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Spinach, Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip.

Reduced-Fat Spinach, Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato DIp.

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Who doesn’t love spinach and artichoke dip? This dip is a nice little twist on a traditional spinach and artichoke dip. It’s made with mostly reduced-fat ingredients and jazzed up with sun-dried tomatoes.  It’s a great appetizer for a dinner party or get-together. I served it with reduced-fat tortilla chips, but you would also eat it with veggies, pita or crackers. It’s creamy, cheesy and super delish!

Serves 8-10.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil, oil drained)
  • 1 14-oz can quartered artichokes
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping)
  • 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese (plus extra for topping)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • generous dash of salt

Line the bottom of a large mixing bowl with two layers of paper towel and place the thawed frozen spinach onto the center of the paper towel. Roll the paper towel over the spinach and squeeze any excess liquid out from the spinach. Dispose of the liquid and place the spinach back into the large bowl. ln the food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes and pulse 3-4 times to do a rough chop. Combine this with the spinach and add in the sour cream, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and Romano cheese. Season with the garlic/onion powder, black pepper and salt and mix well to combine the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with a handful of the shredded Parmesan and grated Romano. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour, until browned and bubbly.

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Crisp Apple & Parmesan Kale Salad.

Kale Salad With Green Apples, Parmesan Cheese, Sunflower Seeds & Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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I love kale and how versatile it is. It’s great raw or cooked and compliments a wide variety of flavors. This kale salad is a great combination of sweet, salty, tangy and crunchy. It makes a great lunch, dinner or side dish. It takes only minutes to make and it also keeps well if you have leftovers.

Serves 2-3.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 granny smith apple, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted & salted
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated cheese for topping (I used Rahmkase cheese but you could use sharp cheddar, Manchego or any other type you prefer)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt/black pepper

In a large bowl, mix the chopped kale with the sliced apples, half of the sunflower seeds, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine. Top the salad with the other half of the sunflower seeds and your choice freshly grated cheese (as much or as little cheese as you’d like.)

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Mustard & Maple Syrup Chicken.

Dijon Mustard & Maple Syrup Chicken.

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I found this recipe on Pinterest and felt it was important that I make this chicken which is referred to as “The World’s Best Chicken.” This chicken makes a great weeknight dinner – it’s super fast and easy to make. I followed the recipe as directed but used two large chicken breasts instead of four and skipped the rosemary because I’m not a big fan. The chicken was really tasty and flavorful. The maple syrup balances out the Dijon mustard and adds a subtle sweetness to the dish. Big fan of this recipe, we will definitely be having it again soon!

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New & Improved Baked “Fried” Pickles.

New & Improved Gluten-Free, Baked “Fried” Pickles With Low-Fat Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

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I had friends over to our new house this past weekend and I wanted to make more of my baked “fried” pickles for everybody to try. I made a few small tweaks to the original recipe that I posted a few weeks back and these small changes made a huge difference! These pickles are even crunchier and even tastier than the others! I served them with an herbed, low-fat buttermilk ranch dressing which went perfectly with the pickles. These were a BIG hit with my friends. They were eaten up very quickly, which is always a good sign!

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

Baked “Fried” Pickles

  • 2 cups dill pickle hamburger slices (ovals if you can find them)
  • 1 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup Glutino brand gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of garlic salt

Low-Fat Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (adapted from this recipe on skinnytaste.com)

  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 3 tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • generous dash of salt
  • dash of black pepper

Drain the dill pickles and use a paper towel to dab off any excess liquid. In a bowl, combine the corn meal, gluten-free bread crumbs, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix the ingredients up with a fork.  In a small bowl, whisk your eggs. Take half of the pickles and dip them into the eggs, then place them into the breading mixture, coating both sides. Put the breaded pickles on a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remainder of the pickles.

