Southwest Chicken Salad

If you enjoy flavor-filled main dish salads, you will love this Southwest Chicken Salad, with marinated grilled chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado, atop romaine lettuce and drizzled with a creamy, low fat, Southwestern seasoned, lime cilantro salad dressing.Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love this Southwest-inspired salad with marinated chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados, and lettuce, topped w/ a creamy lime cilantro dressing!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it not only sounded HEALTHY, but DELICIOUS!  The original recipe serves 4, but I very slightly modified it to make two servings, for my husband and I to enjoy! OH MY GOODNESS… the salad is amazing… like “we ate every single bite” amazing!

I made the marinade early in the day, and let the chicken “bathe” in it for hours, to soak up great flavor! When I was ready to fix dinner, all I had to do was grill the chicken on my stove top and assemble the salad. EASY!  Here’s how to make it:

In a medium sized bowl, combine all the marinade/salad dressing ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE YOGURT! Mix together until all are well blended. Pour HALF of the marinade (set aside the other half) into a rimmed dish and add the chicken. Turn pieces over, to coat well. Cover chicken and place in refrigerator for 2 hours (or more, if time allows). Cover remaining marinade and refrigerate until ready to use.

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When ready to assemble salad for your meal, remove reserved marinade from refrigerator. Blend in the Greek yogurt, until completely incorporated and creamy.

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

After chicken has fully marinated, remove it from refrigerator.  Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet or on a grill on medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Sear chicken on first side until bottom is golden brown and crispy, then flip and cook other side until chicken is fully done (reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees).  I used an indoor cast iron grill and it took about 10 minutes per side.

Once done, remove chicken, and let it rest, so juices can redistribute internally. After chicken rests 5 minutes, cut each piece into thin slices. Discard chicken marinade.

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When you are ready to assemble salad, fill individual bowls or plates with chopped romaine. Divide corn, beans, and cherry tomato halves between servings. Top with avocado and chicken slices (fanning them out slightly, for a decorative look). My husband wanted an entire half an avocado sliced on his salad, as you can tell from the photo below… ha ha!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Drizzle the salad with the prepared cilantro lime salad dressing. Serve, and enjoy this absolutely amazing tasting meal!  (*NOTE: I made 2 large entree sized salads for us. If making 4 salads, increase chicken to 4 pieces, and double the amount of corn, beans, cherry tomatoes, and add additional lettuce. You will not need to double the marinade).

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

We absolutely LOVED this salad; we were very full and completely satisfied after eating!  The grilled chicken had great flavor, thanks  to the lime cilantro marinade, and the low fat flavor-filled dressing made this dish shine!  I sincerely hope you will consider trying this recipe… it is totally delicious, filling, and very colorful! Have a fantastic day!

Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Adapted From: Karina, at https://cafedelites.com/southwestern-chicken-salad/

Southwest Chicken Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 2 main dish servings
Ingredients
  • 2 large chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
For Marinade/Salad Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (approx. 2 large limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin (ground)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (THIS IS USED FOR DRESSING ONLY!!!)
For Salad:
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce (torn or chopped)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • ½ avocado, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup canned black beans (drained, rinsed)
  • ½ cup canned whole kernel corn (drained, rinsed)
Directions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all marinade/salad dressing ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE YOGURT! Mix together until well blended. Pour HALF of the marinade (set aside the other half) into a rimmed shallow dish and add the chicken. Toss to coat well. Cover chicken and place in refrigerator for 2 hours (or more, if time allows). Cover remaining marinade and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. After chicken has fully marinated, remove it from refrigerator. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet or on a grill on medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Cook chicken on first side until bottom is golden brown and crispy, then flip and cook other side until chicken is fully cooked throughout. (I used an indoor cast iron grill and it took about 10 minutes per side). Once done, remove chicken, and let it rest so juices can settle internally. After chicken has rested for 5 minutes, cut each piece into thin slices. Discard chicken marinade.
  3. When ready to assemble salad, remove reserved marinade from refrigerator. Blend in the Greek yogurt, until completely incorporated and creamy.
  4. To assemble salads, fill individual bowls or plates with chopped romaine. Divide corn, beans, and cherry tomato halves between servings. Place avocado and chicken slices decoratively on top of salad. Drizzle each salad with reserved creamy cilantro lime dressing. Serve, and enjoy!
Notes
*NOTE: I made 2 large salads for us. If making 4 servings, increase chicken to 4 pieces, and double the amount of corn, beans, cherry tomatoes, and add additional lettuce, as desired. (Use same amounts written for marinade/dressing).

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Southwest Chicken Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love this Southwest-inspired salad with marinated chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados, and lettuce, topped w/ a creamy lime cilantro dressing!

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup

If you enjoy a robust, flavor-filled bowl of soup, but are dieting OR looking to cut a few calories, then you will LOVE this recipe for Weight Watchers French Onion Soup!  It has caramelized onions and the amazing flavor of the original, but with less calories!Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love the rich, decadent flavor of caramelized onions in this "lightened up" version of French Onion Soup! All the flavor without all the extra calories!

On a cold day recently, I was craving a big bowl of French Onion Soup, but since I am watching my calories, and have lost over 26 pounds the past several months, I wanted the TASTE of this delicious soup, but without the extra calories from bread and that yummy, gooey CHEESE!  So… I found this recipe using my Weight Watchers app, and decided to try it. The original recipe was designed to use a slow cooker, but it took almost 12 hours to make, so I modified the recipe so it could be made on the stove top in about 40 minutes total (prep and cook time).

