Chicken Orzo Skillet

Skillet dishes are a close second to the crock pot. I've come to the conclusion I need to whip my skillet out more often, especially after discovering this flavor-packed dish.

While prepping this dish the aroma of onions, garlic and seasonings were so tantalizing. I couldn't wait for the finished product.

Possibly the greatest thing about this dish is how healthy it is! We're talking less than 350 calories (yes, you read correctly, LESS THAN), is pretty decent on the fat content, and PACKED with protein.

Chicken Orzo Skillet
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut into approximately 1 inch cube
2 tsp garlic seasoning blend (your choice)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz), undrained (to reduce the sodium use the "no salt added" tomatoes)
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (Scott isn't a huge fan of spinach, so I reduced the amount to about 5 oz)
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional (next time I make this I'll up the crushed peppers to 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Sprinkle chicken with garlic seasoning blend (I put my cubed chicken in a gallon size zip lock bag, dumped in the seasoning and just shook the bag until the chicken was evenly covered).
In a large skillet, saute chicken and onion in oil for 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.
Add garlic to skilled; cook one minute longer.
Stir in tomatoes, spinach, broth, orzo, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes (if desired).
Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed.
Garnish with Parmesan cheese (if desired).
Yields four servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1.25 cups (w/o cheese) = 339 calories, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 384 mg sodium, 38 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 32 grams of protein

Dig in and enjoy!



Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken

It's cooling off a bit, so I figured I'd give the crock pot a little break and turn the oven back on.

As you probably know by now, I'm about ease and efficiency when it comes to cooking/baking. I'm constantly on the hunt, looking for different ways to dress up my chicken. Thanks to Pinterest I found this little gem that only requires four ingredients, including the chicken! The best part, these ingredients are generally pantry staples, so odds are, you won't have to make an emergency trip to the grocery store for this one. Score!

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 package of dry Italian dressing mix (if this isn't a staple in your pantry, may I suggest it become one:)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
2 egg whites, whipped until frothy (I know I said four ingredients, but rather than using water to hold the seasonings on the chicken breast I used egg - it's totally up to you what route you want to go)

Preheat the oven to 400.
In a mixing bowl combine cheese, dressing mix, and garlic powder.
Moisten chicken breast with water (or dip the breasts in egg); coat with cheese mixture and place in shallow baking dish.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Being the potato hound I am, I served with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Super simple, full of flavor, and super tasty! As an extra bonus, the leftovers to this dish are great. The chicken has some time to absorb the flavor, and holy smokes is it gooooood.



Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I love chicken and it's one of the few meats I'll eat. But, sometime I feel like we do the same thing thing with chicken over and over. I wanted something that was easy and required little to no oven or stove time. While perusing Pinterest I came across a chicken salad recipe that looked like it fit my requirements.

Chicken Salad
2 - 12.5 oz cans of chicken (I had chicken breast I needed to cook, so I boiled three breasts until they were no longer pink in the center; after the chicken had cooled I cut the breast into cubes; a rotisserie chicken from your local grocer would also work well)
3/4 cup mayo (to reduce the fat/cal content I used light mayo; instead of using a full 3/4 cups I used 1/2 cup mayo and 1/4 cup skim milk)
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 green onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup diced apples (I used a Gala)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp sugar (this wasn't in the original recipe, but in another chicken salad recipe I have sugar is used and makes the dressing taste great)
pecans or cashews, optional

In a bowl combine mayo (and milk if you're using it), salt, pepper, and sugar; mix well.
Add grapes, onion, celery, apples and chicken to mayo mixture; mix until well blended.
Serve on a large croissant roll with a slice of lettuce.

Serve with some fresh veggies and enjoy!



To Feel You Move...

To my little peanut snuggled safely away, I finally felt your first movements this weekend.

Your little kicks and nudges feel like tiny bubbles popping. And, I can't quite describe the emotions that are continuing to flood through me.

