Category Archives: Sides & Snacks

Pomegranate and White Chocolate Scones

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I can’t even begin to explain how much I love a good pastry in the morning with my coffee. My brain sometimes tells me that it’s a bad idea, but look how delicious these scones look. How bad could they be? Thankfully I figured out a way to make them taste fantastic but not be a huge calorie bomb like many of the purchased baked goods (for example a blueberry scone from Starbucks is almost 500 calories per serving; gasp! but they’re so good!). Now you can have your cake (scone) and eat it too. This recipe only has a few tablespoons of sugar and absolutely no butter. Seems too good to be true doesn’t it? Seriously though, you won’t believe how good they taste until you give them a try.

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Feeling less guilty about drooling over them yet?

The flavor combination may seem a little weird to some, but it’s actually pretty amazing. I found myself with about 4 cups of pomegranate seeds after buying two gigantic softball sized pomegranates and needed to find a creative way to use them. I started reminiscing about some chocolate covered pomegranate candies I’ve had in the past and voila a new recipe was created. If you’re not sold on the flavor paring feel free to add blueberries, strawberries, diced apples etc. instead. Hope you enjoy them! They are a fantastic treat and ridiculously easy to make.

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 tbs of sugar
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • zest of one small orange
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cup  half and half (or substitute half regular milk if heavy cream now makes this recipe horrifying to you)

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Herbed Ricotta, Pistachio, & Lavender Bruschetta

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Happy New Year all! I hope that everyone was able to celebrate 2012 and welcome the beginning of a new year. Matt and I are looking forward to all that 2013 brings and welcome any new adventures that may arise. We are grateful for a wonderful family and for our quite amazing group of friends. We also look forward to celebrating our second wedding anniversary early next week! I can’t believe that two years have already passed! Time flies when you’re married to your best friend! I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that will arise this year. I hope that everyone had a wonderful NYE and has a prosperous, healthy year ahead!

Anyhow, onto one of my favorite appetizers! We frequent a wine bar in Philadelphia called Tria that not only has fantastic wine, but delicious small plates. We are obsessed with their herbed ricotta and pistachio bruschetta. It is fantastic! We honestly order 3 small plates of the amazingness every time go in. Since our obsession seems to be insatiable, I thought that it was important that I figured out how to make an as delectable version at home. I think the true secret is the addition of the pistachios and since I’m a honey addict, it also makes the plate for me too. It’s so easy to make and is sure to please your family or any guests!

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It may not look like a lot, but boy is it amazing!

This recipe is very variable, you can either prepare a little or a lot depending on what you are planning on serving it for. I often make a small batch and eat it in place of a sandwich for lunch. So there are no specific measurements but require you to go more on taste and the amount you want to prepare.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of french bread, sliced on the bias into half inch thick slices 
  • 1 jar of fresh or store prepared ricotta
  • Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade (aka small strips; it’s easiest to roll on bunch of leaves and then cut them into small strips)
  • Dried lavender
  • Honey
  • Salt & fresh cracked black pepper

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BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

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BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Sorry about the hiatus! Transitioning back to a full time student after some time off definitely takes a lot of time and effort! I have been exhausted but fortunately I have been learning a lot! We have been cooking at home a lot though..so despite the fact that I haven’t had much free time to post recipes lately, there are a lot of recipes to share in the near future. I hope everyone is enjoying the transition from summer to fall (although the weather has been pretty strange around these parts, so it hasn’t really felt like autumn consistently yet). I know I am looking forward to going apple picking, drinking cider, and making apple cider doughnuts! I love the fall and finally breaking all my favorite pairs of boots out of the closet!

I think you’ll observe a new trend in my approach to cooking…most of my recipes lately have been ones that I can throw together in less than 30 minutes. Today’s recipe was using some of the things that I commonly keep in my refrigerator! Whole wheat tortillas, precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, and homemade BBQ sauce. I also always have fresh cheddar and mozzarella on hand. I recently purchased the Hot Pepper mix from Potbelly Sandwiches which I added to my quesadilla creation. The result was so so so good. I am actually looking forward to eating them again in the near future!

I hope you enjoy some of the quick, healthy meals I’ve been preparing lately and that you try to incorporate the recipes into your busy schedule as well. I made these quesadillas directly on my panini press and they came out fabulous and were prepared in a snap.

