Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: February 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Turkey Vegetable Soup

Today is Sunday, one of my favorite days of the week. But, I do have a nice splitting headache to go along with the relaxation....but, I wanted to get my regular Sunday post out before I go lay down on the couch (hopefully).

Yesterday was spent doing a zillion things around the house, with the little man always on my heels. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. You know the drill.

I started the day off with a snack, I'm certain well before it was designated "snack time"....but it sounded wonderful, therefore I indulged. Did anyone else's mom or dad used to make up the snack of graham crackers filled with chocolate frosting? I remember my mom making this after school sometimes.

But, yesterday, I sandwiched my graham crackers with Nutella. Yum.

Then I got started on a big batch of soup. A rendition of my Beef Vegetable Soup, only a little healthier and made with ground turkey. You can't tell the difference, trust me.

Turkey Vegetable Soup
1 bottle V-8, low sodium
1 small can beef stock
1 carrot, diced
2 cups green beans
1 can diced tomatoes
3 red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey, cooked
1 T. beef bouillon granules
1 t. garlic powder

Cook turkey and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in a slow cooker. Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker and stir. Place on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Stir halfway through to check and see if the potatoes and carrots are tender. Once they are, it is done!

Couldn't be easier, don't you love slow cooker soups?

I also had some leftover batter in the fridge from my cinnamon sugar donut muffins the other day, just enough for 3, so I also baked them up. But, guess what happened?

The 90% of the time sweet loving golden retriever who usually minds her own business, placed her lovely paws on my kitchen island while I was changing the little man's diaper and scarfed ALL 3 DOWN.

I had even covered these in powdered sugar to try out. Now, I'll never know how they tasted. Hope she liked them. This episode reminds me of the Apple Bar Saga....anyone remember that?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Although, I try not and eat donuts (bad, bad), I still have never met one I haven't liked. Glazed, sugar, powdered sugar, long john, pudding filled - they are all delightful in my book.

But, like I said, I try not and eat them, as I know they are empty calories and I'd stay full much longer on a breakfast of oatmeal, whole wheat toast and juice.

Tonight I broke that rule.

I've been eyeing this recipe for awhile now, and after making these and realizing just how simple they are, I'm not quite sure why I just "looked" at this recipe for so long.

And technically, the recipe says its a "muffin" which in my book, is a tad healthier than a donut right?

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. oil
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar + 1 t. cinnamon, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar and egg until light in color. Add dry ingredients and stir. Pour in oil, milk and vanilla, stir to combine.

In a sprayed muffin tin, fill 3/4 full. Bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. While still warm, roll muffin in butter and then in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Allow to cool on a wire rack or eat warm.

These will literally melt in your mouth.

And you might end up eating two.

Like me.

Can I just say on a side note, it is snowing like a ban-gee out there right now. One week after temps are above normal and all the snow from the last storm melted. Here we go again. I'm ready for spring! Anyone else?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mostaccoli Casserole

Only 6 weeks left in this pregnancy, and we finally got another crib and dresser purchased and put together today for baby #2. Yep, we definitely procrastinated on this one, but oh well, it always seems to come together.

Never thought I would have two cribs in our house, unless twins were involved. But, here we are with a 17 month old and another baby due the beginning of April. I get nervous just thinking about what those first few weeks will be like...


As promised I said I'd share my mom's recipe we had on Sunday night. Not only did she serve up this yummy casserole, it also came with a side of broccoli, homemade bread and fresh fruit. It was heavenly.

Lets hope she remembers the frozen leftovers when she comes and helps me to set up the baby's room in two weeks. Write it down, mom!

