Pizza Night! {with homemade turkey sausage}

We looovveee pizza around here, and we often have homemade pizza on Fridays.  The perfect meal to kick off the weekend!  My ‘go-to’ homemade crust is this one, and if I use a store-bought crust, it is usually this one.
Many times we have plain.cheese. (because my kids are such adventurous eaters *sarcasm*). But on this night I made a ‘meat lovers’ pizza with homemade turkey sausage. Turkey sausage is very tasty, less fattening, and super easy to make.  I usually buy ground turkey in bulk from Sam’s Club and have been using a recipe from I couldn’t find it online again when getting ready to do this post (but it was adapted from Judy Culbertson @

Turkey Sausage 

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
*fennel seeds (optional) Sometimes I will add in a sprinkle of fennel seeds if I am making the sausage to put on pizza. I leave it out if making breakfast sausage.
Crumble turkey in a large bowl. Mix in the salt, sage, pepper and ginger. Shape into patties if desired. In a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook meat over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side (if doing patties) or until no longer pink (and 165 degrees F).
I added some onions, red pepper and fresh basil to my pizza!
What’s your favorite pizza?  Do you have any Friday ‘traditions’?!

Beef Tips in the Crock Pot

That’s just a big pile of comfort food right there!  The great thing is, the beef tips were prepared in the crock-pot.  Just throw everything in and forget about it!  My favorite way to prepare dinner 😉  The other great thing is they were flavorful, tender, and were approved by 2 out 3 picky children.  (and we all know Mr. Three’s vote doesn’t count since he will only eat about 4 things in the universe.)
Speaking of 4 things, that’s all the ingredients you need to make this!

 (Crock Pot) Beef Tips in Mushroom Sauce

recipe source: LaaLoosh 


2 pounds lean chuck – cut in 1-2 inch pieces (I used beef stew meat in pic)
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can Diet Sprite or 7up *or Sierra Mist
*You could also add any veggies you want. 
Put meat in crock pot. Pour soup & onion soup mix over meat. Add Diet Sprite/7up/Sierra Mist. Cook in crock pot all day on low (or high for at least 4 hours). Turn off and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. {If you want thicker gravy, you could remove meat, place gravy in a skillet with a little cornstarch and heat until thickened. I didn’t do this.)

I served the beef tips with mashed potatoes (instant…they were not good!) and cornbread…which was delish, and some not-pictured green beans, canned (I was in a hurry that night!).


Panzanella Salad

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of salads, but I am all about some bread.  So, give me a bread salad and I’m pretty happy.  Of course, ‘bread salad’ sounds boring, so we’ll call it by it’s Italian name….Panzanella Salad.  That makes it sound all fancy….except I white-trashed it up by adding bacon bits. (so now it’s sorta a BLT-nella salad, but let’s not get technical.)

As you can see, I went a little heavy on the bread! I also added spinach and arugula. (ok, AND bacon)  What can I say? I’m not Italian.

Panzanella Salad (or BLT salad)

loosely adapted from A Foodie Affair
  • 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes*
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced  I used cherry tomatoes and cut them in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar I omitted b/c I forgot to pick some up at the store
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers I used green pepper since that is what I had on hand
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted  I omitted b/c I hate olives
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  I used Asiago since that is what I had
  • Peppered bacon bits (optional)
  • Spinach & Arugula (optional)
*I bought my bread from the clearance bakery items at Wal-Mart & I think my cubes were closer to 1″ than 1/2!
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Make dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar. I used an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing based on A Foodie Affair‘s recommendation.
  3. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green peppers, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
  4. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle with Asiago cheese and bacon if using! Add salad dressing and serve on a bed of spinach and arugula if desired.

The salad was delish, whatever name you want to give my version!

And let’s not forget…today is SEPTEMBER 11th.  I don’t care how long it has been…the very thought of what happened on 9/11 sends chills down my arms, gives me a heavy heart, and makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time.  I did not know anyone who lost their life during the attacks of 9/11, but I mourn for them. I remember them. And I cherish their memories and give thanks to all the heroes of that day.

