Walnut Red Pepper Dip

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Is it me, or sometimes do you just make a recipe that you just know you can always get along with?  Like… you make it and eat it and just think that you can have this every day forever and not get sick of it?!

Maybe it’s me, but if you don’t know what this feels like, well you just haven’t tried this recipe yet.  I’ve already made it twice this month and I’m making it again this weekend.  It’s that good.

This Dip was something I wanted to try as a “healthy” option for a few things i made for our NYE party this year.  It was the first thing to go… it is SO SO yummy.  I’ll be making it again for the Puppy Bowl Superbowl and think you should too!

Here’s the recipe for all of my friends who have been bugging me all month :)

Walnut Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients:
2 cups Raw Walnuts (pieces or whatever is cheaper)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 jar (12 oz.) Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed and drained
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

Directions:
1. Pulse walnuts, cumin, sugar, and salt in a food processor until walnuts are finely ground.
2. Add peppers, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice, process until smooth.
3. Serve with veggies, crackers, chips, or even slices of crusty bread.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light 

Crush those nuts! :)

Crush those nuts! :)

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This dip has been delicious on just about everything I’ve put it on!  I have been buying the walnuts from Trader Joe’s, which the only options are for raw walnuts, but it would be just as good if you have roasted walnuts.  Also, since you’re pulverizing the nuts, don’t spend extra money on getting the whole ones either.

ENJOY!

Chai Spiced Banana Bread

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Snowed in today?  I have the perfect recipe for you.  And I bet you have everything you need to make it already!  I have discovered the most spectacular warm and fuzzy snow day recipe with this Chai Spiced Banana Bread.  It is just so. GOOD.

The base of this recipe comes from my all time favorite recipe from my Mom- her Banana Bread can be made in literally five minutes, and it is awesome.  I took our normal Banana Bread recipe and jazzed it up today with some of our favorite Chai spices.  The amount of spices in this recipe are just enough to make it special without being too overwhelming.  If you want more of a punch, add more of each spice.

Chai Spiced Banana Bread

Ingredients:

3 Over-Ripe Bananas

1 Cup Sugar

1 Egg

1 ½ Cups Flour

¼ cup (1/2 Stick) Butter, Melted

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

½ teaspoon Ground Cardamom

½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

¼ teaspoon Ground Allspice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mash Bananas with a fork. Combine and mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the bananas and the rest of the ingredients. Stir until combined.
  3. Pour into a sprayed loaf pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove and rest on a cooling rack. Remove from pan and slice, serve warm.

Enjoy this banana bread for breakfast or even dessert :)  Stay warm!

Sliced up and ready to go.  I love the texture on the top... the best part!

Sliced up and ready to go. I love the texture on the top… the best part!

Magically Fluffy but Dense.  Perfect balance.

Magically Fluffy but Dense. Perfect balance.

"Where's our piece, Mom?"

“Where’s our piece, Mom?”

Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

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So, for those of you awesome GTBTC fans who actually follow me on Instagram, you probably already know about my fear of using my Crockpot.  I totally understand that it’s not very powerful, and that no one’s house burns down because of it, and that like… everyone else uses it and leaves their house and their house doesn’t burn to the ground… but it’s scary!  What if that happens to me?!

One of the things I want to do this winter season is to start using the crock more… without anxiety.  I can do that, I think!

With the new job, I have to work one day a week as a “late” day, where I come into work at 11:45am and work until 8:15pm.  It’s not the most ideal schedule but it’s great for using the crock.  I’ve done it a few times now, and it’s awesome.

In the morning, I do all the prep, stick my food in the crock, and then have it ready for Dave and I to eat once I get home late.  It’s so much better than starting to cook at 9pm.

This recipe is fabulous, and I can’t wait to make it again.  I even have enough leftover of all of the ingredients to make it a second time without shopping again!  Perfect!  This vegetarian-friendly soup is so delicious and filling, and I even let myself use the Porcini Mushrooms despite Dave’s hatred for them.  I just had him pick them out, and everything was right in the world.

Enjoy this “Meatless Monday” recipe on a Wednesday :)

Crockpot Bean & Barley Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup Dried Multi-Bean Mix, picked through and rinsed
1/2 cup Barley
3 Cloves Garlic, smashed/chopped
2 Medium Carrots, roughly chopped
2 Ribs Celery, roughly chopped
1/2 Onion, roughly chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher salt, Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Dried Italian Herb Blend
1/2 ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms, crumbled if large*
One 24-oz can Whole Tomatoes, with juice
1 package Frozen Chopped Spinach
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper and the porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker.
2. Chop the tomatoes, keeping the juice and put the tomatoes into the crockpot with all the juices.
3. Cover and cook on high until the soup is thick, about 8 hours.
4. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle into bowls and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.  ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  Food Network Kitchen

*I bought the Porcini Mushrooms at Wegmans, but you can probably find them anywhere!  They were in a section near the produce in it’s own little area with other dried mushrooms*

All of the ingredients ready to go

All of the ingredients ready to go

Before the water goes in

Before the water goes in

Finished product!

Finished product!

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick.  So good.

Drizzle of balsamic and EVOO does the trick. So good.

I shared this soup with a few friends from work, and we all loved it.  It’s thick and creamy and rich, without sacrificing the positive qualities of all of the good stuff in there.  It’s so healthy!

I found this recipe to make about 6 pretty big servings.  Don’t skimp on the Balsamic and EVOO- I added just a little bit to two tiny tupperwares when I brought this for lunch, and I’m glad I did!  The Balsamic gives the soup such an awesome interesting flavor, and it is a great contrast to the richness in the soup.

What crock recipes have you been making this winter?  Feel free to share!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

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As it turns out, getting a new job, getting married, planning and going on an 18 day honeymoon in Hawaii all while trying to maintain a social life is JUST ENOUGH to prohibit me from blogging like I used to!  Sheesh!  Imagine that.

I’m more than happy to be back to share the first of many awesome recipes I’ve been busy with in my kitchen for you today.  This recipe is my first attempt at Stuffed Peppers- something Dave and I first tried on our trip to Israel  and that I have promised to make for him since.  It’s only taken 3.5 years.  No big deal.

I will be the first to admit that bell peppers are not my favorite ingredient.  I know they’re so basic and in everything, I just am not their biggest fan, so I guess I wasn’t super excited to try these out.  I think it was my trust in one of my favorite bloggers, Nikki from Chef in Training that gave me the courage to try this new recipe out (she’s fabulous, check out her blog!).  Her recipe for Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers caught my attention, especially because I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  Score!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Recipe slighly adapted from: Chef in Training

Ingredients:

6 Red Bell Peppers  

1lb Ground Turkey, lean

2 Zucchinis, chopped small

1 – 15oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus a little extra for topping)

10oz can Enchilada Sauce

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Salt & 1 teaspoon Pepper

Fat Free Sour Cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cut just the tops off the bell peppers and hollow out the insides.  Place in a large baking pan or pyrex dish and set aside.  

2.   In a large skillet, brown and chop ground turkey and the zucchini until cooked through and juices run clear and the zucchini is starting to soften.  

3.  Place turkey/zucc mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the black beans, corn, cheese, enchilada sauce, cumin and salt and stir until everything is combined.  

4.  Stuff each bell pepper to the top.  Cover the pan with foil.

5.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Remove pan and foil and sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.  ENJOY!

 

Peppers ready to be stuffed

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The original recipe calls for a little more ground turkey, which I didn’t have handy, so I used the chopped zucchini, which worked just fabulously.  You could really use whatever vegetables you wanted!  If you chop them into nice, small pieces, it will work perfectly.

My new job requires me to work one “late day” each week, so this stuffed pepper recipe was perfect for that type of day.  I did all the cooking in the morning, which didn’t take long… then I stuffed the peppers and prepared them in the dish and stuck them in the fridge.  When I left work for my 45 min commute home, Dave popped them in the oven and dinner was ready when I got home!  It was perfect.

We ate the peppers for lunches the rest of the week- they are absolutely delicious.  The enchilada sauce makes the dish so flavorful and spicy, and I just love hot lunches in the wintertime.  I can’t wait to try new versions of this!  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of me finally liking bell peppers?

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Baked Oatmeal Bars

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So, Dave (my husband !!!!! ???? !!!!!) totally called me out this weekend on my obsession with bars.  Not the fun kind of bar to be obsessed with… but the kind of bar you eat when you’re like me and are constantly on the go.  I just can’t help myself.  There are literally thousands of types and the flavor options are endless! Recently, I discovered a new favorite that happens to be pretty healthy too.  I absolutely have to tell you about them.  They’re called “Go Macro” bars and I’ve tried almost every flavor… for those of us who can handle foods that taste “healthy”, these are pretty darn good.  They aren’t super sweet so if you’re looking for a candy bar type meal replacement, this one’s not for you.

In an attempt to make my own bars this weekend, I tried out a modified version of the Baked Oatmeal recipe from Cooking Light.  They couldn’t be easier to whip up and bake on a football Sunday afternoon.  I cut these babies up into 8 triangle shaped bars and we have been enjoying the heck out of them this week!  I think next time, I’ll try with less sugar and to add some ground flax too?  The opportunities are endless. :) While I don’t think these bars can replace my love for on-the-go bars… they are so delicious!

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:

2 cups Uncooked Old-Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Craisins (reduced sugar)
3 Tablespoons Chopped Walnuts
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Skim Milk
1/2 cup All Natural No Sugar Added Apple Sauce
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
1 large Egg, beaten

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
2.  Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the milk, applesauce, butter, and egg in another bowl. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well.
3.  Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Check on the bars after 20 minutes and if the top starts to brown, place a piece of foil ontop and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light

Makes 8 Servings

 

Looks good already...

Looks good already…

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love PESTO.  I think the best thing about pesto is that there’s practically a million ways you can use it and even make it.  That’s the thing that gets me… there are so many different combinations to try, how will I ever feel like I’ve found the best?!  A few months ago, I was reading my cooking magazines and found this awesome guide for mixing and matching your own pesto.  I have to share it with you… it’s crazy how many different types you could try and also get super creative with it!  (Mix-Match Pesto!)

Let me break it down for you… here’s what you need to make your own perfect pesto:

1.  Nut or Seed (almonds in this case)

2.  Add your base (olives and parsley)

3.  Choose your seasoning(s) (garlic and pepper)

4.  Pick a cheese (Asiago!)

5.  Finish that pesto! (more cheese!!)

I can’t wait to try a few others… I have already made another one with this gorgeous heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pizza the other night… whoa!

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YUM!  I’m hungry for that again…

Okay but really I have to share this crazy pesto recipe with you.  It was so easy to make and it was creamy, delicious, and just all around awesome.  Enjoy!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Campanelle Pasta (or other pretty shape!)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) Pitted Manzanilla Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Raw Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper 
  • 1 large Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Grated Asiago Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  
  2. Put the olives, almonds, parsley, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the processor on, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar through the chute, processing until the mixture is finely chopped.  
  3. Combine pasta, 1/4 cup olives, sliced almonds, flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Combine pasta, the reserved liquid, and the olive mixture in a large bowl and toss well.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

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Greek Stuffed Tomatoes, SRC September

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

So.. excuse me but I’m a little busy getting MARRIED RIGHT NOW! Like, not even kidding, as this is posting at midnight on 9/1, my wedding will be just wrapping up (and the after party will be starting of course). Isn’t that crazy?!  I SOMEHOW still found time this week to not only cook a fun recipe but to blog about it for you for the Secret Recipe Club!  Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures on facebook and instagram this coming week :)

For those of you who are new to the blog (shoutout to the new work friends!), The Secret Recipe Club is an awesome program I’m in where every month, I’m assigned a new blogger in the program.  I get to visit their site and check out some new recipes.  Then, I have to make one of their recipes and blog about it!  We all do the same thing and post on the same day.  It is awesome to try new things and read about everyone else’s experiences!

This month, I was assigned to check out Francesca’s blog, Della Cucina Povera.  She is amazing!  I could not decide what to make because all of her recipes sounded so yummy and also her photography is GORGEOUS.  Francesca has such an interesting background which I’m sure attributes to her creative recipes… she is an Italian-Iranian-American living in Amsterdam.  WOW.  I’m also super jealous of all of her travels!  Due to my serious decision making issues… I also tried her Carmelized Onions & Blue Cheese Pasta… holy cow it was so good!   I’m also making these Lamb Meatballs next… omg.

just AWESOME blue cheese pasta recipe.  So simple but so good.

just AWESOME caramelized onions & blue cheese pasta recipe. So simple but so good.

For now though, let me share with you these crazy good Greek Stuffed Tomatoes!

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

4-6 Large Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon + 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, grated

bunch of Fresh Mint, chopped

1/2 cup Brown Jasmine or Basmati Rice (cook it ahead of time if you can!)

Salt & Pepper

a few Red Potatoes, chopped

1/2lb Ground Turkey (I would so use lamb but I didn’t have any!)

Directions:

1.  Rinse tomatoes and cut off the tops.  Using a spoon, take the insides out making sure not to scoop all the way to the skin.  Place the tomato pulp into a foodprocessor or blender and pulse.  Place hollowed-out tomatoes in a baking dish and surround with potatoes.

2.  Saute the grated onion in the first Tablespoon of EVOO.   Add the ground meat (whatever you use) and saute, chopping.  Continue until the meat is almost cooked through.  Add the tomato pulp, mint, and cooked rice to the pan.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until the meat is done. 

3.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Fill each tomato and replace the “lid”.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tomatoes and add salt and pepper to the potatoes.

4.  Bake for about 45 min – 60 min, or until the “lids” start to brown.

Recipe from:  Della Cucina Povera, Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffin' ingredients ready to do work!

Stuffin’ ingredients ready to do work!

Tom's surrounded by Po's... not too bad!

Tom’s surrounded by Po’s… not too bad!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

Even the potatoes were outrageous

Even the potatoes were outrageous