Quinoa is one of those things that I just love. It’s gluten free and packed with nutrients, so I really like to mix up my normal routine and have it as the base of different dishes. These stuffed peppers are a fabulous little snack, side dish or appetizer. It’s a little more work because of all the chopping (especially all those little peppers), but it’s totally worth it. If I don’t already have quinoa made up, I’ll chop all of the veggies and do all the prep while the quinoa is cooking. While the recipe calls for cocktail tomatoes (also called Campari, they’re typically the “tomatoes on the vine” you find), you can use Roma tomatoes, instead. I wouldn’t recommend grape or cherry tomatoes, since they don’t chop up into small pieces as easily. Also, you have to remember that the mini peppers you’re using are tiny – so chop small. I ran into that problem, and had to do a little more chopping. You can also take a couple of the peppers and chop them into the quinoa mixture (like I did). These peppers are great to take to a potluck or have at a party. They’re small, tasty and easy to handle. I love these little peppers, they’re pretty and delicious! [Read more…]
With the chilly weather finally in full force here in SoCal (and by chilly, I mean 60 degrees), I’ve been ALL about the soups. I find that they are a great way to use up extra veggies before they go bad. So last week, when I found a head of cauliflower in my vegetable drawer that i had forgotten to roast as a side dish one evening, I decided to use it in a quick, easy, and very light Cauliflower Soup Recipe. There are many ways to make cauliflower soup….but this is one of the easiest and fastest. If you want to add an extra flavor boost, try roasting the cauliflower and garlic before adding to the pot! Sooooo good. At just 4 Smart Points, this simple soup makes a great side dish for a chilly day.
I’m not sure about everyone else’s house, but we almost always seem to have bananas that are getting overripe. As a result, I’m frequently making something that requires overripe bananas. Well, to be perfectly honest, I frequently make things like banana bread, but I also usually have a half a dozen bananas in the freezer. If your bananas are getting ripe, and you don’t have time to make something, just stick them in the freezer. Those bananas are perfect for making this banana bread. The number of bananas, along with the way that the liquid is reserved and then reduced from the bananas adds to the rich banana flavor and also the incredibly moist texture of this banana bread. I typically cover the banana bread with foil about half way through cooking. This helps the center cook without the top getting too brown. Really, this is a fabulous recipe. If you’re not a fan of chocolate (like my husband), just use walnuts instead of chocolate chips. I love this for breakfast and quick snacks – it’s so moist and delicious.
Quick and easy snacks are my favorite. Anytime that I can have a healthy snack ready in less than 5 minutes, I’m happy. We’ve still got quite a few apples left from my in-laws, so these apple slices with delicious toppings are perfect. The thing I like about these apple slices (other than the fact they look beautiful) is that my toppings are more controlled. When I just slice an apple and remove the cores, then dip it in peanut butter, I tend to eat a lot more peanut butter than if I spread it on the apple ring like this. I also use powdered peanut butter that I reconstitute. It’s so much lower in fat that it’s worth it for me. That means I can add a few chocolate chips, raisins, or any other topping I like without going overboard for this. The amount of protein and fiber helps to make this snack something that will last longer than just 20 minutes. These are simple, delicious, beautiful and nutritious.
I love fresh fruit, but I really like fresh fruit with a yogurt dip. The first dip that I made was quite a few years ago and it was half cream cheese and half marshmallow crème. Don’t get me wrong – it tasted great, but the next weekend we had a friend come to visit who has diabetes. It meant that the recipe got it’s first makeover. It became half cream cheese and half yogurt with a little vanilla and honey to taste. It’s still just as good but it’s not nearly as unhealthy. This one is just slightly different. I skipped the cream cheese and used a little peanut butter instead. It’s perfect for things like bananas and apples that go so well with peanut butter to begin with. You can also switch out the peanut butter for almond butter or sun butter if you need to – it’s just as good. A lot depends on the yogurt. I have a favorite honey vanilla yogurt that I use and then I don’t bother adding more vanilla and honey. If I’ve got it handy, I’ll use powdered peanut butter (just reconstitute it first). It cuts the fat down, but still gives you protein and flavor. It’s a great snack – for adults and kids. And it’s something the kids can help to make before chowing down.
I’m someone who is pretty indifferent to seafood. I typically don’t really like seafood – it’s a texture thing. But with the right shrimp, and the right recipe, I’ll go for it. Chili lime is a great combination, and with a bit of ginger and some white wine, I couldn’t resist. The trick was cooking the shrimp a bit before, then making the sauce and finishing them in the sauce. That way the sauce has time to cook down and really meld the flavors together without overcooking the shrimp. Then I just added the shrimp back in and cooked for a couple more minutes, until they were done. I threaded mine on skewers to make it easier to work with. If you’ve got a big enough skillet, that’s an easy way to get all those shrimp to go in and get flipped during cooking without overcrowding or overcooking. It’s also a great way to serve them, since they look beautiful on the skewers. Serve these shrimp with some cilantro rice and a side salad, and it’s a delicious meal that’s low in carbs, high in protein and just plain tasty!
