Category Archives: Cooking

Eggplant Bacon 

Yes- you read that title correctly – Eggplant Bacon!  I first saw the concept on the Ellen Degeneres show, but they ran out of time and never got to make it, so I started looking up some recipes.  After reading through several recipes, I decided to come up with my own – one that could be made with items you most likely already had in your house (most recipes called for liquid smoke, which I don’t normally keep on hand in my house!), and without the need for a dehydrator!  The verdict? This surprisingly does have the taste and texture of bacon! Its probably best used in recipes that you would use bacon for cooking- a BLT, bacon bits over your salad, bacon and green beans, etc.  Although, I did snack on quite a few just on their own!

Keep reading to find out how to make this delicious yet healthy snack!

What you’ll need:

1 large eggplant (about a pound)

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T maple syrup (go with the all-natural one if you have it!)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1/4-1/2 t of chili powder (depending on your level of spice preference)

1. Slice your eggplant lengthwise, very thin (about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick). If you have a mandolin slicer, that would be ideal for creating even, thin, strips.
2. Lay the strips out in a single layer on a drying rack. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for a half hour.

3. While the eggplant is sitting, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and chili powder in a shallow baking pan. Mix well and set aside.
4. When a half hour has passed, rinse each slice of eggplant well to remove the salt and place in the baking pan with the marinade. Marinate the eggplant in the mixture for 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring often to ensure even coverage.

5. Preheat oven to 250*. Spray a drying rack with nonstick spray and lay the marinated eggplant strips in a single layer on the tray. I spooned about a teaspoon of extra marinade on top of each strip before putting it into the oven, but this is completely optional (be sure to do this step over the sink!).
6. Bake for 1-2 hours – checking on the eggplant often to ensure it is not burning. Eggplant will cook at different times depending on how thick you sliced it.
7. When the eggplant has shriveled up to about half its size and appears crunchy, remove from the oven and let cool. It will crisp up a little bit more as it cools.
Enjoy on soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches or just as a healthy snack!

{Soy Sauce} Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I’ve been carving pumpkins with my family as long as I can remember, but I never tried roasted pumpkin seeds until I spent my first Halloween with my husband.  As we were scraping out the insides, he asked if we could roast the seeds, and since I’m always up for something new, I figured why not!

I actually posted this recipe on my old craft blog a few years ago, but we return to it every year, and I just realized I never shared it on here!  It’s super easy, and it can bake while you’re carving, so you can easily multi-task!
Soy Sauce Pumpkin Seeds

*Note* This recipe was for just over 1 cup of seeds – if you get more or less seeds out of your pumpkin, adjust accordingly.

You will need:
2 T butter
2 T soy sauce
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
pinch of cayenne (optional – I like the kick!)
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 275*

1. Clean and rinse your seeds several times to remove all of the pumpkin gunk.
2. In a bowl, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. To it, add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and cayenne.
3. Add the seeds to the bowl and mix to coat.
4. Spread out on a tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt on top.
5. Bake for 1 hour at 275*, stirring several times.
6. When the seeds have reached a golden color, remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container if there are any left!

{Reduced Fat} Jalapeño Popper Recipe

Ahh Jalapeño poppers – probably one of my most favorite stuffed vegetables.  What’s not to like? Spicy jalapeno’s, cream cheese and cheddar cheese and bacon all wrapped up into one bite sized treat!  Except when you really look at those ingredients, it’s basically lots of fat disguised as a vegetable!
Jalapeno Poppers
We recently had some friends over for a cookout and I really wanted to make these, so I set out to figure out how to make a less fattening version of them.  I’m not usually one to purchase “sugar free” or “fat free” foods, because they are either filled with artificial sweeteners or just taste funny, but the ingredients I chose here really worked out well and the plate of the poppers was gone in a flash!

This recipe is easily doubled (or tripled!) and I recommend it seeing as how delicious they were!

For the Jalapeño Popper Recipe, you’ll need:
8-10 Jalapeños (this varies depending on their size – mine were 3-4 inches in length)
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese (also called Neufchâtel cheese), softened
4 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
Turkey bacon (I love Oscar Mayer brand!). You’ll need 1 slice per jalapeño pepper
(optional) toothpicks
Preheat oven to 375*

1. Wash jalapeños, cut off the stem and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the white flesh and seeds if there are any.
2. Mix together the cream cheese and the cheddar cheese.
3. Stuff each jalapeño half with 1-2 T of cheese mixture.
4. Cut bacon in half lengthwise, and wrap each stuffed jalapeño with a slice of bacon. Use a toothpick to secure if needed. I just smooshed it into the cheese mix and it stayed fine.
5. Place poppers on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is warmed and bacon is cooked through. You may want to broil for the final few minutes to get added crispiness.

