Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spaghetti squash cakes

Spaghetti squash is such a versatile vegetable because of its mild flavor, but it also has such a fun, unique texture. Despite its versatility, I had pretty much found the recipe for how I liked to eat it and stuck with it. So, when I came across Cara's recipe for spaghetti squash cakes, I knew it was one that I wanted to try. It was kind of a hybrid recipe between corn cakes and spaghetti squash but also with a bit of southwestern flair... and it was delicious. I served them over black beans with fresh cherry tomatoes and garnished with Greek yogurt (you can use a light sour cream) and avocado.
I changed the recipe a little from the original by adding a little more cornmeal and green chiles for a little extra spice. Now, I know you are going to want to make these so just a word of warning- the batter will be wet and you won't think there is a chance of the cakes sticking together. But they will- just be patient before you first flip them!

- 2.5 cups spaghetti squash
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 3 oz diced green chiles
- 2 oz fat free feta cheese
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and spray with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients and spoon onto skillet, about 1/3-1/2 cup per pancake. (I also found that it works better if you slightly flatten them out so they are thinner and cook more evenly).  Cook gently until set on one side, about 10 minutes, then turn and finish cooking on the other side.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cooking Light Chocolate Cake

When it comes to baking, I think it is pretty hard to make a cake that is "healthy." I mean none of the components that go into a normal cake can be considered healthy. BUT the recipes can be lightened up, and not only is this a lighter recipe, it is also my favorite chocolate cake recipe! And take note, I do not use the word "favorite" lightly. Another great thing about it is that it goes well with a couple of "frostings" I have made. I say "frosting" because it is actually flavored whipped cream, which is lighter than typical frostings which are usually loaded with butter. I have made a mint whipped cream (so delicious) and a chocolate whipped cream (reminds me of a Wendy's frosty), and both are great! I have made this cake several times over the past four years, and just realized that I never added it to the blog. Well, it is now time for that to change. I made a couple changes this time because of the ingredients I had on hand, but I have also made it exactly as written and it turns out either way (changes noted in parentheses below)!

Ingredients (From Cooking Light)

  • 1  cup  boiling water (I used 1 cup brewed coffee to replace this and the instant coffee)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  instant espresso or 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (omitted)
  • 1 3/4  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 3/4  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 2  teaspoons  baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2  cup  egg substitute ( I used 2 eggs- you could also use 4 egg whites)
  • 1/3  cup  vegetable oil
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Baking spray with flour


Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine water and espresso in a bowl (obviously skip this step if using brewed coffee). Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Combine coffee, buttermilk, egg substitute, oil, and vanilla; add to sugar mixture, beating at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (batter will be thin).
Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (I have no idea what happened, but mine were done in like 25 minutes- so check them early!). Cool layers in pans 10 minutes, and remove from pans. Cool layers completely on wire racks.

Mint Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Combine all ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form

Chocolate Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Combine all ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clean Eating Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is a traditional Irish meal so when I saw the recipe for it in Clean Eating, I thought it would be perfect for St. Paddy's day dinner! I really like shepherd's pie so I was thrilled to find a healthy version that both Nick and I enjoyed! I was especially impressed with the serving size because oftentimes, I feel like magazines just have really small portion sizes to cut calories rather than having healthy ingredients. This was not the case for this recipe though! I made a couple small changes which are noted below in parentheses.

Shepherd's Pie with Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes (From Clean Eating)

  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I didn't peel)
  • 1 clove garlic, whole peeled (I used 2)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste (I used about 2 tsp)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast (I used half turkey/half 96% lean ground beef)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced (I used 2)
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (I used 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 375F. Bring potatoes and whole garlic cloves to a boil in a pot of water set over high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, then drain well. Mash potatoes and garlic until smooth. Add buttermilk and chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, stirring often and breaking meat into small pieces. Cook until no pink remains, about 8 minutes. Drain and discard fat; set turkey/beef aside.

Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet over same heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add cooked turkey, broth and tomato paste and continue to cook until most of liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas, transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish and cover with mashed potatoes in an even layer. Bake in oven until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eggs in the Garden

First, I must give credit to Nick for the name of this "recipe." Isn't he creative? Second, this isn't really much of a recipe and may even seem like a weird combination of things. When describing it to my friend, Liz, she said, "So it's basically breakfast on a pile of vegetables." Yes, that is exactly what it is, but I loved it. Like most of the recipes I post, my inspiration for making it came from reading someone else's blog. This time it was from fellow Nashvillian blogger, Heather. She makes all sorts of healthy concoctions, but I got the idea for my "Eggs in the Garden" from this post and this post. I like eggs and vegetables together but wanted to have a runny yolk so it would be like a sauce for the vegetables. You can use any assortment and amount of vegetables that you like. I used the following...

* 1 cup  quartered brussel sprouts
* 1/4 cup diced onion
* 1/4 cup shredded carrots
* 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
* 1/4 cup red pepper
* 1 small yellow squash, sliced
* handful spinach
* 1 egg
* 1 slice bacon, chopped
* salt & pepper

1. Cook slice of bacon in a medium skillet.
2. Add brussel sprouts, onion, broccoli, pepper to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. After about 3 minutes, add the squash to the pan.
4. Cook until the vegetables start to soften and stir in spinach and shredded carrots until the spinach is wilted.
5. Once vegetables reach desired "doneness," remove from heat.
6. In a separate skillet, cook an egg over easy and sprinkle with salt ant pepper.
7. Put vegetables on a plate and place egg on top. Enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oatmeal Butternut Squash Muffins

I woke up this morning with no intentions of baking muffins, but when I opened a can of butternut squash puree and it didn't quite taste as I was hoping, I had to find something to do with it! So, I decided to make some healthy muffins. They actually turned out better than I expected- in fact, I ate 3 of them! Oops. Oh well, I am glad to have another healthy muffin recipe to add to my collection. I especially liked how moist they were and the chew that the oats added. Another bonus is that you can make them in no time!

Oatmeal Butternut Squash Muffins
(Makes 1 dozen)
* 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can use any type of milk you want)
* 1 1/4 cup butternut squash puree (you can substitute canned pumpkin)
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
* 1/4 tsp nutmeg
* 1 cup white wheat flour
* 1 cup old fashioned oats
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans
* 1/4 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Mix wet ingredients together.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Spoon into muffin pan with paper liners.
5. Bake for 13  minutes. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Bertolli Sauces

As a part of the Foodbuzz tastemaker program, I received two sauces from Bertolli to try- arrabbiata  and four cheese sauce. Last weekend for dinner, Nick had gnocchi with spicy turkey sausage and a mixture of these two sauces. He let me steal a few bites of his, and I have to say I was surprised by how much I liked it. The sauces combined were creamy without tasting too heavy and had a kick of spice. I thought they complemented the turkey sausage and pillowy texture of the gnocchi perfectly. Nothing about this meal is a recipe but rather just combining some pre-made ingredients. But there are only so many hours in a day and sometimes you just have to take shortcuts!

* Pre-made gnocchi
* Bertolli Arrabbiata sauce
* Bertolli Four Cheese sauce
* Spicy turkey sausage

1. Cook turkey sausage in a skillet stirring to crumble.
2. Cook gnocchi according to package directions.
3. Once both the turkey sausage and gnocchi are cooked, add gnocchi to pan with sausage and then add both sauces (as much or as little as you want) in a 1:1 ratio.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Yes, pumpkin is typically thought of as being a fall food, but really it is so delicious that I see no point in limiting its use to one season. These cookies put a little different spin on the traditional snickerdoodle by incorporating just enough pumpkin to give slightly cake-like texture and a faint hint of pumpkin flavor. Here's the thing, I didn't like them until the day after I made them. When they came out of the oven, I thought they were bland so when you make them, MAKE THEM A DAY AHEAD to let the flavor develop.  I found the recipe on Recipe Girl.

2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.
3. Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix cinnamon sugar in a small bowl.
5. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tbsp.) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they’re coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to flatten the balls of dough.
6. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: About 3 dozen

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli, and sausage over rice

Last night's dinner came about after reading this post. It wasn't much of a recipe, but I loved it because it had some of my favorite things all in one dish- broccoli, brussel sprouts, and turkey sausage! I served it over rice which I liked, but it could also work as a salad or maybe a pasta.

Brussel sprouts
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
soy sauce
salt and pepper
3 links spicy Italian turkey sausage
Rice (we used this)
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. For brussel sprouts, follow these directions.
4. For broccoli, follow these directions.
5. Slice turkey sausage and place in a single layer on a pan. Place in the oven and cook through. (I think ours took about 10-12 minutes).
6. Spoon the rice onto plates, and then top with vegetables and turkey sausage