Easy One-Pan Lemon Salmon Dinner

In the midst of moving and packing and renovating while trying to keep life as close to normal a possible, I caved and tried out sheet-pan dinners. And I am IN LOVE! Read More


Sweet Treats: Healthy Fruit and Ricotta Dessert

For years, Hubby and I have tried to eat a primarily from-scratch diet with lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Over the last year or so, we have tried to cut back on sugar a bit too.

It’s not that we never have an all out sugary dessert–we do, though we have tried to cut back on portions. But, we have also looked for other, healthier options to satisfy my sweet tooth.img_1668

I have never been a ricotta cheese fan, but a few of my favorite traditional desserts (mmm, cannoli) are ricotta based, so when I heard about this one, I decided to give it a go.

This is super-simple, and can be made with any fresh or frozen fruit. I like to use whole milk ricotta, but part skim works, too. (With the full-fat ricotta and frozen cherries, this is approximately 170 calories, with 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat (5 g saturated), and  6 g protein.)

Cinnamon Ricotta Cherries

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Frozen Cherries
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • Dash Cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Slightly defrost the cherries, either by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds or allowing to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cherries with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Top with Ricotta.
  4. Drizzle with honey. If desired, sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  5. Enjoy!

 

With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)

With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)

I use a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop to serve the ricotta–2 scoops equal 1/4 cup. This is also great with fresh strawberries or mixed berries, fresh or frozen blueberries, or (hubby’s favorite), fresh pineapple. A little treat without a ton of added sugar. 🙂

Blog Signature

Do you have a favorite quick sweet treat that is a little on the healthier side? A go-to shortcut dessert? Let us know in the comments.

 

 


Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

It’s been a while since I posted here and things have really changed in the last few months. Shortly after my last post, Hubby was offered a great new job–an opportunity that was just too good to pass up.

img_0439

I love the fall colors–almost makes up for the cold that follows.

Of course, it did require us to relocate for the second time in three years. Read More



Fall Apple Desserts

I am a magazine junkie–Southern Living, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Food Network… You get the idea. In the last week or two, all the September magazines are rolling in, and I am drooling over a lot of the fall recipes–but none more than the desserts.

Apples and pumpkin galore! Yum!

I will never make it through them all, but I thought I would share a few of the most tempting apple deserts, in case anyone wants to give them a try.


Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake (From Southern Living)

Southern Living says: This delicious apple bundt cake features a sweet cream cheese filling and homemade praline frosting.  Garnish the frosting with extra toasted pecans.

Seriously, doesn’t that look amazing? I actually liked that half of the cover better than the other side–and the other side was Brad Paisley!


Love this coffee cake! <3

Love this coffee cake! ❤

One of my go-to apple deserts is this Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze recipe from Food Network. It comes from Emeril Live!–goodness I miss that show! Hubby asks for this cake all year round!

(Just a note, I usually leave off the glaze–while it is good, I don’t think it is necessary.)

Cooking Light says: Sweet, crunchy apples make for a delicious plate of party “nachos.” Just slice some apples, arrange on a plate, and get creative. While I chose to make a slightly sweet peanut butter glaze, you could easily drizzle with honey or melted chocolate, or sprinkle cinnamon, nuts of your choice, or anything—the options really are endless. Slice some apples and have fun!

Source: Forget Keeping the Doctor Away: Slice Up the Ultimate Apple Nachos


Need more? Country Living has 40 apple deserts in this article!


Lazy-day Caramel Apples

Lazy-day Caramel Apples

Or, you could go the easy route and try one of my favorites –a chopped apple, a drizzle of caramel sundae sauce, and maybe some chopped walnuts or pecans. Healthy and easy! 😉


Whatever your choice, enjoy!   ❤

Blog Signature

What’s your favorite apple recipe? Favorite fall fruit? Anything I missed? Feel free to share!   🙂 


Coffee Break – Chocolate Chip Pecan Biscotti

I found myself with a touch of a sweet tooth after work last week, and editing my culinary cozy mystery was not helping the issue. When my main character whipped up a batch of biscotti,  it seemed like the perfect time to try a new recipe.

IMG_8910I love the cinnamon and almond extract with the rich chocolate in these cookies. I think that the higher-quality chocolate makes a big impact as well.

I love this multi-tiered cooling rack for a small space!

I love this multi-tiered cooling rack for a small space!

This makes a lot of biscotti, but they freeze up very nicely. Just take them out for a half hour or so before you want to eat them. Home-baked treat whenever you want them. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Pecan Biscotti

  • Print

Ingredients

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Cold Butter, cut in chunks
3 Eggs, beaten
1 Cup Good-quality Dark Chocolate Chips or Coarsely Chopped Dark Chocolate
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
Course Sugar (Optional)

 

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl,  mix the Flour, Sugar, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, and Salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or 2 butter knives until incorporated and crumbly.
  1. Add eggs, and stir until incorporated. Stir in remaining ingredients, then knead in bowl until fully combined.
  2. Place dough on a floured surface. Knead a few more times, then divide in half. Shape each half into a log about 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall.
  3. Place on baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice each log into 1/2 inch slices, cut on a diagonal. Lay each slice on its side on the baking sheet. They can be close, but not touching the other cookies. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm.
  5. Cool completely on cooling racks. The biscotti will continue to harden as they cool.
  6. Enjoy! 🙂

IMG_8917There is nothing like a crispy cookie to dip in a mug of piping-hot coffee!

IMG_8893

Off to work–with a tasty treat in my lunch bag. Hope you have a wonderful day! ❤️

Blog Signature Do you have a favorite little treat to go with your coffee or tea? Do you prefer cookies, cakes, or pies?  Or are you more of a salty-snack fan? Please share in the comments! 🙂


Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Hubby and I have felt a little under the weather lately, thanks to a brutal allergy season.  Nothing serious–just the usually stuffy head, sore throat, watery-eyed fun that comes with walking out the front door in the morning. 😉

IMG_8826The other day, we just wanted comfort food for dinner, and what is more comforting when you aren’t feeling well than a piping-hot bowl of soup?

Yummy roasted vegetables--my favorite!

Yummy roasted vegetables–my favorite!

I started out thinking I would make a standard hearty chicken noodle soup, but until I got all the veggies and chicken in, there was no room for noodles!

After the wine

After the wine

This was super-easy to throw together–I just roasted a bunch of vegetables, browned the chicken, added the roasted veggies and a bit of wine, cooked a few minutes, and added the stock. Just before serving, I added a splash of cream and a bit of fresh-grated parmesan cheese. Easy-peasy!

IMG_8822

Before the cream–probably would have been great just like this!

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

Ingredients

1 lb Creamer Potatoes, cleaned and quartered
3 Cups Mushrooms, Cleaned and sliced
2 Leeks, halved and thinly sliced
1 Onion, Diced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided
1.5 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
1.5 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables (12-16 oz)
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 box Chicken Stock (4 cups)
1/4 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Prepare Potatoes, Mushrooms, Leeks, and Onion and add to a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper (to taste) and 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil. Mix with your hands and spread the vegetables on the baking tray evenly. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, season the chicken with the Montreal Steak Seasoning (or other seasoning blend of your choice). Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining Olive Oil to a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the frozen vegetables and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the roasted vegetables to the Dutch Oven. Add the wine and stir. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover the pot and cook 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan and Half and Half. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Yum! Tasty and (mostly) healthy!

Yum! Tasty, hearty, and (mostly) healthy!

I used salted chicken stock (I prefer Kitchen Basics brand), and the Montreal Steak Seasoning has a lot of salt, so I went light on the salt on the veggies and didn’t add any more salt to the chicken or mixed vegetables. I did add extra pepper. Hubby thought it was perfect, though I did salt it a bit at the table.

Blog Signature

Do you ever get a soup craving in summer? Have a go-to dish when you are feeling blah? Please share! 🙂

 


Spring Veggies: Grilled Asparagus

Hubby and I have been focused on eating a bit healthier lately, along with adding in a lot more exercise. We both have more energy, and are feeling happier overall–which makes it so much easier to stick to our healthier lifestyle.

IMG_2366The biggest change for us was eating a lot more vegetables. We have always been good at having a vegetable with lunch and dinner, but now we have added veggies to breakfast and snacks, too.

I am a salad girl, so making sure to get a side salad in with dinner every day–with homemade dressing, of course–was easy. Not sautéing my veggies in boatloads of oil and/or butter should have been harder, but I have learned that grilling or roasting them gives just as much flavor with less added fat.

IMG_7310My absolute favorite, especially in the spring, is grilled asparagus (though this recipe works well in a 425 degree oven as well). Spring asparagus is tender and sweet and cooks up in no time!

 

Grilled Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

2 lbs. Fresh Asparagus
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  Kosher or Sea Salt
Fresh-Ground Pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill on high or oven to 425.
  2. Clean the asparagus and snap the ends off each stalk. (Hold the top and bottom and bend until it snaps. This will break off the woody part at the bottom of each stalk.)
  3. Place in a large bowl, and toss with Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper until well coated.
  4. Lay asparagus side-by-side on the grill across the grates, so it doesn’t fall through. Drop heat to medium and close cover.
  5. Grill for 3-4 minutes, until charred. Flip, and grill an additional 3-4 minutes.
  6. Alternatively, lay asparagus on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Simple, healthy, and super-tasty, this has been a family favorite for years! I hope you enjoy it, too!

