Sunday, November 23, 2014

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Caramel... Apple... Oatmeal... all in a delicious low-fat, low-calorie cookie?! Yes, they do exist. These Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing your diet. 


If you like chewy oatmeal cookies, these Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies are the cookie for you. The little bits of caramel and dried apple give these oatmeal cookies an extra chewy factor! 


I found this fun recipe in the CookingLight.com 'under 100-calorie cookie' recipes. I then decided to reduce the sugar EVEN more since the cookies are loaded with sweet caramel and dried apple... 


Seriously, you would never know this is a low-fat, low-calorie cookie. These Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies are super chewy and delicious. They are great fall-inspired, guilt-free cookie! 

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies
based on a recipe by myrecipes.com
makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apple slices
3/4 cup caramel bits or 16 small soft caramel candies, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a bowl; stir well.

3. Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture; beat at low speed until just combined. Fold in apple and caramel bits.


4. Drop dough by 2 teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten balls slightly with hand. Bake at 350° for 9 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.


The caramel bits can be hot and sticky when they come out of the oven... be careful!


Yum, I just want to eat them ALL!!!!!

The apple flavor is very mild, I think the apple bits mostly just add to the chewiness of the cookie. Might be interesting to try this recipe with fresh chopped apple to see if there's a difference?

- Janel

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

One of my favorite things to do on a chilly fall Sunday is to throw a bunch of soup ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and let it simmer all day. Not only does it make the house smell delicious, but using the slow cooker is an easy 'prep it and forget it' way to make a BIG batch of soup. I like having leftovers to eat during the week... all you have to do is re-heat!

 

This Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup is a flavorful, comforting, healthy one-dish meal that will fill you up and leave you feeling warm and satisfied.


Instead of making my Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with cooked ham, I used a low-fat smoked turkey sausage. This recipe is a good base soup to use whatever meat you have on-hand or leftover (think about those Christmas ham leftovers)! You could use turkey sausage, cooked ham, bacon, or even make the soup with no meat at all.


I just love a hearty, thick, flavorful soup... it's a meal all on it's own! And since this soup is low-fat, low-calorie and packed with lentils and veggies, it's a healthy dinner option. 

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
recipe from www.tasteofhome.com
makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 package (16 oz.) dried green split peas, rinsed
15 oz. smoked turkey sausage, chopped (or cooked ham)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup potato, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 carton (32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until peas are tender.



Freeze Option: Freeze cooled soup in freezer containers. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Heat through in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally (add water to thin out soup, if needed).


Yum! I will be enjoying a big, warm bowl of this Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup tonight...

Enjoy!

- Janel

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Baked Yam and Potato Casserole

After dealing with some seriously warm temperatures over the last week, we FINALLY got a day of cool, cloudy weather. Ok, it's still almost 70 degrees out... but that's pretty chilly for us warm-blooded San Diegans! I have been patiently waiting for the temperatures to drop so I could turn on the oven and finally make this Baked Yam and Potato Casserole...


Well tonight was the night, YES! I got in from an "chilly" evening run, turned on the fireplace (yes, it happened), and got to work on my potato casserole. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this dish was to make! No rouge needed, you just mix the flour and broth together and pour it over the potatoes.


I enjoyed my Baked Yam and Potato Casserole with some smoked turkey sausage... it was the PERFECT fall meal! I seriously can't wait to make it again. This is one of those types of dishes I can't be left alone with! I kept coming back for helping after helping... I'm not kidding, it is so amazingly delicious.


This Baked Yam and Potato Casserole would be a nice addition to your up-coming holiday dinner or party! It's a warm, aromatic, savory, cheesy, and comforting side dish. It's a great alternative to those traditional sweet yam and marshmallow dishes...

Baked Yam and Potato Casserole
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com
makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced
1 large potato, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced (I used chopped green onion)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In the prepared dish, make a single layer of sweet potato slices. Place a few onion slices on top, dot with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat, alternating layers of white and sweet potatoes.


In a small bowl, or measuring cup, combine flour, broth, and rosemary. Pour over potatoes.

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley over the potatoes. Dot with remaining butter. Cover.


Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until potatoes and onions are soft.


Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving, this dish comes out HOT!

YUUUUUUMMM!!!!! I couldn't be happier with the way this dish turned out. It is perfect for this time of year... the flavors and textures combine for a fall-inspired, cheesy, comforting side dish (or one-dish meal if you throw in some sliced sausage).


Love this time of year...

- Janel

Friday, November 7, 2014

Half Marathon Training Tips - from an average runner!

Besides our Monthly Fitness Challenges, I haven’t done a fitness-related entry in quite a while! Seeing as how the name of our blog is Sisters Do Food and Fitness, I figured I’d better take a break from the food and recipe blogging and write about something fitness-related.

It just so happens that today I received a nice Facebook notification that the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon is only 10 weeks away! Guess it’s time to get serious with my training for this half marathon.

I ran the same race last January – I loved the course, the awesome cheerleaders and bystanders, and totally crushed my PR. The 2014 Carlsbad Half was one of my favorite half marathon experiences!



From that race in January up until now, I have done a little bit of everything to stay in shape. Insanity (HIIT), tennis, gym, lunch-time cardio workouts, my Monthly Fitness Challenges, short runs, even golf (haha!). I feel pretty confident that I am still in “runner” shape, but I have not logged many runs over 4 miles.

Regardless of how many half marathons I've run in the past and how good of shape I think I’m in, I always go back to my trusty half marathon training program from Hal Higdon. The novice 12-week training program has worked great for me for all my previous races!

Print Novice Half Marathon Training Program here.



Half Marathon Training Tips - from an average runner!

Besides finding a half marathon training program (and listening to the advice of the professionals), here are some other helpful tips I would tell anyone looking to train for their first half… or get back into racing after a running hiatus.

1) Hold yourself accountable! Print out that training schedule and mark down your exercise every day.

2) Put the training schedule somewhere you can see it! Post on the fridge, at work, or anywhere you will have to look at it constantly.

3) Don’t skip the long runs… schedule the time to run into your weekend.

4) Change up your run routes frequently so you don’t get bored. A change of scenery makes a big difference!

5) Find a running buddy. If you have someone else to chat with on those long runs, they go by faster! Also, it’s harder to bail on your runs when you’ve made running plans.

6) Make sure your running shoes are in good shape. I always buy a new pair at the start of my training.

7) Use a running app on your phone or a running watch to track, time and log runs. I find I push myself to go faster as the weeks of training go on…

8) If your body say NO-GO, then take a rest day! We get sick and injured, it happens. Rest is super important; and with that being said,

9) Get lots of sleep. It’s hard to get up the motivation to go for a run or hit the gym after work if you are a walking zombie.

10) Run – even when you don’t feel like it. Burnout and lack of motivation are just part of the journey!

AND LASTLY…

11) Don’t beat yourself up about missing a workout or having a bad run. Be proud of the weeks of effort and miles you’re putting in. We all have bad days, busy days, days that don’t go as we planned… it’s life!


Just consider these some training tips and words of wisdom from your average runner, I am by no means a professional on the subject.


Can't wait to cross that finish line again!

Look for updates on the training in the next couple weeks.... :)

- Janel




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mushroom Veggie Burgers

I will admit, these Mushroom Veggie Burgers are not much to look at… but don’t judge a book by its cover, they taste absolutely AMAZING!!!


I wasn't expecting much for this veggie patty, as there are only a few simple ingredients to it. It’s only mushrooms, rolled oats, an egg and Parmesan cheese, plus some seasonings. But I was blown-away by the flavor that resulted from those ingredients! I dug into my mushroom veggie burger patty before it was even off the pan.


This Mushroom Veggie Burger has a perfect meaty, hearty texture! It’s a great vegetarian or Meatless Monday option. The mushroom veggie patty is so filling and flavorful, I just topped it with a slice or provolone cheese and ate the patty without a bun! So this recipe makes a good low-carb option too.

If you like burgers but are looking for a healthier option, you have to try this recipe!

Mushroom Veggie Burgers
recipe from allrecipes.com
makes 2-4 veggie patties

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the hot oil and season with salt, black pepper, and oregano. Cook and stir mushroom mixture until mushrooms have given up their juice and the juice has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes.


Transfer cooked mushrooms to a cutting board and chop into small chunks with a knife.

Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl. Mix in rolled oats; taste for salt and black pepper and add more to taste. Stir Parmesan cheese into the mixture, followed by egg. Let mixture stand for the crumbs to soak up excess liquid, about 15 minutes. (At this point you can refrigerate the mixture to cook later if desired.)


Moisten hands with a little vegetable oil or water, pick up about 1/4 of mixture (or 1/2 if only making 2 large patties), and form into 4 burgers.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and pan-fry burgers until browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. (I found I had to keep forming the patties with a spatula so they stuck together better)


I think you could also bake the burgers and they would be awesome!


Next time I will add a dash of red pepper flakes for a little heat. A delicious recipe, a delicious meatless burger... I can't wait to make these again.

Enjoy!

Janel



Monday, November 3, 2014

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta

Tired of 'pumpkin-spice' EVERYTHING? I know I am! I had stashed a few cans of pumpkin in the cupboard with the anticipation that I'd be baking all kinds of pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, etc. this fall. Well, I decided to go a different, savory route with my canned pumpkin and found a pasta recipe to use it in!


Skinnytaste.com never lets me down! Gina's recipe for Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta is absolutely DELICIOUS. This easy, one-dish pumpkin pasta dish is savory and sweet, cheesy and comforting. I literally could not stop eating it...


If you have ever had Butternut Squash Lasagna (my mom makes a great one) or Butternut Squash Ravioli, this baked pumpkin pasta dish has a very similar flavor profile. The pumpkin and fresh rosemary are perfectly paired. The bacon adds a little richness and a hint of smokiness. The two kinds of cheese add a gooey, cheesy, and salty element. To me, this pasta dish tastes like just like fall!


I could eat this Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta every day... seriously! It's so tasty, so warm and comforting. Fall isn't just about 'pumpkin-spice' baked goods anymore! Use those cans of pumpkin for a hearty, one-dish meal that will have your loved ones asking for seconds...

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta
recipe from skinnytaste.com
makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
8 oz uncooked whole wheat pasta
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 green onion, chopped finely
15 oz. canned pumpkin puree
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I used shredded Parmesan)
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x9-inch baking pan with oil spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat add chopped bacon and sauté until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add chopped green onion and cook 1 minute. Add pumpkin, chicken broth, rosemary and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, stir and add salt and pepper to taste; simmer about 8 - 10 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the pumpkin sauce and mix well.


Transfer to the baking dish and spread evenly. Top with the remaining shredded Pecorino Romano and mozzarella. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned.


Let it cool 5 minutes, then divide into 4 equal portions.


Seriously....... this pasta dish is SO DELICIOUS. It will definitely be a go-to meal throughout the fall and winter months!

One-dish meals like this Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta are perfect for weeknight dinners. You can prepare the pasta dish on the weekend, store in the fridge, then pop in the oven to heat up when you're ready to eat it.

Thanks again, Skinnytaste! If you haven't already, go check out Gina's website. She knows how to do yummy, delicious food... skinny. :)

- Janel

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

This time of year makes me want a plate full of sugary and spicy gingersnaps! And if you are like me, you prefer your gingersnaps to be soft and chewy instead of hard and crunchy. I found a great recipe for Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies from the Brown Eyed Baker.


However, the original recipe called for a cup of butter.... A CUP OF BUTTER! I just couldn't bring myself to use two sticks of butter for one cookie recipe. Instead, I used 1 stick of butter and replaced the other stick (1/2 cup) with 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. The unsweetened applesauce is low in fat and calories and adds a lot of moisture, so it is a great substitute for butter in this recipe.


These Soft and Chewy Gingersnap cookies have a nice spice and mild molasses flavor. The molasses flavor is not too over-powering as it can be in some gingersnaps. These cookies are the perfect balance of sugar and spice... and everything nice!


These are great holiday-inspired cookies that everyone will enjoy. Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies are everything you would hope they would be... and more (with half the guilt). They would make a nice addition to a cookie exchange or party this holiday season!

Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies
from the www.browneyedbaker.com
makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
extra sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, applesauce and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses and continue to mix until completely combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract, and mix to thoroughly combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl, reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, giving it a final stir with a rubber spatula.

4. Scoop about 1½ tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball, and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle top of balls with sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are set, but centers are still soft. Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 


The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. These cookies can also be frozen for up to 1 month.


Now try to eat just one... I dare you.

I love these Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies! They taste just like 'The Holidays'.

Enjoy!

- Janel