oatmeal-flax chocolate chip cookies

Full disclosure: I snagged this one from the Food Network Magazine, and didn't change a thing. They are delicious and I couldn't even taste the flax! This would be a great way to sneak it into a kid's diet with one or two for dessert - just remember that they are still cookies and therefore still contain hefty amounts of butter and sugar! Enjoy.

Oatmeal-Flax Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed, finely ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about four minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool three minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Pin It


tortilla torte from my childhood

This meal is a blast from the past (circa 1993-ish) for me. That year, a summertime ear infection from too many days in the pool prompted my stepmom to take me to the doctor for treatment. In the waiting room, she came across this recipe while flipping through a magazine and thought she'd try it out for dinner. And with four growing girls, she liked that it was a large, filling dish. One taste and we were all hooked!

This has been a family favorite ever since then, although I've added a couple of things, including sauteed onions and garlic, whole-wheat tortillas, extra spices and a can of  green chilies for flavor. Serve it with hot sauce or jalapenos, sour cream and salsa, and a big, fat salad for a great, healthy dinner!

Tortilla Torte
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 large whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 c cheddar or Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Toppings such as: salsa, sour cream, cilantro, spicy things
  1. Start by sauteing the beef over medium heat. When the pink is just gone, remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels to remove any extra fat. Wipe any excess fat from the pan and add a swirl of olive oil, the onions and garlic, and some salt and pepper to taste.
  2. When the onions are transclucent, add the beef back to the pan, along with the tomatoes, chilies, beans and spices. Stir together and allow to cook together for five or so minutes.
  3. Spray a cast-iron skillet and lay the first tortilla down. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1/2 of the filling and 1/3 of the cheese on top, spreading it evenly over the tortilla. Repeat the process until you have two layers of the meat-bean-cheese goodness, topping with the final tortilla with the remaining 1/3 of cheese.
  4. Cover the cast-iron pan with a lid and cook over medium-low heat until the cheese is melty on a layer or two below the top tortilla. Throw it under the broiler until the top is toasty and the torte is bubbly, like below (5-7 mins).
  5. Serve immediately with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, jalapenos, cilantro and any other toppings you like.
Pin It


stuffed sweet potatoes with spinach and bacon

Yeah. I said it: sweet potatoes and bacon. They've officially entered each other's worlds. Yeah. This recipe manages to blend sweet and savory all in one healthy side dish. And for those who love nutmeg, it really adds a lot to this dish. I am not a huge fan of it when it is overdone, but this is the perfect amount to add an earthy, "something-in-the-background" flavor. This would be awesome with a steak or pork.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Bacon
  • 4 sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
  • 4 thick slices of natural bacon or 2 ounces sliced pancetta (about 8 thin slices)
  • Handful of spinach or 1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems trimmed, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced  
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes  
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese  
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Wash, dry, prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, or until soft. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until crisp, about four minutes. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Increase the heat to medium high; add the spinach and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, about three minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about three more minutes.
  2. Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to taste in a small bowl. Split open the sweet potatoes lengthwise and fluff the flesh with a fork. Top each with 1/8 of the ricotta mixture, then top evenly with the spinach mixture and the remaining ricotta mixture. Chop the bacon and sprinkle evenly on top.

Pin It


chicken fajitas with avocado

If you're looking for an easy weeknight meal that packs in lots of veggies and flavor, this is it. Just make the fajita seasoning and rub it on the chicken in advance (I did it the morning of, but overnight would be even better) and let it mellow in the fridge.

Fajita Seasoning
Approximately two tablespoons equals one store-bought seasoning packet. Use this amount for one pound of chicken. Try this healthy salad recipe with the leftover seasoning!
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 crushed chicken bouillon cube
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

 Stir together the above ingredients. To make a marinade, mix with 1/4 to 1/3 c of oil and add to a bag or shallow dish with the meats or vegetables.

