Homemade Nutella {Recipe ReDux}

It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for me to want chocolate.

In fact, every day is a chocolate day. Just like I need coffee every morning, I enjoy a square of dark chocolate every night. It goes really well with the red wine that I drink every night, but that’s a different blog post. [insert red wine emoji here]

clean nutella

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, that doesn’t mean I can’t be smitten with the ladies behind Recipe ReDux. They clearly know the way to my heart with this month’s theme — CHOCOLATE!

Favorite Chocolate Matches
Does your chocolate need a friend? This month’s posting will be after Valentine’s Day, so you may have a bit of extra chocolate around. What’s your favorite chocolate match? Be it traditional peanut butter or something more exotic like cayenne + chocolate. Show us your favorite healthy chocolate combo recipe.

I do love cinnamon + chocolate + cayenne à la Mexican Hot Chocolate and will gobble up pretty much anything with chocolate and peanut butter.

homemade nutella

But once Nutella comes into the picture, ALL BETS ARE OFF.

Nutella is like candy, though. In fact, the first — AKA main — ingredient in brand-name Nutella is sugar, then palm oil.

nutella_ingredients

No thanks.

I’ve been wanting to make my own Nutella using REAL ingredients, and this seemed like a sign from the gods that now was the time.

This Chocolate Hazelnut spread’s number one ingredient is………..

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HAZELNUTS! Then comes chocolate. Who would guess that the first two ingredients in a chocolate-hazelnut spread are hazelnuts and chocolate?

Well, now you can feel a little better about smothering this stuff on everything — or just eating straight, which is my preferred method of ingestion. This “Nutella” contains only 7 ingredients, is a clean recipe, contains only 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup as a sweetener and is super-chocolately thanks to 72% dark chocolate.

Homemade Nutella {paleo, gluten-free}

You’ll think that the hazelnut “powder” will never turn into a smooth, dreamy hazelnut butter, but have patience young grasshopper and stand and watch as it slowly becomes smoother and creamier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 3.5 oz. dark chocolate (70% or higher is best)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (the one in the carton, not the can)
  • 1/4 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or more if you want it a little sweeter)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Toast hazelnuts for 10-15 minutes, until they are fragrant and start to look toasty.
  2. Wet a large cloth and pour toasted hazelnuts on top of the cloth. Fold the cloth over and keep rubbing until most of the hazelnut skins have come off (don’t worry if you feel like there’s still a lot on — I did too and my Nutella still turned out super smooth and creamy)
  3. Add toasted, skinned hazelnuts to food processer and process for about 10 minutes, until “butter” forms.DSCN0709
  4. While hazelnut butter is forming, melt dark chocolate in the microwave.
  5. Add melted dark chocolate and remaining ingredients and process until well-blended.

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Enjoy with bananas, apple slices or straight out of the jar. I’m not a big bread-eater, but if that’s your thing, this would be delicious spread on toasted bread.

paleo nutella

For more chocolatey deliciousness, follow the link below.

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Pesto {Vegan}

Because you know I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. Hey!

I’m bringing beet soup baaaaacccckkk!

I could totally continue on with my Meghan Trainor/beet soup song, but I have an important recipe that needs sharing. For soup, no less. And while this soup is totally about the beets, it’s also about the butternut squash, coconut, curry and THE PESTO. [Vegan] Cilantro Lime Pesto that I posted yesterday. The combination of that pesto and this soup is money.

coconut_curry_butternut_squash_beet_soup_vegan

Who calls a soup + pesto combination “money”? I called a sandwich “money” the other day while out to eat with the boy, who proceeded to tease me about using the phrase to describe food.

I guess that’s just how I roll.

Okay, back to soup.

I’m not generally a soup maker. I make big batches of chili all the time but for some reason I’ve neglected soup.

I think it’s because, until now, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of soup. Soup is a fantastic way to use up ingredients — produce, proteins, etc. — that are on the verge of going bad. While soups can take a little longer to prepare, they yield a giant pot of deliciousness that can then feed you for days. Soups also let you play around with flavor combinations and can be relatively fool-proof.

The curry-coconut-cilantro combo (with beets + butternut squash) is seriously delicious. The richness from the coconut is perfectly balanced by the acidity and freshness of the Cilantro Lime Pesto.

And while I’m not a vegan, the vegan principle of using real, whole ingredients is one that I totally get behind. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really do processed foods.

coconut_curry_beet_squash_soup_vegan

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro Lime Pesto

This soup would be perfect to serve at parties, for the holidays or just make whenever you want a warming, delicious and satisfying meal. If you’re not a vegan, I suggest pairing this with a grilled chicken breast for some protein.

