September 30, 2012

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Can't bear to start your oven on a hot summer day, but you are really craving cookies? Don't have a lot of time nor do you want much of a mess to clean up? Then these are the perfect cookies for you.  They are richly chocolaty with a great peanut butter taste, not to mention super easy to make. Enjoy!

3 T butter 
1/4 cup soy milk (or milk of choice)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips 
1/4 cup peanut butter (I prefer all-natural peanut butter)
1 1/4 cups old fashioned or quick-cooking oats (not instant)
2 TBS oat bran

Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly (you don't want to fully melt the chocolate chips). Add the sugar, cocoa and milk and stir well. Stir in the chocolate chips, the oats and oat bran. Stir until thoroughly combined.

With wet hands or a mini ice cream scoop, place little balls of the mixture on a wax paper lined plate or pan. Refrigerate for thirty minutes or until hard.

Makes about 18 large (TBS-size) cookies. 

Adapted from:

September 28, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

These burgers are full of flavor and oh, so healthy (not to mention easy and inexpensive). Even my husband, the Mid-West raised, meat and potatoes guy, enjoyed these. I served them along with chipotle sweet potato fries and a side salad. Enjoy!

1 TBS cooking oil, such as canola
2 1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1 large scallion, finely chopped
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 ground chipotle (recommend Penzey's)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white (or 3 TBS milk of choice - soy, almond, etc.)

For Serving
Mango Chutney
Avocado, sliced
Whole-Wheat Buns

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.

Place black beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher or pastry blender. Stir in the cilantro and the next 9 ingredients (through egg white). Shape bean mixture into 3 to 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Cook patties in the hot skillet for about 20 minutes, carefully turning once.

Serve burgers on whole-wheat buns with lettuce, a large dollop of mango chutney and a slice of avocado. 

September 26, 2012

Raw Chocolate Coconut Brownies

OK, so I really enjoyed the raw other raw brownies that I recently blogged about so I tried another version. This recipe, as stated, yielded brownies that were a bit drier and not as chocolately as the other recipe, though I love the addition of the coconut. Therefore, I have noted a few recommended changes to really make these brownies yummy.

1/2 cup raw almonds and/or walnuts (I used a combination)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted (bump this up to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup cacao (bump this up to 1/3 to 1/2 depending on how chocolately you want them)
1/4 tsp salt

Place nuts in a food processor and blend on high until they are finely ground. Add the coconut, cacao and salt. Pulse to combine. 

Add the dates one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it is running. You should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together. 

Press the mixture into a lined cake pan or mold. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container. 

Original recipe:

September 24, 2012

Tempeh Vegetable Stir-Fry (Vegan)

Super healthy and quick, this stir-fry is great for Meatless Mondays. If you like some heat to your stir-fry, add some chopped jalapeno peppers or a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Enjoy!

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
4 teaspoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup (1/8-inch-thick) diagonally sliced carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 3 ounces)
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup (1-inch) sliced green onions
Cooked brown or jasmine rice for serving

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. 

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Add tempeh; stir-fry 3 minutes or until light brown. Add broccoli, carrot, and bell pepper; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute. 

Stir soy sauce mixture into tempeh mixture; bring to a boil. Stir in sprouts and green onions. Serve over cooked rice. 

Serves 4. 

Original recipe from:

September 22, 2012

Raw Brownies (vegan, wheat-free)

As this was my first attempt at making a raw, vegan, wheat-free brownie I was a bit hesitant. However, these brownies are amazing!  Sweet, salty, and chocolaty...oh, and healthy too;-)  Enjoy! 

2 cups whole walnuts
2 ½ cups Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cacao (do not use regular cocoa powder)
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
¼ tsp. sea salt

Place walnuts in food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground.

Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine. 

Add the dates one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it is running. What you should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together (if the mixture does not hold together well, add more dates). 

In a large bowl (or the pan you plan on putting the brownies in), combine the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds (optional). Press into a lined cake pan or mold. Place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve (it is easier to cut these when they are cold). Store in an airtight container. 

Recipe from: and shared with me by

September 20, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes, Squash and Potatoes

Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their full flavor. If you are looking for a way to get more vegetable into your diet (or into your kids;-) I highly recommend this recipe. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (you can use zucchini if preferred)
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried thyme 
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil over medium and cook onion and garlic until tender and lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Arrange the onion on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with oil or cooking spray. Overlap tomato, squash, and potato on top of the onion. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with thyme and Parmesan (optional), and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 30-40 minutes more.

Serves 4. 

Adapted from:

September 18, 2012

Pork Piccata

I really like the combination of lemon juice and capers - salty and tangy. Enjoy!

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 lbs. pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/4-inch thick patties (or thin-cut pork chops)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons drained capers

Combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Place the pork in the bag and shake until well-coated.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook the pork until it is browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate. Add the garlic to the same skillet cooking for 2-3 minutes (until just starting to turn golden), then add the wine and cook 4-5 minutes or until the wine is reduced by about half.

Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, capers, and remaining salt and pepper to the wine and cook until the mixture has reduced slightly, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Return the pork to the skillet and heat until the sauce thickens and the meat is cooked to medium doneness, about 3 minutes.

September 16, 2012

Barbecue Chicken Pasta

Yummmmm! I love this pasta dish, it is spicy, creamy, and cheesy (what's not to love?). It is also super easy and quick to whip up. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do ;-)

6 oz dry whole wheat fusilli pasta 
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut up into 1" chunks
1 1/2 TBS Penzey's BBQ 3000 
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
minced cilantro for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Set noodles and reserved water aside.

Sprinkle 1 TBS tsp barbecue seasoning over sliced chicken breast. Toss well to coat.Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until done, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Add the strips of bell pepper to the pan and saute briefly for about 1 minute. Remove and place on the plate with the cooked chicken.

Heat up the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Then, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 TBS of barbecue seasoning and a pinch of cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot!). Add the cooked chicken (and its juices) and bell pepper back to the skillet and toss well.

Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce with the chicken. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over top and mix well so that the cheese melts. If pasta looks dry, add a tablespoon at a time of the reserved pasta water and toss. Serve pasta with minced cilantro and extra cheese on top!

September 14, 2012

Gingerbread Muffins with Pumpkin and Cranberries

The original recipe called these pumpkin muffins, but the molasses overpowers the pumpkin so much they taste more like gingerbread (hence the name change). The addition of the cranberries adds a nice tartness. Enjoy!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheatflour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently fold in the cranberries. 

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely. 

September 12, 2012

La Segunda - Ybor City, FL

Great, authentic pressed Cuban sandwiches and delicious guava pastries. If you are looking for the real thing, this is the place to go. 

La Segunda Central Bakery on Urbanspoon

September 10, 2012

Sweet Pea Soup

I really enjoyed this soup - it is light, creamy and has a nice sweet/savory balance. It is not particularly filling so I suggest serving it as a soup course or side dish. Enjoy!

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 thick slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme 
3 cups chicken stock
20-ounces frozen peas
1⁄4 cup ricotta cheese (or 2 TBS heavy cream)
Salt and black pepper
Juice and zest of one lemon

Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook it until it’s crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain it on a paper towel. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high. When the stock boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (or just use an immersion blender) along with the ricotta (or cream) and purée until it is smooth. If not using an immersion blender you will need to do this in 2 batches.

Return the soup to the pot. To thicken it, turn the heat back on and reduce to the desired consistency, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and zest, stir to combine. Serve the soup topped with the crispy bacon.

Makes 4 servings (more if serving as a side dish). 

Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Ray. 

September 8, 2012

Southwest Turkey and Black Bean Burgers

Healthy, quick, easy and tasty - these are a great alternative to meat heavy burgers. Be sure not to overcook them as they can easily dry out. I served these with spicy baked homefries and over-roasted broccoli.  Enjoy!

1 TBS olive oil
1/2 lb ground turkey (dark meat)
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and lightly mashed
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 TBS chile powder
1/2 TBS ground cumin
1 avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Sour cream (or mayo), cilantro, sliced tomato, lettuce for serving
2 hamburger buns (prefer whole wheat)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, beans, tortilla chips, and spices (through cumin). Use your hands to form the mixture into 2 equal sized patties. Cook the patties until no longer pink in the middle, 5-6 minutes per side. 

Serves 2. 

Adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen.  

September 6, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

I love shortbread cookies. These are very delicately flavored and super rich. If you like shortbread cookies and/or Nutella you will love these. Enjoy!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, at room temperature (I used Nutella)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Beat in the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies flatten out slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Place 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a sifter, gently shake to dust the cookies with sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes approximately 30 cookies. 

Original recipe from Giada De Laurentiis:

September 4, 2012

Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup

Easy, hearty and healthy soup. Great for a quick weekday family meal. Enjoy!
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces ground turkey 
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 small bunch kale, coarsely chopped (about 4 packed cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and bell pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ground turkey and stir until the meat turns white and begins to color very slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence and stir, 1 minute. Add 4 cups broth, tomatoes and rice. Bring to a boil. Stir in the kale and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan, if using, and serve.

September 2, 2012

Tabbouleh with Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber

I am a big fan of tabbouleh and while this recipe is not the best flavored one I have had (needed more lemon juice, olive oil and salt - add more of all three to your taste), I really enjoyed the addition of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Enjoy!

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup boiling water
2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 TBS good olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts 
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (or 2 TBS dried mint)
1 to 1 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, cover, then allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season to taste and serve, or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

Make 4 servings.