Thursday, October 29, 2009

38 year old SITSta

Hello my SITStas!! As a SITS girl for over a year now & once Saucy Chef, I think it's fitting to celebrate my 38th birthday in true SITS style, as featured blogger for today!

There is nothing I love more than sharing moments of laughter & friendship over cocktails & pretty platters of hors d’oeuvres.

So, come celebrate with me & take a bite out of life. But first, grab yourself a cocktail!!!!

Ok, you good? Fantastic! Now, go ahead & take a leisurely scroll through all these wonderful Appetizers & Dips I prepared just for the celebration! Just don't forget to say hello, wherever you wish. And come back for seconds.....

Thank you for celebrating with me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Home SWEET Home: Mini Pumpkin Delights

Ok, I was trying to hold out, I really was. After all, the blogosphere seems saturated with pumpkin recipes right now. However, once I tasted these beauties, I could not help but share. I have made them 2x since the weekend, mostly for giving away. Wouln't you be disappointed if I didn't share??

First, I made some cute slimmed down mini loaves. So good that I had to make another batch but in mini muffin form, complete with a little homemade cream cheese icing. I couldn't believe how moist & delicious these were, even without the icing. Thanks to the egg whites & combo of fat free yogurt & canola oil, these were on the healthier side!

The loaves made such a cute gift to bring to my BF Tam's house. Tristan even made a cute Halloween card to go with. The muffins came to work with me today where there isn't but a crumb lying in the dish!


{Printable Recipe Here}

1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt (I used fat free)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 cinn., 1/2 pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray metal loaf pan or mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle with flour.

In large bowl, with wire whisk, combine brown sugar & egg whites. Add pumpkin, oil, yogurt & vanilla. Stir to combine. In medium bowl, combine flours & remaining ingredients. Add flour mixture to wet mixture. Stir just until combined. Don't overmix. For a 8 1/2" x 4 1/2 " metal loaf pan bake 45-50 min or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack completely.

If you use a mini loaf pan (pictured above) or a mini muffin pan set your timer for 20 minutes then check with a toothpick. Mine were done in less than 25 minutes. Makes about 6-7 mini loaves or 24 mini muffins.


{Printable Recipe Here}

4oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Milk, for consistency

If you're looking for a thick icing, mix the cream cheese, confecioners sugar & vanilla until smooth. For my icing, I wanted something a bit thinner to pour into my squirt bottle so I added milk & whisked the mixture until it was smooth & drizzle-able. You can add cinnamon, almond extract, a little brandy, anything you like to make it your own. Just taste before drizzling!

And if you're looking for something that screams Fall but with a little more sweetness....

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Deliciously linking to: Friday Food at MomTrends & Foodie Friday with Designs by Gollum

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Love You, Naan!

Get it?

Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It is one of the most popular varieties of South Asian breads & is finding its way into supermarkets here. I started using it a month ago & have not stopped. Whether for lunch, dinner or even breakfast, I throw on some toppings, bake for a few minutes & I am good to go. And it's quick since there is no rolling out & healthy with its whole grain variety.

There are 2 pieces to a package so it's easy to personalize for different people in the fam!


1-2 tblsp Alouette Garlic & Herb Spreadable Cheese (optional)
1 piece of Naan
2 large eggs
1 cup of fresh baby spinach
Shredded cheese
Salt & Pepper
Hot sauce (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Spread piece of Naan with garlic & herb cheese. Whisk eggs in bowl. Cook in pan with cooking spray. Once set, toss in spinach & scramble until eggs are cooked through & spinach is wilted. Spread on top of garlic & herb cheese. Top with 1/3 cup of shredded cheese. Bake Naan for 8 minutes directly on oven rack then turn oven to broil until edges of Naan are nice & golden. Season with salt, pepper & hot sauce. Cut into wedges.

{Food for Thought}

I had leftover garlic & herb cheese I wanted to use up. You could omit it or you can even scramble it in with your eggs & spinach.

For less work, I leave the oven rack in the middle of the oven, even when I turn setting to broil. This way, I don’t have to worry about the pizza burning badly from being too close to heat source. It still gets nice & brown while being heated through.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¼ - ½ cup ricotta
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Dash of nutmeg
Dash cinnamon
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1 piece of Naan
Tomato, sliced thinly

Mix ricotta cheese with oregano, basil, pepper flakes, nutmeg & cinnamon. Set aside. Saute spinach with some freshly minced garlic for a few minutes until slightly wilted & fragrant. Spread spinach on top of Naan. Place tomato slices on top. Then dollop ricotta mixture by the tablespoon across the top. Bake for 10 minutes directly on oven rack then turn oven to broil until edges of Naan are nice & golden.

{Food for Thought}

My mom has always put nutmeg & cinnamon in her ricotta when making stuffed shells. I started doing it & I just think it brings out a little sweetness in the cheese. You definitely don’t want more than a dash.