OH MY GOODNESS… it is so incredibly delicious!  The caramelized onions swimming in a rich, flavorful broth, and a bit of Parmesan cheese on top tasted amazing. I didn’t even miss the bread! You need to make this soup ASAP! My husband and I LOVED this meal, and since a serving size is 1½ cups, we each had a large bowl of soup (with a salad on the side). *Note: I made HALF the recipe… so my photos reflect this!)

Here’s how easy it is to make:  The most difficult thing about making this (and it’s a cinch), is cutting up those crazy onions (wiping away the tears!). Peel onions and thinly slice. Remember, slicing onions is not for sissies… (wiping away more tears). I cut them in half (top to bottom), then peeled, then sliced.

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Melt butter in large skillet. Add sliced onions and salt. Cook on medium heat until the onions are well browned, stirring often. This will take about 20 minutes. I made a salad while the onions were cooking, but came back and gave them a good stir every few minutes!

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once the onions are wonderfully brown (and smell so good!), add a bay leaf and some fresh thyme to the skillet. If you do not have access to fresh thyme, you can add dried thyme, but you will need to reduce the amount by 1/3, since dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor. **Here’s my tip on cooking the onions… don’t rush the process …take your time cooking the onions… you want them nice and brown, caramelized, soft and fragrant, for the best tasting soup!

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Add sherry, minced garlic, sugar, chicken broth and beef broth to skillet. Stir well, to combine all ingredients. Let this cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will allow the alcohol (sherry) to burn off, and allow the flavors to develop. When done, remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs from soup.  Stir in soy sauce and black pepper.

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Ladle the soup into bowls, and immediately garnish each serving with 1/2 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme (if desired). Serve, and enjoy! Here’s a photo of my bowl of soup BEFORE I gobbled it up!.

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love the rich, decadent flavor of caramelized onions in this "lightened up" version of French Onion Soup! All the flavor without all the extra calories!

Here’s a photo of my husband’s bowl of soup. He wanted a bit of the traditional melted “stringy” cheese on his at the last minute, so I grabbed a thin slice of Swiss cheese we keep on hand for sandwiches, put it on the top and microwaved the soup for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. It was nice and “gooey” and stringy… just the way he likes it (and only added 70 more calories!)

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

We both really loved this soup!   If you happen to follow a Weight Watchers plan, the total for this delicious bowl of “yummy-ness” is 3 Smart Points!  I highly recommend this recipe… low in calories, high in taste and satisfaction!  Have a great day!

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Adapted From: https://www.weightwatchers.com

Weight Watchers French Onion Soup
 
Prep time
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Cut back on calories, but not flavor, with an easy to make, decadent, delicious bowl of French Onion Soup!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6 (1½ cup) servings
Ingredients
  • 6-7 large uncooked white onions, peeled and thinly sliced (approx. 3 lbs.)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme (plus extra if using for garnish)
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 cups beef broth (reduced sodium)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (low sodium)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (to garnish hot soup)
  • Additional sprigs fresh thyme (to garnish hot soup)
Directions
  1. Peel onions and thinly slice.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Add sliced onions and salt. Cook on medium heat until the onions are well browned, stirring every couple of minutes. This will take approximately 20 minutes. Once the onions are wonderfully brown (and smell so good!), add a bay leaf and fresh thyme sprigs to the skillet (if using dried thyme, reduce by ½ the amount used). Add sherry, minced garlic, sugar, beef broth and chicken broth to skillet. Stir well, to combine all ingredients. Let this mixture cook, uncovered for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This will burn off the alcohol (sherry). When done, remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs from soup. Stir in soy sauce and black pepper.
  3. Ladle the hot soup into bowls, and immediately garnish each serving with ½ Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme (if desired). Serve, and ENJOY! (the leftovers are wonderful, as well!)

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Weight Watchers French Onion Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love the rich, decadent flavor of caramelized onions in this "lightened up" version of French Onion Soup! All the flavor without all the extra calories!

Triple Berry Banana Smoothie

Do you enjoy cold, fresh fruit smoothies? We sure do at our house! Recently for lunch I made a Triple Berry Banana Smoothie, which included blended frozen raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries with a banana, orange juice, Greek yogurt and spinach! It was DELICIOUS!Triple Berry Banana Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks! A delicious fruit smoothie featuring raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, spinach, orange juice, and Greek yogurt! A perfect quick meal on the go!

Here in the Portland, Oregon area, we’ve been experiencing many days with temperatures in the low 30’s this Winter. I realize that sounds like a “heat wave” to others experiencing absolutely frigid temps, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions, BUT… it still was COLD. So in spite of everything my brain told me NOT to do on a freezing cold day, I made a really COLD fruit smoothie for lunch… ha ha! And guess what? IT WAS WONDERFUL!

The smoothie couldn’t be easier to make!  Here are the cast of characters… frozen berries (3 kinds- blueberry, blackberry and raspberry, bought in a fruit medley bag at Costco), non-fat plain Greek yogurt (a good source of protein), a handful of fresh baby spinach (trust me- the kids will NEVER know there’s a veggie in there!), a banana, and a small amount of orange juice.

All the ingredients are placed into a blender and mixed until it is smooth! That’s it!  There is enough to make 2 (8 ounce) smoothies, or 4 little smoothies (for the kids). By using frozen berries there is no need to add ice to make the smoothie cold (which can possibly water down the drink).

Triple Berry Banana Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

If you are a lover of fruit smoothies, I would also recommend checking out my recipes for Orange Julius (copycat), Blueberry, Banana and Kale Smoothie, or the delicious Super Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie! They all taste wonderful, and are very easy to prepare!

