Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Turkey Tortellini Soup


SOUP TIME!  Now this is a season-appropriate meal for chilly fall.  This soup has a good amount of vegetables, is lower in sodium than any soup you'll buy in a store (yikes, holy hypertension) and tastes so good.  I made a huge batch of it and we had leftovers whenever we wanted a quick warm cup of soup.


Ingredients:
1 Lb. lean ground turkey breast
3 Tsp. Italian Seasoning (or combine parsley, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder)
2 Cans (sodium-free, or extra low sodium) Tomato Soup (+1 can water)
4 Cups (sodium-free) chicken or vegetable broth
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes (no sodium-added)
1 Cup Diced Carrots
1 Cup  Diced Celery
1 Cup Chopped Green Beans (or cut-leaf spinach)


1 Large Pkg cheese-filled tri-color tortellini (20 ounce package I believe)


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Season your thawed turkey breast with the Italian seasoning.  Shape into 3/4"-1" balls and place on lined baking sheet.  Place turkey meatballs in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned with no pink inside.  Meanwhile...


2. Turn stovetop to medium heat.  Combine broth and tomato soup in a stockpot.
3.  Add in your tomatoes, diced carrots and celery, and chopped green beans.  Cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
4.  Add in the tortellini pasta and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
5.  Place cooked turkey meatballs in the stockpot and cook for another 5 minutes.


Serve with a crusty loaf of Italian bread and enjoy!


For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.





Sweet Potato Chutney Over Chops with Stuffed Pumpkin


Fall is here!  My FAVORITE season (leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, football, crisp air, apple-picking, cozy sweaters, need I go on?)  Time for pumpkins and other fall goodies!
I was searching for a yummy and healthy fall dinner recipe and found some on Better Homes and Gardens. I didn't tweak the recipes much.  I suggest first measuring out "all of the ingredients" (pun intended, say it out loud and then read my blog title out loud).  Second, start making the stuffed pumpkins.  Third, while your pumpkins are baking (the 1st time), start on the chops (turn to broil after pumpkins are done the 2nd time).  The timing should work well then!
NOTE:  This recipe took me quite a while to make, so if you want to save time, I would serve the potato stuffing not in the pumpkins (save the time cutting, cleaning, and cooking them), but just in the casserole dish.  However, if you're making a dinner for good presentation, this (using the pumpkins) is it!  I  hope you like them!


Sweet Potato Chutney Chops

Ingredients:
1/3 Cup Finely-Chopped Shallots
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
4 Pork Loin Chops, about 1" thick
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dried Cranberries
1/2 tsp. Ginger (grated or powder)
1 Sweet Potato, Peeled and Finely-Chopped


Directions:
1.  Turn oven to Broil.
2. Combine shallots and red pepper in small bowl.  Put half aside for now (for chutney).  Rub remaining mixture on both sides of the pork chops.  Place on broiler pan and set aside.
3.  Time for the Chutney:  Combine the other half of the shallot mixture, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cranberries, and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in chopped sweet potato  and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 10-12 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
4. While chutney is simmering, broil chops, turning once, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Top with chutney and serve with stuffed pumpkin (below) and some green beans.


Stuffed Pumpkins
Ingredients:
4 Miniature Pumpkins
2 Medium Baking Potatoes (remember, organic if you can!), Peeled and Quartered

1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin (ezier and quickier way)
1/2 Tbsp. Organic Butter
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Fat-free organic milk (or soy milk)
1/2 Cup Shredded Jarlsberg Cheese


Directions:
1.  Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F.  Begin to bring water to a boil on stovetop in medium saucepan.
2.  Cut off the tops of the pumpkins.  Remove seeds and strings from inside the pumpkins (keep seeds for roasting!).  Place pumpkins, cut-side down on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pumpkins are soft.  Set aside.
3.  While pumpkins are baking, place quartered potatoes into the boiling water and cook for 20-25 minutes or until soft.  Drain potatoes.
4.  Using electric mixer (I love my Kitchenaid!), beat potatoes.  Add in canned pumpkin, butter, and nutmeg to potatoes and continue to mix.  Gradually beat in the milk.  Stir in cheese by hand.  Sprinkle with pepper.
5.  Spoon potato mixture into pumpkin shells.  Put any leftover potato mixture into a small casserole dish.  Place pumpkin shells on baking sheet.  Loosely cover both shells and casserole with foil.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (uncover in last 5 minutes).


