Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

For the first time in my life I have been paying attention to items that are in season, and cooking with them.  Since asparagus seems to be the go-to veggie in spring, I have been looking for lots of recipes (it helps that every store has it on sale for CHEAP!)

On a whim, I bought a box of Arborio rice last week in hopes that I would figure out what to do with it later.  Never having made Risotto before I had no idea what to expect, but I know I have heard the word yelled A LOT by Chef Ramsey :)  That had me a little worried.

It was actually very easy to cook, just a bit time consuming since you have to constantly stir, but not that big a deal at all.  And the hubby and daughter LOVED it.  So its something that will frequent the household more often.
What are your favorite Risotto Recipes?  I need to stock TO MAKE LIST!

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

Source: Gourmet | May 2009 (via

Makes 4 (main course) or 6 to 8 (side dish) servings

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking, then drain. Keep broth at a  simmer, covered.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.

Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture and briskly simmer, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy and tender but still al dente (it should be the consistency of a thick soup), about 18 minutes. (There will be leftover broth mixture.)

Stir in shrimp and cook until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in asparagus, zest, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parmesan, parsley, and pepper to taste. (Thin risotto with some of remaining broth if necessary.)

linked to:
It's a Keeper

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Yumminess at the In Laws :)

Yumminess.  Don't think that's even a word but that's what I felt going over to the In Laws for Easter.  My MIL does the old school southern cooking that we dont have very often anymore, just for health reasons alone.  But when we do, its oh so yummy!  So thank  you Diana, for inviting us and having us out :)

This is why everything tastes so yummy!

Photo ops everywhere!


This was just super yummy!

Fruit Bowl
Mmmm, sugary fruit!

The Spread
Only about 1/2 the Spread

Almost finished...

Sage Eyes
MOM!  I'm hungry! See my sad puppy eyes!

Hunger makes the hubby goofy.  Think his step dad has had enough and wants no kissy face!

The chef and her creations :)
The chef and her creations :)

Food was amazing.  Now back to Diet Land :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Too Much Chocolate Cake

Friday was my co-worker (and friend) Suzie's birthday, and I wanted to make her a cake that I have been promising for a year now.  She loves chocolate almost as much as my hubby and daughter, so I thought it would be appropriate to make her a cake called Too Much Chocolate cake.  I found the recipe a couple of years ago, made it a couple of time but never had the confidence to actually bring it to work to share :)

There is nothing healthy about this.  AT ALL.  Im sure that changes can be made to slim the cal/fat down but since I planned on leaving this cake at work, I didnt bother (evil, yes, I know!).

Too Much Chocolate Cake


1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar.

Being the good friend that I am, I also chose to add a chocolate drizzle as well. Of course, that is completely optional, but at this point... whats a few hundres more calories?

Chocoloate Drizzle:
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey (I didnt have corn syrup, so used this instead)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pop in microwave until melted (or you could do the double boiler bit)

Drizzle over cake.  Enjoy!


Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

First off, I hate apartment indoor lighting.

I don't have much of a sweet tooth (although I think my hubby's and daughter's LOVE of all things sugary is starting to rub off on me), but one thing that I adore is a good cookie. I can eat the heck out of some fresh baked cookies. Cookie monster aint got nothing on me!

Sad to say, but I am a pretty novice cook, that has not made many desserts before, so I was looking for a fairly easy, and would it be possibe...a fairly healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe? I was in luck. I spied a lovely recipe via Ginas Skinny Recipes by Gina  I'm going to pretty much post her recipe word for word because there was no need (IMO) to change anything. It was sooo yummy!

Low Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg (I used 1/4 cup eggbeaters)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, followed by the applesauce and vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls (approx 1 tbsp each) of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, flattening each cookie slightly.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


These were sooo good! They didnt last past the weekend :)


Nutritional Info:
Serving Size: 2 cookies
Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 190
Fat: 6.3 g
Protein: 2.6 g
Carb: 34.2 g
Fiber: 2.0 g
Sugar: 19.3 g

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gnocchi With Shrimp, Asparagus & Pesto

There's something to be said for quick and easy but FRESH meals. This meal was so easy to make and I guarantee anyone could make it.  If you can boil water, this is the recipe for you :)  I pretty much followed the recipe exact, it was just too good to mess around with.