You might also enjoy this Orange Julius (copycat) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

You might also enjoy this Blueberry, Banana, and Kale Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

You might also enjoy this Super Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

But for now… back to THIS incredible tasting drink! Once it is well blended, pour yourself a great big glass full… and ENJOY this yummy, filling beverage! The best part is that it only takes a couple minutes to make, tastes GREAT, and is nice and cold from those frozen berries! Lip-smackin’ good!

Triple Berry Banana Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Hope you enjoy it! We sure did! The recipe is easily doubled, and can be easily adapted to use other berries you may enjoy.  It was a very light lunch for me that day, but it left me filling full and satisfied.  Have a wonderful day!

Triple Berry Banana Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Triple Berry Banana Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This cold and satisfying fruit smoothie featuring a medley of fresh and frozen fruit, orange juice, Greek yogurt and spinach is a wonderful quick meal on the go!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 2 (8 ounce) servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen berry medley (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 large handful fresh baby spinach leaves (approx. 1½ cups)
  • 3 heaping Tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup orange juice (I used commercially prepared)
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in blender. Make sure berries (or banana) are frozen before adding. By using frozen fruit, you avoid having to add ice cubes to the drink to make it cold, which can water it down.
  2. Process ingredients until well blended and smooth.
  3. Pour into glasses and serve!
Notes
Recipe yields approximately 2 (8 ounce) servings) or 4 (1/2 cup) servings.

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Triple Berry Banana Smoothie / The Grateful Girl Cooks! A delicious fruit smoothie featuring raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, spinach, orange juice, and Greek yogurt! A perfect quick meal on the go!

 

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake

If you’re trying to lose weight or cut calories, but enjoy dessert… you’ll enjoy this recipe for Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake, made in a microwave in 1 MINUTE!  You’ll feel like you’re “cheating”, but with the cake being only 80 calories, it’s a fast, tasty option to curb a sweet tooth!Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Make a master mix with two ingredients , then enjoy an easy "low-calorie" chocolate mug cake any time you want, cooked for only ONE MINUTE in a microwave!

My sister Joni told me about the Weight Watchers 3-2-1 Cake. She heard about it, tried it,  then told me about it.  The numbers 3-2-1 refer to the easy way to remember the recipe for each individual mug cake. 3 Tablespoons mix- 2 Tablespoons water- 1 minute in the microwave! Get it?  It is one of the EASIEST ways to quickly satisfy a sweet tooth “attack”, without going overboard!!

The “mix” is made by simply combining dry cake mix with angel food cake mix (the kind that only has you add water). Both dry cake mixes are whisked together until well blended, with no lumps. Store the mix in an airtight, sealed container, then you can use it as needed. The recipe makes enough for 46 mug cakes, so there will be plenty! I used 2 quart sized canning jars to store the cake mixture, and taped instructions to each jar for future use.

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I used Devil’s Food cake mix to make my mug cake chocolate flavored, but you can substitute any flavor mix for the Devil’s Food.  You can also add 2-3 teaspoons mix-ins like finely chopped nuts or dried fruit, or mini chocolate chips for additional flavor, if you want. **Please note that adding these additional ingredients will raise the caloric value!! The cake by itself with no additional filling or topping equals 80 calories per serving, AND if you follow WW, the point value is 2 Points Plus, or 3 Smart Points.**  

Once you’ve made the Master Mix, when the craving for something a little sweet hits, and you want to make one mug cake, place 3 Tablespoons mix into a straight sided microwave safe mug.

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Add 2 Tablespoons water, and mix well with a spoon or fork until mixture is smooth.

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Microwave for 1 minute on HIGH power. Remove mug from microwave; let it sit and cool down a little bit. It will come out looking like this…

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

It can be eaten straight from the mug, OR you can run a butter knife around edges and gently remove the cake from the mug onto a plate.

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Serve the cake plain for least amount of calories (80), or you can choose to top it with frosting, ice cream,, fruit, sifted powdered sugar, frozen yogurt, and/or chocolate syrup.

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Make a master mix with two ingredients , then enjoy an easy "low-calorie" chocolate mug cake any time you want, cooked for only ONE MINUTE in a microwave!

Now can you see why it is commonly called a 3-2-1 Mug Cake?  THREE tablespoons of prepared mix, TWO tablespoons of water, and ONE minute in the microwave!!! It’s a perfect mix to keep on hand, so when the urge for dessert hits, and you’re afraid you will eat everything sweet in the house, you can satisfy your craving with a slightly “healthier” solution!

Sure hope you will make this mug cake mix and will enjoy having it on hand in your kitchen for those “gotta have something sweet now” emergencies… ha ha!

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: https://simple-nourished-living.com/weight-watchers-3-2-1-microwave-mug-cake/

Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
You'll enjoy this quick and easy "low-calorie" chocolate mug cake, made in the microwave in ONE MINUTE!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: approx. 46 cakes
Ingredients
For Cake Mix:
  • 1 box (15.25 - 18.25 ounces) Devil's Food cake mix
  • 1 box (16 ounces) Angel Food cake mix (the type that only needs water-one step)
To Make One Mug Cake:
  • 3 Tablespoons of the combined dry cake mix
  • 2 Tablespoons water
Directions
  1. Whisk both dry cake mixes together until well blended, with no lumps. Store in an airtight, sealed container. I used canning jars to store the cake mixture, and taped instructions to jar.
  2. When ready to make one mug cake, place 3 Tablespoons mix into a straight sided microwave safe mug. Add 2 Tablespoons water, and mix well until mixture is smooth.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute on HIGH power. Remove mug from microwave; let it sit and cool down a little bit. It will be ready to eat straight from the mug, OR you can run a butter knife around edges and gently remove the cake from the mug onto a plate. Serve the cake plain for least amount of calories (80), or you can garnish cake with frosting, ice cream or frozen yogurt, fruit, powdered sugar (sifted) and/or chocolate syrup.
Notes
TIP# 1 - You can substitute any flavor cake mix for the Devil's Food.
TIP # 2 - May also add 2-3 teaspoons additional mix-ins like finely chopped nuts or dried fruit, or mini chocolate chips for additional flavor. Please note that adding these additional ingredients will raise the caloric value.

