Chicken Divan

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Another week has begun, and I’ve got a great casserole for you! This is chicken divan. It is probably my brother’s favorite meal. He came to visit a while ago and I made this for him, since I knew that he liked so well. He ate almost the entire pan. The only part he didn’t eat was what I ate. It was unreal. Granted he runs and cycles all day long, so he can afford to eat like that sometimes, but I was just blown away. So needless to say this is a very good meal.

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To make chicken divan, start by cutting some broccoli, and steaming it just until tender, you don’t want to get it too soft, as it will continue to cook once it’s in the casserole. Steaming for 3-5 minutes will be good, depending on how big you cut your broccoli. Then shred some cooked chicken and dice some ham and put in the bottom of baking pan. Add your broccoli on top of the chicken and ham.

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In a small bowl mix together a can of cream of chicken soup, some mayonnaise and some pepper and a pinch or oregano. If you want to make the meal a little healthier, you can substitute the mayonnaise for some plain yogurt. That’s what I did this time, and I couldn’t tell the difference. It was very tasty! Once the soup mixture is combined pour over the chicken and broccoli, so its resting on top. If you want to stir it all together you can, but I always just keep it on top. Then sprinkle with some cheddar cheese, and with some crushed Ritz (or other buttery) crackers. They don’t have to be fine crumbs, just break them up like you are putting them in soup. Drizzle a tablespoon of melted on top of the crackers, and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!!

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Chicken Divan

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup Ham, diced
  • 2 cups fresh Broccoli, chopped
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise, or Plain Yogurt
  • Dash of Oregano
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. Butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam the chopped broccoli for 3-5 minutes, just until tender. In a 9×13 baking pan, put in the shredded chicken and diced ham. Top with the steamed broccoli. In a mixing bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise (or yogurt), and oregano and pepper. Pour that over the chicken, ham, and broccoli, and spread it so it covers the entire pan. Sprinkle casserole with shredded cheddar cheese, and then with the crackers. Drizzle the melted butter over top. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly. Enjoy!!

 

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Crock Pot Pizza

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TGIF!! This has been a long week! And sometimes I just don’t feel like coming home and making dinner. So last night, we had crock pot pizza. My mom would make this when my brother and I started to get older and or schedules started getting crazy with sports and other things. Its great for a nice, easy comfort meal, that’s ready for you when you walk in the door.

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I made this the night before, and had my husband put it in the crock-pot when he got home from school. Unfortunately this can’t be in the crock-pot for a long period of time or the pasta with become mush. But 4 hours on low will do the trick.

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To make the crock-pot pizza, start by browning some ground beef. Once it is brown, add some diced onion, mushrooms, and green pepper, sauteing until tender. If there are any other pizza toppings you like add those too. Once the veggies are tender, drain the mixture, and add it back to the pan. Meanwhile, cook some pasta, until al dente, you don’t need to cook it all the way because it will get softer in the crock-pot when it soaks up some of the sauce. Add some pepperoni and 2 jars of pizza sauce to the beef mixture. Stir to combine. When pasta is done, add to the beef mixture. Put in crock-pot over low heat for 3-4 hours. About 15 minutes until you’re ready to eat, add cheese and cover to let it melt. Enjoy!!

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Crock Pot Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 oz, mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 oz. pepperoni
  • 2 cups rotini pasta
  • 2 jars pizza sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Once brown, add onion, green bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until tender. Drain mixture and return to skillet. Add pepperoni and pizza sauce. Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. Stir into beef and pepperoni mixture. Put in crock-pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. During the last 15 minutes sprinkle cheese on top, cover to let it melt. Enjoy!

Spicy Sausage Rotini

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Happy Wednesday everyone! I made this dish last week, and I already want to make it again! It was perfect to warm us up from the frigid cold. This dish is full of flavor from the sausage and creamy, with a hint of heat added to it. It could even be made ahead of time and put the refrigerator and heated up later. Even better, it can all be made in one pan! It’s the little pleasures in life.

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So make to make this spicy sausage pasta, start by slicing some sausage. I used a smoked turkey sausage, but I’ve also used Johnsonville three cheese and pepper chicken sausage, but I couldn’t find it at the grocery this time. But if you want to use regular smoked or a spicy sausage, all those would work perfectly. Throw the sausage in an oven safe skillet with a little olive oil and saute until browned. Add in some diced onion, and cook until tender, and add some minced garlic and cook for another minute.

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Next, put in some rotini, chicken broth, diced tomatoes with green chiles, and some milk. Stir to combine. If you’re feeling up to it, you could substitute the milk for some cream, for a little extra decadence. Season the dish with a little oregano, salt and pepper. Bring the skillet to a boil, then cover the skillet and reduce the heat, letting it simmer for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes stir in a handful of Monterey Jack Cheese, and top with remaining cheese. Put the skillet under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!

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Spicy Sausage Rotini

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. smoked turkey sausage, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz Rotini
  • 1 10oz can Diced tomatoes with chopped green chiles
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Directions:

In a oven-safe skillet, over medium-high heat, saute sausage until browned. Add in diced onion, and saute until tender, add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add in pasta, diced tomatoes with chiles, chicken broth and milk. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add in a half cup of cheese and stir to combine. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. But skillet under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!!

 

Dark Chocolate Pecan Granola

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If you need a delicious snack, this is one to make! This granola is so good! My brother introduced this to us, and it is now a family favorite. It is a perfect snack. And very easy to make. I promise this is something you will continue making for a while!

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To make the granola, start by putting some brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, and a dab of regular butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat and stirring to combine until everything in melted together. Add some vanilla, and stir to combine. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together oats, cinnamon, pecans, and chocolate chips.

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Here is also where you can get inventive. You could add anything you want here, like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, whatever you like. Normally I like to add almonds to mine as well, I just didn’t have any, so I stuck with pecans. Once you have everything in the bowl, pour the honey mixture over the oats, and stir to combine. This will melt your chocolate chips as you stir and create a delicious chocolatey granola. Put granola onto a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Place in the oven at 350 for about 17-20 minutes depending on whether you like in more chewy or crispy. Break up granola after its cooled into smaller pieces. Enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate and Pecan Granola

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  2 tablespoons peanut butter
  •  2 tablespoons honey
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  2 cups oats
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt together the brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, butter, in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until well combined; then add the vanilla extract, and remove from heat. Combine the oats, cinnamon, pecans and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Pour the brown sugar mixture into bowl; stir well to combine. Spoon into a lined and greased baking sheet; pat down and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven until browned, 17 to 20 minutes.

Mexican Chicken Chili

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Apparently winter decided to finally come to Ohio. It is bitter cold here. I woke up and it was -4 degrees, and that doesn’t even include the wind chill. Needless to say I hope this doesn’t stick around. I am ready for summer! Last night I decided to make Mexican chicken chili since it was so cold. It just seemed like the perfect thing to warm us up. And it worked!

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Chili is such a great dish. It can be so versatile and can be turned into a healthy soup without losing great flavor. Plus it can be made ahead of time for busy days. This is a pretty easy recipe to make as well, and could be done in a crock pot.

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To start the chili, dice some onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion and pepper in a little olive oil until starting to brown and tender, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Then you simply just add the remaining ingredients to the pot, stir to combine everything, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the flavors have combined, or you’re just too impatient to wait anymore, like I was. Once the chili is done, serve with some fresh cilantro, cheese, or sour cream on top. Enjoy!

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Mexican Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 16-oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

In a medium pan over medium heat, saute onion and bell pepper in some olive oil until starting to brown and tender, add in garlic and cook for another minute. Add in remaining ingredients, except for cilantro. Stir to combine. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro on top.

