Friday, August 31, 2018

Italian Spinach and Pesto Soup

We've had a bit of cold weather dip this past week and soup just seemed like the right thing to make. And it turned out so yummy!  One of the things I love about it - is that although it uses fresh spinach in it .. . .you can't really taste the spinach.  It's there.  It's healthy.  But you don't have to taste it!  Win-win!  
During the summers, I always grow an abundance of basil and will make my own pesto.  This one recipe to use up some of that said pesto.  If you don't make your own, you can buy it at the grocery store.  Regardless, this soup is a cinch to make and like most soups - it is fantastic as a leftover.

Italian Spinach & Pesto Soup
Serves 4-6

1 Pound Ground Turkey Italian Sausage
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
1 6-Ounce Bag of Fresh Spinach, Loosely Chopped
2 Tablespoons Pesto
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 Cup Half and Half
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
Fresh Diced Tomatoes (for serving)

Step 1:  In a large pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add the sausage, onion, garlic and spinach.  Break up the meat as it cooks and cook thoroughly.

Step 2:  Once the meat is browned, add the pesto, Italian seasoning, chicken broth and half 'n' half.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and let cook for 10 - 15 minutes.  

Step 3:  Garnish with fresh diced tomatoes to serve.  

Friday, August 24, 2018

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Our family has recently become addicted to this recipe.  No lie.  It's now on the weekly menu.  And we don't even care for chicken breast!  We serve it with a side salad and everyone is happy, happy!  You can check out the original recipe, but I haven't modified it.  I have rearranged the directions a little to be a little more clear for myself.

Jalapeno Popper Chicken
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces cream cheese softened
¼ cup grated cheddar
¼ cup minced jalapeno
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices bacon (cut in half to make 8 short pieces)


Step 1:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Prepare the seasoning rub for the chicken:  in a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.  Mix to combine.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Prepare the filling.  In another small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar, jalapeno, mayonnaise, garlic and salt.  Mix well to combine.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Place the chicken breast in a bowl and toss with olive oil and then rub each breast with the seasoning blend from Step 1.

Step 4:  Very carefully, use a sharp knife and cut a deep pocket into the side of each chicken breast.   Then, spoon the mixture into the chicken breasts.  Place the chicken on a baking sheet and top with two short pieces of bacon each.

Step 5:  Bake for 25-35 minutes (depending on the size of the breasts) until the chicken is cooked through.  If you prefer crispier bacon, once the chicken is cooked through - place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Maple Pecan Marshmallows

Have you ever tried to make marshmallows instead of buying them in a package??  They are completely life changing.  Homemade marshmallows are so incredibly delicious and have an amazing light, airy texture - that once you've had them, you will swear off store bought ones.  Truth!!  Please note, my core recipe is from Alton Brown.  He has always been one of my favorite food icons.  He is just amazing!  I took his marshmallow recipe and added maple flavoring and then crusted the marshmallows with toasted pecans.  These are a cinch to make and a fantastic treat during the summer months or an addition to your favorite holiday.  Enjoy!

Maple Pecan Marshmallows
Yield:  One 13x9 Pan 

2 Cups Toasted Pecans
3 Envelopes Unflavored Gelatin
1 Cup Cold Water, Divided
12 Ounces Granulated Sugar, Approximately 1 1/2 Cups
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Maple Extract
1/4 Cup Confectioners' Sugar
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
Nonstick Spray

Step 1:  Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

Step 2:  In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Step 3:  Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the MAPLE during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Step 4:  Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.  Add 1/2 the toasted pecans to the pan and scatter them around evenly.

Step 5:  When ready, pour the gooey mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Top with remaining toasted pecans.  Reserve/save the remaining cornstarch mixture for later.

Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Step 6:  Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into pieces using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary and/or any loose pecans. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Please note:  For this recipe, you can omit the corn syrup and use a substitute such as Honey, Agave Syrup, or real Maple Syrup.  Note, the flavor may vary slightly based on which you are using.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blueberry Cheesecake Single Serve - Low Carb!

We've been a bit of a healthy train at our house and trying to eat a bit more low-carb.  This recipe has been my go-to for when I want something a little sweet.  And did I mention you can make it in the microwave? You can omit the coconut flour if you want - but I like the body it gives the cheesecake.  If you choose to omit it, the cheesecake will be a little bit more soft.

Blueberry Cheesecake
Serves 1 (or 2 if you want to share . . .just sayin')

2 Ounces Cream Cheese
1/3 Cup Fresh Blueberries
1-2 Packettes of Stevia (depending on your pallet)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon 1/2 and 1/2 or Milk
1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour

Step 1:  In a large coffee mug, add blueberries and slightly mash with a fork.  Add the cream cheese, stevia, vanilla, butter and milk.  

Step 2:  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir until well combined.  Add in the coconut flour and stir well.  Microwave another 30 seconds.  

Step 3:  Place in fridge to cool for about 1/2 hour.  Serve cold.