Greek Chicken Wraps

15 Sep

Rotisserie chicken is a busy mom’s best friend. I can usually get at least three meals out of each whole chicken. And with the hardest part of the meal out of the way, I can get dinner on the table pretty quickly. I usually go for something simple, like pesto pasta with chicken, spring mix salad, or chicken sandwiches. So these Greek Chicken Wraps from Cooking Light are a nice way to mix things up. I usually have most of these ingredients on hand at home, so this is a great recipe for me to pull out of my back pocket when I’m looking for something different.

Greek Chicken Wraps

Greek Chicken Wraps

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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅛ tsp ground red pepper
  • 4 oz shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 1 cup)
  • 2 small cucumbers, chopped
  • 6 tbsp plain hummus
  • 6 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, olives, feta, juice, oregano, oil, pepper, chicken, and cucumber in a large bowl; toss to combine.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon hummus over 1 side of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with about ½ cup chicken mixture. Roll up wraps; cut in half.

 

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Cilantro Burgers with Sriracha Mayo

27 Aug

One of my favorite things (cilantro) + one of my hub’s favorite things (sriracha) … this recipe had our names all over it! I’m not usually adventurous when it comes to burgers—I tend to gravitate to the usual toppings—but I couldn’t resist this Cooking Light recipe for Cilantro Burgers with Sriracha Mayo. Don’t usually go for spicy foods? No worries. These are light on heat and heavy on deliciousness.

I made just one change to the original recipe—I went for ground turkey over the ground sirloin, and I don’t feel like the recipe lost anything by going for the non-red meat option.

Cilantro burgers

Cilantro Burgers with Sriracha Mayo

1 pound ground turkey
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
4 hamburger buns
3 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha
1/3 cup cilantro sprigs

 

1. Combine ground turkey, chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper in a bowl; mix just until combined. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter).

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; grill 4 minutes. Carefully turn patties; grill 4 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove patties from pan. Add buns, cut sides down, to pan; grill 1 minute or until toasted.

3. Combine mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture on bottom half of each bun; top each with 1 patty. Divide cilantro sprigs evenly among servings; top with top halves of buns.

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Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

21 Aug

There’s something about summertime that makes me crave lemon desserts. As I type, I have lemon and white chocolate mousse setting in the refrigerator, lemon crinkle cookies on my to-bake list, and at least a few batches of homemade lemon bars under my belt. It helps that my husband and 3 year old daughter love lemon as much as I do. And thank goodness for that or I would probably be a good 15 lbs heavier by now!

My daughter, Olivia, is always asking me to make cupcakes. When she last asked, I was in one of my lemon moods, so I decided to try out lemon cupcakes. I love the combination of lemon and blueberry, and I thought a tangy but sweet cream cheese frosting would be the perfect complement. I took these to daycare for her to share with her friends—there wasn’t a single one left when I picked her up.

lemon cupcakes

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
Water, vegetable oil, and eggs called for on box
2 tbsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup blueberries, plus extra for garnish if desired

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup butter, softened

 

1. Preheat oven to 350° and line 24 cupcake cups with silicone or paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake batter following the directions on the box. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Gently fold in blueberries.

3. Fill liners ¾ of the way with cake batter and bake for 19-23 minutes.

4. While the cupcakes are baking, cream together the cream cheese and butter for the frosting. Add the vanilla and slowly stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to frost the cupcakes.

5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting and garnishing with a blueberry.

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Quinoa-Stuffed Collard Wraps

4 Aug

Are you ready for this? Quinoa-Stuffed Collard Wraps—a bit time consuming but so worth the effort!

A while back, some of my former coworkers and I were swapping quinoa recipes. It was the type of  bourgeoisie, “I only shop at Whole Foods” kind of conversation that you’d expect to see parodied on a sitcom. {For the record, you can usually find me roaming the aisles of Safeway or Wegmans, depending on if it’s raining or not—because Wegmans has a parking garage and there’s nothing worse than trying to load a car with two kids and tons of groceries in the rain. But I digress …}

This recipe was, by far, the most unique and interesting one shared. It comes from my former colleague, James, who grew up in Southern California (for some reason, that fact seems relevant to me with this recipe). I love collard greens but, growing up in the south, I’ve pretty much only ever had them boiled in fat back—delicious, but not exactly the healthiest way to enjoy collards.

I was intrigued by this completely different use of the green, and the filling just sounded delicious. They were every bit as good as I was hoping. I did adapt the original recipe a bit by adding garlic (because why not?!) and sauteing the veggies instead of boiling them. One word of caution: while you don’t want to blanch the collards too long, you also want to make sure to blanch them long enough. If the collard isn’t cooked enough, it a) won’t be flexible enough to roll and b) will be chewy as all get out, which makes this nearly impossible to eat. Enjoy!

Quinoa Collard Wraps

Quinoa-Stuffed Collard Wraps

1 bunch collard greens
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 package Italian Turkey Sausage (Sweet or Hot, depending on your preference)
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

 

1. Remove the sausage from its casing and brown separately over medium-high heat. Once browned, finely chop it up and set it aside.

2. In the same pan that you used for the sausage, heat a little bit of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the squash, zucchini, and cauliflower and cook until all is tender and slightly browned, approximately 15 minutes.

3. Prepare the quinoa in a separate pot according to the directions on the package, using the vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor.

4. Once the quinoa is done, stir in the vegetables and sausage. Mix well.

5. Wash each collard leaf thoroughly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice water near the stove top. Working with one or two collard leaves at a time, boil them for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove each leaf from the boiling water and place in the ice water for a few seconds. Transfer from the ice water to a paper towel and pat dry. Be careful not to overcook the collards, as they will fall apart when you add the filling. Also, try not to stack the collards, since they may stick and tear.

6. Take a couple spoonfuls of the quinoa mixture, place it in the collard leaf, and roll it up like a burrito. You can serve these as is or with a balsamic vinaigrette for dipping.

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Summer Vegetable Pizza

29 Jul

This pizza is bursting with fresh summer flavors … from the fresh basil pesto to the toppings of zucchini, tomato, red pepper, and mushrooms. I’ve never used the refrigerated dough balls before, but I figured if it was good enough for this Cooking Light recipe, I’d give it a shot. Sure, it’s a little more work than the ready-made pizza crusts, but the payoff is worth it! For only $1.70, I got one of the Safeway Select traditional pizza dough balls, which yielded a thick, chewy crust. I used my pizza stone to get a nice crunchy bottom to support all of my toppings and cheese. As with most moms, I was chasing after two kids while trying to make dinner—hence, the burned cheese. Oh well, it was still delicious!

Summer Vegetable Pizza

1 refrigerated fresh pizza dough
1 tbsp cornmeal
2-3 tbsp fresh basil pesto
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms
½ zucchini, diced
Olive oil
1½ cups shredded mozzarella

1. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500° (keep pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it preheats).

2. Put a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal on a flat cookie sheet (using a cookie sheet will allow you to pick up and easily slide the pizza onto the pizza stone). With a little olive oil on your hands, form dough into a 14-inch circle.

3. Pierce the entire surface of the pizza dough liberally with a fork. Spread pesto sauce over crust, leaving a ½-inch border. Arrange the vegetables over the dough, and sprinkle evenly with cheese.

4. Carefully remove pizza stone from oven and slide pizza on top, parchment paper and all. Bake at 500° for 15-17 minutes or until the crust and cheese are browned. Brush edge of dough with olive oil. Slice and serve!

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Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

17 Jul

My husband loves cannoli, so when I saw that Two Peas & Their Pod had a recipe for cannoli stuffed french toast, I was all over it. I actually made this for him for Father’s Day breakfast. It was definitely a treat—like having dessert first thing in the morning! I wouldn’t recommend this on a regular basis (holy calories Batman!), but it is fabulous for a special occasion.

Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Yield: Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
4 slices French bread
2 tbsp butter
Powdered sugar-for serving

1. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs and heavy cream together. Spread 2 slices of the bread with the ricotta mixture, about 1/2 cup per slice. Place the other slices of bread on top and gently press them together. Carefully dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture until well coated.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the French toast sandwiches and cook until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and transfer to plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

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Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

15 Jul

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I’m not a huge baker—not from scratch anyway. I make no secret of the fact that I think boxed cake mixes are not only acceptable but quite delicious. Sure, I doctor them up and get creative, but it’s not everyday that I make a cake from scratch. When I saw this recipe for lemon cake from Cooking Light (and the great reviews it got), however, I decided it was worth the effort.

I did stray from the original recipe when it came to the frosting, choosing instead to use my go-to recipe for cream cheese frosting. The result was ah-mazing! Seriously, this is one of the best cakes I have had. I love lemon desserts, so maybe I am just a sucker for the tart mixed with the sweet, but this was really, really good. Yes, my cake was a little lopsided and not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but I somehow didn’t mind that too much as I was shoveling it into my mouth!

lemon cake with cream cheese frosting

Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake:

2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½tsp salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Frosting:

16 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Lemon rind spirals (optional, for garnish)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cake, grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and set aside.

3. Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

4. Place granulated sugar and ½ cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and nonfat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in 2 tbsp lemon rind and 2 tbsp lemon juice.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

6. To prepare icing, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar.

7. Place 1 cake layer on a plate and carefully level with a knife if necessary; spread half of icing on top of cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining half of icing over top of cake and around sides. Garnish with lemon rind strips, if desired. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops

19 Jun

Olivia got a Ballerina Cookbook for Christmas and about once a week asks if we can make one of the recipes. This usually translates to, “Mommy, I’ll pick it out and pretend that I’m going to help. You do everything else.” Her latest pick was Sugar Plum Fairy Pops, or little balls of cheesecake, dipped in chocolate, and covered in various toppings.

After a couple of failed attempts at balling up sticky, mushy cheesecake, I gave up and just cut the cake into bite-sized squares. Tasted just the same but WAY easier. Once I stopped trying to roll impossible cheesecake balls, these were really easy.

Cheesecake Pops

Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops

1 prepared cheesecake
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp shortening
Lollipop sticks
Sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and any other toppings you’d like

 

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the cheesecake into 1½ inch squares and place on the baking sheet. Put a lollipop stick in the top of each square and push down so that it goes almost through the other side but not quite. Freeze for about 3 hours or until hard.
  3. Place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  4. Remove the cheesecake pops from the freezer and dip each one, making sure the chocolate covers them entirely. Return each pop to the baking sheet and sprinkle with toppings.
  5. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to eat.

Makes about 24 cheesecake pops.

Cheesecake Pops

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Baba Ghanoush

17 Jun

Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern spread made of roasted eggplant and tiny bits of Heaven. It is also really fun to say. I have no more words—just make it, eat it, love it.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

1 large eggplant
¼ cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

  1. Heat your grill to medium-high heat, and preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
  4. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
Baba Ghanoush

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Summer Rolls

6 Jun

Summer rolls are an easy and refreshing appetizer that are fun to make, so this is a great recipe to get your little ones involved in the kitchen. This recipe uses lots of “leaves” as my three year old would say, so feel free to modify your filling to suit your family’s tastes. You can fill these with mango, crispy rice vermicelli noodles, julienned carrots, cucumber … get creative!

Summer Rolls

You can find the rice paper rounds at most international supermarkets if you don’t have any luck at your local grocery store. Keep in mind that you’ll get a bunch in the package, so you won’t use them all in one go (unless you are making these for a party or something along those lines).

A huge THANK YOU to my brother, Josh, for this recipe and for teaching me how to make these—definitely easier than I ever imagined!

Summer Rolls

1 package of 8-inch rice paper rounds
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch scallions
1 head of romaine lettuce
½ lb small shrimp
Peanut sauce for dipping

 

1. Steam shrimp and set aside.

2. Slice scallions into 3-inch pieces. Clean and separate lettuce leaves. Pull mint leaves and discard the stems.

3. Fill a large pie plate with water. Submerge one rice paper round in the water for 5-10 seconds. Place on a clean surface and place a lettuce leaf, 2-4 scallions, a few mint leaves, and 4-6 shrimp.

4. Carefully lift the edge of the rice paper and fold over, pulling back gently towards you to tuck in the fillings. Fold in the edges and continue rolling, burrito-style.

5. Allow the roll to sit for a minute before slicing in half. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

Summer Rolls

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