Bring on Spring (Salads) & Such

SNACKS

Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins  – Sweet, moist, and appley.  Yum.

DINNERS

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – This dinner option never gets old because it’s sooooo good.

Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese – Hello old friend…sorry it’s been so long since we’ve enjoyed spending time eating you!  Seriously people…have you tried this yet?

Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage – This is a room temperature salad that would be great for an office luncheon or picnic.  It’s also swell the next day when the flavors have really settled in and made themselves at home.

Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken – A super duper easy dinner option that could also work great for an office event too.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from Weelicious 

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. homemade buttermilk (see recipe below) or (alternative organic milk)
1/2 c. honey
1 large organic egg
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredients
1 c. peeled and chopped organic apples (about 2 medium apples)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan (alternative: silicone muffin cups).

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Very gently, stir in the apples.  Fill muffin containers ¾ full and bake approximately 15 minutes.

Muffin Tips:

  • Mix/stir as little as possible to create fluffy, moist muffins.
  • I don’t like the clean toothpick test for muffins because they are often overdone. Muffins continue to cook for a bit longer when removed from the oven.  Instead of the toothpick test, watch for them to begin releasing from the edge of the baking cup/tin (and look for a slightly golden color).
  • Once you’ve baked a few batches, you’ll begin to learn your oven’s ideal baking time.

Homemade Buttermilk

Ingredients
2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 c. organic milk

Directions: Stir together both ingredients in a small bowl and allow rest for 5 minutes.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted from Food Network

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Ingredients
1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered, & deseeded
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (divided = 1 T, 2 T.)
Sea salt
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced, optional (but oh so flavorful)
1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed or whole tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt. Roast in the oven (approximately 20 minutes) or until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté one minute, stirring constantly. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato bits and juices). With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the bread. Add the roasted tomatoes when done roasting (don’t forget to reserve a few for the grilled cheese sandwiches). Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil. Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).

Serve with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential. You can use bread straight from the bread bag. It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

IMG_7616

Ingredients
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese slices or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.

Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomatoes, a bit more cheese, and bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check on the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bread is not getting too dark.


Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese

Adapted from Bev Cooks

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Dough
Trader Joe’s premade whole wheat dough, prepared per package directions

Pizza Toppings
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 NON GMO sweet corn ears, shucked and kernels removed (alternative: 2 c. frozen NON GMO sweet corn)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small pkg. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 c. organic mozzarella, shredded
2 oz. goat cheese
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco style hot sauce, optional topping (recommended if you omit the jalapeno)

Directions: Preheat the oven to required pizza dough temperature.

In a medium/large skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil and onion and jalapeno (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the corn and sauté another 5 minutes. The next step happens quickly because you do not want to burn the garlic! Add the garlic, stirring constantly, allowing it to cook for about a minute or until you can really smell it. Immediately squeeze the lemon over the skillet.  Stir in the cilantro and the cherry tomatoes.  The heat will help the tomatoes to release their juices (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat. With the dough on the pizza stone or baking sheet, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the corn mixture. Crumble the goat cheese atop the pizza and add the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake according to pizza crust directions. This is amazing – especially with a few drops of hot sauce on each slice!!!


Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Mama Balance

Salad Ingredients
3-4 organic zucchini, spiralized
1 pint organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ c. fresh organic basil, thinly sliced
1 T. sunflower seeds (alternative: pine nuts)
1.5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T.  balsamic vinegar (alternative: red wine vinegar)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ t. sea salt, freshly ground
¼ t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 t. dried crushed red pepper, optional

Directions: Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, assemble the salad in the order listed.  Pour the salad dressing over the top.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.

[If pairing the salad with chicken sausage, set the salad aside or in the refrigerator.]

Pan sear the chicken sausage.  Serve alongside the salad.


Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken

Adapted from Katri

Salad Ingredients
1 pint of organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (Alternative: any organic tomato)
1 organic cucumber, chopped (skin on or off, up to you)
1 organic bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 c. Kalamata olives, halved
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T. of fresh lemon juice (alternative: lime juice)
2 T. vinegar (red or white wine vinegar)
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. of dried parsley, optional
1 t. of sea salt
1/2 t. of freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. of extra virgin olive oil
4 drops organic stevia, optional

Directions: Stir together all ingredients for the dressing. Set aside. Add all veggies and cheese to a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top, and gently stir. If you can wait, refrigerate this for at least 30 minutes. The flavors will marry and get happier the longer they hang out together.

While the salad flavors spend some time getting to know each other, pan sear the chicken.

Stuff It To Impress…Peppers and Acorn Squash That Is.

SNACKS

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Cookies
– Despite the flat and unappealing appearance of this batch, they were yummy.  “Why are they flat?” You may be wondering.  Or, maybe you are like me and could care less as long as they are good. For those who do care, there are lots of reasons cookies end up flat.  In my case, a warm baking stone was the culprit. I set the baking stone on the oven while preheating … oops.

Chocolate Orange Avocado Pudding – What feels good on a strep ridden sore throat? Pudding!  No, not store bought pudding laden with sugar, chemicals, and who knows what else??? A creamy homemade chocolate pudding with an orange juice kick.  The avocado is undetectable from a taste standpoint; however, the creaminess is heavenly.

DINNERS

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Roasted Carrots – This is such a cook and crowd pleaser meal.  It’s easy to make, beautifully colorful, and delicious.  The carrots accompany this meal perfectly too.  Gotta give credit to my little one for the carrot seasonings.  Her inspiration source: many o’ episodes of America’s Worst Cook during a recent snowpocalypse in our area 🙂

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Organic Greens – Here’s another impressive option for entertaining – guests eat from individual squash bowls.  The organic greens make a perfect side. The original recipe calls for ground turkey. This time, I made it with bacon. Outcome: great success!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Yep, you’ve seen these recipes here before.  This is an easy go to meal that tastes like someone slaved in the kitchen when it’s quite the opposite.  And the sandwiches…oh my! The roasted tomatoes, stolen from the soup recipe, take these to a whole new level.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Soup’s On, Baby!

SNACKS

Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Hands down, my favorite homemade cookies.  The are sweet, salty, chocolatey, and chewy.  What else could you ask for?

DINNERS

White Bean and Kale Soup  – This is a slow cooker recipe turned cook top recipe. I was hungry for soup but didn’t want to wait hours for the slow cooker.  With a few adjustments, this soup was ready in 30 minutes! Truth moment: I ate three bowls in one setting! This thick and hearty soup will definitely be on repeat.

Cheesy Polenta with Bell Peppers & Chicken Sausage – A favorite entertaining recipe because it’s incredibly easy and flavorful, not to mention is visually impressive.  Don’t plan on leftovers – it’s all gone every. single. time.

Cheesy Eggplant Casserole  – This just became a new side dish I added to my repertoire. I mistakingly served it as a main course and quickly discovered that it was not enough to make a meal.  Next time (in the very near future), I’ll serve this along side some pan seared chicken and a salad.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Prepare, eat, repeat.  Prepare, eat, repeat… You’ll keep seeing this soup/sandwich combo here.  If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time.  This meal screams cool weather comfort food. To make this meal even better, I plan to buy this from Uncommon Goods. Collectively, the meal and accompanying dishes will make my heart & belly smile  🙂

Hope something makes your belly smile…

(Smartphone users: scroll to the bottom of the screen to sign up for weekly recipes emails from We Eat For Real)


Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

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Dry Ingredients:
1 ¼ c old-fashioned oats
½ c whole white wheat flour
1 T. ground flax seed
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. coarse sea salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt)

Wet Ingredients:
¼ c.+1/8 c. honey
1 organic cage free egg white
2 T. creamy, salted almond butter (or your preferred nut butter)
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir in Ingredients:
¼ c. clean dark chocolate, roughly chopped (my favorite is liberty chocolates)
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Gently stir in chocolate & raisins. Scoop rounded tablespoon size servings onto a baking stone or lined cookie sheet. Cook 9 to 10 min. (Do not over cook. They will be soft and gooey, until they have cooled a bit). Allow to cool on the baking sheet/cooling stone. Makes approximately 16 cookies.

Try to eat just one – dare ya!


