Friday, June 15, 2012

Absolutely Guilt-free Honey Frozen Yogurt

I am a sucker for dessert.  Shocking, I know.  My day isn't complete without a little something sweet after dinner.  It just needs to be one bite, although oftentimes it is much more.  (Oops.)  As much as I love every kind of brownie in creation, as well as any type of cookie imaginable, and absolutely everything that involves chocolate, I am always eager to find healthy desserts that completely satisfy my hankering for dessert.  Well, my friends, I found it.  It comes in the form of honey frozen yogurt.  And it is sugar free!  Most times when I hear sugar free, I instantly think, "uh oh, aspartame and other fake sugar tastes," but I promise that is not the case with this tasty treat.  Try it.  You'll like it.  I promise.

Tart and tangy with a hint of honey and a touch of sweetness marry together to make the perfect guilt-free dessert.   



Honey Frozen Yogurt:
Adapted from my Fro Yo to Die For recipe.
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
  • 1 packet of plain gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Truvia natural sweetener
  • 30 ounces nonfat honey Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat free half-and-half  
  1. Pour almond milk in a saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand for a minute or so.
  2. Heat milk and gelatin until smooth.
  3. Stir in Truvia and cook until dissolved.
  4. Turn off heat.
  5. Add yogurt and mix until smooth.  Do the same with the half-and-half.
  6. When everything is completely blended, pour into ice cream maker.
  7. Mix until thickened, 25-30 minutes or so.  
  8. Serve with fruit on top.  Or just eat it out of the container.  It is guilt-free--you can!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Triangle Shaped Finger Foods

Next Thursday is a very, very, VERY special day.  Not only is it the longest day of the year, which we Alaskans both celebrate for its magic and mourn because it marks the long decline into darkness.  Much more importantly, however, next Thursday is wedding day for my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law.  They are simply perfect for each other.



In addition to being blessed with the opportunity to make their wedding cake (pictures to follow), I also will be providing the finger foods prior to dinner.  The beautiful bride has requested her favorite dip ever, which of course will be enjoyed, but we need something in addition.  Insert: triangle shaped finger foods.  I was inspired by the spanikopita I made for my best girl friend's bachelorette party last year and decided to enhance that recipe and then create a complimentary one of my own in the form of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and spices.  I can't wait to celebrate!

The enhanced spanikopita incorporates the traditional flavors of spinach and feta cheese with onions, pine nuts, parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and lemon all wrapped inside a glove of phyllo dough and baked to crispy perfection.  Salty, crunchy, smooth, flaky, and delicious. 




The mushroom, peppers, and onions triangles I invented managed to even impress me.  (Sorry for the not-so-humble statement...they are just that good.)  Carmelized onions, sauteed red and yellow peppers, portobello mushrooms, rosemary, sage, and thyme all marry (pun intended) to create an earthy, slightly floral, and slightly tart triangle of deliciousness.  These too are enveloped in flaky phyllo dough.





These triangle finger foods are for special celebrations.  They take an awful lot of love to make and are worth every second.

Triangle Shaped Finger Foods:

Spanikopita:
  • a box of phyllo dough 
  • approximately a pound of frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
  • about a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • between 1/4 and 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • a few grinds on the pepper grinder
  • one egg
  • 1/2 cup (at least) unsalted butter 
  1. Saute the onion until tender.  Cool slightly.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the thawed and very well drained spinach and onion.  Mix to combine.
  3. Add the feta, parmesan, mozzarella, pine nuts, and lemon juice.  Mix to incorporate.
  4. Add the pine nuts, lemon juice, and pepper.
  5. Taste.  Adjust if necessary.
  6. Add the egg and mix.
  7. Melt the unsalted butter.
Assembling the Triangles:
  1. Working quickly, unwrap the phyllo dough.  Have a lightly damp kitchen towel on hand to use to cover the phyllo dough if it starts to dry.
  2. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a flat surface.  Use a spoon or a brush to lightly cover with butter.  Place another sheet of phyllo on top.  Again lightly cover with butter.  Place a third sheet of phyllo on top.
  3. Cut the buttered phyllo sheets into four strips.
  4. Add a heaping teaspoon (or whatever will fit) to one end of a strip.
  5. Turn up the corner to make a triangle with the filling inside.  Continue to fold in a triangle manner until the end.  
  6. Repeat with the other three strips.
  7. Repeat the layering, cutting, and filling process until you run out of the spinach mix.
  8. Seal the triangles using your buttered brush.
  9. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  
  11. Cool slightly and eat!
Mushroom, Peppers, and Onion Triangles:
  • 1/2 of a large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • about a pound of portobello mushrooms, diced 
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons each (I didn't measure and did it by taste) of dried rosemary, thyme, and sage
  1. Saute the onions and peppers until soft.  
  2. Add the mushrooms and spices and cook until soft.
  3. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
  4. Follow the directions for assembling the triangles above. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

It should be no surprise that I loved this recipe.  Mozzarella cheese stuffed inside a turkey meatball spiced with basil and oregano to perfection and topped with hearty tomato sauce?  Yes please. 

I realize there have been upwards of ten posts involving turkey meatballs, turkey burgers, turkey sliders, and the like.  I am obsessed with them.  (Let's face it, a ground turkey addiction is better than other things...)  Similar to all the other turkey recipes, this one is delicious.  In fact, I think it is my favorite (for the moment).  We served the stuffed meatballs and the tomato sauce with brown rice and baked broccoli to complete the course.  I am certain this would be great on top of spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine.  They would also be great on their own with corn on the cob or other roasted vegetables.  Yum.

Also, we did a taste test with different cheeses.  For some of the meatballs, we used fresh mozzarella for the stuffing.  For the other half, we used low fat Sargento string cheese cut into cubes.  There were blind tasters on two different occasions and no one could tell the difference.  I kid you not.  So the long story short is, if you use ground turkey and low fat string cheese instead of ground beef and fresh mozzarella, you cut at least 93842093842938418034892832 calories, sodium, and fat without compromising even one iota of taste.  Pretty awesome. 






Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs:
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons each of oregano and basil (sorry I didn't measure)
  • mozzarella cheese cut into cubes (either the low fat string cheese or fresh mozzarella)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except for the cheese.
  2. Mix with your hands or with a potato masher until thoroughly combined.
  3. With your hands, form into large egg-sized meatballs and shove the cheese cube into the middle.  Make sure the cheese is completely covered.
  4. Heat cooking spray or olive oil in a large skillet.  Cook the meatballs, turning regularly, until cooked through lightly browned.
  5. Serve with tomato sauce on top.
Qucik and Easy Tomato Sauce:
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 2 cans no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 or 2 small tomatoes, sliced
  • basil and oregano to taste (a tablespoon or two of each)
  • a few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • a glug of red wine
  1. In a skillet heated with olive oil, saute the onions until soft.
  2. Add all the tomatoes. 
  3. Add the spices.
  4. Throw in the red wine.  (I suppose you should pour.)
  5. Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.
  6. Taste for spice preference and adjust as needed.
  7. Serve on top of the meatballs.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spiced Smashed Black Beans

Black beans have so many wonderful qualities (in addition to being the musical fruit).  They are full of protein, low in fat, and extremely versatile.  They are oftentimes the perfect side dish that work to complement the flavors of a main dish.  They are also perfect as a filler in your burrito, the base of your taco or enchilada, and great on their own with rice. 

These spiced smashed black beans hit the mark in all categories.  We used them as a side to chili-lime rubbed chicken, but they would be fantastic in any other Mexican dish, or served only with rice.  Their texture is perfect--a precise marriage between refried beans and whole beans.  The combination of spices is equally as versatile as their role in a meal.  Add more cayenne for more heat, add more cumin for more flavor, add more chili powder for a heartier taste, or add more lime for some tart and tang, among other options.

These spiced smashed potatoes are delicious.  They are sure to be a hit in whatever manner you choose to use them.  Have fun exploring!




Spiced Smashed Black Beans:
I will list the ingredients, but you can add your desired amount of each
  • black beans, drained
  • cayenne pepper
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • lime juice
  1. Pour the beans into a saucepan.
  2. Use a potato masher to loosely mash the beans into your desired consistency.
  3. Add the spices.
  4. Cook on medium until hot.
  5. Taste and adjust spices. 
  6. Serve with your main dish, add to your entree, or eat with rice.