One of the Best (and easiest) Appetizers for Fall…Caramel Apple Brie…just a bite away

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that wows every time? Butterscotch-Caramel Brie with Dried Apple, Pecans, and Cranberries-This tasty version of caramel smothered brie does just the trick. Not only do the flavors resemble a caramel apple…they take a huge gourmet leap forward by incorporating both sweet and savory flavors!

The tasty supplies:

1 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch and Caramel Topping (you may have to hunt for this in the grocery store, but most mainline stores do carry this. If you can’t find it, it is okay to substitute with a mixture of Butterscotch and Caramel from another company such as Sanders. If you have the time, you can also order Mrs. Richardson’s online from Amazon)

1 bag of dried apple slices

1 bag of dried cranberries

1 cup of whole or chopped pecans

1 wheel of briecheese

How to smother your brie:

Simply heat your Butterscotch and Caramel in the microwave or stove top until warm. Add in your dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour over the wheel of brie. Serve with crackers. Oh, my goodness! It doesn’t get any better! So simple…so fast…so good! Great for football tailgating in the fall, a Thanksgiving appetizer, or even a winter treat!

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Best Grilled Chicken Recipe…EVER!!!!

Grilled Chicken Skewer With SaladSo, I swore that I would never share this recipe! It has been my entertaining go to for several years now, and it is always a hit. Not only is it fairly easy, it is incredibly healthy and delicious. Although it’s primarily meant for summer grilling, I adapt it for the winter months too by baking the chicken instead of grilling it…still delicious!

Mediterranean food is just plain healthy (It’s also my favorite). Give me some tabouli and hummus, and I’m in paradise. Although tandoori is technically an Indian dish, I like to pair it with Mediterranean sidekicks. The yogurt marinade and side sauce make the ensemble work deliciously. Even if you don’t usually gravitate toward ethnic foods, give it a try. Your taste buds may surprise you. My sidekicks for this chicken dish include rice pilaf, tabouli, pita and hummus, and a watermelon/mint salad for dessert. Here is my version adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook.

The Chicken Marinade: 

3/4 cups plain yogurt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I often double the recipe for company)

Chicken Directions: 

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Using a knife, score the chicken (make small cuts into the meat). Place flat in a dish and pour the above marinade over the meat, coating both sides completely. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (overnight is even better). Get the grill going, and throw the chicken on. Use the left over marinade to re-coat the chicken when you flip it. Cook on grill until fully cooked (approx. 20-30 min).

The Side Sauce:

1 cucumber chopped

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Side Sauce Directions: 

Simply mix it all together and serve it on top of the chicken or on the side as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

Enjoy!!

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Healthy Home-Cooked Meatloaf…comfort food made better

I’m not usually a huge fan of meatloaf, but I like to vary things up in the kitchen. My husband is quite the carnivore so a chunk of meat always gets him excited. While meatloaf is usually loaded with a high fat content, I’m going to introduce you to the Eating for Life: Cookbook version. This turkey meatloaf recipe is quick to throw together, but it does need an hour to bake.

Healthy Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey (make sure that you choose LEAN. So either 97/3, 95/5, or 93/7 Lean to fat ratios with 97/3 being the leanest. Otherwise, your turkey may be just as fattening as ground hamburger. 
1 medium onion, chopped
4 egg whites
1 cup salsa (I prefer Pace salsa)
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 pkg Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup

How to Make a Good Old-Fashioned Meatloaf…just a little better:

Preheat your oven to 350°FIn a large bowl combine your ground turkey, chopped onion, egg whites, salsa, oats, soup mix and black pepper. Press this mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan and spread your ketchup over the top. Throw this in your oven and bake until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center and there is clear juice.  This will be approximately 60 minutes, but make sure to check. Nothing is worse than raw meatloaf…especially when you’re using turkey! Once it is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before you slice it. Pair this with steamed green beans and a baked sweet potato. Yummy comfort food never tasted so good!
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Juicy Baked Cranberry Chicken that Will Give Every Turkey a Run For the Oven:

What?? NO TURKEY!! You read it right. If you don’t have time to cook a big bird in the oven this year…I’ve got a tasty solution that will challenge this holiday tradition! It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s extra tasty! No, it isn’t Tofurky. I tried that. I spit that out. I never tried that again. Sorry, just being honest! This recipe is an all-time favorite in our house. Not sure where it originated from other than my mom’s kitchen. She’s always throwing something amazing together!Diptic

Juicy Baked Cranberry Chicken that Will Give Every Turkey a Run For the Oven: 

1- 1 1/2 packages of boneless skinless chicken breast (all natural. no hormones added. organic preferred). You can use about 4-6 chicken breasts.

