Wednesday, March 30, 2011

20(ish)--- Frozen Hot Cocoa

I am never sad about the transition from winter into spring. Except for leaving behind hot cocoa. With this frosty beverage, you can carry your hot chocolate experience into summer! Enjoy!

Frozen Hot Cocoa

Serves 4-6 (depending on serving size)

11 oz dark chocolate chips

3 Tbsp hot chocolate mix (I used my homemade version)

1/3 cup white sugar

6 cups skim milk

10 cups ice

In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips over low boiling water, stirring until melted. Whisk in cocoa and sugar until blended. Remove from heat and add 2 cups milk, whisking until smooth. Cool mixture to room temperature.

In a blender, add mixture, remaining milk and ice (you may need to make 2 batches, depending on the size of your blender!). Blend on a high speed until smooth in consistency. Serve in glasses and top with whipped cream if desired!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

80--- Rustic Rosemary Breadsticks

I'm starting to get adventurous with yeast now. Yes-- this is pretty wild for me. Crispy wheat breadsticks with a kick. Easy! If I can do it, you can do it. I have everything against me. High altitude, lack of patience, lack of time, one oven........ I could go on.

I really do not think that you can mess these up!! But then you will be snacking on them all day. They are a health-ified breadstick, but they add up. So make them, eat some, then give the rest away as a gift. Unless you have willpower, which I do not. Put that on my list of things against me.

Rustic Rosemary Breadsticks

Makes 32

1 package dry active yeast

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)

1/2 tsp table salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups wheat flour

~1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg, beaten

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Add table salt, olive oil, and wheat flour. Stir with a large spatula until well-mixed and dough is stretchy (dough will still be very moist). Add all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed (I used 1 cup total). Place dough on lightly floured work surface and knead for 7-8 minutes, adding flour to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and springy.

Lightly flour a large cutting board. Place dough on board and pat and stretch dough into 8x10" square. Sprinkle rosemary leaves onto dough and press into dough with damp fingertips. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp flour-dusted knife, divide dough in half length-wise. Continue to divide sections in half, until 32 sticks are formed. Place each stick onto baking sheets, close together, pulling each lightly to lengthen. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush each breadstick with beaten egg (you will only use ~1 Tbsp of egg). Combine sea salt and ground pepper in a bowl, then sprinkle each breadstick lightly with mixture.

Bake for ~25-30 minutes. At 10 minutes into cooking, remove each sheet from the oven and use sharp knife to separate any breadsticks that have "grown together". Return to oven and bake until crisp and lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool before storing in airtight container.

Nutrition Info per breadstick: 44 calories, 2 g fat, 2 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates

Saturday, March 26, 2011

80--- Minestrone Stew

One last stew to send out winter! This stew is not for those who dislike vegetables. Minestrone is Italian for "one with many ingredients". But don't let the ingredient list scare you!

It's really easy! The flavors of all of these veggies combine into absolute perfection in a minestrone. I call it a stew because of the large chunks of veggies (~1" cubes). I matched the size of my veggies with a larger pasta so that everything blended nicely. I used gnocchi shells (durum wheat pasta shells, not potato), but you could use penne, rotini, or another larger pasta.

Minestrone Stew
Serves 8

12 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2- 14oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
3 garlic cloves, pressed and finely minced
2 medium zucchini, cubed
2 medium yellow squash, cubed
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
8 medium white mushrooms, stemmed and cubed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed
1- 14oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb package pasta of your choice (I used gnocchi shells- not potato), prepared al dente
3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp celery salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine zucchini, squash, onion, sage, garlic, and mushrooms in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Place vegetable chunks onto a large baking sheet and bake for ~12-15 minutes, until softened. Remove from oven and place back into large bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and set aside.

