Why this blog??

Why this blog?? I often find myself stressing over what to make for my family for dinner. We live a busy life and some meals need time to prep, cook and let's not forget shopping for everything you need. I love cookbooks and websites, but there are so many recipe's at times it is overwhelming. The recipe's I will be posting are things I actually made. I will tell you if they are easy or more time consuming. I will also tell you if they are good. Most of these are recipe's I have made for years and continue to make because they are easy or quick and my family loves them and i know yours will too! I will also try to at least once in a whlie try a new recipe I've found on line or in a book and honestly rate it. I always encourage others to send me their favorite recipe's as well! I am a mom... not a chef. But I am a mom who enjoys cooking for her family and making a somewhat healthy meal (some days more healthy than others:) ) In each recipe I will share how I recommend serving it, any substitutions I can think of that are also good, or ways to prepare ahead of time to make the cooking part seem quicker! I am not a photographer, as you can see... most of these pictures are taken from my phone camera, so may not be the best! I love to hear from others who have made these recipes and what they have done to change the recipe... please post comments! Thank you! To "like" me on facebook, go to this link... It's What's Cookin

Friday, September 2, 2011

Penne Pasta with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

I was watching the cooking channel one day and saw the episode where Giada De Laurentiis made this. It looked SO good, but I knew my husband and kids would never eat it. So tonight, I had a girlfriend over for dinner and decided to give it a try on her. If you want to go to Giada's link click HERE. I like the video on her site. I pretty much just copied and pasted the recipe and ingredients down below.

We really liked it. I love nutty flavors so this was perfect for me. I love goat cheese and I love butternut squash. My friend liked it a lot too, but thought it needed more salt (or garlic salt). (I didn't add more salt like the recipe called for at the end, I had only added it to the squash. So next time I will add more at the end too.) We also both thought it would be good to add shredded rotisserie chicken to this to make it a well balanced meal:)

If you don't know how to peel and dice a butternut squash, you can go to THIS site and watch the short video. I've never peeled one before even though I've made butternut squash many times before!


Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
*Adding this after making it a second time- 1tsp garlic salt. Definitely adds more flavor!

Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Cook's Note:
To toast the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 6 to 8 minutes Cool completely before using.




put on baking sheet with diced onion and roast with olive oil and seasonings

place goat cheese at bottom of serving bowl. Place hot pasta on top along with one cup of the pasta water.

add the butternut squash and onion

add chopped, toasted walnuts and chopped fresh basil

Mix well, add grated parm cheese, salt and pepper.

So creamy and good! 

Spaghetti Squash

Shown with marinara and fresh grated cheese!

A low fat, low carb italian meal?!? Is there such a thing??? There is! And it is amazing as well!  My sister in law introduced me to spaghetti squash not too long ago. I just love it! It's a great substitute for pasta (which is my biggest downfall when it comes to dieting! I can NOT give up pasta or bread... it's the Italian in me!) Spaghetti squash is great with just olive oil and italian seasonings or topped with your favorite marinara sauce!  The other night I made it with olive oil and seasonings, but then I topped it with some left over sauce I had when I made my Chicken Parm Meatballs and I served it along side my Caprese Chicken (Also low fat and low carbs... also italian!)

*Medium to Large Spaghetti Squash
*2-3 T of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Or if you wanna get crazy... a little butter!)
*2 T Italian seasonings
*Pepper and Salt

Optional toppings:
extra olive oil
Marinara sauce
fresh grated cheese (my fav- parm-reggiano)

Preheat oven to 375
1)Cut squash in half vertically (this is by far the hardest step in making this!)
2)Scoop out the seeds and discard
3)Brush each half with about a T of olive oil and sprinkle the seasonings on each half.
4)Place each half on a baking sheet face down. Cook for about 45 minutes.
5)Take them out and flip over. If they look a bit dry, you can add more oil (or butter). Bake face up for another 40-45 minutes. (time may very depending on size of squash)
6)Take a fork and run it horizontally across inside of squash. The "spaghetti" should form easily! Scoop it out and transfer to a serving bowl.
7)Top with any toppings, stir well and serve immediately!

Cut down middle vertically.. Careful!

