Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Roasted Tomatillo and Apple Salsa

Tomatillos, often confused with unripe green tomatoes, have a completely unique personality of their own. Both are technically berries, but unlike tomatoes, tomatillos are covered with a thin paper-like husk, and the fruit has a sticky coating underneath the husks. Raw tomatillos can be extremely tart, but cooking them helps mellow the acidity as well as soften the skin, making them perfect for a sauce.

I always like sweetness accompanying any tart flavor, so after some internet research, I decided to use apple as the complementing flavor for tomatillo salsa. This ended up being the perfect amount of sweet, sour, and spicy for me, but feel free to play with the quantities to skew the taste one way or another!


Ingredients: (Makes ~1.5-2 cups)
4 medium tomatillos - remove husks and rinse
1 medium apple (I used the Golden Delicious variety)
4-5 cloves of garlic - minced
1 small onion - roughly chopped (~⅓- ½ cup)
1 small jalapeno pepper - cored and roughly chopped (add more if you prefer a spicier salsa)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (I used both leaves and stems)
Salt, black pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet/ baking pan with Aluminum foil.

Chop the tomatillos into quarters. Slice the apple into thick wedges. Place both on the lined baking pan in a single layer and bake in preheated oven for ~20 minutes until slightly browned.


While the tomatillos and apples are baking, prepare remaining ingredients by sauteeing the onions, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil over medium-high heat. Let them cook until you get a good char on the jalapeno and onions.


Add the onion mixture, the cooked tomatillos and apples, cilantro to a food processor and blend to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper. To keep it chunky, you could reserve a couple tablespoons of finely chopped apple.

Store in the refrigerator. Serve with tortilla chips or use in your favorite Mexican recipe!



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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pesto Filled Scones

On a lazy Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, I was in the mood for some baking experimentation - as well as a savory snack to munch on. A fairly quick and easy option was scones, and it had been some time since we tried out any new scone flavors - so I decided to put a new twist on our original savory scone recipe!

These scones might look like any other savory scone at first glance, but there is a surprise center that oozes with basil pesto deliciousness once you bite into it! If you’d like to make it more indulgent, add a small ball of Mozzarella cheese along with the pesto filling. I topped them off with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, and these tasty tidbits definitely hit the spot!


Base ingredients: (makes ~20 small scones)
Click here for our base ingredients
~½ cup pesto sauce (I used our spinach walnut variety)
~3 TBSP freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Follow the same steps as the spinach feta scones (link) to prepare the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ½ inch thick, then cut into approximately 2 inch squares.


Place about 1-2 tsp of pesto on each piece of dough, slightly off-center. Fold the dough over and pinch shut, sealing with some water if necessary.


Place on a baking sheet, leaving about one inch of space between the scones. Brush the tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Bake 12-15 minutes until the tops turn golden brown. Let the scones cool before storing in an airtight container. They can be enjoyed at room temperature, or slightly warmed up.


These scones make a great anytime snack!

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sugar and Oil Free Granola

Granola is often considered a quintessentially healthy food - and there are so many varieties on supermarket shelves! I like putting granola in things (oatmeal, yogurt, etc.) for a little extra texture and crunch, and often toss in some fruits to add some sweetness. Unfortunately, most of the store-bought granola is loaded with excess sugar (often using refined sugar), and typically uses some oil for baking. I have experimented using egg whites in other crispy foods (such as these baked fries), and decided try a similar substitution for this granola challenge :-)
The ingredients for this healthy granola are completely customizable. Any seeds, nuts of your choice can be used - but try to keep the total dry ingredient volume about the same so that everything can be coated well with the egg whites. You can change up the spices as well. I’m excited to try out different flavor combinations with this recipe! But for now, here’s a basic recipe that makes delicious granola that is a perfect addition to oatmeal, parfaits, or as a snack by itself.

1 cups old fashioned oats
⅓ cup roughly chopped cashews
⅓ cup roughly chopped walnuts
⅓ cup roughly chopped pecans
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp bee pollen
½ tsp nutmeg powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 225°F.
Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form (2-3 min with electric whisk).


Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the dry mixture until the dry ingredients are completely coated.


Spread the granola mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for an hour, tossing the mixture around every 15-20 minutes for even baking.


Let it cool completely before storing in air-tight container at room temperature.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Chickpea Burger Patties

Making bean burgers might be the most fun way to use up small quantities of veggies you have left after making salads or other dishes. It’s completely customizable, extremely flavorful and nutrition packed with all the vegetables, and the bean base makes it a good source of vegetarian protein. You can even make a larger batch and freeze some for later - I like to cook them, wrap individually in plastic wrap, then keep them in airtight container in freezer. Making burger patties yourself gives you the advantage of using just the ingredients and quantities you think are good for you, skipping the non-essential fats, sugars, and flavor enhancers that some processed foods might have.
This version uses chickpeas, but any other beans could be used instead. The vegetables added to it can also be varied based on what you have or what you like. I love adding beets to burgers, and this time I also had some mini peppers, basil, and green onion on hand. I used an egg for binding, however you could eliminate that if needed by using a paste of flaxseed powder and water, or crumbling up a slice or two of bread moistened with water. Oats help with binding, too, and also add texture to the burgers. To enhance the flavor, you could add any spices/herbs of your choice, maybe even a spoonful of ketchup or pesto. Keep it as simple as you’d like, or go crazy with the add-ins - it will be delicious either way!


Ingredients: (~5-6 patties)
1 can of chickpeas - drained and rinsed
1/2 med onion (~1/4 cup finely chopped)
2-3 mini sweet peppers - chopped (~ 1/4 cup)
1 medium red beet - cooked and finely chopped
2 large basil leaves - finely chopped
1-2 sprigs of green onion (chopped)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic - minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1-2 Tbsp flaxseed powder
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste
1/3 cup oats
1 egg - beaten
Mash the chickpeas leaving them somewhat coarse (or pulse in a food processor). Add the remaining ingredients except for oil/butter and mix well until everything comes together.
Heat a pan on medium-low, and coat it with a very thin layer of oil/butter. Form a ½ inch thick patty with the chickpea mixture and gently place it in the pan. Cover and cook until the bottom is browned. Flip the burger and cook uncovered until the other side is browned.
If you like you could add a slice of cheese on top after flipping the burger once. It will get nice and melty while the other side cooks. The chickpea burger patties are great to snack on with ketchup for dipping, or can be chopped up and used in salads. But if you go the more traditional way and make a burger, you surely won’t miss the meat!



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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day (which is in September), Cinco de Mayo (literally “Five of May”) celebrates the Mexican army’s unexpected and unlikely defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. My husband and I will probably head to the Mexican restaurant near our house, which we frequent almost once a week, usually splitting a giant quesadilla or burrito - or just gorging in their delicious house guacamole, chips, and salsa! In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here’s a recipe for homemade chicken and spinach enchiladas!



~1½ cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
~10oz chopped spinach (I used frozen, thawed and drained)
~¼ cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
Ground pepper, salt to taste
2 cups shredded Cheddar Jack cheese (or Colby Jack, or any Mexican-style blend)
~10 corn or flour tortillas (enchiladas traditionally call for corn tortillas, but I used flour tortillas)
For the sauce:
¼ cup canola oil
2 TBSP flour
Scant ¼ cup chili powder (the seasoning, not ground red chili)
1 8-oz can no salt added tomato sauce
~1½ cup water
Garlic powder
Ground cumin

To make the sauce:
In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the flour in oil. Add chili powder and toast for a couple minutes. Add water and tomato sauce and stir well. Season with garlic powder and cumin to taste.
To make the filling:
Saute spinach and onion in a pan over medium heat (you can use a little cooking oil if you like, but it is not necessary). Add chicken and season with garlic and pepper to taste.
Assembling & Baking:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Reserve 1 cup of shredded Cheddar Jack cheese.
Lay a tortilla flat and put about ½ cup of chicken-spinach mixture toward one side of the tortilla. Sprinkle a bit of the cheese (about ½ - 1 TBSP) over the filling, then roll up tightly and place in a baking dish lined with Aluminum foil. Repeat until all the filling is used up (I was able to use 10 tortillas).


Spoon enchilada sauce over the top and spread to cover everything evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top.


Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until cheese is completely melted and a little crispy at the edges. Enjoy!


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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Over the years, I’ve seen many, many pictures of delicious meals such as chicken cordon bleu, braciola (Italian stuffed beef), and several varieties of stuffed pork tenderloin. The pictures always made my mouth water, and most recipes seemed fairly straightforward, save one thing: my lack of a meat mallet. Marriage to the rescue! When my husband and I got married, a meat tenderizer was among our presents. Three plus years later, I finally used it while making a simple baked stuffed chicken dish! I used ingredients I already had on hand and topped the chicken off with a simple breadcrumb mix for a nice crispy accent.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
~1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
~1 cup feta cheese
~1½ - 2 cups fresh spinach
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

For breadcrumb topping
~¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
~¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
dash of ground pepper, thyme, marjoram

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To make the filling: Place cheese, spinach, and minced garlic in bowl. Microwave on high for 1 - 1½ minutes in ~30sec bursts to wilt spinach and soften cheese, stirring in between.


To make the breading: Combine parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Season with garlic powder, thyme, marjoram, and ground pepper.

Assembly: Butterfly chicken breasts and use the flat side of a meat mallet to tenderize/thin the chicken to about ½ inch thick. Spread filling on one side, roll up and secure ends closed with toothpicks, and place on a baking sheet.


Finishing: Sprinkle the tops of the chicken rolls with breading mixture. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.

Remove the toothpicks, slice and enjoy!



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