Monday, September 30, 2013

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

I love brussel sprouts, coleslaw, and kale salads.  So why not try a shaved brussel sprout salad?  I've noticed that they have become quite trendy on restaurant menus.   I really enjoyed this!  I ate this salad in 2 servings over the course of 2 days and it was just as good the next day, maybe even better!  I think the brussel sprouts can really stand sitting in dressing, unlike most delicate lettuce leaves.   It is a great change up in the usual salad regiment.  I hope you give it a try!

Happy Cooking!
Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad
based on a recipe from
3 cups (1-10 oz pkg) shredded/shaved brussel sprouts (you can find them in most grocery stores now)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

First off, here's what they look like, or at least a version:
Now let's make the dressing.  Combine the vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. 
Then slowly add the olive oil, until the dressing is emulsified.
Time for the walnuts:  toast the walnuts in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat, keeping a close eye on them so that they don't burn.  Be sure to keep them moving.

Now combine the shaved brussel sprouts, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and dressing until well combined.
Enjoy immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Week 39 - the week of birthday celebrations

Yesterday (the 29th) was my baby boy's 4th birthday! I can't believe I've been a mom for 4 years!!! Most days days, I can't believe I even have kids! Crazy! We had a great party at our favorite playground and enjoyed some quality family time. So needless to say, posting this weeks menu needed to be delayed. But here it is! Tuesday is my birthday (yay!) and my husband is going on 2 overnight business trips, so there will be very little cooking this week - just surviving and celebrating in between.  Have a great week!!!

Happy cooking!

Week 39- September 29, 2013

Sunday: Owen's birthday dinner - he wanted to order Thai and sushi

Monday: beef & veggie chili

Tuesday: my bday & john in NYC (take out)

Wednesday: birthday date night

Thursday: crockpot soup (I teach 5-6pm)

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: leftovers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Fat Added, Low-Sugar, Gluten free Spiced Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins

I saw this recipe on ABC's The Chew and I knew I had to make it.  This is Daphene Oz's recipe for a muffin that soothes her stomach (she's pregnant and has nasty morning sickness), BUT Clinton Kelly said they were the best muffins that he's had on the show!  As if that review didn't sell me enough, I had some over-ripe bananas in the kitchen AND my toddler loves to make muffins with me while the baby (littlest toddler) naps.  These were awesome!  And there is only 1/4 cup of sugar in the entire recipe!!!  NO FAT!!!!  Plus, they are technically gluten free since there is only oats and oat flour.  They passed as dessert for the kids, but were healthy enough for breakfast with a little almond butter smeared all over.  yummy!  Hope you all enjoy these as much as my family did.

Happy Baking!

No Fat Added, Low-Sugar, Gluten Free Spiced Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins
recipe from 
2 large ripe Bananas (mashed) 
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk) 
1/2 cup Greek yogurt 
2 T fresh ginger (grated; juice retained)  ***note: I didn't have fresh ginger in the house, so I used 1/2 tsp ginger powder, like the kind you add to pumpkin muffins/bread 
1 T molasses 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup rolled oats 
2 cups oat flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp cinnamon 
Coconut Oil to grease muffin tray

Preheat your oven to 365 degrees (yes, 365 not 375).    Mix together your dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients.
Combine the two just until mixed (DO NOT over-mix - you'll get a tough muffin).

Scoop into a greased muffin tin (I used cooking spray - Trader Joe's makes a coconut oil spray).  It is supposed to make 12 muffins, but my ice cream scoop only gave me 11.  (Yes, I use an ice cream scoop for uniform muffins).

Bake at 365 for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden brown.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 38 - new beginnings

Finally! My class starts this week! Yay!  So excited to get back to teaching cardio.  I'm easing back into it, teaching only 1 class for now, but if it goes well I plan to teach a few times a week.  So it's like a new beginning for me - a new job and a new chapter in my life of being a stay-at-home-but-working-a-little-bit mom.  ;) 

Below you will find my plan for this week, a few new recipes, and a little help from the store on Meatless Monday (hubby working late).   As always, I'll post more recipes and fitness tips throughout the week.

