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Best of 2012

21 Dec

As my culinary skills improve over the years, I find myself becoming more and more picky about the recipes I consider successful.  I went from posting everything I made, good and bad, to just posting those recipes that were good enough to be repeated. Even if the recipe produces satisfactory results, I don’t like to post it unless I know I would make it again. While this has resulted in less frequent posts, I think the quality of the items I do share has improved. I want my readers to be confident when they decide to make something I’ve suggested. I try a lot of recipes and know how frustrating it is to spend time and money on something that isn’t fabulous.

With all that said, I thought it would be fitting to go through all 70 of the new recipes I tried this year and repost those that were my favorites. It takes a special recipe to catch my attention and convince me to make it more than once and I figured if I love the recipe, you will too! So here you have it… my favorite recipes of 2012!

Fast or Slow Baked French Toast

baked french toast


Creamy Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup



Barbecued Meat Loaf



Chipotle Beef Taquitos

beef taquitos


Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

roast beef sandwich


Swedish Meatballs

swedish meatballs

Sage Grilled Cheese

Sage Grilled Cheese


Chili Mac Soup

Chili Mac Soup


Cheeseburger Salad

Cheeseburger Salad


Crockpot Korean Short Rib Tacos



Mushroom Ravioli with Garlic-Sage Brown Butter & Asparagus


So there you have it! It was definitely tough to choose my very favorite recipes, but each one of these is definitely a winner. Have you tried any of the recipes I chose as my favorites for this year? What did you think? Anything you liked that didn’t make the list?

If you’re interested in seeing what makes my all-time favorite list,  check out the “My Favorites” tag!


My Top 10 Foods for Football

29 Sep

While football season isn’t the most exciting time of the year for me, I have found a way to make it a little more tolerable: good food! Nothing ups the fun level of a less than desirable situation than some delicious snacks. And if you’re the type that actually likes to watch every second of those 4 hour games, you’re going to need to keep your strength up. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of my 10 favorite football-friendly foods.

1. Football Field Dip

2. Stuffed Mushrooms

3. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

4. Kelly’s Chili

5. Stuffed Jalapenos

6. Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

7. Karen’s Big-Ass Sandwich

8.  Ham & Cheese Sliders

9. Creamy Chicken Taquitos

10.  Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies

Ok well now I’m definitely hungry and somehow in the mood for some football! All of these recipes are guaranteed winners and I’m positive they’d make any football extravaganza a hit!

Waffle Wars

20 May

I’ve used the same waffle recipe from The Joy of Cooking for years. It’s easy to make, has a great texture, great flavor, and the waffles are nice and crispy on the outside. So, I was more than a bit skeptical when my sister, Annie claimed to have the best waffle recipe ever. Mine was definitely better… Right? I decided the only thing to do in this situation was to make Annie’s recipe and see for myself which waffle really was supreme.

Annie’s Waffle Recipe

With strawberries and whipped cream

Annie’s waffles plain


I actually ended up making her recipe on two separate occasions. The first time around I didn’t get a picture of the waffles until they were half eaten and it didn’t seem fair to put it up against mine. We actually ate them two different ways as well. The first time with just regular butter and syrup, and the second time with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. As far as the recipes go, they are almost identical except for a couple of differences… my recipe uses all butter, Annie’s uses oil. Her recipe also separates the eggs into yolks and egg whites, which then need to be beaten into stiff peaks and gently folded in. So there’s a little extra work there. So what’s the verdict? Well… it’s not so clean-cut as that. Let me explain.

Annie’s recipe actually produced slightly crispier, lighter textured waffles. I think the crispness was due to the oil and the lighter texture to the egg whites. However, her recipe was more time-consuming and required use of a beater for the egg whites. I thought the flavor of the oil came through too much in the final product, but Seth said he didn’t mind it. I prefer the buttery flavor of my waffles and think they hold up better to toppings such as the strawberries without getting as soggy. Plus the recipe is just easier to make.

My Waffle Recipe

With bananas and pecans

My waffles plain

So? What recipe did I like better? I think I’m going to stick with my tried and true recipe. However, I’m a little curious as to how a couple tweaks might improve it. Maybe next time I’ll try a half oil/half butter waffle and/or beat the egg whites to make a lighter final product. It’s probably going to take several experiments to find out just what produces the perfect waffle, but I’m up for the task. I mean, there are worse things in life than sampling waffles, am I right?

Want to try the recipes and decide for yourself? Check ’em out and let me know what you think!

