Category Archives: Snacks

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Hello! I’m still alive. Life continues to get the best of me and therefore I haven’t posted a new recipe in 3 months. This was a rough winter (the worst I can remember) and now that it’s light out later, I find myself with more opportunities to photograph (yay!).

Chicken Tortilla Soup is a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I was inspired recently by Dan’s and my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area – El Pelon Taqueria. A few months ago they started serving Chicken Tortilla Soup and I’ve been getting it almost every time I go there. Their recipe is pretty simple – just tomatoes, chicken, tortilla strips, avocado and cheese – which I love, but I wanted to add more veggies.

My version of Chicken Tortilla Soup includes chicken cooked in a flavorful chicken broth with tomatoes, spices, peppers, corn, and lime juice. The best part of the soup (in my opinion) is the toppings – tortilla strips, cheese, avocado, sour cream! 🙂 The soup comes together pretty quickly and makes for great leftovers as well.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
makes 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Half of one 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (smoked paprika recommended!)
  • 2 – 3 tsp chili powder or chipotle pepper powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 (raw) chicken tenders (about 3/4 lb)
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen corn
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tsp)
  • Toppings: tortilla strips, shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream

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Directions:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large cooking pot/sauce pan. Add onion and peppers and sauté for about 10-15 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour in chicken stock, water, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout. Remove chicken from pot, shred into bite-sized pieces, and return to pot.
  4. Add corn and lime juice. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve soup with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

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Mocha Mint Smoothie

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Holiday Greetings! Can you believe Christmas is in only 3 days? To me, it feels like December just started and then all of a sudden Christmas is only a few days away and everyone is scrambling to get ready. I guess the holidays have a way of creeping up on you.

This season I have been super into anything chocolate and mint flavored. Peppermint mocha coffees (or, if you’re around the south shore of MA, Girl Scout Cookie coffee from Marylou’s which is DELICIOUS and tastes exactly like a thin mint), minty hot chocolate, chocolate bars with peppermint, peppermint bark, you name it!

I recently learned about Chobani’s #MadeWithChobani project and felt inspired to see what I could come up with. I thought, what better way to feature Chobani in a recipe than to incorporate it into my favorite flavor combination and thus the idea for this Mocha Mint Smoothie was born.

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My Mocha Mint Smoothie includes vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt, chilled coffee, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, frozen bananas, and milk. It’s creamy, filling, and packed with flavor. And bonus – it’s healthy! I slurped mine down after the gym today and it was the perfect post-workout snack. I used vanilla yogurt to keep things simple but for a real treat you could use Chobani’s Indulgent Mint and Dark Chocolate flavor!

Mocha Mint Smoothie
makes 1 smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (vanilla, plain, or mint and dark chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chilled coffee
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder or chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Few drops of peppermint extract (about 1/8 tsp)
  • Sweetener of choice (stevia, coffee creamer, etc.)*
  • Optional: ice cubes for a thicker smoothie, protein powder for extra protein

*Sweetener of some sort is recommended to balance out the strong flavors of the coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Sweeten to your liking and enjoy!

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Happy Holidays! 🙂

Spicy Red Lentil Dip (Hummus)

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Spring weather has FINALLY arrived in Massachusetts and it is glorious. This winter was the longest, coldest, snowiest winter I can remember and it was starting to feel like spring would never come. Yesterday was a nice 65 degrees and I spent the day with Mirva, Naomi, Emily and Brian enjoying the weather and playing cornhole.

This Spicy Red Lentil Dip was inspired by a delicious hummus I picked up recently – Eat Well Embrace Life Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus. It was so tasty but a little bit pricey so I decided to whip up my own. I love lentils and of course hummus, and find that sometimes dips made with beans other than chickpeas are just as good (if not better) than the traditional stuff.


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I couldn’t find yellow lentils (I’ve actually never seen them before, though I did consider buying yellow split peas instead), so I picked up some red lentils. Red lentils have a mild, nutty flavor and are not quite as earthy-tasting as brown or green lentils. I threw in all the ingredients you would put in hummus – tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt – but I read recently that hummus literally translates to “chickpeas” in Arabic, which is why I’m calling this a dip instead of hummus (even though it’s the same concept).

