Archive | June, 2011

Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Almond Butter

29 Jun

Hi there!  I’m just popping in today to let you know that I created a stellar new nut butter.  Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Almond Butter, anyone?  If you said “Yes, please!”, then head on over to Get Healthy with Heather to get the recipe.

I’ll be checking in again later this week with a sweet treat perfect for your 4th of July celebrations.  I’ll give you a hint… once you have one, you’ll be asking for s’more. 😉

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Zucchini Lasagna

27 Jun

One of the best things about the blogging community is its infinite amount of inspiration.  There are so many bloggers and countless recipes that the possibilities are truly endless.

This recipe is the love child of two stellar recipes, Lightened-up Lasagna from meals & moves and Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from Peas and Thank You.

I love the idea of using zucchini in place of noodles for the added nutrition and flavor.  And using cottage cheese in place of ricotta is brilliant since it’s chock full of protein!  I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate protein into my diet.  (Vegetarians; you could even leave out the meat and still be left with a protein rich meal.)

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 zucchini slices into strips, lengthwise
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend.)
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place an oiled skillet over medium heat and cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain fat once the beef is cooked through and add the tomato sauce to the skillet.  Heat thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, and parsley through pepper.
  4. Lightly oil a 9×5 loaf pan.  Begin layering your ingredients; start with a single layer of zucchini, then add half the cottage cheese mixture, and half the beef mixture.  Repeat once more and top the final layer with shredded cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble.
What recipes blog-inspired recipes have you created?

On the Lighter Side: Deviled Eggs

23 Jun

Deviled eggs always remind me of picnics.  When I was a kid, my mom would make them as a special treat to have along with our sandwiches and juice boxes.  We’d eat them on top of a picnic blanket while waiting for the 4th of July fireworks or in the backseat of the car after a fun day at the amusement park.

While I love my mom’s version and they’re great for an occassional treat, I decided to make a lighter version that can be enjoyed more frequently.  In place of mayo, I used protein packed Greek Yogurt which made for an extra creamy filling and a little bit of hummus provided a whole lot of flavor. 

These deviled eggs would be great as a healthy appetizer served before a meal off the grill or as lighter finger food when you have a few friends over.  You could even make a meal out of them, much like Alex and I did.  You and your guests won’t be disappointed.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%)
  • 1 Tbsp hummus
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper and paprika

Directions:

  1. To hard boil the eggs, place them in a saucepan and fill the pan with cold water just until the eggs are covered.  Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.  Leave the cover on for 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain the hot water and dunk the eggs into ice water.  Let them sit in the water until they are cool to the touch.  Peel the eggs.
  2. Slice the eggs lengthwise and place the yolks into a small bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except paprika, to the bowl and mix with a fork.  Fill each egg white with a scoop of filling and dust with paprika.

Do you have food that reminds you of summer time picnics?  Do you like deviled eggs?

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

21 Jun

Without question, the combination of fresh mozzarella, plump tomatoes, and fragrant basil is divine.  Caprese salad is the quintessential summer salad; summer being the peak season for each component.  It is refreshing and satisfying without weighing you down. 

What better recipe to share for the first day of summer than a chicken dish inspired by this delightful salad?   

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice chicken breasts open on the side so that a nice, long pocket forms.

Cover the interior of the chicken breast with one tablespoon of pesto.  I used Buitoni.

Next, slice the mozzarella and dice the basil. 

Insert one slice of mozzarella and one tablespoon of basil into each chicken breast.  Season the exterior of the breasts with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Sear the breasts for one minute per side then cook the breasts on a greased baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top each breast with about two tablespoons of tomato sauce.  Cook for another 15 minutes and then top the chicken with a slice or two of mozzarella.  Cook for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

This dish was so flavorful!  The pesto on the interior of the chicken breast added so much to the dish but the true star of the show was the mozzarella.  It was perfect melted both on top and inside the chicken.  I’ll definitely be making this dish again!

Have you ever had caprese salad?  Do you have any derivations from the traditional recipe?

Zucchini Oven Chips

19 Jun

Now that the warm weather is here and the official start of the season is only two days away, everyone is gearing up for summer.  Summer is a time for getting together with family and friends to enjoy the beach, pool parties, or cook-outs.  Often times that means heavy, unhealthy side dishes like potato salad or chips and dip.