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Chocolate Angel Food Mug Cake / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Make a master mix with two ingredients , then enjoy an easy "low-calorie" chocolate mug cake any time you want, cooked for only ONE MINUTE in a microwave!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Happy New Year!  If you’re like many others, you’ve started the year with a determination to eat healthier or lose some weight! This Southwest Quinoa Salad is a delicious, healthy recipe solution for you, featuring a combination of quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, and avocado, topped with a scrumptious cilantro lime dressing! YUM!Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love this healthy side or vegetarian dish featuring quinoa, tomatoes, corn, beans, peppers and avocado, topped with a flavorful cilantro lime dressing!
This is my first official blog post of 2018, and I’m so grateful to be able to share this recipe with you from our newly remodeled kitchen.  I don’t know about you, but we managed to eat quite a bit of Christmas goodies and take-out over the holidays (due to my husband and I loving sweets AND having no kitchen to cook in for the past 2 months), and have begun the year determined to make wiser choices.  Enter this quinoa salad… this flavor-filled healthy “meatless” dish is perfect as a light side dish… or a quick lunch! Here’s how to make it.

Put the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with water (this helps clean the  quinoa). Place the rinsed quinoa, water and salt in a saucepan; bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan. Cook quinoa for approximately 17-20 minutes (or until all liquid has been absorbed). Remove pan from heat, set aside, and let quinoa cool down to room temperature.

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Place cherry tomatoes, corn, black beans, bell peppers, avocado and room temperature quinoa into a large salad bowl. Set aside. TIP: An easy tip for cubing an avocado is to cut it in half, remove pit, then use a knife to slice grid lines into avocado lengthwise, then horizontally, without cutting through peel. Once cut, slide a large spoon around the inside of the peel, and the avocado cubes should fall out!

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

To make the simple cilantro lime dressing, whisk together olive oil, light sour cream, lime zest and juice, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro in a small bowl . Be sure to mix well.

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Pour all of the dressing over salad, and stir well, to combine all ingredients thoroughly. The quinoa will absorb all the delicious Southwestern flavors from the dressing and will really make this dish shine!

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I garnished the salad with a sprig of fresh cilantro, and served it as a side dish, but the salad is filling (even without meat), and would be a perfect quick vegetarian meal or “take to work” packed lunch! The salad tastes good served at room temperature OR chilled!

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Here’s a close up of some Southwest Quinoa Salad goodness… yum!  I love the fact that it not only tastes wonderful, but is quite colorful and good for you!

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I served the salad with roasted turkey breast and steamed broccoli, for a healthy New Years Day dinner! My husband and I really enjoyed it, and it was FUN to prepare my first recipe for 2018 in our newly remodeled kitchen (after 2 months of not being able to cook in there)! Yay for our new, updated kitchen, appliances and counter tops! We still  have some work to do, but I’ve already begun cooking in my kitchen once again. CAN YOU SEE ME SMILING?

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I want to wish you again a Happy New Year from our home to yours!  The arrival of a new year brings with it an infinite number of opportunities to encourage and serve others, grow as a person, create great memories, and cook delicious meals for yourself and those you love!

Hope you will join me in rising to the occasion, and as always, thank you for visiting The Grateful Girl Cooks. I appreciate each one of you. Have a great day!

Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: http://togetherasfamily.com/2017/05/fiesta-quinoa-salad/

Southwest Quinoa Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Southwest
Serves: 8 side servings
Ingredients
For Salad:
  • 1¼ cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can corn, drained (standard sized can)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped (I used a combination of red, orange and green)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
For Cilantro Lime Dressing:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup reduced fat sour cream (can substitute plain non-fat yogurt)
  • Zest and juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Put the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with water (this helps clean quinoa). Place the rinsed quinoa, water and salt in a saucepan; bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan. Cook quinoa for approximately 17-20 minutes (or until all liquid has been absorbed). Remove pan from heat, set aside, and let quinoa cool down to room temperature.
  2. Place cherry tomatoes, corn, black beans, bell peppers, avocado and cooled quinoa into a large salad bowl.
  3. To make cilantro lime dressing, in a small bowl whisk together olive oil, light sour cream, lime zest and juice, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro. Be sure to mix well. Pour all of the dressing over salad, and stir well to combine all ingredients thoroughly. Serve as a side dish or as a healthy meatless meal, and enjoy! (Store leftovers in a covered container in refrigerator).

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Southwest Quinoa Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks! You'll love this healthy side or vegetarian dish featuring quinoa, tomatoes, corn, beans, peppers and avocado, topped with a flavorful cilantro lime dressing!

Karen’s Delicious Apple Cobbler

If you’re looking for an EASY dessert that can be made quickly, may I suggest  this simple recipe for Karen’s Delicious Apple Cobbler? You only need 4 ingredients and 30 minutes to make this amazing dessert! It’s REALLY quite tasty!Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Four ingredients and thirty minutes is all you need to make this EASY and delicious apple pie cobbler for dessert!

When I was a newlywed 40 years ago, my husband and I moved from Southern California to a small town in Southern Oregon. I was privileged to meet a woman named Karen at the church where my husband was the Music Pastor. Karen sang in our choir, had an amazing voice, and an even sweeter personality and infectious laugh. She graciously invited us over for meals, became a dear friend, and even let me do our laundry at her home several times… THAT was also a huge gift because it meant I didn’t have to hang out at the local laundromat for hours.

Karen made this apple cobbler for us once (40 years ago), and I loved it.  Being a newlywed, and loving to cook, I asked her if she would share her recipe with me. She laughed and told me how incredibly easy it was to make (a big plus!), and gave it to me. I named the recipe after her and wrote it on the recipe card, so I wouldn’t ever forget who gave it to me. I’ve made this recipe many times over the years, and finally decided to add it to my blog.  Karen passed away quite suddenly in 2014, but her sweet spirit, love, zest for life, and memories live on in every person she poured herself into, including ME!

Here’s how to make this… it’s so very EASY!  Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13×9 pan (or two smaller sized pans) with non-stick spray.  Spread fruit pie filling evenly in pan.

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!In medium bowl, mix butter, yellow cake mix and chopped nuts until crumbly.

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Sprinkle this dry mixture evenly over the apple pie filling. The cobbler is usually made in a 9×13 pan, but this time I made it in a square pan (8×8) and a 9 inch cake pan, so I could give one away to a friend recovering from surgery, yet still have one for our family.

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Bake at 350° F. for approximately 30 minutes, or until bubbly and crumb mixture is light golden brown on top. Remove pan to a wire rack and let cool down slightly before serving.

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once cobbler has cooled down a bit, serve up individual portions.  This cobbler tastes best served slightly warm, with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

This cobbler is so very easy to make, and truly is quite scrumptious! Speaking of cobblers, if you enjoy this type of dessert you might be interested in other recipes on this blog for Strawberry Cobbler, Blackberry Cobbler, or Old-Fashioned Peach Crisp. You might also enjoy learning about the history of cobblers, crisps, pandowdy, etc.

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

It’s wonderful to have a recipe card for a dessert that is yummy and soooo simple to make, permanently stored in my recipe box (and now on my blog)!  With every bite, I am reminded of the sweet friend who gave it to me, and miss her very much!

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks!Recipe Source: Karen Cobb Nelson

Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
5 minutes prep time is all it takes to make this super easy and yummy apple cobbler!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1 (13x9) cobbler or 2 smaller pans
Ingredients
  • 1 can apple pie filling (21 ounces)
  • 1 cube butter, at room temperature
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • Non-stick spray
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13x9 pan (or two smaller sized pans) with non-stick spray.
  2. Spread fruit pie filling evenly in pan.
  3. In medium bowl, mix butter, yellow cake mix and chopped nuts until crumbly. Sprinkle this dry mixture evenly over the apple pie filling.
  4. Bake at 350° F. for approximately 30 minutes, or until bubbly and crumb mixture is light golden brown on top. Remove pan to a wire rack and let cool down slightly before serving. This cobbler tastes best served slightly warm, with a big ol' scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Karen's Delicious Apple Cobbler / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Four ingredients and thirty minutes is all you need to make this EASY and delicious apple pie cobbler for dessert!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells are a delicious twist on traditional stuffed pasta. Ground beef, cheese and onion filled shells are baked in enchilada sauce, then topped with cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and garnished with a dollop of sour cream, for a flavor-filled dinner! Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Stuffed pasta shells with a Mexican twist! Seasoned beef, cheese and onion filled shells are baked, and topped with cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and sour cream!
Last Spring I made Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells and we really enjoyed them.  Now fast forward to about 4 months later when I started thinking about how much my husband and I absolutely LOVE Mexican food. A lightbulb went off in my head and I decided to experiment and make more stuffed shells, but this time create a recipe with a Mexican twist!  We really enjoyed them, so am sharing the details on the ol’ blog today.

These stuffed shells are really easy to prepare.  Start by cooking 1 pound of ground beef with sliced green onions in large skillet on medium heat.  Once meat is cooked, drain grease from pan (discard grease). Add one taco seasoning packet and cook according to seasoning package instructions.

Once meat has been cooked and seasoned, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and let it cool down for 4-5 minutes.  3 Tablespoons enchilada sauce and grated cheddar and jack cheeses; stir to combine. Set aside.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook jumbo pasta shells according to package directions.  When pasta is done cooking, drain, then place shells in a single layer on wax paper or parchment paper.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Place several heaping spoonfuls of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (enough to just barely cover the bottom of dish). Fill the cooked pasta shells with the ground beef mixture, then place into baking dish in a single layer.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once all shells are filled and in the baking dish, spoon the rest of the enchilada sauce over the shells to cover.  Sprinkle with the remaining half of the cheddar and jack cheeses.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes total.  Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.  Sauce and cheese should be bubbly when done.  Remove dish from oven.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

To serve, top with additional cheese, tomato, cilantro and green onions, for a great splash of color (and added flavor)!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Place 2-3 shells onto each individual serving plate, and top each shell with a small dollop of sour cream. Serve… and enjoy!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Hope you will consider making these flavor-filled stuffed pasta shells for an upcoming meal.  I served them with a simple mixed green salad on the side, and they were quite filling.  Have a great day!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Stuffed pasta shells with a Mexican twist! Seasoned beef, cheese and onion filled shells are baked, and topped with cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and sour cream!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 green onions (sliced, use green stalk and white bulb)
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, DIVIDED
  • ½ cup grated jack cheese, DIVIDED
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce (19 ounces)
  • Approx. ½ box jumbo pasta shells (I used 18 shells)
For Garnish (use as little or as much as you desire)
  • Chopped tomato
  • Sliced green onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place several large spoonfuls of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (enough to just cover the bottom). Set aside.
  2. Cook ground beef with chopped green onions in large skillet on medium heat. When meat is cooked, drain and discard grease. Add taco seasoning packet and cook according to seasoning package instructions. Once meat has finished cooking, transfer it to a bowl, and let cool down for 4-5 minutes. Discard grease from pan. Add 3 Tablespoons enchilada sauce and HALF of the grated cheddar and jack cheeses to the meat; stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook jumbo pasta shells according to package directions. When pasta is done cooking, drain, then place shells in a single layer on wax paper or parchment paper. Fill cooked pasta shells with the ground beef mixture, then place into baking dish (on top of sauce) in a single layer.
  4. Once all shells are filled and in baking dish, spoon the rest of the enchilada sauce over shells to cover. Sprinkle with the remaining half of the cheddar and jack cheeses.
  5. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes total. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. Sauce and cheese should be bubbly when done. Remove dish from oven.
  6. To serve, garnish with additional cheese, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, and green onions, for a great splash of color and flavor! Place 2-3 shells onto each person's plate; top each shell with a small dollop of sour cream. Serve and enjoy!

