Shelley’s Kitchen
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Tailgate Recipes: Mini Mac & Cheese Pies

tailgating recipes mini mac and cheese piesI don’t know about you but growing up in my home football was not a “Sunday thing” however with my oldest being a cheerleader and having a love for football and heading to Alabama for college (not the reason she went, but she adored it) and now having her be on the Raven’s Playmaker squad, I find myself tuning in on Sundays…  Entertaining around the football game has become almost as big as the sport itself-just head down to the SEC and you will see exactly what I’m referring to.

Anyhow back to the recipes… I thought it would be fun to give a few easy to follow recipes for tailgating and entertaining around the game… And being the Mac & Cheese was always one of my girls favorites this little recipe fit today’s mold..

Enjoy and can I get a Roll Tide?


A New York Kind of Breakfast

sunday morning breakfastWhen I was young we would have bagels and lox on many Sunday mornings. I can remember waking up with what I will call a “New York kinda breakfast” smell. There is nothing like the combination of soft cream cheese, smokey fish and the crisp crunch of red onions and cucumbers all wrapped up into one big bite.

Since I began my wellness journey I try and serve pumpernickel bread for those who don’t want to eat bagels which you might not realize but are the equivalent to 4 pieces of bread, however I do have friends who still can’t give them up and pull out all the doughy centers and fill with the “fix-ins”. For me it’s all about the flavor of the pumpernickel with the fish and crunch of veggies!

Last fall Sarah and I had a chance to visit the wonderful “fishary” called Russ & Daughters in New York city. And Ohh my you can not image how wonderful their lox is. It tastes so silky and fresh, I have never had such wonderful lox-it is most definitely a must try!

russ and daughters fishary

Shelley’s New York Kind of Breakfast:

2 pieces of pumpernickel bread (try and get the small 3-4″ squares)

a smidgen of whipped cream cheese *which in Shelley talk equates about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese on each piece of pumpernickel

2 ounces of thin sliced lox, go for the Nova

4 slices of cucumber

1/2 tomato either chopped or sliced

2 slices of red onion

Just layer it all up and enjoy, sometimes if I am having guests I will add chopped chives to the cream cheese.

*Eating Well Tip: Did you know that whipped cream cheese has the same calories per tablespoon as reduced-fat cream cheese because it is air whipped, making it less dense?

Tomato Mozzarella ala Shelley

tomato mozzarellaI love love love tomato mozzarella salad! There aren’t to many things that taste as “fresh” to me as this.

Shelley’s Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes approximately 4 servings


2 T canola oil or olive oil

6 T balsamic vinegar

2 T chopped shallots

2 T Dijon mustard

½ t minced fresh garlic

Pinch of black pepper

Splash or two of rice vinegar


In a small bowl whisk together the above dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl add 8-ounces of part-skim mozzarella cheese balls, that have been cut in halves.

Add to it 1 8-ounce container of cherry tomatoes also that have been cut in halves.

And add ½ cup of lightly packed fresh basil leaves that have been cut in pieces.

Toss with the tomato and mozzarella with the vinaigrette.

I enjoy this salad many ways, sometimes with lettuce and grilled chicken, sometimes as a side dish with salmon, or some days just by itself. Do you have a favorite version?

Portobello and Pasta, Yum!

lasagna roll upsOver the last year I have tried many new foods one of which I have come to love is Portobello mushrooms; they are woody as well as meaty, I have even used them in place of a burger on the grill which is de-licious! But today we are talking about adding them to lasagna and rolling them up.

Inspired from Ellie Krieger

Portobello Lasagna Rollups with Easy Tomato Sauce


12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles

2 teaspoons olive oil

12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups easy tomato sauce (see below)

1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed drained and squeezed dry

1 large egg, lightly beaten

fresh ground black pepper

pinch of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cook the noodles according to the package directions and drain them well and spread them on a parchment or aluminum fold to keep them from sticking together.

Heat the old in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt, stir in 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, spinach, egg, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper and the nutmeg.

Spread 1 cup of the remaining tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto a lasagna noodle. Top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture, then roll the noodle and stand it up. Repeat with the remaining noodles and mixtures.

Spread the remaining 1 /12/ cups tomato sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top with Parmesan and mozzarella, cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover and then bake an additional 15 minutes.

I love the following Easy Tomato sauce it is delicious and we use it on so many things! I used to be a huge Prego fan but understand now the difference of good homemade sauce and a sauce that is laced with sugar and not so good for you!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained and chopped *we have come to love Fire Roasted tomatoes they have such a great flavor.

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until they have softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining ingredients and cook uncovered stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Season to your liking with salt and pepper.

Grilled Caesar Salad

canyon ranch grilled Caesar saladI have always been a huge fan of Caesar Salad, love the velvety dressing, love the crunch, even love the little salty anchovies.  So when we visited Canyon Ranch I had to try their version which is grilled and it did not disappoint! At the ranch they served this with sun dried tomatoes. Since visiting the ranch I have made this several times at home and even served it at a party or two.

From the Kitchens of Canyon Ranch


Caesar Salad Dressing:

1 teaspoon minced anchovy fillet

1/4 cup roasted garlic cloves

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 Romaine lettuce hearts

Olive oil spray

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Puree all ingredients for dressing in a blender.

2. Preheat grill.

3. Cut Romaine lettuce hearts in half.  Spray lettuce with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill to mark and cook slightly on each side.

4. Place 1/2 Romaine lettuce heart on each plate and top with 1 tablespoon Caesar Salad Dressing.

Serving Information

Makes 4 servings, each containing approximately:

55 calories

9 gm. carbohydrate

2 gm. fat

2 mg. cholesterol

3 gm. protein

175 mg. sodium

5 gm. fiber

* Nutritional Note: Try and pick Romaine hearts with as much green color in the leaves as you can. With salad greens, the more color means more nutritional value.

Nothing quite like a parfait… for breakfast

Greek yogurt parfaitI have become a breakfast kind of gal; however it has to be something “special.” No boring cereal for me, unless it is steal cut oats and fruit, yum, however that’s another recipe..,. Today we are talkin’ parfaits…

I know you are saying parfait for breakfast?

Why yes we are!

A wonderful mixture of oats, nuts, fruit and Greek yogurt, so yummy and full of everything you will need to start off a great day!

Shelley’s Breakfast Parfait

Makes 4 servings

Serving size:

½ cup of Greek yogurt

½ cup of berries and bananas

¼ of granola mixture



½ cup of raw almonds chopped

½ cup of walnuts chopped

1 cup of rolled oats

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Pinch of cinnamon

2 cups Greek yogurt

2T of honey

½ t of vanilla

2 cups of mixed berries

1 banana



Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a small bowl mix the rolled oats, nuts, syrup and cinnamon and then spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. When done let come to room temperature.

In another small bowl mix the Greek yogurt with the honey and vanilla.

Now it is time to assemble:

Take out your fanciest parfait glass or bowl. *note you should try and enjoy all of your senses surrounding your meal; sight and smell as well as taste. Another little ditty that my nutritionist taught me.

Add ½ cup of the Greek yogurt mixture into the parfait glass or bowl.

Layer ¼ of the granola mixture on top of the Greek yogurt.

Top with the berries and ¼ of the banana

Enjoy with your family, friends, or by yourself… I know you are going to love it!

What’s the skinny on water?

Water Droplet
photo credit: wwarby

Since I was a young adult and started with my first “diet” one thing that was constantly drilled into my head aside from the obvious that eating cake and cookies are a big no no on a “diet” was drink water… And somewhere along the way drinking 8 glasses of water a day became a hard rule with dieting. However, it is not only when we are looking to trim down that we should be thinking about drinking water.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website when asked; “How much should you drink every day?”

It’s a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.

Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

So the long and short of it is that your body is a pretty good at letting you know when we need a drink. Are you thirsty? It is probably obvious on summer day when you are sweating in the 90 degree heat you are going to get thirsty.

Ellie Krieger RD shared this in Fine Cooking, “As the weather heats up, it is no coincidence that the fruits and vegetables that are fresh for picking are plump with water-juicy, ripe peaches, plums, and melons, crisp lettuces, succulent tomatoes and cool cucumbers. And the dishes we lean toward, like salads, smoothies, yogurt with fruit, gazpacho and seafood, also contribute to hydration. Surprising, about 20 percent of our total water intake comes from the food we eat.

You’ll get the remaining 80 percent from beverages. Water is best but other drinks count, too.”

