angie food cake

Family-friendly recipes from a frugal gal that likes to eat

Slow Cooker Chili

It’s hard to believe that it’s already October. The weather in MN is so crazy that it’s tough to tell what season it is, but Google Cal tells me it’s October 10th, and I have no other choice than to believe it!

I love  fall. Cozy sweaters, scarves and boots! Apple cider! Pumpkin-flavored everything! And of course the beautiful color-changing leaves.

Colors Along the St. Croix River

My cute husband and me on a fall colors boat cruise.

No two things go more hand-in-hand than fall and your slow cooker. When you see this recipe you’re going to laugh. It is so stupid easy that it’s barely a recipe, but you know what? I don’t care! This was so belly-warmingly delicious that you just have to make it.

Slow Cooker Chili

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, diced
Cooking spray
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5 oz each)
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (16 oz each)
1 can tomato sauce (15.5 oz)
1 package chili seasoning mix (I used this because it was easy, but I fully understand if you are anti-seasoning packets. If you want to use your own seasoning, go ahead. Here’s a link  for inspiration.)

Directions

  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.
  2. Saute the onion and ground meat until the meat is cooked and the onion is soft. Drain grease and add the meat into a large slow cooker.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Cook the chili on low for 8 hours (or high for 4).
  5. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.
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Trader Joes Product Love – Part Two

If you read my first Trader Joes review, you know how much I love their products. I took a recent trip and bought a whole bunch of great new things.

First up, Chocolatey Cats Cookies.

I love these cute little treats. They are crunchy and have a great chocolate flavor. They remind me of Teddy Grahams, but better! Plus, they’re low fat. Meow!

Next we have the Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers.

If you like Gorgonzola cheese, you will like these crackers. They are teeny tiny, so you will want to eat a million, but be warned, the flavor is quite pungent. To be honest, I don’t love these. I mostly enjoyed them dipped in sour cream spinach dip (which was delicious), but they are too strong for me on their own.

I may not love the crackers, but I adore this next item!

Pretzel Rolls. Soft, chewy, carby pretzel rolls! I fell in love with pretzel rolls when I had a burger served on one at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, MN. These rolls are excellent, but definitely just a treat for me, as they have over 300 calories each. My husband and I made roast beef and cheddar sandwiches on these, and smothered them with this next product.

Yum! This hummus is perfect. It has just the right amount of kick to it, so it made a perfect sandwich spread. It’s also excellent on crackers and raw veggies.

Finally we have Soyaki.

The name says it all for this one. It’s the perfect combination of soy and teriyaki sauces. I’ve used this sauce as a marinade and in stir fry. It’s sweet, savory and a great mix of Asian flavors.

I could go on and on about all the other great TJs products I love, but I won’t. I’ll save that for part three. 😉

Cherry Breeze No-Bake Dessert

I’m back! And I have a super easy no-bake dessert for you lovely folks. Since most of my readers are my family members (Hi, Mom!), y’all already know this recipe, as it has been a family favorite for years. This dessert has shown up at every family holiday celebration since I was a little girl. Made famous by my mom’s Aunt Aida, this dessert is definitely the most requested treat in her arsenal. Aunt Aida and her daughters are known for their rich, interesting and always delicious desserts, so I always assumed Cherry Breeze was an Aida original, but guess what? Go ahead and Google Cherry Breeze. Seriously, go ahead, I’ll wait.

The first result you see is Aunt Aida’s exact recipe! Not such a family secret after all. Oh well, no worries, this is still the best!

I made this Cherry Breeze today for Scott’s dad’s birthday dinner. I introduced Cherry Breeze to my other family, and it has quickly become a family favorite on their side as well! And why shouldn’t it? It’s basically a quick and easy version of cheesecake without the springform pan and hours of work.

Start by beating an eight ounce block of softened cream cheese until light and fluffy. Be sure you take the time to soften your cream cheese, or you WILL have lumps.

 

Next, add in the sweetened condensed milk and beat until well combined. The filling will be really sweet and sticky.

Add in the lemon juice and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Mix on a low speed at first so you don’t splash juice all over the place. Once the filling is ready, it should look like this. Creamy, smooth, no lumps. If you are using a KitchenAid, make sure you scrape the cream cheese that’s stuck to the bottom.

Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

Finally, pour the cherry pie filling on top and refrigerate for our hour. This step isn’t necessary, but I prefer the cherries to be cold.

Cherry Breeze
From Aunt Aida

Ingredients

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
1 can cherry pie filling

Directions

  1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  2. Pour in sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined.
  3. Add lemon juice and vanilla, blend until ingredients are smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  5. Pour the cherry pie filling on top, using almost the entire can. Chill for one hour.

The filling will firm up a bit, but it will still be a looser, messy-ish pie. Don’t worry about the appearance, it will still be tart, creamy, sweet and delicious!

Arroz con Pollo

I’ve realized that I’m really bad at making recipes “in season.” Most people take advantage of the fresh veggies growing in their gardens by making big, beautiful salads. But, for some reason, I don’t do that. I see a recipe that looks good, and I make it. I learned last week that this is not a smart way to cook. People make salads in the summer so they don’t have to turn their ovens on and make their already-hot homes even hotter. Duh.

Lucky for you, the weather seems to be turning a bit cooler. I’m currently sitting on the couch with the windows open and a blanket on my lap. Fall is in the air, so make this recipe – NOW – before it gets too hot again!

 

Arroz con Pollo
From Weight Watchers Simply the Best cookbook
Makes 4 servings
9 Points Plus per serving

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup long-grain rice
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
One 10-ounce can tomatoes with green chiles
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups cubed cooked skinless chicken breasts
1 cup thawed frozen green peas

Directions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the rice, onion and garlic; cook, stirring as needed, until the onion is softened and the rice is lightly browned, 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, tomatoes, oregano and cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and pears; cook, covered, stirring as needed, until the peas are cooked and the chicken is heated through, 3-4 minutes. Fluff the mixture with a fork before serving.

 

Cheese and Tomato Strata

Is there anyone out there that doesn’t enjoy breakfast for dinner? I loved those nights growing up when my mom would make pancakes and bacon for dinner. It was such a treat! When paging through the Weight Watchers cookbook, I came across a cheese and tomato strata that sounded so easy and really good, so I added it to my weekly meal plan. Breakfast for dinner! I also noticed that this recipe made six servings in a 13×9 pan, which is HUGE. I really appreciate that with WW recipes.

 

Cheese and Tomato Strata
From Weight Watches Simply the Best cookbook
Makes 6 servings, 6 Points Plus/serving

Ingredients

12 slices reduced-calorie whole-wheat bread
2 cups shredded nonfat sharp cheddar cheese
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat-free egg substitute
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

Directions

  1. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange 6 slices of bread in the baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with one-third of the cheese and one-half of the tomatoes. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining one-third of the cheese.
  2. In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring as needed, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the onions, milk, egg substitute, mustard, salt and pepper; pour over the bread mixture. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the strata until puffed and golden, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with bacon; serve.

Notes:

  • Be careful which low-calorie bread you buy. I used Sara Lee 45 calorie bread, and it was sweet. This bread made the whole casserole taste overly sweet, which is not appealing in this dish. I had to add a lot of salt and pepper on top to balance it out. Not good.
  • I didn’t have time to refrigerate this for an hour before I baked it, so I only did about 20 minutes, and it still turned out great!
  • I used four slices of turkey bacon (instead of 3) because this is what I had left in my fridge. I would recommend using even MORE bacon!
  • The leftovers made a perfect breakfast!

Skinny Spinach Dip

For the most part, I eat a pretty well-balanced diet, but sometimes I go through slumps. Weeks when I think to myself, did I eat a vegetable today? How about a piece of fruit? No? Oh, ok then.

You can tell I’m having one of these weeks when you see me slurping several of these.

 

Iced. Coffee. I only buy these tasty drinks on days when I’m just dragging. I finally realized that poor diet = poor energy (and -$2.75 in my bank account!), so I’ve stocked my fridge with tons of colorful produce that I plan to enjoy all week.

Since eating carrot sticks and celery stalks can get kinda boring, I decided to make a creamy, low-fat spinach dip to accompany them. This dip is packed with healthy spinach and scallions and silky sour cream and ricotta.

Skinny Spinach Dip
from Weight Watchers Simply the Best cookbook
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Half a 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup water chesnuts, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, ricotta, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
  2. Stir in spinach, water chestnuts and scallions until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate, covered, until the flavors are blended, at least one hour.

Serve with veggies and crackers.

Nutrition Information: 83 calories, 3 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 7 g protein

2 Points Plus per serving

Mexican Chicken Alfredo

Hey-oh, happy Monday! I hope your weekend was lovely. I traveled to Chicago to visit family. My husband’s parents are both from Chicago, so we were able to see both sides. It was wonderful! We also got to eat some delicious, Chicago-famous food!

Sausage deep dish from Gino’s East

Chicago beef from Russell’s Barbecue

Both were so so so so so so SO good! I told my husband that as soon as he’s ready to move back to Chicago, I’m in! I know Mpls has a great food scene, but in my book, Chicago always wins!

Even though the Mexican Chicken Alfredo dish I made last week didn’t hold a candle to Gino’s or Russell’s, it was still quite good! I wanted to make a big ol’ pan of something that we could eat throughout the week, and this did the trick. This is another great Pinterest find.

Note that I cut this recipe in half and only made one casserole. I used a 9×13 pan, and it worked perfectly.

