Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leftover Christmas ham? Make a Breakfast Quesadilla this morning!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

The hustle and bustle of the holidays always gets to me.... I feel like I have been on fast-forward for the last 2 weeks and I am exhausted!!! There hasn't been much time for me to be in the kitchen, on the computer, or even home for that matter, but yesterday I managed to make up a quick and easy recipe to use your leftover Christmas ham in.


We had a big delicious ham as part of our Swedish Christmas Eve feast. There were plenty of leftovers... and I have not been letting them go to waste! Ham is an awesome leftover because it can be re-purposed in so many different kinds of recipes; you can use cooked ham in breakfast dishes, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes or bakes, or on a pizza. I think I might have to make a batch of my Slow Cooker Corn Chowder with the ham too... YUM.

If you're looking for a quick, easy breakfast idea... leftover Christmas ham was perfect used in this crunchy, hand-held, yummy Breakfast Quesadilla! Packed with protein, it's super filling and a great way to start your day. :)

Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Quesadilla
(makes 2-3 servings)



  • 2 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped lean ham
  • salt and pepper to taste


Spray a large pan with non-stick spray. Turn heat to medium.

When pan is warm, add 4 eggs, 1 cup chopped cooked ham, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.


Scramble eggs lightly with a spatula, until eggs are cooked (about 3 minutes). Set scramble aside. 


Lay a tortilla flat in heated pan; add 1/2 of the egg scramble and additional 1/4 cup shredded cheese to one side. Fold tortilla in half.


Cook on each side until tortilla is golden brown. Repeat with second tortilla.

Cut in half, serve and enjoy immediately!!!



Great with a side of salsa or hot sauce.

Enjoy!!

*Janel*

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Bark and Spice Drop Fudge

For Christmas this year I wanted to give my friends something made with love from my kitchen! I made two different variations of chocolate bark using this simple Basic Bark recipe from Martha Stewart Living, along with a batch of amazingly delicious Almond Roca (a family recipe) and some fun, colorful Spice Drop Fudge.



All the holiday treats turned out beautiful! What an easy and yummy gift!


Basic Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray 
  • Bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate, chopped  (according to variation) 
  • Toppings (according to variation) 

Directions:
Coat a 9-by-12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on ends. 


Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring.


Pour into baking sheet, and spread in an even layer.


Immediately sprinkle toppings over chocolate.



Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Peel off parchment, and break bark into pieces.

Source:Martha Stewart Living, December 2010

Now here's the fun part... you can make any variation of the chocolate bark you want to! You pick the chocolate, you pick the toppings! There is no right or wrong variation of this stuff.. be creative, make it your own. I decided to do a S'mores Bark and a Toasted Walnut and Cranberry Bark to give away as gifts to my friends this year. 

Variations

S'Mores Bark:
  • 1 lb. milk chocolate chips
  • a handful of coarsely chopped graham crackers
  • a handful of mini marshmallows
Toasted Walnut and Dried Cranberry:
  • 1 lb. white chocolate chips
  • a handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • a handful of dried cranberries
Seriously, you could top the chocolate with just about anything... pretzels, nuts, candy, etc. Such a fun project!


And then to the Spice Drop Fudge....

I found this recipe on Facebook.com via Taste of Home. The Spice Drop Fudge looked so fun and festive I had to try a batch out!!

Spice Drop Fudge
recipe via cookingschoolblog.com

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped spice drops


Directions:
Line a 9-in. square pan with foil; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the candy coating, milk and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until candy coating is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and spice drops.


Spread into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from the pan; cut into 1-in. squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Happy Holidays!

*Janel*  






Saturday, December 14, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash with Red Potatoes and Apples

I never know what I'm going to make for dinner when I'm cleaning out the fridge!! I created this delicious side-dish the other night when we were down to the bare minimum in the fridge. I had thawed some chicken, but didn't have a clue what to pair the chicken with. On the counter sat a lonely acorn squash and a half-used bag of baby red potatoes... I figured that was a start! We don't eat a ton of potatoes in our house (too starchy, unnecessary carbs), but when we do we definitely prefer them oven-roasted. Plus, I actually like having the oven on in the evening to heat up the place since it's been so cold (well, San Diego cold that is). Roasted acorn squash and potatoes sounded good, but that fall/winter taste profile needed one more ingredient... so I added some apple!


And that is how my Roasted Acorn Squash with Red Potatoes and Apples recipe came to be! Served on the side with a grilled piece of chicken, this dish was perfection!! The flavors and aroma just scream "Fall/Winter"... it will leave your house smelling delicious and your tummy happy.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Red Potatoes and Apples
based on a recipe from www.food.com

  • 8-10 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half or 1 inch chunks
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2-3 apples (firm variety), cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried, crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried, crumbled)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried, crumbled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425F.

Cover the bottom of a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.


Place the acorn squash, potatoes, and apple in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper to coat well. Transfer mixture to large baking sheet and spread into a single layer, keeping any leftover oil from the bowl.


Roast until tender, turning every 15 minutes with a long-handled spoon, about 35-45 minutes. (The components should be tender on the inside and caramelized in places on the outside.)


Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve immediately.


You could also add sliced turkey kielbasa the squash/potato/apple mixture!! That would be an easy, quick clean-up, one-dish meal. I think I will have try it...

I had the leftovers the next day and they still tasted amazing. :)

Yum... Enjoy!

*Janel*

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Kisses


These Peanut Butter & Chocolate Kiss cookies are a family favorite... my mom has been making these cookies for as long as I can remember! The Peanut Butter & Chocolate Kiss recipe we uses comes from an old 1980's cookie recipe book aptly named Cookies by Natalie Hartanov Haughton. For Christmas a few years ago, my mom was able to track down and gift a copy of the book to me and Amy. A very special and nostalgic gift that we have been able to get a lot of use out of so far!


My mom's copy of the Cookie book is missing its front cover, the pages are tattered, dog-eared and torn, spattered with remnants of cookie baking from the past. You know the recipes are good when a recipe book looks like that! Needless to say, my holiday baking includes these traditional, delicious cookies!


Not only are these Peanut Butter & Chocolate Kiss cookies a crowd-pleaser, they are also easy to make! The most time consuming part is unwrapping the chocolate kisses... :)



Peanut Butter & Chocolate Kisses
recipe from Cookies by Natalie Hartanov Haughton

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or colored sprinkles)
48 milk-chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl, beat together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour and baking soda, beating thoroughly until blended. Shape dough into 48 balls, using a rounded teaspoon for each.

Roll balls in 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.


Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with a candy. kiss, carefully pressing down firmly. Remove cookies from baking sheets; cool on racks.


Makes 48 (1 3/4 inch) cookies.

Note:  Make sure the chocolate kiss is hardened before you try to put away/package the cookies!!! If it's not cooled completely, you will have a gooey chocolate mess on your hands (literally).

Hope you enjoy this cookie recipe as much as we do!

Happy Holidays!

*Janel*

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Boats

Another trip to the produce market means... it's time for another spaghetti squash recipe!!! Since spaghetti squash is in season right now it's super cheap, I seriously can't help but buy them. The best part, all you need is one of those cheap spaghetti squash to make a hearty, healthy, low-fat, low carb meal that will feed 2 or more people!


The last week I have had a serious craving for some pizza; chewy warm dough topped with rich tomato sauce, greasy cheese, and crispy pepperoni. But with the amount of calories I have been putting into my body between holiday cookies and candy, I decided better use the spaghetti squash as a way to get my "pizza" fix in. Spaghetti squash does not taste like pasta, but it does have the same kind of texture. You feel like you're eating a big bowl of cheesy pasta... but without all the carbs and guilt!


You can prep this dish ahead of time, then put it on the oven just before you're ready to bake. You can also place the spaghetti squash "pizza" mixture in a 9x9 baking dish instead of the shells to bake. So easy!!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Boats
adapted from a recipe from Skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 cups cooked)
salt and fresh pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cup tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup turkey pepperoni, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Directions:


Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Season lightly with salt and black pepper; bake about 1 hour (or longer if needed) on a baking sheet, cut side down. 



When spaghetti squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes keeping the oven on. When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to remove flesh, which will come out in spaghetti looking strands reserving the shells. Drain the squash on a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid.

Toss squash strands with 1 cup of the pasta sauce, turkey pepperoni, basil, and 1 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Place the spaghetti squash back into the 2 shells and place on a baking sheet.


Top each with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.


Bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until everything is hot and the cheese is melted.


Ok, these Spaghetti Squash Pizza Boats were absolutely delicious!!!!! This is one of my new favorite recipes. You can't even taste the squash in this dish... if you didn't know, you might think you were eating pasta. ;) All you taste is tomato-cheesy-pepperoni goodness. Next time we might try meatballs or chicken in addition to the pepperoni too.

My pizza cravings have definitely been satisfied... I'm stuffed.

YUM, so good!!!!!

*Janel*

Snickerdoodles

The holiday season has begun... For my family, that means it's also baking season!! We take baking very seriously. If you have ever been to one of our Christmas parties, you know that this is not an understatement. Baking runs in our blood. We pass down recipes from generations, which means that we hold all our recipes very sacred. I am going to share our famous Snickerdoodle recipe though since you all are such loyal followers.


As with any cookie recipe, measurements should be as exact as possible. Once you stray from the recipe, you alter the chemistry of the cookie. Therefore, I do not recommend diverting from this recipe. However, it's delicious, so you shouldn't have to change a thing.

Snickerdoodles


Ingredients


Cookie dough

  • 1 cup butter or margarine (I used no salt butter)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used non-fat milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • In a mixing bowl, blend butter (or margarine), sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy.
  • Add in milk and vanilla until smooth to mixture, then blend. 
  • Add flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

  • Form dough into 1-inch balls.
  • Roll balls in cinnamon and sugar topping.
  • Place balls on cookie sheet, inches apart. 
  • Bakes cookies until done (10 to 12 minutes). 
  • Let the cookies cool. 


  • Enjoy!!!


Happy Holidays!!! xoxox
Amy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kale Blueberry Smoothie

Kale....... YUM....... Well, not really.

But since kale is so good for you (super high in vitamins and nutrients) it's the perfect veggie to throw in your post-workout or morning smoothie. According to webmd.com, "Kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.

curly green kale and beets

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet; one cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus." WOW!!

'Green' smoothies made with kale (or spinach) have become extremely popular, as you can get all your daily servings of vitamin and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in one low-calorie, low-fat, filling and delicious drink! 


The other day I was doing some experimenting with adding kale to a post-workout smoothie, but the end result turned out so delicious I had to share the recipe!! You seriously can't even taste the kale...

Blueberry Kale Smoothie

Ingredients:
2 cups packed kale leaves, washed
1 1/2  cups frozen blueberries
3 clementines (Cuties) or tangerines, peeled
3/4 cup orange juice
a few ice cubes
2.7 oz non-fat Yakult probiotic drink (optional)

Directions:
Add all of the ingredients to blender. Cover, and pulse to break down the kale. Turn the blender onto high, and process until pureed.


DRINK YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES!!

*Janel*

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Now that the Thanksgiving weekend binge eating is over... it's time to get back to clean, healthy eating! I went to the grocery store today and loaded up my cart with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Since the vegetable bin in the fridge is now over-flowing, I decided to make a stuffed bell peppers for dinner (those bell peppers take up a lot of room!).


I found a Mexican Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe, swapped the cooked rice for cooked quinoa, added some corn and a protein... and just like that, a new favorite, one-dish dinner was created! You could use rice instead of quinoa, I know some people are not "fans" of quinoa. Or you could leave out the chicken if you wanted a vegetarian dish. You could also use cooked lean ground turkey or ground beef instead of chicken. I just love how versatile this recipe is!


Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
Original recipe makes 4 stuffed peppers

1 tablespoon salt
4 large green bell peppers - tops, seeds, and membranes removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup yellow corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can chili-style diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil; cook green bell peppers in the boiling water until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onion in the hot oil until softened and transparent, 5 to 10 minutes.


Mix quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and cooked onion in a large bowl. Add chili powder, garlic salt, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir until evenly mixed. Fold 1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese and shredded chicken; blend into quinoa mixture.


Spoon quinoa mixture into each bell pepper; arrange peppers in 9x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle peppers with remaining Mexican cheese blend.


Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 30 minutes.



Ok, these Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are one hearty, healthy, and totally delicious meal!! They are the perfect combination of ingredients, flavors, and textures. I would even eat the quinoa and chicken filling by itself!! So good. Very filling. Very satisfying. Nom.

Enjoy!

*Janel*