Blog Signature

Are you excited for grilling season? Do you have a favorite trick for eating more vegetables? Any great healthy recipes you can’t live without? Please share!

 

 


Settling Back In

After two long months in PA, I am finally back home and settled in. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to return to my daily routine–writing, cooking, and even some baking. Of course, I do miss the magical sink in my parents’ house–put something in and it disappears, only to reappear in the cabinet, clean and ready to use, a short time later. 😉 Hubby and I really need to get ourselves a similar sink! (Thanks Mom!)

We probably should have had Cam's "seatbelt" a bit shorter. ;-)

We probably should have had Cam’s “seatbelt” a bit shorter. 😉

On a serious note, it was nice to be home with friends and family for a bit, but I am happy to be back home. A big shout out to my parents for putting up with me for so long! Apparently, no matter how compulsive I am at home, there is something about being in my parents house that turns me into a messy teenager again!

After a few days of visiting with friends and family, we decided to drive back to NC on Saturday to avoid the craziness that is traveling on the Sunday of thanksgiving weekend. After hearing the horror stories of people sitting in traffic for hours on end on Sunday, I am so thankful that we left early!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Of course, leaving on Saturday also allowed us the extra time to get our Christmas tree and decorations up on Thanksgiving weekend–a definite bonus! Even better, we are finally at the time of year that I can listen to Christmas music with the windows open (thanks to the crazy-warm fall we are having) without the neighbors looking at me like I am crazy. 😉

Despite being sick since I got back, I managed to whip up some yummy Apple Crisp! <3

Despite being sick since I got back, I managed to whip up some yummy Apple Crisp! ❤

How was your holiday weekend? Have you decorated for the Christmas (or any other winter holidays) yet? Baked any yummy cookies? Please share! ❤


Cozy Comforts – Easy Tomato Bisque

The temperatures are cooling off here in NC as we head into fall. Our ten-day forecast doesn’t have a single day over eighty degrees–a big change from the sweltering heat of summer.

The refreshing change in weather and the lovely apples and fall vegetables at the Farmers’ Market have me thinking of one of my favorite meals for a chilly day (or even a hot summer day): a rich, creamy Tomato Bisque. 🙂IMG_4332

I used to use a lot of fresh ingredients in this, but I have tweaked it over the years so I can make it almost completely out of my pantry.  I keep a storage baggie of Mirepoix in my freezer, and add any extra chopped onion, celery, or carrots from other recipes.  This way,  I always have some mirepoix in the freezer (though the ratio of carrots to onions to celery is sometimes off) and I don’t have to chop anything for a quick meal like this.

Pantry-friendly ingredients

Pantry-friendly ingredients

Just a note: I have subbed in pureed tomatoes or a can of tomato sauce for the crushed tomatoes, and it still turns out great!

Sauté the Veggies

Sauté the Veggies

Add the tomatoes

Add the tomatoes

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add rice or pasta (optional)

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add rice or pasta (optional)

Stir in some cheese and cream.

Stir in some cheese and cream.

Serve with some crusty bread. I used this recipe, and added some herbs and garlic to one loaf.

Serve with some crusty bread. I used this recipe, and added some herbs and garlic to one loaf.

Easy Tomato Bisque

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Print

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Mirepoix (Fresh or Frozen)
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Basil
1 Can (14-15 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
1 Can (14-15 oz.) Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Cream or Half & Half
1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

 

Optional (for Tomato Orzo Soup)

1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Uncooked Orzo or White Rice

Instructions

  1.  Sauté Mirepoix (chopped Carrots, Onions, and Celery) in Olive Oil over Medium Heat until vegetables start to tenderize (about five minutes).
  2. Stir in Basil and cook an additional 30 seconds, stirring.
  3. Add tomatoes and stock. (If using Pasta or Rice, add all of the stock.) Bump temperature to medium-high, and bring to a slow boil.
  4. Add Pasta or Rice (if using).
  5. Drop the temp and simmer for 10-15 minutes (if using pasta or rice, simmer until it is cooked through).
  6. Remove from the heat. Add cheese and cream, and stir until combined.
  7. Enjoy!

This soup is great topped with an extra drizzle of cream or with some croutons.

Tomato Orzo Bisque

Tomato Orzo Bisque

I tend to add the rice or pasta for dinner, but leave them out for lunch. I almost always double the recipe, then freeze half in individual portions for a quick weekday lunch. Perfect with some crusty bread or a fresh salad! 🙂

An old Instagram shot of this soup without the orzo. Still awesome! <3

A really old Instagram shot of this soup without the orzo. Still awesome! ❤

What is your favorite soup? Do you have any cooking shortcuts to help cut tome on your favorite recipes? Any pantry-only recipe favorites? Please share! ❤