Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goat Cheese, Brie, Caramelized Onion and Apple Sandwich

This sandwich is a great combination of fall and summer flavors, which is perfect for the crazy weather we've been having.  One day it's freezing and feels like the middle of fall and the next day it's sunny and feels like the end of summer.

Also, I'm in love with the fact that it contains two fancy cheeses. I love cheese.  Especially nice cheese with strong flavors.  Two in one meal?!?! Hallelujah!

The crunch of the apple counters the soft cheese beautifully.  The savory onion pairs well with the sweetness of the apple and the spinach adds a dash of color. I love everything  about the look, taste, and texture of this sandwich.

It's great plain because of all the complex flavors.  But I am the queen of condiments.  If I'm eating a salad, I generally chooses at least 3 dressing to try.  On a deli sandwich, I get sides of flavored mayos, mustards, and hot sauce. On hot dogs and hamburgers, I eat ketchup, mustard, 2 kinds of relish, sauerkraut, BBQ sauce, and basically anything I can get my hands on. Who knows if I even like hot dogs? I don't think I can actually taste it under my mess of condiments. Sometimes I think I just eat as an excuse to taste condiments... kinda gross, huh?  So I tried the sandwich with honey mustard dressing and raspberry vinaigrette and both were heavenly.

If you are a fellow lover of cheese and aren't sick of apples yet, you should make this.

Goat Cheese, Brie, Caramelized Onion and Apple Sandwich (1 sandwich – 490 cals) from healthy food for living
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 oz soft goat cheese (about 2 Tbsp), at room temperature for easier spreading
  • 1 oz soft brie cheese (about 2 Tbsp), at room temperature for easier spreading <– you can remove the rind if you’d like
  • 1/4 apple, cored & thinly sliced
  • fresh spinach
  • 2 slices of bread (I used an English muffin, but this would be really tasty on some hearty wheat and nut bread)
  1. Slice the onion in half lengthwise (through the “poles”) and then remove the papery skin. Thinly slice the onion widthwise (around the “equator”).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add in the salt and sugar. Lower stove temperature to medium-low/low and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the onions have turned a deep golden brown color. Let cool.
  3. Spread the softened goat cheese onto one slice of bread. Spread the softened brie on the other.
  4. Layer the greens, sliced apple, and caramelized onion onto one slice of bread; top with the other.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

I'm giving up on the appetizers.  I'm sorry.  I'll do it when I can but I found myself feeling pressured to constantly munch on them because I had so many leftovers.  And I was substituting meals for appetizers all week and it was making me cranky. But there's good news....


I always said that I would never drink coffee in the morning because I never wanted to need something to help me wake up. My mother needs her morning coffee to function and I swore it would never be me.

Then I started substitute teaching.  I now need a morning coffee.  And generally an after-school coffee.  And sometimes even an evening "pick-me-up" coffee.

Not only does the caffeine get me through the day, I just love the flavor.  Usually I just drink it with skim milk and Splenda but sometimes, when I need an extra dose of happiness in my life, I need a coffee drink that is packed with delicious flavors and labeled with a fancy name.

In the fall, my drink of choice is a pumpkin spice latte.  I can't go by a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts without craving one. However, at about 3-4 dollars per drink, my wallet was getting a little lighter than I'm comfortable with. Therefore, I decided that I had two options:

1) Go on a mission to find a recipe that would allow me to indulge my cravings without breaking the bank.
2) Ask Starbucks if they would consider hiring me and paying me in coffee.

I chose number one because I don't really want to make coffee for other people. Just me.

I found this.  It's quick and easy.  You don't need some at home barista machine to make it.  It takes me about 2 minutes to make and it provides me all the happiness I need to get through my 2 and half hour graduate class. That's a lot of joy in one cup.

This is an iced version because it's still warm enough to enjoy iced beverages.  Or I'm just trying to avoid the inevitable winter season.

Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (1 serving) from Healthy Food For Living
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 3 Tbsp pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground ginger
  • tiny pinch ground nutmeg
  • tiny pinch cloves *if you don't have all of these spices, you could just use pumpkin pie spice!
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee that has chilled thoroughly in the fridge
  1. Combine milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and spices in a blender; blend until well-combined and frothy. You could also just put the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them until frothy (which is what I did).
  2. Pour mixture into a large glass filled halfway with ice cubes. Slowly pour in the chilled coffee. Serve with a dusting of cinnamon and whipped cream, if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin and Salted Caramel Blondies

This is my first pumpkin baking escapade!

And I finally tried substituting unsweetened applesauce for butter.  The original recipe called for two sticks of butter but I used one stick of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" and 1/2 of a cup of applesauce.  I have never made this recipe before so I can't comment on any taste difference. But it tasted plenty sweet and delicious to me so I think I'll continue using this trick. Between substituting applesauce for butter, using Splenda and whole wheat flower, I'll give myself a pat on the back for cutting out hundreds of calories and making this recipe more healthy!

I would bake this again just to have my kitchen smell like comforting fall spices and warm caramel.  Oh, and because they were delicious. I wrapped some up for my grandmother to bring to my grandfather and apparently they didn't make it to him so I guess that's a good sign (either that or she left them in the car, but I'm choosing to think positive).

The only downside to these treats is that the caramel makes them SO sticky.  Though this makes for a tasty treat, they were a pain to cut and came out looking a little rough.  Therefore, I wouldn't bring these to a party because they just don't look pretty.  But there's nothing wrong with some ugly deliciousness between friends and family :) After they taste these, I promise they'll forgive you!

I think these taste best warmed in the microwave for about 30 seconds with a little bit of ice cream or whipped cream (I use the fat free stuff so I can go whipped CrAzY!). Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Salted Caramel Blondies (from baked bree)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick room temperature butter(or margarine for baking)
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (I used 1 1/8 cup of brown sugar Splenda blend)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup store bought caramel sauce with 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree. Add the reserved flour mixture slowly, and stop when the batter is just combined.
  4. Spray a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Add half of the batter and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.
  5. Pour over the caramel sauce.
  6. Cover the caramel with the remaining batter.
  7. Return the blondies to the oven and bake for another 40-50 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. Let the blondies cool before cutting. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Curried Cream Cheese with Dried Cherries, Pine Nuts, and Green Onions

Back to football Sunday appetizers!

I love conflicting tastes in one dish.  I'm the person who always reaches for the sweet and salty combo. Or sweet and sour. Or sweet and savory. Or hot and sweet.  My taste buds get pretty bored so I find these interesting tastes shock them back to life.

I also love to try things that don't seem like they would go together. I find that I'm usually pleasantly surprised.  For example, chocolate covered potato chips.  I thought it sounded totally bizarre.  So obviously I had to try them.  And thank God that I did because they're also totally addictive.

Well, that's what drew me to this dip.  The sweetness of the dried cherries (it was originally cranberries, but I like cherries better), the bite of the green onion, the spicy curry and pepper jelly, the creamy cream cheese, and the crunchy pine nuts.  My taste buds were anticipating a roller-coaster ride.

That and it's literally everything Tom hates all in one dish.  Everything that I just mentioned that I love about the dip, he despises... other than cream cheese. I told him about it and he simply said, "eewww".  So I figured this should be an appetizer that I make for personal consumption, which is fine by me because it's so tasty that I don't want to share.

This isn't a very football oriented appetizer (sorry!).  But just think of it as a very New York autumn taco dip.  This might be better suited for a wine and cheese party with adventurous foodies. If you're looking to try something really simple and different, give this a shot... maybe your taste buds need to be brought back to life too!  I've eaten it on wheat thins, pretzels, rice cakes, and carrots so far.  All of them were delicious, though the carrots didn't pick up the cherries very well so I had to grab a spoon.  Because the dip has so much going on, it'd be best to keep whatever you choose pretty plain.

Now I'm going to go open a box of wine and enjoy my personal fancy shmancy cheese dip. 

Curried Cream Cheese with Dried Cherries, Pine Nuts, and Green Onions (from Once Upon a Recipe)
·         8 ounces of fat freecream cheese, softened
·         2 tsp. curry powder (or you can use an combination of savory spices like cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cloves, onion powder)
·         2 tsp. ground cumin
·         1/2 cup red pepper or red chile jelly, divided
·         1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
·         1/4 cup pine nuts
·         1/4 cup green onions, chopped (about 3 green onions)
1.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Place pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes.
2.  Combine the cream cheese, spices, and 3 TBSP. of the jelly until smooth.
3.  Spread the mixture into the bottom of a shallow dip dish (roughly 5″ x 7″).
4.  Spread the remaining jelly over top of the cream cheese mixture. Combine the dried cherries, pine nuts, and green onions in a small bowl to mix, then sprinkle evenly over top of the dip.
5.  Chill until you serve. 

