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Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen}

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars #SundaySupper

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen} Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars are easy, no-bake bars made nut-free with sunflower seed butter, and topped with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate. They are also gluten-free.  

With back-to-school just around the corner, we are starting to think about ideas for what to pack for school lunch.  Something nutritious, delicious and easy isn’t too much to ask, right?  A little variety might be nice too.  Fortunately, today I am joining the Sunday Supper Movement, and the theme is ‘lunch box.’  Several wonderful bloggers have come up with fantastic recipes and ideas to help solve the lunchbox dilemma.  These are recipes are helpful when packing your own lunch to bring to work!  You can find links to all of the wonderful recipes at the bottom of this post.  But first, let’s talk about these Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars!    

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baked sweet and sour chicken with quinoa

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Quinoa

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is a healthy 30-minute meal made with chicken, lots of vegetables, and a light sweet and sour sauce.  It takes just minutes to prepare, making this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken an ideal weeknight meal that is much healthier than its take-out counterpart.

Here the Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is served over the ever trendy super-seed, quinoa.  You can easily substitute brown rice, or another favorite grain, or eliminate it all together for a lower carb option.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Quinoa
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick coins
  • 6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • nonstick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk honey, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and 1 tablespoon water.
  3. Toss chicken in 3 tablespoons of honey mixture and place in prepared baking dish. Toss peppers, carrots and scallions in remaining honey mixture and pour evenly over chicken.
  4. Loosely cover baking dish with foil, leaving one end open to vent. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are tender.
  5. Meanwhile, put quinoa and broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then cover, reduce to a simmer (medium-low) for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.
  6. Divide quinoa on plates and spoon chicken and vegetables over quinoa.
Notes
Slightly adapted from Family Circle, June 2013

If you enjoy this recipe, you may also enjoy:

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

Lighter Sesame Chicken

 

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Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt {Garbanzo Beans}

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt are a healthy, sweet and salty snack that is easy to make.  They are high in fiber, protein-packed, gluten free, dairy free…and Adam can’t get enough of them (in other words, they’re toddler friendly too!)

Honey Roasted Chickpeas are made with only a few simple ingredients, and you most likely have everything you need already in your pantry.  In fact, all you really need is one ingredient, and that’s the chickpeas.  The additional ingredients are simply for flavoring, but roasted chickpeas are super crunchy and delicious straight from the oven.  In this case I made them honey roasted with sea salt, however I have other variations in the works that I am excited to share with you soon!

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt | alidaskitchen.com

 

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ tablespoon canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • sea salt, add to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Empty chickpeas into a colander. Rinse until no longer foamy and drain. Put chickpeas onto paper towels to pat dry. (Optional: remove skins from chickpeas. Not necessary, but I recommend it).
  3. Place chickpeas in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, or until chickpeas are crunchy. (If they're soft, put them back in for 5 minutes until crunchy).
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk honey and oil. Add hot chickpeas and toss to coat. Pour chickpeas back on lined baking sheet and return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized. Sprinkle with sea salt, as desired, and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
Slightly adapted from fitsugar.com

Honey Roasted Chickpeas with Sea Salt | alidaskitchen.com

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad | alidaskitchen.com

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad is a delicious entree salad made with quinoa, broccoli, carrots, tossed with a healthier version of buffalo chicken. Quick and easy, perfect for a weeknight!
Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad | alidaskitchen.com
This Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad is darn near perfection.  We start with warm, shredded chicken tossed in a lighter buffalo sauce; add sautéed vegetables and combine it with the ever trendy (and tasty!) quinoa.  Sprinkle blue cheese (or cheddar) on top, as desired, and you’re looking at a delicious and healthy Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad.

Not only is this salad am-a-zing, but it can be made in under 30 minutes!  The quinoa and chicken cook simultaneously, allowing plenty of time to prepare and sauté the vegetables and whisk together the sauce.  Put it all together and dinner is served!  (Leftovers make great lunches too)

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad | alidaskitchen.com

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
 
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 to 10 ounces) OR 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 to 3 green onions chopped, whites and greens separated
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup hot sauce (I recommend Frank's hot sauce)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Optional toppings: blue cheese crumbles or shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Make quinoa: In a medium sauce pan, put rinsed quinoa and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff quinoa with a fork.
  2. Poach chicken: While the quinoa is cooking, place chicken in medium pot, and add enough water to cover chicken. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let chicken stand, covered until cooked through (about 12 to 14 minutes). Remove chicken from liquid and shred with 2 forks.
  3. While quinoa and chicken are cooking, sauté the vegetables. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add broccoli, carrots and the whites of green onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until desired crisp-tenderness. Set aside.
  4. Make the sauce: Whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder and salt.
  5. Pour ¼ cup sauce over shredded chicken, tossing to coat.
  6. To a large bowl, add quinoa, chicken and vegetables, tossing to combine (You can add remaining sauce with this step OR drizzle as desired over each individual serving).
  7. Sprinkle with remaining chopped green onion and serve.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad | alidaskitchen.com I drew inspiration from this recipe and my Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders recipe.

healthy cocoa chocolate coconut date truffles balls

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles

 Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles are an easy recipe made in minutes using only 3 ingredients with no added fat or sugar. {vegan, gluten free}

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com
Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles have the delicious flavors of dark chocolate and coconut…all coming in around 60 calories and without any added sugar of fat.  They are made using only 3 main ingredients (plus an optional ingredient which helps to deepen and intensify the chocolate flavor).  Even better – they take only minutes to make.  Intrigued?  I certainly was when I first found the recipe but it took me over 9 months to make them.  I am kicking myself that it took so long…they are so amazingly good!

