Sunday, August 29, 2010

No-bake Nut Butter Energy Bars

So this was my first attempt at homemade granola bars and I wasn’t even really sure what I was going for.  I guess now I know a little bit more clearly what I want and what I don’t want.  These are good.  I mean really, really good but I would almost hesitate to even call them granola bars.  Maybe I would call them peanut butter and oatmeal bars?


I think next time I would toast the oatmeal with the nuts in the oven for a bit.  Maybe use some crisped rice and less sugar?  Hard to really tell which way I am going to go but I bet the kiddos will love this first try anyway!


No-bake Nut Butter Energy Bars (adapted from Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook)


1/2 cup orange blossom honey (or agave nectar)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
3 cups oatmeal
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/2 dried cherries (briefly rehydrated in hot water), chopped (can use any dried fruit you like)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 unsalted sunflower seeds


Warm the honey, butter, olive oil, and peanut butter in a saucepan until ingredients are soft enough to combine easily when mixed.  remove from heat.

Add oatmeal and protein powder and mix well  Then, add dried fruits, almonds and seeds.  Mix well.

Press into 9-inch square pan.  Let cool in fridge and cut into squares.

***These are good.  Really, really good but not very diet friendly!  Based on cutting the 9-inch pan into little squares and ending up with about 29 of them it is still 4 WW points.  I think you can eliminate the olive oil and butter and that would help but still didn’t decrease the overall points.  The peanut butter just is too much.  Maybe use less peanut butter and add some whole wheat flour?  Need to play around with this a bit…


Friday, August 27, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Bacon (yes, bacon) Cupcakes

I have so many things that I have made and kept meaning to post.  You know like the perfect popsicle, or salad and then you get distracted by a play date by the pool, or a trip to the beach, or a lengthy vacation?  Well that’s exactly how my summer went. 

So better late then never here are some cupcakes that I made for Tony’s birthday by special request.  I won’t even tell you when his birthday was but I will tell you that he loved these things!  For me it was really the novelty of it and I really didn’t like the smokiness with the chocolate but truth be told I am not a huge smoky flavor lover.  Really none of that mattered anyway.  It was his birthday and these are what he wanted…


Dark Chocolate and Bacon Cupcakes (

  • 12 slices bacon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pickled Jalapenos

DSC_0174 This picture was taken back in June and the plant has grown like crazy since then!

I planted a little plant.  A little Jalapeno plant.  I watered this plant, I loved this plant…this plant grew and grew and then become a tree.  It supplied me with all the jalapenos a person could want…and then some!!!!  LOL!!!

I really didn’t think that this plant would survive the searing summer sun and temps but it has thrived.  Thrived to the point that it has a 2 inch trunk and peppers popping out all the time!  And these are hot.  Very hot peppers.  Last week I ended up with so many I wasn’t sure what to do with them  I just can’t keep up with simply eating them.  So I decided to pickle them.  A favorite topping of mine on nachos!


I am submitting this post to this months Grow Your Own (GYO) event because I really did grow this jalapeno tree!!!


Pickled Jalapenos (Recipe from The Purple Foodie)


about 20 jalapenos, whole or sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, lightly pounded
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp sugar


  1. Pack the jalapeños in a clean glass jar.
  2. In a saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the jalapeños and let it rest for a few hours. Shake it up a little so that the peppercorns are evenly distributed.
  4. For a crunchy bite, you can start nibbling on them within a few hours. As for softer texture, let this sit for 4-5 days.
  5. Keep refrigerated for up to two months or can it according to jar manufacturer’s instructions.

***I added some onions to the jar and the top to help keep the jalapenos under the pickling brine!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pasta All'Amatriciana

Sunday dinner for us has usually included a big meal that generally takes a ton of prep and a long time to cook as it is the one day of the week that we don’t have anything going on.  This week was going to be different and I wanted to try a recipe that would help me to feel really good the next morning when I went for my run!  This recipe fit the bill perfectly and one I will be adding to our regular rotation. The balance of salty, smoky and sweet is amazing and I loved the whole wheat pasta that we used with it!

This is a traditional Roman dish and the next time I make it I want to use some good pancetta in it.  I used bacon and loved it so can only imagine how great it would be with pancetta!!!  I think I will also add some red pepper flakes to give it a spicy edge to it…


Pasta All'Amatriciana (How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup minced good bacon or pancetta
1 small onion, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, drained
1 pound linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, or other long pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Minced fresh parsley leaves


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Place the oil and bacon or pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the meat becomes crisp, about 10 minutes.
3. When the meat is done, remove it with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it browns. Turn off the heat for a minute (this will reduce the spattering when you add the tomatoes).
4. Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture becomes saucy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until it is tender but firm. Drain it, toss it with the sauce, and top with the reserved bacon, the Parmesan, and the parsley. Serve, passing additional Parmesan at the table.

***This is really such a perfectly balanced dish!  Salty, sweet and acidic all in one forkful.  I did use whole wheat linguine instead of white and 2 can of diced and drained tomatoes.

***I calculated this without the Parmesan and Romano cheese as you can sprinkle this on yourself and it came out to 7 WW points based on 4 servings.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Mediterranean Lentils

When I was in Toronto last month my Mom gifted me with a cookbook that my sister has been raving about.  Turns out I love this cookbook as well!

I have made several recipes from it already but seeing as the kids are still out of school I still have no time for myself!  That’s all about to change coming up next week.  Summer is officially over and the kids start back to school on Monday.  Really bittersweet for me.  I have had so much fun with them this summer, probably one of our best summers yet!

Anyway onto the recipe and expect to see a lot more from this book and from me…

Mediterranean Lentils


***Soak the lentils overnight


1 cup lentils (green hold there shape better and are firmer)
2 thin leeks, whites only, washed well and chopped thinly
1 cup cilantro
2 tsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fish sauce (called for 3 but I added less)
1 Tbsp best quality extra virgin olive oil


Soak the lentils in plenty of cold water overnight.

Rinse and drain the lentils.  Place in a large saucepan and cover with just enough fresh water to cover them.  Bring to a boil.  Skim any foam from the water and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the chopped leeks and cilantro to the lentils and stir.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer until tender-about 30 minutes.

Serve hot.

***I thought this was delicious!  Sadly though the night that I made it all I had time to make to go with it was hamburgers!  LOL.  Not the best combo but I can assure you that they were delicious the next day for lunch!!!

***WW point based on a one cup serving…1 Point!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Grilled Pizza for dinner…

The first time I tried grilling pizza was when we were in Toronto visiting my family.  It was something we had all wanted to try but had just never gotten around to doing it. So out I went and bought some grocery store pizza dough (divide it into 4 servings when you get it home) and some fresh and yummy toppings and into the world of pizza grilling we dove!

DSC_0312 Mine was simply olive oil, fresh garlic, mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil…


Our biggest concern was that the dough would drip through the grill plates but it cooks up so quickly that there is no real worry to it.  You need to have your grill heated up to about 350F to crisp it quickly.

The trick, I think, to this is to have all of your toppings ready to go on and to not overload the pizza.  You do need to work fast once the bottom which becomes the top is grilled nice and crispy.  We did individual ones for ease of preparation and they worked perfect.  No problem flipping etc…

The second time we made them was here at home and I used my bread machine pizza dough recipe.  We divided this one into 4 to make 4 individual pizzas for us.  This worked perfectly as well and was a bit easier to stretch and shape then the grocery store one…

DSC_0203 This one was topped with garlic and herbed olive oil, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil, oregano and some homemade arugula pesto…simply delicious!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Malaysian Shrimp Salad

It’s hot here.  Very, very hot here.  Yes, I know that I live in SW Florida and that the summers are really hot but this is hot even by Floridian standards.  Every single day the heat index is up over 105F and that just makes it really challenging when trying to do anything other than lounge in a pool all day!  Gotta give my oldest credit though!  She is still riding and racing BMX even in all this heat…

When I saw this salad on the Weight Watcher site I knew I had to make it.  Minimal heat being used and if you use precooked shrimp no heat being used at all.  Perfect summer food for me!!!  I would have used the fresh mangoes from my Mango tree but unfortunately my dog and possums got all of them faster than I could…


Malaysian Shrimp Salad


1 pound(s) cooked and chilled shrimp, peeled, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)  
1 cup(s) mango(es), diced
1 cup(s) cucumber(s), diced 
2 Tbsp mint leaves, fresh, minced 
1 tsp green hot chili pepper(s), serrano-variety, minced (or to taste) I used a jalapeno
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice 
2 tsp lime zest 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1/2 tsp sugar   


  • In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, mango, cucumber, mint and pepper.
  • In another bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice and zest, salt and sugar; toss with shrimp mixture. Yields about 1 cup shrimp salad per serving.
  • **I thought this was delicious but maybe a little flat tasting…maybe more salt? 

    ***WW points is 4 based on a 1 cup serving