Pumpkin Bread

I remember Mom baking this pumpkin bread in coffee cans. Of course this was back when coffee actually came in a metal can. After they baked she’d somehow manage to pop them out of the can into perfectly round pumpkin bread cakes. Though I prefer traditional loaf pans, the recipe is the same and just as good. It’s absolutely one of my favorite things to eat when it’s warm from the oven. It’s perfect for a snack, but I prefer a piece or two for breakfast. Pumpkin is a fruit, so that makes it healthy, right?!  ~Tracy


3 ½ c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

3 tsp. soda

1 ¼ tsp. salt

3 c. sugar

4 eggs

1 c. vegetable oil

1 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin

2/3 c. water

1 c. chopped pecans, if desired


Mix dry ingredients (Rookie baker’s note: Sugar is not classified as a “dry ingredient” in most recipes, this one included.) in a small bowl and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and water.  Mix well.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients just until mixed (do not beat). Gently fold in pecans after mixed, but in my opinion, it’s much better without them anyway. As you know by now, my mantra = no meat group items in my sweets.

Pour evenly into two loaf pans that have been greased and floured — or sprayed with baking spray.

Bake at 350°F for about an hour or until toothpick comes out virtually clean.





French Onion Pork


Okay, so think about the best part of onion soup. In my opinion, it’s that top layer. The crusty bread, the melty cheese…the perfect accompaniment to the buttery caramelized onions.  For me, the only thing missing is the meat. I feel like it needs some protein. With that in mind, I give you French Onion Pork.

The onions and pork loin are slow cooked together until the onions are sweet and the meat literally falls apart when you shred it. Inspired by the soup, this French Onion Pork is served over the top of crusty, toasted French bread (rather than under it) and topped with cheese. I like to serve mine in a heat safe dish or small skillet, so I can pop it under the broiler until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. So good! Hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.  ~Erin



2 ½ pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced (I use my mandolin slicer.)

2 T. light butter, melted

2 tsp. brown sugar (loosely measured – not packed)

1 T. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)

2 T. all-purpose flour

1 ¾ pounds boneless pork loin

2 packets Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup & Dip Mix

Bread of choice – I used a French baguette, sliced & toasted

Sliced cheese of choice – I used Provolone



Toss the sliced onions in your slow cooker with the melted butter, brown sugar, and garlic until evenly coat onions. Cook on high for at least an hour and a half. Stir in flour and cook 30 minutes more on high. This part can be done the night before, if desired, and refrigerated until the next day.

Place the pork roast on top of the onions and sprinkle in both packets of Lipton Onion Soup & Dip Mix. Reduce heat to low and cook for 8 to 10 hours. No water was needed for mine. It produced plenty of its own juice. If you are leaving it alone to cook all day, you can certainly add half a cup or so of water or beef broth if you’re concerned about it getting too dry.

Shred the pork and stir it together with the onions. Serve the onion/pork mixture over toasted bread and top with cheese. Don’t forget to put it in an oven-safe pan or skillet. Toasting the cheese under the broiler before serving is well-worth the bit of extra time.

Weight Watchers Info.:  4 ounces of the pork/onion mixture is 2 SmartPoints; same points under the new Freestyle plan. Remember to calculate your bread & cheese selections.

Brazilian Peanut Brittle

I love peanut brittle. I love almost any homemade candy. Unfortunately, using a candy thermometer or the cold-water-in-the-coffee-cup method of trying to find “hard-crack” stage is not my forte! In fact, I’m terrible at it. Fortunately, this is one of those (almost) life changing, candy making recipes. I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first I’ll start by telling you more about this peanut brittle. Brazilian peanut brittle is more buttery and slightly less sweet than traditional peanut brittle. It’s also more blonde in color than typical peanut brittle recipes. It’s different but in a very good way.

Now, back to how it’s life changing:  this recipe is fabulous in the fact that it requires NO candy thermometer. No cold water checking to see if it’s done. It is timed and done. It works perfectly for me every single time – crispy but not “break your teeth hard.”   It does not disappoint in flavor or crunch… it would be a perfect holiday treat for your family and friends!   ~Kathy



11 T. butter  (1 stick plus 3 Tablespoons)

¾ c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ c. light corn syrup

2 ¼ (up to 2 ½ ) c. unsalted dry roasted peanuts (whole and/or halved)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda


Grease the bottom of a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Set aside on top of a heat proof surface or oven mitts to protect surface below.

Place the butter, sugar, salt, and light corn syrup in a large non-stick saucepan. Cook over medium heat large burner, stirring slowly and constantly. As soon as the butter is completely melted and the mixture reaches a pale yellow color and starts to bubble around the edges, add the peanuts and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Cook for 13-15 minutes, stirring constantly, or until caramel has thickened and peanuts stick to each other, instead of falling immediately off the wooden spoon, when lifted from the pan. (During the cooking time, the mixture will start to come together and look waxy. Keep it moving in the pan, folding, stirring, etc.)

Remove mixture from heat and stir in both the vanilla and baking soda until well combined.

Pour mixture immediately onto the greased baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top (waxed paper does not work here!!) and spread the brittle thin (about 1/3” thick) using a rolling pin. Be careful not to burn yourself!  

Allow the peanut brittle to cool completely at room temperature before breaking into 2-inch pieces with your hands.

Store in a large Ziploc bag or an airtight container in a cool place for up to 2-3 weeks.

**I live at high altitude(6800+ ft) which changes the cooking time. I cook it 10 – 12 minutes. Adjust accordingly for altitude if needed.

Pimento Chile Chicken


This Mexican flavored dish is rich and flavorful without being heavy. Mom snagged this recipe from her good friend (and my Godmother) Joyce, and it’s been one of the few things I’ve made regularly since I left for college – so good and so easy! The chiles aren’t too spicy so it can serve a crowd with varied spice tolerances. I like this piled up with pickled jalapeños and my favorite salsa. ~Robin


2 ½ c. cooked, chopped chicken breast (chopped into about 1/2” cubes

½ c. fat free chicken broth

1 ½ c. 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup (I use Campbell’s)

1 ½ c. Healthy Request Condensed cream of chicken soup

1 4-oz. jar pimentos, drained (1/2 c.)

2 4-oz. cans Hatch green chiles, chopped and drained (You can add a 3rd can if you’re just crazy about chiles like I am.)

10 oz. 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

6 oz. of Doritos (by weight) toasted corn tortilla chips, slightly crushed

Pickled jalapeños, green onions, and/or cherry tomatoes for serving (optional)



Mix all ingredients except Doritos and cheese. In a large casserole dish (I use 9” x 13”), layer ½ of chicken mixture, then ½ of cheese, then ½ of the Doritos.  Repeat the same layers once more, ending with Doritos on top.  Bake at 350° for about 40-45 minutes.  Cover top with foil if Doritos begin to brown too much.  Serve with pickled jalapeños and/or your favorite salsa.

Weight Watchers Info.:  6 points per serving in the new Freestyle plan; makes 8 servings.

African Sweet Potato Stew


Are you all still using up Thanksgiving leftovers?  I know I am!  If you have extra sweet potatoes still in your pantry, this is the recipe for you.  My husband brought this recipe home from work one day years ago.  I was skeptical at first because… peanut butter in stew?!  Too weird!  But he assured me it was good so I tried it.  He was right! (Don’t tell him I said that.)  The flavors in this are different than anything I’d ever had, for sure, but they all complement each other so well.  The peanut butter just adds creaminess and a nutty background to the spicy stew.  Garnished with some chopped peanuts (if you like the extra salty crunch) and hit with the juice of a lime wedge, it’s a seriously delicious flavor profile!  ~Erin



1 ¼ lbs. (4 to 5 cups) peeled and cubed sweet potatoes

2 (10 oz. each) cans diced tomatoes & green chiles (I use one regular and one mild, Ro-Tel brand.)

