Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky Guacamole and Bat Chips

A festive twist on traditional chips and guacamole!  I got this idea from Paula Deen's site and I'll admit, I cheated...this is a semi-homemade guacamole, but's delish and super fast!

The bat chips are made with cookie cutters and are so simple!  The same idea can be used for other holidays or even tailgates.  How cute would Clemson Tiger Paw tortilla chips be?!
Happy Halloween!!
Alison J.

Guacamole Ingredients
1 package guacamole mix (usually found in the produce section)
3 avocados (*Test for Ripeness: Press it gently with your thumb, if it feels hard it is not ripe enough.  If you can press it in a little bit, then it's perfectly ripe.  If it feels mushy - put it back because it's gone bad!)
1 tomato, chopped (optional)

Hold the avocado in one hand and gently cut around the seed and twist off the top half of the avocado.  Pull out the seed with your knife.  Scoop out the flesh of both sides and spoon into a mixing bowl.  Using a fork, mash up the avocado.  Toss in the tomatoes and combine. 

Bat Chips Ingredients
1 package soft tortillas (red, green, and orange tortillas would be neat for themed parties)
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
Bat Cookie Cutter
Garlic Pepper, Salt, Seasoning Salt, Chili Pepper, etc.  - use your favorite!  I used Garlic Pepper and Salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Using cookie cutter, cut out bats out of your tortillas.  Spread them out on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle seasonings onto chips and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Let them get golden brown and crunchy.

Serve with guacamole and don't forget a fake spidey for garnish!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big Ole Burrito

For those of you who don't know, I'm back to teaching and working long hours.  I created this recipe after an especially long PTA night at our school.  Those are the nights that I fight the urge to call the closest takeout.  I enjoy playing sports, but going to the gym is the last thing on my to-do list, so my recipes need to be on the lighter side.

Here's to you my fellow working women!

Big Ole Burrito
3 Gals and a Kitchen

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
½ c sweet onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) can of chili beans, drained
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 c mozzarella cheese
1 can of pizza crust dough (Pillsbury)
1 egg white
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet on medium high, add the ground turkey and brown for a few minutes; add the green pepper, red pepper, sweet onion, and continue to cook the mixture until the meat has cooked through. Add the chili beans, taco seasoning, and ½ c mozzarella cheese to the above mixture. Meanwhile, roll out the pizza dough on a nonstick baking sheet, and then pour the meat mixture onto the pizza dough. Grab opposite sides of the dough and bring to the center and twist. Do this until none of the meat mixture is showing and the burrito takes a round shape. Brush egg white on top of the burrito, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the crust browns.

Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spooky Witch Hats

These baby witch hats are the perfect "something sweet" for your Halloween party!  The recipe only calls for 3 ingredients and with a steady hand, these only take moments to make.  They are great to serve as a last minute Halloween dessert!
Alison J.

1 package Fudge Striped Cookies
1 package Chocolate Kisses
1 container of Icing (I used Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing that comes in an aluminum can with 4 icing tips)

Flip over cookies and squeeze a dollop of icing into the center of the cookie (over the hole).  Unwrap a chocolate kiss and place in the center of the dollop of icing.  Using the tip that is meant for writing (description on side of icing container), slowly pipe icing into shape of a bow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Punkin Pasta

Before you try this pasta, please note that the pumpkin gives it a sweet flavor. This dish definitely has a unique taste, but Wes and I both loved it! It reminded me of macaroni and cheese with an autumn twist. I think our vegetarian followers will love this pumpkin pasta, and it's really filling as a main dish. Meat-lovers - try adding some sausage and let me know how it turns out. Happy Halloween! -Allison Y.

Punkin Pasta

Adapted from Rachel Ray's
Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta

1 pound ziti
2 tablespoons extra-virgini olive oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
3 to 4 cloves garlic (diced)
1 cup chicken stock
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup cream (I used half and half)
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
7 to 8 leaves fresh sage (thinly sliced)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Boil a pot of water and cook pasta to al dente (see box for time). Saute chopped onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, pumpkin, and cream. Then, season with hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 6 minutes more to thicken sauce. Taste test and adjust seasoning as necessary. Stir in sage and toss with pasta. Top with lots of grated cheese (to taste).

Not Your Grannie's Pot Roast

Since I was awake by 7 this morning, I thought I would go ahead and toss a pot roast into the slow cooker. Autumn is my favorite time of year because I can make hearty recipes: pot roast, chili, meatloaf, and shrimp and creamy cheddar grits. Oh the possibilities are endless! XOXO, Esra

Not Your Grannie's
Pot Roast

3 Gals and a Kitchen

1 (3 LB) boneless bottom chuck roast

¼ c EVOO
1 sweet onion, diced
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
4 new potatoes cubed
3 garlic cloves, diced
3 c beef broth
½ c dry white wine
1 c chopped button mushrooms
2 TBSP butter (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
2 TBSP flour
1 c skim milk

In a medium skillet, add EVOO and roast. Begin to sear the roast on all sides, go ahead and salt and pepper the roast. Meanwhile, chop the onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic and set aside. Transfer the roast into the slow cooker, layer the vegetables on top of your roast, and add beef broth and white wine. Using the same medium skillet, begin to sauté chopped mushrooms in butter, stir in flour and gradually skim milk to ensure no clumps. Pour the cream of mushroom mixture on top of the roast.

Cover and cook on the low setting for 8-10 hours.

**I like using a homemade cream of mushroom mixture to help control the fat going into my recipe and using fresh ingredients adds to the flavor of the pot roast (hence why I called this recipe, "Not Your Grannie's Pot Roast").We all know our grannies like to toss in whole milk and heavy cream into their recipes.**

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Skinny Jean Friendly Scrambled Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce

The weekends are for relaxing on the couch and cooking a tasty breakfast. Who says a home cooked breakfast needs to be loaded with fat?!? You don't need to compromise lower calories for taste. You can cook this without telling the kids or your significant other the healthy secrets.
They won’t even notice!


Skinny Jean Friendly Scrambled Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg whites (save egg yolks in a separate bowl)
1 whole egg
2 TBSP skim milk
Salt/Pepper to taste
6 slices of turkey bacon
Hollandaise sauce (recipe below)

In a medium nonstick skillet, crack 3 eggs using only the egg whites (save the egg yolks in a separate bowl) and add the entire 4th egg. Add ¼ of milk (I used skim milk) and whisk vigorously until well blended. Gently and slowly stir the egg mixture as it begins to cook to ensure it will not stick to the pan. Cook until the eggs starts to scramble and have a thick appearance.

Meanwhile, cook up some turkey bacon until cooked through.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks
½ stick of unsalted butter (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cold water

Melt butter in a small bowl and set aside. Simmer water in a double boiler making sure the top of the boiler is over (not in) the simmering water.

In a stainless steel bowl, whisk the eggs yolks that you reserved from the scrambled egg recipe until it has doubled in size. Place the bowl on the top of the boiler, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to whisk as you add the melted butter. If the eggs appear to be cooking remove it from the heat and continue to whisk until it has a thick appearance. Once removed from the heat, add paprika, salt, and pepper to the sauce. Continue to whisk as you add in 1 tsp of cold water.

Serve the sauce warm on top of scrambled eggs, with turkey bacon, and some whole wheat toast.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paula's Shrimp and Creamy Cheddar Grits

This is an easy and amazing recipe. In the words of my guy, 'This is phenomenal' and I must agree with him. I love Paula Deen and she inspires many of the recipes that I make. I usually take her recipes and cut some of the fat out by using skim milk or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Enjoy this hearty meal!