For less work, I leave the oven rack in the middle of the oven, even when I turn setting to broil. This way, I don’t have to worry about the pizza burning badly from being too close to heat source. It still gets nice & brown while being heated through.

Or how 'bout some...

turkey pepperoni, olives, green pepper, onions & mozzarella cheese...

Hold the pepperoni on mine please!

Go Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for More TMTT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coffee Braised Pot Roast

I never loved pot roast so I don't make it much. Or ever. But when I saw the coffee braised twist I knew I had to try it. It turned out to be one of the best pot roasts I ever tried. One that has now turned me into a pot roast fan. Everyone truly enjoyed it, including Tristan.

Don't worry, it didn't have a coffee taste but I imagine the coffee magic comes from how these simple ingredients just complement & enhance one another. This went perfectly with some mashed potatoes and this To Die For Salad.


1 4-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, halved & thinly sliced (4 cups)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tblsp water

Preheat oven to 300°F. Season beef with salt & pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add beef & cook, turning from time to time, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened & golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add garlic & thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. If someone asked me what my favorite kitchen tool is, this would be it. My mini chopster.

Stir in coffee & vinegar; bring to a simmer. Return the beef to the pot & spoon some onions over it. Cover & transfer to the oven.

Braise the beef in the oven until fork-tender but not falling apart, 2 1/2 to 3 hours (I did 2 1/2). Transfer beef to a cutting board, tent with foil & let rest for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, skim fat from the braising liquid; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture & cook, whisking, until the gravy thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Add a pat or two of butter for a nice finish. Season with pepper.

Carve the beef & serve with gravy.

{Food for Thought}

Definitely go for the chuck roast. Even though it has more fat it will not dry out during the braising period. My cut didn't even have much fat & I just cut out the fatty deposits after it was done cooking.
By the time I was done making the gravy, the onions were so broken down that I may strain the liquid next time, leaving the onions aside, then adding them back in once the gravy has thickened. This is more for presentation or if you like to see the onion slices draped over the meat rather than lost in the gravy. I would also not cut my onions so thin next time.
{Slow-Cooker Variation: In Step 2, transfer the browned beef to a slow cooker. In Step 3, use just 1/2 cup coffee. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker. In Step 4, cover & cook until beef is tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. In Step 5, pour the liquid into a medium saucepan & continue as directed.}
~ ~ ~
And for dessert.......

It's been too hot here to even think about apple pickin' or anything Halloween related but what are you doin' with all those extra apples? How 'bout some of these?

All American Mini Apple Pies. Click Here to Print Recipe.
Have a great weekend everyone. Come back next week for some good stuff because things are really heating up in my kitchen!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Movin' on up!

I have been feeling down. Nothing in particular has me there but that's where I have chosen to be, down. They say it's a choice, right? Either way, I don't like it. While I feel like I am on my way back up, it was important for me to give myself a few reminders of what's making me happy lately:

Wonderful recipes marked & ready for me to try:

Old photos recently found, of me:

And my mom:

The "Perfectly Chocolatey" Chocolate Frosting, so easy to make you'll never want to buy store bought, recipe here:

Seeing Tristan's face & name in a printed book:

And being able to picture what he'll look like in a suit some years from now:

A wine glass swap & gift from Casey:

Meeting a blogger friend, Ronda, for the 1st time & enjoying one another's company as much as we do eachother's blogs

Ronda & Me

Working so close to home & school where I can have lunch dates with this little guy:

And lastly, to you all - I am sure you know the feeling, when you're just not quite right, yet you know you'd be worse if you didn't have bloggy friends & wonderful inspirations just a click away!

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut-Banana Stuffed Wontons

This is just about one of the yummiest desserts I’ve ever made!!!!

I was inspired to create this by a recipe I saw from Bobby Flay where he spreads Nutella on bread & adds banana, then grills it like a grilled cheese before dusting it with powdered sugar. You can see it here. Interesting thought but I had extra wontons I wanted to use instead.

It was after making this & looking around for Nutella recipes that I saw I was not the only one with such a great idea. While disappointed it’s not a total original I was still pleased to be in good company with Giada. However, she does not add bananas or ice cream.

Either way, you will be missing out terribly if you don’t try this!! Don’t even be nervous that you need to fry these because it’s not a deep fry at all. There’s only enough oil to cover the bottom of a pan. I even took extra time for more pictures so you could see exactly how easy this is. It takes just minutes & is truly restaurant quality, especially served with ice cream & a sprig of mint.


{Printable Recipe}

Wonton skins
Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
1 banana
Small bowl of water
Vegetable Oil
Confectioner’s Sugar
Ice cream (optional)
Sprigs of Mint (optional)

Cut banana into round slices. Then cut those rounds in half. Set aside.

Lay your wonton skin down flat. Using your fingers, moisten all sides with water. Place about 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the middle of wonton. Do not overstuff. Place 1-2 pieces of banana on top, depending on the size of your banana.

