Baked Zucchini Fries and Ranch Dressing

This recipe is floating around Pintrest lately. I knew I would have to follow my sister’s lead and serve these alongside hamburgers. These were really tasty and a healthier alternative to fries, and if you haven’t made homemade ranch before, you really should!  It’s fresh, creamy, flavorful, and what makes it even better is that it’s cheap to make and full of ingredients that you can pronounce. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

P.S. I reheated the leftover “fries” in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, and they were just as crispy! :)

Baked Zucchini Fries – adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (*I forgot to add this, but it would have been a nice addition*)
  • 1 lb zucchini, cut into 4-5-inch sticks

Directions -

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a cooling rack in your baking sheet.
  2. Place flour in a large zipper bag.
  3. Whisk eggs with 2 Tbsp water and place in a shallow dish.
  4. Place Panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine.
  5. Place zucchini in the bag with the flour and shake until well coated. Dip the zucchini into the egg and then into the panko, turning to coat well.
  6. Place breaded zucchini on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing – adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Directions -

  1. Place all ingredients with 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a blender.
  2. Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in additional buttermilk if desired. Less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing.
  3. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for a week or more.
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Grilled Chicken and Pear Salad

Strange combination for this family, but I decided to try it. Grilled fruit is always a good idea, and I’m hoping these pears don’t disappoint! I recently started ordering produce from a local co-op and it’s been a great motivator to try new recipes. I never buy pears, and honestly wasn’t a huge fan – chalk it up to never eating them as a kid. I’m also hoping that the simplicity of the rest of the dish doesn’t equal lack of flavor…we will soon see.

Verdict: All the components of this salad work together really well. They were all leery of the pear, but tried it anyway. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and most of my family (minus the pickiest eater), enjoyed this. Up next, the cheddar biscuits we ate with this salad! :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Grilled Chicken and Pear Salad – adapted from Plan to Eat

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced
  • 6 cups mixed greens with baby spinach
  • Goat cheese, optional

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup grape seed or olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions -

1. Prepare the vinaigrette and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2. Butterfly each chicken breast or pound to an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

3. Grill chicken and pears until chicken juices run clear and pears and soft, warm, and slightly charred.

4. Remove chicken and pears from grill and slice chicken into strips.

5. Plate greens, top with chicken and pears, sprinkle with goat cheese, and drizzle with vinaigrette

Garlic Green Beans

Quick Post: These were so good, (so was the entire meal – roast chicken and garlic rice pilaf linkage). This is such an easy, amazingly flavorful meal and definitely company worthy (not to mention cheap!) It hits all the right buttons! Thanks for reading, enjoy :)

Garlic Green Beans – adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (**next time, I’ll use 1 TBSP**)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam green beans until slightly tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Transfer steamed green beans to the melted butter and garlic. Toss to coat green beans evenly and continue to saute for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat.

Soy-Ginger-Lime Chicken with Cilantro-Lime-Ginger Rice

Quick Post: The title is a mouthful! The combination of these two recipes was a hit at my house and it’s healthy, fresh and easy to make. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Soy-Ginger-Lime Marinade – adapted from Simply Scratch
  •  2 – 3 cloves of Garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large Shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 3/4 inch of Ginger, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Combine all ingredients (using a stick blender makes quick work of this). Pour the mixture over the chicken and marinade for at least 4 hours. Preheat grill to medium heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until done.
Cilantro, Lime and Ginger Rice -
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • the zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Directions:

In a a saucepan combine rice, ginger slices, salt and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lime zest. Serve warm.

100% Whole Wheat Nut & Seed Bread

Quick Post: This is probably the healthiest bread I have ever made and it tastes  great. I am so glad too, because my last attempt at 100% whole wheat bread wasn’t that good. It baked up dense and the flavor was more bitter, and for those reasons, I decided not to blog about it. This one is so good and next time I will have to double the recipe. White whole wheat is what I always have on hand, and I find that the flavor is milder and less bitter than red wheat flour. You don’t need the KAF bread improver and vital wheat gluten worked as a good substitution. I chose to sweeten mine with honey and my oil of choice was coconut. I love using coconut oil whenever possible in anything that is baked at 350 degrees or less. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
100% Whole Wheat Nut & Seed Bread – adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons (3 3/4 ounces) honey, molasses or maple syrup
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or 100% White Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver, optional (*I used vital wheat gluten)
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) sunflower seeds, chopped*
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) walnuts, chopped*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

*A quick whirl in the food processor does the job nicely.

To prepare the dough: Combine all of the ingredients, and mix them till you have a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes, then knead till fairly smooth. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, shape it into a log, and place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap (or a clear shower cap), and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, till it’s crowned about 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf.

Doctored-Up Black Beans

Quick Post: I wanted a healthy side for these steak tacos. They’re simple, quick and tasty; not to mention healthy. Even my picky husband who doesn’t like black beans ate some and my son really enjoyed them.  I ate the leftovers served over baked brown rice and topped with a dollop of avocado dressing and some crumbled feta. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Black Beans -

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed really well
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 mini bell peppers, diced (or one large pepper)
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • lime juice
  • cilantro leaves
Directions:
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until softened. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot and smash some with your spoon. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and pour about 1/2 a cup of water over all to thin out the beans slightly. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes and add your cilantro leaves – taste for seasoning. Serve with a lime wedge and feta (or cojita) cheese. Enjoy!

Strawberry, Banana and Coconut Milk Smoothie

Quick Post: Yum! I tried this new-to-me non dairy milk for the first time last week in this smoothie. When I’m craving something sweet, this is what I make. The coconut milk makes this almost like an ice cream shake, but healthy – even better! It’s rich and creamy without all the guilt :) Whenever I make smoothies I use frozen bananas – it makes all the difference in the thickness. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Strawberry, Banana and Coconut Milk Smoothie -

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt
Directions -
1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy!

Vegan Apple Crisp

(It’s still raining here, so no decent pictures – boo!)

I haven’t made an apple crisp since last year, so I decided it was time :) This smells amazing while baking. My hands smelled like lemon, apple, cinnamon and nutmeg for quite sometime after making this, too :) I love Fall flavors and this is a perfect example of them. I used coconut oil for this instead of canola and we didn’t miss the butter. It’s not a thick crumb topping like the typical crisp with flour and butter; but it was flavorful, slightly sweet and delightfully crunchy. We enjoyed the walnuts in this, too – and the vanilla ice cream brought it all together nicely. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Vegan Apple Crisp – adapted from What Would Cathy Eat?

  • 2 ½ pounds apples (about 7), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Small pinch cloves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking)
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix the apples with the next seven ingredients (through lemon juice). In a separate bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle the organic canola oil over the dry mixture and combine with your fingers until crumbly. Add the water and stir briefly with a fork. Put the apple mixture in an 8×8” baking dish, then sprinkle on the crumbly topping. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the apples are tender.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Oh.My.Goodness. This was perfect – the combination of these few, simple ingredients was so yummy. I love Portobello mushrooms because they are so meaty and savory, the parmesan cheese shavings were salty and nutty, the tomatoes added sweetness and the simple vinaigrette blended well with all. It tastes so fancy – sorry, I couldn’t help but admit that ;) This is a total keeper and will be a regular in this household – well, for me anyway. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Mixed Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette and Roasted Portobello – adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • honey (optional)
  • ¼-½ cup red wine vinegar*
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the roasted mushrooms:

  • 2 or 4 full-size Portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped out and wiped clean
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • Mixed greens, rinsed and dried
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes

*Start with ¼ cup of vinegar and add more as desired to taste.  The more tart you like your vinaigrette, the more vinegar you will want to use.

Directions:

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a jar or bottle with a secure lid.  Shake well so the ingredients are well combined and emulsified. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – longer is better.

To make the mushrooms, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Slice the Portobello caps about ½-inch thick.  Add to a bowl and toss with a bit of olive oil, just enough to coat lightly (about 2 tablespoons).  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast, flipping halfway through baking, about 15 minutes total.

While the mushrooms are roasting, portion the mixed greens between serving plates.  Top with shaved Parmesan and tomatoes.  Top with the warm mushrooms and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Quick Red Lentil Soup

This was so good that I just had to have seconds. I didn’t feel guilty because this soup is super healthy and low in fat. I tweaked this recipe a bit by adding more seasoning and cooking the lentils in vegetable broth. I loved the bite of the lentils and veggies in this, the creaminess of the Greek yogurt and the herby flavor of the cilantro. As simple as this is it’s so flavorful and a definite keeper! It’s also so cheap to make – you can’t beat that :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup Recipe – adapted from Veggie Belly

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup dry split red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  •  cilantro leaves
Directions:

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Stir on low heat for about 7 minutes, or till the vegetables are soft. Dont let them brown.

Add the red lentils to the vegetables, and stir for about 1 minute. Add paprika, salt, cumin, cayenne and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, place a lid on the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes or till the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape. Dont let the lentils get mushy. Add more water during cooking, if needed.

When the soup is done, serve with a dollop Greek yogurt.