Paula’s Shrimp and Creamy Cheddar Grits

6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped (I did not use bacon. I used EVOO when it called for bacon drippings)
½ c diced red bell pepper
½ c diced green bell pepper
½ c sweet onion, diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP Creole seasoning
½ c dry white wine
1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 TBSP minced fresh chives
Creamy Cheddar Grits (recipe as follows)
Thinly sliced chives (optional)

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, removed bacon from pan, and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 TBSP bacon drippings in skillet (this is where I used EVOO instead since I did not use bacon in my recipe). Add peppers, garlic, and creole seasoning; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and minced chives.

Serve shrimp mixture over Creamy Cheddar grits. Sprinkle evenly with bacon, and sprinkle with
thinly sliced fresh chives. Serve immediately.

Creamy Cheddar Grits

1 (32 oz) carton reduced sodium chicken broth
1 c water
1 cup instant grits
1 c half-and-half (I used skim milk)
1 ½ c shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese
3 TBSP butter
¼ tsp ground white pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth and 1 c water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add grits, stirring until combined. Return to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, and slowly stir in half-and-half and continue to cook until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, butter, and white pepper, stirring until cheese is melted.

Recipe courtesy of: Deen, Paula. "Paula's Shrimp and Creamy Cheddar Grits." Cooking with Paula Deen. Sept/Oct 2010 Issue: p. 69

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

After my adventure at the pumpkin patch I decided to bake a Homemade Pumpkin Pie. I have always loved Paula Deen’s good old southern cooking so I decided to try one of her Pumpkin Pie Recipes. This pie was a huge hit with my coworkers as well as my guy.
Pumpkin Pie

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed (I used a pumpkin, but in the future I will use the 100% natural canned pumpkin)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 piece pre-made pie dough
Whipped cream, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Recipe from Paula Deen (Food Network)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tailgating Fare - Clemson Style!

Now Y'all, it doesn't get much better than Clemson Tailgating!!  I must say, my first experience in Death Valley was truly awe-inspiring!  I hope you'll enjoy some of my favorite game-day recipes this season!

"Yes, there's something in these hills where the Blue Ridge yawns it's greatness."
xoxo, Alison J. 

Bacon, Onion & Cheese Hash Brown Casserole

6 slices of bacon
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
(1) 32 oz. package frozen, grated hash brown potatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat Cheddar (or your favorite type of cheese)
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
(1) 10.75 oz. can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until golden brown and crispy.  Drain bacon strips on paper towels and crumble into pieces.  Wipe out your pan and add onions and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes; stir in potatoes.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove lid for occasional stirring.

Meanwhile, combine bacon, 1/4 cup of cheese, spring onions, sour cream, salt, pepper and soup in a large bowl.  Add potato mixture and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased 11x7 casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes on 350.  Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until bubbly and delicious-looking!

*Note: This is a great make-ahead recipe.  If refrigerated, remove and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before beginning the baking process.
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine 

Sausage and Cheese Mini Muffins are great to serve with Hash Brown Casserole!
Spinach Balls (Missy's Fave!)

(2) 10 oz. packages frozen, chopped spinach
2 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly minced onion

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.  Shape by rounded teaspoons into small balls.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until firm and slightly golden on top.  Makes 3-4 dozen bite-sized appetizer balls.

Quick-n-Tasty Meatball Sliders

1 package slider buns
Pre-cooked meatballs
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Pre-sliced Mozzarella Cheese

Combine meatballs in marinara sauce on the stove over medium heat until meatballs are hot throughout.  Slice cheese into squares that are approximately the size of the bun.  Slice open buns and pinch out some of the bread in the bottom half.  This creates a "bed" for the meatball!  Spoon meatballs into each roll and top with slice of cheese.  Place on either a microwaveable platter and nuke for about 15 seconds to melt the cheese.  Or if you have a large batch, place them on a baking sheet and pop in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese has begun to melt.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maa Meatloaf!

Our lovely fans requested a meatloaf recipe so this is one is for you.  This is for the nights that the kids or family are yelling, 'maaa meatloaf!'

Maa Meatloaf!
1 lb ground beef
¼ c button mushrooms, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 (14.5 oz can) diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
2 eggs
1 c bread crumbs
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 TBSP parsley

Meatloaf Sauce
½ c ketchup
2 TBSP spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350.

To save time, use a food processor chop the button mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and canned tomatoes. Slowly mix in the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and parsley.

Place meat mixture into a 9x5 loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Take the meatloaf out of the oven and pour the meatloaf sauce on top and bake for another 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through (no pink).

Meanwhile, start making the meatloaf sauce.  Add ketchup, spicy brown mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Twice-Baked New Potatoes

The original recipe for these potatoes calls for full-fat ingredients. They were delicious with the low fat substitutions. Serve as an appey or side dish, and the leftovers are great reheated in the microwave.
Twice Baked New Potatoes
Adapted from

1/2 pounds small red potatoes, 2 T vegetable oil, 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup light sour cream, 1 (8 ounce) package fat free cream cheese (softened), 1/3 cup minced green onions, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 garlic clove (minced), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/3 cup real bacon bits

Pierce potatoes with fork; rub skins with oil. Bake in a baking dish, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 50 minutes or until tender. Allow potatoes to cool for 10 -15 minutes or until you can easily touch them. In a large mixing bowl, combine Monterey Jack, sour cream, cream cheese, onions, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cut potatoes in half; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a thin shell. Add pulp to the cheese mixture. Using an electric mixer, mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until thoroughly combined. Stuff potato shells. Top each potato with bacon bits. Broil for 7-8 minutes or until heated through.

*I served these with Katie's Cheeseburger Rollup.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella

My lovely friend, Wendy, brought these over for a cookout one evening. It is a quick and easy appetizer to throw together for friends or family. Thank you Wendy for sharing this with us!

Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella

1 package of prosciutto (about 12 pieces)
1 container of mini fresh mozzarella balls (about 30-40)
2 TBSP of basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Cut each slice of prosciutto into thirds. Take one of these little slices and one mozzarella ball, wrap the prosciutto around it, and stick a toothpick through the wrapped mozzarella ball. Do this until all of the mozzarella balls have been wrapped. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the completed tray of wrapped mozzarella balls. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and basil over the entire tray.

Refrigerate until it is time to serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Show Stoppin' Buffalo Chicken Dip

All of these tailgating recipes are getting you ready for the big night…..Super Bowl Party Night! This is a show stopper and you will not have any leftovers. I suggest you set aside a little bowl for your guy so he doesn’t ask you why you did not bring him any leftovers.


Show Stoppin’ Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 blocks of cream cheese
2 cups of cheddar cheese
1 c ranch dressing
¼ c Frank’s Hot Sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like your dip)
2 packages of precooked diced chicken breast (I use the precooked packages because it saves me so much time)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese, ranch, and Frank’s Hot Sauce. Dice the chicken into small bite size pieces and combine with the cheese mixture. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Pour the dip into the casserole dish, evenly sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese, and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese on top has melted completely. Broil for 1 minute to give the cheese a nice golden brown look.

Serve with Tostitos, Pita Chips, or in a Sourdough Bread Bowl

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Tailgater's 3-Cheese Mac and Cheese

While watching Saturday college football on this lovely autumn afternoon we had a craving for some good ole home cooking. Paula Dean is famous for some hearty home cooking recipes. I decided to adapt her recipe and make it less heavy for our tailgaters.


The Tailgater's 3-Cheese Mac and Cheese

4 cups cooked whole wheat penne, drained
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated asiago
1 cup grated mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheeses (cheddar, asiago, and mozzarella cheese). In a separate medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and then add to the macaroni mixture. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired (I topped with ¼ of asiago or you could use parmesan and have this as a 4 cheese recipe instead)

*You may use reduced fat cheese, but do not use fat free cheeses. Fat free cheeses do not melt well.**

**If you want to add some protein to this recipe feel free to add cooked ground beef or cooked ground turkey to the above.

Recipe adapted from Paula Dean’s, The Lady’s Mac and Cheese