October 30, 2012

Cranberry Almond Bars

This recipe is a rendition of the Peanut Butter Almond Energy Bar recipe I posted a little over a week ago. I liked these even better!!!  Love the cranberries and whole almonds (the peanuts could be a bit overwhelming). They are great for a snack, breakfast or even dessert.  I hope you enjoy them as well ;-)

1 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if needed)
2/3 cup sweetened coconut (can use unsweetened)
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted almonds 
1/2 cup cranberries 
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup almond butter
3 TBS agave 
1-2 TBS almond or soy milk, if needed 

In a large bowl combine the oats through raisins; stir to combine. Put the agave, tahini and almond butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for one minute; gently stir to combine. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. If the mixture is dry and not coming together, add the milk 1 TBS at a time. On a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, spread the mixture into a one-inch-high rectangle, packing it tightly. Bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes (not required, though I think it tastes better this way) until golden. Cut into bars and chill.

Makes 8-10 bars. 

October 28, 2012

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is such a versatile grain making it super easy to combine with just about anything and since I love Mediterranean flavors I thought this salad was amazing. Enjoy this super fresh salad as a side dish (I served it with baked turkey meatballs) or as a vegetarian entree. You taste buds will thank you ;-)

3/4 cup quinoa (any color is fine, but I used white)
1 1/2 cups water
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 carrot, grated (large slices done with a hand peeler)
4 scallions, sliced (white and light green sections)
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
1/3 cup chopped nuts- pecans, almonds or walnuts (I used walnuts)
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
1 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons, depending upon size (about 1/4 cup of juice)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the water and quinoa in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the garlic and the next 9 ingredients (through the garbanzo beans); toss lightly to combine. Fold in the cooled quinoa. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and lemon juice. Gently stir to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. 

This salad is best served chilled (at least one hour, but longer is even better as the flavors will continue to meld and develop).

Makes about 4 servings. 

Heavily adapted from:

October 26, 2012

Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a sucker for chocolate, especially double chocolate chip cookies so I love these cookies. They are lightly sweet and buttery, but heavily chocolaty - just the way a cookie should be. Enjoy! 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used cacao powder)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 cup dark (60-70%) chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. 

Beat the butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts (if using).

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make about 2 dozen. 

October 24, 2012

Smoky Slow-Cooker Chili

I am a huge fan of the slow cooker as it means I can have a hearty meal on the table at dinner without all the evening fuss. You can enjoy this smoky, spicy chili anytime of the year, but I like it best on a cool fall day. Enjoy!


1/2 TBS olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped

2 - 15.5-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed
28-oz can diced tomatoes
12 oz beer
3/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (or beef stew meat) (I would up it to 1 1/2 lbs)
2  TBS tomato paste
2 TBS all-purpose flour
2  TBS chili powder
1 to 3 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
kosher salt
corn bread, sour cream, grated Cheddar, chopped onion, and fresh cilantro, for serving

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes or until the garlic is just starting to turn a bit golden. Put the onions and garlic in the bowl of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker; add the beans, tomatoes and their juices, beer, beef, tomato paste, flour, chili powder, chipotle powder, and ¾ teaspoon salt; stir to combine

Cover and cook until the beef is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Serve with the corn bread, sour cream, Cheddar, onion, and/or cilantro.

Serves 4.  

Adapted from:

October 22, 2012

African Spiced Lentils

This recipe was originally designed as a dip, but while I thought the flavors were great, I found the texture to be a bit off putting. Therefore, I adapted the recipe so that the lentils remain whole and are served as a main dish. If you prefer a richer texture than the recipe yields, puree just a portion of the lentils, adding water to the food processor bowl as needed. Enjoy!

2 cups brown lentils
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 quart water
4 TBS unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS chopped cilantro
Cooked rice or toasted pita triangles, for serving

In a large saucepan, cover the lentils, carrot and onion with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the lentils are tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated, 35 minutes. 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cumin, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne and cook over low heat, stirring a few times, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spice mixture to the lentils and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve warm with rice or pita toasts.