I acquired a magic bullet through marriage (thanks honey!) and I am ashamed to say that I don't use it to it's fullest.  Its fantastic for making Pesto, so why we are not having fresh pesto is a mystery. Something that I MUST change though!  ;)

On to the recipe:

Gnocchi With Shrimp, Asparagus & Pesto

Source: Cooking Light JULY 2007 (via

YIELD: 4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)


2 quarts plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
4 cups (1-inch) slices asparagus (about 1 pound)
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, coarsely chopped (I forgot this step, so shrip was whole and worked fine)
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons preshredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt


Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven, or large pot. Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook 4 minutes or until done (gnocchi will rise to surface). Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Add asparagus and shrimp to water, cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Drain. Add shrimp mixture to gnocchi.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon water, basil, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor (or a handy dandy magic bullet); process until smooth, scraping sides. Drizzle oil through food chute with food processor on (or just stop and unscrew bottom from bullet - it doesn't seem to hurt the process); continue until well blended. Add salt and basil mixture to shrimp mixture; toss to coat. Serve immediately.


This was so yummy and fresh and light!  The daughter loved it, which REALLY surprised us.  She ate it even though the entire dish was green AND it had asparagus.  Its a mother's dream come true :)

Nutritional Information

    * Amount per serving
    * Calories: 355
    * Calories from fat: 24%
    * Fat: 9.3g
    * Saturated fat: 1.6g
    * Monounsaturated fat: 4.5g
    * Polyunsaturated fat: 2.5g
    * Protein: 26.5g
    * Carbohydrate: 42.7g
    * Fiber: 3g
    * Cholesterol: 170mg
    * Iron: 5.7mg
    * Sodium: 894mg
    * Calcium: 108mg

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Back in the day I spent a few years in New Orleans, and of course, one of the things that the Big Easy is known for is delicious food! Too bad I spent those years in teenage la-la land. I couldn't have cared less about food or cooking in those days. Oh well, live and learn :)

So now in my older years I am making an attempt at Red Bean and Rice for the first time. And I have to say, it turned out pretty darn tasty!

IMG_1740Serves: 6-8 easily

1 lb uncooked red kidney beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped (I may have had more than 3, but we are garlic fans here)
7 cups water
Sausage of your choice (I used Sprouts Spicy Andouille 12 oz- pic below) sliced
1 cup uncooked Brown Rice (more if you like more rice)
IMG_1741Cajun Seasoning

Soak beans in water overnight. Once beans have soaked, drain, rinse and set aside.

Place olive oil in large pan/Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, salt and pepper and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add beans and water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.  Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer, add sausage and Cajun seasoning, and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking.

During the last 30 minutes of the beans cooking, add rice to a seperate pot. Add just enought water that when you stick your finger into pot and the tip of your finger touches the rice, the water reaches your first knuckle of your middle finger (or first line). Set on med-high, cover and let boil. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low-med and simmer until ready. I love the knuckle trick, I saw it on Cooking Channel's Spice Goddess and its worked everytime.

Once beans are cookied to your liking, serve over rice.  Enjoy :)

Nutrition Facts (Based on 8 servings)
(Approximate - from
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 396

Total Fat - 9.1g
Saturated Fat - 2.5g
Cholesterol - 51mg
Sodium - 455mg
Total Carbohydrates - 58.8g
Dietary Fiber - 10.0g
Sugars - 3.2g
Protein - 20.7g
Vitamin A 9% • Vitamin C 38%
Calcium 11% • Iron 35%

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lemon Pepper-Chipotle Fish Tacos

I have been craving Fish Tacos since I saw this blog, almost a month ago.  I went the lazy way and bought the slaw mix from Central Market (big tub of already cut cabbage/carrots for $1.77 =Win in my book!), but I'm ok with that :)  Friday nights are for quick dinners anyway!

The base of this recipe is the same, but I wanted a little more spice in mine.  My recipe calls for some Chipotle powder for a little kick!  Yum!  Next time I do this recipe (and I will, because it was super simple and very yummy) im going to make a Chipotle Cream sauce or something, maybe Chipotle mayo ;)  Although I did add some Queso Fresco & Chipolte laughing cow to this

Servings: 4 (or 2 very hungry people)
  • 4 tilapia fillets 
  • 2 cups cole slaw mix
  • 1 lemon (1/2 sliced, 1/2 for juice)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime 
  • Chipotle powder
  • lemon pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • cooking spray 
  • 2 wedge laughing cow Queso Fresco/Chipotle laughing cow
  • soft tortillas (I used low carb

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Spray cooking spray along bottom of cooking pan. Season both sides of fish with lemon pepper and chipotle powder.  I used generous amounts of both, because tilapia if pretty bland IMO. Sprinkle a litttle dalt, then add sliced lemon over fish, Squeeze about 1/2 the lemon all over the fish.