On the stovetop in a large nonstick skillet, add celery and carrots. Saute over medium heat until softened. Add spinach leaves and continue to saute until leaves have wilted. Add softened celery, carrots and spinach to a large stock pot and add broth, canned tomatoes, beans, basil, red pepper, black pepper, rosemary, and celery salt. Bring to a boil, then add zucchini mixture and reduce to a simmer. Heat through for 5 minutes, add cooked pasta, then serve immediately.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cup serving: 309 calories, 2 g fat, 13 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber

Thursday, March 24, 2011

80--- Thai Tuna Salad with Chickpeas

Tuna fish is a great lean source of protein. Nutritionally, there s not a lot of difference between fresh or frozen and canned tuna..... if you make the right choice. But there are so many choices in canned tuna, it's easy to make the wrong choice. Here's a little breakdown:

Chunk Light Tuna vs. Solid Albacore: Chunk light tuna comes from a slightly smaller fish than albacore tuna, may be light pink in color. Solid albacore may have higher mercury levels than chunk light tuna fish.

Packed in Oil vs. Packed in Water: for 1 cup serving; 289 -331 calories (12-14 g fat) for oil-packed vs. 179 -220 calories (1 -4 g fat) for water packed. Also, in tuna packed in oil, some of the omega-3 fatty acids from the tuna may be leached out by the oil. When you drain the oil from the can, you may lose some of these precious nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids will not be leached out into water, since water and oil do not mix. Therefore, you can drain the water from a can and not lose omega-3's.

I served this Thai Tuna Salad with Chickpeas over baby spinach leaves. It was a lovely, filling spring meal!

Thai Tuna Salad with Chickpeas

Serves 5

12 oz chunk light tuna in water, drained

2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed if canned

2 medium carrots, shredded

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped


1 clove garlic, pressed and finely minced

2 Tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp lite soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp creamy peanut butter, reduced fat

2 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground coriander

Combine salad ingredients into a medium bowl and toss until mixed. Whisk dressing ingredients together and add to salad. Mix well. Place in refrigerator for 1-3 hours prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per 1 cup serving: 241 calories, 5 g fat, 22 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

80--- Zucchini Cakes

While planning my garden this week, I had remembered that I still had frozen zucchini in the freezer from LAST year! Ooops! You know me, nothing goes to waste. I thawed it in the fridge, but it wasn't looking too appetizing. What's a girl to do with soggy zucchini? Make zucchini bread!

These are actually better than zucchini bread. As individual little cakes you get the moist yummy outside all to yourself!

Micronutrients such as folate, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium are found in zucchini. It also contains minimal calories and significant amounts of heart-healthy fiber! In baked goods such as muffins or cookies, the fat can be replaced with ingredients such as applesauce, pumpkin, mashed banana or ................ zucchini!

Zucchini Cakes
Makes 18

1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups zucchini, pureed (mine was previously frozen, thawed, then chopped in a food processor)
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugars, egg and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Combine flours, oats, spices, baking soda and baking powder. Beat flour mixture into wet ingredients. Fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Refrigerate mixture for ~30 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop mixture onto sheets, 2 Tbsp at a time, placing each drop 2" apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cakes are set and slightly golden around edges. Slide parchment paper and cakes off of baking sheets and allow to cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Info per 1 cake: 99 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber
Recipe adapted and health-ified from Zucchini-Nut-Bread Cookie Sandwiches in Martha Stewart Living Magazine, March 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

80--- Poached Pears

Poached pears are a beautiful, elegant dessert. One would think that they are complicated. Not so.

These are wonderful served with a side of vanilla frozen yogurt, or by themselves! They should be prepared at least 1-2 hours ahead of time.

Poached Pears

Serves 4

2 large firm Bosc pears, peeled, halved, stemmed and cored

2 cups dry white wine

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup white sugar

Fresh mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Vanilla frozen yogurt (optional)

In a large wide saucepan, bring wine, water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and place pears, sliced side down, into simmering liquid. Cover and cook for ~30 minutes, flipping pears over halfway through cooking. Remove pears when they are tender. Place in refrigerator.

