Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meatloaf Parm Cups

One of my favorite fall foods is meatloaf.  It just screams back-to-school family dinner to me.  My biggest problem with meatloaf is that I have no portion control.  Enter:  the muffin tin.  It's a cute way to present your food but also really helps with portion control!

I adapted my recipe from Emily Bites-- her recipe was Chicken Parm Meatloaf, but I kept the flavor profile the same and used ground beef instead of chicken. Two meatloaf muffins was perfect for me; three for Austin.

Meatloaf Parmesan Cups

1 ½ lbs raw ground beef
2 large egg
6 Tbs dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried basil
¾ tsp dried thyme
¾ tsp oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, chopped
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
¾ cup pasta sauce
¾ cup reduced fat shredded Mozzarella cheese


Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.  In a bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.  Mix together-- using your hands is the best way.
Form the meat mixture evenly into the 12 cups of your prepared muffin tin.  Use spoon to make little bowl in the meat mixture to cup the pasta sauce. Spread the pasta sauce evenly over the tops of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Top each muffin with about a Tbs of shredded cheese and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Frosting

When I posted last week with the Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies, I told you all about the great dipping sauce/frosting that I used.  What really happened is that I had leftover frosting from the cupcakes below and decided to use it with the peanut butter cookies.  It was genius!  (if I do say so myself)

With the cupcakes, I am all about semi-homemade.  I used a boxed cake mix, added chocolate chips, and then made the peanut butter frosting from scratch.

The frosting recipe is from an amazing woman I used to work with.  She would make a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for everyone's last day (we had one colleague who faked several last days to get more cakes-lol).

Here's the best peanut frosting I have ever had:

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 lb. 10x sugar (powdered sugar)
7-8 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend sugar and peanut butter.  Alternatively, add sugar and milk.  Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Leaf's and a Giveaway


I have been a little MIA lately because travel season has begun in the wonderful world of Admissions!  I really do love traveling for work-- seeing new places, catching up with friends-- but the thing I hate is how I can't eat healthy.  Well, I guess I can, but it's so hard on the road, especially in airports.

Some of the airports I frequent most are the DC/Dulles and Philly airports for layovers, and I am always looking for a good place to eat.  Recently, I found one-- both good and healthy!  Maybe I can keep up with my weight loss goals while traveling on the road this fall :)

My favorite are the pick and mix salads, so I can get exactly what I want on my salad!  I also love the Chicken Margarita panini and Balsamic Chicken & Peppers wrap.

Next time you're stuck in an airport or traveling around the northeast (most of their shops are in NJ and NY), be sure to try out Green Leaf's!!

Now for the GIVEAWAY-  Want to win a Vitamix Blender?
Here's how--
Visit Green Leaf's Facebook page and like them for an entry, and then click on "Win a Vitamix."
 Super easy-- you should do it right now :)

This sponsorship is brought to you by Green Leaf's who we have partnered with for this promotion.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jerk Chicken

What is better than cooking over an open flame?  Nothing.  Seriously, if we could grill out everyday, I would.  Actually, we should.

Growing up in Buffalo, NY, my mom still had the grill going in the dead of winter when she was making steaks :) Rule #78:  No excuses, play like a champion.

My mom doesn't mess around.  I get that trait from her, but then make Austin grill in crazy weather.  We're still newlyweds, so he'll do that kind of stuff for least for now :)

About a month ago, we went tubing for the day and camped.  The idea was to go tent camping, but after a day on the river in the rain and arriving to a flooded campsite, we opted for a cabin.

The cabin was heaven, and it's so cute looking too!! 
It was dry in the cabin, but we still cooked an epic meal in the rain.  Grilled chicken, corn, and vegetable packets.  The chicken marinated overnight in a great recipe I found and adapted from Epicurous.

Jerk Chicken Marinade


1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (4-5 pepper rings)
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tbs dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
5-6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a food processor or blender, combine the onion, jalapeno pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, vegetable oil, brown sugar, thyme, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Marinate overnight in gallon-sized ziploc bags.

