Friday, February 26, 2010

Slow Cooker Lasagna

I have said before that I love to eat lasagna, but not so much a fan of the cooking process. So, I was thrilled when a friend from church sent me this Weight Watcher's recipe for Slow Cooker Lasagna. There is still some pan cooking involved, but all in all this is a very easy and tasty lasagna recipe. My husband said it was the best lasagna he's ever had!

Just a few notes: The recipe uses no cook pasta. I used whole wheat lasagna noodles which I boiled briefly because I was afraid they wouldn't cook within the 4 hour cooking period. They were a little mushy so I'm thinking I could have just skipped that step and put them in dry. Also, I added some chopped sun dried tomatoes to my sauce and a little goat cheese to the ricotta, mozzarella mixture, both of which I already had in my fridge. It just made for a richer lasagna, but I'm sure the original is great on it's own.

Don't miss this one!! A great use of the slow cooker without producing a large pot of mushy meat in a sauce. What a nice way to end a busy day-a piping hot plate of comfort food and you barely lifted a finger!

**picture copied from Weight Watcher's website**

Monday, February 22, 2010

Salmon with Honey Mustard Glaze and Sweet Potato Barley Salad

One of my oldest friends sent me this recipe for Salmon with Honey Mustard Glaze which I have been waiting to try. Since salmon is on sale at both Dominick's and Sunset, this was the perfect week to test and post this dish. Whole ground mustard, sour cream, honey, and dill are mixed together then placed atop salmon fillets, which are finished with a layer of crushed buttery crackers before baking. Delicious!!!! And, so easy to put together making this a great weeknight dinner dish.

I served this with Sweet Potato Barley Salad, a recipe I recently made for a tasting/mixer Nurture hosted for Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management. I realize sweet potatoes and barley doesn't sound exciting, but it is a tasty salad and was a big hit with the starving, beer drinking students. Who knew barley could be a suitable substitute for chicken wings?!

Steamed sweet potatoes cubes, fresh veggies, barley, and black beans are dressed with a lime, chili vinaigrette and the result is a refreshing and very satisfying salad. Make this on Monday and enjoy it all week for lunch or snack with no extra Weight Watcher's points or calories wasted.

(Thanks, Karen!)

2 salmon fillets (about 8 ounces each), skin removed
3 tablespoons ground mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
8 buttery crackers, crushed (I used whole grain Ritz)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Place salmon on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine mustard, sour cream, honey, and dill weed. Spread over the salmon fillets. Top with crushed crackers just before baking.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through and flaky.

**see blog entry from 1/10/10 for more info on Nurture**

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup cooked barley
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 limes, juiced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon honey
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Steam sweet potato on a steamer rack in a large pot for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Do not over cook! Mix together lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, honey, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add cooked barley, black beans, red pepper, red onion, cooled sweet potatoes, and chopped cilantro and combine gently. Serve warm or at room temperature.

**I love making salads like this because I can set aside individual parts for the kids plates. Tonight I served them plain barley(they were told it was rice), chopped veggies, a few black beans, and small pieces of fish. My son loved the fish and they all loved the barley. Not one had a clue they were eating such a healthy meal!**

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deals for the week ending 2/24 and Dinner Menus, Including Pork Chops with Mango Salsa

I have been getting lots of great recipes from friends lately and am excited to give a few of them a try this week. Please send more recipes!! I love hearing about what other people are cooking and your tried and true dishes. Here are the highlights from this week's sale flyers and a few borrowed dinner ideas.


Porterhouse Steak $5.99/lb (save $6.00/lb)
Boneless Pork Chops $2.99/lb
Whole Fryers $1.29/lb (save $.70/lb)
Ground Round $2.99/lb (save $1.00)
Norwegian Salmon Boneless Filet $8.98/lb (save $3.00/lb)
Cauliflower $.99/lb
Broccoli $.99/lb
Zucchini $.99/lb
Sweet Potatoes $.79/lb
Bosc Pears $.99/lb

And, Prince pastas, Red Gold Tomatoes, Brownberry breads, Minute Rice, Palermo frozen pizza, Tropicana orange juice, Skinny Cow Ice Cream products, and...

Prepared/Deli Section
Roosevelt Meatloaf $3.98 each (save $3.00)
Southern Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins $1.99/lb (save $5.00)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes $2.98/lb (save $2.00)


Pork Loin Chops $.99/lb (save $2.00/lb)
Norwegian Salmon Filets $5.99/lb (save $4.00/lb)
Perdue Ground Turkey 2 for $5.00
Jumbo Cantaloupe Melons Buy 1 get 1 free
Cauliflower $.99/lb
Bosc Pears $.99/lb
Large Mangos $.99/lb

Dinner Menus

Salmon with Honey Mustard Glaze and Steamed Broccoli
(recipe later in week)

Pork Chops with Mango Salsa
**Mangos are on sale at Dominick's and a fun substitute for the pineapple**

Slow Cooker Lasagna
**Can't wait to try this! Who doesn't love a good weight watchers recipe, and it's for the slow cooker, yeah!!**

Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potato Barley Salad
(recipe posted later in the week)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pork and Sweet Potato Tian

Here is my favorite slow cooker recipe for making pulled pork barbecue. Staying true to my North Carolina roots, I use a vinegar based sauce and try to recreate that delicious pulled pork I grew up enjoying. I don't have a smoker, which is one reason I cook this in a my slow cooker. If you do have a smoker, first of all I'm jealous, and secondly you should stick to the original recipe I found on the Food Network Website.

You will lose the smoky flavor from cooking this in a slow cooker, but the barbecue flavors are still there and the pork is tender, moist and falls apart with the lightest touch of a fork. And, as I have said before, why would you pass up an opportunity to use your slow cookers?!

I served this with a Sweet Potato Tian, which shouldn't be missed! Found in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living, this is a great new way to cook sweet potatoes. Thinly sliced potatoes are baked with leeks and grated apple, then topped with Gruyere cheese. The flavors are fabulous and your kitchen will smell amazing. I've made this twice in two weeks! Recipe not posted on Martha's website yet-maybe in March?


2-4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
16 ounces apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons red hot sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1-2 cups water or chicken broth

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Liquid should come to top edge of pork. If not, add more water or chicken stock. Cook on low for 8 hours or until pork pulls apart easily. Shred pork in slow cooker with sauce and serve.

**If you prefer a thicker sauce, add bottled barbecue sauce to slow cooker. I recommend Sweet Baby Rays original barbecue sauce, or marinade. I think I usually add a little anyway just for the extra flavors!**


2-3 sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored and grated
1-2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only,
halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick and rinsed well
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss together sweet potatoes, apple, leeks, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a 9 x 12 inch oval or 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread into a thin layer and cover with parchment-lined foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 400. Remove, uncover, and top with Gruyere. Bake until bubbling and top is browned, about 30 minutes.

**I used a mandoline to slice the sweet potatoes, but a regular sharp knife is fine. I set aside some of the sweet potatoes to bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet for my kids, who will eat sweet potatoes, apples, and cheese, but not in casserole form. I used shallots the first time I made this and it was just as delicious as the leek version!**

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crispy Onion Chicken

One of my favorite new friends sent me this recipe for Crispy Onion Chicken last week and I had to try it. Chicken baked with a Worcestershire, mustard, butter sauce and French Fried Onions, this is one of those good old recipes that was probably found in a 1970's Better Homes and Gardens magazine, then later published over and over again in school and church cookbooks. It takes no time to put this dish together and is made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. The chicken is moist and flavorful from the sauce and yes, crispy from the fried onions! I couldn't find Durkees French Fried Onions so I splurged and used Alexia Onion Strips, a tasty treat not to be missed, and I think it made the dish. They are thicker than Durkees so crush gently in a Ziploc bag before adding to chicken.

I was told by my friend that this freezes well-prepare and freeze before cooking. A great dish to keep on hand for those last minute meals or deliver to a friend in need!


