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Who am I? Wife. Mother of 2. "Newbie" to fitness. Personal Trainer-in-training. Lover of health. Fitness. Religion. Family. Gluten and refined sugar intolerant. Welcome to my journey. Learn with me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

We were at my parent's house for dinner on Sunday evening and around 9:00 pm my mom decides she has to have dessert. So we started scanning the internet for possible recipes that not only looked good, but that she had the ingredients for. I came across this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen and it looked so simple that I had tot ry it out. Turns out that it is a super simple recipe and it feeds a crowd! The cookie bars turned out chewy and delicious and I even liked the frosting which is a big deal for me because I am NOT a frosting person. These were even better the next day around and fun to eat bite by bite instead of in a whole bar.

The picture and recipe are courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen and can be found here.

From Real Mom Kitchen
Reminder Recipe! One Year Ago: Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas

1 cup butter; room temp.
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.


1/2 cup butter; room temp
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food coloring (if desired)

For frosting combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cookie.

*NOTE! The second time I made this I used 1/2 cup less white flour than the first time. The dough was MUCH easier to handle and a lot more moist. If you are using finer flours like fresh ground wheat I would stick to the original amount, otherwise REDUCE!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mini Meatball Subs

I love Allrecipes.com. There are so many different recipes and so many new things to try out! I am signed up for their daily newsletter and when I saw this picture I knew this was one we had to try. And it was DELICIOUS! The meatballs were very flavorful and giving the cheese a chance to melt in the oven made the rolls a bit crunchy which was a perfect compliment to the sauce. No soggy bread here!

The only thing we will change next time around is that we will use less pepper. The original recipe calls for a full teaspoon of pepper and I was pretty skeptical about using that much but no one that commented on the original recipe said that the pepper was too much. I will most likely use 3/4 of a tsp. next time around.

The original recipe also said to only make 8 meatballs. I made good sized ones that were perfectly sized for the rolls I used (French Steak Rolls) and got 12.

This recipe takes a lot longer to make than some of the recipes I make - 50 minutes just to cook. BUT I promise that it is well worth it and if you have the time you should definitely go for it. You won't be disappointed with the end product. This was easily one of my favorite recipes that I made this month - right behind the Spinach Pesto Manicotti. Kind of ironic that my two favorite recipes from this month both had the longest cooking times!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of Allrecipes.com and can be found here.

From Allrecipes.com
Reminder Recipe! One Year Ago: Beef Stroganoff
Reminder Recipe! Two Years Ago: Skillet Enchiladas

• 1 pound ground beef
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
• 1/2 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (next time I will not use more than 3/4 tsp.)
• 1 (26.5 ounce) can spaghetti sauce
• 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 12 dinner rolls, split

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Combine ground beef, onion, green pepper, crackers, and egg in a large bowl. Season with Worcestershire sauce, garlic, seasoned salt, and pepper; mix well. Form mixture into 12 meatballs. Place meatballs in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. Bake meatballs in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Pour the spaghetti sauce into a large saucepan; bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir baked meatballs into the simmering sauce. Do not turn oven off. Simmer sauce until meatballs are fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
4. Place one meatball, a sprinkle of mozzarella, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a bit of sauce between each roll. Place sandwiches in hot oven; bake until cheeses melt, about 7 minutes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

We love chicken enchiladas and we love pasta around here so of course I jumped at the opportunity to combine the two together! This wonderfully flavorful dish was creamy and spicy and far too easy to gobble up. This dish has PLENTY of kick, even when using mild sauces. It came together pretty fast even though you have to take the time to dice and slice the veggies and chicken. Don't be intimidated by the longer ingredient list - most of the things you should have on hand already! It also makes a LOT of food that I think would easily feed 8 but that might just be my opinion. We will DEFINITELY be making this one again!

This recipe and picture are courtesy of My Kitchen Cafe and can be found here.


Serves 6-8
*Plan Ahead: the recipe calls for cooked chicken so use leftovers or plan enough time to cook the chicken beforehand.

