Archive for March, 2011

Quick Apple Desert

Last night I had no plans to make a desert.  But of course about 20 minutes post dinner my Maddy hollered, “what’s for desert?”  Quick think, what is for desert?  I knew I could not pass off a yogurt with granola again; and we were running pretty low on groceries as I am on a clean out kick.  We have apples!  There are ton’s of things to do with them!

How about we try a apple pie… deconstructed!  I know I have been watching too many cooking shows lately!  Deconstruct this, deconstruct that!  But really it can be a great method for the home cook!

Deconstructed Apple Pie (serving 2)

Step 1

  • 1 large tart apple
  • 2 TBLS butter
  • 2 TBLS sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla extract

Peel and core apple, cut into 1 inch chunks.  In a sauce pan heat up butter, add apples, sprinkle with 2 TBLS sugar, a shake of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. Cook on a medium heat covered for 5 minutes.  Uncover and allow the sauce to thicken.

Step 2

Here’s where you can get creative.  I used left over pie dough from another recipe, lay down some whipped cream, top with apples and add your cooked pie dough.

If you don’t have pie dough take 2 pieces of good white bread, butter them and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on them.  Broil the bread till it is cooked (keep a good eye on it as the sugar will burn quickly).  Cut the bread into triangles and plate with whipped cream and apples.

It is lick your plate yummy! 


Candis aka West


Chicken Pot Pie… More than just a Pie!

I have been itching to figure out something else I can freeze to have on hand for dinner.  I often go to my stocked freezer on nights when I want something homemade without the wait!  Usually these items involve red sauce… I want to have something new that doesn’t involve a tomato!  How about a chicken pot pie?  Perfect!

As a kid I LOVED the Swanson chicken pot pies.  We would get them on occasion and all I can remember is how LONG it would take to heat them up.  The wait was pure torture!  I want to say it took a good hour.  They were creamy and yummy and totally worth the wait.  But I am now an adult and need something yummy, fast and a little lower in calories.  Let me introduce you to a deconstructed pot pie!

Pot Pie Filling with Love

Step 1

  • 2 bone in skin on split chicken breasts
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 TBLS chicken base
  • 1 TBLS minced dried onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pepper

Place all in a pot and cook till chicken is no longer pink; should be a good 25 minutes on a medium boil.  Remove chicken and strain broth into separate container.  Discard the bits that are in the strainer.  De-bone the chicken and place in the broth.  Add all to a large pot (one that will hold a good 8-10 cups of liquid).

Step 2

  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (corn, beans, peas and carrots)
  • 1/4 bag of frozen peas (we love peas)
  • 1/4 bag frozen chopped spinach (optional but really yummy)
  • 2 cups of milk

Add to the pot with the stock and cook for 5 minutes till it starts to lightly boil.

Step 3

  • 1/2 a minced onion
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

In a separate pan add onion and butter and work the onions till they are translucent.  Add the salt, pepper and celery seed and give it a mix.  Then work in your flour.  You are making a roux to thicken your pot pie filling.  Cook the roux till you can’t smell the flour and it is a nice light tan color.

Spoon in a scoop of your stock and mix into the roux, mix till it is incorporated and it is not lumpy.  Add another scoop of stock and mix again till smooth.

Once you have a large ball size of roux, then take a scoop of the roux and add it to your pot of chicken and veggies.  Mix well with each scoop so you don’t end up with lumps.  Incorporate all the roux and keep your chicken and veggies on a nice light boil for a good 10 minutes.  The sauce should thicken up nicely.  If it does not you will need to reduce your flame and make a new batch of roux (half the size as stated above) and repeat the process.  You want it to be thick but not like mashed potatoes!

I decided to bake a ready-made pie shell in pieces to add to our bowls.  I like this option as it makes sure that you don’t over eat on the crust (which has most of the calories) and really looks pretty!

You could ladle this over mashed potatoes, over a nice piece of crusty bread or go traditional and put it in a pie shell and bake.  I have 3 containers of pot pie goodness in my freezer waiting for me next time I want homemade without the wait!


Candis aka West

Blog update.

While this blog is still relatively young, it has done so much for us. Candi, Dee and I are blogging like never before and all three of us are enjoying blogging so much.
For me, personally, it has given me just the push I needed to start working on my cookbook for my boys.
Upon reading Dee’s and Candis’s blog posts, I am always inspired to write and to try something new.
Dee for instance, makes me want to plan-ahead for the following week. That kind of planning is definitely out of my comfort zone and will be a great challenge for me.
Candi on the other hand, inspires me to cook, freeze, re-heat and serve. That would definitely make my life a lot easier once football season starts.
Both plan so well and are so organized. I, on the other hand, just buy stuff I like and then plan my meal as I drive home from work each day based on what I have in the fridge.
While I will probably always be that way, cause that’s who I am, Candi and Dee inspire me enough to want to try their methods. Who knows maybe I will love it!
This blog has been such a gift to me. Many thanks to my dear friends D & C, and all of you for being such a source of inspiration in my life.

Much love,

A tribute to my favorite chef – Cooking together blog project.

Paying a tribute to each of our favorite chefs was the theme of our second cooking together blog project. I picked a remarkable chef and made an elaborate dish in her honor.

You can read about here!

I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed making the dish and writing about it.

Much love,


Meatloaf Monday

… well technically it is Tuesday.  BUT I made this little casserole on a Monday, so it is now known as Meatloaf Monday.

I was cleaning out my freezer on Monday afternoon.  I LOVE to organize my fridge and freezer.  So satisfying to see all the goodies that are waiting to be eaten!  I ran across some meatloaf that I had frozen back in November.  I was on a roll with meatloaf back in November so it is not a wonder that I ran across a package!  I thinking that I would let it thaw and fry it up for dinner when I had a V-8 moment.  I am going to just do a casserole!  There has to be other things to combo with the meatloaf!

So I dug further in the freezer and came up with some beef and onion gravy from a post roast a while back and a partial bag of peas.  So far so good!  Let’s whip this up!

Meatloaf Casserole

  • Leftover meatloaf
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • 1 pint of leftover gravy
  • 2 baking potatoes shredded
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • 1 cup of cheese your choice

Chop your meatloaf into cubes and mix with gravy, top with peas.

In a skillet heat olive oil and add shredded potatoes and sprinkle garlic powder to taste.  Fry till crispy and potatoes are nearly done.

Put potatoes on top of peas, sprinkle with cheese and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes till hot.  Serve with garlic toast and a salad.

It is a recycling kind of dinner!  Smiles and clean plates all around!  Dig around in your freezer and make a casserole of your own!  You might be surprised at what you can create!


Candis aka West

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas

For the most part of last week, I took a break from cooking.  I really think the weekend before had done me in!  I got back on the wagon for tonight’s dinner and whipped up something light in calories.  I need to look good in my bikini when I’m in the Bahama’s soaking up the rays!

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas – 362 calories

Yield: 4


4 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 scallions, white and green parts seperated and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 cup long-grain white rice

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 cup frozen peas

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

lime wedges, for serving


In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 minutes.  Add rice and 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 miutes.  Remove from heat and top with peas.  Let stand, covered, 5 minutes, then add scallion greens and fluff rice with fork.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss shrimp with cumin and coriander and season with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes.  Serve shrimp with rice and lime wedges.

I served this dish alongside some fresh spinach and a splash of Panera Bread Asian Sesame Dressing.

Thanks for stopping by!


I want CAKE!

Jim hollered from the basement… make me something sweet please!!!!  YIKES, I just had a big breakfast a few hours ago and didn’t bother with lunch as I was still full.  But there was a little spark of hunger that cake would fill.  I really should have chosen a cake I didn’t LOVE.  That is  my secret to trying to eat healthy.  Make things I like or that my family likes better and I can do with just one small piece and not the whole thing! 

Alas, I went for everyone’s favorite here a pineapple cake with coconut, almonds and brown sugar.  As I type this I am picking out crumbs from my keyboard.  I can’t get enough of it… there goes the 10 pounds I have lost!

Pineapple Coconut Cake

  • 1 package vanilla cake mix (I only use Trader Joes mix, it is AMAZING)
  • 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of frozen pineapple
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 a stick of softened butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 handfuls of coconut
  • 2 handfuls of unsalted almonds chopped
  • Pam to coat your 8x8x2 pan

Mix your cake as directed on your box.  Defrost your pineapple and chop it rough so it is in small pieces.  Drain as much of the juice as you can, you can squeeze it in a paper towel to really get the juice out.  This is an important step as this step adds more moisture to your cake and too much and it won’t bake well.  Add pineapple to your cake batter.

Next, make a crumble with the brown sugar, butter and flour.  Incorporate this well and add coconut and almonds and sprinkle over the cake batter.  Bake your cake according to the directions on your box mix.  You will have to add a good 10-15 minutes depending to accommodate for the pineapple and crumble.  Check your cake with a toothpick in the middle.  When it comes out clean you are good to go!

Couldn’t wait for a final shot; had to cut in.  This is a dense very moist cake.  You can see that my cooling rack embedded itself into my cake when I turned it out!  No worries, chop a little coconut and sprinkle on the top and add whipped cream when you serve.  I guarantee you no one will mind (or even notice) the little divots!


Candis aka West