Stove Top Cauliflower Mac and Cheese |

Stove Top Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Stove Top Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is epitome of cheesy, delicious comfort food made healthier using cauliflower in place of half of the pasta…all in under 30 minutes! Thank you to Pompeian for sponsoring this post for what’s #TrendingintheKitchen.

Stove Top Cauliflower Mac and Cheese |

One of our weeknight staples is a simple, from scratch stove top mac and cheese recipe. It is hearty, easy to make, always delicious and oh so comforting. We enjoy this recipe often as-is, however I am always inspired by the latest food trends to make recipes healthier.

For the latest version, cauliflower came to mind. Cauliflower recipes are all the rage these days, given its versatility. Plus it goes great with cheese! But since I cook for the toughest critics (my kids!), I first floated the idea past my 7 year old. He thought Stove Top Cauliflower Mac and Cheese sounded really, really, really (REALLY) good! …

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Cheesy Vegetable Frittata |

Cheesy Vegetable Frittata

Cheesy Vegetable Frittata is a healthy, protein-packed one-pot meal made in minutes using seasonal vegetables, eggs and cheese. Thank you to Pompeian for sponsoring this post. {gluten free, low carb)

Cheesy Vegetable Frittata |

During the summer months, this Cheesy Vegetable Frittata is a frequent go-to staple for dinner, breakfast or any time we want a healthy meal fast. It is quick, easy and we can use up whatever vegetables we have on hand, which is especially convenient during the summer when we have an abundance of fresh summer produce….

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Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles |

Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles #SundaySupper

An easy recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles made with whole wheat flour, buttermilk, brown sugar and bursting with fresh blueberries throughout. 

Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles |

With blueberry season upon us, everything is coming up blueberries! From these Blueberry Crumb Bars to this Blueberry Balsamic Salad, nothing beats the delicious taste of our favorite blueberry recipes made with fresh, juicy, perfectly in-season blueberries. With this Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles recipe, we have a new blueberry recipe to add to our list of favorites!…

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Tomato Macaroni and Cheese |

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

Tracking PixelTomato Macaroni and Cheese is a healthier, from-scratch macaroni and cheese recipe with a tomato and herb twist that is easy to make in less than 30 minutes. Thank you to Hunt’s Tomatoes for sponsoring this post.

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese |

One of our favorite weeknight dinners, that is especially popular with the kids, is Macaroni and Cheese. I make a healthier version, from scratch, that is delicious on its own but is also very versatile. Using just a few simple ingredients, my simple mac and cheese recipe can be transformed into a whole new dish, like this Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese and this Spinach Macaroni and Cheese. There are so many delicious possibilities! With its simplicity and fresh flavors, this Tomato Macaroni and Cheese recipe may have become our new favorite!

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Overnight Baked Peach French Toast |

Overnight Baked Peach French Toast

Overnight Baked Peach French Toast is a delicious breakfast bread pudding made with cinnamon swirl bread, juicy peaches throughout, topped with a buttery brown sugar oat crumble and made on the lighter side. 

Thank you to through the Mom It Forward Blogger Network for sponsoring this post.

Overnight Baked Peach French Toast |

With back to school just around the corner, I am looking for ways to streamline our routines to make those hectic mornings a little easier. I am stocking our freezer with waffles, pancakes and muffins to have quick and easy breakfasts, as well as keeping easy recipes, like this Overnight Baked Peach French Toast, at the ready at all times.