2 cans of whole cranberry sauce

1 package of dry onion soup mix

1 bottle of either French, Creamy French, or Catalina or Creamy Catalina salad dressing

4 ingredients! Diptic

Let’s Make Supper! 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wash your chicken breasts. In a medium to large baking dish combine your cranberry sauce, your onion soup mix packet, and your full bottle of salad dressing. Mix until well combined. Next add your chicken breasts to the dish and cover them completely with your sauce. Cover your dish with either a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Delicious!!!Diptic

Serve with a green been casserole and stuffing. Thanksgiving is served!

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The “Skinny” on a Pasta Primavera that’s Healthy, Fast, and Delicious!

I may not be Italian, but this girl knows how to eat pasta! When I was 22 weeks pregnant my husband and I travelled to Italy for three weeks. And, while my love affair with pasta was dreamy at first, after three weeks I was longing for anything but noodles and sauce! Thankfully, my appetite for pasta has recovered, but I still attribute my last few stubborn pounds of extra baby weight to an excess pasta intake! Should I skip it all together and never feed my noodle cravings? Absolutely not! Solution…Pasta Primavera on the Skinny! This version is oil free, packed with veggies, and boasts a whole grain noodle! Choose the vegetarian version by skipping on the chicken that I’ve added below. Little Italy here we come!Iphone 1045 Iphone 1033

Pasta Primavera on the Skinny:

1 can of Hunt’s Basil, Garlic, and Oregano Diced Tomatoes

1/2 cup dried cherries (Michigan Cherries are preferred:)

2 cups fresh spinach

1 zucchini chopped

1 yellow squash chopped

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup freshly ground parmesan cheese

1 box whole wheat linguine

1 Rotisserie Chicken breast chopped or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces

The Skinny on how to make the best Pasta Primavera that won’t expand your waistline: 

Noodles: Start your noodles first because it may take a little while to get your water boiling. Fill a pot 2/3 full with water. Add 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil. Add noodles and let boil until tender. Drain water. SKIP the OIL TOSS!DipticDiptic

Sauce: Start by using a non-stick skillet. This way you won’t have to add any oil! Next, wash your chicken breasts, and cut them into small chunks. Cook them almost completely/or completely in your non-stick skillet on medium-high heat before adding the other ingredients. (if you are using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken then skip this step. Simply cut the rotisserie chicken breast into chunks that you can add into your sauce toward the end. Start by cooking your squash as your first step and then follow the remainder of the steps as listed below) Stir fairly frequently to prevent burning. Once your chicken is cooked, add your zucchini and your squash. Cook this for about 5 minutes to allow your squash to soften a little before adding the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice included). Stir. Next add your garlic powder, garlic salt, fresh spinach, and lastly your dried cherries. Stir it all together and let simmer for a good 15-20 minutes or until the squash is fully cooked. Now add half of your parmesan cheese to the sauce and mix. Put your noodles on a plate and top with your sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top. Delicious!!!! Hand me a spoon and a fork to twirl. Let’s Eat!Diptic

Ciao! From,

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The Healthiest Veggie Soup in the Pot…kale never tasted so good!

My sister has been on a vegetarian kick for some time now. And, while she wouldn’t consider herself a full-fledged vegetarian, she rarely eats pork, occasionally eats chicken, and avoids beef like it’s the plague. I admit, I love my fruits and veggies, but a good sirloin burger every now and again does make my mouth water and my stomach rumble.Diptic

My point being…my sister was ranting and raving about one of her new favorite veggie soup recipes from the Eat to Live Cookbook: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health -extra healthy (loaded with everything GREEN) and super yummy! I decided to give it a try, but since my husband is something of an extreme carnivore and I love chicken, I modified the recipe to meet our dietary needs and our taste buds’ expectations. I found the original recipe (Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup) to be a little…hmm…dense in flavor, even rich. So, if you want to stick with the original, go for it. If you want to keep it vegetarian but agree with my “dense” assessment, simply add in a can or two of vegetable broth. If you can’t do nuts, skip on the cashews. Finally, if you like your meal to have some meat, stick with my version of the recipe…The Healthiest Chicken and Veggie Soup in the Pot.

Lets Get Produce Shopping & Chopping:

1 Head of Cauliflower-cut into pieces

3 Carrots, coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped celery

2 cloves minced garlic

2 Tablespoons of  Dr. Fuhrman’s VegiZest or other no-salt seasoning

2 cups carrot juice

4 cups water

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raw cashews

5 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach

1 large box of organic Chicken Broth

1 Cooked Rotisserie Chicken-Skin removed and breast meat cut into slices or chunks

Diptic

Lets Get Steaming & Simmering:

Chop, Chop, Chop!!! Yes, cutting up veggies can be a little time-consuming. Once you have finished chopping, throw everything EXCEPT for the cashews, kale, chicken, and chicken broth into a large pot. Put a lid on your pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or just until the veggies are tender. Get your food processor ready!

