Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Homemade Pepper Jelly

When people first hear "pepper jelly" their first reaction may be, "Ew!" or "Weird!", but this stuff is seriously amazing. I've been eating jalapeño jelly since I can remember. It's perfectly sweet and spicy at the same time. My favorite way to eat it is on Wheat Thins with cream cheese. However, it's also amazing as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, as a stir fry sauce, or as a glaze when roasting meat. The possibilities are endless! Bonus: it also makes a great gift!

Homemade Pepper Jelly

1 large red pepper, seeded and cut in to strips
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut in to strips
10 jalapeños, seeded for less spicy jelly (I left the seeds in half of my peppers and I thought the spice was perfect)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 cups sugar
3 tbs. Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin

1. In food processor or blender, finely chop peppers. Put in large saucepan with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add pectin and boil 1 more minute. 
2. If canning (recommended) pour in to sterilized jars and water bath for 10 minutes. Wait a day to serve so jelly has time to firm. This recipe makes 12+ small jelly jars. 
3. If refrigerating, potion into containers, allow to cool and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lemon Ginger Pear Spritzer

A few months ago, I was visiting my college town and I hung out at the bar where my friend bartends. She made me a delicious ginger pear punch with house-infused vodka and I found myself craving the drink ever since.
When my friendsgiving party rolled around, I thought it would be the perfect time to try my own spin on her recipe. I know most people bring something to drink for themselves, but I always like to have a large batch of something, just in case. 
First, I made my own ginger citrus syrup. And it is amazing! I put it in my tea and fell in love! I'm also thinking it would be awesome in apple cider or with ginger ale as a non-alcoholic drink for the kids. 
When making my drink for the party, I decided to save myself the trouble and just buy pear flavored vodka, although making your own infused vodka would probably be even more spectacular! I quadrupled this recipe below for friendsgiving and just left it out for everyone to pour themselves. And it was a huge hit! This drink is spicy and sweet, and very smooth. I will definitely be making it again. 

Lemon Ginger Pear Spritzer

2 oz. pear vodka
1 oz. Ginger citrus syrup (recipe below)
2 oz. Ginger ale
2 oz. soda water
Squeeze of lemon
Sliced pears and lemons for garnish

In rocks glass, combine all ingredients over ice. Stir, garnish, and enjoy! 

Ginger Citrus Syrup

1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange

1. In a blender, combine Ginger and 1 cup water. Blend until as smooth as possible. 
2. In large saucepan, combine blended ginger with all other ingredients. Bring to boil until all sugar is dissolved. 
3. Remove from heat and let cool at least 30 minutes.
4. Strain through fine mesh strainer into container. Seal well and keep refrigerated for up to 4 months.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Czech-Style Potato Soup

Czech-Style Potato Soup

6 potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and chopped into large pieces 
1 large container chicken broth
6 eggs
1 qt. half and half
1 tbsp. dried dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In large pan, add the potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook just until potatoes are tender. Mash the potatoes in the broth to form bite sized-pieces. 
2. Lower the temperature to a simmer and drop each egg into the mixture. (It helps to drop them in different places in the pan so they don't stick together.) Do not stir. Allow eggs to cook about 10 minutes.  
3. Add the half and half to the pan. Stir gently to combine. Add the dill and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to hear through, but do not boil. 
4. To serve, place one egg at the bottom of each bowl, then fill with potatoes and broth. Enjoy!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Low-Cal Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake

Low-Cal Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake

1 1/2 frozen bananas
2 tbsp. PB2 
1 tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 cup light almond milk, unsweetened

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Add additional almond milk if too thick. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ground Turkey Lasagna Rolls

Now that Chicago has decided to be extremely cold and stay frigid until spring, I find myself craving warm comfort food. Usually these dishes are super high calorie, so I like to find healthier substitutions. This recipe uses ground turkey instead of greasy pork or beef, skim milk ricotta, and fat free mozz. Each roll is only 260 calories each! Yum! 

Ground Turkey Lasagna Rolls

32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. Jennie-O Italian Seasoned Lean Ground Turkey
12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 3/4 cup (1 bag) fat free shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. In large fry pan, cook turkey until browned, stirring occasionally. Once turkey is cooked, remove from heat.  Pour 1/2 container of spaghetti sauce in pan with cooked turkey. Stir until well combined. 
3. Cover bottom of lasagna pan with 1/4 jar of spaghetti sauce, spreading evenly. 
4. Place cooked noodles flat on wax paper. Spread a thin coating of ricotta cheese, covering each noodle. Spoon thin layer of meat mixture over ricotta. Sprinkle small amount of shredded mozzarella over meat mixture. Roll up noodles slowly and place seam sides down in baking dish. 
5. Ladle the remaining 1/4 jar of spaghetti sauce on top of lasagna rolls. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
6. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until cheese is melty. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Banana Bread Muffins

I'm always experimenting with different variations of banana bread. It's a slight obsession. I actually buy bananas just to let them get brown. I love how moist and flavorful my banana bread always turns out. And I just happened to have some apples that needed to be used up. So, I give you this recipe for apple cinnamon banana bread muffins with a delicious cinnamon sugar crumble. This may be my favorite banana bread recipe yet! So delicious and perfect for fall! 