I can't wait to meet you. To hold you. To touch you. To kiss and snuggle you. We haven't met yet but I love you more than I could ever put into words.


Baby Macke Update - Week 16

Week 16 has come, and gone. Not too much to update. I'm still shoveling food into my mouth at an alarming rate, but can't seem to stop.
Week 14 and 16 look pretty much the same. We're almost to week 18, and a bump is starting to show. Pictures to come.
And, as you can see, everyone wanted in on the photo shoot.


Vegas Trip #2

We'd been planning this for months, and it didn't seem possible that the time had actually come... Girls Weekend in Vegas!!!!

Catching up with three of my best girl friends from college, in Vegas, was a blast! We did most of the Vegas-y stuff: endless walks up and down the strip, checking out the lions at MGM, some shopping in the Miracle Mile, watching college football (and in my case, betting and winning a little extra cash!), catching a breathing-taking Vegas performance, Le Reve, and eating some fantastic food. The best part, the most amazing part was reuniting with my friends, and watching as everything fell back into place - as if we'd left college only yesterday.

Upper left: Inside Wynn, before heading in to see Le Reve.
Lower left: Inside our hotel, Planet Hollywood.
Upper right: Checking out the southern end of the strip.
Middle right: Soaking up a little college football.
Lower right: Relaxing at a Caesars outdoor bar.
Le Reve. A performance put on by the creator of the Cirque shows. This was a production that incorporated aquatic, acrobatic, and dance choreography. Absolutely awesome.
The ladies.

I'm already looking forward to our trip next year! 
Love you girls!!


Creamy Cheesy Chicken

It was another crock pot kind of day for me. The weather wasn't unbearable, but I just didn't want to deal with a bunch of dishes and clean up. Plus, for me, the idea of throwing a few ingredients into one pot, turning a knob to high (or low) and coming back to it 4-6 hours later with a finished product never gets old!

When I found this recipe it had just been created, so a name hadn't been given to it. I'm just going to call it Creamy Cheesy Chicken.

Creamy Cheesy Chicken
Don't be fooled by the lack of color in this dish. There is flavor in every bite!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 10 oz container of tomato basil Philadelphia cooking cream (I couldn't find that particular type, so I just used Garden Veggie Cream cheese)
1 can cream of chicken (use the Campbell's Healthy Request to cut back on fat)
1 cup Velveeta shreds (get a brick of Velveeta, cut about 1/3 of the brick off and cut that 1/3 into smaller cubs; I always have trouble locating the Velveeta in the grocery store, if you do to, it's most likely in the cracker isle)
1/2 an onion cut into rings
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 3 cloves)
1 cup carrot chips (use a food chopper save yourself a ton of time, and to get nice little pieces of carrots)
Basil - I added a few dashes of basil, but would have used much more, a tsp may have worked better that the little bit I used

Place chicken on bottom of crock pot, add all ingredients atop the chicken.
Cook on high 4-6 hours (I put my chicken in the crock pot totally thawed, so it only took about 4 hours of cook time).
Serve over angel hair pasta (I used egg noodles - less fat, more protein)

The dish doesn't have a whole lot of color to it, but don't let that sway you from all the flavors you'll receive with each fork full. Some bites seemed super cheesy, while other bites pulled out the cream cheese flavor, and every now and again I'd get a hint of carrot. I commented to Scott how the dish kind of reminded me of a "grown up" version of mac n cheese.

Side note: If you try the Italian chicken I would suggest waiting awhile to make this dish. They are a bit similar, and you want to give your taste buds a break between dishes so you can fully enjoy each dish in its entirety.




Creamy Italian Chicken

HOLY HEAT WAVE California! Last week the Santa Ana winds were going full force, and even in the beach communities it neared 100 degrees. Who was going to turn the oven on? Not this girl!

Time to utilize the (drum roll, please)... CROCK POT!

The crock pot is kind of like the Internet, or cell phones... What did we do before we had these items?!

