Wednesday, October 30, 2013

80--- Creamy Spinach Artichoke Bisque

Who here likes spinach artichoke dip?  Alright, put your hands down my invisible internet friends.  Let's just assume that we all do.

This bisque will knock your socks off.  Without blowing the buttons off of your trousers.

We should use the word trousers more often, shouldn't we?

All of the flavor of your favorite dip.  In a soup.  A healthful one at that!

Spinach= superfood.  1 1/2 lb of spinach?  Well, that's crazy SUPER. 

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Bisque
Serves 6

2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed and minced
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
9 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 lbs spinach leaves
3 cups quartered artichoke hearts (frozen are preferred, if using canned, drain and rinse)
1 cup half and half
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and saute until fragrant, 3-4 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Add spinach and artichoke hearts and reduce to medium-low.  Cook until spinach leaves are wilted, 7-8 minutes. 

Use an immersion blender to blend soup to a smooth puree.  Alternatively, you may transfer batches to a blender and blend until smooth. 

Whisk in half and half and pepper.  Simmer until heated through.  Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, placed under the broiler to melt the cheese, if desired.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups: 188 calories, 6.5 g fat, 16 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Monday, October 28, 2013

80(ish)--- Baked "Caramel" Apples {Health-ified Caramel Apples}

If you want a truly easy, all natural, gluten-free, almost healthy dessert for she is.

I really was not expecting this to turn out as a holiday-level dessert.  But it is truly, almost unexpectedly, decadent.  There's just something about fruit. 

Baked "Caramel" Apples
Serves 8

4 large Golden delicious apples, halved, cored and seeded
4 tsp butter
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use a small paring knife to make a slightly larger well in each apple.  Place apple halves, well side up, in a large baking dish sprayed lightly with baking spray.

Place 1/2 tsp butter into each apple well, then top with 1 tsp brown sugar.  Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until apple halves are soft and brown sugar has melted.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer apples to individual serving plates and drizzle with any remaining melted brown sugar from the baking dish.  Top each half with ~1 1/2 tsp ground walnuts.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info per 1 apple half: 110 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber

Friday, October 25, 2013

20--- Mini Maple Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crust and Caramelized Pecans {Gluten-Free Option}

Tis the time of year when I start to test out Thanksgiving dessert recipes.

Odd that desserts are my contribution to the meal?

I don't think so.

Stick with me and I will deliver a true 20 experience; traditional flavors without playing it "safe" with pumpkin pie.  Consider it a Thanksgiving adventure.  This one's a GO!

Mini Maple Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crust and Caramelized Pecans
Serves 10

4- 8oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
4 eggs

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups gingersnap crumbs (from homemade or store-bought gingersnap cookies- use gluten-free if desired)
4 Tbsp butter, melted

For crust: Pulse gingersnap cookies in a food processor until crumbs are formed.  In a medium bowl, mix crumbs with melted butter until moistened.  

Spray 10 ramekins lightly with baking spray, then add ~1 1/2 Tbsp crumbs to the bottom of each ramekin.  Use the back of a spoon (or your clean fingers) to press crumbs to form a bottom crust.

For pecans: Heat butter on the stovetop in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add pecans and brown sugar and cook until sugar begins to melt, shaking the pan occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and stir until sugar caramelizes and thickens to a syrup-like consistency.  Remove from heat.  Spoon pecans onto parchment paper, spread evenly and allow to cool completely.  Break apart if needed once cooled.

For cheesecake: Use a mixer to whip cream cheese until smooth.  Continue to mix as sour cream is added.  Mix well.  Add in one egg at a time, then add maple syrup.  Continue to mix until very smooth.

For assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degreees.  Sprinkle ~1 1/2 Tbsp caramelized pecans onto the crust in each ramekin (save some pecans for garnish if desired).  Top with ~1 cup of the cheesecake mixture.

Place ramekins in a baking dish (or two) and fill the dish with water until it comes up halfway on the sides of the ramekins.  Place the dishes into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center of each cheesecake is set.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then place ramekins into the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour prior to serving (can be made the day before- BONUS for holiday meal prep!).

Top with a sprinkle of caramelized pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup if desired!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

80--- Thanksgiving Side Salad

Have you started to plan your holiday meals yet?  If you are trying to stick to the healthy path, these meals can bring an extra challenge.  

How do you lighen up Thanksgiving dinner?

Not by making all kinds of fat-free substitutions to your meal.  Most likely that will not go over very well.

Instead, how about offering a tossed green salad in addition to all of the heavy sides that often accompany the meal?  It will help to fill you up with fiber (and lots of antioxidants to help you detox naturally!).

This salad is a delicious one, inspired by a salad that my friend, Kara, serves at holiday meals.

Thanksgiving Side Salad
Serves 6

5 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed
1 large apple of your choice, julienned
1/3 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp grated yellow onion
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp winterized olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
Dash ground black pepper

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix.  Add apple slices and place in refrigerator for one hour.

Toss spinach with dressing and apples, then top with pecans and grated cheese.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info per 1 cup: 112 calories, 8 g fat (7 g monounsaturated), 3.5 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things That I Know

1.  These crock pot baked potatoes are genius.

2.  If I ever need to bribe my husband I will surely do it with these Asian Salmon Tacos.

3.  These slow cooker caramelized apples look delicious.  I will surely be making them for my wee babe.

4.  Chipotle hummus? Yes please.

5.  I have SO many pregnant friends right now.  I love it. Babies make the world a much better place, don't you think?

Here's my quick list of Etsy shops that you need to visit if you need a baby gift.

Augie & Lola (for amazing blankets)

Adam's Blankie (for girly goods)

little pitterpat (for sweet yet sturdy booties)

Hudson & Ruthie (for great onesies)

Dundry Hill (for changing bags that changed my life)

Maranda Lee (for stylish yet totally practical diaper bags)

Friday, October 18, 2013

80(ish)--- Butternut Crisp

The flavor of butternut squash, when dressed up, closely resembles pumpkin.  It's chock full of antioxidants and fiber too!

This crisp is a perfect fall dessert.  Without the guilt that a typical pumpkin pie will bring.  And with more fiber AND protein!

Butternut Crisp
Serves 8

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raw sugar
Olive oil spray
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flaxmeal
1/4 cup bran
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a round 9" baking dish (or 8x8" square) sprayed lightly with olive oil, toss together butternut, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and raw sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flaxmeal, bran, flour, walnuts and salt.  Add brown sugar and mix to distribute evenly.  Add water, vanilla, and olive oil and mix well.

Sprinkle oat mixture over the squash.  Bake on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash is soft and topping is crisp and lightly browned.  Serve warm.

Nutrition Info per 1 serving: 242 calories, 14 g fat (12 g unsaturated), 4.5 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g fiber

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

80--- Shredded Fish Tacos with Creamy Avocado Slaw

These are fish tacos for winter weather.  No grill needed! And who can say no to the creamy goodness of avocado?  

Shredded Fish Tacos with Creamy Avocado Slaw
Serves 4

8 small soft corn tortillas
1 lb fresh white fish filet (I used halibut)
1 cup of your favorite salsa

SLAW ** best made 1-2 hours prior to serving
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1 small avocado, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp honey

To make slaw: add chopped avocado, lime juice, vinegar, salt and honey to a food processor.  Combine until a smooth puree is formed.

In a covered bowl, combine cabbage, onion and cilantro.  Add avocado mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

For fish: preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place fish, skin side down in a baking dish.  Cover with salsa, place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until fish easily flakes with a fork.

Remove skin from fish, then shred the filet with forks.  Mix well with the salsa that it was cooked in.

Serve shredded fish topped with slaw on corn tortillas.  Garnish with corn kernels if desired.

Nutrition Info per 2 small tacos: 327 calories, 10.5 g fat (7.5 g unsaturated), 28 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber

Monday, October 14, 2013

20(ish)--- Light Fudgey Pumpkin Brownies

I love the time of year when you can replace the fat in just about anything with pumpkin and it's just as enjoyable.

I said just about anything.  This is one of them:

Light Fudgey Pumpkin Brownies
Serves 8

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9" round or 8x8" square baking dish with baking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, cocoa, and sugar.  Add eggs, spice, and vanilla and whisk until just mixed.  Add the flour, a little at a time, until combined (do not overmix).

Spread batter evenly in the baking dish.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (almost clean will do as well for fudgier texture).  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice if desired prior to cutting into 8 or 9 equal pieces and serving.

Nutrition Info per 1 brownie: 146 calories, 3.5 g fat, 3.5 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Things That I Know about my first year of motherhood

By no means is this a tutorial on how to raise your child, it is simply a verbal collection of my thoughts and experiences during my first year as a mother.

First off, let me say that I LOVE being a mother.  I know, most women say this.  But I REALLY LOVE being a mother.

Secondly, I could not do what I do without the most amazing partner in the world.  My hubbster is an equal partner in this child rearing business and acts as though he is daily. WE could not do what we do without the help of my mother-in-law, who watches our wee babe when we work.  In my house. YES I AM LUCKY.  I know this.  Props to all you single mommas out there.  And props to those mommas who work full time.  

The most precious lesson that I have learned from my wee babe in the past year:

Sometimes, you need to LET IT GO

Let's start at the beginning..............

Before I birthed my wee babe, I read books.  You know, those books.  The ones about bringing up baby to be a respectful human being.......starting at day ONE.  So I had in my mind what I was going to do, and what kind of momma I was going to be.

Here comes my wee babe.  Not in the way my Type A self expected (in a tub at the birthing center).  She came in her own way (after 31 hours of labor in the hospital).  And, yes, it was as everyone told me.  The first time I laid eyes on her I was forever changed.  For the better.

For the most part, the first couple of months went as expected.  We were tired.  She was amazing.  I birthed a good feeder and was blessed with the ability to breast feed.