Bring liquid to a boil over high heat and for ~25 minutes, until ~2/3 cup of syrup remains. Place liquid in a glass container in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

To serve: place 1/2 poached pear in a serving dish and spoon 3 Tbsp syrup over pear. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve with vanilla frozen yogurt if desired.

Nutrition Info per one serving: 202 calories, 0 fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 15 g sugar

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Moose's Peanut Butter Biscuits

Moose loves biscuits. He gets really excited and does a wonderful dance when biscuits are around.

Moose is my 9-year-old chocolate lab. If you do not own dogs, no need to read any further. I'm not even sure that Moose's biscuits should be on my Eighty Twenty blog. But I made him dog cookies and I thought some might be interested. This is not something that I do regularly. I have actually never done it before. But I was curious. My dogs typically get Milkbones.

I admit that Moose was not any more excited to eat these than he is to eat a Milkbone. But in the end, my house smelled like peanut butter cookies and I did NOT want to eat these cookies (I guess you could if you really wanted to)!!

Moose's Peanut Butter Biscuits

Makes 20 - 1 x 3/4" discs

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup wheat flour

Combine peanut butter and milk with an electric mixer. Add flour, a little at a time, until all is moistened. Add baking powder and continue to mix. Lightly flour a work surface. Remove dough from bowl and knead until a solid ball is formed. Roll into a tube form and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove roll from refrigerator and slice into 3/4" discs. Place discs onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for ~15-20 minutes, until discs are firm. Remove and cool.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nutrition Tip: BEER

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Tis the one day of the year where it may be celebrated to have a beer mid-day, on a weekday, just because of the country of origin of your grandfather's grandfather. Or your grandmother's grandmother. Or maybe it doesn't really matter.

Since beer cans and bottles do not have nutrition information on them (you need to look at the box for that), I thought I would post some nutrition info on beer..... just so you know. This info is for 12oz of regular beer (not Guinness, or other chewable kinds of draft).

* Calories: 153
* Protein: 1.64 g
* Carbohydrates: 12.64 g
* Calcium: 14 mg
* Magnesium: 21 mg
* Phosphorus: 50 mg
* Potassium: 96 mg
* Sodium: 14 mg
* Zinc: 0.04 mg
* Thiamin: 0.018 mg
* Riboflavin: 0.089 mg
* Niacin: 1.826 mg
* Pantothenic Acid: 0.146 mg
* Vitamin B6: 0.164 mg

There has been researched published stating that one alcoholic beverage per day is good for your heart! The jury is still out on the actual reason why individuals who have this daily drink are at lower risk for heart-related diseases, but some believe that it is the actual ethanol that has an anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, any alcoholic beverage may offer some protection for your ticker. Just one per day. And avoid green food dyes today. Gross.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

80--- Irish Brown Soda Bread

If you are looking for a quick homemade bread that is dense enough to handle being dipped into your Irish stew, this is your recipe!

Soda breads are quick and cheap to make. No yeast! No rise time! This version is for a brown bread with wheat flour and oats. Top your morning and give this a try!

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Serves 8

2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or combine 1 cup and 3 Tbsp skim milk with 1 Tbsp white vinegar and allow to sit in refrigerator for one hour)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Form a well in the middle of dry ingredients and add buttermilk (or substitute). Stir mixture, slowly incorporating more flour mixture until a dough is formed. Knead in bowl briefly until a ball is formed (15 seconds should do it). Divide dough in half and roll into 2 round balls. Place balls on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, scour and X into the top of each loaf. Bake for ~20-25 minutes, until loaves are golden brown. Slice into slices or quarters prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per one quarter of a loaf: 153 calories, 0.8 g fat, 6.5 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Monday, March 14, 2011

80--- Corned Beef Tri Tip and Sauteed Cabbage

St. Patrick's Day is Thursday! I am not Irish, but my hometown is. And my husband is half Irish, so I think that makes me Irish by osmosis.

Corned beef is quite a process! A traditional recipe calls for curing the meat for 2 weeks prior to cooking! Who has time to plan for that? AND the traditional cut of beef used is a brisket, which can be grisly and tough.

