Friday, December 30, 2022

Winter Wonders: Loaded Apple Nachos for Two

With only 5 ingredients, this sweet variation on nachos is a great snack or dessert to share with a friend.



Loaded Apple Nachos for Two


A sweet take on nachos with apples?  I'm all in!  I love apples, so when I cam across this Weight Watcher's recipe for apple "nachos" I knew I had to make this right away.  And it's not about being diet food, it's really about healthy food.  Just let me say this is really easy to pull together.  5 ingredients, and about 15 minutes and you have a wonderful dish.  MGG and I had this as a snack and it was gobbled up in no time.

Thinly sliced apples (use your favorite) are arranged on a platter and doused with some softened peanut butter.  Then comes the toppings of mini chocolate chips, sliced almonds, and coconut flakes.  Heaven!  Don't walk, RUN and make this now!  You can thank me later.

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • an apple - choose your favorite
  • peanut butter - smooth works best here
  • sliced almonds - make it easy on yourself and buy sliced almonds. I keep them in the house all the time for salads, yogurt toppings etc.
  • mini chocolate chips - for just a hint of chocolate
  • unsweetened coconut flakes  - Bob Mills makes a great product


Substitutions and Variations

  • try pear nachos
  • drizzle on a different nut butter, almond or cashew are good choices
  • Shaved chocolate works instead of chips
  • sprinkle on some granola



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Watch the almonds closely when toasting, they burn quickly.
  • Microwave the peanut butter in 30 second increments until pourable.  Watch closely.
  • Don't let the sliced apples sit too long or they will turn brown.




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Loaded Apple Nachos for Two


serves 2
WW Points: 7-9


2 Tablespoon sliced almonds
1 apple, cored and sliced into about 1/8" thick slices
1 1/2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 Tablespoon mini chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

In a small skillet over low heat add almonds and toast, stirring often for about 3-4 minutes.

Arrange apple slices on a serving platter or plate.  Add peanut butter to a small microwave-safe bowl or cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds or until pourable.

Drizzle the peanut butter over the apple slilces.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips, coconut and slice almonds over the apples.  Serve.



adapted from: WW Easy Everday Cooking













Friday, December 23, 2022

Pre-Holiday Easy Meal: Slow Cooker Arroz con Pollo

This one-pot dinner is inspired by the traditional dish of Spain and Latin America.  Slow Cooker Arroz con Pollo comes together easily, using your crock pot!


Slow Cooker Arroz con Pollo


What can be better than a one-pot meal?  One that features chicken and rice!  Arroz con Pollo is one of my all time favorite dishes.  When it's holiday time I don't have the time or the inclination to fix complicated meals.  With all the work to be done to get ready for Christmas I'm always looking for simple and tasty dishes for dinner.  When I came across this recipe on EatingWell's site I knew that this would be the perfect fit for this hectic week.  

Ingredients bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and chicken are laced with Latin spices to create a sumputious saucy mix that cooks away in your slow cooker.  Brown rice is added later and gives this a healthy spin.  Latin flavored juicy and tender chicken with veggies served over a sauce soaked rice is mouth-waterningly good!  It's a dump and go meal that you can start around noon and 6 hrs later you have one heck of a dinner to serve.  

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • red, orange, and/or yellow bell pepper
  • onion
  • fresh garlic
  • low sodium tomato sauce
  • low sodium diced tomatoes
  • reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Spices: chili powder, paprika, cumin, tumeric
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • instant brown rice
  • frozen peas
  • cilantro



Substitutions and Variations

  • Use white rice instead of brown
  • Chicken thighs would work great
  • Add additional veggies like chopped carrots, corn, or mushrooms



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Chicken can be removed to a cutting board and shredded and returned to the slow cooker.
  • Instant rice is used for it's quick cooking ability.




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Slow Cooker Arroz con Pollo


serves 8


3 large red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15oz can low sodium tomato sauce
1 15oz can low sodium diced tomaroes, with juice
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups instant brown rice
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a 6qt. slow cooker, combine bell peppers, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, and all the spices.  Submerge the chicken into the mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 5 1/2 hours.

Stir in rice and peas.  Cover and cook 30 minutes more, until rice is tender.  There may stll be a little liquid in the pot.

Using two forks, shred the chicken.  Serve garnishing with cilantro.

source:  eatingwell.com















Saturday, December 17, 2022

Asparagus Multi Rice Blend Pilaf

Asparagus Multi Rice Blend Pilaf is loaded with 4 types of rice, asparagus, cranberries, and almonds.  Doused in the most deletcable vinaigrette this is a delicious side dish perfect for Christmas!



Asparagus Multi Rice Blend Pilaf


Who doesn't love a good side dish?  This one is full of deliscious flavors and is perfect alongside your chosen entree for Christmas dinner.  The base is a blend of four types of rice (texmati white, red, brown, and wild) so you get a wonderful array of colors, textures, and tastes.  Added to that are the mix-ins to make it a pilaf.  I've added sauted asparagus, toasted almonds, and cranberries.  The whole dish is then doused with a fabulous vinaigrette.  

This is one hearty, elegant, and flavorful side dish.  Worthy of your Christmas dinner and any other winter meal.  Make sure to put this one on your "to make" list, it's that good!

Enjoy!




 What Ingredients do I need?

  • Asparagus - 1 bunch
  • dried cranberries
  • sliced almonds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • white wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use walnuts or pecans instead of almonds
  • Add chopped kale or spinach to the bowl for more greens
  • Add dried cherries instead of cranberries
  • Don't like asparagus? Add sliced zucchini, mushrooms or broccoli instead
  • Make this a bowl meal by adding bite sized cooked chicken pieces



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Cook the rice first as it takes the longest.
  • Serve warm for the best flavors.
  • Leftover may be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and may be reheated or eaten at room temperature.


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Asparagus Multi Rice Blend Pilaf


serves 4-6


1 cup RiceSelect Royal Blend Texmati White, Brown, Red, & Wild Rice
1 bunch of Asparagus stems
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Cook rice according to package directions.  Once cooked place rice in a large bowl.
Trim the wood ends off the asparagus and cut the asparagus in to 2 inch pieces.  In a large skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, saute asparagus for about 3 minutes, stirring ocassionally.  Add sliced almonds and stir constantly for 1 minute, making sure not to burn the almonds.  Add the asparagus and almonds to the large bowl of rice.

Make the dressing in a small bowl.  Add olive oil, vinegar, mustard, a pinch of salt & pepper and which until combined.

Add the cranberries to the bowl of rice and drizzle on the vinaigrette, tossing to coat,  Serve right away.










Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Apple Almond Farro Salad

Apple Almond Farro Salad is a light yet hearty winter salad filled with whole grains, crisp apples, toasted almonds, and spinach.  All doused with a sweet-tart dressing this salad will be the star of the show.  


Apple Almond Farro Salad


This is one of the best grain salads for winter!  Hearty farro is the base with special add-ins like crisp apples, spinach, and toasted almonds.  The apples should be a little tart to give it some zip.  All this is mixed with a delicious dressing made with apple cider vinegar for fall tartness, and honey for a little sweetness.  The taste is out of this world.  It's a salad that you can snack on for days.

The whole dish comes together in no time, and it is very simple to make.  Use your favorite slightly tart apple.  I love Honeycrisp, but for this version I used a new apple I found that is pink on the inside!  It's called Lucy Rose apples.  They are crisp, light, pink, and flavorful.  If you can't find them, not to worry.  You can use your favorite apple.  Here are some good ones to pick from:  Envy, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Opal, SweeTango, Jazz, or Amborsia.

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • sliced almonds
  • olive oil
  • apple cider vinegar
  • honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • spinach
  • apple - use your favorite tart/sweet apple



Substitutions and Variations

  • Add in some chopped red onion for a more savory bite
  • Add in some crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • Use chopped fresh kale instead of spinach
  • Try chopped pears instead of apples
  • Switch up the grain from farro to barley, wheat berries, or quinoa
  • Add in some herbs like basil or mint



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • The farro will need to cool so prepare this item first.  
  • Look for "Pearled" farro - Pearled farro has had the outer layer of bran removed.  It will contain less fiber and nutrients, but cooks much more quickly.  I use this one.
  • The salad will keep in the refrigerator for several days.  Since the farro will soak up the dressing you can add a little olive oil if it seems to dry and toss again.
  • Great as a dinner side dish to grilled chicken, pork, or beef.  
  • Perfect as a side salad for lunch with a grilled sandwich.




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Apple Almond Farro Salad


serves 4-6


1 cup pearled farro
2 heaping Tablespoons sliced almonds
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 medium/large Honeycrisp apple, cored, and chopped

In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the farro and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the sliced almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  

For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, Dijon mustard, and salt & pepper.  

Combine farro, chopped spinach, apple, and almonds in a large bowl and toss.  Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.  Serve.  













Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Winter Warmers: Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Scones

There's nothing quite like biting into a warm scone, and this one has all the fall flavors you love along with a soft and moist texture and a bit of healthy grains. Pumpkin pie spice for the win!





Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Scones


It's cold and rainy today and I have a pot of soup on the stove cooking away, so I thought I would do some baking and of course pastries come to mind.  I'm feeling a nice cup of tea maybe with Chai spices to go along with some scones.  Not basic scones.  Let's bake warm and inviting Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Scones.  Perfect with my tea, or coffee if you'd like.  So grab that extra can of pumpkin puree leftover from Thanksgiving and let's get baking.  

Scones are part of the quickbread family and are easy to throw together.  One bowl and a few simple ingredients is all you need and you'll have a tender dough made in no time.  Then you can just make drop scones like I did today and not fuss with rolling out the dough and cutting it.  They're rustic, they're quick, they're heavenly!

Enjoy!








What Ingredients do I need?

  • all purpose flour
  • white whole wheat flour
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • unsalted butter
  • pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • eggs

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use only all purpose flour
  • substitute pumpkin pie spice 1 1/2 teaspoons for the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
  • substitute brown sugar for regular granulated sugar.
  • Brush the top of the scones with milk, then sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar. You can also top with cinnamon sugar, or Demerara sugar. 
  • Use a bench knife or a sharp knife to cut each round into six triangular wedges. Placing the formed scones on the baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer for 15 minutes will give you a better rise and a flakier texture.  Try this is you have the extra time.
  • Substitute the pumpkin puree for sweet potato or butternut squash puree (mashed) for a different but pleasant flavor profile.
  • Add Mix-Ins: (add up to 1 cup)
    • crystalized ginger
    • cinnamon chips
    • chocolate chips
    • toasted chopped pecans or walnuts
    • dried cranberries or raisins
    • caramel chips



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature. Reheat very briefly in the microwave, if desired.
  • Forming scones 3 ways: 1. Dump the dough from the bowl straight on to a parchment lined baking pan.  Using your hands form the dough in to a 5-6 inch circle.  Cut dough in to 6 triangle wedges, pulling apart about 1/2" so there is space when baking.  2. Scoop dough using a 1/3 measuring cup and drop on to a parchment lined baking sheet.  3.  Place dough on a floured board and roll dough to 1/2" thickness.  Cut out scones using a round or decorative biscuit/cookie cutter.
  • Grating butter in to the flour mixture is an easy way to start out with small bits of butter to work in to the flour, and less work in the end!  Once you've grated the butter, you can cut in the butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter.  



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Other Scones to try:






Basic Scone Recipe












Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Scones


yield:  8-10 round scones


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2/3 cup pumpkin purée
2 large eggs


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Using a hand grater, grate the butter in to the mixture.  Work in the butter using your hands until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's okay for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.  The mixture should look shaggy.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs until smooth.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moistened and holds together.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup scoop up some dough and form in to a rough circle with your hands about 1/2" thick.  Place it on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Continue making drop scones and placing the scones about 1 inch apart.  Bake for 14-16 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Serve.














Sunday, December 4, 2022

Fall Flavors: Apple Walnut Muffins

The smell of baking apples screams fall to me.  In just one bite, you get a burst of cinnamon and plump, juicy, hot apples!  Get all the fall vibes when baking these Apple Walnut Muffins.  



Apple Walnut Muffins


I haven't brought you a new muffin in a really long time and I thought that with all the fall baking going on it was time to bring an easy yet tasty muffin in to the mix.  This one has great big chunks of apples in it and it's spiced with cinnamon to bring out the fall flavors.  It's melt in your mouth good and a muffin the whole family will be craving.

Muffins do double duty in our house.  We eat them for a quick breakfast during the week, but we are also known to eat one for a snack with a hot cup of tea or coffee.  This is a small batch of 6 muffins but double the recipe if you want more.  This muffin is sure to give you all the fall feels!

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • eggs
  • low-fat milk
  • canola oil
  • all purpose flour
  • sugar or alternative sugar 1:1 ratio (for Keto, low carb)
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • honeycrisp apple (medium size)
  • cinnamon
  • walnuts

Substitutions and Variations

  • Doing a Keto diet or want lower carb? Use an alternative sugar of you choice as a substitute.  I like King Arthur's  
  • Use white whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose flour
  • Make mini muffins or small loaves instead





Kitchen Tips and Notes


  • 1st rule of thumb when making muffins is not to "overmix" the batter.  You want it batter to just come together.  Little spots of flour is okay.
  • To get high muffin tops turn your oven up to 400 degrees.
  • Make sure you are using fresh baking powder.  To test put 1/2 teaspoon into 1/4 cup of boiling water.  If it bubbles, you are good.
  • Double the recipe for 12 muffins.
  • Muffins can be frozen individually and kept for 3 months.

  • Fill the muffin tin almost to the top for nice big muffins.





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More muffins to make:

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins - Lower Carb Version



Vanilla Chai Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins - Small Batch

Mexican Hot Chocolate Muffins










Apple Walnut Muffins 


Makes 6-8


1 egg
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup King Arthur Baking sugar alternative
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small honeycrisp apple, cored and chopped in medium chunks
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin or donut hole pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl add the egg, milk, and oil. Mix together using a whisk.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped apples and chopped walnuts, holding a few back to add to the tops.

Using a cookie scoop, add batter to a muffin tin to make 6-8 muffins. Add a few chopped walnuts to the top of each muffin.  Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes in the tin. Remove from the pan and serve.











Saturday, November 26, 2022

Winter Warmers: Lasagna Soup

Craving a good lasagna but don't have the time to spend making it?  Try my Lasagna Soup.  It has all the flavors of your favorite lasagna but made in half the time!   


  • Lasagna Soup


It's not winter yet, but it's been so cold around here that I'm bringing on the winter dishes that keep you warm.  Soup is a go to in our house.  This one is quick and easy to make and tastes like lasagna in a bowl.

There is something comforting about pasta, beef, tomatoes, spices, and cheese that when combined in a soup it screams comfort food.  This one pot meal is a winner so be sure to try this recipe soon.

Enjoy!


What Ingredients do I need?

  • ground sirloin
  • yellow onion
  • garlic
  • diced tomatoes (canned)
  • tomato paste
  • tomato sauce
  • beef broth (low sodium if available)
  • Italian seasoning
  • lasagna noodles
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese



Substitutions and Variations

  • Use Italian sausage for the beef
  • Use chicken broth in place of the beef broth
  • Use malfada pasta instead of breaking the lasagna noodles


Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • serve with a salad and some garlic bread
  • leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for several days
  • Use a large dutch oven for a one pot meal.  Here's the one I use.


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Lasagna Soup


    1 pound 10% lean ground sirloin
    1 cup diced yellow onion
    salt & pepper
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 8 oz can tomato sauce
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    32 ounces low sodium beef broth 
    2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    6 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken in to pieces, or malfada pasta

    Topping:

    1 cup ricotta cheese
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 teaspoon salt


    In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, brown beef and onion over medium-high heat, adding salt and pepper for seasoning. Add the garlic and cook for about 30-60 seconds. 

    Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, and Italian seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add in broken lasagna pieces. Reduce heat slightly and cook for about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    For the Cheese Topping: In a small bowl, mixture together the ricotta, Parmesan, and salt.
    To serve, spoon soup in a bowl and top with a dollop of the cheese mixture. 
     












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