1 (16 oz.) can red beans, drained & rinsed

1 (14.5 oz.) vegetable broth (or chicken broth)

½ c. water

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tsp. fresh ginger or ginger paste OR ½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. black pepper

3 T. creamy peanut butter

Optional garnishes (but highly recommended):  chopped dry roasted peanuts, lime wedges, chopped green onions



Combine first 12 ingredients (all except peanut butter) in a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours, until vegetables are tender.

Spoon ½ cup cooked stew liquid into a small bowl.  Add peanut butter to liquid and whisk until well combined.  Stir mixture into the stew.

Garnish each serving with chopped dry roasted peanuts (trust me on this – it’s good!) and lime  (also good!).

Weight Watchers info:  This recipe makes 8 servings at 5 SmartPoints each.  The serving size is 9 ounces (weight) or about 1 cup.

1 ¼ lbs. (4 to 5 cups) peeled and cubed sweet potatoes

2 (10 oz. each) cans diced tomatoes & green chiles (I use one regular and one mild, Ro-Tel brand.)


Weight Watchers Info:

Recipe makes 8 servings at 9 ounces (about a cup) per serving.

Old SmartPoints:  5 SmartPoints.

Freestyle plan: 4 SmartPoints.

Mom’s Best Weekday Chicken


The slow cooker is my best friend during the week. With all that goes on — work, helping with homework, shuffling kids to various activities, etc. (you know, the list goes on and on) – there is nothing better than coming home to a meal that is pretty much ready to go!  This recipe is rich with a ton of flavor.   Served over egg noodles, it’s a great, quick-to-assemble weeknight dinner.   See notes for Weight Watchers alternative ingredients. ~Kathy


2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts*

2 (10 ¾ oz. each) cans cream of mushroom soup*

1 (10 ¾ oz.) can cream of chicken soup*

1 c. sour cream*

1 T. paprika

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chicken base, mixed in 1/3 c. hot water**

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 lb. package wide egg noodles – not included in SmartPoints calculation below


Trim chicken of any visible fat. Place in a slow cooker that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (or lined with a crockpot liner).  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour over chicken.  Cook on low about 8 hours, until chicken is fork tender. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon to a cutting board or plate and cut into bite sized pieces.  Return to sauce mixture.

*For the Weight Watcher friendly version of this recipe, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 98% fat free cream soups (such as Campbell’s Healthy Request), and fat free plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture over noodles.

**Chicken base is found in the isle next to chicken bouillon (which I recommend using for this recipe).  It is generally not as salty as cubed bouillon. I prefer Better than Bouillon brand. If not available, substitute one chicken bouillon cube and omit salt. This may alter the flavor slightly.

Weight Watchers info:

This recipe makes 7 servings, 10 ounces (weight) each.  On the Freestyle plan, each serving is only 2 Smartpoints!  This calculations is for the chicken/soup mixture only, so don’t forget to add the points for your serving of noodles.

Perfectly Roasted Potatoes


This is almost more of a method than a recipe, it’s so easy.  If you need an extra side dish for Thanksgiving, these would be a hit!  (Plus, you probably have the ingredients in your pantry already.)  My family loves these potatoes.  For a treat, we sometimes add some shredded cheddar, bacon bits, and chopped green onions.  Who doesn’t love cheese fries?!  ~ Erin



2 lb. russet potatoes

Nonstick cooking spray

1 T. seasoned salt, divided

1 T. garlic powder (NOT garlic salt), divided

Chives, optional (I use the lightly dried kind found in the produce section.)



Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Peel the potatoes and dice into ½ inch pieces.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, then sprinkle the sheet lightly with ½ T. seasoned salt and ½ T. garlic powder.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on top of the seasoning.

Spray the potatoes lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle them with the remaining ½ T. of seasoned salt and garlic powder.

Bake for 45 minutes.  Take them out of the oven, loosen them from the pan with a metal spatula, stir, return to the oven, and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.  Do not stir them before the 45 minute mark or all your yummy crusty goodness will not stay intact.

Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.:  This recipe makes 5 servings.  Each 3 ounce (weight) serving is 2 SmartPoints.