Spoon out seeds in center with a spoon.

brush each with olive oil (or butter)

Season with italian seasonings and pepper and salt.

bake face down for 45 minutes

turn over and bake another 40 minutes or so.

Run fork across horizontally and watch the "spaghetti" form!

Caprese Chicken with Spaghetti Squash topped with marinara and fresh grated cheese.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Cream of ..." Soup substitute...

I learned a great new trick that I wanted to pass along today. A lot of my recipes (especially my quick casseroles) use a cream of soup (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom...). I don't like using these for many reasons. Mainly trying to stay away from canned products and trying to use more fresh ingredients. When a recipe calls for one of these soups, you can substitute by using the following...

 1 TB melted butter, 1 TB flour, and 1 cup of milk. Of course, you will need to spice it up. (Example: For Cream of Mushroom, add fresh or canned/rinsed mushrooms and garlic, salt, pepper. Maybe for cream of chicken use a little chicken broth or stock if you have it on hand.) 

Let me know if any of you have done this in the past and what seasonings or extra's you use to make it taste like the canned soup!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken in a Pocket

My friend Kelly gave me this recipe since her family loves it. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to make it at first because I couldn't visualize it. But it sounded easy and I knew my family would like everything in it so I decided to make it. We all loved it!! It reminds me a little of mini pot pies (in fact, next time I make these I may use a little less green onion and add some finely chopped carrot and celery to this!) But it's great just the way it is too!! Thanks again Kelly for another recipe my family will use for a long time!!


*2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (I'm a big fan of shredded vs chopped in a dish like this. I had a few chicken breasts on hand so I boiled them with some seasoning and then shredded. Next time I will use rotisserie chicken making it that much easier!)
*1 package (8oz) nonfat cream cheese at room temp (I used 1/3 less fat, but next time i will try the fat free!)
*4 green onions chopped (I only used 2 1/2 since my family isn't huge onion lovers)
*2 cans (7 oz each) buttermilk biscuits (10 biscuits per can)

*1 can (10 oz) reduced fat cream of chicken soup (I, on accident, grabbed the cream of celery soup and used that. It was still great, but my husband and I agreed the cream of chicken would be a bit better)
*1/2 can water
*Season with black pepper

Preheat oven to 375

1)Mix first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.

2)Lay out half the biscuits on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly flatten the biscuits with the palm of your hand.

3)Equally divide the chicken mixture on the ten biscuits. Flatten remaining biscuits and place over biscuits topped with filling. Seal edges by pinching.

4)Bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

5)While they are baking, prepare sauce by mixing soup and water in a sauce pan. Heat on medium heat and cook until thoroughly heated. Spoon sauce over each pocket when serving.

mix shredded chicken, cream cheese and green onion well

flatten bottom layer biscuit, add scoop of chicken mixture and then add your top layer biscuit and pinch sides together.

Spoon sauce over the top before serving.


We enjoyed serving these with a side of sweet corn on the cob and Roasted Carrots with Feta and Parsley

Roasted Carrots with Feta and Parsley

This recipe is exactly what it says it is:) Thank you to my friend Katie for this easy, great side dish! I alway have feta on hand and parsley is great to grow in your garden-  making this a quick, easy side dish for any night of the week, not to mention it's healthy!

*3 lbs medium carrots- cut 1 inch thick coins (I used about 1lb of carrot sticks that I had on hand and it was
                     the perfect amount for my husband and I.)
*3 T extra virgin olive oil
*course salt and pepper (I also used a little nature seasonings)
*1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used the fat free kind)
*2 T chopped FRESH flat-leaf parsley

1)Preheat oven to 425. Toss carrots in olive oil and seasonings on a baking sheet.
2)Roast until carrots are caramelized and fork tender (about 25 minutes).
3)Transfer carrots to a bowl and toss with the feta and parsley.

Easy and very tasty!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken Parm Meatball Subs- By Rachael Ray

I came across this recipe and it looked delicious! It had 5 stars and tons of reviews so I decided to make it. We LOVED it!! It's one of my husbands new favorite dinners now! Thank you Rachael Ray!! The only thing I did different than her recipe was to add half the chicken stock that it calls for since reviews have said this makes the sauce better.  Click here to go to Rachaels site. For some reason this recipe is too long so scroll down for more directions and pictures.


  • *1 1/2 pounds ground chicken 
  • *1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
  • *1 large egg
  • *1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • *1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I only had plain on hand so I added italian seasonings to them)
  • *Handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • *Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling plus, plus 3 tablespoons, 3 turns of the pan
  • *2 large cloves garlic, cracked from skin and split
  • *1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, a healthy couple of pinches
  • *1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano) (I couldn't find San Marzano style in the crushed so i got San Marzano whole tomatoes and took a smasher and crushed them myself)
  • *1 cup chicken stock (I used 4 oz)
  • *Salt
  • *Pepper
  • *8 to 10 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded
  • *4 (6 to 8-inch) crusty sub rolls
  • *1 1/2 cups shredded provolone
  • Directions

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
    Place chicken in a bowl and season with grill seasoning. Add egg, half of the grated cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, and a serious drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to the bowl. Mix the meat and form 12 large meatballs. Squish the balls to flatten them a bit like mini oval meatloaves. Be careful not to form the balls wider than your bread. The flattened balls will stay put on your sub, no roll-aways! Bake the meatballs 15 minutes until golden and firm. Switch the broiler on.
    While the meatballs bake, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and garlic and cook 5 minutes then remove the cloves. Add crushed red pepper flakes then tomatoes and stir in the chicken stock. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes, adjust seasonings and stir in the basil. Reserve a extra sauce for dipping on dinner table.
    Remove the meat from oven and loosen with a thin spatula. Turn meat balls in sauce.
    Cut sub rolls making the bottom a little deeper than the top. Hollow out a little bread and lightly toast the sub rolls under broiler. Fill the bottoms of the breads with flattened balls and sauce. Combine the provolone and remaining Parmigiano. Cover the subs with cheese and return to broiler to melt the cheese until golden.

    (I made double the recipe, therefor making more meatballs than 12)

    saute garlic in olive oil. Then remove cloves before adding red pepper flakes,tomatoes and chicken stock.

    Simmer sauce and then add fresh basil

    After meatballs are done cooking, I simmered in sauce another 5 minutes and I added some extra shredded cheese directly to the pan.

    cut rolls, take a little of the bread out of the bottoms.

    place meatballs on bottom and cheese on tops. Put under broiler till cheese is melted and bun is toasted.

    serve with extra sauce on side for dipping

    We served this with artichokes as a side. Would also be good with pasta, side salad or spaghetti squash!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Banana's Foster

This recipe is really the whole reason I thought of this blog. I was on vacation a year ago and I really wanted to make my Banana's Foster dessert for everyone. It's a favorite of my mine (and my husbands) and I make it a lot when we have dinner parties. Anyway, I was on vacation and I could not for the life of me remember the recipe to this. I thought to myself... wouldn't it be nice if I had all my favorite recipe's on-line where I could access them anywhere I wanted?! So that's what I did. I started by putting my recipes on this site just for myself. When friends or family would call me for a recipe of mine, i started just giving them this site instead of reading off to them how to make it. It was much easier. Now I share with all of you and I hope you are enjoying some of them!!

If you ever have a dinner party and are in charge of a dessert, this is a great recipe. It's quick and easy and tastes amazing! You make it right before you serve so it's not a recipe to bring with you to someone else's house.

Serves 4-6 
*4 medium bananas- peeled and hut in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into two pieces
*1/4 cup butter
*1 cup packed brown sugar
*1/4 cup creme de banane (banana liqueur)
*1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup dark rum
*2-3 cups vanilla ice cream

1) Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. (Careful not to burn the butter). Stir in brown sugar, banana liqueur and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. 

2) Add bananas and cook for 4 minutes or until tender. (I usually flip my bananas half way through).

3) Remove from heat and add Rum. Ignite rum (top of pan) with a long match or lighter that has a long handle. I dim the lights for this to put on a show:) haha.  Stir banana's lightly till flame dies down.

4) Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a dessert bowl (or goblet). Spoon banana's and sauce over ice cream and serve immediately. 

I haven't taken pictures of this yet, but since it was the recipe that started this blog I wanted to add it!! Hope you enjoy!!