Spinach, Fruit and Cheese Salad


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When we get together for holidays, I find a lot of the dishes are heavy and scarce on produce.  I'm always struggling with how to balance my meal.  For Easter this year I decided to bring a lighter dish that would enable me to fill up on something healthy.  Then I could enjoy smaller portions of the other dishes without feeling guilty and overstuffed at the end of the meal.

I've been on a spinach kick lately, so it's no surprise to me that I ended up making a spinach salad.  I find that mixing spinach with fruit, cheese and nuts ends up feeling decadent, so I thought it would be a great fit for a holiday.  I dressed this with my favorite store bought light balsamic vinaigrette.

You can use just about any fruit, cheese and nut combination you choose.  Since we have a few allergies, I used the following combination, serving the nuts on the side.  I'd estimate this would serve 4 as a meal and 8 as a side.

Here is what I used:
  • 1 bag baby spinach, washed
  • 6 oz. blueberries, washed
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Your favorite balsamic vinaigrette

What's Baking: Strawberry Shortcake


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It's time again for another addition of What's Baking.  This month was hosted by Leanne from The Martin Family blog.  Leanne chose Spring for this month's theme.  I can't wait to see what everyone came up with this month! 

When I think of Spring, my mind wanders to my garden.  Most of my garden consists of annuals, but I have a few perennials.  The first edible perennials I planted were strawberries, and they are well established now and produce abundantly from late spring to late summer.

I've made this Strawberry Shortcake by Emeril Lagasse a few times now and it's always well received.  The first time I served this was on a day my sister's bridal party was at my house planning her shower, so whenever I make this is brings back fond memories.

With Easter coming, I knew this would make a great addition to our family's buffet.  Since this would be consumed by children, I omitted the Grand Marnier and used a sugar-free syrup and juice from an orange instead.  I completely cut out the sugar for the strawberries; 2 cups seemed completely unnecessary, actually ridiculous, to me.  I had every intention of adding orange zest to the cake itself, however, I completely forgot until the batter was in the pan and ready to go in the oven.  Next time!
The changes I made are included here:

For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus 2 tsp, softened
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt  
  • 4 Tbsp sugar-free raspberry syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
For the Strawberries:
  • 3 lbs strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar-free raspberry flavored syrup
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1/4 an orange 
For the Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 9x13 glass baking dish with 2 tsp softened butter.

Melt 2 sticks of butter and set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer, beat eggs and milk until they begin to foam.  Add sugar, and beat on high for 7-10 minutes until the mix is thickened and pale yellow.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Carefully fold flour mixture into egg mixture until well combined.  Carefully fold melted butter into batter.

Pour batter into preparing baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once cooled, cut into 1 inch cubes and poke holes over top of cake.  Drizzle with 4 Tbsp syrup and  juice from 1/4 of an orange.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the strawberries, 2 Tbsp syrup, agave, orange zest and juice of 1/2 an orange.  Allow to set 30 minutes or until ready to assemble.

Just before assembling, use a chilled stand mixer bowl and whip to beat heavy cream and confectioner's sugar on high until stiff peaks form.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

In a large serving bowl or trifle bowl, layer 1/2 cake, followed by 1/2 of strawberries.  Repeat with remaining cake and strawberries.  Top with whipped cream and serve immediately.

Serves 12.  This filled my trifle bowl, plus made the 2 individual bowls you see above.

    Triple Chocolate Creme de Menthe Thumbrints


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    It's Easter, and this is a catch up post from St. Patrick's day.  Clearly I need to get it together!

    I had picked up a package of Hershey's Creme de Menthe Kisses at Target before St. Patrick's day and I struggled with what to do with them.  Well, if all else failed I could have eaten the whole bag what was left of the bag.  Instead, I decided to make a thumbprint cookie and adapted Hershey's Triple Chocolate Cookies recipe.  I tried to fancy them up with a fourth chocolate, a white chocolate mint drizzle, but unfortunately you can see how terrible my drizzling skills are.  I should leave that to the professionals.

    Chocolate and mint is a favorite combination of mine.  Thin Mints...anyone?  I literally drooled at the thought of triple chocolate and mint together, especially when I saw and smelled this melting goodness!

    The cookie itself is chocolate, so this recipe can be adapted to use any of the Hershey Kiss varieties.

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates (I used the Creme de Menthe variety) 
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp milk
    • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    In a stand mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until creamed. Add eggs, one at a time, and milk.  Beat well.

    In a  mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Beat until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.

    Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

    Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until set.

    While the cookies are baking, remove wrappers from chocolate pieces.

    Remove cookies from oven and gently press chocolate piece in center of each cookie.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate if you dare.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

    Beef and Greens Enchiladas


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    I love Mexican food, but every time I eat it I am reminded that it's not the healthiest and usually lacking vegetables.  That's where the spinach come into play with this dish.  I had it on hand and thought this was a dish I could incorporate it into the filling.  In addition to spinach, I added grape tomatoes.  I also used a lean cut of meat, low fat cottage cheese and minimal amount of shredded cheese.

    I'm still unclear about the guidelines surrounding when you can call a recipe your own.  I'd like to go out on a limb here and say that's the case with this one, however, I have made Chicken Enchilada Bake, having referenced a few blogs.  I didn't reference any recipe when it came time to throw this together, I used what I had on hand and went with it.

    While it looks like a lot of steps to put together, I use the crockpot to cook the meat while I'm at work.  Once I got home from work the remaining steps came together fairly quickly.

    Here is what you'll need: 

    For the Meat Filling:
    • 3/4 lb top round beef
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1/2 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
    For the Cheese Filling:
    • 8 oz. 1% small curd cottage cheese
    • 2 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
    • 2 tsp minced cilantro
    • 1 huge handful of spinach, chopped
    For the Sauce:
    • 8 oz. tomato sauce
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 oz. canned mild green chilis
    Remaining ingredients:
    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 9-10 corn tortillas
    • 2 oz. canned mild green chiles
    • 2 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
    Place meat filling ingredients in crockpot.  Set to low and cook 8 hours. 

    In a small sauce pan add all sauce ingredients and stir together.  Allow to simmer 20 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

    Shred meat filling with a fork.  Set aside. 

    Combine all cheese filling ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

    Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.  Put 1 corn tortilla in the pan for 30-60 seconds until it becomes pliable.

    Remove tortilla from the heat.  Place a forkful of beef filling in middle of tortilla.  Next put a tablespoonful of cheese filling on top of meat.  Roll tortillas to close and place in baking dish.

    Repeat above steps with remaining tortillas.

    Once all tortillas a filled, pour the sauce over the tortillas in baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 oz. of green chiles and Monterey Jack cheese.

    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Makes 9-10 tortillas.

    BBQ Meatloaf


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    Meatloaf is not on the top of my favorite foods list.  Not at all.  Actually, I have a long standing joke with my Gram.  When I ask her "what's for dinner?", if she replies, "your favorite", that means meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  I know, I'm not normal.

    This meatloaf, however, I will eat.  Probably because I have so much stuff going on in it, it doesn't remind me of traditional meatloaf.  I also use ground turkey which has a different texture and flavor than ground beef.  I'm sure this would work well with ground beef if that's your preference.

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 20 oz. ground turkey
    • 1 small onion, dice
    • 1 small green pepper, diced
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 egg, slightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup, plus 4 Tbsp, BBQ sauce, separated
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

    Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine until thoroughly mixed.

    Form into 4 small loaves and place on baking sheet.  Top each loaf with 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce.

    Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through.  Serves 4.

    Butternut Squash Fries


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    Earlier this week I posted this Grilled Chipotle Yogurt Chicken, and in the background you probably noticed that yummy looking squash.  That's another Weight Watcher recipe for Butternut Squash Fries which came in a weekly meeting pamphlet.  I love sweet potato fries and figured these would be similar so I gave them a try.


    This isn't so much a recipe as it is a method, and a method I will definitely use again.  These were a perfect side to balance the chipotle in the chicken.  I did use olive oil instead of cooking spray, and I would probably do this again.

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch sticks (I used about 3/4 of a medium one)
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Place squash on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and use your hands to coat well.  Sprinkle with salt and chili powder.

    Roast for 7-8 minutes.  Turn the squash and roast another 7-8 minutes until browned.  Serves 4.

    Recipe Update: Beef Stroganoff



    I updated my Beef Stroganoff recipe to include crockpot instructions.  I've been making the most of my crockpot the past few weeks before I fully transition to grilling season.  I'll be posting my meatball and sauce crockpot recipe soon, so be sure to keep your eye out for it.

    Grilled Chipotle Yogurt Chicken


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    I'm so happy spring weather is finally making an appearance!  I sure do hope it plans to stick around because I can't wait to have more meals like this one. Are you looking forward to lighter spring meals also?

    This recipe came to me in the mail from Weight Watchers with perfect timing.  I had just used a partial can of chipotles in adobo for another recipe and was trying to find another use for the rest of the can.  Not only did this one use the chipotles, I had everything else on hand and it came together very easily.  If you make this, plan a little ahead because it does need at least an hour (you could probably get away with 30 minutes) to marinate.

    I served this with sliced apple and Butternut Squash Fries to round out a healthy meal!

    I followed the recipe as written, here is what you'll need:
    • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt (I used Greek)
    • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
    • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
    Mix yogurt, chipotle, garlic and cumin in a bowl large enough to fit all the chicken.

    Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place in bowl, and stir until well coated.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

    Preheat grill, or grill pan on high.  Lower heat to medium-high, place chicken on grill and allow to cook approx. 6 minutes.  Turn and cook another 6 minutes*.  Allow to set a few minutes before slicing.  Serves 6.

    *Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your chicken.  It is cooked when it feels firm and juices run clear.

    Source: Weight Watchers