Month: February 2014

Sweet of the Week: Apple Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For some reason I had apples on the brain this weekend.  So, I decided to embrace my craving, commemorate my second Sweet of the Week installment and make two dishes.  I am pleased to say that I executed both apple based recipes in a remarkably short amount of time–mostly because of my #1 food rule: if the creation of a single ingredient deters me from making a recipe then I buy the ready-made version.  This week’s example: ready-made pie crust.  Shhh…no one will know.

Recipe #1: Applesauce (courtesy of the Pioneer Woman)


Check out the link above for the Pioneer Woman’s apple sauce recipe, it turned out delicious and served as a yummy accompaniment to grilled pork loin on Sunday night.  (I opted for apple cider rather than apple juice for my liquid ingredient choice and it was perfect).

Recipe #2: Smitten Mitten Apple Pie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIngredients: brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, apples, lemon juice and a ready-made pie crust

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPrep your apples by first coring/cutting them into eight chunks and then slicing each chunk into 3-4 smaller slices.



Mix your apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, flour, nutmeg and brown sugar together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnroll your pie crust and add your apples, leaving a 2 inch border.


Fold your pie crust over your filling and back for 35 to 40 minutes (until crust is golden).  Cool, slice and serve warm with vanilla ice cream :)


Sweet of the Week: Apple Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 ready-made, rolled pie crust (refrigerator section of your grocery store)
  • 2 large apples of different varieties or 3 medium apples (I usually use a jonagold and a jazz)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 TB butter (cut into 4 pieces)
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Remove one rolled pie crust from the box and allow it to come to room temperature while you prep the filling (leave it in the bag until you are ready to unroll it).
  3. Peel both apples.
  4. Use a combination apple corer/slicer to cut your peeled apples into eight chunks.
  5. Cut each chunk into 3-4 smaller slices.
  6. Add all slices to a mixing bowl along with the lemon juice, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
  7. Unroll your pie crust onto a cookie sheet.
  8. Pour your filling into the center of the crust, creating a mound and leaving a 2 inch border around the entire pie.
  9. Fold the border over the filling and nestle your butter pieces into your apple filling.



(Pizza) Baked Spaghetti

I love, love, love pasta.  Any shape, any size and any sauce.  In particular I love the components of lasagna and its layers of flavor.  Since true lasagna (which does not include Barilla’s nOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAo cook noodles according to my hubby) is not an easy endeavor to pull off on a weeknight: cue the baked spaghetti!

This recipe is one of my winter staples since it is both fast and husband-approved.  Although, in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that a crucial ingredient is missing from this version of the recipe – pepperoni.  Normally pepperoni would be the final ingredient, added to the cheesy top layer, but alas I forgot to add it to my shopping list which means I forgot to add it to my shopping cart.  So in truth this is the 90% husband approved version.

Here is our staring line-up in order of appearance…ground beef, red bell pepper, spaghetti, jarred tomato sauce, roasted red pepper flakes, cottage cheese, egg, and pepper jack cheese.


Plus!  My secret-weapon, spaghetti sauce ingredient…drum roll please…

Worcestershire sauce!

Trust this gem with only your closest friends.


Start by bringing your pasta water to a boil while you brown your ground beef and soften your red bell pepper in a non-stick skillet.  When your water is boiling add your spaghetti and cook according to package directions.


Drain your pasta and pour it into a pie plate that has been greased with cooking spray.  Spread out your pasta so that it fits up the sides of the pie plate.  Also drain the fat from your browned meat and softened bell pepper.


Add the jarred sauce, Worcestershire sauce and drained meat mixture back into the skillet and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, mix your cottage cheese and egg in a small bowl before spreading it over top of your pasta.


Add your simmered sauce mixture to your pie and top with the pepper jack cheese.  (Next would come the pepperoni if you opt for the pizza version of baked spaghetti).


Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 350 degrees until the cheese browns as it would on a pizza.

(Pizza) Baked Spaghetti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 4 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (14 - 16 oz)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup pepper jack cheese
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • Pepperoni (optional)
  1. Bring pasta water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and red bell pepper in a non-stick skillet.
  3. Drain fat from the ground beef and return to skillet.
  4. Add jarred spaghetti sauce, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture. Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Drain pasta and add it to a pie plate that has been greased with cooking spray. Spread pasta so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
  6. Mix cottage cheese and egg together in a small bowl. Spread evenly over pasta layer.
  7. Add spaghetti sauce mixture to the pie plate.
  8. Top with pepper jack cheese and pepperoni.
  9. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
  10. Rest for 5 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Tuesday Night White Chicken Chili

Everyone has a busiest day of the week or most tired night of the week.  For me, it’s Tuesday.  Monday comes right after the weekend, Wednesday has a certain sense of accomplishment as the halfway point, Thursday is almost Friday and Friday night technically starts the weekend, right?

Needless to say, no matter what your busiest night or most tired night of the week may be, this is the chili for you.  The added bonus of this recipe is that it can also be assembled solely using staples from your pantry and refrigerator.

Some of you may have also read my recipe for Smitten Mitten Chili.  I mentioned that I had entered a white chicken variety in previous chili cook-off contests and this is that fabled concoction.  Smitten Mitten Chili is definitely worth the effort but the recipe below is still my favorite…and not just because it’s super fast.

This recipe is also close to my heart because it came by way of my mom.  Her version has 1 can of chicken, 1 large rather than small jar of great northern beans and only 1/2 a jar of salsa.  Jesse and I are more meat than bean lovers and love spicy food so our modified version is found below, but both are delicious.

Side Note: If you are a fellow Michigander and live in the vicinity of a restaurant called Adobe, substitute a large container (or 1/2 container if you aren’t as fond of spicy food as us) of their hot sauce for the Pace Picante sauce mentioned in the recipe, you won’t be sorry!

 Ingredients: great northern beans, Pace picante salsa, cumin, canned chicken breast, chicken broth and colby/pepper jack shredded cheese.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  Mix everything except the cheese into a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.


Whisk in the cheese and simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking frequently.


Garnish with sour cream, avocado or tortilla chips and enjoy!

White Chicken Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 cans of chicken breast (12.5 oz each)
  • 1 small jar of great northern beans
  • 15 - 18 oz jar of Pace Picante or Adobe salsa
  • 24 oz chicken broth
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 2 cups colby/pepper jack cheese
  • Garnish Options: tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado
  1. Add chicken, beans, salsa, broth and cumin to large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Whisk in cheese.
  4. Simmer another 5 minutes, whisking frequently.


Sweet of the Week: Jesse’s Favorite Cookie

Exciting day!  Today is the first installment of my “Sweet of the Week” series.  As the name suggests, my intent is to post a new recipe each week that showcases a yummy sweet treat that I have baked.  However, this plan may get derailed by the fact that my hubby is in love with this week’s recipe.

Let me explain…

Shortly after we moved into our new house I bought a bag of Heath Bar Toffee Chips that were on sale and looked tempting.  Honestly, they sat in the cupboard for a good two months before I discovered them one Saturday afternoon (I’ll blame it on craziness of home renovation – more on this later).  Soon after I decided to go searching for recipe online that incorporated this promisingly sweet ingredient.

J & WAfter much searching I stumbled across the recipe for what has become, “Jesse’s Favorite Cookie.”  And when I say favorite I don’t mean that he prefers them, I mean if I make nearly anything else I am suddenly not living with one puppy dog who can put on a sad face, but two puppy dogs with incredibly sad faces.  Needless to say…I hope that I will successfully bring you a new sweet each week but if I don’t please know that it’s due to “Jesse’s Favorite Cookie” edging out any competition.

Follow this link to “The Dough Will Rise Again” and discover their delectable treat.  I usually halve the original recipe since the full batch makes a ton for just the two of us.  Halving it is easy to accomplish since there are two eggs and two sticks of butter in the original recipe.

Check it out, you won’t regret it.  (I intended to take pictures of my most recent batch that was baked on Saturday but they are M.I.A. already!)

Side Note: My Sweet of the Week series is also partially inspired by an idea from The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  One of Pollan’s food rules is that you can eat as much junk food as you want…as long as you make it from scratch yourself.  My goal is to not buy any grocery store, ready-to-eat sweets and see if we snack less.  Fingers-crossed!  These cookies are definitely worth the time and effort!