Mango & Mixed Berry Cobbler

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Celebrate the [unofficial] start of summer with this delicious mango & mixed berry cobbler – the perfect dessert for your Memorial Day table!

mango berry cobbler

This month blew by my face faster than a tornado. True, I was out of the country for most of it, but still. I’m still soaking up springtime, y’all, I’m not ready for summer, both in body and in mind. But, such is life, and I’m kind of excited to embrace the heat, the longer days, the beach weekends, the evening hammock and wine nights and the long walks under the oaks that come with my first summer as an transplant Southerner.

fresh mango cobbler

Although I’ve just been here a few months, I know one thing is for sure – southerners love their desserts, and celebrate any day, week, month, season change, birthday, Tuesday or season finale with one. To pay homage to my new roots, I decided to honor the change of the seasons with the most suitable of sweets – a mango & mixed berry cobbler.

creamy mixed berry mango cobbler

To me, you can’t have summer without mango. It’s fleshy, perfectly sweet and oh-so-juicy, not to mention amazingly versatile. You can use them in smoothiesmuffins, ice creams, pies or even savory dishes like chicken salad or guacamole. I’ve tried it every which way and can’t decided which my favorite is – because they’re all so good, refreshing, light and, well, summery.

delicious mixed mango cobbler

My love for this fruit knows no bounds, so when the Mango Board asked me to partner with them to feature a recipe using the succulent Ataulofus mango, I *literally* jumped at the chance. This variety of mango is one of my favorite, since the seed is smaller than an average mango resulting in more juicy, delicious flesh. Because of this, I knew almost immediately I wanted to marry this beautiful fruit with other fresh ingredients, like blackberries and raspberries, and bake it all into a deliciously fragrant cobbler.

mango

Because I live in the south and cobbler is a religion, y’all (along with spiked sweet tea, but that’s for another post entirely). Truly though, summertime is nota time to be spent sweating over the stove, which is why this dessert is a favorite. It’s mixed, baked and enjoyed in less than 60 minutes. As someone who likes to host parties and entertain, 60 minutes or less is all I want to spend away from my guests (and the wine bottle). That’s why this little number is gracing my Memorial Day shindig menu.

summer mango cobbler

Whether you’re ready or not, it’ summertime – so let’s cheers with this fresh, delicious and amazing mango & mixed berry cobbler!

Mango & Mixed Berry Cobbler

easy mango cobbler

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 8.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About 40 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the filling:

  • 3 cups peeled and chopped mangos (I used the Ataulofus variety)
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 11/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

For the topping:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a baking dish (9 x 13, 8 x 8 or 11 x 7) with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with flour.
  2. In a mixing bowl, carefully toss the fruit with the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, honey and flour. Sprinkle in the apple pie spice and toss to combine. Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, carefully whisk the flour, almond meal, sugar, and baking powder together. Using a pastry knife, cut in the butter until mixture resembles sand. Mix in the egg, cinnamon and vanilla and stir until fully combined.
  4. Spread the fruit over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit filling.
  5. Bake for about 40 – 42 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 385
Fat: 12.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 62.5 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Protein: 4.6 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 10

NOTE: THIS POST WAS SPONSORED BY THE MANGO BOARD. HOWEVER, ALL OPINIONS AND STATEMENTS ARE MY OWN.

Cheesy Baked Corn Dip

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We’re switching gears today from Mothers Day to Cinco de Mayo – because after the horribly stressful week I’ve had, I need a day focused around cheesy baked corn dips, margaritas a plenty and more salty chips than I can muster.

cheesy corn dip

I won’t go into details -to be honest, I’m just too wiped out to. Instead, we’re going to do something I never do (due to my verbose, never ending desire to blab), we’re just going to talk brass tacks. Or in this case, this dip.

spicy cheesy corn dip

Mexican food in the US is a far cry from Mexican food in Mexico – but anyone could tell you that. Their dishes are fresher, more reliant on zesty spices and herbs and are rarely, if ever, fried. That’s exactly why I truly love visiting that part of the world. The people are unique and hilarious, the settings are as diverse as they are beautiful and the food – it’s just like nothing I’ve ever had before. I’ve only been to Mexico twice (and to the same place, of all odds) but I’m always counting down until I can get my feet back into that sand, my eyes staring off into the breathtaking sunsets and my mouth firmly sunk into a tray of tacos.

sunset meixco

Until then, I’m going to enjoy Mexican food as I’ve come to love it here in the states – laden with cheese. Luckily the rest of the dip has healthier ingredients, like lower fat cream cheese, olive oil mayo and Greek yogurt. I did that for one reason – there would be no skimping on cheese.

  super cheesy corn dip

We need it today, loaded with chiles, corn, zesty spices, cilantro and everything that tastes good in this world. But, you know, to be somewhat healthy (and because I fed all of our tortilla chips to the turtles), it’s served with a side of fresh carrots. You can use whatever you want – chips, pita, a spoon, a fork, your face. However you eat it, one thing will remain the same – you won’t be able to stop.

So just plan to wear yoga pants.

Cheesy Baked Corn Dip

easy cheesy dip

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 2 cups. Adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet.
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Cook time: About 12 – 14 minutes
Total time: About 24 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayo (or regular mayo)
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can (4 ounces) green chiles
  • 1 can (14 ounces) corn, drained
  • 1 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Liberally coat a skillet or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a mixer or bowl, beat the Greek yogurt, mayo, cream cheese and 1 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Gently stir in the corn, chiles, crushed red pepper, cilantro and salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with additional corn and chiles as garnish with carrots, pita or tortilla chips.

Nutritional information per serving (about 2 tablespoons):

Calories: 175
Fat: 13.25 grams
Carbohydrates: 5.6 grams
Fiber: 0.8 grams
Protein: 4.2 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 4

More recipes like this one!

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Cheesy Kale & Artichoke Dip

chunky-mushroom-dip-500x371

Chunky Mushroom Dip

Crab-dip

Warm Crab & Artichoke Dip

Creamy-white-bean-dip2

Creamy White Bean & Broccoli Dip

Soft Baked Banana Nut Donuts

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And I’m back again with another post any mama will love – SOFT BAKED BANANA NUT DONUTS.

Soft baked banana donuts

Yes, they 100% deserve an all caps lock introduction. These moist, melt in your mouth donuts are probably one of the most delicious and decadent things I’ve made in a long time. And the best part? They only taste decadent – these little love bugs are actually lower in fat and calories than you think.

Best banana donuts

It’s my speciality ya’ll, of course. Making fatty things a little skinnier so we can we nosh without guilt. It’s bathing suit season after all.

Easy baked banana donuts

At least where I live (humble brag). Moving along from donuts for a quick second, I just have to share my day yesterday. It was one of those perfect Sundays, one where we had no agenda and just did our own thing. We woke up, had a healthy breakfast, went to the beach to kayak and tan, stopped for side-street hotdogs loaded with luscious toppings, smoked fresh and flakey fish and red books on the patio with glasses of red wine. It felt like a vacation day. I didn’t stress at my computer, I barely looked at my phone.

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It was the first thing, truly, that I felt like this place is home. And felt so incredible blessed I could hardly stand it. We live in a place people vacation to – and I’ve never had that before. Sure, DC was a huge tourist destination, but it wasn’t the place people escape to for relaxation, coastal breezes, long and leisurely brunches and historic carriage rides. It really hit me last night, on the patio, reading a book with a glass of wine. There was no tv on, no radio. Just the sounds of the frogs bellowing, the late-night birds chirping and the occasional splash of a turtle hopping into a pond. It felt like I was on vacation – but not. This is my home and this is my life. And holy cow – I’ve never felt so lucky and happy. 

Fluffy soft baked donuts

Okay, back to donuts because I’m sure you guys in colder destinations are building a voodoo doll of me as we speak. I hope this perfect donuts make up for it. They taste like a soft slide of banana bread, in an adorable and delicious donut package. Plus, the icing. THE NUTS. The perfect blend of crunchy, salty sweet. Make a big batch of these for Mothers Day and immediately catapult to favorite child in no time.

Soft Baked Banana Nut Donuts

baked banana donuts

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 8 donuts.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 – 11 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 medium bananas, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chopped nuts for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a nonstick donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon together. Make a well in the center and add the egg, butter, applesauce, bananas, extract and cream. Mix until batter is fully combined. Carefully add in the nuts and mix just to incorporate.
  3. Using a spoon or piping bag filled with batter, fill the donut cavities about 2/3 – 3/4 the way full.
  4. Bake for about 9 – 11 minutes, or until golden brown (they should spring back when you touch them). Let cool for about 10 minutes in pan. Once cooled slightly, remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients together (except for the chopped nuts). Dip or spread the glaze over the donuts then immediately sprinkle with nuts. Serve and enjoy!

Nutritional information per donut: 

Calories: 169
Fat: 5.6 grams
Carbohydrates: 28.5 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams
Protein: 3.2 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 5

Easy Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Pesto

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Unless you live in Denver (sorry friends – that blizzard looked rough), there’s a chance it’s finally feeling nice and warm outside. Which is exactly why we’re starting this Tuesday with a big, beautiful, sexy slab of grilled flank steak with cilantro pesto. Because if this doesn’t make you break out the shorts, flip flops, margarita makers and wide-brimmed hats, I don’t know what will.

Juicy steak

One of the (many) benefits of living in coastal South Carolina is the weather. Minus a few chilly mornings and a few rainy days, the weather has been almost perfect since we moved in. More sunny days than not, and most afternoons touching the 70-degree mark by 2pm. Coming from an area that still had snow a few weeks ago, this has been a MAJOR game-changer in not just our moods (or tans), but also the way we eat.

easy cilantro steak

Instead of heavy soups, cheesy casseroles or yet another pizza, we’re eating delicious spreads of beautiful grilled meats, fresh vegetable salads and tons of corn on the cob. Because unlike home, you can light up that grill in December down here. Which is why most of our dinners are enjoyed al-fresco on our porch or outdoor patio, with the beautiful sounds of charcoal sizzling and ducks squawking in the background. (How serene is my new backyard?!)

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Although I made this steak a few weeks ago (before travel, life and, well, travel) took over, it’s definitely going to be on the rotation all summer long. Not only is it SO easy to prepare, it’s even easier to make – just a few minutes on each side to sear and slightly char. Now, I’m a full believer that steak should be enjoyed medium rare – and if you want to eat it any other way, you’re dead to me. I kid (sort of). If you’re really skeevy of the pink inside, cook a little longer to your preference.

Easy grilled steak

Just don’t tell me about it.

Although the steak is the Oscar winner in this dish, we couldn’t leave without honoring the best supporting actor – the cilantro pesto.

  creamy cilantro pesto

It’s no surprise that I’m a giant sucker for this iconic leafy herb – I’ve used in more dishes than not. However, I’ve never made a pesto with it. The steak sings on its own, of course, but I wanted even more flavor backed into each bite – so I dressed it with luscious spoonfuls of this bright green pesto. The two paired together just works. Bright and earthy, vibrant and bold – it’s the perfect marriage of classic American and South American flair.

steak with pesto

So go ahead – fire up that grill and eat like it’s summer. Your new piece will thank you.

Easy Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Pesto

Easy steak with creamy pesto

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 6.
Prep time: >10 minutes
Cook time: About 12 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the steak:

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
  • Dash of salt and pepper

For the cilantro pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, large stems removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup high quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Heat grill to high heat. Lightly grease the top with cooking oil or spray.
  2. Liberally season the steak with steak seasoning and salt and pepper. (Ensure both sides are coated).
  3. Using tongs, place the steak onto the grill and sear both sides (about 1 – 2 minutes on each side) to get a nice color. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook another 4 – 5 minutes on each side (for medium rare). Remove steak and let rest about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor. Pulse on high until creamy. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once steak has rested, slice (against the grain). Serve with pesto and enjoy!

ingredients

Nutritional information per serving (about 3 ounces steak and 2 tablespoons pesto):

Calories:  353
Fat: 27 grams
Carbohydrates: 8 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Protein: 26.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 10

Matcha Power Smoothie

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And I win for the most uncreative recipe title ever! But given how many ingredients this mother has, it’s just easier for SEO to put Matcha Power Smoothie.

amazing power smoothies

Now, I’m brand new to team Matcha and I’m 567% addicted to it already. My friends at Aiya sent me a sample to play with a few weeks ago and I decided my first science experiment, I mean recipe test, would be a smoothie. Simple, cost-effective (if I royally eff it up) and a healthy start to my day.

matcha2

Which given I’ve been eating like a caveman NOT on paleo (extra sides of mashed potatoes, please?) a healthy smoothie is what I need so I don’t die by 32. The great thing about Matcha is that it’s full of healthy AF ingredients, like antioxidants and natural energy. Maybe it’s because I work from home now and am always working, I’ve found I get SO incredibly tired by 3pm. Like, can barely keep my eyes open I need to take an immediate nap kind of tired. I’ve never been a fan of drinking coffee past the morning, so I’ve been sipping herbal teas to keep my eyes open so I can write.

smoothie

And even that wears off. So I thought I’d give this trendy matcha craze a try to see if it can help with my lackluster motivation after lunchtime. HOLY ENERGY, BATMAN. I’m not going to Dr. Oz you on this stuff, but it truly gave me a boost of energy WITHOUT giving me heart palpitations or giving me an epic crash an hour later. Honestly, it just felt natural. I just felt more awake and more productive. Plus, with a whooping 24 grams of protein per glass, I was full until dinner. LITERALLY.

Matcha power smoothie

Now, I’m sure this doens’t happen for everyone (if it did, the world would be a happier, more productive place) so don’t take my claims and write me angry emails if it doesn’t work for you. I’m just conveying how I felt after one of these matcha power smoothies for lunch. To make sure it wasn’t just a fluke (like maybe I had used too much), I made the same one this morning and felt the exact same results.

green tea smoothies

I didn’t even NEED coffee today, guys. Like, that’s big. Now, I’m not going to fully replace my coffee with Matcha (could you imagine? I travel all the time, people would think I’m effing insane), but I’m going to try to drink it when I’m home to limit the havoc my beloved coffee wreaks on my insides.

  matcha

If you’ve never tried it, just give it a whirl in this smoothie. The berries, peanut butter and mango give it a beautiful added sweetness, and all you really taste is a slight hint of green tea. I added chia seeds as well for added protein, but you can adapt and omit as you see fit. And let me know how you feel. Honestly, it’s a slight game changer for me, so I’d love to hear how you guys react!

Matcha Power Smoothie

best power smoothie

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 2 large smoothies.
Prep time: >5 minutes
Blend time: 1 – 2 minutes
Total time: 6 – 7 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cups roughly chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoons matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup organic mango juice*
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 – 1 cups 2% milk ** (add more or less depending on consistency. I added about 1 cup)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons honey***
  • Fresh mango and chia for garnish

*If you can’t find this, sub in additional milk or another juice you’d like.
**I added this for a dash of sweetness, feel free to omit.

Directions: 

  1. Place all of the ingredients (from the frozen strawberries to the honey) in a powerful blender. Blend on high until thick, creamy and smoothie.
  2. Pour smoothies into large glasses and garnish with mango and chia seeds. Serve immediately or store in a sterilized mason jar.

ingredients

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 515
Fat: 13.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 75.6 grams
Fiber: 11 grams
Protein: 24.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 13

Cauliflower Margherita Pizza

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Enjoy pizza night without the guilt by sinking your teeth into one of this cauliflower margherita pizza – low carb and full of flavor!

easy cauliflower pizza

I know what you’re thinking – 2 years called and they want their recipe back. I GET IT – I’m a little late to the whole cauliflower pizza crust craze. But in my eyes, it’s better late than never and also I love pizza and am on a perpetual diet.

Cheesy cauliflower pizza

Things have been getting a little desperate over here. I’ve been trying, really trying, to shed this extra weight. I’ve given up desserts, I force-feed myself breakfast every morning and I’ve been doing my best to cut out carbs.

cauliflower

I KNOW – BELOVED CARBS.

tomatoes

And as you know, pizza is full of those pesky, albeit delicious, sugars, starches and fibers. Instead of giving up pizza all together (which WOULD NEVER HAPPEN), I opted to make a crust lower in carbs but still loaded with flavor.

cheesy pizza

Enter cauliflower. Now, I’ve read so many recipes where people say they hate cauliflower but love the crust – which is odd to me because you definitely get the flavor of this vegetable when you’re eating it. To me, that’s no biggy since it’s one of my favorites (I eat this recipe ONCE A WEEK!) I will say though, if you hate it – I’d recommend not making this.

low carb cauliflower crust

Case in point – my husband. He loathes cauliflower – down to his bones. So, I thought I could trick him into eating it if I baked it under gobs of fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and our own fresh-grown basil. WRONG. SO VERY WRONG. As soon as he walked in the door he says “WHAT IS THAT SMELL? WHY DOES IT SMELL LIKE CAULIFLOWER IN HERE?” Then his gaze quickly darted to the stovetop where he saw a pizza, and soon, his mouth was agape. “WHY DO I SMELL CAULIFLOWER BUT SEE PIZZA? WHY IS THE CRUST WEIRD? CLAIRE, WHAT DID YOU DO!”

cheesy margherita pizza

So yeah, there’s no fooling anyone. But truly, it’s really an easy, and low-carb, way to enjoy pizza. The crust definitely has a unique texture (a little more porus than a regular bread crust) but it holds it’s own against the slabs of fresh mozzarella, the deluge of cherry tomatoes and the basil. Now, you could definitely top it with whatever delicious assortments you can think of –  and tell me how it turns out!

cheesy pizza

And also share any success stories you may have with tricking picky husbands, children, friends into eating it. I need some more pointers.

Cauliflower Margherita Pizza

simple margherita pizza

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 8. Crust slightly adapted from Jo Cooks.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 15 – 20 minutes
Total time: 25 – 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the crust:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 – 3 gloves fresh garlic)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the toppings:

  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • About 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the cauliflower florets and a dash of salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice (about 3 – 5 minutes of heavy pulsing). Remove and place in a mesh strainer. Gently push out any excess moisture. Place the pressed mixture into a microwave safe dish, with a lid, and cook for about 4 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, place in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one by one, stirring after each addition. Mix in the cheese, fresh basil, fresh thyme, garlic powder and additional salt and pepper to taste. (The mixture will look a little moist and soupy, but don’t worry!)
  3. Line a large pizza pan with parchment paper (and be sure to cover the entire surface) and carefully spread the crust mixture on top. Smooth it out as much as you can, spreading to cover most of the pan (it won’t spread in baking).
  4. Bake crust for about 23 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the crust. Add the slices of cheese, cherry tomatoes and half of the fresh basil. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Bake another 6 – 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with additional fresh basil and enjoy!

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Nutritional information per slice:

Calories: 228.5
Fat: 16.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 5.6 grams
Fiber:  1.5 grams
Protein: 11.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 

Easy Homemade Baklava

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This easy, homemade baklava is the perfect springtime dessert for any occasion!

Easy homemade baklava

Baklava was one of those desserts that I always assumed was too laborious or cumbersome to tackle. All of those layers of crispy, flaky pastry, filled with some aromatic, delicious nut filling? There’s no way that I could attempt such a complicated feat.

  Making baklava

WRONG.

Baklava assembly

It was surprisingly easy. The only thing it really took was time and patience. Which are two things I didn’t have before now.

  Best homemade baklava

Side-tracking ever so slightly, the level of time I have free now is actually kind of startling. As many of you may, or may not know, I went from full-time to part-time with my official gig. That means 20 hours of my life is now freed up to do whatever I want. To be honest, it was terrifying at first. Luckily I had so much unpacking to do I didn’t really notice. However, now that most of the boxes are gone, I’m finding so many ways to soak up those hours in a way that’s healthy and good for me.

easy homemade baklava2

To start with, I’m spending more time freelancing – which helps financially and with my portfolio. Oh, and you may have noticed that more than 1 recipe a year is posted on this blog now 🙂 I’m going back to a 3 – 4 day a week posting schedule to bring back the love I once had for blogging, cooking and food styling.

blueberries

Oh, and I’ve lost 4 pounds. Less snacking and more time to work out can really do that for you. I’m determined to finally get back in shape and make this blog a business again, and so far, it all seems to be working out.

Delicious homemade baklava

With those updates out of the way, let’s go back to the baklava. My husband took this pan to work with him and his colleagues devoured it. I was worried it would be “too sweet,” but was welcomed with nothing but crumbs when he got home. The pastry was perfectly flakey, the delicious filling was just sweet enough and the addition of fresh berries added a natural element normal baklava is missing.

If you’re looking for a sweet treat that’s not as heavy as cake or as fatty as cookies, this is for you. Plus, it’s just so darn pretty – it’ll liven up those dreary winter days in no time.

Easy Homemade Baklava

  best homemade baklava2

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 32 servings. Adapted from All Recipes.
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cook time: About 40 – 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup pistachios
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 16 ounce package phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups blueberries and raspberries
  • Fresh whipped cream for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the nuts and cinnamon together. While working with the phyllo dough, make sure to cover the other stack with a damp cloth to avoid drying.
  3. Carefully peel 2 sheets of phyllo dough apart. Stack them on top of each other into the bottom of the 9 x 13-inch pan. Brush the top of the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of nuts and cinnamon. Repeat the layers, 2 sheets at a time, being sure to brush the tops liberally with butter and nuts. Once you’re done, your last layer should be 3 to 4 sheets of phyllo dough.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal slits in the top to make about 34 diamonds. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 -45 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the sugars, water and vanilla together. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low. Stir in the honey. Reduce to low and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Pour the syrup over the baklava. Let cool for about an hour.
  7. Once cool, stack the tops with fresh whipped cream and berries.

Nutritional information per serving (about 2 squares):

Calories: 250
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates:24 grams
Fiber: 1.9 gram
Protein: 5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 7

Easy homemade baklava-pin

Goat Cheese, Cranberry & Basil Steak Roll Ups

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Looking for an easy, gluten-free New Years app? Whip up these delicious goat cheese, cranberry & basil steak roll ups! 

steak roll ups

Happy New Years Eve Eve! Do you have any big plans for ringing in 2016? This girl does – BIG ones.

bar

Well, not Times Square ball drop big, but big for me at least. I’m having 10 people over for a fancy little dinner party. Not just that, I’m catering the whole tête-à-tête myself. Now, 10 people may not seem like a lot for some of you, but for our 900 square foot townhome, it’s a freak-ton. Plus, I tend to go a little batshitcrazy when it comes to hosting so I’m making enough food to feed 34.

Easy goat cheese app

I have 7 pounds of meat in the fridge, 2 pounds of potatoes, two bushels of brussel sprouts and asparagus, 1 pound of chocolate, a wheel of brie, a basket of charcuterie and cheese, a few loaves of bread and a case of champagne and wine. Oh and you can’t forget the bouquets of flowers for centerpieces.

  party

I made about the same amount for 4 people last year and we had leftovers for days. I’m hoping my hungry friends will eat as much as they can so we’re not left with much leftover. Probably because mashed potatoes made with heavy cream and 3 sticks of butter don’t fit into my “new year, new you” diet plan.

steak roll up

Neither does a full case of booze, but I have no doubt that’ll be polished off by, like, 10 p.m. What can I say, I keep good company.

Honeslty, as I think back, I’ve been doing a cozy meal at home for the past 4 years. I went out a few years before that, when I was young, and it completely wore me out. As much as I love dressing up and sipping champagne with 10,000 of my closest friends – I’d much rater wear faux-leather leggings, an oversized sweater and drink my own cheap wine without judgement. Call that getting older, but I’m totally okay with it.

  Easy steak rollups

This year will definitely be the most I’ve hosted for dinner, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out a little. I know I’m good cook, but feeding 10 people (many of whom are big foodies) is just a little bit daunting. That’s why I’m hoping they hit the booze HARD before dinner in case some things don’t turn out Julia Child perfect.

Then again, she often sliced her fingers on air (and bled into the souffles) so maybe I’ll be okay.

Goat Cheese, Cranberry & Basil Steak Roll Ups

easy steak rollups

Yields about 15 rolls
Prep time: About 15 minutes
Cook time: About 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 pound flank steak
  • 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-1/2 ounces (about 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) soft herbed goat cheese
  • About 1/3 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler. Liberally salt and pepper the flank steaks on both sides. Place on a lightly greased broiler sheet. Broil for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium cooked steak.
  2. Let rest for about an hour and then freeze for about 5 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, slice against the grain as thinly as possible. You should get about 15 slices.
  4. Spread 1 teaspoon of goat cheese on each slice of steak. Top with a few sprinkles of cranberries and a few fresh mint sprigs. Garnish with salt and pepper.
  5. Carefully roll the steak pieces up into a jelly roll. Stick a toothpick in the middle of each to hold together.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 46
Fat: 2.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 3 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 4 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 2

Crock Pot Butter Chicken

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The seasons have changed, a holiday (or two) has tumbled on by. I’ve been to 6 countries, over 15 cities and a wedding. I’ve learned of two pregnancies (not mine) and hosted a baby shower. The past two months have been nothing short of crazy, as you can see. But now, I’m back, in both senses of the word. I’m back HERE, for at least a second, to share some new recipes. And I’m back home, if only for a few weeks.

Quick and easy butter chicken

Granted, I’m going out of town every weekend, but that’s neither here nor there. In fact, let’s just skip the small talk and move onto things that are a little more epic, shall we say.

easy creamy crock pot butter chicken

Like this butter chicken, obviously and the teensy, tiny, small little fact that I just turned 30.

rice2

YEAH. I’ll let you digest that little nugget of information for a second. In the meantime, I’m just going to talk about the creamy pile of bliss in front of your faces. It’s no surprise I’m a fan of ethnic flavors, and Indian is certainly no exception. I’ve always had a deep love affair for creamy curries and spicy chili blends, especially when paired with fluffy rice and naan bread. And my love for the country’s incredibly eccentric (and differing) flavors only intensified during a recent visit to the bustling city of Mumbai.

Creamy butter chicken

I have about 15 more Indian recipes I want to share, ones that are based on the vibrant dishes I enjoyed there. But for now, I’m sharing a simple staple – butter chicken. It teeters more on the Americanized version of Indian food than authentic, but it’s still an absolute classic. The best part about this recipe is you don’t need to stir or stew over the stove to make it – you can just toss it all into a slow-cooker and enjoy the insatiable aromas as they fill your home.

easy crock pot butter chicken

With a full-time job, a growing freelance career, a husband, two dogs and a social life, slow cooker meals are really all I can muster these days. But it’s still food, and homecooked food at that, so it beats the alternative.

I thought I’d be ready to discuss the big 3-0 by the time I got to this part of the page, but I’m not. So let’s skip it for another day. Perhaps a day when I’ve been drinking. Heavily.

Crock Pot Butter Chicken

Super Creamy Butter Chicken

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 6. Slightly adapted from All Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 – 6 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 10 ounces coconut milk
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • Fresh cilantro and green onions for garnish
  • + rice

Directions: 

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until just translucent, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until just browned on all sides, about 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the crock pot.
  2. Add in the green onions, spices and tomato paste; stir to combine. Add in the greek yogurt, coconut milk and heavy cream, stir to combine. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for about 5 -6 hours, or until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is thick. Serve with rice, fresh cilantro and green onions.

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 400
Fat: 16.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 45 grams
Fiber: 2.8 grams
Protein: 16 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 11

Roasted Grape & Haloumi Crostinis

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I figure since I’ve been gone for about a month I better have an amazing recipe to share with you to make up for it. Honestly, no excuses for my absence. From traveling abroad to caring for a darling new foster puppy to ACCEPTING AN AMAZING new job, I’ve been busy as bees over here and haven’t had much time to cook, better yet write.

Easy roasted grapes2

But I’m here now and I’ve got a truly incredible appetizer to whet your whistles for the fall season. The weather has been beautiful the past two days. The temperatures haven’t exceeded 70 degrees, there’s a crisp chill to the air and I can successfully walk to work without sweating. Knowing the fickle nature of DC weather I’m sure this won’t last, but I’m going to soak it up for as long as it’s here.

grapes

And you better believe i’ll be noshing on these sweet and savory roasted grape & haloumi crostinis while I do. I’ve been in love with halmoumi for years, but typically don’t buy it because it comes with a hefty price tag. For those who don’t know, it’s an Israeli/Middle Eastern cheese that can be grilled (without melting) and has a salty, feta-like taste to it. It’s incredibly verstaile and is honestly just delicious on its own.

Raosted grapes

However, I’ve had these dreams of roasting grapes lately (literally) and I knew I wanted to create a delicious app paring the two. These crostinis are one app that turned out even more beautiful (and tasty) than I could have hoped for. I’m already planning dinner parties in my head where I can wow my guests with their elegance.

grilled haloumi apps

Of course you don’t need an excuse to make these. You can serve them up with a cheap bottle of wine as a dinner for one or surprise your partner with a homemade date night. This is the type of dish that makes any moment, no matter how ordinary, into an occasion.

Roasted Grape & Grilled Haloumi Crostinis

roasted grapes

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 12. Grapes adapted from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About an hour
Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the grapes:

  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper & sea salt

For the crostinis:

  • 12 slices baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 ounces haloumi cheese, sliced
  • About 5 – 6 tablespoons high-grade balsamic vinegar *
  • Fresh dill or herbs for garnish
  • Cracked black pepper
  • About 1/3 – 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place grapes in a baking dish (I used an 8 x 8) and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Roast for about 45 minutes, stopping to stir halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  3. Place bread on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake for about 3 – 5 minutes, or until toasted. Remove from oven.
  4. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Brush both sides of haloumi slices with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Grill on high for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until browned with grill marks. Remove from grill carefully and slice into 12 even slices.
  5. Top the toasted bread with haloumi and a spoonful of roasted grapes. Add about 3/4 – 1 teaspoon of high quality balsamic and fresh herbs. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
  6. Serve immediately.

* You want a nice balsamic here, one that’s thick to the pour. Don’t opt for cheap, liquid vinegar. For something a little sweeter, omit the vinegar for honey instead.

Nutritional information per serving (1 crostini):

Calories: 125
Fat: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Protein: 3.83 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 3

Top It Tuesday: Homemade Pistachio, Coconut & Chia Seed Muesli Parfait

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I wish I liked breakfast foods as much as I like chunks of blue cheese, gooey s’mores and extra buttery garlic bread – but I don’t. Honestly, it’s a chore trying to get me to eat anything in the morning, especially anything healthy. Now, this is not to say I don’t love a nice stack of buttermilk pancakes or double-dipped French toast every now and then, but that’s not exactly food you can indulge in every single day. So lately, I’ve been trying to choke down yogurts and it’s seeming to be much harder than I thought.

parfait with berries

However, I have found something that seems to work – something that’s tasty, healthy and completely dairy-free. Something that I don’t have to force myself to eat and, dare I say, something I look forward to eating in the mornings.

muesli

No, it’s not bacon wrapped pancakes or fried eggs, it’s this homemade pistachio, coconut & chia seed muesli parfait! I was first hooked on muesli (a mix of cereals, dried nuts & fruits) last year when the folks at Bob’s Red Mill sent me a bag to try. Ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with the sweet, salty and fiber-packed crunch of every bite. However, I ran out of that stuff long ago and knew the only way i’d have it again is if I made it myself.

Simple healthy parfait

Luckily the folks at Silk, who I’m working with to promote their dairy-free offerings, asked me to create the perfect topping for their dairy-free yogurt. Their #TopItTuesday campaign is not only promoting their dairy-free (and delicious) yogurts, but giving a little extra love to Tuesday, a day that isn’t really paid much attention to. Before I could even say “YES” to the campaign I knew I was going to make my own muesli with a bunch of tasty add ins.

  ingredients

Making your own is so easy I’m shocked more people don’t do it. You simply mix, toss and stir into your favorite parfait – literally, that’s it. You can make it fancier with more gourmet ingredients, but I’m kind of a simple gal and I’d rather make something I know other people can make too. To make this parfait, all I did was stack the sweet yogurt, fresh berries and crunchy muesli into one perfect little jar. What’s easier than that?

simple parfait with muesli

So friends, like me, who hate breakfast food – give this muesli parfait a try. If you’re not converted, I owe you $50. Not really – but that’s just how sure I am you’ll love it.

Homemade Pistachio, Coconut & Chia Seed Muesli Parfait

SIMPLE FRESH PARFAIT

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Parfaits serve 2. Muesli serves 8 cups.
Prep time – for the muesli: 10 minutes – for the parfaits: 5 minutes
Total time: About 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the muesli:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup puffed rice crisps
  • 1 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1  cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup dried apples
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of nutmeg

For the parfaits:

  • 2 containers Silk dairy-free strawberry yogurt
  • About 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Directions: 

  1. For the muesli: Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and stir until every ingredient is distributed in the mix. (You many need to mix more so the chia seeds don’t sink to the bottom).
  2. Pour the muesli into airtight mason jars and store until use.
  3. For the parfaits, layer the yogurt, fresh strawberries and about 1/3 – 1/2 cup muesli into mason jars and serve.

Best parfait

Nutritional information per serving (1 parfait):

Calories: 350
Fat: 9 grams
Carbohydrates: 55 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 14 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 9

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Radish & Broccoli Rabe Pasta

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Today is most definitely a double (or triple) Venti coffee kind of days. I don’t know why, but I can’t get my shit together this week. I’m tired, grumpy, fatigued and lazy. I’m sure it has to do with my job, the endless slew of foster pups we bring in and a major case of post-trip depression, but it’s really making everyday life a little difficult.

fresh pasta with proscuitto

That’s why you haven’t seen more of me around these parts. I’m still alive, don’t stress – but it’s hard finding the energy to write about food lately. Not that I don’t love it – food is still my number one passion. It’s just I can’t find the words or the energy to fill a blog post.

fresh easy pasta2

But you’re not here to read about that – you’re here for a recipe. Luckily I’ve got a really good one of those for you 🙂 It’s filled with things I just can’t get enough of – like radishes, pasta and broccoli rabe. I could seriously eat these things everyday and never tire of them.

broccoli rabe

Which is strange given I used to HATE radishes. Honestly, it was the only vegetable I couldn’t stand for 25 years of my life. Then one day, i accidentally put them on a salad and freaking punched myself as soon as I crunched into their crisp, peppery shell. I was so in love, I bought some that very night and crunched them like an apple. My friend has also introduced me to the roasted radish dipped in butter and I’m never going back. It’s honestly the most amazing combination of flavors.

radishes2

Just like this pasta. It’s so easy, you can whip up any day of the week. Plus, it’s perfect with a glass (or 10) of wine on a lazy summer night. Plus, it’s just so darn pretty right? It’s the dish to make for your friends when you want to impress them but don’t have a lot of time or money. (aka me every single day).

Radish & Broccoli Rabe Pasta

radish pasta

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 4.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces ziti noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, chopped
  • 4 ounces proscuitto
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 teaspoons pine nuts
  • About 4 fresh radishes, sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and a dash of salt. Cook until al dente about 8-10 minutes. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; cook about 3 – 4 minutes. Add in chopped broccoli rabe. Cook on medium heat until broccoli rabe is wilted and softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Carefully chop the proscuitto. Toss the broccoli rabe with the pasta and mix with tongs. Add Parmesan cheese, proscuitto and additional salt and pepper.  Slice the turnips into thin slices.
  4. Serve pasta with a dash of pine nuts and thinly sliced turnips.

Best pasta

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 425
Fat: 17 grams
Carbohydrates: 69 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 12

Tuna Couscous Salad

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This light, fluffy and healthy tuna couscous salad is a great summer dish that’s flavor-packed!

tuna couscous salad

I don’t think they’ll ever be a time in my life where I don’t crave healthy food over junk food. Of course, there are those occasional days when I’ve had too much wine the night before and all I could possible want is a hamburger with french fries. But no matter what, I always prefer salads to pastas and fresh fruit to candy bars. That’s just one of the reasons I was over the moon when Genova seafood asked me to create a nutritious dish using their premium tuna.

couscous2

To me, tuna has always had a bit of a bad rap. For one, people never really associate canned tuna with anything gourmet. It’s something you buy to make cheap sandwiches or mix up for a snack. It may be budget friendly and easy, but it’s far from ordinary. Tuna is such an incredibly versatile ingredient. You can toss it in salads (like I did with this tuna couscous salad), mix it into casseroles, make gourmet ceviches and even cocktail party hors d’oeuvres. The possibilities are endless, which is why I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate it into anything I make.

  tuna couscous radishes

Not only versatile, it’s also good for you, especially the Genova brand. It’s made from high-quality, premium grade Yellowfin tuna, is all natural and is packed in pure ,100% Mediterranean olive oil. If you’d like to try it, here’s a coupon offered by the wonderful folks there! I’m going to just say this once – STOP BUYING TUNA IN WATER. The olive oil adds even more healthy antioxidants, not to mention a freak ton more flavor. You’ll honestly be ASTOUNDED by how much better canned tuna in olive oil tastes.

fresh salad

The wonderfully generous people at Genova not only sent me some of their tuna to try, they sent a gift basket with tons of other Mediterranean goodies, like wine, a cookbook, pesto, tri-color couscous and more. As soon as I unwrapped the basket, I immediately knew I was going to use the couscous in something.

gift basket

After a quick stop at Whole Foods and $100 later, I had the most beautiful radishes, bean sprouts, sunflower leaves and more to create a fresh, and delicious, salad.

radishes

To help inspire you to create your own Mediterranean inspired dish, Genova seafood is giving away a gourmet gift basket to one of my readers! One of you will receive the same goodie basket as I did with enough loot to get you excited to cook up a healthy and gourmet tuna dish. To enter, follow the prompts below. Make sure to share your creation with me using the hashtag #realisticrecipes!

Tuna Couscous Salad

salad with radishes

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 6 – 8.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Total time:  28 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups tri-color couscous
  • 2 (7 ounce) cans of Genova seafood tuna, lightly drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/3 cup chick peas
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • About 2/3 – 3/4 cup fresh greens
  • 4 – 5 fresh chives, chopped
  • Liberal dashes of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a rapid boil and add a dash of salt. Toss in the couscous and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat and fluffy with a fork or spoon. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Add in the radishes, chick peas, bean sprouts, fresh greens and chopped chives. Carefully mix in the tuna so it’s fully incorporated.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper together. Pour the oil dressing over the salad and mix to combine. Add in additional salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 326.5
Fat: 16.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 37.8 grams
Fiber: 4.2 grams
Protein: 10.4 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 9

To enter the giveaway, simply fill out the prompts below! Ends Wednesday, July 1st at Midnight. GOOD LUCK!
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Tofu Taco Salad

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What a month. Actually, scratch that — what a YEAR. I’ve been running at full-speed ahead since January and I think my body has finally caught up to all of it. I finally know what the expression “bone-tired” actually feels like. Every ounce of me is so exhausted that I’m starting to get physically sick.

tofu taco salad

However, that has changed a little. I got out of dodge this past weekend and spent as much time as possible sleeping, relaxing on the beach and disconnecting from the stresses of my real life. I finally had a weekend where i didn’t have any deadlines, deliverables or work to get through – and I took full and complete advantage of that.

ingredients

I also cooked. Remember when I used to do that frequently? Remember when I used to make delicious dishes and share them here on the blog every day? Me too. Sort of. My life has been such a blur of long days & late nights, I don’t remember the last time I cooked for blogging purposes. Not only am I usually too drained to cook something inspiring after I get home on weekdays, my weekends are so busy with chores, friends and husband that I don’t have a second to make something.

crispy taco salad

But friends, the times? They are-a-changin’. My schedule is becoming more manageable and a heck of a lot less stressful, and blogging is finally becoming something I can actually take on with excitement once again. I’m not sure if its going to be daily, weekly, or just a few times a month, but something will happen on this little space here.

tofu taco salad2

Since I spent the weekend in the sun, drinking all of the wine and actually relaxing, I didn’t get this salad up in time for Memorial Day. However, it doesn’t matter because this is easily one of my new favorite salads because it’s so jam-packed with fantastic flavors; like zesty lime juice, Mexican seasoning, crushed red pepper, creamy avocado, ripe and juicy tomatoes and crunchy tortilla bits.

ingredients2

Not only is this the perfect accompaniment to your burgers, brats and hotdogs, it’s an amazing standalone salad for an entree too!

Spicy Tofu Taco Salad

Plus. this awesome salad is the perfect dish for any hot summer day where all you want is something light & fresh that reminds you of a Mexican getaway.

Tofu Taco Salad

crispy tofu tortilla salad

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 4.
Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: About 40 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

Ingredients: 

For the salad:

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped orange and yellow bell peppers
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups chopped on-the-vine tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • 1 cup chopped tortilla chips
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped

For the tofu:

  • 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon fat free sour cream
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon fat free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning
  • 1 large green onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 large canned chipotle chili, chopped

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large 9 x 13 pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Toss the tofu with olive oil, Mexican seasoning, salt and pepper. Bake the tofu for about 30 – 35 minutes, or until crispy, stopping to flip about 17 minutes in.
  2. To make the dressing, mix the sour cream, mayo, ranch seasoning, green onion, lime juice and chipotle chili together. Stir to combine. Cover with foil and chill for at least an hour.
  3. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Mix in the onion and cook about 2 minutes. Toss in the garlic, peppers and jalapeños. Saute the vegetables until soft and fragrant, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the arugula, tomatoes, cilantro and green onion. Mix in the cooked vegetables, cheese and tortilla chips. Top with chopped avocado and crispy baked tofu.
  5. Toss the salad with dressing and serve immediately!

amazing tofu salad

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 379.5
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 22.75 grams
Fiber: 4.5 grams
Protein: 21.75 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 8

Fudgy Double Chocolate Brownies

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Double chocolate brownies

Valentine’s Day is less than 2 weeks away! For me, this means one thing: chocolate. Well, I guess love and that sh*& too, but in the sake of being honest, I’m mostly looking forward to the chocolate.

fudgy brownies

Dessert isn’t something I eat frequently, primarily because I’m always on a diet. In fact, I tried to think of the last time I wasn’t on a diet and the date 1998 rang a bell. Which makes sense because that’s the year I turned 13. I’ve been on a perpetual diet since then.

Best brownies ever

However, I will also say I use the word diet very laxly. Like, my diets sometimes include bottles of wine for dinner, frosted donuts for lunch and two slices of cold pizza for breakfast. My diets also often include cheese, carbs, cheese, salt and more cheese.  This could also be why my 13 year diet hasn’t prove all that fruitfull. I will say that in that time period I have lost (and subsequently gained) 30 pounds.

brownies8

And even on past Valentine’s Days where I was sitting pretty 30 pounds lighter, I was so worried about everything I ate. I was so anxious about every little calories. And now, weighing much more than I’d prefer, I will say my relationship with food has never been healthier. I indulge when I want and celebrate every morsel. That’s why I don’t feel bad about eating (or posting) these rich and fudgy brownies. Sure they’re not healthy, but Valentine’s Day isn’t about healthy. It’s about being with the ones you love, and if the one you love is made with butter, cocoa powder and slathered in chocolate frosting, who am I to say you can’t enjoy every second (or taste) of it?

Fudgy Double Chocolate Brownies

chocolate dessert

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 24.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking sheet with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the sugar, vanilla, butter and unsweetened applesauce together until smooth and creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the flours, cocoa powder and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until fully combined. Using a spoon, carefully fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake for about 38 – 42 minutes, or until browned and crackly on top.
  5. Let cool completely then remove from the pan.
  6. To make the frosting, beat the butter, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla in another mixing bowl. Spread the frosting over the top of the brownies and garnish with additional chocolate chips.

Nutritional information per brownie:

Calories: 350
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 50 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 3.8 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 9

My Life With Anxiety

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I wish I could just sit here and share a new recipe with you. I wish I could talk about low fat coffee cake, crunchy apple bars and gooey caramel. But I can’t today. I have to talk about me and something I haven’t been 100% honest with you guys about.

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(Image via Pinterest)

I’m not dying. I’m not getting a divorce. I’m not pregnant nor was I. As the title precludes, today we’re going to talk about something deeply personal and hard. For the past year, I’ve been facing some really hard mental demons of my own. Instead of hiding from my diagnosis anymore I’m going to sit down and talk about it frankly with you guys. I’ve been living with severe anxiety for the past year and a half, and I think I’m ready to talk about it.

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People have so many misconceptions about anxiety. For one, everyone thinks they have it. My neighbor, my family members, every friend I confide in. They all believe they’re suffering from the same anxiety I face. And while I agree that everyone does face anxiety once or twice in their life, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface at the amounts I face daily, hourly, every minute. So many people laugh when I tell them about it, saying “oh I have that too” or “exercise totally helps me” or “oh stop, everything’s fine.” My favorite though is “oh I’m sort of anxious about this and that, can I have a few of your xanaxs?”

Yes, people actually ask that. And people constantly belittle my disease saying it’s something I can just get over. Don’t you think I’d just get over it if I could? Don’t you think I would trade ANYTHING to not get physically sick when panic attacks hit or I break into a hysteria that leaves me broken? If I could just “get over it” I would have a long time ago.

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I’m not here though to bad mouth people who say those things, instead, I’m going to enlighten them and hopefully open the doors for people who are going through the same thing. See mental illness, despite it being 2015, is still something that carries a bit of a stigma. Anytime a major celebrity dies from depression or suicide, this conversation comes up again and again. “Why can’t they just seek help? Why didn’t anyone try to help them?” And there are even people who don’t think depression, anxiety or any mental ailment is a real struggle, they think it’s something a few pills and some therapy can help. Well, that works for some and it doesn’t for others. No wonder so many people hide their problems and deal with their struggles behind closed doors, so many people are so quick to judge them for having these kinds of problems. In a world where we broadcast our lives on social media and are constantly trying to portray our lives as perfect, it’s hard to sit there and go “I’m not perfect, and here’s why.”

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Trust me, writing this post isn’t easy for me. I struggle with so many inner demons, one of them being jealousy and inadequacy. I’m terrified of admitting that things aren’t shiny and glamorous, especially when it seems all of my friends and colleagues lead these post-card perfect lives. But I’m going to because I know I’m not the only person hiding behind the curtains, staring over at the neighbors greener lawn.

I’ve been struggling with some form of anxiety my entire life. As a kid, I was also a big worrier. My parents never saw that as a point of concern, they just noticed that I seemed to worry about everything, things 8 year olds shouldn’t worry about, like bills and college funds. As I grew up, some of that worrying faded and soon I was faced with the normal anxieties of a teenager. In college my anxiety deepened. It started to manifest itself inside of me and it scared me. Instead of talking to a therapist or confiding in my friends, I drank. I drank nonstop so I could stop feeling this constantly pull inside me that was weighing me down. Untreated anxiety can turn into many things, and my first two years of college it turned into depression. A depression I self medicated, which made things worse. A depression that finally forced me to open my eyes about my problems and find a solution.

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When I transferred schools, most of my depression went away, because I started talking to my family about it. Minus one very traumatic event my junior year, my anxiety had mostly dissipated. I still had it, well after graduation, our move to DC, my first job and break into freelancing. But it was manageable. The moment it became unmanageable was the day after the fire.

The fire left me completely broken. It changed everything about my life. I couldn’t leave my apartment without having a panic attack. I couldn’t walk down the street without having a fear that I’d come home to a burnt down house. Anytime I heard a fire truck, I literally had to take deep breaths to prevent myself from breaking down in public. Every single day was a personal nightmare for me, wondering what horrible thing could happen next.

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I wish I could sit here and say that moving to a safe new place and having a great year made all of my anxiety go away. I wish I could. But I can’t. My anxiety today is as severe as it was the day after the fire. I wake up every morning with a nervous pit in my stomach. From the moment I’m awake, my mind starts processing negative thoughts. I have frequent panic attacks where I feel like I can’t breathe or control myself. When I’m traveling, my thoughts are “my plane is going to crash” or “i’m going to get mugged.” People without anxiety can combat these thoughts easily by deducting odds and understanding chances. I can’t do that. My mind functions in a black and white way. It’s either this or that. I’ll either die in a fiery plane crash or I won’t. I’m constantly thinking of worst case scenarios.

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There was a moment last year where my anxiety completely took over while on a trip for work and I was so worked up, I couldn’t sleep, despite an early flight the next morning. I was so panicked, not even a call with my husband could calm me down and I ended up keeping him up most of the night as well.

That was a breaking point for me, I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore and neither could my husband. As soon as I got home, I talked with my primary care doctor about medicines that could help me deal with my anxiety. She prescribed me two kinds of medicine, one for daily anxiety and one for extreme situations. And I’m happy to report that after 8 months of taking the daily pill, I feel like I finally have some of my daily anxiety managed. But it’s not gone. I’m not someone who wants to spend their life mediciated, so I’ve recently started talking with a therapist. It’s scary at first, but incredible once you completely open yourself up to them. I was reserved, but now I look forward to our meetings every week. She doesn’t judge me or make me feel like I’m crazy for the thoughts. Instead she and I find ways I can handle it without the need for panic attacks or higher dosage medication.

I know my anxiety will never go away and that’s something I just have to find a way to live with. But I do know that I can finally manage it in a way that doesn’t leave me dependent on medicine. It’s been a very hard road and very windy one, but I’m here and I’m so grateful to have the support of the people around me. And I’m grateful to you guys for listening and letting me post this. To anyone who is facing crippling anxiety or any mental illness, don’t be scared anymore. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t be a slave to your demons, conquer them.

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If I can, you can. And that’s a promise.

Melon & Kiwi Sangria

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You know what mom really wants for Mothers Day? I’ll give you a hint – it’s boozy, filled with fruit and can help mama relax like nothing else. It’s this melon & berry sangria!

Fresh melon sangria

I’ve always had a very strong appreciation for my mom. I wasn’t an easy teenager (understatement of the century) and she still put up with me. Fast forward to a few rough college years, and she probably didn’t see an end in sight. Luckily, I grew up, found myself and like to think I’ve since redeemed myself for those awful words, acts and ridiculous angst I put her through. At least I hope.

fresh easy sangria

Now, I’m not a mom yet, but it definitely seems hard. We had some friends over this past weekend from out of town and they brought their sweet, bubbly 4 month old boy. He’s a darling kid – so happy, vibrant and freaking adorable. But he’s still a baby. He doesn’t sleep for more than 5 hours and can go from happy to sad in 20 seconds flat. But my friend? She handles it so gracefully. She’s calm, sweet and so patient. I don’t know how she does it. Having her here gave me even more of an appreciation for mothers.

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Also having them here made me realize I’m definitely not ready for a little human just yet. I need sleep – and anything less than 6 hours has me stabby. Also, I’m clumsy and forgetful – there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be that one mom who leaves her screaming human in the backseat of the car, in the grocery store, at home on the way to the grocery store, in a mall, on an airplane. You name it.

easy melon sangria

Oh and don’t even get me started on how selfish I am. Give up my sleep and food for a wailing baby? ahh! All jokes aside, I know I want to be a mother – just not sure this moment is the right time. Which is fine. I know you’re never “ready” to have a baby, but I’d rather be a little bit MORE ready than I am now.

skinny girl wine

But, rant aside, I have so much love and admiration for all the mamas out there. And to salute them, I’m serving up a big cup of delicious sangria filled with fresh, beautiful and bold fruit.

Melon & Kiwi Sangria

fresh berry sangria with melon

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 6. Adapted from Laylita.
Prep time: >10 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cantaloupe (scooped into balls)
  • 1 cup watermelon (scooped into balls)
  • 2 kiwis, shaved and sliced
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced and de-seeded
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle white wine (I used Skinny Girl Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 1/2 cups flavored fizzy water
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl or pitcher, mix the cranberry juice and white wine together. Add in the melon balls, kiwis, orange slices, lemon slices and fresh basil. Chill for about 30 – 60 minutes.
  2. Once chilled, serve and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 147
Fat: >1 gram
Carbohydrates: 18.5 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 1 gram
Weight Watchers Points: 2

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