Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Seven (or is it eight, I lost count…) Layer Taco Dip

I needed a few different appetizer ideas for a holiday get together and decided to make a seven layer taco dip.  When I told my husband what I was making, he said, “Why go for just seven layers. You need to go for eight!”

So, I decided to modify several different recipes I saw and used a few recommendations from my friend Katie to make it healthier (i.e. use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, using refried black beans instead of regular black beans, etc.).  This is the 8 layered combination I came up with and it was delicious!



Seven (or is it eight) Layer Taco Dip

1 can refried black beans
1 tsp. cumin
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
1/2 c. fat free greek yogurt
1 package taco seasoning
2 avocados
1-2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 c. salsa
1/4-1/2 c. shredded lettuce
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 c. sliced black olives
1/4-1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Spread black beans in an even layer over plate.  Sprinkle evenly with cumin.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and taco seasoning.  Spread on top of black beans layer.

In another small bowl, smash avocados with lime juice. Spread over cream cheese layer.

Spread salsa on top of avocados.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and shredded cheese.

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Food for thought: I wanted to have most of the work done ahead of time but didn’t know how well the avocado layer would hold up. So what I did was make the bean layer and cream cheese layers and refrigerated that.  Then, I shredded the lettuce, chopped the tomatoes and olives, and put those in little baggies in the fridge, and about an hour or so before our guests came, mashed the avocadoes and added the remaining layers. The dip looked and tasted great throughout the get together and I didn’t notice any browning of the avocadoes (but maybe that was because everyone at the taco dip too fast!)  🙂


Pub Stew

We had a big crowd to the house after church on Sunday and I needed a good simple meal that would satisfy everyone and that could be ready upon everyone descending upon the house.  Pub stew was the perfect answer to that situation!  It feeds a large crowd, is delicious every time, and was easy to throw together the night before and then just pop in the oven Sunday morning before everyone came over.  It was a hit and there was very little left over!   (And, it fed 8 adults, 3 kids, and left about two servings for leftovers.)


Pub Stew

2 lb. top quality beef cut into chunks
1/4 c. butter
2-11 oz. cans condensed tomato soup + equal amount of water (*see note)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 rib celery, cut into chunks
2 large carrots, sliced
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
3 c. frozen green beans
2 c. frozen corn

Preheat oven to 275.
Brown beef, add soup and water and stir well.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook 5 minutes.
Stir once more and then cook covered 5 hours.

*I tried today in lieu of condensed soup the following mixed together and it was equally delicious:
8 oz tomato sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Food for Thought: I will often make an entire batch of this for my little family of four and then freeze at least half of it for a future meal.  It  reheats from frozen really well.  It sometimes even seems to make three meals for our family, depending on how hungry we are…

Honey Cashew Chicken with Soba Noodles

Oooh, this was a yummy stir fry!!!  Even the leftovers were great!  It tasted so healthy and flavorful all at the same time!  You should definitely try this one!



Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012

1 pkg. soba noodles
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in. cubes
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dark toasted sesame oil
2 c. broccoli florets
2 large carrots, sliced
1 c. frozen shelled edamame
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 c. dry-roasted cashews
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce


Cook soba noodles according to package directions.

Combine chicken, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture and saute for 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Increase heat to high and add broccoli, carrots, edamame, garlic, pepper, and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp and chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently. Add in cashews and stir.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and Sriracha sauce. Add to chicken mixture and toss to coat. Serve over noodles.

Husband Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Food for Thought: The original recipe called for twice as much Sriracha sauce.  I halved in for the boys but definitely think the heat would be tasty for those of you out there that like a little kick.

Chicken and Bean Burritos

This was an easy meal to toss together with many possibilities of how to serve it.  I served it as burritos but you could also use the filling in quesadillas, nachos, tacos, etc.  Quick, easy, and the kids will eat it???  Yes, please! 


Chicken and Bean Burritos

1 lb. chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-in. pieces
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cooking oil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 whole wheat tortillas
cooking spray
avocado, tomatoes, salsa, etc. on the side


Combine chicken, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken mixture for 6-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add beans and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Divide chicken among tortillas, add cheese, and roll up. Spray with cooking spray on each side. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and place burritos on pan. Cook 2 minutes per side or until browned. Cut in half and serve with avocado, tomatoes, salsa, etc.

Food for Thought: This makes a great combination to freeze ahead of time and keep on hand.

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

These were the perfect side dish for my super star fish meal, Parmesan Garlic Crusted Flounder.  However, they are just a great easy side dish for any meal.  They take very little time to prep and are simple and basically thoughtless once in the oven.  Then turn out delicious and warm and even my kids like them! 



Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

1 lb. baby red potatoes
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp. minced garlic
salt/pepper to taste


Scrub potatoes and  cut into quarters.  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper until well mixed.  Spread evenly in a baking dish or on a cooking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake potatoes for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Bake until potatoes are tender and just golden.

Parmesan Garlic Crusted Flounder

A recipe is considered a hit at my house when at least one of my kids eats it and likes it. Tonight, I made a recipe that is not only a hit but probably an all-star!!!  My kids normally don’t like fish!  Yet, tonight, my almost 2-year-old, ate more fish than I did.  My 3-year-old at the same amount as I did (and usually he eats NO fish at all!!!) and my husband and I even liked it too!!!!  Can we say SUPER-STAR?!!!!  Yes, we can!  I served this with Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes and green beans.  Wow, I need to be making this meal every week. IMG_5080

Parmesan Garlic Crusted Flounder

3/4 c. Panko
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan
3 tsp. Italian seasoning blend
salt/pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp. melted butter
4 flounder fillets


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry.

In a shallow dish combine panko, parmesan, Italian seasoning and salt/pepper.

Dip fish in melted butter and then in panko mixture thoroughly coating with breading.  Lay on cooking sheet.

Place in oven and bake for 14-17 minutes until fish is cooked through.

Husband Rating: Didn’t get one but does it matter when it is such a successful meal for the rest of the family?  🙂

Food for Thought: This would be easy to make and freeze ahead of time.  Simply prepare the fish with their breading and then wrap in plastic wrap.  Then place in a freezer bag and freeze.  When ready to cook, put on a cookie sheet and bake.  You will probably need to adjust cooking time for a few minutes longer to cook through.

Chicken Pot Pie – The Healthier Version

I was craving chicken pot pies again and although I love the recipe I already have, I decided to create a healthier version.  I wanted to cut the butter and heavy cream from the previous recipe and also add some new veggies into the mix.  Here is the result and it tasted as good as it smelled!  In all honesty, I did miss the butter and heavy cream a bit because I love the creamy-ness of the original pot pie’s gravy but overall, it was really tasty.

This recipe does take a bit of time and seems a bit putsy but it made a huge batch (15 individual sized pot pies) which is great – dinner tonight and for several other meals!  Love it!  So worth the effort!




Chicken Pot Pie – The Healthier Version

3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large carrots, chopped
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 c. butternut squash, cubed
4 stalks kale, stems removed, chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
6 tsp. garlic minced, divided
6 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 c. flour
5 to 6 c. chicken broth
salt/pepper to taste
2 boxes puff pastry (in sheets), thawed
15 individual pot pie pans (I buy the disposable ones at the grocery stores – easy clean up and good for when you share meals with friends.)
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. skim milk

In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and 3 tsp. garlic.  Add chicken and cook 4-6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add 3 tsp. garlic, carrots, onions, potatoes, and squash.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until veggies just begin to become tender.  Add kale, beans, chicken, salt/pepper, and flour.  Cook for another minute stirring well.  Add chicken broth.  You may want to err on the side of more chicken broth if you like your pot pies a bit more saucy.  I had to add more broth as I went along but we like it really saucy.

Stir mixture really well and bring to a boil.  Cook for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens slightly.  (If you added more broth, you may need to add a bit more flour – up to a 1/4 of a cup or so.  I think I added 1-2 Tbsp. while I was cooking to thicken it up.)

Fill pot pie pans with chicken mixture.

Roll puff pastry out a bit and cut some to fit on each pot pie.  Cut holes in the crust to vent. (If freezing some of the pot pies, see Food for Thought below for freezer instructions.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Whisk together egg white and milk.  Brush over tops of pot pies.  Place on a baking sheet to catch any drips.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes and serve!

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10 (He really missed the butter and heavy cream!)  🙂

Food for Thought: If you would like to freeze the pot pies, simply cover with foil after cutting vent holes in the crust.  When you are ready to cook them, take them out of the freezer and follow the baking directions as above starting at preheating the oven.  Add 5-10 minutes to the baking time.  There is no need to thaw before baking.  They turn out equally as delicious from the freezer as from fresh!

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