Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Classic Revised - Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach. One of my favorite foods. It's brimming with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight cell damaging free radicals. Spinach artichoke dip has been one of my favorite appetizers. Unfortunately, spinach is often combined with high fat counterparts, alfredo sauce, mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, full fat cheese, making this beloved dip a nutritional nightmare.

Over the years, I've perfected my recipe for a slimmed down version of this loved favorite and over the years it has become a classic hit. This dip has 3 secrets... nefuchatel cheese, greek yogurt and a stand mixer.


Neufchatel cheese is similar to cream cheese, but with a lower fat content.  Tasted side by side, the difference is undetectable. Neufchatel cheese is located in the grocery store in the cheese section with the cream cheeses. Greek yogurt adds a thick and rich mouth feel without adding extra fat and packs a punch by providing probiotics and protein. It's a nutritional powerhouse.


The stand mixer. The final secret. It takes away the work of stirring, but also blends the dip so it's super smooth, allowing the flavors to melt into each other. Don't have a stand mixer? Try a hand held or a good old fashioned spoon and bowl. Your dip will be less smooth, but will still be delicious.


If my kitchen walls could talk: Want to spice things up? Add in sliced jalapenos or poblanos to add a kick to this dip. You can further lower the fat content by using fat-free cream cheese, but I can't guarantee the results. If you need a vegan adaptation, try using Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya mozzarella to top - let me know how it works!

Skinny Spinach Dip 

Ingredients

16 oz neufchatel cheese
1 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
14 oz canned artichoke hearts, chopped 
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 ts black pepper
1 tbsp minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip neufchatel cheese and greek yogurt until smooth on low. Add spinach and artichokes, stir until combined.
2. Add 1 cup of mozzarella, black pepper, minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue stirring until combined.
3. Spray a stoneware baking dish with cooking spray or a paper lined with olive oil. Add spinach artichoke mixture, smoothing with a spatula until even layer is achieved.
4. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve with organic tortilla chips.



Until next time,

L

Friday, September 4, 2015

9.4.15 Friday Favorites

The end of the week is here and it's the start of a long weekend! Any exciting plans this Labor Day weekend? My weekend is packed full with a birthday party, football game and one last day at the pool. I wouldn't have it any other way. Have a great weekend and enjoy my weekly recap of some of my favorite things!

Fall Sweaters
  • There isn't anything better than a sweater when the weather starts to drop. I'm loving gray this year and pairing sweaters with my favorite statement necklaces. I snagged this one at TJ Maxx for under $15.
Dasani Sparkling Water
  • I will have to send La Croix a "sorry, I cheated" card. I couldn't pass up this new flavor at the store - it's bubbly and basically everything I could want in a sparkling water. 

Cold Brew Coffee

  • Tones of chocolate, cocoa, well, just a rich experience with no bitter aftertaste. Run to your local Starbucks and try this, because once the PSL comes out next week, this will just be a distant memory! 
Slow Cooker Meals
  • Cooler weather means more slow cooker meals - lasagna, chicken, soups and more. Browse through some of my favorites on my recipe page and expect more in the months to come.

Until next time...! Have a great weekend :)

-L

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Spinach and Cheese Lasagna

Beauty surrounds us in the fall - the crisp air, golden hue of trees, leaves scattered on the ground. There's nothing better than a beautiful day outside and coming inside to a rich, creamy bowl of lasagna when the temperature starts to drop.

When the weather is beautiful, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend all of their time in the kitchen. The solution? A simple lasagna you can bake in your slow cooker. The moist heat helps to cook the noodles and the low heat setting helps to keep the sides from burning to a crisp. Cook this recipe late in the afternoon or on a lazy weekend as the time requirement is minimal.


If my kitchen walls could talk: Substitute low-fat or skim ricotta for a lower fat version of this dish. I recommend using a high quality or homemade marinara as the sauce will contribute many of the flavors to the dish. Dice the spinach finely in a mini food processor to save time or use 1 package of frozen. If you make this recipe with flour or whole wheat noodles, feel free to leave your thoughts for other readers in the comments below who may wish to do the same.



Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna 

Ingredients

9-12 gluten free rice lasagna noodles, uncooked
2-26 oz jars of marinara sauce
4  cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
30 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp parsley, dried
1 tbsp basil, dried
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

1. Spray inside of slow cooker with non-stick spray or lightly line with olive oil using a paper towel. Layer 2 cups of marina in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer ~3-4 lasagna noodles lengthwise, breaking the ends to fit the shape of the slow cooker.
2. In a small bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, egg, garlic, parsley, basil and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese until thoroughly mixed.
3. Layer half of cheese mixture on top of noodles. Repeat marinara layer by using 2 cups of sauce, then repeating with 3-4 lasagna noodles. Layer remaining cheese mixture on top.
4. Top remaining cheese mixture with 3-4 lasagna noodles, layer 2 cups of sauce on top of noodles, then top with parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
5. Cook for 30 minutes on high. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for another 2.5-3 hours. Turn slow cooker off and allow to rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.


Until next time... 

- L 



Friday, April 3, 2015

Simply Perfect Gluten-Free Brunch Recipes

Happy Friday friends!  Anyone doing anything fun this weekend? I'm looking forward to celebrating our "dating" anniversary with my husband this weekend.  We're having a low key night tonight and then we'll be going out for a fancy Italian dinner tomorrow - give me alllll the risotto and wine!

I'm also looking forward to spending time with our family on Easter.  After mass on Sunday, we'll head to my grandma's for brunch - she's in an assisted living facility, so having family over is always extra special. I'm excited to see her, she requested cake donuts, so I'll be tracking those down :) We'll also be bringing a breakfast casserole - you can find the recipe below. In the evening, we'll head over to my husband's family for a big Easter dinner.

If any of you are last minute planners, you may be looking for Easter brunch recipes. Don't worried, I have you covered with some of my favorites. Enjoy!

  • Breakfast Tostadas are perfect for feeding a crowd. The colorful presentation will add beauty to your breakfast table.
  • Sparkle Donuts can be easily topped with your favorite pastel colors. Why have high calorie fried donuts when you can bake them and still have the perfect chocolate cake taste? 


  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes might not come to mind as a traditional brunch option, but with tons of cookie dough flavor, your family and friends will be raving about them for weeks. 

  • The Best Iced Coffee never disappoints. Set it out overnight in your french press and wake up to bliss.  Want to pack an added punch? Free coffee overnight in ice cube trays for the perfect addition this masterpiece. 

  • Breakfast sandwiches never disappoint for a quick meal. Pair with fruit salad and you've got an award winning combo!

What's on your menu? Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Got Zucchini?

Hi friends! Hope you're having a great day today. Spring is finally here! I can't wait to bring back our vegetable garden and plant flowers. Anyone else out there with a green thumb? Today, I'm sharing a recipe that incorporates one of my favorite vegetables. Zucchini. If you're planning on growing zucchini this summer, this is the perfect recipe for all that extra green.  

Flashback with me to last Friday. We were running low on food and had odds and ends in the house. I ended up making a few different "appetizers" for our dinner. I had a zucchini in the fridge, a bag of panko bread crumbs and an idea...



If my kitchen walls could talk: Top this recipe with parmesan cheese and dip in marinara for the perfect Italian treat. Need vegan modifications? Skip the egg and lightly sprinkle with nutritional yeast after baking.



Oven "Fried" Zucchini

Ingredients

1 zucchini, sliced
1 egg
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil, lightly mist with olive oil.
2. Slice zucchini into rounds, set aside. Beat egg and almond milk in a shallow bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic salt.
3. Working one at a time dip zucchini in egg mixture, then dip in panko mixture, covering both sides. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until all zucchini are used. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Halfway through cooking, flip zucchini to crisp both sides.

Monday, March 30, 2015

3/30 Meals for the Week

Hi there! I can hardly believe it's the start of a new week already. We had an amazing weekend and I'm sad that it's already over - we played cards at a local coffee shop, browsed through a comic book store, had dinner out with friends and family and just spent plenty of time relaxing. It was perfect.

This week is a little hectic with work and physical therapy, so our meal plan isn't adventurous by any means! We were invited to dinner on Sunday last minute with our family, so our original plan to grill got scrapped for family time and enchiladas :)



Sunday: Mexican - dinner out with family!
Monday: BBQ Pineapple Tacquitos, kale salad
Tuesday: Family dinner 
Wednesday: Leftovers -  Lightened Up Macaroni & Cheese 
Thursday: Salsa verde enchiladas - if this is a success, I'll post! Here's an amazing enchilada recipe. 
Friday: TBA - leftovers, homemade pizza, tacos...? 
Saturday: Anniversary Dinner - Out!