Mexican Chicken Alfredo
From Taste of Home

Ingredients

1 package (16 ounces) gemelli or spiral pasta
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 jars (15 ounces each) Alfredo sauce
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
1 cup medium salsa
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 teaspoons taco seasoning

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onion, salt and pepper in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in Alfredo sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in the cheese, salsa, milk and taco seasoning.
  3. Drain pasta; toss with chicken mixture. Divide between two greased 8-in. square baking dishes.
  4. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
  5. To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 2 casseroles (4 servings each).

Look at that bubbly cheese! This casserole was great! It was rich, creamy and a bit spicy. Make this!

 

July Birchbox

Hey there, happy Monday! I hope you had a nice weekend. I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen this weekend, as I was out partying it up at a good friend’s bachelorette party!

 

What made Saturday even sweeter was that my July Birchbox came right before I had to leave for the party! And even better news? There was a great shade of lip gloss inside that perfectly matched my makeup for the night!

Please forgive the blurry picture – I was in a hurry to get partyin’!

  1. Birchbox Exclusive Earbuds – Nice pink and blue earbuds. I tried them out and wasn’t blown away by the sound quality or anything, but they sure are cute!
  2. Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien – Smelled like alcohol! ICK. I guess I just don’t understand perfume. The full size of this costs $85 and smells like  Absolut Citron. No thanks!
  3. Tea Forte minteas – I got the lime mojito kind, and they are pretty good. Definitely not the best for freshening your breath, but it’s a nice little candy to keep your mouth busy.
  4. Color Club Summer Pastels Collection nail polish in Blue Ming – Ohhh I just love this! It’s Tiffany blue – so pretty! And I don’t have a color even close to this, so I’m really excited.
  5. bosia B.B. Cream SPF 27 – Ok, nobody tell MAC, but I found my new favorite primer! This goes on smooth, doesn’t get greasy, is the perfect sun-kissed color and has SPF in it! It doesn’t get better than this, folks.
  6. stila It’s Go Time Lip Glaze – The Birchbox website said it was a trio of lip glosses that came in the July box, but I only got one. Not that I’m complaining though because it’s a full size lip gloss in a nice bronzy shade. I’ll take it!

Can’t wait to get home and paint my nails!

Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Last Thursday, Luke had his yearly appointment at the vet. He had to get two shots, and this was my first time taking him. We were both pretty stressed out about it, but luckily it went really well, and we made it home in less than an hour. After such a stressful ordeal (oh the drama!), I wanted to make something comforting for dinner. Typically casseroles like this are reserved for football-watching fall Sundays, but by now you should know that I don’t play by the rules when it comes to cooking!

When you see the picture of this casserole, your brain will scream Calories! Fat! CARBS!, but don’t you worry because this recipe is actually pretty light. Obviously potatoes are not the most nutritious vegetable (if you can even call them that), but hey, it’s the theme of this weekend’s posts, so you just gotta run with it.

Beautiful! I really loved this casserole, and I hope you will too. Maybe hold off on making it until the temperature stops hovering around 90, as it requires lots of hot oven time.

Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Slightly adapted from Cook Lisa Cook

Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs paprika 
2 Tbs garlic powder
6 Tbs hot sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used reduced-fat Mexican blend)
5 strips of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup chopped green onion

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and hot sauce.  Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat. 
  2. Carefully scoop the potatoes into a baking dish coated with cooking spray, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mix in the bowl as possible. 
  3. Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy & browned on the outside. 
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat. 
  5. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. 
  6.  Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken. 
  7. In a bowl mix together the cheese, bacon and green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mix. 
  8. Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious.  Serve with ranch dressing or sour cream.

 

 

Hasselback Potatoes (Fail)

Many of you have this seen picture of hasselback potatoes on Pinterest:

Stunning, no? When I saw this post, I immediately pinned, and several of you followed suit. I think the caption was something like “Better than fries!” Well who doesn’t want something that’s better than FRIES? I didn’t even know that existed! I had some potatoes at home, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Well, this is how mine turned out.

Not quite the same. Or even close at all! This just did not taste good. I basically forced myself to eat it. So why am I sharing this, you ask? Because I really think they can be great. The recipe is simple, and I think my fail here was all user error. I didn’t bake this long enough, and I don’t think I cut the sections thin enough. You can do better than me, I know it!

Start with these ingredients (and potatoes, of course!):

Wash your potato and start slicing it into sections. Do not cut all the way through. Smear some butter and garlic in between every other section. Top with salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Then bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until crispy. I took mine out at about 40 minutes, and I think it could’ve cooked for more than an hour, so you see why the fail is completely my fault. I know you will do better because you’re patient. And better at timing the different components of your meal. 😉

Hasselback Potatoes
From seasaltwithfood

Ingredients

1 potato
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the potato on a chopping board, flat side down. Start from one end of the potato, cut almost all the way through, at about 3 to 4 mm intervals.
  2. Arrange the potatoes on a baking tray and insert the garlic and butter inbetween the slits. Then drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake the potatoes for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy and the flesh is soft.

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