Monday, March 17, 2014

Stuffed sweet potatoes

Eating your vegetables doesn't mean resigning to a lifetime of salads.  You can take those same salad themes- Greek, Southwestern, anything really- and transform it into toppings for roasted sweet potatoes, or zucchini nachos, for example.  These stuffed sweet potatoes adapted from Averie Cooks are a delicious- and healthier way- to get our Mexican food fix.  Ole!

Yield: 4 servings


4 sweet potatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
kernels from 2 ears of corn
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheese
Scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
Cilantro, chopped

Avocado Crema:
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt, to taste


Sweet Potato and Filling - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce potato with fork a few times so steam can escape, and cook until fork tender (45 minutes - 1 hour).

Slice roasted sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and hollow out a center column of each half with a spoon. Don't remove any flesh, just redistribute it so the center column is a bit shallower to make room for the filling, and there's more flesh built up around the edges.

Place the halves on a non-stick baking sheet. Top each potato half with black beans, corn, salt and pepper, and shredded cheese.

Set oven to Broil and cook potatoes for about 3 minutes, or just until cheese begins to melt and is bubbly. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes cool, make the avocado crema.

Avocado Crema - In a food processor or blender, combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, and salt to taste- blend until smooth and creamy. If mixture is thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached. Garnish potatoes with scallions, jalapeno, avocado crema and cilantro- and enjoy!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Black-eyed pea & collard tacos

You may (or may not) have noticed that Robert and I are eating healthier than we used to.  Our goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, and eat as least-processed as we can.  That means I am looking to new sources for recipes, and this vegan one from the Isa Does It cookbook fit the bill.   On paper this looks like an unusual combination - black-eyed peas, collard greens, and apple salsa??- but trust me, it works.  We loved it and will be making it again very soon!

Yield: 8 tacos


For the black-eyed peas-
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 (15oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp. of hot sauce (I used Sriacha)

For the greens-
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. collard greens, washed, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt

For the salsa-
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 large ripe avocado, diced
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Tortillas (soft-taco size)


For the black-eyed peas-
Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Cook the onion for about 3-5 minutes, until it softens. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin and salt, and cook for about a minute to toast the spices.

Add the black-eyed peas and stir to combine. Partially mash the black-eyed peas so there are still whole beans but not a puree. Stir in the broth and hot sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes- they should be creamy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or hot sauce if needed. Cover and keep warm.

For the greens-
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan and sauté the garlic for about 15 seconds. Add the greens, broth and salt, and stir to combine. Cover the pan and let the greens cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the salsa-
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Keep covered and chilled until ready to serve.

To assemble the tacos, warm the tortillas so they are soft and pliable.
Spoon some of the beans onto the tortilla, top with some of the greens, and a scoop of the salsa.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Peanut butter cookie pie

I made this little beauty from Averie Cooks for our Bachelor watch party last week and it was a BIG hit!  Such yummy peanut butter and chocolaty goodness- I can't wait to make it again!!

Yield: 10 servings


1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
12 to 14 mini Reeses peanut butter cups (whole or halved)
2/3 cup M&Ms


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with floured cooking spray; set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don't scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined; don't overmix.

Turn batter out into prepared pie dish, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
Evenly insert the peanut butter cups into the batter, pushing them down so the top is almost flush with the surface of the dough.  Evenly insert the M&Ms into the batter, pushing them down to anchor.

Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.  If your pie has risen in the center, it will deflate as it cools. Allow pie to cool in pan for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whole wheat olive oil pumpkin bread

I don't veer from my favorite pumpkin bread recipe very often, but I wanted to give this whole wheat flour and olive oil combo from Recipe Girl a try.  This bread is delicious, and using whole wheat flour takes away the guilt when my kids eat it for breakfast.  Win-win!!

Yield: 1 loaf


3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and spices into a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, pumpkin, oil, eggs and water. Stir in dry ingredients and mix just until combined (don't over mix).

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove loaf to a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

White bean, tomato and kale soup

We've had our share of freezing temperatures, wintry mix, and occasional snowflakes falling here in Arkansas, and in this house that means soup, soup, soup!  We made this one from Ezra Pound Cake last week and LOVED it- so hearty and such great flavor.  I can't wait to make it again!!

Yield: 4 servings


For the Roasted Garlic:
1 head of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the Soup:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 Tbsp roasted garlic
32 ounces vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 15-ounce cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces kale, stems removed and leaves lightly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste


To Roast the Garlic: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Turn your garlic bulb on its side, and cut in half. Place the garlic, cut side up, on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the cut sides with olive oil, and put them back together.  Wrap the garlic in the foil, and roast until tender, about 50 minutes. When the garlic cools, squeeze it out of the skin. You’ll be using 1 tablespoon for the soup, so you can store the rest in the refrigerator for several days.

For the Soup: 

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the celery, thyme, chili flakes and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato and roasted garlic, and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the broth and basil, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the beans, and bring the soup back to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes more. (Check the pot every once in a while to make sure the soup isn’t boiling and breaking apart your beans.)

Gently add the kale. Bring the pot back to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Brussels sprout salad with creamy shallot dressing

In our quest to eat healthier, Robert and I are eating a lot of salad.  A lot.  We have a few simple favorites that we go to time and time again - such as a Greek salad or a Mexican salad- but there are lots of variations you can do to keep salad interesting.  One of our new favorites is this brussels sprout salad from Pinch of Yum.  We have added shaved brussels sprouts as a topping to other salads before, but this is the first time we've used them as the base (no lettuce?!).  It is a very flavorful and colorful salad, and the creamy shallot dressing sends it over the top- so delicious!!

Yield: 4 servings


For the salad:
30-40 brussels sprouts
6 slices bacon
1 cup pomegranate arils (our arils had an odd taste, so we ditched them and subbed dried cranberries)
cup almonds
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

For the dressing:
1 shallot, chopped
juice of one orange
juice of one lemon
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
cup olive oil
up to 2 tablespoons water


Cook the bacon over low heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels; crumble and set aside.

Shred or slice the brussels sprouts. (Slice them super thin and then break the layers apart with your hands. Fluff it up a little and you’ll get a delicate shredded texture).

Toss the brussels sprouts, bacon crumbles, pomegranate arils, almonds, and cheese together.

Place all of the dressing ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the water as needed for consistency. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sweet potato autumn salad

In November, we had ZaZa's salad of the month and it blew. us. away.  It was perfection, and we immediately set out to recreate it at home.  This is a hearty, delicious entree salad- perfect for kicking off a healthy new year!  The specifics depend on your desired serving size, so portion and measure what suits you.  Enjoy!

Sweet potato autumn salad (ZaZa's copycat)


Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Olive oil
Brown sugar
Romaine and baby spinach
Dried cranberries
Brussel sprouts, shaved (we eat them raw, or you could blanch them if you prefer)
Goat cheese
Candied pecans
Carrots, thinly sliced

Maple-cider vinaigrette dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

  • Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook until fork tender (approximately 1 hour). 

  • For the vinaigrette, whisk together the cider vinegar and next 4 ingredients.  Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended.

  • When sweet potatoes have cooled to room temperature, assemble with the remaining salad ingredients- bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Creamy tomato-balsamic soup

I LOVE tomato soup.  If it's on the menu, chances are I'm ordering it.  I get it to-go from Panera at least once a week, I've made several delicious versions at home (here, here and here for example), and now I'm adding this creamy tomato-balsamic soup from Cooking Light to the list.  The preparation of this recipe is pretty unique- you pour a broth mixture over the vegetables and then roast them in a very hot oven to get all that browned caramelly goodness.  This one is a keeper!

Yield: 4 servings


1 cup less-sodium beef broth, divided 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped onion 
5 garlic cloves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained
Cooking spray 
1/2 cup half-and-half
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste


Preheat oven to 500°.

Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture. Bake at 500° for 40 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth. Garnish with cracked black pepper.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sweet potato & chicken chili

The temperatures have finally started to cool off around here, and we jumped at the chance to make this sweet potato & chicken chili from Pinch of Yum.  It is thick, hearty and delicious- welcome, Fall!!

Yield: 6 servings


1½ lbs. chicken breasts
5 cups chicken broth
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
2 14-ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Cilantro, for topping


1). Poach the chicken: Bring the chicken broth to a rolling boil and add the raw chicken breasts. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken continue to cook in the broth for another 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, let cool, and shred with two forks. Reserve 2 cups of broth.

2). Saute the veggies: Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño and saute until tender. Add the chili powder, salt, and sweet potatoes. Saute until the sweet potatoes are lightly browned.  Add the fire roasted tomatoes, black beans, shredded chicken and reserved broth. Stir and cover with a tight fitting lid. Keep over medium low heat for 45 minutes without stirring.

3). Make it saucy: After 45 minutes, uncover and you’ll see a bunch of chicken and veggies with hardly any liquid. Perfect. Add 2 cups of water (or less, as needed) and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with cilantro.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pumpkin doughnuts

I love Fall.  I love cooler weather, switching from shorts to jeans, colorful leaves, and all things pumpkin.  My favorite recipe of all time is this chocolate chip pumpkin bread that my friend Kady got me hooked on years ago.  When I make it, which is often, there is leftover canned pumpkin that I need to find a use for.  This time around I made these delicious baked doughnuts from Pia Recipes.  The kids loved making doughnuts at home, and I felt slightly better about them since they aren't fried.  Yum yum!  ** And I just noticed I have back-to-back doughnut posts.  #sorrynotsorry

Yield: 12 doughnuts


1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar, for coating


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. If you don't have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin.

2) Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth.

3) Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

4) Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. (If you're making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15).

6) Bake the doughnuts for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. (If you're making muffins, they'll need to bake for 20-25 minutes).

7) Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar. If you've made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar.

9) Cool completely, and wrap airtight; store at room temperature for several days.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Copycat Gordough's doughnuts!

Ok, this isn't as much a recipe as it is a genius (copycat) idea of putting FUN TOPPINGS on DOUGHNUTS.  I know, right??  Earlier this year, a friend and I went to Austin to visit another friend, and we had a great time eating at food trucks.  Austin was a pioneer in this trend, and there are silver Airstreams everywhere selling good eats.  My very favorite, which will be no surprise to anyone familiar with my sweet tooth, was Gordough's, which serves enormous doughnuts topped with all kids of deliciousness.  Ever since I experienced it, I thought it would be fun to recreate them at home.  So last night for the Bachelorette finale, we did just that.  These were a BIG hit, and SO easy.  The two I copied were Dirty Berry and Mama's Cake (details below).  I don't have any measurements because it depends on how many people you're serving.  The beauty of these is that it's just as simple to do a small batch (doughnuts for one!), or a large one (party hearty!).  I'm ready to do this again!!


Glazed doughnuts (you can make your own, or just buy them at Krispy Kreme like I did)
Jar of hot fudge, warmed in the microwave
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Yellow cake mix, mixed with milk and/or water to a good drizzle consistency

Instructions for Dirty Berry doughnuts:

Place hulled and sliced strawberries in a bowl, and sprinkle them with sugar.  Let the berries macerate for about 30 minutes.  Heat a pan over medium heat, and roast the strawberries until they're soft and juicy.

Cover a doughnut with hot fudge and the roasted strawberries.  Devour.

Instructions for Mama's Cake doughnuts:

Cover a doughnut with hot fudge, drizzle with yellow cake mixture, and top with sprinkles.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chocolate chip cookie cups with peanut butter frosting

A beloved member of our weekly Bachelorette watch parties was moving away, and I wanted to do something extra-special that night.  These frosted cookie cups from The Baker Chick were just what I was looking for!  Rich, creamy, and delicous- not to mention one of my very favorite combinations, chocolate and peanut butter. Mmmmmmmmm!

Yield: 24-30 cookie cups


For the cookie cups:
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
*sea salt for sprinkling, optional

For the frosting:
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
2-4 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream


Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease muffin pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop rounded spoonfuls of cookie dough into muffin pans- press dough into the muffin well and up the sides. Bake until edges are golden and the middle is soft but set, about 8-10 minutes.  Let cool.

To prepare the frosting, cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until combined. Add the vanilla extract, and then the milk a little at a time until the frosting is the right consistency. Beat on high for a few seconds to make it light and fluffy. Pipe or spread into each (cooled) cookie cup.