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Banana Pumpkin Pancakes

I originally found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine but it was just for banana pancakes. I kicked it up a few notches and made it mine! They are not your normal run of the mill pancakes, they’re a bit more on the rich and custard side but so good, and filling! Loaded with protein also, and when you add the pumpkin more fiber! Easy to make and super easy to eat! I’m not normally a breakfast person but these pancakes are a hit. You can add other items or topper to them but we just added butter and syrup. I also, of course, forgot to take pics so these are generic pancakes. Similar to the size of what I made. This recipe made about 10 pancakes.

pancakes

Ingredients:

3 medium ripe bananas (we had so many bananas in the freezer that had just gotten too ripe and they worked perfectly in this recipe. Just make sure they’re thawed out before using)

6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½-¾ cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1.  Mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Add the pumpkin, flour, pumpkin pie spice and eggs, whisk well.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, or an electric skillet. I used a rectangular electric skillet so I could make more at once.
  3. Spoon/pour batter into hot skillet into medium size pancakes. Cook 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges are cooked.
  4. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook another 1-2 minutes until done. They will be a little thicker than normal pancakes and this is fine. They’re kinda like french toast pancakes.
  5. Serve hot with your favorite topping!
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Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

I have now made this dip twice. It is beyond incredible! Creamy, garlicky, cheesy, rich and loaded with shrimp. If there is anything left over you can use it as a topping on baked fish as well, which I did! Still incredible. If you don’t like shrimp or garlic stay away. Once you start eating this you can’t stop either so be prepared. The first time I made it we had a friend over for cocktails and snacks, this friend is a chef by the way. He was blown away by it. So it’s officially my new dip. It is best served with tortilla chips or pita chips. Even thin crostini would be great or crackers. I used greek yogurt cream cheese the first time I made it. It’s a mix of greek yogurt with cream cheese and fewer calories than regular cream cheese. But it’s just as good with regular cream cheese which I used the 2nd time. The recipe also calls for a shallot, which I didn’t have the first time I made it so I used 1/2 of a Vidalia sweet onion. I also used light mayonnaise but feel free to use regular.

Give this recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

INGREDIENTS:

1 8 oz. package cream cheese of choice (cut up into cubes)

10-12 oz. medium cooked shrimp, chopped into chunks. (2-3 chunks per shrimp)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped

2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (feel free to use more cheese also)

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon minced garlic (more if you like a lot of garlic!)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Basil leaf for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the shrimp, spinach, shallot, and garlic.

Stir gently until the shallot is translucent and the spinach is wilted. This should take about 5 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are heated through.

Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.

Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese and the cream cheese and mix well.

Put mixture into a baking dish large enough to hold it all. 8×8 or larger. Anything is good as long as it’s large enough to hold it all. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and bubbling.

Garnish with a basil leave. Serve hot/warm!

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Refreshing Cucumber Salsa

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I received this recipe in my email this weekend and just had to try it out. It was originally from a Taste of Home reader from North Dakota (Crisp Cucumber Salsa) and the only thing I changed was the type of cucumber. I used the english/hothouse cucumber and didn’t peel it. The original recipe called for peeling the cucumber, which I would only do if I used a regular variety. The english style holds up better and stays firmer.

I made the recipe for a couple of friends and it was a huge success. So easy and healthy as well! The original recipe called for serving immediately but I think letting it chill for a bit would be better. I will definitely be making this quite a bit this summer!

A refreshing, light, crunchy salsa/relish. It would easily go on burgers, hot dogs, chicken or fish as well! I might even try using greek yogurt instead of the sour cream next time! If anyone tries it that way let me know!

Ingredients:

2 cups finely chopped, seeded cucumber (I used english cucumber)

1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato (1 medium plum tomato)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 TBS minced fresh parsley

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup light sour cream

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp lime juice

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp seasoned salt

Baked tortilla chip scoops

Instructions:

1: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and garlic.

2: in a small bowl add the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt.

3: Pour creamy mixture over the cucumber mixture and mix gently. Coating all ingredients.

4: It can be served immediately but is better chilled for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Stir before serving.

Calories: 16 per 1/4 cup (without chips)

Fat: 1g

Sodium: 44mg

Carbs: 2g

Protein: 1g

2 Comments »

Strufoli (Italian honey balls)

 This is a reposting of a previous blog from last year! Still a timeless treat no matter what the holiday is, and this time it’s for Easter! So give them a try! They are not hard to make, honest!!