Overnight Baked Peach French Toast puts a summer twist on our favorite French toast recipe (this Baked Pumpkin French Toast).  In lieu of pumpkin and spices, it has delicious, juicy peaches in every bite. Otherwise it is made with the same cinnamon bread cut into cubes, the same wonderful buttery brown sugar oat crumble topping that everyone loves and also made lighter using nonfat evaporated milk.  Everything about this Overnight Baked Peach French Toast is just so good…and easy too!…

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus |

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is a delicious and healthy dip (or spread) that is so easy to make at home. {vegan, gluten free}  Thank you to through the Mom It Forward Blogger Network for sponsoring this post.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus |

This Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe can be made in minutes using common pantry ingredients. Not only does it taste fresh and delicious, but it is also a great recipe to get the kids involved. My kids love to pour in the ingredients and (of course) power the food processor. (Mama, can I pulse it just one more time pleeeeeeease?)…

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Pineapple Oatmeal Muffins |

Pineapple Oatmeal Muffins

An easy recipe for Pineapple Oatmeal Muffins made with buttermilk, brown sugar, cinnamon and crushed pineapple.

Pineapple Oatmeal Muffins |

Mornings just got more tasty thanks to these Pineapple Oatmeal Muffins!  This is a simple muffin recipe featuring oats and buttermilk, which are always sure to make baked goods delicious. Made with real chunks of pineapple and pineapple juice, these muffins have a wonderful, light pineapple flavor.  Combine pineapple with brown sugar and cinnamon, and the result is a wonderful breakfast treat.  Even better, these muffins take about 10 minutes to mix together and then bake to tasty breakfast perfection!

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Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake |

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake #SundaySupper

This easy recipe for Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake makes a delicious lemony cake that can be enjoyed for breakfast or served with ice cream for a light dessert.

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake |

The theme for Sunday Supper this week is Hometown Foods, hosted by Coleen of The Redhead Baker. As I was coming up with my hometown recipe, I had visions of recipes for Juicy Lucys, wild rice or a healthier tater tot casserole dancing in my head.  But as I was doing this recipe during my morning commute, I drove past a large sign that inspired me……

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Oatmeal Cranberry Snack Bars |

Oatmeal Cranberry Snack Bars

Oatmeal Cranberry Snack Bars are packed with wholesome oats, tangy cranberries and very easy to make!  They are perfect for a quick snack, a healthier dessert, or even as a breakfast treat. Oatmeal Cranberry Snack Bars |

Cranberries are a wonderful flavor of the holidays.  From cranberry sauce to cranberry white chocolate desserts, the taste of cranberries conjures up memories of Thanksgiving, winter holidays and everything in between. To celebrate the season, I wanted to come up with something using cranberries that is easy to make, on the healthier side and would be as suitable as an after school snack with my best buddy to a quick breakfast on the go for Mike.  These Oatmeal Cranberry Snack Bars, made with wholesome oats and studded with tart dried cranberries throughout, fit that bill perfectly!…

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Cheesy Green Bean Casserole | #recipes

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole {No Soup}

For a healthier twist on a holiday classic favorite, try this easy recipe for a Cheesy Green Bean Casserole that is creamy, cheesy, made with Greek yogurt and without soup.  Thank you to Del Monte (through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select) for sponsoring this post!

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole | #recipes

Now that it is November, we are eagerly planning our holiday menus. When planning side dishes, one dish that almost always appears at every family holiday gathering is Green Bean Casserole. It is the same, traditional recipe that everybody makes.  However, in preparation for this year, I decided to give Green Bean Casserole a healthier, tastier makeover. This result is a Cheesy Green Bean Casserole that is a huge crowd pleaser for the whole family!…

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Oatmeal Raisin Muffins | #recipes

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins are a wholesome snack, or breakfast on-the-go, made delicious with raisins, oats, buttermilk and brown sugar.   

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins | #recipes

The other day after school, while Greta was napping, Adam presented me with a cookbook.  A cookbook that was all about muffins. That’s my kind of cookbook!  He proceeded to point out several recipes that we should make…now!  I was inspired by an Oatmeal Breakfast Muffin, but needed to switch up the ingredients to use up what we had on hand (no way am I waking the baby to go to the store!)   After a quick peek in the pantry, I found oatmeal, brown sugar, buttermilk and California Raisins.  Sounds like the makings of a tasty Oatmeal Raisin Muffin!…

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Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake | #recipes #bundtcakes #factsupfront #spon

