Friday, March 31, 2023

Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

 I have never bought a box of Hamburger Helper.  My Mother never bought a box of Hamburger Helper.  I was not, however, unaware of this American mainstay. Googling something to make for dinner with my pound of lean ground beef,  I happened upon this recipe from Drizzle Me Skinny.


One pan, minimal work, BIG flavor. I'm a convert.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Meatloaf with Gravy the " Emily Bites' Way"

Meatloaf with gravy is prime comfort food, but can be laden with unwanted fat and calories.  I have a few tried and true recipes, but I'm always on the lookout for something new and delicious. A Google search turned up a few new possibilities from which I chose this one from the blog Emily Bites.  The ingredients were pantry staples and at 7 WW points for serving, I took the plunge.


1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onionchopped
  • 2 garlic clovesminced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey breast
  • 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons light butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Beef base
  • ½ teaspoon Gravy Master seasoning & browning sauce 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Lightly mist the aluminum foil with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Drizzle the olive oil into a medium skillet and bring over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and stir. Cook for another 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground beef, ground turkey, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, and pepper. Add the softened onions and garlic. Using clean hands (or a fork), mush together until combined. Transfer the meat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and form into a (roughly 9” x 5”) loaf (see photo). Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes until cooked through (should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees).
  • When there is about 15 minutes left on the meatloaf, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour a little at a time. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth a little bit at a time, whisking it into the flour mixture until smooth and well combined. Add the bouillon and Gravy Master. Whisk regularly until the gravy comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes to thicken.
  • Slice the meatloaf into 12 slices. Each serving is 2 slices of meatloaf with 1/3 cup of gravy.
This was one of the best meatloaves I've  tasted, healthy or not. Though not a gravy aficionado,  I wouldn't dream of skipping it in the future. It was that good. The portion size was very satisfying.  The taste and texture were perfect:  moist and well seasoned. I can't wait to make sandwiches with some of the leftovers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Parmesan Chickpea and Spinach Soup

 It's a chilly night and you're running late, but you don't want takeout. To the rescue is this delicious, meatless soup that can be on the table in a half hour, start to finish.

Serves: 4

1 tbs olive oil

Small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste (red pepper flakes optional)

15 oz can chickpeas

Piece of rind from parmesan cheese plus 1 oz, grated

4 cups chicken broth ( vegetable may be substituted)

2 oz small pasta,  like ditalini 

8 oz fresh baby spinach ( I remove stems)

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place in soup pot and bring to boil. Boil while you complete the rest of the prep. Boiling will render the chickpeas soft. If you prefer them hard, skip this step. Drain and set aside chickpeas when you are ready to assemble soup.

Heat oil in the soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Add chickpeas, stock, and rind and bring to a hard boil. Add the pasta and cook 6-8 minutes.

Add the spinach and correct seasoning, if needed.  Cook about 5 minutes. Remove rind.

Serve with grated parmesan.



Don't let the simplicity of the ingredients fool you. This soup is incredibly flavorful. The cheese rind transforms the broth and there is a perfect balance of broth to vegetable to pasta. This is a keeper.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Teriyaki BBQ Chicken


I ate a great many plates of teriyaki chicken during my many trips to the Hawaiian islands. This recipe, from of all places People magazine, reminded me of this dish served there with a double starch--rice and macaroni salad. I preferred a more ascetic approach and served it with Jasmine rice.

4 bone in chicken quarters

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp pepper

8 scallions

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup sugar (I used Swerve sugar substitute)

1 tbs toasted sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 (2 inch) slice fresh ginger, slice and smashed

Place chicen in a large, shallow bowl and rub the garlic powder, tumeric, and pepper all over it. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.

Separate the light green and dark green parts of the scallions, roughly chopping them. Set aside the dark green. Crush the light green/white part of the scallions and place in a small saucepan. Add soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Cook over medium low heat until sugar dissolves and sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.

Measure 1/2 cup soy mixture into cup and set aside. Pour remaining sauce over chicken, turning to coat, and let marinate in refrigerator uncovered for 2  up to 12 hours, rurning at least once.  Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat a gas grill on high, oil grates well, then turn off one section of grill. Add chicken to side of grill that is on and grill uncovered until grill marks appear and chicken releases easily, 3-5 minutes. Flip and repeat.

Move chicken, skin side down, to unlit portion of grill and cook uncovered 5 minutes. Flip and repeat. Return chicken to lit side of grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side, basting each time you flip chicken. Return to unlit side for 5 minutes per side, flipping and basting. Repeat this action until chicken reaches and inside temperature of 160 degrees (total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes).