Prepare your ingredients:
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-6 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Two garlic cloves, diced
  • Two chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fajita-sized tortillas (whole-wheat, if possible)
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce, if desired
  1. Mix seasoning with desired about of oil and combine with chicken. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Heat a pan to medium heat and add the chicken and marinade. Stir fry until just cooked and remove from pan to a paper-towel lined plate. If the pan has excessive oil in it, wipe it with a paper towel, leaving a little behind. Add the veggies to the same pan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute until soft. Add the chicken back to the pan.
  3. Serve desired amount in tortillas with cheese, sour cream and avocado. Top with hot sauce, if desired.
Pin It


beef tenderloin with rosemary, chocolate and wine reduction

Go ahead and say it: This sounds weird, right? I thought so, too, until I tried this for Valentine's Day. We knew we wanted beef tenderloin, but I wanted to incorporate cocoa into the meal in honor of the day, especially since we had pear ginger crumble for dessert. Bringing unsweetened, robust cocoa into a savory dish is a lot like bringing coffee into a chocolate cake - it ups the wow factor. The results of this Ellie Krieger recipe were amazing. Dinner party worthy and perfect for a Valentine's dinner for two.

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary, Chocolate and Wine Reduction
Sauce makes 4-6 servings (I cut it in half for our dinner for two)
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 cups dry red wine (drink the rest!)
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrot and celery and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Add the wine and broth and stir in the tomato paste. Add the bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 40 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side with the sliced tenderloin.

In case you're wondering, the potatoes in the background are these ooey-gooey potatoes au gratin.
Pin It


pear ginger crumble for my valentine

This is quite possibly my new favorite dessert. The best part is that the flavor is out of this world, but it's made with wholesome oats and whole-grain flour; fresh ginger, lemon juice and sliced pears, and very little sugar. Guilt-free and unbelievable.

This recipe actually makes a full pan, but I cut it into thirds for our Valentine's dinner for two. Perfect. The full recipe is below.

Start with 3 pounds firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Gently toss them with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Evenly divide the pear mixture into one 8x8 baking dish or six mini oven-proof dishes, such as the one shown (if using the mini dishes, place them on a baking dish together before putting them in the oven).

Top evenly with a stirred-together mixture of 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup canola oil.

Bake crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of vanilla yogurt, if desired.
Pin It


battered and baked parmesan wedges

This is kind of a cop-out post because technically I made these wedges to go with our Superbowl grilled wings. But these are worthy of their own post! For those of you who like battered fries as much as I do, here is a baked approach that is just as satisfying. Cheesy and crunchy, these will taste like you're eating junk food.

Here's how you do it:
Start with four (~8 oz.) cleaned, white potatoes. Slice in half and then into wedges (I can usually get about 8-10 wedges per potato, but eyeball it).
Spray a baking sheet and set up your dredging station with the following shallow dishes:
  • 1/3 c flour and 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large egg whites and 1 tbsp. water
  • 3/4 c Parmesan cheese with 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 425. Dip the pieces individually in the flour, then the egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to help them stick. Place each wedge on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, rotating pan after 20 minutes.


better-for-you spicy grilled wings

For the superbowl, we both wanted wings. But I'm super picky about wings, as well as their sauces, and have been known to turn my nose up at them in restaurants. Several years ago, we frequented a wing joint that had a really good dry-rub wing meal on the menu, and I feel in love with them. Now, it's about the only way I like them: a little spicy with a hint of sweetness, a crunchy bite and a juicy middle, but not nuclear (unlike the hubs).

After a lot of hunting online, I found this recipe and chose all drummettes at the grocery store. Before tossing them in the spice rub, I trimmed off most of the skin and drizzled them in a little canola oil. (Don't use olive oil or it will burn on the grill.) Try it next time you're craving a flavor-packed dinner of wings! We'll be bringing this out for company soon.

Better-for-You Spicy Grilled Wings
  • 24 lean chicken wings (I used all drummettes) 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Canola or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  1. Mix the seasonings together in a shallow bowl. Trim the wings and drummettes off any excess fat or skin. Toss with a little oil. Sprinkle chicken with most of the seasoning mixture. Allow to sit for 1-4 hours in the fridge.
  2. Grill until almost cooked and sprinkle with the remaining seasoning. Serve immediately.
Note: We also brought out the Red Hot wing sauce and added it to taste. Added some good heat!


turkey paninis with pesto, spinach and provolone

When thinking about super easy, healthy and filling dinners that are perfect for weeknights, don't forget about sandwiches. Especially toasty, tasty ones like this turkey panini. Start with a good whole-grain bread and quality pesto, meats and cheeses to make the biggest impact.

Before grilling,  layer the sandwich with a thin layer of pesto and mayo and top with slices of turkey, provolone and tomatoes. Finish with a handful of greens, like fresh spinach. Lightly butter both sides of the bread and grill until golden brown, being sure to press it flat with your spatula or another pan. Add a bowl of tomato soup and you have a filling, healthy sandwich for dinner!