Monday, August 27, 2012

Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean Salad

 Today I'm sharing this perfect summer side dish made from vegetables from our own garden and our local farmer's market. It's light, citrusy, sweet, and healthy. I made a slightly adapted version of the recipe below to use what we had on hand - lemon instead of lime, sweet onion instead of red, and no jalapeno since I am nursing my son. (I cannot wait to enjoy spicy food again!)  I served this with blackened red snapper, but I agree with Sheena - this would be great on tacos with added tomatoes.

Source: The Little Red House

  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 ears of corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • large pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 cups of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a large handful of chopped cilantro
In a large pan with olive oil on medium high heat saute: zucchini, corn, onion, jalapeno, garlic and salt. When zucchini starts to get tender (I cooked mine for 7-8 minutes, but you can cook it as long as you like, depending on how small you diced it, and how firm you like it), add the black beans and heat through. Remove from heat and add the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Strawberries & Cream Muffins

Look what's been sitting on my kitchen counter, taunting me all week. Luckily I made these muffins at the end of my long 4-day weekend. I don't want to think about the damage that may have otherwise happened if I were home all day. They are that good. I'm not sure if I should thank Ashley, from Cheese Curd in Paradise, or smack myself for making these.

I received Ashley's blog for this round of the Recipe Swap: Blogger's Choice. (Remember to view the Swap Round-Ups on Sarah's blog: A Taste of Home Cooking). This is my favorite theme, but also the hardest. I can never decide what to make! I had already been on a baking kick and thought I'd just continue on with that when I saw her post for Strawberries and Cream Muffins.  It has been a while since I've made muffins. To be good, I thought I'd make just 1/2 batch of the muffins as a bit of damage control. But then, look at the ingredient list.  If I tried to halve everything, I was going to run into problems. Half of 1/8th?  I don't own a 1/16th measuring spoon. And 3/4 TBS of beaten egg?  What would I do with the rest?  See, too much trouble.  I had to just make the whole recipe. I'm not sure how many muffins this recipe is meant to make.  I made 12 large muffins. You could probably do 18 smaller?

Now my issue is that I still have 4 oz. cream cheese left and extra strawberries. Do I make them again?!  gah!

Thank you, Ashley, for an awesome recipe!

Source: Cheese Curd in Paradise

  • 1 cup whole milk  (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces (the redder and sweeter, the better!)
Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz. full-fat cream cheese, very soft (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of liquid from one whole egg that's been beaten lightly
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray liberally.

Cut up your berries and set them aside.

In a small bowl, mix together with a spoon the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside, but don't chill it.

Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the milk into the butter, stirring to combine. Cool until the mixture is just warm, then whisk in the eggs.

Thoroughly combine with a whisk, in a large mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined. Don't overmix. It's okay if a few little flour streaks are still evident.

Using a portion scoop, fill each muffin cup barely half full. Scatter a few pieces of strawberry on top.

Using a small spoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.

On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two so of the muffin batter.

On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry. Push them in just slightly.

Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger. Check on the muffins early, and if they're browning too fast, lightly cover the pan with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool in the pan, on a rack, for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan to cool on the rack.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Open-Faced Tuna & Artichoke Melt

This is one of my favorite fast and healthy meals - a lightened up tuna melt that has a bit of a spicy kick and  lots of lemony flavor piled on a crunchy english muffin.  This is a great recipe to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator for a quick lunch. It is so good that you won't even miss the mayo. If you prefer a creamier filling, add a small teaspoon of greek or plain yogurt. Throw in extra veggies if you're in the mood, too. Celery, tomato, whatever you like.  Our cats go crazy when I make it and even my picky toddler eats this one! Enjoy! :)

8 Weight Watchers Points (Recipe Serves 2)

Source: Weight Watchers

  • 1/2 cup(s) canned artichoke hearts, without oil, about four pieces, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup(s) uncooked scallion(s), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 oz water-packed tuna fish, drained, albacore, and flaked
  • 2 item(s) whole-wheat English muffin(s), split
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat broiler.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Divide the mixture evenly among muffin halves; sprinkle with cheese.

Place on a baking sheet; broil 5 inches from heat until golden brown, 5 minutes.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Grilled Pizza

Homemade pizza is one of our regular weeknight meals. We've tried different dough recipes, used store-bought dough, topped with different ingredients, and even grilled our pizza outside. Well, that only happened once. It was kind of a disaster. Grilling pizza is a quick process.  You need to be on the ball and have everything ready before you begin.  Have all of your ingredients outside next to the grill.  Keep the cheese away from the heat. It will melt. You don't want to put the dough on the grill and then think about getting the sauce, cheese and toppings together. Not having everything ready the first time wasn't my biggest mistake, though. The biggest problem was that I tried to grill a large pizza - not so easy to flip! Do yourself a favor and make small pizzas.

This recipe came my way through another round of the Recipe Swap - Too Hot to Cook. Nicole, from Prevention RD, submitted this recipe and I was thrilled to add it to our menu this week.  Now go add Nicole's blog to your reader, like her on facebook, etc. She is a Registered Dietitian and makes incredible, healthy food and takes really great photos of it all. Oh, and she is writing a cookbook now! Cool, isn't it?

The problem we have with our regular pizza is that it tastes great the night we make it, but any leftovers have a soft crust. It doesn't stay crispy.  That is what I loved most about this recipe - the crust was crispy and stayed that way the next day. Aaron has been talking about this fantastic crust going on 4 days now. Sure, you can use store-bought dough, but if you have the time to let this rise, do try making your own dough. Thanks for a great recipe, Nicole!

Source: Prevention RD


  • 1 (.25 oz) package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105-110 F)
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 Tbsp herbs, chopped (I used basil, parsley and oregano)
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce (3 tablespoons per pizza)
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup per pizza)
  • *Toppings of choice (we put ham and pineapple on one pizza and mushrooms, red onion and green peppers on the other.)
In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, and mix in sugar. Proof for ten minutes, or until frothy. Mix in the salt, olive oil, and flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in the herbs until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down. Set aside to rise for 1 more hour, or until doubled again.

Preheat grill to a temperature of about 350 F. Punch down dough, and divide into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a round or square pizza 9-to-10-inch dough, about 1/6-inch thick.

Note: Have olive oil for topping and a pastry brush nearby the grill, along with your pizza sauce, mozzarella, and any toppings. You will also need 1 large spatula that is safe to use on the grill (i.e. not plastic). Have plates ready for serving, as well.

Brush one side of each pizza dough with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and flip oiled side down onto the grill grates. Drizzle the other side with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and brush to distribute with a pastry brush. Rotate the pizza 1/4th turn every 30 seconds or so. When the bottom side has nice grate marks and the pizza has puffed up, flip it onto the other side. Immediately spread 3 tablespoons pizza sauce, 1/2 cup mozzarella and all of the desired toppings onto the pizza. Close the lid and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, checking the bottom of the dough each minute to be sure it doesn’t burn. Continue to rotate 1/4th turn to ensure no burning. The entire process will take 5 minutes or less, depending on how hot your grill is and how close to the heat source your dough is. I recommend starting with 1 pizza and never grilling more than 2 at a time. Yield: Four 9-inch pizzas (8 small servings, 1/2 pizza each)

Nutrition Information (per serving)*: 285 calories; 8.4 g. fat; 15 mg. cholesterol; 729 mg. sodium; 39.6 g. carbohydrate; 0.6 g. fiber; 13.4 g. protein

*not accounted for in nutrition information

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Granola Bites

I came across this fun snack while browsing for oatmeal recipes in attempt to make my daughter some healthy snacks.  Umm yeah, I'm going to keep telling myself these were healthy. They do have oatmeal afterall. ;)  Besides, I needed to make these because I had an open box of cake mix that I needed to use before it went bad. So you see? I had no choice. I was forced. Oh, and no baking is required, so they are also a great treat to make without turning on the oven. 

We made them, they were messy to roll, but just as good if not better than any oatmeal cookie! So we made some more. This time with chocolate chips.

I'm going to make these again with raisins. Then coconut. Then chocolate cake mix (would that work?).  With peanut butter. What would you mix in?

After you make every variation you can think of, and you still have leftover cake mix, go make this Cake Batter Ice Cream. You're Welcome. :)

Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

makes about 20 balls
  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix (the dry cake mix)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (more or less, depending on your addiction to sprinkles!)
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl, except the sprinkles. To avoid a meltdown, let your child add the sprinkles. Stir well, until all oats are moistened. The mixture will be thick - use some muscle to mix well.   Refrigerate mixture for AT LEAST 1 hour (preferably 2 – you want the whole mixture pretty stiff and stick together well)

Remove from refrigerator and roll into balls.
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