Red Pepper Walnut Relish : BA Cleanse 2014

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It’s time to take a hop in the time machine and go back a few months to the beginning of 2014.  Remember when Dave and I did the Bon Appetit cleanse?  We started the year off with two weeks of this awesome cleanse which gave us guidelines AND recipes to follow for every meal plus snacks for every day of the cleanse.  It was awesome.  I actually sorta miss it!

I wanted to share this recipe from the cleanse with you because I love how versatile it is.  You can really use it in so many ways, as we did during our cleanse.  We used this relish on chicken (seen below), on scrambled eggs, roasted tofu, and even by itself as a snack.  It definitely felt good using a topping that was homemade and not store bought.  Yay!

Red Pepper Walnut Relish

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Walnuts
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers (1lb)
  • 1 clove Garlic, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) Aleppo Pepper* or ½ teaspoon Hot Smoked Paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Pomegranate Molasses** or Balsamic Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darker, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.  DO NOT BURN!!  (I had to re-do this step THREE times lol)
  2. Heat broiler. Broil bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet, turning occasionally, until softened and skins are blackened in spots, 20–25 minutes. Transfer bell peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a brown paper bag), and let steam 15 minutes. Peel peppers, seed, and chop.
  3. Toss bell peppers, garlic, mint, oil, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and walnuts in a small bowl; season with salt, black pepper, and more Aleppo pepper and lemon juice, if desired.
  4. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*Aleppo Pepper is a great spice to have handy.  See if you can find it at Whole Foods or another spice market

**Pomegranate Molasses can be found at most grocery stores, just ask someone where it is.  This is a great item to have for other mediterranean recipes.  It’s delicious.

This relish can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week.

Recipe from:  Bon Appetit 2014

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The relish was such a delicious topping on this chicken recipe from the cleanse.  It adds a super flavorful punch and a really nice crunchy texture too.  I love the flavor that is brought to the table by the pomegranate molasses.  You can absolutely taste it and I totally recommend going out and buying it even if it’s just for this.

If you’re wondering what that gorgeous lookin’ side of white beans is, you can read about it here.  These are just a few of the recipes from the cleanse… pretty awesome right?

You can find a few of my favorite cleanse recipes here…

Multigrain Hot Cereal w/ Pomegranate & Crunch

Multigrain Hot Cereal w/ Pomegranate & Crunch

Avocado Smoothie

Avocado Smoothie

Spiced Cashew Crunch

Spiced Cashew Crunch

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Holy Hummus.

I think I’ve discovered my favorite snack, like… ever.

This stuff is legit.

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Don’t get me wrong, my other hummus recipes are awesome.  I love making this stuff from scratch.  It’s so easy and I love being able to customize the flavors.  This recipe puts all others to shame.  It’s just so-freakin-awesome.

The idea for this hummus recipe came from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jessica, from How Sweet It Is.  Not only do I love reading her hilarious stories, Jessica has just the best recipes.  Her pictures are amazing too.  I knew I had to try this recipe out when I read it a week or two ago.  I love roasting peppers and adding honey to hummus was something I had never even heard of.  I’m all in.

hummus

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Ingredients:

1-4 Jalapeño Peppers, roasted*

2 cans Chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid

1/4 cup Tahini

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cumin

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Directions:

*To roast the jalapeños, you can hold them with heat-safe tongs over a gas range, or you can roast them in the oven (what I do) on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400 checking/flipping every 5-10 minutes or so, until the peppers are soft and browning.  I used 4 peppers with seeds.  Use one at a time, tasting to see how spicy it is.  Dave and I love spicy food, this is about average spice for us.  Remove the seeds if you don’t like spice at all.*

1.  Add the chickpeas, jalapeño, and garlic to the food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  

2.  Add in the tahini, honey, and all four spices and continue to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.  With the processor turned on, slowly stream about half of the olive oil into the hummus.  Depending on how you like the consistency, add in a few tablespoons of the bean “juice” (from draining the chickpeas).  Keep processing until you get the desired consistency, adding bean juice or oil as you go.  I stop and taste often.  Serve with chips, cucumber slices, carrots, or spread on a sandwich!  MMM!

Recipe adapted from:  How Sweet It Is

Ready to whirl!

Ready to whirl!

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So while these pics might look like any old hummus… I promise you, this stuff is special.  Try it out!

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Or… try another one of my favorite dips!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Spiced Pumpkin Seed & Cashew Crunch : BA Cleanse 2014

The Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse is all about cooking healthy, whole foods, and trying new recipes to keep you excited about cooking.  For Dave and I, this has been the “reset” button we needed to hit after eating not so well during the holidays and to gear up for a year of lookin’ good for our wedding!

Before the first day of the cleanse, we had to make a few recipes that we used throughout the days to have on hand like salad dressing, herby tahini sauce, and this amazing Seed&Nut Crunch.  It was a lot of work the first day, but I loved having my own homemade ingredients throughout the week.

Bon Appetit's Crunch... wow!

Bon Appetit’s Crunch… wow!

This crunch has become my new guilty pleasure.  I guess if it’s part of the cleanse, I don’t even have to be that guilty!

The crunch is delightfully spiced with just a hint of sweetness and adds some really nice texture to so many of the recipes.  We even had to make a second batch because we liked it so much!

I really wanted to share this recipe with you because it’s so versatile.  We put the crunch on salads, on hot cereals, yogurt, and even on some of our side dishes.  The spices can be modified to fit your personal tastes too.  I think this is one recipe we’ll totally be taking with us as we finish the cleanse and continue on with our healthy living.  Love it!

Spiced Pumpkin Seed & Cashew Crunch

Ingredients:

Nonstick Spray
1 Large Egg White
1 teaspoon Light Agave Nectar 
½ teaspoon Garam Masala 
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
¼ cup Raw Cashews, coarsely chopped
¼ cup shelled Raw Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas)
¼ cup shelled Raw Sunflower Seeds 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°.

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk egg white, agave, garam masala, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add nuts and seeds and toss to coat.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to baking sheet, letting excess egg drip back into bowl. Bake, tossing once, until mixture is golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet.

Recipe adapted from:  Bon Appetit

The crunch was the perfect texture to top this salad of roasted carrots and beets

The crunch was the perfect texture to top this salad of roasted carrots and beets

I also used the crunch in so many breakfasts.  This one I will share the recipe with you soon- SO GOOD!  Hot Multigrain Cereal w/ Pom and Crunch!

I also used the crunch in so many breakfasts. This one I will share the recipe with you soon- SO GOOD! Hot Multigrain Cereal w/ Pom and Crunch!

 

I totally recommend making double this batch right from the start.  If you’re going to even think about snacking on this… just do it.  It’s so good.

Keep an eye on the crunch while it’s baking, my oven tends to burn nuts and seeds when I try to “toast” them, so I like to have the light on and check every couple minutes or so.  The mixture might be a little soft when you take it out, so wait until it cools completely to try it for the best taste.

Check out these other recipes from the #BACleanse…

White Bean Salad w/ Parsley & Pom

White Bean Salad w/ Parsley & Pom

Also, follow me on Instagram (@GoodtobetheCook) to see other pics from our cleanse experience!  Many more recipes to come.

Smoked Salmon Dip

Do you ever have the kind of day or week where all you want to do is go home and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s?

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Come on, admit it.  You’ve been there.

I’m having that kind of week.  Work has been slow.  I feel fat.  My dog has been sick all over the house.  One ex-boyfriend got engaged this week, and another married.  Perfect timing, right?

Believe it or not, I somehow didn’t shove my face with Cherry Garcia.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely fixed the problem with food… but this time I decided to make a snack that is more along the lines of my own personal comfort food.  This dip is an ode to one of my absolute favorite meals:  A great Jewish Bagel and Lox spread.  Nothing beats it.

Smoked Salmon Dip

Ingredients:

1 8oz tub of Whipped Greek Cream Cheese (or other light cream cheese)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill 

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

4oz Smoked Salmon, chopped

Directions:

1.  In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, fresh dill, and lemon juice.  Add HALF of the chopped smoked salmon.  Process until smooth.  

2.  Add the rest of the smoked salmon and stir by hand keeping the rest of the salmon in bigger pieces.  Serve with Slices of Everything Bagel, Everything Pretzel Crisps, Bagel Chips, or veggies.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

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A few things about this recipe… besides the fact that it’s super delicious and awesome.

Greek Cream Cheese.  Try it.  It’s amazing!  Light Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt mixed together to bring to you a sweeter tasting product with the same consistency as regular cream cheese.  Lower in fat, higher in protein.  Win-win situation here.

Gourmet Garden.  My new lifesaver.  You can buy these in the refrigerated produce section at your grocery store.  They are pre-washed and chopped fresh herbs in a tube that will last much longer than buying the fresh leaves.  You can freeze them too!

Smoked Salmon.  Every good Jew knows.  Every good friend of a Jew should know too.  This stuff is gold.  Simply delicious and salty.  If you don’t know what it is, get with it.  You can buy it most places but I highly recommend checking out the selection at Trader Joe’s.  They have one variety that is a 4oz container that is already in pieces that will save you some money.  I think it’s <$4.

Now that I’ve consumed almost a quarter of this dip… I can say that I am totally starting to feel better!  🙂

Asian-Spiced Sriracha Peanuts

I’ve been absolutely CRAZED the past few weeks!!!!!  Shopping, shopping, more shopping and cleaning has completely booked up my time and thoughts while I’m getting ready to move.  I cannot believe it’s finally here!

Dave, our best friend Adam and I are moving into Philly tomorrow.  I could not be more excited!!

The 3 of us from this summer at a Phillies Game!

The 3 of us from this summer at a Phillies Game!

This week I skipped my favorite workout day to try and start packing up my room.  I literally sat in front of my closet for about 10 minutes, playing with Stella when I decided instead of packing, I should be making peanuts!  It was clearly the more important thing to do, especially after skipping my workout.  (Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!)

I have been obsessing over my Roasted Buffalo Peanuts so I bought THREE pounds of nuts when I was at our local bulk candy/nut store.  I made 2 batch of Buffalo Peanuts and wanted to try out something new.

After rummaging through our spice cabinet, I came up with this awesome recipe.  It is not as spicy as the buffalo variety, but it is packed with flavor and let me tell you… it is the most addictive thing ever!  I sat and ate so many peanuts I felt sick, wasn’t hungry for dinner, and the swing of calories from the peanuts vs not burning 1500 calories during my workout SUCKED!  I have to work out extra hard tonight!

Asian-Spiced Sriracha Peanuts

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Ingredients:

2 cups Salted Peanuts

1 Tablespoon Sunflower oil (or Olive Oil)

2 Tablespoons Sriracha Hot Sauce (my favorite condiment)

1 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with pam.

2.  Combine peanuts with oil, Sriracha, and seasonings.  Dump onto the baking sheet and spread out.

3.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until toasted.

*Let cool, they are REALLY hot when they come out of the oven, they will become crunchier when they are cooled also*

Like I mentioned, these are not that spicy, so if you enjoy the kick that the Buffalo Peanuts have… add some Cayenne Pepper to the mix!

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(this was before I ate half of them!!!)

(this was before I ate half of them!!!)

 

 

Lunchtime Tuesday

After Brianne requested some lunchtime advice last week… I thought it would be a good idea to start posting some of my lunches.  Although they won’t be anything fabulous like this or this… it’s always nice to see the basics, and maybe you can get some good ideas for yourselves!

Lunchtime! Nom nom nom

For me, breakfast & lunch during the workweek is when I’m most strict on my diet.  I find that if I can be “good” at work, where there are little dietary distractions… I can leave room for a few “bad” eating decisions for dinner and weekends.  For all you Weight Watchers Point Counters… let’s just say I use my Bonus & Exercise points on Nights & Weekends.  Sorta like the opposite of a phone bill.

One of my favorite lunches just became a wee bit more exciting.  My friend Lauren, who I visited 2 weeks ago in NY gave me this great new kick to my normal turkey sandwich:  Laughing Cow Cheese.

If you’re paying attention, you should already know about this stuff:  It’s AWESOME.  Go ahead, do yourself a favor if you haven’t already… go buy a wheel.  You won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, Lauren (who has a pretty similar breakfast/lunch diet to my own) suggested I spread one LC Cheese wedge onto my bread, instead of cheese.  It’s so good!

This brings me to today’s lunch:

I packed a Turkey Sandwich on Sara Lee’s Delightful Wheat Bread (45 cal/slice!), with 1 Laughing Cow Light Swiss Wedge, 3 oz of Boar’s Head Turkey Breast, some lettuce, and Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Dijon Mustard.  

I also packed some baby carrots to eat with another LC Wedge (Blue Cheese flavor), a banana, a nectarine, and 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese w/ All Fruit Jam.  

YUM, check out that mustard… you don’t need much!

 

This mustard is really hot, so be careful! It has great flavor though, you’ll love it.

 

I actually measure out 1/2 cup of Cottage Cheese… measuring is KEY with dieting. Did you know this little baby 1/2 cup is what ONE serving of ice cream / fro-yo should be?! EEEEEEK!

 

My post-lunch/pre-workout snack. If you haven’t tried Polaner’s All Fruit, please do. It’s amazing. I can’t remember the last time I had Smucker’s Jelly… you will NOT miss it, and this stuff is really good for you. (And, yes measure out 1Tbsp of that too)

 

Tuesday is my BIG workout day, so it’s super important for me to make sure I have a full breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack… or else I get SO hungry by the time I’m done at 7:30.

I’d love to hear what you’re eating for lunch and try it out myself!  Let me know if you have any favorites or suggestions!

 

Sriracha-Tomato Jam

OMG!!! OMGOMGOMGOMG!!  I LOVE this recipe!!!!  

I found this recipe not too long ago from one of my favorite bloggers, Gabi who writes a really great blog called Broke-Ass Gourmet.  I’ve had it saved for a while now and have been dying to make it.  I’m sooooo glad I did… it turned out awesome.  I have a feeling I’ll be making it again very soon once my certain someone comes home from Vancouver!

MMM!

Sriracha-Tomato Jam

A Recipe by:  BrokeAss Gourmet

Ingredients:

2lbs Ripe Jersey Tomatoes

½ Medium Onion, finely chopped

2/3 Cup Honey

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

3 teaspoons or more Sriracha

½ teaspoon Salt

Fresh Black Pepper

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 15-30 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Put into a different bowl in the sink and rinse with cool water so it’s easier to handle.  Slip the skin of the tomato off (Gabi reassured us it would come right off and they definitely do!).  Core, seed, and chop.

2.  Dump the hot water out of the large pot and add the chopped tomatoes, onion, honey, balsamic vinegar, Sriracha, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour or until there isn’t much liquid left.  Stir a few times to check on it.

Hot Hot Hot!!!  When I tried this on a cracker once it was done and a little bit cool, it was so F****** spicy!  I immediately regretted “ruining” another recipe trying to be tough and make things extra-spicy.  I used 4.5 teaspoons of Sriracha instead of 3… oye vey!

I was so happy the next day to taste it again and see that the heat definitely backed off since I had first made it.  It is spicy, for sure… but not only is it “edible” now… but it is FANTASTIC.

I have only eaten this spread on crackers so far, but I plan on making us some kind of fancy grilled cheese when Dave gets home.  I loved this and it was SO easy.

Thank you Gabi!!!

Peeling the tomatoes was a little bit creepy to me but I DID IT!

Everything goes into the pot at the same time. Couldn’t get much easier than that!

Here’s what it looked like when it was done.

Do you like the old-school Jelly Jar I used? I need to double the recipe and pick up some Mason Jars…. hmmmm