Guilty Feels Like… I Haven’t Baked Anything New In A While.

I’m feeling horribly guilty about not having posted anything new in (what feels like) forever. I’ve been kind of unmotivated…

well, that’s not true…

I’ve done a lot of baking. But it’s been all repeat stuff and some experimenting.

So here’s a little rundown of what’s been happening in my kitchen!

1. I made my favorite Chocolate Banana Bread into “2 bite muffins”. Then I froze them so I wouldn’t eat every single one. I just took one or 2 out of the freezer and microwaved them for 15 seconds.

2. I made my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. I used Kahlua in them, and substituted the sugars with artificial sweetener blends. Then I scooped them with a large cookie scoop and flash froze them. After they chilled in the freezer, I bagged them in a Ziploc freezer bag. I baked them at the same temperature as the original recipe, but for a minute or 2 longer. These cookies are kind of problematic… the bottoms got pretty dark and crispy while the tops/ middles stayed underdone. I think this is because I used a big cookie scoop, they were frozen when I baked them, and the artificial sweetener. They’re still pretty delish.

3. I also made my favorite Sugar Cookies. I wanted to lighten them up a little bit so I used the artificial sweetener blend and Egg Beaters. Overall the cookies are OK. They taste a little bit too much like artificial sweetener and they got stale pretty quick. If you eat them the same day it should be a big deal… 3 days later, and you’ll be eating stale sugar cookies. 😦 I’ve noticed that when I use artificial sweeteners I end up baking the cookies for a few minutes less then I would when I use regular sugars.

4. I made Royal Icing with meringue powder (instead of egg whites). I had a little trouble getting it to the right thickness… I had to keep adding water (a teaspoon at a time), until eventually I gave up and left it a little too thick. I’m planning on trying again, and then posting a recipe. I liked it because it dried waaaaaay faster than the icing I usually use for my sugar cookies!

5.  I had some leftover heavy cream in the fridge and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So I made THESE scones… except I used Kahlua. And then I made another batch of those scones (with Kahlua) but I used Egg Beaters, artificial sweetener blend, and substituted half of the AP flour with whole wheat flour. Overall… the “healthier” scones tasted ALMOST as good as the regular ones!

6. I started my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge for 2015! But I’m doing it different this year. I’m pretty excited about it, but I haven’t worked out all the kinks, so we’ll see what happens!

Happy Baking!
-Holly

Slow Cooker Mac N Cheese- N2MCC52

I adapted this recipe from  Brown Eyed Baker for the last week of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge 2014! I can’t believe it’s been 2 years of attempting to cook something different at least once a week! It’s been a crazy trip, a lot of it really good, some of it really bad… but overall it’s been fun!

Y’all, did you know I’m a sucker for Mac N Cheese? This recipe was the perfect way to finish off 2014. I changed a few things from the original recipe to reduce the fat/ calories. It worked out pretty well, but I kind of felt like the low fat/cal stuff I used didn’t melt as well as regular cheese. Substituting skim milk for Half N Half thinned out the cheese sauce a little more than I liked. The.mr didn’t notice. The next time I make this dish I’ll probably cook the pasta for a few minutes less… the elbows where just a smidge too soft after I reheated some of it in the microwave the next day.

Overall the.mr and I liked this dish. It’s def going to be happening again in my kitchen! Here’s the recipe for my version of Slow Cooker Mac N Cheese. Enjoy!

Happy Making! Good luck in 2015!
-Holly

PS. Sorry about the lack of pictures! I forgot!

Chicken Parm Meatball Casserole-N2MCC50

I know,I know… this is supposed to be a “New 2 Me Cooking” Challenge not a “How Many Casseroles Can Holly Make in a Year” Challenge.

I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the original version of this recipe on Buns In My Oven.

Sorrynotsorry.

I’m totally in love with the way this recipe turned out. I mean, you can’t really beat tiny Chicken Parm meatballs surrounded by saucy shells topped off with some melty mozzarella!

Overall the.mr and I gave this dish 2 thumbs up. It tastes even better than regular Chicken Parm and reheated nicely on Leftovers Night.

Click here to check out my version of Chicken Parmesan Casserole. Trust me, you want this in your belly. Don’t forget about all the other New 2 Me Cooking Challenge recipes from 2014 and 2013!

Happy Making!
-Holly

Cheesy Veggie Bake- N2MCC48

cheesy veggies

I adapted this Veggie Bake from A Southern Fairytale for week 48 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge.