Happy Cooking!

Week 38 - September 22, 2013

Sunday: football - low-fat buffalo wing dip, guacamole, chips & veggie sticks, whole wheat pizza bagels

Monday: falafel w/tahini, spanakopita, greek salad  (thank you Trader Joe's!)

Tuesday: Italian wedding soup, Caesar salad

Wednesday: Philly cheesesteaks in crockpot, roasted broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers (I teach 5-6pm so the kids will need to eat before I get home)

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: 3 bean vegetable beef chili

Friday, September 20, 2013

Grilled Corn

I discovered how to do this during one of the many heat waves of this summer.  I just couldn't turn on the stove top or oven again...too hot!!!  So why not grill?  I've tried other grilling methods, but this was by far the most successful.  Super easy, no fuss, no clean up.  It doesn't get better!  So when corn is in season, give this one a try!  I happened to make the entire dinner on the grill - grilled corn, grilled brussel sprouts, and BLTs (with bacon done on the grill).  So delicious and my favorite summertime meal!

Happy Cooking!
Grilled Corn
original recipe
4+ fresh ears of corn on the cobb, (however many you want), cleaned, husked and silks removed
1 cold stick of butter (don't worry - you don't use but 1-2 T for 4 ears, but it has to be cold)
salt and pepper to taste
aluminum foil

Take each ear of corn, rub it with the butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap each ear individually with foil (doubling hte foil if you don't have heavy duty foil). 
Place the corn on a pre-heated grill over medium heat.  Allow the corn to cook for a total of 20-30 minutes, turning every 5-10 minutes so it cooks evenly on all sides.

You can see I cooked the bacon in a disposable pan on the grill too - also no mess and no clean up...a bacon lovers' dream come true!  Just watch the bacon closely, as it could burn quite easily as it begins to cook through.

Serve the corn immediately.  Even my kids loved it!  Enjoy!!!

And just because I couldn't resist, here are a few pictures of the rest of our grilled dinner:
first the brussel sprouts...
and then these delicious gourmet BLTs on specialty bread with fresh tomatoes from our garden.

YUMMY!!!  In my opinion, one of the best meals of the summer, even if its not the lightest.

Marinated & Grilled London Broil

This is not only a fantastic recipe for a steak marinade, any steak, but this is a "how to" tutorial on how to grill a steak.  I chose London Broil because it is an affordable cut of meat and it was on sale this week at the grocery store.  But honestly, you won't find a cheaper cut of steak.  It is a leaner cut of beef so it can be tough, (fat and marbling tends to make the beef tender) but after marinading properly and cutting it against the grain, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  My husband was!  He's a HUGE steak lover and has eaten at some of the best steakhouses in the country.  And he LOVED this!  Asked for it again next week!  We couldn't stop eating it, even after dinner as we were packing up the leftovers. 

So I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Happy Cooking!

Marinated & Grilled London Broil
recipe was found at
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 1/2 pounds top-round London broil

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large ziplock bag.  Be sure that all is combined well - the original recipe suggests using the blender, but I do anything to avoid extra dishes to wash.
Place the steak with the marinade and then into the fridge.  Allow the steak to marinade for minimum of 4 hours, but up to 24 hours or overnight.  
Before cooking, allow the steak to rest on the counter and come to room temperature, (this takes at least 20 minutes maybe longer depending on the thickness of the steak).

Preheat your grill on medium high heat.  Grill the steak on each side for 5-7 minutes - DO NOT fiddle with the steak, just close the grill, set your timer for 5 minutes and come back.  If the steak fights you, then its not ready to be flipped over yet.  Give it another couple minutes. 

After flipping it over, allow it to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until done to your liking.  I prefer my steak to be medium to medium-rare.  You can tell how well-done the inside is my the touch test - if you push on your steak and you can still see your finger indentation then it is rare.  On the contrary, a well done steak has no is hard to the touch.  A medium steak has some get better at this the more experience you have.  You can also use a meat thermometer...145 degrees in the middle is medium -rare.

Once you take the steak off the grill, allow it to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can settle. 

Slice against the natural grain of the meat - this will give you a tender steak each and every time!

Enjoy with your favorite sides.  Tonight is was baked sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach, and heirloom cherry tomatoes.  Something fresh and healthy. 
These tomatoes are gorgeous!!!

And this steak?  So delicious!  My husband asked me to make it every week!

The leftovers?  I made this delicious salad with fresh veggies from the farmers market and leftover corn sliced off the cobb.  Top it off with some blue cheese and your favorite vinaigrette and you have the perfect light lunch or dinner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Crockpot Southern Style Mac n Cheese

I'll be honest - I was completely scared of this recipe...I thought it was not going to work.  Boy was I wrong!!!  This tasted EXACTLY like the southern style mac n cheese I've eaten over the years...very good, so easy, and worry free with the crockpot.  It's a must try!  If you've never had southern style mac n cheese, it's almost like cooking the pasta in a cheesy custard and you cut the mac n cheese from your dish (you can actually cut a perfect square - like a lasagna or something!).  So whether you've tried southern style or not, I encourage you to try this dish out. 

I knew that my oldest would be skeptical of something that didn't look like the box variety, so I had him help me make it so he would be willing to taste it.  It took some convincing, but after he tasted his creation he declared, "Rock 'n roll!  I love it".  Both of the kids gobbled it up and my husband loved it too (and believe me, his family is from the south so he's had his fair share of mac n cheese).  I served it with roasted broccoli and a light caesar salad (I love Ken's light caesar dressing). 

This recipe is going in my regular rotation (well, it would if I had one of  Next time I'm gonna try to double the recipe to feed a crowd.  It would be such an easy dish for a potlock or large family get together.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Crockpot Southern Style Mac n Cheese 
Cooking oil spray
2 cups skim milk
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
Spray the pot of the slow cooker or if using a liner bag, spray the bag well.  In a large mixing bowl whisk together milk, evaporated milk, beaten egg, salt and pepper.  Pour milk mixture into the crockpot.
Add the UNCOOKED pasta...

and then the cheese.  Isn't my special helper super cute???

Gently stir together...seriously though, get your kids involved in this recipe (if you have kids).
Set on low for 3-4 hours.  The longer it goes beyond the 3 hour mark, the more likely you are to get those crispy edges.  DO NOT COOK for more than 4 hours or it will become seriously dried out.  So if you like those crispy edges, cook for longer.  If not, turn it off after the custard is set. 

Mine was ready after 3 hours and 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with your favorite sides.
It's so cheesy and yummy!!!  And even though it is a southern style custard-like mac n cheese, it is still super creamy!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

This recipe is going on my appetizer go-to list.  It's perfect for any occasion, but a much healthier version of other layer dips you may find at your gathering.  Whether its a football watch party or an outdoor BBQ, this dip is perfect for sharing!  We loved it so much, I would keep it in my fridge just to snack on throughout the week...its just that good! 

Those of you that know me well know that I search the internet for new recipes almost daily.  This idea is from the Self magazine website via Pinterest.  It's such a great idea!  Give it a try and make it your own, substituting your favorite veggies or adding more layers.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!
Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip
recipe based on
1 cup of your favorite hummus (I used Trader Joe's original creamy hummus)
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (or if you want added crunch, use a fresh red pepper)
8 Greek olives, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup of freshly chopped basil
pita chips for serving

Layer the hummus on to the plate and spread until its smooth and even.
Then comes the layers of tomato, cucumbers, and red pepper.

Lastly, the olives, feta and basil. 
Serve immediately with pita chips or your favorite chip.  You can make it ahead of time and it stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Style Roasted Cauliflower

I love buffalo chicken anything...wings, fingers, salad, get the picture.  There's a popular restaurant near our house that serves buffalo fried brussel sprouts with blue cheese dipping sauce and they are AMAZING!  So why not try another cruciferous vegetable?  And no deep frying anything in my house, so roasting it would be.  I came across this recipe idea on the internet and made it my own.   It was so delicious!  Even my husband went back for 2nd and 3rds!  Its a great, super simple, and healthy alternative on gameday.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Happy Cooking!
Buffalo Style Roasted Cauliflower
based on the following
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3-1/2 cup of buffalo wing sauce (I used the red hot brand)
1 T butter, melted
blue cheese or ranch dressing for serving

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  

Perfectly roasted cauliflower and perfectly delicious as why not turn it up a notch?

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the wing sauce and butter until well combined.  Toss the roasted cauliflower in the sauce mixture and enjoy warm with blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping.  So yummy!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 37 - finding our new normal and a healthy balance

I was looking back at my new recipes over the summer and realized for the first time how absent I was from the kitchen in the months of June & August.  I've mentioned this before, but as life gets hectic its harder to make cooking a priority.  My family's needs and my sanity most definitely take precedent over my blog.   And on top of that, the heat this summer was KILLER!  And I'm sure that also played a roll.  So as I look over the past 9 months, you can really see how our life has ebbed and flowed.

This has been such an interesting journey so far, this blogging life.  And I hope you continue to join me week to week as we explore new recipes in an effort to eat healthy food that is insanely delicious.

Below you will find my menu plan.  We are working on finding our new normal for this semester and along the way, finding a new healthy life, work, play balance.  So as I figure that out, as always, I'll post more recipes and fitness ideas throughout the week. Have a great week!

Happy Cooking!

Week 37- September 15, 2013

Sunday: football extravaganza- hotdogs, pizza bagels, buffalo style roasted cauliflower, Mediterranean 7-layer dip, veggies & yogurt ranch dip

Monday: crockpot mac n cheese, broccoli, salad

Tuesday: ground beef enchiladas, rice & beans for kids

Wednesday: girls night out

Thursday: my son's school potluck dinner - I'll be making pasta with mini-turkey meatballs

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: beer braised short ribs, glazed carrots, celery root purée, sautéed greens

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

One of my favorite dishes to order at an Italian restaurant is eggplant parmesan.  I just love it!  However, it's usually layers of deep fried eggplant and tons of cheese.  For this meatless Monday meal, I wanted to lighten up this favorite.  And it was a HUGE success!  Lots of flavor and still really yummy!  The base of the dish is grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers (I roasted my own pepper on the grill).  This can be done well in advance which allows you to throw the dish together in less than 10 minutes.  Served with a side salad, it is a great gluten free meal!

Happy Cooking!

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan 
2 medium sized eggplants, washed and sliced lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick
1 red pepper
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 jar or 3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
8 oz of fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese

Cut your eggplant and red peppers in preparation for cooking.  Brush all sides of the vegetables lightly with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on a pre-heated grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side or until tender.  The red pepper must be charred on the skin side so that you can peel the skin off.  This process may take a little longer than the eggplant.  Once the peppers are tender and the skin is charred, place them in a paper bag.  The steam formed will allow the skin to fall off much easier and you will have your own roasted peppers.

Using a 8x10 in pan, or something similar (I didn't have enough to fill a 9x13), spray it with cooking spray or grease with olive oil.  Layer about 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom, or enough to form a thin layer.
Then goes your first layer of eggplant - a single, slightly overlapping layer.

Then top it with some of the fresh mozzarella cheese (sparsely, to control fat and calories), about 1/3 cup of fresh basil, and all of your roasted red pepper as shown below.

At this point you can add another thin layer of sauce, but I chose to just serve the extra sauce on the side.  I didn't want the dish to be too soupy.  Then comes another layer of eggplant (which is also my last).
Cover this in sauce...
And the remaining fresh mozzarella and the parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Sprinkle with the remaining basil and serve immediately!  Yummy!  Hope you enjoy!