An awesome weekend with some oat crackers thrown in for good measure

Happy Monday everyone!

I am writing this currently while suffering a slight case of the Mondays. I am sure you know the feeling: exhaustion from the activities of the weekend and a sense of impatience over the fact you are 5 days away from the next 2-day vacay. I am not experiencing the latter issue but I am suffering from the first one. This weekend was just packed with fun things! I was lucky enough to have my boyfriend Nick, his sister and a good friend come into town to spend some time in NYC. In two days time we managed to run a 5K, see a Broadway production, explore the Discovery exhibits, and stop at every cupcake establishment we encountered. We were always on the move.

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Nick posing at the cool rooftop lounge we found. Inventive cocktails and beautiful ambience…you could say we were happy campers.

Anyways, after everyone left the city for home I found myself alone in my apartment with nothing to do except watch Netflix. And since I found myself in this predicament (which isn’t really a bad thing; I am a huge TV show fan), I decided I was going to make some crackers.

Why crackers, you ask? Well for one crackers are delicious. And two, crackers are the perfect vehicle for cheese-which I had sitting in my fridge begging to be eaten. Also, I love taking something that most people buy at the store and creating a homemade version. Less ingredients, no preservatives, and all in all a better-tasting product in my opinion!

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I found the recipe for these oat crackers online and the thing I love about them is that they are not strictly flour-based. The oats add some good grains to fill you up, and the flavor is delicious and unique. These crackers also store well, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will last very long!

Oat Crackers (adapted from Sharmis PassionsIMG_3426

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl – add oats,wheat flour, salt and give a quick whisk. Then add all the other ingredients except water.
  2. Mix well it will look crumbly then add water slowly little by little to form a dough.If it doesn’t gather together then add little more water. It will not be pliable so don’t worry about that.
  3. Preheat the oven at 175 deg C for 10 mins.Meanwhile lay a butter paper on a rolling board and take half of the dough and roll it to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.Gather the extras , combine with remaining dough and repeat the same process. Prick holes in the crackers with a fork to keep the crackers from puffing. Transfer the crackers to the baking tray with butter paper.Brush the crackers with milk / oil.
  4. bake the crackers at the same temperature for 20 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown.Cool down and store in airtight container.
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I am officially a “Party-Dip Person”

Well, I went to my boyfriend’s house and this happened:

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I love a good social gathering. Call it my love for entertaining, or maybe my love for conversation, but either way I really like it when my friends and family come together. And when one of these social gatherings occur you can bet your Crockpot that there will be a party dip there (See: Smokey Avocado Dip and Baked Brie Appetizer)

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Last weekend I spent the time with Nick (the man I also refer to as “the boyfriend”) and his family at their beach house. You could say I was a happy camper with unlimited sunshine and a couple of days of free time. When Nick and I spend time together we always make sure to eat some great food. When I decided I wanted to make us something Nick gave me this look that said “Please make a batch of Buffalo Chicken Dip”.

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If you have ever considered yourself a fan of buffalo chicken, then this party dip recipe is for you. If you have never tried buffalo chicken, you need to make this dip because clearly you have not tasted the most amazing flavor combination bar food has ever seen,

Buffalo chicken contains the perfect amount of spice to wake up your taste buds. It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to a cold beer.  Make the dish into a cheesy dip and you hit “addicting party food” territory. You will want to make this recipe for a crowd. One, because if you eat the whole thing yourself you’ll surely feel ill. And two, your popularity will skyrocket right before your eyes (and happy, buffalo-chicken-filled tummy).

Now for the nutrition-conscious (which is something we all aim to be and if you’re not interested I recommend skipping the next couple paragraphs): this dip is by no means healthy. It contains a lot of cheese, and with cheese comes saturated fat. In small quantities cheese is actually quick good for you: think calcium, protein, and blood-sugar balance. And it tastes fabulous. But this dish is cheese-laden, a “cheese-on-cheese” sort of delicious. So eat with caution: no one wants to eat a cup of cream cheese with a spoon but if you aren’t a conscious eater that is exactly what you’ll do with this dip. And let’s not forget that Ranch Dressing (or Blue Cheese Dressing if you prefer) is high in fat, calories, and sodium especially when bought at the supermarket. So enjoy yourself, but go easy.

So now that I have addressed the cheese, it’s time to address get on to the great part about this dish: the chicken! In this carb-laden world  I know more people who would eat a bagel instead of an omelet, or mac and cheese instead of a turkey sandwich. You need your protein, people! The human body needs protein to function well, especially during bodily growth and development. This party dip is one that definitely gives you some lean protein (chicken) to help your bod run in tip-top shape. So despite the fact this dish is high in fat, pat yourself on the back for the contribution of protein that you’ll make to your system.

Okay, done with the health tirade. Sorry if your eyes glazed over. They won’t anymore after you try this recipe. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Dip (serves 12 at a normal party, 6 if you’re all buffalo chicken fanatics)IMG_3414

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bone and shredded (or 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded)
  • 1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce (it’s a buffalo-flavored sauce that every kitchen should have in stock)
  • ¼ cup Ranch dressing (or blue cheese dressing, if preferred)
  • 1 package shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. cream cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. First, shred your cooked chicken to pieces. This step is messy and really, very fun. Tip: make sure the pieces are small enough that they won’t break your tortilla chips. No one wants to lose their chip in the party dip.
  3. Next, pour your buffalo sauce over the chicken and mix together in a large bowl. Let the sauce marinate with the chicken for a few minutes.
  4. Mix softened cream cheese and dressing into the chicken-buffalo bowl. Taste test and add more buffalo chicken sauce, if desired.
  5. Transfer your party dip to a casserole dish (I used an 8×8) and sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top. Warm dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, baguette, crackers, or celery and carrots.

Goat Cheese Omelette

You know those mornings where you wake up starving and need food more than anything else in the world? Well, I just had one of those mornings.

Ideally, breakfast is supposed to be eaten within an hour of waking. I know there are people who just aren’t hungry at that time of the day, or don’t have the time (I tend to fit into the latter category) and breakfast is a nonexistent meal. But, it is important to try to get something into your system. A healthy, wholesome breakfast jump-starts the body’s metabolism, gives energy, and helps (note: helps, not guarantees) one avoid over-indulging later in the day.

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Breakfast is a great meal because it can be made quickly too. Take this omelet for example: from start to finish I was making breakfast for 5 minutes. And what I got was a nutritious and filling meal containing lean protein, calcium, and some healthy fats. Served with a side of fruit, I am gonna go ahead and call it a winning way to start the day. Especially when you’re so hungry you could eat your alarm clock.

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Goat Cheese Omelette (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • red pepper flakes (optional), to taste

 

Directions

First, warm a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and olive oil to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes until slightly browned. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and pour over onions. Let the eggs cook until slightly firmed, then flip over to cook other side. Add goat cheese and fold eggs over the cheese. Remove omelet from heat and top with avocado slices, salt, pepper, and/or red pepper flakes. Serve with sliced fruit.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have found a way to make cookies are that are so good you won’t want to share them.

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You all know of my ongoing love affair with cookies. They are sweet, warm, and satisfying.  They are not always healthy but my-oh-my are the delicious. I try and try again to avoid their temptations, but they always manage to lure me back. I constantly wonder what my life would be like without them; not as wonderful I can tell you that!

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My aspiration to live a healthy life through practicing good nutrition is slightly more challenging with this long-term relationship I have with the cookie, but I am a strong believer in that living a healthy lifestyle means allowing oneself to be happy. I would rather have a slight sugar coma occasionally rather than suffer silently, drooling at every bakery window I pass.

So it’s with my rant about “eating nutritiously but still baking cookies” that I give you cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. Because what could be better than cookies that taste almost like they are bites of chocolate cheesecake? Just be smart about it and try to resist eating the whole dozen in one sitting.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes one dozen medium-sized cookies)

IngredientsIMG_3407

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-3 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 small egg (or 1/2 large egg)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus 2 Tbsp, if needed)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used chunks)

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat with an electric hand mixer for 7 minutes. You want to make sure it is light and fluffy, so hang in there!
  2. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined.
  3. Fold in chocolate chunks/chips
  4. Scoop balls of cookie dough (I made 14, then ate two raw) and set these delicious morsels of goodness on a large plate. Flatten them slightly with your palm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. You do not want to bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  5. Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 8-9 minutes (until golden). Remove those yummy little treats from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes before lunging for them (they will fall apart otherwise). Enjoy them in a sneaky hideaway because you will want them all to yourself!

Happy Birthday America! Let’s celebrate with a healthy BBQ

Goodness I love Fourth of July weekend: the patriotism, the fireworks, and of course the cookout food! The center of summertime (and the incredibly overwhelming heat wave) means lots of time spent with my boyfriend at the beach, and plenty of outfits centered around my bikini.

Like everyone else who works a desk job and stays indoors all day, I feel like summer snuck up on me. I was not prepared to shed clothing and wear a swimsuit last week, and  I suddenly saw where all the NYC bagels I have been consuming have gone.

Before you all start your simultaneous (and overdramatic) eye-roll, I must give the following disclaimer: I am not saying I am fat. I prioritize good nutrition and habitual exercise, and I have a very positive approach to self-image. This is not a “woe-is-me” sort of post, don’t you worry! What I am saying is that I like to feel svelte and lean during the summer months, and that eating like a bear about to hibernate does not help. Eating wholesome food and drinking tons of water is a huge priority for feeling good and looking good, this season more than any other.

Therefore, I present to you the way to enjoy good BBQ food without sacrificing your swimsuit-ready bod: the Bikini Burger.

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The wonderful thing about this burger is that is just as flavorful and just as indulgent as your run-of-the-mill burger. All it really lacks is that completely unnecessary white-bread bun. Even better, eating this burger with a fork and a knife will lead to slower eating. I will admit my biggest problem when trying to eat smart is remembering to eat slow. I have a tendency to inhale my food and speak to no one until my dish is clean. This habit can easily lead to overeating. There are many tips and tricks that encourage slower eating, and using a fork and knife is one of the best ways to ensure this and also lets me enjoy my food more! So next time you’re dishing up at a picnic or BBQ, make the Bikini Burger and commend yourself on a wholesome meal choice!

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The Bikini Burger  (Makes 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 burger patties
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Roma or Beefsteak tomato
  • 1 onion
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Ketchup, mustard

Directions:

Think of this as a burger tower: lay out a Romaine lettuce leaf and place the burger patty (with or without cheese) on top. Cheese is delicious, but optional (easy way to cut extra calories if you choose…I personally never miss an opportunity to eat cheese). Next place a slice of onion, a slice of tomato, and 1/4 of an avocado on top of the patty. Drizzle with mustard and ketchup.