Then fold over wonton skin, diagonally. Press with your fingers to seal. You can then lay it on its side & gently press on it so the filling spreads just a tiny bit inside. You don't have to but it made me happy. Repeat with remaining. See how it's not totally perfect. That's ok, the wontons are very forgiving & look cool if they are not flat. The only requirement is that they are sealed well.

Pour just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a pan. Heat on medium high. Spritz a tiny bit of water into the oil. If it crackles then it’s hot enough.

Place wontons in oil & fry on each side for about 1 ½ minutes or until golden brown.

Set aside on a paper towel to let oil drain off.

For dessert shown in picture, I used a mini container of ice cream & placed it upside down in the middle of bowl or serving dish. I let it sit for 2 minutes to soften so it can come out nicely. Place wontons around, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh mint.

{Food for Thought}

The only reason I do not suggest mashing your bananas into the Nutella to combine is because the 1st time I did that it made the filling too thin where it seeped out of the wonton. As an alternative, you could chop up the banana & fold it gently into the Nutella. For me, it was just as easy placing 1 or 2 tiny pieces on top of the Nutella before folding up the wonton.

These were delicious & if I could wrap 'em up & send them to you I would!

{Now go see MomTrends Food Friday!}

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whole Chicken in a Crockpot & Asian Inspired Asparagus

I invited my parents over for an easy mid-week dinner before they were heading up North for a few days. I wanted to make an effort without taking up too much time since I work all day. I had a whole chicken in the freezer so I researched putting one in a crockpot & this is what I found. It paired perfectly with Jasmine rice as well as some asparagus I put my own little Asian twist on.

And since I have missed joining Angie at 7 Seven Clown Circus since minimizing posts, I am pimpin' my recipe out to WW. After all, it's still a pic with a whole lotta words. Plus, you're bound to get hungry after hopping around Wordful Wednesday!

It was fall of the bone good!!!!!


{Printable Recipe}

1 (3 pound) whole chicken, skin removed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tblsp minced garlic

Remove skin from chicken & empty inner cavity of contents within. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel & and place inside the slow cooker.

In a bowl, stir together the chicken broth, soy sauce, olive oil, honey, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil & minced garlic. Pour mixture over chicken & cover.

Cook chicken on low setting for 8 hours, or 4 hours on high setting.


{Printable Recipe}

2 tsp sesame oil
1 pkg fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Ground ginger
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tsp Chili garlic sauce
A dash or two red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add asparagus & toss for a minute or two. Add garlic & cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. If pan becomes dry, just add a little water. As soon as the steam rises, cover asparagus & cook over low heat, tossing occasionally, until it reaches your desired doneness. Tender with a little crisp took about 10-15 minutes over low heat.

{Food for Thought}

This asparagus definitely had a kick to it which is always welcome in my house but omit the red pepper flakes if you don't enjoy the heat.

This deliciousness is linked to:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays &

Crockpot Wednesdays &

Wordful Wednesdays &

Feels Like Home

Friday, October 2, 2009

Roasted Vegetable & Mozzarella Panini

Tis the season I get energized & motivated, invigorated by the cooler weather. With Autumn comes the desire to be my best self so that I can truly enjoy everything around me, all the goodness that happens these last 3 months of the year.

Turning another year older & wanting to embrace it rather than regret ~ Brisk mornings in the park with a cup of coffee ~ Reading in the sun while feeling a cool breeze ~ And of course, the sights & smells of the holidays!!!!!!

So with all that goodness, here's some more.


Bread of your choice
1 tblsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Garlic powder
1 red pepper, quartered
½ Onion, sliced thick
1 zucchini, cut in half then lengthwise into 1/4" slices
Pesto purchased (optional)
Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
8 Fresh basil leaves

Pre-heat oven to 400. Combine balsamic, oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Brush over vegetables & roast for 10-15 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking time.

Meanwhile, prepare your sandwich. Spread slices of bread with a little prepared pesto. Layer with mozzarella, 3-4 basil leaves, roasted veggies & then a little more cheese. Top with bread.

Using either a pan on stovetop, a George Foreman grill or panini maker, grill sandwich until golden brown on both sides & cheese is melted & slightly oozing out.

I used a dry pan & heated the sandwich over medium heat for about 3 minutes on one side, carefully flipping using a plate, then heating on the second side for about 1 1/2 minutes. Makes 2 sandwiches.

{Food for Thought}

I used a multi grain bread fresh from the bakery but any bread cut into thick slices will work, especially sourdough. If you have leftover oil/vinegar mixture you can brush some on the bread, just don't use too much as you don't want the bread to become soggy. Eggplant & tomatoes would work wonderfully too in a combo of veggies.

And because it's Fall & that means apple picking, take a look at these sweet & savory beauties I posted last year:

Visit here for some Grilled Apples with Cheddar & Bacon
& Apple Thyme Martinis.

This post is my Not So Fat Friday & links to Momtrends Friday Food.

Have a great weekend everyone!