Posted in Dessert, Season, Spices, Tips/Hints

Pumpkin Cream Pie in Mason Jar

Pumpkin Cream Pie in Mason Jars
This is a fun desert for guests and family. A twist on Pumpkin Pie, this recipe is really delicious and light. If you love Pumpkin Pie (and who doesn’t this time of year?) then you are going to want to try this one. Pay close attention to the crust, as this crust can be used for any cake or pie that calls fro Graham Cracker Crust. It really is a winner!

Serves: 10

Estimate Calories preserving: 196

Fat grams: 5 grams



6 ounces pitted dates, minced

1 cup graham-cracker crumbs


1 can (15 ounce) canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

1 cup skim milk

½ cup fat free half and half

2T. cornstarch

1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon


½ cup heavy cream

1 T. sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a food processor, pulse together dates and graham cracker crumbs for several minutes until it holds together between your fingers.
  2. Press an even amount of graham cracker crust into 12 mason jars and set aside.
  3. Blend all ingredients together, cook on medium heat until thickened.  Pour an even amount in each mason jar.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Beat together heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until thick.  Spoon onto each pumpkin pie and serve.
Posted in Bake, Easy, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Pork, Season, Side Dishes

Noodle and Ham Cast Iron Skillet Casserole

Noodle and Ham Cast Iron Skillet Casserole

Serves 4

Preheat oven 375o

Estimated Calories/serving: 332

Fat Grams: 7 grams


1 pound smoked ham, diced

1 onion, chopped

1 can condensed cheese soup

2/3 cup skim milk

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Pepper to taste

6 ounces partially cooked noodles (cook for 5 minutes) or al dente


  1. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add chopped onion and cook 3 -4 minutes until onion is soft.
  2. Add diced ham and cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes until ham and onions are slightly browned. Turn off heat and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix cheese soup, milk, Worcestershire sauce and pepper.  Stir in cooked noodles
  4. Gently fold noodle mixture into to ham and onions.
  5. Bake 20 minutes until browned.
Posted in Pork, Rub, Salads, Sauces, Season, Slow Cook, Spices, Vegetables

Pulled Pork with Amercian Style Coleslaw

Every year this weekend kicks off the holiday BBQ season.  To get ready, I am experimenting with some classic menus that won’t make you feel guilty.  Tonight we had pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches.

One of the reasons I love serving this to company is because it is better if made a day or two before the BBQ.  The coleslaw should be made at least 24 hour in advance and kept cold until ready to serve.  The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the better it gets.  The pulled pork can definitely be made the day before and heated up and served in a crock pot.  So if you are looking for hassle free cooking the day of your party, this is a great menu.

The family loved it (even if it was 60 degrees and cloudy) and was asking for seconds.


American Style Coleslaw

Pulled Pork with Amercian Style Coleslaw

Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Refrigerate overnight

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 55                           Fat: 2 grams


½ cup low fat mayonnaise

¼ cup skim milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon celery seed

¼ teaspoon salt

1 scallion – chopped

4 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup shredded carrot


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, sugar, vinegar, pepper, onion powder, celery seed, and salt.
  2. Add shredded cabbage, carrot and scallion and toss.
  3. Refrigerate overnight or for several days and serve cold.

Pulled Pork

Serves 8

Pre heat oven 250o

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Bake Time: 4 – 5 hours

Cook time: 30 minutes

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 200                        Fat: 5 grams

Pork Loin Rub Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless pork loin

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Trim any excess fat from pork and set aside.
  2. To make the rub, combine all the ingredients. Rub over the surface of the pork loin to coat.
  3. Place pork in baking pan and cover with aluminum foil.  Cook pork for about 4 – 5 hours.
  4. Cool pork until you are able to handle it then shred the meat.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup strong coffee

1 jar (12 ounces) chili sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

¼ cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 – 3 dashes pepper sauce (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium low heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add sauce to shredded pork and mix well.  Serve hot.
Posted in Casserole, Dessert, Season

Eggnog Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

Eggnog Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

Serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 1 hour

Preheat oven 325o

Estimated values per serving:

Calories = 400                      Fat = 6 grams                        Points: 6

Eggnog Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

6 cups of cubed sweet bread (Challah)

4 cups low fat eggnog

¾ cups egg substitute

½ cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon rum extract

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bread Pudding Directions:

  1. Toast cubed bread in the broiler until slightly browned (about 1 minute), turn bread over and broil on the other side until lightly browned (about 1 more minute).  Place toasted bread in a bowl and pour eggnog on top.  Allow the bread to soak in the eggnog for 1 hour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg substitute, sugar, vanilla and rum extract and nutmeg.  Pour on top of bread mixture and gently fold in.
  3. Coat an 8 X 12 baking pan with cooking spray.  Spoon bread pudding into baking dish.  Bake 1 hour.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Rum Sauce Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons rum

Rum Sauce Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a small skillet.  Add brown sugar and stir until sugar is moistened.
  2. Add rum and ignite.  Cook rum sauce until the flames have disappeared and the sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes).
  3. Pour sauce over cooled bread pudding and serve at room temperature.


Posted in Salads, Season, Side Dishes

Mediterranean Summer Salad

This is inspired by Dean’s cousins in Piedmont, California who made a delicious tomato salad.  Although I did not think to ask what was in it, I was excited to get home and use the tomatoes from my garden to re-create a version of this delicious fresh summertime salad. 

The directions may seem a little odd to leave the salad out then refrigerate but room temperature is perfect for having the flavors absorb into the vegetables.  I then refrigerated the salad because I enjoy eating cold salad (especially on a 95o day).  However, you can skip refrigerating it and serve at room temperature if you prefer.

Thanks for the inspiring idea Mark and Tracy!

Mediterranean Tomato Salad

Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Marinating and refrigeration time: 3 hours

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 90                           Fat: 3 grams                          Points: 2


4 large tomatoes – cut into 1-inch pieces

3 small cucumbers – seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ cup red onion – thinly sliced

1 clove garlic – minced

1 tablespoon high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh basil – thinly sliced

½ teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

¼ cup crumbled fat free Feta cheese

½ cup croutons


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.  Toss gently and leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour to marinate.
  2. Drain excess liquids from the salad, cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  3. 5 minutes before serving, add croutons and cheese, toss gently and serve.


Posted in Fish, Grilling, Saute`, Season, Shrimp, Spices

A new Spice of Life

We were in Costco today and I saw a new smoke flavor that looked really good so I picked it up.  I am sure you can find it in the supermarket since it’s made by McCormick.  The spice combination is called “Smokehouse Maple”.  In order to get a real taste for it, I simply sprinkled a tablespoon over 2 pounds of shrimp and grilled the shrimp on an indoor grill.  The flavor is sweet with a hint of smokiness in the background.  After tasting the shrimp, I decided that it would be a great base that can compliment BBQ grill recipes.

Spices are a great way to add a lot of flavor to your meals without adding any fat and almost no calories.  For this reason, I enjoy experimenting with spices.  In the past few years, the food companies have become really creative in introducing new spice combinations that focus on ethnic or American regional cuisine.  By combining many individual spices in one jar, the companies make flavorful cooking easier.  I usually like to further enhance specific flavors and often use the spice combinations as a beginning.

The best way for you to try a new spice combination is to cook something very plain (such as chicken breast, shrimp or steak), sprinkle a little on and grill or sauté it in a pan without adding anything else.  This way you know if you like it and what type of dish it may compliment.

So don’t be shy, go out there and try some new spice combinations; I think you’ll find that your meals come out flavorful , delicious and light.

Enjoy and happy experimenting!!