Monday, December 15, 2014

Crunchy Cashew Pork with Spaghetti Squash

I do not recall where this recipe came from, although I do know that the original recipe suggested serving it with rice. I chose to serve it with spaghetti squash this time instead, which was a good combination.


1 tablespoon whole-grain flour
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup cider or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Dash red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ lb. lean boneless pork, cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup broccoli flowerets
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup cashews

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Dip

This recipe started with a similar recipe that someone shared on Facebook. I doubled it because I made it for a gathering of more than 10 people, and I did not think the regular size batch would be enough. I should have known I would alter the recipe some, which resulted in a larger portion this time since I added ingredients. 

I am sharing two recipe versions in this post: the doubled ingredients version I used for our party, and the one I saved in my cookbook for future. The first recipe is the double batch pictured here, which almost filled my 3-quart crockpot.

photo taken after all ingredients combined
and heated for 1 hour

1½ to 2 lbs. cooked chicken breast, shredded
16 oz. lowfat cream cheese
1¼ c. mayo
6 oz. plain yogurt - those of you who have my book or follow my blog know that I use nonfat Greek yogurt in most of my creamy recipes.
8 oz. lowfat shredded Mexican blend cheese
8 oz. lowfat shredded colby jack cheese
2 - 4 oz. cans diced green chili peppers with juice - I had one can of diced chilis and one can of whole chilis, which I cut up. I decided I like the whole chilis better because they seemed fresher and less mushy than the precut ones.
2 tomatoes, diced
1 large jalapeño pepper, finely diced - use more if you like more heat

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving, and keep warm for up to 8 hours. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips.

This can also be baked in the oven until warm, and then served at rom temperature. I preferred the leftovers (there was not much!) right from the fridge, or warmed just enough to take the chill off because then the dip was chunkier.

after cooking in the crockpot for a few hours

Smaller batch recipe for cookbook

1 lb. cooked chicken breast, shredded
8 oz. lowfat cream cheese
½ c. mayo
½ c. plain yogurt
8 oz. lowfat shredded Mexican blend cheese
4 oz. can green chili peppers, chopped
1 small can tomatoes or 1 diced fresh tomato
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced 
red or green bell peppers (optional), chopped

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving, and keep warm for up to 8 hours. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips.

Friday, December 12, 2014

More Hints and Q & As

Hello fellow cook enthusiasts! This post covers another Q & A and a couple of hints.

Q. What kind of granola do you buy? Is it healthy?

A. Granola is typically made with healthy ingredients: whole-grain oats, whole-grain rice, oat bran, almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, cinnamon. The problem with most of the granola in the supermarkets is the high sugar content. I always read labels, and my rule of thumb is "higher fiber content than sugar." I have found only one granola in our local supermarket that does not have a higher sugar content then fiber. And, the fiber is not higher than the sugar; they are both equal. That brand is Bear Naked Triple Berry. All of the other Bear Naked flavors have a higher sugar content.

If you are a big granola eater, I suggest making your own. This is not something I have looked into making since we are not huge granola eaters, although I think I will add it to my list. I will start searching ideas, and I am sure I will come up with something to share.


Tomato paste
In my book, Eating Healthy Can Be Delicious and Easy, I shared a hint on page 25 for storing unused tomato paste. Most of the recipes I make call for only 1 or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, so I always freeze the rest after I open a jar. I usually get about 10 tablespoons of paste from a jar. This is photo of the frozen balls, ready for storing in the freezer.

Freshly ground pepper
I always prefer freshly ground pepper when preparing a dish; however, it is not easy to grind pepper into a small measure, like a ¼ or ½ teaspoon. A few weeks ago, the simple matter-of-factness of how to do this hit me! I am sure many of you already know this since it seems like common sense now that the lightbulb is on in my head!

Turn the pepper container upside down with the lid on to grind it. After a few grinds, remove the lid, and then pour the freshly ground pepper from the lid into the teaspoon.

Whole-Wheat Soft Pretzels

I had not planned to make pretzels [at any time in the near future] the day that I prepared these. Events had gone awry for me that morning, and this was merely a continuation of how my day had started. 

I intended to make Whole-Wheat Burger Buns, and the two recipes are next to each other in my personal cookbook. I was a few ingredients in before I realized I had been looking at both recipes, and it was too late to switch back to the burger bun recipe. So, instead of tossing what was in the bowl, I decided to modify the ingredients and make pretzels. Fortunately, the result was delicious, and they freeze well!

