Chicken & Cheese Lasagna Rolls

I had some left over home made spaghetti sauce from the other night and could not let it go to waste!  Instead of having more spaghetti, I decided to try these Chicken & Cheese Lasagna Rolls.  These are very easy to make and are a different twist for us at dinner time!!


3 cups chopped cooked chicken   1/4 cup milk
1 cup cottage cheese   1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese   8 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese   2 cups spaghetti sauce

What you do:

1 In medium bowl, combine chicken, cheeses, milk, and pepper

2 Spread 1/2 cup mixture on each lasagna noodle; roll jelly-roll fashion

3 In a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce

4 Arrange lasagna rolls, seam-side down in sauce in baking dish

5 Top with remaining spaghetti sauce

6 Cover

7 Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot

8 Serve, if desired, with additional Parmesan cheese.

These were so good.  The original recipe called for Feta cheese and I used Bleu cheese (which as a bit over powering in taste a bit).  But I love the flavor!!  I’m hoping the family likes it enough to try again!  Craig didn’t go back for seconds, but I sure did!

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking 😉



Fight the Belly Flab

So I’ve posted before from iVillage on some healthy snacks.  I get their emails daily and some of them are worth reading.  When I stopped to take some time on this one, I was on the fence on some of their findings.  Read through them and let us know what you think.  Do you agree that these tips will help you fight the belly flab?  If not, why?  If so, do share!

Here you go…


Belly Flab Fighter #1: Eat Good Fat

Believe it or not, following a low-fat diet is not the best way to reduce belly flab. “People who have a big middle do not respond well to a low-fat diet,” says Mehmet Oz, M.D., Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and host of The Dr. Oz Show. To reduce belly flab, Dr. Oz advises avoiding refined carbohydrates that are low in fat (like white rice) and can have a yo-yo effect on blood sugar. Instead, add “good fat” foods, like olive oil, avocado and sea bass. Dr. Oz recommends toasting Ezekiel bread (or another sprouted 100-percent whole grain bread) and topping it with avocado, olive oil, lemon and chili flakes for a belly fat-fighting meal or snack.

belly flab fighter #2: eat your binge food every day

Yes, you read that right, eating the food you crave the most, even if it’s high-fat, could help you finally beat your belly-busting cravings for good. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who were served their favorite mac-n-cheese meal every day for five days, five weeks in a row, ate less and less of it, and actually consumed about 100 calories less than those who only ate it twice, one week apart (those women actually ate more of it the second time it was served). Consuming formerly off-limits foods may help lessen their appeal, curb cravings (and major diet binges) to slim down your belly permanently. Try eating a small amount of your ‘trigger’ food daily. Knowing that you can eat it again the next day could help you eat less. Chocolate anyone?

belly flab fighter #3: diet every other day

A recent study led by Krista Varady, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that people eating 25 percent fewer calories every other day lost up to 30 pounds in only eight weeks. Make it work for you by taking in 1,200-1,500 calories one day, and then eating as you normally do the next. Don’t overdo it on your “off days” and sabotage yourself, though. And keep up your weekly exercise routine.

belly flab fighter #4: stop doing crunches

No matter how many crunches you do, it won’t help reduce the fat around your belly. That’s why Yegyan, a holistic health practitioner and physique conditioning specialist in Tualatin, Ore., recommends exercising only the large muscle groups of your body. “Your abs are a very small amount of muscle, while your legs, back, chest and shoulders are all larger muscle complexes and burn many times more calories in the same amount of time that you spend on an abs workout.” Instead of crunching, stand up and do multi-muscle group moves such as overhead presses, squats, planks and pushups to burn more calories during your strength workouts to reduce belly fat more efficiently.

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belly flab fighter #5: crank up the cardio

While strength training certainly has its benefits, when it comes to reducing belly fat, your best bet is aerobic exercise, say researchers from Duke University. A recent study found that resistance training alone had little effect on eliminating belly flab, while aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories for study participants and significantly reduced their abdominal fat. Study participants ran an equivalent of 12 miles per week to achieve these results. If your goal is to shed your muffin top quickly, first focus on adding aerobic exercise (four or five days a week) to burn more calories, and then add in resistance training on alternate days to help add definition and shape to your body.

belly flab fighter #6: don’t get too little — or too much — sleep

A recent study published in the journal Sleep found a direct correlation between sleep and belly fat — subjects who slept five hours or less each night, or eight hours or more, gained more abdominal fat than subjects who stayed between six to seven hours of shut eye. Be sure to get in the right amount of hours of quality sleep in a quiet, dark room for best results.

