Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bites

You know my love of chocolate, peanut butter and oats!  I'm addicted (seriously, it's a problem)!  But, I have to say that I feel pretty good about giving these to my family.  And they're so fast to make, like 5 minutes and you're done ~ and that includes rolling time.  

4 tablespoons chocolate chips, divided
4 tablespoons reduced fat peanut butter, divided 
2 tablespoons fat free milk
1 cup oats
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey

Microwave 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips, 3 tablespoons peanut butter and the milk for 30 seconds.  Stir (if not completely melted, do another 10-20 seconds).  Add the remaining ingredients including the extra 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon peanut butter; stir.  Roll into balls or press into a 8x8 pan to make bars.  Place in fridge or freezer until set (at this point you can cut them into bars if you pressed them in a pan). 

(Source:  Adapted from Averie Cooks)
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Broccoli Salad

I have always loved broccoli salad, but never had a good recipe for it...until now.  This comes from my husband's cousin (thanks Shelly!) and it just has so many levels of flavor it in.  From the crisp broccoli and bacon to the chewy raisins and the tangy dressing - it is so good.  

I love that the mayonnaise-based dressing is not too heavy.  Makes a great side dish while you're grilling this summer.  So easy and so delicious, just my style.  And to make it even easier, I've also used the fresh, already chopped and washed broccoli that you can find in the produce section.  Talk about a time saver!

Serves 6-8

Broccoli Salad

1 large head of broccoli
1/2 pack of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Chop broccoli off of the stems into bite size pieces.  Toss the broccoli with the bacon, cheese and raisins in a medium bowl.  Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, milk and soy sauce in separate bowl and pour sauce over broccoli mixture.  Refrigerate before serving.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Fig Preserves and Parmesan Crostini

I can hardly call this a recipe because it's quite possibly one of the easiest appetizers I ever put together.  And definitely one of the tastiest!  And I used the word crostini, although I didn't toast these (crostini is Italian for "little toasts").  That is a whole other variation that you can do with these - lightly brush each slice of your baguette with olive oil (about a tablespoon total) and sprinkle with salt.  Toast in your oven for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees and let cool.  One other thing - add one more layer of flavor by rubbing your toast with a garlic clove when they come out of the oven...I could go on and on...but for now, here's what I did!  

Serves 8-10

1 baguette, cut into 1/2 slices (about 20 pieces)
1/4-1/3 cup fig preserves
Parmesan cheese shards, cut from a block of cheese

Lay the slices of baquette on a serving plate and top each with about 1/2 teaspoon of fig preserves.  Using the tip of your knife, gently break off pieces of the Parmesan cheese block until you have about 20 shards (enough to top all of your bread slices - although you'll probably need more if you're family is like mine and keeps stealing bits of cheese!).  

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Red Pepper Ranch Dip

This dip is so easy and makes a ton!  I made it one night when I had a girlfriend over and we didn't even make a dent in it, although believe me, we indulged.  The rest of my family and I ended up eating it for snacks over the next couple of days and it just got better as it sat in the fridge.  Such a great go-to dip for a party and especially wonderful when you have unexpected company because you can throw this together FAST.

I typically don't like olives, but I do like the tangy flavor in this dip.  So, I used already chopped black olives - and when I say chopped, it's more liked minced.  The teeny specks of black you see in this dip are really the olives.  If you're a fan, feel free to use whole or sliced olives and chop them as small or big as you like. 

Makes about 4 cups

Red Pepper Ranch Dip 

2 (8 oz) bars reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 red pepper, diced
1 can corn (drained)
3 tablespoons diced pickled jalapenos
1 tablespoon diced black olives
1 packet Ranch dressing mix

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients until everything is combined.  Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving with butter crackers, pretzels or veggies.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Penne with Chicken and Asparagus

So this was a fun day when I made this (there's just a little bit of sarcasm in that because truly, it was a really fun day, with a couple of hiccups).  My mom was visiting from Pennsylvania - Gigi, as we can her.  We went to the beach for a couple of hours and thinking that my 2 year old and 6 month old would take naps when we returned home, we decided that we were going to meet my husband for dinner in downtown Savannah.  It was Gigi's last night visiting after all, we wanted to do something fun!  Needless to say, nothing really turned out as planned.  My daughter, the 2 year old, decided "no map!!" (no nap) and was a crank pot for the rest of the evening.  I think she cried/whined for a good hour and a half, during which we had a full blown tantrum resulting in me locking her and myself in her bedroom to try to get her settled.  So pleasant...and dinner out was now out of the question. 

But, what to eat??  We decided pasta would be quick and easy.  I also had some asparagus that I needed to use.  This was sort of my take on a primavera, which is what I googled to come up with this recipe.  Funny because this is adapted from the Pioneer Woman and my mom and I had been talking about how much we enjoy her and her show.  I'll tell you what, this was done pretty fast, really in the time it took to cook the pasta, but I'm sure glad that Gigi was there to help with the kiddos while I made this (Jules eventually calmed down and was back to her pleasant self by the time daddy came home - of course, right?).  

This pasta dish is creamy and the asparagus had just the right snap to it.  You know me, I threw in a little spice while cooking the chicken so that made it all the more flavorful.  Definitely a hit for sort of coming up with on the fly...I will absolutely make again, maybe with broccoli or peas, and definitely with asparagus when I have it.

Serves 4

Penne with Chicken and Asparagus

1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1/2 tablespoon spicy Montreal grill seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
2 tsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook penne according to directions.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add cubed chicken and season with grill seasoning.  Saute until cooked throughout and transfer to a plate, set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter to the same skillet and cook the garlic until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and saute for another 1-2 minutes (they should still be bright green and have a bite to them, not be soggy).  Remove and transfer to same plate with chicken.

In the same skillet, deglaze the plan with the white wine and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon butter, continue cooking for another couple of minutes until the sauce starts to thicken a little.  Add the heavy cream and half and half, stir to combine.  Add the Parmesan cheese, then the chicken and asparagus.  Pour entire sauce mixture over pasta and serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese.  

(Source:  Adapted from Pioneer Woman's Pasta Primavera)

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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