Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Hawaiian" Chicken

Not sure what qualifies this as "Hawaiian." Perhaps the pineapple? Anyway, I got this recipe from my mother-in-law and I admit that when I read the ingredients list I thought it sounded ... frightening. But this is one of those funny recipes where you just have to have faith and you will be rewarded. This makes a sweet and savory sauce that is great served with white rice.

Unfortunately, some of these ingredients can be difficult to find. Russian dressing is not very popular/available anymore, so I've started replacing it with either French or Catalina. (If you don't like any of those dressings on salad, Kraft makes an 8 oz bottle of Catalina which is all you need for this recipe so there is no waste.) As for the apricot pineapple preserves, I've always had luck finding it at Walmart. If you cannot find it, you can use plain apricot preserves.


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 cup Russian (or French or Catalina) dressing
1 cup apricot pineapple preserves
1 envelope onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing, preserves, and onion soup mix. Spread some of the dressing mixture to coat the bottom of the baking dish. Place chicken breasts on top and pour and spread the remaining dressing over the chicken. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Root Beer Float Cake

I saw this recipe on and thought it sounded like a fun idea. Their plan for the frosting made me gag however, so I've completely changed that. I made this cake for a family birthday party and it was a great hit.

For the best flavor you'll need to purchase either root beer concentrate or root beer flavored syrup. The concentrate can be found in the baking aisle with the spices and extracts. The syrup is usually with ice cream condiments like hot fudge and sprinkles. Here's a photo of both:

They are worth getting because you can either make homemade root beer with the concentrate or put the root beer syrup on vanilla ice cream. Yum!

The root beer flavor will come through more if you refrigerate the cake overnight. As for the garnish, save that for just before serving. The crushed candies will melt after about an hour or two and the syrup will kind of do the same.

adapted from

1 box white cake mix with pudding
3 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (12 oz) can (1 1/2 cups) root beer
2 tsp. root beer concentrate (or 2 Tbsp. root beer flavored syrup)
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
garnish: crushed root beer barrels or root beer flavored syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray bottom only of 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, root beer, and root beer concentrate or syrup on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely; about 1 hour.

(Optional: for best root beer flavor, after cooling, cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.)

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and vanilla for 2 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip and spread over cooled cake. Garnish with crushed root beer barrels or syrup just before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

One more recipe from Gina at! I made these last week and they were so good! Carnitas refers to any slow-cooked, seasoned meat and in this case we're using pork. Boneless pork shoulder/Boston Butt to be exact. Do not buy the pork shoulder picnic because it is fattier and has a large bone.

I actually bought my pork at Walmart - it was in a package labeled "boneless pork shoulder for carnitas" and I thought that sounded perfect. I was surprised to discover that once I opened the package I did not have a shoulder roast as I expected, but multiple PIECES of shoulder roasts! At first I was mad but then I looked on the bright side. This was a blessing in disguise. By having the roast in multiple pieces, that left more surface area for browning and seasoning which equals more flavor! So even if you buy a whole roast, I recommend cutting it up into 4-inch pieces for browning.

Dry adobo seasoning can be found in the Mexican section of your grocery store (or you can make your own - recipe here). Chipotle chili powder is made from chipotle peppers, which are smoked jalapenos and very spicy so keep that in mind when flavoring your pork.

adapted from

2.5 lb. pork shoulder blade roast, trimmed of fat
salt & pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
dry adobo seasoning
garlic powder
chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)

corn tortillas
sliced avocados
diced tomatoes
diced onions
chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream
lime wedges

Cut roast into 4-inch chunks; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown pork on all sides. Remove pork to a plate, reduce heat to low, and slowly add water to skillet. Simmer until all browned bits are incorporated and pour into slow cooker. Add bay leaves.

Generously sprinkle and rub adobo, garlic powder, and cumin all over pieces of roast. Sprinkle chipotle chili powder to taste. Place pork in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, remove bay leaves and shred pork.

Optional: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place shredded pork and cooking liquid in shallow baking dish. Roast for 5-10 minutes or until edges are crispy:

Serve in corn tortillas with desired toppings and a squeeze of lime.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This is another recipe from I am really loving that site! These muffins are lowfat and are packed with flavor. The bananas keep them moist and the chocolate chips are wonderful little punches of richness. I've already eaten 5 of them myself over the last two days.

I have noticed that they stick pretty badly to the wrapper the first day. To avoid this problem (I think it comes from the lack of fat), you can lightly spray the liners with Pam before filling.

Gina also drizzles the tops with a powdered sugar glaze for aesthetics. I think it looks nice but it's not really necessary and the muffins soak it up pretty quickly anyway. If you want the directions for the glaze, click on the original recipe link below.


3 1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (packed)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Lightly spray liners with cooking spray, if desired.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, applesauce, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into muffin cups.

Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Let muffins cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Salsa Verde

I discovered another fantastic food blog through a link on a friend's Facebook page. The blog is called Skinny Taste and the recipes are all created or adapted by Gina, who loves to make healthy, flavorful dishes. She even breaks down the nutritional content of each serving and calculates Weight Watcher's points! Her photos are beautiful and I spent over an hour yesterday combing through her archives. When I came across this recipe for enchiladas they looked so good and the title sounded so yummy that I had to make them right away.

I just made a few changes for personal taste (nothing drastic). Mainly I added more chicken since the original recipe's 8 oz was not going to satisfy the stomachs in my house. I left out the jalapenos since the chilies added enough spice for our taste. As always, if you want the original recipe, I've linked to it below.

When purchasing the diced green chilies, please note that you'll need a 4 oz can AND a 7 oz can. I messed up and only bought a 7 oz can but luckily still had a 4 oz can in the back of my pantry.

adapted from

2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 can (15.8 oz) Navy (or Cannellini) beans, undrained
1/3 can water (empty bean can)
1 chicken bouillon (or 1 tsp chicken base)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup minced onion
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (7 oz) chopped green chilies
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional)
salt, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream (light or fat free are fine)

8 medium-sized flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saute pan, heat olive oil on low. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add chilies, beans, water, bouillon, and cumin. Mix well and cover; simmer on low 15 minutes. Remove cover and add chicken and cook until mixture is thickened and liquid boils down. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and stir well; cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth until smooth. Cook until sauce boils and thickens; add green chilies, jalapenos if using, and salt to taste. Cook another minute and then set aside to cool slightly.

Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Fill each tortilla with a little over 1/2 cup of filling, roll, and place in dish.

Pour sauce into a blender and add sour cream; puree until smooth. Pour evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with chopped cilantro.