Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl Party Food

With the big game coming up this Sunday I am sure many of you are either attending a super bowl party or perhaps hosting one yourself. Here are a few recipes perfect for feeding a crowd, whether it's at your house or someone else's.


Crab Dip

Low Fat Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

If you are looking for something comforting to feed a crowd try:

Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Meat and Spinach

Tangy Country Style Pulled Pork BBQ

Corn Chowder with Chicken Sausage

Taco Soup

Or if you are looking  for something sweet try:

Peanut Butter Balls

Flourless Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Terra Book Review

Terra Book Review
Terra is written by Gretchen Powell, the blogger behind Honey, I shrunk the Gretchen . This is her first novel. It is the first book in a planned trilogy.You can read more about the author by clicking here.
Brief Summary:
This YA Dystopian book is about an 18 year old girl and her younger brother living in their poor and ravaged settlement of Genesis X-16. Terra is a scavenger, who looks for old pieces of scrap and metal to be recycled in order to support her and her brother. During a routine scavenger trip Terra comes across something that will alter her life in Genesis X-16. She becomes suspicious and sets out on a search for answers, which will eventually lead her to the mysterious Adam. Adam and Terra are lead to terrifying discoveries that could shatter the world as they know it.
Goodreads: 4.28 out of 5 stars
Amazon: 4.7 out of 5 stars
My Score: 4 out of  5 stars
My Review:
I am always a bit hesitant to read dystopian novels because the topics are far fetched and ones that don't seem to interest me in the least. I loved the Hunger Games along with Divergent and Insurgent, all of which are dystopian novels, so I was willing to give Terra a shot. Just like the other books I really enjoyed this one. I found that it was easy to relate to the characters. Terra is independent and courageous and has to become the caregiver for her younger brother at an early age. I was captivated by the interaction between Terra and Adam. as well as Terra's fight against the government. Towards the end of the book things begin to unravel, revealing more about who Adam really is and the danger the government is causing when all too quickly the book ends. I am anxiously awaiting the release for book II so that I can continue to read more of this action packed trilogy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Butter Biscuits

Whenever we would go to my grandmother's house for lunch growing up she would always have homemade biscuits hot out of the oven. My grandfather taught me how to cut the biscuit in half and add a dab of butter, slices of tomato and onion, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Sounds weird I know but it was crazy good. Over the years I learned to not question some of the things I tried while visiting my grandparents because I was always in for a pleasant surprise. Cornbread crumbled into a glass of milk was life changing for me. I demand encourage you to try it if you have not.

Anyway back to these biscuits. My grandmothers they are not and no I did not eat them with slices of tomato and onion (although now I am wondering why I didn't) but they are delicious. I made them
twice in one week because I could not get enough. With only 4 ingredients they take no time at all to make and they can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The outside has a golden crust while the inside is soft and fluffy. They are best served hot out of the oven but if you have some leftover I would heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to warm before eating. You can eat them plain, with honey or jam, or if you are feeling daring you could add some butter tomato and onion and call it a day. I double dare you.

Whole Wheat Butter Biscuits
(Recipe Yields: 8-10 medium sized biscuits)

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
- 1- 8oz. container light sour cream

- Directions:
- Mix together the melted butter, sour cream and flour in a large bowl.
- Drop a heaping tablespoon of the dough onto a baking sheet or muffin tin.
- Bake on 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
** Best served hot out of the oven.**




Friday, January 25, 2013

Corn Chowder with Chicken Sausage

This is the same recipe that I posted a year ago but since I updated the pictures this week I wanted to share it with you again. I mentioned in my New Years post that I was going to work on redoing some recipes in order to capture better photos.  I still consider myself to be an amateur photographer, but I am having fun learning as I go. If you missed the recipe the first time I posted it, this is a hearty and comforting bowl of soup perfect for a cold winters night. You can check out the original post here (with the updated pictures).

