A Better Blondie

I was skeptical when I came across this recipe for a “lighter” blondie, but after reading through the intro and ingredients list, I was intrigued enough to give it a try! The only change I made to the original recipe was the type of brown sugar used; it calls for dark brown sugar but I only had a stevia based light brown sugar on hand so I used that instead! These blondies are nutty, almost savory, richly sweet and dense.  Basically, they’re delicious and I highly recommend giving them a try!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1, 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp low fat milk
  • 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat until light brown. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, blend chickpeas, tahini and milk in a food processor until smooth.
  4. In a operate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.
  5. Stir chickpea mixture into butter mixture and mix well.
  6. Fold in flour mixture, then add the pecans. Stir until incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 baking pan.
  8. Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool before removing from pan to slice and serve.

*Adapted from Cooking Light

Bucatini Carbonara with Peas

I love to eat but truth be told, I love to feed people just as much! Tonight we hosted my neighbor and her three small kids for supper. Her husband has been away all week traveling for business and I figured she could use a night “out”! I made two pasta dishes; one for the kids and one for the adults and poured her a much needed glass of wine! My older kids helped entertain her younger ones and when it was all said and done, everyone was “fat and happy” as I like to say!  Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show that hosting and sharing a meal with people doesn’t have to be super fancy or stress you out, especially if it’s rather spontaneous!  Make it simple, keep it low key, set a few extra seats at the table and dig in!  It’s truly the thought that counts!! 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 oz bucatini (I use Barilla)
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus additional as garnish
  • salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta and peas. In a skillet, start browning the pancetta over medium heat.  As it cooks down and the fat renders, add the diced onion and continue to cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the skillet.  Once pancetta is nearly cooked and the onion is soft and starting to caramelize, add the garlic and the frozen peas.  Continue to cook another 2 – 3 minutes allowing peas to defrost and warm. Remove from the heat and set entire pan aside.
  3. Once the water boils, cook and drain the bucatini, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and add the egg yolks, tossing to cook the egg and coat the pasta. Stir in the pancetta and peas mixture.  If dry, add small amounts of pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Add the grated parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste).
  4. Serve immediately, garnish with additional parmesan and red pepper flake if desired.

Suggestions:

This dish could be made with any of your favorite pastas or pasta substitutes like zoodles or spaghetti squash “noodles”!

*Adapted from Sun Basket, Bucatini and Pancetta Carbonara

 

Egg Cups… Updated!

On a whim, I added cooked quinoa to this morning’s batch of egg cups and I am so excited by the results I had to share! Not only does quinoa add protein along with numerous nutrients to the recipe, it also adds structure to the egg cup itself, preventing their inevitable flop once removed from the oven.  Incidentally, I’ve got to also give credit to kale for this bonus feature because it definitely contributed to keeping the cups coiffed!

Ingredients: Makes 6 servings (egg cups)

  • 5 eggs beaten
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded kale, lightly sautéed
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sriracha sauce to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk the beaten eggs, milk, salt and pepper together.
  3. Add the quinoa, sautéed kale, cheddar and a squirt of sriracha and mix well.
  4. Generously grease six cups of a standard muffin tray with cooking spray.
  5. Divide the egg mixture among the six cups.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes or until egg mixture is firm and dry.
  7. Let cool 10 minutes before running a knife around each edge and removing.

Comments:

My measurements are approximate! I basically threw these together this morning after surveying the leftovers in my fridge. I can tell you that prior to cooking the mixture is thick, almost like batter.  If yours is too wet, add more quinoa and/or kale.  Conversely, if it’s too dry, add another beaten egg.

First Impressions

I am feeling kinda bad because it’s been several days since I’ve posted a recipe on here!?! Things have been hectic at home and it’s one of those weeks when I don’t have a ton of time to plan, shop and cook the way I’d like to.  Knowing this would be the case, I finally bit the bullet and decided to give one of those meal service plans a try, and scheduled our first delivery for this week! So instead of a recipe, I figured I’d share my two cents on my meal service experience thus far. Keep in mind, it’s Week 1, Meal 1 at this point but I’ll share my first impressions anyway…

Why Sun Basket?

  • For starters, I’ve been saving up advertisements and coupons from various companies for a while now and Sun Basket offered the best start up deal ($50 which works out to be a 30% savings) on the first order. Not to mention, most of their ingredients are organic, they’re committed to sustainability and they encourage you to recycle the packaging and make it easy to do so.
  • Variety; once you choose a theme (including but not limited to Paleo, Mediterranean, Vegetarian or Family Friendly) you get to choose from a wide variety of recipes for the week.  I found the selection to be eclectic and unique, allowing you to try foods and flavor combos you might not otherwise expose yourself too; this in addition to traditional fare as well.  What’s also great is that the website includes eye catching pictures to make it easy to get a sense of what your going to be making.

First Impressions

  • Arrival… The first delivery was scheduled for Tuesday by the “end of the day”.  For me that meant 5:00pm and that I’d be able to cook something from the box that night for supper.  Well that didn’t happen.  According to FedEx, the end of the day is more like 7:30pm, so Tuesday night we ate out, lol!  All that said, the perishable food items were still cold and packaged well and nothing was damaged in transport.
  • The First Supper – Spicy Roasted Shrimp with Kale and Ajo Blanco.  See… cool flavor combos like I said!!! I chose to make the shrimp our first meal simply because they were the most perishable item in the box (and also the recipe I was most excited to try). The order came with a magazine which contains all the recipes for that week (at the very least I’ll use this as a guide for recipe design and meal planning on my own in the future). Anyway, the directions were easy to follow and all the ingredients and nutrition info is listed as well.  What I liked were the tips and the suggestions they include like ways to make the dish your own. This idea wasn’t listed but I actually cooked tri-color quinoa on the side and transformed this dish into more or less a grain bowl, giving it a little more oomf.  And although I was supplied with enough food to feed four people, we actually split this among three (because my youngest is super picky and won’t go near spicy shrimp or unusual white sauces…).  Not surprisingly, we three finished everything on our plates!  Leaving me to wonder if I hadn’t added the quinoa side or had split this among four, we might be hungry later this evening!?! Overall however, we were really happy with the taste, it was appealing to look at and easy to make, taking less time than the recipe called for.  Two thumbs up for Meal 1!

 

Jalapeño Poppers

Just in time for your Cinco de Mayo celebration!  Made a batch for a party we’re having tonight and knew I had to share this recipe ASAP so you too, could make ’em for your next fiesta! Olé!!

Ingredients: Makes 24 poppers

  • 12 large jalapeño, cut lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese (1 block)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Mexican Blend cheese
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Blanch jalapeño halves in boiling water for 5 – 6 minutes (taking care to maintain their bright green color and crisp texture).  This will help decrease their spice/heat.
  2. Drain the water and submerge jalapeños in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  Let sit for a few minutes, drain and gently pat dry.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, Mexican Blend cheese and chopped bacon.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a cookie sheet with either a wire rack or a sheet of tinfoil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  5. Using a small spoon, fill each jalapeño half with approximately 1 tbsp of filling.  If you have any left over, go back through and add more to each (it’s OK if they’re overflowing a bit).
  6. In a small pot, melt the butter over low/medium heat and add the Panko.  Stir to incorporate and allow the crumbs to brown just a bit.
  7. Top each popper with approximately 1 tsp of the Panko crumbs and press gently to make sure they “stick”.  Sprinkle each with sea salt.
  8. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until crumbs are browned and filling is melty/bubbly. Serve immediately.

Suggestions:

  • Some like it hot… skip the blanching if you like a full flavor popper! You will have to increase the baking time by 5 minutes or so.
  • If you can’t find shredded Mexican Blend cheese, you can substitute cheddar or even Monterey Jack.
  • I make extra filling by adding another 4 oz of cream cheese, doubling the shredded cheese and adding another slice of bacon.  We spread this on toasted bagels the next day!!!

Power Bites, Take 2!

We’re addicted in this family to having these tiny bundles of goodness on hand!  So much so, that together my daughter Grace and I, created a new flavor combo so we could mix it up and add some variety to the daily grind!  We are in LOVE with these new power bites and we think you’ll agree, they are the perfect combo of sweet, salty and satisfying!

Ingredients: Makes approximately 2 dozen bites

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup toasted, salted pepitas
  • 2 tbsp flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except the coconut) in a food processor and pulse until incorporated.
  2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Using two hands, form balls from the mixture; each should be the size of a small meatball and should fit in the palm of your rounded hand.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the coconut and sea salt. Roll each power bite in the mixture to coat.
  5. Store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 1 week.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

You asked, so here it is… the recipe for last night’s Thai chicken lettuce wraps! I use the sauce as both a marinade and a condiment. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 4 tsp red chili paste
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken tenders
  • 1 head bib lettuce
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup sprouts
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Whisk the first six ingredients together in a large bowl.  Remove half the mixture and store in a small container in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
  2. Keep the remaining mixture in the bowl and add the chicken tenders.  Toss to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let marinate a minimum of 2 hours (6 – 8 is best).
  3. Grill chicken over medium heat approximately 10 – 12 minutes, turning once.
  4. Meanwhile, Remove the individual leaves from the head of lettuce, discarding any that are too small to be used as a wrap.  Rinse and pat dry.
  5. Serve your guests a grilled chicken tender wrapped in a lettuce leaf.  The left over sauce, shredded cabbage, carrot, sprouts, yellow pepper, cashews and cilantro serve as optional toppings.

Comments:

  • Sauce doubles easily and stores well in the refrigerator.
  • Pick and choose toppings that your family/guests will enjoy!

*Sauce adapted from Cooking Light, January 2018