Author Archives: Lila

How was your day?

July 2014

How was your day?  @shecooksinstilettos.comThis is a place for YOU!

Don’t you sometimes HATE coming home and having NO ONE around to say “How was your day?”  Something so simple, that can mean so much!  Maybe you live alone, maybe you have a roommate you never see, whatever the case it can sometimes SUCK!  (I say “sometimes” because sometimes it is also nice to not be bothered!  🙂 )  So I wanted to create a page where YOU can come and chat or vent if need be, and have a community of “virtual friends” who are listening!  My thought is to set a page up for each month (if we can grow this community, maybe even each week!) for us to chat!  I’m just learning this whole blogging thing, so this seems like the best way so far!  🙂  So put your feet up, grab a cocktail and unload!  I’ll get us started with the first comment…  CHEERS!

How was your day?

Low-Calorie Chicken & Stuffing Casserole

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comDo you have those recipes that you just crave?  You know those recipes that take you back?  This is one of those dishes for me!  And the BEST part??  It’s LOW-CALORIE!  Yep, it weighs in at about 250 calories per serving!  Crazy right?  Oh, and did I mention how insanely easy this recipe is??  Let’s get to it!  (Oh, I should mention, this recipe is one passed down from my grandmother; pretty sure she got this off of a Campbell’s Soup can back in the day.  There are still versions of it around, but I’ve added my own touches.  But, as Bugs Bunny once said, “credits where credits is due!”)



Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com1 half  Rotisserie Chicken

1 box Chicken Flavored  Stuffing

1 can Reduced Calorie/Fat Cream of Chicken Soup

1 can French Cut String Beans

1 stick butter (I use unsalted)


I should also mention since it only takes about a half of a rotisserie chicken, if I have no other uses for the chicken, I double the recipe and freeze!  (As I did today 🙂 )

Now then…



I call it assembly, because let’s face it, this isn’t “cooking!”

Step 1:

Have you ever seen anything yummier?  LOL!

Have you ever seen anything yummier? LOL!

(Preheat oven to 350)  Prepare stuffing based on package directions.  Once you’ve gotten to the stage of adding the stuffing mix and lidded the pot, it can sit and wait for you!

Step 2:

Pull apart the chicken with your fingers to covered the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  I like Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comto use exactly 1 side of the chicken, this means one breast, leg, thigh and wing.  I take MOST of the skin off, I do sprinkle in a bit here and there for extra flavor.  No sense in wasting that yummy herby flavor!  🙂  You don’t want big pieces here, but don’t make it too small or you’ll be in the kitchen forever!  (If you are doubling, as I did, get a comfy spot and have at it!  It does take a bit of time)

Step 3:

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comNow it gets REALLY easy!  Ready for this?  Open a can of french-cut green beans, drain, dump and spread to cover the chicken.  (I use my fingers)  I know, that was tough!  Oh, you can also use peas, cooked broccoli or whatever, I just prefer the more mild flavor of the green beans.  Plus the shape matches the shredded chicken.  Yes, I’m OCD.  TIP:  I don’t drain to dry, a little extra moisture helps keep the chicken moist when baking.

Step 4:

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comTruly…this is the hardest step for me.  Putting all that yummy stuffing on top of the green beans!  It doesn’t happen.  I ALWAYS keep a small bowl out for myself.  I consider it an appetizer while the casserole is baking!  😀

Step 5:

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP:  Open and dump the can of cream of chicken soup on top of the stuffing.  IMPORTANT:  make sure you flip your spoon and go around the edges to create a little space, then push some of the soup down and around.  But not all the excess!  Leave some little “puddles” on top because next your going to make “holes” all around the casserole.  You’ll want to  push the soup down so that as it bakes it works its way through all the layers.  As I tried to show below.  (Yes, a metal spoon might be easier, but I’ve been making this for longer than I can say, so it doesn’t matter to me.)

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole


Step 5:

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  THAT’S IT!  I know your friends or family will love it!  I also make this to take to work for Thanksgiving!

Grandma's Chicken Casserole


Now you’re ready to make the BEST freezer meal, ever!  Yes, this freezes really well!  TIP:  make sure you smash it down really well to not leave any air in the layers. Another TIP:  For the love – LABEL THIS!  I made this mistake in the beginning; you might think you’ll remember what it is, but things can look quite different when frozen.  This is one of those dishes!  It is pretty nondescript.  Final TIP:  Make sure anything you freeze is at refrigerator temp BEFORE putting in the freezer!  This will prevent large ice crystals from forming and piercing and drying your food as it thaws!  (Coming soon:  Microwave/Reheating tips!)

