Baked Mozzarella Bites

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Know what’s ooey and gooey and good?SAM_5463

Hot cheesy mozzarella bites. And even lactose-deprived individuals like myself like to pull apart these delicious snacks.

What helps? Soy cheese sticks. But of course, you don’t have to use cheese sticks. You can use just about any cheese or imitation cheese you like, just get it in stick form.

Or come to think of it, cheese curds would work great, too. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

2-3 cheese sticksSAM_5471

2 T Panko crumbs

hefty dash of dried basil

olive oil cooking spray

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a pan, set aside.

-While waiting for oven to preheat, cut sticks into small cubes or balls. Toss in a bowl.

-Spray bites with cooking spray, too–somewhat heavily. Now sprinkle your Panko over the top. Toss around ’til well covered. Sprinkle basil on top.SAM_5472

-Place on pan and bake for about 8-9 minutes or until warm, gooey, and golden brown.

Note: if they’re not gooey enough, keep in the oven a little longer. A slow heat is better, because if you pop them in the microwave for more than a few seconds, they’ll overcook, getting hard and brown. You don’t want that; trust me.

Dip in marinara and enjoy!

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Easy, Fast Apple Pie Snacks

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You know me. I love fun food. If it’s even a tad creative, then I have to try it.SAM_5304

This one had been sitting on my Pinterest.com CC To-Do List board for quite some time. And once the semester had ended–my tortilla overload still under way–I decided to adapt the recipe I’d found online from Better Cookiesreplacing regular dough with, you guessd it, whole-wheat tortillas.

Ain’t nothing punnier, or truer than what I’m about to write: This quick and easy snack is now the apple of my eye. I’m not kidding. I say at this at the risk of not sounding very “American,” but the truth is that I kind of hate apple pie. Hold your fire. Be sympathetic. But I like my apples cool and crisp, not baked and spicy.SAM_5306

Not sure why I enjoyed this recipe so much, not yet at least. It could be that I left the apples a bit thicker in terms of slicing. It could be that I wasn’t overloaded with apple mush, like most apple pies. Or it could just be that it was so easy to make and kind of fun. How can you go wrong?

Ingredients
1/2 an apple
1 whole-wheat tortillaSAM_5286
1 t cinnamon
dash of stevia or 1 T honey

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.SAM_5298 -Prepare apple by slicing lengthwise. You can make your slices as thin as you like for more, or thicker for fewer. Know too that if you go thicker, your apple pie snacks will come out less warm and gooey like apple pie, more crisp and fresh (just how I wanted mine).
-Next, prep apples in seasonings. If you’re using the cinnamon-stevia blend, mix those two together and toss apple slices in those until coated. If you’re going the honey route, then still toss slices in cinnamon and then drizzle honey over the top.
-Cut tortilla into strips. Roll one or more strips around each apple slice. Tuck ends of strip on bottom side or into the side of the wrap so they don’t unfurl.
-Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little more seasoning or honey if desired and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and somewhat soft.
-Serve warm, right out of the oven, and with my healthified cream cheese dip, if you like.SAM_5306

Enjoy!

Healthy, Baked Tortilla Chips

photo (2)

So many on the Standard American Diet (SAD) will scowl when they read what I write next.

You need not default to a bag of greasy tortilla chips. There are better options. And in my opinion, your body and your health deserve better.SAM_5522

Your body deserves you taking 5 minutes or less to make your own homemade tortilla chip over doing what’s easiest: grabbing a bag at the store and not reading the label.

You can make these with any healthy, whole-wheat or healthful, but gluten-free soft tortilla. And if you have a broiler, you can make them in a few minutes or less.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the toasty little chips I love so much, and here’s how I make them:

Ingredients

1 tortilla

A little cooking spray

Spices you like

Directions

-Preheat broilers to high. Lightly grease a cooking sheet. Set aside.SAM_5259

-Using a pizza cutter, slice your tortilla into as many triangles as you can manage. Separate and transfer to prepared sheet. Spritz the other side with a little cooking spray, and if you’re adding delicious spices—cumin and black pepper is one of my favorites—well, you’ll find a little extra healthfulness is you lightly sprinkle one side, then flip and do the same to the other.

-Pop them in. My broiler toasts both sides perfectly in about two minutes flat. They’re thin, so they crisp up fast. Watch them. If you’re baking at a lower temperature, start with 7 minutes, checking every 1-2 minutes after that. Take them out once they’re golden brown and crispy.