Overall there isn’t much to say. It tastes like baked veggies, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is… it was a little wet. After it finished baking there was a lot of moisture in the bottom of the baking dish. It made the veggies mushy when I tried to reheat it. 

I did a little research online, and came to 2 conclusions.
1) The zucchini/ squash has a high moisture content, so next time I make this I’m going to reduce the zucchini/ squash and add green beans or another veggie.
2) low fat sour cream doesn’t work well in recipes like this… something about the whey separating from the cream worse than with regular sour cream. I’m still a little unsure on this, but I’ll use regular next time to test this theory.

The way I made my version of Cheesy Veggie Bake got thumbs halfway up from the.mr and I. it wasn’t awesome, but with a couple of changes I think it will be.

Happy Making!
-Holly

Don’t forget to check out the other recipes from 2014, or 2013!

Pretzel Parker House Rolls- N2MCC47

I made these rolls for week 47 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge. I usually adapt these recipes to suit my needs, then share my version. I didn’t do that. This time, I followed the directions to the T. I didn’t change a thing besides my 2nd rise. So… there’s no posted recipe. if you want to make these (and you REALLY do) check out the recipe from Smitten Kitchen HERE.

Instead of sharing my recipe I’m just going to share some pictures of the process!

parker house1

This is before the first rise.

parker house2

This is after the first rise. I preheated the oven to 200 degrees F, then turned it off and put the bowl (covered with a damp dish towel) inside for 1 hour.

parker house3parker house5

Cutting the dough into wedges and then rolling them up.

parker house6

This is after the 2nd rise. I let them rise the same way as the first time. I didn’t like the way the dough looked, so I punched  it down, and reshaped the rolls.

parker house7 parker house8

After I reshaped the rolls, and brushed them with the water/ baking soda followed by the egg

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This is after I baked them for 20 minutes!

The.mr and I ate all 16 rolls in 2 days! TWO DAAAYS! They’re that good. I can’t wait to make them again.

Honestly… I might go do that right now. 😉

Happy Making!
-Holly

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock- N2MCC45

I adapted this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock recipe from Baked By Rachel for week 45 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge!

I’ve been dying to try to make my own chicken stock for a while. All the recipes I saw online need a big stock pot and have to sit on the stove top for hoooours! I don’t own a stock pot, and I sure as heck don’t want to babysit a pot on my (gas) stove for hours…

Luckily for me I stumbled on this recipe from Baked By Rachel, and it couldn’t be easier! All I did was throw everything in the slow cooker, turn it on, and let it cook. I left mine on all day.  I started it after my morning run & breakfast, and strained it after dinner. It ended up cooking for about 10 hours. I got about 7 ¾ cups of stock when all was said and done. Compared to the 6 hours and 8 ½ cups from the original recipe, my stock is just more concentrated. I used this stock to make my favorite Quick Chicken Noodle Soup and I ended up adding a little bit of water to the liquid stock. Just add a little at a time if the stock is too concentrated!

This Slow Cooker Chicken Stock recipe  is a great way to decrease the waste when you roast a chicken! I actually cheated and used a precooked whole chicken from the grocery store. Don’t judge me, but I’ve never roasted a whole chicken, but now I have no excuse not to try! I guess I’ll be googleing “how to roast a chicken” in the near future, especially now that I know how to use the bones & leftovers for this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!

Happy Making!
-Holly

Wanna make my version of this Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!? Feeling adventurous? Look at the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipe for 2013 or 2014!

Maple Bacon Corn (w/ Peppers & Onion)- N2MCC44

I adapted this recipe from Picky Palate for week 44 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge. I’m so glad I did. So is the.mr. He told me this is his favorite thing I’ve ever made. Ever? I was a little disappointed that such a simple and quick dish is his all-time favorite… but I guess a win is a win. Amiright?

There isn’t much to say about this recipe… besides how delish and easy it is. It’s pretty much the most perfect side dish ever. Vegetables, maple syrup, and bacon?! Totally a winning combination.

Did you notice pictures are different? I had to make this 2x because I didn’t take enough pictures the first time. It was dark and cloudy and I have a light out in the kitchen so the pix from the first time REALLY suck. The pix for the 2nd try are a little better… but, I’m not a photographer. 😉

This would make an awesome side dish for Thanksgiving! You could pre-cook the bacon and chop the pepper & onion, add the syrup, and then toss it all in the fridge until you’re ready to heat it up!

Are you bored of eating plain corn? Make my version of Maple Bacon Corn! You’ll never go back.

Happy Making!
-Holly

 

PS. Check out my other New 2 Me Cooking Recipes from 2013 or 2014.

Ham & Broccoli Baked Pasta- N2MCC43

I adapted this recipe from Bru Crew Life for week 43 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge.

Basically, I used less ham and more broccoli than in the original recipe. Then I tried to save some calories by using reduced fat cheeses & Ritz.

Next time I make this Ham & Broccoli Baked Pasta, I think I’m going to use fresh broccoli. Not that it really makes a huge difference… I had to squeeze some of the water out of the broccoli after I rinsed it in hot water, and using fresh will save me the 30 seconds it took to do that.

When I added the broccoli to the ham in the skillet I left in cooking on low heat so everything would stay warm until I had the cheese mixture done. Then, when the cheese was done melting I just mixed everything together in the large sauce pan before I poured it into the casserole dish.   I accidentally covered it in the crackers before I sprinkled the remaining cheese… so that’s why it’s on top of my crumbs in the pictures. Oops.

Overall this get thumbs up from the.mr and I. It makes A LOT of food, so the next time I’ll probably freeze half of it. This time… we just ate the leftovers later in the week. The shells got a little soft in the microwave, but I expected that to happen. Either way, I’m going to be making this again… and I can’t wait!

Check out my version of Ham & Broccoli Baked Pasta HERE! If that doesn’t get you excited, look through the other New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipes for 2013 or 2014.

Happy Making!
-Holly

(Updated) Chuck Wagon Stew- N2MCC42

The first time I made this stew was waaaaaaay back in the day. It was the very first thing I ever put in a slow cooker in my adult life. I was 22. That was… before I owned a slow cooker and too many years ago. It’s adapted from All Recipes.

I decided it was time to update the original recipe for my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge (even though it’s not new) because I wanted something quick/ easy, I was feeling lazy, and because I can. 😉

I added the celery and garlic. Then I switched out the regular sausage for chicken sausage and regular carrots for baby carrots. Other than that, the only thing I did was add the weights to the recipe.

I used those big chunks of stew meat in this recipe, and then trimmed some of the fat off of it. I could probably use a leaner (read: more expensive) cut next time, but… it spends so long in the slow cooker it practically falls apart and I think the fattiness adds a little bit of extra flavor.

I used a package of Alfresco (brand) Spicy Chicken Sausage. This brand seems to be the “go to” chicken sausage for the.mr & I. It’s decently priced and we haven’t used a flavor we didn’t like.

The original recipe called for 5 regular carrots, but I switched them out for 35 baby carrots. Why 35? I actually weighed 9 oz (which is equal to 3 servings) and then counted them. Why? Because I was counting calories. That’s also why there are weight measurements in the recipe.

This (Updated) Chuck Wagon Stew makes a TON of food so it’s great for families. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t reheat very well. The carrots & potatoes get a little too mushy for my taste. I could probably fix this by cooking for less time in the slow cooker… maybe 7 hours instead of 8? Speaking of… it only takes 8 hours in my slow cooker to get this done and ready to eat. I think any more time would turn this into mush!

Overall this recipe is (still) a win. I really like how easy it is. It’s warm and filling, perfect for the chilly days that are coming.

Happy Making!
-Holly

CLICK for the (Updated) Chuck Wagon Stew recipe or look at the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipe for 2013 or 2014!

Chicken Sausage & Sweet Potato Chili-N2MCC41

It seems I’m on a bit of a sweet potato kick the past few weeks. Right? I adapted this recipe for week 41 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge from  Chocolate Covered Katie. She writes one of my favorite healthy food blogs. You need to go over there and browse her recipes & photos (as soon as you’re finished here).

If you’re one of those people who preps things quickly (unlike me) this recipe comes together super fast. It felt like it took me forever to get everything ready to throw in the pot. Once I did… I pretty much left it alone. Just bring to a boil, cover, and cook until the sweet potatoes are soft. Easy-peasy. I didn’t set a timer for how long it took to cook… as usual, I forgot. But I guess it will depend on how big your sweet potato chunks are.

The next time I make this I’m going to brown the sausage first and add the zucchini after the pot boils. The zucchini got SUPER soft (to the point it was almost mush), and I’m not a fan of squishy squash.

I’m also not sure this really qualifies as “chili”. To me, it’s more of a soup or stew…

Other than those two things, this Chicken Sausage & Sweet Potato Chili was perfect! It got thumbs up from the.mr and I. I can’t wait to make it again this winter!

Happy Making!
-Holly

See the Chicken Sausage & Sweet Potato Chili recipe HERE!

Or look at my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge Recipes for 2013 or 2014!