belly flab fighter #7: add a daily dose of soluble fiber

Eating a diet rich in the soluble fiber found in vegetables, fruits and beans can have a direct effect on reducing belly fat, says a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study, the first to directly link dietary fiber with decreased abdominal fat, found that for every 10 grams of daily dietary soluble fiber, abdominal fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over a five-year period. Make it work for you by eating at least 10 grams of soluble fiber per day, such as two small apples, one cup of green peas or a cup of pinto beans.

belly flab fighter #8: kick your diet soda habit

If you think your diet soda is helping your waistline, you may want to reconsider: A 10-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas found that people who consume two or more diet sodas per day gained 70 percent more belly fat than those that didn’t drink it. What’s worse is the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda can cause belly bloating and may be worsening your sugar cravings. To kick your fake sugar habit, start slowly reducing your intake, by replacing that Diet Coke with a glass of sparkling water and a splash of lime or a cup of green tea.

belly flab fighter #9: pray or meditate

Your prayers for flatter abs may have been answered. It seems that regular prayer or meditation can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which is one of the culprits of belly flab. One study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that women who prayed or meditated had healthier levels of cortisol than those that didn’t. Make it work for you by carving out some quiet time for reflection for at least 15 minutes on most days of the week.

belly flab fighter #10: add coconut oil to your diet

Numerous studies have shown a link between coconut oil and a reduction in abdominal fat. “Coconut oil is a saturated fat that has anti-viral/anti-bacterial properties and it’s pro-thyroid, which can benefit the metabolism,” says Andrew Johnston, a CHEK certified Nutrition Coach and Practitioner in Atlanta, Georgia. “In fact, farmers tried to use it to fatten their livestock in the early- to mid-1900’s, but it made them leaner! So they switched to polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils), which worked quite well to fatten their animals up fast.” Make it work for you by using it in place of vegetable oils, but stay aware of its calorie and fat content: One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories and 13.5 grams of fat, making it comparable to olive oil.

belly flab fighter #11: get selective with your sugar

Choose your sweet treats carefully. “When you eat 120 calories of glucose (found in foods like potatoes and rice) less than 1 calorie is stored as fat,” says Johnston. “When you eat 120 calories of fructose, (think high fructose corn syrup 40 calories are stored as fat, which is how fructose consumption leads to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and excess fat around the belly.” But not all fructose is bad, only the refined, man-made type. The naturally-occurring fructose found in fruit is okay, Johnston says, and plays an important role in a healthy, balanced diet.

belly flab fighter #12: train your abdominals to be smarter, not harder

Since crunches won’t target your belly flat alone, you have to train your abdominal muscles to engage and give you a more “drawn in” look. To target your abs more effectively, you have to lift both your upper and lower body at the same time, says Jackie Warner, author of This Is Why You’re Fat (and How to Get Thin Forever). “Bicycles and jack knives are more effective than just crunches,” says the star of the Personal Training with Jackie: Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs DVD.

belly flab fighter #13: reduce belly bloat with lemon

There is a reason people ask their waiters to put lemon in their water: It can help prevent water retention, says Warner. While it won’t strip away the flab, it can help slim down belly bloat. Lemon juice is a natural, gentle diuretic that may also help with constipation. Just be sure to dilute its acidity (too much can be irritating to the stomach and enamel on teeth). For each glass of water your drink, squeeze a quarter lemon slice into your glass.

belly flab fighter #14: cut down on simple carbs

No need to cut carbs out completely, just reduce your daily intake. And better yet, make the carbs you do eat whole grains. According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects who replaced refined grains with whole grains like oatmeal, bulgur or brown rice, lost more abdominal fat than subjects that also restricted-calorie diets but didn’t add whole grains to their meals. Not all whole grain products are created equal, though, so be sure to look for foods that list a whole grain as the first ingredient in order to reap its belly-busting benefits (whole wheat, rye, whole oats, etc.). Enjoy your carbs a little less often and you will make significant gains in the battle of the bulge.

belly flab fighter #15: ‘pear’ down your waist

Need a belly-busting secret weapon? Try pears! According to one Brazilian study, women who ate at least one pear a day lost 38 percent more weight and experienced a drop in blood glucose levels, which is directly linked to belly fat levels. Those who didn’t consume the fruit didn’t fare so well. And it’s no wonder: Pears pack a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber (that’s more than prunes) per serving, which will keep your belly full and satisfied and may help you consume less calories overall. Enjoy this fiber-licious fruit before a meal or as a snack.

belly flab fighter #16: dose up on dairy

Following a high-protein, dairy-rich diet could help you lose more belly flab, says a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Three groups of overweight women were put on three different eating plans, with varying amounts of protein and dairy. While all three groups lost the same amount of weight, the ones who consumed the most protein (30 percent) in addition to several daily servings of dairy gained more lean muscle and lost twice as much belly fat than the low-protein, low-dairy group. Make it work for you by making simple switches like enjoying a breakfast parfait instead of cereal in the morning, topping your lunch salad with yogurt dressing in place of croutons or enjoying this delicious strawberry milkshake instead of cookies for dessert

belly flab fighter #17: bring on breakfast

More than half of America regularly skips breakfast, says Rania Batayneh, a nutritionist and healthy eating strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco, Calif. “Studies show that people who regularly skip breakfast consume more calories throughout the day and are heavier than those who do. A healthy breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and provides you with energy for a busy day.” And it’s equally important for the whole family too: A recent study from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles found that children and adolescents who regularly skip breakfast have higher levels of abdominal fat than those who eat a morning meal regularly. Try some of these quick, healthy, family-friendly breakfast ideas tomorrow morning.

belly flab fighter #18: reduce diet-induced inflammation

According to Barry Sears, Ph.D., creator of the Zone Diet and author of Toxic Fat: When Good Fat Turns Bad, more than 90 percent of the population suffers from diet-induced inflammation, which can cause increased belly fat. Sears says the best way to reduce inflammation is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, decrease your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids (those found in vegetable oils such as corn, soy and safflower oils) and increase your consumption of Omega-3’s found in fish such as sardines, mackerel and herring or fish oil supplements.

belly flab fighter #19: spice it up

Adding spices to your diet may help you slim down your belly without a lot of effort. A new study by researchers at Purdue University found that consuming chili pepper helps reduce your appetite for sugary and fatty foods, and may help curb hunger and reduce belly fat by speeding up your metabolism. Capsaicin (the active ingredient found in chili peppers) seems to raise your body’s level of appetite suppressing hormones, while reducing the hormones that promote hunger. A half of a teaspoon appears to be the magic amount, so try sprinkling a little chili pepper on your eggs in the morning or chicken breast for dinner. If you just can’t take the heat, try turmeric instead. Its active ingredient, curcumin, can help keep blood glucose levels in check and slow down your body’s absorption of carbohydrates after large meals, according recent research from India’s Gujarat University. Add a teaspoon of this antioxidant-rich spice to your favorite recipes or try it for dinner in this delicious recipe for Chicken Mole.

belly flab fighter #20: get checked for pcos

If stubborn belly fat just won’t budge even after changing your diet and exercise program, you may want to ask your doctor if you could be suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A common condition that an estimated over 5 million women suffer from, PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that can cause insulin resistance and weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. If you suffer from mood swings, irregular periods, have excess facial hair and carry extra weight mainly around your waist, it may be time to ask your doctor for an exam.

So there you have it.  Some I’ll take and some I’m not sure on.  I do agree with kicking up the cardio every day.  And I’ve been lacking on that in all kinds of ways.  The nice weather comes and I’m inside on my lunch break baking or cooking!  What the heck is wrong with me!!!  But I will try to add more fruit to my diet again.  I love the taste of it and know that it’s much better than the candy I have out of sight but still in my mind!!

Take the tips or leave it.  Just thought I’d share what I found and see if it’s useful for you if you feel in a rut and needed some ideas.

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking 😉




Sweet Orange Chicken

Spring has sprung and so has sport season.  Lucky for me the times have changed from dinner time to a bit later.  Good because I get to make a good dinner still, but bad because it changes the kids’ routine at night.

I love Chinese take out.  I rarely get to have it, but I do love it when I get it.  Making it at home is even better because you control what goes into the dish.  Take out food tends to have a ton of sodium in it.   At least I think it does.  This way I put what I wanted in it and didn’t feel the need to have a gallon of water with dinner!

This recipe was originally called “Sweet and Spicy Orange Chicken” but because the kiddos were eating, I left out the spicy.  I, however, would have liked the spicy.  I suppose I could have added some pepper flakes to my own plate!  Next time.

We eat a lot of chicken at our house so I try to find as many different recipes to change up the week so that it doesn’t feel like we’re having the same thing over and over.  This was a really good, sweet, fun to make dinner.  We will be making this again.

Here’s what you need:

1 egg white

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs cornstarch

2 tbs honey

Zest of 1 and juice of 3-4 oranges

(If you’re going to use the spicy)

1 jalapeño, Serrano, or habanero chili pepper, seeded and minced

1 tsp kosher salt

2 cups frozen sugar snap peas, broccoli florets, or other vegetable (I used fresh green beans)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces

fresh ground pepper to taste

How to:

1 Whisk the egg white, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon orange juice, and kosher salt together until slightly foamy. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

2 Heat the canola oil in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Shake the excess marinade off each chicken piece before adding to the skillet. Brown the chicken on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining orange juice, orange zest, honey, and chili pepper. Bring to a simmer.

3 Add the frozen vegetables and simmer for about 5 more minutes, until the sauce is thickened and the vegetables are tender. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

I added a bit more orange juice before it was done cooking.  I felt it needed a bit more sweetness to it.  Then I topped with a bit more of the zest too to add a bit more zing to it!  You could replace the orange with lemons too if you prefer that over orange.  This was different for us so I thought I’d give it a try.  Craig ate his with some white rice on the side.  The kids and I chose not to have rice.  I’m not a huge fan of rice so I tend to skip that with dinner.

Instead of takeout, make this in your own kitchen.  Saves time and money.  This was a great dinner for us.

Have a great week and let us know what you like about this meal.  What would you change?  What would you add?  Or would you just keep it the way it is?

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking




BL (Minus the T) Linguine

I’m a planner.  I can’t go to the grocery store and not have a list of exactly what I need for the week.  I have to have each meal planned and for what day we’re eating it on.  When I get what I need on my list, I cross it off.  When everything is crossed off, I go over the list again to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Jodi is the same way.  We are planners.  We took a trip to Chicago a few years back. We had almost every hour of every day planned as to what we were going to do and where we were going to eat!!

And yet….when I looked at today’s meal I did the unthinkable, I changed it.  I changed it from Friday’s meal to Monday’s meal.  Look out, here comes Miss Adventurous!  So not me at all.   I don’t like surprises. I dislike not knowing what I’m getting for Christmas.  And I really dislike not knowing what an outcome will be for something I’m going through.   So changing my dinner plans was a big thing for me!!

All kidding aside, the real reason why I changed it was because I was trying to find what the family would like more over the other.  And to be honest, not sure there is one that they will all like because it has green onions in it.  But I made sure to keep the scallions big enough for them to pick out if needed.

The funny thing is that I left some of them left over for the kids to eat.  They like to dip it in salt.  Caleb started to eat his pasta and picked the “green things” out.   He then grabbed one off of the table and dipped it in a bit of salt.   While he’s doing that I asked him why he was picking out the onion from his dinner.  He told me that he doesn’t like onions.  When I told he was eating onions, he told me I was joking.  Ok, buddy.  But I’m not joking.  I’m hoping that Craig will say the same thing (highly unlikely!).

Ok, enough about my impatience and lack of adventure, lets get back to dinner.

I found this on iVillage and it looked pretty good.  I love pasta, I love bacon and I love onions.  I left out the tomato because none of us are fans of those red things at all!

Here’s to a new meal in our house!


The recipe called for 10 pieces of crumbled bacon (I used 1 1/2 bags of Hormel Real Bacon Crumbles) only because I had on hand and  thought it would be better than the actual bacon cooked in grease.

A bunch of scallions cut into bite size chunks (for the picky people)

4 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese

12 oz package of Linguine

1 pint of Cherry tomatoes, halved – if you must have!

salt and pepper to taste

How To:

1 Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.

2 While the water heats, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the scallions and tomatoes, then sauté for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mixture to a bowl, draining any excess fat.

3 Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1⁄4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan.

4 Add the cream cheese and half of the reserved cooking water to the pasta. Toss until the cheese is melted and forms a creamy sauce.

5 Add three-quarters of the bacon and tomato mixture, then toss again. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more of the reserved cooking water. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

6 Divide the pasta among 4 plates, then top each serving with some of the remaining bacon and tomato mixture.

You can add, remove, take out what you want with this.  The combination of these ingredients added great flavor.  I should have put in some fresh garlic..Just thought of that.  Maybe next time!

Happy Monday.

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking