Category Archives: appetizer

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball Recipe

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I never tasted a cheeseball until I met Dave. It must be a southern food. I instantly fell in love though, given my obsession with cream cheese. This recipe is always a hit, but what bacon recipe isnt? This is the easiest recipe to make and the best part is that its best if it sits in the fridge overnight so you can prepare it ahead of time. Make it 2 days in advance if your schedule demands it.

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball

16 servings

2 blocks (16 oz total) cream cheese (1/3 less fat is ok but not all fat free)

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided

6 slices bacon, divided

1/4 cup diced green onion

1 tsp worschire

1 Tbs ranch dressing mix

Let cream cheese sit out to soften.

Cook bacon until very crisp. Cool and crumble it into tiny pieces.

Add cream cheese, 2/3 of total bacon crumbles, ranch dressing, worschire sauce, and 1/3 cup sharp cheddar. Roll into a nice ball.

Mix together remaining bacon and cheese on top of a piece of saran wrap (cling wrap). Roll cream cheese ball into mixture to coat the outside.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate overnight so the flavors blend together.

Serve with any type of cracker.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 134

Fat: 12.5 g

Sodium: 177 mg (7%)

Carbohydrates: 1 g

Protein: 4.4 g

This is a great appetizer, kids and adults love it. Now I need to make up for the 17 years before I met Dave, where cheeseball wasn’t in my life!

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Zucchini Pizza Crust and Zucchini Fritters; 2 for 1 Recipe

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Who doesn’t like pizza? I mean seriously, it seems to be one food that everyone loves. It gets a bad rap for being unhealthy though and I am not really sure why. If you use a whole wheat crust, low sugar tomato sauce, and organic cheese and veggies as toppings, it sounds like a well rounded meal to me. Although I always have the issue of piling on too many topping to try and get more vegetables in. A couple sprinkled mushrooms on top of a huge pizza doesn’t quite help you get your 5 servings of vegetables in a day. My solution? Veggies in the crust! With everyone’s booming zucchini crop this time of year (besides mine, dang squash borers!) this recipe will be perfect to use some up and sneak in some extra veggies! My kids LOVED it.

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Zucchini Pizza Crust:

2 1/2 packed cups shredded zucchini

2 eggs

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp salt

5 basil leaves

1 tsp fresh oregano

2 tsp fresh parsley

Shred zucchini. It took about 2 small to medium zucchini to make 2.5 cups. Place a couple of paper towels in a bowl and put zucchini on top. Mix in the 1/4 tsp salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Pick up the zucchini in the paper towels and wring all the water out you can. Place new dry paper towels in the bowl and let zucchini rest on it again for 10 minutes. Wring out any remaining water you can. The more water you get out, the crispier the crust will be.

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Chop herbs.

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Mix herbs, zucchini and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.*

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If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven and turn your oven to 350F. Once its preheated, take it out and very generously cover with corn meal. Press dough out on pizza stone with your fingers, getting it as thin as possible. If you don’t have a pizza stone, grease a baking sheet and again, flatten out dough as thin as possible. I actually think it works better on a baking sheet since you can grease it well. You aren’t supposed to use spray on a pizza stone so it does stick a little.

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Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil for 2-5 minutes, until very browned.

If you like a crispier crust, flip the crust over and broil the other side for 2-5 minutes. Make sure you use a thin spatula to get the crust off the pizza stone so you don’t tear it up.

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Add sauce, cheese, and toppings and cook pizza at 350F for additional 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

And ready for this? It doubles as a zucchini fritter recipe!

Zucchini Fritters:

same as above until *. Now instead of pressing down in one large crust, spoon dough, 2 Tablespoons at a time, onto greased cookie sheet and press down until very thin. Cook at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Broil for 2-5. Flip over. Broil another 2-5. These are high in protein and high in nutrients. A perfect summer side dish! I also substitute sharp cheddar for the mozzarella when making fritters sometimes (really whatever cheese I have on hand) and they are amazing! My children both go nuts for these!

Check out the nutrition stat for each slice of pizza crust when cut into 8 slices. That is some high protein and high veggie crust!

Calories: 67

Total Fat: 3.3g

Sodium : 181mg (8%)

Carbohydrates: 4.4g

Protein: 5.1g

Make sure you check out my Graham Cracker Recipe. I added some variations I tried out over the weekend, including chocolate graham crackers!

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

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It feels as though Spring has definitely sprung! It stays light outside later, the temperatures are warming up, and berries are popping up in the grocery stores cheaper and juicier! Strawberries are Alyssa’s favorite food, I’d say. When we go grocery shopping I always let her have a snack while we shop. I’d say 9 times out of 10, she asks for a fresh tin of strawberries. Sometimes it will be grapes or pretzels, but rarely. Sometimes we will get to the register and I will have to pay for an empty 1 pound tin of strawberries, filled with the green leafy tops. Its not a secret what happened though based on my 3 year old’s red stained face and hands. Oh and her shirt too, since that’s what she uses to wipe the berries clean. I really need to start preparing better and bring a damp paper towel with me for her to use instead. If she happens to have a light colored shirt on, I make her use her pants. I make sure to pick up some extra stain stick too, don’t worry! Anyway, last week, our 2nd one pound tin of strawberries somehow got buried in the refrigerator and forgotten about for a couple of days. The berries started looking a little pathetic so I felt the need to use them up before wasting food *gasp*! And these super healthy and moist strawberry muffins were born.

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Fresh Strawberry Muffins

1 3/4 cup flour (preferably sprouted whole wheat)

1/3 cup sugar (coconut palm or unrefined organic), can substitute honey

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

3/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2-2 cups diced strawberries

oats for garnish (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt).

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Add the wet and stir until combined. Fold in strawberries.  Make sure the strawberries are diced pretty small, the size of a bean maybe.

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I like mine very strawberry-y so I use the whole 2 cups. You could also use sour cream or applesauce instead of the greek yogurt or if you wanted to, go all out with butter. But I like them being guilt free so I stick with the yogurt. A flavored yogurt like vanilla or strawberry would be great too!

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Sprinkle with a couple oats and push onto batter lightly. This is just for garnish to look pretty so you can easily omit this. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes. Mine took about 20, but I like my baked goods slightly undercooked.

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Dive in and enjoy! Its like each bite is pre smeared with fresh strawberry jam. I made a half batch the first night when I was messing around with the ingredients. Since all 6 were eaten in 1 sitting by my family I made the full 12 the next night. And that night I happened to have a little extra buttercream frosting from Alyssa’s 3 1/2 birthday cupcakes. I put a little bit on top and oh my gosh, out of this world! It became a chocolate covered strawberry muffin. Dave and I both agreed we liked the muffins with icing better than the full blown cupcakes with icing. If you are ever making a birthday treat for someone who is into healthy eating, make these! The muffins are so 100% guilt free, its ok to splurge a little on the homemade chocolate buttercream. They are so fresh tasting!

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This recipe is just in time for berry season which seems to have just begun. I LOVE strawberries and can’t wait to make these all throughout the summer when Alyssa and I go berry picking at a local farm. I may even request the frosted version for my birthday cupcakes this summer!

And if you needed anymore convincing to make these ASAP, check out the nutritional stats for 1 muffin…

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 muffin (62 g)
Calories 95
Calories from Fat 3
Total Fat                      0.4g      1%
TransFat                      0.0g
Cholesterol                  0mg       0%
Sodium                       65mg     3%
Total Carbohydrates     20.5g     7%
Dietary Fiber                2.3g      9%
Sugars 7.7g
Protein 3.5g
Vitamin A   0% Vitamin C 24%
Calcium 5% Iron 3%

Only 95 calories per muffin and 3.5 grams of protein! Thats a pretty powerful muffin. I often eat food that is healthier because it is better for me, and sometimes you have to sacrafice a little taste. Like cookies made with banana instead of butter just aren’t the same. But these, you would never know how healthy they are by tasting them!

