December 31, 2013

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

I spent the holidays enjoying so many good treats, but I must say it has been nice to get back into my routine.  For lunch this week needed something that I could prepare quickly since I was short on time,  This whole meal was prepared in less than 30 minutes and the results are delicious!

Stay tuned for more great recipes to come as we enter 2014!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers


Serves: 4
Calories per Serving: 143 (without cheese, beans, or corn)
Fat: 1.8g - Carbs: 9.8g - Fiber: 3g - Protein: 23.4g

Ingredients
  • 12 oz. extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 t EVOO
  • 2 bell peppers; cut in half vertically, seeds removed (to create 2 "boats")
  • 1/2 an onion; chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 large tomato; diced
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 a jalapeno pepper; diced
  • 2 1/2 t cumin
  • 2 1/2 t chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Optional: cheese, black beans, corn
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Arrange the pepper halves on a baking sheet
  3. Roast for 15 minutes
  4. While the peppers are roasting, brown the onions and garlic with the EVOO, in a large saute pan until fragrant; about 3 minutes
  5. Add the turkey and cook until almost completely cooked through
  6. Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper
  7. If adding beans or corn, add them now
  8. Add in the tomatoes, spinach, and jalapeno pepper; cook until the spinach is wilted
  9. Add the cilantro
  10. Once the peppers are roasted, remove them from the oven, add in the turkey mixture, top with cheese if using and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes; or until the cheese is melted

December 27, 2013

Christmas Cocktails

 
Any good dinner party has to have good drinks!  So I present to you these three delicious cocktails that I made over the holidays.  Each cocktail was made with a specific family member in mind while still staying true to the Christmas holiday spirit.

Naturally I tried each cocktail and I can't name a favorite.  They each have factors that make them unique and flavorful.  You be the judge and let me how you rate them!




A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Ingredients
  • 1 oz. Absolute Pear Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Ginger Liqueur
  • Ice
  • Ginger Ale, Pear Juice, or Apple Juice 
  • Garnish Options: sliced pear, lemon twist, fresh grated ginger
Directions
  1. Combine the vodka, liqueur, and ice in a shaker
  2. Shake well 
  3. Strain the liquid into a martini glass
  4. Top with ginger ale, pear juice, or apple juice
  5. Garnish with any combination of the above options
Peppermint Cosmo
Ingredients
  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Peppermint Schnaps
  • 3/4 oz. Pomegranate or Cranberry juice
  • Ice
  • Lime Soda Water
  • Garnish Options: Pomegranate Seeds, Mint Leaves, Candy Cane, Lime Twist
Directions
  1. Combine the vodka, peppermint schnaps, pomegranate juice, and ice in a shaker
  2. Shake well 
  3. Strain the liquid into a martini glass
  4. Top with lime soda water
  5. Garnish with any combination of the above options
Orange Pomegranate Martini
Ingredients
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • 3/4 oz. Pomegranate or Cranberry Juice
  • Ice
  • Lime Soda Water
  • Garnish Options: Pomegranate Seeds, Orange Twist, Mint Leaves, Lime Twist
Directions
  1. Combine the vodka, triple sec, pomegranate juice, and ice in a shaker
  2. Shake well 
  3. Strain the liquid into a martini glass
  4. Top with lime soda water
  5. Garnish with any combination of the above options

December 26, 2013

Vanilla Protein Pancakes with Eggnog Cream

Prior to Christmas, I was doing tons of baking and cookies for parties.  These pancakes helped me meet my sweet tooth cravings without breaking into the cookies too soon!