4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute - I used sugar substitute
1¼ cups warm water (110° - 115°)
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1¾ cups all-purpose or white flour
¼ to ⅓ cup sugar substitute - the recipe I started with called for ⅓ cup. I used a scant ⅓ cup and thought the pretzels were a bit too sweet.
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup baking soda
5 cups water
about ¼ cup kosher salt

Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until mixture begins to foam—8 to 10 minutes.

Mix flours, ⅓ cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add yeast mixture and oil. Mix into a tacky dough. Add water if too dry. I had to add about ¼ cup of water this time, although this may have been because I started out with somewhat incorrect quantities, and then did not modify the quantities correctly. 
before rising

Kneed until smooth—7 to 9 minutes. Place in a large bowl coated with oil. Turn to coat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The original directions said to place the dough in a large bowl twice the size. I used only a somewhat larger bowl, which worked out just fine.

after rising

Preheat oven to 450° and spray baking sheets with cooking spray. The original recipe said to use parchment paper; however, I did not have any so I used spray instead, and the pretzels did not stick or make a mess. 

Dissolve baking soda in a large pot of boiling water on the stove; reduce heat to simmer.

Divide the dough into 12 portions, roll into ½” ropes and form into pretzel shapes. As you can see, I am not the best artist when it comes to food presentation! This is a photo of the pretzel shapes before dipping in the water.

Dip each pretzel into the simmering water and let it rise to the surface, about 10 seconds total. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake until golden brown—8 to 10 minutes.

This last photo shows the pretzels with a small piece broken off to show the texture inside. Every photo in this blog can be enlarged to see the detail by clicking on it. The salt in the photos really stands out, and it looks like there is a lot of salt on the pretzels when it is really just a sprinkle on each one.

The pretzels are delicious alone, or served with spicy mustard or cheese sauce. Freeze until ready to eat, and then they can be heated in the microwave or oven.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Book Sale!

Get yours today! I have made recent updates to the books, and each book is discounted through the end of the year. I missed offering a Black Friday or Cyber sale, although the holiday season is not over yet!

Both printed books are currently discounted 15%, and the price of the eBook has been reduced, as I was not able to "discount" that one. Here is the Lulu link to all three versions: Eating Healthy can be Delicious and Easy.

You can get additional discounts with Lulu codes. I searched Google and found a few, which are listed below. I have not used these codes, so I cannot guarantee whether they work. Feel free to share your experience with any of the codes below, and/or share other codes that have worked.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ground Turkey Lasagna

I took these pictures the last time I made lasagna several weeks ago. Just looking at them as I am writing this post today is making my hungry for lasagna! As luck would have it, I have all of the ingredients on hand, so guess what we will be having for dinner tomorrow night ~ yum!

fresh from the oven
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ to ¾ lb. ground turkey
½ onion, chopped
14 oz. can tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 beef bouillon cube
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
6 – 8 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
Cheese sauce ingredients
cooked meat sauce
1 tablespoon whole-grain flour
¼ cup fat free milk
1⅓ cups low fat cottage cheese
1 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese + more for topping
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

Sauté turkey and onion in olive oil. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cube, minced garlic, and basil. Swish a bit of water in the tomato can to rinse it out and add to dish, if desired. Cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

cheese sauce

To make cheese sauce, whisk flour and milk together, and then heat in a medium size saucepan. Cook until thickened--2 to 3 minutes. 

Stir in cottage cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Remove from heat and let melt. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg. 

cheese sauce and noodles

Pour enough of the cheese sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof pan to cover it, using no more than half. Cover with half the noodles. Press down slightly.

Layer with all of the meat sauce and remaining noodles. Press noodles down firmly before topping with remaining sauce. Make sure noodles are covered with sauces. Thunk dish on counter firmly to settle sauces, if needed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
noodles topped with meat sauce

I like to prepare this dish a few hours before I am going to cook it, which helps the noodles soften up. I then cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before I want to bake it.

Bake uncovered at 400° for about 20 to 30 minutes. Let set at least 10 minutes before serving.
ready for the oven

The photo after baking is at the top of this blog post.

This recipe is a combination of several different recipes I have tried and varied over the years. The meat sauce came about from a tomato pasta sauce recipe that was not initially part of any kind of lasagna recipe.

Book Update and Q & As

Thank you for all of the great feedback about my book! I am glad everyone is finding it helpful. I have made a couple of minor edits to the paperback and hardcover books based on comments I received, and the updated versions are now available at

I am sharing a few questions I have been asked with my answers below, as I am sure more of you have these same questions, too. Please continue to send me your questions and comments. You can comment here in this blog, on my Facebook page, or write a review on Lulu.