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mini Peppers

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After getting home from pre-school story time the other day I was in the mood to cook. Usually I cook out of necessity and I get the urge to bake. But I had a few ingredients that needed to be used up before they went bad.

Fact: I will NEVER throw out food. I will eat leftovers for a week straight before I throw out food or make a random casserole concoction before letting any ingredient go bad. There’s a commercial right now that says the average American throws out $500 of food a year! I through out maybe $5 a year, no joke. And that’s just when the cottage cheese is too moldy to eat around it.

Anyway, I needed to use about 1/3 block of cream cheese, a sausage, and some spinach that was previously defrosted. I remembered the baby peppers I had and these little babies were born. They came together in about 10 minutes start to finish and were AMAZING. If you have yet to make something off my blog, let this be the first!

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mini Peppers:

I bag mini peppers (about 20 tiny peppers)

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup defrosted chopped spinach, drained

1 chicken sausage

1/4 tsp dried basil

2-3 Tb shredded cheddar

 

First wash your peppers, cut the tops off of them, and rinse the seeds out. You can now either cut them in half lenthwise or leave them whole. I did half and half so I could decide my preference.

Take the casing off the pre-cooked chicken sausage and crumble in a bowl. Add the cream cheese and spinach. Add basil.

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Mix it all together and stuff inside your peppers. I started off trying to use a spoon, but my clean hands got the job done better. Here they are stuffed whole…

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And here they are stuffed cut in half. If you cut them in half, sprinkle each with a little of the cheddar.

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Spray a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes.

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Be careful to watch the peppers to make sure they don’t burn. Once the cheese and tops of the peppers start to brown, they are done!

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I know I said I did them both ways to see which I preferred. I think I liked the ones cut in half better because they were sprinkled with the cheddar and had that nice crusty cheese on top. However the whole ones stayed hot for a really long time so they would be perfect to sit out as an appetizer.

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If I were you, I would make these now…lunch, snack, dinner, heck they can even be breakfast!

Cookie Dough Hummus

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I often times write about a new dish I made and say I will post the recipe details asap. And then I often forget. Well I apologize but I won’t do it this time! I am getting this cookie dough hummus recipe together now because it is too good to miss out on! We love hummus in our household, don’t get me wrong, but this tastes nothing like hummus. You would never know there were beans in here. It takes like pure buttery cookie dough, but without the salmonella. Did you know that one of the reasons you are not supposed to eat cookie dough or any batters is not just because of the salmonella in the raw eggs? It is more so because there could be salmonella in the raw flour! I never knew that! Well we are safe here because there are not any flour or eggs here.

Cookie Dough Hummus (or just call it Cookie Dough Dip so people don’t stick their nose up at it knowing its healthy)

2 cups cooked chick peas

3 TB honey

3 TB peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-5 TB milk (almond or cows)

2 TB mini chocolate chips plus more for garnish

 

First peel all the little skins off the chick peas. Yes, this takes about 5 minutes but it makes such a creamier hummus/dip. You can skip this step if you don’t care that it will be a tiny bit mealier. Or you could just use a different white bean like great northern beans or navy beans.

Place beans and the rest of the ingredients, besides the chocolate chips, in the food processer. Start with 2 TB of the milk and add more as needed to make everything combine. Add milk until you have your desired thickness. I like a pretty thick dip, so I added as little milk as possible.

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Garnish with the rest of the mini chocolate chips. The mini chips are really crucial for the dip, large ones don’t work as well. We need the most chocolate pieces per scoop here. If you only have large ones just give them a quick chop and now they’re mini! I am all about improvising and substitutions in my kitchen!

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Dip quartered homemade graham crackers, pretzels, fruit, etc into dip and enjoy. The graham crackers were my personal favorite because there was a nice big surface area to scoop up tons of dip in each bite Smile.