Add some steamed green beans. Bon Appetit!





Parmesan Tilapia with Summer Squash & Zucchini Risotto









Tilapia is one of my favorite fish to eat.  It is low in fat, sodium, calories, and carbohydrates and high in lean protein.  It doesn't have a strong "fishy" taste, is a short-lived sustainable fish (good for environment and our fish population) and because it's short-lived you know it also has low levels of mercury (good for your health).   


Risotto is a delicious Italian rice dish that gets its creamy consistency from the way it's prepared.  The starch from the rice releases during cooking allowing the rice to bind with the other rice and absorb the broth simultaneously.  The result:  creamy yumminess.  Meats and vegetables can be mixed in and it can be a meal by itself, or served as a side dish (as it is here).  There are 3 main rice varieties you can use: Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli.  I personally use Arborio (in any grocery store in the rice/grains section).  




Parmesan Tilapia

Ingredients:




  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

  • 2 tsp. Paprika

  • 1 Tbs. Parsley

  • 4 Tilapia fillets

  • 1 Lemon, quartered (or in eighths)

  • Dash Pepper

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil




    Directions:



    1.  Preheat the oven to 400o.

    2.  Combine the Parmesan Cheese
    , paprika, parsley, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

    3.  Place the Tilapia on a foil-lined baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

    4.  Brush Oil on the Tilapia (recommend silicone basting brush over bristle brush).


    5.  Spoon Cheese mixture on fish. 


    6.  Start the Risotto (below) before doing Step 7.


    7.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the fish is opaque or flakes easily with a fork.   Once you place in Oven, immediately go to Step 5 of the Risotto.


    8.  Garnish with lemon wedges.


      Summer Squash and Zucchini Risotto
      Ingredients:



      • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

      • 1 Medium Zucchini, cut up into small cubes/pieces

      • 1 Medium Yellow Summer Squash, cut up into small cubes/pieces

      • 1 cup Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli rice (again, I use Arborio, but any of the 3 are fine) 3 cups heated sodium free vegetable or chicken broth (I'm a fan of Herb-Ox in Chicken flavor--sodium free is important for heart health)

      • 1/4 Lemon (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)

      • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


      Directions:
      1.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add summer squash and zucchini, stirring for 5 minutes.  Place in bowl and set aside.












      2.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add rice; Cook and stir for about 3 minutes.

      3.  Pour 1 cup broth in skillet.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Cook and stir until rice has absorbed the broth.  




      4.  Go back to Step 7 on Tilapia.


      5.   Repeat Step 3, pouring 1 cup of broth at at time, cooking and stirring until the rice absorbs all the liquid   before adding the next cup of broth. 


      6.  Remove from heat.  Stir in Summer Squash, Zucchini, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. 




        Serve immediately and Enjoy!  
        Pair with a light to medium-bodied white wine.  For a healthy dessert, try a plate of fresh pineapple and strawberries.






        For choosing other environmentally-safe seafood, download your region-specific seafood pocket guide here.



        Garlic Sirloin Steak with Corn on the Cob


        Corn!  I have a personal love of corn, having grown up in a state where seeing people wear giant foam corn on the cob hats is normal (i.e. Nebraska--Go Cornhuskers, aka 'Skers).  It's the time of year where you can find local sweet corn in your grocery stores. Corn provides you with fiber, folate (heart and reproductive health), Vitamin C, and Vitamin B1 (brain function and memory).


        You might be surprised, but you can eat beef healthily.  Yes, it's true.  Just be sure to choose lean cuts, trim extra fat, watch your portions, and eat sparingly (and when buying, choose little marbling and try to buy grass-fed beef).  In fact, some studies show that lean red-meat eaters lose weight more rapidly than non-red-meat eaters and do not increase cholesterol levels and could actually decrease cholesterol.  Additionally, lean red meat offers Zinc, Iron, and Vitamin B12.  This recipe won't utilize the grill (although this recipe would be equally awesome on the grill), but rather the stovetop.  Five simple ingredients, one great meal.


        4 Servings
        Ingredients:



        • 16 oz Sirloin Steak

        • 1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced

        • 2 tsp. Garlic Powder

        • 3 Tbsp. Butter (Smart Balance Light, Omega-3 infused)

        • 1 tsp. Black Pepper

        • 4 Ears of Sweet Corn, Shucked/Silk removed (basically corn only, no husk/hairs)


        Directions:
        1.  Bring large saucepan filled with water to a gentle boil.

        2.  Sprinkle pepper and minced garlic on both side of steaks.
        3. In separate skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.
        4. Add ears of corn to water.  Boil 5-10 minutes--the longer, the softer (I do 10 min).
        5. Place steaks in heated butter for 4-5 minutes.  Turn once, cooking for 4-5 more minutes.
        6. Melt remaining butter in small bowl (microwave for 12 seconds).  Stir in garlic powder.


        Serve immediately.  Use a brush (spoon also ok) to put garlic butter on both corn and steak.  I am also choosing to serve a simple green salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for another side.  Yuuum.




        Tofu Bok Choy Stir-Fry




        First of all, let me say that this is another recipe that looks (ok, maybe not in MY photos) and sounds gourmet and time-consuming, but is really quick, easy, and best-of-all: healthy!  


        Bok choy (Chinese cabbage), from the Brassica familiy (including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, etc), is used in a lot of Chinese recipes.  It's great because it's tasty, crispy, and full of nutritional value.  It's rich with antioxidants calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamin A.   Tofu, or bean curd, also has Chinese origins.  It doesn't have a lot of flavor by itself, but tastes well in flavorful dishes (like stir-fry).  Tofu is also low in calories.  Additionally, tofu offers plenty of iron, protein, and calcium and is a great alternative to meat.  There are two types of tofu: silken and regular.  Both types come in soft, medium, firm, and extra firm.  Be sure to use regular in firm or extra-firm for stir-fries.


        I actually ate the Crispy Tofu at Zengo  in Washington DC a few weeks ago (delicious), which inspired me to come up with a tasty Tofu Stir-fry recipe of my own.  


        Ingredients:
        1 lb firm or extra-firm regular Tofu

        2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
        1 Red bell pepper, cut into strips
        2 Cloves Garlic, minced (or 
        1.5 Tsp. Ginger
        1 lb Baby Bok Choy, stalk/stem cut into pieces, large leaves cut in half, small leaves left as is (see photo below)
        1/4 cup water
        1 Tbsp. low-sodium Soy sauce
        1/2 Tsp.  Crushed Red Pepper
        1 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds

        1 Tbsp. Cilantro


        Directions:
        1. Drain the tofu and blot with paper towels to dry.  Cut the tofu into pieces, about 1/2" thick and 1" long. 
        2.  Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil on medium-high heat in Wok (or large skillet).  Add the tofu and stir-fry until light gold.  Set aside on paper towels.

        3.  Add remaining oil to wok.  Toss in Red pepper, stir for 4 minutes.  Add Garlic, Ginger, Baby bok choy stalk/stem pieces.  Stir-fry about 1-2 minutes.  Add the leaves.  Stir fry another 1-2 minutes.
        4.  Pour the water into the wok.  Stir until the water evaporates.  Add in the golden tofu, Soy sauce, crushed red pepper and stir for 1-2 minutes.
        5.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top of dish and serve immediately!


        Optional:  Pair with 1/2 cup white sticky rice, brown rice, or Chinese noodles if you'd like more substance.  



        Note:  You are correct (if you noticed).  The photos don't include my sprinkling of cilantro and sesame seeds!  Oops--I'm human.  When I make it again, I'll take new photos. 




        Mexi-Turkey Chili


        I like to make chili a few times in the fall and winter, and have a few variations I like to do.  This one is one of our favorite versions--I use healthier ground turkey instead of beef and add in some Mexi-flavors with the black beans and corn.  It's filling and delicious and even better, it can be a great weekday meal.  You can brown the turkey the night before, then put everything in the crock pot/slow cooker before you leave the next AM and it'll be ready for you by evening!


        Ingredients:
        1 Tbsp. Olive Oil (or use cooking spray)
        1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey





        1/4 Cup minced Onion (or use regular onion)
        1 (10.75 ounce) Can Low-Sodium Tomato Soup


        1 (14.5 ounce) Can No-Sodium Diced Tomatoes
        1 (15 ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
        1 (15 ounce) Can filled with water
        2 (15 ounce) Cans kidney beans, drained (I used one light kidney and one dark kidney can)
        1 (15 ounce) Can Black Beans, drained
        12 oz Frozen Yellow Corn (I have substituted with white corn before)
        2 1/2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
        1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
        1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
        1 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
        3 tsp. Ground Black Pepper

         


        Directions:


        1. Heat the oil (or cooking spray) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place turkey and minced onion in the skillet; cook until evenly brown; drain.
        2. Coat the inside of a slow cooker/crock pot with cooking spray, and combine the turkey with all of the other ingredients (tomato soup, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce,  water kidney beans, black beans, and corn).  Season with chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper.  Stir well to mix.
        3. Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.
        4. Serve hot with cheddar cheese or jack-cheddar and crackers or tortilla chips.


        For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
        To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.


        Nutritional Info Per Serving:
        Approx 8 servings; 280 calories per serving; 8.7 g of fat (1.9 g sat fat); 42 mg cholesterol; 680 mg sodium; 32.9 g total carbs; 21.1 g protein;
        21% Vit A; 43% Vit C; 9% Calcium; 43% Iron; 48% Niacin; 20% Vit B6; 24% Magnesium; 54% Folate





        Greek Pasta Salad



        I'm always looking for healthy and yummy recipes that are good for work/school week lunches.  It's an added bonus if these meals don't have to be heated, since I have limited portable glassware and heating meals in plastics is a no-no.  So, this recipe fits the bill--heart-healthy Mediterranean foods (olive oil, vinegar, feta, peppers, olives)--and it requires no re-heating.  Plus, we have a fall BBQ at a friend's house this weekend and this will make a nice side dish for the burgers.  Thus, eat this salad as a side dish or as a meal!


        Ingredients:
        1 Box Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta (or Fusilli, or Falafel, or whatever your heart desires)

        1 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
        1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced
        2 Cans Sliced Olives
        1 Can or Jar Artichokes
        1/2 Cup Crumbled Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese
        1/4 Cup Olive Oil
        3-4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
        1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
        2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (or 2 tsp. Minced Garlic)
        1 tsp. Sea Salt
        1 tsp. Pepper


        Directions:
        1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Rinse with water and drain.
        2.  Combine the diced peppers, olives, artichokes, feta, and pasta in a bowl.
        3.  Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt & pepper. Pour over pasta/veggie mixture.   Stir well or lightly toss to coat.  Serve immediately or chilled.


        Enjoy!




        Chocolate Caramels


        With Valentine’s Day approaching, homemade candies make a great treat and a great gift!  Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they make a thoughtful and attractive gift with some cute boxes and tissue paper.  Everyone we've given them to has loved them.  


        In this recipe, I made milk chocolate caramels (although you could use dark chocolate if you prefer).


        You'll need to stop by a cake/candy/baking store to pick up a caramel candy mold, chocolate pieces, and a giant hunk of caramel.  I went to Cakes Plus in Laurel, Maryland, but any cake/candy/baking store will do.


        If you like this recipe and want to try making more homemade candies, you can also check out my Peanut Butter Cups and Cream-Filled Chocolate Truffles recipes.


        Ingredients



        • Milk Chocolate Pieces

        • Hunk of Caramel


        Directions


        1. Fill a medium skillet 1/3 full of hot water and simmer on stove top.  Fill a coffee cup with chocolate pieces and stir occasionally until melted (in the photo, I have white, dark, and milk chocolate in cups, as I was making all three types of candy at once).
        2.  While chocolate is melting, break caramel apart into small pieces (roughly roll into balls) that will fit easily inside the candy mold (they need to fit easily into the mold, because you'll also need room for the chocolate).  



        3.  Spoon a small amount of chocolate into a candy mold and be sure to cover the sides, so no part of the mold is without chocolate (I just use the spoon for this and it works fine, but you can also use candy brushes if you so choose).  This may take some practice, to be sure you use as little chocolate as possible, while still covering all of the candy mold.  If you use too much chocolate, your candy will be hard to bite in to and you won't have adequate room for the caramel.
        4.  Place the candy mold flat in your refrigerator for 3-5 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

        5.  Take the caramel pieces and place into each individual candy mold.  Lightly press down on the caramel to fill the square space (not too hard or you'll crack the chocolate).  Top with more chocolate to completely cover and fill the mold.  Lightly tap the entire candy mold on the counter when done, to remove any air bubbles.
        6.  Place the candy mold back in the refrigerator for 5-7 minutes, or until completely set.  Remove from refrigerator, flip candy mold upside down on counter top and tap out each pieces. Remove any excess chocolate from the pieces.


        And now you have delicious, homemade chocolate caramels to enjoy or give as gifts!


        Enjoy!


        As a reminder, you can also view my Cream-Filled Chocolate Truffle recipe or Peanut Butter Cup recipe for more homemade candies to make along with the caramels!



        Turkey Burgers


        Summer means it's time for grilling, lounging by the pool, picnics, county fairs, fireworks, camping, fresh fruit, slushy drinks, and sunglasses.  :)  Turkey burgers are a great recipe, a healthy version of an American summer classic--The Burger.  This recipe uses turkey, low/no fat cheese, a whole-wheat bun, and has a unique blend of seasonings.  You won't miss the fat or calories and your body will thank you.  This recipe uses a stove-top, yet the same directions can be used on the grill.



        Ingredients:



        • 1 lb. frozen turkey meat (extra lean)

        • BBQ seasoning (I use Gates BBQ seasoning from Kansas City, home of amazing BBQ)

        • Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (or alternatively, use garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and dry mustard)

        • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese (fat-free)

        • 1 Tomato, cut into slices

        • Leaf Lettuce, 4 Burger-size pieces

        • 4 Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns


        Directions:

        1. Form 4 Burger Patties.  Sprinkle both sides of burgers with BBQ seasoning and Mrs. Dash.
        2. Heat large skillet to medium-high heat.  Lightly spray with non-stick butter cooking spray.
        3. Place burgers in skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes, then flip burger.
        4. Add cheese to the top of each burger.  Cook for 5 more minutes.
        5. Place burger on bun and top with tomato and lettuce.


        Pair with baked fries (see BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries Recipe) or just some fresh veggies or fruit.




        Split Pea & Ham Soup


        A cold, icy day calls for soup-making!  I've actually never made split-pea soup before today, so this recipe is a new one I'm trying out (and of course I taste sampled before posting--it's awesome).  It's a modification of one from Better Homes and Gardens, one from Martha Stewart, and one from my father-in-law, Daryl.  I hope you enjoy it!


        Ingredients:




        • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

        • 5-6 Medium Carrots, Chopped (about 2 Cups)

        • 5-6 Stalks Celery, Chopped (about 2 Cups)

        • 1/3 Cup Dried Minced Onion

        • 4 Cups Water

        • 4 Cups Chicken Broth (no-sodium)

        • 1 lb Cooked Boneless Ham (I love Hormel's Natural Choice because it is nitrate-free!)

        • 1 16-oz Bag Dry Split Peas, Rinsed and Drained

        • 2 tsp. Dried Thyme

        • 2 tsp. Dried Marjoram

        • 2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper


        Directions:

        1.  In a large Dutch oven, or large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, celery, and onion.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
        2.  Add water, broth, ham, and split peas.  Bring to a boil for a few minutes.  Stir in thyme, marjoram, and black pepper.
        3.  Reduce heat to medium-low, Cover, and Cook for about 40-50 minutes, or until peas are soft.


        Serve and Enjoy!  Season with a little sea salt and black pepper if you desire and eat with some wheat saltine crackers.  Yum.



        For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
        To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.  





        Hiatus Excuse


        Sorry for the hiatus in posting recipes!  I am definitely not out of recipes; I just have a broken Canon Rebel camera.  I know, it's very sad.  So, as long as you don't mind reduced quality photos of the food, I will continue to post recipes this summer.  The photo quality will just be a little to be desired.  Hopefully, I'll get our Canon repaired soon enough and can be back to great-quality photos.


        To come soon:  a lot of summer salads, my special banana bread recipe, and some great summer smoothies!




        Cream-Filled Chocolate Truffles


        With Valentine’s Day approaching, homemade candies make a great treat and a great gift!  Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they make a thoughtful and attractive gift with some cute boxes and tissue paper.  Everyone we've given them to has loved them.  


        In this recipe, I made four different flavored truffles.  I made: White Chocolate Orange Cr

        Pumpkin & Pecan Bread with Streusel Topping


        I decided to make some good breakfast and snack bread and wanted to make use of the abundance of pecans I was given by my Mom.  I decided on pumpkin-pecan bread with a sweet streusel topping.  This bread is sinfully yummy, but also good for you due to the use of whole-wheat flour, beta-carotene in the pumpkin, antioxidantly-powerful (I made that word up) cinnamon, and healthy fats in the pecans.  Yum.  The recipe I make below includes enough for one regular size loaf (9"x5") and one mini-loaf pan.  Eat one now and freeze one for later!


        Ingredients:



        • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

        • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed 

        • 2 Eggs

        • 2 tsp. Vanilla

        • 1 Can Pumpkin Puree

        • 1 Cup Whole-Wheat Flour

        • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

        • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

        • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

        • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

        • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

        • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

        • 1 tsp. Baking Soda

        • 1/2 Cup Warm Water

        • 1 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted


        Streusel Topping:



        • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed

        • 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted

        • 3 Tbsp. Butter, Softened

        • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon


        Directions:
        1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan and one mini-loaf pan.
        2.  In medium bowl, stir together the flours, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and baking soda.

        3.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or with your Kitchenaid mixer, combine butter and sugar.  Next, beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla and pumpkin.
        4.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture, just until moistened.  Beat in the warm water.
        5.  By hand, stir in the chopped pecans.
        6.  Pour batter into loaf pan.
        7.  In small bowl, mix together the Streusel topping ingredients.  Sprinkle over the top of the batter.
        8.  Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes for the mini-loaf and 45-60 minutes for the large loaf, or until set and toothpick comes out clean.


        Cool on wire rack.  Enjoy!


        If you plan on freezing the bread, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.  Date and be sure to eat within 3 months.




        Baked or Fried Mozzarella Sticks


        Cheese and bread together are oh-so-yummy.  And who doesn't love a good Mozzarella stick?  I mean, fried cheese? Yes please.  I was inspired by Taste of Home's recipe, but wanted to make a version that didn't actually involve butt-loads of oil.  For your health's sake, try this healthy option and save yourself the artery blocks.  This recipe is super-easy and quick and tastes like the "real" thing.



        I made them two different ways, one sauteed in a skillet with a little olive oil (closer to frying) and the other baked in the oven.  They look very different (above photo is of the "fried" sticks, but both are shown below in the post as well), but Aaron and I loved both of them equally in terms of taste.  So, choose whichever way you prefer.


        Ingredients:
        12 Wonton or Egg-Roll Wraps, at room temperature
        12 Light or Fat-free Mozzarella String Cheese
        Marinara Sauce (Low-Sodium) for Dipping
        Small bowl with water, optional


        Baked Directions:
        1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
        2.  Take one of your room-temperature wraps (less likely to break and ooze cheese all over if room-temp and slightly wet) and lay on flat surface in front of you, like a diamond.  Put cheese stick in middle, corner to corner (or slightly below).

        3. Take the bottom corner and fold it up over the cheese stick and stick to other side of wrap tightly.  You can add a few drops of the water here to make the wrap stick better.
        4.  Carefully (here is the part where the wrap can break), fold over the right and left corners of the wrap onto the cheese stick to completely cover the cheese.

        5.  Roll up the wrap.
        6.  Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.


        "Fried" Directions:
        Alternatively, you can make this on the stovetop.
        1.  Wrap cheese as described above.
        2. Heat 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
        3.  Working in batches, add in half of the cheese sticks.  Roll/stir sticks around for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown, and remove from heat.


        Serve with Marinara (seasoned with oregano/basil/garlic for more flavor) and Enjoy!


        Here are the baked Mozzarella Sticks:



        And here are the "Fried" Mozzarella Sticks (also shown in top photo):




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