Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just wanted to share an alternative to this White Chocolate Cranberry cookie. Just follow the recipe the same way, but substitute chopped up dried cherries for the cranberries and semisweet chocolate chunks for the white chocolate. It makes for a really yummy flavor combination!

Food on the Table

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they…

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Citrus Roasted Cod

I was never much of a fish eater growing up. My mom wasn’t a huge fan, so we just didn’t have it often. Occasionally, but not often. 

We still don’t eat very much fish, but that’s slowly been changing over the years I’ve been cooking. As I’ve grown up and expanded my food horizons, I’ve found that I really like most whitefish (cod, halibut, barramundi, specifically), and I LOVE salmon. I mean, really, salmon is sooooo good! And of course, I’ve always been a fan of shrimp and crab.

I recently picked up some cod from the store and decided to roast it. I’m going to consider this one of my No recipe Recipes, because it is so stinkin’ easy to put together! Fish takes almost no time at all to cook so it makes for a really fast weeknight dinner. And when my kids have tae kwon do, ballet, and baseball… and I have kickboxing… and my husband has softball, I need dinner to be the last thing to worry about.

I would feel like was doing you a disservice if I didn’t also mention how HEALTHY this meal is. There are approximately 15 grams of protein in 3oz of cod, 70 calories, and .6 grams of fat. It is an excellent source of B vitamins and potassium, and like many fish, a good source of healthy fats. It makes for a very light meal and will take on just about any flavor you add to it because its own flavor is very mild.

For this meal, I just sliced up 1 orange and one lemon and lay the sliced on a parchment lined baking sheet. Save a little bit of the lemon end to squeeze over the top of the fish.

I placed the cod filets on top of the citrus slices. I drizzled each with olive oil (I used my favorite garlic infused olive oil from Trader Joe’s but regular will work). Then I sprinkled each filet with some garlic salt, pepper, and marjoram. Finally, I squeezed the last little bit of lemon over the top. NOTE: you could use any mild white fish here if you don’t have cod.


I put the sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 13 minutes.

That’s it. So simple, but so yummy. It was actually pretty refreshing, which is nice for the warmer spring weather we’ve been having. I served mine with some roasted asparagus, which was easy too since I put the asparagus (coated in olive oil and garlic salt) in the oven about 10 minutes before I added the fish. Both trays came out at the same time.

We will definitely be having this more often!

Super Easy Cranberry Sauce 

If you are in charge of the cranberry sauce for your holiday meal, you definitely drew the long straw. The perfect cranberry sauce takes minutes and only about 4 ingredients (5 if you include the 1/2 cup water). And you can make it a day or two in advance.

Cranberry sauce is definitely the easiest part of the Thanksgiving meal. 

Super Easy Cranberry Sauce 

1 12oz bag of whole, fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar 

The zest of one orange 

The juice of half an orange

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup water

2 Tablespoons cornstarch 

In a pot over medium heat, add your cranberries, sugar, zest, juice, cinnamon, and water. Stir together and let come to a boil.


While the mixture is boiling, the cranberries will begin to burst, releasing their juices. Let it stay at a low boil until they are soft and mostly burst open. 

Once they are all soft, stir in the cornstarch and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until thickened. 


Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cool before serving. It will thicken up even more as it sits.


You can make this dish one to two days in advance and transfer the cranberries to a plastic container and store in the fridge until Turkey Day. 

Chocolate, Banana, Coconut Greek Yogurt 

I’m a big snack person. When I first heard that it is actually recommended that you eat 6 small meals throughout the day instead of just 3 main meals, I was pretty ecstatic. Of course it took me awhile to get it down so I was doing it right (cookies and chips are not what they are talking about here, unfortunately), but still. Dieticians are saying to eat more often? You got it. I’m so there.
 It’s also good to have one of these snacks after a workout. A good post-workout snack has a both a good source of carbs and a protein because you need to replenish the energy you just expended and you need to help repair and recover the muscles you just worked. Plus, your body is still burning calories for a while after you work out, so you won’t be “undoing” anything you just burned. 

This snack was inspired by a picture I saw online, but I don’t remember where (sorry! I’m not trying to steal ideas here!), but it was actually really delicious. Like, you could make this a post-workout snack or a post-breakfast snack or a Tuesday-afternoon snack or a trick-your-kids-into-eating something-healthy snack or an anytime-you-damn-well-feel-like-it snack. It’s healthy and delicious and you will likely want to add it to your routine, whether you work out or not. 

This is for one person, so you can adjust accordingly. This is only about 175 calories (you could do less nut butter if you want to lower this number, since that’s where most of the calories in this snack come from). You use so few of the coconut chips and the nibs, you don’t even have to worry about what they add. 

¼ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

½ banana, sliced

1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)

A few Coconut chips*

A small amount of Cacao nibs*

*I know, I know; the technical measurements here are really on-point.

Let’s pretend I didn’t forget to put the peanut butter in this picture…


In a bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and the peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice). You may notice in the picture below that I didn’t do this. It just makes it easier to mix together before all the other stuff goes in. Then add the sliced bananas and sprinkle a few coconut chips crumbled up and some cacao nibs over the top.

Done! 

**Notes:

1. I found these coconut chips at Trader Joe’s. I’m pretty sure you can get them or a similar product at most grocery stores. Coconut is sort of the It Girl of the food world right now so you can find products everywhere. 

2. Cacao nibs are a raw, pure form of chocolate, made from the crushed dried cocoa bean. Pretty much, they are nature’s chocolate chip. They have a deep chocolate flavor and a little goes a long way. Texture-wise, they sort of remind me of Buncha Crunch (remember those? Do they even still make those anymore?)

Summer Berry Trifle

Ah Summertime. Sweet, sweet summertime. The skies are blue, the sun is shining. It gets a little hot, but that’s what the pool and slip ‘n slide are for, right? Most important, it’s perfect BBQ weather!

Even though the first official day of summer isn’t until June 21, we usually consider Father’s Day our first BBQ of the Summer. 

This year, we weren’t going to be able to spend Father’s Day with my dad and the rest of my family, so my parents came up to our house the day before. We threw a tri tip on the smoker and I made my slow cooker baked beans, some cornbread, and cut up some watermelon. 

It was all delicious and led up to this super yummy dessert. Fruit this season has been so good here in SoCal, so I asked my husband if I should make a peach cobbler or a berry trifle. His answer was a resounding yes for the berry trifle.

This looks really pretty and people will think it was a lot of work, but it really isn’t. And it is so yummy! The fresh berries are so sweet and refreshing, so there isn’t really a lot of added sugar. You can make the vanilla custard from scratch, which is so good, but if you wanted to make it even easier you could use instant pudding and it would still be just as delicious.

For the pudding:

1/2 cup sugar

5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the berries:

1 lb of strawberries 

1 small container each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (I think they are about 6 oz)

1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries

For the cake:

Store bought pound cake

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want it

Start with the custard:

In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

Add the milk, and whisk together so everything is very well combined. Turn the heat in medium-high. Let the mixture come to a boil for about 30 seconds. It will become thick.

Put your egg yolks (make sure it’s yolks only… Don’t ask…) to a bowl and add a little bit of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk together and then add that back into the rest of the milk. 

Add your butter and vanilla and pour into a bowl to let cool completely.

While you wait for the custard to cool, you can prep your berries. I left the blueberries and raspberries whole, but I cut up the blackberries and strawberries. You can really use whatever berries and fruit you like.

Sprinkle with a little sugar and let sit until ready to assemble.


To assemble:

Cut the pound cake into 1″ cubes. Put 1/3 on the bottom of a trifle bowl. Top with 1/3 of the custard. I thinly sliced some strawberries and put them around the side of the dish. This is decorative and optional, but easy enough. Then add 1/3 of the berry mixture on top of the pudding.

Repeat your layers, ending with the last of the berries.

Just before serving, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Top the trifle with the whipped cream.

This was so good. Really… SO GOOD!! We all had seconds… and maybe little bites here and there as I walk past the fridge. Maybe.

The berries are sweet and refreshing. The pudding gets slightly absorbed into the pound cake and it all just comes together in the most delicious way possible.

And the main component is berries, so you know, it’s practically good for you. 

100 (ish) Calorie Snacks

I’ve always loved snacks. There have been days when I have eaten no real meals and just snacked all day. It’s possible that may have contributed a bit to how I got to the point that I’m now on Nutrisystem, but who knows?

On this plan, you get two snacks during the day. The first is a protein snack, like yogurt, in the morning.

The second snack of the day contains a power fuel (protein) and a smart carb. This is my favorite snack because, hello, a girl needs her carbs! 

Anyway, here are some of my favorite low calorie, carb friendly  snacks:

Half a pear, from a can in water or juice (not syrup): 22 calories; 1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese: 81 calories. Total: 103 calories

You can swap out the fruit here too. This is really good with any fruit but my favorites are pears, peaches, and pineapple.