 Yeah, it's in a tupperware container.  That's all I've got, okay? Jeez.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bar

Hi, everyone!  Sorry, I was MIA for a little bit.  I went to visit Tom for the holiday weekend and we were dog sitting and I didn't have access to wireless internet.  But I'm back! And with a treat that will definitely satisfy your craving for fall flavors and sugar.

These bars have so many great tastes all in one treat.  Cheesecake, apples, streusel topping, caramel.  Needless to say, this combination of flavors is why I chose it as my first apple baking attempt of the season.

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  Most of them are spices that you probably already have and the list repeats sugar and butter for all of the layers. I used Splenda for both types of sugar and 1/3 fat cream cheese.  Next time, I'll try fat free cream cheese (it was plenty sweet so I'm sure cutting down on the calories a little more wouldn't hurt).  I also want to start experimenting with using applesauce instead of butter. Or something instead of butter.  You don't realize how much butter is in baked goods until you actually unwrap stick after stick and put it in a pan.  So I'll be trying some butter substitutions in the near future. Wish me luck.

Be sure to let these chill in the fridge for a couple hours before you cut them.  I didn't because they came out of the oven just as Tom was leaving and I wanted to send him home with some.  He said they were great but I basically felt like I was a lunch lady, slopping cafeteria lunch food into plastic wrap for him to take home.  Tasted great, looked like garbage.  Once I let them cool and cut them, they were much easier to work with and the layers looked more distinct.

You can eat them cold or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and serve them with a little bit of ice cream.  I'm not really a vanilla fan (booooooring) so I've been going with maple walnut (a flavor of ice cream I have recently discovered that I like) and pumpkin pie ice cream (need I say more?).

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
·         Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
·         Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·         Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         Streusel topping,
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup caramel topping
1.                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.                  In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
3.                  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
4.                  In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
5.                   In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for streusel topping. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.
6.                  Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Black and Blue Steak Salad with Roasted Vegetables

No one knows what to do with leftover steak.  It's not really great heated up and eaten like steak the next day because it gets overcooked. Therefore, most people either throw it out, let it sit in their refrigerator until they can justify throwing it out, or eat themselves into a food coma so that there is no leftover steak.  Well, I'm sick of it. It's a waste of perfectly good steak.

Here's how you can use leftover steak in order to create a hearty and delicious salad. Thinly sliced steak, grilled veggies, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette.  YUM.  Enjoy :)

Black and Blue Steak Salad with Asparagus and Red Peppers (4 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 portabella mushroom caps
  • 1 zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 pound leftover steak such as rib eye, flank, etc., room temperature
  • 1 (6 ounce) bag mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  1. Brush the grill with the olive oil and heat it up to medium.
  2. Add the red pepper, onion, asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms and grill until tender, about 5-8 minutes and set aside.
  3. Slice leftover steak thinly.
  4. Top greens with steak and grilled vegetables.
  5. Serve salad topped blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Dip

I know this isn't a typical man-pleasing football appetizer.  But I'm by myself this Sunday so I figured I'd make a light girly appetizer.  Girls like football too and sometimes (but only sometimes, I swear) I crave food other than meat and cheese.  And considering it's starting to feel like fall, I am craving anything with apples and pumpkin.

I found a pumpkin pie dip.  Into which you dip apples.  Pumpkin and apple goodness in every single bite?!?! This was a no brainer.

Also, I put the entire dip together as my coffee was brewing.  This recipe has it all... great fall flavors, quick and easy, inexpensive, low fat, and it even freezes well! I only ate it with apples but I'm positive it would be great on other fruit and graham crackers.  This is a very liquidy dip.  I don't mind because I can just dip the apples into it rather than using the apples as if it were a mini shovel to pile the pumpkin concoction into my mouth.  If you wanted a thicker dip, you could add another container of coolwhip, but the pumpkin flavor would be more subtle.  Enjoy this as an alternative to the caramel apple dip that you can buy from the grocery store!

Pumpkin Pie Dip (12 servings – 103 cals) from skinnytaste
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used a brown sugar Splenda blend)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt (I used Chiobani)
  • 8 oz fat free cool whip
  • cut up apples to dip

1.  Mix pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla and spices, blend well. 
2.  Mix in yogurt.  
3. Fold in cool whip and chill in refrigerator until ready to eat.
4.  Serve with apples or graham crackers or anything else you'd like!

And this was my lunch today.  That might be pumpkin coffee with half of an apple spice muffin.  And I had leftover pumpkin ravioli for dinner. I am prepared to say that I have an obsession but in no way is that a problem.