Today’s Theme: Greek!

27 Apr

Seth doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m pretty sure he has both a tomato tooth and a Greek tooth. Lately he has discovered Greek pasta salads, though the circumstances usually denote that said pastas are from the grocery store deli. Not terrible mind you, but I knew I could make something better. So, this week I decided to have a Greek dinner night complete with my favorite Greek Turkey Burger and my first attempt at a Greek pasta salad. That’s right! I made a main dish AND a side! Things are getting fancy over here. For the record, I have posted this recipe for the turkey burger before, but it’s so good I think it deserves another day in the spotlight.


Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Serves 4

For the tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 6 oz  greek yogurt (fat free)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Chill.

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained of any oil
  • ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Sandwich Thins (such as Orowheat)
  • 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves


  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat for several minutes until very hot.
  2. Combine the turkey, feta, sun-dried tomato, spinach and seasonings in a mixing bowl until just combined.
  3. Spray the grill pan with non-stick spray, form the meat mixture into four patties, and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let rest on a plate covered with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
  4. Garnish with tzatziki sauce and additional spinach leaves and serve on sandwich thins.

 Recipe adapted from Just the Tip


Greek Pasta Salad

  • 1 Recipe Greek Salad Dressing (see recipe below)
  • 12 oz. Bow-tie Pasta, cooked & cooled
  • 1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 Cucumber, seeded & diced
  • ¼ cup Pepperoncini Peppers, chopped
  • 5 oz. Fresh Baby Spinach, chopped

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Start with approximately 1/2 of the Greek Salad dressing and add more to taste. Refrigerate salad for several hours or overnight for best flavor. Additional dressing can be used to freshen up the salad later on.

 Greek Salad Dressing & Marinade
Recipe by Our Best Bites

  • ¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ c. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. seasoning salt
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (this will not make the dressing spicy, just flavorful)
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 c. canola oil (or other salad oil)
  • ½ c. crumbled feta cheese
  • ¾ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. dry oregano

In the jar of a blender, combine all the ingredients through the garlic. Blend until smooth. While the blender is running, add the oil in a steady stream. Turn off the blender and add the feta and pulse the blender a few times (more if you want a creamier consistency). Whisk in the herbs. If possible, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Use as a marinade for chicken, lamb, or flank steak or drizzle over a Greek salad.

Today’s Theme: Vegetarian!

17 Mar

It seems to be an increasingly common trend to go vegetarian. While I don’t have any serious aspirations to turn to this lifestyle permanently, I do have a great appreciation for a meatless meal.  And I’ve made enough vegetarian meals to realize the common problem of the vegetarian lifestyle:  finding a healthy variety of satisfying meals that don’t make you miss the meat. Oh and it helps if you can buy the ingredients at a normal grocery store instead of Bob’s Granola Barn. So, for all of you out there looking for a wholesome meatless meal, here is a collection of my all-time favorite vegetarian recipes!


Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

This was an incredibly delicious recent find. It’s a great way to get in some cauliflower without feeling like you’re eating a bunch of cauliflower. The recipe doesn’t make a whole lot, so if you’re cooking for a family, I’d definitely double it.


Vegetable Lasagna

When I saw this recipe I was super skeptical. Vegetable lasagna? Really? Sounded like a bland mess to me. But I tried it anyway and was glad I did. Seth especially loved this and happily ate the leftovers for days.


Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese & Roasted Red Peppers

I know this one sounds really fancy and kind of weird, but it’s  seriously my favorite vegetarian meal of all time. It’s so easy to make and  so delicious I can hardly stand it. This one is probably a little more expensive to make because of the goat cheese and portobellos, but I’m telling you it’s worth it.


Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

This recipe is not only vegetarian, it’s also cheap, easy, and one of my go-to regulars. I like to take the easy way out and just use a can of refried beans, which are super easy to find in a vegetarian version. If you want to get fancy, you can garnish the enchiladas with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes.


Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing

This is one of those vegetarian recipes where you truly will not miss the meat. It’s very filling and full of flavor. If you love sauerkraut as much as I do, you’re sure to love this!


Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter

If you’ve never tried gnocchi I highly recommend it. It’s a delicious type of pasta made from potatoes. It cooks super fast and you know it’s done when it floats! This recipe is my favorite gnocchi recipe. It’s really fresh and so beautiful. It helps to have a mandolin to cut the zucchini ribbons, but a peeler works great too. Give this a shot, I promise you’ll love it!