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Facts Up Front program.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is a lemony buttermilk cake made with whole wheat flour and studded with poppy seeds.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake | #recipes #bundtcakes #factsupfront #spon

This Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is made with fresh lemon zest and juice, buttermilk, poppy seeds and whole wheat flour.  It is a delicious coffee cake that is great for a special breakfast, snack or light dessert.  This cake is so lemony, bright and cheery, it reminds me of spring.  Now that we have warmer temperatures and snow melting, spring is finally on its way! One of my favorite things about spring is finally getting outside and being active as a family.  We love to run, go on bike rides or just kick around the soccer ball.  When kicking our healthy habits into high gear, I also find that we start paying more attention to what we eat.  I recently used this Nutrition Calculator to find out my daily caloric needs, as well as fiber, protein and other important nutrients.

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Lentil Tacos | #WeekdaySupper

Lentil Tacos #WeekdaySupper

Lentil Tacos are a hearty, vegan dish made a little spicy and a lot delicious.  Even meat lovers will enjoy these high-protein, fiber-rich, vegetable-packed meatless tacos!

Lentil Tacos | #WeekdaySupper

Lentils are one of my favorite ingredients to use in healthy, meatless recipes.  They are high in protein, fiber and are so versatile. Lentils are quick cooking, which makes them excellent for weeknight meals. We enjoy them in salads, pasta sauce, and here as Lentil Tacos.  

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Roasted Red Pepper Pasta |

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta #WeekdaySupper

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta |

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is a creamy pasta dish made lighter by using Greek yogurt.  This is a delicious way to eat your veggies plus it’s quick and easy for a weeknight!  {can be gluten free depending on pasta choice}

After making Broccoli Pea Pesto Pasta, I was inspired to create more creamy vegetable-based pasta sauces with Greek yogurt.  Since we had some roasted red peppers in the pantry, and the rest of the ingredients on hand, Roasted Red Pepper Pasta was first on the list.  The smokey sweetness of the roasted red peppers combined with cheese, garlic and made creamy with Greek yogurt is so tasty.  The fact that it takes 15 minutes or less to make is even better!…

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Salted Caramel Brownies....made on the lighter side!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies

With a fudgy brownie base, a smooth caramel topping,  a drizzle of dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt, you really can’t go wrong with these Salted Caramel Brownies made on the lighter side!

Like most people, I am obsessed with salted caramel anything.  Salted caramel ice cream, candies, straight from a jar perhaps?  Clearly Salted Caramel Brownies were a no brainer!  The brownie layer alone was fudgy and delicious.  The caramel layer was actually very easy to make, which was nice (and dangerous!).  Last,  a little drizzle of bittersweet chocolate (or you could just sprinkle some semi-sweet chocolate chips to simplify things) and a sprinkling of sea salt….

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Lighter Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Frosted Pumpkin Cake Frosted Pumpkin Cake is a classic pumpkin sheet cake topped with cream cheese frosting.  Delicious and made on the lighter side!

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love baking with pumpkin!  While it is always fun to get creative, there is something to be said about the classics.  This Frosted Pumpkin Cake is absolutely a classic.   The moist cake is filled with pumpkin and warm spices of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice ~ the epitome of Fall pumpkin baking.  Topped with a cream cheese frosting,  Frosted Pumpkin Cake is a favorite classic combination…and it is made on the lighter side!     …

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Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice. Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice.  Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Lately I have been enjoying making chocolate desserts a bit healthier using various fruits and vegetables.  The results have been fantastic, with each recipe far exceeding my expectations.   This Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is no exception!  This cake kind of reminds me of a chocolate covered pumpkin truffle, only in cake form…and a little healthier….

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Tortellini Primavera - a quick and healthy pasta dish made on the lighter side!

Tortellini Primavera #WeekdaySupper


Tortellini Primavera is a creamy, cheesy pasta dish made with with lots of vegetables.  It is quick, easy and healthy ~ perfect for a weeknight!

Like most people, we are always looking for quick and easy recipes for weeknight dinners.  While frozen pizza or takeout seem like a quick fix for those busy nights, we always prefer something healthier, tastier, and homemade.  But like I said, it has to be easy, right?  This Tortellini Primavera is all that, plus it’s super tasty!  With all the vegetables, the cheese, the creaminess, the cheese-filled tortellini, and being easy to make, you really can’t go wrong.  …

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jalapeno popper pasta

Jalapeno Popper Pasta

Jalapeno Popper Pasta is a cheesy, spicy dish where comfort food meets an appetizer favorite.  This grown-up mac ‘n cheese dish is filled with tasty jalapeno peppers, topped with garlic breadcrumbs and  is made a little lighter too!

While Mike and I were pretty sure we would enjoy Jalapeno Popper Pasta, because I mean really…between the cheese and garlic breadcrumbs and a nice kick from the jalapenos…it’s a safe assumption, right?  Well, this is how it typically goes down when I want to photograph our dinner for the blog.  I load up a plate for photos and head over to my photo spot.  I tell Mike to go ahead and start without me, but he always says he wants to wait.  (He might sneak a bite or two).  Photos take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on various factors, and then we eat!  These photos didn’t take long, maybe 5 minutes.  I went to the table, and Mike had already finished.  He just smiled and went to load up for seconds.  It’s that good!

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden full of jalapenos, this Jalapeno Popper Pasta is a delicious, new and different way to use them up.

Jalapeno Popper Pasta
Yields: 4 servings
  • 8 ounces pasta (rotini, gemelli, or any other similar shape will work)
For the Garlic Breadcrumbs:
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch salt
For the Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, minced (to yield approx ¼ cup)
  • 6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. COOK PASTA: Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. MAKE BREADCRUMBS: Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium, nonstick skillet and add breadcrumbs and (1 clove) minced garlic. Stir frequently until breadcrumbs begin to brown and garlic is fragrant. Add a pinch of salt, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. MAKE SAUCE: In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes, or until onion and peppers are softened. Add garlic during the last minute, cooking until fragrant.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add cream cheese to onion mixture. Stir until melted. Add milk, stirring until incorporated. Add cheese and chili powder and stir until melted and smooth.
  5. PUT IT TOGETHER: Remove sauce from heat. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. SERVE: Divide on serving plates and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of garlic breadcrumbs. Top with jalapeño rings for garnish (optional).
Adapted from Rachael Ray

It’s my favorite time of month again…the Eating with the Alphabet Challenge hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic!  This month we were to showcase a recipe using a fruit, vegetable or grain that begin with the letters I or J.  I obviously went with J for jalapeño.

The past few months, I have been able to knock out several recipes from my bucket list with this challenge, and each of these recipes have become household staples.  Gotta love a 3 year old who can’t get enough of roasted chickpeas (we go through 1 can every 1 to 2 days!)

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars |

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

These Chocolate Cheesecake Bars are made on the lighter side!  They are chocolaty, decadent and soooo good!
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a dessert, so to make up for that, I decided you deserve some chocolate.   Not just any old chocolate though ~ Chocolate Cheesecake Bars, and they’re made on the lighter side.  Despite being made light, each bite of these Chocolate Cheesecake Bars is chocolaty, decadent and sooooo good!

The hands on work takes all of 10 minutes, which is awesome.  First you start with a simple chocolate cookie crumb crust.  Then toss the rest of the ingredients the food processor (minus the chocolate chips, which are used for topping) and process until smooth.  Pour the filling over the crust, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and bake.  Easy peasy!  After baking, just chill the bars for a few hours, or overnight.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (such as Oreos) - approx. 15 cookies
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (I used light butter)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used miniature)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with 2 strips of parchment (or waxed paper) set cross-wise in the pan. Spray with cooking spray again and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir cookie crumbs and melted butter until moistened. Using waxed paper, press cookie crumbs into the bottom of prepared pan.
  3. In a food processor, blend cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, egg and egg white and process until smooth. Pour into pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set (be careful not to over bake). Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
Notes: I made cookie crumbs by whizzing the Oreos in the food processor and then proceeded to make the filling - no need to wash in between. If you're gluten free, you can use gluten free cookies for the crumbs.