In addition to the base of the recipe, I added a red fresno pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and smoked paprika to spice up this dip and bring it to life. I love how the lentils blend up super smooth and make a perfect texture for the dip. I love lentils not only because they’re tasty, but they’re also loaded with protein – 1/4 cup of dry split red lentils has 13g! Perfect for vegetarians/vegans, or for those looking for a filling snack.

Spicy Red Lentil Dip
makes ~2 cups


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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp Tahini (sesame seed paste – I love Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • juice from half of one large lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño or red fresno pepper (use half for less heat)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp mild hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper powder
  • salt, to taste
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Your ingredients, plus the spicy pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cook red lentils according to package directions. They typically take about 15 minutes to cook. They may start to break down and become mushy or all of the water may not evaporate/be absorbed – this is okay and will make blending easier.
  2. While you’re letting your lentils cool, combine your tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in your lentils, hot sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and continue blending, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary, until well-combined and smooth. Taste and adjust any spices/salt to your liking. Serve with pita chips, carrot sticks, or on a sandwich and enjoy!
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Cook your lentils according to package directions. When they’re finished, they’ll look something like this.

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In your food processor, combine the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper. Pulse until smooth.

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Add the cooked lentils to your food processor and pulse until smooth.

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And there you have delicious & nutritious, creamy, Spicy Red Lentil Dip! 🙂

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Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins

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Hello! If you are reading this, it means I’m still alive.

In all seriousness, though, this long dark winter has really put a damper on my blogging. The past few weekends I’ve planned out recipes, cooked and photographed them, only to have the clouds come out and take away any good lighting that my basement apartment gets. I’m so glad the days are starting to get longer and daylight saving time is next Sunday!

The next few weekends also may be a bit busy for me, as my dad and Robin’s wedding is coming up in two weeks, as well as Naomi’s 2nd birthday! Throw in Jill’s birthday and a trip to Mohegan Sun with Dan and March is looking like a pretty busy month. Which is a good thing because March usually seems like such a long and dreary month filled with waiting for the bad weather to pass and for spring to arrive.

These muffins were inspired by a different type of muffin I made recently. Last week I baked up these Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins and they were soo good. I found they made the perfect mid-morning snack, or even a light dessert. As much as I loved those sweet muffins, I was thinking I’d like to have a more savory muffin that I could eat as my breakfast and wouldn’t leave me feeling weak and shaky like sugary breakfasts often do.

So I searched around for savory breakfast muffins and found just the recipe I was looking for: Cottage Cheese and Egg Muffins with Ham and Cheddar. I wanted a muffin that had a high egg-to-flour ratio, some savory flavors like bacon or ham, and that were healthy enough to eat for breakfast on weekdays. I love that this recipe includes cottage cheese because it’s a great way to add protein and to keep the muffins moist.

I stayed fairly true to the base of the recipe, but made a few adjustments to suit my taste. I actually swapped out the cottage cheese for ricotta because that’s what I had and I prefer the texture, and I know ricotta is often used in pancake recipes. I used turkey bacon instead of ham, and regular all-purpose flour because I didn’t have almond meal (though I think cornmeal would also be a great substitution!). I added some red bell peppers for flavor and texture, and also bumped up the scallions and spices a bit.

These muffins are perfect for breakfast on the go, and are filled with protein to keep you satisfied for hours. The texture is like quiche meets muffin, and the flavors are fun but also mellow enough to eat every morning. You can definitely play around with the ingredients and get creative – broccoli and cheese would be delicious, or even spinach and feta! You can bake up a batch on the weekend and heat them up for breakfast during the week – so easy! I definitely see this recipe becoming a regular in my diet.

Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins
adapted from Cottage Cheese and Egg Muffins with Ham and Cheddar on Kalyn’s Kitchen

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Ingredients:
makes 1 dozen muffins (or in my case, 11.)

  • 6 slices of turkey bacon (Canadian bacon or ham would be great too)
  • 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or all-purpose – or almond or cornmeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/4 and thought they could have used more)
  • seasoning of your choice (I used about 1/4 tsp each of smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup ricotta or cottage cheese (I used part-skim)
  • 1 Tbsp milk or water (the original recipe calls for 3 T of water, but I decreased it because of the extra moisture from the bell peppers. If you’re not using a fresh vegetable, use the original amount of 3.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
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Your ingredients (forgot to picture the bell pepper, naturally.)

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Your wonderful spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Cook your turkey bacon just until it’s almost crispy (you don’t want it too crispy for these muffins), about 5 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and seasoning in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, and milk/water to the bowl and whisk again. Crumble the cooked bacon (make sure you let it cool a bit) into the bowl, and add in the peppers, scallions, and both cheeses. Stir together until well incorporated and spoon into your greased muffin tin, topping each off with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.
  4. Bake for about 16 – 18 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins turn golden and a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, and serve with a glass of milk. (or ketchup and hot sauce if you’re like me!) Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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Begin by frizzling up your bacon.

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In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and seasoning together. Stir in ricotta, egg, and milk or water.

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Add in all of the fun stuff (bacon, cheese, scallions, and peppers) and stir again

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Your batter will be thick and slightly lumpy, but have no fear.

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Spoon the batter into your greased muffin tin, about 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle with a bit of cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 16 – 18 minutes.

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Your muffins will look something like this when they’re finished

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🙂

Vanilla Bean Pecan Granola

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Hello folks!
Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season filled with lots of good food. While I wanted to post a seasonal, wintery recipe today, I also was on a mission to make delicious granola. I realized I haven’t posted a granola recipe in a long time so that became today’s post.

Recently at work, I discovered my cafeteria’s granola is actually pretty tasty. Some days I’ll either bring yogurt from home or get some in the cafeteria for a mid-morning snack, along with a heaping scoop of granola. But then I remembered, my own granola is pretty damn good and free, since I have all the ingredients on hand. I wanted to make something a little different this time around, so I incorporated some new ingredients.

Growing up, I was always a chocolate person. I loved chocolate everything and would eat chocolate in some form or another just about every day. Then I slowed started moving away from my chocolate addiction and some time over the past few years, I’ve become crazy over vanilla. I still enjoy a bowl of rich chocolate ice cream (or especially these peppermint chocolate truffles), but when it comes to my everyday vices such as coffee or granola bars, I prefer vanilla.

I always put plenty of vanilla extract in any of my baked goods, and recently picked up some vanilla bean paste from Homegoods. It’s really more like of a goo, though I suppose “vanilla bean goo” doesn’t sound quite as appealing. It has a nice rich vanilla flavor, with vanilla bean seeds in it. The other addition to this granola was pecans. Pecans are probably my favorite type of nut, and I love that they serve them at the breakfast and salad bar at work. I also added raisins this time, which I haven’t done before, but I love the chewiness of them in contrast to the crunchy granola.

Vanilla Bean Pecan Granola
makes about 2 1/2 cups

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola, or butter)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (or from a fresh vanilla bean if you’re feeling adventurous!)
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
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Your ingredients

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The “secret” ingredient – Vanilla Bean Paste! This can be found at Homegoods, Marshall’s, and probably specialty baking stores such as Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF and lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt coconut oil in the microwave (mine took about 1 minutes and 30 seconds total to melt). Stir in honey and vanilla bean paste/extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and stir. Add to bowl with wet ingredients and stir again, making sure all the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated in oil. Fold in pecans, raisins, and coconut and stir once more, just until combined.
  4. Spread uncooked granola on your baking sheet and bake for a total of 30 minutes, stirring at 10 minute increments. Stirring is important, or else your granola will cook unevenly and possibly burn in some spots.
  5. Once it’s done cooking, I like to push it all to one side of the baking sheet in a big pile to encourage clumping. Let it cool for about 20 – 30 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container (mason jars work perfectly!)
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Prep your ingredients

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Mix it all up!

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Spread on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

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The finished product!

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🙂

P.S. I got a new camera lens for Christmas! These photos were taken with the new toy. I’m not sure if I like it as much as my old lens that broke last year, but I’m still getting used to it so we’ll see!