Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chocolate & Cinnamon Apple Wontons with Toasted Walnuts

I absolutely love the Fall season, especially all the wonderful desserts that are baked at this time of year.  There is nothing quite like the amazing smell of cinnamon and apples to make your home feel warm and cozy.  I've made these cinnamon apple wontons with chocolate and walnuts to bring out that tart apple pie flavor along with the sweetness from the chocolate.  These wontons are baked so they are much healthier than your typical fall dessert, but just as delicious.  You can serve them with a side of ice cream or frozen yogurt.


Cooking Spray
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and minced   
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar  
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice   
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon 
3 Tbsp toasted, chopped walnuts
4 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 30 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, chocolate chips, walnuts and cinnamon; toss to coat apples.

Place wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Drop apple mixture by teaspoonfuls onto center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of wrapper with wet fingers, fold over one corner to make a triangle and press sides together to seal. 

Transfer filled wrappers to prepared baking sheet and coat surfaces with cooking spray.

Bake until wontons are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Place wontons on individual plates and sift powdered sugar on top.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Garlic Chicken

This garlic chicken recipe is packed with flavor.  You can make the chicken ahead of time and then refrigerate the leftovers so you don't have to cook for the next few days.  This is one of those dishes that gets even better the next day.


1 Tsp red pepper flakes   
1/2 Tsp dried rosemary 
1/2 Tsp dried basil  
1/2 Tsp kosher salt   
1/4 Tsp black pepper 
2 Tbsp chopped parsley  
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s), four 4-oz pieces   
1 tsp olive oil   
12 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), halved   
1 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth, reduced-sodium, divided   

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with herb mixture.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook 2 minutes on each side. Add garlic and 3⁄4 cup broth. 

Place pan in oven. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until chicken is done and garlic cloves are soft.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer chicken to a platter; keep warm. Add remaining 1⁄4 cup broth to pan. Mash garlic with a fork. Cook garlic mixture over medium heat 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated; stir. Serve garlic sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Onion Stuffed Cornish Hen

Yesterday, I went to Coffee Bean's free Kaldi coffee machine giveaway on the Sunset Strip.  It was a fun event and I met some cool people while I waited in a line that was almost 2 miles long!!  I ended up with a nice, new coffee machine (I'll be posting some drink recipes soon), but the temperature was scorching hot so by the time I got home I was worn out and had absolutely no energy for cooking.  I was beyond happy to have this cornish hen recipe ready to pop in the oven.  Dinner was waiting for me by the time I finished a nap and it was just what I needed after such a long day.  The cornish hen is an easy meal to make and one that you can prepare ahead of time and then bake when you want to eat it.  The best part is that it doesn't require a lot of fancy ingredients so you can really make it anytime.  I like having brown rice to go with it so that I can take out the onion mixture from the hen and mix it with the rice.  It's a heavenly combo.


1 cornish hen
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 Tsp low-sodium soy sauce to drizzle on hen


Pre-heat oven to 370 F.

Wash hen from inside and outside.

Dice onion and put in small bowl.  Add salt and pepper on diced onion.  Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce and stir together.

Stuff hen with onion mixture.

Place hen in a roasting pan.  Sprinkle top of hen with 1/4 tsp salt and a 1/4 tsp pepper.  Drizzle with 1 tsp soy sauce.  Pour 1 cup water or chicken broth into pan.  Roast on bottom rack for about 1 hour and 30 min. or until done and golden brown.  If water/chicken broth evaporates during cooking, be sure to add more.

Baked Chicken Macaroni with Creamy Bechamel Sauce

One of my favorite comfort foods is baked mac n' cheese.  I love the creamy cheese sauce, but I don't love the high fat and calories so I've chosen to make a healthier version with bechamel sauce.  It is just as creamy and delicious as regular mac n' cheese, but it won't derail your diet.  It's a great, hearty meal to dig into on the upcoming cold, fall days.  I also serve this dish at Thanksgiving and everyone loves it.


Chicken Pasta 

2 cups whole wheat Penne pasta
1 bone-in chicken breast
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Bechamel Sauce

4 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 Tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 Tsp black pepper, or to taste


For Chicken & Pasta

Cook Penne pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a pot, boil breast of chicken in about 3 cups of water, add more water as necessary.  Add about 1/4 teaspon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to chicken while it is boiling.

Lower the heat.  Cover and cook chicken until it is done.

