Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cucumbers in Greek Yogurt

I go back and forth from healthy to Better than Anything Brownies or Cake. I just need to find that happy middle ground, one where I can enjoy the delicious {bad things} and also enjoy the healthy things, and maybe the healthy things a little more often. Today I am sharing a quick and easy healthy snack, Cucumbers in Greek Yogurt. We love cucumbers around here and what better way then to pair them with a healthy greek yogurt to make them even more scrumptious.

Cucumber in Greek Yogurt
created by me: Tina Hudgens

2 cucumbers (peeled and diced)
1 small container plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp sugar (or less to taste)
1 tsp fresh pepper

Peel and dice the cucumber into small pieces. Mix together yogurt, sugar and pepper. Mix all together and enjoy for a delicious and healthy afternoon snack.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fresh Dish {Broiled Cut with Couscous and Zucchini}

Need a quick and easy meal, with very minimal work on your part, no thinking just throw it all together and you've got it DONE. Dinner has never been so EASY! I was contacted by Fresh Dish, to try out their quick and easy meals and I can tell you that it was just that QUICK and EASY!

My box arrived in the mail in an insulated container with big blocks of frozen ice and was packaged very nicely, it included EVERYTHING. And when I say everything, they even included the olive oil, salt and pepper (how cool is that?!?!). I was home when the package arrived and immediately put it in the refrigerator, but it was very very cold when I got it, so no concerns there.

Fresh Dish is a gourmet meal kit service that delivers
ready-to-cook meals to families that just don't have time to deal with shopping and prep time it takes to get a home cooked dinner on the table during the week. - taken from Fresh Dish

The meat was Flat Iron Steak (my favorite), and the Zucchini (another favorite of mine), was already diced and ready to throw in the pan. The food was fresh, the directions were easy to follow and dinner came together in a snap. For those of you who hate to grocery shop, are too busy plan out meals this is easily a great solution.

For all my California, Nevada and Arizona readers, I've got a CODE for you to buy one family sized meal kit and get ONE FREE!
Just use this code MCCXFRESH when you order at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs {Copy Cat Recipe}

This is my all time FAVORITE store-bought Easter candy and now that I can make it at home, that's even better. These are so delicious, and last year when I made them I took them to the hospital nurses of my niece and they too fell in love. I know these will be an annual treat in my kids Easter baskets from now on... Fresh and NOT store-bought.

The little extra crunch in the chunky peanut butter is heaven and we just love love any peanut butter candy. (I need to work on my egg-shaping skills, but other then looks these taste A-MAZ-ING)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs
adapted by me, recipe found at The Whimiscal Princess

4 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups Creamy Peanut butter (we use chunky, and I love it)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 to 3 tbsp milk
3 cups chocolate melting chips (we make two batches, one milk and one white chocolate)

Mix together the powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until it becomes a nice workable dough, it will be crumbly (but when you squeeze the batter together it will form up). It will be just like play dough, it will be really easy to work with. Form the dough into egg shapes, and place in the refrigerator for about an hour or more.

Place the melting chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave 40 seconds at a time stirring in between until completely melted.

Dip each egg in the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper until set. You can use a toothpick, a fork or a skewer, whatever you are comfortable with or whatever works best to get the excess of the chocolate off after dipping. With the left over chocolate use a fork and go back and forth across to make the fancy swirls on top of the eggs. We do chocolate on white and white on chocolate. 

Let them set up on the wax paper in the refrigerator (freezer tends to crack them, so to avoid that use refrigerator or room temperature to let them set up. Enjoy your homemade Easter treat.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peanut Butter-Banana Pancakes {gluten-free}

Here is an easy recipe for GLUTEN FREE peanut butter-banana pancakes, with NO flour at all.

Banana Pancakes {gluten-free}
recipe found at Gluten Free Fix

2 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter
dash of cinnamon

Whisk together all ingredients. Cook on a greased griddle or pan on low-medium heat, flip pancake as needed. Serve with fresh banana slices, walnuts and warm honey syrup.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Breakfast Fried Rice {gluten free}

This was so fun and such a different breakfast to make on a lazy morning. The girls had friends over and this was a perfect breakfast for some lovely teenagers/young adults that I often wake up to on a Saturday morning.

Breakfast Fried Rice
recipe found at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

2 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
4 tbsp soy sauce (gluten free if you need too)
1/2 lb sausage (we love Jimmy Dean, cooked first)
2 cups cooked rice (cold leftover rice works best)
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Mix together 2 tbsp of soy sauce with the eggs and beat well, I add a dash of milk too. Heat tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on stove top. Add egg to pan and cook, but leave a little running do not over cook. Remove egg from pan and set aside.

Return pan to stove and add a little more oil. (you can a use a little grease from the sausage if you wish). Add cooked rice and cook for 4-5 minutes or until rice is starting to lightly brown (rice must be pre cooked you can not use uncooked rice). then add the egg back to the pan along with the meat, remaining soy sauce and the rice vinegar. Let cook for 2-3 minutes more, add some soy sauce if you desire and serve. A great easy breakfast.

Servings can be stored and frozen to be eaten later.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Better Than {Anything} Brownies - {Better Than Crack Brownies}

First off, I just wanna say I didn't name the brownies, I just made them. That's why we are calling them Better Than Anything Brownies (more family friendly).

I wanted to create and awesome dessert for my niece who was celebrating her birthday near by (she lives in Oregon, me in California), so this was a treat for me to met her and her sister at the hotel for her birthday celebration. I only had a few hours to throw something together, and I was working, but that didn't stop me. I set out to find something with two of her favorite things chocolate and peanuts (and peanut anything). She has a son who is highly highly allergic to peanuts, so we she leaves town, YAHOOO for anything with peanuts.

I scoured my Pinterest boards and found many Better Than Crack Brownie recipes and well, I just devised this recipe myself from a combination of several recipes. I ran home on my lunch hour, threw the brownies together, while baking (jumped in the shower got ready), finished them up so they could set in the refrigerator for 2 hours, ran back to work for a couple of hours and then back home to pick up my twins, the brownies and still meet them at the hotel by 4pm. Yep, it can be done!

A perfect dessert for the birthday girl. And yes she is my NIECE.. we are only about 5 years apart. That's what happens when you marry someone 10 years older then you, and he is the second to the youngest baby in the family and has brothers and sisters older then my parents. AH, FAMILY! I LOVE IT!

Better Than Anything Brownies (Better Than Crack Brownies}
original recipe author unknown

1 pkg chocolate chunk brownie mix (but make in a 9x13 pan instead of traditional 8x8)
1/2 cup peanuts (salted or unsalted but add a little sea salt)
1 cup chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (chopped)
2 cups miniature marshmallows or Marshmallow BITS work better
1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1-1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky)
2 to 3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Mix brownies according to directions (it's better if you have brownies with chocolate chunks or add a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, why not). Bake for 20-25 minutes (a little less time then the box says because it's thinner) in a 9x13 pan (instead of the 8x8), brownies will be alot thinner, but that's what you want. Remove from oven and top with peanuts, chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and marshmallows, return to oven and bake for about 4-6 more minutes.

In a medium (microwave save) bowl, combine chocolate chips and the peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute or until creamy. Add the Rice Krispies cereal and stir until completely coated. Pour the cereal mixture over the brownies and spread evenly. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before cutting into squares. (I like to lined the pan before baking with parchment paper, this allows for easy cutting. Just pull the whole batch out of the pan and use a super sharp knife to cut even squares.) ENJOY!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica {copycat recipe}

It's freezer cooking time, I am in the cooking mood and my kitchen is on fire. I've made 5 dinners in a row this week and doubled every recipe in order to get 5 extra freezer meals for my cousin. I was so excited to share these extra meals with my aunt who is visiting from Washington, my cousin, her husband and their brand new baby girl Nikki. My cousin just had her first baby 3 weeks ago and I wanted to share some of my freezer meals with them to help make dinner time a little easier.

Today, I made this amazingly delicious pasta recipe. I might even go as far as to say "this is the BEST pasta dish I've ever made". This recipe is wonderful, it's out of this world delicious and it will for sure be repeated in my house (probably sooner then later) and you can bet it will make it into my Volume 3 Family Cookbook. It's a copycat recipe of the Macaroni Grill chain restaurant Penne Rustica recipe, I don't eat at Macaroni Grill, I think I've only been there once or twice in my life, so I have no idea how this recipe compares to the real recipe, but I can tell you this recipe here is amazing.

Look at this darling little girl. I am a baby lover at heart and since my babies are 19 years old and 13 years old, there are no babies in my life and therefore I get to go and steal all of my family members new babies.

This recipe makes ALOT and I mean ALOT of pasta dishes. It's a perfect freezer meal, a perfect meal to share with a new mom or a friend or family member who may need a little help with the dinner time blues. You can always half the recipe if you wish, but I will be sharing the FULL recipe here, it makes about (3) 9x13 pans. Since my family is only a family of 3 I made our dishes in very small Purex baking dishes and I was able to make (2) 9x13 pans that I shared with my cousin and (5) smaller baking dishes that I keep for my family, and boy am I so glad I have 4 more of these left in my freezer.

I did cheat a little and use pasta we had on hand, I made up one box of Penne pasta and two boxes of Shell pasta. I also made a few other changes to this recipe by using my standard Crock-Pot Chicken recipe and shredding it (only because my hubby wasn't home to BBQ the chicken and because it's cold outside and not BBQ season), I think I will try it this way once we dust off the BBQ. I also used Turkey Bacon instead of regular bacon (and only because Turkey Bacon was on sale and it was cheap, like half the price of regular bacon) and since I know it's healthier, why not.

I've already had the opportunity to make up one of my small dishes. It worked out wonderful for this small one/two person serving dish to be cooked up in my toaster oven. A-MAZ-ING!

Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica {copycat recipe}
adapted by me, Tina, originally found over at Your Homebased Mom

FREEZER MEAL: This is a freezer meal and will make at least (3) 9x13 pans of pasta. If you wish to make just one dish or a smaller portion, you will need to cut the recipe in thirds or half.

1 whole chicken using Crock-Pot Chicken recipe; shredded and then add 1 to 2 tsp garlic salt
or 12 oz grilled chicken breast (marinate in olive oil and garlic salt overnight, then grill on barbecue for best flavor)

2 full packages of turkey bacon
48 oz. (3 boxes) penne pasta (or your favorite pasta); cook al dente about 6-8 minutes
2 large red bell peppers; diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese; use fresh
½ to 1 tsp paprika
1 to 2 cups Monterrey Jack Cheese; grated for garnish on top

2 tsp butter
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup liquid (I used half 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup apple juice with 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar or you can use 1 cup marsala wine)
1 tsp dijon or dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped rosemary; use fresh for best flavor
¼ tsp (or more) cayenne pepper
8 cups heavy cream (yes 8 cups is alot, and you will need 4 small pint containers)

Chop and prepare everything first. Shred chicken, dice up red peppers, and start cooking your bacon. Chopped up the turkey bacon first before you cook it, saves time later and it's so much easier to cook. Then get your water boiling for the 3 packages of noodles, use a really large pan if you are cooking all 3 packages at once.

Sauté garlic in butter in large pan. Add liquid (chicken broth mixture), mustard, salt, rosemary, cayenne pepper, and heavy cream. Cook to a soft boil.

Combine sauce, cooked pasta, shredded chicken, cooked bacon, bell peppers, Parmesan cheese, and paprika and mix thoroughly. Spread into pans; top with Monterrey Cheese and sprinkle of paprika.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Remove foil during the last 15 minutes, cheese with brown on top and it will begin to bubble.

FREEZER MEAL: Thaw in refrigerator the day of cooking and then follow above directions.
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