This seriously tastes just like peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough.

I took this to a potluck on Monday night and got asked for the recipe numerous times. Most people wanted it to “trick” their kids into eating beans. I don’t need any tricking nor does my family. I don’t care how healthy it may seem for a dessert, its delicious!

Hummus, Parmesan Quinoa, and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The hummus recipe is more of a “tip” than a recipe. Homemade hummus is simple and delicious. But why isn’t mine ever as creamy as the stuff from the store? I like the ingredients in mine better and its healthier with less oil, so maybe that’s why it isn’t as good? Well I found the secret! The secret: Super creamy hummus comes from taking the little peel or shell or whatever you want to call it off of the bean. It takes a couple minutes (maybe 5) but all you have to do it lightly rub each bean between your fingers and the little peel will separate. Kind of like the little brown peel on the outside of a peanut when you crack it. So remove those off all the chick peas and discard them for the creamiest hummus ever!

It’s also a huge money saver since a can of organic beans costs about $1, dry beans are even cheaper, and premade hummus costs about $4. Mine has much less oil but is still just as creamy and delicious!

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Super Creamy Garlic Hummus:

1.5 cups chick peas=1 can, drained and rinsed (reserve about 1/2 of liquid from can or cooking liquid)

1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp lemon juice

salt to taste

roasted red peppers, basil, and oregano are some of my other favorite add ins!

First, take the peel off all of the chick peas.

Place all of the ingredients in the food processor, including half of the liquid you reserved in the can. I used the magic bullet because I was making a small batch. If you want to double the recipe, a food processor would be necessary. Give it a whirl for a minute or so until its silky smooth.

On to the quinoa. We make quinoa quite a bit. I usually make a pilaf or we just eat it plain with a little salt and italian seasonings. Well tonight I made a risotto. The carrots made it sweeter than the other quinoa recipes I make and I think it might be my new favorite way to eat the little grain, well protein technically I guess. It was the first food Alyssa ate off her plate and begged for more so I call that a win. Quinoa is so simple and quick to make too. I love brown rice but it takes like 45 minutes to make. Quinoa takes about 15, another win!

Since quinoa is so high in protein and there are carrots in here, it could easily be a meal within itself, and even a vegetarian one! It would probably serve 2 if had for dinner alone or 4 side servings.

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Sweet Quinoa Risotto:

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4  -1 3/4 cups bone broth

1/2 cup white wine

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan plus extra for garnish

1 tsp butter

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock. I just microwaved it and then poured it in as I went without needing to reheat it. Since its not a traditional rice risotto, it stayed hot because of the shorter cooking time.

Chop the carrots and add them to a pot with the garlic and olive oil. Cook for about a minute on medium heat then add the quinoa. Cook for another minute or two, just enough to toast the quinoa, don’t burn it!

Add the wine and thyme and let the liquid cook down.

Then add stock a little at a time (maybe 1/2 cup each time). Stir frequently. Add enough of the broth until the quinoa is cooked and the edges become visible from the inside.  Once its all cooked and all liquid is absorbed, add the butter and parmesan and give it one last stir.

And on to the cookies. I asked Dave last night what he wanted for dessert. He gave me the same response he always does when I ask him a question, “I don’t care”. I finally got it out of him that he wanted some sort of cookie. So I got to work. This is a healthy cookie, and could even be eaten as a breakfast cookie. While eating them my husband said numerous times “man these are really good”. But when is something with dark chocolate chips in it not good, really?

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Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

makes 10.

375 F

wet:

2/3 ripe banana, mashed

1 Tbs honey

1 egg

1 Tbs flax

1 Tba chia seeds

3 Tbs milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

dry:

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup + 2 Tbs flour (sprouted, whole wheat)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

mix wet. Mix dry.

Combine the two.

Bake at 375 F for 8 minutes. Put on plate and bring into living room for family to enjoy.