Yes, it's a bit tedious to have to stand over a grill like this, but once taste of this chicken and you'll get it. It's sublime!

Fresh Corn Muffins

Summer is all about the corn, so it's the perfect time to make corn muffins. If you don't like cutting kernels off the cob, substitute good canned corn, I'll never tell. This is another great Cook's Country recipe.

Yield: 12 muffins


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cornmeal, divided

1 cup sugar (I used Swerve sugar substitute)

1 1/2 tsp table salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk (I used 2 %)

1/2 cup sour cream (I used Daisy light sour cream)

8 tbs unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

2 cups corn kernels


Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Generously spray a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable spray, including the top.

Whisk flour, 1 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda together in a large bowl; set aside.

In a microwave proof bowl, whisk together milk and remaining 1/2 cup of cornmeal. Microwave in 30 second intervals, whisking after each, until mixture achieves a paste-like consistency, about 1-3 minutes. Remove from microwave and whisk in the sour cream and butter. Stir this mixture and the corn into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Use a portion scoop to divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Cups will be full.

Bake until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 - 24 minutes.

Let muffins cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove from rack and cool another 15 minutes. Best served warm. These may be frozen.



Not overly sweet, but with a distinct corn flavor these muffins bake up with a lovely dome and are a taste of summer.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Cook's Country is the only food magazine I subscribe to and with good reason. There is at least one recipe I must make at once in each issue. The August/September issue, however, was something else entirely. I've already made several of the recipes and each is a gem. I'll start with this hybrid of 2 favorites--chicken a la parmigiana and meatballs. I have altered the recipe very slightly to make it more healthy.


2 tbs olive oil

5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

1 (28) oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano, please)

1 (15) oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt, divided

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

11 Ritz crackers

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1 lb ground chicken (93% lean)

4 oz shredded, part skim mozzarella


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce,  1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium low. Cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Place crackers in a sealed ziplock bag and crush fine with a rolling pin.

Combine crumbs, parmesan, egg, garlic powder, pepper, remaining oregano and salt in a large bowl. Add chicken and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 10 portions and roll each portion into a ball.

Place a few spoonsful of sauce in an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish. Arrange the meatballs in the dish and cover with 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the sauce (you may freeze the rest; recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce). Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes unti the cheese is beginning to brown.

Serve with crusty bread and a salad or use to top pasta.



I wasn't prepared for just how delicious these meatballs would be! The buttery Ritz crackers gave the sensation that you were eating a piece of breaded chicken parm. The sauce was garlicky and tasted as though it were more work than it was. This is definitely a keeper. The meatball ingredients can be doubled to feed more. Two meatballs was more than enough for me with some garlic bread and salad.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Quiche Lorraine, the Lighter Version


Who doesn't love quiche Lorraine? The bacon? The Gruyere cheese? The cream? Oh, yes, the calories! Here's a lightened version that tastes delicious, but comes with a much lower "price" tag.

1 Pillsbury pie crust
8 slices Oscar Meyer center cut bacon
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups of half and half

Follow the package directions to precook 1 pie crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the bacon crisp, drain, and chop.

Shred the cheese.

Mix the eggs, salt, nutmeg, and half and half well.

Place the bacon and cheese in the bottom of the precooked pie crust. Carefully pour over the liquid mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set with just a bit of a jiggle.

Cut into 6 or 8 pieces (1/6 is 7 SP; 1/8 is 9 SP on green).

Monday, February 22, 2021

Ground Turkey Eggroll

 I decided to give my air fryer a second chance. A Christmas present 2 years ago, it has been gathering dust in the basement after its inaugural run. Hearing friends extol its virtues, in fairness what else could I do.

Eggrolls are a once in a blue moon treat, so they seemed like a good place to start. After trolling the internet for ideas, I settled on the following recipe.

Servings - 8 eggrolls (2 SP each on WW green program)

8 eggroll wrappers

package of cole slaw mix

1  ginger, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

4 oz ground turkey

1 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce

1/4 tsp rice vinegar

1/4 tsp five spice powder

SLURRY MIXTURE: mix 1 tbs cornstarch with 1 tbs water

olive oil spray or vegetable nonstick spray


Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and ginger over medium heat and saute 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat, until no pink remains. Add the cole slaw, soy sauce, ricle vinegar, and five spice powder and stir well. Saute until vegetables wilt, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Divide mixture evenly. Working one at a time, set the wonton wrapper on the diagonal, add 1/8 of the mixture. Bring the bottom triangle over the mixture, fold in the 2 sides, then use your finger to wet the top left and right sides with slurry mixture, roll and place seal on bottom. As you roll remaining eggrolls, keep them covered with a damp cloth so they don't dry out. Spray tops of eggrolls with olive oil spray.