Adapted from Everyday Food, January/February, 2004

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars |


lighter lemon cake

Lighter Lemon Cake

Right now,  I am listening to the sounds of our snowplow service plowing our driveway. Again.  We got 5 inches of snow yesterday and are projected to get at least another inch today.  It’s mid-late April.  Yikes!  So while I had a different recipe to share with you today, I thought we all could use a little sunshine, well…for a variety of reasons these days. Nothing says sunshine quite like a lemon dessert, and this Lighter Lemon Cake will definitely brighten any day.

Back in February, I shared Adam’s Baseball Birthday cake, and the flavor of that cake was this Lighter Lemon Cake.  Lighter Lemon Cake has become my ‘go-to’ lemon cake.  It has a generous amount of lemon zest and juice, yielding a vibrant lemon flavor, and the buttermilk helps yield a nice, moist crumb.  The lemon zest and juice in the frosting gives an extra lemon boost, which is bright and delicious.  If you like lemon, you’ll love this cake!

This cake is made on the lighter side, which means less frosting than a typical cake, or a typical layer cake anyway.  While I stretched it to cover the sides of a layer cake for purposes of making a last minute baseball cake, I recommend just spreading frosting between the layers and on top of the cake, leaving the sides exposed OR make 1 1/2 times the frosting amount to have enough to fully cover the cake.

And while we are all a little snowed out after this winter, I can tell you one little boy who is elated.  Here is a picture of Adam after the snowstorm we had last week.  He’s loving every minute of it,…which is a different kind of sunshine that is sure to brighten any day.

Lighter Lemon Cake
Yields: 12-16 servings
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons finely granted lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Icing:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼/ cup fresh lemon juice, add as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9-inch (or 8-inch) cake pans with cooking spray, line the bottoms with waxed paper and coat the waxed paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a hand (or stand) mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low after each addition until just combined. Last, beat in the lemon zest, juice and vanilla.
  4. Pour equal amounts of batter in prepared pans and sharply tap on counter to remove any bubbles.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pans to cool completely. Remove waxed paper.
  6. To make icing: In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice until combined and smooth. Frost cake as desired.

Source: Cooking Light, May 2008


Apricot White Chocolate Scones

Happy New Year!  For a special New Year’s Day breakfast, I made these Apriot White Chocolate Scones.  I always forget how quick and easy scones are to make, plus they are much more economical to make at home than to buy them from a local coffee shop.  Tastier too!  The slight tartness of the dried apricots and the sweetness of the white chocolate chips are such a wonderful complement.  I made several changes to the original recipes to lighten it up a bit:  used fat free evaporated milk instead of half and half, used light butter and also replaced some flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  The result was a delicious scone with a nice, moist texture (no dry scones here!).

Apricot White Chocolate Scones
Yields: 8 scones
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup cold butter, cut in pieces (I used light butter)
  • ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ⅓ cup white chocolate baking chips
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup fat free evaporated milk
  • melted white chocolate and additional chopped apricots, for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  2. In a food processor, pulse flours, sugar and baking powder until combined.
  3. Add butter to food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Pour mixture into a medium bowl.
  4. Stir apricots and white chocolate chips into flour mixture. Stir in egg and gradually add evaporated milk until dough forms a ball (Note: You may need slightly less than ⅓ cup). Knead dough a few times while in bowl.
  5. Pat or roll dough into 8-inch round on prepared cookie sheet. Cut into 8 wedges (a pizza cutter works well) but DO NOT separate.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit on pan for 5 minutes and then separate wedges (Note: I used a serated knife to ensure clean cuts). Let cool completely.
  7. Optional set: Drizzle melted white chocolate and sprinkle with chopped dried apricots, if desired.


Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

cream cheese cookies with lemon glaze

Cream Cheese Meltaways

cream cheese meltaways with lemon glaze

Cream Cheese Meltaways with Lemon Glaze are little bite-sized cookies that are a light and delicious addition to any holiday cookie platter.  These cookies were a new addition this year, and they were an instant favorite!  The lemon glaze gives just a hint of lemony sweetness to the cream cheesy butter cookies.  The recipe for glaze makes plenty.  You could probably get by with using half the glaze recipe, or better yet – double the cookie recipe…these will go fast!

Cream Cheese Meltaways
Yields: 36 cookies
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened (I used light butter)
  • 2 ounces block-style Neufachtel cream cheese (1/3 less fat/light)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Glaze:
  • 1¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • assorted sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch and salt until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, add powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until combined. (Note: dough will be dry and crumbly).
  5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (be careful not to overwork dough) and place on prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes of pan and then move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. GLAZE: In a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Dip the tops of cooled cookies into glaze and place on wire rack. Decorate with sprinkles, as desired. Let cookies stand until glaze is set.

Source:  Cooking Light

cream cheese meltaways from Alida's Kitchen

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars...made on the lighter side!  from Alida's Kitchen

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars combine pumpkin and cheesecake into a beautiful layered bar that are as delicious as they are simple to make.  First you make a graham cracker crust.  While that cools completely, you make the cheesecake filling, reserving a portion to add in some pumpkin.  Pour the plain cheesecake layer over the crust.  Dollop the pumpkin layer over the cheesecake layer and try for a swirl effect, if you desire, by running a knife through the batter.  I was liking the simple layered look, so left it as is.  Either way, they taste like a decadent cheesecake with a pumpkin twist.

With the holidays coming up, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are a light alternative to those heavier desserts (or in addition to…I don’t judge!!)  You would never guess it, but they are made on the lighter side, coming in around 115 calories per bar.

If you’re looking for other lighter dessert options, this Crustless Pumpkin Pie is my favorite pie of all time!


Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Yields: 16 bars
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx 9 sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light butter, melted (regular butter would work too)
  • Cooking spray
  • 11 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchatel, ⅓ less fat)
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. CRUST: In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; add butter and stir until moistened. Press mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. FILLING: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Add egg, and beat on low until just combined.
  4. Pour ¾ cup batter into a small bowl. Add pumpkin, brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring until well blended.
  5. Pour plain batter over cooled crust. Drop dollops of pumpkin batter over the plain batter. Cut through batter with knife to swirl.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight.


Source:  Taste of Home

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us.

peanut butter peanut butter chip chocolate chewy cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

I don’t even know where to begin about these cookies. They have the peanut butter and chocolate combination, which we all know and love. But these Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies are truly not any ordinary chocolate and peanut butter cookie. They are amazingly chewy, without being cakey. They have a delicious balance of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are made without any butter and have yogurt and oats to add some wholesome goodness (dare I suggest this makes them fit for breakfast?)

A couple tips:  When flattening the cookies before baking, keep in mind they will spread.  Just flatten them a little bit and you will be fine.  Keep an eye on the bake time, because over baking the cookies will result in a less chewy cookie.  I baked mine for 8 minutes and that was perfect with my oven…but definitely keep an eye on them.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
Yields: 36 cookies
  • 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
  5. On prepared cookie sheets, place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart.
  6. Dip the bottom of a class in water, and then dip the class in turbinado sugar. Using the sugared glass, flatten the dough slightly, leaving a thin layer of sugar on top. Re-wet glass, as needed.
  7. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (be sure not to over bake!). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Barely adapted from Eating Well

healthy lighter chicken parmesan

Light Chicken Parmesan

This Light Chicken Parmesan is a delicious and healthy spin on a classic favorite.  There are a few tricks that helped with the lightening up of this dish.  Baking the chicken results in moist meat without having to use any extra fat.  By breading only one side of the chicken, you get the benefit of the delicious breadcrumb/cheese mixture without the excess.  Using part-skim mozzarella cheese helps keep the fat and calories down without sacrificing taste.

