Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Pecan Squares

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted 
1 tablespoon Cinnamon Extract  
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract  
1 egg 
3/4 cup flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled apple 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Mix sugar, butter and extracts in large bowl until well blended. 
  3. Stir in egg. 
  4. Add flour and baking powder; mix well. 
  5. Stir in pecans and apples.
  6. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan.
  7. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  8. Cool in pan on wire rack. 
  9. Cut into 16 squares.

Note:  1 cup chopped walnuts can be substituted for the pecans if desired.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Almond Apple Bars

Crust ingredients:
1 1/4 C. all purpose flour 
1/2 t. kosher salt (or 1/4 t. table salt) 
3 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temp. 
2 oz. (4 T.) unsalted butter, softened at room temp. 
1/4 t. pure almond extract 
1/4 t. pure vanilla extract 
1/4 C. granulated sugar 
1/4 C. light brown sugar 
1/3 C. almonds, finely chopped

Topping ingredients:
2 T. all purpose flour 
2 T. granulated sugar 
2 T. light brown sugar 
1/4 C. almonds, coarsely chopped

Filling ingredients:
5 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temp. 
1/2 C. granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice 
pinch of salt 
2-3 medium (~ 1 lb) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & cut into thin slices

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line a 9x9 inch square baking pan with parchment. 
  3. Butter the parchment.
To make the crust:
  1. Sift flour and salt. 
  2. Set aside dry ingredients.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Add the almond and vanilla extracts and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute. 
  5. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium speed until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  6. On low speed, mix in the flour-salt mixture and the 1/3 cup of finely chopped almonds just until the dough comes together. It should be crumbly.
  7. Reserve about 2/3 cup of the crust mixture (for the topping). 
  8. Press the remaining dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. 
  9. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake until light golden, about 16-18 minutes. 
  10. Remove crust from the oven.
To make the topping:
  1. While the crust bakes, make the topping by adding the flour, granulated and brown sugars to the reserved dough. 
  2. Mix until well combined. It should be crumbly. 
  3. Set aside topping and 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds while you make the filling.
To make the filling:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. 
  2. Beat in the egg, lemon juice and salt until well mixed.
To assemble:
  1. Arrange the apple slices over your baked crust. 
  2. Pour the cream cheese filling over the apples and gently spread the filling to cover. 
  3. Crumble the topping over the filling. 
  4. Sprinkle with the almonds. 
  5. Bake until light golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. 
  6. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. 
Makes one 9x9 inch square pan

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lemon and Lavender Cuticle Cream

1 ½ oz. Shea Butter
½ oz. Cocoa Butter
¼ oz. Beeswax
½ tsp. Vitamin E Oil or Coconut Oil
5 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

  1. Add the butters, beeswax and coconut oil (if using) to the double boiler, and heat gently to melt, stirring occasionally.
  2. When fully melted, turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Before cuticle balm starts to solidify add the vitamin E oil (if using) and essential oils.
  4. Mix gently to combine ingredients and pour into your container.
  5. Leave to fully cool and set.
Use daily, and when your cuticles need a little extra moisturizer.  Keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chicken Tenders with Spicy Tomato and Black Beans


12 (about 1 1/4 lb) chicken tenders  
1/2 tsp. chili powder 
1 10-oz can mild diced tomatoes and green chilis
½ 15.5-oz can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
½ cup fat-free sour cream


  1. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces evenly with chili powder.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. 
  3. Coat skillet with cooking spray, cook chicken 2 minutes or until browned on one side, turn, and top with the tomatoes and beans. 
  4. Bring to a boil (over medium-high heat), and cook for 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  5. Remove from heat and drizzle the oil evenly over all. 
  6. Serve in shallow soup bowls, topped with sour cream.

Serves 4

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chicken Marsala

4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1/2 cup flour
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Dried oregano to taste
4 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine

  1. Pound chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap (or in a plastic zipper bag) until about 1/4" thickness.
  2. Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano in a mixing bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Cook chicken breasts on medium heat for about 2 minutes on the first side, until lightly browned.
  5. Turn breasts over to cook other side, then add mushrooms to skillet.
  6. Cook breasts about 2 more minutes, until both sides are lightly browned.
  7. Continue to stir mushrooms.
  8. Add Marsala wine around chicken pieces.
  9. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  10. Transfer to serving plate.
Serves 4
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One Pot Pasta


12 ounces pasta
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (regular broth and NOT low sodium)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. 
  2. Pour in vegetable broth. 
  3. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano.
  4. Drizzle top with oil.
  5. Cover pot and bring to a boil. 
  6. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. 
  7. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. 
  9. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chicken and Dumplins

This recipe is very similar to Cracker Barrel's Chicken n' Dumplins.

