Monday, July 28, 2014

"Skinny" Pineapple Cupcakes with Greek Yogurt Coconut Icing

I never realized how many different things you can use Greek yogurt for - it's like magic!!  Amazing.  I kept seeing posts on Pinterest for just using a box cake mix mixed with Greek yogurt for a skinnier version of regular cake.  Guess works! 

I was in the mood for something tropical tasting as I had a can of crushed pineapple that keeps staring at me in my cupboard, waiting to be used.  Sort of reminds of a hummingbird cake.  These cupcakes turned out so moist and delicious - I will never go back to oil and eggs again!

I topped them with shredded coconut, you know, in keeping the tropical theme.  And I used Greek yogurt in the icing too!!  As a substitute for butter.  And I used about 2 1/2 cups less confectioner's sugar than I normally use in my cream cheese icing.  The icing was perfect and held up just fine (maybe a little thinner than you are used to but believe me, it works).  Hope you enjoy these "skinny" cupcakes!

Yields 18 cupcakes

"Skinny" Pineapple Cupcakes with Greek Yogurt Coconut Icing

1 box butter yellow cake mix
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple (including the juice)
1/2 cup water

For the icing
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 (8 oz) brick of neufchatel cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Line 2 muffin tins with liners (to equal 18 muffins) and preheat the oven according to directions for cupcakes on the box of cake mix.  Combine all of the ingredients for the cupcakes in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined and there are no lumps.  Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake according to time on the cake box (mine was 18-21 minutes) or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

To make the icing, combine the ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until combined.  Spread evenly on each cupcake.  Top with shredded coconut, using about 1 tablespoon per cupcake.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

I've posted a recipe for barbecue chicken on my blog before, but it is so good that it really needed an update.  Check it out (click here) and see for yourself what I mean...I've come a LONG way!!

I've recently became a huge fan of red onions.  And they really make this pizza (if you're not a fan, feel free to leave out).  And the fresh cilantro takes the flavors to a whole other level!  So good!!  

I roll my pizzas out super thin, almost like a flat bread.  I want to taste all the flavors, not just eat a lot of dough.  Make sure you click the link in the ingredients for the pizza dough - so easy and great to have in your fridge and freezer at all times!  

Serves 4-6

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 pound of pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 tablespoon salt-free spicy seasoning (like Mrs. Dash Southwestern blend)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (we use Sweet Baby Ray's), divided
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
2-3 tablespoons diced red onion
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (we use a Mexican blend)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with pizza stone inside.  Roll out pizza dough into a circle (or close to it for a pizza stone).  While your pizza stone is getting hot in your oven, start making your chicken.  Add the olive oil to a medium skillet and heat on medium.  Add chicken and toss with grill seasoning, cook until done throughout.  Take off heat and add 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce to the chicken.  Stir until combined and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining barbecue sauce with the ranch dressing.  Remove pizza stone and place rolled out dough on top.  Top pizza dough with barbecue/ranch mixture, leaving about an inch border around the edge.  Top with chicken, cheese and red onion.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the pizza crust is a golden brown.  Top with fresh cilantro.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coconut Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I'm addicted to making granola bars!!  So easy and my kids LOVE them.  I'm always looking for new add-ins and flavors.  These are ridiculously good.  I cut them into mini squares and they were perfect for my little ones.  P.S. these are made with all clean eating ingredients (except for the chocolate chips, which you can omit)!!   

Makes approximately 24 square bars

Coconut Peanut Butter Granola Bars

1 cup Earth Balance coconut peanut butter spread (or use regular peanut butter)
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey and maple syrup and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir until everything melts and combines together.  Add the vanilla and sea salt, stir to combine.  Stir in all of the dry ingredients.

Spoon granola mixture into the lined pan and press down firmly.  At this point, you could also roll them into bite sized balls.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.  Turn pan upside down onto a cutting board and peel back the foil.  Cut into squares or rectangles, whichever you prefer.  Keep in fridge because they do get very soft at room temperature.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Arugula Basil Pesto

We can back from being out of town for a few days and my basil plant was out of control!  And I forgot that I had purchased arugula before we left so I needed to use that as well.  Voila, this pesto was born.   

Arugula is peppery and almost similar in flavor to basil.  The two paired great together!  Garlic, pine nuts (which are so good for you!), olive oil and parmesan cheese, all the usual suspects to make pesto.  So good!  I used it on pasta the same night I made this.  I'm going to use it on my Parmesan Pesto Roasted Tomatoes tonight too!  It doesn't yield much, so consider doubling it and freezing some for later.

Yields about 1 cup

Arugula Basil Pesto

2 cups arugula, loosely packed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, combine the arugula, basil, garlic, walnuts and parmesan cheese.  Pulse a couple of times to get everything combined.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil through the top tube and process until a smooth pesto forms.  You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container, with plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto (do not allow any air to get to it).  Freeze for several months the same way.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicken Burrito Bowls

This is a very quick and easy, healthy meal that is great for a weeknight when you don't have much time.  The ingredients are simple and fresh and it's so good!  

You can make this according to your tastes - omit certain veggies or add new ones (peppers, avocado?).  I just used what we had on hand at the time.  I've also become a HUGE fan of red onion and don't mind it raw, which is so weird because I generally don't like any onions raw - or cooked for that matter (unless they are really hidden in a dish).  

We did nothing but a little squeeze of lime mixed in.  The ingredients are so flavorful together that it didn't really need anything else in my opinion.  You could top yours with sour cream, salsa, guacamole; whatever you like!  

Serves 2-3

Chicken Burrito Bowls

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons salt-free seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash Southwestern blend)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned corn (or thawed if frozen)
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime
2 cups cooked brown rice

Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add diced chicken and toss in seasoning.  Cook chicken until done throughout, about 7-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, dice and drain all the veggies and beans and cut the lime in half.

Place about a cup of rice each in 2 bowls and top with equal portions of the chicken and veggies/beans to taste.  Squeeze about 1/2 of a lime over each bowl and stir together.  Top with sour cream, salsa or guacamole if desired.    

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

I'm a big fan of chicken salad.  My favorite has always been made with mayo, grapes, pecans and a squeeze of lemon served on a croissant.  But...since we've been doing a Clean Eating challenge with my Beachbody team, I needed to get rid of the mayo and the croissant if I wanted chicken salad.  I've been using Greek yogurt as a substitute for all my oils, sour creams and mayonnaise for the past couple of weeks so decided to swap it out in my chicken salad - SO good!!  

Greek yogurt is a little tangy, but the sweetness of the grapes and apples off set that a little.  This is just absolutely delicious.  My husband doesn't even like chicken salad and he loved this.  Such a great lunch - make on Sunday and have an tasty, healthy, clean eating lunch for the next couple of days!

Serves 4

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced apple
1/3 cup grapes, cut in half
Juice of half a lemon

Pan steam the chicken by filling a deep skillet with about an inch of water, add chicken and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until done throughout.  Shred, place in a medium bowl.  Add the Greek yogurt, celery, apple, grapes and lemon juice.  Stir to combine and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on toasted wheat bread or on top of lettuce.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I love a good chewy sugar cookie.  One that you can really sink your teeth into but is soft in the middle and so buttery.  If you're like me, who also is a chocolate fanatic, you'll love these cookies!    

I have been sticking to healthier treats for our family, but I saw these on Pinterest and immediately had to make them.  We've been doing so well overall as a family with our eating, it was time for a little sweet treat.  I was not disappointed!  Sweet and chocolaty and so yummy!  

Makes 2 dozen

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the sugar onto a small plate and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined.  Add the egg and egg yolk, mix again.  Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder and mix until combined.  The dough should be pretty stiff.  Roll the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons of the dough each.  Roll each ball in the sugar, then place on a baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until they have puffed up a bit.

(Source:  Recipe from The Baker Upstairs)

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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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