Mostaccoli Casserole
photo courtesy of Recipe Bridge

1 lb. hamburger
1 lb. pork sausage
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 - 1lb. cans tomatoes
1/2 c. water
2 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 t. salt
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. pepper
8 oz. package mostaccoli noodles (cooked)
mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Browns meats with pepper and onion, drain. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water and seasonings, mix well. Grease two casserole dishes (this makes a lot!). Layer pasta, meat mixture, and continue layering until at the top of the dish. Top with a generous handful of parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

This is a great casserole for freezing, making for a sick loved one, or a crazy busy mom with a job and another baby on the way who will hardly have any time to breathe in the next few months, let alone cook (hint, hint).

What is your favorite casserole?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chewies (2 Ingredients!)

I just woke up from a 2 hour, uninterrupted nap, and it was glorious.

I'm at my parent's house today, as I have a dreaded dental appointment at 8am tomorrow in my hometown, before I head back into work later in the morning. Therefore, I am sans husband and little man, and although I miss them both like crazy, I will say that the nap was worth it.

Not to mention the home cooked meal I get tonight without having to lift a finger. I'll be posting what we are having tonight in a couple of days, it's in the oven now and smells great!

So, a few days ago I came across this 2-ingredient cookie over on Picky Palate, and like most had to read through it to believe that it actually worked. Today (before the wonderful nap), I tried them out, and guess what?

They do work.

I made a small batch in case it was a failure, but it wasn't, and now I'm sad it only made 15 cookies. I will say the trick is to use a food processor or high-end mixer to break up the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, as I'm imagining by hand would take awhile...

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chewies
1 small bag miniature cups (my bag contained 30 small cups)
1 egg

Unwrap all the cups and place in a bowl with the egg. Transfer to a food processor or blend with a hand mixer. I left mine a little chunky, but a smooth batter would be great as well.

Use a small cookie scoop and place on a greased baking sheet. Press mixture down with the bottom of a glass to make a flatter cookie. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or just until edges are turning brown. This will give you a crisp, but chewy cookie in the center. Place on wire rack to cool.

I'm not sure who in their right mind came up with this recipe, but it is a keeper. Try it out!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cake Decorating 101

Do not mistake the title of this post as some tutorial...I know nothing.

My co-worker is taking a cake decorating class and I'm jealous. Not that I want to go into the cake business, but it would be interesting, right?

The last couple of weeks she has been practicing with fondant, which looks extremely hard and time consuming, but she seems to be doing just fine!

On Fridays we usually sample her goodies...and I'm sad to say since they practiced "flowers" last night there was no cake to sample today. Bummer. Not like I need any more cake, this sweet tooth is out-of-control...

Look at her beauties!

Stay tuned later this weekend for some yummy eats! Can you imagine a 2 ingredient Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cookie? Yeah, me either, but I'm going to try them!

And the husband and I are heading to his aunt's house tomorrow night for dinner, pictures and recap to come!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York Style Cheesecake

One of the husband's all-time favorite desserts is cheesecake. So when I texted him from work last week asking what kind of "cake" he wanted for his birthday, he bent the rules and texted back "no cake...cheesecake with cherries on top".

So that is what he got. Not that I was complaining.

It had been a long while since I baked a cheesecake and believe it or not the first time I ever used my spring form pan that we received as a wedding gift almost 5 years ago. Why did I wait this long? I think I was intimidated by it for some reason...but I squashed all the worries, as it turned out perfect.


New York Style Cheesecake
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 T. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
4 - 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
3 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix together the first three ingredients and press down into the sprayed spring form pan and 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. Using a large or hand held mixer, cream the cheese and add the eggs one at a time. Gradually add in the sugar and vanilla.

Pour this mixture over the crust and bake for 1 hour. Refrain from opening the open door to check on the cheesecake (this can cause it to crack!) I'm very proud to say I had no cracks:)

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, cover and keep in the fridge. Serve with whatever toppings you like!

I'm sad to say we ate the last of it more cheesecake for us.


In other news...

Congrats to Jen for winning my Facebook Chocolate Giveaway yesterday! She is now the proud owner of TWO bars of Green & Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate (almond and mint). Enjoy!