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium onion, diced (I did small strips)
1 red pepper, diced (Again, small strips)
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (10-oz) can green chili enchilada sauce (I used mild)
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 can large black olives, cut in half
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free and a literal cup of sour cream, not just 8 oz.)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
16-20 oz. penne pasta (Depending on how "saucy" you want the pasta)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender. Add the cooked chicken, green chilies, spices, enchilada sauces and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don't boil!). Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions or crushed tortilla chips.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe (http://www.mykitchencafe.blogspot.com/)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oatmeal Coconut Chewies

I have been craving oatmeal cookies ever since my Visiting Teachers brought me some wonderful ones. I came across this recipe on The Sisters Cafe and KNEW it was meant for me! I do not like raisins and I think that chocolate chips make oatmeal cookies too sweet - coconut was the perfect combination. These cookies really were 100% chewy bliss. It is a good thing that my body warns me off when I have had too much sugar (I get sick to my stomach pretty quickly) because I probably would have/could have eaten the entire 4 dozen cookies by myself!!!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of The Sisters Cafe and can be found here.

Submitted by Mindy ~ www.thesisterscafe.com

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 - 2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup quick oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream together the sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased or lined (silpat or parchment) baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are set but not overly browned (bake a few minutes longer for a crispier version).

Setting Issues!

I don't know what is going on but some of my recipes had weird labels and when I fixed the labels it re-published the posts. My most recent recipe is the Barbecue Beef and Corn Sheperd's Pie. It can be found at the following link: http://shaylaskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/05/barbecue-beef-and-corn-sheperds-pie.html

Love, Shayla

Divine Breadsticks

Unlike the name would lead you to believe, these weren't really divine. They turned out too hard and not squishy like I like them. They were still edible and good when dipped in the spaghetti sauce I had made for our manicotti, but nothing really special.

I looked up the recipe again to see what had gone wrong and I found that Real Mom Kitchen had adapted the recipe I had originally found and made some changes that I was planning on making the next time I try this recipe out. And hers really did turn out to be divine! I think my flour must be really thick because it always seems to be too much when I use what the recipe calls for. Next time I am going to start with 3 cups of flour and see if that is enough before adding the addition 1/2 cup. Not that these breadsticks weren't good, but I think that if you follow this adapted recipe below from Real Mom Kitchen that they really will be divine.

Recipe and picture are courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen and can be found here.

From Real Mom Kitchen

1 ½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
Butter for the pan (I used 6 tblsp. and that seemed to be perfect.)
1 tsp garlic salt
parmesan cheese

Mix first 5 ingredients and knead for three minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt desired amount of butter and mix in garlic salt . Roll out dough into approximately 9 x 13 rectangle and cut into 12 strips. Roll in butter mixture, twist dough and put on baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Spinach Pesto Manicotti

I absolutely love to try new recipes. My husband has got to be one of the most easy to please people on the planet (LUCKY me!) and so I don't have to worry about making something that he won't eat. I had some pesto sitting in my fridge from a previous recipe and have never made manicotti before and wanted to try a new adventure.

We LOVED this dish! The pesto lends a rich flavor to the beef mixture that makes it taste like Italian sausage. Even our little daughter finished her entire plate of this stuff.

Now for my disclaimer.... this recipe isn't as "easy" as so many of the recipes that I love to post. Manicotti is not easy to stuff. If you follow the directions below it will be easier, but it will never be easy. I had to get my hands dirty to get this stuff in my dry noodles (if you cook the noodles first they are almost impossible to stuff). BUT! It really wasn't that big of a deal to me and with how delicious this turned out I will definitely be doing it again!

Also please be aware that this has a lengthy cooking time. I cooked my manicotti for the entire 50 minutes and it was perfect. PLAN AHEAD!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of BettyCrocker.com and can be found here.

From BettyCrocker.com

8 oz uncooked manicotti
1 lb extra-lean (at least 90%) ground beef
1 box (9 oz) Green Giant® frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain and chopped
4 oz mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup purchased pesto
1 egg
1 jar (26 to 28 oz) tomato pasta sauce

1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, spinach, cheese, pesto and egg. If desired, add salt and pepper; mix well. For easier stuffing, place beef mixture in resealable freezer plastic bag; seal bag. Cut about 1-inch hole in bottom corner of bag.
3. Fill each manicotti by squeezing beef mixture into manicotti. When stuffing manicotti, don't cook it first. Fill with this great tasting filling, then add quarter of the jar of sauce to the bottom of your baking pan. Put your manicotti down, then add half of remaining sauce over the top; add water to the last quarter of sauce in the jar to make the jar half full-shake. Pour this over the top. Cover with foil.
4. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is no longer pink in center and noodles are soft.

Makes 6 servings

*NOTE! I use generic Great Value spaghetti sauce from Wal-mart because it is so inexpensive. I buy a packet of spaghetti seasoning and just add it to the jar of sauce after I have put down the first layer on the bottom of the pan and shake the jar up to mix. This gives the generic sauce a great and full flavor that we love. I bought the Garden variety sauce this time which has a full serving of vegetables in each individual serving. Might as well "healthify" it when you can!

Barbecue Beef and Corn Sheperd's Pie

I am a big Sheperd's Pie fan and so when I came across this recipe I knew I had to try it. What a fun twist on a classic recipe! This was tangy and a bit spicy and BURSTING with flavor. Now, I had started to make dinner by the time I realized I had the wrong kind of package of mashed potatoes. I only had a 4 oz. package of instant potatoes. So... we improvised! I didn't use the milk, water or butter and just made up the instant potatoes in the microwave. I still mixed them with the corn and onions and spread it over my beef mixture. It was still REALLY good. I also just served this with corn tortilla chips and we ate this like a dip. Super yummy and super easy!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of BettyCrocker.com and can be found here.

From BettyCrocker.com

1 pound lean ground beef
8 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 can (11 ounces) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained
1 can (4 ounces) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles, undrained
1/2 package (7-ounce size) Betty Crocker® Four Cheese mashed potatoes (1 pouch)
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1 cup corn chips

1. Cook ground beef and 1/4 cup of the onions in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce, 3/4 cup of the corn and the chilies. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, cook potatoes as directed on package for 4 servings, using 1 pouch Potatoes and Seasoning, hot water, milk and butter. Stir in remaining onions and corn; let stand 5 minutes.
3. Spoon potatoes onto center of beef mixture, leaving 2 1/2- to 3-inch rim around edge of skillet; sprinkle cheese over potatoes and beef mixture. Cover and let stand about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle corn chips around edge of skillet.

Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Dessert

I was looking for a simple recipe that I could make in bulk for my sister's sealing dinner and I knew this one was the perfect one! I am not a cheesecake fan unless it is light and this was the perfect amount of tartness ad lightness. I actually did two of these - one in lemon and one with raspberry. I preferred the lemon one and my husband preferred the raspberry. It was pretty much a toss up between the two and what the guests like. I think it would be fun to do all sorts of flavors - lime, cranberry, strawberry, peach, etc. My aunt said that this tastes just like the cheesecake my Grandma used to make while she was alive. I'm not kidding about how easy it is - try it! You will love it!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of Eat at Home Cooks and can be found here.

From Eat at Home Cooks

• 1 box lemon jello (gelatin) (3oz box)
• 1 cup very hot water
• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 1 Tbs. sugar
• 1 stick butter, melted
• 8 oz cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed

Dissolve the jello in hot water. Set aside to cool.

Stir the sugar and graham cracker crumbs together. Add the butter and mix well. Reserve 1/2 cup for the topping. Press the rest into a 9×13 pan.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a mixer bowl. Beat until well combined. Stir in the lemon jello, until well combined. Fold in the frozen whipped topping until it’s all blended. Pour this onto the crust. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or until the next day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Green Chile Chicken Lasagna

This fantastic recipe comes from BettyCrocker.com. I LOVED it! I loved the taste and the textures and probably could have eaten the entire pan by myself if it wasn't also very filling. Jake really liked it as well although he said it still tasted a little too much like chicken. LOL. Funny boy.

I had to alter a few things on the recipe because some of the original directions just didn't work. Also, keep in mind that this meal takes a while to cook. You can easily make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge. I have listed the adjustments in the cooking time at the end of the recipe. And don't be afraid to use oven-ready lasagna noodles - they are FABULOUS! My final dish didn't look a whole lot like the picture because I like to end with my sauce on top. I was afraid if I didn't that the oven-ready noodles wouldn't get cooked enough and I didn't want them to be crunchy.

The picture and original recipe are courtesy of BettyCrocker.com and can be found here.

Adapted from BettyCrocker.com

1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1 egg
¾ - 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cans (10 oz each) Old El Paso® green enchilada sauce
2 cans (4 oz each) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
1 package (8 oz) oven ready lasagna (12 noodles)
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese; set aside. In another medium bowl, mix chicken, enchilada sauce and green chiles.
2. In ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish, spread 1 cup of the chicken mixture. Top with 4 uncooked lasagna noodles (3 going horizontally, 1 with about 1 ½ - 2 inches broken off the bottom going vertically); press gently into chicken mixture. Spread with 2/3 cup of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with a layer of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to your tastes. Cover with foil.
3. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until lasagna is tender, cheese is bubbly and edges are lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 10 servings

*NOTE! If you make this ahead of time it can sit in the fridge with no problems. Just reduce covered cooking time to 35 minutes. Make sure you still bake it uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes to give it the nice golden brown color.

FYI FINAL LAYERS: Sauce, Noodles, Ricotta mix, Cheese, Sauce, Noodles, Riccotta Mix, Cheese, Sauce, Noodles, Riccotta mix, Cheese, Sauce, Remaining Parmesan

A Few Extra Tips:

The lasagna noodles won’t cover the entire baking dish; they expand as they absorb liquid and cook, so when the dish is done, the lasagna will fill the pan. Look for oven ready lasagna with the rest of the dry pasta in the grocery store.

Green enchilada sauce is more mild than red enchilada sauce. Red enchilada sauce can be substituted, but the flavor will be spicier.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

This recipe is a replica of the dessert that you can get at the Chili's restaurants from Real Mom Kitchen. My dad put it best when he said, "With a name like that it is better to not question what is in it." Is this dessert healthy? HA HA HA HA HA HA... no. But! It is delicious. My hubby isn't a big dessert eater and he said that this was fabulous. I got lots of compliments about it at the dinner party I took it to. Just don't think too much about the ingredients and what parts of your body they are going to and you'll be just fine!

The only thing I changed in this recipe was that I used roasted peanuts instead of walnuts. We are very allergic to walnuts and so that option wasn't going to fly for us. The peanuts definitely give it a peanut butter undertone but it was a good compliment to the rest of the bar. You could also do chopped almonds or pecans if you want to turn over a pretty penny to purchase them!

The picture and recipe are courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen and can be found here.

From Real Mom Kitchen

  • 1 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • caramel sauce
  • hot fudge sauce
  • more chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a jelly roll pan (this is the bakers half sheet size -  it’s like 11 1/2 inch x 16 1/2 x 1 or you could use 2 9×13 inch pans.  The pie may be a little thicker and may take a little longer to cook).
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar and melted butter; beat with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to the sugar mixture; mix well.
  4. Stir in nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake 40+ minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve warm, or reheat individual servings in the microwave (10 seconds for a serving). Top with ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce and hot fudge sauce then sprinkled with chopped walnuts. Or just eat them like a brownie or bar cookie.  They are also excellent that way too.  Makes 24.

*NOTE!!! I used 2 9x13 inch pans to cook mine and it took about 35 minutes for them to cook. I did, however, bake them one at a time because my oven wouldn't fit both pans. Just be careful about the cooking time. I would start with 30 minutes and go up from there.