Peanut Ginger Noodles

I typically don’t like peanut sauces much because they’re a bit overwhelming, but this one is different. It’s got a nice subtle peanut flavor with a little bit of heat to give it some interest. Plus this is just about the fastest meal I’ve ever made.


Open-Faced Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula, and Fried Egg

I know this looks a little weird, but this recipe is the one that made me realize I actually like fried eggs! The ricotta with the fresh spinach (yes I subbed spinach… mixed greens also work well) and egg yolk are just so perfect together. This is a fabulously easy recipe and super cheap to boot!

The Pie Episode

14 Mar

In honor of Pi Day, I thought it only fitting to re-post my gem of a collection of pie recipes!

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s actually fairly easy to make and turns out so pretty! I use the same crust as is shown on the apple pie recipe. This pie rocks my world.

I’ve made this pie several times and it always turns out really good. Although, I prefer to double the cinnamon amount. Isn’t it pretty?

I use the filling from this recipe and the banana graham crust from this recipe. This banana cream pie is seriously the best. Oh, and if you sprinkle a little lemon juice on the banana slices it’ll keep them from going brown.

Easiest pie in the whole world. Takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish. I use this graham cracker crust. Also, don’t bother using key limes, regular ones taste just as good. Actually the stuff in the bottle tastes good too, but I like to get the fresh limes so I can use the zest. Use 1 drop of green food coloring to make it look pretty, but not too fake and weird.


I used this whipped cream on both the banana cream and key lime pies. One batch (using 1 pint of whipping cream) made enough for 2 pies. Tastes way better than Cool Whip.

Today’s Theme: 400 Calorie Meals!

3 Feb

My “healthy” diet has taken a bit of a nose-dive lately and I wanted to do something easy to help me get back to better eating habits. Not really a “diet” per se, just more mindful eating. As in, not eating more than my body can easily process in a day.

This turn back to the healthy side of life led me to purchase a new book/cookbook: The 400 Calorie Fix. Basically it says if you want to lose weight you eat three 4oo calorie meals a day. If you’re maintaining your weight eat four 400 calorie meals. Super active? Five 400 calorie meals. While 400 calories per meal seems like a bit on the low side in this day and age, it’s at least a healthy number I can shoot for. Remembering 400 is easy.

So, I was pretty skeptical that the recipes in this book would be any good. Granted I’ve only made a couple, but so far it seems pretty promising. The great thing is, the book not only gives you a recipe, but also adds on a couple sides to make it a “meal.” It’s nice to not have to think about the side-dishes!

I’ll get onto the recipes now, but just so you know, only these first two recipes are from The 400 Calorie Fix book. The Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup is from my all-time favorite

Dill Salmon Burgers

Prep Time: 10 Minutes; Cook Time: 22 Minutes

Serves 4
  • 2 cans (6 oz. each) salmon, drained
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped (or 1 tsp. dried dill)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style fat-free yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon country-style Dijon mustard
  • 4 whole wheat rolls (1.5-2 oz. each)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Mix together the salmon, onion, egg, bread crumbs, mayonnaise, and dill. Make 4 patties (1/2 cup salmon mixture each) approximately 4″ in diameter.

3. Place the patties on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, until lightly browned.

4. Combine the yogurt and mustard in a small bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly. Divide the yogurt mixture evenly and spread it on the rolls. Serve the burgers on the  rolls and top with the lettuce and tomato.

1 serving= 1 burger; Calories: 320

Serve with 1/2 cup carrot sticks and 1/2 ounce baked potato chips to make it a 405 calorie meal.


Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″-thick strips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Chop the peanuts in a food processor until fine. Place the peanuts, panko, and chili powder in a large resealable plastic bag or container. Shake to mix.

3. Whisk together the egg and mustard in a large bowl. Add the chicken and combine until all strips are covered. Place the strips in the plastic bag or container. Seal and shake until well coated. Place the strips on the baking sheet. Bake until the coating is crisp and the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

1 serving= 2 0r 3 chicken fingers, Calories: 260

Serve with 1 medium baked sweet potato and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce for a 410 calorie meal.


Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Active Time: 45 minutes, Total Time: 45 minutes

6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill
  • 4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 minutes more. Add flour, paprika and dill and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk and potatoes; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and salt.
1 Serving= 1 1/2 cups, Calories: 232
Serve with a green salad and warm pumpernickel bread to make it a 400 calorie meal.
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