Corn Chowder with Chicken Sausage

- 1lb hot Chicken Sausage
- 1lb Sweet Chicken Sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cans regular corn
- 2 cans creamed corn
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 3 cans low fat evaporated milk
- 5 red potatoes, diced
- 1 1/2- 2 1/2 tsp basil

-Saute the sausage and onion in a large skillet. Chop the sausage once it has been cooked.
-Combine the rest of ingredients into a large pot. Add in the cooked sausage and onion. Simmer for 35-40 minutes or until ready to serve.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

In honor of National Peanut Butter Day I have these moist and chewy cookies to share with you.  Not only are they simple to make but they are also Gluten-Free and contain ingredients you probably already have on hand. If you don't have any toffee bits, no problem, you can leave them out. However, it may be worth your trip to the grocery store to add them so you don't miss out on the sweet crunchy bites that the toffee adds to these cookies.
Flourless Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies
(Recipe yields: 12 large cookies)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup heath toffee bits
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.
- Shape the dough into balls (about a tablespoon each) and place on the prepared baking sheet (about 2 inches apart).
- Using a fork, flatten each ball to create a crisscross pattern.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Allow cookies to cool slightly before removing from pan.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars

I was excited when I came across this healthy and nutritious recipe on Pinterest because I am always looking for quick and easy snack ideas. Ever Since I made these energy bites a few months ago I knew I needed to keep healthy grab and go snacks around the house more often because they were such a hit. These bars are rich in protein and fiber making them an easy breakfast option or a perfect snack. Not only are they simple and easy to make but you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand. I substituted several of the ingredients based on what we already had and the sweet dates and honey with the crunchy and salty nuts made for the perfect combination. 
Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars
(Yields: 12 Bars)
(Recipe adapted from 86 Lemons)
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup chopped dried dates
- Line an 7" x 11" baking dish (or similar size) with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl mix together the oats, flax, seeds, nuts, coconut and dried fruit.
- Add the honey and mix until well coated
- Add the peanut butter and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and press until the mixture has been evenly distributed. Put prepared baking dish in the freezer for an hour or so to allow the mixture to become firm.
- Using the parchment paper as handles, lift up the hardened mixture and cut into 12 equal sized bars.
- Place the bars in a container using the parchment paper as dividers between each bar. Store in the freezer for the bars to keep their firmness.
- Remove bars individually as needed for a quick breakfast on the go or a healthy snack.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of Jason's favorite restaurants here in Charlotte is an Indian restaurant called Copper. Indian cuisine consist of lots of spices and herbs and some dishes, like the Tikka Masala, can pack in quite a bit of heat as well. The Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the signature entrees at Copper and whenever we go Jason always orders it. It is consistently good and whenever we leave Jason is already planning when we can go back. After a busy week of traveling and lots of eating out I wanted to make him a special dinner last weekend so he could unwind and enjoy being at home. I think I took him by surprise when I mentioned that this is what I would be making since it's a bit out of my comfort zone.  Or so I thought.

I have wanted to give this recipe a try for some time but most of the recipes I come across have an extensive list of ingredients and seem to be very labor intensive.  Two things that immediately turn me off from a recipe. I read a post recently from Chef in Training where she posted this recipe. Many of the ingredients called for spices that I already had on hand and the directions seemed to be easy enough. I have to admit, I was taken by surprise at how well this dish turned out and even Jason agreed that it tasted just as it should. Coming from someone who clearly loves Tikka Masala I took this to be a very good thing. I used plain non-fat Greek yogurt and substituted evaporated milk in place of the heavy cream as a healthier alternative than what the original recipe called for. I was nervous that these changes may affect the taste somehow but it did not at all.  If you love Indian food or are looking for a chance to give Indian cuisine a shot I highly recommend trying out this recipe.

Chicken Tikka Masala
(Recipe adapted from Chef in Training)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1- 8oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- Cut chicken breasts up into bite size pieces and toss in a large zip lock bag. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ginger and salt. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour into zip lock bag with chicken. Seal tight and shake and move chicken in bag to evenly coat. Place in fridge and marinate at least one hour.
- After chicken has marinated, dump into large frying pan (marinade included) and cook on medium-high heat until chicken is done and cooked through.
- Place chicken in strainer and let remaining marinade drip off. Do not rinse. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Add in finely diced jalapeƱos and minced garlic and saute for one minute. Next, add the cumin, paprika, and salt and stir to evenly combine.
- Add tomato sauce and evaporated milk to sauce pan. Stir to evenly combine. Once sauce has started to simmer, turn heat down to low and let simmer until thickened. This takes about 20 minutes.
- Add chicken to sauce and stir to evenly coat and combine. Let simmer a little more if needed until it thickens up how you would like it to.

**Served with whole wheat naan and brown Jasmine Rice**


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Creamy Tomato Penne with Shrimp

Fact: I love pasta. If you follow my blog then you probably already know this by now. I have no shame in admitting to eating plain noodles topped with butter and Parmesan cheese and calling it dinner. Pasta tends to get a bad rap because its full of all the good stuff like carbohydrates with creamy sauces and lots of butter. Of course not all pasta dishes are this way and here is a perfect example of a rich and creamy sauce without all the fat. Comforting, healthy and easy enough for a simple weeknight dinner this dish will have the whole family coming back for more.

Creamy Tomato Penne with Shrimp
(Makes 6-8 servings)

- 1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
- 1 box whole wheat penne pasta
- 1- 45 oz. jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Old World Ragu)
- 2- 6oz. containers nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more for topping
- 1 tablespoon basil
- Sprinkle of crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste

- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain noodles.
- While the penne is cooking season the shrimp with salt and pepper and saute in a large skillet.
- Meanwhile heat marinara sauce and crushed red pepper in a saucepan. Cook sauce stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
- In a medium size bowl add the Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce and mix well. Pour the yogurt mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the marinara sauce.
- In a large bowl, pour sauce over the drained penne. Add basil, Parmesan cheese and shrimp. Mix well.
- Optional: Sprinkle with additional cheese


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples

I have the perfect simple side dish for you that is not only healthy but delicious. The flavors in this will make your taste buds very very happy.
This is one side dish that you will want plenty of leftovers to eat on throughout the week. Since making it for dinner, I have eaten it on top of a spinach salad and I snuck a few of the apples to put in a bowl of Greek yogurt. I know I have all things baby on my mind these days but as we were eating this I mentioned to Jason how kid friendly it is. This is a wonderful dish for a child who is starting to eat solids because the squash and apples are very soft and can be easily cut down or even mashed. Plus they are getting in a serving of both fruits and vegetables. Looks like a win win to me.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced (4-5 cups)
- 2 Fuji apples, diced (4-5 cups)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons light maple syrup
- Put the diced butternut squash and apples on a large baking sheet.
- In a small bowl mix together the melted butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over the squash and apples and coat well. Add the syrup and continue to mix until the squash and apples have been covered completely.

- Loosely cover the baking sheet with tin foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Rachel Sandwich

If you have never heard of a Rachel sandwich it is basically the same thing as a Reuben except you use turkey instead of corned beef. I like to think of it as the girly version of a Reuben or Reuben's sister. I was first introduced to Rachel by Jason's mom, who made this for us one day for lunch. It was love at first bite. When serving this sandwich at the tea room Phyllis would use Rye bread but I chose to use sourdough and lightened a few of the ingredients. You can't go wrong either way.

There are no exact measurements just use as much or as little of the following as you wish to assemble your sandwich.

- Good quality bread, sliced (Wheat, Rye or whatever your heart desires)
- Sliced Turkey
- Reduced fat Swiss Cheese slices
- Light Thousand Island dressing
- Sauerkraut

Once the sandwich is assembled, butter the outside.
Using a griddle or skillet, brown both sides of the bread and allow the cheese to melt.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Crustless Spinach Quiche

Being raised by a mother who opened a tea room, Jason has had his fair share of quiches growing up. Often times if he has the opportunity to order quiche from a menu he will do so. Certain foods can hold special memories for people and for Jason this is certainly one that takes him back to his days at the tea room and of his mom. This is a wonderful meal you can have for breakfast, lunch or even dinner served along side a simple green salad. Not to mention it's both satisfying and delicious.

Most quiches are cooked inside of a pie crust but I wanted to avoid the additional fat and calories, making this a crustless quiche. You can easily add and change ingredients using vegetables that are in season or things you already have on hand. I thought the feta went perfectly with the other ingredients in this dish but Goat cheese or Gouda would make a nice substitute as well.

Crustless Spinach Quiche
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 1- 10oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
- 1- 15oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- In a large bowl mix together the crumbled feta, spinach, whole eggs and egg whites, ricotta, flour, and nutmeg until well combined. Add scallions into the mix.
- Pour mixture into a cast iron skillet or 9 inch round greased baking dish. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and paprika.
- Bake in a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli

If someone told me I could choose any meal in the world to have and it would be calorie free, hands down I would choose Fettuccine Alfredo. When I was younger and didn't know much about nutrition and could eat whatever I wanted without gaining a pound, I would always order Fettuccine Alfredo from one of the Italian restaurants in my hometown. It's insanely good as are most things that contain lots of butter and cheese but not at all good for you. I strongly believe in having all things in moderation but unfortunately I don't know my limits when it comes to this decadent pasta so I had to take matters into my own hands and come up with something a little healthier.

I love creating and finding recipes that take some of my favorite comfort foods and making them lighter, which is exactly what I have done here. I tried several "low-calorie" Alfredo sauces but none of them cut it for me until now. This sauce is still rich and creamy but without the guilt. Adding broccoli to the pasta gives it an extra veggie kick and if you choose you can add in cooked chicken for some additional protein.

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli
(Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine March 2011)

- 2 broccoli heads, stems removed, and cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 2 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for the topping
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1-12oz box whole wheat Fettuccine noodles
- Cooked chicken breast (Optional)

- In a pot of boiling water, cook broccoli until tender. Drain and set aside
- In a saucepan make the sauce: melt the butter. Add in garlic and lemon juice and cook until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and stir and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted. Add in the chopped parsley.
- Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook according to the box directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the noodles and return to the pot.
- Add the sauce and broccoli in with the noodles and pour in 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Gently toss adding more pasta water as needed to loosen. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top the pasta with more Parmesan cheese and chicken (optional).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ricotta and Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Roll-Ups

Baked chicken breast rolled with sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta and Parmesan cheese lightly breaded and baked till a golden brown. A wonderful way to dress up plain old chicken breast  for a simple and healthy dinner. Served alongside brown rice and a side salad.

 I made a generous portion of the sun-dried tomato and ricotta mixture because in my opinion you can never have too much cheese. Plus this allows a taste of the cheesy filling in every bite. This recipe is for two chicken breast but feel free to double the recipe if you are feeding a family of four.

Ricotta and Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Roll-ups
(Serving Size: 2 chicken breast)

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

- Pound chicken with a meat mallet till flattened.
- Place the egg white and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In another bowl mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper.
- Dip each chicken breast into the egg white, coat both sides with the bread crumbs, and place on a foil lined baking dish.
- Divide the ricotta mixture in half on spread onto the middle of each piece of chicken. Roll up and secure with a toothpick.

- Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and bake on 400 degrees for 25- 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sriracha Cheese Log

I mentioned in this post that my husband has a little obsession with Sriracha hot sauce, also known as Rooster sauce.  If you like things spicy then I would definitely give this sauce a try if you have not already done so, but note that a little goes a long way. Anyway, I came across this cookbook right before Christmas so of course I had to buy it to give to Jason as a stocking stuffer. I am not the biggest fan of really spicy food so I can only take Sriracha sauce in small doses but Jason would tell you that this cookbook is the perfect example that you really can put the Rooster Sauce on ANYTHING.

Last week we went to a friends house and we were asked to bring an appetizer. As I was flipping through the cookbook I came across this cheese log recipe. Coming from someone who doesn't love things too spicy even I found this appetizer to be really flavorful. We had some left over from the party and Jason has since put the cheese on his eggs, a burger and sandwich. A little warning, the longer it sits the spicier it gets.

Sriracha Cheese Log

- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives.
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (8oz) package light cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces chevre, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1 clove garlic, minced

- In a small bowl combine the rosemary, parsley, chives, and pepper and mix well.
- In a larger bowl or stand mixer combine the cream cheese, chevre, Sriracha, garlic and half of the herb and pepper mixture. Mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Scrape the cheese out onto a large sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Using the parchment paper as a barrier between your hands and the cheese, form the cheese into a log shape.
- Roll (or sprinkle) the remaining herb and pepper mixture, coating the entire surface of the log.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to use.
- Tightly covered, the cheese log will keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.