This weeks newest crock pot creation:

Creamy Italian Chicken
I paired the chicken with brown rice, broccoli and some garlic bread. The creamy sauce was absolutely fabulous mixed in with the rice. If you're not a huge rice fan bow tie pasta would also work well.

3-4 chicken breast
1 package cream cheese (reduce the calories and use 1/3 less fat, or fat free cream cheese)
1 can cream of chicken (though the non-name brand cream of chicken is cheaper - by a pretty considerable margin - Campbell's has a "healthy request" cream of chicken, and it has 2.5 grams of fat as opposed to SEVEN! Cut back on the fat, and calories, and go with the Campbell's healthy selection)
1 package dry Italian dressing mix

In a mixing bowl soften cream cheese.
After cream cheese is softened add cream of chicken, fill empty cream of chicken 1/2-2/3 with water (if you want a thicker sauce use less water), add water to cream cheese mix, add Italian dressing packet. Mix well.
Place chicken on bottom of crock pot.
Pour cream cheese mixture over chicken.
Put crock pot on high for 4 hours (my chicken were almost totally frozen when I turned the crock pot on).
If you want to throw this dish in before you leave for work, put your crock pot on low for 6 hours.

I've fallen in love with using my crock pot. It's amazing to put a few ingredients together, leave it, and come back to it 4-6 hours later and dinner is ready! If you enjoy using your crock pot and haven't checked out the Crock Pot Girls you really should.  From desserts to main dishes to tailgate foods, they have it all!



Apple Crisp

It's fall, my favorite season! Time to take full advantage of all Fall has to offer! This is the best time of the year for some SUPER yummy apples. To munch on, my personal favorite are the Honey Crisp Apples.

If you decide to bake with apples some of the apples you eat right out of your hand are not necessarily the best to bake with. Try one (or a variety) of these apples in your dessert dishes (the more varieties you use, the richer the blend): Cortland, Empire, Mutsu (Crispin), Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, and Jonathan are your most common baking apples. Don't forget to check out your local farmer's markets to find some of the best apples out there!

Thanks to my friend Ashley, I've had this recipe for awhile now, and it remains at the top of my favorite fall dessert list.

Apple Crisp
Serve warm, and don't forget to go a la mode with this one!!

7 cups sliced apples (a good rule of thumb I use, one apple = just over one cup, and with this dish you can't have too many apples; for this go around I used a couple of Honey Crisp, a couple of Granny Smith, a Gala and a Golden Delicious)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon (I'm quite liberal here - I heart cinnamon)
Toss all ingredients together and then put in a 9x13 pan (I try to even out the apple mix a bit; if your pan is not non-stick, might be a good idea to grease the pan)

The topping:
1 cup brown sugar (be sure you pack your brown sugar in your measuring cup)
1 cup oatmeal (to add a little more spice and sweetness I use the packets of instant oatmeal that come in flavors such as maple, apple and cinnamon, and brown sugar; about three packets of instant oat meal = 1 cup)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter or margarine (do not melt the butter, but make sure it's soft)
Mix together dry ingredients and cut in butter and mix until you've created a crumbly mixture. Place topping on apple mix.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (be sure you've preheated your oven).
 1) The greatest tool for apples ever to be created! If you bake with apples and don't have one of these GET ONE! Check out Pampered Chef for this magical invention. If you can't get your hands on an apple peeler/corer/slicer I suggest your husband/boyfriend. :)
2) The apple being peeled.
3) The apple being peeled, sliced and cored!
4) The final product. The apple is peeled, cored, and sliced to perfection.
1) The apples ready to be mixed with the spices.
2) The apples spread in the pan.
3) Softened, cut butter; use a fork to get the desired crumblyness.
4) The apples topped with the crumble mixture.
For the past few days I may, or may not, have a bit of apple crisp after pretty much every meal. :)

Take this dessert to your next family gathering, or even Thanksgiving, and watch as it quickly disappears (even Scott likes it, and it's really hard to get him past chocolate chip baked goods)!!