White Bean and Kale Soup

Adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
32 oz. (4 cups) organic vegetable stock (alternative: organic chicken broth)
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) organic cannellini beans, undrained
1 can (14.5 ounces) organic petite diced tomatoes, undrained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 t. Trader Joes’s 21 Seasoning Salute (alternative: Italian seasoning)
3 c. organic kale, roughly chopped
½ t. Black pepper, freshly ground to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: To a large stock pot, add 2 cups of stock and quinoa.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover.  In the meantime, add 1 can of cannellini beans and the remaining vegetable stock to a blender.  Process until a creamy texture is achieved.  Once the quinoa is fully cooked, add the remaining can of cannellini beans, pureed beans/broth mixture, can of diced tomatoes, minced garlic, onion, dried herbs and pepper to the stock pot. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the kale and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Top individual servings with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.


Cheesy Polenta with Bell Peppers & Chicken Sausage

Adapted from BevCooks

Ingredients:
½ c. organic milk
1 log organic polenta, cut into cubes (precision cutting unnecessary – it will be mashed)
1T. organic butter, optional
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan (divided), plus more for garnish
1 pinch coarse salt/ freshly ground pepper
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausages, sliced on the bias (I like Trader Joe’s spicy Italian or Andouille style)
2 organic red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced in strips
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (divided)
Hot sauce, optional

Directions: Warm a small sauce pan to low/medium heat. Add the milk and polenta. Mash the polenta with a firm whisk or fork and then stir until creamy.  Add milk by the tablespoon if it’s too thick. If it’s too watery, don’t worry. As it continues to cook, it will thicken. Reduce heat to low and stir in one-half of the cheese and one-half of the cilantro. Allow to rest on low. If your stove top burner is too hot on low and the bottom is sticking, remove it from the heat source. It can warmed easily on low before serving.

While the polenta is resting, heat a large skillet to low/medium heat. Add the olive oil and then sausage. Cook 5-6 minutes or until hot and slightly browned on both sides. (If using precooked sausage, you just need to get it hot).

Remove the sausage from the pan (retaining the olive oil and juices) and cover the sausage with foil to keep warm. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and then the peppers. Add some freshly cracked salt/pepper. Cook peppers until softened and slightly blackened. Return the sausage to the skillet.

To the polenta, stir in the remaining cheese and cilantro. Season polenta with salt/pepper to taste. To plate, add a generous helping of polenta. Top with the sausage and peppers.

Finish with a sprinkling of cilantro. If you want to spice it up, add a few dashes of hot sauce!


Cheesy Eggplant Casserole

Adapted from Healthy Recipes Blogs

Ingredients:
Olive oil spray
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), unpeeled, sliced into ½” cubes
1 T. olive oil
¼ t. black pepper
2-3 garlic cloves,
½ c. organic Marinara (Try Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara)
⅛ t. cayenne pepper
¼ c. chopped fresh basil
½ c. shredded Mozzarella, divided
1/8 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with olive oil.  Toss cubed eggplant with 1 T. olive oil and ½ t. sea salt.  Spread evenly on the baking dish along with the whole garlic cloves.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Halfway through roasting, flip the eggplant with a spatula half-way and remove the garlic cloves.  In the meantime, lightly spray a baking dish with olive oil.  Roughly chop the garlic and add it to a medium sized bowl along with the marinara, cayenne pepper, basil, and mozzarella.  Once the eggplant has finished roasted roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Add the eggplant to the marinara mixture and gently stir.  Pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.   Allow to cool slightly before serving.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted Food Network

Ingredients:
1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil – you can get this at Kroger
sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 c. finely sliced fresh basil leaves
1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Quarter the tomatoes and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt.  Roast in the oven for approximately 15 – 20 minutes until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat.  Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil and fresh basil.  Sauté the basil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato and their juices).  With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes (if using canned whole tomatoes).  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Stir in the bread.  Add the roasted tomatoes when done roasting.  Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil.  Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).

Serve with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential.  You can use bread straight from the bread bag.  It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Ingredients:
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese slices or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.

Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomato slices, a bit more cheese, bread).  Place buttered side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check on the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bottoms are not getting too dark.