My in-laws and I worked together on this and it turned out marvelous! The tri tip was tender and flavored just right. The cabbage was not the typical stewed version served with an Irish meal, but it was fresh and flavorful.

No luck needed for this one!

Corned Beef Tri Tip and Sauteed Cabbage
Serves 8

Corned Beef Tri -Tip


2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 Tbsp pickling spices
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp sugar
1 clove garlic, pressed and minced
2 lb tri-tip roast, trimmed

Mix all ingredients in a large flat pan. Place roast into marinate overnight.

Spice Paste
adapted from "Uncorned Beef" Martha Stewart Living magazine, March 2011

1 Tbsp sugar
3 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
4 garlic cloves, pressed and minced
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and puree. Set aside.


2 tsp olive oil
1 cup beer
1 cup orange juice
1 white onion, sliced thick

Remove roast from marinate and pat dry. In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Place tri tip into skillet and sear both sides until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Rub spice paste over tri tip and place onto a wire rack in a 9x13" baking dish. Place sliced onions onto meat, then combine beer and orange juice and pour over the roast. Cover with parchment-lined foil and bake, basting occasionally, for ~2 hours, until internal temperature has reached 140 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes prior to slicing. Return slices to juice and serve.

Sauteed Cabbage

2 heads savoy cabbage, sliced
2 white onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup fresh flat parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp lite soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter

In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat until butter becomes foamy. Add sliced onion and saute for ~ 2 minutes, or until onion is softened. Add cabbage, stirring occasionally. Cook until cabbage becomes limp, ~5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Quickly combine vinegar, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and chicken broth. Add mixture to pan, then remove pan from heat. Stir in parsley and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Stir and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info per 3 oz tri tip with 1/2 cup cabbage: 364 calories, 16 g fat, 36 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber

Sunday, March 13, 2011

80(ish)--- Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate

I know that everywhere else in the world spring is here (I know, I know, I'm exaggerating). It's still winter here in Montana..... still the season of warm beverages! This concentrate will make this "in between" season a bit more pleasant.

I love to have a chai tea in the afternoon. But at 170 calories and 34 g sugar (for 12 oz with nonfat milk), it doesn't fit into my food plan everyday. But this homemade concentrate makes it a much nicer fit! It also reduces the cost by about $3 per beverage! If you shop in the bulk section of your grocery for the spices, they will cost you about $1 for all 8 servings.

The best part? It tastes INCREDIBLE! And your house will smell of the spices all day.

Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
Serves 8

6 cups water
10 black tea bags
1/2 whole orange
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
10-12 whole cloves
1- 4" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add tea bags and spices. Squeeze 1/2 orange into water, then place the orange into the steeping tea, peel and all. Allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Whisk in sugar, honey and vanilla. Pour mixture through a fine strainer (to remove ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick and orange) into a glass beverage container for storage. Refrigerate until used.

To prepare beverages, combine 3/4 cup concentrate with 1/2 -3/4 cup skim milk, depending on desired concentration. Serve hot or cold!!

Nutrition Info per 10 oz beverage (3/4 cup concentrate with 1/2 cup skim milk): 67 calories, 0.1 g fat, 6.5 g sugar

Saturday, March 12, 2011

80--- Migas

My hubby LOVES salsa. Naturally, we go through quite a few tortilla chips in my house. We typically go for the multigrain variety. But what do you do with all of those crumbs that accumulate in the bottom of the bag?

I was looking for an answer to this question online the other day and I found this: MIGAS (pronouonced mee-haas). Come again? MIGAS. It's this wonderful scrambled egg dish mixed with veggies. And the crumbled tortilla chips? They soak up the lovely egg mixture and add another dimension!

This is a must have. I lightened up traditional migas up a bit using egg whites and a TON of veggies.

Serves 6

4 large eggs
10 egg whites
1 tsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 anaheim chile, seeded and chopped
3 cups baby spinach leaves
4 vine-ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups crushed tortilla chips (bonus points for multigrain)
1/2 cup shredded cojita cheese

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and peppers and saute until softened. Stir in spinach, cilantro, and tomatoes. Cook until spinach leaves soften. Stir in crushed tortilla chips. Reduce heat to medium.

Add egg mixture to vegetables. Fold mixture gently as eggs cook. When eggs reach desired consistency, remove from heat and serve immediately, garnish with shredded cheese as desired.

Nutrition Info per ~ 1 cup mixture: 198 calories, 6.5 g fat, 19 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The 80/20 Principle of Calorie Consumption

If you've ever taken a business class (in my case by force, not by choice) you may remember The Pareto Principle. It states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. It's also the case that 80% of the world's wealth is held by 20% of the population. And on and on and so forth (are you bored to tears yet?).

The Pareto Principle (we shall call it The 80/20 Principle) can also be applied to healthy eating and nutrition! Is it possible that 80% of your calories come from 20% of the foods that you eat? Yep. Those foods are most likely items that are high in fat such as salad dressing, butter, cheese, ice cream, etc.

I challenge you to write down everything that you eat for one day (make it a typical day). Make note of the calories in the servings you are eating. At the end of the day, add up your total calories. Next, go through and highlight the highest calorie items. I bet that that list is not more than 5-10 items. Do the math! Are 80% of your calories contained in 20% of what you eat? Think about the volume of the foods. Could a few little tweeks to those foods dramatically change your calorie consumption?

photo courtesy of

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

80--- Herbed Elk Ravioli with Warm Portobello Tapendade

I am always trying to find ways to use the elk in our freezer. This was truly a first class meal. And it was easy and excellent!

A tapenade is classically a dish made from finely minced olives, anchovies, capers and oil. I used mini portobello mushrooms as the main ingredient and omitted the anchovies (however I think they would have been tasty-- I just didn't have any). Tapenades are typically served at room temp or slightly chilled and spread on bread. So, really this was not a tapenade at all, but I like the sound of it so I am sticking with it!

Herbed Elk Ravioli with Warm Portobello Tapenade

Serves 4


32- 3" wonton wrappers

3/4 lb ground elk

1 egg white

2 Tbsp panko crumbs

1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh thyme

2 Tbsp fennel seeds

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

6 cups water

3 tsp chicken bouillon

Combine elk, egg white, panko crumbs, herbs and seasonings in a medium bowl. Mix well, then cover and place in refrigerator for ~3-4 hours.

Lay out wonton wrappers (a few at a time is fine). Lightly brush water onto each wrapper with a pastry brush. Place 1 Tbsp elk filling into the center of a wrapper. Place additional wrapper over the top of the elk mixture and press out all of the air. Fold the bottom edges of the wrapper over the top edges. Using a fork, press the edges to seal ravioli. Set aside and repeat to make 16 raviolis.

Bring water and bouillon to a boil. Gently place 4 raviolis at a time into boiling water and allow to cook for ~5-6 minutes. Remove raviolis from water and place in a strainer. Repeat with remaining raviolis.


2 tsp olive oil

8 oz mini portobello mushrooms, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, pressed and finely minced

1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped

16 kalamata olives, pitted

3 Tbsp capers

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp fresh chopped sage

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms become tender, ~5 minutes. Add white wine, thyme, fennel and sage. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, until wine is slightly reduced. Remove from heat and allow to cool for ~10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine olives, lemon juice, and cooled mushroom mixture. Process until ingredients are slightly pureed, but coarse texture still remains. Transfer tapenade to a container and stir in capers. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and place in a nonstick saucepan. Heat over low heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve 1/4 cup tapenade over 4 raviolis. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info per 1 serving: 412 calories, 9 g fat, 32 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Mardi Gras--- ooops

I forgot about Mardi Gras. Could it be because I live in Montana? Yes.

So, I did not plan any special recipes. I thought about making Beignets, but my love for fried dough will have to wait until I have a little more free time.

Let's revisit a couple recipes that could help you get into your Mardi Gras spirit in a pinch!

