Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

This recipe was adapted from Something Swanky's version of Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake. Something Swanky recommends topping it with a cream cheese or powdered sugar icing, but I decided it was plenty sweet without it! My recommendation, instead, is to add chocolate chips or walnuts! I also decided that it was more of a pumpkin 'bread' than 'pound cake.' It's definitely delicious (super moist, too!) and definitely a recipe that I will make again (and again!)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
3 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a large loaf pan, set aside.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yogurt, and egg whites. Whisk thoroughly until blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until completely incorporated.
Pour into pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Barley Turkey Chili

It finally feels like fall here, thanks to yesterday's cold-front, and I have welcomed the cooler weather with open arms - and another soup recipe! This one (which I slightly adapted) is from "Soup and Ladle Favorites" - a cookbook put together by local Pennsylvania dietitians. On the ingredient list, you will find ground turkey (a lean meat choice), barley (a whole grain), and water (as opposed to high-sodium broths). I know what you're thinking...healthy ingredients = bland and boring. Not so!! The onion, peppers and garlic meld with the spices to make a very flavorful soup. And the turkey, beans and barley give it the heartiness you desire in a bowl of chili! It's perfect to serve on game-day or simply to warm you up on a chilly fall day. I served the chili with cornbread and topped it with shredded cheese and sliced green onions (I love the flavor and slight crunch that the green onions add!) A very filling meal that I'm sure you and your family will enjoy!

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef, if you prefer)
3/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 of a green bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper (seeds removed), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water (at least)
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, undrained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste - reduced sodium, if available
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Desired toppings such as low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, fat-free sour cream & sliced green onions

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add turkey, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until turkey is brown and vegetables are tender. Drain, if needed.

Add water, undrained kidney beans, tomato paste, barley, chili powder, parsley, mustard, cayenne pepper and paprika. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally and adding more water, as needed, to make it the consistency you desire.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with desired toppings. Makes about 4 servings.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Even though it's 80 degrees here in PA, I'm craving warm, feel-good soups for fall. This is the first of (hopefully) several fall/winter soup posts. Creamy, cheesy, and easy peasy (delicious, too!) Sometimes with broccoli/cauliflower cheese soups, I end up with a slightly grainy product. In this recipe, I didn't have that problem at all! Enjoy :)

Recipe slightly adapted from the version over at the blog Love Grows Wild.

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
salt & pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
6 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally until softened, about 8 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add broth and water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until cauliflower is very tender.
Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Pour the pureed soup back into the pot. Add cheese and stir over medium heat until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with cayenne.
Top with extra cheese, if desired (who doesn't love extra cheese?!)
To store, let soup cool completely then refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 days. Makes 3-4 servings.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa

If your mouth starts watering when you hear the words, 'buffalo chicken,' this one's for you. Don't let the quinoa scare you if you haven't cooked with it before. The protein-packed whole grain is deliciously nutritious and very easy to make. Have you seen the Bud Light commercial referencing quinoa? HILARIOUS. If you haven't and you're a quinoa lover, you better watch it right now:

The original recipe is from the blog, Half Baked Harvest. I didn't use shredded carrots or shredded cabbage and I decided to serve the broccoli on the side. The following recipe reflects the changes I made.

1 cup quinoa
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish
4 green onions chopped, save half for garnish
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Franks)
1 tsp. seasoned salt
In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa. If you forget to do this, your quinoa may taste bitter. Cook the quinoa using the directions on the package (the amount of water and cooking time varies depending on the brand). If you bought your quinoa in bulk and there are no directions to follow, this is a good rule of thumb: In a medium pot, combine quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, make the buffalo sauce and cook your chicken. Prepare the sauce by combining the olive oil, hot sauce, and seasoned salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Cut your cooked chicken into bite size pieces OR shred it with your Kitchen Aid mixer. Didn't know you could do this? I didn't either until a few months ago. It changed my life!! Use the standard paddle that comes with the mixer. Throw in your cooked chicken breasts (whole), turn the mixer on (use a low speed), and watch it shred baby!! In seconds. Yeah. It's that easy.
Add 1/4 cup or so of the buffalo sauce to the shredded chicken. When the quinoa is ready, add the chicken and as much of the remaining dressing as desired (I ended up using all of the dressing, but we like things extra saucy). Add the blue cheese and half of the green onions. Toss and serve warm with extra blue cheese crumbles and green onions. I served steamed broccoli florets on the side.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

'BLT' Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed zucchini has become a favorite summer-time meal at our house. If you are still trying to use up your bumper crop of zucchini or summer squash, try this delicious recipe inspired by the classic BLT sandwich. This is my version of Pampered Chef's recipe.

1 large zucchini (or 2 small)
3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
2 plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
4-6 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (or a few shakes of dried basil)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; place in boiling water. Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the zucchini from the pot, cool slightly, and pat dry.

Once the zucchini is cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp from each half, leaving a large cavity for stuffing (discard the seeds and pulp). Arrange the zucchini halves snugly in a large, lightly oiled, ovenproof baking dish. Brush the inside cavities of the zucchini with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

For the filling, combine the cheese, tomatoes, onions, bacon and bread crumbs. Mix well. Place equal amounts of filling in each zucchini half, piling it high in the center. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes more, or until heated through and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle each half with basil and enjoy!

Want more zucchini recipes??

Also, check out Gina's recipe for Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats over at It's a good one!