Cook chicken on the prepared grill, until juices run clear.  We had a grilling basket that made it easy to cook the chicken on the camp grill.

Thanks to the most amazing grill masters, who took on the rain for to cook this great meal! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies

In my last Foodie Penpal exchange, the Barefoot Baker gave me some of her favorites from when she studied abroad.  One of those tasty treats was nutella, which is Austin's favorite thing in every country :)

My favorite thing:  peanut butter!  I can eat it with a spoon, on pretzels, well, on almost anything.  Since I'm a good wife, I thought I would combine our two loves!  Enter Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies!  I made the recipe as described, but I did use the best peanut butter ever:  Once Again Nut Butter.  Check out this peanut butter and see if it's a store near you-- organic, delicious, and you'll be supporting the company my cousin works for.

Also, make these cookies- they are great!

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup Nutella
1/4 cup sugar, for dipping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except the Nutella.  Stir until everything is well combined.  Add the Nutella, and stir gently.  You want to incorporate it into the dough, but leave a definite swirl.

Scoop 1 inch balls of dough, and place on a cookie sheet.  Dip fork in the sugar, and gently press down on the balls of dough to create the cross marks.  Bake for 10 -12 minutes.  Cool slightly on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before removing to a wire rack.

P.S. I made a peanut butter frosting to dip these cookies in that was the perfect addition- stayed tuned for that recipe!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Garden Chili

We had a pot-luck at Weight Watchers last week, and I was at a loss of what to bring--something healthy but tasty and easy to make.  I was at a loss of what to bring-- I could do the healthy and tasty but was a little short on time.  I was going to make my trusty stand-by:  ants on a log :) but then realized I could bring what I made for dinner the night before.

It was perfect!  People raved over this chili I adapted from A Spicy Perspective.  They loved it so much they shamed me when I forgot to bring the recipe the next week.  So here it is-- on the blog and in their inboxes.  I hope you enjoy it as much as they do.  It is super tasty (and vegan to boot)!

Garden Chili


  • 1 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 spicy pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ears corn, shucked and cut off the cob
  • 2 Tbs. cornmeal
  • 15 oz. cans cannellini (white) beans, drained
  • 15 oz. cans kidney (red) beans, drained
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. chile powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste 

1. Add the oil to a large pot and set over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add the peppers, sweet potatoes, corn, celery, and cornmeal. Stir and saute another 8-10 minutes.
4. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well.
5. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes

Number of servings 8
6 WW P+ a serving **to reduce points, substitute black beans for kidney beans, now 5 points a serving

Friday, September 14, 2012

Asparagus Lasagna

Yay for our one-month anniversary dinner!  Austin’s favorite vegetable is asparagus, and I heart pasta, so when I saw this recipe from name of One Perfect Bite, it was an obvious choice for our dinner.   Unfortunately, I have a nasty problem of not reading recipes before deciding to make them.

Word to the wise-- when making this recipe, give yourself PLENTY OF TIME FOR PREP.  Before putting the lasagna in the oven, I was in the kitchen close to an hour.  I got home to make dinner after 7 pm, so we didn’t sit down for dinner until 9 pm :(

I would love to make this dinner again on a Sunday afternoon, with plenty of time to enjoy cooking the meal.  There was some terms thrown around in this recipe that I had never heard of like bechamel.  I learned that it is basically a white sauce with a fancy name...moral of the story, it’s tasty.  Asparagus lasagna is yummy!!!  A+ for this recipe.

We paired it with sparkling wine (aka champagne) from Chandon in Napa Valley- we went there in 2009 via the Napa Wine Train and saved it for a special occasion.  I think a one-month wedding anniversary was a good reason to pop that cork :)

Asparagus Lasagna

2 large garlic cloves, peeled
salt for boiling pasta
2 pounds asparagus 
1 olive oil béchamel (see below)
about 1 cup Parmesan
Sprinkling of herbs, tarragon, parsley, basil, and oregano
1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles

Fill a pot with water and add garlic cloves.  Bring to boil.  As the water boils, break off ends of asparagus and save ends.  Add ends to boiling water along with salt.  Reduce heat to medium low, partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove asparagus ends and garlic cloves from water and discard. Bring water back to a boil, and add asparagus stalks. Boil thick asparagus stalks for five minutes.  Transfer them, using tongs, to a bowl of ice water. Do not drain cooking water. Allow asparagus to cool for a few minutes, then drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Cut all asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.

While asparagus is boiling, start  béchamel!

Whisk 1/2 cup of cooking water from asparagus into béchamel, along with 1/4 cup of Parmesan and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spray cooking spray on 3-quart baking dish. Bring water back to a rolling boil, and drop in enough lasagna noodles to cover surface of the baking dish (3-4 lasagna noodles). Boil just until pasta is flexible (about three minutes for no-boil lasagna). 

Spread thin layer of béchamel over bottom of baking dish. Cover with a layer of pasta. Stir asparagus into remaining béchamel, and spread a layer over noodles. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons Parmesan. 

Repeat with parboiling pasta,  béchamel  and asparagus, and cheese.  End with a layer of pasta, and if you have any béchamel left, spread it over the top and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1 tbs of olive oil over lasagna, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling. Uncover, and continue to bake until top just begins to color, about 10 minutes. 

Olive Oil Béchamel 
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil 
2 tbs finely chopped onion
2 tbs flour 
2 cups skim milk 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add onion, and cook for about three minutes. Stir in flour, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. Whisk in milk all at once, and whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Turn heat to low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping bottom and edges of pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes, until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves six.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black Bean and Quinoa Griddle Cakes

Have you checked out the Picky Eater Blog?  If not, you should!  I have been following Anjali since I started Food Ramblings, and my most common comment is "I can't wait to try this!"

Finally, I am trying one of her recipes.  It was worth the wait because this griddle cakes were good!  The do fall apart when flipping them, and you can make them more veggie burger like by adding an egg.

I adapted the recipe a bit with the ingredients I had at home.  One of those was with peppers.  The original recipe called for yellow and red peppers.  I had a green red pepper and what I call a "scary, red pepper."  Good substitutes-- added a little extra spice.

Scary, red pepper is the one on the right.  These are all veggies
we got from the CSA that I have idea what they are :)
Black Bean and Quinoa Griddle Cakes

3/4 cup quinoa, cooked according to package instructions (should be with 1 1/2 cups water)
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 green onions, chopped halfway up
1 green pepper, diced
1 red scary pepper, diced
3-5 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
A few squeezes of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to package directions and chop veggies.  Add all other ingredients to cooked quinoa and mix well.

Form small patties using all of the quinoa mixture with your hands. Heat a pan over medium heat that was sprayed with cooking spray, and pan fry each patty until both sides are slightly crispy and golden brown.

Serve with salsa (me) or bbq sauce (Austin).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak, chicken fried steak!  Who doesn’t love chicken fried steak?!?

I didn’t know what chicken fried steak was until starting college in central PA, where it was a staple at my favorite hole-in-the-wall breakfast place.  As I continued south to Virginia, it was still commonplace on the menu.  Austin loves it, and I will take bites off his plate.

As our freezer became full with meat, I was looking for what to make with it all, especially cube steak.  I never know what to do with cube steak, so I thought it would be a perfect chicken fried steak.

Chicken Fried Steak

Cube steak, broken apart into portion size pieces (portions are a little large in our household, lol)
Italian style bread crumbs
Panko bread crumbs
Packet of ranch seasoning/dressing mix
Olive oil

Add 1 to 2 tbs of olive oil to frying pan and heat.  Add mix of Italian style bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs, and ranch seasoning/dressing mix to gallon size Ziploc bag.  Add cube steak and shake, shake and bake style.