Vanilla Protein Pancakes with Eggnog Cream
Calories per Stack: 275
Fat: 4.5 - Carbs: 17.2 - Fiber: 5.4 - Protein: 47.3
Ingredients
Pancakes

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 T coconut flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 3 T vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
Eggnog Cream
  • 2 T plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 t rum extract
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 7-10 liquid stevia drops
  • 1/4 t ginger
Topping
  • 1 T Walden Farms pancake syrup
Directions
  1. Combine all of the Eggnog Cream ingredients; set aside
  2. Blend together all of the pancakes ingredients
  3. Heat a griddle to medium-high heat
  4. Spoon out 4-6 equal portions onto the surface; working in batched if necessary
  5. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble then flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden brown
  6. Drizzle with Eggnog Cream and pancake syrup

December 24, 2013

Strawberries & Cream Santa Hats

I love festive treats!  No matter what the holiday, I'll create a themed dessert to compliment the occasion.  Since I hate to repeat bake for parties, I'm always looking to do something difference.  To honor Santa and compliment my Peanut Butter Fudge, I decided to create these adorable Strawberry Santa Hats!  I wanted to compliment the rich fudge with something light and healthy so everybody could enjoy the treats without too much guilt!

Strawberries & Cream Santa Hats 
Makes 12
Ingredients
  •  12 strawberries, stems removed
  • 12 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1 cup fat-free Cool Whip
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract (optional)
  • Finely shredded coconut (optional)
Directions
  1.  Arrange the vanilla wafer cookies on a plate
  2. Combine the Cool Whip and vanilla extract
  3. Add the mixture to a piping bag
  4. Pipe a generous amount of cream onto the wafer
  5. Arrange a strawberry on top of the cream
  6. Pipe a small amount of cream onto the tip of the strawberry
  7. Sprinkle the shredded coconut around the base of the hat to resemble snow

December 23, 2013

Eggnog PROATS

I'm doing everything possible to make it feel more like Christmas because the weather this weekend has been unseasonably warm!  Nothing like baking Christmas cookies while it's 60+ out in Connecticut!


After yesterday's bake-a-thon, and the delicious smells of the Eggnog Cookies baking, I was craving some eggnog.  I had to make due with what I had available, so into my extract stash I went.  These basic oats are flavored with vanilla and rum extract and sprinkled with nutmeg to create the prefect seasonal breakfast eggnog bowl!
 
Eggnog PROATS

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raw old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 T plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 t rum extract
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
Directions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in an airtight jar
  2. Refrigerate overnight
  3. In the morning, stir the mixture
  4. Microwave for 1 minute, stir again, and microwave for 1 more minute
  5. Dust with additional nutmeg

December 22, 2013

Snowball "Mexican Wedding" Cookies

The holidays are the perfect time to make these cookies because they resemble snowballs!  Although they're traditionally called Mexican Wedding Cookies, I prefer to call them Snowballs because we always make them in the winter for Christmas.  These nutty, shortbread style cookies will melt-in-your-month and bring something different to the cookie platter

Snowball "Mexican Wedding" Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups A/P flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts of choice
  • Additional confectioners' sugar for rolling
Directions
  1. Blend together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt
  3. Blend the flour mixture to the sugar mixture
  4. Fold in the nuts
  5. Chill dough for 1 hour
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  7. Roll the dough into 1” balls
  8. Place balls onto an ungreased baking sheet
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set but not brown
  10. Put a generous amount of confectioners' sugar into a bowl
  11. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the confectioner’s sugar
  12. Allow cookies to cool completely
  13. Roll in additional confectioners' sugar until the outsides are coated almost completely

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Christmas would not be complete without these cookies.  THEY ARE HANDS-DOWN FAVORITE COOKIE OF ALL TIME!

I'm sure you all have had a version of these cookies, but I challenge you to a taste test because I believe this recipe will beat out your recipe any day (unless you're using the same recipe)!  Not only are they super easy to make, but they're great because they stay fresh for days so this is one of those recipes that you can make a few days before the holiday without worrying about them going bad.

Peanut  Butter Blossoms
Makes 3 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 14 oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 3/4-1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 bag of Hershey's Kiss candies
Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth
  2. Add in the Bisquick and mix until combined
  3. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  5. Roll the dough into 1" balls and place them 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned
  7. Immediately after the cookies are removed from the oven, press a kiss into the middle of each cookie
  8. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely
  9. Store in an airtight container

Christmas Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

If you're looking for a truly festive cookie to WOW your holiday guests, I suggest investing in a Cookie Press.  Although using a cookie press does take more time, the results are a beautifully shaped cookie that you can decorate! Get creative with these cookies by tinting the batter and using different colored sprinkles and candies to really create beautiful, festive cookies! Just make sure you properly know how to use the cookie press, or you can really give the palm of your hand a beating - as I've learned with experience.

Christmas Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
Makes 4-5 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 package (1/5 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup Truvia sugar/stevia blend (or 1/2 cup sugar)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t orange zest
  • Food coloring, sprinkles, red hots, etc.
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully combined
  6. Stir in the orange zest
  7. If coloring the dough, separate the batter into 3 equal portions and add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 portion, a few drops of red to 1 portion, and leave the remaining dough as is
  8. Using a cookie press, fitted with the disks of choice, press dough 1" apart onto an ungreased baking sheet
  9. Decorate with desired candies or sprinkles
  10. Bake for 7-12 minutes; depending on the size of the cookies, until the edges are very lightly brown
  11. Allow to cool for several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely
  12. Store in airtight container

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you're looking to score extra presents from Santa, I suggest leaving him some of these ULTIMATE chocolate chip cookies! 

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Makes 4-5 dozen 
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups A/P flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar/stevia blend)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and beat in the eggs, one at a time
  5. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, spoon out the dough onto the lined baking sheets
  8. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  10. Arrange the dough do that there are 12 cookies per sheet
  11. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned
  12. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies

It seems like my holiday baking is growing each year.  My mom and I initially started out by baking 2 to 3 different holiday cookies each year.  That number seems to increase each year because each person adds their own special request.  I love the Peanut Butter Blossoms, my boyfriend's likes to get his decorated Spritz cookies, my brother has to have his Ultimate Chocolate Chip cookies, my mom's request is always the Snowball "Mexican Wedding" cookies, and this year my dad's request was Eggnog Cookies.

As I've said in the past, Christmas isn't complete without an eggnog dessert, so I present to you these deliciously spiced Eggnog Cookies.  Since these soft and chewy cookies met his expectations, I'm adding them to the list of "Standard Christmas Cookies", adding 1 more cookie recipe to the growing list!

Eggnog Cookies
Makes 3 dozen
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until it resembles a grainy paste
  3. Add the eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks and beat on medium until smooth
  4. Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat on low until fully combined
  6. Drop the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet about 1" apart
  7. Sprinkle with additional nutmeg
  8. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly brown
  9. Transfer immediately to a cooling rack to cool
  10. Store in an airtight container

December 21, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Fudge is the perfect little treat to bring to a holiday party because it's the perfect finger-food dessert treat!

Since I've never made fudge before, I decided to start with something basic that didn't involve a candy thermometer.  This fool-proof recipe will leave you with rich and creamy fudge to compliment your cookie platter and impress party guests!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Makes 1 1/2 lbs.
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 14 oz. container sweetened condensed milk; divided
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Line an 8x8 pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray
  2. In a bowl, combine peanut butter chips and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  3. Microwave for 1 minute then stir and continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth
  4. Add 1/2 t vanilla
  5. Pour into pan and refrigerate for 10 minutes
  6. In a bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and remaining sweetened condensed milk
  7. Microwave 1 minute then stir and continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth
  8. Add 1/2 t vanilla
  9. Spread over peanut butter layer
  10. Refrigerate 1 hour until firm
  11. Use foil to remove fudge from pan and cut into 1" squares
  12. Store in the fridge until serving

Tropical Coconut Protein Pancakes

In a 1 week time span, it snowed twice and then reached 50+ degrees.  Welcome to New England.  I knew I needed something tropical for breakfast, to counteract the snow and compliment the warmer days.  Therefore, Coconut Pancakes were created to bring the tropical feel to my day!

Tropical Coconut Protein Pancakes
Calories per Stack: 250
Fat: 6.6g - Carbs: 16.4g - Fiber: 6.2g - Protein: 40g

Ingredients
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 T coconut flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 10 liquid coconut stevia drops
  • 3 T vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 t coconut extract
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 T Walden Farms pancake syrup
Directions
  1. Heat a griddle to medium-high heat and toast the shredded coconut until it begins to turn light brown; set aside to cool
  2. Blend together all of the ingredients (except the shredded coconut and pancake syrup)
  3. When the same griddle, still heated to medium-high, spoon out 4-6 equal portions onto the surface; working in batched if necessary
  4. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble then flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden brown
  5. Drizzle with pancake syrup and top with the shredded coconut 

December 20, 2013

Kale Chips


I've found kale chips to be a great way to curb the need for potato chips.  They have the same crunchy texture, and can be seasoned and flavored to match your favorite chip.  I make these a lot in the winter time to go with homemade burgers, but they're also great as an afternoon snack!

Kale Chips

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1-2 t olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional optional spices: Italian seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil
  2. Rise and dry kale
  3. Break the kale into "chip" size pieces; making sure you don't use the stems
  4. Toss kale in a ziplock bag with the olive oil and seasonings
  5. Arrange kale, in a single layer, on the baking sheet
  6. Bake for 5-7 minutes, checking frequently, until the kale is crispy and beginning to brown

December 19, 2013

Homemade Dog Treats

The holidays are a time for baking cookies, so why should we leave our furry friends out!  Even though I don't technically have a dog of my own, I can't resist making treats and spoiling my parents dog (since I'm responsible for them getting the dog).  She doesn't think she's a dog and she's defiantly treated more like a person, so it's only fitting that she enjoy some of my holiday baking.  So this post is dedicated to my one and only favorite "sister", Mia.
Since Peanut Butter Blossoms are my favorite holiday cookie, and Mia is a girl after my own heart, I decided to make these peanut butter loaded treats.  I made them festive by using holiday cookie cutters.  Just like baking for people, the smile on her face when I gave these to her, makes everything worth it!

Homemade Holiday Dog Treats
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 3 T coconut oil; melted
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until a thick dough forms
  3. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface until it's about 1/4" thick
  4. Using cookie cutters, cut out pieces and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned
  6. Transfer treats to a wire rack to cool completely until storing in an airtight container (if they make it that far)

December 18, 2013

Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan

Growing up, I always looked forward to having Chicken Parmesan for dinner.  So naturally, it does rotate through the dinner cycle frequently.  I've put a healthier twist onto this recipe by omitting the flour and Italian bread crumbs and substituting them with a healthier alternative.  My boyfriend didn't notice the difference, so I consider this a healthier success!

Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan
Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 8-10 oz. thin strip chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup oat flour or 1/2 cup oats ground into flour 
  • 2 t Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg white 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Pasta Sauce
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. I a shallow bowl, combine the oat flour and Italian seasoning
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white
  4. Dip each chicken breast into the egg white then into the oat mixture then onto a baking sheet
  5. Season with additional salt and pepper
  6. Evenly distribute the sauce and each onto the top of each chicken breast
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese begins to melt (I used very thin chicken strips so my bake time was very short)

December 17, 2013

Hummus Baked Chicken

It doesn't always require fancy ingredients and lots of time to prepare a good dinner.  I love making this dish so much because it's so versatile.  With the abundant number of hummus flavors on the market, you can recycle this recipe and never have the same results.  You can also spice it up even more by adding additional ingredients such as roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cheese, etc.

Hummus Baked Chicken
 Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 8-10 oz. thin strip chicken breasts
  • 2-4 T hummus flavor of choice (I used 40 Spices by Tribe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet
  3. Spread a thin layer of hummus on each chicken breast
  4. Season with salt and pepper or additional toppings 
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (I used very thin strips of chicken so my cooking time was very short)

December 16, 2013

Chocolate Mint Chip Brownie Cookies



Ask and you shall receive.  I've been getting request from people around my office requesting some homemade Christmas cookies.   Therefore, I whipped up a batch of chocolate brownies cookies.  I've made these before, but didn't share the recipe and I used peanut butter chips.  They were a huge hit, so I decided to swap out the peanut butter chips for festive mint chips!

Chocolate Mint Chip Brownie Cookies

 Makes 4-5 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted  butter; softened
  • 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup sugar/stevia blend)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 cup mint chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and creamy
  4. Add in 1 egg at a time and beat will in between
  5. Gradually add in the flour mixture until fully combined
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Spoon out the batter onto a baking sheet
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely