Category Archives: Recipes

Sweet Potato Ricotta Toast with Chives and Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce

October 5, 2015

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I’m admittedly pretty picky when it comes to regular potatoes. I like them as tater tots and thin fries with lots of toppings (like truffle or parmesan!!!), but I don’t really care for them baked and loaded or as chips. However, I make a huge exception when it comes to sweet potatoes. I LOVE sweet potatoes, and probably because they are ideal for that sweet and salty flavor combination I like so much.

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I had some sweet potatoes leftover from this perfect fall salad I made a little while ago, so I wanted to see what I could do with them to make a hearty lunch. Since I had fresh chives, ricotta, and some wheat bread hanging around in my kitchen waiting to be used up, the first thing that came to my mind to make was a savory sweet potato toast with those ingredients. I sometimes make avocado toast with ricotta (recipe coming in the future), so I figured sweet potatoes would pair well with ricotta too, since its also creamy, sweet, and full of flavor. It was missing a little something, so I made a balsamic brown butter sauce to go on top.

This dish ended up being SO delicious that I am planning to make it again for a potluck or holiday dinner party in the near future, but instead of toast I will use crostini so they can sit for a bit without the bread getting soft. My bread did start to get soft from the moisture of the ricotta since didn’t toast it too much, but I ate it all so fast that it didn’t matter. 🙂

Ingredients:
2 slices of wheat bread (or any bread you like)
1 cup of diced sweet potatoes, 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Balsamic brown butter sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

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Directions:

1. In a medium/high heat skillet, add olive oil and sauté diced sweet potatoes for 3 minutes.
2. Add onions to the sweet potatoes, season the whole mixture with ground cinnamon, pepper and half of the salt, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, chives (reserving about 1/3 for garnish), and remaining salt.
4. Make sweet balsamic brown butter sauce: In a small heavy skillet or pan, cook butter over moderate heat until it turns to a golden brown color and gives off a toasted smell (about 2 minutes). Take pan off heat and add balsamic vinegar, mix well. Return to heat and add chicken broth and brown sugar. Increase heat and boil for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper.
5. Spread ricotta mixture evenly on toasted bread. Top with sweet potato mixture, remaining chives, and finally, a generous drizzle of balsamic brown butter sauce.

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Thanks for stopping by!

The Perfect Fall Salad

September 21, 2015

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This past weekend was officially the last weekend of summer and I am surprisingly okay with that. In past years I would have been to the beach at LEAST a half a dozen times by this time of year, but nowadays I don’t crave going to the beach at all and, if anything, I would actually prefer hanging out at a pool with 3 layers of SPF and a pool noodle.

In all seriousness though, the real reasons I’m not so sad about saying bye-bye to summer are 1. the return of cozy tops and jeans to my daily rotation, 2. winding down the year and all of the holiday get togethers coming up, and 3. pumpkin, butternut squash and cinnamon on everything!

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Since I know there will be lots of baking and holiday eating coming up in the next few months, I’ve been eating homemade salads for lunch most days. This salad was one that I threw together with a whole bunch of ingredients that I had on hand and I realized it is THE perfect fall salad (hence this post title). So of course I just had to plate it up really nicely and share it here. 🙂

It started with the sweet potato and bacon. I always have extra bacon left in those packages you get from the grocery store and I knew that bacon and sweet potatoes would be yummy together (salty and sweet!), so I chopped and cooked both of those up. And then I realized avocado is great in salads too, especially when there’s bacon – very cobb salad-y right? – so that when in. The dried cranberries and slivered almonds came in because I literally put them in every salad I make, no matter what else is in it. Cranberries are very fall-ish too, aren’t they? Goat cheese went in next because to me, no salad is complete without some cheese. You could use any other cheese you like and it would taste just as great. I almost put grated sharp cheddar cheese in here and that orange cheese with the orange sweet potatoes would have been super halloween-y!

And finally, the tahini lime dressing is one that I’ve never made before but it is now my new favorite, which comes at a perfect time since I just bought a big jar of tahini that will last me through many servings of this dressing and of course, HUMMUS (very likely a hummus recipe coming at ya sometime in the future). The combination of everything in this bowl reminds me of curling up with a blanket and drinking a Starbucks PSL. So. very. autumn.

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Ingredients:
For the Salad:
– 1 and 1/2 cups of baby spinach
– 1/3 cup bacon, chopped (about 2 slices)
– 3/4 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (half a medium-sized sweet potato)
– 1/4 cup dried cranberries
– 1/2 a ripe avocado, cubed
– 1/4 cup slivered almonds (or other nut of your choice)
– 1/4 cup goat cheese (or other cheese of your choice)
– 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
– salt and pepper to taste
Note: As with any salad, none of the measurements have to be exact – add more or less of any of these ingredients as you like! The salad I made is very hearty and is comparable to an entree-sized salad.
For the Tahini Dressing: 
– 1 tablespoon organic tahini (available on Amazon for about $8 here)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon lime juice
– 1 teaspoon agave syrup
– salt and pepper to taste

To make:

1. In a non-stick pan or skillet over medium/high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Once cooked, set bacon aside and discard bacon grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan.
2. Add cubed sweet potatoes, cinnamon, salt and pepper to pan and cook for 3-5 minutes, or whenever potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from pan and let cool.
3. While your cooked ingredients are cooling, make your dressing by mixing or whisking all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Note: This recipe makes a small amount of dressing compared to the size of this salad since the salad itself has plenty of flavor and moisture. However, if you like having more dressing simply double the dressing.
4. Starting with a bed of baby spinach, assemble all ingredients in salad bowl. Top with dressing and enjoy!

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perfect-sweet-potato-bacon-fall-salad

Simple Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots

September 8, 2015

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You want to hear a weird / funny story? Baby carrots (which are just normal carrots shaped into baby-sized pieces!) used to be my favorite snack during high school and at one point I ate so much of it so often, like pretty much a small bag of baby carrots everyday after school, that my skin started to turn yellowish orange!! My mom cut me off and from then on I stayed away from eating raw carrots forever. True story. lol.

Anyways, fast forward many years later and one of my grocery list staples nowadays is carrots. The normal kind of course, not the baby ones, and I really just love to use it in cooked preparations (and in moderation 🙂 ). It’s one fresh produce item that I always try to have in stock in my fridge because 1. it has a long shelf life, 2. it’s inexpensive, and 3. it’s so very versatile and can be used in tons of different dishes. I recently had a bunch of carrots left over that I needed to use up before leaving on vacation, so I tried to think of a good way to make a side dish with just carrots as the star.

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Since roasted vegetables is the first thing that comes to my mind when I’m trying to fancy up any veggies, what I ended up with is these really easy honey garlic roasted carrots. These are great as a (vegetarian) side dish for everyday, a holiday side dish, or even as a snack.

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Ingredients:
6-8 small to medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ thick coins
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all of ingredients together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Spread out carrots onto a foiled baking sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until carrots are cooked through.

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Be sure to lay the carrots out flat in a single layer so they can roast evenly.

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You’ll see some golden crispy bits when they’re done.

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Serve and enjoy!

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Feel free to pin and share for your own reference!:

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Blueberry Banana Whole Wheat Oatmeal Muffins

August 27, 2015

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I don’t eat bananas often. But every now and then, maybe every other month or so, I’m in the mood to have bananas either for homemade smoothies or just to snack on, and so I grab a bunch on my weekly trip to the market.

Almost every time this happens, though, I end up with at least a few over-ripened bananas sitting on my counter top at the end of the week. With about 5-7 in a bunch you get from the bunch, we just can’t eat them fast enough in our house! But a while back I discovered the wonderful thing about over-ripened bananas, which is that they’re perfect for baking.

healthy-blueberry-banana-oat-muffinblueberry-banana-muffin-recipe

Whether it’s bread or muffins, the soft bananas add some density and, of course, sweet banana flavor to your baking recipes. This blueberry banana whole wheat oatmeal muffin is my go-to recipe for when I need to use up bananas that are a little too far past eating on their own or blending up in my smoothie. One of my absolute favorite fruits is blueberries, so I had to add them to this recipe. You could also use chocolate chips instead for a chocolate banana flavor!

blueberry-banana-oatmeal-muffins

Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnammon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 – 1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare your muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, butter, and blueberries to the banana mixture and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, and remaining dry ingredients together until fully mixed.  Add this dry mixture to the banana mixture.
  4. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 mins.

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Enjoy!

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Here’s a large shareable image if you’d like to save or pin it for your reference!

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Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry (with No Flour or Corn Starch)

August 24, 2015

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On average, Dave and I order takeout or eat out at a restaurant maybe once a week, sometimes even less than that. It used to be a whole lot more often, but as you get older you really start to understand how expensive it is to dine out all the time! Over time I’ve begun to replicate some “take-out” dishes that we like to eat, making my own homemade, healthier versions of them. One of the Chinese food dishes that I’ve done that to is Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry.

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Beef and Broccoli is usually very decadent when you order it from a Chinese restaurant. The sauce is really thick, often very oily, and typically contains corn starch or flour as a thickener. Using corn starch or flour to thicken a sauce is not bad all the time (like when you’re making a roux), but sometimes it’s just a shortcut that cuts down on time, cost, and unfortunately, natural delicious flavor. I love that when I make this version of beef and broccoli stir fry that I don’t have to add any corn starch or flour or sacrifice flavor either. As a result, this recipe tastes and feels lighter than the take-out version but just as good!

This has become one of my favorite beef recipes in general and one that I make almost once a month. It’s fast, easy, and I always have the ingredients on hand and all I need to do is get the fresh meat and produce before I make it. Pay close attention to how to sear your meat so that your beef comes out extra tender!

easy-beef-broccoli-stir-fry

Ingredients

1 lb of beef sirloin strips, cut into small thin strips against the grain
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of oyster sauce
2 Teaspoons of rice wine vinegar
2 Teaspoons of honey
1 Teaspoon of all spice
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1/2 Teaspoon of pepper
1/2 cup of beef stock
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Marinate beef strips in marinade of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, all spice, half of the honey (1 teaspoon) and salt and pepper, for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Place a small amount of vegetable oil in a wok or large sauté pan and bring up to high heat until oil is sizzling hot. Carefully place beef into the pan in a single layer so that all pieces are touching the pan, and make sure to shake off any excess marinading liquid before bringing to the pan. Leave the beef to cook on one side for 2-3 minutes, and DO NOT move the beef around in the pan until ready to flip. Flip beef strips and cook another 2-3 minutes. Since the beef should be pretty thin and the heat is high, be careful not to overcook. Remove beef from pan and set aside, leaving any juices left in the pan.
  3. Add beef stock, remaining honey and minced garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to reduce liquid slightly. This step saves you from needing to add any corn starch or flour.
  4. Add broccoli florets and cook for 2-4 minutes or until broccoli has reached the doneness you like.
  5. Add beef and mix all together. Serve with steamed rice or noodles and enjoy!

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Zucchini Noodles “Zoodles” with Peanut Sauce

June 3, 2015

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I’m not a vegetarian, but love vegetables and try to maintain a pretty low carb diet overall to stay healthy and maintain my weight.

I had recently been eyeing those veggie spiralizers or veggie noodle / zoodle makers for theee longest time and held off simply because I felt I was doing fine with just doing my own versions of low carb meals. But after a while, I just really wanted to be able to enjoy a big bowl of “pasta” noodles at home and not feel guilty about it afterwards. I also was just very curious! So I finally bought this vegetable pasta noodle maker and so far it’s been worth it. The one I got was literally $13 (and as I’m writing this now, it’s currently $9.84), so I thought why not?

This recipe is the very first dish I made with my new spiralizer and it’s pretty darn delicious and surprisingly filling for having no starchy carbs. Also requires no cooking so it really can’t get any easier. Definitely on deck for those weeks I want (need) to eat lighter. 🙂

Ingredients

One large zucchini
1/2 cup of chopped scallions, or 1-2 scallion stalks
1 Tablespoon of chunky all-natural peanut butter
2-3 Teaspoons of good quality soy sauce, depending on saltiness of the soy sauce brand you use (I use Maggi brand or Aloha Shoyu, which is popularly used in Hawaii. I personally never really use Kikkoman brand except when eating sushi)
1 Teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
2-3 Teaspoons of honey, to your taste
(Optional) 1 Teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Utensils Needed:
Veggie spiralizer (or knife if you don’t have one!)
Small bowl to mix sauce
Whisk
Serving bowl

Directions

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Prepare your zucchini noodles by putting your zucchini through a spiralizer, or by cutting the zucchini into long, thin strips with your knife. Chop scallions and set aside.

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Prepare peanut sauce. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and honey, and whisk all together.

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Pour sauce over zucchini noodles and top with scallions and red pepper flakes, if desired. The natural liquid from the zucchini will mix together with the sauce to create a smooth, silky sauce.

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Pat yourself on the back for making such a healthy recipe 🙂

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Enjoy!

 

zucchini noodles peanut sauce recipe

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