Thanks again to Heather for these little pieces of sunshine.

I guess if I were at Mardi Gras I would be eating a lot of shrimp.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of hard alcohol is involved in Mardi Gras. However, if I were there, I would rather be drinking Sangria.

Monday, March 7, 2011

20--- Twisted Peanut Butter Cookies

Salty and sweet together.........a favorite of mine! These savory peanut butter cookies have sweet little dark chocolate chips and ................ PRETZELS! When you eat one, you don't notice the pretzels right away. And then you get a crunchy bite of one. People say "Are there pretzels in these?". Why yes there are. So worth a 20!

Twisted Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 40 cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

8-10 salted pretzel rods, broken into small pieces but not crushed (do your best), to equal 1 1/2 cups

11 ounces dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until well-combined.

Fold in pretzel pieces and chocolate chips. Place spoonfuls of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet, separating them by 2".

Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven. Allow to cool and set for ~ 2 minutes before removing from sheet and transferring to wax paper to cool fully. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

80--- Roasted Butternut Squash Arugula Salad

I associate butternut squash with fall and winter meals (I guess it IS a winter squash). So, I thought that I would make a warm squash salad in the first week of March to symbolize MY end of winter.

Butternut squash is a great source of carotenoids! For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin, winter squash is among the top three food sources. Hooray for antioxidants!!

Roasted Butternut Squash Arugula Salad
Serves 4

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1" pieces
4 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (I toasted mine over medium heat in a nonstick skillet)
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish, toss squash with 2 tsp olive oil and ground cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes, until fork-tender.

To prepare dressing, whisk all ingredients together. Add toasted walnuts.

Spoon warm squash over arugula leaves and drizzle on dressing and walnuts.

Nutrition Info per ~1 1/4 cups: 194 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 4 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber

Thursday, March 3, 2011

80--- Kale Chips

I have been seeing these chips everywhere, so I had to make them!

Kale is a powerful food! It's fiber and isothiocyanate content help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Kale is also a super source of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

A couple of years ago, we planted some kale in our front planters. It was beautiful! I was so excited to be able to harvest it and make healthy meals with it! And then I found out that kale was sort of difficult. It's not difficult to grow or harvest..... it just has a texture that reminds me of a jungle leaf (no, I've never been to the jungle). It's pretty thick. And, if you do not use it correctly, it tastes like dirt. I think I made a salad with ours. DIRT. I have since learned that soups and stews are great applications for kale.

These chips are fabulous! They turn out really light and crunchy and the bright color is a bonus! I bet you can't eat just one!!!

Kale Chips
Serves 6

1 bunch kale, rinsed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp seasoning salt (your choice-- I used Johnny Salt)

Trim 2x2" pieces of kale away from the large stem. Place on a paper towel and allow to dry completely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dry kale pieces into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently. Lay out kale pieces onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping and rotating pieces halfway through baking. Remove from oven when pieces are crisp and allow to cool prior to storing in an airtight container.

Nutrition Info per 6-8 chips: 40 calories, 2 g fat, 2 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1.3 g fiber

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

80--- Quaker Who? Granola Bars

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars contain sugar as their second ingredient, and partially hydrogenated oil (aka: TRANS FAT) as their fourth ingredient.
Granola bars are so easy to make-- without that "stuff". Add ingredients to your liking! The recipe below is for a chocolate-covered cherry granola bar.

Quaker Who? Granola Bars
Makes 20 bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
14 oz canned light sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add condensed milk and stir until dry ingredients become sticky (I used my hands to finish this process).

Spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. Scoop oat mixture into dish. Spray a flat spatula with cooking spray and press oats flat into dish.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. This will produce a dense, slightly chewy bar.

Allow to cool for ~5 minutes. Using a table knife, gently cut bars into 1"x 4" pieces. Gently slide knife around border of bars to release from dish. Allow to cool in dish for ~20 minutes prior to removing bars. Wrap each individual bar in plastic wrap for storage.

Nutrition Info per 1 bar: 158 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber