chicken lettuce wraps 2.0

a few of my friends and i are concentrating on getting healthy this summer, not just healthy bodies but healthy minds too.  we’ve dubbed it our summer of wellness.  my goals for this summer are to work out regularly, make healthier food choices, and do some summer reading on positive thinking.  i’m hoping all of these things will help me be a healthier and happier me.

one of the dishes my friend makes often is lettuce wraps and last week she was telling me about them and it reminded me of the chicken lettuce wraps i made a while ago.  well i wanted to try a version that is close to the lettuce wraps i ate while i was going up.  we got them from a local vietnamese restaurant and they were just amazing.  super flavorful and i loved the freshness the lettuce added.  i am happy to report that these chicken lettuce wraps are incredibly close the ones i enjoyed at home.  yippee!

these lettuce wraps are filled with ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts coated in a soy/hoisin sauce that is just divine.  i love that even though they are low carb, they do not lack in flavor.  plus they keep me full – i have 3-4 for dinner and i’m good to go!  but you could also serve this as a healthy appetizer option too (1-2 would be a perfect serving).

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cinnamon candied pecans

you guys!  these cinnamon candied pecans are the bomb digity.  for real.  i can’t get enough of them.  they are crunchy and cinnamony and just delicious.  plus they are also super easy to make.  can’t get much better than that right?

i wanted to share the joy of these pecans with the world, so i made them as one of the components of my christmas gifts this year.  every year for christmas i just make different kinds of baked goods for my friends.  i’ve shared a few different recipes i’ve made in the past from soft gingersnap cookies with white chocolate chips and pistachio cranberry white chocolate lollipops to raspberry streusel bars and red velvet cake balls.  this year i made vanilla and coconut granola, raspberry streusel bars, vanilla bean sables, and garlic ranch pretzels, along with the cinnamon candied pecans (recipes coming soon!).

i packaged the pecans in these cute little mason jars and used red and white kitchen twine to tie on a lovely colorful tag.  i think they turned out quite nice.  hope everyone liked them!

start off by putting the egg whites, vanilla extract, and water in a large bowl.

then whisk it all together.

pour in the pecan halves and mix so that all of the pecans are completely covered with the egg white mixture.

in another bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

pour the cinnamon sugar mixture over the pecans.

mix everything up…

and pour it on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  make sure all of the pecans are spread out into an even layer.

bake for 1 hours and 15 minutes at 250 degrees f, stirring every 15 minutes.

allow the candied pecans to cool completely and then package them up in air tight containers. nom nom nom.

please visit brown eyed baker for the recipe.  (i used a slightly different method to mix up the pecans – either way works fine.)

apple pie dip and cinnamon chips

growing up, my family never watched any sports.  well maybe we watched a little college volleyball but that’s about it.  so when i started dating chris, i had no idea what football was about.  but he was an avid patriots fan (don’t hate ;-)).  he watched football all day on sundays and i would do my homework (i was in grad school).  at first i didn’t pay much attention but slowly but surely i started getting into it.

i asked chris a million questions about what was going on (i’m sure he was sick of me and my questions) and i started playing fantasy football in my office’s league.  this really helped me start understanding more and more about the game.  now i can’t get enough of football and i am a big redskins fan!!!  my poor parents now have to endure hearing me talk about football and it’s especially hard on sundays when i tell them i need to go because the game is about to start or something exciting happened in the game so i need to go watch.  oops!

anyway so how does football related to this apple pie dip and cinnamon chips?  well, i made them for a superbowl party we went to this year.  it was a great addition to all of the other dips and finger food you typically see at superbowl parties, but i loved that it is a lighter, healthier dessert option after all of the usual cheesy, fried food.

start off by making the apple pie dip – it’s super easy.  just some chopped apples, a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

mix it all together and simmer until the mixture is boiling and a bit of the liquid is released from the apples.  remove from the heat.

then combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the apple mixture.

stir to combine and then return the saucepan to the heat.  cook until the sauce thickens a little bit.  set aside to cool.

now it’s time to make the cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips!  i used whole wheat flour tortillas to make them a wee bit healthier.  first, brush the tortilla with some melted butter.

then mix up the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl…

and sprinkle an even layer on to the tortilla.

now cut the tortilla into chips.  i cut each tortilla into 8 wedges.

place the tortilla wedges on a parchment paper or silpat mat lined baking sheet and bake them at 400 degree F for 6-8 minutes.

once they are baked transfer, them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

repeat until all of the chips are made.  now that the dip is complete and the chips are made put it all together in a lovely serving platter.  i love this dip and chips bowl.

the cinnamon chips and apple dip are a great combination but i have to say, i loved the cinnamon chips on their own.  i may just make the chips from time to time as a great healthy snack. 🙂

for the recipe, please visit pennies on a platter.

slow cooker black beans

next up in my slow cooker/crockpot series is slow cooker black beans!

making black beans in the slow cooker couldn’t be easier.  this is awesome because cooking your own beans from dry beans is sooooo much cheaper than canned beans.  plus you don’t have to worry about all of the sodium they add to canned beans.  awesome!  so i picked up a huge four pound bag of black beans from the grocery store.

it was only a little over $6.00 for the whole bag and i will actually be able to get the equivalent of 12 cans of beans out of that.  usually a can of beans is about a $1 so that’s a 50% savings!!!  do a dance!  this is exciting stuff people! 🙂

now i’ll be able to make all kinds of recipes that call for black beans like this southwestern quinoa

and this crockpot turkey taco chili

to make the slow cooker black beans, all you need to do is sift through the beans in a baking pan or cookie sheet.  just make sure to get rid of any debri or rocks or any other yucky stuff.

then pour the beans into a colander and rinse them off.

put the beans into the slow cooker and then pour 6 cups of water over the beans.

cook the beans on high for 4-6 hours.  it took a full 6 hours for my batch of beans to be nice and tender.

then give them another rinse and they are ready to use.

1 pound of dry beans makes about 6 cups of cooked beans and 2 cups of cooked beans equals about 1 can of beans.  so i divided up the beans into 3 bags with 2 cups of beans in each.  i put 1 bag in the fridge because i plan on making black bean cakes this week.  the other two bags went into the freezer for later.

i haven’t tried this technique with any other kinds of beans but i’m guessing it would work?  i quickly googled it and this post doesn’t say anything about needing to use a specific kind of bean, so you should be okay… oh and i know some people do like to soak their beans overnight but it’s all personal preference.  now go make some beans and remember…

beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
the more you eat, the more you fart
the more you fart, the happier/better you feel
so let’s eat beans with every meal

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quinoa pizza bites

sorry i haven’t been posting as regularly as i have in the past.  things have been busy – work has been full of orientation for our new students and outside of work chris and i have been busy wedding planning and getting ready to move (just down the street).  so it’s left little time to write blog posts.  but don’t worry, i haven’t forgotten about you and i hope to get back to posting more often.

until then, please enjoy these quinoa pizza bites.  remember a while back i made buffalo chicken quinoa bites?  well these are very similar to those except with the wonderful flavors of pizza instead of buffalo chicken.

there are a ton of different herbs and spices in these little bites plus a bit of mozzarella cheese and turkey pepperoni which make them incredibly flavorful.  i also dipped the bites in some marinara sauce and all together they definitely had all the flavors of pepperoni pizza.

but the great thing is these quinoa pizza bites are much more healthy than regular pizza – you get all of the wonderful nutritional benefits of quinoa like fiber and protein but they just taste like pepperoni pizza!  awesome!

to start just put everything in a medium bowl…

then mix it all together.

now scoop a bit of the mixture into each cup of a mini muffin tin.  press down on each one so that it’s nicely packed in.

bake the quinoa pizza bites for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

let them cool for a little bit to allow the bites to set.  this makes it a bit easier to get out of the muffin tin.  serve the quinoa bites warm with some marinara sauce.

for the recipe for these delicious quinoa pizza bites, visit so very blessed.