Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lightened Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

I am no longer living in the "technological stone ages"!

Well, in terms of cell phones that laptop is still ancient and my digital camera is a joke and my iPod is from 2005 but my phone is shiny and new.

I finally conformed and got an iPhone.

Yeah, I love it.

I can't stop playing with it.

Now I want a spankin' new lap top, a iPad, a iPod touch, a nice Panasonic Lumix zs7 digital camera (great for food photography I hear), and a Kindle Fire.

But that ain't happening.

This chick is poor. And spends all her money on food.

And shoes.

Mmm food and shoes :)

I think it is now required of me that I immediately go to Panera Bread and plop myself next to the fireplace and act all technologically savvy.

Not sure I could pull that off but speaking of Panera...please tell me I am not the only one obsessed with their broccoli and cheddar soup in a bread bowl...

Didn't think so. I love it. LOVE it. But have a hard time putting out of my mind the fact that it is cheese and cream and carb overload (not a hard enough time not to eat it (psh!) but enough to push me extra hard at the gym).

I decided to find a copycat recipe and lighten it some.

Is it identical? No. Is it a quick fix for a Panera craving? Yeah, I think so. Worth a shot!

Lightened Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Adapted from


1 tablespoon light butter spread (I use I Can't Believe it's Not Butter Light), melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted light butter spread (I use I Can't Believe it's Not Butter Light)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup skim milk
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half and skim milk(this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Serve with wheat bread roll.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Autumn Penne

You know those mornings you wake up after being in such a deep sleep that you are convinced that the totally unrealistic and virtually impossible events that floated around your head during the night really happened?

This is a common occurrence for wake up arguing with myself about whether or not I really did become a real live Candy Land character, or met Michael Jackson in space so he could teach me the "authentic" moonwalk.

Yesterday morning was no different. Except the focus on the argument was more about why in the heck, of all things, I chose to talk about the "importance of sour gummy worms" with George Clooney.

I've never met George Clooney but my brain failed to register that for at least the first 8 minutes of my morning. And by failed to register I mean more like refuses to accept.

A girl can dream.

Then spend the beginning of her morning in a perplexed and confused state until the disappointment sets in. No, you didn't magically invent some pill that kills no you can't eat that cupcake for breakfast.


Something else rather disappointing to me...the fact that fall is so far away. Though we could hardly call this thing we've had here in Ohio "winter" I still want it to be over.

I figure...just because it isn't October doesn't mean I can't enjoy a little fall.

This dish does remind me of fall. I know I know, the Brussels sprouts can throw you off but I promise you you barely notice them because they are chopped up. This is a dish that makes me actually LIKE Brussels sprouts. If I had one complaint about this dish it would be that the ragu sauce is a little on the light side. Next time, I would add more crushed tomatoes.

Autumn Penne
Adapted From


1 sweet or hot chicken and pork sausage link, casing removed, crumbled
3/4 lb 93% lean ground turkey
4 tsp olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
10 oz brussels sprouts, weight after outer leaves and stems removed
1 small onion, diced small
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
pinch crushed red pepper
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 lb high fiber, low carb or whole wheat pasta


In a large, wide skillet, add sausage and turkey over medium-high heat, breaking up the sausage and turkey as it cooks into small pieces. When completely cooked through; set aside in a bowl.

With a sharp knife, cut the brussels sprouts into thin shreds.

To the skillet, add 2 tsp of oil over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook until golden (do not burn). Add shredded brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and sauté until tender crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes; set aside in another bowl.

To the same skillet, add remaining 2 tsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, stirring well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables turn golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, sausage and turkey, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, salt and fresh pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 - 40 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, while sauce is simmering, put a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Add the pasta to the water 10 minutes before the sauce is done and cook pasta al dente.

Drain and add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the sauce.

Add cooked brussel sprouts, toss and place in a large pasta bowl.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lightened Brown Rice Jambalaya

It is Fat Tuesday.

My kinda day.

I have never personally experienced Mardi Gras nor do I tend to participate in lent but an excuse to be fat? Sign me up!

Is it sad that I just learned why they call it "Fat Tuesday"? Yeah, sometimes I am rather clueless.

But for those of you who are like me and never thought about why they labeled this day "Fat Tuesday" but simply accepted it as a legitimate reason to stuff your is because tomorrow is "Ash Wednesday" and people tend to give up something (oftentimes it is food that is so darn good to your mouth but not so much your health)so therefore people shovel food into their face like their is no tomorrow...

Might as well not be if you can't enjoy chocolate, margaritas, jalapeno poppers and cheesecake...

Just my take on things.

If you ask me "Fat Tuesday" sounds like my standard Sunday...aka my "cheat" day.

Sometimes...just sometimes...I take it a little overboard.


In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to make me some jambalaya. And since I have been craving it, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist indulging in a large bowl (especially considering that the day is named "fat" and all) I decided to go a lighter route.

You can't even frickin' tell.

I like mine extra spicy so feel free to play around with the spices and hot sauce. I also prefer my jambalaya with just sausage and sometimes chicken so I left out the shrimp. Its easy to add it though...just toss some in about 10 minutes before the cooking time is up and you're all done when the shrimp is pink :)

Lightened Brown Rice Jambalaya
Adapted from


8 oz. smoked turkey sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch coins
8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


In a large dutch oven, cook the sausage and chicken over medium-high heat until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add the canola oil to the pan, and cook the celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, thyme and rice, and cook 3 more minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and ground red pepper.

Cover, and cook 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the shrimp, and cook 3-5 minutes longer, until the shrimp is bright pink.

Serves 8

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Kettle Corn

I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine's Day...

I did :)

In fact, I am inclined to label it as the best Valentine's Day I ever had.

It was already a long day. After a draining day of interning and having class, I dragged my feet up to my door barely able to keep my eyes open and calling on the last of my strength just to hold up the bag on my shoulder for the minute walk to my door.

When I opened the door I was instantly revived by shock and surprise. The table was set with flowers, candles, tablecloth and heart confetti. I gasped when I took it all in and then noticed the balloon and that my plate was filled with chocolate.

I wasn't expecting anything like this whatsoever.

We were just planning to make a nice dinner together...which we did...and it was perfect.

After dinner we exchanged gifts (which is something we don't tend to do for Valentine's Day...but thought "what the hell...why not?" this year.)

I got us both a couples massage (cant.fricken.wait) and he pulled a box with a red bow out of thin air and handed it over to me with the cheesiest of cheesy grins.

I think this is where I smacked him because I thought the thoughtful dinner setup and candy was my gift.

Upon opening the little box he was met yet again with one my gasp/squeel/shriek reactions. It was an opal necklace.

Opal is my favorite of all favorites. Not only because it is my birthstone but it is simply beautiful and has sentimental value in my family.

Yeah, I'm pretty darn lucky.

Does anybody else nearly faint at the smell of fresh kettle corn when you go to a carnival or fair?

I do. I have been kicking myself for not getting one of those 4 foot tall bags of the sweet and saltiness that comes straight out of a huge black kettle. I'm fairly certain that the only reason I refrained was because I was fighting with trying to keep down the strawberry donuts, texas tenderloin sandwich, soggy fries drenched in vinegar and salt, and strawberry shortcake.

This is just speculation because I cannot possibly come up with another excuse.

Well guess what? You can make something similar...that tastes almost like fresh kettle corn from the least enough to hold you over until the next time you decide to make a sport out of getting fat off of fried...well...everything.

Fried kool-aid? That is just silly.

Homemade Kettle Corn


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.


As much as I want to say it is only a Hallmark holiday and as much as I truly believe one shouldn't need a holiday to show someone you care...I do appreciate the excuse to get into "cheese" mode and do something cute.

I firmly believe that being thoughtful and showing someone how you feel about them should happen frequently...on Holidays or on your average plain ol' day. BUT...yes, there is a BUT...I will accept the Hallmark holiday as an excuse to have a nice dinner and eat a lot little chocolate.

That man of mine and I are making dinner together tomorrow. We did it last year when we made that lovely salmon meal and I kind of like the idea of making it a tradition to make a nice dinner together.

It is usually me doing the cooking so it should be nice to work on a meal together...and I think stuffed shells is just perfect for that.

In other news...I have a confession.

I know this is going to set me apart from all that is normal but I am not the biggest fan of red velvet.

Ok. Ok. Hear me out. It is really just a mild chocolate cake with some vanilla that tastes like food coloring. Yes, the frosting (if it is cream cheese) is da-fricking-bomb but the cake for me has always been "eh".

Yeah, I know. I have heard that I am crazy once or twice.

That man of mine happens to love red do the other inhabitants of his man cave so I decided to suck it up and make him/them some of these brownies...

That I can't stop eating.

What the?

It must be the use of dark chocolate rather than cocoa and my lack of control when it comes to cream cheese.

Yeah, that must be it.

Long story short? These brownies are the exception to my "red velvet rule"...and The Cheesecake Factory's red velvet cheesecake (again...the cream cheese is totally to blame there).

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from


1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8-oz neaufchatel cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
To prepare cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in 8 dollops over batter in the pan. Swirl in with a knife or spatula.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I'm alive!!

Well, kinda. If you consider being the most busy you have ever been in your life "alive" then yes, I qualify.

It has been a long time since I have posted. Too long I'm afraid. Along with my usual class and work schedule I have recently started an "internship"-type gig where I do real-life signing with real-life people!

I know, crazy right?! You spend all this time learning sign language and practicing these mock situations with your fellow peers who pretend to be deaf for so long that you kind of forget that the whole reason you are even in the program is to interpret for living and breathing deaf people!

It has been something else. Let me tell yah. I have been tirelessly adjusting to the new craziness that is my life that my lovely little hobby that is Dame Good Eats has been neglected.

I must say, I have missed the excuse to be creepy and take pictures of everything I eat and make...I also miss the excuse to try to come up with the most outlandish kind of dishes in the hopes that maybe, just maybe they will be successful.

I kinda miss you all :(

I have set a goal for myself this quarter to allow myself more "me" time and more time to enjoy the things I like to do with my "free" time. Well, I no longer have this "free" time (I think it's a myth) but I decided I need to make some...even if just a teensy bit...I miss reading novels, cooking and blogging about my obsession with food.

We shall see how this transpires eh?

I have like 10 billion recipes from months ago just patiently waiting for me to post them. So stay tuned!

Ps...did anyone eat themselves into a 2-day food coma on Super Bowl Sunday because there were too many different types of dip and dip is one thing that forces you to throw all other cares out the window? No?...yeah me neither :/

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) strawberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.
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