Monday, September 30, 2013

80--- Acorn Squash Chili Bowls

Looking for a sweet detail to dazzle at your fall food gathering?  This is it!  Chili bowls made from acorn squash.  And the best part?  The squash is edible! Take a little bit of soft flesh with each bite of chili.  Delightful.

I can't claim this recipe to be my own- it was an idea given to me by a patient.  An extra veggie serving disguised as a bowl?  I'm in love.

Acorn Squash Chili Bowls
Serves 4

2 medium acorn squash, sliced in half crosswise and seeded
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If "bowls" do not lay flat, use a sharp knife to shave a sliver of skin off of the bottom (ie: stem side or bottom) of each bowl.

Spray the inside of each bowl with olive oil spray, then sprinkle with seasonings and brown sugar.

Place bowls face up into a baking dish.  Pour 1/2 cup water into the bottom of the dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft.  Remove from the oven and fill with your favorite chili.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

80--- Crock Pot Split Pea Stew

I've made split pea soup before.  It's a go-to of mine.  All you need is a bag of split peas, an onion and some carrots and you're good to go!

But this time I was in the mood for a heartier soup of sorts.

A few additions later, and we had a stew!  The base is still your typical creamy (non-dairy) split pea.  But the chunks of potatoes and green peas make it so much MORE.  I also like how the ham is an accessory rather than the main attraction.

Crock Pot Split Pea Stew
Serves 10-12

10 cups water+ 3 Tbsp low sodium vegetable bouillon base (or use 10 cups of low sodium vegetable broth)
24 oz green split peas
2 small yellow onions, coarsely chopped
5 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cups lean ham cubes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
5 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas

In a crock pot, combine all ingredients EXCEPT for potatoes and peas.  Set crock pot on low for 10 hours.

Do whatever it is that you do during the day.

Come home to a delicious-smelling house.

For final two hours of cooking, add in potatoes and peas.  *Note: as an alternative you can pre-boil the potatoes until soft and add them in with the peas 15 minutes prior to serving.

*Additional note: you can downsize this recipe so that it only feeds your family.  However, if you make the full batch, for the same amount of work you can have one or two additional frozen bags of split pea stew in your freezer- ready for reheating any chilly day when you are low on time.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups: 172 calories, 1 g fat, 12.5 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

20---Vanilla Bean Cupcakes from Scratch- for my Wee One

For my babe's first birthday I was completely set on making her her first cupcake.

Initially, I thought I would make a "healthy" cupcake and load it up with bran and veggie purees.

And then I had the thought: My wee one needs some 20s too.

So I decided to make her a nice, simple vanilla cupcake from scratch.

Now I know why cupcake shoppes are a booming business.

Making two dozen cupcakes (and frosting them) is no simple feat when you are trying to juggle a one-year old AND get ready for her first birthday party.

Yes, these were a bit of work.  But they were DELICIOUS.

How did my wee babe like her first cupcake?  Well, she took a bit of frosting, then played with it a bit, then gobbled up a piece of roasted asparagus.

Daughter of a dietitian.  What can I say?

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes from Scratch
Serves 24

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
Scrappings from two vanilla beans
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat on high speed until a smooth puree is formed, ~2 minutes.  Add in eggs, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean scrappings.  Beat on low speed to combine, then continue beating as you add baking powder and flours gradually.  Add milk and beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Line 24 cupcake tins with baking liners.  Divide batter between cups, being careful to only fill each cup 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until centers are done.  Remove from oven and allow to cool entirely prior to frosting.

For the frosting: Beat together butter and powdered sugar on high speed for 2 minutes.  Add in vanilla and continue to beat until combined.  Lastly add milk and beat until  smooth and even in consistency.

Frost cupcakes as you wish and enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Soup's On!

I haven't been cooking up many new recipes this past week.  Instead, I am cooking up some soups and freezing them for winter.

I thought today I would compile you a list of good freezer soups just in case you want to do the same.  All of these are easily doubled (or tripled).  Eat some now, store some for later when you don't feel like cooking.

(plan to make stock/vegetable broth then add noodles prior to serving)

Friday, September 20, 2013

20--- Marbled Cheesecake Brownie Bites

I almost gave these brownie bites an (ish), as in 20(ish).  Why? Well.......these are pre-portioned desserts.  

Desserts aren't a problem unless your portion is in distortion, right?

Marbled Cheesecake Brownie Bites
Makes ~2 dozen bites

Brownie batter
4 Tbsp butter
2 oz chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Cheesecake batter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp beaten egg yolk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make brownie batter, heat butter in the top pan of a double boiler.  When butter is melted, whisk in chocolate until melted, then add in the sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for ~3 minutes, then whisk in egg, flour, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract.