What's on your menu this week? 

Friday, March 27, 2015

3.27.15 Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!!! TGIF :) My favorite day of the week is here. It's time to share my favorite with all of of you!  I'm loving the start of spring and the slightly warmer temperatures... this week I'm also loving a few other things.  Feel free to share your favorites with me in the comments below!


Life In Leggings


Beauty - Bath & Body Works 


  • I'm addicted to these beachy scents from Bath & Body works. I picked up the body cream during the summer sale last year and loved it. It seriously smells just like the beach. I ran to the nearest store to pick up the rest of the set when I leared they were out again this year!

Food - Fruit Salads 

  • Fruit + salad = awesome. I've been making a salad at our work salad bar and then topping it with my favorite salad ingredients at lunchtime. I love eating a rainbow and this is the perfect way. Strawberries, blackberries, mandarin oranges, cheddar, eggs and pecans are my fave toppers. 

Finds - Headspace and La Croix 

  • Headspace. This app is perfect when you need a little more relaxation in your life. It takes you through guided meditations and once you've completed the initial series - which is free - you have the option of purchasing other sets!
  • La Croix in bottles?!?!? I'm a La Croix addict and when my husband texted me this picture from a work conference, I about fell out of my chair. Where can I find these? I need them. 

Fashion - Skirt Season 

  • Springtime means summer skirts and I'm obsessed with the Sloan pencil skirt from Banana Republic. It's the perfect length for work and I love the thick fabric. 

Fun - Trendy Tanks

  • This Mean Girls t-shirt at Target. I can't even. I need it in my life. You go Glen Coco.

What are you loving this Friday? 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eggs Were Made for Dipping

There's nothing I love more than a simple recipe that packs a big presentation. The star of this show is eggs. So simple, so delicious and also the best source of biological protein that you could ask for. Scrambled eggs were my jam as a little girl and my mom made some of the best ones.  

Flash forward a lot of years. In college, my friend Katie referred to over easy eggs as "dippy eggs" and I realized I had never tried one. I did and I never looked back. "Dippy eggs" have become my favorite. They're perfect for breakfast sandwiches when you can use part of an english muffin to soak up the flavor. Egg yolks are full of the fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K - and also are a good source of choline. Embrace the yolk and enjoy this sandwich.

If my kitchen walls could talk:  Out of english muffins? Try this sandwich with bagels, bread or even gluten-free toaster waffles (trust me, it's legit)



"Dippy" Breakfast Sandwich 

Ingredients

1 brown rice english muffin
1 tsp olive oil
1 egg
1 slice gouda cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Split english muffin in half and toast until lightly browned ~5 minutes.
2. In a small skillet, add olive oil over medium heat. Add egg. After white has set, flip until cooked to desired preference.
3. Layer gouda and egg between english muffin.


What's your favorite breakfast? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pizza Hut - A Gluten Free Review

Pizza can be described in a variety of ways. It's hard to find bad pizza, but it's even harder to find the holy grail of pizza... especially when you're gluten free. I remember when I became gluten free 4 years ago, only one pizzeria near me served gluten free pizza.  Plus, it was overpriced and terrible. As the gluten free market has expanded, pizzerias have jumped on the gluten free train.

I heard that Pizza Hut had recently unveiled a new gluten free pizza in their stores and I was eager to try it. Growing up, Pizza Hut was my all-time favorite!!  There was the Book It program for reading, our weekly family Friday night pizza party complete with TGIF, volunteering with my friends at the museum center and eating pan pizza in the lobby.



My general consensus with pizza is that it what really separates brands isn't always the crust, but the cheese and the toppings. Of the two "mainstream" pizza brands I've tried - Larosas and Donatos - the gluten-free pizza tastes pretty spot on to the original. I suspected that Pizza Hut would follow suit.. I placed the order and we patiently waited for our pizzas to arrive...


I loved that they use a standout box to separate the pizza. I've had issues with other restaurants accidentally sending a non-gluten free pizza and totally forgetting to look for the small gluten free sticker on the box. I knew the Udi's crust would be a hit - Donato's also uses an Udi's made crust - plus, let's be honest, it's the same crust I buy at the grocery store.  


I ordered my usual topping, black olives. The cheese tasted exactly like I remembered it. It was rich and buttery. The sauce was mild and didn't overpower the flavors, but complemented them.  The black olives were the perfect touch. This was definitely reminiscent of the pizza of my childhood!

It wasn't perfect though. My biggest complaint was that the crust was burnt around the edges. I also disliked that the pizza was on the retail sized Udi's crust. I didn't expect the gluten-free pizza to be the same size as a large pizza, but for almost $15, I was expecting it to be a little larger.

Overall, I rate it a solid B! I would definitely order it again and if the crust wasn't burnt, it would have moved up into the B+ category.  


Have you tried Pizza Hut's gluten-free pizza? What were your thoughts? 


Disclaimer: This was not a sponsored review

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Triple Chocolate Heaven

Do you dream of chocolate desserts?  I'll be the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth around anything containing the word chocolate. Chocolate chips. Chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate cheesecake.  I'm not sure that I ever invested the time in making a "real" cheesecake.  Cheesecake seemed labor intensive and let's be honest...a little hard.


Never one to back away from a challenge in the kitchen, I decided to go big or go home. If I was going to try my hand at making a cheesecake, it needed to be full of chocolate from the bottom to the top.  I decided to roll with a gluten free chocolate cream cookie crust, top it with a dark chocolate cheesecake filling brimming with chocolate chips and it obviously needed chocolate ganache.  This cheesecake is decadent and while it's perfect for impressing a crowd, it's also perfect for binge watching House of Cards in your pajamas.


If my kitchen walls could talk: Feeling extra decadent? Sprinkle chocolate ribbons on top of the ganache after it sets.  In a time crunch? Leave off the chocolate ganache and drizzle each slice with hot fudge and mini chocolate chips. This cheesecake is a little labor intensive, so plan accordingly.



Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients - Cheesecake

1 package chocolate gluten-free sandwich cookies
2 tbsp butter
24 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla
6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Ingredients - Chocolate Ganache 

3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tbsp butter
12 ounces chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Crush cookies in small food processor, melt butter in the microwave, combine with cookies. Press into bottom of a 9 inch springform pan until uniform. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside.
2. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Break chocolate into pieces and set in a small bowl,  microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each set, until melted. Add to cream cheese mixture, beat to combine.
3. Add each egg, 1 at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Fold chocolate chips into batter with a spatula. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set - the majority of the cheesecake should be solid, but the middle may jiggle slightly.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
4. Heat almond milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.
5. Pour ganache over cheesecake. Refrigerate until set.

What's your favorite cheesecake?

Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23 Meals for the Week

Hi friends!  Happy Monday. How's the week treating you so far? I can hardly believe another week is already starting.  We had a full weekend that included plenty of downtime and fun time - some highlights - buying a new couch! watching the UC vs. UK game, even more March Madness, chocolate gelato, grocery shopping on a Saturday night and running at the park. It was perfect.


I'm packing lunches for the week but wanted to pop in to share the meals for this week. A new tip that I have to share is to grill extra chicken on Sunday and use it for lunches/salads/dinner etc. throughout the week. Here is the tentative agenda and feel free to share yours in the comments. I'm always looking for new ideas.

Sunday: Agave Lime Grilled Chicken, Oh She Glows Tomato Soup w/Chickpea Croutons, asparagus
Monday: Leftovers - hummus sandwiches, brussels sprouts & tomato soup (see above)
Tuesday: Family dinner
Wednesday: Breakfast sandwiches, fruit
Thursday: Lightened Up Macaroni & Cheese 
Friday: TBA - maybe out!

What's on your plan for the week? 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Curl up with a Blanket

I just love comforting foods when the weather drops. Spring is on the way and will be here before we know it, so I am taking these last few weeks of winter to make some of my favorite comfort foods. I spotted black beans on sale in my weekly grocery ad and knew that I needed to make enchiladas.

I always used to stick to basic cheese enchiladas, but tonight I wanted to go out on a limb and combine peppers, onions and black beans.  These enchiladas are by no means basic, but if you're looking for a basic cheese enchilada, this recipe never disappoints.  I sauteed the veggies until soft and combined them with black beans for the perfect protein punch.

