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Oct. 1st, 2015

Japanese Broth

Sometimes, when I want to make a quick lunch soup, I grab a few frozen potstickers (also called shumai or gyoza), slice up a little savoy cabbage, and boil it for 5-6 minutes in this yummy Japanese-style broth. So good! I can't remember where I got the recipe for this broth originally, but it is similar to some Kitsune Udon we made before. Very savory, with a hint of sweetness.

Japanese Broth


Japanese Broth (one serving)

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. dashi bouillon granules
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (to taste)
1 Tbsp. sake
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. mirin
1/8 tsp. salt

If you've cooked Japanese recipes before there is a good chance you have the dashi, sake, and mirin on hand. Toss in some chopped veggies, meat, noodles, or rice, and you've got a tasty soup in minutes!

Sep. 17th, 2015

Mini Biscuit Pizzas

When I saw these Mini Biscuit Pizzas, I thought they just might be a big hit with the kids. The dough is a little tricky to spread out thin enough, so I do that part and they have a great time loading on the sauce & toppings (with a little guidance!). We've made them several times lately, and one morning I even whipped one up to stick in Orson's lunchbox (then Pandora and I made some of our own at lunch time).

Mini Pizzas, kids working

Just take one Grands Homestyle Biscuit and spread it out a little in your hands. Lay it on a baking sheet and press (or roll) it out more until it is about 6 inches wide. You can fit four per pan.

Mini Pizzas, kids

With my narrowest pan I had to make long ovals rather than circles for them to fit.

Mini Pizzas, long

Spoon on some of your favorite sauce and spread it out with the back of the spoon. The kids like to use tomato/spaghetti sauce, but I always reach for BBQ sauce or ranch dressing for mine! (With chicken, bacon, onion, and sometimes mushrooms. So good! I've converted many people to Chicken Bacon BBQ pizza.) Sometime soon I really want to try for something Asian with a creamy peanut sauce. Yum!

Mini Pizzas, BBQ & Ranch

Sprinkle on a little shredded cheese, most any kind is fine, and then round up your favorite pizza toppings. Pepperoni, chicken, bacon, sausage, peppers, pineapple, onions... whatever you like! Everyone can customize their own, so picky eaters will be happy. And it's a great chance to experiment with new flavors!

Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown, and serve.

The kids were so proud!

Mini Pizzas, Orson

Mini Pizzas, Panda

If you are in a rush, I recently made a similar pizza on a tortilla for a quick kid lunch. (Just broil for a few minutes until the cheese is melty.) It wasn't quite as good, and seemed a little greasier, but I've always got tortillas on hand!

Sep. 14th, 2015

Spinach Roach?

Is that a roach crawling across my spinach?

Spinach roach?

A closer look...

Spinach roach?

It's just a really badly designed logo (upside down)!

Spinach Logo
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Sep. 8th, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring

A few weeks ago I shared a low calorie Chicken Pot Pie Stew and I'm already back with another pot pie recipe! This one is not diet fare, but is a super simple & pretty Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring recipe from the Pillsbury site.

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring

Have you ever made a crescent ring before? They are easier than they seem and end up looking so gorgeous! Just lay out the pieces in a circle (overlapping in the center a bit), pile on your filling, fold the ends in, and bake.

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring

I sprinkled on a little dried parsley for color, but most any herb would work. And make sure to drag everyone in the kitchen to ooh and ahh over the pretty ring before you start cutting it up.

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Ring

The finished ring was delicious! In the past I've always avoided using the frozen veggie mix in my pot pies, cutting and measuring out my own so I could choose the mix. And I've got to say... I think this was as good if not better than my veggie mix! Just make sure to grab the bag with no lima beans, haha. This recipe used Cream of Chicken soup, but I'll probably switch to Cream of Potato next time.

I also want to see if I can cut down on the bread a bit. I make a killer breakfast crescent ring with scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese that I need to share on here soon. It divides the dough into triangles instead of the rectangles and forms the ring with only 1 tube of crescent rolls instead of 2. Perhaps this recipe has too much filling to cram into 1 tube of dough, but it's worth a try!

Even without these changes this one is a winner, so give it a try! You can find the full recipe here.

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Aug. 25th, 2015

Cheesy Buttermilk Bread

Last week I had an unopened pint of buttermilk in the fridge that was about to expire. I started searching on Pinterest for ways to use it up quick, but most of the recipes I came across only used a tablespoon or two. Finally I found this delicious looking bread that uses over a cup of buttermilk, and it was also a perfect excuse to use up the big block of cheese we had in the fridge too.

I changed up quite a few things from the original recipe, like omitting the olives and sun dried tomatoes, and also switching some measurements from grams to cups. The dough mixes up super quickly with just a few stirs (no mixer needed!) and needs no rising time, so it is super easy to make! And super cheesy.... mmmmmm.