3. Line pan with fish, bake for 20-25 minutes, until fish flakes easily.

IMG_17294. While fish is baking, in a bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Add in coleslaw mix.  Toss well and let sit to marinate while fish cooks.

5. Warm tortillas in oven for 2-3 minutes. When ready to serve, break fish into chunks, spoon onto warm tortilla, add 1 wedge of laughing cow (in chunks), then add slaw.  Top with guacamole (optional, not included in nutritional info).

This was pretty tasty, as far as I can remember - I pretty much inhaled them so the 15 seonds my tastbuds actually came in contact with the food was pretty tasty!

Nutrition Facts (from
Serving Size: 1 Taco
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 270
Calories from Fat - 78
Total Fat - 8.7g
Saturated Fat - 2.3g
Trans Fat - 0.0g
Cholesterol - 63mg
Sodium - 983mg
Total Carbohydrates - 23.3g
Dietary Fiber - 9.0g
Sugars - 7.5g
Protein - 26.0g
Vitamin A 1%     •     Vitamin C 57%
Calcium 7%     •     Iron 6%

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Orange-Cranberry-Banana-everything I can think of Muffins

I have discovered there are a million and one recipes for muffins on the internet. For a beginner like me, its a little overwhelming. So, what the logical thing to do? Add one more of course!

I honestly don't know that much about baking. My husband, who spent some years in the restaurant biz a few years back, does. Obviously he was going to play a roll in this recipe :) I know that everyone tells me that baking is exact, and the measurements must be correct or nothing good will come about, so that always makes me a bit nervous because I forgot lots of stuff a lot of the time.

My base recipe was adapted from Serious Eats: Orange Cranberry Muffins (so I could get the basics ratios!)

FYI: This makes 16 muffins - I didn't realize that until I was ready to pour. Oops :)

After adding a little of this, and a little of that, this is what we finally came up with:

Orange-Cranberry-Banana Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
IMG_17081 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
8 oz can mandarin oranges (save the juice for a later step)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten (we used 1/4 cup egg beaters)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 ripe banana
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Pour juice from mandarin oranges over the dried cranberries and let sit until ready to mix. (or you could do this overnight).

IMG_17123. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Make an indentation in the middle.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, mix orange juice***, oil and egg. Pour mixture into flour indentation and stir until everything is just combined.

4. In a small bowl mash banana and mandarin oranges, stir in cranberries. Stir into batter.

5. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins. Sprinkle with reserved 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from tins and cool on a wire rack.

***We actually thought that the little bit of juice left over from mandarin oranges would be enough, but it wasn't and we added about 3/4 cup water. I'm going to add 3/4 cup orange juice to this recipe, as the original had, that would probably work much better, haha!

These turned out really good. Our daughter, who doesn't really like fruity muffins, loved it! Not bad for my first time I think :) Thanks to the hubby I'm sure!

They definitely have my mind rolling about different items to toss into the batter :) I just happen to have some blackberries and ripe banana left...hmmm... ;)

Nutrition Facts(from
Serving Size: 1 muffin
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Discoveries

Today was a beautiful day in the North Texas area and we just HAD to get out of the house. My hubby and I decided to take a trip to Central Market. One thing about this place, is that even though its an amazing place to explore, its WAY too easy to load your cart and leave $100+ poorer. So before going in, we decided we had a $40 limit, and pulled out that amount and no more!

Its amazing how a cash budget will put things into perspective for you. A person becomes much more picky on purchases. Although there were so many samples that were sooo yummy (Oyster Po-boys for goodness sakes!) we held strong!

One item item that peaked our interest, mainly because the loud POP the machine was making as it spit the fluffy bits of crispiness out, was something called Kim's Magic Pop.

Kim's Magic PopNutrition / Ingredients

Maybe we live in a cave, but we had never heard of these. So we took a sample, with some artichoke spinach hummus, and knew right away that these items were some of the chosen ones. And just by chance, they had a sell buy the POPs and get the hummus free :) Like that!


Amazingly, with these items and just a few more, we got out of Central Market only spending just under $14.00. Definitely a first for us!

On our way home, we decided to stop by one of our favorite places for fresh Samosas, a place called Royals Sweets. Samosas for $1.25/ea Yes indeed.

So for lunch we had a light and oh so yummy meal of Samosa, and hummus covered POP.

15 Cals per POP
70 Cals for 2 Tbsp Hummus

I don't know what the cals on the Samosa are, but considering the POP/Hummus is less that 100 I think we are ok :)