Fast forward a few months.  Enter my Type A personality again.  Now is the time when those books tell you that you should be doing things a certain way.  At certain times.  I tried.  And tried.  And tried to make it happen.  I sought advice of friends.  And I tried.  And I bought more books.  And I read blogs.  WHY wouldn't my wee babe do the things that she was supposed to do?  She wouldn't sleep when she was supposed to sleep.  She liked to eat when she was hungry, not on a schedule.  

I spent so much time worried that I was a bad mother (ahhh- the guilt!!) because my baby didn't sleep well.  And because I COULDN'T let her cry it out. (Props again to those who can and do.)  

I fought my natural instincts for months, trying to schedule my wee babe.  And then, then.  The most miraculous thing happened.  I gave up trying.

When my wee babe was around 6 months, I let it GO.  I followed my instincts.  Why wouldn't I?  She was following hers.  Something in me felt that her sporadic eating/sleeping patterns was related to my milk supply and her internal cues. Duh, right?

And the past 6 months have been AMAZING.

She doesn't sleep through the night.

But she's happy.  And so healthy.  

And that makes me happy.  At the sacrifice of precious sleep.

A few other lessons that I learned:

1.  Don't feel pressured to sleep when you babe is sleeping even thought that's what everyone will tell you to do.  My Type A self was most relaxed if I checked things off of my list while she was napping.

2.  Being in great shape pre-baby + breast feeding = easier time getting back your bod.  But it does take some TIME.

3.  Some women have a lot of lipase in their milk (me).  This makes storage difficult, because the fats are quickly digested (good for baby, not good for storage) and the taste changes (gets "soapy" or spoiled tasting).  This does not mean that you cannot pump and store your milk.  You can scald your milk on the stovetop (barely steaming) and it stores fine.  This does not mean that your milk is "bad".  It just makes it not as tasty for babe.  MANY women experience this but it is rarely discussed.

I am so grateful to my wee babe for teaching me so much about life and love.  She has taught me so much more than I ever could have learned in a lifetime without her.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

80--- Roasted Green Tomato and Pepitas Salsa

As usual here in the great state of Montana, we had a snowstorm in September.  I know, it's maddening.  And it causes a PANIC in those of us with gardens.  Especially those of us with a plentiful green tomato crop yet to redden. 

Instead of praying for a miracle this year, I picked those green tomatoes.  You know me better than to batter and fry them.  I made salsa!!

This is a mild salsa with a lovely pepitas (pumpkin seed) crunch.  To spice it up, add another jalapeno.

Roasted Green Tomato and Pepitas Salsa
Serves 4

5 medium green tomatoes, quartered
1/2 large yellow onion, cut into large cubes
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
1/2 tsp salt
Olive oil spray
2 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup salted roasted pepitas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.  Place tomato quarters, onion and jalapeno onto the baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil spray, then sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of tomatoes and onions turn lightly brown.  Remove from oven.

Place contents of baking sheet into a large food processor and add lime juice and pepitas.  Mix until a smooth puree is formed, adding additional salt as needed to taste.  Place in refrigerator for 2-24 hours prior to serving to enhance flavors.

Nutrition Info per 1/4 cup: 71 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates

Friday, October 4, 2013

80--- Chicken Waldorf Pizza with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Drizzle

What better way to use up your abundance of apples?  Pizza! What? Try it, you might like it!!

Chicken Waldorf Pizza with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Drizzle
Serves 4

4- 10" tortillas (or other prepared pizza crust/pita/flatbread)
Olive oil spray
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped apples
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cooked and shredded boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place tortillas or crusts onto baking sheets.  Spray each lightly with olive oil, then top each with 2 Tbsp mozzarella cheese, 1 Tbsp celery, 2 Tbsp apples, 1 Tbsp blue cheese, 1/4 cup shredded chicken, and 1/2 Tbsp walnuts.  Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.

Place sheets into the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then transfer crusts directly to the rack and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or crusts are crispy and cheese has melted.

While pizzas cook, heat balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a low boil, stirring continuously for 15 minutes, or until thickened to maple syrup consistency.

Drizzle each cooked pizza with balsamic syrup.  Cut into quarters and serve.

Nutrition Info per 1 pizza: 263 calories, 10 g fat, 16 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Things That I Know

1. It's October! Halloween is upon us!  What are you dressing up as?

Here's some ideas:

How about this?

Or this?

Or get the whole family together for this?

And OMG I can't get over this cuteness.

My babe? Well, here's a sneak peak at my idear......

2.  October is the perfect time for all things pumpkin! Like these.  Love the pumpkin seed addition.  So subtle.  Genius.

3.  I've always wanted to make one of these.  But holy cannoli.  I just don't have the patience for it!  But it is beautiful!

4.  OK. Just one more pumpkin recipe.  I've never been a fan of savory pumpkin but these, these, may change my mind.

5.  This looks pretty perfect.  And simple.  Tailgate maybe?

6.  And YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  This looks amazing.  It would pair perfectly with these