Spaghetti Sauce

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As you all know, I completely love cheese… and chocolate… and butter… (it’s a wonder I became a dietitian, everything in moderation right??)… But I’m not sure I have completely displayed my love of pasta. It is truly one of the best things on earth! And I’ll take it in any shape, it doesn’t matter, it’s all good! There is nothing like sitting down at the end of long, cold day with a plate of spaghetti, with my mom’s spaghetti sauce. This may be one of my favorite meals of all time, and that is saying something, seeing as I love food! This sauce is hearty and full of flavor. The best part is that you can fashion it to your own liking, or by whatever you have on hand. I like to load mine with veggies, especially in the summer when I have so many from the garden I don’t know what to do with (although then I like to make it completely from scratch using fresh tomatoes).

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This sauce is a very simple recipe. I use ground beef, red and green bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, some spices, and a jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce. It just adds a little heartiness to sauce. However if you would like to just add another can of crushed tomatoes that would work great too, just make sure to add a little more seasoning.

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To make the sauce start by browning some ground beef in a large pan, when it is almost done, add onions and saute until tender. Drain mixture. In the same pan, add a little olive oil and saute some diced bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. When those have browned, add in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of crushed tomatoes, and your jar of store bought spaghetti sauce. Then add in your spices, including salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Stir everything to combine, then but the beef and onion mixture back into the pot, and stir into sauce. Cover the sauce and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Give it a taste to make sure it is to your liking and add any spices if needed. Serve over a big pot of hot spaghetti, and enjoy!

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Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 32 oz Jar Store Bought Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Brown ground beef in a large pot. Add onion and cook until tender, then drain beef mixture. In same pot saute bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic in a little olive oil, and cook until tender. Add in both tomatoes and jar of spaghetti sauce. Then add in spices, stir to combine. Pour beef mixture back into the pan and combine. Cover pot and let sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over spaghetti.

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

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Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a fun and safe New Year. We went to my in-laws for a small party, where we had ribs and they were delicious! I made dessert, and thought it would be appropriate to make these pink champagne cupcakes. I used Barefoot Pink Moscato Champagne and they turned out great! Perfect addition for a celebration. These would be great for a bridal shower, valentine’s day, or any party you go to. Or if you just need a cupcake, I would suggest these. The cupcakes are light, and moist, with a wonderful pink champagne buttercream frosting to compliment the cake. Sometimes you just need a little treat, and these are totally worth it!

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Batter before adding the egg whites

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Folding in the egg whites

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To make the cupcakes, start by creaming together some butter and sugar. Then sift together the remaining dry ingredients, including the flour, baking powder, and salt. Begin adding the flour mixture and champagne by alternating each one until just combined. Then in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed. Then gently fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter to soften it, then fold in remaining egg whites. If you want to add a few drops of red coloring to make them pink, you could do that now, by folding the color in gently, but not too much as you don’t want to deflate the egg whites. Pour batter into prepared liners in a cupcake tin, about 2/3 of the way full. Then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

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To make the frosting, start by creaming together softened butter and powdered sugar. Add a few tablespoons of pink champagne and a teaspoon of vanilla. Once the ingredients are combined, add a few drops of red food coloring. When the cupcakes are done baking and have cooled spread frosting on top, or you can get fancy by piping the frosting then, please do so! I was being lazy, so I just spread a generous helping on each cupcake. You could top each cupcake with sprinkles, or with a raspberry or a strawberry, to make them even prettier. Enjoy!

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Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes

Makes 20 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the cupcakes
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup champagne (the sweeter the better – go for at least a brut; extra-dry, sec, or even doux is best)
6 egg whites
4-5 drops red food coloring

For the champagne buttercream frosting*
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature
4-5 drops red food coloring

Cupcake Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a cupcake pan with liners.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Alternate adding flour mixture and champagne into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

In another large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.  Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with just a few crumbs on it.

Frosting Directions:

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together powdered sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute. Spread on cupcake, or put in bag to decorate with a tip. Enjoy!