Zucchini Pizzas – A Healthier Version of a Family Favorite!

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For the last year, I have been on a weight loss journey. I’m down 80 pounds so far and still going strong! One of the things that has helped me, is to give some of our favorite foods a health upgrade. And who doesn’t love pizza?!? So last night I decided to level up the pizza and make a healthier version that tasted great and totally answered my pizza craving! The zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it really was just a healthy vessel for the yummy pizza toppings.

Now I guess you could make this on lengthwise slices of normal size zucchini, but this is the PERFECT recipe for those ginormous, mutant zucchini’s we have all found hiding in our gardens!

How did I do it?

1. Slice zucchini about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Lay paper towels out on counter or on cookie sheets

3. Lay down zucchini slices and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Flip and salt other side.

4. Let sit for an hour or so, periodically patting dry with additional paper towels. Flip over once in a while.

5. Preheat oven to 375. Put zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Remove zucchini from oven and top with favorite sauce and pizza toppings. I used my homemade red sauce, grated motzarella, pepperoni, more motzarella, and black olives. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until cheese is melty.

Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken Sweet Potato Chili – Hearty and Healthy!!!

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I’m always looking for ways to sneak additional vegetables into our meals. I happened to have a sweet potato on hand and thought it would be a good add to spicy chili. The sweetness of the potato really balances out this dish! It was an incredibly flavorful! Very hearty and healthy too! You could substitute ground turkey for the chicken or leave the meat altogether for a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish (If you left out the sour cream).

Spicy Chicken Sweet Potato Chili

Makes 6-8 servings

1-2 tbsp avocado or olive oil

1/2 diced sweet yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 cans Rotel tomatoes (I used one can hot and one can chipotle Rotel)

1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water (rinsed Rotel can and dumped in)

1 pound chopped rotisserie chicken (or 1 pound ground turkey, browned)

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp Hungarian Paprika

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 cup sour cream

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Add oil to Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soften, add garlic and sauté another couple of minute until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and set to low and simmer for 1-2 hours. You could also sauté the onion and garlic and then throw everything in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours on low. Serve with tortilla chips, sliced green onions, chopped avocado or any other toppings you like on your chili.

Enjoy!!!

Dill Pickle Popcorn – A Yummy Snack!!!

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So my daughter LOVES dill pickles!!! I even bought her a box of pickle juice pops for Christmas one year. LOL! She and her husband were hosting the Super Bowl party and I decided to try my hand at making dill pickle popcorn to bring. Everyone loved it!!!! We had two separate viewing rooms and people kept stealing the bowl back and forth, so I think it was a hit!!! If you like salt and vinegar chips, you will love this flavor profile.

Dill Pickle Popcorn

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (I bought this online through Amazon. This gives you the sour vinegar taste!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups crushed Lays Dill Pickle potato chips
  • 5 quarts of buttered popcorn

Mix together all the seasonings in a small bowl. Then in a large bowl mix popcorn, potato chips and seasoning mix. Enjoy!!!

Stovetop Paella – Impressive Enough for Your New Year’s Guests!!!

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I have always wanted to try making paella and I recently made that happen! I was in a FB conversation about spices and my friend, John, mentioned that he grows saffron. The most expensive spice in the world! After my head stopped spinning, I told him we were going to have to talk about this. He asked, “Over wine?”. I answered, “Yes, and paella!” Guess who called me that afternoon asking when we were getting together for wine and paella? LOL! John and his lovely wife have an amazing wine collection and are generous with it, so I’m always happy to have them over for dinner! They bring amazing wine and I do my best to cook amazing food!

So special note about this recipe, how do you clean mussels? You want to buy the freshest mussels you can get. You start by going through your mussels and if any are opened, tap on the shell with your fingernail. If it closes, you’re good to go. If it does not, throw it away! Or if you have any with broken shells that have been exposed to air, throw them away. You will almost always have to throw away a few. I got lucky and only had to throw away 2 out of my 1 1/2 pound batch. Those mussels that are opened and won’t or can’t close will be fishy and can ruin the flavor of your dish. You then want to pull off the beard from each mussel, if they have one. This is the stringy thing coming out of the shell. Then scrub each mussel under running water with a stiff brush. I did this a few hours ahead of time and then put the mussels in a bowl of salt water and stored them in the fridge. This allows them to release any sand or grit in them.

So the paella turned out great and it really wasn’t hard to make! I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Stovetop Paella

Serves 6-8 people

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 – 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1 pound andouille sausage links, cut into bite size pieces

2 cups basmati rice

6 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp saffron threads

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds mussels, cleaned and de bearded

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I love to buy the EZ peel shrimp! They are already deveined and they are truly easy peel!)

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

5 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped

Lemon wedges

You will need an enamel coated dutch oven that is at least 5 quarts in size or another large pan.

Put olive oil in pan and sauté onion and bell pepper until softened. Then add garlic and cook until fragrant another 2 minutes. Next add chicken and sausage and cook for another 5 minutes until partially cooked. Next stir in the rice, 5 cups chicken broth, red pepper flakes, crumble in the saffron, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir the rice gently and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Taste the rice and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Add the mussels, shrimp, peas and green onions and stir. Place lid on pot and allow seafood to steam, check after 5 -7 minutes. If the shrimp are not turning pink and mussels are not opening and you didn’t notice much steam, add some of the remaining chicken broth and continue cooking until the seafood is just cooked. You don’t want to over cook it, as the seafood will get tough.

You can make the rice portion a little ahead and then stick in the oven on low for a while, but you want to wait until right before serving to add and cook the seafood.

Before serving, garnish the paella with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

I served the paella with a wilted spinach salad and home baked bread. It was a delicious dinner! The leftovers were yummy too!

Enjoy!!!

Lemon Curd Tart – This was delicious and very impressive!!!

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I love to cook and I’m pretty proficient in the kitchen, but I was intimidated by this recipe. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m not big on making my own crusts. This recipe really wasn’t hard at all and the crust came together beautifully! It was a great add to our Thanksgiving table, but would be good any time you have lemons on hand. Our Meyer lemons were ripening, so this was the perfect use of them!

I can’t take credit for this recipe. This came from Ina Garten AKA The Barefoot Contessa. I knew it must be good. Ina would never steer us wrong!!!

Lemon Curd Tart

For the Tart Shell:

12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), plus more for greasing, all brought up to room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

For the Lemon Curd:

4 lemons at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1/8 tsp salt

1. Mix the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Butter 1 side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the chilled tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the lemon curd:

1. Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

2. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat.

3. Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd and allow to set at room temperature.

Enjoy!!!

The BEST Pumpkin Bread!!!

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Want a seasonal treat to share with friends, family and neighbors? Or just something to make your home smell fabulous and enjoy with your morning coffee? This pumpkin bread will fill the bill. It is so moist and delicious!!! I’ve been making it like crazy for the last month or so and everyone that has had it, just loves it! It’s pretty easy to make too!

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It comes from the Food Network Kitchen. I do like that the one recipe makes 2 large or 3 medium size loaves, so there is some for you and some to share! You could even add some raisins or nuts to this, if you like!

I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

The BEST Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

4 eggs

15 oz can of puréed pumpkin

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour two large loaf or 3 medium loaf pans.

Blend together sugar and oil until well mixed. Next add the eggs and pumpkin and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. While the mixer is running spoon the dry mixture into the wet. About half way through add half of the water, then continue adding the dry ingredients and at the end add the remaining water.

Pour and equal amount of batter into each loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean.

Allow to cook in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out of pans and continue to cool loaves on a rack. It will slice cleaner when it has been allowed to cool for a while.

Enjoy!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

2 Whisk together the sugar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and pumpkin until combined.

3 Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Add half the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Add half the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Add half the water and stir to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour and water.

4 Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans. Bake until cake tester comes out clean and the loaves are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let the loaves cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Southwest Cornbread and Chorizo Dressing – A Thanksgiving Staple!

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I love chorizo!!! So why not put it in your Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing!)?!? The combination of fresh baked cornbread, chorizo and fresh veggies makes this stuffing a homerun. It is my absolute favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table.

You can find the recipe here.

