Monday, February 14, 2011

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

You might think chicken sausage doesn't sound very good, but it really is! I've made up my own pasta recipe with it in the past, but this one was really yummy. This came from, which is also where I got the picture. The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that it has you put the spinach in the boiling pasta water, but when you drain off the water you lose a lot of nutrients. Next time I will probably try cooking it in the sauce instead. This makes a heaping 9x13 pan full. It would be good to split between two 8x8 pans and freeze one, or share with a neighbor who just had a baby or something.

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream (you could leave this out and it would still be good, but I liked it creamy)
1 pound rigatoni (I used whold grain penne, which was great!)
9 ounces fresh spinach (can use frozen spinach, thawed and drained well, but I can't stand frozen spinach)
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I got mine at Albertsons. I've seen them at a lot of grocery stores. They are by the hotdogs.)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (If using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted.) Drain, and return contents to pot.
3. Add tomato sauce, sausage, spinach and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 8X8-inch pans). Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Apple Yogurt Pancakes

These were awesome! It's hard to say which were better between these and the pumpkin pancakes. I got the original recipe from, but I changed it quite a bit to make it healthier and more filling. The syrup, on the other hand, is not healthy. And it is so good I could drink it. But it's sweet enough that you only need a little and the pancakes are so moist that you don't need extra butter (unlike the picture, which I borrowed from google search again).

Apple Yogurt Pancakes
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups milk (I used buttermilk)
1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt (Mountain High brand)
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (next time I'm going to do 2 cups flour and 1/2 cups oats)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
1 apple - peeled, cored and diced (I grated mine, and next time I probably won't bother peeling it)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, yogurt and applesauce until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and wheat germ and stir into the milk mixture until smooth. Fold in chopped apple.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each cake. (Use spoon to flatten out batter) Cook until bubbles form in the cakes and the bottoms are golden brown. Flip and cook the other side. Serve warm with fruit and jam, maple syrup, or homemade yogurt syrup (recipe follows).

Homemade Yogurt Syrup
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Mountain High brand)
1/2 cup butter
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring first four ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir constantly for 5 minutes. Add baking soda and vanilla. Remove from stove and serve over pancakes, waffles or french toast. (The syrup will be thin-- this is normal. After it cools off a bit it thickens up. Store any extra syrup in the fridge for later use. It gets very thick once refridgerated.)
**The baking soda will make it boil high so make sure you use a large pot.***

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Low Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins

When I think bran muffins, I usually picture chewing on cardboard. It reminds me of my early years doing clinicals in Nursing homes. BUT these are SO not like that. They are delicious and around 100 calories a piece. My whole family loved them and I'll definitely be doing them anytime I have fresh blueberries. (Picture borrowed from Google Search.)

Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup nonfat milk (I used buttermilk, just because that's what I had)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or use paper muffin liners. Mix together wheat bran and milk, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat in bran mixture. Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into bran mixture until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Scoop into muffin cups.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Yields 12 muffins.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

This was my first time making bread by hand (or mixer, I should say) and it turned out so delicious! I like to keep the link to my recipes so that I can go back and look at the comments. People are always saying how they changed things a little and it's very interesting. Here is the link to this bread:

Next time I plan on using all whole wheat instead of half and half. The things I did differently are in blue.
Simple Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 4 C total)
1/4 cup gluten flour aka: dough enhancer
*2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly. (I assume this is just to help the yeast grow and activate??)

2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey (this is the second time you add honey, I almost missed it because I thought I had already done it, which I had, but you do it again), and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour and gluten flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. (I used my Kitchenaid for the kneading, and it took me 2 extra cups of flour, 4 C whole grain flour total.) Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard (I didn't do this and the crust was just fine). Cool completely.

White Bean Chile

This recipe is easy, fast and delicious.

1 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. chicken (about 3 chicken breasts or I used canned chicken)
1 small white onion
1 tsp. garlic powder

2 chicken bullion cubes
2 cups water
2 cans chopped green chiles
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. salt (don't add if you use canned chicken)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano

2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup sour cream (I use low fat or fat free)
1/2 cup whipping cream (I use light cream or milk)

green onions
monterey jack grated cheese
tortilla chips

-Boil chicken. Dice into 1/2 inch cubes. While boiling, chop onion.
- In a large pot, heat oil, cooked chicken, onion, and garlic powder for 5 minutes.
- Add water, chicken bullion, green chiles, cayenne, salt, cumin, oregano. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. While simmering, drain and rinse beans.
- Add beans. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Turn heat down to low (as low as it will go). Stir in whipping cream and sour cream. Keep uncovered on low for 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls. Top with chopped green onion and monterey jack cheese.
*this recipe serves 4.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creamy Italian Sausage Chili

I was craving Corn Bread and Chili and I found a few different chili recipes. This one was wonderful! It's from Sure, it's not the healthiest dish in the book, but totally worth it. I guess some might consider it spicy. I didn't. But you can tone down the spices a little if you have sensitive taste buds. This chili tastes even better the second day.

Creamy Italian Sausage Chili
1 lb italian sausage
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 can chicken broth
3 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans diced tomatoes, lightly blended (I didn't blend them)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
1 can of each: black beans, pinto beans (I used kidney beans instead of pinto because I like them so much better), chili beans (I drained the black and kidney beans just a little)
1/2 pkg. of cream cheese

Start frying the sausage in a large pot. Add the garlic with some olive oil and brown. Once sausage is browned add the broth, spices, tomatoes, vinegar, and ketchup. Stir well and bring to a boil. Add the beans (do not drain) to the pot. Let the chili simmer for about half an hour. Lastly add the cream cheese and stir in until completely dissolved. It's especially good served with crackers or cornbread.

Here is the recipe for corn bread that I used from

Corn Bread
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. yellow corn meal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1. Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in a small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture and stir just until blended.
3. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm with butter and honey for that extra bit of yumminess!

Pumpkin Pancakes

I have been trying to find some different kinds of things to eat for breakfast and I came across these at They were a big hit with my whole family. (Picture borrowed from google search. I'm not very good at making food look as good as it tastes).

Pumpkin Pancakes
1 1/2 cups milk (I used buttermilk)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. (For smoother consistency, blend pumpkin in a food processor or blender with some milk first). Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Batter will be thick.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Use a spoon to spread the batter flat on the griddle. Brown on both sides and serve hot with Cool Whip or syrup. We used just a little bit of Cool Whip Lite.