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com

Thankfully, it is time again for the second installment of the Eating the Alphabet Challenge, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  Participating in this challenge was the extra push I needed to make these truffles.  This month we’re featuring healthy recipes using fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes that start with letters C or D.  Since Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles feature both coconut and dates, I’ve got both letters covered this month.

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles
 
Yields: 20 truffles
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces pitted dates (approx 1½ cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut, for rolling
Instructions
  1. Put dates, cocoa, 3 tablespoons coconut and espresso powder in a food processor and puree until smooth. If mixture is too dry, add water by the teaspoonful (I needed about 3 teaspoons). If mixture becomes too wet, add more unsweetened coconut.
  2. Scoop mixture by the tablespoonful and form 1-inch balls. Roll balls in remaining coconut.
  3. Chill/store in refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Source: Bon Appetit, June, 2012  

Healthy Banana Cookies - vegan, no added sugar and nut free | alidaskitchen.com

Healthy Banana Cookies

 Healthy Banana Cookies are a chewy, fruit-filled cookie made using some of my favorite foods – oats, dates and bananas.  They are made from simple, wholesome ingredients, have no butter and added sugar, thus making them a healthier choice.  I love the simplicity of these cookies and have to admit these cookies made a delightful breakfast!  These Healthy Banana Cookies also happen to be dairy free and can be gluten free.

I have had this at the top of my ‘to make’ pile for months just waiting for some super ripe bananas.   While we always have plenty of super ripe bananas in the house, they’re typically reserved for Pumpkin Banana Muffins or Pumpkin Banana Pancakes (or Strawberry Banana Pancakes once strawberry season hits).  Fortunately, I was a muffin and pancake making machine in advance of our new baby’s arrival, stocking the freezer full of Adam’s favorite banana goodies.  With a stocked freezer and 3 very ripe bananas, it was finally my opportunity to try these Healthy Banana Cookies!

Healthy Banana Cookies
 
Yields: approx. 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking work fine)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) pitted dates, chopped
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add oats, dates, oil, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful onto prepared cookie sheets. [Note: the cookies don't spread so you may want to shape them a bit]
  4. Bake cookies for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
These are best enjoyed the day after baking.

Coincidentally, this is also the first month of the Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge for 2013, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  Each month, several bloggers will focus on healthy recipes featuring fruits, vegetables grains or legumes, from a couple different letters (this month it is A or B).  I thought Healthy Banana Cookies would be the perfect healthy recipe to start off this fun series.

Baked Balsamic Chicken | alidaskitchen.com

Baked Balsamic Chicken

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Baked Balsamic Chicken is wholesome, easy and delicious!  This dish can be customized to use whatever herbs you like (or have on hand) and is perfectly paired with Minute® Multi-Grain Medley! Thank you Minute® Rice for sponsoring this post.
 This Baked Balsamic Chicken recipe has been a family favorite for years. The recipe was created when Greta was first born over 3 years ago and has been a regular feature on the dinner rotation ever since. The marinade takes minutes to prepare and then is poured in a zip-top bag with the chicken.  Let that sit in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.  Then you just pour the chicken and marinade in a baking dish and bake.  Simple!

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chipotle-glazed roast chicken with sweet potatoes

Chipotle-Glazed Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes


I found this recipe for Chipotle-Glazed Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes during a sleepless night over the summer.  While it sounded absolutely delicious, it didn’t quite scream “summer” to me…so I saved it for a more seasonably appropriate time.  After many months of anticipation, I am happy to report this recipe was definitely worth the wait!

First you give the potatoes a head start by cooking them until they start to get tender.  The timing on this may vary based on the size you cut your potatoes or your oven, but unless you like crunchy potatoes, this step is key to the success of the recipe.  Meanwhile, you can whip up the sauce/rub and prepare the chicken.  Then you just put the chicken on top of the potatoes and pop it in the oven to bake until the chicken is done.  This recipe really could not be any simpler.  The result is a light and healthy dish that is sweet, spicy and delicious!

Chipotle-Glazed Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes (10 ounces each) cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 4-ounce portions
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped (optional, for garnish)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a roasting or baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and pour in the bottom of roasting/baking pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes (tossing after 10 minutes), until potatoes being to get tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine chiles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Rub mixture over chicken breasts.
  4. Place chicken breasts on top of sweet potatoes and roast until chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve garnished with green onions.