And...Mary...are you out there? Remember you won the previous magazine giveaway and I have yet to receive your address. One last chance before I hand them over to someone else! Email your mailing address to me at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hot Reuben Dip {and chocolate giveaway}

The little man and I traveled to a friend's house on Friday night for a party, and I was so happy when she made one of my favorite dips - hot reuben dip.

Let me just say I'm not a fan of sauerkraut, but I love it in this dip. Not sure why, but I'm not going to question it. It is good.

She also served up some very cute Valentine's Day cupcakes, check these out!

When we got back yesterday it was the husband's birthday. He requested a homemade cherry cheesecake instead of a birthday cake, so I got to work in that in the kitchen when we got home. Surprisingly very simple and it turned out great. Stayed tuned for that in a couple of days...

Until then, whip up this dip - it's fabulous!

Hot Reuben Dip
1 can sauerkraut
8 oz. swiss cheese
1/4 lb. corned beef (diced)
16 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese

Place all ingredients in a crock pot, stir together, and heat on low. It is ready when all is melted and combined. Serve with chunks of french bread, crackers or sliced veggies.

Obviously, my favorite dipper is the bread.


Now...who wants some FREE chocolate? Head on over to my Sweet & Savory Food Facebook page and simply "LIKE" today's post. I'm giving away two bars of Green & Black's dark chocolate (almond and mint). I'll be picking a random winner tomorrow night.

I sampled them in the grocery store yesterday and just couldn't resist getting some for my readers. They are so good!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creamy Dill Chicken Salad

Look who made a comeback at our house tonight....the one, the only, chicken salad panini.

Such an easy sandwich, that only seems to taste better the longer the chicken salad soaks up all ingredients. Hence, why I made it last night for tonight's dinner. Genius.

Creamy Dill Chicken Salad
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. mayo
2 T. mustard
1 T. dill pickle relish
1 t. dill

Cook chicken breasts (sprinkled with dill) until juices run clear and chicken is firm. Either on a grill pan, in the oven, or by boiling in water. Allow chicken to cool, and shred. Mix with ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour or better yet overnight.

Serve on toasted bread, croissants, crackers, or how we like to do it at our house - in a panini with some gooey melted cheddar cheese.

So, tomorrow is Friday! Finally. The little man and I are headed out of town for the night to visit some friends and attend a party. Oh, and the little girl will be in attendance too...

My 32 week belly pic (sorry so small, it's taken on my co-worker's phone). Everything is still going well, but it needs to SLOW down as I'm not prepared for her yet!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nana Berry Muffins

Sick of me going on and on about baked goods lately? Sorry, I cannot help it. Blame the little girl inside of me that craves them constantly. If she is not doing jumping jacks all day, she is craving the sweets.

I really think there is some truth to girls liking sweets more than boys.

But, I will say these are semi-healthy muffins. Again, my base muffin recipe with things thrown in. A typical Sunday morning treat, that lasts us till about Wednesday.

What am I kidding...more like Tuesday.

Nana Berry Muffins
2 egg whites
1/4 c. canola oil
1 1/2 c. yogurt
1/2 c. flax seed
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 c. mashed banana
1 c. blueberries
1 c. chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin liners. Mix together egg whites, oil, bananas and yogurt. Gently stir in dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. Remember the trick to great muffins is to NOT overmix!
Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

In other news...

The high today was 4 degrees, the snow drifts are measured in feet, and I'm pretty sure spring will never arrive. But thankfully since I'm 32 weeks pregnant, I'm generally warm most of the time so it isn't bothering me as much as others!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nutella Peanut Butter Cups {gluten free}

This jar has been staring back at me every time I open our pantry cupboard.

Yesterday I finally did something with it.

I want to assume Nutella is a pretty well known chocolate spread by now...but I have a feeling there are still people out there who haven't had this little jar of heaven. If you are one of those, please stop passing it by in the aisles and pick up a jar. You will not regret it.

Since February 5th was...