This recipe though was simply divine. I also played around with a homemade enchilada sauce that needs a little tweaking, but these enchiladas were over the top and perfect for a night of watching The Bachelor.  They may not be the most beautiful looking enchiladas in all of the galaxy, but I promise the taste won't disappoint.



If my kitchen walls could talk: Use your favorite jar of enchilada sauce or if you are feeling particularly fancy, feel free to use homemade.  Keep in mind that depending on the spices used, homemade sauce will take on different colors, such as the dark brown color shown above. If you like your enchiladas less spicy, turn down the heat by omitting the poblano pepper. Want to roll with more spice? Swap out the poblano for a few jalapenos. Don't like corn tortillas? If you aren't gluten free, swap them out for flour.

Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas

Ingredients

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 green pepper diced
3 cups red enchilada sauce
30 oz black beans, canned and rinsed
2 cups cheddar/monterey jack cheese
12-14 corn tortillas

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Spray a rectangular casserole dish with non-stick spray or lightly grease with grapeseed oil. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, poblano and green pepper to pan. Saute 7-10 minutes until soft. Turn heat to low. Add 3 tbsp of enchillada sauce to vegetable mix, stir to combine.
3. Combine black beans and 1 cup cheese in large food processor until blended. Set aside in a medium bowl. Add vegetable mix to black beans, stirring to combine.
4. Wrap stack of tortillas in wet paper towels, heat in the microwave ~2 minutes until softened. Add 3 tsbp of bean vegetable mixture to one side of tortilla, gently roll and place seam side down baking dish. Repeat until all tortillas are used.
5. Pour enchilada sauce over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is lightly browned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cake for Breakfast

Happy National Pancake Day!  Unfortunately, I did not celebrate this morning because pancakes are my weekend tradition for Sunday. It's the last day of the weekend and brings a new start to the week. I always use the day to tie up the loose ends of weekend and get ready for the new week ahead.  I meal plan, pick up all of our groceries and finish that never ending pile of laundry. Before all of that can begin though, I have my Sunday tradition. 


My perfect Sunday morning involves a steaming cup of almond milk coffee and a side of pancakes. Can you believe there was a time when I couldn't cook pancakes without burning them? My roommates of years past could tell you many stories, of that I'm sure.  The secret that I've discovered is to cook the pancakes over low heat to minimize potential burning.


I've made a wide variety of pancakes over the years. There was my go-to that I tweaked to serve one with minimal ingredients; I am pretty sure those pancakes were the main reason that I made it through graduate school.  There were the slightly fancier red velvet protein pancakes which combined a few gluten-free flours with protein powder. Aside from that, there have been a few other varieties that have found themselves in my kitchen over the years. These take the (pan) cake.

                           

If my kitchen walls could talk: Don't have oat flour on hand? Add oats to a small food processor and blend until you have flour.  Feel free to use your choice of milk, I used 1% but almond milk would also work well. Flaxseed replaces the eggs in this recipe, the hot water helps the flax to form a gel, replacing the binding capability of the eggs.


Oatmeal Almond Chocolate Chip Pancakes



Ingredients

2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 4 tbsp hot water
3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp mini chocolate chips

1. Combine flaxseed and hot water in a small dish, set aside.
2. Add oat flour, almond flour, sugar and baking soda to a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine. Add wet ingredients - vanilla, milk and and flaxseed to flour mixture, stirring to combine.
5. Add chocolate chips.  Let mixture sit ~5-7 minutes as it will thicken.
6. Heat a small pan to medium low.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Add batter in increments of 2 tbsp, depending on whether you want small or large pancakes.  Flip when bottom is set - bubbles will not begin to form like with traditional pancakes.  Serve with your toppings of choice.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday Favorites: 2/19/15

This week flew by! I think it was a combination of the cold weather and driving in the snow. Happy Friday! How was your week? Any big weekend plans? I am looking forward to bundling up and staying in this weekend after spending too much of this week out in the cold! It's Friday and that means Friday favorites....this week, I'm linking up with Life in Leggings. Here is my collection of things I am loving this week.

Food - Quick and Easy Pad Thai

  • When it's cold out, I crave warm meals. This pad thai comes together in 5 minutes and will warm your soul.  Most of the ingredients are already in your pantry, making it the perfect meal for a snow day. 

Fashion - Kimonos

  • The kimono is looking like a hot trend for spring 2015. I am totally craving this one from Express. I love the easy of being able to layer and the cute floral print. 

Fitness - Brooks Ravenna 5

  • This is my 4th pair of this shoe. I love them! They not only provide stability and comfort, but have also helped me overcome a chronic IT band issue. I highly recommend getting fitted for shoes at a running store to find your dream pair; this shoe is totally mine. Also, the 5's are on sale if you're a Ravenna fan!
Fun - Saved by the Bell Reunion

  • Jesse and Slater haven't aged a single day!! I could hardly believe it. If you loved Saved by the Bell as a kid, then you will love this clip. Totally a childhood throwback. 
Find - Headspace
  • Have you ever wanted to mediate but have no clue how? There are numerous benefits to meditation - better sleep, overall sense of happiness, less stress. Headspace is a guided meditation app. The first ten sessions are free and then you buy sessions in sets of ten after that. I have been using Headspace for a month now and I love it! I have noticed that I sleep better and feel less stressed. I highly recommend it. 

What are you loving this Friday? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Veggie Tuesday

Happy Fat Tuesday!  Anyone celebrating out there?  I wish I was celebrating with veggie pizza. You know, that appetizer that always tastes amazing.  Did I mention that it's one of those easy to throw together appetizers that only uses one bowl.  There is only one issue in making it gluten-free. The crust.

Veggie pizza is typically made using crescent roles.  I wanted to adapt this classic favorite for a co-worker's baby shower and so I decided to experiment with gluten-free pizza crusts instead. Lightly toast the pizza crusts, mix up the cream cheese layer and sprinkle on your favorite colorful veggies. Does it really get any easier?


If my kitchen walls could talk: Feel free to switch up the vegetables or experiment with different color combinations for party themes. Yellow bell peppers, broccoli and purple cabbage for Mardi Gras, all the green veggies for St. Patrick's Day. The possibilities are endless!



Veggie Pizza

Ingredients

3-4 small gluten-free pizza crusts
16 oz cream cheese (2 packages)
10.6 oz greek yogurt (2 single serve containers)
2 packets ranch dip
1/2 tsp dill, dried
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup shredded carrots
2 broccoli florets, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
Shredded cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly toast pizza crusts for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, greek yogurt, ranch dip, dill and garlic. Dice and prepare vegetables, allowing the flavors in the cream cheese mixture to combine.
3. Spread the cream cheese mixture over pizza crusts. Lightly press veggies into cream cheese. Top with your choice of shredded cheese as desired.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2/15/15: Meals for the Week


Hi there!  As always, here is our weekly menu.  It's brutally cold here and we're trying to clean out our freezer and roll with some leftovers.  I made way too many scalloped potatoes for Valentine's Day, so we'll be eating them for awhile.  I'm not complaining, batch cooking saves time later, so I highly recommend it :)



Sunday: Pizza! Donato's :)
Monday: Tofu/chicken with spaghetti sauce, scalloped potatoes, brussels sprouts 
Tuesday: Leftovers! Baked Potato Soup, asparagus 
Wednesday: Cheese enchiladas, salad  
Thursday: Chicken/veggie burgers, brussels sprouts 
Friday: Chicken tacos
Saturday: TBA

What's on your plate this week? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Spiralize it Girl

Hi friends!  Today, I am here to clue you in on a little secret.  Did you know that you can make noodles from vegetables?  Maybe you have seen the term zoodles on the internet and been confused about what it is referring to.  After all, what the heck are zoodles?  Well, zoodles are zucchini that have made into noodles using a spiralizer, hence the name zoodles.

A spiralizer is a brilliant kitchen gadget as it will make pretty much anything into noodle shapes.  I have mentioned it in previous posts, like that time I made baked curly fries, it couldn't be easier to use.  There are various spiralizers available all over the internet, but the one that I love is here.

After an intense workout at the gym, I wanted something that was easy, but also nutritious.  I dreamed up this recipe in my head while pushing myself to the limit on the stairmill and voila this recipe was born.  It's lean, green and clean, making it a perfect recovery meal or way to sneak in extra veggies.


