What’s that you say? You need a Meatless Monday recipe for tonight? Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Head on over to The Cutting Board Blog and check out my latest, completely vegetarian, Thai Salad Bowl recipe. It’s so satisfying you won’t even miss the meat!
In my house, we eat a lot of crackers. It’s almost slightly embarrassing the number of boxes of crackers we go through in a month. After buying a box at a time, I finally succumbed to buying in bulk. Ironically, even though we chow-down on them, I hadn’t thought much about the crackers themselves until this month’s Recipe Redux challenge. This month’s theme is to take a recipe that we have already made and essentially “re-purpose” it. I was excited and decided my first step should include a quick trip through my blog.
You know where that landed me? Right on the granola recipe I use and make at least once a month. It’s a great one, adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website for Honey-Pecan Granola. At that moment, all I could think was, “wouldn’t this be a yummy base for a cracker?” Which got me thinking even more which led me to wonder why I am buying all of these silly crackers at the store when I can make them at home?
Making crackers is super simple and requires very few ingredients. After a little tinkering, I came up with a recipe that has now become a household favorite. The best part about it is that it’s a perfect way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. They can help roll out the dough and if they’re old enough, they can help cut (using a pizza cutter with an adult close by!) the dough into crackers.
Use my recipe as a base, but feel free to experiment with your own additions. I topped mine with a little dusting of cinnamon and sugar, but you can also add spices and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary. This is my gentle push, encouraging you to put that box of crackers down and make your own!
And here are some pics to guide you along the way!
A simple, homemade cracker recipe filled with plenty of flavor.
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons homemade granola
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup currants
- In the bowl of a food processor combine the whole wheat flour, salt and the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 2/3 cup of the granola and pulse 1-2 times. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until ingredients come together in a ball.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and place on a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead in the currants and the 2 tablespoons granola and shape dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400’F. Cut three large sheets of parchment paper, big enough so that each piece will fit on a large sheet pan.
- Unwrap the dough and cut into quarters. Take one quarter of the dough and on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a circle, about 1/8″ thick. Transfer the circle to a piece of parchment and using a knife or a pizza wheel, cut into squares or other desired shape (I like 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch rectangles myself!). Continue the same process with the other 3 pieces of dough.
- Move the parchment with crackers onto a large sheet pan and place in the oven. Cook 6-8 minutes or until browned.
- Remove crackers from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. Continue the process with the remaining crackers.
- These crackers are tasty by themselves, but also wonderful when sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar before baking. The recipe is a good base for trying other flavors too. Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or cayenne. Or try adding more dried fruit or topping with parmesan cheese just before baking.
- Calories: 1550
- Sugar: 44
- Sodium: 631
- Fat: 71
- Saturated Fat: 33
- Unsaturated Fat: 33
- Trans Fat: 2
- Carbohydrates: 197
- Protein: 32
- Cholesterol: 122
I remember my first encounter with ramps (no, not the kind you drive or walk on, that wouldn’t be a very nutritious topic), it was during my culinary externship. Everyone in the kitchen was out-of-their minds excited about a shipment of ramps that were arriving shortly. I, of course, pretended to be “in” on the ramp excitement. Nodding my head and grinning, acting like I was a ramp expert. No way was I going to let these guys know I didn’t know what a ramp was! The buzzing in the kitchen was escalating and pens and notepads were taken out and millions of ramp recipes were created. The whole time I kept thinking, “all of this excitement for a vegetable!?” I couldn’t wait to see what this stuff was! It had to be amazing. When it arrived, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. All of that clamoring over this thing that looked like a lost cousin to a green onion? Seemed crazy to me. Well, then I got a lesson. Because one of those chefs figured me out and immediately gave me a solid education on ramps. Then, because he was a good guy, he showed me how to cook it and then, magically, I got it! Thank goodness!
With my new appreciation of ramps, I can now say that I look forward to their arrival at the local farmer’s market. That’s because they are the indication that Spring has officially arrived. These delicious little vegetables are members of the allium family (along with onions, garlic, scallions, etc) and are wild-harvested, meaning they aren’t cultivated like most crops. Magnifying their desirability is the fact that they are only available for a short window of time during April and early May. This is why you’ll see them scooped up as soon as they’re set on the table at the market. They look a little bit like green onions, but you’ll know they’re ramps because of their distinctive flat leaves and burgundy stems. As for taste, these little guys pack a strong flavor. It’s a bold, almost wild taste of onion and garlic. While they can be eaten raw, many people prefer it cooked, which eliminates some of that piquant taste. My favorite way to eat them is to toss them lightly with olive oil, salt and black pepper and then grill them. Easy and delicious! Serve them as a side dish to any meal or chop and add to salads or pasta.
Oh yes, you are wondering about the nutritional value, aren’t you? Of course! Well, let’s just say they are loaded with Vitamin A (eat the leaves to get this powerful antioxidant) as well as Vitamin K, folate, iron and manganese. And you can be sure there are other disease-fighting phytochemicals in there too.
You’ve got a few more weeks until ramps arrive, so get your recipes ready!
It’s that time of year again, National Nutrition Month! For dietitians around the world, it’s a time to celebrate and encourage you to enjoy the amazingly, nutritious world around you! We feel like every month is National Nutrition Month, but we know it’s not practical to suggest celebrating 12 months a year, so we have designated March as the official month-of-honor. This makes perfect sense to me, considering March is the time of year that you start to feel the hope of Spring. With that hope comes the desire to do a little “Spring cleaning.”
This year I encourage you to take your Spring cleaning to another level. Sure, it’s great to tidy up your home, but why not tidy up your lifestyle as well? Take a moment this month to reflect on your health. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Really take a close look at the ways you could “clean-up” the way you eat and the way you participate in life. Pick one or two things that you know you can “clean” and make a pact with yourself to do it.
For example, look in your refrigerator. Do you see a bunch of food going to waste in there? Take the time to remove things that have expired and give your refrigerator (and freezer!) a good scrub. Re-organize the food so that you can SEE everything and try to eat those foods that expire quickly, first. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel once you open the door to a clean, organized refrigerator! (It feels amazingly similar to a clean closet!)
Or maybe take a look at your activity level. Do you find yourself making excuses for not moving more? How about instead of making excuses, come up with reasons why you should be moving more? Maybe you should move more because you want to stay healthy to play with your grandkids. Or maybe you want to move more so that you aren’t winded after one flight of stairs. Or maybe you want to move more because you want to run your first 5K this summer! Find inspiration and it will motivate you to move more!
March is the month to “Bite into a healthier lifestyle!” Why not celebrate by Spring-ing into action by tidying up your diet and lifestyle! Carpe Diem!
I need a healthy snack that tastes good,” said no toddler ever. If toddlers had their way, I’m sure they would eat only noodles and cookies. Because I am in charge, I am faced with the challenge of trying to find just that: a healthy snack that tastes good.
There is something magical about the slow cooker. The idea that you can simply place ingredients in a vessel, touch a button and hours later you have an entire meal is mind-blowing. I love it! For anyone that’s time-strapped (OK, that’s everyone, right!?), the slow cooker is your savior. With a little forethought, you can create beautiful, almost effortless meals that your family will love.
In need of a new slow cooker recipe? Try my version of Mexican Shredded Chicken. It’s a flavorful dish that can feed a crowd…
Click here to read more from The Cutting Board Blog and to get the recipe.
It’s cold here in Chicago and I am happy to report that I have not lost my sense of humor about this cold blast we are having. Instead of being angry, I have chosen to celebrate this cold by baking and cooking…and baking and cooking! Luckily the lovely Cutting Board Blog must have known this, as they are currently featuring my recipe for the beautiful Apple Crostata.
Hurry, go turn on your oven and be prepared to “warm up” with this lovely dessert.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Somewhere, hidden deep in the recesses of my pantry is my special stash of chocolate. It’s a secret because, well, I don’t feel like sharing it. No offense to other members of the household, but I just don’t think they would appreciate this little treasure like I do. I hold that stash near and dear to my heart. And thinking about it now, it seems rather ironic that I store it in an old trick-or-treating bucket that looks like a jack-o-lantern…totally classy and mature, I know.
I love chocolate and I have since I was little. Lots of good food memories come to mind when I think of chocolate. Because I love it so much, I suppose that could mean trouble for my waistline. But the good news is, I can control myself because I appreciate chocolate. I see chocolate as a fun indulgence or as a very lovely treat. Because of that, I try to enjoy it and savor it. That means I need less of it!
The ladies over at the Recipe Redux must have channeled my inner choco-holic when they came up with this month’s theme – our favorite pairing for chocolate. My mind of course went crazy with ideas. How about a mole? Or what about a twist on a ‘smore? When it came down to it, I decided upon a recipe that I felt would honor both the dietitian as well as the chocolate-lover in me. Reaching for almonds and my secret stash of chocolate, I bee-lined to the kitchen and got to work. I came up with a recipe that is the perfect snack or treat and one that highlights one of my favorite pairings: nuts and chocolate! Yum!
These roasted almonds are a delightful blend of sweet and savory.
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3 cups whole almonds
- 2 ounces 60% dark chocolate
- Kosher salt for finishing
- Preheat the oven to 300’F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl whisk together the cayenne, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white and water together just until foamy. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds out onto the sheet pan and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Stir and toss to coat.
- Place nuts in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the nuts cool on the sheet pan.
- To a small sauce pot add the chocolate and set over low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Using a small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the almonds. Sprinkle with additional salt as desired (Kosher or sea salt).
- Allow chocolate to cool and harden before serving.
- Calories: 2919
- Sugar: 68
- Sodium: 826
- Fat: 237
- Saturated Fat: 29
- Unsaturated Fat: 195
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 146
- Protein: 94
- Cholesterol: 3
When I was much younger I firmly believed I was a gifted artist. Looking back at my art projects from school it’s evident that I was giving myself quite a bit of credit. Enter my mom. God bless her. She is an extremely talented artist and was (and still is) one of my biggest supporters, always complimenting my work and hanging it everywhere. I knew from a young age that she was talented and I suppose I wanted to believe her when it came to my s0-called “talent.” I also wanted to be more like her; carefree, able to express myself and open to coloring “outside the lines.”
My mom is talented and creative and I love seeing what she can build on a blank canvas. For her, paints and other materials are her tools for expression. When I was a teenager I remember looking at all of the paints and those canvases feeling slightly intimidated. As soon as I would lay a color down, I would regret it. Or I would start painting one thing only to be disappointed in how it looked. Let’s just say I gave up on it for awhile.
It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve picked up “art” again. This time, in a medium that seems more true to who I am. A medium that excites me and elicits my creativity. That medium is food. With food, I can create beautiful, thought-provoking works of art just like you would with acrylics or paint or pencils. I love that you can turn a pepper into a million different dishes or cut it a different way it and it almost tastes different. For me, food is my passion and being able to express myself this way is a true treasure.
I tell you this story because maybe it’s time you looked at food differently. Maybe, right now, you look at food as just a way to get energy, shoveling it in without much care. Or maybe you’ve spent too much time eating out, letting other people have all of the fun in the creativity of making your meal. Or maybe you’ve been depriving yourself, looking at food as the enemy, counting calories and not receiving the benefit of composing and enjoying it. I encourage you to reflect on this. What is your relationship with food? Would it be better if you appreciated it more? Or if you took the time to nurture your creative side and explore food as your new “art” form? You may find it will do your soul a world of good to gain a new perspective.
Back in my days of my culinary externship I learned all about something called “family meal.” It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Actually, it was. The concept was that the kitchen staff was to make the meal (usually from leftovers or food on it’s way out in regards to freshness) for all of the employees. I had the fortunate luck of being in a kitchen with a super-talented chef who hailed from Mexico. Every day he made something amazing out of absolutely nothing. I enjoyed every mouthful and learned so much about the Mexican culture. One day he made a dish with dried chiles, and when I asked him what it was called, he told me it was chilaquiles. Well, that meal changed my life. How could just a few simple ingredients make such a delicious plate of food? First, he made a sauce; he washed and seeded some dried chiles and toasted them in a hot pan. Once lightly toasted he transferred them to a bowl and covered them with hot water to soften them. Then he pureed them up with some sauteed onion and garlic and cooked it with a little chicken broth. To that he added strips of corn tortilla and it was amazing! I cleaned my plate and felt inspired.
This month’s Recipe Redux challenged us to spice things up. Immediately I thought of that yummy chilaquiles dish, but I wanted to do something to make it my own. Since Mexican food (any of it!) and pizza are my favorite foods, I figured why not use them both!? And that’s how I came up with this riff on a Mexican pizza. It’s full of flavor and by chance, also loaded with good-for-you nutrition.
Enjoy and be sure to keep a glass of water nearby!Print
Hearty whole grain pizza dough topped with a spicy red chile sauce, black beans and fresh vegetables.
- 2 dried ancho chiles, washed, stems and seeds removed
- 2 dried Guajillo chiles, washed, stems and seeds removed
- 1 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain pizza dough or 1 large pre-made whole wheat pizza crust
- 1 cup black beans (canned or cooked from dry)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced thin
- 1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced thin
- 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 jalapeno, sliced thinly into rounds
- 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
To Make the Red Chile Sauce
- Set a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles to the pan and toast until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chiles sit until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the chiles from the water and tear into pieces. Place the torn chiles in a blender along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Puree until mixture is smooth.
- Set the skillet (you can use the same one that you used to toast the chiles) over medium-low heat. Add the oil and once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pureed chile sauce and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with lime juice and salt. Note: If a smoother consistency is desired, transfer mixture back to the blender and process until smooth. Use caution with hot liquids.
To Make the Pizza
- Preheat the oven to 425’F.
- Shape the pizza dough into a circle between 14 and 16-inches in diameter and place on a large sheet of parchment paper. Spread a 1/2 cup of the chile mixture over the crust in an even layer. Top the pizza with the black beans, bell peppers and cheese. Arrange jalapeño slices on top of the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese bubbly and lightly browned.
- Remove pizza from the oven and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions. Slice and serve.
- This recipe makes more sauce than you will need. That’s ok, because it freezes well or you can use to as a topping for your next batch of tacos or enchiladas.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 479
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 351
- Fat: 13
- Saturated Fat: 6
- Unsaturated Fat: 6
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 71
- Protein: 19
- Cholesterol: 30