Dip in salsa, hummus, guac, or whatever dips you love. They’re also a perfect side and really fun to make with kids. And they are, more or less, impossible to mess up, unless you leave them in the oven too long.

 

Dessert Nachos & Sweet Yogurt Dip

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My first-world problem/ plight of having too many whole-wheat tortillas persists (read about my participation in a high-fiber nutrition study). All but two 10-ct. bags have been used up and all for savory dishes, tofu scrambles, bean and veggie burritos, burrito bowls, and much more.SAM_5262

So I wanted to try something sweet.

I’ve seen different dessert nacho recipes pinned on Pinterest for quite a while. I thought I’d dip into that.

What I threw together was pretty good and super simple. This recipe makes enough for one, but you could easily double it.

It works well for dessert, but I’d also love to try it out on kids. I think they’d get a kick out of dessert nachos, and maybe even for breakfast…

Ingredients

1/2 or 1 whole-wheat tortillaSAM_5259

1 t cinnamon

1 t stevia or 2 t organic honey

1/4 cup plain yogurt (plain works, but non-dairy coconut is a little sweeter)

1 more t stevia

1/2 t pure almond or vanilla extract

1/4 cup fruit of choice

DirectionsSAM_5265

-If you haven’t already, slice your fruit and refrigerate to keep cool.

-To make the dip, mix the stevia and almond or vanilla extract into yogurt and blend thoroughly. You can use regular yogurt if you like, but I recommend plain since sugared varieties are, well, well-sugared. Return to refrigerator or freeze for about 40-50 minutes, churning occasionally, if you prefer more of a fro-yo consistency.

-To prep nachos, use a pizza cutter to cut your round tortilla into two halves. Cut each of those into three triangles. With each of your six triangles, cut a small triangle off the pointed end. With what’s remaining, you should be able to cut three more small triangles using a zigzag pattern.SAM_5270

-Next you’ll want to lightly spritz a broil-safe pan with cooking spray. If you’re using a cinnamon-stevia blend, go ahead and mix those together now, lightly coat the chips with cooking spray, press into blend and set on pan. If you’re opting for honey, which works a little better in my opinion, lay on pan, drizzle honey over chips, then sprinkle cinnamon atop.

-Broil for only a minute or so on that side. You’ll want to watch them carefully, and flip them quickly. If you’d like more sweetness, you can add more of either blend once you’ve flipped. Return to broiler and remove only once toasted. Let cool.

Then you’re ready to dip. Place your fruit on top of your dip and scoop up something sweet and good.

Gluten-Free Enchiladas

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The cabbage kick is more or less over, but during my fascination I snapped a few pics of all the crazy recipes I tried.SAM_5423

Okay, they’re not that crazy. But because the Standard American Diet is something that doesn’t feature many veggies, especially not as grain replacements, it seems odd.

With this recipe, I boiled cabbage leaves as tortilla wrappers and used some leftover enchilada sauce from my Enchi-lotta Pasta recipe to make a quick and satisfying lunch.

Ingredients

4-5 Cabbage leaves

3 oz. cooked taco meat (turkey is what I went with!)

¼ cup enchilada sauceSAM_5426

Olives for topping

Optional: cheese

Directions

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in leaves and boil ‘til tender.

Meanwhile, you can be preparing your taco meat. I added in lots of mix-ins to add more bulk, so onions, sautéed tomatoes and kale. If you need a healthy taco seasoning in a pinch, try my recipe for Preservative –Free Taco Seasoning.Preservative-Free Taco Seasoning

During this time, you’ll also want to get your oven ready. You can either broil the enchiladas on high if you need it faster (as I usually do) or preheat to 400 degrees. Prepare a pan with cooking spray.

When leaves are boiled and tapped dry and taco meat prepared, spoon equal portions of meat on the end of each leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll, leaving the end of the leaf tucked under the bottom so it doesn’t come undone. Transfer to pan. Drizzle the enchilada sauce and olives over the top.

If broiling, you only need only a few minutes. If baking, you’ll want longer, probably 18-22 minutes or until the leaves become somewhat translucent and crispy.

Moroccan Lentil Soup

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“Lots of lentils means lots of filling fiber.”SAM_5357

Or so wrote the editors of Eating Well in this year’s February issue. Can’t have enough of that, right? plus all the delicious spices that come with this recipe–somewhat adapted to my personal preferences–featured along a half dozen or so other soups they featured. I wanted to try them all.

