Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spinach and Feta Cheese Bundles

It's almost New Year's Eve and I'm in the mood for some appetizers...are you?

I've been eyeing this calzone recipe from Cooking Light and decided to make a variation of it buy turning it in to little appetizer bundles. 

So here's my test run with this new recipe. They came out great!  I can't wait to serve them at my New Year's celebration.  Hope you try them too!

You'll need a can of pizza dough.  I used Pillsbury's thin crust pizza dough.

Unroll it on to a 15x8" pan that you have sprayed lightly with cooking spray.

Stretch it out to fit the sheet. 

Next take a pizza cutter and cut 4 rows across the width and 3 rows down the length of the dough.

You should end up with 12 small squares.

Sprinkle the minced garlic evenly over the 12 squares.  Use a little more if you dare!

Cut up the red onion into very thin slices and then separate them in to rings like this.

Place a small mound of baby spinach on each square..not too much...these get pretty full!

Place 1 or 2 thin onion rings on each bundle, as you please.

Place several crumbles of mushrooms (about 4-5 crumbles) on top of that.

Place feta cheese on top of that.  I used about 1 teaspoon on each one, crumbling up the pieces a little more.

Then you take 1 corner, and the opposite corner and pinch them together well.  Take the two remaining corner and do the same.  Pinch all points together now...real tight or they will come apart!

Look how pretty!

Pop 'em in the oven at 400 degrees for 12 min, until golden brown.  Ummm Ummm!
Take a look at these babies will ya?
Making my mouth water...

I'm definitely going to make some variations of this....stay tuned!

Spinach and Feta Cheese Bundles

A variation of Cooking Light’s recipe Spinach Calzones with Blue Cheese

A scrumptious appetizer!

12 servings

1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust - thin crust variety
Cooking spray
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups baby spinach leaves
12 -16 thin rings of red onion
4 oz. button mushrooms sliced and crumbled in pieces
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400°.
Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; stretch out dough to fit a 15x8” pan.  Cut dough into 4 rows lengthwise and then 3 row width-wise creating 12 squares.  Sprinkle garlic evenly over squares.  
Cut onion in to very thin slices and separate in to rings.
Top each square with a mound of baby spinach, 2 onion rings, about 6 mushroom crumbles and 1 teaspoon of feta cheese.
To make bundles bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Bring remaining 2 corners to center, pinching all points together to seal. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden.

Low-Carb Pumpkin Pancakes

Woke up Christmas morning and wanted something super Pumpkin Pancakes here we come!

Trying to watch the carbs so I found a healthier low carb recipe that I had to try.  Boy, I'm glad I did.  These are delicious !  Recipe is from the American Diabetic Association Holiday Cookbook.

You can serve these with sugar-free syrup to keep the carbs down.  We rounded out the meal with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.  Yum!

My camera was throwing a fit today so I didn't get any pictures of the process but I managed to take the end result.  Hope you enjoy these, they taste fantastic!

Low-Carb Pumpkin Pancakes
by American Diabetic Association Holiday Cookbook

Servings: 24
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time:  15 min.
1 Egg
1 cup Milk
½ cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup Unbleached white flour
¾ cup Whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon Baking powder
1 tablespoon Sugar
¼ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon Ground ginger
2 tablespoon Vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir just until blended. Pour the batter onto a hot griddle that has been lightly oiled. Flip the pancakes over when bubbles break around the edges.
Serve with sugar-free syrup to keep the carbs down.  We served our with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.  Yum!
Nutrition information:
1 four-inch pancake without syrup - 98 calories, 1 bread, 1/2 fat exchange 15 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat 58 mg sodium, 96 mg potassium, 24 mg cholesterol


Christmas Pasta

So what to eat on Christmas Eve?  With all that is going on and rushing here and there to be ready for the big day my family has always turned to pasta on Christmas Eve. 

I like I LOVE pasta.  I think pasta is a quick and easy solution to a yummy hearty meal.  Now we usually just make spaghetti with our family sauce recipe. (Which is completely awesome, I must say.  I'll post this another time.)  But this time I wanted to try a richer, little more naughty pasta.

Here's this years version of Christmas Pasta.

You'll want to roast up some chicken.  I used chicken tenders this time, cause that's what I had. You can use boneless skinless, or bone in breasts...anything will do.  Lay your chicken on a sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle some olive oil over the pieces.  This makes it juicy and yummy tasting.

Once the chicken was golden I let it cool a bit and shredded it with a fork.

If you feel you have too much chicken feel free to save some for another use.  I love to cook once and get to different uses out of  my items!

Now cook your pasta in a large salted pot of water that is boiling.

Meantime, make the sauce.

In a saucepan combine your butter and half and half...use heavy cream if you dare!

Warm over medium heat until combined.  Season with salt and pepper...I like a lot of pepper so I add a little more.

Then you add the grated Parmesan cheese...real tastes best!
Stir until melted.  What can be easier than this?

Drain your pasta.  Reserve a little of the pasta water just in case.  Return pasta to the pot.  Add the chicken and the sauce.  Stir to combine.  Use a little pasta water to thin the sauce if you think it is too thick. 

Serve and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley, cause it's "purty" ...and "Christmasy"!!

Hope you try this!

Christmas Pasta

Serves 6
Prep 15 min.
Cook Time:  30 min.


1 lb Chicken tenders
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 stick butter, unsalted
1 cup Half and Half
1 cup Parmesan,  fresh grated
1 lb Penne pasta


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken tenders on a sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil.  Roast chicken for 30 minutes until golden brown. 

While the chicken is roasting, cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions.

For the sauce:  In a saucepan combine butter, half and half and warm until combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. 

Take out chicken and allow to cool enough to handle and then shred chicken with a fork. 

Drain your pasta reserving just a little pasta water in another small bowl, then return the pasta to the pot.  Add the shredded chicken and the sauce.  Toss to coat the pasta, using a little pasta water if needed to thin the sauce to the consistency you like.

Serve and sprinkle with a little parsley.


Peppermint Popcorn Snowflakes

Here's the last of the Holiday snacks I made this year.  I took these to work last week and they were all gone before I turned around!

These are super easy to make and something everyone will enjoy!  They make a wonderful hostess gift all wrapped up in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon, or as great party snack.

Let's get to it.

You need about 6 cups of popcorn.  You can use homemade popcorn, microwaved popcorn, or store bought....kettle corn work really well too!

Take a 9-10 oz bag of white chocolate baking chips and melt them until they are smooth and shiny.  You can do this on the stove or in the microwave, stirring every 30 sec for about 1 - 1 1/2 mins.  Put the melted chocolate in a large bowl.

Then, go ahead and get out your Holiday aggressions by smashing up some peppermint candies.  I won't tell any one!  (Make sure to smash them really fine.)

Then all you do is dump the popcorn in to the bowl of white chocolate and toss really well to coat all the popcorn.  Then sprinkle the peppermint crumbles all over the popcorn, try to distribute evenly.

Dump the coated popcorn out on to a piece of wax paper to dry.  Let sit for about 30 min.

Once dry you can place in a pretty serving bowl, wrap it up for a gift, or just eat right there!  You deserve it!

See the little peppermint on the popcorn?  Maybe me it's there and it's Heaven!!!

Peppermint Popcorn Snowflakes

6 Cups popped popcorn or kettle corn
1 9 - 10 oz bag of white chocolate chips, melted
6 - 7 peppermint candies, crushed


Melt the bag of white chocolate chips and place in a large bowl for mixing.  You can do this on the stove or microwave.  If using microwave stir every 30 seconds until melted about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Don't over cook or the chocolate will seize up.

Crust peppermints in a plastic bag using your rolling pin. 

Place popcorn in melted chocolate and mix to coat evenly.  Sprinkle peppermint on popcorn.  Dump out on to waxed paper to dry, about 30 min.  Store in plastic bags or containers up to a week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Rods

I love the combination of sweet and salty...don't you?  So, I thought I'd whip up some really easy tasty snacks for my boyfriend's staff that just fit the bill.

These are really a "semi-homemade" goody since you don't really cook anything...but you do melt the chocolate.  Does that count??

These make a wonderful gift or a fun sweet at a party.  They look great when they are all grouped together and displayed standing in a glass jar or container.  Kids love them too!

I hope you enjoy this holiday treat!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Rods

Makes about 2 dozen

4 full squares of Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate ( 8 squares to a box)
9-oz. package of large pretzel stick rods (I used Snyder's)
12 red peppermint candies crushed

Melt chocolate in a 1 cup glass measuring cup, microwave safe such as Pyrex, between 1-2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. (Mine took about 1 min)

Take a small rubber spatula, or any size you have, and paint on the melted chocolate to cover about 1/3 of the pretzel.  You can cover more if you like but you'll end up with a lesser quantity of rods in the end!  I had 24 when I finished but found out that my boyfriend had sneaked a few while I wasn't lookin'...hhhmph!

Make sure the excess chocolate drips off and then sprinkle with the crushed peppermints on all sides.  I tried rolling them and that was too sprinkling is best.   Stand each pretzel, coated side up, in a coffee mug or any short glass until candy coating hardens, about 1 hr.

Happy days are here again!

Let me know how you looooove these goodies!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Welcome to a little "Slice of Southern" - Reindeer Nibbles

Welcome to my blog! 

I'm eager to post delicious and easy recipes for you to try and enjoy!  Both my parents were born in Oklahoma and migrated to California, so my cooking includes a little California style and a "Slice of Southern"!

I figured what better time than the holidays to create my first post.  I love the holiday time and making yummy treats for all my friends, co-workers, and neighbors satisfies my craving for cooking.  I hope to post several of the delights I made this season so you can have a variety of items to choose from.

Here is the first:

This is a great recipe that can be adapted to suit your individual tastes.  It's a wonderful snack and makes enough to give away as a gift wrapped in a pretty jar, or to serve at a large party or potluck.

Reindeer Nibbles

4 cups oat bran cereal
1 cup Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup honey
1 stick of butter, melted1 cup raisins
Parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 250°. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Cook honey and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat melted and mixture is blended and smooth (about 5 minutes).
Pour honey mixture over cereal mixture, stirring to coat. Line a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Spread mixture in a single layer on the parchment paper.
Bake at 250° for 55 minutes, stirring once every 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in raisins, and bake 5 more minutes. Cool 20 minutes. This can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.
TIP:  Feel free to mix up the spice...use all spice, pumpkin pie spice, or apple pie spice instead.  Also, change up the nuts, and the dried fruit to your liking.  Enjoy!


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