Spray a mini muffin pan generously with baking spray.  Spoon brownie batter into each cup, filling each halfway.  Set aside.

To make cheesecake batter, use a handheld mixer to combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Spoon ~1 tsp cheesecake batter onto the top of each cup of brownie batter.  Use a toothpick to swirl the batters together.

Bake for ~13-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a brownie bite comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before gently removing and serving.

Allow bites to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Things That I Know

1.  With the exception of a few odds and ends, I am done Christmas shopping.  Hate me if you wish.  But it's what I do.  I pick up little things along the way, starting in January.  It's not my goal to be done in September, but sometimes it happens that way.  AND it feels gooooood.

2.  I am so happy with September thus far, are you?  The mornings are 60 degrees- perfect running temp- and the days are 80 degrees- just warm enough to keep me happy. Football........fresh produce......... Oh September- would ya stay forever?  

3.  I also love September because it holds lots of dates dear to my heart.  It's when I met my hubby.  It's when we got engaged.  And it's when our wee babe was born........

4.  which means-- party planning time!  Does Pinterest make you crazy?  It's all so much pressure!  My party theme:  All Things That Begin with V- because my wee one's name starts with a V.  Yes- it's been a challenge.  And yes- my kindergarten teacher mother has helped me

We will be eating vegetables (raw and roasted), drinking V8 (kiddos) and vino (older kiddos), and indulging in vanilla cupcakes served on vintage plates.  Tables will be adorned with violet-colored velvet and vases of violas.  We will be listening to violin music and guests will go home with a very special gift: Vaseline lip balm!  Now how do I incorporate vitamins in there???? Suggestions strongly encouraged.

5.  And now what you're really here for: THE FOOD.......

Love this Chia Seed Jam idea

And Smoked Salmon Potato Salad?  I don't even love salmon and I want to eat this.

Kiwis in my salsa?  I must try it.  You'll never know if you don't try.

I may have already linked to this at some point.  I don't remember.  But putting basil in a smoothie is worth another looksie anywhoo.

Monday, September 16, 2013

80--- Smokey Honey Mustard

I am human enough to admit it.

I went to Wendy's the other day.  Not planned.  As most fast food visits are not (unless I am around an In 'n Out).

I had heard about the Smokey Honey Mustard Chicken Flatbread.  No, this is not a paid endorsement.

The review?  It was delicious.

And what is my first course of action?

Making some sauce.  Because the sauce made that sandwich ladies and gentlemen.  

And here is my version:

Smokey Honey Mustard
Makes ~3/4 cup

1/3 cup yellow mustard
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to mix.  Place in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per 2 Tbsp: 29 calories, 1 g fat, 0.4 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 140 mg sodium

Friday, September 13, 2013

80--- Loaded Mexican Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Simple. Healthy. Yummy. Vegetarian. Mexican. Food.

Thanks to the Cancer Dietitian for this fantastic article on the health benefits of sweet potatoes! Amen!

Loaded Mexican Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

4 sweet potatoes, washed well
Olive oil spray
1/4 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
Dash ground black pepper
1 cup refried black beans
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 avocado, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/4 cup diced green chiles
2 oz crumbled feta cheese (optional- use a different shredded cheese if desired)
1/4 cup light sour cream (optional)
Fresh cilantro to garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice a 1/8" slice off of the bottom of each sweet potato (so they lay flat).  Place chopsticks on either side of the sweet potato (lengthwise) on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to slice 1/4" slices into the sweet potato (the chopsticks will ensure that you don't slice all the way through).  Place each sliced sweet potato into a large baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray.

Spray each sweet potato with olive oil spray, then season with chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes, or until flesh of each potato is soft.

While sweet potatoes cook, heat refried beans on the stovetop.  Add a bit of water to adjust the consistency, if desired.

When sweet potatoes have cooked, transfer each to a plate and top with 1/4 cup refried beans, 2 Tbsp corn, 2 Tbsp chopped tomato, 1 Tbsp chiles, 1/4 of the chopped avocado, 2 Tbsp onion, a sprinkle of feta cheese and 1 Tbsp of sour cream.  Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve!

Nutrition Info per 1 topped sweet potato: 318 calories, 11 g fat, 8 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Willis! You are the winner of the Giveaway (chosen randomly by! And no, I certainly hope you are not the only guy reading my blog!!

Enjoy your air popper! Check your email for details!

Thanks for entering everyone!

80--- Kale, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Springrolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

This is a fresh twist on your classic springrolls.  The cool mint and cucumber are the perfect complement to the spicy peanut sauce.  Add in a few rice noodles or grilled tofu for a more filling option!

