Summer Treat…Fruit Ice Pops!

IMG_1662While at my parent’s house for a BBQ, my mom pulled out ice pops—My kind of treat! It was perfect for a hot day but one taste and I immediately had to stop eating-the sugary-syrup aftertaste was too much for me. I checked out the ingredients (Corn syrup, dyes etc. etc. etc.) and threw out the ice pop, explaining to my mom that she should be buying something else.  I decided to take matters into my own hands, bought some popsicle molds from Amazon and created these beauties. I used the recipe that I usually use to make my smoothies—blended fruit and almond milk. SO easy, delicious and a million times healthier than the store-bought brand!

Fruit Ice Pops

Ingredients (for 12 popsicle molds):

Popsicle Molds (I used these)

2 Cups almond milk (Feel free to substitute water, milk or yogurt)

2 Fresh bananas

2 Cups frozen fruit of your choice (To make the layered popsicle like I have pictured, make 2 separate batches and layer in the molds. For example, I used strawberry-banana and mango-banana)

Directions:

IMG_1658Blend all the ingredients in the blender until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze at least 2 hours. If you would like to be more creative, create different batches like I mentioned before and layer in the molds or add some pieces of fruit to the mixture before pouring into the mold.IMG_1661

Mint-Lamb Meatballs!

IMG_1627I recently discovered that I love lamb. Now, when it is on the menu anywhere, I have to get it—especially lamb chops. The other day I was at supermarket and saw that they had ground lamb and decided to make mint-lamb meatballs. Super easy to make and perfect for a quick meal. My meat-loving husband gets his protein and I get some variety from the usual meatballs or chicken that I would make-everyone wins!

Mint Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb

¼ Cup mint, finely chopped

2 Garlic cloves, minced

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

1 Egg

2 Teaspoons salt

½ Teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

IMG_1622Chop mint, garlic, and onions. Mix all the ingredients together. With your hands form in ping-pong sized balls and place on aluminum baking sheet.

IMG_1625 Bake for 10-12 minutes. Carefully turn over and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until the meatballs are browned. Serve hot.

Enjoy!IMG_1629

Savoring Summer… Strawberry Cake

IMG_1634Last week my sister made this awesome Strawberry Cake from Smitten Kitchen—it was soo good! I mean good enough that we kept on eating more and more until there was barely anything left. Unfortunately, the next day I paid for it dearly. I am breastfeeding my daughter so whatever I eat goes directly to her. She did not enjoy the cake as much as I did . More specifically, the dairy in the cake must have been too hard for her to digest (did I mention that on the same night  I also had a bunch of cheese and crackers?). Anyway, my usually calm baby was extremely fussy, which led to an exhausting day and night!!

So how can I have my cake and eat it too? I decided to make a dairy- free version using almond milk and coconut oil. Just as good? Oh, yeah! The cake was gone by the end of the night.

Perfect summer treat for all those delicious strawberries you have been seeing at the market!

Strawberry Cake (adapted from Smittenkitchen.com)

Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons coconut oil (or Butter-dairy version)

¾ Cup whole- wheat flour

¾ Cup barley flour (you can also just use entirely whole wheat flour if you would like but this adds a slightly nuttier taste)

1 ½ Teaspoons baking powder

½ Teaspoon salt

1 Cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 Egg

½ Cup almond milk (Regular milk-dairy version)

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Pound Strawberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Hull and half strawberries. Set aside. Grease a 10-inch pie pan, a 9” springform pan (what I used), or a cake pan.

IMG_1630In a medium size bowl, mix the flours with the baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugar with an electric mixer or hand blender. Add the egg, almond milk and vanilla. Mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

IMG_1631Pour into your prepared pan and top with strawberries. The strawberries should be laid down in 1 layer with the cut side down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar over the strawberries.

IMG_1632Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature on the oven to 325°F and bake cake for another 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

IMG_1638Can be served with whipped cream if you are not dairy- free!

Enjoy!

Taste of Staten Island… Baked Rice Balls

IMG_1599My family moved around a lot when I was younger but we eventually settled in Staten Island, where I made some great friends with whom I still stay in touch. After recently hanging out with all my high school friends, we decided that we wanted to do our own dinner club like the one I mentioned in earlier posts.

The first dinner club was set and the theme was “Staten Island favorites”.  We knew immediately that most of the dishes would be Italian because of all the incredible Italian food on Staten Island (Anyone reading this who lives close to this borough should definitely take a trip there to try some Italian restaurants—you will not be disappointed!)

So, anyway, for our dinner club, I was in charge of making an appetizer. I considered making pizza–MMM! There are so many amazing pizzerias there. But then I decided to make Italian rice balls. Something a bit more challenging to make but equally delicious– if I got it right. Traditional rice balls (Arancini) are made with rice and mozzarella and are fried, crispy on the outside, and gooey on the inside. My hesitation started when I quickly realized that the idea of deep-frying anything not only makes me nervous (A vat full of oil? No, thank you.), but it is also extremely unhealthy. I decided to bake the rice balls and hoped that they would turn out just as good.

This dish was harder to make than I expected, because it was a bit of a challenge to keep the rice balls together, but I adapted the recipe, so it should be easier for all of you to make it. I also made a side of tomato sauce for dipping. The effort was worth it, because they were soo good!

Hope you like it as much as all of us did!!

Baked Italian Rice Balls

(adapted from foodandspice.blogspot.com)

Ingredients

1 1/3 Cups brown rice

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

4 Eggs

4 Oz Fresh Mozzarella

3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan

¼ Cup chopped fresh basil

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon ground black pepper

1 ½ Cups bread crumbs

Directions:

Make brown rice as directed on the box. Allow to cool completely.

IMG_1580While cooling, stir the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

IMG_1582 Add the cooled rice and stir. Put in refrigerator for at least an hour so it is easier to form into balls.IMG_1585

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

Using your hands, shape the rice mixture into 2-inch balls. Place on a lined baking sheet. IMG_1591

Bake for 15 minutes and turn over and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.Serve hot with the tomato sauce for dipping ( http://newlyfedblog.com/2013/10/05/pizza-lovers-rejoice-cauliflower-crust-pizza/  )

IMG_1596Enjoy!

Frozen Treat… Chocolate Covered Almond Bananas

IMG_1606I follow many food related accounts on Instagram. My feed is filled with incredible pictures of mouth-watering foods. To be honest, I get hungry every time I look. Sometimes, I use these pictures as inspiration for recipes. Other times I get food styling ideas. Cooking Light recently posted a picture of chocolate covered bananas that looked incredible and a nice healthy treat (dark chocolate is good for you!).

I had a couple of friends coming over for one of our first play dates, so I decided to make these Chocolate Covered Almond Bananas for everyone.  This snack was a hit. They were AMAZING!! They taste indulgent and are perfect snack for a hot Summer day. This time I just used plain dark chocolate but next time I make it, I may mix in some peanut butter-YUM! Feel free to adjust your topping or mix-ins.

In case you were wondering how the play date went–Emmi, my daughter, chose to sleep the entire time we had guests. We will try again next time :).

Chocolate Covered Almond Bananas

Ingredients:

5 Large Bananas

8 oz chocolate of your choice

Slivered almonds

Popsicle/Craft Sticks

Directions:

Using a double boiler, melt chocolate. (If you would like peanut butter-chocolate, add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to the chocolate.)

IMG_1199While the chocolate is melting, cut bananas in half. Stick craft sticks into the cut side of each banana and lay flat on parchment paper.

IMG_1602

When chocolate is melted, use a spoon to spread chocolate on the bananas. sprinkle on slivered almonds and place on parchment paper.

IMG_1604

Allow to freeze for at least an hour before eating.

Enjoy!

 

Oven Baked Dijon Chicken

IMG_1572Earlier in the week I posted my recipe for blue cheese potatoes. This chicken is the perfect pairing for the potatoes. It is also incredibly easy to make. This is a dinner that takes about 10 minutes to prep (Max!!). So for all those new moms who have asked me for family friendly recipes and are short on time-this recipe is for you.

Oh, and you can also use the same recipe and substitute fish (tilapia is a good choice) instead of chicken. You will not be disappointed!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Pound chicken thighs

¼ Cup olive oil

¼ Cup Dijon mustard

Juice of one lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the chicken until well coated.

IMG_1561 Arrange chicken in a baking dish. Cover with breadcrumbs. Drizzle the remaining marinade on top of the bread crumbs. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy.

IMG_1569

 

Cheesy Goodness…Blue Cheese Roasted Potatoes!

IMG_1538One of my good friends lived in Portland, Oregon for 7 years. Looking back, I am sad that I only visited her once. It is such an awesome city with great food and lots of outdoorsy activities (which I love!!). Also, if you leave the city, you are so close to the beach and some amazing wineries.

Anyway, another friend of mine is headed there this week and it got me thinking about my trip. I, of course, told her about all the great food and I started reminiscing about a side dish I tasted at one of the wineries. Good thing it was at the beginning of the wine tour because I remembered clearly what I was eating 🙂 and it was so good. These Blue Cheese Roasted Potatoes are a perfect side dish to any meal. I wasn’t sure of the exact recipe, but I tested out a few different variations before I was satisfied. For those of you who don’t like blue cheese, I urge you to try this anyway because the potatoes cut the sharpness of the cheese. Yum—just thinking about it, I am ready to make these again!

Enjoy!

Blue Cheese Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 Pounds Fingerling potatoes

2 Garlic cloves

1/2 Red onion

8 Ounces blue cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

IMG_1529Pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Cut potatoes into quarters. Chop garlic and slice onions. Toss potatoes, onions, and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish.

IMG_1528Place in oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take potatoes out of the oven and crumble blue cheese on the potatoes, mix in.

IMG_1530Place back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until potatoes are crispy.

IMG_1538Serve immediately.

Israeli Vegetable Salad

IMG_1481This salad is one that I have grown up eating. It started my love for vegetables young because I don’t think we ever had a meal without a variation of this salad. It is so simple and easy that I was hesitant to put it on the blog but I noticed that every time I make it, people marvel at how delicious and easy it is to make.

So because of that, I figured I might as well share it with my readers. I think the major reason this salad is so good is the simple dressing. No need to bog down your healthy veggies with fatty dressings-this simple olive oil-lemon dressing is so light and tasty that you will start wanting to use it with all your salads. Oh, and an added bonus? You may feel skinnier!

Israeli Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:

4 Large Tomatoes or Package of Cherry Tomatoes

8 Israeli or Persian cucumbers (these cucumbers are really small)

Bunch of Parsley

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

IMG_1479Chop veggies finely. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.IMG_1481

 

Red, White and Blue…Berry Yogurt Cheesecake!

IMG_1555Tal and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl to the world last week. As I am sure any new parent would say, it is a surreal experience and just gets better every day. Clearly this last week has been a whirlwind, so I have not had too much time to cook. Lucky for me, I had a lot of helpful hands surrounding me. Along with all the help, we had a ton of visitors come meet our little lady.

On Saturday, I found myself with a few quiet hours in the morning and friends coming in the afternoon. I really wanted to experiment with a Fourth of July recipe and of course be a good host by having some treats ready! So I made this amazing Berry Yogurt Cheesecake. My friends think I am insane for even attempting to bake ( you probably think so also), but I promise it is so easy to make that it was possible with a one week old in the house.

The cheesecake was gone in minutes because it was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend you making it this holiday weekend!

Happy Birthday America!

Berry Yogurt Cheesecake

(adapted from Skinnytaste.com)

Ingredients:

8 Oz cream cheese

6 Oz plain Greek yogurt

¼ Cup sugar

2 Large egg whites

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour

1 Cup strawberries

½ Cup blueberries

Graham Cracker pie crust (I was debating making my own by processing graham crackers and mixing with a tablespoon of coconut oil before pressing in a pie tin, but I realized that was too much work so I bought a pre-made crust so you can decide what you prefer to do.)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix softened cream cheese, yogurt and vanilla using an electric mixer or a hand blender. Slowly add in the Greek yogurt, egg whites, and flour.

IMG_1544Mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (until center is almost completely set).

IMG_1554As cake is baking, cut the strawberries into quarters and mix with the blueberries.

berriesRemove cake from oven when ready and allow to cool to room temperature. Top with berries and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

IMG_1555Enjoy!

Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

IMG_1517Even just thinking of these cookies is mouth-watering. When you taste these, you will not believe that they are not filled with sugar, flour, butter or other ingredients that make typical desserts a once-in-a-while treat. These gluten-free Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies are not only easy to make but are made with ingredients that you won’t feel too bad consuming. The best part? No one else will notice that these are healthy. I PROMISE!!

Go ahead try them!

Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:

1 Cup all-natural creamy almond buter

1/3 Cup pure maple syrup

1 Egg

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Sea Salt and a dash of sea salt for sprinkling

3.5 Oz. Dark Chocolate Bar

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Chop the chocolate bar into small chunks.

IMG_1485In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients except the chocolate until smooth. Add 3/4th of the chocolate to the batter and mix well.

IMG_1489Drop tablespoon sized balls of batter onto a lined baking sheet. Place remaining pieces of chocolate on the batter and sprinkle with sea salt.

IMG_1490Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.Enjoy!

IMG_1498