merlot, Red Zin or Shiraz.  We drink Red Blends in our household and some of those tend to be a bit sweeter or juicier… If that’s what you drink as well and want to use in your sauce, I’d omit the brown sugar.
  • I’ll sometimes use ½ lb. ground beef and ½ lb. ground Italian sausage – delicious too!

Prep Time:  5 minutes     Total Time:  1 hour     Servings:  8

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 8 servings – 415.  Estimated for sauce and 3 oz. pasta each.

 

Ham & Potato Soup

A thick, hearty soup with tender potatoes and chunks of ham.

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We also call this soup Loaded Potato Soup or Baked Potato Soup… whatever it’s called, I know what my family is asking for when they say they want this for dinner.  It’s also a know fact that I’ll make this soup the weekend of Thanksgiving because there’s always leftover ham but this is also an easy weeknight soup too, one you can get to the table in less than 45 minutes.

For as heavy and creamy as this soup looks, it really doesn’t pack in as many calories as you’d think and it’s just as good using fat-free milk too.  Top it with shredded cheese and green onion, maybe a dollop of sour cream and serve with a piece of warm baguette for a filling meal on a cold fall or winter night.

Ham and Potato Soup

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or chicken broth or water)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups instant potato flakes
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. ham, chopped
  1. Wash and prick potatoes and microwave for 14 minutes, flipping half way.  When done, remove from microwave and slice in half (long way) to cool.
  2. While potatoes are cooking saute the onion in the butter, oil and salt in a large stock pot over low-medium heat until brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the wine (or chicken broth or water) to onions to deglaze.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until flour is incorporated.
  5. Slowly whisk in the water, one cup at a time to make a roux.
  6. Add the chicken broth and potato flakes and stir until flakes dissolve.
  7. Mix the milk with cornstarch and add to pot, along with the pepper, basil, thyme and salt.
  8. Peel the potatoes and cut into bite size chunks.
  9. Add the ham and potatoes to soup and slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  10. Simmer until ham and potatoes are heated through, about 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  • Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese and diced green onion.
  • I’ll sometimes leave the ham out and top with crumbled bacon!
  • I usually use the ham from the meat department that’s already chopped and packaged, but I’ll use this recipe when we have leftover spiral ham too.
  • If you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes – use those in place of the instant potato flakes, same amount.
  • Feel free to toss in a cup of frozen peas or carrots.

Prep Time:  5 Minutes     Total Time:  40 minutes     Servings:  8

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 8 servings – 270.  Estimated using 1% milk, no toppings

 

 

 

Spinach & Artichoke Dip Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers stuffed with cheesy, garlicy spinach & artichoke dip.

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I was never really a big fan of spinach and artichoke dip – it was always a texture thing for me (which a lot of things are!)  But then I had it a couple months ago and fell in love again… something about it was just what I needed in that moment and I’ve wanted to make my own since.

AND THEN I had these sweet little baby peppers at a banquet that were stuffed with lots of cheese and warm and totally delicious that I wanted to make those too… ANNNND THEEENNN I decided to mesh the two together and – bam, now we have the best of both – these little babies that are a perfect appetizer or an afternoon snack.  The filling is hot and cheesy, the peppers are crunchy and sweet – a combination I’m totally digging and I will definitely make these over and over again… In fact – my daughter and I made a half batch on Wednesday night and it was our dinner!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers

  • 24 sweet baby peppers
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup shredded swiss cheese
  • ½ cup frozen spinach
  • 6 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant garlic (more or less to taste)
  1. Wash and dry the pepper and cut off the tops.  Use your finger to push aside the membrane and loosen the seeds.  Give the pepper a shake or two to dump out the seeds.
  2. Mix together the remaining ingredients until smooth.
  3. Stuff each pepper until overflowing and place them in a muffin tin, 4 in each cup.
  4. Cook the peppers at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until filling is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can buy these peppers, usually in a bag of 10-12, in the produce section.
  • You can eat the seeds – they aren’t spicy like a jalapeno!
  • Use this as your go-to spinach and artichoke dip recipe, and chop up some peppers to put in it and bake as noted and serve with pita or tortilla chips.

Prep Time:  20 minutes     Total Time:  40 minutes     Servings:  24

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on one pepper – 45.  Estimated using regular cream cheese, regular sour cream and olive oil marinated artichoke.

