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!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Peach Sunrise Smoothie

I love my mom. Caleb and I look forward to her weekly visits. My hubby was out of town for two nights this week, so she spent one of those nights here with us to keep us company. She brought with her some fresh local peaches and I just had to share this recipe for a special breakfast treat that we concocted. We like to call it, 'Peach Sunrise Smoothie'! Only a few weeks left (if that) to enjoy fresh peaches, but you can freeze them and be able to enjoy this smoothie year-round. I forgot to take a picture as I was in a hurry to drink it, but here's a picture of my mom enjoying some time with Caleb :)

2 ripe peaches with skins removed, sliced
1 container peach Greek yogurt (6 oz.)
2 cups ice
1/4-1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Pure Coconut milk (or whatever kind of milk you prefer in smoothies)
1-2 Tbsp. honey

In a blender, combine sliced peaches, Greek yogurt and ice. Blend.

Add enough milk to make it smoothie-consistency and sweeten with honey, if desired.

*Makes 2 delicious smoothies.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coconut Beef Curry with Noodles

I love all things curry. This is a quick, easy and delicious recipe that you can get on the table in 30 minutes! If you're not crazy about the beef, use chicken or shrimp instead. Not a noodle fan? Use white or brown rice! Use whatever veggies you have on hand. The possibilities are endless :) I adapted this recipe from Everyday Food's version.

2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. beef sirloin, cut into thin 2-inch strips
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
8 oz. angel-hair pasta (I used linguini)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Season beef with salt and pepper and cook through. Transfer beef to a plate and keep warm.

Add onion, bell peppers, and water to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add curry paste and brown sugar; cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Return beef to skillet, with any accumulated juices, and add coconut milk. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and lime juice, and season curry with salt and pepper, if needed.

Add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions; drain. Serve beef curry over pasta (or toss).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Chopped Salad

Wow. Almost an entire year has gone by since I last posted. A LOT has changed since September 2012. Our family of two has become a family of three and I am now a proud mommy to an (almost) eight-month-old beautiful baby boy! As you can imagine, he takes up most of my time (especially now that he's crawling) and I wouldn't have it any other way. I am still cooking and trying new recipes - and I'm ready to get back into the blogging world. Thank you to those who have encouraged me to do so :)

This recipe has become our favorite dinner salad. It is a great way to use up leftover chicken and/or bacon and you can use whatever fresh veggies you have on hand (e.g. those end-of-season tomatoes from your garden that are filling up entire buckets!) Oh, and the dressing is to die for! Credit goes to Ali from the blog, Gimme Some Oven.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (I used a spring mix)
8 slices bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2 avocados, pitted and sliced or diced 
2 roma tomatoes, sliced or diced
1/4 cup garlic vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Garlic Herb Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove chicken and let rest for at least 10 minutes, then dice into small pieces.
Add the diced chicken, lettuce, bacon, blue cheese, avocados and tomatoes to a large bowl, and toss until combined. Drizzle or toss with garlic vinaigrette and serve immediately.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together until combined.