Adapted from:

October 20, 2012

Peanut Butter-Almond Energy Bars

Super healthy (loaded with vitamins and healthy fats) these bars are a delicious treat that even the kids will love.  They are easy to assemble and don't take much time to make. Definitely better for you and your wallet than those store bought kind. These bars tend to fall apart easily so be sure to pack them tight and chill them as indicated. Enjoy! 

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup sweetened coconut (can use unsweetened)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (slivered work well or you can use whole almonds)
1/4 cup raisins or cranberries (or chopped apricots, dates...the possibilities are endless)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup peanuts  
3/4 cup tahini, natural peanut butter, or almond butter (or a combo - I used 1/4 cup each)
1/4 cup agave or honey
1/4 cup almond or soy milk

In a large bowl combine the oats through peanuts; stir to combine. Put the honey, nut/seed butter and milk in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for one minute; gently stir to combine. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. On a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, spread the mixture into a one-inch-high rectangle, packing it tightly. Bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes (not required if you prefer a raw bar) until golden. Cut into bars and chill.

Makes 8 large bars. 

Adapted from

October 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Cornbread

This bread has a great rustic texture. It is not too sweet or is just right. Plus, I love that it is 100% whole grain. Great served along side some spicy chili. Enjoy!

1 cup yellow cornmeal (I used corn grits)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
1 cup low-fat soy milk  (you can use buttermilk instead of the soy milk and vinegar)
1 TBS vinegar 
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
agave or honey for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix soy milk and vinegar, allow to stand for 2 minutes (it will curdle). In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, curdled soy milk, corn and 1/4 cup oil. Fold wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined.

Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to an 8" cast-iron skillet (you can use a cake pan if preferred), swirling to coat the bottom. Pour in batter and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean from the center, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 6. 

Adapted from:

October 16, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Initially, I thought the cake a bit bland and too "vegan" tasting (I guess I missed the butter;-). However, after putting it in the refrigerator overnight I really enjoyed it...I would not have know it was vegan or that anything was "missing." I would describe it a much healthier version of a Texas sheet cake. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil 
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS vinegar
1/2 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (or regular chocolate chips if you're not vegan)


2 TBS oil
2 TBS water
3 TB. sifted cocoa powder
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Thoroughly grease and flour one 9" square cake pan, shaking off the excess flour.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Combine the soy milk and the vinegar in a glass measuring cup and let stand for two minutes to curdle. Then, pour into another bowl and add the oil, sugar and vanilla extract; whisk gently. Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until combined and then fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cakes start to separate from the sides of pan and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing it from the pan (It is best to apply the icing while it is still in the pan).

Icing: In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water and oil to boiling.  Remove it from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar; beat until smooth. Pour over the cake, spreading the icing to the edges, and let it cool.

October 14, 2012

Ham and Hashbrown Cakes

I love this recipe's use of leftover ham - great for a weekend breakfast and something different than our usual pancakes or omelets. Enjoy!

Cooking tip: The cakes tended to fall apart on me so I recommend packing them together by hand rather than just scooping them onto the skillet. If you don't you may end up with a breakfast hash rather than potato cakes.  

1½ cups shredded or finely chopped ham
½ cup chopped green onions
2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (16 to 20-ounce) bag frozen shredded hash browns
2 large lightly beaten eggs 
1/2 TBS oil

Combine the ham, green onions, flour, salt and hashbrowns. Add the eggs; toss well. Heat 1/2 TBS oil in a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Scoop mixture by ¼-cupfuls onto heated pan (I recommend packing them by hand); flatten slightly, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Yield: 6-8 cakes

Original recipe:

October 12, 2012

Roasted Fall Vegetable "Salad" with Lentils

This healthy, hearty and tasty "salad" can be served as a main dish or as a side along with some roasted chicken. Enjoy!

