Sugar N Spice Baked Apples

I have noticed that many people have a preference for salty or sweet when it comes to snacks. I am more of a sweets person and often like to have something sweet for my evening snack/dessert after dinner.  However, eating cookies, cake,  candy, and other sweet treats are not something I want to be eating everyday for health reasons. On an average night I usually do healthier desserts like these baked apples. Baked apples are perfect for a healthier dessert that is delicious and takes care of that sweet craving. I have been making these for several years now in the fall and winter months when apples are in season and are cheaper to buy than most other fruits. These are great on their own or served with vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek works), or whipped cream.

Sugar N Spice Baked Apples – Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tablespoon of softened butter or margarine

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry apples. Cut the apples in half and remove the core.
  3. Place apples on a small, non-stick cookie sheet with the cut, flat side facing up.
  4. Mix brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together in a small bowl to make your sugar and spice mix.
  5. Spread the top of each apple with butter.
  6. Coat each apple half with the sugar and spice mix.
  7. Bake apples for 25-30 minutes or until apples are fork tender and soft.
  8. Serve on its own or with Vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt, or whipped cream and enjoy.

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Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato “Noodles” in Garlic and Herb Butter Sauce

I have been exploring different ways to enjoy seasonal vegetables and to take advantage of the best produce that fall has to offer. This take on butternut squash and sweet potatoes transformed into noodles with a julienne peeler offers another way to enjoy these as a fall side dish or a light, healthy meal.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato “Noodles” in Garlic and Herb Butter Sauce – Serves 2 to 4 as a side dish, serves 1 to 2 as a main dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Peel your sweet potato and butternut squash with a peeler.
  2. Julienne the sweet potato and about 1/2 of the butternut squash using a Julienne peeler to make noodles. I recommend using the “neck” part of the squash.  There will be approximately 1 1/2 cups of sweet potato and 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash “noodles” by the time you are done peeling your sweet potato and butternut squash.
  3. Dice 1 small onion or until you have 1/2 cup of diced onion.
  4. Heat up a large pan to medium heat and put a tablespoon of butter into the pan.
  5. Add sea salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic powder, and diced onions to the pan once the butter is melted and completely coating the pan.
  6. Saute the onions for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are completely cooked through and translucent.
  7. Add extra virgin oil to the pan and stir the olive in the pan.
  8. Add butternut squash and sweet potato noodles in pan.
  9. Turn up the pan to medium high heat and cook noodles for 4-6 minutes or until noodles are fully cooked, stirring the noodles every minute or so.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Noodles in Garlic and Herb Butter Sauce

Frito Chili Casserole

This week I had my first potluck in a long time at work and was at a loss of what to bring that I could easily eat as my meal. I wanted to be a team player and participate, but not starve. This casserole was a great choice and I got many good reviews from my co-workers. I also made this for dinner tonight and my husband told me this recipe is a keeper. I enjoyed this also and am surprised that I never thought to make my own version of this before. Here is the recipe:

Frito Chili Casserole – Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of corn chips (check label to make sure they are gluten free, plain Fritos are)
  • 4 cups of chili (I made my own homemade classic beef and kidney bean chili, you can use any chili you want to use )
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. If needed heat chili up on the stove until the chili is fully heated.
  3. Put corn chips evenly on the bottom of a 13X9 inch pan.
  4. Spoon chili evenly over the chips, covering them completely.
  5. Add cheddar cheese evenly on top.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
  7. Serve and Enjoy! A great meal on its own, a salad can be added on the side also.

Frito Chili Casserole

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding

Like many others this time of year, I am currently enjoying the leaves changing colors and the cooler weather. I also enjoy the seasonal foods like pumpkin, apples, and many other fall seasonal foods and treats. This rice pudding is one that showcases a seasonal fall food and can be dessert or breakfast. This pudding is basically pumpkin pie filling and rice pudding coming together and becoming a delicious dish of its own.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding – Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of uncooked rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs, whisked together
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan and stir the rice into the boiling water.
  2. Reduce the pan to low heat,  cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain rice and combine 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice, 1 cup of milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a large saucepan.
  4. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every few minutes.
  5. Whisk eggs and remaining 1/2 cup of milk together.
  6. Stir in milk and egg mixture and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from heat and allow pudding to cool in a large container for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Serve and enjoy!

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Cajun Dirty Brown Rice

While I am not from the south and have never lived there, I like to experiment and eat different kinds of food. Last week I was on a message board where someone had mentioned they had dirty rice for dinner. I was intrigued and decided to look at many versions of dirty rice and then come up with my own. The closest I have come to making this is making my own cajun style rice which I sometimes add black or red beans to. I cannot guarentee its authenticity, but I can say that this rice is delicious and my husband enjoyed this as well. This version does not have livers in it since I do not like them at all. This makes for a great one-dish meal with a vegetable on the side, or with beans mixed in. Also, this would make a great side dish to go with your dinner.

Cajun Dirty Brown Rice– Serves 4 as a main dish; Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef (I recommend non-lean beef since the drippings from the meat help form the sauce, anything above 85% lean you will need to add approximately 1 TBSP  of butter or oil)
  • 3 cups of brown rice, cooked and drained
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (I used 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper)
  • 1  onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of Cajun Seasoning
  1. Cook rice according to directions on the bag or box and make 3 cups of cooked rice.
  2. Dice bell peppers and onion into small pieces.
  3. Cook ground beef, peppers, and onion in a large pan on medium-high heat.
  4. Immediately after placing  ground beef, peppers, and onion in the pan, add cajun seasoning and mix everything together.
  5. Simmer everything together for about 10-12 minutes, or until peppers are soft. The onions and beef will be cooked through as well by then.
  6.  Add cooked rice to the pan and turn the pan off.  Stir rice in with the meat and veggies until the rice is fully incorporated in with the rest of the dish.
  7.  Serve and enjoy! Those who like really spicy food can add hot sauce to their dirty rice.  Both my husband and I tried the dish with and without hot sauce and preferred this dish without the hot sauce.

Dirty Brown Rice

Meatloaf Burger Patties

With the weather cooling down outside, things like meatloaf, casseroles, soups, Chilis, and other warm foods come to mind for meal ideas. This recipe brings the two together and makes meatloaf something you can make for a quick weeknight dinner. I kept it burger consistency while adding meatloaf components to make this burger taste like meatloaf. This burger is also perfect for a easy to assemble meatloaf sandwich.

Meatloaf Burger Patties – Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground meat (can use any kind you like, I used 90% lean ground beef)
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce (check label to make sure your Worcestershire Sauce is gluten free, I used Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • Cooking spray or oil (optional, use if using extra lean ground meat)

Directions:

  1. Defrost ground meat before starting your recipe.
  2. Mix Worcestershire Sauce in with ground meat in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to ground meat and throughly mix everything together.
  4. Form meat into 4 burger patties.
  5. Cook in a large pan or skillet on medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, flipping patties halfway through. They will be ready when they are lightly browned and the juices run brown and clearish. (If using ground turkey or extra lean ground meat, lightly coat the pan with oil or cooking spray).
  6. Serve on a gluten free bun or gluten free bread with ketchup or on your plate as you would traditional meatloaf. I ate mine on my plate with a baked sweet potato and veggies as you can see below:

Enjoy and feel free to grill or oven bake these if you choose, I bet they would also be great cooked using these methods. Let me know if you try this recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had a few successes and some major errors when it comes to baking gluten free desserts. This is the widely shared and used  flourless peanut butter cookie recipe on various recipe websites taken to the next level. I have made that recipe which usually has 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 egg. I found it to be a good cookie, but too sweet for me. After a few tweaks and the addition of chocolate chips, I have come up with a moist, delicious cookie that will satisfy every peanut butter and chocolate craving. I made this final, perfected recipe and doubled the recipe to make a large batch of cookies. I brought these cookies to one of my closest friend’s birthday party yesterday. I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends and I did. Perfect to enjoy for a special treat at home or double the recipe for a party or gathering with friends and/or family.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2  cup of semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and egg until well combined.
  3. Add chocolate chips and gently mix them in until they are evenly dispersed through the dough.
  4. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture per cookie and place cookies about 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets. Roll cookie into ball and slightly flatten each cookie with a fork or the palm of your hand (if you over flatten them, they will end up more crunchier and flat instead of soft and chewy).
  5. Bake until golden around the edges or about 10 to 12 minutes. Leave cookies on cookie sheets for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Then gently remove cookies with spatula and put cookies onto a cooling rack or a big plate.
  7. Serve and enjoy when cookies are cooled to room temperature, which will take about 1 hour. These cookies taste best when they are room temperature. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container or Ziploc bag, they will be good for at least a few days.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

I have always been a big fan of Italian food and I always cook an Italian style dish at least once a week. Growing up in an Italian neighborhood I had a lot of exposure to Italian food and pasta from a young age both from my family and the neighbors. While I was never served Chicken Parmesan without the breading as a child, later on as an adult I have had Chicken Parmesan that way a few times at Italian restaurants.