Next grab 5 cups of your chopped kale and throw it in a smaller pot to steam on the stove top. If you have a steamer insert great! If not, then just add about 2/3 cups of water to the kale and put a lid on it. Steam on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until fully cooked. If you chose to use spinach instead of the kale, just skip the steaming step. You will be able to toss the raw spinach right into the pot of soup in just a few minutes.

Now take 2/3 of your soup (veggies and broth included) and blend them in the food processor with your cup of cashews until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. Once smooth, add back into your original soup pot and stir. Toss in either your steamed kale or your raw spinach and stir. Now add your chicken broth and your pre-cooked rotisserie chicken meat. Stir. Time for super!Diptic

I paired this soup with a loaf of Rosemary and Garlic Bread, but it would also work well in a bread bowl. Happy Healthy Eating! Kale never tasted so good. My little one agrees! For more healthy recipes, click on the link above to order the Eat to Live Cookbook.

 

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Healthy, Hearty, Turkey Chili…perfect for the cold days to come

Autumn. Fall scene. Beautiful Autumnal park. Beauty nature sceneThis recipe is an easy, healthy, all-time favorite in my house. Once the weather starts to get a little cool outside I’m all about soups and stews. Turkey chili hits the spot every time. Pair it with a nice slice of cornbread and curl up next to the fire…okay, that never happens in my house. Tonight I was just trying to keep my 2-year-old daughter from throwing her spoon on the floor for the 4th time!

Down Home Healthy Ingredients:

1 package of ground turkey (extra lean) browned

3 cans of dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed

3 cans of diced tomatoes (preferably already seasoned with garlic, oregano, and basil-if not you will need to add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of garlic, a tablespoon of dried or 2 of fresh oregano and a tablespoon of dried basil or 2 of fresh)

1 can tomato sauce

1 jar mild Pace Salsa (24 ounces if possible but okay to use a smaller jar if this is not available. If you want more spice feel free to chose medium or hot heat)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 large white onion diced

1 bunch green onions chopped

1 package low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 tablespoon onion or garlic salt

1 teaspoon black pepperphoto 2

How to Get the Kettle Cooking: 

1. Start browning your meat in a skillet on the stove top.

photo 12. While your meat is browning, put a large pot on the stove top and turn the burner on medium heat. Add your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Pace Salsa, minced garlic, onion salt, black pepper, and rinsed kidney beans to the pot. Stir.

3. Once your meat has finished browning, add it to your tomato mixture and stir.photo 4

4. Now throw your onions into your meat browning skillet and cook them on medium heat just to soften them a little before adding them to the chili mixture (maybe 5 minutes. stir frequently.) You probably won’t need to add any oil to the pan since you will still have a little of the fat from the meat greasing the bottom of your pan. This shouldn’t be much fat since you used the leanest turkey meat that you could find…right?photo 5

5. By now your chili mixture is starting to get hot. Once you have brought it just below a boil, turn it down and let it simmer covered for 20-30 minutes or until the onions are fully cooked. Taste test your chili just to make sure it has the right flavor for you. You can always add more garlic, salt etc to the mix.photo 4

6. Serve it steaming hot with chopped green onions and cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.photo 5

photo 27. I do always serve this with cornbread too. It is the perfect pairing!

Cornbread in the works!

Cornbread in the works!

8. Chili (and soup in general) always taste better on day two after the marriage of flavors occurs. Feel free to store your leftovers for lunch or dinner for an even tastier meal.

 

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

One of the Best (and easiest) Appetizers for Fall…Caramel Apple Brie…just a bite away

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that wows every time? Butterscotch-Caramel Brie with Dried Apple, Pecans, and Cranberries-This tasty version of caramel smothered brie does just the trick. Not only do the flavors resemble a caramel apple…they take a huge gourmet leap forward by incorporating both sweet and savory flavors!

The tasty supplies:

1 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch and Caramel Topping (you may have to hunt for this in the grocery store, but most mainline stores do carry this. If you can’t find it, it is okay to substitute with a mixture of Butterscotch and Caramel from another company such as Sanders. If you have the time, you can also order Mrs. Richardson’s online from Amazon)

1 bag of dried apple slices

1 bag of dried cranberries

1 cup of whole or chopped pecans

1 wheel of briecheese

How to smother your brie:

Simply heat your Butterscotch and Caramel in the microwave or stove top until warm. Add in your dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour over the wheel of brie. Serve with crackers. Oh, my goodness! It doesn’t get any better! So simple…so fast…so good! Great for football tailgating in the fall, a Thanksgiving appetizer, or even a winter treat!

