roast beef sandwiches with rosemary-garlic aioli

Just because something is simple doesn't mean it has to be boring. This is an easy dinner idea punched up with a flavorful condiment -  a rosemary-garlic aioli, which is just a mixture of mayonnaise and other flavors. Pair it with something green (we had a salad) and you have a dinner in under 10 minutes.

Sounds fancy, super easy. My kind of cooking.

Start with a really great bread (see whole-grain ciabatta, courtesy the Fresh Market bakery) and high-quality sliced meat and cheeses. We chose Italian roast beef (deli sliced) and creamy Havarti cheese.
Make the aioli: Mix a few dollops of mayonnaise with about a teaspoon of fresh-chopped rosemary, a turn of fresh-cracked pepper and one small garlic clove. If desired, you can also sprinkle in a little onion powder.
Assemble the sandwich with the meat and cheese and pop it under the broiler until toasty and bubbly. Smear with desired amount of aioli.

Top with lettuce, tomato slices and red onion. Enjoy.


white chocolate-chunk blondies

People. These are the jam. Make these immediately. Just don't count on them being great for your bikini. But it doesn't matter ... they're that good. Go!

White Chocolate-Chunk Blondies
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan  
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
  • Vanilla ice cream, for topping
  1. Make the blondies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts in a food processor until almost fine (do not overprocess). Whisk the ground nuts, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  
  2. Beat 10 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate and the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts.
  3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until the blondies are light brown around the edges and spring back when pressed, about 30 minutes. (Do not overbake or they will be fluffy and not dense, which is the way you want them!) Cool slightly on a rack.
  4. Cut into large bars. Serve warm topped with ice cream.


tex-mex beans and peas over rice

So, I'm in a produce-eating competition at work. The idea isn't necessarily to replace your meats and carbs with produce (although I'm finding that something has to give!), but rather to incorporate a variety of colorful, fresh foods into the diet. The competition runs for eight weeks, so don't be surprised if you see more veggie-, bean- and fruit-based dishes in the next month or two!

This also means that I'm upping the ante on my already robust fresh produce intake. I'm averaging 10-12 different kinds of produce each day, which has been surprisingly easy. It just means that I have to be diligent about snacking, really. Most of the time, I get distracted by things I need to do, and I forget to eat my afternoon apple or carrots. Now, I'm making myself get up to eat. I also have discovered a yummy spinach smoothie recipe that blends the greens with yogurt, honey, cinnamon or peanut butter, a little orange juice and ice cubes. Filling and super healthy for breakfast.

So, this is a recipe that I made for lunch one Sunday. It brought in tomatoes (red and yellow), black-eyed peas and black beans for a powerhouse meal. You could also add spinach if you have it, but I had used all of mine in my morning smoothie. :)
Tex-Mex Beans and Peas over Rice
  • 1 cup white or brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh salsa, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce cans black-eyed peas (undrained)
  • 1 14-ounce black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • Sour cream, avocado, tomato wedges and lime, for serving (optional)
Cook the rice as the label directs. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salsa and cumin and cook, stirring, until the salsa is soft, about five minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, plus the liquid from one of the cans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and tender, about 12 minutes. Add some black pepper to taste.

Fluff the rice with a fork and divide among bowls. Add the spinach and cilantro to the black-eyed pea mixture and stir until wilted, about one minute; spoon evenly over the rice. Top each serving with a few avocado slices, some cheese and more salsa. Serve with desired toppings.


texican turkey calzones

These are delicious. And lean. And ... Mexicany. Perfect.

It seems that I've been on a Mexican kick lately; I've just realized that. But, who's complaining? This filling meal-in-a-pocket is made with lean turkey, onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic and yummy spices - all of which is good for you! Enjoy with spicy toppings, avocado, sour cream, cilantro and lime.

Texican Turkey Calzones
Serves 4
  • 8 oz lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c green bell pepper
  • 1/2 c red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • Handful of fresh, chopped cilantro
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 ball or tube of refrigerated pizza dough (about 11 oz.)
  • 3/4 c Mexican or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • Toppings
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until pink is just gone, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan, wiping out any excess fat. Add a little olive oil to the pan and add the onion through garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about four minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add turkey and salsa to pan. Reduce heat to low and allow to sit for a few minutes. Taste and add more cumin, chili pepper, salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Unroll or roll out dough. Divide into four equal portions. Spoon ~1/2 c portions onto the dough squares and top with 3 tbsp. cheese each (I used a shallow bowl to hold the dough for this step, as shown above). Fold dough over and pinch seams tightly. Place all four calzones on the foil-lined, greased baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Brush egg evenly over the tops of each calzone and sprinkle with a small amount of chili powder (I also added dried parsley for color). Bake calzones for 12-13 minutes, until tops are browned and the bottoms are cooked. Serve with desired toppings.
Note: I tripled the recipe for a get-together, which is why the photos show an alarming amount of food!
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tangy dijon-prosciutto pizza

Pizza is easily one of my favorite foods. And this unusual recipe sounded too intriguing not to try. It blends tangy Dijon mustard with a buttery, garlicky white sauce that has a light base of skim milk and flour. It comes together to form a creamy, almost-Alfredo sauce that is, by comparison, fairy guiltless. Give it a try when you want something fresh and different. Just make sure to leave leftovers and eat a big, fat salad with it.

Tangy Dijon-Prosciutto Pizza 
  • One ball fresh pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 2-3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Corn meal
  1. Allow your dough to rise per package directions. Roll it out on a floured, clean surface. Preheat the oven to 400 (or whatever your dough package directs) with a pizza stone inside.
  2. While the oven and stone preheat, combine milk and next three ingredients (through egg yolk) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook for three minutes or just until butter and garlic begin to brown, stirring frequently. Add two teaspoons all-purpose flour to pan, and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in milk mixture, and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  3. When the dough and sauce is ready, pull the hot stone from the oven and sprinkle with corn meal. Lay the dough on top and spread sauce in an even layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border; sprinkle sauce evenly with cheese. Slide parchment and pizza onto preheated pizza stone. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden, and the cheese is bubbly and brown. Arrange prosciutto on pizza, and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately. 
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whole-grain blueberry coffee cake

Sunday morning breakfast perfection. This is a guiltless coffee cake that could be served for breakfast or dessert. It's layered with lightly sweetened cake, juicy blueberries (you know how I feel about those), cinnamon and walnuts. So good, no one will no that it's low-fat, high-fiber and, dare I say, healthy?
Whole-Grain Blueberry Coffee Cake
Courtesy Ellie Krieger
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, or frozen and thawed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to press out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt. 
  3. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.
  4. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter and top with the blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan (as shown above), smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake, pressing gently.
  5. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares. Note: I have made this several times and am always surprised that it needs longer to cook. It might be my oven, but keep cooking it until the middle, bottom layer comes out clean with a toothpick, otherwise it will be gooey when you serve it.

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