Almond Poppy Seed Crackers

These low-carb crackers are simple and easy to prepare, and taste great by themselves or with any delicious topping you choose. They have become a staple in my kitchen. I have found if you are using a stone baking sheet you do not need to use the parchment paper while baking, because the crackers will not turn golden brown. Enjoy!


1-1/2 C. almond meal
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust rack to middle position. Stir together almond meal, poppy seeds, coconut oil, salt and egg white until incorporated. Lay a 16-inch long piece of parchment paper on the counter. Pour dough onto parchment paper and cover with an additional piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling-pin, roll the dough to an 8×12-inch rectangle. Uncover and cut the dough into 2×4-inch crackers with a paring knife. Transfer parchment paper with cracker dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.

Raspberry Cream Brownies

This is an oldie but goodie that I had not made in a few years. Due to raspberries not being in season all year, these are great during the warmer months when you picnic or cookout more. A chocolate brownie swirled with a cream cheese batter that has fresh raspberries and topped with sliced almonds will delight your taste buds! Enjoy!


1 C. butter(2 sticks)
1 C. cocoa powder(I use cacao powder)
1 C. sugar
1 jar(10-oz.) all-fruit seedless
raspberry preserves(3/4 C.)
4 L. eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1-1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Swirl Topping
1 pkg.(8-oz) cream cheese
1/3 C. sugar
1 L. egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 C. raspberries
1/4 C. sliced almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray or butter a 13×9 glass baking pan.

Prepare brownie batter: In a 2-3 quart heavy saucepan, melt butter on medium-low. Whisk in cocoa and cook until mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar and preserves. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly blended.

In a small bowl, stir flour and baking soda; add to chocolate mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour batter into baking dish and smooth top.

Prepare swirl topping: With mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and extract until blended. Fold in raspberries.

Spoon large dollops of topping over brownie batter, spacing evenly. With knife, swirl topping into batter. Sprinkle with the almonds, if using.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Walnut Orzo Pilaf

Next time you prepare orzo, take it in a new direction with thyme, cranberries, pecans, and green onions. Thyme is not my favorite herb, so I reduce the amount I add, and I enjoy this dish. This is a quick and simple dish great for busy weeknights, or a dish you could serve to guests that will impress. Enjoy!

1/4 C. unsalted butter
1 C. diced red onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (about 3 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp, kosher salt
1 C. uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 C. chopped dried cranberries
2 C. vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 C. chopped toasted pecans
1/4 C. chopped green onion

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, thyme, and salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in orzo and cranberries; cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat tot low, cover, and cook until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Gently stir in pecans and green onion. Serve immediately.

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad

Want a quick but elegant and delicious side salad? Look no farther, this spinach salad only takes minutes to prepare. A simple bed of spinach with toasted almonds and dried cranberries tossed with an amazing dressing that completely makes this salad. This recipe is for a larger salad, but very easy only to prepare half. Enjoy!


Salad

16 oz. baby spinach
1 C. almonds, toasted
1 C. dried cranberries

Sesame Seed Dressing

1/4 C. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 C. olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. finely minced shallot
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds (optional)

For the dressing: In a bowl or jar whisk together all ingredients until mixture is well blended.

For the salad: Add spinach, almonds and cranberries to a salad bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss. Serve immediately after adding dressing.

Yields: about 8 servings

Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad

Israeli couscous looks like little pearls, and it’s made from semolina or wheat flour. It has a slightly chewy texture, similar to barley, and because it is toasted, it has a slightly savory flavor.

This dish makes getting dinner served quick and easy by grilling your veggies along with your chicken, steak, pork or fish, and only 12 minutes for your couscous to cook. A great accompaniment that is simple and easy for a busy weeknight or a relaxing weekend. Feel free to change-up the veggies to what you have on hand or to your families liking. Enjoy!


2 Tbsp. plus 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 C. Israeli couscous
3 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into planks
1 orange, red and yellow bell pepper, cored and quartered
2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 C. crumbled feta
1/2 C. chopped fresh mint

Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the couscous and toast until golden brown. Add 1-1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Set aside.

Prepare a grill for medium heat. Toss the zucchini and peppers with the oil and some salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables, flipping occasionally, until just tender and lightly charred, about 20 minutes. Remove from the grill and when cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces. Mix the grilled vegetables together with the couscous.

In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss the lemon vinaigrette, feta and mint with the couscous salad. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe courtesy of Tiffani Thiessen

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

When I first made this bread I wasn’t expecting it to wow me, but I was wrong and it has become a popular snack in my house. A rich moist chocolate bread with a tender crumb. If you have never made a zucchini bread and are concerned with tasting a vegetable in your desert, don’t worry, you can’t even tell that it’s in there. In this bread you have chocolate from the cocoa powder and the chocolate chips and sweetness from maple syrup, yum. This can easily be a gluten-free snack by using a gluten-free flour. Enjoy!

2 C. grated zucchini
1-1/2 C. all-purpose four (or flour of choice)
1/2 C. almond meal
1/3 C. cocoa powder (try to find cacao powder)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. maple syrup
2 eggs
2/3 C. melted coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 loaf pan. Place grated zucchini in a colander, allow to sit for 5 minutes and squeeze excess water out. In a small saucepan on medium heat or by microwave, melt coconut oil and maple syrup together until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together until combined, pour into the maple syrup mixture and vanilla and stir well. Add this mixture to the drained zucchini and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add both flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and chocolate chips and stir. Combine this flour mixture with the wet mixture and zucchini, stir until well combined.

Pour mixture into greased loaf pan and smooth out top. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before taking out to rest on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or wrap with foil and freeze for later To thaw, simply put in the fridge or set out on the counter top.

Serves: 10-12

Chicken Wing Seasoning

No matter what flavor of chicken wing you enjoy, or the level of heat, this seasoning is a good “foundation” to start with. I am one that has a problem with cooking meat and not seasoning it. The end result of your dish is much more flavorful and delicious when seasoned properly. This recipe makes enough for about 3 pounds of wings, so if you do not plan on cooking that many, it keeps great in an airtight container. Feel free to use on any other meat protein you’d like. Enjoy!


1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients and keep in an airtight container.

Cheesy Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake

This easy side dish of cauliflower, broccoli and a delicious cheese sauce can also become a main dish by adding either cooked chicken or ham. Pimientos and Dijon mustard are added to a traditional cheese sauce, and panko bread crumbs tossed in butter are sprinkled on top of the casserole. Since this is a large side dish, I simply cut it in half for my husband and I. Enjoy!


4 C. fresh cauliflower florets
4 C. fresh broccoli florets
1/4 C. salted butter
1/4 C. all-purpose flour (or flour of choice)
2 C. whole milk
1 (4-oz) jar diced pimientos, drained
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 (8-oz) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 C. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray and 11×7 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large Dutch oven, bring cauliflower and broccoli to boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well.

In Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk; cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in pimientos, salt, and mustard. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in broccoli and cauliflower, and pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle onto casserole. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Cabbage with Onion Dijon Sauce

Roasted cabbage slices drizzled with an onion-Dijon sauce are quick, simple and delicious. If you’ve never roasted cabbage this could be a game changer for you. Roasting vegetables brings a different taste and texture to them with caramelization and crispy edges. Add a complimentary sauce of butter, onion, Dijon and garlic and you have a delicious dish to serve to your family. Enjoy!


1/2 medium green cabbage ( about 1 1/2-lbs)
1 Tbsp. garlic-infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)
salt & pepper
Sauce:
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. minced fresh onion
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
pinch (1/8 tsp) each salt and pepper
optional: chopped chives or parsley for serving

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone or spray with cooking spray. Cut cabbage half into 1-inch slices and set on prepared baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to coat the cut side of each slice with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn slices and repeat. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. Flip the wedges and roast until nicely browned, 6-8 minutes more.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Keep warm. To serve, place the wedges on a plate and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with chives or parsley, if desired.

Yields: 4 servings

Hot Bacon and Blue Cheese Dip

This warm blue cheese dip will be one of your favorite appetizer recipes for entertaining. I can not tell you how insane it is! It is one of those appetizers that you just can’t walk away from. My husband who does not care for blue cheese even liked it. This is a great appetizer that you can put together ahead of time and then toss in the oven a half hour before your guest arrive. Serve with tortilla chips, bread, crackers or cut-up veggies. You can bake it in several small ramekins or a 1-quart dish. Enjoy!


8-10 slices hardwood smoked bacon, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8-oz cream cheese, softened
4-oz. blue cheese crumbles
1/4 C. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
4 Tbsp. chopped almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chopped bacon in skillet until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towel and drain oil from skillet, leaving a thin layer of bacon fat in the pan to cook the garlic in. Return bacon to the pan and add garlic; cook until garlic is tender–be careful not to burn it. Drain the garlic and bacon on paper towels.

Beat the softened cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add heavy cream, blue cheese and chives and beat well. Fold in the bacon-garlic mixture.
In a baking dish, spread the mixture and sprinkle with almonds. Bake in the preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until dip is melted and bubbly. Serve warm.

Servings: 12 or more