So back to our water and drinks…. I am proud to say that I gave up the diet soda a year ago when I began my wellness makeover and have tried to drink as much water as possible. In doing this I have experimented with many “flavors” from a pouch which were commercially produced as well as making concoctions in my kitchen. Turns out that my concoctions are some of my favorite and most refreshing drinks.

Here is a twist on the old cucumber-water.


mint and cucumberCucumber-Mint Water

¼ c fresh Mint leaves
4 Tablespoons of sugar
1 c boiling water
½ long English cucumber (about 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons of lime juice


cup of mint
mint cut right from our own “farmville!”

come on sweetness

In a pot combine the mint leaves and sugar

mixing splenda and mint
Take a spoon and mash the mint

pouring water from measuring cup
Add the boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes

cucumbers steep in water
While that is steeping and smelling wonderful, in a blender toss in the cucumber and puree with 2 cups of cold water

blending the mind and water mixtue
look at that gorgeous color

straining the mixture
Strain the cucumber liquid into a bowl.

adding mint mixture
After the mint has steeped for 15 minutes strain that through the bowl with the cucumber liquid.

Get rid of the wonderfully smelling remains, or I suppose you could use these for your eyes as I’ve seen many places..

adding lime juice
Pour the mixture into a pitcher and add the lime juice

refreshing cucumber mint waterAdd 3 cups of cold water and stir
Enjoy over ice

I love this so much and my picky picky family does too, give it a try and let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite water concoction you’d like to share?

Didn’t you know Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls cures all?


my daughter cookingAll of our lives we have heard how “chicken soup” is good for the soul. Well, that is another post about what my grand mom was “about”. Oh how I miss my grand mom but that is not what this post is about…

However it is a sweet post, at least the thought behind it is sweet…

Sarah’s boyfriend had a bad cold and she wanted to do something “nice” for him so she suggested to me that she would like to make him “matzo ball soup.”

Yup, my undomesticated daughter who has done little more then make herself tea now wanted to make something for someone other than herself… Note to self, this is a big milestone in my “child’s” (yes, Sarah no matter how old you are you will always be my child; I write as I know this will be critiqued) life.

Of course, mom (that being me) had to run to the store to get all of the ingredients for the newly domesticated cook. After all I know there is nothing as good as a delicious bowl of Matzo ball soup when your head is stuff and nose is runny.

For those of you who have never had Matzo balls they are little round fluffy balls which just melt in your mouth, ifff you make them right, if not they can be like lead balloons; not good!

So here goes… Sarah’s Matzo Ball Soup


carrots, onions, celeryTake 2 large carrots chopped into small bite size pieces

And 2 large celery stalks also cut into bite sized pieces

Along with 1 diced large yellow onion


chicken and cut up vegiesTake 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs and add them to a large stock pot, *the dark meat has a little more flavor then the white meat.


chicken stock and veggiesFor a little extra flavor add 4 cups of Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock to 4 cups of water and add to the stock pot.


Then add the dry spices: 1tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried rosemary, and 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp cracked black pepper and one bay leaf.


chicken soup for the soulMix all together, and as it starts to simmer, smell the yummieness!

For this newly domestic cook this one pot meal is ideal for “clean-up” oh yes cleaning the pot must follow lol

While the soup is simmering into blissdom which translates into the last half hour of simmering…

Take 3 eggs and separate them

In a small bowl beat the egg whites until stiff

Then ever so gently fold in the yokes

Fold in ¼ cup of Matzo Meal to the egg mixture and a pinch of salt

OK, this is the important part, let stand 5 minutes… any longer and your balls will be “lead” which is the furthest thing that you want.

With wet hands form small 12 balls and gently drop them into your stock pot
Cook together for approximately 35 minutes or so

And then you will have the most magical potion to cure all that ails you…
Sarah quickly packed the soup up into 2 containers and poof she was gone to dish out her little bit of “happiness and good health.”

And there she goes… my “little” girl all grown up…

*I know I’m missing the photos for the matzo balls, so I will have to do a later post, but it is pretty easy… give them a try and let me know how much you just love them!

