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.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins with Lemony Icing

I love these muffins because they have the sweetness from the bananas and the chocolate chips combined with the tartness of the lemon icing.  If you have bananas that are ripening quickly or others that are too ripe, whip up a batch of these muffins.


For Muffins
1/2 cup sugar  
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened  
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
2 cups all-purpose flour  
2 teaspoon baking powder  
1 teaspoon baking soda  
1/4 cup fat-free skim milk  
4 large bananas, ripe, mashed
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For Icing  

1 cup powdered sugar  
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened  
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice  
1 teaspoon lemon zest, strips, or more to taste  
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  


For Muffins

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease muffin tin well with cooking spray.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; cream with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until mixed well.

In another large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture; beat well with mixer. Add milk and remaining flour mixture; beat until batter is combined and then fold in mashed bananas.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tin about 3/4 full. Bake until muffins start to brown and a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, around 25 to 30 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in pan for a few minutes; remove to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.

For Icing

Meanwhile, combine icing ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Ice cooled muffins; cover and refrigerate any uneaten muffins.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fudge Cookies

These cookies are one of my favorites.  They have a slightly crispy outside and a fudgy interior.  You can under-bake them for a more gooey texture or you can bake them a little longer for a crispier cookie.


2 tablespoons room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon milk
Powdered sugar for sprinkling


Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Beat butter with sugar until fluffy.

Add 1 egg and vanilla and beat well.

Add cocoa, flour, baking powder and milk and beat well.  Dough will be very sticky.  Scrape bowl with spatula so all dough will be in center of bowl.  With a tablespoon scoop dough and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  You should get approximately 14 cookies.  Dust cookies with powdered sugar.  Press cookies into rounder shape (like the shape pictured) with your fingers.  Bake in middle rack of oven until top of cookies cracks or about 9 minutes.

Oven Wedges

I like having oven wedges instead of fries because they are lower in fat and calories, and you don't use tons of oil.  You can dip them in ketchup or eat them as is.  They go perfectly with a homemade hamburger or as a side dish to any meal.


3 red potatoes, scrubbed well and boiled for 10 minutes
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 medium yellow onion, sliced


After boiling potatoes, slice into wedges.  Pre-heat oven to 425 F.  Spray cookie sheet with 2 sprays of Pam and drizzle with olive oil. Place sliced potatoes and onions onto cookie sheet and season.  Mix together and place in oven on bottom rack.  Flip after golden brown on one side and bake until other side is golden brown.

Quinoa Salad with Tangy Dressing

Quinoa Salad
Tangy Dressing
This quinoa salad is a different take on tabbouleh, but is just as healthy and in my opinion, even more delicious, especially with the tangy dressing drizzled on it.  The quinoa will help fill you up because of its high protein and fiber content.  The salad also looks pretty with all the colors of the complementing each other.


For Salad

2 small cucumbers, cut into cubes
2 small tomatoes, cut into cubes
2 bunches green onions
2 bunches parsley
1 medium red onion, diced
1 small green pepper cut into small pieces
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

For Quinoa

1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

For Dressing

3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sumac (optional)


For Salad

Cook quinoa in 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat until water is absorbed.  Put 1 cup cooked quinoa over the salad ingredients and mix together.

For Dressing

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve on the side so each person can put as much dressing as they want.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spicy Chicken in Tomato Sauce

This chicken has a slightly crispy outside, but is tender inside.  The spices and tomato sauce give it a rich flavor.  It goes perfectly with rice or pasta and it's super easy to make, especially if you're short on time.



4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 yellow onion, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoon tomato sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water


For the chicken

In a bowl, beat eggs and add flour, corn starch, water, salt, and pepper.  Beat with a whisk until combined.

Cut the chicken into cubes and cover each piece with the egg mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan and add chicken pieces.  Brown chicken and cook through.

For the sauce

Heat olive oil and add onions, garlic, and ginger.  Stir until light brown.

Add tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, black pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes.  Stir together and then add soy sauce and chicken broth.  Finally, add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until starch thickens.  Add the chicken to sauce and stir.  Remove from heat and serve.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pizza with a Mediterranean Twist

I love pizza, but I'm always disappointed when I order a pizza and find the crust is soggy or that there are hardly any toppings on the pizza so I decided to make my own, my way.  I think you'll enjoy homemade pizza even more than ordering out.  You control the crust and add what you want and as much as you want.  Below is my pizza recipe, which I've given a Mediterranean twist.  I've used feta cheese and 2 types of Mediterranean meats.  One meat is called soujouk and it is a spicy, dry sausage and the other is basturma, which is a highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef.  You can find these at your local ethnic market.  However, if you can't find them, you can leave them off and the pizza tastes just as good.  



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil


1 green pepper sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 yellow onion sliced
1 tomato sliced
8 pieces soujouk, cooked
8 pieces basturma
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
12 pitted black olives
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (or as much as you want to add)
Ragu Tomato sauce (use as much as needed to spread over crust)



Add yeast, honey, and oil to the warm water and stir.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Add salt to flour and then add the water mixture.  Knead for 5 minutes .  I use a KitchenAid mixer to make the kneading easier.  Form a ball and put in a bowl lightly coated with olive oil and turn the ball a couple of times in the bowl.  Cover with a towel and place in warm area.  Let stand for 1 hour.


In a non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Season the vegetables by adding 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt, black pepper and oregano.  Sautee vegetables until they are soft and there is no more water in the veggies.

Sauteeing the vegetables will prevent your crust from getting soggy when the vegetables are added on top of it.

Making the Pizza

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.  To assemble the pizza, roll the dough over a floured surface and make a circle.  Place on a pizza pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray such as Pam.  I recommend using the Food Network's pizza pan.  It allows the crust to bake evenly and makes it crispy.

Add the Ragu sauce to cover the surface of pizza and then add all of your toppings.  Place on bottom rack of oven and bake about 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  I recommend checking on the crust frequently so that you get it exactly to your liking.

For a thinner, crispier crust follow these steps:

After letting dough stand for 1 hour in a warm place, put dough in a plastic bag and seal bag.  Refrigerate for 48 hours.  Remove from fridge and let stand for 1 hour before rolling it out and baking.

Easy and delicious recipes!


My blog has recipes that are easy to make so that you can quickly throw together a nice meal without a lot of effort or preparation time, which is perfect for those who are cooking challenged.  Eating out a lot can take a toll on your body and your wallet so that's why it's important to be able to make homemade meals.  I've created a lot of recipes are healthy and lower in fat, but still taste great.  In order to eat healthy, you have to enjoy your food and that's why I've made sure that all my recipes are full of flavor.  On my blog, you'll see some comfort foods made over so that you can enjoy them without all the guilt.  Of course, it's still important to indulge so I'll include recipes that are more on the decadent side.  Have a look around and let me know your tips and suggestions once you've tried out some of the recipes.

This is a new blog and I'm still building up my recipe base, but I'll be adding 1-2 recipes/week so check back frequently.  If you have any recipes you'd like to share, email me to become a guest/featured blogger.

Happy Eating!
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