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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Low-Fat & Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

DSC_0022I’ve been on a banana bread kick lately. My mom makes the world’s best banana bread and whenever we go back to Cleveland she sends us home with a loaf, which we quickly devour. I’ve been on a quest to create a recipe for yummy yet healthy-ish banana bread. This recipe is gluten-free, low fat and still really delicious! Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t compare to my mama’s banana bread, but it’s a great alternative for when you have a craving for it but don’t want the fat and calories of regular banana bread!

~Makes 8 generous slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour (or regular flour if you prefer it not to be gluten-free)
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
  • 5 over ripe bananas (they should be a little brown)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp light butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp baking soda

Cut the bananas into smaller pieces put them in the mixer along with the eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Mix until the bananas are smooth and then slowly add in the flour, almond meal, cinnamon, chocolate chips and baking soda. Once combined, pour the mixture into a greased baking pan (I used a 9″ round cake pan) and bake in a 385 degree oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Creamy Caper Pesto Pasta.

Penne Pasta with Creamy Caper Pesto & Artichokes.

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This creamy caper pesto pasta (say that ten times fast!) is a unique twist on a standard basil pesto. Be warned, if you don’t like capers you will not like this pasta! I happen to love capers, but I do realize that they’re an acquired taste. The capers add a salty tang to the sauce that’s balanced out with the Parmesan and sour cream. The artichokes compliment the flavors and textures perfectly. If you like capers, you should definitely give this dish a try!

Serves 4-5.

Ingredients:

  • 16-oz package penne pasta (I used Trader Joe’s brown rice penne)
  • 1/3 cup capers
  • 1/3 cup sliced roasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large handfuls fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small handful fresh dill
  • 3 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 14-0z can of quartered artichokes, liquid drained

In a food processor, add the capers, almonds, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend the ingredients to so they are chopped and then add in the handfuls of parsley and dill, one handful at a time, blending each until chopped and mixed in. Lastly, add the sour cream, Parmesan and black pepper and blend the mixture until completely smooth. If needed, add in a little bit of water to help smooth out the mixture.

Boil the pasta as directed on the package and drain all excess water. Put the pasta back into the same pot and mix the cooked pasta together with the artichokes and caper pesto to combine and heat the sauce.

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Southern Comfort Food.

A Southern Comfort Feast With Friends.

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Now that I’m a Southerner, I decided to try my hand at some new Southern style dishes for a recent dinner party with work friends. Although I tried to adapt the recipes to make them a bit healthier, these are still definitely indulgent, but hey… it’s the holidays, right?! The dishes turned out great and were rich, warm and, of course, comforting. If you’re in need of dishes for your Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, these would all make great additions to your meal!

Green Bean Casserole

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Adapted from this recipe.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs green beans, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup light butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley dry ranch mix
  • 1 cup sliced baby Portabello mushroom
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup French’s fried onions, crushed
  • dash of salt (to taste)
  • dash of cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Begin by boiling the green beans. Boil for about 5-7 minutes or until the green beans are tender. Drain the water and set aside. In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat and cook the mushrooms for about 5-7 minutes or until soft and set aside.

In a pot on the stove, melt the butter on low heat and slowly add in the flour to create a roux. Slowly whisk in the skim milk on low/medium heat. Continue whisking until all lumps are gone. The mixture can simmer but should not boil. Once the mixture has thickened, add the ranch mix, Parmesan cheese, dash of salt, and dash of cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked green beans and mushrooms with the sauce. Toss to combine so the ingredients are evenly coated and then pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Top the mixture with an even coating of the panko breadcrumbs, French’s fried onions and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

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Adapted from this recipe.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 package pre-made biscuits, cut into quarters
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 32-oz containers of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/3 cup light butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • garlic salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sage

Begin by melting the butter in a large pot. Once melted, reduced the heat slowly add in the flour to create a roux. Once combined, slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to remove any lumps. Allow the mixture to thicken on low heat and then add in the chicken stock, onion, peas and carrots and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium add in the biscuit dough. Cook with the lid on, stiffing fairly often, for about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, parsley and sage and stir well to combine.

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Corn, Arugula & Bacon Salad With Dijon Vinaigrette

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Adapted from this recipe.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags frozen corn
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4-5 large handfuls fresh arugula
  • 12-oz bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • dash of salt
  • dash of black pepper

Put the corn in a pot on the stove on medium/high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, to cook and thaw.

While the corn is cooking, mix the Dijon mustard, white vinegar, olive oil and salt/pepper together and whisk well.

Once the corn has cooked, allow it to cool to room temperature in a large serving bowl. Once the corn is room temperature, add the arugula, tomatoes and chopped bacon into the serving bowl and pour the dressing over top and mix well to combine.

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Kafta Batata.

Lebanese Meat Patties & Roasted Potatoes With Tomatoes & Onions.

