Roasted Puttanesca Sauce…

This recipe started out as a roasted tomato sauce and then turned into true puttanesca sauce. I love it because it’s so full of flavor. I put it on spaghetti squash and it was great!

Puttanesca Sauce
Puttanesca Sauce

Ingredients:

6-7 Roma Tomatoes, cut in half and roughly seeded
2-3 Cloves Garlic
1 Medium Onion, roughly cut
Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
3-4 Tablespoons Capers, drained
10 Kalamata Olives, sliced
1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper (Add more of less depending on your heat tolerance)
Optional: 2-3 Anchovies chopped (I didn’t have any, but they’re a traditional part of this sauce)

Directions:

1. Place cut tomatoes, garlic and onions on a roasting pan in a 375 degree oven. Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper too.
Tomatoes before roasting
Roast for about 2 hours or until the tomatoes are wilted.
Roasted Tomatoes
**Discard any pieces of garlic or onion that are too burnt and toasty before blending. They will add a bitter taste to the sauce.**
2. Place all of the ingredients from the pan in a bowl and use an immersion blender to blend slightly. I didn’t blend it for too long because I wanted the sauce to be thicker, but continue blending until you achieve your desired consistency. You can also use a regular blender or food processor.
3. Add in the parsley, olives, crushed red pepper and capers and mix well. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Sauce ingredients

Serve on top of spaghetti squash, regular pasta or a baked potato.

Enjoy!

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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti…

I’ve never made biscottis before, but after making this recipe, I’ll definitely be making them again! Biscottis are great because they last a long time. Even when they’re very crunchy, they’re still the perfect treat for a cup of coffee or tea. Although some people don’t like the process of baking them, I actually found it very easy to do. They also have a surprise ingredient: Extra light olive oil. They’re pretty “healthy” for a sweet treat!

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Extra Light Olive Oil
3/4 Cup White Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
2 Eggs
1 3/4 Cups Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Dried Cranberries (aka Craisins)
3/4 Cup Whole, Shelled Pistachios

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl mix together oil and sugar. Mix in extracts and then the eggs.
2. Combine the dry ingredients (except the nuts and cranberries) together in a bowl. Gradually add in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Biscotti dough
3. Mix in the cranberries and nuts.
**The dough will be sticky. Wet your hands to make it easier to handle.**
4. Divide the dough in half and form two logs on a pan. (roughly 12×2 inches)
**You’ll notice mine are larger. It was a mistake because I doubled the recipe.**
Biscotti Logs
5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the logs are very light brown.
Baked Biscotti Logs
6. Lower the oven temp to 275 degrees. Let the logs cool for about 10 minutes.
7. Cut the logs in 3/4 inch slices. Lay the slices on their sides back on the pan. Cook for an additional 10 minutes in the oven. Take them out and let them cool and store in an airtight container.
Cut Biscottis
Cooked Biscottis

I left the biscottis in the oven with the oven turned off for about an hour. But if you want your biscottis softer, you can take them out right away and store in an airtight container.

***Also, when I made this recipe, I doubled it. I highly recommend it because they’re so good and you’re going to want more! Unfortunately I didn’t realize how much the logs would spread on the pan, so you’ll notice that it was kind of a disaster. I ended up cutting the logs in half because the biscottis would have been way too big.

ENJOY!

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Strawberry Cheesecake Bites…

This is the perfect dessert for a party. They’re so much easier than making a cheesecake, or even mini cheesecakes. Each bite tastes just like a piece of cheesecake, and it’s healthier. The best time to make these is in the summer time when the strawberries are the largest. I was still able to make them, but it was a little tricky with the smaller strawberries.

Strawberry Cheesecake Bites
Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients:

1 lb. Fresh Strawberries
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Graham Cracker Crumbs

Directions:

1. Slice the stems off of the Strawberries. Then take a paring knife or melon baller and scoop out the inside of the strawberries. The more you can scoop out, the more filling you’ll be able to add.
Hollowed Strawberries
2. Mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until blended.
Cream cheese mixture
3. Place the mixture in ziploc bag and cut off a small piece at the corner. Fill each strawberry with the filling. Overfill each one so that you can get the graham cracker crumbs to stick. Dip each strawberry in the graham cracker crumbs.
Prepping strawberries

Store the strawberries in the fridge if you’re not serving them right away.

ENJOY!

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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs…

Just in time for the Superbowl…here’s the perfect appetizer! These meatballs are easy to make and so very tasty! I used very lean ground chicken (97% lean), but I would recommend using a higher fat content of ground chicken if you want these meatballs to be a little less dry. Either way, they are still delicious!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

2 lbs Ground Chicken
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs (you can use regular bread crumbs instead)
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Celery Stalk, minced
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

Blue Cheese Dressing for Dipping
Celery Sticks


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter and hot sauce over low heat in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Buffalo Sauce with Butter
2. Combine chicken, panko, eggs, red pepper flakes, celery, red wine vinegar and salt in a large bowl.
Meatball Mixture
3. Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon to make small meatballs. Arrange on a pan sprayed with non-stick spray.
Scooping Meatballs
4. Bake for 6 minutes and then rotate the pan in the oven. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with more hot sauce while the meatballs are still hot.
Cooked Meatballs

Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. It’s a great idea to cut the celery sticks very thin and use as a “toothpick” for the meatballs. You can also sprinkle the meatballs with additional crumbled blue cheese for more flavor.

ENJOY!

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Split Pea Soup with Canadian Bacon…

I love split pea soup, mostly because of the flavor of ham that it usually has. This recipe is lightened up, but still has plenty of flavor. It’s loaded with fiber and will not leave you hungry. I know it doesn’t always look appetizing, but you need to try it!


Split Pea Soup with Canadian Bacon

Split Pea Soup with Canadian Bacon

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
3 Medium Carrots, chopped
1 Large Onion, Chopped
Salt & Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
6 oz. Canadian Bacon, diced
64 oz. Chicken Broth
1 pound Dry Split Peas
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Rosemary (fresh or dried), chopped

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium/high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onions, salt & pepper. Stir often, until the ingredients have softened (about 10 minutes).
Vegetables for soup
2. Stir in the garlic and Canadian bacon.
Vegetables with bacon
3. Add the broth, peas, bay leaf, and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Stir the soup occasionally and stop once the peas have softened and the soup has thickened.
Split Pea Soup

*Remove the bay leaf before serving.

*This soup will thicken even further once it cools.

Enjoy!

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Sugar Cookies…

My friend recently opened up her own hair salon and had a 1 year party for all of her clients. I brought these cookies to help her celebrate. This sugar cookie recipe is the same one that my mom used to make when I was little. This is Betty Crocker’s recipe. It’s so good that it hasn’t changed for over 50 years.


Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Butter, softened
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Egg
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
(sprinkles or sugar decorations to top the cookies)

Directions:

1. Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Cookie dough
Form multiple patties and wrap in saran wrap or wax paper. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Cookie Dough Patties
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
3. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured surface.
Rolled out sugar cookie dough
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheet.
Uncooked sugar cookies
4. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Cooked Sugar Cookies

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Tomato Soup…

Now that the holidays are over, I wanted to find a light soup to make. This tomato soup is simple, with not too many ingredients, and very easy to make. It’s perfect on it’s own, or paired with some grilled cheese. This recipe only makes 5 cups of soup, so feel free to double the recipe if you want more.

Tomato Soup
Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

2 lbs Plum tomatoes, quartered
1 Yellow Onion, chopped (about 1 cup total)
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Teaspoons Dried Basil (You can use fresh if you have it)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Tomato soup ingredients
2. At this point, either use an immersion blender or use a traditional blender to blend until smooth.
Cooked Tomato Soup
Blended Tomato Soup

Garnish with extra basil for more flavor.

ENJOY!

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Potato Leek Soup…

With all of the snow that has fallen, soup is the perfect meal! This soup is so filling, so easy to make and full of flavor. It’s also light and low in fat. You can eat it as is, or add some protein to it for a more filling meal. I recently added cut up roasted garlic chicken sausage to it and it was amazing!

Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb Leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 Cups Fat Free Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper
1-3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Light Sour Cream

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add the chopped leeks and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the leeks started to brown and caramelize.
Cooked Leeks
**When preparing the leeks, first chop off the roots and dark green parts and discard. Cut the leeks length wise and clean well. They can be very sandy. Once they’re clean, you can roughly chop them.**
Cleaning Leeks
2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Leeks and Chicken Broth
3. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Heat over low-medium heat so that it simmers. Cover the pan almost completely, so that steam is still able to escape. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Potatoes, Leeks and Chicken Broth
4. At this point, you can either blend the soup with an immersion blender (I love mine!!) or transfer the soup in batches to a blender to smooth to desired consistency.
Immersion Blender
5. Once the soup is blended, stir in the sour cream.
Blended Soup
6. Serve the soup with chopped chives on top.

**This soup will be even better the next day, once the flavors have had time to develop.**

ENJOY!

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Monkey Bread…

I recently made this recipe…and then I made it again! Paula Deen once again proved to create a great recipe. Once I made the monkey bread, I was able to make a few adjustments. I also shared it with my coworkers both times and as always, got great critiques to help me make it perfect!

This is a great recipe for Christmas morning. It’s an easy recipe with basic ingredients. You can even get your kids involved to help make it. Paula Deen calls this recipe “Gorilla Bread” but I think that sounds odd, so I’m just going to stick with the familiar “Monkey Bread” name.

Monkey Bread
Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

1/3 Cup Sugar
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
8 oz Block of Cream Cheese
2 (12-ounce) Cans Refrigerated Biscuits (10 count) I used Pillsbury Buttermilk, Flaky
1 Cup Walnuts, chopped


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with cinnamon and set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat until melted and blended and then set aside.
Butter and Sugar
4. Cut the block of cream cheese into 20 cubes.
Cream cheese cubes
5. Flatten the biscuits with your hands and pour about 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar into the center of the biscuit. Then place a cube of cream cheese in the center of each biscuit. Wrap and seal the dough around the cream cheese.
Preparing biscuits
6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of nuts into the bottom of the bundt pan. Place half of the prepared biscuits into the pan. Sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on the biscuits. Then pour half of the melted butter over the biscuits.
First layer of biscuits
7. Layer the remaining biscuits on top, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, pour the remaining butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts.
Second layer of biscuits
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The biscuits should be puffed and almost reach the top of your bundt pan.
Cooked Monkey Bread
9. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place a plate on top and flip over.

ENJOY!

*This can be served warm, right out of the oven, or made the night before being served. It does not have to be refrigerated.

*Also, I used dark brown sugar for this recipe because it’s the only kind that I had. You can use light brown sugar instead, it won’t make much difference at all. You can also use any kind of refrigerated biscuits. The first time I made it, I could only find the Fluffy honey butter biscuits and it still tasted great!

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Chocolate Dipped Macaroons…

I love coconut, and especially when it involves desserts! These macaroons are so, so easy to make. They’re not too sweet, not to “coconutty”, and the perfect amount of chocolate. With all of the Christmas cookie swaps coming up, these cookies are perfect and sure to please everyone.

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons


Ingredients:

14 oz. bag Sweetened Shredded Coconut
4 Large Egg Whites
2/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
12 oz. Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Melted and slightly cooled

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, egg whites, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla.
Coconut Mixture
3. Drop packed tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet, 1 inch apart. I used a tiny ice cream scoop to make sure every scoop was the same size.
Scooped Macaroons
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden.
Golden Macaroons
5. Cool completely on a wire rack, then dip in melted chocolate and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Dipping Macaroons in Chocolate
6. I also drizzled more chocolate on top. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.
Macaroons
Enjoy!

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