Wendy’s on a one dish kick right now (who can blame her, nobody likes dishes, and these are fabulous recipes), and I’m back to finding new recipes to use ripe bananas for. Since bananas are only eaten fresh in our house if they’re still green, sometimes we have an overabundance of bananas to use. These muffins hit the spot. It’s a very simple recipe, all you need is a blender or food processor to mix it in, and you’re ready to go. It doesn’t even require flour since it uses oats that are ground up while you’re mixing up the batter. The yogurt gives it protein and a delicious richness. These muffins are seriously fabulous. I’m going to have a hard time eating just one, I think my husband might have to hide the rest!
Next to grilling, I like baking chicken the best. It’s a great way to keep it moist and tender, not to mention easy. I like having my main dish baking, since I can get the rest of dinner finished while my main dish is baking. This honey Dijon chicken is fabulous. The glaze is just enough to give some flavor to the chicken and it helps to keep the juices in the breasts while baking them. The red pepper flakes are really optional, but add a delicious spice to the chicken. It’s a great main dish to serve with a side of brown rice pilaf filled with vegetables. If you’re not a big fan of spicy foods, just leave the red pepper flakes out, or use less. It’ll still be delicious, but it won’t be spicy. You can also grill the chicken, just spread the glaze on chicken once it’s been grilled. We’ll sometimes grill extra chicken breast, just to have it on hand (and because grill marks on chicken are pretty to photograph). Then all I have to do is add the glaze and pop it in the oven, covered, until it’s hot through. It’s a great way to have lean protein on hand that I can just chop up and add to a salad for lunch. This delicious chicken breast is perfect for a weeknight, since it takes less than 30 minutes to have tender, juicy and flavorful chicken ready to eat.
My husband and I recently went tuna fishing with his parents. It wasn’t the best fishing trip. I don’t have the patience for fishing (it’s so boring), and the seas were a bit rough, so half of us got seasick. We also didn’t catch anything. What it did do, was give me the desire to have some grilled tuna. The first recipe I wanted to try was this one with mango salsa. Fish and fruit go well together since the fish is usually mild and the sweet and juicy fruit sets it off nicely. This is really wonderful and so simple to make. Just make sure you don’t over cook the tuna. It’s easy to do, and it’ll turn out really dry. The center of the tuna should be a little pink still. Give this tuna and mango salsa a try. It’s perfect for a date night with your significant other – add some grilled vegetables and you’ve got an elegant and delicious meal.
Fall is officially in full swing, and like everyone else, I’m on a pumpkin craze. There are SO many amazing pumpkin flavored goodies and treats available right now, it’s insane! In addition to trying out some tasty looking products I find at the store, I’ve also been in the kitchen whipping up some homemade, healthy pumpkin recipes too. Though it’s been over 100 degrees here this week (boo for California in the fall!), I’ve been working on a Pumpkin Cornbread Recipe that I hope you love as much as I do! Moist, delicious, slightly sweet cornbread that bakes up light and tender boasting a traditional corn flavor, but with a hint of pumpkin and spice. Goes AMAZINGLY well with chili or soup, and if you want to spend the extra points, is best when topped with hot butter. So get on the pumpkin craze bandwagon and give my Pumpkin Cornbread recipe a try this fall. Each serving is just 4 Points Plus!
Cheesecake is a classic in our house. It’s one of my husband’s favorite desserts. In fact, we had cheesecake at our wedding. It’s not something that I make all that often, however, because the two of us have to eat the whole thing. While I don’t mind eating the whole thing, it’s not good for either of us. The answer is these delicious mini cheesecakes. I use foil muffin cups and don’t even bother with a muffin pan. Then, we keep a couple out for dessert and freeze the rest. Simple defrost them in the fridge (or pop them in the microwave for a few seconds) and add your favorite topping. While these ones have blueberry topping, you can have plain cheesecake, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, caramel apple…the list is endless. If you don’t want to make all of that topping, just make the cheesecakes and then top with a dollop of your favorite jam before you eat it. These are really easy to make and really delicious. The individual portion sizes makes it easy to get enough to satisfy without going overboard.
Shrimp scampi is a popular restaurant dish. It’s made with garlic and oil or butter then broiled. It’s delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also pretty unhealthy. Anything broiled in butter, doesn’t exactly lend itself to being healthy. However, this garlic herb shrimp is a perfect substitute. It’s delicious and full of flavor, but without the broiling in butter – you’ll love it. I usually saute the shrimp in a skillet, but you can also grill the shrimp. If you’re pining for some pasta to go along with your garlic herb shrimp, add zucchini noodles to it. It’s simple and delicious.