Ham & Cheese Casserole Recipe

by Katie on December 2, 2014

This Ham & Cheese Casserole is a super easy (and delicious) way to use up leftover ham from Thanksgiving.  The recipe has been a favorite of our family’s for years, Thanksgiving time or not!

Ham & Cheese Casserole

1 bag egg noodles
2 cups cooked ham, cubed
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
8 oz. shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Combine cream of chicken soup and sour cream in a small bowl.  Grease the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Layer half of the noodles into the pan.  Top with half of the ham, followed by half the cheese.  Top with half of the sour cream mixture.  Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

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Chicken Bake Recipe

by Katie on November 17, 2014

I had a few readers ask me about my chicken bake recipe when I posted it as part of our menu plan for last week.  My sister originally made this dish for our family when our youngest son was born, and it’s been a family hit ever since.

The recipe is not only easy to make, but it’s inexpensive as well.  Plus, it’s a hearty meal for a cold evening (tomorrow night?!).

Chicken Bake

16 oz. spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
4 boneless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Bake chicken for 45 minutes or until cooked through.  Cut or shred into small pieces.  While chicken is cooking, make spaghetti according to package directions; drain.

Put cooked spaghetti in a 9×13 pan.  Mix in butter until melted.  Top with chicken.  In a small bowl, combine cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.  Pour mixture evenly over chicken.  Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.  If the cheese starts to brown, tent foil over the top of the pan.

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Over the Stove Cookies Recipe

by Katie on November 10, 2014

I realized this weekend that I never posted the recipe for our family’s Over the Stove Cookies.  As I mentioned last week, these cookies never last long at a family gathering, and by the end of an event, you’d be hard pressed to find one left over!

For my cookies this year, I doubled the following recipe:


2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk

Bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add:

1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons peanut butter

Mix together and add:

6 cups rolled oats

Mix well.  Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper.

Allow to cool before eating.

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Chicken Avocado Wrap Recipe

by Katie on August 20, 2014

In the midst of the chaos known as the back to school season, I’m planning to try out new recipes each week that would either be a good fit for a healthy dinner option after school or a packable lunch for consumption during the school day.  In this case, the chicken avocado wrap recipe doubles for both purposes.

I originally made this recipe for dinner, and used the same ingredients (minus the onions) to create a healthy lunch for our boys to take to school with them.  It’s an easy recipe that’s full of flavor and packs a nutritious punch as well.

Chicken Avocado Wrap


4 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice and zest of 3 limes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Place chicken breasts in a large ziploc bag.  Pour mixture over chicken and marinate for at least 2 hours.

Avocado Spread

2 avocados
lime juice
kosher salt

Mash avocados, and add lime juice to desired consistency.  Add salt to taste.

Other Ingredients

burrito size tortillas (I used Azteca brand)
sauteed red onions (I sauteed these in a skillet with olive oil and kosher salt)
mozzarella cheese

Spread avocado mixture down the center of the tortilla.  Top with chicken, sauteed red onions, cheese, and cilantro.  Roll tortilla and enjoy!

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Inside Out Tacos Recipe

by Katie on July 14, 2014

Tacos are one of my all-time favorite meals.  They’re easy to make, everyone can choose their own toppings, and they’re relatively healthy….at least most of the ingredients.

I typically make my tacos with chicken and lots of veggies and beans, all of which are healthy choices.  And since tortillas seem rather small and very thin, I incorrectly assumed that they couldn’t pack too much of an unhealthy punch.  However, when I flipped over the package and looked at the nutrition information, I found that there were 180 calories and 5 grams of fat per tortilla.  And I’d love to say that I usually only ate one taco, but that’s not exactly the case.

So, instead of deleting tacos from my menu plan, I decided to find a way to avoid tortillas while still enjoying all the traditional flavors of tacos.  By combining seasoned chicken and all my usual taco fixings on a salad, I’m able to enjoy inside out tacos even while eating healthy.

Inside Out Tacos

2-3 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or tenders
(1) 16 oz. jar of salsa
(1) packet taco seasoning mix

Combine all ingredient in crock pot.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.  Remove chicken, shred, and serve with taco fixings.

I always have a variety of options available for our tacos – diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, black beans, avocados, red onions, corn, and fat free sour cream.  I use spinach as a base, and add everything on top to create my inside out tacos.

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Now that summer is in full swing, I have more time to experiment with new recipes for our family.  My hope is to come up with at least one new recipe each week (mostly by trial and error!) to add into our monthly dinner menu rotation.

The majority of these recipes will most probably be grill or slow cooker related to avoid heating up the whole house on hotter days.  This week’s new recipe was a huge hit for our family, and is ideal for the grill.