Fry in your air fryer (my 3 quart fryer took 6 minutes on each side) or bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until browned.

Chicken Parm Bombs

 I've made 2 ingredient dough before, using it to make bagels. After seeing a number of different uses for this quick and easy, no yeast dough, I was in the mood to experiment. After reading what others had tried successfully, I created these chicken parmigiana bombs.

Servings:  Makes 4 bombs at 4 SP each on WW green program

For the dough:

1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Mix together. Knead gently to form a ball. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Flour surface and roll out into 4-5 inch circles.

For the filling:

3 ounces shredded chicken breast (I used rotisserie chicken)

1 oz Neufchatel cheese

1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella

1/4 cup marinara sauce

garlic and salt to taste

Blend ingredients well.

To assemble:

Divide mixture equally among 4 dough circles and gather dough gently sealing it at the top. Spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with garlic, oregano, and parsley.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until browned, about 20-25 minutes.



Two of these and a small salad made a very satisfying and delicious lunch. I intend to experiment with fillings based on the success of these bombs. In truth, one would have been enough.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Low Calorie Corn Muffins

Most muffin recipes read more like cupcake recipes, laden with fat and sugar. They might be fine for an occasional indulgence, but they don't have a permanent place in a healthy eating plan. These corn muffins from Taste of Home, on the other hand, are low in fat and sugar and at 105 calories each can be enjoyed nearly guilt free. Baked in a regular muffin pan, they are just 3 SP on the green plan. Baked in a mini muffin pan, 2 of them are 3 SP on the green plan.

Here is the recipe.

 These muffins are very quick and easy to make, freeze well, and make a nice snack with a cup of tea. They work equally well as a side to chili or a bowl of soup.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Cinnamon Buns


Forget about Cinnabons! These cinnamon buns are bigger and better. The recipe came from the King Arthur Flour site and I made a few adjustments so I could prepare them the night before Christmas and bake half of them on Christmas morning, freezing the rest for a later special breakfast. I also changed the method of preparing the filling slightly.

Makes 12 large buns


1 cup lukewarm milk

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp instant yeast


5 tbs unsalted butter, softened (plus an extra 2 tbs. melted to spread on dough)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3 1/2 tbs cinnamon


3 oz Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese), softened

4 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla


To make the dough:

Mix together all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed for 4-6 minutes to make a smooth, soft dough.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rest, covered in a warm place until nearly doubled in bulk, 1 - 2 hours.

To Make the Filling:

Mix the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon--using your hands may be easiest--until well combined.

To fill and shape the buns:

Gently deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Roll the dough into a 16 x 21" rectangle. Brush the rectangle with the 2 tbs melted butter. Spread the dough evenly with the filling mixture. Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log and cut into 12 slices.

To make the icing:

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

To bake the buns immediately:

Place on a greased 9 X 13 inch pan. Cover the pan and let rise about 30 minutes, until they are nearly doubled in size.

To make the buns the next day or to freeze for a later time:

Shape the buns and place them on a greased 9 X 13 inch pan (or in 2 nine inch round pans). Let rise for 15 minutes, then wrap carefully and place in the refrigerator (or freezer). 

To bake the buns:

Remove from the refrigerator while the oven heats to 400 degrees. (If baking from frozen, remove from  the freezer and let defrost in the refrigerator overnight.) Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

To ice the buns:

Place half the icing on the buns as soon as they are removed from the oven. Let buns cool for 5 minutes, then frost with the remaining icing.



These are just incredible. The dough is soft and light; the filling is perfectly sweet without being cloying. The icing ties the 2 together.  Pictures and words don't do them justice. I won't be looking for any other cinnamon bun recipe ever again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Cookies 2020

 Since this year's holiday celebrations include 2 humans and 2 cats, I decided to make just a few cookies and a limited number per batch. I decided to try 3 new recipes and one oldie but goodie. The new recipes were for chocolate crinkles with sea salt, Linzer cookies, and pignoli cookies. The old standby was Mom's Mexican wedding cakes.

The recipe for the Linzer cookies is here. The recipe for the pignoli cookies is here.

Chocolate Crinkles with Sea Salt - 15 cookies

3 cups confectioners sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs, room temperatue

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

flaky sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray with non stick spray.

Whisk sugar, cocoa, regular salt. Beat vanilla and eggs. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet. Add the chocolate and the nuts and mix well.