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Banana Bread Muffins

4 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 small or 1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped 
2 tsp. cinnamon

For crumble topping:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. In large mixing bowl, combine bananas, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over mixture. Slowly stir in flour, making sure not to over mix. Fold in apples and cinnamon. 
3. In separate bowl, combine all ingredients for crumble topping. Squish with hands until well combined and crumbly. 
4. Pour batter evenly in to greased muffin pan. (Makes about 14 muffins.) Fill each cup about 2/3 of the way full with batter. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly on top of batter. 
5. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until edges are browned and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Skinny Chocolate PB2 Cupcakes

Two words: Chocolate. Cake. So delicious, so decadent, and (usually) so sinful. Sin no more with my Skinny Chocolate PB2 Cupcakes! This recipes uses PB2 (powdered peanut butter) instead of flour, greatly reducing the fat and calorie count. I chose to frost mine with re-concentrated PB2, but feel free to experiment with toppings of your own!

Skinny Chocolate PB2 Cupcakes

1 cup PB2, sifted (+ 2 tsp if frosting)
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg + 1 egg white, lightly whisked
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp water
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325. 
2. In large bowl combine PB2, Cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well combined. 
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. 
4. Pour batter evenly in to lined cupcake pan. Each cup should be about 2/3 full, making 12 cupcakes. 
5. Bake at 325 for 22-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting and enjoying. 

For skinny peanut butter frosting, combine PB2 and water per directions on container and spread evenly on top of brownies!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Caramel Cinnamon Whiskey

Last fall I went to a bar that made their own caramel-infused bourbon and fell in love! I never knew it could be so easy to make this myself! All of my friends that have tried my infused whiskey are obsessed. My favorite way to drink this is shaken over ice then strained into a shot glass. However, you could also enjoy it on the rocks, in apple cider, or in any cocktail of your choosing. Cheers!

Caramel Cinnamon Whiskey

1 bottle Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
1 package soft caramel candies

1. Place entire package of unwrapped caramels in large bottle or carafe. 
2. Pour whiskey over candies, covering completely. Make sure there is a few inches of empty bottle at the top. 
3. Cover and shake vigorously for about 1 min. 
4. Let mixture sit overnight and shake again until all solid candies are dissolved. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Skinny Chicken Pot Pie

As the weather gets colder, I always find myself starting to crave more comfort food. Most of the typical comfort food we crave during the colder months is packed with unnecessary fat and calories. Here's my take on a popular classic. My version is packed with flavor, without all the calories. I hope you guys like it!

Skinny Chicken Pot Pie 

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed 
1 cup russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped 
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup frozen corn
1/2 container (2 cups) chicken broth
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package puff pastry shells

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and chicken. Cook on medium heat until chicken has browned on all sides, stirring frequently. 
2. Add veggies, broth, and garlic and stir until well combined. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring every few minutes. 
3. While filling is cooking, bake puff pastry shells according to directions. Remove from oven and set aside. 
4. When veggies are tender, gradually add flour to filling mixture until desired consistency is obtained. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
5. Remove tops of puff pastry shells and transfer to bowls or plates. Spoon 1/4 of filling mixture over each puff pastry shell and enjoy! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Homemade Garlic Herb Pizza Crust

Pizza! My ultimate guilty pleasure! I could eat pizza every day for the rest of my life and be completely happy. However, delivery can get really expensive. With this simple recipe, you can make your own pizza and cheesy bread right at home! Yummy!

Garlic Herb Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) dry active yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. fancy garlic salt
2 tbsp. garlic herb infused olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour

1. In large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, and honey. Stir until well combined. Let set 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form. 
2. Add salt, oil and half of the flour. Stir until well combined. Continue to stir in additional flour gradually until the dough reaches ideal consistency: slightly tacky, but not sticky. 
3. Knead dough for 5 minutes to form glutens. (This makes a soft, chewy crust.) 
4. Lightly grease the bowl and dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature 1-2 hours. 
5. For best results, let chill in refrigerator for at least 30 min before rolling crust out. 
6. Put pizza stone in cold oven and turn oven on to 500 degrees. Let oven and stone fully heat up. 
7. Roll out crust on wax paper (makes transferring to stone easier). Add desired toppings. 
8. Transfer pizza to stone. Bake at 500 for 9-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

PB-Coco-Cacao Banana Bread

If you're familiar with my blog, you know I'm a sucker for banana bread. I also love chocolate and coconut together. When I was at the spice market the other day, I picked up some roasted cacao and figured that I would try it in a new banana bread recipe. And OMG is this a good one! I seriously ate half the loaf in a day. And I didn't even feel bad about it because this recipe is sugar and grain free! Yummy! 

PB-Coco-Cacao Banana Bread

4 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1/2 cup creamy coconut peanut butter
4 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 oz. roasted cacao 

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 5 loaf pan. 
2. In large bowl, combine bananas, eggs, oil, butter, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. 
3. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to wet ingredients and mix well. 
4. Pour batter into greased pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly with cacao.
5. Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
6. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting in to slices and enjoying. Bonus points if you top bread with additional nut butter!