October 31, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Easy, quick, yum!  This a great weeknight meal which we eat quite a bit at our house.  Enjoy!
BBQ Chicken Pizza

Print this recipe!
  • 1 Whole Wheat pizza shell - I use Boboli
  • 1 Chicken breast
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced red onion – mandolins are great for this!
  • 1-1 1/2 C reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 1 C of your favorite BBQ Sauce, plus extra for chicken

Bake the chicken breast with a bit of your favorite BBQ sauce in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or sauté over medium high heat until cooked through.  Let cool and chop into small pieces.

When assembling the pizza, for the best results you should layer in an "inside out" or in a reverse manner.
First, put a layer of cheese directly on the crust. 

Then spread the chicken on top of the cheese.


Next, place the thinly sliced red onion on top. 



Lastly, pour/dribble the BBQ sauce on top.  The sauce will caramelize and get even sweeter in the oven. 



You can do more or less of each ingredient depending on your personal preference.  Don't be afraid to play around with it and make it your own.
Bake on the oven rack at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.


Where's Waldo?

Waldo is actually a small town about 14 miles northeast of Gainesville and is considered the "Speed Trap Capital of the World".  I know this because I drove through it every day of my K-12 school life and would see many, many cars pulled over on a daily basis!

On the other hand, Waldo of Where's Waldo fame is actually a pretty great inexpensive and home made Halloween costume.  Mike and I decided this past Christmas that we wanted to be Waldo and his girlfriend Wenda for Halloween this year. 

The plan was to start looking for costume items up until Halloween so we wouldn't be caught off guard and scrambling at the last moment.  Not so much.  Thursday night we found ourselves running to three different stores to pick up last minute items and staying up late concocting our masterpieces. 

With a little bit of red duck tape, yarn, dollar tree accessories, and a few things we had on hand, you too can have a to-die-for Waldo and Wenda look alike costume! 

We, with a few of our friends, went to tailgate at the UCF Homecoming game since we don't frequent the area and had never seen the new stadium.  We thought there would be tons of people dressed up as it was Halloween weekend, but were sadly mistaken.  As far as costumes were concerned, there was not much to write home about, and I can confidently say that Waldo was a hit.  Mike was treated like a celebrity with many people wanting pictures with him and shouting, "I found him!  I found Waldo!" everywhere we went.  It was hilarious.  I can't wait to start planning for next year!

Happy Halloween!

Menu Monday


Good morning! 

This is the first of many more Menu Monday posts to come.  In order to function on a weekly basis, I have to plan a weekly menu.  It keeps me prepared, gives me options and is one less thing I have to worry about during the day.  I love short cuts, and even though menu planning can seem time consuming at first, it is a time (and money) saver in the end.
This week’s schedule doesn't look too bad, actually pretty chill compared to our normal standards!

Monday: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Tuesday:  FLO* Beef Burritos with Black Beans and Yellow Rice

Wednesday:  Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Baked Beans and Confetti Corn

Thursday:  Meatloaf with Green Bean Casserole and Roasted Carrots

Friday:  Broccoli and Cheese Baked Potatoes

Saturday:  Baked Spaghetti

Sunday:  Veggie and Ham Quiche with Sweet Potato Fries

Remember, menu planning is just a guide, it’s not set in stone.  If the week goes awry, or your special someone decides to take you out for a surprise dinner, just move the nightly menu to different day.  Life, especially mine, is all about "scheduled flexibility"!  Have a great week!  

*FLO= Frozen Leftovers

October 30, 2011

“Soup”er Duper


I was a picky eater. Mike still thinks I am. At times part of me agrees.

However I would prefer saying I'm a particular eater. That sounds a bit more distinguished. But it still means picky. I was a pain growing up when it came to food. I was infamous for asking what was for dinner and when my mom, who is a wonderful cook, would tell me what was on tap I would roll my eyes and sigh. B-ratty.

I have since apologized profusely for doing that having previously been married to someone who did the same thing to me every night. Except he was an adult.

Anyway, I remember one day asking my mom that dreaded question and she said "Sausage Bean Soup". Gross. No way. Not eating it. It didn't sound the least bit appetizing...until I tried it. AMAZING!

It is the easiest, most delicious soup ever. My girlfriend from college and her mom swear by it and still talk about the first time they tried it. This is one of my go-to meals and perfect for fall and winter. Only 3 ingredients, 4 if you include the rice it is served over and better yet, it freezes well. Definitely a home run. Enjoy!

Mom's Famous Sausage Bean Soup (quick version)

Print this recipe!

1 pkg.   Reduced-fat ground Pork Sausage
1 can    Garlic and Olive Oil Diced Tomatoes (with juice)
4 cans   Great Northern Beans (with juice)
Brown sausage. Add tomatoes and beans. Heat through. Done.
Serve over white rice (optional).
-Want to make it even better?  If you have a bit more time, or want to experiment with a few more ingredients you can brown a bit of celery, onion and garlic when browning the sausage.  This will give the already yummy soup a little more depth of flavor.




Cozy Koozies


I am not usually a huge collector of things.  I was never a “buy a shot glass wherever I go” kind of person because I a. don’t like shots and b. didn’t want to have to have a place to keep them.  I did go through a collecting pitchers stage, but quickly outgrew that as fast as I outgrew space.  Now a days I like to get a new Tervis Tumbler here and there, but not too much else.  Except…KOOZIES.  I love them. 

I don’t know if it happened when I met Mike and started traveling more and and experiencing new things or not. I don’t remember really being into koozies before we started dating, but I do know that now we are bonafide koozie collectors.  They are inexpensive, have multipurpose capabilities, are small, easy to transport anywhere and help to keep your hand from freezing off when drinking a cold beverage (not only beer – great for water and sodas as well). 

We look for koozies on any trip we take, or any event that we participate in.  They seem to be great conversation starters at parties and can bring back some really fun memories. 

The only thing you must have if you are a true koozie collector is a koozie container.  Most of our friends have koozie containers and when we are at their house we automatically know where to go if we need one – assuming we didn’t bring our own (which is rare).  Ours is located in our pantry where we have easy access whenever we need one.  Prost!

 DSCN9797 DSCN9799 DSCN98021

October 28, 2011

Chicken Cordon Who?

Easy.  Simple.  That is my cooking. It has to be or I wouldn't want to do it every night...who would? Recipes that have a bazillion steps and/or ingredients stress me out. That is why dishes with fancy names get a bad wrap most of the time.  Let me clear one of those up right now.

One of my favorite meals when I was growing up was Chicken Cordon Bleu.  My mom would always fix it as a staple for our "fancy" dinners when we had family or friends over.  Since it was more of a special occasion dinner, I always assumed that is was a laborious dish to prepare.  Well, my friends, that is what assuming will do for ya! 

This recipe is easy, simple, yummy and better yet, lower-fat than the original.  The chicken isn't even breaded!  Score!

Lower-Fat Chicken Cordon Bleu
Yields 4 chicken bundles
(the pictures show only 2 bundles, because that's all I had on hand.  This recipe can be multiplied to fit any quantity)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4  Thin Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts -
I buy chicken cutlets to save the loud/annoying step of pounding with a meat mallet.  If you have had rough week, go ahead and buy the regular size breasts and pound away.
4 slices  Ham - usually whatever I have for sandwich making
4 slices  Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese
1 can     Reduced Fat Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 oz.     Reduced Fat Cream Cheese- room temperature if possible

Whisk together the cream of mushroom soup and cream cheese in a bowl and set aside.  Mixture will be thick and lumpy. 
Next, make an assembly line of the chicken breasts,  Swiss cheese and ham on a plastic cutting board*.  Tear cheese in half and put on top of the chicken.  Follow with the ham. 
Then, from the bottom of the chicken breast, roll the chicken into a bundle.  Place seam side down in a baking dish.
Cover with soup and cream cheese mixture.  As the sauce bakes it will thin a bit and make a yummy sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sides Suggestion: Wild Rice and Roasted Green Beans (a new fave)

*You should use plastic cutting boards when dealing with raw meat as they are a non-pourus surface. Wooden cutting boards are harder to clean and can harbor bacteria. Yuck!

Great Gadgets: Pastry Blender

I am not a huge fan of a lot of kitchen gadgets.  I don't like crowded counter tops and overflowing drawers, but some gadgets are wonderful to have around and can even serve double duty.  My great gadget of the week is...wait for it... the pastry blender! I  know, it sounds so exciting, doesn't it?

Well, I use mine much more than I ever thought I would and keep coming up with more and more usable situations than just cutting in butter (which is not my favorite) for a crumb topping.  I used to keep my pastry cutter in my "second pantry" and found that I was constantly looking for it as a way to quickly chop or combine things when preparing dinner.  It is now cozy in the drawer right next to my stove for easy access.  Another perk?  No need to dirty a cutting board, just chop/cut in whatever bowl you are already using!

Uses (thus far): 
  • Butter/Shortening:  cutting fats into flour for a baking recipe.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs - chopping hard boiled eggs for egg salad or potato salad.
  • Ground Beef - once browned the pastry blender is a great way to break up large chunks of meat.
  • Bananas - mashing bananas to add to banana bread or pancake batter.
My pastry blender shown in the picture above is made by Trudeau circa 2005.

October 27, 2011

Utility Towels

Iron Chef Colored Bar Towels via Home Goods

My mom got me hooked on bar towels a couple of years ago when she put some in my Christmas stocking.  They were a great addition to my towel collection and were so easy to wipe up counter tops quickly.  They are a great size, not too big, absorb well and dry quickly.  They are also pretty cheap - which makes their appeal even better.  Bar mops are the all around "utility towel" that everyone should have.  The only negative thing I found was that I could only find them in white...blah.

I am a color person.  I believe a little splash of color here and there makes even the mundane tasks a little bit more fun.  So when I was shopping at Home Goods a month or two ago I flipped when I saw them:  COLORED BAR TOWELS!  I was so excited and ended up picking up two packs and wish now that I had picked up a few more to keep for myself or even give as a cool hostess gift. 

Drying dishes and cleaning up messes will never be fun, don't get me wrong, but this splash of color give it a little bit of sass!

October 26, 2011


One of Nana's famous aprons.

Some of my favorite cooking accessories are by far my aprons.  I have about six that I rotate into my nightly food preparation routine throughout the week.  They are not only A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E, but they can make cooking dinner after a long day at work a little less daunting.  Most of the ones that I wear are handmade by my Nana, which I love, but there are many stores that offer great selections as well.  I have had luck with Anthropologie and Home Goods lately.

A few good reasons to invest in a cute apron:

1.  Even if you can't cook it will make you feel like a rock star chef.

2.  It's a great cover up when doing arts and crafts with kids.  I have "school aprons" that I wear in my classroom when we do any sort of painting projects.

3.  When doing a quick cleaning of your house before last minute guests arrive, it's a must to avoid dust bunnies getting on your party clothes.  It is also a little bit "Leave it to Beaver" as well - love that.

4.  The bottom half of the apron can double as the bottom of a German dirndl when going to an Oktoberfest party.

5.  Add a little spice.  When worn without any clothing, it's a great way to greet your husband after a long day at work!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Welcome Fall!

Even though we live in the middle of the Sunshine State, we do get little snippets of fall weather.  Even the slightest breeze can constitute "fall" for us.  With just an inkling in the air, I get so excited.  I love everything about the season and pick up a can of pureed pumpkin each time I go to the grocery store to try in new recipes. 

A couple of weekends ago I tried making pumpkin pancakes for the first time and am hooked!  It was so quick and easy!  They are also great leftover.  I usually make a big batch and we have some to eat for breakfast during the week. Score.

Pumpkin Pancakes
yields 12-14 "normal" sized pancakes
-You can always adjust the measurements to make fewer or more.

2 C complete pancake mix
1 1/2 C water
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1 t  vanilla extract
Desired amount of the following spices (I just usually do a few shakes of each):
Pumpkin Pie Spice

--If the batter is a bit thick you can always a little bit more water until the desired consistnacy is reached.  Don't be afraid to play around with it.  They will still taste delicious!

Heat griddle.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Using a ladle, spoon onto griddle and wait for bubbles.  Flip.  Place on baking sheet when finished.  Keep warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.  Repeat until all of the delicoius batter is cooked.  Add the fixins* and enjoy.

To reheat you can place in a 350 degree oven and flip occasionally until warm, about 8-10 minutes, toast in the toaster or microwave on high for about 30-45 seconds, give or take.  I prefer the first two options.  They don't get as mushy and have a little bit more crust-a-bility!

*Fixins:  peanut butter (my favorite on top), almond butter, maple syrup, cranberry flavored syrup, butter


October 25, 2011

This is me!

Sipping Cafe Americano in Rome!

This is me.  My name is Allison Lane, but have always been called Lane.  Here is my story.

I love (in no particular order...except for the first one):

-my hubby

-grocery shopping

-making lists

-coffee (hazelnut, Santa's White Christmas are faves)

-College football


-porcupine meatballs

-traveling (recently caught "the travel bug" with my first trip to Europe)



-cereal as a snack


-peanut butter

-hooded sweatshirts

-organizing anything

-apple cinnamon scented air freshener

-scones (I am loving pumpkin right now)

-Tervis Tumblers

-the first hint of fall in the air

-having fun

I am a third generation Floridian, I used to have blonde hair and my biggest pet peeve is smacking.  My husband makes me laugh everyday.  I should read more and floss every night but I don't.  My current goal is to use the crock pot more. However, I'm not totally sold on the whole concept yet.

This is my life in a nutshell.  I am a simple person who loves to share what makes my life a little bit easier.  I can't wait to share it with you!