I figured we needed to celebrate.
This recipe is so simple and so easy, I am seriously debating making another batch tonight to take to work tomorrow (as if people won't be stuffed to the gills from watching the Super Bowl already!). We'll see if it happens.

And to make this recipe even better, it is gluten free. Yep, Nutella is gluten free and the ooey-gooey peanut butter cup it sits in, is as well. Can't be that.

Nutella Peanut Butter Cups (makes 8 large cups, or 16 mini cups)
1 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda

In a small bowl mix together first 5 ingredients. Place paper liners in regular or mini muffin tins and spray with cooking spray. Take a nice big spoonful of peanut butter batter and fill at least 3/4 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly undone in the middle.

Take out of oven and with the back end of a wooden spoon, press in the center of the cup, making a large indent for the Nutella. Spoon Nutella into the center and place on a wire rack to cool, at least one hour. Store in Tupperware to keep fresh.

Ta-da! Trust me, these won't last long in your house.

Now, all you sports fans, who are you rooting for tonight? Packers? Steelers? Neither are one of my favorites (Colts or Cowboys), so I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the show. The husband on the other hand is rooting for the Steelers. We'll see who wins!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Garlic Marinara Sauce

We are officially dug out and that meant I had to go back to work today. Bummer. It was nice having a day off in the middle of the week. I could get used to that!

Who else was snowed in?

Since I had some extra time yesterday, I went ahead and tried a new recipe. A few weeks back I saw Melissa d'Arabian of Ten Dollar Dinners cook this up on the Food Network. It looked so simple and delicious, I knew I had to try it. I adapted my recipe just a little, but for the most part it is the same.

I paired it with some crispy herb chicken (the same chicken I use for chicken parmesan) and it went together perfectly. Even the leftovers for lunch at work today tasted great...but then again I think all pasta dishes taste great the next day:)

Garlic Marinara Sauce
adapted from Melissa d'Arabian

9 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. olive oil
6 T. butter
26 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 T. chopped basil
salt/pepper to taste

Pour olive oil into a small saucepan and add garlic. Cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn't stick together. In a medium saucepan add tomatoes and butter over medium heat, until butter melts. Stir in garlic oil, salt, pepper and simmer another 10 minutes to let flavors combine.

Serve with your favorite pasta, use in lasagna, put on top meatball sandwiches or sop it up with a nice hunk of bread. The point is however you use it, it will taste GOOD.

The best part of this dish, is I only used about 2 cups with dinner, so I stuck the rest in the freezer. Easy access for our next pasta night!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Maple Oatmeal Pie

I am unexpectedly home early today, as the snow is bearing down on us (as with much of the country's mid-section). We are expected to receive over a foot of the fluffy stuff, and with the wind a howling, my commute took twice as long to get home this afternoon.

Happy to be home now! I'm thinking a nice hot, mug of hot cocoa will sound good soon.

Okay, readers, I made a FANTASTIC new pie this weekend. Let's be honest though first. I'm not a pie baker. I mean, I'll do it if needed, but it is not one of my go-to baking items. I'd much rather whip up a batch of muffins, cookies or brownies.

But, this recipe has been staring at me, since my mom made a copy of it for me out of some cooking magazine. It kind of reminds me of a pecan pie - but different. Is that possible?

You have to try it for your next gathering, or if you're like me, just because. It is literally a dump, mix, pour pie.


Maple Oatmeal Pie
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. sugar (I used 1/4 c. sugar, 1/4 c. honey)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flaked coconut (I used unsweetened coconut)
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine eggs, maple syrup, sugars, milk, butter and vanilla. Fold in coconut, oats and nuts. Pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate within 2 hours. Keep covered and in fridge for storage.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

P.S. - I took some help from Pillsbury, as their deep dish pie crusts were on sale this past weekend for 2/$1.00!

For those of you out there thinking it will taste just like a pecan pie you are wrong. The husband turned up his nose thinking this, but once he took a bite he was hooked. Trust me, it does taste different!