Click the “Magic” button below to see the recipe on My Recipe Magic and find out the nutritional content!

All Natural Play Doh

Last week I mentioned that we were moving and needed to clean out the refrigerator. While cleaning out the fridge, I found a jar of beets waaaay in the back that I had forgotten I had! I was unsure of the age of the beets, so I threw the last two out, but I was left with a cup of beet juice. I have seen how well it stains my clothes in the past, so I wanted to try to use it as a dye. Looking over the rest of the ingredients I had in my kitchen to use up before we moved, I spotted flour, salt, sugar and other pantry staples and was immediately taken back to my childhood to when we used to make our own homemade play doh. I did a quick google search for some recipes, but most took cream of tartar – something I (surprisingly) do not have in my baking cabinet. Another quick google search revealed that I could use vinegar (at 3 times the amount) in it’s place. So I decided to make my own all natural play doh recipe – no cream of tartar and no artificial coloring. Instead, I would use the beet juice to make it a gorgeous shade of purple.
All Natural Play Doh Recipe

The recipe couldn’t be easier – you will need the following:

1 cup of flour
1 cup of colored liquid (I used beet juice, but experiment with other fruit/veggie juices for different colors)
1/4 cup of salt
3 T. white vinegar
1 T. vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat. After a few minutes it will begin to lump together- Keep stirring! When it has combined into one ball, remove from pan and knead on a hard surface until smooth.

Store dough in an airtight container (I put mine in a Mason jar, but I’m sure if you have kids you’ll want something plastic!). From what I remember as a child, the dough lasted months if kept airtight, and I’m sure the same will hold true for this all natural version, even with the beet juice.
What do you think of this easy recipe? I’m a 30 year old woman (with no kids!) and I still had a blast making/playing with this! If you experiment with other juices to get different colors, let me know in the comments- I’d love to hear your results!

Do you know a mother or teacher in your life who would love this recipe for their kids or students? Feel free to share it with them or pin it on Pinterest! I appreciate all “shares” and “pins”!

Orange / Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe

Aaahhhh!!! The movers will be here in 1 week!
I cannot believe that one week from now, a moving company will descend upon our apartment and pack it away until they reunite us in a few weeks in our new home. The military has us moving from Washington to Texas- it’s going to be quite the culture change (especially because we’re both east-coasters!), but we’re excited!
Anyway, with T-minus 1 week and counting, today’s job was to weed through the fridge and discard anything old and decide how to use up the rest of the items in the next week. I started out my day by making some salted caramel to use up the rest of the heavy cream and butter, and I plan on making some buffalo cauliflower for lunch to use up the buffalo sauce and cauliflower. I also came across a huge container of strawberries, 2 half gallons of orange juice and no less than 4 tubs (yes, tubs- not individual servings!) of yogurt. Hmmm…. strawberries + orange juice + yogurt…. sounds like a plan for strawberry frozen yogurt!
This strawberry frozen yogurt recipe couldn’t be easier (or healthier!). Depending on how ripe your strawberries are, you might not even need any sugar, in which case, the frozen yogurt is only made of greek yogurt, strawberries, orange juice and milk. Now there’s a dessert I can get on board with!

To make this refreshing summertime dessert, you’ll need the following:
1 1/2 – 2 cups of strawberries (stems removed and halved)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cups of greek yogurt (you can use plain or any flavor you want)
(optional) 1-3 T of sugar (to taste). You could also use honey to naturally sweeten it

You will also need some sort of ice cream maker. I use the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment – it sits right where the bowl goes on my KitchenAid mixer, and needs no ice or salt- I love it!

1. Wash and prepare strawberries. In a blender, blend the strawberries, milk and orange juice until smooth. Add sugar/honey if desired.
2. Stir yogurt and strawberry mixture together until well-combined.
3. Pour into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers directions. In my KitchenAid attachment, I blended it for 20 minutes, and then poured it into a freezer-safe container and placed it in the freezer for 6 hours, or until solid.
I cannot get over how delicious and simple this turned out! My gears are already turning for more combinations in the future- I’m thinking mini chocolate chips would be a great addition to this recipe, as well as seasonal fruit. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Stove Top Chicken Parmesan

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day! We’re still on the road, and should be home soon! With summer right around the corner, I figured I’d share this great stove top recipe, which is perfect for the summer because you don’t even have to heat up your oven!
Stovetop Chicken Parm

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know what kind of “kitchen conditions” we’ve spent the past two months in. (And if you haven’t been following, here’s a quick recap- we’ve been living in a hotel with a kitchenette featuring only a two burner stove and no oven – scroll down to read my posts to learn more!) Today I have another one of our stovetop-only recipes to share. I spent a lot of time coming up with a varied list of stovetop recipes, so I figured I might as well share them- they’re perfect for summer when you don’t want to have to heat up your oven and overheat your kitchen!
Today’s is Stove Top Chicken Parmesan – my husband’s favorite is chicken parmesan, so I altered it to be no-bake. As a bonus, it is super easy and really quick!
The chicken in this dish is not breaded in the traditional way because we had to work with limited groceries on hand, but I’m sure it would be just as amazing if you had the means to bread it with breadcrumbs!

For 2-3 servings, you’ll need the following: (adjust as necessary for a larger family)
– 1/2 lb chicken breast
– 8 oz of your favorite pasta (we used thin spaghetti)
– 1 can of diced tomatoes (I love the garlic and oregano one for this dish)
– 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
– olive oil
– salt/pepper/garlic powder

1. Begin by bringing a sauce pot of water to a boil to cook your pasta according to the directions on the box.
2. While the pasta is cooking, warm 1T of olive oil in a frying pan. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook thoroughly.
3. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot, and allow to rest for 2 minutes. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
4. When the pasta is done, drain (do not rinse) and return to pot. Add diced chicken and can of diced tomatoes. Toss to coat.
5. Plate the dish and top with 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese. Serve with garlic bread and salad for a complete meal!

Slow Cooked Beer Pulled Pork

Yes… yes, you read that right – pulled pork, cooked away all day in BEER! The story behind this one is funny – my husband and I just spent 2 months living in a base hotel. We were lucky enough to get one with a small kitchenette, with the emphasis on small. We have a small fridge, a 2 burner stove, toaster and microwave. No oven! You might not thing that having no oven really isn’t a big deal, but after awhile it gets difficult to cook *everything* on the stove top. We had to invent quite a few recipes, and this one was my favorite.
We had pork chops one night for dinner, and I had a few leftover. Instead of making pork chops again, I decided to make pulled pork. This could definitely be done in a slow cooker/crock pot, but I just simmered it on the stove all day since I was home. As I was looking in the fridge to see what liquid I could simmer the pork chops in, my eyes fell on my husbands beer– score! This definitely doesn’t have a traditional pulled pork taste, but instead has it’s own unique flavor which we loved!

Beer Pulled Pork
My recipe made enough for 2-3, so adjust as necessary.

3-4 small pork chops (ours were just over a half inch thick, and about the size of the palm of my hand)
1 bottle of beer (flavor of your choice! We used a local brewed IPA) *See note below*
BBQ sauce to taste
Salt/Pepper to taste

If you want to make your own slaw you’ll need some of the bagged slaw mix (ours is by the lettuce in the supermarket), some mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

*Note* – I ended up draining out a bit of the beer before I shredded the pork, so if you add more pork chops, you probably will not need to add more beer.

Pour he bottle of beer into your saucepan (or crock pot). Add pork chops, and bring to a slow boil. As soon as it reaches a slow boil, lower the temperature to medium low to let the pork chops cook at a simmer/slow boil. When the pork chops are cooked, and able to be shredded, (about 1-2 hours depending on how high you cook it). Remove them from the pot, shred them, and then add them back to the simmering beer. Add 4-5 tablespoons of BBQ sauce (to taste) and salt and pepper to taste and allow to continue simmering for another 2-3 hours.

To make your own slaw, I put a cup of the shredded slaw mix into a bowl and added about 2 tablespoons of mayo, splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper and mixed. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld.

When the pulled pork is done, pile it high on a roll, top with some slaw and serve with chips and a pickle and let me know why we didn’t think to cook pork in beer before!

Chocolate Cheesecake Strawberry Bites

Chocolate Cheesecake Strawberry Bites

So regular readers of my blog will know my current predicament, but for those just tuning in, I’ll give you a quick recap– my husband and I are currently living in temporary housing on an Air Force base in Alabama while he goes through some training.  While I’m thankful that I was able to come along with him for these few months, the lack of a kitchen is really starting to get to me!  We have a small kitchenette, but it only consists of a toaster, refrigerator, sink and a 2-burner stove. So all of our meals have to be cooked on a stovetop.  We are making the best of it, but I can’t wait to get home to our (still tiny) apartment where at least I have an oven, and baking supplies, and spices!

But I digress.  Life’s an adventure, right?  Tonight’s adventure has us going to a group barbecue with all the families in his class, and each family is bringing along something. We are in charge of dessert, but with no oven, baking was out of the question.  I was wandering around the grocery store trying to come up with something when I saw this….


A glorious 5 lb container of strawberries for $1.00.  A dollar!  They were on the “day old” rack, but besides a few starting-to-turn-brown ones, majority looked great.  I immediately thought of those hollowed out strawberries filled with raspberry sauce that I had seen on Pinterest, when I came up with these chocolate cheesecake strawberry bites.  I figured I’d grab a tub of some cheesecake filling and top it with some drizzled chocolate.  Who doesn’t love cheesecake-chocolate-strawberry combo? Bonus– it’s light and refreshing *and* I didn’t need an oven!

My final ingredient list looked like this– 5 lb tub of strawberries, 1 bag of chocolate chips (It’s 2 weeks after Easter- I found these adorable Nestle “springtime” mix of chips: they’re pink, yellow and chocolate on clearance- so cute!), and a tub of Philadelphia honey flavored cream cheese (I couldn’t find any cheesecake filling– but this turned out to be an awesome combo!).  The cream cheese also came in strawberry and blueberry flavoring, both of which I bet would taste amazing.1DSC_0320

The “recipe” (there’s no cooking involved- can I still call it a recipe?) is simple.  Wash those strawberries.1DSC_0317

Cut the tops off, and then slice in half.  I decided to go this route, because hollowing them out seemed like a waste of strawberry.1DSC_0323

And then take those beautiful hollowed strawberries and smear some cream cheese on top and top with a few chocolate chips.  If I had my cake decorating set with me, I think it would look really cute if I piped the cream cheese on- it would definitely make it look more “finished”.  Also, if I had regular chocolate chips, it might also be cute to melt the chocolate and drizzle it on top.  The possibilities are endless!1DSC_0325

Seriously- how cute are these? Perfect for those spring and summer barbecues! 1DSC_0339

Pull Apart Kings Cake Recipe

Happy Fat Tuesday! I am definitely in the fat mood today and I was craving some Kings Cake, but with just my husband and I in the house, I felt that making a whole Kings Cake would be a waste.  The more I looked at recipes, the more I realized that Kings Cake was basically the same as Monkey bread- just with the “monkey” on the inside (Monkey bread = bread coated in butter, cinnamon and brown sugar :: Kings Cake= bread filled with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar).  So I combined the two into a mini Pull Apart Kings Cake Recipe.  This recipe has the best of both worlds- the yummy buttery brown sugar-ness, the soft almond bread, and the traditional Mardi Gras frosting!  Fat Tuesday Indeed.


1/8 cup water, warmed to approximately 110*F
1 1/4 t. active dry yeast
2 – 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 t almond extract
2 T sugar
1/3 c. apple sauce (or you could substitute an egg – we were out of eggs, so I used apple sauce)
1 t. baking powder
1T butter, melted
1/2 c. milk, warmed to approximately 110*F

1/2 c brown sugar (you may need more based on how well you coat the dough balls)
1T ground cinnamon

2 T melted butter

Frosting: (optional)
3/4 c. powdered sugar
3 t milk
food coloring

Begin by warming the water to approximately 110*F. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for about 5 minutes or until frothy.

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attached, combine the yeast/water, salt, sugar, baking powder, apple sauce, warmed milk, melted butter and the almond extract; mix well. Add 1 cup of flour and mix until smooth, pausing mixer to scrape down the sides. Add the additional cup of flour and mix until dough pulls away from the sides. You may have to add up to an additional half cup of flour to achieve this. Continue mixing to knead the dough for 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer, cover with a dish cloth and allow to rise in a warm area for 30 minutes.

After about 25 minutes have passed, begin to prepare the pan and coating. Spray a 9″ loaf pan with non stick spray and set aside. In a bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon – in a second small bowl, melt the butter. I like to set up an assembly line at this point – my bowl of dough, the bowl of melted butter, bowl of sugar and my loaf pan.

Once dough has risen, punch down and break of bits of dough to roll into small (one half inch to one inch) balls. Dip the balls into the butter, and then roll in the sugar mix to coat. Place the dough into the loaf pan. Continue until you have used all of the dough. Preheat the oven to 350* and allow the balls to rise for a few minutes in the pan while the oven heats up.

This is what it should look like pre-baking


Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. While the bread is cooking, prepare the frosting (optional). In 3 small bowls, place 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 t milk. Mix well until it is a drizzling consistency (note that the food coloring will water it down slightly). Place a few drops of food coloring in each bowl to make the three Mardi Gras colors- purple, green and yellow. (The frosting is completely optional- it is definitely sweet enough as is, but the extra pop of color is fun for Mardi Gras!)

When the loaf is done, remove from oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Turn loaf pan over onto plate, and drizzle with the colored frosting for that Mardi Gras look. Serve immediately while it is still warn and revel in the joy that is Mardi Gras Monkey King Cake.

How did you celebrate Fat Tuesday? Did you make something delectable? Let me know in the comments!


Patriotic Air Force Cupcakes

In addition to the Welcome Home Wreath I made for my husbands deployment homecoming, I also made these Air Force Cupcakes to bring to his crew. I knew that they would be flying for almost 12 hours and I figured some homemade cupcakes would be a welcome sight.
Patriotic Air Force Cupcakes

I used a box mix and canned frosting (shock! I know!), but I dolled them up with some of my decorating tips.1DSC_7172

First I started by making the airplanes – to do so, I sketched out a small (about 2 inch) airplane based on some pictures I found online of his plane (the KC-135).1DSC00211

Then I lined my baking sheet with a piece of wax paper and slid my drawing underneath.

In a small pastry bag, I melted about 1/2 cup of Wilton Chocolate melts (I literally put the wafers into the bag and microwaved it on 10 second increments until I could feel that it was mushy.  Don’t put your tip on until after it is melted!1DSC00212

Then, using a #1 tip, I carefully traced over my airplane shape on the wax paper.  I started out with a #2 tip, but those airplanes (top row- the two on the right) were very messy, so I went down to my #1 tip.  Make more than you’ll think you need because #1, you’ll get better as you go along and the first few aren’t going to look too pretty and #2, just in case some break as you’re peeling them off the paper – none of mine did, but you never know!1DSC00213

Here they all are– you can see the top row looks gross!1DSC00215

I went from bad….1DSC00216

To much better!  I also learned that if you tap the tray on the table several times, it’ll help even out the chocolate and get rid of any bubbles.1DSC00217

I also piped out some words (wow was this ever so difficult!  I think I piped out “welcome” 6 times before it looked normal!)

Allow the chocolate to dry (I let mine dry overnight, but you could always throw it in the fridge to speed it up) and carefully peel it off of the wax paper and stick it to your frosted cupcakes.1DSC_7162

To make the flag cupcakes, I split my icing into 3 bowls – one bowl had about 40% of my total icing, and the other two had about 20% each.  Blue food coloring went into the 40% bowl, and red food coloring went into one of the 20% bowls (the third was left white).  Mix the food coloring thoroughly.

To start, I filled my pastry bag with the blue frosting and a #21 star tip.  I piped little stars onto 1/4 of the cupcake (to make up the field of blue on the flag). I did this on 12 out of my 24 cupcakes.  On the other 12, I swirled the remainder  of the blue to make the sky for my chocolate airplanes.

Next I switched out the blue to red and piped little stars into 4 rows (see photo below for placement), and then finally, I piped white stars to finish off the flag. (see below on what to do with the remainder of the white)1DSC_7151 1DSC_7149 To make the sky look more sky-like, I swirled a bit of white to make little clouds for the chocolate plane to fly through.  After that, I carefully placed my chocolate planes on top.1DSC_7153

One more shot, just because I can’t stop looking at them!1DSC_7146

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