Servings: 6, 10 oz. cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 large, fresh beets
  • 1 can (13.6 oz.) light coconut milk + 1 can (13.6 oz.) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • Cilantro Lime Pesto for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut butternut squash in quarters. Cut the ends off (the little nub at the top and tough part at the bottom). Scoop out the seeds (save these for delicious roasted squash seeds if you feel inclined).
  3. Wash/scrub beets well. Cut off top and bottom of each beet, then cut into quarters. No need to peel the beets — just make sure you scrub them well.
  4. Lay butternut squash, cut side down, and beets on a sheet pan and roast for about an hour, until they are soft. Peel the skin of the butternut squash off (it should easily come off). Let the squash and beets cool slightly.
  5. When beets and squash slightly cooled, add to a food processor and pulse mixture until smooth.
  6. Add blended mixture to a large pot, along with coconut milk, water, curry powder, salt, pepper and optional chili powder.
  7. Heat over medium until mixture starts to boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Top each serving with a spoonful of cilantro pesto and serve warm.

vegan_beet_squash_soup_with_pesto

Five-Minute Cilantro Lime Pesto {Vegan}

My memories of pesto go back to being a kid, when my mom grew basil in the herb garden and would make big batches of amazing pesto throughout the summer. Have you ever frozen extra pesto (or any sauce for that matter) in ice cube trays? My mom would do this and it’s brilliant — you can just pop out a cube anytime you need some pesto in your life.

Which is often.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

Since getting the best gift ever — AKA my food processor — I have been known to make pesto out of any and everything. So, when I had some leftover cilantro from these Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese, I made the obvious decision.

The only problem was that I didn’t have enough left to make full-blown cilantro pesto. Then I realized I had baby spinach in the fridge, and I could use it to extend the cilantro. And life was good again.

SIDE NOTE: I always have a giant box of organic spinach (I use Earthbound Organic) in my fridge and I recommend you do the same. I add it to eggs, use it as a salad base, add it to smoothies, soups and stir-fries, and more. It’s a great way to amp up the nutrition of your food and I find that the spinach in the plastic “boxes” stays fresh much longer than the kind packaged in bags.

Admittedly, this pesto was made to be a topper to a Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup that I’ll be posting later this week — I know, such a tease — but it is seriously delicious and can stand completely on it’s own. As in, I’ve been eating pesto by the spoonful. I’m not ashamed, though. You totally would do it too.

Vegan Cilantro Lime Pesto

Mix this in with eggs, add vinegar and serve as a dressing, use as a dip for veggies, eat it plain OR drizzle it over the Coconut Curry Butternut Squash & Beet Soup recipe I’ll be posting in a few days.

cilanro_lime_pesto_vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (such as Earthbound Organic)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (raw or roasted, whatever you fancy)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 2 tsp. lime zest (about 1/2 a lime worth)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. lemon peper (or ground black pepper)

vegan_cilantro_pesto_lime

Directions:

  1. Wash cilantro and remove last 2″ of the stems (you can keep some of the stems on — they’ll all get ground up anyway)
  2. Add cilantro and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth.

vegan_cilantro_lime_pesto

This Thursday, I’ll be posting the most perfect, six-ingredient vegan soup recipe that is even better when topped with Cilantro Lime Pesto. Get ready, kids.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

I’ve learned throughout the years that one can never have too much cheese. Cheese adds creaminess, gooiness and deliciousness — and also can elevate a dish and make it so much more satisfying.

I should probably write a love song about cheese, but I’ll spare you for now.

Cabot Cheeses are a personal favorite. Because their cheddars are aged, they are naturally lactose-free. More importantly, they give 100% of profits back to the 1,200 dairy farm families that make up their co-op. While browsing their website, I also came across the story of Barstow’s Longview Farm, who actually use their cows’ waste to create enough energy to power their farm AND churn Cabot butter. Awesome! Truly making lemonade out of lemons (aren’t you glad I went with that analogy over others?).

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When Cabot tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with creating healthier appetizers fit for Super Bowl and awards show parties — and provided us with LOTS and LOTS of cheese samples — I came up with an infinite list of recipe ideas.

I love apples and cheese, so first I went sweet with my Loaded Apple Cheddar Nachos using Cabot’s Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. After making those, all I wanted to do was make more apple-cheddar recipes. Those nachos were seriously delicious.

I was able to control that urge, however, and come up with an equally delicious savory appetizer that combines perfectly-spicy Cabot Pepper Jack cheese with sweet potatoes, black beans, red onions and cilantro to make a fresh and healthy side dish.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese

These are the perfect appetizer for game day parties or for a tasty snack. Add chicken or crumble tofu into the sweet potato and black bean mixture to create a full meal. If you like things extra spicy, chili powder would be a delicious addition.

Serves 4 (2 romaine wraps/person)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup black beans (if using canned, go with a No Salt Added variety)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Romaine hearts, washed with leaves separated (8 leaves total)
  • 4 oz. Cabot Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add red onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add diced sweet potatoes and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add in the black beans, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. While mixture is cooking, turn oven onto broil.
  3. Lay romaine leaves on a baking sheet and spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of the sweet potato and black bean mixture into each leaf. Top evenly with shredded Cabot Pepper Jack (1/2 ounce per leaf).
  4. Broil for 1-3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm.

Southwestern_Romaine_Bites_Cabot_Pepper_Jack

See what other delicious Cabot cheese creations Recipe ReDuxers have created by clicking on the link below!

Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

Wowza. When Cabot Creamery tasked us with creating a lightened-up appetizer fit for game day and red carpet parties, I never dreamed that I’d create something as delicious as these Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos. But I did guys, and I would love nothing more than to share the recipe with you.

It all started when two packages filled with Cabot cheese arrived at my doorstep…so basically the best gift you could ever receive. At first I was a little overwhelmed with all the cheese, but then I snapped back to reality and realized that there is no such thing as too much cheese. It was time to create a delicious recipe.

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It’s all about the cheddar here, guys. I fell in love with Cabot’s Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. To me, it’s almost reminiscent of an aged Parmesan.

I also learned that Cabot’s cheddar cheeses are naturally lactose-free (can’t wait to tell all my lactose intolerance clients and friends)!

Even more awesome is the fact that Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1,200 farms located throughout New England and New York. One-hundred percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. Can’t ask for anything better than that!

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I really do have to pat myself on the back for this recipe. It combines sweet and savory, lots of texture from the toppings and is warm and gooey and perfect for game-day parties. I hope you enjoy!

Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos

Servings: 2-3

If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds or pecans. Don’t like cranberries? Try tart cherries or raisins. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup if you’re avoiding grain sugar. I used the ever-so-fast microwave method to make the apple chips, but if you’d rather bake them, you can cook each side in a 200 degree oven for about 1-1.5 hours.

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium apples, such as Gala or Honey Crisp
  • 2 oz. Cabot Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos_ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice apples thinly using a mandolin or sharp knife. They look prettiest when you slice horizontally, though they are harder to control, so feel free to slice vertically if that’s easier. Don’t worry if you don’t get a perfect slice — slivers work just as well here.
  3. Line a large, microwave-safe plate with parchment paper. Working in rounds, lay apples on parchment paper in a single layer. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until edges of apples start to curl. Flip slices over and microwave another 1-2 minutes. Lay apples out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let sit. They will start to harden the longer they sit. Make sure to keep a close eye on the apples to ensure they’re not burning (ruined a few slices this way).
  4. Once all the apples are “chip-ified,” arrange them on the parchment-lined baking so that they overlap slightly. Sprinkle with cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, sugar and then finish with grated Cabot Alpine Cheddar.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

loaded_apple_nachos_unbaked

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With all that cheese awaiting me in the fridge, there are bound to be more recipes coming. In the meantime, check out other Recipe ReDuxers’ Cabot cheese creations:

Toasted Maple and Smoked Sea Salt Almonds {Recipe ReDux}

Smoking is so in right now. It seems like everybody’s doing it — from young to old.

……………………..

No, silly — I’m talking about SMOKED FOODS. There are herbs and spices, sea salts, proteins, vegetables, butters and even cocktails that use smokiness to lend a unique and deep flavor to foods and drinks. I have been a fan of smoky foods for some time now (I know, I’m like SO ahead of the trends!) and was thrilled when I found out the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux, “Start Smoking in the New Year:”

The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.maple_smoked_salt_almonds

I contemplated trying to create a small home smoker for a hot minute but decided my tiny, poorly ventilated kitchen would probably not be the best environment for said cooking technique.

I do love smoked paprika, but I thought I’d use something that isn’t already part of my cooking repertoire: SMOKED SEA SALT. This stuff is amazing and truly elevates any recipe, turning it into a sultry, smoky, savory, seductive dish of the gods.

And who doesn’t love a salty-sweet combo? Add smoky into the mix and it’s divine. Thus, I bring you Toasted Maple and Smoked Sea Salt Almonds. These contain five ingredients and come together in less than 20 minutes. Just watch yourself — they are seriously addicting.

Toasted Maple and Smoked Sea Salt Almonds

These almonds make a great snack, or try them sprinkled on a salad with dried fruit. If you want even more flavor, these would be great with chili powder, dried rosemary, curry and/or cumin added to the mix.

maple_salted_almonds

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked sea salt

maple_smoked_salt_almonds_ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Add almonds, egg whites, maple syrup and smoked sea salt to a large bowl. Toss to coat almonds in the mixture
  3. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with brown sugar
  4. Bake for 5 minutes, then toss the almonds and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until toasted

raw_maple_salted_almondstoasted_maple_salted_almonds

For more “smoky” recipe inspiration from fellow Recipe ReDuxers, click on the link below!

Holiday Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

The holidays are certainly upon us. I’m not sure about you all, but we have holiday parties/festivities for the next several weekends (not that I’m complaining). That means lots of food, and most of it not very healthful.

My general plan of attack for myself (and what I recommend to clients) is to bring a couple dishes that you have prepared and feel good about eating. That way, when you’re surrounded by marshmallow and sugar-laden sweet potato casseroles, creamy vegetable sides and indulgent desserts galore, you at least can at least eat/feel good about eating the dishes you brought (and maybe skip some of those disgusting creamy casseroles).

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For the holidays, my go-to dish is a salad. It’s the dish I volunteer to make for all my holiday parties, partially because I don’t trust others to make a good salad — I’m a control freak and I’ve never denied that — and partially because I make a damn good salad.

So when the folks at California Raisins tasked us with creating recipes that are “naturally sweet for the holidays,” my mind went to salad.

When making a salad, I love taking seasonal vegetables and adding just a touch of sweetness, whether that’s a honey-infused vinaigrette, raisins, or both, as I’ve done here. California Raisins add natural sweetness with zero fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar. Plus, they offer 9% your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron.

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They’re a great choice for wholesome at-home or on-the-go snacking, plus they lend themselves well to both savory and sweet applications, where they provide natural sweetness.

They are seriously amazing for snacking, though, as evidenced by the fact that my roommate and I snacked on a pretty portion of the bag of California Raisins before I even started to create my recipes, to the point where I had to go back to the store to get several more bags. No biggie though, because California Raisins are the most economical dried fruit, according to the USDA.

As a sidenote, I love to pop a few raisins with peanut or almond butter — ants-on-a-log sans the celery, if you will — and also add them to my plain Greek yogurt to add extra nutrition and a little natural sweetness.

They also were d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. in my Vegan Moroccan Stew, which I made for another ReDux a few months ago.

Recipe: Raw Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese

This salad is perfect for the holidays and because the Brussels sprouts don’t wilt like other greens, you can actually prep and dress the salad up to 1-2 days ahead of time. California Raisins add a great sweet note to the salad and the goat cheese brings just the right amount of tang.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 cup California Raisins, divided (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz. log Chevre goat cheese, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel butternut squash using a sharp knife then cut in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the middle. Dice into small (~1/4″) cubes. Toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and lay on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cut/shred Brussels sprouts, then wash and thoroughly dry them (or use a salad spinner).
  3. Mix 1/4 cup California Raisins, pecans and rosemary and gently press mixture into both sides of the goat cheese slices.raisins_pecan_rosemary_goatcheese
  4. In a large bowl, add balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, honey, pepper and salt. Use a whisk to mix.honey_balsamic_dressing
  5. Add shredded Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, and remaining 1/2 cup California Raisins and toss with dressing.          brussels_butternutsquash_honey_balsamic
  6. Top with pecan and California Raisin-crusted goat cheese.

To make it a meal, try adding grilled chicken, turkey or fried eggs, as I did for breakfast yesterday.

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See how other Recipe ReDuxers are using California Raisins by clicking the link below.

Cheesy Phyllo Bites {Recipe ReDux}

It’s almost Thanksgiving!! Have you figured out your Turkey Day menu yet? Holiday meny planning is a favorite activity, especially when done with my mom. Whether we’re physically together or discussing over the phone, we brainstorm back and forth to come up with the perfect menu.

Needless to say, we’ve been plotting what to make for Thanksgiving for a couple weeks now. We wanted to make something to honor my Grandma Sona, who passed away over the summer. She was truly a very special lady and we all miss her more than words can say.