From The Mom in Me, MD

Greek Lamb Burgers…that will leave your mouth watering

I am slightly obsessed with Mediterranean food. Okay, I admit…that is an enormous understatement. I could eat falafel, tahini sauce, hummus, fattoush salad, cucumber yogurt sauce, kabobs, and gyros every day at lunch and still crave it all over again for dinner. I don’t have an ounce of Greek or Middle Eastern in me, but my adopted Yia-Yia (grandmother) and my best friend from childhood are both Greek. They must have rubbed off on my taste buds!

Last week I tried to recreate one of my favorite dishes from one of my favorite restaurants-the Greek burger from Cowfish. This amazing burger and sushi fusion joint, located in Charlotte, North Caroline knows how to make one heck of a Greek burger! And, while I didn’t quite match theirs, my version was equally delicious! I got a little help from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook for the burger seasoning.

What you need to go Greek! 

For the burgers: Mix all of these ingredients together in a bowl and then form into 6 medium-sized patties. They should be about 1/2 inch thick. Cover them and place in the fridge for about an hour before throwing them on the grill. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, turning the burgers once. They should be pink in the center.photo 1

photo 12 pounds of ground (minced) lamb

1/4 cup red onion minced

2 cloves of garlic minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

onion burger buns (from your local bakery or deli)photo 2

For the Cucumber Sauce:  Just mix it all together and load it on top of your cooked burgerphoto 3

2 cups plain greek yogurtphoto 5

one cucumber diced

1 bunch of mint chopped

1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

 

 

For the Garnish:  layer these three items on your burger on top of the cucumber sauce

spinach or lettuce

sliced roma or vine ripened tomatoes

one slice of a firm feta block for each burgerphoto 5photo 2

I paired my tasty Greek burger with a side of tabouleh (click here for that recipe) and some all natural Alexia sweet potato fries. I love the Alexia sweet potato fries! These are super easy to make and are delicious every time. Simply preheat and throw them in your oven to bake. You can choose between spicy seasoning, plain, or sea salt. Yummy!

OPA! (okay, not really. I’m a little scared of trying flaming cheese in my kitchen) But, there you have it…a mouth watering Greek burger with some tasty side options. My husband’s only complaint was that he couldn’t fit the whole thing in his mouth at once!White architecture of Oia village on Santorini island, Greece

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Mediterranean Tabouleh that Cleopatra would approve!

If you aren’t familiar with Tabouleh…you are missing out! This is one of my favorite Mediterranean side dishes. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, it is also deliciously healthy! I have tried numerous tabouleh recipes, but it always tastes the best when I cheat! Yes, cheat! For some reason, The Near East Company has the perfect combination of spices that I just can’t find in other recipes. Using their box mix (cheating) and then adding my own twist to it always makes the best tabouleh! This mix is a little hard to come by, but I usually can find it at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, or other organic grocery stores.photo 2 photo 2

Near East also makes some awesome couscous, rice pilaf, and lentils! These boxes double as fun shaker toys for your toddler! Ayla was entertained the entire grocery shopping trip! I’ve got quite the percussionist on my hands! photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

What in the World Goes Into Tabouleh? 

1 box of Near East Tabouleh Mix Wheat Salad

3 Roma or vine ripened tomatoes-finely chopped

3 tablespoons (at least!) fresh lemon juice. I love lemon so I usually squeeze in the whole lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional). It will be a little dry if you don’t use this, but if you are watching your fat intake it’s okay to skip the oil.

1 cucumber chopped

1 bunch of freshly chopped mint

1 bunch italian parsley finely choppedphoto 3

Cleopatra’s Recipe: 

1. Prepare the tabouleh bulgur wheat and spices as the box instructs, but don’t add anything else until I tell you! To prepare the box mix you simply combine the wheat and spice pack in a bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water to the mixture and cover. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. After your wheat has been in the fridge for 30 minutes, take it out and add your chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, cucumber, mint and parsley. Mix it all together.

3. Cover it again and put it in the fridge again for at least 1 hour. Letting it sit in the fridge overnight will guarantee the best marriage of flavors!

Want a long life, healthy arteries, and beautiful skin???? A Mediterranean diet is said to guarantee all of these things! So, dig in. Who knows, every bite may give you an extra year to live!

From The Mom in Me, MD