Grandma's Chicken Casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comGrandma's Chicken Casserole

Quick Tip: Salad-Ready Croutons

Salad-Ready Croutons

Trying to lose weight?  Trying to eat better?  If you’re like me you want to do those things, you really do!  But there are just certain things you don’t to give up.  Okay, I’ll eat a salad, but there are TWO THINGS I WILL NOT GIVE UP:  CROUTONS AND MY SALAD DRESSING!  They key is sticking to the serving size.

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comI buy croutons with the best ingredients I can find, and still taste good!  I prefer New York Brand, Texas Toast “Seasoned” Croutons.  No HFCS or MSG, and I can pronounce the majority of ingredients…SOLD!

Here’s the only thing though, they are “rustic-style” so some of them can be HUGE!  The unit of measurement here for the serving size is “tablespoon.”  What?!  Why?!  Do you see these things?  You can’t measure this.  And even if you just say they are a tablespoon each, because they are huge, then you get TWO bites of crouton!  BOO!

Simple trick:  BREAK THEM UP!  This way you can measure easier, and get a little happy crunch in more bites!  🙂

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comNow these come in a zip-top bag, but don’t try to crush them in this bag.  Some will get crushed too much, some not at all.  So put them in a gallon-size zip-top bag, lay them flat, then use a rolling pin, or a pan, and lightly break up. (I do like to lay a towel underneath to soften the blows.)  Then store in a plastic or glass container so they are ready when you are.  I prefer Tupperware modulars, personally, as they were originally made to keep food fresh much longer than traditional containers.  But that’s a story for another time…

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comThat’s it!  Now you can measure a proper serving size and actually enjoy your salad!  AND at ONLY 35 calories per 2 tablespoons, and NO sugar, we can enjoy with NO GUILT!  😀


4th of July Grilled Pizza Party!

You read that right!  A 4th of July Grilled PIZZA PARTY!  Most people that I “tested” the idea on were very intrigued.  A few…not so much.  They said it was because it wasn’t “traditional.”  So I thought let’s take the “All-American” cookout foods and put them on a pizza crust!  Same toppings, just a different mode of transportation!  The BEST part is this will suit almost any guest at your party!  I am expecting vegetarians, people eating gluten free, and just plain dieting for that summer swimsuit!  PLUS this will SAVE YOU MONEY!!  Think about it:  Let’s say you are planning a 4th cookout for a dozen people.  That’s a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs!  Now think about taking those hamburgers (hot dogs…probably not so much) crumbled up and tossed on a pizza.  You will need SO MUCH LESS ground beef!!!  For a traditional cookout for 12, you would probably buy about 4 pounds of ground beef.  This way, MAYBE 2 pounds!  Maybe!

4th of July Grilled Pizza Party

4th of July Grilled Pizza Party

Above is a shot of a small “trial run” I did with a small group of friends and family.  We tried a scaled back version, and man was it DELICIOUS!  Grilled may be the BEST way to have pizza… First things first: DECIDE ON THE TYPES OF PIZZA YOU WANT TO OFFER.  Basically what this means is pick a couple of different “styles” of pizza, then your guests can mix and match what THEY want of the pizza from there.  If you just try to come up with toppings you’ll spend SO much more money because the possibilities are ENDLESS!  Here is my menu:

  • Cheeseburger Pizza
  • BBQ Chicken with Caramelized Onions
  • Traditional Pepperoni

FIRST:  The Dough

You can use something pre-made like Boboli brand crusts, or any other kind of flat bread, naan or the like.  But I don’t recommend it.  It may be easier, but 1. it is more expensive.  And 2. you won’t get the same grilled flavor as actually cooking pizza dough on the grill!  I think that is what makes it SO GOOD! You could also make your own.  If you have the time and patience, be my guest.  But for me, I’ll take the pre-made dough!  For my test I purchased frozen pizza dough found in the frozen bread section.  (Believe me, if my POS store has it, yours does!)  If you have a bakery near by, you can buy it fresh too. **NOTE:  If you buy the frozen dough BE SURE to read the instructions for thawing and proofing a few days in advance!  If the dough does not fully rise, you will be left with tough dough that will be hard to shape!  Always err on extra time, as I don’t think you can let it rise too long.  (I could be wrong, but I don’t think so) Since I still plan to have traditional sides, I will make the dough about 4-6″ in diameter.  This will allow guests to try different kinds if they want, plus be easier to handle.  Also great if there are to be kids there!  🙂

shaping the dough

Okay, here is a dark secret:  I HAD NEVER PROOFED OR SHAPED PIZZA DOUGH BEFORE!  I tell you this because it was SO easy!  After the first 1 or 2, I had the hang of it.  First I tried to press it into shape, that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped (I don’t know if the dough was fully proofed though!).  Then I tried a rolling pin, this worked, but I finally went the hold with 2 hands at the top and let it hang and stretch into position and keep it moving in a circle!  By far the best method for me!  Just make sure you LIGHTLY flour everything!  (Too much flour will also make the dough tough) The package I bought had 2 frozen balls of pizza dough in it, about the size of softballs when frozen.  I was testing with 4 people, and as you’ll see later, I ended up making them a lot bigger than they needed to be!  So with that amount of pizza dough, I could easily make a dozen or so at 4-6″.  Oh, and did I mention this package of dough was UNDER $3!  Yep!  Trying getting a dozen buns for that!

