Monday, March 27, 2017

Warm Asparagus Bacon and Egg Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Stop whatever it is you are doing and grab a pen. You're going to want to mark this day on your calendar. You see, today is the day you are about to discover the best salad in existence in the universe. 
True story. 
Not even exaggerating a little bit. 
Who knew mixing asparagus with a few simple ingredients would result in the best salad ever? Certainly not me. Not until this happened. I've only ever steamed or roasted my asparagus so after looking up some alternative cooking methods I decided to try boiling/blanching it and turning it into a crazy salad. 
Best. Decision. Ever. 
I think this is the perfect meal to welcome spring. It just looks so bright and cheery! 

Warm Asparagus Bacon and Egg Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt & pepper

2 cups chopped asparagus
1 egg
2 slices bacon, coarsely chopped (I used "chicken bacon")
1 thin slice of onion

Prepare vinaigrette - in a small bowl, whisk together mustard, oil, vinegar, and salt & pepper. Set aside. 

Prepare salad - Place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. At the same time, place the egg in a small pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. 
When water is boiling in the large pot, drop in the asparagus pieces and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. No longer. Drain and let sit in strainer.
Boil the egg for 6 minutes and then drain water and run under cool water for a minute until cool enough to peel. 
Leave egg and asparagus to sit while you cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium high heat until cooked through and as crispy as you like it. 

Assemble salad - Toss the warm asparagus with half the dressing. Coarsely chop the boiled egg. 

Place asparagus on serving plate and top with the egg, bacon, and onion. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. 

Serve warm. 

The beauty thing about this salad is it can be served warm or cold. Chill the ingredients in the fridge until ready to serve and then simply toss before serving. 

The entire recipe is one serving. According to Myfitnesspal the nutritional counts are: 249 calories, 17 fat, 6 fiber, 12 carbs, 18 protein. I used chicken bacon instead of pork bacon so my calorie count was 10 calories less. 
(FYI - To figure out the calorie count here I used "Costco bacon" which is 80 calories for 2 pieces.) 
Lunch or dinner on the table in under 20 minutes - that's definitely a win!

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cherry Cheesecake Brownie Cookies

I've been on the eating healthy wagon since New Year's day and fighting off the sugar cravings has been a tough battle. When I decide to indulge I want to make sure the calories are worth it. 
Enter these cherry cheesecake brownie cookies.
Worth. Every. Calorie.
Yes, they are sweet. Yes, they are not healthy. Yes, I am in love. 
Plus.... these are totally a cheat recipe. Cheat meaning they use a Betty Crocker mix and Betty Crocker frosting. I developed them as an entry into the Betty Crocker and Pillsbury #BakeItPossible contest. They didn't win but that doesn't mean you won't fall in love with them too! 

Cherry Cheesecake Brownie Cookies

1 Betty Crocker Brownie Mix
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 egg

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
(about) 14 sour cherries, canned

1/2 cup Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting

Prepare cookies - Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brownie mix, butter, 1/2 cup cream cheese, and egg. 

Using a large cookie scoop, place scoops on prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. You should get 12 to 14 cookie with a large scoop.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, until bottoms are browned and tops appear dry and puffed up. 

While still warm, use the back of a teaspoon (or something similar) to make indents in the tops of the cookies. 

Let cool completely.
Prepare filling - Beat together the 1/2 cup cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Place 1/4 tsp of the filling in each indent. Then top each with one of the sour cherries. 

Top with another 1/4 tsp of the cream cheese mixture. Use your finger to spread the mixture over the cherry so it is covered.

Repeat until all cookies are full. You may have a bit of the filling leftover. 
Prepare topping - In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate frosting for about 15 seconds and then stir. It should be a pourable consistency. If it isn't, heat another 10 seconds. 
Scoop a spoonful over the top of each cookie to cover the cream cheese.

Let sit to set up - you can place in fridge to speed process. 

FYI - The frosting remains a little sticky so the cookies don't stack very well. BUT they are sooooo tasty. So much chocolaty cherry cheesecake goodness. 

Please note these are large cookies. I believe I got 14 cookies out of the recipe. One cookie will definitely satisfy those sweet cravings! I really liked these stored in the fridge so they are a bit chilled when you serve them. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Korean Beef and Quinoa Bowl with Cabbage and Spinach

Are you on board with the whole "bowl food" trend?
It's all about serving your food in a bowl instead of a traditional plate. I love it. It just makes food that much cooler. Seriously. It totally does. 
Probably makes it taste better too. 
Arranging the ingredients so they look pretty just makes them sooo much more delicious. 
*jazz hands*  Science.
This lovely meal only takes about 30 minutes to cook up. Yes, it does dirty 3 pans but it is totally worth it. It makes 4 rather large servings but can easily be doubled to serve a crowd.
Aaaaand.... if you are into meal prepping - this works perfect for that too!!

It will last 3 or 4 days, covered in the fridge and you can just reheat it! 
Of course, you don't have to arrange it all neat and pretty in a bowl, a plate will work just dandy! 

Korean Beef and Quinoa Bowl with Cabbage and Spinach

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Cabbage and Spinach
1 tsp sesame oil
4 cups cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
1 purple onion, sliced
3 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/4 soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper

green onions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds
fried egg

Before starting make sure all your ingredients have been prepped - ie: veggies chopped. 
Prepare quinoa - Prepare quinoa as per package directions - using chicken broth (or beef broth) instead of water. When done, set aside and keep warm.
Prepare cabbage/spinach - Place oil, cabbage, and onion in a large saucepan.

Cook and stir  until the cabbage is tender (about 10 mins). Add in the spinach.

Stir together well. Cover, turn off heat, and let steam until spinach is tender (about 2 - 3 minutes).
Prepare beef - In a frying pan, heat oil, ginger, and garlic over medium heat. When sizzling, add in the ground beef and cook and stir until no longer pink.
In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, Thai sweet chili sauce, and pepper. Stir into ground beef.

To serve: place 1/4 of the cabbage and spinach in a bowl, place 1/4 of the beef next to it, then place 1/4 of the quinoa next to that. 
Top with a fried egg, a sprinkle of green onions, and a pinch of sesame seeds. 

Serve hot!

FYI - I simply pushed the cooked ground beef aside in the pan and fried the egg in there so I didn't have to dirty another pan. So tasty! It is a bit high in terms of calories (according to Myfitnesspal)- 
459 calories, 16 fat, 46 carbs, 6 fiber, 11 sugar, and 34 protein WITHOUT THE EGG.
528 calories, 21 fat, 46 carbs, 6 fiber, 11 sugar, and a whopping 40 protein WITH THE EGG.
But a serving is pretty massive. If you were serving it for lunch you could easily do 5 servings instead of 4. 
I often make this if I have leftover quinoa to use up. It's a great way to get a big dose of protein in! 
Whether you serve it all fancy schmancy in a bowl (do it, it's sooo much better) or on a plate - I am sure you will love this tasty dish. 

Looking for more tasty food links? Pop over to Carol's Chatter!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Corned Beef Leprechaun Cheese Ball

I was looking for something to make for our mom's seniors center and came across Handmade In The Heartland (Link HERE) and an super cute leprechaun cheese ball. It was too impressive to pass by. I tweaked the recipe a little to suit our tastes and what ingredients I had on hand but otherwise followed her recipe pretty close. You can see her version HERE (and I recommend you do, her pics are amazing!) 
How perfect is a corned beef cheese ball that looks like a mischievous leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day?? I thought my guy looked a little creepy (kind of like the horror movie version) but he is still perfect. 
If you are on the lookout for something fairly quick and easy to whip up for the office or a party or the fam-damily on March 17th, look no further.  

Corned Beef Leprechaun Cheese Ball
(Ever-so-slightly adapted from Handmade In The Heartland)

Cheese Ball
2 pkgs cream cheese (8 oz each), room temp
110 gr deli corned beef, finely diced (about 1 cup)
3 green onions, finely diced
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp horseradish
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash of salt & pepper

1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 parsnip
1 medium carrot 
2 olive slices (ends work best, the pieces that look like stars)

Place softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Add in remaining cheese ball ingredients. 

Beat until well combined. 

Using a spatula, scrape cheese ball together and form into a large ball. Place on serving platter. Chill for an hour. 

When it has firmed up, cut the decorations out of the vegetables using the photo as a guide:
green pepper as the hat, yellow pepper for the square buckle on the hat, red pepper for the smile, parsnip for the nose and the ring around the hat, carrot for the hair and beard, and olive slices for the eyes. 
Use a carrot peeler to take off the outside layer of the carrot and discard it. Then, peel off enough carrot for the hair and beard. 

As you can see, I didn't use olives for the eyes as I didn't have any. What I did have, however, was a little bit of black and white fondant left over from decorating a cake. I just made little balls of fondant and pressed them flat to make the eyes. It is a little weird to put the sweet fondant on a savory cheese ball BUT you don't have to eat the eyes. We just picked them off when we went to eat it. 
FYI - if you do use fondant - DO NOT put the eyes on until you are ready to serve. If you leave the eyes on for a long time the color starts to bleed due to the moisture of the cheese ball. 
If you need help getting the parsnip and yellow pepper bits to stick to the hat, simply spread a very, very thin layer of cream cheese on the back of them and press them onto the pepper. They will stick better. 

Store, covered loosely with plastic wrap in the fridge until ready to serve. 
Serve with your favorite crackers or vegetables. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Baked Chicken Nuggets With Wasabi Pea Sauce

Let's just get this out of the way. These are not your mama's chicken nuggets. 
These are a different version that, while still amazing, are completely unusual. They are marinated in pickle juice, then covered in spices - including tumeric, and then served with a spicy yet subtle wasabi sauce. 
You will want to try them as soon as possible. 
The tumeric and paprika in the coating helps with the beautiful golden color. I made them gluten free by using gluten free crumbs for the coating but you could easily just use something like Panko. 

Baked Chicken Nuggets

1 to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup pickle juice (liquid from jar of pickles)

1 cup gluten free crumbs
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp tumeric

Also needed:
2 eggs, beaten

Prepare chicken - Cut each chicken thigh into about 5 or 6 bite sized pieces.

Place all the pieces into the 1 cup of pickle juice. Chill until ready to use - at least one hour. 

When ready to cook - drain off the marinade. Spray 2 large frying pans with cooking spray, set aside.
Stir together the coating ingredients (crumbs and spices).

 Place half of the crumbs in a shallow dish. 

Take each piece of chicken, dip it in the beaten egg - shaking off excess, then dredge in crumbs until well covered. Place each piece of chicken in a single layer in the prepared frying pans. Continue until all pieces are covered. Use the reserved coating crumbs to refill your dish as needed. 

Place over medium high heat and cook chicken until bottoms are well browned, flip and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through (about 10 - 15 minutes). Keep an eye on it!! 
FYI - you can also bake these. Preheat the oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place coated chicken pieces on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway or until chicken is completely cooked through!) 

Serve hot! You can serve with ketchup or BBQ sauce or even honey-mustard BUT they go perfect with the wasabi - pea dip we discovered over at The Foodolic!. (Click HERE to see her recipe and pics!)  

Wasabi Pea Dip
(Slightly adapted from The Foodolic

1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain (I used 0 fat)
1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 tsp lime juice
1 to 2 tsp wasabi paste
salt & pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. 

Blend until smooth. Chill until ready to use. Store any leftovers in the fridge, covered.

So tangy! You can put in more or less of the wasabi paste to suite your personal preference, of course. The yogurt really calms the heat down quite a bit. 

Serve with some french fries and salad and you have dinner perfection. 
Baking the chicken (or frying without any oil) makes these a healthified version of an old favorite. There is some crazy combos of flavor happening in this dish that work very well together. 
FYI - If you are not a fan of pickles then you can skip the marinating step. You definitely get a hint of it in the nuggets. 
Also - I am in love with chicken thighs right now but you could easily cut up chicken breast meat to use if you prefer the breast. 
We're sharing over at Carole's Chatter. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Veggie Tots

Want to eat more vegetables?
Of course, you do. 
Who doesn't want to be all healthy and stuff? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way.) Whip up some veggie tots and you can eat a million veggies in such a way that you don't even know you are eating veggies. #TrueStory
I used zucchini, cauliflower, and carrot but you can swap in your favorite if you like. For example: broccoli, or turnip, or sweet potato. These also reheat quite nicely so if you have any leftovers, simply freeze them for a later date and pop them in the oven at 375 to heat up. 
I shaped them into tater tot shapes but you could easily leave them in the cookie scoop rounds to save some time. 

Veggie Tots

2 cups shredded zucchini
1 small head cauliflower, grated
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs
3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup aged cheddar, shredded
1 Tbsp chia seeds
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400, line cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 
Place the shredded zucchini, cauliflower, carrot, onion and garlic in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

Place in a clean tea towel OR cheesecloth, twist towel to remove as much moisture as possible. (The more moisture you can remove the crispier the tots will be.)
When you have removed as much moisture as you can, stir in the eggs, cheeses, chia seeds, and salt & pepper. Using a small cookie scoop - or pinch off ping pong ball sized pieces - press firmly into tater tot shapes or leave in rounds. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all the veggies are used up. 

Bake at 400 for approx 40 minutes - until tots are golden brown and the outside is crispy. Turn the tots every 10 minutes to ensure each side browns up nicely. Keep an eye on them.

When done, remove to serving plate and serve hot.

These are great on their own as an appie or snack. They also go great as a side dish with burgers or hot dogs (or sad looking lettuce wrapped turkey burgers like the one below) !

According to MyFitnessPal a serving of these veggie tots is: 146 calories, 9 carbs, 8 ft, 10 protein, 3 fiber, and 3 sugar. (This is counting the recipe as 4 servings.) A serving is about 6 - 7 tots. 
If you wanted them crispier you could deep fry them BUT that kind of takes away from the whole healthy thing and would definitely change the nutritional counts. 
Keep in mind - the insides are soft and the outsides, while a bit crispier, are not going to be crunchy. 
Also - I added chia seeds for a little nutritional boost but you can leave them out if you don't have any.