Hi, I'm Julia. Welcome to my blog!

This is a blog where I can share with my family and friends my enjoyment of baking and cooking simple and flavorful food with healthy ingredients. I would like to share new recipes, old favorites, and finds from my local grocers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ellie Krieger's Apple Muffins

These muffins are really yummy and healthy! The muffins are even better the next day!

Apple Muffins
Food Network chef and nutritionist--Ellie Krieger
Serves 12

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I recommend King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup natural applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.
  5. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.
One muffin=219 calories

Fettuccine Alfredo

I love Fettuccine Alfredo but only have it once in a while because it's high in calories, so I was excited when I came across this recipe for a lighter version of Fettuccine Alfredo! I found this recipe in Runner's World magazine, it's a recipe from celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's latest cookbook, Now Eat This! Rocco transforms heart-stopping dishes such as this recipe, traditionally made with heavy cream, butter, and cheese and re-creates the sauce with Greek yogurt and chicken broth. I was surprised how much it tasted like the real thing! It was still just as flavorful minus all the fattening calories!

Rocco's Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves Four

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup 5 percent Greek Yogurt
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine; cook according to package directions. While pasta cooks, melt butter in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook two minutes. Combine cornstarch and nutmeg in a small bowl; whisk in chicken broth until smooth. Pour into saute pan, raise the heat, and bring sauce to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese until melted. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in yogurt until smooth. Toss fettuccine with Alfredo sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top Pasta with remaining cheese.
Calories Per Serving: 336 / Carbs: 47G / Protein: 18G Fat: 10G

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quinoa with Apricots and Pecans

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is my new favorite grain; it contains more protein than most other grains and it's a nice alternative to couscous or rice. It's great as a side dish paired with meat or added to a salad or just by itself! I found this fabulous recipe for Quinoa with Apricots and Pecans, it was really good, a lovely balance of sweet and nutty flavors. I served this recipe as a side dish with chicken, but since this dish is high in protein and iron, you could serve it as a main dish with a salad or part of a salad trio. This would be a great dish for vegetarians too!

Quinoa with Apricots and Pecans (Found on eatbetteramerica.com)
Makes 4 servings

  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (I added a little extra olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons to moisten the dish more; you can eyeball the amount of olive oil to your preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a small nonstick skillet, toast pecans over medium heat, stirring often, 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted. Pour onto a plate; let cool.
  2. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer; rinse under cold running water 2 minutes. In medium saucepan, stir together quinoa, orange juice and water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Add apricots, raisins, green onions, cilantro and toasted pecans. Stir in lemon juice, oil and salt.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pistachio Bundt Cake

This is such a yummy cake recipe and always a huge hit with everyone! It's always a dessert request at any party. Not only is it incredibly tasty but super quick and easy to make, it's like a semi-homemade dessert. I love sharing this recipe because it's soooo good and it's definitely worth the calories! :)

Pistachio Bundt Cake

  • 1 box white cake mix (I recommend Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix)
  • 1 small package Instant Pistachio Pudding (Jello brand--make sure it's INSTANT Pudding)
  • 1 cup Ginger Ale (I recommend Vernon's Ginger Soda)
  • 3/4 cups oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Angel Flake coconut
  1. Spray Bundt pan with oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients, except coconut, in mixing bowl and blend on medium speed for 4 minutes. During the last few seconds of mixing add the coconut.
  2. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. The top of the cake will get get very brown.
  3. Cool 10 minutes and invert cake onto serving dish.
  4. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with cool whip...may add crushed fresh pistachios to garnish.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche Topping

Calling all chocolate lovers!! If you're craving a rich, decadent dessert, this recipe is for you! Not only is it delectable, but incredibly easy to make; the batter can be prepared and in the oven in less than 15 minutes! This cake is perfect for a luncheon with girl friends or a lovely, gourmet dessert after a dinner party. It satisfies any chocolate craving and perfect for anyone with flour or gluten allergies because it's flourless! I loved this recipe because it struck a perfect balance of being both light and rich. This cake will please any chocolate-lover!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche Topping
Recipe found in the Sur La Table cookbook: The Art & Soul of Baking
(Pg. 335)

  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. This cake is all about chocolate, so use the best you can!)
  • 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) container Creme Fraiche (this is a little tricky to find at your typical run of the mill chain grocery store. I found mine at Trader Joe's. I'm sure any gourmet, specialty store would carry it)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon framboise (raspberry brandy) or Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) (optional)
  • Fresh strawberries or raspberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat a 9-inch Springform Pan with melted butter, oil, or canola-oil spray
  2. Make The Cake: Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler (If you don't own a double broiler, you can improvise by using a medium to large saucepan and place a medium sized glass heat-resistant bowl on top of the saucepan. When the water boils or simmers, it creates indirect heat that will melt the ingredients in the bowl. The water level in the pot should be just under the glass bowl, not actually touching the bottom of the bowl.) Place the chocolate and butter in the top portion (off heat). Reduce the heat to a simmer and set the chocolate mixture on top. Heat gently, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Set aside.
  3. Whip the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on high until the mixture holds a 3-second ribbon (The Ribbon Test: Whip the eggs on high for several minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and lift the beater out of the foam. Holding it an inch or two above the surface, draw the beater across the bowl, letting a "ribbon" or trail of batter drop from it onto the surface of the foam. When the eggs are properly beaten, that ribbon will hold its shape on top of the foam practically indefinitely, in this case at least 3 seconds.) With the spatula, scrape the eggs on top of the chocolate mixture and gently but thoroughly fold in until no streaks of egg remain.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. It will fall in the center and look a bit uneven - this is normal.
  5. Run a thin, flexible knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and then pop off the side. Slide onto a serving plate.
  6. Make The Topping: Place the Creme Fraiche, cream, sugar, vanilla, and framboise in a clean mixer bowl and whip until firm peaks form. Be careful not to over whip or it will become grainy. If this happens, add 2 tablespoons of cream and stir - the mixture should smooth out.
  7. The topping can be spread across the top of the cake and piled with fresh berries for a beautiful presentation, or you can individually dollop the topping on each slice of the cake and garnish with berries; this way if you have leftovers, the cake without the topping can be wrapped in plastic and stored for a few days at room temperature. :)

Trader Joe's Crunchy Chicken Sandwich

Those of you who have been following my blog probably know by now that my favorite grocery store is Trader Joe's:) I recently checked out their website and found some recipes using all TJ's ingredients, love that! I tried out this recipe using their Chili Lime Chicken Burgers, which are really good and a great, healthy alternative to a hamburger. I made this recipe for Jim and I, definitely a new favorite, very flavorful. The best part of this meal is you can get all your ingredients at TJ's, one stop shopping!

Crunchy Chicken Sandwich
Recipe makes 4 servings
  • 2 Cups Trader Joe's Organic Broccoli Slaw (found in their refrigerated vegetable section, by the lettuce, carrots, celery, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. Trader Joe's Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola (found with the other refrigerated salad dressing)
  • 4 Trader Joe's Chili Lime Chicken Burgers (found in their frozen food section)
  • Multi-Grain or Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns
Mix Organic Broccoli Slaw, Cilantro, and Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola. Heat Chili Lime Chicken Burgers according to package directions. I cooked my burgers on a skillet, but they would be great on the grill too. Place one burger on each bun bottom. Top burger with Organic Broccoli Slaw mixture and close bun. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken

I'm loving this new cooking website I recently found, eatbetteramerica.com (there's a link on my blog) this is the second recipe I've tested and both have been successful! There's a section on the website for "Healthfield" recipes where they've replaced ingredients with great-tasting alternatives to create better-for-you (healthy) recipes that are just as good as the originals. I'm always excited to find recipes with healthy alternative ingredients. So, if you're in the mood for sweet and sour chicken but don't want all the calories normally found in this dish, give this a try!

Sweet and Sour Chicken
(Courtesy of eatbetteramerica.com)
Makes 5 servings
  • 2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (I recommend Swanson All Natural Chicken Broth)
  • 1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks in unsweetened juice, drained and liquid reserved
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Brown rice to serve with recipe (I recommend Brown Jasmine Rice from Trader Joe's)
  1. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt; cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from skillet.
  2. In same skillet, cook bell peppers and onion over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Return chicken to skillet.
  3. In small bowl, mix broth, reserved pineapple liquid, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch and crushed red pepper flakes; stir into chicken mixture. Add pineapple; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Serve over rice.

Pina Colada Cake

I've been on a coconut kick lately and I wanted to make dessert for a little informal Academy Awards dinner Sunday night with my family. I found a great recipe from my new favorite cooking website, eatbetteramerica.com (there's a link on my blog to check out!) for a Pina Colada cake. It is so incredibly easy and quick to make and healthy too! It was a big hit with everyone, I will definitely be making this dessert again. The cake was light and airy with the angel food cake and pineapple and perfectly sweet. I've included the recipe below, however I did modify the canned pineapple from 8oz to 20oz, after reading the reviews for the recipe I noticed a majority of people suggested using more pineapple then the original recipe calls for. I highly recommend reading viewers comments or reviews on recipes found online because people often have helpful suggestions or modifications for a recipe after testing it. This cake turned out fabulous and the best part about it is 1 serving is only 140 calories!

Pina Colada Cake Recipe
(Courtesy of eatbetteramerica.com)

  • 1 package angel food cake mix (I used Betty Crocker 160z angel food cake just add water mixture)
  • 1 can (20 oz) unsweetened crushed pineapple
  • 8 oz frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut (I recommend Baker's Angel Flakes, and I toasted the coconut in a non-stick skillet and sprinkled on the cake after I frosted it)
  1. Heat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and crushed pineapple in its own juice. **NOTE: Look for angel food cake mix with water added only, but instead of adding water use the pineapple juice; it bakes perfectly)
  3. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely on a rack.
  4. Spread whipped topping over cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders

I found this great recipe for Parmesan Chicken Tenders by one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Giada De Laurentiis. I've made several of her recipes in the past and they always turn out good, especially this one! I like this recipe because you bake the chicken, which is healthier than frying, and you marinate the chicken in buttermilk making the chicken really moist and tender. It was a very easy recipe to follow and even made great left overs the next day for lunch! The best part of the dish was the balsamic vinaigrette you make for the dipping sauce, it gave the chicken a gourmet twist and very flavorful with the fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I served the chicken with a nice mixed greens salad, simple and pretty healthy!

(Courtesy Giada De Laurentiis,
found on the Food Network website)

  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, about 18 pieces ( I only used 8 chicken tenders because it was just me and Jim, but I did follow all the other measurements for the recipe and it was perfect. So, depending on how many servings you need, you may need to modify the amount of tenders you use.)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (this is for the vinaigrette, if you like a lot of garlic stick with the 3 cloves, if you're not a big fan of garlic you might want to only use 1-2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan ( I use the fresh Parmesan in a tub from TJ's found in the cheese section, really good)
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs ( I like the Progresso brand Italian bread crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each of 1-2 baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes. I marinated the chicken for the full 30 minutes because I wanted them really tender and moist.

While chicken is marinating, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes. I cooked mine an additional 5-7 minutes to make them a little crispier.

Transfer the chicken tenders to a platter and serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping.

Bon Appetitto!