Now as someone who has been gluten free for over six months due to a gluten intolerance, this dish  is one of the dishes that helps me to satisfy my common Italian food cravings. I had first done this recipe as a guest post over a year ago when I had my other recipe blog  (the original post is http://healthyrunnerwife.com/2012/11/27/guest-post-grilled-chicken-parmesan-recipe-gluten-free-2/#comments). I had no idea I was going to end up finding out I was gluten intolerant in a matter of months and simply took the guest post as a challenge. I am glad to have this chicken dish now in my cooking arsenal. I think you all will enjoy this easy to throw together chicken dish. This is great with gluten free spaghetti and tomato sauce on the side or as a chicken dish with other side dishes.  Here is Chicken Parmesan that chicken lovers whether gluten free or not can enjoy together.

Grilled Chicken Parmesan – Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 of a teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • ½ cup of part skim shredded mozzarella
  • 1 Tablespoon of Parmesan Romano (the kind from the pasta aisle is fine, that is what I use)

Directions:

  1. Coat large pan lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Place chicken in pan and season each piece with ¼ of a teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
  3. Cook chicken on low to medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear, flipping chicken halfway through.
  4. Set chicken aside on a plate and add tomato sauce to the pan. Make sure the pan is on low heat before adding the sauce to the pan.
  5. Put the chicken back in the pan. Make sure to coat both sides of chicken with tomato sauce.
  6. Top each piece of chicken with a light sprinkle of Parmesan Romano and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella.
  7. Cover pan with lid and simmer the chicken in tomato sauce until the cheese melts (about 2-3 minutes).
  8. Serve with side dishes or gluten free pasta  and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Fall has arrived and today where I am it feels like fall! I love the fall’s cool temperatures, Halloween, and the many delicious seasonal foods fall has to offer. One of my favorites is butternut squash. Here is a very simple recipe for a homemade butternut squash soup that pairs well with a salad and some gluten free crackers for a nice, leisurely lunch. Very healthy, yet rich in flavor along with a hint of spice. Here is the recipe:

Butternut Squash Soup – Makes 2 bigger bowls or 4 cup sized bowls

Ingredients:

  • A 12oz box of frozen butternut squash or 2.75 cups of pureed, cooked squash (I used a box of frozen, you can get store brand of this at some supermarkets such as mine and bird’s eye also has this in their veggie line)
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (use 1/4 tsp if you  want your soup to be less spicy.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Fresh Basil leaves to garnish soup (optional)

Directions:

1. Defrost frozen squash or prep fresh, cooked squash to become puree.
2. Add pureed squash along with broth and milk into a medium sized saucepan.
3. Mix liquids and add black pepper, ground ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder.
4. Mix everything together and cook soup on a medium-high heat until the soup starts to boil.
5. Add butter and simmer soup on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring soup every 1-2 minutes.
6. Take soup off the stove, let the soup cool for a few minutes,  and then serve in bowls or soup cups. Here is my lame attempt at doing a fancy food picture using a fresh basil leaf in the middle of the bowl:

The soup will need to cook off for a few minutes before eating the soup. Here is a picture of the ready to eat soup, yum!

Recipe Review – Pumpkin Spice Syrup

I made the pumpkin spice syrup this morning from Baker Girl this past weekend. I made mine sugar free with Splenda and substituted the nutmeg, ginger, and cloves with 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Came out fantastic and tastes as good, if not better than Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice. I actually liked it better. Easy and cheap to make, definitely worth a try! Definitely makes a cup of coffee with milk a bit more special and is great for a homemade pumpkin latte or pumpkin chai tea latte. To see the original post, visit http://buddingbaketress.blogspot.com/2011/09/pumpkin-spice-syrup-for-homemade.html. Here is the my slightly modified version of the recipe I made from Bakergirl:

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes (makes about 2 cups of syrup)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep syrup from burning.
  2. Let mixture cook together until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (for about 10-15 minutes), then remove from heat.
  3. Refrigerate in a heat-proof container. The syrup will thicken a bit in the refrigerator, but will become syrup-y again when heated.
Image of Pumpkin Spice Latte using homemade syrup. This picture is from Bakergirl’s original post.