A New Beach

Scott and I weren't the only ones who got out to enjoy the awesome weather. Drake came along for some fun this weekend, too.

We'd been hearing all about a beach located at Trump's Golf Course (Trump, as in Donald). It was time to check this place out!
Upper right: Drake LOOOOVES car rides. And, I LOOOOVE it when he sticks his head out the window and his ears and mouth flop in the wind.
Upper left: On our way down the path.
Lower right: Getting closer to the water.
Lower middle: Almost there!
Lower left: Drake had a hard time sitting still for the photo. He couldn't WAIT to get to the water!
Far left photo and bottom right: The para-gliders kept me in awe. I think I may have half a dozen photos of these guys floating around above us. 
Upper right: The cliffs between the beach and Trump's Golf Course.
Upper left: Sit. Stay. Stay. Stay.
Upper right: "Come on, already!"
Lower left: Annnnd, GO! 
Lower right: Bringing back the retrieved toy.
Upper: As we left the beach Drake had to make one last stop in the tide pools. 
Middle: The sun setting.
Lower: A last look at the quiet beach that has quickly become a favorite of ours.
Enjoying the beach on a perfect Sunday afternoon.


Pa's Pumpkin Patch

This past weekend was gorgeous, and it was just too perfect to sit around the house.

We found a pumpkin patch not too far from us, decided to check it out, as we still had no pumpkins to carve/decorate. 

Pa's Pumpkin Patch was a pretty cool place. Now, it's no Uncle LeRoy's Pumpkin Patch, but it was pretty darn close. 

Growing up in Iowa my expectations of pumpkin patches are pretty steep. I'm expecting full on hay rides to an actual patch full of pumpkins; I'm expecting a corn maze, some yummy treats, and friendly, familiar faces. 

Pa's Pumpkin Patch wasn't quite what I'd find back home. But, this place did have carnival rides, that cost some cash, of course. There were carnival-like games, face painting, and crafts for kids to create, and a very small petting zoo. Oh, and did I mention, they had mini water bumper boats?! If only I met the age/height requirement... I would have totally paid for that ride!
Top: Bumper boats!
Bottom left: Some child's pumpkin creation.
Bottom right: Tee pee - pretty self-explanatory.

The atmosphere was fun, and the breeze from the ocean was fabulous (we were about six blocks from the water). Of course the best part was the plethora of pumpkins to choose from. And, Scott and I had a good time finding our perfect pumpkins.
SO MANY PUMPKINS! The way the larger pumpkins were lined up reminded me of rows of corn.
Getting into the festive fall spirit. 
I'm picturing a fall family photo becoming an annual thing.
Our prized selections. 

I was amazed at how thorough Scott was in picking out his pumpkin. I found mine in minutes. It would not surprise me if Scott checked each and every pumpkin  before making his final selection! 

When our gourds are crafted into their carved perfections I will be sure to get some photos up. :)


The Perfect Picture Frame

For the longest time I wasn't sure where to display the sonograms of Baby M. The only place that seemed reasonable, and with the most exposure was the kitchen (because right now that's where I'm spending A TON of time), and the fridge is almost always where people hang things they are proud of. For some reason hanging the sonograms on the fridge just didn't seem quite right. But, it was really the only option.

Yesterday, after spending some much needed time with our old neighbor, Chrissy, she presented us with an array of great gifts. I'm pretty sure my favorite was a perfect picture frame.
 Now Baby M's sonograms have a PERFECT spot! The picture frame rests on the kitchen counter, so anytime anyone is in the kitchen this is on full display. I LOVE IT! 
As we receive more sonograms, I will update the picture. And, I'm able to change the caption. There's a pink one reading "It's a girl!", a blue one reading "It's a boy!", and one that reads "My Baby." These will take their respective place as Baby M continues to grow, and then arrives.

A huge thanks to Chrissy! Baby M's pictures now have a respectable place for display. :)



It's quite possibly an addiction. That, or sever lack of will-power. My guess, sever lack of will-power. But, whatever. I'm ok with it. And, should you treat yourself to such viewing pleasure you may succumb to one of the best shows, ever.

We don't have any fancy channels. Cable alone is ridiculous, and I can't imagine what it would cost to add HBO or Showtime, so I have to wait for each season of Dexter  to be released around the third week in August every year.

Each season is amazing, and season five was no different. I watched the whole season, start to finish in less than two days. This is no joke. I could not, for the life of me, hit the stop button. I hit pause a couple of times (but only for necessities like grabbing lunch/dinner and the occasional trip to the ladies room), but not often.
Disclaimer: Dexter is pretty graphic, and very much for adult audiences only. Not a family show - sorry kiddos.

Start with season one, and let the addiction/lack of will-power begin!

Now that I've finished season five I thought I was going to have to wait an entire year  until I could get my hands on season six... Not so much. Thanks to a little prodding, I've found a few websites that have allowed me to watch season six. Wooohooo!!


PIzza? Spaghetti? Lasagna? Goulash?

Try all four combined to make one incredible dinner! For the sake of ease I'll stick with the name that I found the recipe under - Pizza Casserole.

Who do I have to thank for another outstanding dish? None other than Abby of course! Since following her I have long since said adios to cookbooks and scouring the Internet for fabuloso recipes. Rather, I just check out what she's made and it generally ends up on my plate that night, or the following night.

When I saw this beauty I knew it was a must. If you're a fan of pizza, or spaghetti, or lasagna, or goulash you must do yourself a service and make this. It's super easy and will leave you with PLENTY of leftovers (unless you're feeding six or more).

Pizza Casserole

1 bag of egg noodles (no yolk)
1 can of extra large spaghetti sauce (I couldn't find a spaghetti sauce that I liked in the extra large cans, so I bought two cans of my favorite)
3 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese (2% or partial skim milk)
1.5 lbs of ground turkey (the original recipe calls for ground beef, but you know my thoughts on all that)
1 package pepperoni (again, I used the turkey variety)
1 can of mushrooms (Scott detests mushrooms, so I omitted them - it would taste AH-MAY-ZING with mushrooms!!)
1/2 large onion chopped (the original recipe didn't call for onions, but I thought "what the heck")
Plenty of Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Boil the egg noodles according to the instructions on the package. My package called for 7-9 minutes boiling, but I only boiled for 5. With all the spaghetti sauce being used I figured the noodles would continue to soften while baking in the oven. The noodles turned out great, not too soggy.
3. Brown your ground turkey (or hamburger) in a skillet; add chopped onions and mushrooms.
4. Add a generous amount of Italian seasoning to ground turkey mix, taste occasionally to ensure it's to your liking.
5. If you're using a pan that is not non-stick, be sure to grease your pan.
6. Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of your pan.
7. Add half your noodles on top of the spaghetti sauce.
8. Add half the meat mixture atop the noodles.
9. Place half the sauce on top of the meat mixture.
10. Layer the rest of the noodles on top of the meat mixture.
11. Add half the cheese to the noodles.
12. Place the rest of the meat on top of the cheese.
13. Add remaining sauce to the meat.
14. Place last half of cheese atop the last layer of sauce.
15. Cover the cheese with a generous layer of pepperoni.
16. Cover you pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
17. After 30 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for 15 minutes.
18. When baking is complete allow dish to cool for at least 10 minutes.

I know it looks like a lot of steps, but I just broke every little part down. From start to finish I think the whole process took me 20 minutes (excluding the oven time).

Scott and I both enjoyed this, and it has been added to our rotation of favorites!


Angel Food Trifle

Did you know... Angel food cake is FAT FREE? This is no joke, I'm totally serious. Insert latest and greatest recipe to satisfy the sugar cravings!!

If you've been keeping up, you know my sweet tooth has returned. And, this is not a good thing, especially since my stomach seems to be a bottomless pit these days. 

I've been trying to find ways to keep that sweet tooth happy while making a (very feeble) attempt to keep some heath conscious thoughts in the forefront, and  I think I've found a great recipe to keep Baby Macke (me) happy.

Of course it was Mom to the rescue! She sent me a recipe for an angel food trifle that I remember her whipping up while I was in high school. 

Here you go. Throw it together and dig in! Leave the guilty conscious at the door, you won't be needing it (at least not for this post).


1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
2 cups low fat/fat free vanilla flavored yogurt (you can use any flavor yogurt you want, mixing and matching is the most fun!)
Angel food cake - cut into approximately one inch cubes 
(to free up some time, buy the ready made cake from your grocer; turn the container that the cake came in upside down and use it to store the recipe in, as the container has a lid; when the dessert is gone you can just discard of the container and don't have any dishes!!)
2 cups thawed frozen fruit - if you have fresh fruit available, use that instead
1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp fat free whipped cream (I'm not a fan of whipped cream so I leave it out)

1. Blend together ricotta cheese and yogurt in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2. Arrange 1/2 the cake cubes in the bottom of the bowl.
3. Top cubes with 1 cup of the fruit.
4. Top the berries with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese-yogurt mixture.
5. Then top with layers of the remaining cake cubes, 3/4 cup berries, and remaining cheese-yogurt mixture.
6. Decorate the top with reaming 1/4 cup berries or fresh fruit.
The dish, in the angel food container, ready to be devoured!!

Yesss, a guilt-free delish dish!

Nutrition info per serving (serves 8)
Calories 200
Fat 1.5 grams
Sodium 193 mg
Carbs 46 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 7.5 g
Source: Weight Watchers dessert recipe card obtained during a WW meeting.


Vegas Trip #1

My parents didn't have to twist our arms much to convince us to join them in Vegas for the long holiday weekend.

It was great to get away for a few days and just relax. We hit up the Miracle Mile shopping district (more than once), snagged a deep tissue massage (for Scott), and a pre-natal massage (for me, obviously). Scott and my dad checked out The Blue Man Group while my mom and I were transfixed by The Phantom of the Opera.
Before we saw our respective shows we ate at an Italian restaurant inside the Venetian. Inside the building you feel like you're outside. We ate "outside" at the restaurant. 
The lower right photo appears to be a statue. In reality, it's an actual person, standing still, for very long periods of time. I hope those people get paid well!
The Blue Man Group. 
The Phantom of the Opera.
Lunch with Mom.
Last night in Vegas. 

To be totally honest, I was a little concerned Vegas wouldn't be as much fun as my previous Vegas experiences (keep in mind, I was in my early 20's). But, we had a blast. It has gotten me even more excited for a girls trip - with three of my best friends - in Vegas, in less than two weeks!!


Pumpkin Muffins

My last baking post involved only three ingredients. This post only requires TWO ingredients!

I found this easy recipe on Pinterest, my newest Internet obsession. If you're looking to burn a few minutes hours, check out Pinterest.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix cake mix and pumpkin well, until a batter is formed.
Line cupcake tin.
Fill each cupcake cup about 1/2- 3/4.
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into muffin and comes out clean.

All you'll need. Isn't it glorious?!

These are so good, and really do remind me of a muffin. They would be great warm, with a quick spread of butter, dusted with powdered sugar, or a light coat of cream cheese frosting. This morning I munched on one with a small cup of decaf coffee and it was amazing!

These would be great served Thanksgiving morning, or for a Thanksgiving/festive fall brunch.




Stuffed Chicken With a Kick

Abby, thank you for your amazing blog! If it weren't for your daily posts of DE-LISH looking meals Scott and I would eat the same four things (in rotation, of course).

Peeps, I'm telling you, if you haven't checked out Abby's blog, PLEASE DO SO! You will NOT be disappointed - and neither will your taste buds or tummy! Click here to view your next dinner. :)

For those of you who haven't been fortunate enough to follow her, I'm going to share her Jalapeno Popper Chicken recipe. I made it the other night and it became an instant hit in our house. This recipe is going in the permanent keeper collection.

On to the goods.

I prepped this dish at 9:30a.m. and wanted to make, and eat it, right then. Skip the cereal when you know you have this to look forward to!
Excuse my poor photography skills. I could NOT WAIT to sink my teeth into this chicken!

Jalapeno Popper Chicken
4 large chicken breast (I used 5, as my chicken was on the smaller side)
4 jalapenos
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (use 2% to scale back on calories)
4 oz cream cheese (again, use reduced fat or fat free to cut back on cals)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko
1 packet taco seasoning
1 egg

* I could not find regular panko in the grocery store, so I just improvised and used a total of 1 1/4 cups of bread crumbs - worked well!

Preheat oven to 350.
Remove seeds and chop up jalapenos.
In a mixing bowl combine jalapenos, cheddar cheese and cream cheese.
In a separate mixing bowl combine bread crumbs, panko and taco seasoning.
Whisk egg in a small bowl.
Slice thawed chicken along one side, creating a pocket.
Stuff chicken breasts with jalapeno and cheeses mixture.
Dip stuffed chicken in egg, and then coat with bread crumb/panko/taco seasoning mix.
Place in baking pan (if you're using a metal pan, be sure to spray with a non-stick spray), and bake for 30 minutes.

End result is a dish that will leave you begging for more.

*If you like your food more on the spicy side, leave some of the jalapeno seeds in the mix. I'm a huge wuss when it comes to spice (let's be honest, mild salsa is sometimes too much for me), so I nixed the seeds.


Oh-So Guilty Pleasure

The first trimester brought serious bouts of nausea and an lack of interest in sweets. If it was salty it was going straight into my pie hole.

Trimester two is a little different...

A friend of mine introduced me to THESE little delights, and they have become my go-to guilty pleasure when I need to satisfy my re-discovered sweet tooth.
Thank you Trader Joe's for the most splendid creation. EVER.

Yes, it's a s'more ice cream sandwich! Two gram cracker "baked goods" holding marshmallow ice cream with little bits of chocolate, and a fudge swirl. I'm drooling just describing it.

It took some A LOT of will power to take just ONE bite and then snap a photo!
While you're inhaling this do yourself a favor and skip looking at the "nutritional" content on the box. I'll just tell you, it's lacking in any form of nutrition, but will leave you happy and smiling!!


Cake "Baked Goods"

As you know by now I just can't bring myself to say the alternative to "baked goods." So, bear with me.

I'm not sure if it's Baby Macke, or me just really wanting some tasty baked goods...

Here is the world's easiest baked good recipe.

1 box white cake mix
2 3/4 cups flour
1 lb butter, melted (yep, an entire pound  of butter!)
Here's all you're going to need!

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all three ingredients together.
Scoop about a Tbsp worth of dough and place on baking sheet; I used the mini ice cream scooper and after scooping the ball I rolled the dough and flattened a bit; these baked goods don't tend to rise, or expand much, so a little help pre-baking isn't a bad idea.
Bake 5-6 minutes.
These guys don't seem to brown around the edges much, so even if you think they're not done, they probably are. Let them sit on the baking sheet a few minutes if they're not quite ready to be placed on your cooling rack.
Let cool completely and frost with your favorite frosting. (I've never tried to make my own frosting, so I cheated and used the vanilla frosting from the store :)
Keep in mind, the baked goods will look about the same coming out as they did when they went in to the oven. 

I would suggest keeping these guys on the smaller side. If they get too big they don't bake as well. And, especially with frosting these are pretty rich. After just one treat I downed a HUGE glass of milk - and it was glorious.
Did I add blue sprinkles to my baked goods? You bet your spatula I did! 

This may be one of the few baked goods that tastes better after completely cooled. And, these guys freeze well (up to two weeks in an air tight container) if you'd like to serve them at a later time.


Source: Pampered Chef representative, Deb Nelson


Anniversary Weekend

It seems as if Scott and I hadn't had a free weekend in for-ev-er! Thank goodness, this weekend was  a different story.  We relaxed, enjoyed friends and football, and celebrated our first anniversary.

Our celebratory dinner was in Long Beach, right on the pier. As we ate we watched as boats headed in and out of the harbor, all while the sun was setting. 


Baby Macke Update

I can't believe how late I am getting this up!
...Actually, with the move, getting settled, and wrapping up at the old apartment, maybe it's a little understandable whey it's taken me so long.


Two weeks ago, we went in for our first trimester screening. I won't bore you with the doctor-y stuff. But, the fun stuff consisted of hearing Baby Macke's little heart beat for the first time (I won't lie, there may have been a few tears), and we watched as Baby Macke did little gymnastics moves on the ultrasound. Such an intense, magical experience.

Here's the little peanut. We're getting away from the gummy bear look, and starting to resemble a little person! The ultrasound is a snapshot of Baby M at 12 weeks. Today, we are 14 weeks and a few days. Only six weeks to go until we find out if the little peanut is a boy or girl!

Everyone wanted in on the baby bump photo shoot.

I LOVE "tummy" photos, but right now there isn't a whole lot to show. To me, it just looks like I'm bloated... Or, just finished a huge Thanksgiving dinner and probably need to let the button out on my pants (which I've been doing more and more lately:). I'm hoping the baby bump becomes more predominant soon!


A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today I said, "I do" to my best friend.

It's amazing to think of all we've been through in this past year.

Every day I thank the good Lord for bringing us together. I couldn't imagine going on this journey called life without Scott by my side.
Happy Anniversary, Scott - you are my whole world.
I love you!!


Bacon Ranch Crock Pot Chicken

A few days ago it was pretty warm, and I had no desire to turn on the oven, or the stove. It was time to pull out the crock pot!

After a little online searching I found a chicken recipe that looked oh-so delicious. I figured I'd give it a try.

The recipe was E-A-S-Y and the end result was FABULOUS! This is a keeper! I did make a few slight changes, you'll find those in parenthesis.

The original recipe stated the chicken mixture would go well with rice or potatoes. Scott and I agreed potatoes would make this dish too heavy. The egg noodles were light, but left us satisfied.

Bacon Ranch Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp real bacon bits (I used turkey bacon bits)
1 tsp minced garlic (I pressed my garlic, and was very liberal with the amount used)
1 package Ranch dressing mix
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used cream of asparagus and added one can of water, but any cream of fill-in-the-blank soup would probably work well)
1 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
Chopped celery (optional)
Chopped carrots (optional)
Sliced onion (optional)
Egg noodles (the recipe didn't say how much egg noodle to cook, so I used the whole bag)
You could add pretty much any veggie you want. If I could get Scott to eat mushrooms those tasty delights would have made their way into the mix.

Combine bacon, garlic, Ranch dressing mix, soup (and water if needed/desired), sour cream, and veggies ; mix well.
Place thawed chicken in bottom of crock pot.
Place soup mix over chicken.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
*My chicken wasn't totally thawed, so I cooked on low between 5 and 6 hours. When I took the chicken out it was so tender it was falling apart.
About 30 minutes before cooking is complete, take chicken out of mix and shred. Place shredded chicken back in crock pot and mix well.
About 15 minutes before cooking is complete, boil water and cook egg noodles for about 5 minutes. (You could cook the noodles well in advance and just add them in about 15 minutes before completion of cooking.)
 After cooking noodles, place them in the crock pot and mix with shredded chicken and soup mix. Let chicken and noodle mix complete cooking.

A fantastic dish with plenty of left overs!

Source: crockpotgirls.com