Coat a large non-stick baking sheet with 4-5 tbsp of olive oil (enough so that the whole pan has a generous coating) and put the baking sheet into a 400 degree oven for about 3-4 minutes to heat the oil. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and line up the pickles evenly on the sheet. Season with a light dash of garlic salt. Put the baking sheet back into the oven. After 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and flip the pickles to cook the other side for an additional 15 minutes. If the pickles seem a bit dry, you can always add a little bit more olive oil to the pan.

While the pickles are in the oven, mix together the low-fat sour cream, reduced-fat mayonnaise, buttermilk, dill, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, pepper and salt and mix well.

When the pickles come out of the oven, serve them with the herbed ranch dressing.

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Stewed Orka & Cheesy Quinoa.

Stewed Okra With Tomatoes & Pancetta Served With Cheesy Pecorino Romano Quinoa.

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Our first week in Charlotte, we took a trip to the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market. I saw some fresh okra, and as a new resident of the South I felt like I had to get it. Honestly, I had no idea what to do with it, so I just sort of threw this together and kept my fingers crossed. Somehow, it turned out really delicious! Okra is definitely a new favorite in our household.

Serves 4-5.

Stewed Okra With Tomatoes & Pancetta

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sliced okra
  • 1 can (28 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz. diced pancetta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • hot red pepper flakes
  • garlic salt

In a large pan on the stove, heat the olive oil and add in the pancetta. Stir it around for about 3 minutes, then adding in the okra. Cook for about 5-7 more minutes on medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to low and pour in the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan.  Then add in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Season with a dash of garlic salt and a dash of hot red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours.

Cheesy Pecorino Romano Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter, margarine or butter substitute (I used Earth Balance butter spread)
  • salt
  • black pepper

In a medium pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the quinoa and reduce the heat to low. Put the lid on and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Stir every now and then just to ensure the quinoa isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. After the quinoa is cooked, stir in the butter, the Pecorino Romano cheese and season with a generous dash of salt and black pepper. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and melt the cheese.

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Pickle Hummus.

Cornichon & Basil Hummus.

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I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of this, but I’m certainly glad I finally did. This hummus is filled with delicious pickle flavor by blending cornichons into the garbanzo beans. Cornichon is the French word for gherkin. French style cornichons are much smaller than normal pickles and have a more tart, vinegar taste to them compared to regular dill pickles. The basil adds a nice earthiness to the hummus that balances out the tangy flavor of the cornichons. I served it up with some tortilla chips but you could eat the hummus with pita, veggies or whatever your heart desires!

Makes ~3 cups of hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 2 16-oz cans of garbanzo beans (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup cornichons (You can find at most grocery stores, I found at Trader Joe’s)
  • small handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • black pepper
  • garlic salt

In the food processor, add 1 can of garbanzo beans and blend. Once smooth, add in the second can. If the mixture gets too thick, you can always add in a little water to thin it out. Once the garbanzo beans are smooth, add in the cornichons, basil, olive oil and a dash of garlic salt and black pepper. Blend again until completely smooth. Serve with some chopped basil over top.

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Creamy Mushroom & Broccoli Spaghetti Casserole.

Baked Brown Rice Spaghetti With Campbell’s Soup, Broccoli, Mushrooms & Smoked Gouda Cheese.

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This spaghetti casserole is the perfect comfort food. The dish is warm and creamy and the Gouda adds an extra burst of smokiness that brings out all the different components of the casserole. It’s perfect for a chilly fall evening!

Serves ~5.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. brown rice spaghetti (or whole wheat spaghetti)
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed cream of broccoli soup
  • 1 1/2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/black pepper

In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium/high heat and add in the broccoli and mushrooms. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, until the broccoli and mushrooms have softened, and then stir in both cans of the condensed soup. Season with a dash of salt and black pepper.

In a large pot, cook the spaghetti as directed on the box and drain all excess water. Put the drained spaghetti back into the large pan and then pour the broccoli and mushroom mixture into the pot with the spaghetti, stirring well to combine all of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with the smoked Gouda cheese. bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the Gouda has melted.

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