Spoon 1 1/2 tbs per cookie, 2 inches apart (they spread). Try to mound each cookie to keep the size the same. Sprinkle with the sea salt.

Bake, rotating once, for 12 - 14 minutes.

Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cook completely.


Mom's Mexican Wedding Cookies -  Makes 3 dozen

Heat oven to 275 degrees. Line cookie sheets with Silpap or parchment paper.

1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar (plus more for rolling cookies in)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup crushed pecans

1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients until a ball forms. Roll equal pinches of batter into balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned. Roll in confectioners sugar while still warm.



I would recommend making the Linzer cookie dough first since it needs to chill. I would then make the chocolate crinkles, which are incredibly easy. I would then make the pignolis, which are a bit fussy to form. Next, I'd bake the Mexican wedding cookies, which are very quick to make. I left the Linzers for last because they are the most labor intensive, though I might rethink that. The dough does need to chill, but I was tired by the time I got to them, so maybe the should have been after the crinkles.

My favorite of the 4 was the Linzers followed just a smidge behind were the chocolate crinkles, which taste like a cookie version of lava cake. The Mexican wedding cookies are always a treat. The pignolis were good, but I've had better. I couldn't find my usual recipe for them, but will continue to look for next year.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Babkallah--a Mash up of Chocolate Babka and Challah Bread

 The King Arthur Baking site is one of my favorite sites for well-tested, delicious baked goods recipes. I saw their blog post on babkallah yesterday and just had to make it. It is, after all, the holidays and while we are not celebrating with family and friends this year, I had decided I'd bake a few cookies and cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. Since I love both chocolate babka and challah bread, both of which I've baked in the past, I knew I had to make this yummy sounding mash up.

The recipe is here. I took a few photos of the process along the way to share and my only change to the recipe is to use my stand mixer for the dough and my food processer for the filling.



Some things are exactly as good as they sound. This is one of them. Don't be afraid of yeasted breads. I used instant yeast and the rises were perfect and the dough very easy to handle. The babkallah has a wonderful crumb, is just sweet enough, and has the added bonus of a somewhat chewy-crunchy exterior. While my first inclination was to wish there were even more chocolate inside, I know that would have made the loaf too heavy. This recipe is a keeper.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Eggplant Rollatini

I love eggplant;  parmigiana or rollatini, it is a dish I could happily eat once a week. Notice I didn't say I could COOK it once a week, but I will say it's become much easier since I began baking the eggplant instead of frying it. In addition to making a mess of my stove and kitchen, frying makes this dish unnecessarily high calorie. So now, instead of waiting for my brother-in-law to make it for me on holidays, I make the eggplant in the oven with no loss of flavor.


1 large eggplant

3 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 lb ricotta (whole or part skim works)

3 tbs grated Pecorino Romano cheese

3 tbs chopped parsley

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

3-4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)

OPTIONAL:  3 links of sweet Italian sausage; remove meet from casing and brown, breaking up into small pieces


Cut off both ends of the eggplant and peel it. Holding the eggplant upright, very carefully slice it long wise into 1/4 inch slices. Try to keep each slice even from top to bottom to make rolling easier. A large eggplant should yield 8-10 slices.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray or nonstick cooking spray.

Set up a breading station:  place the flour on one plate (I use paper plates); beat the two eggs in a shallow bowl; place the panko bread crumbs on a second plate.  Use one hand to dredge each slice in flour, then dip in the egg; use the other hand to coat the slice in bread crumbs. Place each slice on the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake the eggplant slices for 12-15 minutes, flip over and bake another 8-10 minutes. Bread crumbs should be nicely browned. Cool the eggplant while you make the ricotta mixture.

Place the ricotta, 1 egg, the grated cheese, the garlic powder, the parsley, and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella in a medium bowl and combine thoroughly. Add the browned sausage crumbles to this step, if desired.

In a rectangular baking dish (like a lasagna dish or a casserole dish), ladle a few tablespoons of sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.

Lay out your eggplant slices on waxed paper and divide the ricotta mixture among them, placing a heap in the middle of each slice. Carefully roll up each slice, placing the seam on the bottom and using a tablespoon to tap the mixture into place. Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish.

Spoon over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. You can broil briefly (watch carefully) to brown the cheese if your dish permits high heat. Let sit for 5 minutes to set, then serve.



This dish gets even better--if you can believe it--when reheated, so I hope you have some leftovers. While it's very good as a vegetarian dish, I think it's even better with the sausage. No more waiting for holidays for me. This is a great week night dish.