Barbecued Turkey – Delicious and it Frees Up Your Oven!

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We started barbecuing our turkey years ago! It’s so delicious and it frees up your oven for all the other stuff you need to cook. Best of all, it gives my husband something to do! LOL!

Click here for my recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus – The Perfect Thanksgiving Dip!

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I had an extra can of pumpkin puree hanging out and we were having a family birthday luncheon, so I thought we needed a pumpkin flavored dip. I’ve made hummus plenty of time. It’s so easy!!! Why not add that pumpkin flavor for a perfect fall dip! Our whole family loved this dip and it was so easy to make and healthy to boot!

If you’ve never made hummus, it’s one of those things where you just dump all the ingredients in your food processor and blend it up. That’s it!

This recipe has some spice to it with the cayenne pepper. I didn’t find it super spicy, but you can add that pepper a little at a time and taste along the way if you want to control the spice level.

I hope you like it! It’s a great add to your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving appetizer table! And if you end up with a bunch of leftovers, you could use it to make this awesome Hummus Crusted Chicken!

I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Thanksgiving! I’m always grateful for all of you that take the time to read my blog!

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

1 – 15 oz can of pumpkin puree

1 – 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed

Juice of one lemon

3 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp Cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t want it as spicy)

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Put pumpkin and garbanzo beans in food processor and blend until fairly smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth and completely blended. Scrape sides of bowl and continue to blend as needed.

This can even be made the day before as it’s one of those things that gets better as it sits.

Makes about 3 cups of hummus.

Enjoy!

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash and Air Fried Bacon Brussel Sprouts – Just Yum!!!

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So I had never tried acorn squash and I have never met a brussel sprout I’ve liked, but this has all changed now! This squash dish will likely be taking the place of my Southwest Chorizo Dressing on our Thanksgiving table. That says a lot, if I’m willing to go without chorizo!!! LOL! And the fact that I ate more than one brussel sprout said a lot for that dish! They were really good!!!

These two dishes went really well together. The acorn squash is pretty sweet and the sprouts are bitter, so they compliment one another. Not to mention when you cook the bacon, you can use it for both dishes. Or you could leave out the bacon and have a great vegetarian dish!

Now I faked the brussel sprout recipe, but I cannot take credit for the squash recipe. I got this from the Food Network app after seeing Katie Lee make it on The Kitchen. She described the acorn squash flavor as a mix of butternut squash and sweet potato. I would say that is right on!

Basically, I will say this acorn squash recipe is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve made in a very long time and my hubby was in agreement on that. So give it a try!

Step one: Both recipes are going to use bacon, so dice up an entire 1 pound package of bacon. Cook bacon in a skillet on the stove top over medium heat until crispy. When done, use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel. Retain the bacon grease for the brussel sprouts.

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash

3 tbsp olive or avocado oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1/4 tsp garlic salt

3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (I actually used my favorite type of mushroom, maitake)

1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green part only

1 1/2 cups cooked forbidden or wild rice (I cooked with homemade chicken stock for more flavor)

1/4 cup dried currents (I couldn’t find these at the store, so I used dried cranberries)

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on the lined baking sheet and bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Leave the oven on at 400 degrees F.

3. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the breadcrumbs, increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs begin to turn golden brown. Stir in the parsley and garlic salt. Transfer to a dish.

4. Wipe the skillet clean. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms and leeks until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the kale and garlic and cook until the kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, currants, soy sauce, honey, 1/3 of the cooked bacon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Scoop some of the mixture into the cavity of each acorn squash half and top with the reserved breadcrumbs. Bake until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Air Fried Bacon Brussel Sprouts

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 thickly sliced leeks, white and light green part only

1/2 cup mushrooms, thickly sliced (again I used the maitake’s here)

Bacon and grease

Salt and pepper

Toss the brussel sprouts, leeks and mushrooms in the reserved bacon grease. Add the remaining bacon and season with salt and pepper. Put all ingredients in the basket of your air fryer and cook on high for 15-18 minutes until as crispy and/or charred as you like. Stir once or twice during cooking time.

Hope you love it as much as we did!!!