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Divine Dijon Roasted Potatoes.

Dijon Roasted Potatoes With Bacon, Dill & Parmesan Cheese.

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This dish is a great alternative to a standard potato salad to make at a summer BBQ or dinner party. It’s super simple to make and can also be prepared ahead of time and served room temperature. I personally believe bacon makes everything better (doesn’t everyone?) and the flavor of bacon goes oh so well with the tangy Dijon and fresh dill. My mouth is watering as I type… yum, yum!

Serves ~4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs baby yellow potatoes
  • 6 slices center cut bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
  • large handful fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste

Boil a large pot of water and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes in the boiling water. One the potatoes are tender, drain all excess water and add them into a large roasting pan or baking sheet. Cut each potato in half and add the olive oil evenly over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Put the potatoes in a 425 degree oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes (or until lightly browned), flipping the potatoes halfway through.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt/pepper. Whisk well to combine. Once you remove the potatoes from the oven, put them in a large mixing bowl and while still hot, pour the mixture on top along with the chopped bacon, dill and Parmesan and toss well to combine. You can serve either warm or room temperature.

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Grilled Pear & Procuitto Salad.

Grilled Pear & Prosciutto Salad With Baby Spinach, Mozzarella & Walnuts in a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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Simply put, this salad is amazing. I’ve made it a couple of times over the last few months and it’s become a fast favorite. The sweet and smokey grilled pairs go perfectly with the smooth mozzarella, salty prosciutto, crunchy walnuts and tangy dressing. This salad would be a great summer side dish at a BBQ but is certainly hearty enough to be eaten as a main course as well. I promise you that this salad will be a hit!

Serves ~5 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 4 medium ripe pears, sliced
  • 8 oz. Buffalo mozzarella, sliced
  • 4 oz. Prosciutto, sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, unsalted
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (3 tbsp for dressing and 1 tbsp for grilling pears)
  • 4 tbsp high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • sea salt/freshly ground black pepper

Slice the pears and toss them with 1 tbsp olive oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt. You can remove the skin if you want, but I leave it on. On a hot grill, put the pears fruit side down. Leave the pears on the grill for about 5-6 minutes without moving or turning them and then take them off the grill and allow them to cool slightly. The pears should have softened up quite a bit and have light grill marks on them.

In a large serving dish, layer the baby spinach, sliced mozzarella, prosciutto, pears and walnuts. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and sea salt/black pepper to taste. Whisk well and then pour evenly over top the salad. If you like things a bit sweeter, you can also drizzle a bit of extra honey on top of the salad.

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Breakfast Quinoa.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Quinoa With Dates, Raisins & Pumpkin Seeds.

DSC_0811Until this, I had only made savory quinoa, but I had heard of quinoa recipes for breakfast similar to oatmeal, so I wanted to give it a try. This quinoa turned out really nice and was a great alternative to oatmeal. It would make a great treat at breakfast but could be eaten for any meal, really.  It was subtlety sweet with a little crunch from the pumpkin seeds. It also couldn’t be easier to cook. You can make one pot and then eat it all week with no fuss!

Makes about four cups of quinoa.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried dates
  • 3 tbsp agave syrup (or honey if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cook the quinoa as directed on the package. Once almost all of the liquid in the pot is gone, add in the vanilla, agave, cinnamon, dried fruit and pumpkin seeds. Cook for about 5-7 minutes on low heat, or until the quinoa has finished cooking. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

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Broccoli & Bacon Salad.

Broccoli & Bacon Salad with Apples, Raisins, Sunflower Seeds in a Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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I made this salad for my friend’s baby brunch a couple of months ago. There are a lot of broccoli salad recipes out there that are super heavy and covered in mayo, so I wanted to make a lighter version that still had all the great flavors. This salad is sweet, savory, crunchy and very delish! The honey apple cider vinaigrette adds a subtle tang that brings it all together.

Serves ~5.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5 sliced center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 Fiji apple, diced
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • black pepper/sea salt to taste

Begin by cooking the broccoli. Heat a large pot of water and once boiling, add the broccoli and boil for 1 minute. Drain the broccoli and run it under cold water for 1-2 minutes so help stop the cooking. Once cooled, line a large bowl with paper towel and put the broccoli in the bowl, gently using the paper towel to remove any excess water.

In a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and mayonnaise and whisk well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put the broccoli in a serving bowl and add the bacon, apples, sunflower seeds and raisins. Pour the dressing over top and toss to combine.

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Mac & Cheese Cupcakes.

Mac & Cheese Cupcakes with Ricotta, Spinach & Onion.

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Clearly, I’m really into making pasta dishes into cupcakes these days! (See yesterday’s post!) This was another item on the menu for my friend’s baby brunch. I got the idea of taking the basic ingredients from one of my favorite recipes that my mom makes and putting it all into mac & cheese. I thought it would be super fun to make it into little handheld treats by using my trusty muffin tin once again. They were super yummy and were a great vegetarian option. Another great party food!

Makes ~20 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (use brown rice pasta to make this gluten-free)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar
  • 1/3 cup shredded Swiss & Gruyere blend (you can find this at Trader Joe’s but you can also just use mozzarella)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
  • 1 egg
  • salt/black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Begin by cooking your pasta as directed on the package. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and cook the onions and spinach for about 5-7 minutes so that the onions soften and the spinach is wilted.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain any excess water and add the pasta back into the pot. While the pasta is still hot, quickly add in spinach and onions, ricotta, all cheeses, and egg and stir vigorously to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray and put a heaping spoonful of the pasta mixture into each muffin cup, filling it to the top of each cup. Sprinkle a dash of grated Parmesan on top of each one and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the macaroni is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan.

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Lasagna Cupcakes.

Mini Lasagna Cupcakes with Tomato Basil Meat Sauce.

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A few weeks ago, I threw a little lunch for my friend Brittany who is having a baby next month. Since it was an early, casual lunch I wanted to make a few dishes that weren’t too heavy and also easy to eat. I had seen various posts on Pinterest for mini lasagna cupcakes using wonton wraps so decided to give it a whirl. They turned out really great. They were super delicious and quite adorable, I must say. They make an awesome party food… I will definitely make these again!

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 24 wonton wraps (2 per cupcake)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef, preferably 10% fat or less
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used creamy tomato)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt/black pepper to taste

Begin by cooking the ground beef. Heat a pan on medium-high heat and add the meat. Cook for 10 minutes or so until browned and use a spatula to break up the meat so it doesn’t clump together. Once browned, stir in the tomato sauce and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray. Press a wonton wrap into each muffin cup and then add a small spoonful of ricotta on the bottom. Continue layering with a small spoonful of meat sauce, a pinch of shredded mozzarella and a dash of grated Parmesan. Press a second wonton wrap on top of that, and then repeat the layering process again.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and the wonton wraps are lightly browned.

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Roasted Veggie Chili With Beef & Bacon.

Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili with Roasted Eggplant, Green pepper, Green Beans and Onion.

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With the chilly weather this time of year, this chili is the perfect dish to warm you up! (Cheesy pun intended!) This is a low-carb chili with no beans, although you can always add beans into the mix if you prefer. I bulked up this recipe using lots of yummy roasted veggies. I also jazzed it up with some bacon to add a subtle smokey flavor. I’ll be eating this chili all week and can’t wait! It’s so good and also so good for you!

Makes about 6 cups of chili.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (7% fat)
  • 6 pieces hickory smoked, center cut bacon ( I used Sugardale brand which has a lower fat content than most bacon)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 12 oz fresh green beans, cut into small pieces
  • 1 packet McCormick smoky BBQ chili seasoning
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste

Begin by roasting your veggies. Add them into a large roasting pan and drizzle with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

In a large pot, brown the ground beef on medium/high heat. There’s enough fat in the beef that you shouldn’t have to add any oil to the pot beforehand. Use a spoon or spatula to break up the meat so it doesn’t clump together as it cooks. Once browned, add in the crushed tomatoes and chili seasoning.

Cook the bacon so it’s partially cooked, but not overly crispy. The goal is to get some of that fat out of it. I cooked mine in the microwave on a plate lined with paper towel for 2 minutes. Once the bacon is partially cooked, chop it up and then add it into the beef and tomato mixture. Reduce the heat to simmer and put a lid on the pot.

Once the veggies have completed roasting, add them directly into the pot. Season with a dash of hot sauce and salt/black pepper and stir well to combine all of the ingredients. I topped my chili with a spoonful of light sour cream, but you could also top with tortilla strips or avocado.

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