Tag Archives: almonds

Pita Pizzas with Kale Pesto, Tomatoes, and Bacon

Pita pizzas…you are my savior. I’ve been trying so hard lately to track my food which means watching my calories and everything I eat. This can be tough when you have a food blog but the real key (as they always say) is portion control. I don’t know about you but it’s hard for my to control myself around pizza. There is a thin crust frozen pizza at my grocery store that I have eaten all by myself in one sitting before…more than once. Not good. My new obsession: pita pizzas. Specifically, these Pita Pizzas with Kale Pesto, Tomatoes, and Bacon.

Whole-wheat pitas are the base of these personal-sized pizzas which are topped with a bright kale and basil pesto, tomatoes, and bacon. With both Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and a light dusting of nuts, this pizza is packed with flavor and perfectly portion controlled. The pesto is the real star. Making pesto out of kale is a perfect way to get a ton of flavor into this nutrient-rich vegetable. I’ll admit, I made this pizza nearly everyday for lunch last week until I ran out of pitas. Any leftover pesto was eaten with eggs at breakfast and on top of roasted chicken at dinner. I couldn’t get enough of it. The pesto – and the pizza – is a real winner.

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Place a baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. (Keep baking sheet in oven as it preheats.) Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add kale; cook 1 minute. Drain and plunge kale into ice water. Drain; squeeze excess liquid from kale.

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Place kale, basil leaves, 2 tablespoons nuts, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor. Process until chopped. Add 1 tablespoon water, juice, and salt; pulse 5 times. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended.

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Spread about 2 tablespoons pesto over each pita. Top evenly with tomatoes and bacon. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses; top evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon nuts. Remove pan from oven; place pitas on pan.

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Bake at 400°F for 12 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Turkey bacon

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

I’m trying to be a little bit smarter about my snacking. I’m someone who has no problem snacking on nuts…so long as they have chocolate chips and dried cherries mixed in. But eating plain old nuts is no fun. So many people don’t like to eat nuts because they are so high in calories but they are also so high in good fat. Like with everything else, it’s about watching how much you eat and be careful with portions. But with nuts, they easily fill you up so a small handful (a portion) is just enough to do what a snack needs to do: satisfy! This Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix is a perfect snack mix to have on hand when my stomach is rumbling and I need something quick.

Slivered almonds, pumpkinseeds, and cashews are mixed with a frothy egg white and a spicy mixture of sugar (or Splenda), chipotle chile powder, cumin, oregano, and chile powder and baked until warm and crispy. Spices are a fun way to add a lot of calorie-free flavor to nuts to make them a little more interesting. Mixed with sugar, this spice mixture is sweet, spicy and smoky without being overly sweet, overly spicy or overly smoky. The combination is perfectly mellow but completely flavorful that makes this snack mix a little bit addicting. But just remember, a little goes a long way so this snack will last you for days and days.

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Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine sugar, salt, chipotle chile powder, cumin, oregano, and chili powder in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

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Place egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add the almonds, cashews, and pumpkinseeds; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss well to coat.

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Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes, stirring once. Turn oven off. Remove pan from oven; stir snack mix. Immediately return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes (leave oven off). Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack; cool completely.

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Store snack mix in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Splenda

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars

I’ve already given away dozens of the cookies and treats I’ve featured this week but I still have so many left in my house. It’s killing me. I’m trying sooooooo hard not to eat them and for the most part, I’m doing pretty good. Or at least I was. But these Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars are evil little magic waves of sweetness and they are torturing me. They appear in my dreams, whisper my name when I’m standing strong, and wrap their sweet scent around me everywhere I go. My knees are getting weak.

Inspired by traditional Hello Dollys, I changed things up by using pretzel crumbs in place of graham crackers, caramel topping instead of butterscotch, peanut butter filled morsels in place of plain chocolate, and almonds instead of pecans. The result is basically…well…crack. I was doing so good on watching my sugar and this week it’s all down hill. I know that’s what happens during the holidays but I thought I could keep it under control. This is the problem with working from home. I no longer have an office to take all these leftover cookies to so instead they sit in my kitchen. They taunt me. Make fun of me. Call me names. This weekend may turn into a real battle. Me against them. I have a feeling these layer bars will be the victor.

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Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars (adapted from Hello Dollys)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 ground pretzels
  • 1 9-oz package Nestlé Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels with Peanut Butter Filled DelightFulls(or 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and 3/4 cup peanut butter chips)
  • 1 12.25-oz jar caramel topping
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place butter in 13 x 9 inch pan and melt in oven. Swirl to coat bottom and sides with butter. Spread pretzel crumbs evenly over bottom of pan. Layer morsels over pretzels crumbs followed by caramel topping and almonds. 

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Pour condensed milk over almonds. Sprinkle coconut over condensed milk.

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Bake 25 minutes until edges are golden brown and bubbly.

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Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Bombay Chicken Salad

I have friends in Tampa who I go visit often and on a trip several month ago, one of my friends picked up some food from the local grocery store for us to snack on.  Along with the hummus, veggies and crackers, she also brought home a curried chicken salad, called Bombay Chicken, that was so good, I wanted to rub my face in it.  I can pretty much count on her picking up this salad now whenever I’m there and it’s just addicting.  The last time I was there in January, I sat down and actually dissected the salad trying to figure out what was in it.  I haven’t tried to recreate the salad myself yet but it reminded me that I had the recipe for this Bombay Chicken Salad that was just waiting to be made which has similar flavors and is, no doubt, much healthier.

Chicken grilled with curry powder and cumin is diced and added to quinoa (or couscous as the recipe calls for) and mixed with mango, golden raisins, scallions, and almonds.  The whole mixture is tossed with a light dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, honey and more curry powder.  The warm flavors of the curry and cumin contrast perfectly with the sweet creaminess of the mango and raisins while the scallions and almonds both provide their own unique crunch.  While I made this with quinoa, this would be delicious with couscous as the recipe indicates, or even whatever your favorite rice is.  The Bombay Chicken from the grocery store in Tampa is a mayonnaise-y calorie bomb so at least I know that when I have that craving, I have this healthier dish to turn to that is just as satisfying.

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      In a small bowl, combine curry powder, salt, sugar, ground cumin and black pepper. Rub onto chicken. Heat grill to medium-high heat.

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Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook for 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Grill chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

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In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, salt, curry powder and pepper. While whisking, add oil in a thin stream.

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Place couscous in a large bowl. Add mango, raisins, scallions, almonds and cubed chicken.

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Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.

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Refrigerate unless serving immediately.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Family Circle magazine

Fried Brown Rice with Red Pepper and Almond

I’m not the biggest fast food fan.  We ate fast food here and there when I was a kid but for the most part, my mom usually cooked each night.  Considering she worked a full time job and then came home to make us dinner, I can understand why we had fast food every so often.  But I don’t really have a palette for fast food anymore (unless I’m on a road trip when all I want is French fries and a milkshake) but instead, when I don’t feel like cooking, I instinctively call the Chinese food restaurant for takeout.  My guilty pleasure go-to dish is vegetable fried rice which is probably one of the worst things a) on the menu and b) ever.  Since homemade fried rice dishes are never as good as the real thing, I’m hoping I’ll find a homemade recipe that I like enough to keep me from picking up that phone.  A girl can hope.  This time, I tried Fried Brown Rice with Red Pepper and Almond.

Onion, garlic, red pepper, and sliced almonds are sautéed in peanut oil briefly before adding in precooked rice (a HUGE time saver).  Fresh lime juice, curry paste, and cilantro leaves are adding such unique flavors that you don’t even realize that there isn’t a lick of soy sauce anywhere.  The curry paste is mild and has a very subtle flavor, much different than curry powder, so don’t be scared of it and don’t leave it out.  It really adds a great bold flavor to this rice.  The peppers and onions are sweet and the lime juice really gives this a vibrant flavor boost.  This vegetarian dish comes together quickly so you don’t have to spend much time over the stove after a long day.  Still not your cup of tea?  Try one of the other fried rice recipes in the link.  You just might find one you like that will keep you from order Chinese food or hitting that fast food restaurant.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute.

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Add bell pepper and nuts; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add rice; stir-fry 1 minute.

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Stir in lime juice, curry paste, cilantro, and salt.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Red curry paste

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Almond-Lime Zesties

When I told my friend I was making these Almond-Lime Zesties, she cringed.  “I don’t like almonds and I don’t like lime,” she said.  Whaaaaaat?  I almost considered not making these because the last thing I want to make is a cookie someone doesn’t like.  But these looked easy to make and I already had the ingredients to make them so I gave it a try.  I have to say, I’m pretty happy with these.

With only five ingredients, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make these and they come together rather quickly.  They are simple butter cookies jazzed up with ground almonds and a little lime zest.  The almonds really give these cookies a bold nutty flavor and the lime is just subtle enough to give them a citrus kick.  I added a little extra powdered sugar after they had cooled completely because when added to them warm, the cookies kind of soaked it up.  The extra powdered sugar makes these look like little snowballs which is perfect at Christmastime.

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in lime zest. Add flour and ground almonds gradually, beating until well blended. Chill 15 minutes.

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Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until light golden brown on bottom. Let stand on baking sheet 2 minutes.

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Roll warm cookies in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, coating well. Let cool completely.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I think I have found my most favorite dip I’ve ever made.  Ever.  I have to admit that when I first saw the recipe for this Roasted Red Pepper Dip, I didn’t really have high expectations.  I like roasted red peppers and think they provide a fantastically bold flavor to dishes but the thought of an entire roasted red pepper dip didn’t really shake me in my shoes.  The simplicity of this dish was what drew me to it and since I’ve been sucked into catching up on Game of Thrones from the very beginning, I didn’t want anything to take me away from my iPad and another episode featuring Jon Snow.  But this dip left me standing in my kitchen chowing down scoop after scoop of this awesome dip.

Jarred roasted red peppers are blended in a food processor with toasted almonds, garlic, sherry vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, and a little olive oil.  A small piece of whole wheat bread adds a thickening consistency and a dab of smoked paprika (my favorite spice EVER) gives the whole dip a smoky little hug.  I ate this dip with these amazing multigrain tortilla chips but this dip would be just as great with, well, anything.  Chips, pretzels, cucumbers, carrots…I even think this would be a perfect sauce for some pasta and veggies, it’s really so good.  You might already have the ingredients on hand (if you don’t have sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar can be substituted) so next time you are at the store, pick up a jar of roasted red peppers and make this when you need a quick snack or appetizer.  You won’t be disappointed.

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The ingredients:

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Place bell peppers, almonds, bread, garlic clove, olive oil, vinegar, grated ­Parmesan, water, and paprika in a food processor; process until smooth.

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Serve with multigrain chips or sliced veggies.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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