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.

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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.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

This dish makes a lot, which is good because it I makes for GREAT leftovers.  This is a good recipe to have on hand because it uses mostly pantry staples so you can make it anytime. I mean, I don’t usually have prosciutto just lying around, but this pasta is still really yummy without it too. The prosciutto was an added bonus this time around.

It all comes together really quickly, so it makes a good weeknight meal even when you’re busy.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

1 each red, orange, yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 medium shallot, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Goat cheese

4 oz package prosciutto, cut or torn into small pieces *optional

1 box small pasta, like penne or small shells

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

*Note: Prosciutto is a bit salty on its own, so if you are using it, you can go easy on the salt on the roasted veggies.

Toss the bell peppers, zucchini, shallot, and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and a little caramelized on the edges.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp up the prosciutto if you are using it and cook your pasta per package directions. I like using Banza chickpea pasta for this, but you can use any pasta you like.

When the pasta is done, drain and put it in a large bowl. Add the prosciutto and the veggies. Use any of the oil that comes off during roasting as well. That’s lots of flavor!

In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss.

Finally, add some crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you want; there are no rules here!) and the fresh herbs. Toss again and serve.

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.

Bone Broth Miso Chicken Noodle Soup

I’m always looking for healthy things to add to our meal repertoire. It seems like there are so many buzzworthy and trendy things out there, it’s hard to keep track of what is really good for you and what’s just the next thing that people will move on from in a month or two.

To me, Bone Broth seemed like one of those things. I mean, how is it healthy? What makes it good for me? Like I usually do, I dove into my own research and from what I can find, this stuff appears to be legit. It is made using the bones of the chicken (or beef for beef bone broth). The collagen from the bones seeps into the broth and provides So. Many. Nutrients.  It helps protect your joints, it is good for overall gut health, it helps maintain healthy skin and nails, it supports the immune system, helps with detoxing the body, it boosts your metabolism and aids in digestion.  It is really easy to make your own, but it is time consuming. I used store-bought from Sprouts.  They say drinking a cup a day you will really notice the benefits. I haven’t done that yet, but the flavor of the broth I used was so delish, I could probably give it a try.

Miso is another thing I am pretty new to. I know it isn’t a food trend like Bone Broth, but I just tried miso soup for the first time about a month ago and it was SOOOOO GOOOOOOODDD! I’ve been seriously missing out. When I was looking into bettering my gut health, miso was one of the options that came up as a probiotic. It also helps aid digestion, is good for blood pressure, and is a good source of nutrients like vitamin K and folic acid.

So now that I have these two new gut health superheroes at my culinary disposal, I thought, why not combine them? I bought some soba noodles awhile back (their own health benefits including being fat free, gluten free, high in manganese, vitamins, protein, and fiber) and thought I’d add those to the mix as well. Make my own version of chicken noodle soup!

I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out, but it was yummy. The hubs had two servings!   If anyone else has any yummy ways to use miso or bone broth, just let me know!

Bone Broth Miso Chicken Noodle Soup

8 cups Chicken Bone Broth

1 pound chicken thighs

¼ cup white miso (you can use any miso you like)

1 ½ cups baby carrots, chopped (it was about a cup and half after I chopped each on into thirds)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme

A splash each of soy sauce (can use aminos) and rice wine vinegar

A good sized handful of baby spinach, torn

¼ to 1/3 of the package of soba noodles, broken

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped green onions, white and light green parts, for garnish

In a heavy soup pot, bring the bone broth to a boil. Add the chicken thighs and poach for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and add the miso, stirring until it is combined into the broth.

Add the garlic powder, thyme, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, spinach, and carrots.  Keep a medium boil until the carrots are just about soft.

Check the package directions on your soba noodles to see how long they need to cook. Mine were about 7 minutes, so I added the noodles and cooked them until they were almost done. Then I added the chicken back to the pot and mixed it all together and continued cooking until the noodles were done. Taste the broth to see if you want to add any salt or pepper. With the miso and the soy being salty-ish on their own, you may not need to add anything.

Serve the soup with a sprinkling of chopped green onions and enjoy!

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

I am often day dreaming about recipes. I know, it may seem weird, but I truly do think of a couple ingredients and just imagine what I can do with them. I start out pretty general and then play around with ingredients in my head until I think I may be on to something. It doesn’t always work out, but often it does and when that happens, I am quite pleased with myself.

This dish came out of a craving I was having for shrimp. Who doesn’t like shrimp, right? I also LOVE Louisiana-style cuisine. Unfortunately, it isn’t usally the healthiest, so I either avoid it, just give in and go for gold, or, like in this case, rely on simple seasoning to give a healthy dish some Cajun flair.

This meal came together in a flash and the hubby went back for seconds. That makes it a total winner in my book.  The potato/sausage mixture makes a lot, so you can have leftovers, which are super delish the next day with sunny-side up egg on top.

You can adjust the seasonings based on your preference/tolerance for spice.

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

 

Olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4-5 mini sweet peppers, diced (mix of red, yellow, and orange). You can also just use 1 red bell pepper, diced.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 pound smoked turkey sausage (i.e. Hilshire Farms)

Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere brand)

Shrimp, factor in about 5 medium-sized shrimp per person

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Saute the sausage until it starts to brown. Remove from the skillet. Add a little more olive oil if you need it and saute the onions, peppers, and potatoes until the potatoes are almost softened. Add the garlic at this point so you don’t burn it. Add the sausage back in and sprinkle some Cajun seasoning. However much you want. Let this cook until the sausage and potatoes are browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium heat, add a little more olive oil. Sprinkle more seasoning on some peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until done, just a few minutes on each side is usually all you need.  I cook the shrimp separately because you will have leftovers of the potatoes and the shrimp doesn’t reheat well. You can always make more shrimp if you want later.

Once it’s all done, just serve up the potato/sausage mixture and top with about 5 shrimp per person.