Bechamel Sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add flour and whisk together until a bit brown.  Add milk gradually.  Whisk every time you add milk.  Continue whisking until sauce thickens.  Add salt and pepper, stir together and remove from heat.

Preparing Pasta

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Shred chicken into small pieces.

In a pie dish, add half of the pasta.  Add shredded chicken.  Add 4 Tbsp of bechamel sauce over pasta and chicken and stir.

Add rest of pasta and pour the rest of the bechamel sauce over it.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in middle rack of oven until top is golden brown.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stuffed Shortbread Cookies

A look at what's inside

I've created a slightly different taste to these cookies, which are also known as ma'amoul.  They are very popular in the Middle East, especially during times of celebrations.  Essentially, they are shortbread cookies filled with dates or different types of nuts.  This recipe is for the date-filled shortbread cookies.  I love them because they are not overly sugary like other cookies, but they still satisfy my sweet tooth.  They may look like fig newtons, but they are so much better because they have a variety of spices that gives the dough a unique and rich flavor.  The cookie crust literally melts in your mouth and the date filling is soft and sweet.  When you bake these your house will fill up with the smells of cinnamon and spice, which makes you feel like the holiday season has started.  These are super easy to make so you can whip up a batch for your next party or just as a treat for yourself.

A side note:  You should be able to find mahlab at a Mediterranean or Indian store.  If you can't find it, you can leave it out and the cookies will still taste good.


For Dough

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups fine semolina flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3 1/2 sticks softened butter
1/2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 Tsp sugar
1 Tsp ground mahlab
1 Tsp nutmeg
1 Tsp anise
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp black caraway seeds

For Filling

16 oz macerated/pureed dates
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tsp cinnamon


For Dough

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.

Place butter, semolina and flour in a bowl.  Knead with your hands until butter is incorporated.

Add warm water mixture and knead again.  Add mahlab, nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, and black caraway seeds.  Knead again to get everything mixed together.

Cover bowl with towel and let stand for 6 hours.

For Filling

You can prepare the filling once the dough is ready, it does not have to be made ahead of time.  Place dates in microwave safe bowl with butter and cinnamon.  Microwave for 1 min.  Take out of            microwave and stir together.  Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand at room temp. until ready to use for dough.

Making Cookies

Pre-heat to 375 F.

Cut dough into pieces and form a medium size ball.  Create a large indentation in ball with your thumb and add date filling.  Seal up the ball and flatten into a round cookie shape. You can use a fork to create designs on the cookie. 

If you have a cookie mold/ma'amoul wooden mold like the one below you can use that to shape the cookies.

Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet on middle rack of oven.  Bake until golden brown on bottom and top (about 10 min.).  If your oven doesn't brown evenly, you may need to use broil to get the tops brown.  Be sure to watch the cookies if you do this.  Let cool completely and serve. 

Tip:  You can also store these cookies in an airtight container and place them in the freezer.  When you take them out and let them thaw, they will taste just as fresh as if you had just baked them.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers with Slivered Almonds

I just made stuffed bell peppers for lunch today and have leftovers to use as a side dish with my dinner tonight.  This dish tastes delicious either hot or cold so you can pop it right out of the fridge and eat it.  I like this meal because it is healthy, satisfying and most importantly, easy to prepare.  The bell peppers also look pretty when plated so it's great to serve when you're entertaining guests.  One tip I have is to make sure you get bell peppers that are shorter and fatter with even bottoms so that they will be able to stand up on the cookie sheet.


1/2 cup brown rice
1 8 oz package cremini mushrooms
1 head of broccoli florets
3 Tbsp toasted, slivered almonds
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
3 green bell peppers
2 teaspoons butter
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Salt & pepper for seasoning


Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Cut up a few broccoli florets into manageable chunks for roasting, you will later cut them into bite-size pieces.

Cut tops off of bell peppers and clean out the ribs and seeds with a knife.

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Place bell peppers and broccoli separately on cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil over them.  Add salt and pepper.

Place cookie sheet on middle rack of oven and leave bell peppers and broccoli in oven for about 30 min. or until roasted.

While bell peppers and broccoli are roasting, toast almonds in a pan with a teaspoon butter over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes or until lightly toasted.  Remove almonds from pan.

Thinly slice mushrooms and saute them in a saucepan with a teaspoon butter over medium heat.  Mushrooms will be brown and soft once they are cooked through.

Prepare brown rice according to package directions.

When rice is done, add mushrooms and almonds to it.  Add in some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Chop up parsley and add it in too.

Once broccoli and peppers are out of the oven, chop up broccoli into bite size pieces and add the broccoli pieces to the rice.

Mix the rice well and then scoop the rice and place it inside the bell peppers.  Top with more parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately or store in fridge for later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Roasted Veggies & Potatoes

Roasted veggies and potatoes are a healthy side dish that will help fill you up without adding tons of calories.  I make these every few days to have with my dinner and they really make the meal so much more satisfying.  You can also have these for lunch or as a snack.


1 medium green pepper, sliced
1 medium red pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion quartered
2 medium red potatoes, cut into quarters
1 package (8 oz) crimini mushrooms
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp olive oil


Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Spray cookie sheet with Pam cooking spray.

Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil on cookie sheet.

Add vegetables and potatoes.  Sprinkle with seasonings.  Stir everything together and place cookie sheet on bottom rack of oven.  After 10 minutes, stir veggies and potatoes.

Cook for 10 more minutes or unitl veggies and potatoes are browned and cooked through. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spicy Oven-roasted Tri-tip with Potatoes

Tri-tip is one of the best cuts of meat and that makes it perfect for this oven roasted dish.  The meat is so tender that you don't even need a knife to cut it.  This meal is easy to throw together and it'll taste like you've been slaving over a hot stove for hours.  It also has a big kick of heat from the red pepper flakes, which is great for spicy food lovers.  If you don't like too much spice, you can tone down the pepper flakes or leave them out completely.


1 lb tri-tip, cut into six pieces
1 medium green pepper, sliced
2 small roma tomatoes, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, boiled for 10 minutes and sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced


Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Heat saucepan and add olive oil.  Lightly brown onion slices and garlic. 

Push these to side of pan and add meat.  Season meat with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Brown meat on each side, do not cook through.

Spray roasting pan with Pam cooking spray.  Add peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, meat, onions, and garlic. 

Add chicken broth and tomato sauce.  Season everything with teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Stir ingredients together.  Cover with foil and place on bottom rack of oven for 1 hr. 30 min. or until meat is cooked through.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baked Lavash Chips

Instead of reaching for greasy store-bought chips the next time you want to satisfy a salt craving, try making your own chips using lavash bread.  It's extremely easy to do and tastes just as good as regular chips.  These chips go perfectly with my homemade hummus


2 sheets of lavash bread
2 sprays of Pam
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste


Pre-heat oven to 380 F.

Spray cookie sheet with Pam.

Cut sheets of lavash bread into little squares.  Drizzle chips with olive oil and sprinkle chips with oregano, salt, and black pepper.  Bake in middle rack and keep checking until chips are crispy and golden brown. 

Homemade Hummus

Hummus is a delicious dip that goes great with chips and veggies.  I always serve hummus at parties and it's a huge hit.  You can even use it as a spread on sandwiches.  Hummus is a lot healthier than most dips and spreads and it'll keep you full for a longer time.  You can buy hummus at many grocery stores, but I personally think that homemade hummus tastes much better.  It's very easy to make so give it a try and you'll see that nothing beats homemade!  You can find tahini sauce at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or any ethnic market.


14 oz can of chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cloves of garlic
parsley for garnish


Drain chickpeas in a little bowl, keep liquid.

In a food processor or blender, combine chickpeas and garlic.  Process until you have a smooth paste.  If paste is not smooth, add 2 tablespoons of the liquid you saved from draining the chickpeas. 

Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt and keep processing until you have a smooth texture.  You can also add the lemon juice and salt to taste.  Some people like more of each and some like less.  The measurements that I have listed are what tastes the best to me. 

If hummus is too thick, you can add more of the drained liquid from the chickpeas or add lemon juice.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies are delicious and will satisfy your sweet tooth without causing you to overindulge.  1 or 2 cookies will be enough to get your sugar fix.  They are perfect to take to work parties, get togethers, or to have as a snack.  


1 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oats  
3/4 cups whole-grain wheat flour  
1/2 teaspoon baking powder  
1/4 teaspoon table salt  
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon  
1/2 cup regular butter, softened  
1/2 cup packed brown sugar  
1/4 cup sugar  
1 large egg  
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
1 cup raisins
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350ºF

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until incorporated. Add egg and vanilla; mix completely. Add oat mixture and mix until just combined; fold in raisins and chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in middle rack of oven for around 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies sit on cookie sheet for about 1 minute.  Remove cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
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