Cheesy Buttermilk Bread


Cheesy Buttermilk Bread

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. dried parsley (or 2 Tbsp. fresh)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground thyme (or 1/2 Tbsp. fresh)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onion

2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Egg wash (optional) - 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp. water
Coarse salt and/or extra parsley for garnish


1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a large loaf pan and either line it with buttered parchment paper or dust with flour. Set aside.

2) Fluff your flour with a fork before measuring and then use a spoon to lightly scoop it into your measuring cups. (This keeps it aerated & light, similar to sifting.) In a medium bowl use a fork or whisk to stir together the dry ingredients ~ flour, dried parsley, baking powder, baking soda, thyme, salt, & pepper.

3) Stir in the cheddar, Parmesan, and green onion.

4) In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or whisk. Stir in the buttermilk and oil until well mixed. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together to form a thick, sticky batter.

5) Scrape the batter into your loaf pan and spread it out evenly. For a nice brown color on top, brush the top of the batter with the egg wash. Sprinkle on some coarse salt and extra parsley (or fresh thyme) for color.

6) Bake for 45 minutes, until a small skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes and then lift out with the parchment paper.

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Aug. 18th, 2015

5:2 Chicken Pot Pie Stew (204 calories)

I found this super low calorie recipe for Veggie Pot Pie Stew and was easily able to add some chicken and even more veggies and still keep it under 200 calories. This one is tasty, hearty, comfort food!

5:2 Chicken Pot Pie Stew (204 calories)


Chicken Pot Pie Stew

1 cup onion (60)
2 cups celery, sliced (about 2 stalks, 40)
2 cups potato, 1/2" cubes (200)
2 cups carrots, sliced (104)
2 cup fresh green beans, trimmed & cut small (80)
4 oz. cooked, chopped chicken (136)

1.5 cups water (0)
1.5 tsp. chicken bouillon (10)
1 tsp. dried thyme (4)
1/2 tsp. salt (0)
1/2 tsp. black pepper (1)

2 Tbsp. cornstarch (20)
2 cups skim milk (160)


1) Add all ingredients except for the cornstarch and milk to a large pot (4 qt.) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high, cover, & cook for 30 minutes. (Stir the bottom every 10 minutes to keep from burning.)

2) In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. of the milk and stir together with a fork until smooth. And the cornstarch and the rest of the milk to the pot and cook for 5 minutes?, until thickened.

Calories- 204 for 1/4 (about 2 cups)

5:2 Chicken Pot Pie Stew (204 calories)

Aug. 10th, 2015

Japanese Miso Ramen

Two years ago I posted about a Miso Ramen recipe we tried from the book Takashi's Noodles. I didn't really like the amounts used, or the way things were put together, but the recipe was a great starter point for some tweaks along the way.

I like what I said about ramen in that post, so I'll just quote it here! "Now if your only experience with ramen is with those dirt cheap instant noodle packs, let me tell you.. there's a whole other world out there! That's like going through life having only eaten pizza in the elementary school cafeteria, not knowing it also comes in a million varieties, & the difference good ingredients can make. Ramen shops in Japan usually make their own noodles, might spend 20 hours making the broth, can mix up lots of variations, and guard their secret recipes."

Japanese Miso Ramen (under 500 calories)

(For those of you counting calories, I've added the amount for each ingredient so you can easily make tweaks without having to re-calculate everything. Anything marked with an asterisk* may vary a lot based on what you buy, so make sure to compare your label.)


Japanese Miso Ramen

Broth ~
3 Tbsp. minced onion (11)
2 tsp. sesame oil (87)
2 tsp. minced garlic (0)
1 tsp. grated ginger (1)

¼ lb. mild pork sausage (Tennessee Pride, 400*)
3 Tbsp. cup awase miso (90*)
4 cups water (0)

2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce (60*)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (20)
1 ½ Tbsp. sesame seeds (78)
1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon (3 cubes, 15)
1 tsp. tobanjan (optional, 5)

1) Combine the onion, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a medium saucepan (4 quart) over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, until the ingredients are soft and fragrant.

2) Mix in the sausage and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes, breaking the browned meat apart into small pieces.

3) Add the miso and stir, letting the heat melt it, until blended smoothly. Stir in the water and raise the heat to high.

4) Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame seeds, bouillon, and tobanjan. Bring to a boil and skim any scum off the surface. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.



Ramen ~
4 (3 oz.) packs of dried ramen noodles (discard flavoring packets, 1520*)
5-6 Ajitsuke tamago, sliced in half (optional, but awesome, 450-540)
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, warmed (113)
2 green onions, white & green parts, sliced (10)

1) Cook the ramen noodles, following package instructions, or microwave each pack in water for 4 minutes. Drain well and divide among 5-6 bowls. (You can also warm the corn in a little water in the microwave.)

