Revived and Revamped

Being a teacher, summer is my down time. It’s the time of year when I actually have time to sit down and watch a TV show (like The CHEW) or read a book (‘Matched’ was amazing, a lot like Hunger Games). Now that summer is in full swing, I have plenty of time to revive and revamp my blog. I truly love cooking and I love even more sharing the wonderful recipes with you. I have several recipes up my sleeve that I am excited to share with you over the next few weeks. The plan is to post a delicious recipe about 3-4 times a week and then once in a while share tips and menus for planning a weekly dinner menu. I hope you continue to follow and enjoy the upcoming recipes! So excited to be back and ready to go! Make the first bite count!


Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Oven baked sweet potato fries with salt, pepper and a touch of brown sugar.


Sweet potatoes have become my new favorite potato. They are delicious and extremely good for you too, having high amounts of Vitamins A and C. And with my “no cheese” kick for lent, these babies are perfect. A little butter and brown sugar and you have a perfect side dish. However, that’s not the only way to cook these up, oven baked fries are great too. They bake up crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and with a sweet and savory outer coating of brown sugar and salt. Enjoy these “fries” with hamburgers and hotdogs or even with your oven roasted chicken. They are tasty and elegant and can be prepared with almost any main dish. Enjoy these great tasting fries and, Make the first bite count!

Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled
Cooking spray
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Cut each potato in half. Then cut each half into thirds to make potato spears.

3. Spray a baking sheet (aluminum-lined for easy clean up) with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar and toss to combine. Make sure to spread out spears in a single layer for each browning and cooking.

4. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and flip over to brown other side. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Chicken and Dumplings

One pot creamy chicken soup with rosemary flavored dumplings


It’s the middle of March and you would think the weather would start to break and feel like spring. Well, not in the Mid-Atlantic. We just had another 8 inches of snow dumped on us with a high of 30 degrees. So, I know this feels like a winter-time comfort food, but it still feels like winter here. This dish is prepared all in one pot and comes together within an hour. On a cold, snowy day like the one we just had, this was the perfect dinner to prepare. It was adapted from the book “Cook This, Not That” and is even a healthy version with only 380 calories per serving. If you are looking for an easy meal to put together on a cold day, try this and you won’t be disappointed. Make the first bite count!


Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons plus 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn

1. Heat the butter in a large pot (I used my dutch oven) over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the carrots, onion powder, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the 3 tablespoons flour and the thyme, stirring so that the carrots are evenly coated. Slowly add the stock, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring to a simmer.

2. Season both sides the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add to the pot, making sure to submerge in the stock. Cook chicken for about 8 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove chicken from pot, place on a plate and cover with foil.

3. While the chicken is cooking, combine the remaining 2/3 cup flour with the baking powder, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt and lots of black pepper. Slowly add the light cream, starting with a 1/4 cup. Gently stir until the dough just comes together. Add more cream as necessary. Once the chicken has been removed, create 8 dumplings, about a heaping tablespoon each, and drop them directly into the soup. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until the dumplings have firmed up.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, shred the chicken. After the dumplings have fully cooked, add the chicken, peas and corn to the pot. Gently stir so as not to break up the dumplings. Heat through for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Adapted from “Cook This, Not That” by David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding

What’s for Dinner? Week of March 17, 2014


Happy St. Patty’s Day!!!  I’m not the slightest bit Irish (3/4 Italian, 1/8 Spanish, 1/8 German) but it’s always fun to celebrate.  I have a new menu for the week and because I am not Irish I sort of forget to incorporate an Irish inspired meal to celebrate.  I was actually more focused on finding meals that had no cheese in them.  Yup, still going strong on my “no cheese” Lent.  So the following dishes have no cheese in them, or I at least left it out.  Of course, you can always put cheese on tacos, but I just left it out and didn’t even miss it 🙂  After being almost 2 weeks in, I have to say, it hasn’t been easy.  But it has been a great accomplishment so far and I look forward to being successful.  Enjoy the menu below and I hope it gives you some ideas on meals without cheese!!  Make the first bite count!!


MondayDouble Pork Sandwiches

TuesdayHoney Mustard Chicken | Baked Sweet Potatoes

WednesdaySlow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos  (

Thursday – Leftover Night!!

Friday – Baked Tilapia with Bread Crumbs | Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

Double Pork Sandwiches

Slices of ham paired with BBQ pulled pork topped with crispy, creamy coleslaw on a soft potato bun.


