Archive for April, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies

I love smoothies, but it never occurred to me that I could actually make delicious smoothies at home. I usually just pay an arm and a leg for a smoothie at Jamba Juice. Heck, we have a Jamba Juice in our condo building so it’s pretty darn convenient to just grab one there! However, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to at least try making my own smoothies. I’m sure glad I did! They were incredibly easy to make (you just need a blender or food processor) and it’s also a great way to save a few bucks!

This was the perfect afternoon snack, but I’m sure it would make a delicious breakfast as well. I love the addition of flax seed in this recipe, it’s a great way to add more nutrients to your smoothie! This is such a simple recipe – fruit, yogurt, milk, and flax seed. Most importantly, there is NO sugar added. I just love that! On a final note, I did add a bit more milk to my smoothie since it looked a bit thick. I didn’t adjust the original recipe so keep that in mind when you make this. I’m already looking for more smoothie recipes to try!

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies

Yield: 2 large or 3 small smoothies
8 oz. low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt
1 large banana
1½ cups chopped pineapple, frozen
1½ cups frozen strawberries
2-3 tablespoons ground flax seed
¼ cup milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until thick and smooth.  Add ice to thicken, if desired, or milk to thin.  Serve immediately.

Source: Annie’s Eats


PostHeaderIcon Andes Mint Brownies

The moment I saw this recipe I instantly saved it for future use. I mean, who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and mint? About a week after I saved the recipe I found these bad boys on clearance at Target…..

Could it be fate? I think so.

I love trying new versions of brownies and these definitely did not disappoint. I loved how moist they were, and the mints inside were a nice added bonus! (But I still think my all-time favorite would have to be these s’mores brownies – you must try them!) Like most brownies, make sure you cut them when they’re still a little warm so they don’t crumble apart. I cut them about 20 minutes after taking them out of the oven and they didn’t crumble too much.

I decided to halve the recipe since a pregnant woman doesn’t need an entire pan of brownies just laying around. I made them in an 8×8-inch pan and it worked perfectly, no change in the baking time. I saved a couple brownies for my husband and I to snack on and packaged the rest up for our doormen and neighbor. I love sharing my baked goods!

Andes Mint Brownies


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 package Andes mints (24-28 mints) or 1 package of Andes baking chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

If you’re not using Andes baking chips, unwrap all the mints and coarsely chop. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stirring well to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and then the eggs. Blend well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently stir in the chopped Andes mints. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the brownies are set in the middle but not overbaked. Let cool completely, slice into squares and serve.


Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


PostHeaderIcon Baked Tortilla Chips

This is just a fun little way to make tortilla chips at home. These tortilla chips are super healthy, especially compared to store-bought tortilla chips. They are also very quick to make. Just cut the tortillas in triangles with a pizza cutter, place on a cookie sheet (do not overlap them), lightly cover with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and broil each side until crisp and lightly brown. I used olive oil cooking spray and sea salt and the results were delicious, I’m sure any type of cooking spray would work though. I served these tortilla chips with my slow cooker chicken tortilla soup and they complimented each other perfectly. Of course, I’ll still buy tortilla chips at the store, but this is just a fun way to make them if you’re in a bind or looking for a healthy alternative.

Baked Tortilla Chips


1 small package of white corn tortillas, taco size, cut into triangles
Cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)
Salt-to taste


Preheat the broiler to high. Cut the corn tortillas into triangles using a pizza cutter and place on a large baking sheet. Don’t overlap the chips. If you want to make a large batch, fill a second pan and only bake one at a time.

Spray the triangles lightly with cooking spray. Turn over triangles and spray again. Sprinkle with salt, to taste.

Bake in the oven for about 3-4 minutes. Turn chips over and bake for another 3-4 minutes, or until chips are golden brown and crisp. Make sure you don’t go too far while the chips are in the oven. They will bake quickly!

Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Source: Two Peas and their Pod


PostHeaderIcon Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

After my weekend on the Amtrak I just wanted a nice home cooked meal. Don’t get me wrong, the food on the Amtrak was surprisingly good, but there’s nothing better than a meal at home after you’ve been traveling. I choose this meal for many reasons: (1) the weather this week is cold and rainy so I wanted a comforting meal, (2) this recipe makes a nice amount, perfect for leftovers during the week, and (3) it’s DELICIOUS.

I had most of the ingredients on hand so it was super easy to whip up and throw in the slow cooker. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon chili powder, I used 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon regular chili powder and the heat was perfect! I served the soup with homemade tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, and limes – it was literally the perfect meal! My husband even gave it 6 out of 5 stars! Pretty impressive, huh? :)


2 frozen chicken breasts
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
1 can (15 oz) corn
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
1 cup water
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 whole bay leaf, optional
Tortilla chips
2 limes
Low fat sour cream
Low fat cheddar cheese


Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, corn, beans, garlic, water, chicken broth, seasonings, cilantro, and bay leaf into the crock pot. Stir and cover. Put on low setting for 7-8 hours.

Remove chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks. Place back in the crock pot and stir.

Serve with tortilla chips, avocado, low fat sour cream, lime wedges, and a sprinkle of cheese!

Source: adapted from Tasty Kitchen


PostHeaderIcon Pecan Granola Bars

Last weekend my husband, his grandparents, and I took the Amtrak from Chicago to Seattle. It was quite an experience to say the least. :) In preparation for the trip, I decided to make these delicious pecan granola bars…..and I was very glad I did. Even though we ate A LOT on the train, it was nice to have something homemade to snack on.

I tweaked the original recipe a bit to make it a little healthier. For instance, I substituted whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. I also used 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce instead of 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Don’t worry, it still tastes great without all that extra oil. A little tip is to measure out the vegetable oil first and then use the same measuring cup for the honey. This will prevent the honey from sticking to the measuring cup, making your life easier. This is a great recipe and can easily be adapted if you don’t have pecans on hand. You could substitute the pecans for almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, raisins, etc. Just have fun with the recipe!

I took a bunch of nice pictures on our Amtrak trip but nothing compares to this picture……

….they are such a cute couple!!!!

Pecan Granola Bars


2 cups rolled oats
1/2 – 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup vegetable oil & 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, pecans, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Source: adapted from All Recipes


PostHeaderIcon Restaurant-Style Hummus

My husband and I are currently having a Terminator marathon. We watched The Terminator a couple weeks ago, so this past weekend we watched The Terminator 2 (yeah, I know, we’re a pretty cool couple). :) We have seen both movies but it has literally been ages so I decided it was time to re watch them. We loved the movies to say the least! Big 80′s hair on women + Arnold Schwarzenegger = a very entertaining (and pretty funny) movie. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen either movie I highly suggest you do!

I decided to make this hummus to snack on during the movie. I was excited to find a great hummus recipe from Cook’s Illustrated – where they test a recipe hundreds of times until it is perfect. This hummus is creamy, light, and I’m already looking forward to snacking on the leftovers this week. I followed the original recipe exactly except I used a little less tahini and cumin than originally called for, the recipe below shows these changes. I served the hummus with pita chips but hummus also goes well served with pretzels and vegetables.

Restaurant-Style Hummus


3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons tahini , stirred well
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced


Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated


PostHeaderIcon Strawberry Sorbet

People frequently ask me what my cravings have been so far this pregnancy. I never really know how to answer that question since I haven’t had a lot of weird pregnancy cravings (yet, that is). However, I have been eating fruit like it’s going out of style – so I think that’s my biggest craving so far. Watermelon, strawberries, or any other type of fruit I can get my little paws on I’ll eat!

Now who wouldn’t crave these? :)

The moment I saw these strawberries at the store I knew I needed to make something with them….so that’s exactly what I did! After snacking on them I decided to make strawberry sorbet (along with this strawberry cake). I purchased an ice cream maker last summer and I couldn’t be happier with it! Since it has been on a brief hiatus in our closet over the winter I was very excited to bring it out to celebrate the warmer weather. I made this strawberry sorbet a couple times last year and I was glad to bring it back in our ice cream/sorbet rotation! The recipe recommends straining the seeds but I skipped that step. I love the texture the seeds add to the sorbet! By the way, if you are looking for additional ice cream/sorbet recipes I highly recommend The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.

Strawberry Sorbet

Makes about 3 cups
1 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kirsch (optional)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar and kirsch, if using, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve.  Cover and let stand for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Puree the strawberries and their liquid with the lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds if you wish.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz


PostHeaderIcon Strawberry Cake

I rarely bake cakes since my husband and I don’t need an entire cake laying around the house, even though we could totally polish one off. Since my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and their friends came to visit this weekend I was excited to bake a cake for their visit. It’s always difficult to decide what to bake since I have so many items on my to-bake list. I wanted something that was light, fruity, and required basic ingredients. Well, this strawberry cake definitely fit the bill!

I was glad I decided on this particular cake since everyone really enjoyed it. It was very easy to make and the end result looks beautiful. I loved how the sliced strawberries peeked through the top of the cake. I served it with Cool Whip since I didn’t want to put a heavy frosting on such a light cake. The result was delicious!

Strawberry Cake

Serves 10


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan or pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.

Gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Arrange strawberry slices on top of batter. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in pan. To serve, cut into wedges. Store cake at room temperature, for up to two days.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Martha Stewart