My Grandma was the most amazing cook, even though she would tell you she really didn’t like cooking. While she’s made quite a few memorable dishes, my favorite was always Boreg. It’s an Armenian savory phyllo dough casserole similar to Spanikopita, but with the spinach subbed out for cheese and eggs. It’s seriously divine.

So when the folks at Recipe ReDux challenged us to share one of our favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe, my decision was easy-peasy.

cheesy_phyllo_dough_bites

I had made Boreg with my Grandma only one time, after convincing her to show me how. I quickly tried to jot down her recipe (or lack thereof) and eyeball how much cheese, milk, eggs, etc. she was using and managed to come up with a relatively straightforward recipe. We had a really great day cooking and hanging out together. And our Boreg was phenomenal, as always. She was very patient showing me how to handle the phyllo dough, brush the butter on, add the filling and bake it.

I had never actually made it myself, though, let alone made a healthier version of it.

boreg_bites

Grandma’s recipe called for one cup each of Parmesan, Romano and Feta cheese and up to one stick of butter. I’m all for eating fats, but that’s a LOT of fat!

To lighten it up a bit, I used low fat cottage cheese in place of some of the other cheese, cut down from one stick of butter to just 3 Tbsp., and used only about half of the package of phyllo dough, and I have to say that my version tasted almost as good — there’s no way I could ever beat Grandma’s — as G-Sona’s (our nickname for her).

Recipe: Cheesy Phyllo Dough Boreg Bites

These Boreg bites would be a perfect side or appetizer for the holidays. Try to work as quickly as possible when handling the phyllo dough as it dries out very fast. Don’t worry if the phyllo tears or gets crumbly — mine did and it turned out just fine.

boreg_ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 package phyllo dough, defrosted (you will only need about 1/2-3/4 of the package)
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Romano and Parmesan cheese blend (or 1/4 cup of each)
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

cheesy_appetizer_bites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a one-dozen muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Lay phyllo dough out on cutting board and cut into squares of about two inches by two inches.
  3. Lay 1-2 squares of phyllo dough in each of the muffin tin slots and gently press the phyllo into the slots. Brush the top layer with butter. Continue this process for 5-6 more layers.
  4. Mix 3 eggs, cottage cheese, Feta and Romano/Parmesan blend. Place a dollop of the mixture in each of the phyllo cups.
  5. Continue to layer 5-6 more layers of phyllo/butter over the cheese and egg mixture.
  6. Combine remaining egg with baking powder and water. Beat with a fork.
  7. Poke holes through the phyllo cups with the fork and spoon about 1-2 tsp. of the egg/baking powder mixture into each cup. It will nestle into the fork holes you just made.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until phyllo cups are golden brown.

cheesy_phyllo_cups_unbaked

cheesy_phyllo_dough_bites

This one’s for you, Grandma! I wish you were here to enjoy them and know you would be proud of my work.

cheesy_phyllo_dough_boreg_bites

What family recipes will you be preparing this holiday season? See what memories inspired fellow Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the blue guy below.

Quick and Easy Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

With the cooler weather, I’m craving all kinds of fall- and Thanksgiving-themed foods. But who has the time to cook all the squash, potatoes, beans and turkey? Not this girl.

I’m all about the quick, simple meal using quality ingredients — and culinary shortcuts — to yield tasty, good-for-you dishes. So when the folks at Libby’s Fruits & Vegetables challenged us to create delicious appetizers, soups, salads or side dishes in 10 minutes or less using Libby’s Vegetable Pouches as the hero ingredient, I was ready to get cooking.

warm_thanksgiving_salad

Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are pretty snazzy little things. They’re microwaveable (DONE IN ONE MINUTE!), which means fewer dishes for moi to clean (this whole not having a dishwasher thing is really getting old). Libby’s is the first to offer ready-to-heat vegetables in pouches. I don’t have to feel bad about throwing the package away, either — I’m a hippie like that — because pouches use 75% less energy annnddd waste is easily compressed, reducing space in home disposal and landfills. An added bonus is that the pouches are made with BPA non-intent materials.

Tip: the pouches will be available nation-wide come the new year and can currently be found in select Walmart stores.

green_bean_pomegranate_sweet_potato

But none of the aforementioned perks matter if it’s not tasty, right? Lucky for me (and you all), Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are delicious and come in five popular varieties – sliced carrots, sweet peas, cut green beans, mixed vegetables and sweet corn.

I chose the cut green bean variety as the star of my warm green bean, pomegranate and sweet potato salad.warm_thanksgiving_vegetable_salad

This salad is a GAME ˆ CHANGER. It would be a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table and it takes LESS THAN TEN MINUTES TO MAKE! Not to mention it is no-bake (a microwave is the only cooking vessel you need), since oven space is quite precious on Thanksgiving. Plus, with “exotic” sounding ingredients like pomegranate, rosemary and cinnamon pecans, you’ll appear to be the best, most knowledgable chef around.

Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad

Enjoy this while it’s still warm, or refrigerate and eat cold. This would be delicious served alongside chicken or turkey — or eat it by itself! It’s really that good. If you don’t have pomegranates around, you can swap them for dried cranberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 pouch Libby’s Cut Green Beans
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds), or the seeds from one medium pomegranate (use the pre-seeded version to save time — I find them frozen at Costco or fresh at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tsp. butter, preferably grass-fed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (look for an ethically harvested variety — find out more about the honey/bee issue here)
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

ingredients_warm_green_bean_salad

Directions:

  1. Poke holes in sweet potato using a fork. Microwave sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Flip sweet potato over and microwave for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until it feels soft.
  2. While the sweet potato cooking, melt butter in a small skillet, add pecans and cinnamon and stir for 2-3 minutes to toast.
  3. Prepare pomegranate. The best way to do this is to roll the pomegranate on the counter before cutting it — you should feel and hear the seeds loosening up. Then, inside a metal or glass bowl (the juice could stain a plastic bowl) cut the pomegranate into quarters and dig out the seeds. Or, use pre-prepared pomegranate seeds to save some time.
  4. When sweet potato is done in the microwave, swap it out for the Libby’s Cut Green Bean Pouch and cook according to package instructions.
  5. While the green beans are cooking, cut the sweet potato into small cubes.
  6. Drain heated green beans and add to a large bowl along with remaining ingredients (including toasted pecans). Toss and serve warm.

green_bean_pomegranate_sweet_potato_salad

Voila! Enjoy this super-easy, amazingly delicious salad!

 

Vegan Moroccan Stew {Recipe ReDux}

Scary spices.

No, I’m not talking about your least favorite Spice Girl. I’m talking the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Spooky Spices: You know they are lurking there: Way in the back of your spice drawer. There lie the herbs, spices, or rubs that are getting dusty because you’re afraid to use them… you simply don’t know what to do with them! Well, pull them out and show us a recipe you created to deliciously conquer that fearful spice. (Or maybe the recipe was a flop – and the spice still give you nightmares?!)

I’d say I’m not scared of too many spices. I love to combine spices in unusual ways to completely alter/upgrade a recipe.

So at first, I was completely stumped.

Then, like a gift from the gods, my friend gave me some amazing saffron. I like the flavor and color that saffron brings to recipes, but I had never used it in my own cooking.

saffron

So, I started doing my research and one article gave mention of using saffron with cinnamon and cumin — SOLD! Saffron can give a bitter taste to dishes if not treated properly. To make sure I mantained the beautiful taste and depth that saffron can lend, I first ground the saffron using a mortar and pestle (my Grandma’s mortar and pestle, in fact — brought all the way from Turkey). Then, I steeped it — like you would tea — in hot (but NOT boiling) water for about 30 minutes, yielding the most beautiful golden liquid.

vegan_moroccan_saffron_stew

From there, it was time to make stew! Not just any stew…Moroccan-style, VEGAN, warming stew. Enjoy!

Recipe: Vegan Moroccan Stew

This dish is perfect for a cool fall day. If you need gluten-free, use one block of extra firm (crumbled) tofu in place of the tempeh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pinch saffron (about 25 strands)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 3 cups mushrooms, such as criminis, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil
  • 2 blocks tempeh, crumbled by hand
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, preferably no salt added
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Heat 1/2 cup water until hot, but not boiling. While water is heating, grind saffron using a mortar and pestle, or even with your fingers if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. Add the ground saffron to a small dish and pour hot water over it. Let steep.
  2. In a large pot, saute onion in oil. Once onions are translucent, add mushrrooms and eggplant and saute for 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, crumbled tempeh, spices, salt, apple juice, steeped saffon/water combo and raisins and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Garnish with raisins or a sprinkling of ground saffron if desired.

vegan_tempeh_saffron_stew

Check out how fellow Recipe ReDuxers use “spooky spices” by clicking on the little blue guy below. Enjoy!