Easy Baklava

One of my oldest and dearest friends got married last night :-)

It was a beautiful, simple, and elegant wedding, and it perfectly suited the couple. Instead of a traditional multi-tiered cake to feed all the guests for dessert, they had a small cake and asked a few friends and family to make a dessert to be served alongside it. I was honored and happy to make one of my family’s favorite desserts for this special occasion- baklava!

Easy Baklava 2

Baklava is one of those things that most people don’t make from scratch. Usually, people have it when they visit a Greek deli or go to their local Greek festival once a year. It’s a little intimidating, especially for non-Greek folks. But let me assure you, this recipe is easy to make (albeit a tad tedious to assemble) and uses only a few ingredients. It’s a delicious, impressive dessert that’s buttery, sweet, and filled with the warming spices of cinnamon and clove. 

Easy Baklava 1

Traditionally, baklava is topped with a syrup consisting of sugar, honey, and water. I cheat with a trick my mom taught me- instead of making a syrup, I just use plain ol’ honey to top it off. (to ensure the honey is not too thick and coats the baklava evenly, I set it on top of the stove while the baklava is baking, which heats it up and thins it out really well.) 

This recipe is certainly not 100% unprocessed (there is white flour in the phyllo dough and white sugar in the nut mixture), as most of my recipes are. However. Using honey does cut down on the amount of white sugar in favor of a more natural one. Plus, nuts are super good for you! So, not only is it a wicked impressive dish to make- it’s also certainly not the MOST unhealthy thing you could consume for dessert :-)

Easy Baklava 3

Working with phyllo dough: Phyllo dough can sometimes be difficult to work with, so just make sure you are in a patient mood when using it. Phyllo consists of very thin layers of dough separated by a dusting of flour. Sometimes the layers are stuck together, which can make them tear. This is fine- just patch up pieces of the phyllo as necessary! No one will ever know. In addition, you will need to work rather quickly, since the dough has a tendency to dry out. One final thing- the phyllo dough will come in a size that needs to be cut down. Put your baking dish on top of the phyllo after rolling out and use a sharp knife to cut the stack of dough to the size of the baking dish by tracing it- and put your geometry skills to work by getting as many pieces as possible out of the dough.

Making ahead: Baklava can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake it, which makes it a really great option for entertaining!

Serving suggestion: You can make baklava sundaes by chopping up a piece of baklava and serving it over vanilla ice cream. YUM.

Easy Baklava

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Easy Baklava

Baklava is a delicious, impressive dessert that's buttery, sweet, and filled with the warming spices of cinnamon and clove. It's not as hard as you think- especially with this super easy trick!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed*
  • 5 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 sticks butter, melted
  • one 16 oz. jar honey
  • whole cloves**

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Unroll the phyllo dough and, using a sharp knife, cut the stack down to the size of the baking dish (You can place the dish on top of the phyllo to trace it. You should be able to get two baking dish size cuts out of the stack, with a few scraps.)
  4. Place one piece of phyllo on the bottom of the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter on top of it. Layer another piece of phyllo and repeat until you have 6 layers.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the walnut mixture on top of phyllo layers in baking dish.
  6. Layer 6 more layers of phyllo on the walnut mixture, and repeat until you have no mixture left, ending with the rest of the phyllo dough (the top layer may have more than 6 layers).
  7. Spread the rest of the butter evenly on top of the last layer of phyllo.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut the top layers of phyllo into small squares, diamonds, or triangles.
  9. Stick a whole clove in the center of each piece.
  10. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. While the baklava is baking, place the jar of honey on top of the oven. This will thin it out and make it easier to pour.
  12. When baklava is done, pour entire jar of honey on top of baklava.
  13. Allow to cool completely, then finish cutting the baklava through to the bottom.

Notes

* To thaw phyllo dough, place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. It will last for about a month in the refrigerator. ** You can make this without the cloves, but I recommend having them- it makes the baklava look beautiful and gives it a great flavor!