1/2 pound carrots, halved lengthwise
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 small acorn squash, halved, seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices
5 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dried French green lentils, rinsed
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On two baking sheets, arrange carrots, onion, and squash; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning once, until caramelized and tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with water by two inches. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; season with salt and pepper.

Combine vinegar and mustard. Pour in remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Toss the lentils the with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over the over roasted vegetables. Serve hot.

Yields: 2-3 main dishes or 4-5 sides. 

Slightly adapted from:

October 10, 2012

Spicy Farro Soup with Chorizo

Spicy, richly flavored, healthy and hearty, this soup is great for a cool fall day. If you have never cooked with farro it is similar in appearance to brown rice, but is chewier and denser giving the soup a hearty texture. If you prefer to use brown rice instead just adjust the cooking time from 25-30 minutes to 40-45 or until the rice is tender.  Enjoy!

1 TBS olive oil 
8 ounces chorizo, casings removed
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped 
Kosher salt and pepper
1 TBS tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup farro
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. 

Add the carrots, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it is slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the broth, farro, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the farro is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, chard, cooked chorizo, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the chard is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Slightly adapted from:

October 8, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

This healthy pasta dish has an amazing sun-dried tomato flavor. Dishes like this are why I love Mediterranean food - simple, healthy and flavorful. Enjoy!

1/2 pound whole wheat fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 TBS red wine vinegar
4 TBS good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 TBS capers, drained
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until almost smooth. Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan (if using) and basil, and toss well. Best served chilled (this also allowing the flavors to meld for a few hours). 

Yield: 6 servings

Adapted from:

October 6, 2012

Toasted Coconut and Almond Rice

This rice dish is flavorful and exotic tasting. The nuts add crunch and the coconut adds richness. It would also be great with some chopped dried fruit such as apricots or golden raisins for a bit of sweetness. It is great served with grilled chicken or flank steak. Enjoy!

4 cups water
2 1/4 cups jasmine rice
1/2 TBS kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom 
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the rice, salt and cardamom and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes without removing the lid. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff the rice. Stir the toasted almonds and coconut into the rice and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Adapted from

October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

There is nothing that signals the holidays to me more than pumpkins. I love decorating with them, roasting them, making them into pies, cakes, muffins...and enjoying them in smoothies. This recipe gives your all the flavors of a pumpkin pie without all the calories and fat. If you prefer your smoothies a bit sweeter, add in a dab of agave or maple syrup. Enjoy!

1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree (or roasted pumpkin, mashed)
1 small banana (I prefer mine frozen)
4 oz yogurt (I used peach-flavored soy)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
Pinch of each: nutmeg, allspice and cloves
1/2 cup almond milk

Mix all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. If you are not using a frozen banana and prefer your smoothie cold, either chill it for at least a half hour before serving or add a bit of ice when blending. Yield: 1 large smoothie

Adapted from:

October 2, 2012

Natural Energy Bars

Looking for an energy bar that tastes good, is good for you and doesn't cost $2 a pop? Then this recipe is for you. These bars are sweet, but not overly so, and are really easy to make. If you are not a fan of figs you could try using dates instead, though I would skip the honey as they will get too sticky. If you prefer larger pieces of nuts, chop them up first then stir them into the fruit mixture by hand. Also, you can use any fruit or nuts that you prefer...blueberries instead of the raisins...almonds in place of the hazelnuts...this recipe is really flexible. Play with it and, above all enjoy!

3/4 cup dried figs, turkish or black mission
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dry roasted hazelnuts
1-2 tablespoons organic honey (optional)

Place the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until the batter comes together. Add in the hazelnuts and honey, and plus until combined. Empty the batter onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper (using a small cookie sheet or loaf pan really helps get the edges tight). Press out the mixture with your hands until it is even in height all the way around, about 1/2 inch high. Wrap tightly in plastic and let harden overnight in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Yield: 4-6 bars

Adapted from: