Sunday, February 26, 2017

Deep Fried Cinnamon Roll Bites with Strawberry Dip

If you like simple recipes that come out looking and tasting ridiculously amazing then you are in the right spot. This recipe requires 2 ingredients - 3 if you count the oil to fry them. 
That's it. 
This was my entry into the Pillsbury and Betty Crocker #BakeItPossible baking contest. (See HERE for the website) With this recipe I made it to the semi-final round!! Talk about exciting!
While I didn't make it to the finals, I did enjoy creating this fabulous treat. 
I do hope you give it a try and let me know what you think. 

Deep Fried Cinnamon Roll Bites with Strawberry Dip

~4 cups oil, for frying
1 pkg Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls
1/4 cup strawberry jam 

Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, deep pot. 
While oil is heating, unroll Grands rolls and cut into bite sized pieces (about 8 per roll). Use your fingers to smear any large bits of the cinnamon filling onto the pieces. 

When oil is at temp - fry pieces, about 6 at a time, until golden brown - 1 to 2 minutes per batch, flipping the pieces over halfway.

Remove from oil to wire rack or paper towel and let cool while you cook the rest of the bites. 

When all the bites are done, stir together the icing from the package of Grands rolls and the 1/4 cup of strawberry jam.

Serve the warm bites with the dip.

Warm is best but room temp also works very well.

You can freeze the deep fried bites and simply reheat them in the oven (from frozen) at 350 for about 20 or so minutes, until heated through. Just spread them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in preheated oven. 

From start to finish in well under an hour. The only thing that takes any time is the heating of the oil! 
Making the semi-finals with this recipe was incredibly exciting for me. I can't wait to see who makes the top 10 - and who wins! You can visit the #BakeItPossible site (HERE) to see all 50 of the semi-finalists. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chicken Shawarma and Quinoa Bowl

I can't believe I haven't done a lot of cooking with Middle Eastern flavors. I mean, they are amazing!
You can go spicy or not so spicy. You can tailor them anyway you like. 
Of course, you may lose some of the authenticity and move into the area of "fusion" cooking but, you know what, that's okay too. 
This is a great meal to break into cooking with Middle Eastern spices if you are not familiar or, if you have family members that are afraid to try new things. *cough* Mom *cough*
This recipe makes 2 servings. 2 very LARGE servings. I believe one serving is about 500 calories. I had a hard time eating an entire serving. You could very easily split this into 3 instead of 2. 

Chicken Shawarma and Quinoa Bowl

Garlic Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain 
1/4 cup shredded cucumber, pressed to drain off excess water
1 Tbsp fresh dill (or 2 tsp dry)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice purple onion, diced fine
juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp tumeric
pinch cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

1 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

package cherry or grape tomatoes (about 20 - 30), halved
1 green pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cucumber, sliced
2 slices purple onion, diced
2 cups baby spinach

Prepare yogurt sauce - In a small bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients - Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, lemon juice, and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (NOTE - you may need to drain off any extra water if your cucumber was not pressed enough. Then simply give the sauce a stir.) 

Prepare marinade - In a large Ziplock bag, place the chicken breasts with the garlic, diced onion, lemon juice, oil, cumin, paprika, tumeric, cayenne, and salt & pepper. Squish around to coat the breasts. Marinate at least an hour, up to overnight.

Prepare quinoa - Place quinoa and broth in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until quinoa is done - about 13 - 15 minutes. Quinoa should be fluffy and liquid absorbed. Remove from heat and keep warm. 

Prepare chicken - Place chicken and any extra marinade in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook until chicken is done and no longer pink inside - about 10 - 15 minutes. (NOTE - do this at the same time as the quinoa is cooking so they are both done at about the same time.)

To serve - In your 2 bowl (or serving plates), place the halved tomatoes in one section, place the green peppers, purple onion, and cucumber in another section, place a cup of spinach on each plate and top with about half a cup of quinoa (you may have some quinoa left over to use for something else!). Lastly, slice the cooked chicken into pieces and place in the bowl (or plate). Top with 2 heaping Tbsp of the garlic yogurt sauce. 

Serve immediately. 
This also is great for leftovers the next day.

I brought it to work and mixed it all together for a cold chicken salad-type lunch. It was amazing. 
Again. I made it to be 2 servings but next time will break it into 3. It really does make a lot. 
So many amazing flavors. So many different textures. 
If you are looking for something to change up your everyday meat and potato meals then give this a try!! As an added benefit - so much healthiness in all the ingredients. You just can't lose. 

Be sure to pop by Carole's Chatter for more tasty links!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pineapple Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

I don't know about you but I'm totally getting sucked into the whole smoothie bowl trend.
I mean.... I'm already addicted to smoothies so the transition to smoothie bowl was not a huge step. 
At first I was skeptical. How would pouring your smoothie into a bowl change anything?
Well. The answer is - it changes everything. 
Don't even argue.
One of the things I sometimes felt I was missing out on with smoothies was the whole "eating food" experience. I mean, a smoothie is a drink and doesn't always feel like a meal, am I right?
With smoothie bowls you can top them however you like so you can experience the whole "eating a meal" thing while still getting all the benefits of a smoothie. 
Sign me up. 

Pineapple Sunshine Smoothie Bowl
(Adapted from I Say Nomato

2 rings pineapple
1/2 banana, frozen
1/2 cup 0 fat Greek yogurt, frozen
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 ring pineapple
1/2 banana, sliced
2 Tbsp coconut, shredded & toasted
1 tsp chia seeds

In a blender, place the 2 pineapple rings, 1/2 frozen banana, frozen Greek yogurt, spinach, and almond milk.

Pulse until smooth. Keep in mind you want the smoothie to be quite thick so avoid adding extra liquid - simply keep stopping the blender and scraping the sides until smoothie is well blended. 
Pour into a bowl.

Top as desired with the 1 pineapple ring, 1/2 sliced banana, coconut, and chia seeds.

Serve immediately. 
Isn't it pretty? I mean, talk about sunshine in a bowl!
Note - you don't taste the spinach. Seriously. Add it in there. It makes the smoothie a beautiful color and adds tons of nutrients in there. You can sub any milk that you like - coconut, regular, soy, almond. Just keep in mind it will alter the nutritional count that I have figured out below. That works for the Greek yogurt too - I use plain but you could certainly use vanilla or coconut for a little extra flavor. 
Also - according to MyFitnessPal this smoothie is: 329 calories, 59 carbs, 6 fat, 16 protein, and 8 fiber, The whole recipe is one serving.  
If you want to see the original version of this recipe - pop over to I Say Nomato (HERE)
What a great way to start your day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chinese Garlic Chicken and Vegetables on Spaghetti Squash

This is one of those meals that you will want to eat every day for the rest of your life. 
It's true. It's that good. Plus.... it's so simple to make you really wouldn't mind making it every day. 
And...can we just talk about how amazing this smells while it is cooking...
Oh.. My.. Goodness. 
Plus... so many vegetables. Hello healthy AND delicious!
I hope I have convinced you to give this a try. You really should. 

Chinese Garlic Chicken and Vegetables on Spaghetti Squash

1 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking sherry
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch 
1/8 tsp pepper

2 medium spaghetti squash (yield about 6 cups or so)

1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb chicken thighs, cut into pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 handfuls of snow peas, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp water

Toppings (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
green onions, sliced

Prepare sauce - In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients (rice vinegar, soy sauce, cooking sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and pepper). Set aside.
Prepare spaghetti squash - Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook in the microwave until squash is fork tender and shreds easily - about 8 - 10 minutes. When done, shred squash into a large bowl and set aside. 
Prep all of your ingredients - ie: chop your chicken and vegetables, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. 

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, spreading out as much as possible. Sear for a minute without stirring, then stir to cook all sides until just cooked through - about 2 - 4 minutes. 

Transfer chicken to a bowl, set aside.
In the same wok or frying pan, add in the garlic, ginger, and onions. Cook and stir for 30 seconds.
Add in the snow peas, red pepper, and mushrooms.

Stir well.
Add in 1 Tbsp of water and cover with a lid to steam for 1 minute. 
Remove lid, stir well again, and add the chicken back to the pan. Add in the sauce and stir well. 
Continue to cook and stir until vegetables reach desired level of tenderness - about 3 - 5 minutes. 
To serve: Make sure squash is hot! Reheat in microwave for a minute if necessary. 
Place 1/4 of the squash (about 1 1/2 cups) on each of 4 serving plates. 

Top each with 1/4 of the chicken and vegetables.
Sprinkle with a few toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Serve hot!

This also goes great over rice or rice noodles - or even on it's own. 
One word of advice - use chicken thighs!! Don't use white meat like the breasts. The dark meat of the thighs just fits this recipe soooooo much better! Trust me. 
Your spaghetti squash can be cooked a day or so ahead of time and just reheated when needed. 
Also, just an FYI - if your garlic is not strong then feel free to use more than 6 cloves. The garlic is one of the best things about this recipe, you want to be able to notice it in there. 
Be sure to stop by Carole's Chatter for more great links!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Oopsie Bread (Aka Cloud Bread)

I've made low carb bread before - see our 5 Minute low Carb Bun (HERE). And it was good. Not *wow*, but good. Plus, it only made a single serving and was ready in 5 minutes so I wasn't complaining. But then I started seeing "oopsie bread" or "cloud bread" all over the place and was curious to try it out. 
Turns out oopsie bread is amazing. Very bread-like. 
Bread is my kryptonite. You know how cookie monster eats cookies? Well... that's how I enjoy my bread. But, trying to be a little healthier and not eat as many carbs without giving up what I love can sometimes be a struggle. 
Not anymore. 
There are so many ways to enjoy this bread. I am sharing a few here today. It takes a little bit of effort to make it, but nothing too strenuous. I hope you give it a try and let us know what you think. 

Oopsie Bread

3 eggs
1/2 cup light cream cheese, room temp
pinch salt
1 Tbsp ground flax
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 300. Line a cookie sheet wit parchment paper, set aside.
Separate the eggs, putting egg whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. 
Beat the egg yolks and the cream cheese until smooth, beat in ground flax, salt, and baking powder until well combined. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. (Note - you should be able to turn the bowl over without the egg whites moving.) 

Gently fold in a generous scoop of egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to over mix.

No big white streaks should remain but you want to be careful to keep as much air in the whites as possible.
Place 8 to 10 scoops of batter on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch or two in between.

Bake at 300 for approx 20 - 30 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 
You can store the oopsie bread in a Ziplock bag but DO NOT seal the bag, prop it open so the oopsie bread does not become sticky. 
Use 2 of the oopsie rolls for a delicious, low carb burger.

You may have noticed I sprinkled sesame seeds on top. I did this so it was more hamburger bun-like. 
You can leave them off if you like and eat them just like bread.
Make yourself some peanut butter toast for breakfast....

You can toast the oopsie bread lightly in the toaster but don't try to get it too crisp, it will become a little crumbly. 

You can also shape the oopsie bread into different shapes for different purposes. For example: a hot dog bun!

Just make the batter into longer, hot dog bun shaped blobs on the cookie tray and bake until golden. 

They make a lovely alternative to a carb heavy bun and are surprisingly sturdy!

See.... very hot-doggy. 

I am in love. 

But... there's more!
You can make a sweet version for those PB&J sammies.

Simply add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the yolk mixture before folding in the egg whites. Shape as desired. Then top with a Tbsp of dried raisins or cranberries or even pecans or walnuts. 

Bake as per above.

There you have a perfectly good substitute for cinnamon raisin bread! 
How fun is that?
According to MyFitnessPal a serving (2 pieces)  is: 107 calories, 9 fat, 6 protein, and 2 carbs. (A serving is 2 pieces of oopsie bread, recipe makes 10.) 
(Now, if you only make 8 oopsie rolls then a serving (2 pieces) is: 134 calories, 11 fat, 7 protein, 3 carbs)
**NOTES** - If you don't have ground flax you can add 1/2 Tbsp psyllium husks instead. The baking powder is optional but definitely helps to make the oopsie rolls more stable and bread-like. I wouldn't leave it out. 
You can also add in 1/4 tsp of dry mustard powder or even garlic or onion powder for a different taste. 
In my experience I have found they last 3 - 4 days in a Ziplock bag in the fridge as long as the bag is propped open a bit so they don't become sticky. I was genuinely pleased at how sturdy and bread-like these are. I can't wait to keep trying different ways to eat them!