I’m linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy’s Recipe Box, It’s a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace

Low Fat Brownie Sundaes

Is that an oxymoron? I thought so too, until I discovered all kinds of low fat options for baked goods on the internet.  Thank you Skinny Girl, Hungry Girl, whatever girl.  (But really, thank you Pinterest!) I’ve tried several different methods for reducing the fat…..cake mix and brownie mix with the can of diet soda – the cake mix works very well. The brownie mix works well if you like a really fudge-y brownie (like that could be a bad thing!)  I’ve done the applesauce in place of oil thing.  It works, but gives everything a weird texture.  But now, now I’ve discovered the brownie mix plus yogurt thing!  And it’s definitely my favorite so far.  The texture is much closer to “normal”.  {Now, some of you might be saying, ‘just don’t eat the brownies‘.  Well, that would be like telling a hoarder to just throw all their sh*t away!}

Besides, the yogurt + brownie mix is an easy, egg-free way to make brownies that everyone can enjoy! Last night I made (another!) batch to take to a friend’s house, and my little allergy boy said “can I have one?” I said ‘yes, mommy made those with no eggs, so you can have one in a little while’.  He threw his arms around me and said “Thank you mama for making them no eggs!”  That kid is so sweet, he melts my heart 🙂

All you need is brownie mix (this is Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate. Don’t judge.), and 1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt (I would assume vanilla would be fine too) and the amount of water called for on the box of mix.  No eggs, no oil.  Bake according to directions on the box.
Then you can add fat-free Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream (no eggs!) and a little sugar free syrup.
If so inclined.
This was a yummy treat for the kids and I – much lower in fat than the ‘traditional’ version. However, it is definitely still a “treat” b/c it is loaded with sugar!
You just can’t win them all 😉
Want a chocolate treat that is a little healthier? Check out the Healthier Chocolate Truffles and Haystacks!
On the blog 1 year ago : Pickles, Pickles and more Pickles!
On the blog 2 years ago: Homemade Popcorn in the Microwave!

Healthier Chocolate Truffles and Haystacks!

What if I told you they were full of fiber, and much lower in sugar and fat than their traditional counterparts? OH! And no oven required!!  (If y’all are experiencing the heat wave we are, this is a major plus!) So, what’s the secret?!  Fiber One (original) Cereal.  Yes, Fiber One.  And trust me, you will never know there is a healthy, fiber filled main ingredient in these little gems of dark chocolate deliciousness. 
First up –  truffles. I first saw these over at Back For Seconds (well, I probably first saw them on Pinterest!).  Since I had some Fiber One cereal, I jumped on this recipe.  The only problem was that I only had Fat Free Cream Cheese, and I think reduced fat would have been better…or if you use fat free, maybe increase the brown sugar a little.  However, these were still good, and were devoured by my children pretty quickly.

Skinny Caramel Truffles

adapted from Back For Seconds
  (Makes about 25 small truffles)

1 cup Fiber One cereal 
4 oz low fat cream cheese
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp caramel extract* 
*I didn’t have caramel extract, so I used half butter extract & half vanilla extract*
8 oz dark chocolate
In a food processor grind cereal to a fine crumb. Add cream cheese, brown sugar, extract(s) and pulse until it all comes together.
Roll into bite sized balls (I made mine about an inch?) and set on a parchment (or wax paper) lined cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour.
Melt chocolate until smooth, thinning with a bit of coconut oil if needed. Dunk the frozen truffles in the chocolate and lift out with a fork (I use 2 toothpicks), tapping it gently to smooth.
Immediately add sprinkles if desired.
Store in the refrigerator but let come to room temp before eating. Enjoy!
Second, we have Dark Chocolate Haystacks.  I had chocolate leftover from the above truffles, so I just added some Fiber One cereal to it and mixed together.  Place spoonfuls of the chocolate covered cereal on the wax paper, and let harden in the freezer or fridge.  These were everyone’s favorites!  Such a simple “recipe”, yet they were so good! As a matter of fact, the kids have requested I make these again.  Score one  for mom in providing a healthier treat that the kids loved!  Of course, it would have been better had I not eaten most of them.  oops.