The sauce can easily be substituted with your favorite marinara (use jarred for a time saver) – simply skip to step 5.  We enjoyed Light Chicken Parmesan with a mixed green side salad for a light, healthy dinner.  Spaghetti tossed a little olive oil, herbs and red pepper flakes would also be a delicious accompaniment to this dish.

Light Chicken Parmesan
Yields: 4 servings
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 to 6 ounces each)
  • ¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)
  1. Make Sauce: Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender (about 8 minutes). Add garlic, pepper flakes, and Italian herb seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cover, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce heat to medium low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and flavors combine (about 30 minutes).
  3. Add vinegar and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until slightly cooled.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree sauce until smooth.
  5. Make Chicken: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  6. In a food processor, combine bread, Parmesan, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until mixture becomes coarse crumbs; transfer to a shallow bowl.
  7. Place flour in a separate shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper. Place egg white in a third shallow bowl, and beat with fork until frothy.
  8. Dip top side of chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess. Dip same side in egg white, letting excess drip off. Then dip in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheet, breaded side up (Note: you only bread one side). Repeat with remaining chicken.
  9. Bake until breadcrumbs are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella. Continue baking until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Serve chicken with a generous amount of sauce.

Light Chicken Parmesan

Source:  Chicken from Everyday Food Light; Sauce adapted slightly from Clean Eating, March, 2012

herbed goat cheese muffins

Herbed Goat Cheese Muffins

Herbed Goat Cheese Muffins are a savory, herb-y muffin stuffed with goat cheese.  The muffins are almost biscuit-like in texture, and the goat cheese center is a delightful contrast with the green onions and herbs.  These are very quick and easy to make and go well with your favorite salad or grilled chicken (or any grillable for that matter!).
Speaking of herbs, do you usually plant an herb garden?  That is my plan for this weekend!  It’s always a tough decision, but I usually plant rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and then whatever else looks good.  What’s in your herb garden?

Herbed Goat Cheese Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup skim milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until combined. Make a well in center of mixture.
  3. Combine goat cheese and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl, stirring until blended.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining milk, butter, oil, , egg, green onions, chives and parsley until combined. Add to flour mixture, folding until just moistened.
  5. Spoon half of batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Top each with goat cheese filling (about 2 teaspoons). Spoon remaining batter over filling.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool in a wire rack.
Source:  Cooking Light way to bake
root beer float cookies

Root Beer Float Cookies

Sometimes nothing beats a good root beer float. Or at least that’s what I thought until I tried these Root Beer Float Cookies.  While at first I was not quite sure what to expect, that first bite tasted so familiar.  Then it hit me – these cookies taste like a root beer float!

The dough is very simple to make and takes around 10 minutes. To make it easier to work with, I recommend refrigerating the dough for a couple hours (if you can wait overnight, even better).

There are flecks of root beer barrel candies studded throughout each cookie, adding some texture, color and root beer flavor. They are topped with a simple root beer drizzle and additional crushed candies, if desired.  The best part…each cookie comes in around 70 calories!

Root Beer Float Cookies
Yields: approximately 4 dozen cookies
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup crushed root beer flavored hard candies (approx 8)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons root beer (or milk)
  • additional crushed root beer flavored hard candies (optional, for garnish)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and allspice.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mix the flour mixture with the butter mixture until just combined. Stir in crushed candies. For best results, refrigerate dough for 1 hour to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then move cookies to wire rack to cool completely (at least 20 minutes).
  7. Root Beer Glaze: Stir powdered sugar and root beer, adding the root beer by the teaspoonful, until desired consistency is achieved.
  8. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies, as desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 72 Fat: 2g

Adapted from Eat Better America

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 |

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….

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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
  • 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)
  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