Crockpot Sesame Chicken

This is such a tasty and easy dinner.  It’s especially tasty when you allow the chicken to marinate over night.

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Ingredients

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of honey (raw, organic if possible)
  • 1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (not pictured)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • Diced scallion (see tip below)
  • Sesame seeds, toasted

Mix all of the above from except for the chicken, scallion and sesame seeds in a crock pot.  Mix well to combine.  Place the chicken in the crockpot and toss to coat.  You can set this to cook right away or place the bowl of the crockpot in the refrigerator, covered, overnight if possible.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1½ – 2 hours.

Serve hot over a bed of Jasmine rice, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and scallion.

I warned you, super easy!!  Enjoy!

Tip:  After buying and using scallion don’t through the rooted ends away.  Place the root end in a small bowl or glass, add water and set them in direct sunlight.  The scallions will begin to grow again in just a matter of days.  Cut them back and use them every two weeks or so and place them right back in the bowl of water.  Periodically rinse and wipe the ends and roots a bit to reduce the sliminess that forms.  Refresh the water as needed.  I love using fresh herbs  This helps to ensure they are always on hand.

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Soup for the Soul

The wife of a friend at work is winning her fight with cancer.  After undergoing major surgery I had the pleasure of putting a care package together for her.  I mentioned my plans to him and he asked if I could bring soup since so many people were helping them with dinners.   Sometimes all you need is a small bowl of warmth to bring you comfort.

When she was first diagnosed and was undergoing her first treatment of chemo I sent a package of homemade English Toffee in hopes to boost her appetite.  This is now one of my favorite go to recipes for a splurge.  It’s always a big hit and it makes a fantastic gift.  Well it seems she enjoyed the first box because it was requested a second time. 🙂  Here is the recipe.  I will try to post pictures the next time I make it.  The only change I made is that I use crushed pecans on top but any nut would be delicious.

Low Fat Tortilla Soup with Shredded Chicken

Serves 4 – 6

This is one of my go to soup recipes.  I change it up a bit each time with the level of spice, a touch of lime and sometimes roasting the vegetables first.  It’s super easy, especially if you cheat time by buying a roasted chicken at the market.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4-6 cups unsalted, fat free, chicken stock
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3-4 cups shredded or chopped, roasted chicken
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • Tortilla chips, avocado, jalapeños, and sour cream to garnish

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PREPARATION

In a stockpot over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil. Stir frequently until tender.

Mix in the salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and cayenne.

Add the all of the contents of the canned tomatoes.  Mix well to combine all of the ingredients.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock and mix well.

Use an immersion blender and carefully puree the soup until its smooth.

Bring to a simmer over medium to medium high heat for about 15 minutes until heated through.

Just before you are ready to serve it add the chicken, corn and black beans and heat through, about 5-8 minutes.  At this point you may want to add a bit more stock to your desired thickness.

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Serve with your choice of tortilla chips, chopped jalapeños, shredded cheese and sour cream.

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This is another favorite and so simple.  When I buy butternut squash I try to buy two, planning to use one.  I peel and chop the second one and put it in the freezer for later.  Sometimes I add apple to this soup and other times I leave it out, it just depends on what I have on hand.  Either way is delicious.  I also opt to roast the squash sometimes as well, it adds a great depth of flavor.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Apple

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4-6 cups Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken broth

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PREPARATION

In a stockpot, over medium heat, sauté onion in butter.  Stir frequently until soft and translucent.

Add a good pinch of salt and mix to combine then add the squash and apple (if using) and mix well to coat the ingredients.

Mix in the nutmeg and pepper.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock and mix well.  Turn the heat to medium high and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Use an immersion blender and carefully puree the soup until its smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add a bit more broth if needed.

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That’s it.  It’s really that simple.

Lightened Up Bolognese

We love pasta, especially a rich, hearty Bolognese.  This recipe packs all of the flavor and everything you would expect from the traditional recipe.  The good news is the fat is trimmed down significantly since this is made with ground turkey instead of beef and skim milk instead of heavy cream.   I have to admit my favorite part is a good dollop of ricotta cheese on top but grated Parmesan cheese is also delicious.

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Lightened Up Bolognese

makes approx 6 servers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Large onion (chopped)
  • 2 Medium carrots (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1lb ground turkey (99% fat free)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 onion powder
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Ricotta cheese or grated Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
  • 1lb pound, pasta (hearty variety to stand up to the meat sauce)

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom pot. Saute the onion and carrot until tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, stirring to coat the vegetables, cook for about a minute.

Add the ground turkey to the pot, season with an additional pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to gently break up the meat, and cook until the meat has cooked through, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up any large chunks.

Add the milk, and bring it to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until the milk has reduced by about half. Stir in the grated nutmeg.

Add the wine and bring it to a steady simmer. Simmer to reduce the liquid slightly.  Add the diced tomato and all of the juice from the can.  Stir thoroughly to incorporate all of the ingredients. Stir in the thyme, oregano, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and additional pinch of salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to very low so that the sauce is at a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too dry as it cooks, add 1/2 cup of water or tomato juice to loosen up the sauce a bit.  Be careful not to add to much as Bolognese is meant to be very hearty. Be sure that all of the additional liquid is fully absorbed before serving.

While the sauce is simmering bring a pot of water (salted) to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Give the sauce one last taste test and season with additional salt, if needed.

Plate the pasta and top sauce.  Add a dollop of ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan and enjoy.

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TIP: Freeze leftover tomato paste in measured portions for future recipes.

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Roasted Vegetable, Chicken and Mozzarella Pasta

The recipe came up because I was craving a cheesy pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes.  Well I didn’t have ricotta cheese which is what I was really in the mood for and I didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes so we improvised and made a similar, yet completely different dish LOL.  It was the closest thing I could come to without going to the market and it came out pretty good.  I used fresh herbs and wine which I keep handy in the freezer and pulled a few ingredients together which I usually have on hand. The recipe made about 4 servings which was perfect since it saved me a night of cooking.  We will call it…

Roasted Vegetable, Chicken and Mozzarella Pasta

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  • 5-6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, diced
  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons plus more for drizzling, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan Pink Salt And Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Spaghetti

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Preheat oven to 450.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chopped tomatoes, diced garlic and shallot.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

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Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.

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While the tomatoes are roasting, wash the chicken and pat dry.  Remove any fat.  Place the chicken on a cutting board.  Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper and dried basil.  Place a piece of waxed paper on top of the chicken.  Using a kitchen mallet pound the chicken until it’s about 1/2 inch thick.  I like to add the seasoning first so the mallet will help it to penetrate the meat.

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This is a good time to start the water for the pasta so it is ready when you need it.  Cook according to package directions.  Before straining the pasta reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.  We use Dreamfields brand pasta in an effort to cut back on carbs.  You would never know it wasn’t any other store bought brand, it’s delicious and cooks just the same.  It doesn’t compare to homemade pasta but it really is good.  I can’t warm up to whole wheat pasta so much.  I just wish they would make shells and lasagna noodles to we could use it for all of our pasta feasts.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side until cooked through, a total of 8-10 minutes.

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Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to rest.  Cover to keep warm.

Add the wine to de-glaze the pan.

To the pan add the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and roasted tomatoes and shallots and toss carefully.  Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped basil and parsley.  Carefully fold in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Now that the chicken has rested, slice it for serving.

Plate the pasta and top with chicken.  Sprinkle with a bit more freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Romantic Dinner for Two

My husband and I enjoy going out for dinner quite often.  Although since moving to MA it’s been a little less frequent.  It’s probably a combination of there being fewer restaurants really close by and having a kitchen now that we can really spread out in.  It makes it so easier to cook.  Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day really isn’t our idea of romance though – the crowds, the wait, the need to make reservations a month in advance, fixed menus…no thanks.  So while Erik was busy at work I decided to bring the restaurant to us.  I moved a table into our family room next the fireplace, added some candles, music and spent the day cooking a delicious meal.  A warm, cozy, quiet night at home with my love while the snow fell outside – utter perfection…until morning when it was time to shovel.

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THE MENU

SPINACH SALAD WITH APPLES AND PECANS SERVED WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

Baby spinach topped with thinly sliced apples, pomegranate arils, a touch of cranberry and pecans.  The salad is drizzled with a fresh balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

FILET MIGNON WITH GORGONZOLA SAUCE AND PORT WINE REDUCTION

Perfectly seared Filet Mignon served atop a slightly sweet port wine reduction and topped with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce.  Accompanied by Potato Stacks baked to perfection with a touch of Parmesan and fresh rosemary.

FRESHLY BAKED POPOVERS ON THE SIDE

A delicate interior surrounded by a crisp crust with a hint of Parmesan.

BAILEY’S AND BROWNIE TRIFLES

The meal is finished with a layered trifle of perfection.  Gooey chocolate brownie nestled between homemade chocolate and Bailey’s Irish Cream puddings.  A touch of crunch with sliced almonds and topped with fresh whipped cream.


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Recipes and Instructions 

FRESH POPOVERS
Recipe adapted from Neiman Marcus Cookbook
Makes 6

  • 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°F

Place the milk in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch.

Add the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Turn down the mixer to low, add the warm milk. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Fold in the cheese. Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Spray a popover pan with nonstick spray. Fill the cups almost to the top. Place the popover pan on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven down to 375°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the popovers are a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside.


SPINACH SALAD WITH APPLES AND PECANS SERVED WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

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This is a super easy salad and was inspired by variety of salads that I love.  It was a last minute decision so I pulled it together with ingredients that I always have on hand.  The dressing is my go to.  I am pushing further and further way from store bought dressing, except for Ranch, that is something I will leave to the pro’s.

SALAD

  • 1 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 Braeburn or Gala Apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pecan, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • Fresh, Shaved Parmesan cheese

DRESSING

  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

To make the vinaigrette, add all of the dressing ingredients, except the oil, to a blender.  Blend until combined.  While the blender is running carefully remove the cap from the lid.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil and continue to blend for 1-2 minutes.  The mustard will help to pull the vinegar and oil together so the dressing will become emulsified.  There is far more dressing here than needed but the great thing is that since its’ emulsified it will stay together in the fridge and wont separate.  You can keep this in the fridge and enjoy it for up to a week.

To serve, place spinach on a plate, top with apple, pecans, pomegranate arils, cranberries.  Drizzle with dressing and shave fresh Parmesan cheese over it. Serve immediately.


FILET MIGNON WITH GORGONZOLA SAUCE AND PORT WINE REDUCTION

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FILET MIGNON

  • 2 – 1 inch thick filet, trimmed of fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tablespoon Old Bay
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, plus more for sprinkling

To prepare the filet:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. Allow the meat to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Heat an oven safe sauté pan over high heat until the pan is very hot, about 2 minutes.

While the pan is heating Combine the horseradish, black pepper, garlic, and salt in a small mixing bowl and set it aside.

Sear the meat until evenly browned on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat.

Rub all sides of the meat with the mustard.

Using the back of a spoon, or your hands press the horseradish mixture over the mustard on the top and sides of the filet.  At this point I inserted the probe of my instant thermometer into the center of one of the filets.

Transfer the sauté pan to the oven and roast the filet until it reaches desired doneness – rare (120 to 125 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer) and about 35 minutes for medium-rare (130 to 140 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer).

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes


PORT WINE REDUCTION

  • 1/4 cup(s) chopped shallots
  • 1 medium chopped carrot
  • 1 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup mixed herbs, parsley, rosemary, thyme

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Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Simmer on medium to medium high for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to about half of the amount.  At this point you will have far more vegetables than broth.  Strain the broth into a bowl through a metal sieve or cheesecloth. Set aside, this can be served at room temperature.


GORGONZOLA CREAM SAUCE

This can be prepared while the meat is resting…

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half and half
  • 1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the milk and cream to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until it has reduced to half of the amount, about 5-7 minutes.  Whisk in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.

To plate: Drizzle a bit of the port reduction on a plate, top with steak and drizzle some cream sauce on top.


RED BABY POTATO STACKS WITH PARMESAN AND ROSEMARY 

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • Himalayan pink salt and pepper
  • About 10 ounces (in weight) baby red potatoes, thinly sliced

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 4 large muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl whisk together butter, oil, Parmesan, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Add potatoes and toss to coat.

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Layer the potatoes slices in a spiral pattern so they hold their form.  Fill them to the top since they will shrink.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the edges and tops are browned and center is tender.

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Remove from the oven and use a spoon to carefully remove them from the pan.  Transfer directly to the plate and enjoy right away.

Note: These would be just as delicious with Yukon Gold and your favorite variety of potato.


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BAILEY’S AND BROWNIE TRIFLES

Serves 4 (in 8-10 oz glasses)

CHOCOLATE PUDDING

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent)

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In a medium bowl add butter, vanilla, and chocolate and set aside.

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In a medium saucepan add sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Add egg yolk and whisk until combined, it will have a crumbly texture. Slowly whisk in the milk and mix until combined.

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Place the saucepan over medium heat whisking constantly to prevent it from burning. Cook until bubbles form around the edge.  Continue to whisk over the heat for another 1-2 minutes. Immediately pour the pudding mixture over the butter and chocolate.  Whisk until combined and cooled slightly. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 3 hours.


FRENCH VANILLA & BAILEY’S PUDDING

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 nib (50 mil) or 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

In a medium bowl add butter, vanilla, vanilla bean paste if using and Baileys.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch.  Add the egg yolks and continue whisking into a paste.  Slowly add the milk and whisk to combine.   Gently stir over medium heat until bubbling.  Once the mixture starts bubbling, continue to cook and whisk for 2-3 more minutes, whisking constantly.   Pour over the butter & vanilla mixture and whisk until combined.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Just for the record, I could eat the entire bowl of this pudding!  Seriously, it is that good! The vanilla bean paste puts it over the edge and that Bailey’s – my, oh my! I didn’t want to buy an entire bottle of Bailey’s because it would, well, it should, take us forever to go through.  I wanted the creamy flavor though.  I figured it was safer to buy a nib, a term I recently learned.  It was the perfect amount.  I found Vanilla-Cinnamon Bailey’s, it was delicious! Any of the flavors would be just as yummy.

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So for the brownie layer there is really only one cup of brownie crumbs needed.  Since I already had all of the ingredients I decided to make a full batch of one of my favorite brownie recipes. I trust they won’t go to waste.  The link for the recipe is below.  The site includes some great tips and thoughts on the preparation.  I use dark chocolate versus milk chocolate but other than that I followed the directions fully.

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ULTIMATE BROWNIES

  • 1 cup dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch or 7×11 inch baking pan with parchment paper allowing the paper to hang over the sides.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Add a couple of inches of water to a pan and place a heat safe glass bowl over the pan to create a double boiler.  Be sure the water is not high enough to reach the bottom of the bowl.  Add the chocolate, butter and unsweetened chocolate to the bowl and bring the water to a simmer.  Stir occasionally, until melted and combined well.  Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit.

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In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and salt, folding gently until combined.

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Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake until a tester comes out with moist crumbs still attached, 35 to 40. Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes.  Carefully remove by lifting the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies (parchment still attached) to a cooking rack.  Cool completely

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Tip:  To “chop” the unsweetened chocolate I actually put it in a heavy duty ziplock bag and I used a kitchen mallet to break it into small pieces.  I find this so much easier than trying to cut it with a knife, less cleanup too.  Don’t close the bag all of the way.  Simply place your hand over the opening of the bag, allowing the air to escape as you pound away. Use caution depending on the type of counter top you have.  I use this trick a lot for chopped nuts too.  There could be some sharp edges on the chocolate that could tear the bag.  Keep this in mind when picking it up so you can avoid a mess.  Yup, I learned this the hard way.

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http://www.handletheheat.com/ultimate-brownies/

Brownie and Almond Layer:

  • 1 cup of crushed brownie crumb
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Assembly:

  1. Add both chocolate and vanilla pudding to separate pastry bags or large ziplock bags.
  2. Snip the corner of each bag.
  3. Pipe a chocolate layer onto bottom of glass
  4. Sprinkle crushed brownie and sliced roasted almonds on top of chocolate layer
  5. Pipe vanilla pudding on top
  6. Continue layering by repeating steps 3-5
  7. Top with whipped cream and a few brownie crumbs

This is a decadent yet light dessert, the perfect ending to a perfect meal for two.  This could be served in a high ball or wine glass for a fancy presentation.  The pudding recipes make enough for four servings.  Prepare all now or leave the extra pudding aside to enjoy on its own tomorrow.

Oh Look!  It’s Snowing!…AGAIN!!!!!  NO!!

Well after we dug ourselves and a neighbor out of the snow yet again we needed some yummy comfort food.  I am always looking for ways to lighten up what we feel is true comfort food.  We hardly ever eat red meat but every so often I get a craving for it.  I decided to mix up a low fat, flavorful meatloaf, reduced fat mashed potatoes and sweet carrots.  I know the carrots are not exactly “light” but since I am working to get my husband acclimated to veggies adding sugar or pureeing them are the only way to sell them.  The good news is that I used coconut oil instead of butter.  This turned out to be a pretty tasty meal, he actually went back for seconds which rarely happens…wait, does that mean he doesn’t like my cooking? LOL…nah!

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Fit and Trim Meat loaf

  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup canned, diced tomato’s
  • 1/4 cup egg white, or the white of one egg
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 Old Bay seasoning
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons dijon mustard

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Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine the beef with everything up to and including Old Bay seasoning. Mix gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and gently fold to combine (do not overmix).

Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet, patting it into a loaf shape with your hands.

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Topping: In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Spread over the meatloaf using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly.

Bake the meat loaf for about 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165°F. I actually turn it to broil for the last 5 minutes or so to get a nice crust.  Let it sit for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Skinny Horseradish and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt crystals (kosher salt works too)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried bayleaf
  • 3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup skim milk, heated
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons horseradish (depending on how strong you prefer)

Put the chopped potato’s in a medium sauce pan.  Add enough water to fully cover the potatoes.  Sprinkle the salt crystals over the potatoes, add the bayleaf and whole garlic cloves.  Bring to a low bowl for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Strain the potato’s in a colander, discard the bayleaf and return them to the pan.  Mash them a bit to release some of the steam.   Add the cream cheese, warm milk, salt, pepper, garlic and onion.  Mash well to combine and get rid of any lumps.  Add additional milk if needed.  Add the horseradish and stir to combine.

Tips:

  • Potatoes are fragile once they start to cook.  They should be boiled on a low boil, not a rough rumble like pasta.
  • Adding a dried bayleaf to the water when boiling adds a subtle earthly flavor to the potato.

Sweet Carrots

  • 4-5 fresh carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • Himalayan pink salt and pepper to taste

Bring the carrots to a boil and cook until they are just tender.  Once cooked, strain.  Put the coconut oil in the hot pot and allow it to sit for a moment.  The pan will melt the coconut oil a bit.  Add the sugar and carrots and toss to coat.  The heat of the carrots will melt the coconut oil through.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquitos with Homemade Tortilla’s

Round One of our Superbowl Feast!

These are very tasty and can be altered to suit your tolerance for heat.  Adding fresh herbs will really enhance the flavor.  Mixing in some blue cheese is a nice touch as well.  This recipe is a party favorite for us and great because they can be made in advance and baked just before serving.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquito’s

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 Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3  to 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 4 drops Louisiana Hot Sauce (we like heat so I added about 8 drops)
  • 2 cups roasted chicken (shredded or diced)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 8 small tortillas (homemade recipe below)
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, buffalo sauce, hot sauce and shredded cheese.
  • Once combined, add the chicken.  Using a fork mash the chicken into the cheese and mix thoroughly.

(This can be done in advance.  Refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)

  • Working with a few tortillas at a time, slightly dampen a paper towel and cover the tortilla and wrap them slightly with the paper towel.
  • Microwave, uncovered for 15-25 seconds (start with 15) or until warm, then cover to hold heat while serving.
  • Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.
  • Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. This mixture is enough for 8 taquitos.
  • Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other on the pan. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or blue cheese dressing.

Tortilla’s

FJC9NAs I have mentioned I feel strongly that if there is a healthier option there is no going back.  While there are certainly items in the grocery store that I buy which are processed I do my best to go all natural whenever possible.  When I am buying something pre-packaged I look at the list of ingredients.  Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more chemicals.  Since we are what we eat I would prefer to reduce chemical intake as much as possible.  That said, below is the list of ingredients in store bought flour tortillas.

La Banderita Soft Flour Tortillas

  • Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin and Folic Acid),
  • Water
  • Vegetable Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils or Palm Oil or Corn Oil),
  • contains 2% or less of the following:
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Distilled Mono and Diglycerides
  • Calcium Propionate
  • Sorbic Acid
  • Gum Blend
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Sugar
  • Dough Relaxer (Sodium Metabisulfite, Corn Starch, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Dicalcium Phosphate).

And below is the list of ingredients you will need for wholesome, homemade tortillas… you will taste a difference and will hopefully appreciate the lack of chemicals.  I won’t buy them in the supermarket anymore.

Homemade Tortilla’s

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Directions:

This is best made in a stand mixer with a dough hook.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl.  With the mixer running on low add the oil and water.  Scrape the bowl and increase the speed to medium.  Mix until the dough comes together and begins to form a ball. Continue to mix for 1 minute or until dough is smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for just a minute until it is smooth. Form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Continue until you have 8 equal portions. Form each piece into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover flattened dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.

After rest period, heat a griddle to medium high. While the griddle is heating roll each flattened ball into a rough circle, as thin as possible, about 6-7 inches in diameter.  It’s ok if they are not perfectly round.  If you prefer that they are round you could use a large round cookie cutter after the ball has been rolled out.  Keep the work surface and rolling pin lightly floured. Don’t stack uncooked tortillas on top of each other or they will stick to each other.

When pan is hot, lightly spray with cooking spray and place the dough onto pan.  Allow it to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots. (My griddle is large enough to fit 2-3 tortilla’s at a time.  You could also use a large stove-top skillet.)

The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles. Flip to other side and cook for about 30 seconds. The tortilla should be soft but have a few small pale golden brown spots on surface.  Remove each from the pan and stack them on a plate and cover with foil, adding to the stack as you cook the remaining dough.

Since there are no chemicals in the dough to keep them pliable it’s likely they will harden quite fast.  If they are too crisp when you are ready to use them place a slightly damp paper towel over the tortilla and wrap them lightly around the edges.  Microwave, uncovered for 15-25 seconds (start with 15) or until warm, then cover to hold heat while serving.

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These will keep for 24 hours.  Store in an airtight container or zip-lock bag.