Say no to cheese!!! At least that is what I am saying for the next 6 weeks. Being a good Catholic, I decided to give up something for Lent and this year it is cheese. Now for some this may be an easy task, but not for me. I love cheese. Almost every dinner I make has cheese incorporated somehow because I love it so much. Which is exactly why I gave it up: I think I was eating just a tad too much. So far it has been pretty good. I find myself even making healthier choices about what to snack on and what to make for dinner. These double pork sandwiches are one of my no cheese recipes. (You will be seeing a lot more of “no cheese” recipes in the coming weeks.) However, they are delicious and I didn’t even miss the cheese. These sandwiches are layered with not one, but two types of pork: deli ham and BBQ pulled pork. And then topped with crispy, creamy coleslaw. Believe me, you won’t miss the cheese either. I heart potato buns so that is what everything sits on, but feel free to use your favorite type of bread. What is even better about this recipe (besides being delicious) is that the pork can cook in the crock pot all day and all you have to do is arrange the sandwiches before serving. So easy! So enjoy and… Make the first bite count!

Total Time: 6-8 hours (including crock pot time for pork)
Servings: 4

1 pound pork tenderloin
1 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups coleslaw mix from the bag
1/4 cup coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s)
8 slices deli ham
4 potato rolls

1. Place pork tenderloin in the crock pot. Combine BBQ sauce, chicken broth, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and stir. Pour over pork. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours until meat easily pulls apart with a fork.

2. When pork is done cooking, remove any fat and shred using two forks. Stir to coat shredded meat in sauce.

3. Mix the coleslaw and dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Arrange the sandwiches: Place 2 slices of ham on each roll, top with about 1/2 cup pulled pork and then about 1/2 cup coleslaw. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking. Serve and enjoy!

Italian Baked Pork Chops topped with Broccoli Rabe and Fontina

Juicy, tender breaded pork chops topped with garlicky broccoli rabe and creamy fontina cheese.


Last week I posted a delicious Italian Baked Pork Chop recipe. This recipe is a modified version of those juicy pork chops. I had some leftover pork chops and broccoli rabe and in the fridge. I decided to use up the two together for a leftover meal. I added some cheese on top, and you have a whole new version of the delicious Italian Baked Pork Chop. My husband and I have really grown to love broccoli rabe, and you if you love garlic and a slight kick I encourage you to try it as well. Most people tend to think of it as bitter, but that just means it wasn’t cooked properly. Try the preparation below and you’ll be putting it on everything from sandwiches to pork chops, like me :). It has such great flavor and gives a burst of something extra when added to a dish. So, take those leftover Italian Baked Pork Chops or simply make this recipe from scratch, and enjoy a tasty dinner in no time. Make the first bite count!

Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

1/2 cup Italian dressing
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
4 boneless pork chops (about 1 inch thick)
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, stalks removed and roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated fontina cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place dressing in a medium bowl. Combine parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Take each pork chop and dip both sides in dressing and then in the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to press bread crumbs on both sides of the pork chop. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

3. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until no longer pink inside.

4. While pork chops are cooking, prepare the broccoli rabe. In a medium pot, add 2 cups water and the broccoli rabe. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover, salt the water and continue boiling for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. The broccoli rabe should no longer have a bitter taste. Drain the water and remove the broccoli rabe.

5. Add olive oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté in the oil for another 3-4 minutes.

6. When pork chops are done cooking, remove from oven and leave on foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat broiler and place rack in the middle of the oven. Place about 2 Tablespoons of broccoli rabe on top of each pork chop. Then sprinkle fontina on top, using as much as desired. Place pork chops under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Keep a close eye as the broiler tends to burn food quickly. Serve hot.

Italian Baked Pork Chops

Juicy, tender pork chops coated in Italian dressing and a combination of bread crumbs and freshly grated parmesan cheese.Italian-Baked-Pork-Chops-1

I have made a version of Italian baked chicken and decided to test it out on boneless pork chops. It was delicious. Baking the pork chops makes them much healthier than frying them in oil and they are still just as tender and juicy. The dressing gives a great flavor while the freshly grated parmesan cheese adds that little something extra. I used boneless pork chops about 1-inch thick, but feel free to use thinner ones. It will just take less time in the oven. Enjoy this tasty dinner that will be on your table in about a half hour. Make the first bite count!

Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

1/2 cup Italian dressing
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
4 boneless pork chops (about 1 inch thick)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place dressing in a medium bowl. Combine parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Take each pork chop and dip both sides in dressing and then in the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to press bread crumbs on both sides of the pork chop. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

3. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Serve hot.