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I absolutely love Lebanese food. In fact, it’s probably my all time favorite type of food. I have never really tried my hand at cooking anything Lebanese and usually just eat it at restaurants, so I wanted to give it a go at home. Kafta means meat patties and batata means potatoes… hence the name of this dish. This dish is the perfect comfort food and has simple, healthy ingredients. This dish is also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. I served it with some simple herbed rice but you could eat with a side of veggies, salad or whatever you prefer. I’ll definitely be making this again soon!

Adapted from this recipe.

Serves ~6.

Ingredients:

Meat Patties~

  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large handful fresh curly parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Za’atar seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil

Potatoes~

  • 5 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced circularly
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Sauce~

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • salt/black pepper
  • 1 large tomato, sliced circularly
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced

Begin by roasting the potatoes. Grease a large baking sheet with ~2 tbsp olive oil and line the sliced potatoes onto the sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, combine the ground beef in a large mixing bowl with the parsley, diced onion, Za’atar seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well and form into roughly 6 small patties. Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan on the stove and cook the patties for about 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned. This will only be to cook them about halfway. After they’re browned, place them into a large baking dish.

To make the sauce, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot on the stove the and stir in the tomato paste and season with a dash of salt/black pepper. Reduce the heat and allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, layer them on top of the meat patties in the baking dish along with the sliced tomatoes and sliced onion. Pour the sauce over top into the baking dish. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes aluminum foil covering the baking dish. Serve your choice of side.

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Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs.

Gluten-Free Turkey Meatballs With Quinoa, Herbs & Feta.

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These healthy meatballs are filled with delicious Mediterranean flavor. By replacing breadcrumbs with quinoa, they have a great texture and are naturally gluten-free. The feta adds a salty, decadent deliciousness.  These meatballs would be great over pasta, but I decided to keep things low-carb and served them with some roasted green beans.

Serves 4-5.

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-0z can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 16-oz ground lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat feta cheese (plus extra for topping)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • sea salt
  • ~2 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey with the eggs, quinoa, feta cheese, garlic, dill, basil, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and a dash of sea salt. Mix well and form the meat into small balls that fit in the palm of your hand. Put 1-2 tbsp of olive oil on a baking sheet (evenly dispersed) and then line the meatballs onto it. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, the flipping the meatballs to brown the other side, and then cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Heat the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste together in a large pot. Season with a dash of sea salt, dill and basil. When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them into the sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes or so. When serving the meatballs, top with a pinch of the feta cheese and serve on top of spaghetti or with the side of your choice.

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Magnificent Margarita Pizza.

Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Homemade Grape Tomato Sauce & Dill.

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Pizza is the best, isn’t it? This is my take on a margarita pizza that I made for a dinner part recently and it was super delish. This pizza is definitely still a “cheat meal” but it’s totally worth it. The grape tomato sauce adds a burst of tangy flavor that goes perfectly with the fresh dill and smooth mozzarella. I can’t wait to make (and eat) this again!

Serves ~8.

Ingredients:

Pizza~

  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 large handful fresh dill, chopped
  • fresh pizza dough (I purchased pre-made dough but you could also make your own of course)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • dash of sea salt

Sauce~

  • 3 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Begin by making the sauce. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add in the chopped garlic and whole grape tomatoes. Cook on medium/low heat for about 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring often, until the tomatoes start to cook down and get softer. After they’re cooked, remove from the stove and put them in the food processor and blend for 20 seconds or so. Place the sauce back into the pot and season with salt and cayenne pepper.

Put some flour on a cutting board or the surface of your counter to help avoid the dough sticking and roll out the dough. My pizza was more of an oval, but you can shape the dough however you desire. Once rolled out, put the pizza dough onto a non-stick baking sheet. Rub about 3 tbsp of olive oil over the top of the dough so it’s coated evenly and season with a dash of sea salt. Before putting on the toppings, put the crust in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the dough is partially cooked. Remove from the oven and allow the dough to cool slightly. Top with a generous layer of the grape tomato sauce, the fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Put the pizza back into the oven for another 15 minutes or so, or until the mozzarella is bubbly and lightly browned.

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Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala.

Chicken in a reduced-fat, creamy tomato sauce with aromatic spices.

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Gareth loves Indian food so I wanted to try my hand at cooking him a meal with some Indian flavors, but still keep it healthy. Chicken tikka masala is a chicken dish that’s typically marinated in yogurt and served in a rich and creamy tomato sauce with lots of aromatic spices. To make this a faster weekday meal, I skipped the marination and also cut out the cream to make it healthier. I served it up with some jasmine rice and it turned out really delicious. I had one happy husband!

Serves ~4.

Adapted from this recipe.

  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp light butter
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger

Heat a large pan on medium-high heat and melt the light butter. Once melted, add the chopped garlic, chicken and onion and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until chicken begins to cook and onions soften. Add in the curry paste, all dried seasonings, and chopped ginger. Continue cooking on medium heat for about 5 minutes or so and then stir in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes on low heat. Turn the heat off and mix in the sour cream to create a creamy sauce prior to serving. Serve with your choice of side.

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