Monday, May 30, 2011

Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffins

I love muffins for a snack in the morning and like to try new ones out. I found a recipe on another blog for sweet potato cranberry coconut muffins. I am not a fan of coconut so I removed that. When I went to the store to buy canned sweet potatoes they only carried ones that had pineapple mixed in. I decided to buy some yams since they are int he same family and it turned out to be a fine substitute. I think they taste great and just aren't as sweet as the original recipe.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canned pureed sweet potato (My store only had yams)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350.

In two separate bowls, mix dry ingredients, then wet ingredients. Combine by adding the wet into the dry  ingredients and stirring gently until the mixture is combined.

Spoon the mixture into a cooking-sprayed or nonstick muffin tin. You can also use muffin liners if you prefer.

Bake for about 25 minutes

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grilled Vegetables and Orzo

It was another nice night in Florida so I was able to go for a relaxing run outside while I waited for Jason to get home from work. Since we are going to be traveling and eating most of our meals out this week/weekend we wanted something healthy for dinner. We both love zucchini and yellow squash on the grill so that was Jason's job. He sliced them up, mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper and put on the grill for a few minutes per side. I thought it would go nicely with some orzo that is more substantial in size than couscous but not as heavy as penne or another noodle.

1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 fresh lemon squeeze
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt &Pepper
Garlic Powder
1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Wash and slice the zucchini and yellow squash. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and flavor with salt and pepper then place on the grill for a few minutes per side.
3. Add orzo to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Drain the orzo and place in a bowl with the grilled vegetables. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spinach Pie and Peach Crisp

My mom makes this amazing spinach pie that I absolutely love. I have always like spanikopita and this is just a big version of it. The crisp and crunchy outside with soft spinach and cheesy center makes a great combination. Since it makes such a large serving size I was waiting until there were more than the 2 of us to eat it. Jason’s Dad lives here as well but is still getting the house together so we decided to have him over for dinner. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out the recipe and have another person to eat some.

Spinach Pie
Serves 6-8

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
3 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
6 extra-large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons dry plain breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
½ lb feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used low fat)
½ cup pine nuts (pignoli)
¼ lb salted butter, melted (I used unsalted)
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sauté pan on medium heat, sauté the onions with the olive oil until translucent and slightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid from the spinach as possible. Put the spinach into a bowl and then gently mix in the onions, egg, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, feta and pignoli.
  4. Butter an ovenproof, non-stick, 8-inch sauté pan and line it with 6 stacked sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with melted butter and letting the edges hang over the pan.
  5. Pour the spinach mixture into the middle of the phyllo and neatly fold the edges up and over the top to seal in the filling. I had to add an extra piece to the top since the edges didn’t meet all the way.
  6. Brush the top well with melted butter.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and the filling is set.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Of course no meal is complete without dessert. And you definitely need dessert when having company so this was a good excuse. Normally, I make this with blueberries but since J doesn’t like that I tried it with peaches and it turned out pretty well. It wasn’t too sweet and I love the crunchy top with the warm filling. You can also mix peaches with raspeberries.

Peach Crisp

4 cups sliced peaches (I used a bag of frozen, defrosted peaches and 1 fresh)
¾ cups brown sugar, packed
½ cup All Purpose Flour
½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2.    Grease bottom and sides of a square 8x8x2 pan
3.    Spread the peaches in a pan
4.    Mix remaining ingredients and spread over peaches.
5.    Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden and peaches are bubbling.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

When we were at lunch today the table next to us ordered lettuce wraps as an appetizer. We are both suckers for them but rarely order them out for all of the sodium. So for dinner we thought we would make a healthier version at home. This can also be made with ground turkey but we used 96% lean beef. The spices give them a nice kick  in contrast to the crisp lettuce leaves/cups and you can always add some cheese if you like.

Thai Beef Wraps

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound  lean ground beef
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons  finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves  garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 12 large Boston lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch each mint and cilantro, leaves picked, rinsed and dried
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Crumble in beef and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until no longer pink.
2. Add sweet pepper, scallion, ginger, garlic, pepper flakes and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat; stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil.
3. To serve, put lettuce, cucumber, mint and cilantro on a platter. Place 1/4 cup beef mixture in a piece of lettuce, top with some cucumber, mint and cilantro. Squeeze some lime on top and roll up.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 252, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 70mg, Sodium 545mg, Carbohydrate 11g, Fiber 4g, Protein 28g

No meal is ever complete without dessert. Tonight, for dessert I made some peanut butter and chocolate chip drop cookies. You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate and these didn’t let me down. One of the best parts is that everything called for in the recipe are items I keep on hand in the pantry and doesn't require planning ahead or a trip to the grocery store. There isn’t even any butter in them so I like to think they are healthier. 

Super Peanut Butter Drops
Servings: 24 cookies

1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2.  In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda until well mixed.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time.

4. Add in the flour, mixing until well combined.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips. I did this with a wooden spoon so that the standing mixer would not ground up the chocolate chips

6. Using a cookie dough scoop or your hands, form the dough into 1 and 1/4-inch balls, slightly flattening each one, and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are slightly puffy and light brown around the edges. Let cool on a wire rack.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Pork Chop Sauté with Peaches

After a busy week we went to decide what to make for dinner tonight and wanted something yummy but with minimal fuss. We had received our June issue of Cooking Light magazine and had folded down many recipes. I had bought some peaches at the store earlier in the week and we had pork chops in the freezer so the pork chop sauté with peaches was an obvious choice. Although J wanted something he could grill outside so we tweaked the recipe a bit. He seasoned and grilled the pork chops instead of sautéing but I still made the peaches and sauce according to the recipe.

Skillet Pork Chop Sauté with Peaches
4 servings (serving size: 1 chop, 4 peach wedges, and about 1 ½ tablespoons broth mixture)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut boneless pork loin chops, trimmed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons butter
1.    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.

2.    Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Add chops to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chops from pan, and keep warm.  (We grilled the pork chop instead of sautéing in the pan. I did oil and heat the pan for the sauce)

3.    Add shallots, thyme, and peaches to pan; cook for 2 minutes.

4.    Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes).

5.    Stir in broth and honey; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes).

6.    Remove from heat; stir in butter. Spoon sauce over chops.

Source: Cooking Light June Issue

I also made some couscous to have on the side. I love couscous because it is quick, easy and filling. I boiled 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth remaining from what I used in the peach sauce. Then added 1/3 cup of the couscous, stirred, covered and removed from the heat for 5 minutes. Just take the lid off, fluff with a fork and it's ready! For some flavoring I added a pinch of salt and pepper. I want to try the whole wheat couscous but the regular one was good as well.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Muffins

I came across this quick and simple recipe on another website and had to try it. I love all things chocolate so this sounded delicious. My mother makes an amazing sour cream coffee cake so I figured it had to be good in muffins as well. I liked that this recipe was so easy to put everything together and was ready in no time. The perfect morning snack.

Sour Cream Chip Muffins Recipe
Servings: 12 muffins
Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream (I used light sour cream)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°

  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  3. In another bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, butter and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

  4. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. (I used muffin liners and it caused the bake time to be a few minutes longer)
  5. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. 

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Healthy breakfast

Everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet it is skipped by many people or just something grabbed on the way out the door. Today I decided to take a few minutes and actually make myself something healthy and tasty for breakfast. Over the weekend we went to brunch at a relatives club and I got a quick lesson on how to flip omelets. What better time to practice than now. I had some baby spinach left over in the fridge, shredded cheddar cheese and egg beaters. First I put some margarine in a pan and sauteed the spinach. Then I added the egg beaters, pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper.While it was cooking I cut up a fresh Florida peach (yum). After scraping down the edge of the egg beaters I gave it my try at flipping the egg beaters over and did an ok job. Not quite as smooth as the chef at brunch but at least it didn't end up on the floor which was my fear. I then added some cheddar cheese and folded the omelet in half to let it cook. The whole breakfast didn't take too long and I really felt like it was something a little bit different during the week. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fuscilli with Broccoli Rabe, Chicken, and Pecorino Cheese

It was another “cool” day in Florida which I definitely enjoyed. I was able to take a quick run outside before J came home and starting dinner. Those are my favorite nights when I can fit everything in! For dinner I had kept this recipe from Health Magazine from 2009 and finally pulled it out to try. It turned out really well and the spices give it a nice kick so it isn’t bland.

Fuscilli with Broccoli Rabe, Chicken, and Pecorino Cheese
Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 8 ounces uncooked fiori or fusilli pasta (I used whole wheat fusilli)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, rinsed and sliced into half moons
  • 8 ounces chicken cutlets, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped marjoram
In order to save time I washed and cut up the leek, broccoli rabe and garlic ahead of time

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Immerse broccoli rabe in water 5 minutes or until bright green. (This is to help remove the bitterness)

2. In another pot of boiling water add pasta, and cook 12 minutes or until al dente.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil, garlic, and leek. Cook 2–3 minutes or until just golden brown.

4. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Raise heat to high, and add chicken. Cook 2–3 minutes or until well-browned.

5. Add broccoli rabe, chicken stock, crushed red pepper, and remaining salt and pepper. Cook chicken and vegetables 6 minutes or until tender and liquid has reduced by half.

6. Drain pasta; transfer to serving dish. Top pasta with sauce; add cheese and marjoram, and toss to combine.

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