Adapted from Fitness Magazine

ginger chicken satay

Ginger Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay is one of my favorite chicken dishes.  While I doubt there will ever be anything that comes close my favorite recipe, I enjoy experimenting with different versions from time to time.  The thing that caught my eye in this particular version was the interesting use of pineapple juice.

The result was a subtle yet delicious Ginger Chicken Satay.  The flavors are mild yet interesting.  The pineapple juice isn’t obvious, but was indeed a tasty addition.  The heat can obviously be adjusted to taste with the crushed red pepper.   I’m not really a skewer fan, so I just grill the chicken directly instead of threading it on skewers.  If you want to do skewers, then cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before marinating.  Then thread the chicken on the skewers once you are ready to fire up the grill.

Ginger Chicken Satay
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper, adjust to taste
Instructions
  1. Put the chicken in Ziploc bag.
  2. In medium bowl, combine pineapple juice, peanut butter, sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper. Pour the marinade over chicken in the Ziploc bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
  3. Preheat grill (or grill pan) to medium high. Cook chicken 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with additional crushed red pepper, if desired.

 

Adapted from Fitness, May, 2011

grilled lemon chicken with parsley sauce

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Parsley Sauce

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Parsley Sauce is a light and healthy dish that tastes like summer.  Plus it’s a great way to use some of the parsley that may be taking over your herb garden!  The lemon in the chicken is subtle and fresh tasting, which serves as a nice contrast to the tangy parsley sauce.  The marinade is quick and easy to make, using simple ingredients, and then pop the chicken in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill.  As with any citrus marinade, it acts quickly so can be grilled within 15 minutes.  I’ve also let the chicken marinate overnight, and that works fine too.  For the parsley sauce, I just toss everything in my Magic Bullet (which I love any excuse to use!), and it’s done in a minute.  Easy! 

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Parsley Sauce
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Chicken:
  • zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts (4 4-ounce breasts)
  • Sauce:
  • ⅔ cup parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Prepare marinade: In a bowl, whisk together zest, juice, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar until combined.
  2. Put chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken. Shake to coat and put in the refrigerator to marinate until ready to use (at least 15 minutes to overnight).
  3. Prepare sauce: In a blender, add parsley, oil, shallot, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and juice. Blend until smooth (about 1 minute).
  4. Preheat grill. Place chicken on grill (discard marinade) and cook chicken on 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until thoroughly cooked.
  5. Serve chicken with a drizzle of sauce and garnish as desired. (Store any leftover marinade in the refrigerator).

Adapted from Health, July, 2006

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies


Black Bean Brownies

Black beans and brownies…sounds crazy right?  Well, as many have discovered, using black beans in place of flour is a clever way to make brownies a bit healthier (and gluten free) without sacrificing a delicious chocolaty, rich-tasting dessert.  Black Bean Brownies have been on my list of things to make for years, and had I realized how easy they are to make, they would have been made a long time ago!  Essentially you just throw everything in a food processor (or blender), process for a minute, pour in pan and bake.

Then comes the true test…how are they?  Amazing!  Mike and I were both excited to try them and very pleasantly surprised how good they are (or were…the brownies are long gone!)  They have a deep chocolate flavor, a not quite cakey and not quite fudgy texture, and were some of the best brownies I’ve had in a long time!

Black Bean Brownies
 
Yields: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • Cooking spray (or additional oil)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray (or brush with oil) and set aside.
  2. Put black beans in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, oil, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla and brown sugar, and process until completely blended. (Note: You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times during this step).
  4. Add ¼ cup chocolate chips and pulse 5 times.
  5. Pour mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Put on a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Source:  Whole Living

chicken and potatoes spinach salad with mustard vinaigrette

Chicken and Potatoes with Mustard Vinaigrette

Chicken and Potatoes with Mustard Vinaigrette | alidaskitchen.com
 With temperatures hitting record highs this summer, I am always happy to be able to cook a quick and healthy dinner that does require turning on the oven.  This Chicken and Potatoes with Mustard Vinaigrette can be made on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.  It’s served over a bed of fresh baby spinach, making it healthy and delicious.  I’d say this dish fits the bill of quick and healthy, making it a perfect dinner!

I actually found this recipe in a magazine at least 10 years ago and gave it to my mom.  She has made it regularly ever since, and everybody is happy when she has it on the menu.  This salad became an instant family favorite!  While the original recipe calls for rotisserie chicken, my mom bakes chicken breasts and shreds them.  In this recipe, I poached the chicken.   The original recipe calls for watercress, but the spinach gives the salad a bit more substance.  Arugula would also be a tasty substitution.  Basically what I’m telling you is that this recipe is flexible.  Go with what works for you to make this a family favorite of your own.