Fry cube steaks, flip when juices start to flow out of the top of the steak.  Continue frying until both sides are browned.  I made the cube steaks with a tiny bit of pink; cook for longer if you want less pink in the meat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spinach Calamari Salad

On Thursday nights, we play in an adult rec kickball league.  I love, love, love our team.  I am not the most coordinated person in the world, and playing with my team has made me more confident in my very limited athletic abilities.  I even caught the game-ending kick at one game.  Granted, the ball hit my leg, and I just held the ball between my leg and my arm, it counts!  My awesome teams jumped up and down, ran to me, and gave me hugs and high-fives.

Our team name is Kick Balls in Your Mouth...yes, we're a classy group :)
After kickball, all the teams meet at a local bar for food and drinks (winners get free nachos and beer…woohoo!).  One of my favorite salads is their spinach calamari salad.  Right now, we’re between the summer and fall seasons, and I’ve been missing my team AND this salad.

I bought some oven-ready calamari at Costco several weeks ago, the CSA delivered us some fresh spinach.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking??  I hope so—time to recreate this awesome salad!

Calamari and Spinach Salad

¼ to ½ cup breaded calamari, cooked according to package instructions (yes, I cheated and bought this store bought)
1 cup spinach, washed and torn, if desired
1 carrot, julienned (Austin thought I was super fancy!)
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
Sprinkling of low-fat mozzarella and parmesan cheese
Low-fat balsamic salad dressing

Layer spinach, carrot, cucumber, and cheese.  Top with calamari.  Serve with balsamic dressing

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wedding Surprise

Two days ago, Austin and I celebrated our one-month anniversary.  To celebrate, we ate at our favorite lunch place (with a gift certificate we received as a wedding gift), and I made asparagus lasagna (recipe to come next week on the blog-- get ready!).  It was a great way to spend time together and touch base since our world has been a whirlwind since our wedding day.

As I got ready to write this post, I realized I never even posted about our AMAZING wedding day.  It was perfect; well, everything didn't go as planned (cough...hottest day of the air conditioning in the church or trolley....cough).  Regardless, the day was everything I wanted it to be.  It was a day filled with love, happiness, and fun!

Our first professional photo-- our photographer  is the best ever!
Austin, being the best new husband ever, surprised me with a song right after our first dance.  A guitar magically appeared, and Austin sang me a beautiful song.  Check out the video below, and brownies points for those who know this song :)

I held myself together for the entire wedding and through our first song, but when Austin sat down with his guitar, I lost it.  Completely.

Want to see more of our wedding photos?  Like Food Ramblings on Facebook to see the rest of our wedding sneak peaks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Grilled Ratatouille Pasta

Yum, pasta!  I love a good pasta dish, but it is so hard for me to eat small quantities of pasta.  I saw this recipe from Comfort of Cooking and saw adapting it as a great way to combine with love of pasta (but only using a 1/2 pound of pasta for 4 servings) with some healthy, tasty veggies.  This was a huge hit in our house!!

Grilled Ratatouille Pasta

1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (I used linguine)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for grilling
3 small red potatoes, cut in half and sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into thick slices
3  tomatoes, cut into thick slices
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs dried parsley
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta and add to large pasta bowl.

Heat a grill pan (it was raining, so outside grilling was a no-go) to medium-high; lightly oil hot grill.  Add vegetables, and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Turn occasionally until browned and tender. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.

Roughly chop vegetables and add to pasta. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic; mix. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley.  Serve hot/warm.

Serves four.

And apparently, I make weird faces...thanks for these pictures Austin :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kale Chips with Love

We have been wanting to try kale chips for a long time-- but have always used kale for something else first.  This week, we received kale in the CSA basket, and Austin grabbed it to make kale chips immediately.

Here are Austin's kale chips with love (recipe from Food Network.

Kale Chips  

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tbs olive oil
Salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn leaves and bake for another 20 minutes, until crisp.  Enjoy!

I just liked to this picture and had to share it :)