Kale, Cucumber, Avocado and Mint Springrolls
Makes 8 full rolls (16 halves)

8 rice paper wrappers
HOT tap water
2-3 cups baby kale leaves, stemmed
1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4" thick julienne strips
1 firm (but ripe) avocado, sliced into thin slices
16 fresh spearmint leaves

Soak rice paper wrappers, one at a time, in hot tap water for ~30 seconds or until softened.

Transfer wrapper to a plate, then layer 1/4 cup kale leaves, 4 cucumber strips, 4 thin avocado strips and two mint leaves onto the center of the wrapper.  Fold in the ends, then roll tightly (like a burrito).  Set aside and repeat with remaining wrappers. Note: you may need to use additional batches of HOT water if it cools.

Once all rolls are complete, slice in half with a sharp knife.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Makes ~ 1 cup

1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small blender and mix until a smooth puree is formed.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Nutrition Info per 1 whole springroll: 84 calories, 5 g fat, 1.8 g protein, 7.5 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber

Nutrition Info per 1 Tbsp dipping sauce: 33 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1.5 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates

Monday, September 9, 2013

20(ish)--- Homemade Easy Cheesy Crackers

My lovely niece loves cheese crackers.  She could most likely live on them.  Those and some spinach, right Bug?

These crackers get the (ish) because they are homemade.  No preservatives or food coloring involved.

And they are easy.

Thank goodness.

Homemade Easy Cheesy Crackers
Makes 3-4 cups

1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp masa flour (corn flour)
5 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, chopped into pieces
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I recommend shredding a block yourself- the pre-shredded is too dry)
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic salt
Coarse salt (optional)

In a large food processor, combine flours, paprika, and garlic salt.  Add in pieces of chilled butter and pulse until coarse crumbs are formed.  Add in cheese and mix until dough forms.

Remove dough from the food processor, roll into a ball or disc, wrap with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a floured flat surface until ~1/8" thick.  Cut into 1" squares or triangles and place onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, ~1/2" apart.  Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges begin to brown lightly.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Things That I Use Giveaway

This week- in honor of my Eighty Twenty Anniversary (3 years!) I am giving away something very special.  Something that you need.  Something that you want.


You can choose from ANYTHING in my newly updated Amazon Store (up to a $20 value)!!!

To enter, click my SHOP page link at the top of my blog and choose the item you would like.

Make sure to check out all of the pages.  I have recently added new pages such as Get Cookin', Flicks and Reads, Calorie King Books, Eats, Work It Out, Wee Ones, and Random Goods I Love with LOADS of fantastic items that I recommend.

To enter, comment on this post with the item (or items- if you're thrifty) you would like!  Please leave your email address as well so that I can contact you when you WIN!

The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, September 11th (which also happens to be my dog Moose's birthday).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

80--- Spaghetti Squash Hashbrowns

Now, mind you, spaghetti squash isn't exactly LOADED with wayyyy more nutrients than a potato.  Sure, it has a bit more vitamin A and vitamin C.  But it's not like you're getting off of the hook of eating more vegetables in your day by making these.  It's just a fun new use for a spectacular side dish.

This is a GREAT use for leftover spaghetti squash.  And, if your garden is popping with gourds, you will have leftover spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash Hashbrowns
Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded *see microwave directions below
1/2 large yellow onion
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
Dash ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook until softened, ~4 minutes.  Add spaghetti squash and seasonings and saute for ~10-12 minutes, or until squash turns golden brown.

Serve immediately!

*To quickly cook a spaghetti squash, cut off the ends, slice in half lengthwise, then remove the seeds and pulp.  In a microwave-safe dish, place half of the squash cut-side up.  Pour 1/2 cup water into center "hole" of the squash (where you took the seeds out of), then place the second half of the squash on top, cut side down (as if you had never cut it at all).  Microwave for 10-12 minutes, or until flesh is soft.  Remove from microwave and allow to cool for 5 minutes before forking the flesh into strands.

Nutrition Info per 1/2 cup: 35 calories, 1 g fat, 6 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

80--- Mediterranean Frittata

The day after a labor-less day the last thing I want to throw at you is a time consuming meal.

So here's a frittata.

A really good one at that!  My hubbster said it was the best one that I have ever made.  Not too shabby coming from the egg-hater.

Mediterranean Frittata
Serves 4

8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Add oil to a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet and swirl to coat entire skillet (sides too).  Heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 3 minutes.  Add in spinach and cook until leaves have wilted, ~5 minutes.  Add in olives and red peppers.

Whisk together eggs and milk, then add salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture into the skillet, sprinkle with feta cheese and allow to cook for ~5 minutes on the stove top.  

Transfer skillet to the oven and allow to cook for 15-18 minutes, or until middle is set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Nutrition Info per 1/4 frittata: 239 calories, 17 g fat (12 g unsaturated), 15 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber