Friday, September 18, 2015

Light Turkey (or Chicken) & Corn Chowder

I teach 6th grade Earth science at an online school.  I was teaching about crystals and minerals this week, and one of the determining characteristics of minerals is cleavage... and streak... Man alive.  Imagine teaching 6th graders about that.  Well, my online classroom has a chatbox that I can turn off and on.  When it is off, only I see the chat.  When I introduced "cleavage," one of my students that is older than the other kids by a year or two wrote, "Cleavage. heh."  It was all I could do to not bust up in laughter.  Kids crack me up.  Luckily, streak went over their heads.

The last time I was going to make turkey dinner on Father's Day, my oven went kaput.  I finally got around to making it up.  We had a turkey dinner a few weeks ago, and it was fabulous.  We had a ton of left-over turkey.  I found this soup recipe to use for leftover turkey, and it was so good!  It's got a little kick to it from the green chilies, so don't add them all if you don't like much heat.

Light Turkey (or Chicken) & Corn Chowder Recipe | #lowfat #soup #leftovers
Recipe and photo source:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1¼ cups frozen corn kernels
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 2½ cups shredded cooked turkey (or chicken)
  • ¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ tsp cayenne peppe
  • Green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute for five minutes.

Add the green chilies (if using) and stir for one minute.

Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  

Add the corn; simmer for three minutes.

In a medium bowl, add the flour.  Slowly whisk in the milk until it's smooth.  Slowly whisk this mixture into the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook and stir for about fifteen minutes or until the mixture has thickened a bit.  Stir in the turkey (or chicken), cheddar, and cayenne.  Stir until the cheese melts completely.  

Ladle into soup bowl and top with green onions.  

The original website also had the nutrition facts on this recipe.  Nice!  Thanks Cookin' Canuck!

Calories 218.5 / Total Fat 6.6g / Saturated Fat 2.4g / Cholesterol 13.0mg / Sodium 844.3mg / Total Carbohydrates 25.2g / Fiber 1.7g / Sugars 9.0g / Protein 15.6g / WW (Old Points) 5 / WW (Points+) 6
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1¼ cups Calories: 218 cal Fat: Total Fat 6.6g / Saturated Fat 2.4g

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies

I have a dear friend Carrie that recently tore some tendon in her knee that I didn't even know existed.  She was stuck at home (except for a quick trip to Wal-mart where she got to ride around on one of those motorized shopping carts.  Disclaimer- only a couple people were injured during her little off-roading Rascal escapades in Wal-Mart).  I thought I'd take her some homemade chocolate ice cream one night.  When I came in, her mom was there to help with the family.  
She said to her mom, "Mom, do you recognize the name Callie Frank?  Remember the family reunion by the treehouse?"  
The mom said, "Oh, the really good baker?"  
Carrie then raised an eyebrow at me and proceeded to tell me that my name is basically a swear word at her house because her kids are always saying, "I bet Callie can make these better."  
Her kids don't know how good they've got it!  She's amazing!  In fact, she repaid the ice cream visit with a loaf of homemade bread that was the best I've ever tasted!

One more thing- Carrie has dissed on homemade brownies claiming that they are never as good as boxed brownies.  Challenge accepted, my friend!  I made these and had to get one over to her because they blow boxed brownies out of the water and up to the moon.  She texted me the next day and said, "Fine!  You win!  Now you have to share the recipe with me!"  So, here it is.  The infamous brownie that won Carrie over.  It really is perfect.  You can cut the amount of chocolate chips in half to be a little less sweet, but who really wants to do that?!  

Enjoy the World's Best Brownie.  

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies
recipe and photo source:

  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup melted butter, divided
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, optional
  • 12 oz. package chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the cocoa and baking soda.

Stir in 1/3 of the melted butter.  Add the boiling water.  Stir until blended.

Stir in the sugar, eggs, and remaining butter.   Mix well.  Add the flour, vanilla, salt, pecans (if using) and chocolate chips.

Pour into a 9/13 pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cheesy Tortellini Bake

My son was getting a bedtime snack, and he held up a small box of frosted mini-wheats and asked if he could have that with milk.  
I said, "Well, we're out of milk.  You can have them dry if you're curious about what it would be like to eat a tumble weed sprinkled with a little sugar." 
For real, though.  Thank you, Kellogg's for making frosted mini tumble-wheats.  While I'm on the subject, have you ever seen the non mini-wheats?  They are pretty much the size of my head.   One giant, slightly frosted tumble weed.  

Now on to this recipe.  It is delicious, and it's really easy to throw together.  I have been working about 10 hour days all week long, so I've been beyond tired once dinner comes rolling around.  As tempting as it was to just go get some hamburgers, tacos, or pizza for everyone, I've been trying to avoid fast food since I'm counting calories and all that jazz.  Sooo... I made a cheesy pasts dish #winning.  In my defense, I scraped the cheese of my portion.  :)   My family loved this tortellini.  The fennel seed gives it the flavor of Italian sausage without the sausage.  The mushrooms give it a little different flavor.  Quick. Cheesy. Delicious!

Cheesy Tortellini Casserole

Cheesy Tortellini Bake
photo and recipe source:


  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) prepared frozen cheese tortellini
  • Salt
  • 12 oz  mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 T butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 cups) OR 2 cups fresh chopped spinach OR 1/2 cup frozen spinach (I omitted this- my family isn't too find of leafy greens)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 to 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese slices, enough to cover the surface of the casserole

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Start a pot of boiling water.  Once it's boiling, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.  When it's done, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, add the chopped mushrooms into a large pan.  You'll be adding the remaining sauce ingredients, so make sure it's big enough to fit all of that.  Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about five minutes.  They will start to release liquid and shrink.  Once that starts to happen, add the butter.  Stir.  

Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes (don't leave these out!  They terrified me when I was young, but they add just a pinch of heat to pasta sauce!)  Cook this for five minutes, stirring constantly.  

Add the tomatoes and basil.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes.  
Add the Swiss chard or spinach (if using) and cook for five minutes or until it starts to wilt.  

Add the Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.

Stir in the cooked tortellini.  Place in a baking dish and top with slices of mozzarella cheese.  

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove the foil and cook for five more minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley or oregano before serving.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bakery-Style Blueberry Streusel Muffins

See this lovely picture below?  I didn't take that awesome picture.  The girl at did.  However, when I made these muffins, they actually looked like that when I took them out!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  These muffins come out so tall and perfectly-streuseled.  They were so delicious, too!  My son ate three of them and said they were the best blueberry muffins he's ever had- but then again, he's 7.  They were pretty darn close to being the best I've tasted!  They turned out perfect. Box mixes are dead to me.

BAKERY STYLE BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS. A buttery, soft and fluffy muffin that's loaded with juicy blueberries and topped with a crunchy sweet cinnamon streusel on a sky-high muffin top. You must try this recipe!
Recipe and Photo Source:

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (any kind, whole or buttermilk is best)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

  • For the streusel topping
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place muffin liners in a muffin pan.

Prepare the streusel topping.  Put the ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Gently stir with a rubber spatula and flour is incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Top with streusel topping.

Bake for 5 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375 and bake another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Lasagna Soup

It's still a blazing 110 degrees here in Las Vegas, but sometimes I just want some soup!  I stumbled upon this recipe a few days ago and gave it a whirl.  It was fantastic!  It seriously tasted just like lasagna in soup form.  It took only about ten minutes to prepare and about 20 to cook.  My family gobbled it down like they haven't eaten in two weeks.  Serve it with a salad and some fresh french bread, and you've got one easy, simple dinner!
Lasagna Soup | Cooking Classy

Lasagna Soup
Photo and Recipe source:

Serves 6-8

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 3 - 5 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 3/4 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken into bite size pieces (6.5 oz)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese

Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Brown the hamburger until no longer pink.  Drain the fat and remove the hamburger onto a plate.

Heat up the remaining 1 T of oil.  Cook the onions for about five minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings. Add the hamburger back in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Break up the lasagna noodles into bite-size pieces.  

Bring to a boil. reduce heat, and cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a scoop or two of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Triple Lemon Cheesecake

Do you ever have those "when it rains, it pours" moments.  Well, we've had one of those years.  Here are some things that we have to to fix/replace/pay for in the past few months:
Garage Door repair- $360
New tires- $500
New wheel- $160
Dental insurance mishap- $650
Oven repair- $320

Then, flashback to the week of my birthday.  I was trying to re-string my guitar that I got almost 20 years ago.  In some weird freak accident, one of the strings got caught and stuck.  I busted out my MacGuyver hat and tried every means possible to get that darn string out of there.  Every... means... possible.  All to no avail.  I was out a guitar, and it broke my heart!   That thing is a part of me.  Two days later, my phone just randomly shuts off.  I plug it in, and it vibrates, flashes the word "Google" and shuts off.  Over and over and over again.  All night long.  I tried a soft reset, a hard reset, removing the non-removable battery.  Nothing.  Vibrate.  Google.  Off.  Vibrate.  Google.  Off.  AHH!  I wake up on my birthday all bummed that my phone and guitar are no more.  I decide to go to T-mobile and get another phone that isn't too fancy.  I'm simple with things like that.  I got a new phone and was feeling pretty good.  Later, we went to Grimaldi's and met all of my family there for a birthday dinner.  Grimaldi's always makes me happy.  :)  At the end of dinner, my dad asks my brother to go get a box out of their car.  He comes back in with a guitar!  I wanted to cry because I was so excited.  It's a beautiful new Classical guitar, and I adore it!  It's absolutely beautiful.  A pretty crummy week turned out fabulous.

I made this cheesecake for my birthday cake, and we invited everyone over to have some.  It's a good thing because I would have eaten the entire thing in a couple sittings.  It was so amazing.  I'm salivating just thinking about it.  It may be one of the better cheesecakes that I've ever made.  I'm on a cheesecake kick which is dangerous because I'm trying not to eat sweets.  This is worth every calorie and fat gram.  I may have to make it again soon because it was so ridiculously good.

Triple Lemon Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature 1 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed 3 large eggs 1/2 cup lemon curd, store bought or follow the recipe below 

Homemade lemon curd:
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
grated rind from 2 lemons (I used about 2 rounded Tablespoons)
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

Whipped cream


Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Get out a large roasting pan.

Start a pot of water and get it to boiling for the water bath.

In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Stir to combine.  Press this mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool.  

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Put the sugar and lemon zest into a food processor and pulse until fine.

In your mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed first, and increasing it to medium until it's light and fluffy.  Slowly add the sugar mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides every so often.  Beat until smooth.

Add sour cream and lemon juice.  Mix until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and well-incorporated.

Wrap the outside of the springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Wrap it well!  If you don't water from the bath will seep in.

Pour the filling onto the baked crust.  Place the springform pan in the roasting pan.  Pour the boiling water in the roasting pan until it comes up halfway.

Bake for 70-80 minutes or until the edges are set but the center is almost set and is still slightly jiggly. Don't over-bake it!  It will firm as it cools.

Remove the roasting pan and let the cheesecake sit in the water bath for 15 minutes while it's on the counter.  Remove from the bath, cool on a wire rack.

Remove the foil, loosely cover the cheesecake, and let it chill overnight.  This is where the magic happens!  Goodness... it is perfect the next day.

Prepare the lemon curd:

In a microwave-safe bowl, add the sugar and eggs and whisk well.  Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter.

Cook in microwave, on high power, for 3-4 minutes.  
Cook for one minute, remove and stir.  (2x)
Cook for 30 seconds, remove and stir
Cook for 15 seconds, remove and stir (3x)

That made mine perfect!  Pour into a glass bowl and let it cool.  Serve on top of the cheesecake.

Top that with whipped cream.

Last instruction- try not to eat it all.  I want some!

Grilled, Marinated Chicken with Vegetables

Sometimes my husband gets burnt out with chicken.  He wants nothing to do with it.  I like it because it's cheap, versatile, and easy to prepare.  Well, I had nothing else to do one night, so I found this recipe in a new cookbook that I bought from Sam's Club.  I can never have too many grilling cookbooks!  This marinade was actually for a whole chicken to be smoked.  I just had chicken breasts, so I used those.  I let it marinade for about four hours.  The recipe in the book didn't include the vegetables, but don't they look fabulous?  They were delicious, too.  When my husband took his first bite, he looked at the chicken, looked at me, and back at the chicken.  He asked, "Where did you get this recipe?"  I told him, and he said, "Don't you ever lose this recipe."  There you have it my friends!  This is the marinade to make for the man that never wants chicken again.  It was fabulous!  It was flavorful!  It was everything that grilled chicken should be.  

Grilled, Marinated Chicken with Vegetables
source: Grill Nation by David Guas

Chicken Marinade:
3 T olive oil
2 T peanut oil
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
2 t dark brown sugar
2 t Worcestershire
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 t table salt
1/4 t black pepper

Chicken breasts, trimmed of all nastiness

For the vegetables:
asparagus, ends snapped off
zucchini, sliced
yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, sliced
red onion, cut into thin slices and quartered
grape tomatoes

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a Ziplock bag.  Add the chicken and marinade for 4-8 hours.  The longer, the better, my friends!

Preheat the grill medium heat between 350-400 degrees.

Place all the vegetables on a grill platter or basket.  If you don't have that, you can broil the vegetables for ten minutes about five inches from the heat source.

Place the vegetables on one side of the grill, and put the chicken on the other side.  Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side or until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees.

Rotate the vegetables half way through and toss them.  Grill them for about ten minutes total or until desired doneness is reached.

Serve the vegetables and chicken on a platter.