The Ingredients:

  • Precooked chicken
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Your favorite cheese: I used sharp cheddar
  • Hot pepper mix (optional)
  • BBQ sauce

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Homemade Cocoa Roasted Almonds

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Homemade Cocoa Roasted Almonds

I made these a few weeks ago, and I guess I forgot to post it! Matt and I are huge Big Brother fans and after a few times of watching Big Brother Afterdark, I quickly realized the cast was obsessed with cocoa almonds. I’d never had them before and I was definitely interested. Seriously, Brittany, Frank, & Ashely ate them alllll the time.  After checking them out at the grocery store, (and finding out how expensive they were for a small container!) I figured I could easily make my own version at home. I bought a huge bag of almonds at Sam’s Club a few months ago for something like $9 bucks, so it was definitely worth taking the 15 minutes to make my own as opposed to wasting money.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1-1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • Small sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp honey–this made them a little sticky, next time I may omit the honey and add the same amount of sugar instead 
  • 1 tsp water

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Peach & Pineapple Salsa

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Peach & Pineapple Salsa

I love love love homemade salsa. It encompasses all the deliciousness of summer in a single bite. I try to eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible during the summer because not only is it good for your body but it’s when everything taste the best. Nothing compares to fresh picked produce in my book. I can’t wait to eventually have my own garden instead of growing herbs on my urban windowsill.

Anyhow, I make many variations of salsa (try my traditional Vine Ripened Tomato Salsa or Avocado Mango Salsa) but this is one of my favorites! I think salsa is a great, inexpensive way to entertain. I like to make a few variations and allow guest to sample each kind–it makes a get together a lot less boring having variation. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because it is a great balance between sweet and spicy. The fresh peaches and pineapple provide a sweet and tangy quality to the salsa that balances the heat from the jalapeños peppers. Trust me–you’ll love it.

The Ingredients: 

Equipment needed: Food Processor 

  • 3-4 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1-2 large ripe Peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped pineapple
  • 1 small red or sweet onion
  • 2-3 large cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of pickled Jalapeños--depending on your heat preference; I actually use a lot more than I usually do in regular salsa because the heat is balanced nicely by the fresh, sweet fruit
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
  • Small pinch of Oregano
  • Salt & fresh cracked black pepper
How to:
  • Roughly chop the red onion into large pieces–rinse under cold water to get rid of the pungent onion smell/taste
  • Add to food processor and lightly pulse to break it down a bit
  • Roughly chop tomatoes and pineapple and add to food processor
  • Slowly pulse to break down mixture
  • Grate 2-3 large cloves with micro-planer directly into food processor
  • Add desired amount of jalapeños based on your heat preference–I added a little less than a 1/2 cup of pickled jalapeños (considerable less spicy than fresh jalapeños)
  • Pulse to desired consistency
  • Stir in diced peaches and add juice of 1/2 lemon or lime–the citrus juice really helps keep the flavors clean
  • Add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste and serve chilled

Homemade Dulce de Leche

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Homemade Dulce de Leche

Hi friends! Sorry for the week long hiatus. We have been busy traveling for a wedding and had an opportunity to catch up with some of our lovely friends in Indianapolis. We had a fantastic trip visiting with my husband’s family and my two favorite 8 and 6 year old little girls. It was definitely a busy couple of days but despite how great our trip was, it was amazing to sleep in our own bed last night! I remember as a child I was able to sleep soundly anywhere, but now that I am older that is definitely not the case. I guess our king sized bed has really spoiled us. I thought I’d share a few pictures for our trip. The photo immediately below was one Matt was able to capture of a hummingbird while sitting in my mother in law’s living room. I absolutely adore it. The other photo is of my extended family highlighting Matt’s step brother Christopher and his new wife Sarah on their wedding day.

Anyway, enough about our travels and onto this delicious treat! I have seen Dulce de Leche everywhere lately, so I thought it was time to give it a try. I’ve seen several recipes where you just boil the aluminum can that the Sweetened Condensed Milk comes in…but I wasn’t into that version because I was worried about all the toxins that would enter the Dulce de Leche as a result. Consuming gross toxins is not on my list to do, so I tried to think of another way to cook the condensed milk safely. I checked my cabinets and remembered that I had a mason jar from when we ate our dessert from Barbuzzo. My problem was solved. All you have to do is transfer the sweetened condensed milk to the mason jar and throw it in the crock pot for a few hours. Genius. My mason jar was just a mini one, so I was only able to cook one can of condensed milk. It’s on my to do list to buy a larger one so I can make a bigger batch the next time.

The Ingredients:

Necessary equipment: Mason jar with lid & Crock Pot 

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk

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Baked Zucchini Chips

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Baked Zucchini Chips

Matt and I went out to a Greek restaurant in Philly last Saturday called Opa. It is newly renovated with a pretty cool scene. The specialty cocktails were pretty tasty but my favorite thing about the meal were the zucchini chips served with a tzatziki dipping sauce. Their version was fried but I knew I would be able to come up with something just as tasty without all the calories. I decided to try baking my zucchini and they came out really delicious. I will say that they are quite time consuming because it takes awhile for the veggies to crisp…but they are definitely worth the wait. In place of the tzatziki I made my dipping sauce with Greek yogurt and a few other flavors.

I tried two cooking methods: placing the zucchini right on the baking sheet and placing the zucchini on a baking rack. I will say that I think that just placing them on the baking sheet worked better. Maybe if I were to set the oven to a higher temperature the baking rack would come in handy to make sure heat was able to surround all sides of them before they burn. Perhaps next time I’ll test my theory and update you all with any new results.

Anyhow, I think they are definitely worth a try! They should be eaten the same day they are baked–or else they lose their crispiness and will need to be thrown back into the oven. It’s really no problem to finish them though. I used 2 large zucchinis and it yielded about 1 cup of chips. It’s not a bad way to get one of you daily servings of veggies.


The Ingredients:

Necessary equipment: mandolin will make this much easier, but you can slice by hand

Strawberry Peanut Butter Wraps

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Strawberry Peanut Butter Wraps

Sometimes it is really hard to convince yourself to eat breakfast in the morning but you have to because it really is the most important meal of the day. Your body uses food–primarily carbohydrates (this is your body’s favorite food to fuel source)–as it’s go to source for energy. It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to not only keep your metabolism going but to also keep your brain functioning on early mornings. I know some people skip meals in order to reduce their calorie intake because they think that this will help them burn stored fat–well, unfortunately the body doesn’t quite work that way.

Skipping meals is actually bad for your metabolism. The body gets tricked into preservation mode when you don’t eat enough calories/a balanced diet. What does preservation mode mean? It means that your body is actually tricked into storing fat/won’t give up fat because it thinks that there are impending bad times ahead–you can thank evolution for this phenomena. When food used to be scare, our bodies would store and hold onto as much fat as possible–think of it as your bodies very own rainy day fund.

This is what really happens in the body.

  • Body breaks down carbohydrates –> energy
  • Once carbohydrate stores are depleted–>body looks for other sources to break down for fuel in the body…
  • HEALTHY BODIES (diets rich in protein/complex carbs)–> body will breakdown stored fat –> energy
  • NOT SO HEALTHY BODIES (i.e. not enough calorie intake/not a balanced diet): body goes into preservation mode –> body skips fat break down–> body breaks down protein for fuel

What this all means? If you don’t ingest enough protein and carbs, your body will actually start munching on its own muscles for fuel. Not good!

Extreme athletes that push themselves to extreme limits will use protein as a source of energy after all other stores are depleted–but they also know how to replenish protein quickly so it doesn’t do damage to their bodies. The average person–who say is walking to work–shouldn’t be using protein as a source of energy at all. That’s why it is important to eat a diet that has both protein and healthy carbs. One of my favorite college professors always used to tell us “Carbohydrate ingestion–spares protein breakdown”–as you can tell she was anti the extreme low carb diets. So what she was saying is that if you eat enough complex carbohydrates–your body will never go into that preservation mode & burn your muscle tissue. What it is really all about is feeding your body the right kind of carbs–complex carbs, in place of insulin spiking simple carbs. My strawberry peanut butter wraps offer a great source of protein and complex carbs with a side of antioxidants & vitamin C from the strawberries. It is a great on the go snack/breakfast–just wrap it in aluminum foil and eat it burrito style on the go. Couldn’t be more simple or tasty.

The Ingredients:

  • Multigrain tortillas
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Raw Agave syrup for drizzling