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/21/easy-baklava/

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

“Cozy” has been the theme of the week. The crisp fall air has rolled in, and the pumpkin beer has arrived. When Zach and I get home from work all we want are flannel pajamas, slippers, dim lighting, and lit candles… and of course a cozy, warm supper to match the ambiance.

Is there any meal cozier than chicken pot pie? Methinks not.

chicken pot pie 4

Even Oscar is hopping on the cozy bandwagon! However, he declined to partake in the pot pie. He is a cat, after all.

Cozy Oscar Kingdom of Blanket

This was the best thing I’ve eaten all week. It’s so comforting, delicious, and warming. It comes together in a jiffy with a quick and easy whole wheat biscuit crust (no rolling out pie dough for this recipe!), making the meal 100% real/unprocessed, not counting a small amount of white flour used to thicken the gravy.*

And, it’s made in one pot! Just make sure you use a pot that can go from stovetop to oven. I used my Dutch oven, but you could use a cast iron skillet as well. It’s also really versatile- you can throw whatever veggies you have laying around in it (I added broccoli to mine) and any herbs or seasonings you want. 

chicken pot pie 1

Use leftover roast chicken to make this, or any other pre-cooked shredded chicken. For mine, I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker all day when I was at work (with just salt and pepper for seasoning, and water added to the pot), so I had both cooked chicken AND chicken broth to use for this recipe when I got home. I left no waste behind- I actually went so far as to use the chicken fat to saute the veggies and add to the biscuit dough (as suggested in my original Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book). I definitely recommend trying this- not only was it amazingly tasty, but I got a ton of satisfaction knowing I was getting as much use out of the chicken as possible. (You can totally use butter too, though. No pressure. It will still be delicious!)

chicken pot pie 2

The meal can be prepped ahead of time as well: simply make the filling and keep in the fridge, and when you are ready to cook it mix up the biscuit topping, spoon on top of the filling, and bake! One more tip- As I was sitting down to eat the leftovers today at work, a coworker mentioned a brilliant idea. She makes her pot pies in individual ramekins, then freezes them for when she wants a quick and easy dinner for one. Genius!

Now, back to being cozy with my kitty, my husband, and my slippers. Ahhhhhh :-)

*A note about thickening the gravy- I’ve heard mixed things about using whole wheat flour for this purpose. I’ve never tried it so I can’t confirm or deny how well it works, but I tend to use white flour as a thickening agent without batting an eye, since it’s not the main event in the dish.

 

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

With a whole wheat biscuit topping instead of a traditional pie crust, this one-pot meal comes together in a jiffy! Made with 100% clean, real ingredients. The coziest comfort food out there.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter or chicken fat
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or parsley, thyme, and/or oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of butter or chicken fat in a heavy dutch oven or cast iron skillet.
  3. Add onions, celery, carrots, broccoli and saute until tender (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add white flour; stir until vegetables are coated. Add peas.
  5. Add broth and stir (gravy should begin to thicken). Season with salt and pepper liberally.
  6. Add chicken and 1 cup milk. Stir, heat through, and turn off heat once it is thickened.
  7. Meanwhile, mix together whole wheat flour, baking powder, remaining 4 tablespoons butter or chicken fat, and remaining 1 cup milk in a small bowl. Season with salt. Stir until combined.
  8. Spoon biscuit dough on top of chicken mixture (it does not have to be evenly spread- it will expand while cooking and float to the top).
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/17/chicken-pot-pie-with-a-whole-wheat-biscuit-crust/

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Ever have a recipe that you used to make ALL the time- like, every week- and then one day, you completely forget about it? This is that recipe for me. I haven’t made it in two years, and I re-discovered it a few days ago.

I’m SO happy I did! I may be back to my once-a-week schedule. Yum yum yum.