Chicken Taco Dinner Dip

Warm taco dip that’s a meal in itself.

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Finger food.  Dip.  Tacos.  Yea – this recipe is all of that in one.

We often have leftover rice and don’t want to have Chinese food again and we like to eat tacos… A LOT.  And then there are days when all we want is to munch on a warm dip with a ton of chips and watch TV.  This is one of those lazy-day meals that everyone will like and it’s so quick you won’t miss more than half of your favorite Grey’s or Walking Dead episode.

You can easily double or triple this recipe, toss it in a slow-cooker on warm and serve to your kids ravenous friends at the sleep over or for your next bowling banquet.  Easy peasy,chicken pleasey- or something like that 🙂

Chicken Taco Dinner Dip

  • 1½ cups cooked white rice
  • 2 tbsp each – lime juice, soy sauce & vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp each – chili powder, cumin, basil & garlic powder
  • 1 medium chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup shredded Mexican or taco cheese
  1. Cook the rice accordingly and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the lime juice, soy sauce, veggie oil, chili powder, cumin, basil and garlic powder.
  3. Cut the chicken breast, bell pepper and onion into small, same sized pieces and toss into the above mixture.
  4. In a large skillet and on medium heat, saute the mixture above until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Whisk sour cream and water together and add to the skillet.
  6. Stir in rice and toss until coated and heated through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and serve with tortilla chips or corn chips, extra sour cream and cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc.

Recipe Notes:

  • Jasmine rice works great here, it’s not sticky and coats well!
  • Sometimes I use cilantro flavored olive oil instead, and it adds a whole new flavor to the dish.
  • Switch it up and use ½ lb. ground beef in place of the chicken.
  • Use a packet of taco or fajita seasoning in place of the above spices if you don’t have them on hand.

Prep Time:  10 minutes     Cooking Time:  15 minutes     Servings:  4

Estimated Calories per Serving, based on 4 servings – 255.  Estimated calories based on regular sour cream and does not include extra toppings and chips for dipping.

 

 

 

Fried Rice

A basic yet yummy recipe for better-than-restaurant fried rice and faster than take-out too!

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This is my go-to recipe when I’m craving fried rice and once you try it you might not order it again!  The rice isn’t sticky or “smokey” if that makes sense…  And it’s a good base to make chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, pineapple fried rice, shrimp fried rice… you get the idea.  We’ll eat this as a meal itself because it’s that good – but you can definitely use it as a side to other take-out style food too, like my Slow Cooker Chicken & Broccoli or serve it with egg rolls, crab rangoons or as a follow-up to a good Egg Drop Soup.

The cooking time does not include the time for the rice to cook and cool, and you’ll want to use rice that has been sitting out for a while, trust me 🙂

Fried Rice

  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  1. Heat both oils in wok* or large saucepan over medium-high heat until oil begins to ripple.
  2. Add onions and fry until dark brown – about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Push onions off to the side.
  3. Beat the eggs with ¼ tsp soy sauce and drizzle into oil.
  4. Keeping heat on medium-high, scramble the eggs breaking them into small pieces until slightly brown.
  5. Stir in frozen peas and green onion, and heat until peas are tender – about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Mix in the rice and soy sauce, frying until rice is coated and heated through.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use rice that has been cooked and cooled at least an hour before frying otherwise it’ll be mushy.  I like to cook my rice in the morning then just let it sit on the stove all day to cool off, or cook it when I get home and spread it out on a large plate to cool off for an hour while I get my workout in 🙂
  • I like to use Jasmine Rice.  It’s less sticky than regular long grain white rice so each grain gets coated nicely.
  • If you don’t like the taste of sesame oil, omit and increase the other oil by 1 tsp.
  • If you want to add meat, make sure that it’s cooked first before adding.  If you want to use pineapple, fresh is the best, but if using canned, make sure you drain the can and spread the pineapple out on paper towel to let out some of the extra liquid.  A small can of Tidbits is all you’ll need.
  • I like to drizzle mine with Sriracha and my hubby and daughter like to use sweet & sour sauce.
  • This is the wok I use and I’ve had it for probably 10 years now!  Calphalon 13″ Wok

Prep Time:  5 minutes     Cooking Time:  15 minutes     Servings:  4

Estimated Calories per Serving based on 4 servings:  310.