Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taco Cupcakes

looking for a new twist on tacos?  these are a big hit.  a big hit in a small package.  taco cupcakes are a favorite at our house, because mr d is always craving mexican, and this is a healthy alternative to using taco shells or tortillas, but is more exciting than using lettuce leaves.  you'll have to excuse the picture.  i didn't plan on posting this picutre, but it's come to my attention that someone out there needs a good taco recipe.  i originally got the recipe from here (you'll want to visit her site if only to see how much better her pictures are!)  but i made some adjustments to the recipe based on what i had on hand, and to make it even more healthy by swapping out the beef for turkey.

Taco Cupcakes
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 can black beans
24 wonton wrappers
1 c salsa
1 c cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Brown turkey in a skillet and add black beans when the turkey is cooked thru.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Place a wonton wrapper in each muffin cup, top with a spoonful of turkey mixture and a spoonful of salsa.  Top with another wonton wrapper, another spoonful of turkey mixture, andother spoonful of salsa, and a pinch of cheese.  Bake for 20 mins.  Let cool for 5 mins, top with your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy!

i topped mine with guacomole and sour cream.  mr d kept his healthy and topped only with shredded lettuce.  also, i used a can of black beans that also had jalapenos for an extra kick of flavor.  i have made these multiple times, and each time they turned out awesome.  a quick dinner with a lot of flavor that is easy to make and healthy is always a winner!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Healthy Blackberry Cheesecake

yes, you read that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.  a dessert that has protein, is low fat, and low sugar.  and it's good!  if you are like us and are trying to eat healthy but still want to indulge your sweet tooth, this is an awesome cheesecake that seriously compares to restaurant quality.  the recipe comes from bill phillips, in the eating for life cookbook that goes along with the body for life diet.  bill phillips makes a strawberry cheesecake, but we got lots of blackberries from bountiful baskets, and really any fruit is a great topping to cheesecake.

Blackberry Cheesecake
1 c non-fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp Spelnda
12 oz non-fat cream cheese, softened
1 c egg substitute
1 graham cracker crust
1 c blackberries

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Blend cottage cheese in blender until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary.  Add vanilla and Splenda and blend for 15 seconds.  Add cream cheese and blend for 30 seconds.  Gradually add the egg substitute and continue blending until the mixture is smooth.  Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake at 350 for 35 mins.  Let cool for 15 mins.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  When ready to eat, top with berries and enjoy!

if you are making this completely healthy, just top with fresh berries.  i was in the mood for something more exciting, so i made a blackberry topping by mixing the berries with 1/8 cup sugar and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan and cooking until the juices were thick and syrupy.

if you're going to make a similar topping, be careful not to cook it too long or the berries will become mush.  this pic is after about 5 mins, i love that you can see it boiling, but the camera lens would steam up before i could snap a good shot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chicken Salad Sandwich

every once in a while i crave a good chicken salad sandwich.  and it's such a simple dish, i really should make it more often.  this week, i wasn't craving the salad as much as i was craving some homemade bread.  but if i made bread, i'd need something good to eat with it to make sure it got eaten and wasn't a wasted effort.  and so, the idea to have chicken salad sandwiches for dinner this week was born.  i've tried several recipes for chicken salad, and i've come to the conclusion that you can pretty much put whatever you want in it!  so i decided to use this recipe for the general idea,, but then i made modifications based on what i like and what we had on hand.  (i omitted the dill, because yuck, and i didn't have a lemon, so that was out, i wasn't in the mood for almonds, so they were out, and i replced the half and half with skim milk because 1, that's what we had, but 2, because it's lower in fat!)  overall, i thought this was a really good chicken salad, and i like that with the addition of the greek yogurt, it's healthier than other versions i've seen and tried.

Chicken Salad Sandwich
2 c chicken, cooked and shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
3 green onions, diced
2 c grapes, chopped
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c plain greek yogurt
1/4 c milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine chicken, celery, green onions and grapes.  In a second bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  When the flavor of the dressing is just right, pour over chicken mixture and mix well.  Chill before serving.

yes, that picture is of a 1/2 eaten sandwich on a napkin on my desk at work.  but i wanted to be sure and get a picture!  the bread is a homemade honey grain.  i inherited a new bread maker a few weeks ago, so it was easy peasy to make this delicious bread from scratch.  the recipe came in the instruction booklet, but the ingredients include:  water, butter, honey, salt, bread flour, wheat flour and oatmeal.  yum!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Ingedient Chicken and Gravy

i kept seeing this picture on pinterest of this delicious looking chicken served over a pile of mashed potatoes and and topped with gravy.  and the caption read, "3 ingredient crockpot chicken and gravy."  you can see for yourself how awesome it looks.  i thought to myself, wow, that looks delicious, and sounds so easy!  it must be too good to be true!!  let me be the first to tell you folks, it is.  don't get me wrong, it was good, but not as tasty as the picture made it seem, and it was much more of a hassle than a "3 ingredient meal" called for.  i made the chicken in the crockpot (dish #1) and the gravy in a side pan (dish #2).  i wanted to serve it like the picture, with a pile of mashed potatoes, so i cooked the potatoes (dish #3) and mashed them in my mixer (dish #4).  and since every meal needs a veggie, i went with beets (dish #5).  in the end, i was left with a lot of dishes for an average tasting dinner.

Three Ingredient Chicken and Gravy
2 lbs chicken breast
14.5 oz can chicken broth
2 packets of chicken gravy mix

Place the chicken and broth in the crockpot and cook on low 6 hours, or until chicken easily pulls apart.  Pour 2 cups of liquid from the crockpot into a saucepan, discard remaining liquid.  Add the 2 packets of gravy mix to the sauce pan and whisk well.  Simmer until gravy thickens.  While gravy simmers, shred chicken into large pieces and serve with the gravy.

and use a million other dishes to complete the meal.  i've never used gravy packets before, and i probably will never use them again.  the result was mostly salty and it didn't dissolve all the way, so the gravy had a weird texture.  if i were to make this again, i would just use the liquid in the crockpot (broth and juices from the chicken) along with a roux to make the gravy.  while i'm sure you are all more than aware, a roux is equal parts flour and fat--butter.  so i use 1/2 cup of each and mix that in with my meat liquid to make an awesome gravy that pairs well with whatever meat i cooked.

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup

sorry, team, i didn't realize that i haven't posted in nearly a month.  i mean, i realized that it has been awhile, but didn't think it had been that long!  so by special request, the first post after my leave of absence will be the delicious soup i made for lunch in celebration of presidents' day.  nothing says "honoring our forefathers" quite like roasted cauliflower and aged white cheddar soup.  well, not really, but i had the day off, and it seemed like a good lunch project.  i got the recipe from after linking over when i saw the post for the cauliflower and cheddar dip.  we don't have much use for dips at our house, but i was definitely inspired by this soup.  the soup was really good, the flavor was awesome, but as you can see from my picture, i totally over pureed it.  to the point that mr. d asked if we were having sauce for lunch.  he agreed that the flavor was really good, and if it had some substance to it, it would be perfect.  this is definitely worth making again, maybe taking it a little easier on the hand blender the second time around.

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
3 c chicken broth
2 c aged white cheddar, shredded
1 c milk or cream

Toss the cauliflower florets with 2 Tbsp oil and salt and pepper and spread in single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for 20-30 mins, until lightly browned.  Heat remaining oil in a pot, sautee the onion until tender, 5-7 mins.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 min.  Add the broth and deglaze the pot.  Add the cauliflower, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 mins.  Puree the soup with a stick blender until your desired consistency.  Mix in cheese, letting it melt without bringing it to a boil.  Add in milk, remove from heat and serve!  Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

i used skim milk because that's what we had at home, and i didn't need to make another trip to the grocery store (even though i certainly wouldn't have minded, wink, wink, k) but i think using cream would have made it very good, if nothing else, it would have added some substance.  and a special shout out to my new friends at my new harmons who loving cut the perfect amount of aged white cheddar for me.  although this harmons is not nearly as nice as the district harmons or city creek harmons, it was still harmons in the great products they carried and excellent service at the deli counter!