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Spicy quinoa and black beans is the ultimate healthy yet satisfying (and scrumptious!) dish. And it’s a really easy, one-pot meal! It’s vegan-friendly and is packed with nutrient-rich grains, vegetables, beans, and tons of flavor. 

We had this for dinner topped with sour cream, monterey jack cheese, avocado, and hot sauce (chipotle tabasco sauce is my absolute favorite… go get some!) With tons of leftovers, we made burritos to take with us to work for lunch the next day… again, with all the fixings. It was like Chipotle, but healthier and cheaper!

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Spicy Quinoa and Black Bean Burritos

I love it when a meal is super versatile, and can be used for multiple purposes. Next time I make frozen burritos, I think I’m going to use it in place of the beans and rice. It also makes a great side to any other Mexican dish you are making, and is a great vegetarian/vegan dish to take to a potluck. I imagine that it would be delicious topped with a fried or poached egg for brunch as well (because let’s face it- anything topped with an egg instantly becomes brunch!), or as the base for a veggie burger.

I clearly have lots of experimenting to do :-)

Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

This easy, one-pot, vegan-friendly dish is sure to satisfy anyone who loves bold flavor! Nutrient-rich grains, vegetables, and beans make for a hearty meal topped with sour cream and avocado, or side to your favorite Mexican dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (water can also be substituted in a pinch!)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (or two cans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Optional: fixings for serving (sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, hot sauce, limes, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat until browned (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Add garlic; saute for one minute.
  3. Add quinoa, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper; stir to coat.
  4. Add vegetable or chicken broth, stir, bring to a boil, and cover.
  5. Turn heat to low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked.
  6. Add frozen corn, black beans, and cilantro; continue cooking on low heat until beans and corn are heated through (approximately 5 minutes).
  7. Serve on it's own, or top with optional fixings in a bowl or in a wrap as a burrito.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/13/spicy-quinoa-and-black-beans/
 

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

If you are from New England, you have had this. If you aren’t from here or haven’t had it… you need to get it in your mouth ASAP. And I mean like, now.

Well, read this post first, then run to the store and get all the supplies you need for it.

… did I mention this recipe has only three ingredients, besides salt and pepper? Yes, three. Fish, butter, and bread crumbs. And lemon, if you want it! Which makes this a simple, quick, and inexpensive meal to make.

New England Baked Haddock 3

This is a very traditional dish up here in New England, and is often served as the fish option at weddings and other shindigs. It can be ordered at almost any seafood restaurant, and is so melt-in-your-mouth yummy, it will be hard to go back to eating fish any other way!

New England baked haddock is perfect for when you want something pescetarian, but a little more soul-satisfying than your light and healthy grilled fish. It’s almost like fish meets casserole. It’s warm and hearty, and will satisfy even the meat lovingest of the meat lovers as a main course.

New England Baked Haddock 1

Traditionally, baked haddock is made using Ritz crackers (which are from New England) crumbled up with butter and spread on top of the fish, then baked in the oven with lemon and herbs. However, you can get the same delicious effect by using whole wheat bread crumbs and lots of butter (to get that awesome buttery Ritz-y taste). 

This way, you can avoid all of the ridiculous ingredients, including HFCS, in Ritz crackers: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (CALCIUM PHOSPHATE AND/OR BAKING SODA), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SOY LECITHIN, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NATURAL FLAVOR. For such an innocent-seeming cracker, it’s a hotbed of processed ingredients.

Yep, I’ll stick with homemade bread crumbs and butter any time (I just toast up some whole wheat bread, throw it in my food processor for a minute, and bam! Homemade bread crumbs!).

New England Baked Haddock 2

OK, now you may go to the store, get your ingredients, and make this as soon as you get back. Go! Now! And then come back here and let me know what you think :-)

And just so you know, you can use any light-tasting white fish (haddock, tilapia, cod, pollock, catfish, flounder, etc.) for this meal. That way, if you are like me, you can buy what’s on sale and save a little moolah :-)

Enjoy!

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

New England baked haddock is one of the most delicious fish dishes you will ever have, yet it is so simple! With only three ingredients and 5 minutes of hands-on time, you will have an elegant, crowd-pleasing meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. haddock, rinsed and patted dry (or other mild-tasting white fish, such as catfish, flounder, pollock, or cod)
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I make my own by throwing some toasted whole wheat bread in a food processor)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon wedges/slices, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour a little of the melted butter in a baking dish and spread to coat the bottom.
  3. Combine the bread crumbs with the rest of the melted butter (since I make my own bread crumbs, I just add the butter to the bread crumbs directly in the food processor)
  4. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish, and lay in the buttered baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the fish
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is cooked thoroughly (and flakes easily)
  7. Serve on top of lemon slices and with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze liberally!
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/11/new-england-baked-haddock-real-food-edition/
 

How to make perfect, crispy oven fries

I promised this post a while ago when I wrote about how to make the perfect simple cheeseburger. Here it is- five simple tricks to making perfect, crispy oven fries!

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 4

How many of you have tried to make oven baked french fries, only to have them come out a soggy mess, or stick to the pan, or burn too much? I have. I’ll find what seems to be the perfect recipe, with a beautiful photograph, only to have wasted my time and practically ruined a pan with sticky, burnt potatoes that end up in a lumpy pile in my trash can rather than in my mouth. So disappointing.

After a LOT of trial and error, I have figured out the way to make crispy oven fries perfect every time. Hip hip, hooray!

This recipe is simple, and uses only salt and pepper (and a bit of crushed red pepper for some heat) for seasoning, which is how I season almost any roasted vegetable I make. The beauty of these is that you can add whatever flavors you want- garlic, parmesan cheese, truffle oil, Old Bay… the possibilities are endless. They are a super healthy alternative to fried fries, they are super inexpensive to make, and if you follow these tricks they will come out perfectly every time!

 1) Coat the fries in oil and seasoning. Slice the potatoes, put in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you are using, and stir. Many other recipes will tell you to put the potatoes on a baking sheet and then “drizzle” with olive oil. This generally doesn’t work, because the whole fry needs to be covered thinly in oil in order to be crispy (unless you mix it around after drizzling with your hands). I usually use about 3 tablespoons of olive oil for two potatoes (I don’t measure- instead, I count to three using my olive oil dispenser).

2) Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment paper is the most magical cooking supply ever. Nothing will ever stick to your pan, and bonus- just throw it out when you are done and you don’t have to wash your baking sheet! Genius.

3) Spread the fries out so they aren’t touching. If the fries are too crowded, they will steam instead of get crispy, because the moisture won’t be able to escape. If you need to, use two pans instead of crowding them!

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 3

4) Roast at a high temperature. This will produce a crispy outside and a fluffy inside, since they will cook quickly. 

5) Leave the fries alone while cooking. Many recipes will tell you to flip them halfway through cooking. Not only do I find this cumbersome, but I find that my fries come out better if I leave them alone. When you flip them, they will have a tendency to fall apart since they haven’t fully cooked, and unless you spread them out again so they aren’t touching, they may come out soggy. 

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 2

And finally, as with anything I make with potatoes, I always leave the skin on, since it’s where many of the most important nutrients are (plus, no peeling!). Just make sure you give them a good scrub before slicing.

Hope you enjoy this guilt-free way of enjoying fries! And if you try any interesting flavor combos, I’d love to hear about them! :-)

How to make the perfect, crispy oven fries

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

How to make the perfect, crispy oven fries

A super simple, step by step recipe for perfect oven-baked fries (that are never soggy or burnt!)

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes, sliced into fry-shaped pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: other seasonings, such as crushed red pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 425.
  2. Place the potatoes in a bowl and add olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you want. Stir to coat well in the oil and seasoning.
  3. Spread potatoes out evenly on the baking sheets so they aren't touching.
  4. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/07/how-to-make-perfect-crispy-oven-fries/
 

Mini Tomato Pies

Have you ever had a tomato pie?