It’s understandable as to why these foods are so popular; they’re quick and easy to prepare which allows you more time with family and friends.  However there are healthy options that will help lighten your load (pun intended).

Zucchini oven chips are very easy to prepare and they’re full of flavor.  Fresh out of the oven, they’re light and crisp.  Even the veggie haters will love this one!

Zucchini Oven Chips
(adapted from My Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup planko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the last five ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Chop zucchini and dip zucchini pieces in milk.  Dredge the pieces in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Coat an oven safe cooling rack with cooking spray and place it on top of a baking sheet.  Lay the zucchini pieces on the cooling rack and spray with additional cooking spray.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, making sure to flip the chips halfway through.

Next time you’re in need of a tasty and healthy side dish, give these a try.  Make sure to have an extra zucchini on hand as your family will surely be asking for more!

What’s your favorite summertime side dish?

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

16 Jun

Even before June arrived, I knew I wanted to make a foodie gift for Father’s Day.  I did the same for Mother’s Day and it was very well received! 

So I got to thinking about foods that my dad enjoys.  The first couple of items that came to mind were obvious steak, bacon, or anything meat related.  Since I couldn’t very well mail him a steak, I continued to rack my brain for other ideas when it dawned on me.  Some of his favorite foods involve cinnamon; cinnamon ice cream and brown sugar cinnamon Pop-tarts to name a couple.  I scoured the internet for cinnamon based recipes and ultimately decided to customize my own cinnamon raisin muffins.

One key component to adapting a baked good recipe is keeping the correct ratio of wet to dry ingredients.  If you have too much of the former, your muffin will end up soggy or under cooked but with too much of the latter, you’ll have a dry, hard rock-like muffin.  I didn’t want to send my dad rocks for father’s day.  Nobody likes a repeat gift.

Not only is the correct ratio important, but so is the quality of the ingredients.  This recipe was the perfect opportunity for me to use a new-to-me brand of coconut oil.  Tropical Traditions was nice enough to send me 32 ounces of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to sample. 

source

I have cooked and baked with coconut oil in the past and I continue to do so because I love the hint of coconut flavor it adds.  A small amount goes a long way and keeps me satiated for hours.  What I like about Tropical Traditions, is that their virgin coconut oil is unrefined and is made from fresh, organic coconuts.  To find out more about their coconut oil, check out their website.  Many thanks to Tropical Traditions for the sample!*

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
(adapted from Cooks.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2 oz)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (2 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours, oats, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, applesauce, oil, and egg until combined.
  4. Add raisins to flour mixture and make sure to coat all the raisins lightly with flour.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir just until combined.
  6. Lightly oil a 12 muffin pan or use paper liners.  Pour the batter evenly among the 12 cups.
  7. Bake at 400 for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Allow for some cooling time and enjoy!

Do you like to make foodie gifts for holidays?  If so, what was the last gift you made?

*Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.

16 Handles

14 Jun

In addition to lovely brunches, I enjoy a lot of frozen treats over the summer.

Whether it be ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft serve, or sorbet, I’m a happy camper.  I don’t discriminate.

One of my favorite fro yo places is 16 Handles.

The location closest to our apartment is relatively new, as in this will be the first summer I don’t have to hop on the subway to enjoy 16 Handles.  Luckily, it’s still about a mile away so it won’t become a daily treat.  And, each time I go, I’m sure to walk at least two miles so that justifies an extra topping, don’t you think?

In case you haven’t been to 16 Handles or a similar type of place, I’m going to tell you all about it.  Each day 16 Handles offers 16 different flavors of frozen yogurt.

The flavors range from peanut butter (my personal favorite) to cake batter to watermelon sorbet, and everything in between.  Everything is self serve so you can get as much, or as little, as you want!

They also have a deluxe topping bar that’s sure to please everyone.

Some toppings include fresh fruit, mini peanut butter cups, cookie dough, and gummy bears, among many others.

On my last trip, I enjoyed peanut butter, banana, and cake batter frozen yogurts topped with brownie bites, peanut butter cups, and graham cracker crumbs. 

Yum!  I can see many more trips to 16 Handles in my near future.

What’s your favorite summer time treat?