Since cilantro, lime, and avocado are three of my favorite ingredients, I knew I wanted to put them together with chicken for a fresh summertime dinner.  Here’s my take on this combo:

Cilantro Lime Chicken

3 tablespoons of olive oil
zest and juice of 3 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
3-4 lbs. boneless chicken breasts

Whisk together all ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl.  Pour mixture over chicken, and marinate for at least 2 hours (I typically put the chicken in a resealable bag, pour the marinade over it, and just pop it in the fridge until we’re ready to grill it).

Discard the marinade and grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes per side until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

Once the chicken was done on the grill, I sliced it into strips and added it into a salad made up of spinach, tomatoes, avocados, and colby jack cheese, and topped it with this recipe for avocado lime dressing:

Avocado Lime Dressing

1 bottle of low-fat ranch dressing
1 large avocado
juice of 1 lime

Mash avocado until it’s of spreading consistency.  Add avocado and lime juice to ranch dressing, and whisk together until smooth.

This recipe will definitely make it into our regular meal rotation, as it was a big hit with everyone in the family.

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Healthy Banana Muffin Recipe

by Katie on April 10, 2014

I’m always on the lookout for new healthy recipes to add into our family’s meal plan.  So, when my sister came across a recipe for healthy banana muffins, I knew I had to try it.  A few tweaks later, and this recipe has definitely become a keeper for our family.  While the muffins are not super sweet, they are a perfect combination of flavors and are hearty enough to keep me going throughout the morning.

Banana Muffins

4 mashed bananas
1 cup skim milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix bananas, milk, eggs, baking powder, oats, vanilla, blueberries, and cinnamon in a large bowl in until combined.  Pour batter into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until well set.  Serve warm.

There are a few things to note with this recipe.  First off, our oven bakes really fast, so if your muffins do not look set after 15 minutes, I’d suggest leaving them in for a little while longer.  Also, if you’re not a fan of blueberries, you can skip them and add 3 tablespoons of almonds or walnuts (I prefer walnuts with this recipe).  And lastly, I don’t always measure my cinnamon for this recipe although I typically use about a teaspoon – I’m more of a sprinkle and go kind of girl when it comes to cooking and baking!

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Turkey Chili Recipe

by Katie on April 2, 2014

Since winter was so cold this year, chili has made its way into our menu rotation quite frequently over the past several months.  However, my old chili recipe wasn’t exactly diet friendly, so I tweaked it a bit to come up with a recipe that everyone except our oldest son loves (he has a dislike of anything that has beans in it….he also hates peanut butter….I have no explanations!).

This recipe is super easy and is quick to make if you’re pressed for time:

Turkey Chili

1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb. ground turkey, browned
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 cans beans (I usually use a mix of pinto and black beans)
2 cans diced tomatoes
chicken broth (amount depends on how hearty you prefer your chili)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook onions in olive oil over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Add browned ground turkey, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cinnamon.  Stir until combined.

Add beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.  Simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with low fat cheese.

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Some of my favorite recipes tend to be the ones that I make up as I go along.  A few weeks ago, I was feeling totally uninspired when it came time to make dinner.  I had chicken and fresh zucchini in the fridge which I used to put together one of our newest favorite meals - inside-out chicken, black bean, and zucchini enchiladas.  It’s incredibly easy to make, and it’s a hearty meal especially on chilly days.

Inside-Out Chicken, Black Bean, & Zucchini Enchiladas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
5 medium-size zucchini, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can  green enchilada sauce
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Colby jack cheese

Warm olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add the zucchini, cumin, and chili powder, and cook until the zucchini is tender (about 6-8 minutes).

Add black beans, enchilada sauce, and chicken.  Cook until warmed through.  Top with cilantro and cheese.

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French Apple Pie Recipe

by Katie on November 27, 2013

Apple pie is one of those mandatory desserts on Thanksgiving for our family.  Of course, according to my mom, I cheat a little by using store bought crust.  I’m surprisingly okay with that!  Here’s the recipe I use for our apple pie:

French Apple Pie

refrigerated pie crust
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. nutmeg
7 cups thinly sliced apples
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup firm stick butter, cut into chunks

Lie pie crust with refrigerated pie crust and crimp edges to form a decorative pattern (or decide to not even try if you have no talent in decorative pie edges….like me!).  Mix sugar, nutmeg, and apples and toss gently.  Spoon into pie crust.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, and butter until crumbly (I use a whisk for this, but a pastry cutter or two knives will work as well).  Sprinkle on top of the apples.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Bake for an additional 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the apples are tender.  As a side note, I often tent the pie with aluminum foil after the first ten minutes to prevent excessive browning.

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