Unfortunately I don’t have that much time.

I do, however, have a lot of lentils in my cupboard. And so, Moroccan Lentil Soup was in order.

IngredientsSAM_5351

  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions and carrots
  • dash of minced garlic
  • dash of each spice: cumin, coriander, ground turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cups lentils
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh kale
  • a little chopped cilantro
  • 1 big squeeze of lemon juice

DirectionsSAM_5348

-In a medium pot (yes, a pot), heat oil; sautee first two veggies and tomatoes ’til tender with garlic. Then add in spices one at a time.

-Add in liquids, cabbage, and lentils. Boil until the lentils are almost perfectly tender. Turn down to a simmer, about 10 minutes at that heat.

-Stew in the kale a few minutes before serving, along with lemon juice and cilantro.

Pretty easy, yes? And it makes one HUGE portion. Okay, maybe more like two. But with so many healthy veggies, you should probably eat the whole thing and get those vegetable serving counts in any way. It’s good for you 😉

Cabbage Noodles

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I’m still on the cabbage kick. No, not the silly soup diet. I’m fascinated with the plant and how goooooood it tastes boiled. I’m thinking my surprise with the veggie’s tastiness is part of what’s making me love it right now.SAM_5446

I’ve often sauteed it and worked it into my pastas, and that tastes pretty great. But feeling curious one night, I wanted to see how my Paleo friends eat this as a noodle.

Yes, a noodle.

Does it actually taste like a noodle? Is it good?

I tried it, and I will say that if you’re looking for a noodle substitute that has the same taste and texture as a noodle, look elsewhere.

Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. No, I actually really liked it. A lot.

I will say, however, that I don’t think I could eat cabbage noodles alone, as a meal staple. I think I’d need to mix it with noodles or meats for a more filling meal.SAM_5444

But curious reader, try it! It’s a fun little culinary experiment and a big heaping serving of veggies. Can’t beat that.

Ingredients

1/3 head of cabbage or 1.5 cups

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, chop your cabbage into “noodles” by slicing lengthwise. I think the thinner the better.

When you achieve a rolling boil, add in cabbage and let it go until you know it’s become tender, but too long will make it mushy. Strain as you normally would with noodles, but be sure to drain well.SAM_5440

Now add in your sauce, veggie, and meat favorites! I did a red sauce with onions, tomatoes, and ground turkey.

Seasoned Fresh Turkey Burgers

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You’ve read as I’ve gone on and on about my Oreos-and-fried-chicken childhood. In as much as I cringe when I think about the way I used to eat, I take a lot of pride in the small, healthier adjustments my family’s made to our normal meal regimen.SAM_5430

Okay, I can’t vouch for what my family eats when I’m away at school, but when I come home my parents have been really great about trying foods I like. Our new favorite meal together is the turkey burger. Yum. Yum. Yum. My mom makes a pretty good one.

But I think my version is pretty good, too!

I don’t have a grill, so I broil, and I have a lot of fun trying new mix-ins. Sometimes I substitute spinach for kale, bread crumbs for soy cheese crumbles, and lots of fun to be had with different spice combinations.

So if you’re interested, here’s my standard turkey burger recipe, which can also be easily adapted into a meatball recipe, if you feel so inclined.SAM_5412

Ingredients

3 oz. lean ground turkey

hot sauce

Worcestershire sauce

dash of minced garlic

finely shredded spinach

big pinch of diced onions

seasonings of choice (mine were ground mustard, cumin, and dill)

DirectionsSAM_5428

Preheat broilers. Spray a broil-safe pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add lean ground turkey, sauces, veggies, and spices all in one dish. Mix well. Form into a patty.

Trick! To get the patty to cook evenly, i.e. without a big swollen bump in the center, press your thumbs in the center to make that part a bit thinner. You don’t need it to be drastically thinner–don’t punch any holes!–because1/3 to 1/4 thinner than the rim of the patty will do the trick.

Place burger patty on pan and let it sizzle for about 3 minutes; flip sides. One or two more minutes should do the trick.

Serve on a fluffy, toasted whole-wheat bun and whatever toppings you like.

P.S.-I’m in love with this all natural Worcestershire sauce I found from Lea & Perrin’s. In my humble opinion, paying a little more for low-sodium, high-fructose-free corn syrup alternatives is always worth it.

Decorative Pots Made at Paint+Pour Ladies’ Night

My friend Sareena hangs her hat among the craftiest of sorts. I’ve posted about her parties before; they’re brilliant and fun, perfect for 20- or 30-somethings needing to unwind, have a little wine, girl talk, and craft catharsis.

This time the theme was “Paint+Pour.” You guessed it, pouring paint and wine–and let’s be honest, a little gossip, too.

You can figure out the wine part on your own, but let me tell you how we painted the pots…

We poured!

Or dripped, I guess. The concept is simple but creates a really neat effect.

Simply flip a pot, any size or material seems to work just fine (just make sure you’ve got water-proof paint), and flip it upside down. Using a small plate to catch paint drips. For larger pots, you might use a drop cloth or newspaper, but know that the paper may be hard to peel off the bottom later.image (3)

Take your paint. Drip one color on the bottom edge of the pot. Let it slide down. Repeat.

I used a pattern of sorts. I did a round of evenly spaced white drips, and then a round of blue, and then a round of yellow, overlapping slightly.

For the most part, one round will cover most of the pot, but a few spots may be left uncovered. If you want to cover all, do another round of one color or all. If you like the color of terra cotta peeking through, then leave it.

You can try so many color combinations. My friends got a little more wild than I did with the color combinations, but I like simple and playing it safe. Three-color schemes and straight lines work for my taste.

What did I end up doing with my pots?image (2)

I wish I could say I grew them, but my failed attempts at gardening with no direct sunlight or porch makes growing a little frustrating.

My mother, however, loves gardening. She’s got the green thumb, AND it was Mother’s day. AND Target has a ton of cute gardening accessories on sale, so guess who got yet another themed-gift-basket creation by me? My lovely, amazing mother. I’ll pour to her any day. She loved the gardening gift basket I made for her, but her favorite part of it, hands-down, were these pots. She always appreciates a cool craft. It’s adorable to see how she still gets so excited to receive something I made.

You’re never too old for crafts. And mom’s are never too old to receive them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, the sisters, aunts, church friends, co-workers, Mr. Moms, and all the other people in your life who nurture and care for others. That’s the message I heard in church this morning, the one I think Mother’s Day should be about, celebrating the great people in your life who care for you. And what better way to show you care than to give something you made yourself. Something that took thought, time, and care. And that’s important; it returns exactly what they’ve given to you.

Spicy Salmon Rolls

If you’re like me…SAM_5383

You grew up on fried chicken and Oreos.

If you’re like me…

You’re just now discovering health food is delicious.

A recent surprise:

Cabbage.

I’ve been trying it a lot as a mix-in for soups and pastas by sauteeing it. But recently, I boiled those healthful little leaves. My eight-year-old self would have cringed at the very word of such things. My twenty-three-year-old self was more open-minded.

And then, she was pleasantly surprised.SAM_5370

A spicy tuna mix can make anything delicious, but the boiled cabbage I used as wrappers was such a nice compliment of flavors/ textures. I think I’m in love.

And I feel a little bad for my anti-cabbage younger self. Missed way too much good eating because I was way too stubborn.

Ingredients

5-6 cabbage leaves

2 packet of shredded salmon

handful of kale

chopped onions, radishes, and any other veggies you like. SAM_5384

1/2 t minced garlic

squeeze of lemon

tiniest dash of cayenne, and a heftier dash of red pepper flakes

Directions

-Peel and clean off your cabbage leaves. Boil for only a few minutes or until tender. Remove and let dry as much as possible while you…

-Set broilers to high (or bake setting to 400 degrees). Prepare broil-safe pan with cooking spray.

-Prepare salmon mix in skillet with cooking spray on the pan first. Then add in garlic, spices, and chopped veggies. When it starts to look the like the heat is drying it out. Use the lemon juice you’ve been armed with. Sautee for a few minutes; ’til warmed through completely.SAM_5372

-The wrappers are the tricky part. Let them face up and spoon some of the mixture on the fullest end. Not too much salmon, though. You’d be surprised how little it needs. You don’t want it spilling out the edges. Fold the sides in, roll, tuck the bottom of the leaf under. Repeat.

-Line up your salmon rolls. Broil or bake until they’ve turned a bit more translucent and yellowish in color. Remove and serve warm.

You can, of course, also try them cold. I’m sure they’d be just as delicious.

My lunch was delightful. How was yours?