2 cups Flour
½ teaspoons Baking Powder
1 pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup buttermilk, A Bit Less Than A Full Cup (you can use regular milk if needed)
2 quarts Chicken Broth
3 cups Cooked Chicken

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
  2. Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
  3. Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 1"x1". They do not have to be uniform or exact.
  4. Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
  5. To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they are not doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot, stir and you are done!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

2 lbs chicken tenders or 4 large chicken breasts
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 - 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoon butter

  1. Crush 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers.
  2. If using chicken breasts and not tenders, cut each chicken breast into 3 large pieces.
  3. Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans.
  4. Toss the salt and pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.
  5. Dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then the cheese.
  6. Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers.
  7. Then press the cheesy coated chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in.
  8. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan.
  9. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.
  10. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
  11. Remove the tin foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.
  12. In a medium sized sauce pan combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk.
  13. Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot.
  14. Serve over the chicken.
Cook Time:  45-50 minutes

Friday, July 26, 2013

Crockpot Chicken and Rice

1 lb of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (can substitute Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 cans (10.5oz) Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
14 oz. water
1 medium Onion, diced
Hot Cooked Rice


  1. Place thawed chicken in crock pot. 
  2. Add butter, cream of chicken soup, water and onions.  Stir until soup is mixed well with water. 
  3. Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  4. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Broccoli and Shrimp Chowder

1 medium uncooked Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced   
2 cups uncooked broccoli, florets   
1 medium uncooked shallot, minced   
2 cups fat free chicken broth   
1/4 tsp dried thyme   
1/2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled (medium size)   
1/2 cup fat free sour cream   
1/2 cup fat free skim milk   
1/4 tsp table salt   
1/4 tsp black pepper

  1. In a medium-size pot, combine potato, broccoli, shallot, broth and thyme; bring to a boil, partially cover pot and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour soup into blender and purée in batches careful not to splatter hot liquid; return soup to pot. (Or puree soup in pot using an immersion blender.)
  3. Add remaining ingredients to pot; reduce heat to low and simmer until hot, about 3 minutes. (Do not allow to boil.)

Prep Time:  10 Minutes
Cook Time:  18 Minutes
Serves 4 - Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Rick's Salsa

2 bunches of green onions
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 large cans of diced cooked tomatoes (32 oz. cans, be sure not to pick up the stewed tomatoes)
1 large can of diced green chilies (or two small cans)
1/2 can El Pato hot tomato sauce (yellow can with a duck on it in the international foods aisle)
1 tsp. black pepper
garlic salt (to taste)

  1. Combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:  diced tomatoes, green chilies, half a can of El Pato hot tomato sauce (add more if you like it hot), black pepper (more or less to taste), garlic salt also to taste.
  2. Finely dice the green onion using mostly the light green & white part of the onions (not too much of the dark greens) finely chop two or three tablespoons of cilantro or more to taste).  Try to use only the leafy parts.
  3. Combine this with the rest of the ingredients and put it in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to let the flavors blend.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicken Quesadillas

2 boneless skinless boneless chicken breast, diced
1 (1.27 ounce) packet fajita seasoning
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salsa (optional))
Guacamole (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  2. Add fajita seasoning, onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper.
  3. Cook and stir until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Layer half of each tortilla with the chicken and vegetable mixture, then sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack.  Use the as little or as much as you like. 
  6. Fold the tortillas in half and place onto a baking sheet.
  7. Bake quesadillas in the preheated oven until the cheeses have melted, about 10 minutes.
  8. Cut each quesadilla into 3 triangles.
  9. Serve with salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream.
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Serves 5 (1 quesadilla per serving)

Note:  When I make this recipe, I do not end up using all of the tortillas.  I did not use all of the Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheeses either.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each)
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 oz. fat free cream cheese
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. dried basil leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. fat-free egg product
12 stone-ground wheat crackers, crushed (about 1/2 cup)
1 t. dried basil leaves
1/2 t. pepper
1 c. pasta sauce
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (1 oz.)


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Place each chicken breast smooth side down in a zipper bag.
  4. Gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. In medium bowl, mix spinach, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon basil and the garlic until blended. 
  6. Spread about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture over each chicken breast; roll up tightly. 
  7. If necessary, secure with toothpicks.
  8. In small shallow bowl, place egg product. 
  9. In another small shallow bowl, mix cracker crumbs, 1 teaspoon basil and the pepper. 
  10. Dip each chicken breast into egg product; coat with crumb mixture. 
  11. Place seam side down in baking dish.
  12. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. 
  13. Pour pasta sauce over chicken; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. 
  14. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until thermometer inserted in center of chicken reads 165°F. 
  15. Remove toothpicks from chicken before eating.

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Total Time:  55 minutes
Serves 6