Time to preheat the grill!  I let it preheat for about 5 minutes, then use the grill brush to clean the grates really well. Depending on how experienced you are with shaping dough, will depend how early you want to start shaping your soon-to-be-crusts.  TIP: You will want to drizzle and spread a little oil on each side of the dough for the grill, so you can go ahead and do this as you shape, then stack them with wax paper to separate. Grilling the dough:  You have TWO OPTIONS here:

  1. Grill the dough once your guests have arrived.  You will grill one side first, then have your guests top AS SOON AS IT IS FLIPPED. (TIP: for either option, I recommend grilling LOW!  This does not take long!  A couple of minutes each side TOPS; just until golden brown.)   This option is a little tough, and time sensitive.  So I recommend:
  2. Grill BEFORE your guests get there!  You will grill one side fully, then, depending on the doneness of the second side, don’t grill it at all or VERY LIGHTLY!  (It will finish cooking later!)  When your guests arrive and are ready to eat they just grab a crust, top the DARKER side, and put it back on the grill to basically melt the cheese.  (Close the lid to help the melting process and not burn your crust!)  I like this option, because the crusts can cool completely while you are prepping/cooking your toppings since you’ll want to do this closer to your guest’s arrival.

NEXT:  The Toppings

You’ll want to prep as much as you can on the grill, and do it before guests arrive.  To keep everyone happy, make sure when you are grilling your veggies to keep them in their own foil veg and crust“bowls”  so that they don’t come in contact with meat.  And, yes, I recommend making sure the items you want “cooked” are done so before hand since it takes longer to cook toppings than the crust itself.  Clearly, the meat you would want to be sure was prepared before hand anyway.  🙂  For things like green peppers, mushrooms, etc. I used the foil and a tiny drizzle of oil so they didn’t burn.  Give them a toss here and there and that’s it!  (TIP: Unless you are going to move to individual bowls, I recommend leaving them in these foil bowls for your guests!  That way vegetarians will feel better seeing that, that was probably how they were on the grill.  No explanation needed!)  Okay, now on to the good stuff!

Cheeseburger Pizza

Ground Beef, browned indoors in a pan with salt, pepper (or steak seasoning) and worcestershire sauce  (About 1/2 lb per 6 people.  REALLY!)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (fresh is best!  …and cheaper!  For the kids, maybe cut small squares of American Cheese since we are mimicking a cheeseburger after all!)  
Caramelized Onions
Cherry/Grape Tomatoes, halved  (can be put of before or after cooking)
Traditional Pizza Sauce
Shredded Iceberg Lettuce (to be added AFTER cooking! 🙂 )  TIP: Here’s a BIGGIE!  Buy a head of iceberg (cheap!) plus save some for “cups” for your gluten free peeps!

BBQ Chicken with Caramelized Onions

Thinly sliced chicken (breasts or thighs, your choice!)  Of course grilled ahead, brushing both sides with your favorite BBQ sauce  (Didn’t test this one, but still going with 1/2 lb per 6 people)
Caramelized Onions
Grilled corn, lightly brush with oil or melted butter (TIP: I also sprinkle in a little kosher salt before brushing on butter!).  Grill all sides to get a little color, then cut from cob
BBQ Sauce, to use in place of traditional pizza sauce!
Shredded Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese  

Traditional Pepperoni

Green Peppers
Anything else you would put on your pizza!  🙂
Traditional Pizza Sauce (or white/Alfredo sauce)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

For the caramelized onions:  Know that these cook down A LOT!  So depending on your crowd do 1/2 -1 large, sweet onion per 6 people.  Cut into “rings,” Onionsso just straight slices, about 1/4″ thick.  These will have to be done inside (as far as I know) low and slow on the stove top.  Takes about 30 minutes.  Separate the rings out when you drop them in the pan (I used a ceramic, non-stick pan).  I splashed a little balsamic vinegar and lidded the pan to help the process along.  But you could also use a little butter or oil.  Check them every 5 minutes or so to make sure they are not burning!  Now look at all of the topping options people have to mix and match to make their very own creation!  Make a little topping bar for your guests to top their pizza crusts when they are ready to eat!

Topping Bar 
 THAT’S IT!  The beauty is, all your work is done BEFORE the guests arrive so that you can actually spend time with them!  Imagine that!  Grab your plate and a cocktail and YOU’RE DONE!
 Pizzas on the Grill