Blueberry Lime Salsa

I’ve been a little more adventurous of late with the food combinations I have been willing to try.  I have pretty much been alone in this endeavor since my children have zero sense of adventure when it comes to eating new things.  (Unless they are covered in chocolate.  But even I could not add chocolate to this.)  Now, if you want to see if they will use an air mattress as a launching pad (even though they have been told repeatedly not too); or use snow boards on the slip ‘n slide; or combine several items of makeup together for their own personal ‘makeover’ from hell then I would say their spirit of adventure is alive and well.  But ask them to try something new that involves a vegetable….not so much.  All I can say is, their loss.  (And if anyone out there is an animal trainer, I could probably use a few pointers, since as I type, the kids sound like they have the Wild Kingdom plus WW III going on in the next room.)

At least I can look at this.  So pretty!  And yes, it is a little odd to see beautiful red strawberries and blueberries mixed in with cilantro and red onion.  But give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Blueberry Lime Salsa

recipe from How Sweet Eats
1 cup fresh blueberries

5 medium strawberries

1/4 red onion

1 teaspoon lime zest

juice of two limes

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 avocado, chopped (I omitted)

salt and pepper to taste

Combine blueberries, strawberries, onion, lime zest, juice and cilantro in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper if desired. If using avocado, fold in now.  I ate mine with tortilla chips, but had the intentions of adding it to shrimp or fish tacos.  It just didn’t last long enough!
I will not even mention what my kids said this looked like.
*sigh* Just eat it!

‘Lightened Up’ Loaded Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those things I kind of have to be in the mood to eat.  Until now.  I think I could eat this as a side almost every day!  Yes, it was that good!  I made this for my family’s 4th of July cookout.

‘Lightened Up’ Loaded Potato Salad 

6-8 small to medium red potatoes – cooked*, cooled and cubed
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
8-10 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided (reduced fat to cut calories)
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 dash celery salt (can also use seasoning salt)
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash paprika (or cayenne pepper)
  • Gently stir together all the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a little cheddar, green onion and bacon for garnish.
  • Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Top with reserved shredded cheddar, green onion slices and bacon.  Can be served immediately while still warm, or made ahead of time and served cold.  It was good both ways!
*I cooked my potatoes in a steamer bag in the microwave
Adapted from: Craving Comfort 
Verdict? This was a delicious potato salad, and an excellent side to this-
Yes, I like to see how big I can make my burger!
By making a few ingredient swaps, I was able to greatly reduce the fat and calories in this side dish, without sacrificing flavor. Not to mention, no one realized I had used yogurt and light mayo in the place of the regular stuff!  If you are not a fan of turkey bacon, you could use regular bacon, and just reduce the amount as well.

Low Fat Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let’s just say….yum.  I subbed out the butter for the healthier fats of coconut oil, I used stevia in the place of white sugar, and I used Ener-G egg replacer in place of the egg white due to my son’s egg allergy.  And they were awesome little bites of chocolate-y goodness, with a slight hint of coconut flavor from the coconut oil.  Oh! and I used dark chocolate, since it’s healthy and all from all those antioxidants.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
Low Fat Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup stevia (or sugar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg white (or egg replacer of choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark)
  • 1/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugars together with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg white (or egg replacer), vanilla and mix until well blended.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Gradually add flour mixture to egg and sugar. Use a wooden spoon to work the dough together. The dough will be thick and a little crumbly. Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and press slightly on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. (I had to smoosh the dough together b/c it was quite dry and crumbly.)
Bake for approx 8 minutes (will depend on size of your balls. hahaha. Sorry, sometimes I have the brain of a 12 year old). Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  The original recipe says it makes approx 30 cookies.  I did not get that many, but I think I made my cookies a little larger, and the raw cookie dough kept mysteriously disappearing. My oldest daughter and I both deny eating several cookies worth of dough.  *ahem*
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway going on right now for Coconut Oil! *Giveaway closed*

Healthier Pancakes for Father’s Day

My little man loves pancakes, but with an egg allergy, I have to make them from scratch. I have been fooling around with the recipe for years now, always trying different versions.
This one is a healthier version using white whole wheat, but taste like ‘regular’ pancakes!  They would be perfect to serve for a Father’s Day breakfast, easy enough for the kids to help out, and tasty enough that the whole family will enjoy. At least ours did!
(This recipe can easily be made vegan as well.)

Whole Wheat Pancakes

3/4 cup milk* (plus 1 Tablespoon)
2 T. white vinegar
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 T. sugar*
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. sea salt
1 egg (or egg replacer, like Ener-G; flax/chia egg)
dash of cinnamon (optional)
Combine milk and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes or so in a medium size bowl. (Makes “buttermilk”)
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt (and cinnamon if using) in a large bowl.
Add egg (or egg replacer) and vanilla to ‘buttermilk’, whisk together.
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together.
If using an egg replacer, cook immediately.  If using an egg, let batter sit for 5-10 minutes while griddle/pan is preheating.
I like to use my griddle, so I can cook several at once.  Spray pan/griddle with a little cooking spray and spoon batter onto hot pan.  Flip when bubbles form around edges of pancake.  This recipe makes about 9 four inch pancakes, so often I double it.  Leftovers freeze well.
*NOTES – could use Almond or Soy milk if desired. Sugar could be replaced with stevia or sweetener of choice. I needed an additional tablespoon of milk once my batter was mixed (noted in ingredients), but if you use a regular egg, that may or may not be necessary.  Finally, for a pancake with the crispy, buttery edges – use butter instead of cooking spray to cook pancakes.  Not as healthy, of course, but I’m sure delicious!
I wouldn’t mind having this served to me!
and this little fella enjoyed them.  Several of them 🙂
Do you have special plans this weekend?!
and don’t forget to enter these great giveaways!
Prize Package from Simply Cranberry!

‘Lightened Up’ Apple & Snicker Bar Salad

This is one of those dishes that isn’t really ‘pretty’, but taste oh soooo yummy! I was wondering if anyone would notice the apples in yesterday’s What was it Wednesday! I saw versions of this all over the web, and first spotted it somewhere on Pinterest.  Since I sorta winged this when I made it, I don’t have any particular person to give credit to.
 For Mother’s Day, I decided I wanted needed a lighter dessert, but it still had to have chocolate. (duhhh!)  This fit the bill, and would be great all during the summer.  Speaking of, today is supposed to be 90 degrees with 93% humidity.  Yep, bring on the hot sticky NC weather!
Lightened Up Apple & Snicker Bar Salad (it seems odd to call this a salad)
4 Apples of choice (I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady)
4 regular size Snicker Bars*
1 tub of Sugar Free Cool Whip (regular size, not large)
1 small box of Vanilla Sugar Free/Fat Free pudding**
1 cup skim milk (optional – see notes)
*I used Almond Snicker Bars b/c I can’t eat peanuts
Chop apples into bite size pieces.  You can dip them in lemon juice to prevent browning, but they are going to be covered in cool whip so it doesn’t really matter.  If you are going to pre-cut your apples like I did, you may want to do this just so they don’t look all yucky (technical cooking term).  Chop your candy bars into small bite size pieces.  This is easier if you have them nice and chilled.
In a large bowl, add your container of Cool Whip and your pudding (see notes). Fold in your apples, and candy bar pieces (reserving a few to sprinkle on top if desired.)  Chill for about an hour (not really necessary if you are in a time crunch).
**NOTES:  Learn from my experience….if you buy the SF/FF INSTANT pudding – you need to add 1 cup milk to your pudding mix first.  Mix it together and then add to your Cool Whip.  If you buy the SF/FF Cook and Serve pudding, you can just add that to your Cool Whip.
Oh yeah, and I chopped up a few Hershey’s Miniatures too, b/c it didn’t seem like enough chocolate. But it’s rare that I feel like I have enough chocolate. and it was Mother’s Day and all.
You can play around with the recipe and use whatever flavor pudding and fruits you like.
I also made an apple/strawberry version with chocolate pudding! I skipped the candy bars to reduce the calories, but it would be awesome with them! My girls love this.

I’m going to link this recipe up with these fab linky parties – The Newlyweds, It’s a Keeper, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, A Little Nosh, Talking Dollars and Cents, Eat at Home