Sweet Potato Potato Salad  

I always like finding ways to incorporate healthier choices into my cooking, especially for holidays and special occasions. This potato salad is perfect to bring to summer BBQs and a few simple swaps helped increase the nutrition a little bit.

4 medium sweet potatoes

5 slices (6oz) bacon, chopped

1 cup thawed peas

2 green onions, chopped

2-4 tablespoons honey mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon greek yogurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and then boil them in salted water until they are fork tender. It doesn’t matter what size you dice them, just make them even.

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crispy.

In a small bowl, mix together the honey mustard, cider vinegar, honey, greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. I actually just did this right in the measuring cup.

In a large bowl, add your cooked sweet potatoes, crispy bacon, thawed peas, and chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper and pour as much dressing over the top as you’d prefer.  I used all of it. Taste to see if you need to add anything.

Let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours and taste it again. The longer this sits, the better the flavors are.

Peach, Tomato, and Burrata Caprese

This has been a very hot summer here in Southern California.  I made this for dinner one night when I really didn’t want to cook and I just craved something refreshing. Peaches this time of year are usually pretty spot on, so I took advantage of the delicious peach season and made this yummy salad for myself.

Note: this served one as a main course. You can double it and make two salads. Serve with a glass of wine and you’ve got a really light dinner. Or you can leave it as is and it can be a side dish.

½ of a big heirloom tomato, sliced in half moons

½ to 1 whole peach, depending on size, sliced in half moons

4-5 pieces of prosciutto

1 ball buratta

Balsamic glaze for drizzling

Fresh basil, minced, for topping

You can really just chop everything up and eat it like that, but I liked the look of the circle.

Just alternate the tomato, peach, and prosciutto around a plate until the circle is complete. Place the burrata in the middle and drizzle the balsamic glaze and sprinkle the fresh basil over the top.

Eat the fruits with the buratta and feel like you are in heaven for a few moments.

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Just a quick little food fact about me: I used to hate goat cheese. I say that because I never tried goat cheese and I always thought it was the same as Feta (which I actually do despise; judge me if you must). I can’t remember what made me try it, but I can say that I’ve been hooked ever since. If there is a menu item with goat cheese, I’m all about it. I will put it on or in anything from salads, to eggs, pasta. And these super delicious appetizers that my husband and I just scarfed down one night making us almost too full for dinner.

They are super simple:

Cut a bunch of mini sweet peppers in half lengthwise (however many you want to make, I did 12 peppers, so I got 24 halves). Remove any seeds or ribs in the pepper. Mini peppers don’t usually have too much inside.

Place the peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes on 400. They should be slightly softened, but still sturdy enough to hold a filling.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together 4 oz cream cheese and 4 oz goat cheese with about a tablespoon of fresh chopped chives, ½ tablespoon each fresh chopped basil, thyme, and oregano. Add about 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the peppers are done, fill with the goat cheese filling. I used a plastic bag and piped it in, but you don’t have to.

Put the peppers back in the oven for about 3-5 minutes to let the cheese mixture melt a little.

Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Crowd Pleasing Spinach Artichoke Dip

So, I suppose all spinach artichoke dip is crowd pleasing, right? I mean, who doesn’t love this stuff?? When I was deciding what to bring to this year’s Super Bowl party, the hubby suggested this dip. In a bread bowl. With the hollowed out bread for dipping.

That man just gets me, you know?

So here it is. And there it went. It was long gone by the time the game was over.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

*This is actually a double recipe because I used a big loaf of bread. Cut it in half if you use a bread bowl instead. Or don’t. It’s delicious. Make two bowls.

**The fat content of each item is up to you. Low fat? OK. Full Fat? Go for it. Non fat? Whatever you want, dear one.

 

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, room temp

1 cup plain greek yogurt

½ cup mayo

2 Tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

3-4 green onions, white and light green parts, diced

A few dashes of hot sauce

16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed.

2 cans quartered artichokes, drained and chopped

3 cups mozzarella cheese

1 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of a loaf of bread and remove the bread inside, leaving about 1 inch around the outside for stability. Set aside.

In a big mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, yogurt, and mayo until combined. Please note that I attempted to make this without mayo but I found it needed it for the right texture. If may freaks you out, use sour cream. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, green onions, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Put the thawed spinach in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Add to the cream cheese mixture with the artichokes. Add 2 cups of the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese and stir to combine everything thoroughly.

Scoop the spinach/cheese mixture into the hollowed out loaf. Don’t be shy. Fill her up. Then top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is all melty and the top is golden brown.

Serve with the bread you carved out from the inside or crackers or chips or pita or veggies or…. You get the idea.

Cranberry Brie Appetizer Bites  

Full Disclosure here: This is not my recipe. I got from one of those recipe videos that are all over everyone’s Facebook/Instagram feeds. I don’t remember which one, but it was definitely either Tasty or Delish.

Either way, these are so yummy! I made them as a Thanksgiving appetizer, but you could use them for Christmas. Or New Years. Or any random Tuesday for that matter. They are super easy and really tasty.

You just need a wheel of brie cheese, a tube (or two; I’ll explain in a minute) of crescent roll dough, chopped pecans, and prepared cranberry sauce. Rosemary is optional.

In the video, they used a sheet of crescent roll dough without any perforations to make the triangles into crescents. I can’t find that particular item in any stores near me, so I bought two tubes of the dough with the perforations and just sort of “mushed” everything together to create my own solid sheet of dough. Then I cut the dough into small squares to fit into a mini muffin tin. My mini muffin tin has 24 spaces so I made 24 squares and placed a square of dough into each cup.

Then, cut the brie into the same amount of cubes and placed them into the cup on top of the dough.

I topped each one with a small spoonful of prepared cranberry sauce. I made my own (recipe here), but you can use your own recipe or buy canned. Make sure it is the whole berry sauce though, not the jellied. Finally, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each one.  The video also topped each one with a few rosemary leaves, but honestly, I couldn’t taste any rosemary, so you could probably leave it off.

After you have assembled everything, bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at minimum room temp.  We had some leftover and they are not quite as good cold from the fridge.

Skinny Nachos

Other than cheeseburgers, I’m pretty obsessed with nachos. I mean, how can you beat a plate of really good nachos? The chips, the melted cheese, the chicken (or other meat), sour cream and guacamole. Beans? Yes please. It’s got it all.

My absolute favorite nachos are from Yardhouse. I could eat them at least once a week. I tell everyone about these nachos. Unfortunately, they clock in at a whopping 2,460 calories.  

Yes, I know you are supposed to share them, but even when it’s just my husband and I, that’s still 1230 calories each. Also, I’m not a huge fan of sharing food. I like my food to be my food. You can have some when I’m done. Plus, it messes up the check at the end of the night.


Anyway, I had to come up with something to get my nacho fix. The other day I was looking in my fridge planning lunch. The kids had their turkey and cheese sandwiches and I was *thisclose* to making that for the hubby and myself as well. Then I saw we had leftover turkey taco meat and the lightbulb went off.
SKINNY(ISH) NACHOS!!! They were delish. There’s not a real recipe here because that’s the beauty of nachos: Freedom. Make as much as you want, put whatever toppings you want. Just keep in mind that the ingredients I use are why I can call them skinny. Make all the substitutions you want, but be wary of whether or not you start to lose the “skinny” in the title.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out a layer of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I used the Trader Joe’s brand that includes quinoa, chia seeds, and sprouted amaranth). 


Top that with a layer of taco meat. I used leftover turkey taco meat, you can really use any taco/tex-mex flavored meat you like here. Top that with a layer of cheese (I used low fat three cheese blend from Trader Joe’s). 


If you wanted to add beans, you can do that at this point as well.

Bake the chips/cheese/meat mixture at 375 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through.

Top with whatever you want to top it with. I cut up some cherry tomatoes and added a heaping scoop of guacamole. I also used plain nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream.