Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cheesy Quinoa Bites

YUM!  These are so yummy!  Overall, they're pretty easy to make.  The most work involved came when shredding the carrots, the cheese and slicing the scallions.  You know, I thought it would be easier for me to use my food processor but it wasn't.  Then again, my food processor decided to poop out on me.  So it took me time trying to wedge the blade up (oh yes, it was stuck good) and pick out all the food that got jammed in all the plastic bits.  Ugh. 

Had my 15 year-old food processor not cracked (actually it's the detachable stem which I just discovered the company no longer makes.  That's what I get for having an ancient processor.  Bummer.) things would have gone better I'm sure. 

That all said, I came across this recipe for Cheese Quinoa Bites and of course had to try it.  I absolutely LOVE quinoa.  It's safe to say I'll try almost any quinoa-related dish.  It's versatile, easy to make and good for you!  Long gone are the days of eating couscous for me.  Quinoa just makes me feel better after I've had it.




  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup shredded carrot

  • 2 stalks green onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt

  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix together quinoa, carrot, egg, green onion, garlic, cilantro, cheese, flour, salt and pepper.
    Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (1 heaping Tbs each).  

    Bake for 15-20 minutes.


    As I said, these are delicious!

    I ended up adding 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese to see what would happen (also because I have it on hand and need to get rid of it).  It came out great.

    I'll definitely be making this again.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Scalloped Potatoes

    In an effort to use some potatoes I had lying around, I found this recipe to make scalloped potatoes.  As it turned out, I had all the ingredients.  Well...kind of had the ingredients.  Actually, I had to substitute some things because I didn't have everything the recipe called for.  I'll explain in a little bit...


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk

  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

  • 1-3/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 5 medium)

  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced


  • In a small nonstick skillet, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese until blended.

  • Place half of the potatoes in a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray; layer with half of the onion and cheese sauce. Repeat layers.

  • Cover and bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly and potatoes are tender.

  • Yield: 6 servings.


    Well... a few things:  As I was preparing to make this dish, I discovered I had no more flour.  NONE.  So I had this idea of using ground cornmeal as a substitute.  The same stuff I use to make polenta. 

    Then I used fat free half and half because I had it on hand.  And instead of using cheddar cheese (because again, I had none), I chose to use Monterey Jack cheese.  Then I doubled the amount of cheese. 

    Finally, for the onion I used a bunch of scallions.  Again, I used them because I had them. Oh, the potatoes.  I used 2 new potatoes and 2 sweet potatoes.  As I said, these were all items I had on hand. 

    As I was mixing the milk/cheese sauce I noticed that the mixture was super soupy.  So I added in another tablespoon of cornmeal.  Then once it thickened, it thickened in a serious way.  Like, maybe I shouldn't have used that extra tablespoon of cornmeal.  Anyway... I put the whole kit and caboodle together and it looked great. 

    Once it baked up, the sweet potatoes and cornmeal gave it a golden/orange color.  And while the sauce thickened to a cornbread-like consistency, the whole dish tasted great.  So, I'm not sure these would pass as your traditional scalloped potatoes, but they are really delicious.  My husband tested them too and liked them.  I'll be making these again.

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    Artichoke, Kale & Ricotta Pie

    If you've been following my posts for any length of time you'll see the ridiculous amount of dessert dishes I make.  It's just not normal.  After all, it's just me and my husband at home.  I'm not feeding a family or an army.  I just get swept up in the recipes and visions in my head of all these heavenly delights.  You know what that leads to?  Me feeling like poo when I've eaten too much of it. 

    For the record, I don't eat all of it. Far from it.  I bring a large chunk of what I make to whatever yoga studio(s) I'm teaching at that day.  Luckily for me, not every yogi is into a strict vegetarian (healthy) diet.

    That said, I'm seeking to go back to a more mindful and healthy way of eating.  Granted, I have to clear the fridge and cabinets of whatever leftover supplies I used, but I'm getting back on track.  And what better way to do both than with this next recipe for Artichoke, Kale and Ricotta Pie.  (Original recipe is found here).

    By the way, it's cooking right now and smells absolutely sinful!


    Olive oil
    4 eggs, beaten
    8 ounces ricotta cheese
    4 ounces Parmesan, grated
    1 cup canned artichokes, chopped
    1 bunch kale, roughly chopped

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan lightly with olive oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and cheeses. Roughly chop the veggies and add to the cheese/egg mixture. Stir until combined. Pour contents of bowl into the greased cake pan and cook until custard is set, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on a wire wrack for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.


    This pie didn't need to be in the oven as long as the directions state.  I left it in for 40 minutes and checked; it was more than ready to come out.  Next time I make this (and I will be making it again because it turned out delicious!) I'll check it at 30 minutes and possibly lower the temperature to about 375 degrees.

    As far as the flavor goes, I like putting garlic and onions in almost everything I make and this was no exception.  However, I discovered I ran out of fresh garlic.  Boo.  Happily, I have a good amount of onions on hand so I decided to thinly slice up a couple of shallots.  Hooray!

    So even though it cooked a little longer than I would have liked, it still came out fantastic.  My husband gave it his two thumbs up as well!

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Slutty Brownies. You just gotta have them.

    Any recipe called "Slutty Brownies" is going to get your attention.  It did mine.  When I saw the pictures I was instantly hooked.  It has 3 of my favorite things: brownies, chocolate chip cookies and Oreos!  Hel-lo!

    By the way, finding this recipe kinda falls into the category of "Why Didn't I Think of This Before?"  It's true.  For someone as creative as myself I really have no excuse as to why I hadn't come up with something like this.  It's genius.
    Just take a look at them, looking all sexy lounging on the plate.  They're asking for it!



    For the brownie layer:

  • 10 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

  • 1-¼ cup White Sugar

  • ¾ cups Cocoa Powder

  • ½ teaspoons Salt

  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 2 whole Eggs

  • ½ cups Flour

  • For the cookie dough layer:

  • 1 cup Butter

  • ½ cups Brown Sugar

  • 1-½ cup White Sugar

  • 2 whole Eggs

  • 2-½ teaspoons Vanilla extract

  • 2-½ cups Flour

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • 1 package Oreo Cookies, 15 Ounce Package


    For the brownie layer:

    In a medium-sized sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.
    For the cookie dough layer:

    Cream together the butter and sugars using a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.

    For the assembly:

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.

    Layer half of the cookie dough on the bottom of the prepared baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the Slutty Brownies. Reserve the remaining cookie dough to be used to make cookies later in the day.

    Layer as many Oreos as you can on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do.

    Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreo layer and make sure it’s spread evenly on top.

    Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. If the knife comes out clean, then remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter still on it, allow the brownies to bake about 5 minutes more.

    Serve with ice cream!

    As per usual, I had to change things up.  Not intentionally, but more out of necessity.  I didn't have enough butter.  So when it came to making the brownie layer I only had 4 tablespoons of butter.  To compensate, I used 2 tablespoons of Olivio butter substitute and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) apple sauce.  Wonderful.  And I also used Egg Beaters instead of regular eggs.  Just a little way to cut down on the cholesterol and saturated fat. 

    By the way, these are absolutely delicious.  They're gooey and decadent.  Just the way nature intended ;')

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Honey Beer Bread.

    So what do you do when you have food items you want to get rid of?  You look for recipes using those same items!  And that is how this next recipe came about.  It's a simple, easy to make bread.  It uses no yeast so you don't have to wait for it to rise.  You can tell by the pictures that even without the yeast, it had no problems rising pretty high! 

    The taste?  In a word: YUMMY!  I know this sounds silly, but you can really taste the beer and the honey together.  It's such a nice flavor combination.  Actually, I thought it was a rather interesting taste; biting into a piece of fresh bread and encountering the unmistakeable beer flavor, softened slightly by the honey.  So good.

    And of course, the original recipe can be found here.  Well done!



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 Tbsp. sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar

  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer

  • 4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted (**You can double this if you’d like**)


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. (I recommend popping your honey in the microwave for a few seconds beforehand to make it easier to stir in!)

    Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter. (Use a pastry brush to spread it around if you’d like.)

    Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve immediately.


    I ended up using only 2 tablespoons of melted butter which I put into the dough directly.  You can brush the top of the dough with the butter as the directions suggest, but I didn't see any difference from when I used the butter on top from when I didn't (yes, I made the bread twice :)

    As I said, it's super easy to make and just delicious.  Especially warm!

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Baked Quinoa and Cheese

    You got that right. Baked QUINOA and cheese. Delicious AND (a little bit more) healthy.

    Again, I have to credit the peeps at Pinterest for this recipe. Although of course, I re-modeled it to fit my needs :)

    This a great dish to make if you want to have lunch ready for the week or for leftovers.  If you have a family, this might go pretty quick.  It makes 8 servings but you may want seconds.  It's super easy to make too.  Just bring together all the ingredients and bake.  Plus, using quinoa instead of pasta adds a different dimension to it (as well as protein!).




  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained

  • Veggies of your choice (optional)

  • good pinch of salt

  • a few grinds of seasoning salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup soy milk or non-fat milk

  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling

  • Optional- Crushed Red Pepper, Panko Bread crumbs for topping

  • Toppings (optional)- salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions


    Lightly saute any veggies you would like in this dish.

    Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes)

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13x9 inch dish( or 8 individual ramekins) with cooking spray.Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using Panko Crumbs or Bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 mins, until bread crumbs are browned.


    I thought the idea of adding vegetables was great.  Since I had some frozen chopped broccoli on hand I decided to add that.  Now, the recipe says any vegetable and that you can lightly saute them.  I went with what was quick.  At first I thought the 10oz package of broccoli would be too much, but it turned out perfectly for the amount of quinoa I made. 

    Also, I didn't have cheddar so I used Monterey Jack cheese.  Frankly, it tastes fine.  Better than fine, actually.  But I think deep down, cheddar would probably be the way to go.  The Monterey Jack cheese is just milder.  Although the texture is still creamy.

    Oh, and I decided to add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Since the flavor was mild without the cheddar, I thought (and rightly so) the Paresan would add a little more kick. 

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Snickerdoodle Muffins. Oh yeah.

    There's something about cinnamon and sugar together that makes me smile.  Actually, I smile about a lot of different food combinations but these two take me back to my childhood.  To the good things in my childhood.  It's probably safe to say I'll always enjoy these two flavor combinations. 

    Naturally, this looked too good to pass by when I saw it on Pinterest.  Ever since I joined that site a couple weeks ago, I cannot stop trolling for all kinds of yummy goodness that people have to share.  A lot of what I find I call "food porn".  It's just that good - at least to look at.  That said, I had to give this recipe a test drive. 

    I've made snickerdoodle cookies and blondie bars so it only makes sense to try these guys out too.

    Original recipe can be found here



  • 2 ¼ cups flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • For the Topping:
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
    Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin cups with muffin liners. (Do not use cooking spray.)
    In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tarter, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in half of the dry ingredients. Beat in the sour cream and buttermilk. Beat in remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated (batter will be soft).
    To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

    Using an ice cream or large cookie scooper, drop the scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the dough with the mixture and roll it around until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar. Place the ball into the muffin liner. Repeat with remaining batter. Sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops the muffins.

    Bake until muffin tops are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve warm.

    Makes 16 muffins.

    I made a few changes to these.  For starters, I didn't have any buttermilk so I improvised. In place of the buttermilk I used cream cheese.  It worked out great!  The muffins are still light, fluffy and soft.

    The directions state to drop scoops of batter into the cinnamon/sugar mixture but I found this very difficult.  I dropped in a scoop and it kinda went all over the place.  So instead, I scooped batter into the paper liners then I scooped smaller amounts of cinnamon/sugar and placed them on top of the batter.  I made sure the batter was covered and that was that.  I put them in the oven.  Of course, coming out the other end, some of the sugar topping baked off onto the muffin pan.  It made it a little challenging to clean, but no big deal otherwise.  The muffins looked and tasted great.
    Oh - I also substituted brown sugar for the granulated sugar.  I like it better that way.

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    The Best Fudgy Brownies Ever!!!

    For starters, I'm not on my home wireless connection and this one at my mother-in-law's is dodgy. Apparently. I've already lost my post once.  Fingers crossed it doesn't happen again.

    Getting back to what I originally came here to do... these fudgy brownies are incredible!  I made them for my husband for Valentine's Day so he could enjoy his favorite treat.  It doesn't hurt that brownies are among my all-time favorite goodies too ;')

    So back to trolling online I went in search of THE recipe that would deliver me decadent, chewy, gooey brownies.  I found them here on

    They're easy to make and the longest part of the process was actually mixing it all together.  No biggie.



  • 1 cup butter, melted

  • 3 cups white sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

    Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.

    Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.

    Bake in preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove, and cool pan on wire rack before cutting.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Pink Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

    I know, Valentine's Day was yesterday.  So that meant I was busy baking for my sweetie... yesterday.  Today I post the yummies.  This time it was Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Pink Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting the recipe for which I found here.  Unfortunately, my pictures weren't all too sexy, but you get the idea...

    Major YUM!!!  Although I made the cookie bars in the same size pan that the recipe calls, so they came out really tall.  Since they're so good though, I don't think pan size matters. 

    And probably because they came out taller than they should have, their consistency is more like brownies or a dense cake.  With the cinnamon in there, OMG, these are just delicious. 

    Essentially, I baked these for myself (well not really for me since I give them out at whatever yoga studio I'm teaching at that day).  Meaning, my husband prefers fudgy brownies rather than anything too vanilla.  Don't worry, I made him his favorite brownies for Valentine's Day.  Me, I can go for both :')



    (For the bars)

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    2 cups all-purpose flour

    (vanilla cream cheese frosting)

    1/4 cup butter, softened
    1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 to 4 1/2+ cups powdered sugar
    splash of milk or water, if needed
    (pink) food coloring, optional


    Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan by lining it with foil and then spraying it with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and mix until combined. Add the baking soda and flour and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. The batter will be very thick and sticky, like cookie dough. Use your hands if necessary to spread it evenly. Bake at 375F for 19 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean. While the bars are baking, prepare the frosting.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until combined and it begins to fluff. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar (one-half cup at a time after 3 cups) and mix until desired frosting consistency is reached. Carefully add the food coloring, one drop at a time, until desired color is reached. After the bars have cooled, frost them. Optionally, garnish with sprinkles, candy bits, sanding sugar, or any optional garnish of your choice. Consider storing the bars in the refrigerator because of the cream cheese and butter in the frosting; the bars freeze well and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.


    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Valentine's Truffles

    I began experimenting with this at Christmas time.  You can find those results (and recipe) here.  These are some of the yummiest and easiest treats you can make.  And with Valentine's Day only 2 days away, you don't need a ton of time to put these together.

    Well actually, that's not entirely true.  The Red Velvet Cream Cheese Truffles required baking in order to make the Red Velvet Cream Cheese-iced treats. 


    The recipe for the Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Bars can be found here.  You'll need these in order to make the Red Velvet Cream Cheese Truffles.


    Melt down whatever chocolate you want to use to create the shell for these truffles (ie; milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white, etc...).  Be sure to use baking chocolate as it will melt and coat the truffles best.  I use Callebaut morsels.  They're on the pricey side but so worth it.

    Mix red velvet cream cheese swirl bars together in a large bowl. But do NOT overmix.  You still want to be able to see the cream cheese bits.  Using a tablespoon-sized scooper, scoop out some of the mix into the melted chocolate.

    Use a fork to remove the truffle from the chocolate and place it on wax paper to harden.  Once the batch is done you can allow them to chill in the fridge.  If you want afterward, melt some additional chocolate and drizzle on top of the truffles to make some fun designs.


    These are so easy to make you don't even have to bake!  They just require a little bit of love and patience (so they come out all pretty :)

    Again, recipe and directions for the Oreo Cookie Truffles are here

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

    A great Valentine's treat right here.  What a great excuse to bake more goodies.  This is a new recipe for me; never made anything "red velvet".  Can you believe it?

    Of course there are more I want to get to (cookies, truffles, cheesecake...nom, nom, nom), but frankly I don't know that I have the time before Tuesday comes around.