Cran-Cherry-Pomegranate Sauce


cranberriesI love cranberries! You know it’s “fall” when cranberries hit the produce stand. My family likes the good ole cranberry jelly in a can, and I used to like that too untillll I came up with my own concoction after being introduced to Pomegranate juice last spring by Rebecca my nutritionist. *So, just know that pomegranate juice is good for you!

What I love about this is it is sooo easy! And I have made it a dozen times this fall and it is a new favorite for everyone who I have served it to. I thought I’d share with all of you… lucky lucky people!

• 1 bag of Cranberries (16 oz) I bought organic so I needed 2 bags
• 8 oz of Tart Cherry Juice (this can be found in the organic food isle)
• 8 oz of Pomegranate Juice
• 1 c Sugar
• Small jar of Maraschino Cherries, cut in halves


washing cranberries
Clean off your cranberries

adding pom juice to cranberries
Then in all of their beautiful red color toss them into a medium sized saucepan.
Measure your Tart Cherry Juice and Pomegranate Juice and add it to the saucepan.

maraschino cherries
Add the halves of maraschino cherries

pouring in splenda
If you like it more tart start with a little sugar less and taste it. I’m a firm believer in the “taste test.” Heck, my grandmother rarely measured anything it was all a big “taste test” when she cooked and she was the “boss” of the kitchen for sure!

bringing to a boil
Stir everything together slowly, look at that great color! And let it cook for about 20 minutes on medium.

After it has cooked through put it in a glass container in the refridge and the secret love is done then, it thickens to a perfect sauce.


cran-cherry sauceThe sweet and tart flavor is divine! My husband loved it so much he added it to his favorite dessert good old plain vanilla ice cream and it gave it that extra decedent touch… yummy!

Give it a try and let me know how it turned out! Your family will love it and you don’t have to let them know it’s kind of good for them!

Turkey Roulade with Maple Squash

With Thanksgiving around the corner this recipe is a great alternative if you don’t want to make the whole “bird”.

turkey and squash

The stuffing rolled up in this great dish not only makes it beautiful when served but it gives it just the right amount of flavor all mixed together. I paired this together with Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup.

Recipe: Ellie’s Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy
Serves 6
2 slices of Turkey Roulade with 1/4 cup Gravy
Calories: 400
Total Fat: 12G
Mono 6G
Poly 3.5G
Sat 1.5G
Protein: 50G
Carb: 24G
Fiber: 2G
Chol 117MG
Sodium: 371 MG


1 (2 1/2-pound) skinless turkey breast, butterflied
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups), plus 1 cup sliced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5 slices day-old whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup lightly toasted chopped pecans
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh crumbled sage or 3 teaspoons dried, divided
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Special equipment: kitchen twine

Preparation Instructions:

1. Place the turkey breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 3/4-inch. Set aside while stuffing is prepared.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat, drain and reserve. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring, until onions are golden but not charred, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add bread, cranberries, pecans, 2 tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried sage and 1/2 to 3/4-cup chicken stock, depending upon consistency of stuffing; (you want the mixture to be moistened, but not too wet, since the turkey will release moisture when cooked). Cook over low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, remove from heat.

4. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the turkey breast. Spread the stuffing on the turkey, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2-inches uncovered on all sides. Roll up and secure tightly with kitchen twine, trying to keep all stuffing intact.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large Dutch oven or medium-sized roasting pan until hot. Sear stuffed turkey breast on all sides until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add sliced onion and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, cover tightly and roast in the oven until turkey reaches 160 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into inner layer of meat, about 60 to 65 minutes. Remove the turkey breast from oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Make the gravy: Add apple cider, 1/2 cup chicken stock, vinegar and remaining sage to the onions, chicken stock and juices in the roasting pan, bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by 1/3. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick, just slightly thicker than a jus. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 1 1/2 cups gravy.

Remove twine from turkey breast and slice into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Serve with gravy.

*recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger “The Food You Crave”

Recipe: Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup

Serving Information
Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
90 calories
19 gm. carbohydrate
2 gm. fat
5 mg. cholesterol
2 gm. protein
125 mg. sodium
5 gm. fiber


3 pounds butternut squash
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Preparation Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds and place in baking pan flesh side down with enough water to barely cover the pan’s bottom.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes until squash is very tender.

3. Scoop out cooked squash and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whip at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

*recipe courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Have you ever tried anything different for Thanksgiving?