If not, you are really really REALLY missing out. A southern dish popular in the Carolinas, tomato pie is a great way to use up surplus tomatoes from the garden and make a delicious, warming, rich meal that is great for lunch or dinner paired with a side salad. The tomatoes are piled high in a pie crust and mixed with herbs and sometimes other things, and topped with a mixture of cheese and mayo that melts as it bakes and seeps into the the tomatoes. Yummmmmm.

mini tomato pies

Have I convinced you yet? Just you wait. You can make this amazing pie in miniature forms using a muffin pan! And… wait for it… you can individually freeze them to make for super quick and easy microwaveable lunches or snacks during a busy work week, when all you crave is comfort food but you don’t think you have the time to make a proper warm meal. They also make an awesome (and impressive) appetizer for a party!

I try to have mayo in moderation. But I LOVE it, so I don’t want to give it up all together. (Guys, life is too short to not eat what you love. Which is why Zach and I try and stay away from processed foods 95% of the time, so for the other 5% we can have things like mayo and Reeses peanut butter cups. No, not together.) And since these pies are so cute and tiny, it’s easy to enjoy them in small portions, hence limiting your mayo intake! (I’ve also heard that you can sub the mayo for sour cream in a tomato pie, but have not tried it. If you try this, let me know how it comes out!)

mini tomato pies 1

These have been a lifesaver for me this week at work. Zach and I work as teachers from 7:30-5. It’s a long, strenuous, active day, and by the end I’m usually blind with hunger. (And pretty grumpy from said hunger. And angry. Hangry.)

So, I decided that I needed to pack a hearty afternoon snack to help combat the hanger. These tomato pies were the perfect hearty snack for the past two afternoons and guess what? I exercised both evenings AND no more hanger. Hooray!

mini tomato pies 3

Freezer Directions: Once the pies are cooked and cooled, just place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for 20 minutes. Wrap each in saran wrap and keep in a container in the freezer. When you want to eat one, unwrap and microwave on high for one minute if frozen, 30 seconds if thawed.

Hope you enjoy! :-)

 

Mini Tomato Pies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: approximately 10 mini pies

Mini Tomato Pies

These mini tomato pies are rich and decadent, warm, and the ultimate comfort food. Perfect for lunch or dinner with a side salad, as a snack, or as an appetizer for a party! Can be individually frozen for a super convenient treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about two large tomatoes)
  • 2 prepared pie crusts (whole wheat or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain in the sink or a bowl (the salt will suck some of the moisture out).
  2. Cut pie crust into small circles.
  3. Line muffin pans with the pie crusts, pressing down along the sides to pack them down.
  4. In a small bowl, mix tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. In another bowl, mix cheeses and mayonnaise
  6. Fill each mini pie crust with tomatoes and top with a spoonful of the cheese mixture.
  7. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool, remove from muffin pan.

Notes

Need a whole wheat pie crust? Try this one from 100 Days of Real Food!

Freezer Directions: Once the pies are cooked and cooled, just place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for 20 minutes. Wrap each in saran wrap and keep in a container in the freezer. When you want to eat one, unwrap and microwave on high for one minute if frozen, 30 seconds if thawed.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/04/mini-tomato-pies/

Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I love me some whole grains, and I try to eat them as much as possible. But let me be clear. Whole wheat pasta? I eat it, and I don’t not like it, but I can tell the difference. White pasta tastes just a little better.

But whole wheat flour in cookies? You will never even notice the difference! Promise. Cross my heart.

And these Orange Chai Spice Cookies are the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth, without too much guilt since there is no white flour at all in them! And man, are they tasty. 

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 1

Granted, there is a lot of sugar in them. But since these are small cookies and are freezable, it’s easy to enjoy them in moderation and save them for a long time for when you just need something sweet in your life. Or, pull them out of the freezer when you have unexpected guests. OR, you can eat a few and bring the surplus to your new neighbors, which is exactly what I am going to do!