    Regardless... here are the red velvet cream cheese swirl bars.  Recipe is courtesy of Big Fat Baker.  When I saw those pictures I caved immediately.  Weak in the knees.  Mixing two of my favorite things: cream cheese and brownies.  OY!



    Bar layer:
    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/8 tsp salt
    1 tbl red food coloring
    1 tsp white distilled vinegar
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour

    Cream cheese layer:
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8"x8" baking dish with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray.

    In medium bowl, combine melted butter with sugar and mix well.  Add vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar in that order, mixing between additions.

    Whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each.  Fold in the flour.  Pour all batter excet 1/4 cup into prepared baking pan.

    To make the cream cheese layer, blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Spread the cream cheese on top of the brownie batter.  Drop dollops of remaining brownie batter over cream cheese layer.  Using a knife, swirl through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern.

    Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.


    While these dessert bars taste wonderful, they didn't turn out like your typical fudgy brownie.  These ended up more cake-like.  So just know when you get started that this is what to expect.  They're still super moist and chewy, just not as dense as a brownie.

    Up next... I use some of these red velvet cream cheese swirl bars to make cake truffles!  NOM NOM NOM!

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Roasted Acorn Squash & Quinoa Pasta

    This dish is probably the best thing I've come across in a LONG time.  Not only is this a keeper, but I think it'll be something I make several more times through the end of the winter.

    I made this dish twice.  It's based on a recipe found here.  I adapted it to make a pasta sauce, baked pasta dish as well as a soup.  It's more than fair to say that this is a versatile recipe.



  • 1/4 cup onion

  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 2 cups pureed acorn squash (from 1 roasted corn squash)

  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (divided in half)

  • Parmesan for topping

  • 2 boxes elbow pasta (8oz boxes)


    1. To roast acorn squash, cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down in a pan filled with about a 1/2″ of water. Roast at 400˚ until squash is tender (mine took about 30 minutes.) Remove and let cool. Scoop out the insides and set aside (this can be done the day before as well.)
    2. Cook pasta according to package (or about 2-3 minutes less to make it al dente).
    3. In a bowl, stir together the acorn squash, ricotta cheese and Parmesan.
    4. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Finely dice onions and add to pan along with chopped garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and cooked through.
    5. Add onions/garlic and squash mixture and puree in a food processor till smooth.
    6. Once everything is ready, spoon squash mixture onto pasta.
    7. **If you're making the baked version** Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Combine cooked pasta and squash mixture. Put it in the casserole dish and top with either breadcrumbs or parmesan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, just enough to get the top a little crispy.

    Okay.  So I've made this dish twice now.  It was delicious both times.  Actually, the first time I made the acorn squash mix, I was spooning it out from the food processor right into my mouth.  I could have made a meal just out of that alone.  It was that good.

    That said, I decided to see what else I could make from the original recipe. 

    Let me rewind for a moment.  Since I didn't have pasta shells, I decided to use the quinoa pasta I had which was elbows.  I made the acorn squash mix as a sauce.

    Then the wheels started turning and I thought that it would make a good baked dish, similar to a macaroni and cheese - in the loosest sense of the phrase. 

    But then I also thought it would make a great soup if it was thinned out to the right consistency.

    Oh - the acorn squash.  It's easier to cut through and set up than butternut squash, but once cooked, it's still a little challenging to scoop out the cooked parts.  There's probably an easier way to do it, but I find my hands get mighty dirty in the process.  Then again, maybe it's good to get the hands dirty now and again ;)


    Add 1 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup half and half (I used fat free, but the real thing would make it even creamier :) to a large saucepan with the acorn squash mix and simmer for about 30 minutes.


    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Baked Zucchini & Sweet Potato Chips

    Since I had the zucchini I decided to make these baked zucchini chips.  Then I decided that since I also had a sweet potato to use, I'd try it as a baked chip too.  They're fun, no doubt about that.  But they were a bit time consuming to prepare.  In an effort to save time, I used my food processor, but that wasn't the time-killer.  Dipping the slices into flour-->egg-->bread crumbs (back to)-->egg-->bread crumbs took some time.  Then I had to contend with everything sticking to my fingers which was a little gross.  Then as I'm dipping one piece into the next mix, I'm dragging bread crumbs and things are clumping up and well, take my word for it; it was time consuming.

    Once I filled up a cookie sheet with all the chips, the rest was easy.  They don't come out super crispy or anything, but they're just tasty.  Even as leftovers, they're good :)



  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs 

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 

  • 2 egg whites


    1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
    2. In one small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl. Dip zucchini slices into the egg whites, then coat the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet.
    3. Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn over and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until browned and crispy.
    I think I cooked mine at about 375 degrees, not 475... that seems awfully high.  I also ended up cooking them for about 10-15 minutes each side.  So my advice to you on this would be to cook them as directed and check to see if they're done or need more time.  Everyone's oven is different. 

    And on second thought... since I made the leftover slices the next day, it was too much work.  I'm not sure I'd make these again.  As I said though, they taste really good. They're just time consuming :(

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Spinach and Mushroom Frittata

    I'm so glad I discovered frittatas.  I've always been a big fan of quiche but the crust is typically so calorie-laden that I tend to shy away from eating too much of it.  But since I've been making these frittatas, I can have the quiche without the crust.  Plus they're easy to make and not guilt-inducing.  Which makes me an even bigger fan!

    The following recipe is based on this one from



  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed thoroughly to remove liquid

  • 4 eggs or equivalent egg substitute 

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

  • 3/4 cup chopped portobello mushrooms 

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions with some green tops

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings

  • 1 pinch Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well mixed. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and fill with the spinach mixture.
    3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and set. Let cool for 20 minutes, cut in wedges and serve.

    The Monterey Jack cheese is my addition to the recipe.  And I also used Egg Beaters to lower calories and cholesterol. 

    This is so easy to make there's really no excuse not to go for this when you're looking for a good (and low-cal per slice) meal.

    At 6 servings, each slice is only about 230 calories! Whooh!

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Game Day Snacks

    First of all, WAY TO GO GIANTS!!!

    So even though it was just me and my husband watching the Superbowl yesterday, I still wanted to try making some small snacks for us.  I made the following two recipes.  The first I thought looked like fun and the second one I knew would be killer since I'd had it on several occasions before. 

    Oh, and I would have had pictures of my culinary creations as usual except that I napped until the game started.  So as the food was ready I didn't want to distract my attention from it to photograph the food.  D'oh!  You'll have to take my word for it - these two dishes looked (and of course tasted) yummy.


    Based on the original recipe found here


    8 oz sour cream
    8 oz package cream cheese, softened
    4 oz can diced green chilies, drained
    4 oz can chopped black olives, drained
    1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
    1/2 c. chopped green onions
    Garlic powder, to taste
    Seasoned Salt, to taste
    5-10" flour tortillas


    1. Mix all filling ingredients together, except tortillas. Divide filling and spread evenly over tortillas; roll up tortillas.

    2. Roll each tortilla up in plastic wrap, twisting the ends. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

    3. Unwrap; cut into slices. Lay pinwheels flat on glass serving plate.

    Makes 50 Pinwheels


    This recipe comes to me courtesy of my cousin Donna.  This is something she always used to make when I would visit her in Boston (too bad about those Patriots).  We would scrape the whole dish completely clean, practically licking it - although we didn't because that's just poor manners. 

    It's great to serve when you have guests, but you have to be careful not to eat it all the time or your waistline will complain.  It's not forgiving on the calories!  But for a Superbowl event like yesterday, it's well worth cracking it out.


    1 8oz package of shredded cheddar cheese (or cheddar-Jack blend)
    1 15.5oz jar of salsa (I like Tostitos HOT)
    1 8oz package of cream cheese


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Using either a 9" glass pie plate or 8x8" glass dish, spread the cream cheese evenly on the bottom. 

    Pour the salsa on top of the cream cheese.

    Empty the package of shredded cheese to cover the salsa.

    Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese bubbles. Be careful - it will be LAVA hot!


    I used reduced fat items wherever I could. It still tasted ridiculously rich and decadent.  Perfect for watching the game - or anything for that matter. (And it goes pretty nice with a good glass of red wine :')

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Blueberry Muffins (with Streusel)

    Another Saturday morning I had the luxury of spending with my husband, rather than running off to teach a yoga class.  Since neither of us had the drive to trudge up the street for freshly made bagels, I volunteered to make blueberry muffins.  I made them 3 different ways; sans blueberries, with blueberries and blueberries with a cinnamon-sugar streusel topping.

    The recipe is based on this one from

    BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (with some STREUSEL thrown in)


  • ½ cup butter or ½ cup margarine , at room temp

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup milk

  • 2 ½ cups fresh blueberries or 2 ½ cups frozen blueberries

    Heat oven to 375°.

    Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups (or 12 large size muffins) 

    In bowl, mix butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.

    Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.

    Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt

    With spoon, fold in half of flour then half of milk into batter; repeat.

    Fold in blueberries.

    Spoon into muffin cups.

    Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.

    Makes 18 muffins.


    The original recipe called for granulated sugar and nutmeg as a topping.  I decided to go for a streusel-type topping.  While it tastes good, it looks far from perfect.  I think I put too much butter in it so it made the cinnamon-sugar mix melt quite a bit. 

    My topping mix: 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbl butter

    That ought to do it in terms of the amount of butter.

    (as you can see in this picture, LOTS of butter! Probably too much...)

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Game Day Pretzels

    I used to have a pretzel recipe that my mom gave me but of course I can't locate it.  She used to make these killer pretzels with her food processor.  Since I thought pretzels would be a good thing to snack on for Sunday's Superbowl, I once again trolled online to find a suitable recipe.  And I found it.  Unfortunately, they didn't come out so pretty, but I'm just really out of practice.  It's gotta be about 12 years since I made them last.  Regardless of how they look, they are super tasty!

    Recipe is once again courtesy of and can be found here

    (I made a couple of them as pretzel twists.  YUMMY!)


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 4 cups hot water

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


    1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
    3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
    4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
    5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

     (These guys were shaped properly, but I didn't anticipate they'd rise so much while baking.  D'oh! But they still taste wonderful!!!)


    One BIG note I have to mention is to add LESS flour!  Yes, the directions say to make a well with the dry ingredients and add the yeast/oil to it.  However... you will probably want to withhold about ONE CUP of flour and then slowly add it in as you're mixing.  When I did it, I ended up having to add several tablespoons of water which I think is just more complicated.  Withhold some flour and move forward from there.

    Right as they came out of the oven I brushed melted butter on them.  Then I very lightly sprinkled the kosher salt to taste.  These are ridiculoulsy easy to make!

    Just one more thing to remember: when rolling out each piece into the pretzel shape, be sure to allow for it to rise!  You may want to roll out at least 18" pieces.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Zucchini Souffle with Monterey Jack Cheese

    As some of you may already know, I've been on a quiche-souffle-frittata kick lately.  So that's where this next recipe comes from; my desire to continue with some really tasty dishes.  Obviously, I like working with what I know is good, but changing it up here and there to experiment with different flavors and textures.  I have a spinach/mushroom/mascarpone frittata-quiche I'm looking to make later this week too.  YUM.

    Anyway, this recipe, the Zucchini Souffle with Monterey Jack Cheese isn't exactly a true souffle.  I have a small issue with that.  Why do people call a dish a souffle when it's so obviously a quiche?  I don't get it, but regardless, this is tasty.

    The original recipe can be found here on



  • 4 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose biscuit baking mix 

    Toss the zucchini and salt together and place into a colander set in the sink. Allow to drain for 1 hour, then squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini, and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with the melted butter.

    Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl with the pepper, garlic powder, and parsley. Stir in the zucchini, Monterey Jack cheese, and baking mix until combined. Pour into the prepared casserole dish.

    Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until set and golden brown on top, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The souffle is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

    Makes 6 servings and is approximately 130 calories :)


    I made this almost exactly as the recipe stated.  The changes I made to it were adding: 1 sliced shallot and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top).  Also, I didn't have any Bisquick or "all-purpose biscuit baking mix" the recipe called for, so I used 1/3 cup flour and added 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  As you can see from the photos, the quiche (or souffle, if you must) came out splendidly. 

    Oh, and by the way, it's really yummy.  This is a keeper.