2 ounces deli ham: 74 calories; 1 cup cubed cantaloupe: 54 calories. Total: 128

One of my favorite food combos is prosciutto and melon. The prosciutto isn’t really Nutrisystem-approved (not to mention it’s on the pricey side), but a good deli ham is a perfectly acceptable substitute. This was a really yummy snack.

Strawberries: 22 calories for 10 berries; 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt: 33 calories. Total: 55 calories.

Plain Greek yogurt isn’t very good by itself and the flavored stuff is high in sugar, so this is the best compromise. It helps if you have a cute snack-buddy to eat with you 😊


1 medium nectarine: 62 calories; 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt: 33 calories. Total: 95 calories.

You may have gathered, this is the same method as the cottage cheese. You can pair this with any fruit you like, keeping in mind different fruits have different calorie counts.


Finally, hummus and veggies. The veggies are free and a 1/4 cup serving of hummus is 109 calories. You can buy it (check the nutritional content) or make it. I have a really yummy recipe riighhhht here. <— Keep in mind this post was back at the beginning of this blog, when I had a bit of a different goal. I like to think my posts are better now! :0)

Fruit Tart with Vanilla Cream 

Springtime. The word conjures up images of tweeting birds, colorful flowers, bright sunshiny days. As nice as Spring is, it isn’t even my favorite time of year! Sure, I don’t hate it, my seasonal love is reserved for Fall and Winter. When it becomes socially acceptable to watch Hallmark Christmas movies in April, we’ll talk. 

One thing I do really like about the Spring is all the bright colors everywhere, and that goes for food too. Fresh fruit, especially, is perfectly in season right now and that’s why this tart is perfect for this time of year. It makes for a really yummy treat that can be changed up, depending on what type of fruit is available to you and what you like. You can also use smaller shells and make individual tarts! Who doesn’t love their own personal dessert, right?? 

Another good thing about this dessert, is that it looks really impressive. There are a lot of steps, but it is actually pretty easy to put together. It will look like you slaved over it and everyone will love it. Go with it. My father-in-law always used to tell me not to reveal my secrets. If people think it was hard, let them. 

(Sorry for the lack of step by step photos. I was concentrating on not messing up my pastry cream!)

For the tart shell:

1/4 cup whole almonds

1 cup plus two teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until light golden and fragrant, seven to 10 minutes. (Or you could just buy roasted almonds) Let cool completely, then finely grind in a food processor. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth and light, about one minute. Add almonds, egg yolk, and extract, and beat on medium speed until well combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined to form a dough. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap; pat into a flattened disk. Wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour or overnight.

Reheat oven to 350 degrees. On a work surface that is lightly floured, roll out dough to the size of your tart pan, about 3/8 inch thick. Trim flush with edge of pan. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. 

Place tart pan on a baking sheet; bake until crust starts to brown around the edges, 13 to 14 minutes. (Dough will be slightly puffed in spots.) Transfer to a wire rack. Using a metal spatula, gently press on dough until it is smooth and flat. Let cool completely.

For the vanilla bean pastry cream:

3 cups milk

Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Set up: In a pan combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds. Combine the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift the cornstarch onto a piece of wax or parchment paper.

Scald the milk, which basically means to bring it to a boil but don’t let it burn. Meanwhile, beat the yolks and sugar until they lighten in color. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cornstarch. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to incorporate. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, and place the pot back on the heat. Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly but gently with the whisk, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat and let it boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the butter. Strain the pastry cream through a strainer into a bowl, place plastic wrap right down on the surface, and chill completely. This can be made up to 3 days ahead. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it’s easier than it sounds. If it all seems too daunting, just use instant pudding. It will still be delicious and beautiful. 

Now, this is my little secret: a thin layer of chocolate! Melt 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips with 1/2 tablespoon of milk in the microwave and pour a layer over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has reset. Pour the pastry cream over the chocolate. Decorate with your choice of sliced fruit in whatever pattern you want. Put in the fridge for one hour or overnight until the fruit has set in the filling.

Serve and get ready for the “oohs and ahhs” to come you way.

  
**Vanilla beans are kinda expensive ($10 or $12 for 2 beans!), but the flavor is ridiculous! I’m sure you could substitute vanilla extract which most people have on hand. I’ve heard one teaspoon of extract is the equivalent to one bean, but I’ve also heard that one teaspoon is the equivalent to only 1 inch of bean and vanilla beans are usually much longer than 1 inch, so you’d have to play around with the measurments.