2) To garnish like the picture ~ Place the egg halves on one side of the bowl. Next to that, add the corn on one side and green onions on the other. In the remaining space, pour the broth into the bowl and the sausage will collect on top of the noodles. Serves 5-6.

Calories - 492 for 1/6th (with 1 tamago), or 572 for 1/5

Aug. 6th, 2015

Chinese Roast Chicken with Coriander Rice

This recipe is a longtime favorite in our family, another great find from Soy and Pepper. The drumsticks marinate in a tasty Chinese seasoning overnight, then they just need to be popped in the oven about an hour before dinner. I even marinate them in the baking pan, so it's a super easy dinner (as long as I remember to mix up the marinade the night before! That's the toughest part). The leftover sauce gets mixed into rice, and we usually serve some roasted green beans on the side.

The rice also gets mixed with some coriander leaves, otherwise known as cilantro, so I suppose it should be called "Cilantro Rice". I am not a cilantro fan, though we do enjoy the dried flakes in a few recipes (like this one), so I'm going to stick with the original recipe name and pretend like they are two different things. If you are a cilantro lover, you might want to load it with the fresh stuff instead.

Chinese Roast Chicken and Coriander Rice

(For those of you counting calories, I've added the amount for each ingredient so you can easily make tweaks without having to re-calculate everything.)


Chinese Roast Chicken with Coriander Rice

1/3 cup soy sauce (53)
1/4 cup sake (80)
3 Tbsp. honey (204)
2 tsp. minced garlic (4 cloves, 0)
2 tsp. sesame oil (87)
2 tsp. grated ginger (2)
1 tsp. five spice powder (0)
10-12 chicken legs/drumsticks, skin removed (2220 for 12)

1.5 cups uncooked rice (900)
3 cups water (0)
1 Tbsp. dried coriander/cilantro flakes (or 3 Tbsp. fresh, 5)


1) Combine all the marinade ingredients with the chicken legs and marinate overnight, or at least 2 hours. (If you have room in the fridge you can go ahead and marinate them in the pan covered with wrap.)

2) Preheat oven to 350 F. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the chicken legs and marinade in a roasting pan with a tall edge and cook for 30 minutes.

3) Turn the chicken legs over and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

4) While the chicken is cooking, mix the rice and water in a medium pan. Bring to a boil, give the rice a stir, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and dump in the rice and coriander flakes, stirring to mix well. Serves 5-6.

Calories - 592 (for 2 drumsticks and 1/6 rice)


Tip: If you decide to leave the skin on instead, place the drumsticks under the broiler for a few minutes to brown and crisp the skin afterward.

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Aug. 3rd, 2015

Chicken BBQ Bacon Dip

My teacher husband starts back at school today, so we crammed in as much as we could last week. Painting, priming, touchups, staining furniture, cleaning, school supply shopping... and a trip to the lake in there somewhere. I've still got some work to finish on the furniture, but hopefully in a week or two the master bedroom makeover will be ready for a big reveal.

Chicken BBQ Bacon Dip

Saturday we got the chance to relax with some friends, good food, and fun games. I made a cheesy, chicken, BBQ dip that I've been working on a while, and I think it's finally right (adapted from here). The dip tastes incredible, but the first time I made it, we tried scooping it only to have our chips break every time. And we are talking thick Kettle chips! We figured it was the layer of cheese on top... perhaps it had hardened too much? I rearranged the layers & tried again and it was still un-scoopable! Unless you spooned some on your plate, then it was fine? We wondered if it was the layer of chicken towards the top that time, and were determined to try again.

So this time around I ditched the layers and mixed everything together, topped it with the sauce and garnishes, and I think it worked much better. You're probably still going to want to spoon some on your plate for dipping, but it was able to pass the chip test as-is. Either way, this recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together and is a big time winner. Our friend said he wished he could dive into a vat of the stuff!

Chicken BBQ Bacon Dip


Chicken BBQ Bacon Dip

8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups diced/shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (+ more for garnish)

½ cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp. real bacon bits (or 2 slices, cooked & crumbled)
1 green onion, thinly sliced


1) Preheat your oven to 375 F.

2) In a microwave save bowl, heat the cream cheese for 1 minute (or longer) until it stirs easily. Stir in the mayo, garlic, and salt until well combined, then mix in the chicken and shredded cheese. Spread into a 1 quart casserole dish (I used two smaller dishes, so the pictures show a half batch).

3) Top the cheese mixture with the BBQ sauce, then garnish with about 2 Tbsp. of shredded cheese and then the bacon bits. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Top with sprinkle of green onion slices and serve with original Kettle Chips.

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Jul. 21st, 2015

Salad Dressing Experiments

Sometimes I go a little crazy and make tons of mini-batches of recipes I want to try. This time it was a set of lightened salad dressings with the buttermilk + mayo base. Should I try the "Creamy Sesame" or the "Creamy Asian Peanut" or the "Creamy Peanut Sesame"? Make them all!

Salad Dressing Experiments

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