Chicken and Potatoes with Mustard Vinaigrette
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Put chicken in a large sauce pan and then add enough water to cover the chicken. Add a couple pinches of salt. Bring liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Then cover, remove from heat and let sit for 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, put potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. While chicken and potatoes are cooking, whisk together mustard, vinegar, garlic, honey, and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. (Note: I then pour vinaigrette into a cruet for ease of pouring).
  4. Once chicken is cooked, transfer to a separate bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons vinaigrette over warm chicken and let sit for a minute to soak in. Then use 2 forks to shred chicken.
  5. Cut cooked potatoes into quarters (or halves, depending on size).
  6. Place spinach in a large serving bowl. Add potatoes and chicken, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, drizzling with additional vinaigrette as desired.
Notes
You can add the vinaigrette to the serving bowl and toss, but I prefer to let others control the amount of dressing on their salad. For me, a little goes a long way!

Adapted from Real Simple

healthy grilled barbecue chicken with DIY barbeque sauce

Grilled BBQ Chicken

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe for Grilled BBQ Chicken already!  It’s been almost 2 months since I posted teaser pictures on my Drumstick Party post.  Oops!  Fortunately there is still plenty of summer time left to fire up that grill and enjoy some tasty Grilled BBQ Chicken.

Homemade barbecue sauce is one of the easiest things to make using simple pantry ingredients.  I have several homemade versions that I love.  Each one is a little different and each one has its time and place.  This recipe below is based on the sauce from my Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.  I absolutely love the spice combination in that recipe and thought it would translate nicely to the grill.  We were so pleased with the result, this is now my go-to recipe for any time we want a classic Grilled BBQ Chicken!

Grilled BBQ Chicken
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Cooking spray or oil, for grill
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix ketchup and next 8 ingredients (through cumin) until sauce is combined. Set aside.
  2. Put chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour half of the sauce in the bag, making sure chicken get coated. Put in refrigerator for at least an hour (to overnight).
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Spray the grates with grill cooking spray (or rub with oil), if needed.
  4. Put chicken on grill and discard the bag with marinade. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Serve with additional sauce, as desired.
flourless peanut butter cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I was flipping through one of my holiday cookie publications recently, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.  Made with no flour and only 3 simple ingredients, I was intrigued by how seemingly easy these cookies were.  Not only are these Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies easy to make, they are super tasty too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how something so simple can be so incredible!  The result is a soft and chewy cookie that is perfectly peanut buttery.  While perfect as-is, a cup of chocolate chips or chopped peanuts would be a delicious addition to this recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar and egg together until blended. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern. (Tip: It is helpful to spray fork with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to cookie).
  4. Bake for 8 minutes (Note: Be careful not to overbake, otherwise it will result in a crisper cookie). Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home: Holiday Cookies

edamame guacamole

Edamame Guacamole

One of our favorite cuisines is Mexican, and an essential accompaniment is (of course) guacamole.  For a while now, I have been saving recipes for guacamole and finally decided it was time to make my own.  I wanted to give it with a healthy twist incorporating one of my favorite foods – enter Edamame Guacamole.

This guacamole did not disappoint.  There are little flecks of edamame throughout, adding a protein and fiber boost.  Along with the good fats from the avocado, this guacamole is a nutrition powerhouse.  The combination of the onion, chile and salsa (I used medium) give this guacamole some zip without being overpowering.  Below I listed the amounts that I used, but really everything can be adjusted to taste.  It is such a flexible and forgiving recipe.    This Edamame Guacamole tasted so fresh and delicious, I almost grabbed a bag of baked tortilla chips and some crudites and called it dinner.  Almost….but I needed to save some for a special recipe that I will be sharing with you tomorrow.  Edamame Guacamole meets an old childhood favorite!

Edamame Guacamole
 
Yields: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed if frozen - that is what I used)
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional, to taste)
Instructions
  1. Put avocado, edamame, onion, chile, salsa, garlic and lime in food processor and pulse until smooth. Add cilantro, if desired. Tranfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Adapted from Whole Foods

baked cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa

Baked Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Baked Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa is one of those dishes that combines very simple ingredients to make something versatile, classic and delicious.  The spice rub is an easy way to add flavor to the chicken without any added fat or calories, keeping things nice and light.

The avocado salsa topping is also a combination of simple, fresh ingredients.  The creamy avocado cools the spicy chicken, and the red onion complements everything quite nicely.  While delicious as-is, I can also envision adding some black beans or corn to the salsa or served as a simple side.

The chicken can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake, and the recipe halves easily to serve dinner for two.

 

Baked Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional for salsa
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, plus additional for salsa
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, adjust to taste
  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless (4 to 6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided (approximately from 1 lime)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (adjust amounts to taste preference). Rub all over chicken and place in prepared baking dish.
  3. Squeeze 2 tablespoons of lime juice over chicken. Bake uncovered for approxmiately 30 minutes, or chicken is cooked thoroughly.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the salsa. Put red onion and remaining lime juice in a medium bowl and let sit. Just before serving, mix in avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve salsa over chicken.

Adapted from Everyday Food Light

chocolate peanut butter oatmeal

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Today I am sharing with you my favorite breakfast that I make with peanut butter ~ Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal!  It’s easy, inexpensive and so good for you.  And it can be made in less than 5 minutes!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal is a simple balance of natural, wholesome foods.  The complex carbs from the oats, along with the good fats and protein from the peanut butter, are the perfect combination to power you through your day.  I also use a very ripe banana as a natural sweetener – no added sugar needed.

I normally make this by putting everything in one bowl, but it’s also fun to cook the chocolate and peanut butter portions separately and swirl them together in your serving bowl, as pictured.  It all works.   It’s chocolate; it’s peanut butter; it’s breakfast!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal
 
Yields: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed meal (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • chocolate chips and peanuts (for garnish, optional)
Instructions
Directions (one bowl)
  1. Put oats, cocoa, peanut butter, flax seed (if using) and water in microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 1½ to 2 minutes, or until oats have absorbed the water to desired consistency. Stir in mashed banana and microwave on high for another 20 to 30 seconds. Garnish as desired, and serve.
Directions (for swirl)
  1. Put ¼ cup oats in 2 separate microwavable bowls.
  2. Add cocoa and flax seed (if using) to one bowl.
  3. Add peanut butter to the other bowl.
  4. Pour ½ cup water into each bowl.
  5. Microwave, both bowls, on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, or until water has absorbed to desired consistency.
  6. Stir mashed banana into peanut butter bowl until blended.
  7. Drop dollops of each oat mixture into serving bowl. Use a knife to stir/swirl mixture. Garnish desired and serve.
Notes
Microwave times may vary based on your appliance.

peanut butter pumpkin spice granola bars

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars

In the spirit of the Peanut Butter for Breakfast campaign, I thought it would be fun to share some breakfast recipes using peanut butter.  What better place to find inspiration than the National Peanut Board’s website.  I found so many delicious ideas, including these super healthy granola bars.  It is amazing how easy and inexpensive it is to make granola bars right at home.  And they’re good too!

These granola bars have a perfect balance of flavors and a nice texture that is not too chewy, not too crispy.  They are naturally sweetened with dried fruit and a touch of molasses.  The peanut butter is present, but subtle, and acts as a binder with the egg whites.  Add a little spice, some oats and seeds, and you have a healthy, high-protein, high-fiber granola bar that is perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, a mid-morning pick me up, or any time the mood strikes.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars
 
Yields: 8 bars
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup dried fruit, such as dates, raisins, prunes, chopped (I used dates)
  • 2 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, egg whites and molasses until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, dried fruit, flaxseed, pepitas, sesame seeds and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Add the oat mixture to the peanut butter mixture, and stir until combined.
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish and use a silicone spatula (or the back of a spoon sprayed with cooking spray) to spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove from pan by lifting out the foil and then cut into 8 bars.

Adapted from the National Peanut Board

oven-baked sriracha chicken

Oven-Baked Sriracha Chicken

It seems sriracha sauce is everywhere these days.  I was excited to find a baked chicken recipe using sriracha, but based on my preference, wanted to use chicken breast instead of drumsticks and thighs.  Of course when cooking with leaner, boneless/skinless cuts, such as chicken breast, modifications are required in order to achieve tender and juicy meat.  Well, the first time I made this with chicken breast, I intentionally did not adjust for this to see what would happen and guess what…it was dry!  But the flavor was amazing, so I knew it was worth further experimentation.  With a few simple tweaks, the result was exactly what I was hoping for ~ moist and tender, spicy sriracha chicken breast baked in the oven.  Keep in mind, the sriracha sauce has some heat, so adjust the amount accordingly.  We enjoyed this with edamame brown rice.

Oven-Baked Sriracha Chicken
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch green onions (greens (thinly sliced) and whites (minced) separated)
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (or grated)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or grated)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five star seasoning
  • 4 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the minced whites of the green onions, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, lime juice, sriracha sauce, and seasoning.
  3. Working with once piece at a time, place chicken breast in the bowl and coat with sauce (note: the sauce is pretty thick). Place chicken breast in baking dish and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken. Pour any remaining sauce over the chicken.
  4. Cover baking dish with with foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Place chicken on serving dish(es) and top with green onion greens and sesame seeds.
Notes
Make ahead tip: Prepare chicken and sauce per the above and refrigerate until ready. Take chicken out of the refrigerator and then preheat the oven. Bake as usual.

Adapted from Eating Well

individual frittatas made in a ramekin

Individual Spinach Frittatas

We often enjoy frittatas as a healthy, high-protein meal with lots of vegetables and cheese.  While I typically make them in a pie plate and serve in wedges, I thought these individual frittatas would be a cute way to mix things up.  Who knew when cooked in a small, preheated ramekin, the frittata would take on new heights – literally!  I looked through the oven window only to see my cute little frittatas puffing up like a souffle.  All without the beating of egg whites.  How about that!

The recipe below is written to serve one, but can very easily be multiplied to serve 2 or 4 or however many you desire.  Parmesan or Gruyere are both delicious in this, as is mixing up the herbs and seasonings.  The original recipe used 8-ounce ramekins but I used 7-ounce ramekins and they worked fine.

Individual Spinach Frittatas
 
This frittata puffs up like a souffle, which makes for an impressive presentation. While this recipe is written 'for one' it can easily be multiplied to serve more.
Yields: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons grated aged cheese, such as Gruyere, divided
  • 1 tablespoon skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1½ cups fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (or your favorite herb mix)
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Place 7 (or 8)-ounce ramekin on rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While oven is heating, in a large bowl, whisk egg, egg whites, 1 tablespoon cheese, milk, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened (2 to 3 minutes). Add spinach and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Add spinach mixture to egg mixture.
  5. Remove baking sheet from oven and coat each dish with cooking spray. Immediately pour egg mixture into dish and top with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake until frittata is puffed up and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Everyday Food Light

lighter sesame chicken

Lighter Sesame Chicken

This Lighter Sesame Chicken recipe is an easy-to-make, healthier version of a take-out favorite. Lean chicken breast is coated with a light sesame and honey sauce, and served over rice and steamed broccoli. 
  Lighter Sesame Chicken | alidaskitchen.com

This Lighter Sesame Chicken dish has been a staple around our house for years and is truly one of our favorite chicken dishes.  It is easy to make, using ingredients you most likely already have at home.  The recipe also halves easily, making a nice dinner for 2….

Read more

healthy easy chocolate peanut butter pretzel truffles with flax gluten free

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

I have never been one to do much for Valentine’s Day, but I am happy to have any reason to cook or bake something special.  Or in the case of these truffles, to mix, roll, and chill something special.  These tasty truffles are not only easy and a healthier option, but are made using a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

We all know that chocolate and peanut butter are wonderful together.  Add pretzels, and you have the ultimate salty-sweet combination.  Toss in a little flaxseed for good measure, and voila!   Delicious little Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles.  These are the perfect little treat for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, or for yourself any day simply because you are worth it!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles
 
Yields: 16 truffles
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup pretzels, crushed (this yields approx. ¼ cup once crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, melted
  • sprinkles (optional, for topping)
  • chopped peanuts (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, crushed pretzels and flaxseed until combined. Put in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until mixture is solid).
  2. Roll a small rounded teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture in your hands to form a ball. Place ball on small tray (or plate) lined with parchment or waxed paper. Repeat until all mixture is used. Put tray in freezer until firm, at least 1 hour (I often do this overnight).
  3. Working quickly, dip the frozen balls in melted chocolate and place back on parchment-lined tray. (Note: using 2 forks to dip and pass the balls in the chocolate works well). Top with sprinkles or chopped peanuts, if desired. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Notes
1) When working with natural peanut butter, I recommend microwaving it in the jar (as long as the jar is glass) for about 30 seconds. All natural, easily stirred peanut butter.
2) When melting chocolate chips in the microwave, always remember less is more. Cook it on low power in 30-second intervals until chips just start to melt. Then stir to finish melting. Work quickly to dip the truffles.

Adapted from Eating Well

no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars with rice krispies

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars

In several posts I have talked about my grandma.  I have shared about her love of baking (and her grandchildrens’ love of her baking!)  I have shared one of her recipes.  I have also shared that these Peanut Butter Bars are my favorite of her recipes, which is a bold statement considering all of her ‘Grandma Goodies’ were superb!

Many years before she died, my grandma wrote out several of her recipes and gifted recipe boxes to my brother and to me.  I am so grateful she included the recipe for these bars.  As a child, little did I realize how quick and easy these are to make.   These delicious bars have a simple ingredient list and require no baking.  A reason to love them even more!

If you’re looking for a last minute treat to whip together for the Super Bowl, these couldn’t be any easier.  And your friends will love you!

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars
 
Easy, no-bake peanut butter bars made with Rice Krispies and topped with chocolate. This is one of my favorite recipes that my grandma used to make.
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter and melted butter until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, beating until blended.
  3. By hand, stir in cereal.
  4. Put mixture in 8" or 9" square baking pan and use waxed paper to press mixture to fill out pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Melt chocolate chips (in microwave or stovetop) and pour over peanut butter mixture. Spread until evenly covered. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.

healthy cheesy potato soup with broccoli

Lighter Cheesy Potato Soup with Broccoli

So I just logged in to do a final proofread of this Cheesy Potato Soup recipe, and my post was gone.  Blank.  Nothing.  It was my best post ever.  It was witty and insightful, delivered a life-changing message – all.  gone.  Seriously folks…my mommy brain cannot recreate the greatness of that post, so I will simply cut to the chase and get to the real reason why you’re here…the soup!
Lighter Cheesy Potato Soup is one of the tastiest soups I’ve ever had and is also very easy to make. Win-win if you ask me!   I decided to add some broccoli for color and to bump up the nutrition level.  I also added more cheese than called for in the original recipe.  For the love of cheese, it’s a ‘cheesy’ soup!  We’re using reduced-fat cheese here, so this only adds 45 calories per serving.  It is worth every bit, trust me.
The result is a light and healthy soup, filled with perfectly tender potatoes, vitamin-packed broccoli and calcium-rich cheese.  Mike noted the consistency was just perfect for a cheese soup – not heavy, drips off the spoon nicely.  I’d say this is a keeper for sure!