This is a recipe that my grandmother (Nana) used to make for us years ago, usually around Easter. Though they are good at any time of the year for any occasion. The first time I made these it took me forever to roll each little ball. Then I talked to my Italian Aunt Rosie about making them and she laughed when I told her I rolled each little ball individually. She said that took way too long! She told me to roll the dough into long strips like giant pretzel rods and just cut them! Simple! These little honey balls are really good and bring back so many childhood memories. They stay fresh for a very long time and you can even freeze them for another time! (Without the honey of course!) They really are simple to make and always a hit.

Strufoli (Honey Balls)

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

2½ cups flour

½ cup honey

vegetable oil

colored nonpareil (confetti)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and butter. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. The last ½ cup of flour can be added if necessary to make a smooth dough. Let dough stay in bowl, covered with a dish, for ½ hour.

2. Roll out portions of dough. Cut dough into strips, rounded like pretzels, then cut into ½-inch pieces.

3. Heat about 2½ inches of oil in the bottom of a pan or deep fryer. Fry the pieces of dough, a handful at a time. If you can do this in a frying basket, it will be easier to take them out. Place pieces on paper towels to drain.

4. Heat honey until just under the boiling point. Place strufoli in a bowl and drizzle honey over them, gently tossing. Arrange on a large platter and sprinkle with the nonpareil (confetti). You can shape into a mound on a large flat dish or into a wreath.


Makes about 150 little strufoli

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Slow Cooker Cheesy Enchilada Soup

I keep talking the talk about my slow cooker but I hardly use it. So this past weekend I finally did.

Though I have to remember to start it early in the day, not at the end of the day. Either way, we had this soup twice during the week. It was delicious! So simple too.

I got the recipe from a fellow blogger Reeni. She has a great blog and I make quite a few of her recipes. Check out the original recipe at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.  I changed a few things but it still came out awesome.

I can’t wait to make it again when the weather here in Florida finally cools down for more than a day. Don’t be afraid of your slow cooker. I honestly use to only use it to warm wine for Mulled Wine!  But I’m experimenting more and plan on using it more and more. And this recipe is pretty healthy for you as well! Lots of fiber and protein! 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large sweet or Vidalia onion, diced

1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (11 ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes & green chiles

4 cups low-sodium/low-fat chicken broth

1 ¼ pounds boneless chicken breasts

2 cups corn (15-16 ounce can is good)

1 can black beans (15 ounces or so)

1 tablespoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon oregano

2 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used Great Value’s Fiesta Mix)

1 cup light sour cream, plus more for serving

sliced avocado for garnish (this is delicious by the way, I was skeptical at first but happy with the results!)

Tortilla chips for serving if desired.

Coarse salt and pepper 

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic. Season with salt/pepper. Cook this until everything is softened, about 10-15 minutes.

2. While that is softening add to the crock-pot the Rotel tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken, corn, black beans, chile powder, cumin, oregano and 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher is good) and about ½ teaspoon of black pepper.

3. When the onions, garlic and peppers are softened add to the crock-pot and mix it all up thoroughly. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (this is what I did because I started late in the day) or 5-6 on low. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred or cut into small pieces. I shredded mine. Add the sour cream and cheese to the pot and mix well. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cook 1 more hour on low heat.

4. Serve same day or next day. We had it the next night and it really gave the flavors time to grow. Garnish with more cheese, sour cream and avocado, or chips. 

Leftovers are even better! Love this soup!

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Twice Baked Butternut Squash (two ways)

This recipe was originally a Rachael Ray recipe which I adapted.  The first time I made it I ‘twice’ baked it back in the original shell of the squash. It came out wonderful. Delicious. Filling.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

The 2nd time I made this I was all ready to put it back in the shell/skin to ‘twice’ bake it when I decided to try it in a casserole dish instead. Maybe it wasn’t as fancy or unique as baking in the skin but it was easy and less of a hassle. 

Twice Baked Butternut Squash Casserole

Twice Baked Butternut Squash Casserole

I think both ways came out excellent. Both delicious. Both filling. This was the entire meal for John and I. It was more than enough. It can easily be used as a side dish as well. If using as a side dish I would say it serves 4 people but as a meal, 2 people.

The recipe is a little time-consuming but it is well worth it. It’s a simple dish with lots of flavors. Butternut squash is also low in calories and just plain delicious so give it a try! Actually the most difficult part of this is cutting the squash in half. Make sure you have a strong knife and sturdy counter!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper

fresh nutmeg

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided in half (leave out if you wish)

¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided (or use any kind of sharp cheese you want, I used a combo of horseradish cheddar and regular cheddar last time)

8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese (feel free to use full fat one also)

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided. (we use Locatelli)

½ cup chopped finely red onion

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced (use less if too much for you)

2-3 scallions chopped (all parts)

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°. Halve the squash lengthwise. Be very careful! Like I said this is the hardest part of the recipe. Scoop out the seeds and mushy stuff. (you’ll see what I mean)

Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a little fresh nutmeg. If using powdered just lightly sprinkle a little bit on top. Honestly this will not make it taste like a cake or anything weird. 

Roast till fork tender, 30-40 minutes. Let it cool so you can handle it easily.

Carefully scoop out the inside of the squash into a bowl, trying to keep the skins intact. (if you’re not going to use the skins than don’t worry about it)

Mash the squash.  I have a pretty lame masher so I put the squash flesh in my food processor and blended it till smooth.  

Put the squash in a large bowl and add half the cheddar, half the bacon, half the parmesan cheese, all of the ricotta, red onions, garlic and scallions. (you can save some scallions for topping if you wish)

Mix all completely. If using the shells place the filling back into the two shells. It will be a lot but don’t worry it’s fine.  If not using the shells place into a casserole dish. (I sprayed the casserole dish with cooking spray just in case).

Top the squash with the remaining cheddar, parmesan and bacon. Put back in oven for 5-10 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Serve!!

Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish

2 Comments »

Summer Couscous Salad

I made this salad again for the July 4th holiday and thought it would be good to repost! Once again it was a hit! Quick, easy, refreshing and delicious!!

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It’s been a while but here is a new recipe. I made this dish yesterday to bring to a friend’s for a barbecue. She said to bring a side. Turns out she made almost the same exact salad! Very funny, but they had a few different ingredients so it was cool. (Hers had chopped red pepper, and everyone who knows me knows I would NEVER put sweet peppers in anything!)She also didn’t have the carrots or tomatoes.

I just threw this together quickly and it can totally be changed to what you like. It’s your choice!

This was a very fast and easy salad to make. It’s a nice change from the usual heavy ‘pasta’ type salads. Mostly veggies also so how can it be bad? Enjoy.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups pearl couscous (cooked according to package directions) I also used chicken broth instead of water

1 can corn kernel, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼-½ of an english cucumber chopped small (If you use a regular cucumber, remove the seeds and peel)

1 stalk celery sliced/chopped

1 carrot grated or chopped

cherry tomatoes/halved (I used about 20 or so)

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried dill

½- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (approximately)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in a large bowl (except for olive oil). Mix thoroughly. Then slowly add some olive oil to make it smooth and silky. I think I used a couple of tablespoons. 

Chill several hours and serve.

4 Comments »

Italian Spaghetti Squash Quiche

Last night I decided I wanted to make something a little different for dinner. I hadn’t made a Quiche in a while so I thought about doing that. I also had a nice spaghetti squash sitting on my counter and wanted to use it soon. Good thing I decided on the spaghetti squash! When I cut it open a few seeds inside had sprouted! And we’re talking a good 3-4 inches! Crazy! But I also decided to make a Quiche. I combined the two. I just threw stuff together that I had in the refrigerator and voilà! A new delicious taste for dinner! (Or breakfast the next day!)
 I only used half of the squash and it was plenty. And to make it all worth while, ¼ of the Quiche is only 272 calories! Bonus!
 This recipe will make about 8 pieces We usually each have ¼ of the Quiche as a serving though. Oh and did I mention, it’s crustless!

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Ingredients:
½ of a spaghetti squash cooked and scraped out into a bowl. (Cook any way you are used to. I microwave it, cut side down in a shallow casserole with some water for about 10-15 minutes until soft)
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
3 eggs (You can use egg beaters if you want), beaten
1 cup shredded low-fat part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 chicken sausage (any kind you like is fine. I used a Casual Gourmet tomato and mozzarella one), cut into small pieces
2-3 fresh basil leaves, minced
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1 head roasted garlic, chopped (I had it in the fridge, garlic powder will be good too if you want)
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl
 2. Pour ingredients into a casserole dish or any type of baking dish you have. An actual Quiche pan may be too small. Spray the pan with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. Let sit about 10 minutes when done. It will rest this way.

4 Comments »

Baked Chicken Salad Egg Rolls!

This recipe I just came up with tonight. Remember I’m obsessed with wonton wrappers and these are the big ones, the egg roll wrappers. Well I decided to make use of the leftover chicken breast I had in the fridge and came up with these gems. So easy to make. Baked not fried.

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The ingredients included: 1 chicken breast that had been roasted on the bone, removed and chopped up. About 2 cups chopped chicken. Julienned carrots, chopped celery (1 stem), 1 tablespoon minced red onion, garlic powder to taste, ¾ cup light sour cream and 2 blue cheese Laughing Cow wedges (softened). Also added about 3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the mixture.

Mix all together. The recipe made 10 egg rolls. I buy the egg roll wrappers in the produce department of my supermarket. Walmart also sells them in their produce department. Look in the Asian food section. I laid a few carrots sliver in the center and then put about ½ cup of the chicken salad on top. Wet the edges of the wrapper and fold sides over, then bring bottom over the top and roll. Seal the edges with a bit of water.

I sprayed them with cooking spray and placed on a baking sheet. Baked for about 20-30 minutes at 400º, turning after 10 minutes till golden brown! That’s it!!

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The sauce I served with it was just light sour cream and Tabasco Buffalo sauce and a teaspoon of agave for sweetness.  Everything was delicious. I thought there would be leftovers. Nope! All gone!

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

As promised, here is a recipe I made for pizza with a cauliflower crust. I was at a Weight Watchers meeting a couple of weeks ago and I heard someone mention making a pizza crust with cauliflower. I was intrigued! My husband is doing his Atkins thing, again,  so he’s avoiding bread like the plague. I however still want my bread! But to be nice I researched the alternatives using cauliflower. Now I will say, it’s not like normal pizza crust. It’s not bread! But, it is still really good! I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome and my husband loved it. So I guess it was a success. I have made it twice now so it’s a keeper for sure.  And for those of you out there crinkling up your noses, it doesn’t taste like cauliflower! Honest! It is a little soft but hardens a bit when it starts to cool out of the oven. 

Made with crumbled chicken sausage

Made with crumbled chicken sausage & cheddar cheese topping

What I really like about this is you can put anything you want on it to make it a pizza. I used chicken sausage, some tomato sauce and some cheese. Incredibly delicious! So be daring, make some cauliflower crust pizza today! It’s worth it! Honestly the hardest part is shredding/chopping the cauliflower. Don’t be scared. It’s a taste sensation!

Crust before baking

Crust before baking

Ingredients:

2-3 Cups shredded or finely chopped cauliflower (I used my shredder attachment on the food processor)

2-3 large eggs, if they are on the small size of large, use 3, beaten

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1½ teaspoon fennel (this really makes a difference, I didn’t use it the 1st time but did the 2nd time, so invest in a jar)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder (more if you desire!)

Directions:

1: Finely chop, shred or rice cauliflower until you have 2-3 cups of cauliflower. Add the eggs and shredded cheese.

2. Add the spices and mix well.

3. Press the mixture into a greased pizza pan or cookie sheet. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t fill up the entire sheet, mine didn’t the first time I made it) First time I used a cookie sheet. Second time I used a stoneware baking sheet. I think the cookie sheet worked better. It’s up to you though.

(Make sure it’s as flat as you can get it with no holes showing through.)

4. Bake at 450º for about 20 minutes. If it is starting to brown and crisp on the edges it’s good. You can cook a little longer if you want.

5. Remove from oven and add desired toppings. Be careful with sauce, don’t over-sauce as it will make the crust too soggy. I used about ½ cup sauce and spread it thin over the crust. I topped it with chopped chicken sausage and part-skim mozzarella. Use whatever you want!!

6. Bake until brown and cheese is bubbly! (about another 5-10 minutes, just keep an eye on it)

Makes about 8 servings

Made with sliced chicken sausage & mozzarella cheese

Made with sliced chicken sausage & mozzarella cheese

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