If my kitchen walls could talk: Missing a spiralizer? Cut zucchini into matchstick pieces instead.  Alternatively, feel free to swap out zoodles for regular zoodles and follow along with the recipe. It will not have the health benefits of zucchini, but I promise it will taste equally delicious!



Zucchini Primivera 

Ingredients

1 large zucchini
1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/2 cup edamame

1. Wash zucchini with water and dry. Using a spiralizer, spiralize zucchini into noodle shape. Set aside
2. Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add grapeseed oil, swirling to coat pan.
3. Add zucchini, stirring until lightly sauteed, add peanuts, Parmesan and edamame. Continue stirring until zoodles are slightly crunchy and heated through.


Have you ever used a spiralizer? 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2/8/15: Meals for the Week

Hi there!  Just checking in with my recipes for the week. I love helping my readers to come up with new meals that they can make throughout the work week, so feel free to steal some of my meals for the week.

My number one tip for successful meal planning? Planning. I always plan out my meals on Sunday prior to heading to the grocery store. Typically, I will look to see what staples we have in our cabinets and then go from there. I make sure to incorporate anything that we might be missing onto my grocery list, so I am not empty handed while in the middle of cooking dinner.

Using items we already have helps to cut down on weekly expenses by keeping our grocery bill somewhat in check.  I swap things out left and right based on what I have and then modify recipes accordingly, which also helps me to come up with new recipes that I can there share with all of you!

I have been craving soup recently, so I knew I had to include it in our weekly menu.  Thai fried rice was thought up when I realized that we have a bag of rice in our cabinet that has been sitting there unused, so look for that recipe this week. I remembered how much I loved the quinoa cakes and after seeing a half opened box of quinoa in the cabinet, well, I knew it was time to make them. Typically, one of our meals will be leftovers that I have frozen from a prior meal, but our freezer is pretty barren this week.

Also, note that I always include one or more servings of vegetables with all of our dinners. This could be oven roasted brussels sprouts, sauteed zucchini, broccoli, mixed green salads or oven roasted asparagus. The sky is the limit.




Sunday: Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Monday:  Baked Potato Soup 
Tuesday: Family Dinner
Wednesday: Thai Fried Rice  
Friday: Pizza!
Saturday: Valentine's Day! Recipes tba...!

What's on your plate this week? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Simple. Clean. Efficient

I love Thursday. The weekend might not be here, but it is nearing closer. Another week closer to spring and another two days to sleep in. I am looking forward to relaxing for a few days from all of the hustale and bustle of my normal happy life :)

Sometimes after a busy day, I want to cook something novel but I also crave simplicity.  My brain is not in the mood to process a complex recipe after processing information all day long. You might feel similarly after a long day of working, caring for children or studying for classes. It can be tough!

The weather is going to be in the 50's on Saturday, which takes me back to our trip to Kauai. Granted, it was closer to 80 degrees, but for the Midwest winter a 50 degree day might as well be a heat wave. I had the simplest pad thai from a food truck and from the moment I ate it, I immediately started dreaming up a way to create it at home to share with all of you.  It needed to be simple. Easy. Efficient.


You can make this pad thai with ingredients that you probably have laying around in your kitchen. The longest step will be soaking (or cooking!) the noodles. Mine called for 10 minutes of soaking in hot water. The rest of the recipe comes together in minutes. Feel free to double or quadruple if you are feeding a crowd.



If my kitchen walls could talk: Need to turn up the heat? Feel free to layer on the sriracha sauce. A tip - the sauce may seem minimal based on the amount of noodles that are cooked, so feel free to double or triple the sauce based on your personal preference. Not a fan of edamame? Swap out chicken or tofu to still pack a protein punch.


Quick and Clean Pad Thai 

Ingredients

1 tbsp tamari
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp lime juice
1-2 cups rice noodles, cooked per package directions
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/4 garlic, minced
1/3 cup edamame
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1 scallion, chopped

1. Combine tamari, brown sugar and lime juice in a small bowl, set aside. Cook rice noodles per package directions, set aside.
2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add grapeseed oil and garlic. Add rice noodles, edamame, peanuts and scallions, stir to combine. Add tamari sauce. Continue to stir until heated through and peanuts are lightly browned.



What's on your plate this Thursday?