Lighter Cheesy Potato Soup with Broccoli
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chopped red potato (about 1 pound)
  • 3-4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 stalk)
  • 1¼ cups skim milk (or 1%)
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) reduced fat (2%) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Sprinkle with flour; cook 1 minute, stirring onion mixture constantly.
  2. Add potato, broccoli, milk, broth and water to pan; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add cheese, cayenne pepper, cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat immediately once cheese has melted. Top each serving with chopped green onions, if desired.
Adapted from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb, 2012
mixed green salad with roasted sweet potatoes and tangy yogurt dressing

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes is all things good wrapped up in a salad.  You have your roasted sweet potatoes and red onion, green beans and pepitas, all on a bed of red leaf lettuce and topped with a tangy yogurt dressing.  Sound good?  Umm..yeah, I thought so too!  Mike and I don’t typically put dressing on our salads, but the first thing that he commented about this dish was ‘how good is that dressing!’  The dressing has some zip, so a little goes a long way.  It goes perfectly with the sweetness of the roasted sweet potato and onion.  There are so many yummy vegetables in this dish, I would happily eat it every day of the week.

I made a couple changes of note from the original recipe.  First, I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of low fat regular yogurt.  The Greek yogurt adds a nice little protein boost, and frankly is what I always have on hand.  I’m sure regular yogurt would work just fine.  The other change I made was using pepitas, in lieu of walnuts, due to my tree nut allergy.  Pepitas are always tasty and added a nice little crunch.  However if you are a walnut fan, I suspect they would also be quite delicious in this dish.  Frozen green beans worked really well, but I look forward to using fresh green beans when the season hits.

Mike and I were talking in terms of ‘next time we have this’…which tells me there will definitely be a next time.  This salad is a keeper!

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3-4 cups sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen cut green beans, thawed (or 1½ cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • ⅓ cup pepitas
  • ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 head (10 ounces) red leaf lettuce (or spinach or mixed greens)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place sweet potato and onion on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add green beans and pepitas and roast another 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place lettuce on bowl and top with sweet potato mixture. Drizzle dressing on as desired and serve.

Slightly adapted from Everyday Food Light

vegetarian black bean tortilla soup with corn that is vegan and gluten free

Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

We have had the good fortune of enjoying unseasonably warm weather over the past few weeks, and it has been fabulous.  In fact, I even considered firing up the grill.  Of course a brisk, windy day, along with temperatures in the single digits, set me straight.  I went back to craving wintery comfort foods, and this Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans is the epitome of wintery comfort food.  It’s warm, a little spicy and filled with vegetables.

From the original recipe, I used tomatoes with chiles, added more vegetables and increased the chili powder.  This soup reheats beautifully, though over time the broth gets absorbed making it almost like a chili.  I like it that way, but if you prefer your soup more soupy, I recommend adding some broth or water when reheating.  Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans is a healthy and delicious soup, and perfect to enjoy this winter!

Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
 
Yields: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (or grated)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cans (14½ ounces each) diced tomates with green chiles, including juices
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 10 ounces frozen corn
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  2. Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, spinach and corn; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring soup to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add tortilla chips, cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve soup with lime wedges and more chips.
Notes
Adapted from Everyday Food Light
rp_DSC07632-1.JPG

Apple Cheddar Frittata

Since last week ended up being pumpkin week, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to another fall classic this week – the apple.   I enjoy an apple for lunch nearly every day and love using them in new recipes.  This Apple Cheddar Frittata was new to us and will definitely be making a recurring appearance.   The sweetness of the apple pairs beautifully with the sharp cheddar and the red onion balances nicely with the two.

Mike told me this is the best frittata I have made yet, though I’m noticing a trend.  He seems to say ‘this is the best yet’ with everything I make. Hmm… 🙂

Apple Cheddar Frittata
Yields 4 servings

1 medium red onion, sliced
Cooking spray
8 eggs, plus 2 egg whites
1 cup (4 ounces) white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon light butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large (or 2 small) Gala apples, thinly sliced (peeling is optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with oven rack set to the top third.
  2. In a medium nonstick ovensafe pan sprayed with cooking spray, cook red onions over medium heat until softened (about 7 minutes).  Put the onions in a separate bowl and set aside.  
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir in onions.
  4. In the same pan used for the onions, heat butter over medium.  Add egg mixture, and after 1 to 2 minutes once the eggs have set, arrange the apples on top in a circular pattern, starting from the outside edge.  Sprinkle with remaining.
  5. Transfer skillet to oven.  Bake until frittata is set in the center, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, release frittata from pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Porcini Mushroom and Spinach Risotto with Mascarpone

Porcini Mushroom and Spinach Risotto with Mascarpone

Years ago, I aspired to make risotto for the first time.  But I hesitated, because it was a little intimidating and seemed quite difficult.  Coincidentially, around the same time, I happened to catch a cooking show about risotto.  The chef explained step-by-step how to make it and alleviated any uncertainty I had.  Armed with a recipe from Cooking Light, I was bound and determined to perfect the art of making risotto!
Fortunately, risotto was just as easy to make as the professionals on television led me to believe.  Years later, we are still enjoying that same recipe, however since then I have incorporated a few changes to the original recipe.  I swapped oregano for thyme, added lots of fresh spinach and used vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian dish.
While we enjoy this risotto as a vegetarian entree, it of course makes for a wonderful side dish.  Porcini Mushroom and Spinach Risotto with Mascarpone is a household favorite, suitable for company, and a definite crowd pleaser.
Porcini Mushroom and Spinach Risotto with Mascarpone
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 14 ounces vegetable broth
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice (or other short-grain rice)
  • ¾ cup chopped shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) mascarpone cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine boiling water and mushrooms; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain through colander over a bowl. Reserve 1¼ cups soaking liquid, and chop mushrooms.
  2. In a small sauce pan, bring soaking liquid and broth to a simmer (do not boil), keeping mixture warm over low heat.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots and garlic; saute 5 minutes, or until the rice gets browned and toasted.
  4. Add wine and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed (about 5 minutes); stirring frequently.
  6. Add remaining broth mixture ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently, until each portion of the broth mixture is nearly absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total).
  7. Remove pan from heat. Add mushrooms, cheeses, oregano, spinach, salt and pepper, stirring gently until combined and cheese melts. Serve warm.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light
healthy chocolate peanut butter oat coconut bites

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

 

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are an addictive, no-bake snack, made from simple ingredients found in your pantry.  

It is no secret that I love peanut butter.  So you can imagine my excitement when I was selected to participate in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with the National Peanut Board.  The task was to create a snack recipe using peanut butter and incorporating other ingredients found in most homes. Easy enough!

I wanted to make something healthy, convenient and easy.  I also wanted to make something with oats.  It was time to roll up my sleeves, grab ingredients from the pantry and experiment.

After adding a little here, a touch there,…voila! I finally got the results I was looking for, using simple wholesome ingredients found in my pantry.

This healthy snack could not be any easier to make. The recipe requires no baking; simply measure, mix, roll and chill. The mixture may seem a little dry at first, but as you continue to mix it comes together (or add a little more honey or peanut butter to moisten the mixture to a consistency that works for you). Rolling the balls in a coating as optional. It makes the balls a little less sticky on the fingers, and also is a fun way to vary the flavors, but it is not necessary.

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are a healthy and delicious snack, or even a quick breakfast on-the-go, featuring one of my favorite foods of all time…peanut butter!

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
 
Yields: 16-18 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter, natural is preferred (chunky or creamy)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
  • cocoa powder, wheat germ, powdered sugar, chopped peanuts, (optional) – for coating
Instructions
  1. Heat peanut butter and honey in the microwave until easily mixed, about 15-20 seconds. Stir until blended.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix oats, flaxseed and coconut (if using) until combined.
  3. Add peanut butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until incorporated. (Mixture may seem a little dry at first…just keep mixing).
  4. Form a rounded tablespoonful of the combined mixture into a ball and place on a plate. Repeat until all mixture is used. Now, if you do not want to coat the balls, skip to step 6.
  5. Roll each ball in whatever coating suits your preference. Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon sugar and chopped peanuts are some ideas.

Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was provided with 2 jars of Planters peanut butter, from the National Peanut Board, for free.  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.

Spinach and Mushroom Frittata with Smoked Gouda {Alida's Kitchen}

Mushroom and Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda

On Monday, I shared with you a summery dessert that uses 4 egg yolks.  I also promised you a healthy way to use up those remaining egg whites.  A promise is a promise!  This Mushroom Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda uses exactly 4 egg whites.  How is that for even-steven!

Now I’m not normally a ‘smoked’ fan, but smoked gouda is truly the perfect complement to the earthy mushrooms in this frittata. The spinach gives beautiful color and flavor to the dish as well. From the original recipe, I increased the onion and added garlic. To compensate for these additions, I increased the olive oil by 1 teaspoon.

The result is a delicious protein-packed veggie-filled dish that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a light dinner served with a side salad (saving room for Lime Tart for dessert, of course).

Mushroom and Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ½ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until tender (approximately 5 minutes). Add spinach, cover and cook until wilted (1 minute).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, ¼ cup cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture to egg mixture, mix well.
  4. Pour mixture into cake pan and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until eggs have set. Cut into 4 wedges and serve.

 

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/4 frittata)
Calories = 177 ~ Fat = 9.6g ~ Carbs = 8.8g ~ Fiber = 1.5g ~ Protein = 13.5g

Adapted from Health Magazine, March 2007