1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups French Fried Onions

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, Worcestershire, ground mustard, garlic salt, and pepper. Arrange chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle half the butter mixture over the chicken. Top chicken with fried onions. Drizzle with remaining butter sauce. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

**I don't have garlic salt, so I used garlic powder and ground sea salt**

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sausage, Cannellini, and Kale Soup

I've posted this, not because all of the ingredients are on sale right now, but because it was so delicious and the perfect recipe for Trader Joe's shopping. Someday I would like to do a cost comparison between Trader Joe's and the other grocery stores. I feel like I'm saving money by shopping there, but my bill is rarely less than $100 every time I go! Is it because I stock up on the items I know are less expensive, like nuts, cheese, frozen items, cereal, natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt, dried fruit, and, of course, wine? Or is it because I buy too many of their yummy treats just because I can't resist? Not sure, but I do know that there are certain items that are best purchased from Trader Joe's. I mentioned a few above, and a few others are found in this soup recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine. Great magazine, btw-expensive, but loaded with great recipes!

It was featured in an article with recipes that can be both vegetarian or meaty. In this case you cook the soup separate from the sausage, then add the sausage to the bowl right before serving. I loved the flavors in this soup and it was very easy and quick to put together. I started making it at 4:45, while my kids where playing rocket ship with the dining room furniture, and by 5:30 the rocket ship was dismantled and we were seated for dinner.

Here is the link to the original recipe.

To make your soup even more delicious, and your life a little easier, use these items from Trader Joe's. Pre-chopped onion, celery, carrot mix(found in produce section), pre-washed and chopped Southern Greens mix, 1 package Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, and 1 package Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage. All of the other ingredients may be found at Trader Joe's so this is your one stop shop. I served it with their Multi Grain Baguette.

**Roast sausage meatballs in a 400 degree oven on Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheets for 15-20 minutes, or until browned on edges. The easiest way to cook meatballs-no standing over a hot, greasy pan!**

Picture copied from Fine Living website. Our soup was gone before we had a chance to get out the camera!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Deals for the week ending 2/17 and Dinner Menus, including the very kid friendly, Winter Fruit Pasta Salad

Lots of specials on steaks, lobster, flowers and sweet treats for Valentine's Day. I thought about posting a romantic dinner menu for the big day, but have decided that all of you home cooks deserve to take a break from your kitchens! I say tell that special someone you are always cooking for to take you out or bring home a feast from Cafe Lucci in Glenview. Consistently delicious food and great take out service!

Here are the highlights from Sunset Foods and Dominick's sale flyers and a few dinner ideas.

Premium Angus Beef Filet Mignon $19.99/lb
Boneless Pork Tenderloin $3.99/lb (save $2.00/lb)
Plainville Farms Marinated Turkey Tenderloins $4.99 each (save $2.00)
Live Maine Lobster $11.98/lb
Boar's Head Buffalo Chicken Breast $8.98/lb (save $2.00/lb)
Asparagus $2.99/lb
Strawberries 2/$5.00 1 lb package
Pink Lady Apples $1.39/lb
Organic Sweet Potatoes $1.29/lb

Also, Haagen-Daz ice creams and yogurts, select varieties of General Mills, Quaker, and Kashi cereals, Barilla Pasta Plus and Barilla Pastas, Yoplait yogurt, Home Run pizzas, and many more great deals!

Easy Weeknight Sunset Dinner:
Blackened Catfish with Succotash and Cajun Southern Cole Slaw
**Discounted prices in the Deli Department!

Rancher's Reserve Beef Rib eye Steak $4.99/lb (save $4.50/lb)
Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.99/lb (save $3.50/lb)
Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast $1.69/lb
Boneless Pork Tenderloin $3.99/lb
Asparagus $1.99/lb
Fresh Express Salad Kits $1.98 each
Red or Green Seedless Grapes $1.99/lb

**Also a Buy One Get One Free Event on Jennie-O ground turkey and marinated turkey tenderloins, select Oscar Myer and Hormel products, and more!


Roasted Marinated Turkey Tenderloin with Winter Fruit Pasta Salad
**Both Sunset and Dominick's have marinated turkey tenderloins on sale
Sunset also has discounts on Barilla Pastas**

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Barbecue with Sweet Potato Tian
(recipe posted later in week)

Crispy Onion Chicken with Steamed Asparagus
(recipe posted later in week)

Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup(with or without sausage)
**Made this for dinner last night and it was fabulous!** More later..

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup-Again!

Last week I posted a link to the recipe for Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup. I'm posting it again to make sure you don't miss this one and to add my two cents on this big bowl of yummy.

It is a super simple, delicious and healthy recipe. Shrimp sauteed with red pepper flakes, garlic and oil are added to a pot of boiling broth, water, and instant rice, then served with limes, jalapeno slices, cilantro and tortilla chips. This is a great last minute dinner for adults and I think it can be tweaked a little for the kids.

My kids love soup and rice, but not soup with rice and shrimp! To make this more kid friendly, saute the red pepper flakes and garlic in the bottom of a large pot for 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant, then add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Add instant rice, preferably brown, and shredded rotisserie chicken and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Save the spicy toppings for the adults and maybe offer the kids a little shredded cheese.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Treats

Here are a few recipes for yummy Super Bowl munchies. Party on!!

1 minute Trader Joe's Easy Guac/Salsa Dip

1 avocado
1 jar Trader Joe's Garlic Chipotle Salsa

Cut avocado into small pieces and place in bowl. Add salsa and combine. Mash avocado slightly if you prefer a less chunky dip. Serve with Trader Joe's Multigrain Tortilla Chips

**If you've never tried Trader Joe's Mulitigrain Tortilla Chips, now is the time!! I can't live without them and prefer them to regular tortilla chips. Sure, it's still a chip, but at least these have a little fiber!

Broiled Buffalo Chicken Wings

Once upon a time my husband and I would play "Bar". I would fry up chicken wings while he watched, waited for a freshly fried and sauced wing, and drank cold beer. Those were the days before children, when I was a low carb lover and fried wings were almost considered healthy? I haven't seen my fryer in years and when I saw this recipe for Broiled Wings I was intrigued. Ina uses the same sauce I used to make for my fried wings, but there is no fryer mess or gallons of oil. It is all about the sauce-Franks Red Hot all the way and a good blue cheese dip. Definitely give this wing recipe a try.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin Chili
**See 11/12/09 Post for this recipe**

I made this super easy chili again the other day and my husband says it's the best chili he's ever eaten. I love it because it is so easy to make and for the low calorie, low fat factor. Why would you pass up an opportunity to use your slow cooker?!

Best Box Mix Brownies and Peanut Butter Icing

1 package Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Prepare brownies according to box directions. Either cook in a Pyrex dish or spoon into greased mini muffin tins and bake according to time and temp on box. When cooled top with peanut butter icing.

This icing is the my all time favorite. It is so rich, creamy, and delicious you will want to skip the brownie and eat it with a spoon.

Original recipe found on Food Network Website.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Deals for the week ending 2/10 and Dinner Menus, Including Spicy Shrimp Soup

It's all about Super Bowl Sunday this week so in all of the grocery stores look for discounted prices on chips, crackers, salsas, beer, and other munchies. I don't follow football at all, and actually have no idea who is even playing this weekend! I do love a good party and of course the yummy treats that are in abundance at Super Bowl gatherings.

Here are the highlights from this week's grocery store sale flyers and some healthy dinner menus. Look for a not so healthy Super Bowl menu later in the week.

Cooked Tail-On Shrimp Medium $7.98/lb (save $4.00/lb) Jumbo $9.98/lb (save $5.00/lb)
Baby Back Ribs $3.99/lb (save $3.00/lb)
Premium Black Angus Beef Boneless Strip Steak $7.99/lb (save $5.00/lb)
Farm Raised Golden Tilapia $6.98/lb (save $2.00/lb)
D'Anjou Pears $.99 each
Cantaloupe $2.99 each
Avocados $.69 each
Discounted prices on Organic Mandarins, Navel Oranges, and Broccoli

Deli/Prepared Food Department:
Pulled BBQ Pork $7.98/lb
Beef Chili $5.98/qt.
Corn Chowder $5.98/qt
Seafood Gumbo $5.98/qt

*Sunset has the best prices and largest selection on super bowl party goods so don't miss the deals!

Large Raw Shrimp $5.99/lb
Rancher's Reserve Beef New York Steak
96% Lean Ground Beef $2.99/lb
Perdue Lean Ground Chicken $2.99 each
Brocolli $.99/lb
Large Avocados $.88 each
Red or Green Seedless Grapes $1.99/lb
Cantaloupe 2/$5.00


Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup

Chicken Spanakopita Burgers

Baked Costa Rican Style Tilapia with Pineapples, Black Beans, and Rice

Grilled Steak with Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

**Season steak with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Grill on high or sear both sides in a pan and finish cooking in a 400 degree oven.