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Stuffed pasta shells with a Mexican twist! Seasoned beef, cheese and onion filled shells are baked, and topped with cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and sour cream!

 

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Microwave Pecan Brittle

Traditional peanut brittle gets an update and a time-saving twist in this simple recipe for Microwave Pecan Brittle! Yes… this buttery, crunchy candy is easy to make in 15 minutes, uses pecan halves instead of the customary Spanish or raw peanuts, and is made entirely IN THE MICROWAVE!Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Microwave Pecan Brittle is a time-saving twist on a classic candy! This delicious, crunchy holiday treat is easy to make in 15 minutes, using a microwave!
I grew up eating “traditionally made” peanut brittle every Christmas when my Mom would cook a large batch on our stovetop.  The process was a bit complicated, and involved using a candy thermometer, cooking the “syrup” portion to exactly the right temperature, and actually took a while to make.

When I saw this MICROWAVE time-saving recipe online from Chris Scheuer of The Café Sucré Farine a couple of months ago, I KNEW I wanted to try it (if you’ve never visited her blog, I highly recommend it)! We were starting a complete kitchen remodel the first week in November, and I knew I wanted to make some Christmas goodies ahead of time so we could have some goodies to enjoy over the holidays or for gift-giving, even though we wouldn’t have any appliances (or a kitchen, for that matter) during Thanksgiving OR Christmas.

Well, as I write this post, it’s almost Christmas, and we are in the final days of our remodel… looks like I will have a working kitchen the second week of January!  It’s been nice to pull this pecan brittle out of our freezer (yes, I froze it back in October) and thoroughly enjoy it! I am happy to report that this brittle recipe is wonderful… easy to prepare, and quite delicious! Here’s how to make it!

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil, making sure to leave an overhang of foil on all sides. Give the foil on the baking sheet a very generous spray of non-stick cooking spray. Place pan in a preheated 350 degree oven while you make the candy (this is done to make sure pan is really warm when you pour in the hot liquid mixture later on. Warm pan helps brittle to thin out and spread a bit easier.)

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Spray a 2 qt. microwave-safe baking dish AND a heat-resistant spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Measure sugar and corn syrup into dish; stir until fully combined and thick. Put dish in microwave. Cook mixture using HIGH power for 3½ minutes. As you can see from the photos, the mixture will be very hot, bubbly and light in color when done. Remove from microwave carefully – it is HOT!

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Stir in the pecan halves, then place dish back into microwave.  Cook mixture on HIGH power for an additional 3 minutes. Remove dish from microwave carefully (the color will be slighter darker).

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Immediately add butter and the vanilla extract. Stir the candy very well to combine all ingredients. Put the dish back in the microwave (last time). Cook on HIGH power for 1 minute. Note: Since microwaves sometimes have different watt levels, keep an eye on the color of the candy during the third microwaving. You may need to cook it an additional minute or so to achieve a medium brown color.

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Remove the dish from microwave very carefully. Sprinkle the baking soda over the top of the candy mixture. Stir only until the baking soda has been mixed in. The candy will get foamy, rise up a bit in the dish, and turn from a slightly amber color to a more caramel color.

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Immediately (and very carefully- use those hot pads!) pour the hot liquid candy onto your warm foil-lined baking sheet, covering as much of the foil as you can. Use your sprayed, heat-resistant spatula to spread the candy out as much as possible on the sheet. When you spread it out, you might have some holes or uneven areas appear in the candy… don’t worry about that, cause you will bust it up into pieces later! You really cannot mess this up, no matter how hard you may try!

Once the brittle has cooled down completely, all you will need to do is lift the foil right off of the baking sheet using the overhanging pieces of foil, lift the candy right off the foil and break it up into small serving sized pieces! It’s EASY!

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The pecan brittle is ready to serve once it is broken up into pieces. Store the leftovers in an airtight sealed container.  NOTE: I placed mine into a freezer storage bag and froze the candy for two months, due to our remodel. When I took it out of the freezer and let it thaw out, the candy tasted just as marvelous as the first day I made it! Yay!

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Microwave Pecan Brittle is a time-saving twist on a classic candy! This delicious, crunchy holiday treat is easy to make in 15 minutes, using a microwave!

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Microwave Pecan Brittle is a time-saving twist on a classic candy! This delicious, crunchy holiday treat is easy to make in 15 minutes, using a microwave!

I found this quick (and new to me) method for making brittle to be so easy, and the results taste fabulous! What a wonderful hostess gift this homemade pecan brittle would be, wrapped up in a cute decorated bag or container! Sure hope you will give this yummy Christmas treat a try. Your family and friends will LOVE it!