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 2

Fall seems to be slowly creeping in to New England early this year. My favorite season! I’ve always loved fall in that it’s a multi-sensory experience: the smell of the cool, crisp air, the crunch of the fallen leaves on the sidewalk, the beautiful foliage on your drive to work, wearing scarves and boots, and of course, the warming flavors of fall foods. In these cookies, orange, golden raisins, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice all blend together to create a chewy, spicy, unique cookie that is perfect with a cup of black coffee, tea, or cider.

It’s a perfect way to ring in the fall :-)

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 3

I used whole wheat pastry flour for these. Pastry flour is ground a little finer than regular flour, which helps avoid the harshness that some whole wheat flours can have. As an alternative, you can use spelt flour for these- it’s a bit lighter tasting than whole wheat flour, but still a whole grain (it’s just a little more expensive, too). For an example of yumminess made from spelt flour, check out my lemon poppy seed bread :-)

Shoutout to a Handful of Raspberries for the inspiration to create a whole wheat chai cookie! Genius.

Instructions below- don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients- you likely already have most of them in your pantry. Enjoy!

Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen small cookies

Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

Orange, golden raisins, and chai spices all blend together to create a chewy, spicy, unique cookie that is perfect with a cup of black coffee, tea, or cider. It's the perfect way to ring in the fall!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
  • 1 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, plus the zest of the orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • turbinado sugar, to coat the cookies (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add egg, mix until well combined.
  3. Add orange juice, zest, salt, baking soda, and spices; mix until well combined.
  4. Add flour; mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in raisins.
  6. Chill dough for about an hour.
  7. Put turbinado sugar in a small bowl, if using. Spoon out small portions of the dough and roll into balls (no bigger than a ping-pong ball), and roll the balls of dough in the turbinado sugar until coated.
  8. Place the cookie balls on a parchment covered cookie sheet, about two inches apart (they will flatten considerably)
  9. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until just starting to get golden.

Notes

*You can use regular whole wheat flour, spelt flour, or even white flour for this!

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/31/orange-chai-spice-cookies-made-with-whole-wheat-flour/

 

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

Guys, this is SERIOUSLY something amazing and wonderful. This chicken salad is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and it’s PACKED with flavor. I want to eat it every second of every day. Give me a spoon and a bowl of this stuff and I’m good! I don’t even need bread (although, it certainly doesn’t hurt).

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 1

I love love love Indian food, but have not really delved into cooking Indian food until now, besides the occasional curry here and there. (Not that chicken salad is exactly traditional Indian fare, but you know what I mean.) This chicken salad is very different from your traditional chicken salad in terms of taste, but it’s put together in a similar way which makes it easy for any new-to-Indian-cooking-cook like myself. 

I seared chicken breasts after marinating in a combination of olive oil, salt and pepper, Indian seasonings, and plain yogurt. The yogurt is optional here- but using it makes the chicken really moist and have a really great coating, much like tandoori chicken. After cooking, I shredded the meat using two forks (shredding chicken is far superior to chopping for chicken salad. It creates more nooks and crannies to which the sauce can stick). This is not an option. Shred, don’t chop. 

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 3

You can also use other already cooked chicken for this recipe- leftover roast chicken or simply cooked with olive oil, salt, and pepper (see notes in recipe below).

Now for the fun part. Traditionally, chicken salad is made with mayonnaise. I usually make mine with sour cream (since mayo has refined oils and usually some other processed ingredients, I try to have it in moderation). THIS chicken salad, however, uses a base of hummus and plain yogurt! Mind = blown.

The idea came from a friend (who doesn’t eat dairy) when we were talking about different substitutions for mayo in tuna and chicken salads. She mentioned that hummus works really well, so I gave it a try! Since I am definitely NOT dairy-free (I’m shuddering right now at thinking of a life without cheese), I used a combination of half plain yogurt and half hummus. You can use any combination of these two ingredients you wish.

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 2

Some hummus, yogurt, spices, chopped apples, golden raisins, and scallions later, I had myself a big bowl of delicious curried chicken salad to make sandwiches for the week for work. Do you know what kind of self-restraint I had to exercise to save it for work and not eat the entire bowl right then and there? A lot, that’s what kind. But I am so happy I did, as this was a perfect work lunch today in a whole wheat pita pocket with baby spinach.

Other serving ideas: use lettuce wraps, eat with pita chips or crackers, or add a scoop on top of a green salad.

Can’t wait to try my next Indian dish! Any favorites to share? Leave them in the comments below :-)

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

This chicken salad is the PERFECT blend of sweet and spicy; it's simple to make with a complex flavor that will knock your socks off. Make in bulk to have sandwiches all week in a whole wheat pita pocket with baby spinach! Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken, cut into tender-sized pieces (breasts work best)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for searing
  • 1.5 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt**
  • 1/2 cup prepared hummus**
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together curry powder, cumin, and tumeric in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a container or gallon sized plastic bag, add chicken, olive oil, 1/2 spice mixture, plenty of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup yogurt. Stir or shake to coat, and marinate for at least 20 minutes (or overnight).
  3. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet. Sear chicken until cooked through, approximately 5 minutes on each side (depending on size).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and place to cool on a cutting board for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add to the remaining spices 1/2 cup each plain yogurt and hummus**, the diced apple, the raisins, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When chicken has cooled a bit, shred meat with two forks into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add chicken to bowl and stir to combine.
  8. Refrigerate overnight before eating for best results.

Notes

* You can use already cooked chicken meat if you want- just skip to the other steps and use all of the spices when mixing the chicken salad, instead of reserving some for the marinade.

** You can omit the yogurt in the marinade and use any combination of 1 total cup hummus and/or yogurt for mixing the chicken salad.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/25/curried-chicken-salad-with-apples-and-raisins/

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Who doesn’t love a good baked potato? Deliciously simple, wicked easy to make, and super versatile topped with whatever fixings you want, they can be a really great, very inexpensive dinner on their own, or as a side dish with a delicious steak.

perfect baked potatoes 7

Unless you are my husband, in which case, you don’t ever want baked potatoes. For some reason, Zach isn’t really a fan. I, however, LOVE them. And since he is off galavanting in the woods right now chaperoning a camping retreat for the seniors we teach, I’m jumping at the opportunity to make a baked potato for dinner. Yum yum yum.

I like my baked potatoes with crispy, yummy, seasoned skin.  So many people don’t eat the skin on their potatoes, but they should! That’s where many of the nutrients, including tons of fiber, are. I leave the skin on for mashed potatoes, soup, when I make oven fries… not to mention, it means you don’t have to peel potatoes! (which I am hereby declaring as the WORST cooking chore ever.)

perfect baked potatoes 8

Here’s how to make perfect baked potatoes with yummy crispy skin, step by step.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next, you’ll want to use a vegetable brush to scrub the potatoes clean, since they can be pretty dirty. They do grow in dirt, after all. If you don’t have a vegetable brush, a clean towel will do. Then, pierce the potatoes with a fork a few times around the entire vegetable. This will allow steam to escape through the skin and proactively avoid a potato explosion in your oven.

perfect baked potatoes 1

Now, rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Coincidentally, olive oil is an awesome natural skin moisturizer. If you aren’t weirded out by this, rub the residual olive oil on your hands into your hands and arms before rinsing it off and you’ll have silky smooth skin!

perfect baked potatoes 2

Season all sides of the potato liberally with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (if you like things spicy). I will usually lay the potatoes on a cutting board, season the side facing up, and turn the potato 90 degrees to season again, repeating until I am finished. 

Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the oven and place a cookie sheet or roasting pan underneath (to catch any drippings). Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until you can easily pierce the potato with a fork or knife. (This is one of those meals that takes a while to cook, but the hands-on time is really short.)

perfect baked potatoes 3

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes. Slice the skin on top across lengthwise with a sharp knife, cutting about a half an inch through. Then, squeeze on either end of the potato pushing in toward the center. This will make the cut open up and allow access to the inside of the potato without compromising the skin’s structural integrity. Fluff the insides with a fork and, viola! You have the perfect baked potato!

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NOW FOR THE FIXINGS!!!! Sorry to yell, I just get really excited about this part. I usually go traditional: sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, and green onions. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon and/or cheddar cheese, if I’m feeling crazy. 

OR, you can try something from this awesome list of 23 Amazing Ways to Eat a Baked Potato from buzzfeed. I will definitely be trying #21 with my smoky vegetarian chili sometime in the very near future.

Enjoy!

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Baked potatoes are cheap, wicked easy, and SUPER tasty, especially if you make the skin crispy and delicious using this method! Makes a great dinner on their own or a side for a bigger meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (optional), to taste
  • Fixings (sour cream, butter, scallions, bacon, cheese, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Clean potatoes well with water and a vegetable brush or clean towel. Dry.
  3. Pierce potatoes with a fork a few times to allow steam to escape.
  4. Rub potatoes with olive oil and season all sides with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  5. Place potatoes directly on rack in oven with a roasting pan or cookie sheet underneath, to catch drippings.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork-tender.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Using a sharp knife, slice the skin lengthwise on top.
  9. Squeeze the sides of the potatoes to open up.
  10. Fluff the insides with a fork, and top with fixings.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/19/how-to-make-perfect-baked-potatoes-with-yummy-crispy-skin/

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Some people crave chocolate; others crave potato chips. Me? I crave buffalo chicken at least once a month. And when I get it in my head, I have to have it. There are no other options. I have to have it or else I will surely die.

So, I made good ol’ fried buffalo chicken fingers, from scratch!

buffalo chicken fingers 3

Guys, these are delicious. So so so so SO delicious.

As a person who likes to eat healthy, mostly unprocessed foods, these cravings can sometimes be a challenge. When I get the craving, my head immediately goes to the sub shop down the street, imagining their buffalo chicken finger sub. Yummmm. But what kinds of things are IN that sub? Countless processed ingredients and chemicals, no doubt.

buffalo chicken fingers 1

And so even though these aren’t “healthy” by traditional standards (they are fried, they are breaded in white flour, and are laden in traditional buffalo sauce with butter), they are made with all real ingredients (minus the flour*), and since you can make them at home, you can be more aware of what goes into them. There are no chemicals, no preservatives, and the chicken is free range/organic. Guaranteed, this is not the case in the sub shop!

AND, since breading and frying things isn’t the most leisurely cooking task you can do, it makes it easier to eat them less frequently once you know how much work goes into it! (TOTALLY worth it once in a while.)

buffalo chicken fingers 2

Plus, there’s a salad in this picture! Vegetables! Yay!

These are best served with a side of homemade ranch dressing. Use leftovers cut up in a salad or in a sandwich! Recipe below :-)

* I have heard that you can also dredge these using whole wheat flour, and that it will also work and that there is negligible difference. I have yet to try this, but if you do try it, please let me know how it is! :-)

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

For those times when you crave buffalo chicken and must have it or you will die. Made from scratch, with no added chemicals or processed ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons butter (for frying, plus more if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • 1/2 cup butter

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet.
  3. Place flour in a shallow bowl or dish, and beat eggs with milk in another bowl.
  4. Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then dredge in flour again.
  5. Fry chicken in oil, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked (this depends on how thick the chicken is cut) Add more butter/olive oil if necessary.
  6. Meanwhile, melt hot sauce and butter in a small saucepan together.
  7. When chicken is done cooking, drizzle hot sauce mixture over the chicken fingers.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/14/buffalo-chicken-fingers/