If you are looking for other holiday treats/recipes to try, here’s a few yummy ones to consider:

Candied Orange, Cinnamon & Clove Spiced Pecans
Chex Mix Munchies – Made in the Microwave
Chocolate Butterscotch Peanut Clusters
Cranberry Cashew Clusters
Holiday Spritz Cookies
Lemon Bars
Microwave Rocky Road Fudge
Mom’s Refrigerator Fruitcake (it’s not THAT kind of fruitcake!)

Have a blessed Christmas and Hannukah, friends! Hope you will cherish and appreciate every minute of time spent with those you love!

Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: https://thecafesucrefarine.com/15-minute-microwave-pecan-brittle/

Microwave Pecan Brittle
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Microwave Pecan Brittle is a time-saving twist on a classic candy! This delicious, crunchy holiday treat is easy to make in 15 minutes, using a microwave!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Candy
Serves: approx. 1 pound
Ingredients
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup (light)
  • 1¼ cups pecan halves
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Directions
  1. Cover a large cookie sheet with foil, making sure to leave an overhang on all sides. Give the foil a very generous spraying with non-stick spray. Place pan in a preheated 350 degree oven while you make the candy (this is done to make sure pan is really warm when you pour in the hot liquid candy mixture later on. Warm pan helps brittle to thin out and spread out a bit easier.)
  2. Spray a 2 qt. baking dish AND a heat-resistant spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Mix granulated sugar and corn syrup until fully combined and thick. Put dish in microwave. Cook mixture using HIGH power for 3½ minutes. The mixture will be very hot and light in color when done. Remove from microwave carefully - it is HOT!
  3. Stir in the pecan halves, then place dish back into microwave. Cook mixture on HIGH power for an additional 3 minutes. Remove dish from microwave carefully (the color will be a slighter darker).
  4. Immediately add butter and vanilla extract. Stir very well to combine all ingredients. Put the dish back in microwave (last time). Cook on HIGH power for 1 minute. NOTE: Since microwaves sometimes have different watt levels, keep an eye on the color of the candy during the third microwaving. You may need to cook it an additional minute or so to achieve a medium brown color.
  5. Remove dish from microwave. Sprinkle baking soda over the top of the candy mixture. Stir only until the baking soda has been mixed in. The candy will get foamy, rise up a bit in the dish, and turn from a slightly amber color to a caramel color.
  6. Immediately (and very carefully) pour the hot liquid onto your warm foil-lined baking sheet. Use your non-stick sprayed, heat-resistant spatula to spread the candy out as much as possible on the sheet. When you spread it out, you might see some holes or uneven areas... don't worry about that, cause you will bust it up later!
  7. Once the brittle has cooled down completely, all you need to do is lift the foil right out of the pan, then grab that candy, lifting it off the foil, and break it all up into small pieces!

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Microwave Pecan Brittle / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Microwave Pecan Brittle is a time-saving twist on a classic candy! This delicious, crunchy holiday treat is easy to make in 15 minutes, using a microwave!

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy, cheesy, satisfying and delicious are words I would use to describe this family-friendly recipe for Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese! Best part? This simple, filling comfort food can be on the table in 15 minutes!Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Macaroni and cheese is a creamy, delicious, family-friendly comfort food - quick and easy to make on the stovetop in 15 minutes!

A friend of ours had surgery recently and I was grateful for the opportunity to take her family dinner once she returned home from the hospital.  My husband grilled some chicken and one of the side dishes I made was this easy stovetop macaroni and cheese. I really hoped her two children would enjoy this creamy, cheesy side dish!

I made a second batch for my husband and I because it tasted so GOOD (Yep… I sampled it when I made it for my friends… quality-control)!  The recipe is incredibly simple to make, and if you enjoy satisfying comfort foods, you’ll enjoy this mac and cheese. My theory is that you can never go wrong with a basic cheese sauce and pasta! Here’s how easy it is to make this simple dish in about 15 minutes!

Cook elbow macaroni (or other small shaped pasta) according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour, salt, onion and garlic powders until well blended.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Add milk to pan. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring (or whisking) often, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Turn heat down to low, and continue to simmer (stirring often), until the sauce has thickened. This should take about 2 minutes.

Once sauce has thickened, remove pan from heat. Immediately stir in the grated cheddar cheese and a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce (or more if you like the heat). Stir until cheese has completely melted.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain, then immediately place hot pasta back into the pan you used to cook it.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Pour hot, thickened cheese sauce over the hot drained pasta, and stir well to combine.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Taste test…add additional salt (and pepper), if desired.  I added an extra handful of cheddar cheese at this point, as well (but that is completely optional… we are big cheese lovers!). Stir well to make sure pasta is fully coated with cheese sauce.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

That’s all there is to it!  Serve the macaroni and cheese while it is hot… and enjoy a bowl of this creamy, satisfying comfort food! If you like mac and cheese, perhaps you would also be interested in a Pasta, Ham and Gruyere Cheese Casserole (baked), or a Cheesy Ham, Spinach and Macaroni Bake.

NOTE: The leftovers are really good, too. Store in an air-tight container in refrigerator. Before you reheat, you might need to add a tiny bit of milk and stir, to “re-vitalize” it!

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I hope you can see how EASY it is to make this side dish OR main dish in no time at all!  If you cook the pasta at the same time you’re making the sauce, the whole “cheesy” meal can be ready in about 15 minutes… perfect for a main course, a side dish, or a quick lunch! I hope you will consider giving this recipe a try! Have a great day.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Macaroni and cheese is a creamy, delicious, family-friendly comfort food - quick and easy to make on the stovetop in 15 minutes!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • couple dashes of hot pepper sauce (approx ⅛ teaspoon)
Directions
  1. Cook elbow macaroni (or other small shaped pasta) according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, melt butter; stir in flour, salt, onion and garlic powders until well blended. Add milk to pan. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring (or whisking) often, until mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat down to low; continue to simmer (stirring often), until sauce has thickened. This should take about 2 minutes. Once sauce has thickened, remove pan from heat. Immediately stir in grated cheese and a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce (or more if you like the heat). Stir until cheese has completely melted.
  3. When pasta has finished cooking, drain, then immediately place pasta back into the pan you used to cook it. Pour the hot, thickened cheese sauce over the hot drained pasta, and stir well to combine. Taste test...add additional salt, if desired. I added an extra handful of cheddar cheese at this point, as well (but that is optional. Stir well to make sure pasta is fully coated with cheese sauce. Serve the macaroni and cheese while it's hot... and enjoy!
Notes
Serving size is about a cup. If you wish to make this dish lower in calories, consider substituting fat-free skim milk and low-fat cheddar cheese for the ingredients listed.

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Macaroni and cheese is a creamy, delicious, family-friendly comfort food - quick and easy to make on the stovetop in 15 minutes!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz® Cookies are an annual Christmas family tradition for us, with the “recipe” handed down from my Aunt to my Mom, and then to me. These delectable treats are incredibly FAST and EASY to make, which is perfect for this busy time of year!Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Crunchy, creamy, peanut butter filled chocolate covered buttery cracker cookies are quick and easy holiday treats to make, using only a few ingredients!

Many years ago (at least 15), my Mom shared these cookies with me and told me that her sister, my Aunt Theda in Texas made them for her, and Mom raved about how good they were! I tried a couple, and sure enough, they tasted fantastic. When I asked my Mom how to make them she told me how incredibly easy it was.  I really loved my sweet Aunt… she passed away quite a few years ago, but I think of her whenever I make these goodies.

I’ve made these cookies so many times since then, but finally took pictures and decided to share the “recipe” on this blog.  I added a white glaze drizzled over the top, and some red and white sprinkles for the Christmas season, but really all you need to make these is 4 ingredients!  Here’s how to make a quick dozen of these yummy stacked goodies…

Place 12 Ritz® crackers onto a piece of parchment paper.  Spread a teaspoon of creamy peanut butter onto each one. When done, top with another cracker.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Melt 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 HEAPING Tablespoon vegetable shortening in the microwave. Heat on High for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and stir chocolate. Place bowl back in microwave oven and heat an additional 30 seconds on High. Remove bowl and stir mixture until smooth.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Dip cookies, one at a time into melted chocolate mixture. I use a fork to hold the cookie, and sometimes use a spoon to help coat entire cookie with chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into bowl, then set cookie back onto parchment paper. Do not move cookie once you set it down.  Repeat process with all cookies. Once chocolate has firmed up, they are ready to eat, unless you want to decorate them.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

If you want to decorate the cookies, let the cookies sit, undisturbed, until chocolate has firmed up completely.  Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Add only a couple drops of water at a time to the sugar, stirring well, until the glaze has reached a drizzling consistency.  Too thin? Add additional powder sugar. Too thick?  Add a drop or two of water.  Use a fork to drizzle the icing over each cookie.  Garnish with colored sprinkles, if desired, while glaze is still wet.

NOTE: You do not have to drizzle powdered sugar glaze on them. You can shorten the process even further by garnishing the fresh dipped chocolate cookies with candy colored sprinkles and leave off the white icing altogether if you want!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Let the icing completely firm up at room temperature.  Once chocolate and icing are totally firm, cookies can be transferred to serving plate for serving!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Cookies can be decorated any way you wish. When I make these and it’s NOT Christmas time, I simply leave them plain, with only the chocolate covering them, and no powdered sugar drizzle. They taste good no matter how you fancy them up or not!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The flavor is wonderful in these treats, with the creamy peanut butter AND the chocolate coating going so well together.  They remain crunchy from the cracker “shell”, and are so good it will be hard to stay out of them so there’s at least ONE left for good ol’ Santa Claus!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I love to make these family favorites at Christmas time. They are made quickly without a lot of ingredients (a big plus), look good and taste even better! I hope you will consider making them a part of your holiday traditions, too!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: My Mom and Aunt Theda

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Christmas cookies made EASY using store-bought crackers, peanut butter and coated with a simple chocolate topping!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 1 dozen
Ingredients
For Cookies:
  • 24 buttery crackers (I used Ritz® crackers)
  • 12 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
For Chocolate Coating:
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 HEAPING Tablespoon vegetable shortening
For White Drizzle:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Water ( a couple drops at a time)
Directions
  1. Place 12 crackers onto a piece of parchment paper. Carefully spread a teaspoon of creamy peanut butter onto each one . When done, top with another cracker.
  2. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in the microwave. Heat on High for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and stir chocolate. Place bowl back in microwave oven and heat an additional 30 seconds on High. Remove bowl and stir mixture until smooth.
  3. Dip cookies, one at a time into melted chocolate mixture. Use a fork to hold the cookie, and a spoon to help coat entire cookie with chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into bowl, then set cookie onto parchment paper. Do not move cookie once you set it down. Repeat process with all cookies. Let the cookies sit, undisturbed, until chocolate has firmed up completely.
  4. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add only a couple drops of water at a time to the sugar, stirring well, until the glaze has reached a drizzling consistency. Use a fork to drizzle the icing over each cookie. Garnish with colored sprinkles, if desired, while glaze is still wet.
  5. Let the icing completely firm up at room temperature. Once chocolate and icing are firm, cookies can be transferred to serving plate. Enjoy!

Here’s one more to pin to your Pinterest boards!Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies / The Grateful Girl Cooks! Crunchy, creamy, peanut butter filled chocolate covered buttery cracker cookies are quick and easy holiday treats to make, using only a few ingredients!

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