Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alsatian Bacon and Onion Pizza

Anyone else have a husband who loves bacon?  So much so that you got him "Bacon of the Month Club" for his wedding gift, a Bacon cookbook for Valentine's Day, Bacon vodka for our anniversary, made Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes for his birthday, and bought a You Had Me At Bacon" T-shirt for Christmas?  Well, if you're like me, and your husband considers bacon a food group all on its own, then this pizza is surely the way to your bacon man's heart. 

Traditionally, this Alsatian dish is composed of a thin bread dough rolled out in a rectangle and is covered with fromage blanc, thinly sliced raw onions, and bacon lardons.  It is traditionally baked at a very high heat so the edges of the crust are almost charred.  This recipe is a delicious interpretation, and no surprise - my husband absolutely LOVED it (and so did I).  

It's creamy, it's oniony, it's bacony, and according to my husband, "It's the best pizza I ever made."  Works for me!

Alsatian Bacon and Onion Pizza


  • 1 can refrigerated pizza crust (I used Pillsbury Thin Pizza Crust) OR 1/2 pound pizza dough

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 pound thickly sliced smoky bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, flour, and sour cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the bacon is crisp.  Leaving the rendered fat in the pat, transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel to drain.  Add the onions to the fat in the pan and cook until softened and slightly caramelized.  Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

  4. Spread the pizza dough onto a baking sheet that has been lightly greased with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Spread the ricotta sour cream mixture on top of the dough to within 1/4 inch of the edge.  Sprinkle with the bacon and onions. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown (ovens and crust thicknesses vary, so keep an eye on it).  Cut into squares and serve.

*Slightly adapted from Food and Wine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I'm always on the hunt for meals that the whole family will eat (what mom isn't?), and this is one of them.  It's pretty darn healthy too, which makes me even happier.  You can serve it as is, wrap it in a burrito shell, or serve it over rice.  No matter how you serve it, it's great for dinner, and even better for lunch the next day.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Enchilada Casserole


  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)

  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 (15 oz.) can or jar all-natural mild enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand)

  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

  • flour/whole grain tortillas or rice, for serving


  1. Add the chicken, sweet potato, onion, enchilada sauce, black beans, cumin, and garlic powder to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low until the sweet potato is tender and the is chicken cooked through, about 4 hours.

  2. Stir in the corn and cheese until the cheese melts.  Set on warm until ready to serve.  Serve over rice or wrap burrito style in flour tortillas.


*Slightly adapted from Meal Makeover Moms.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coconut Banana Bread

What do you do with 3 overripe bananas?  Banana bread.

What do you do with 3 overripe bananas, half a carton of buttermilk, and an open bag of shredded coconut?   Coconut Banana Bread!

After researching several banana bread recipes, I decided on the recipe below -  an insanely wonderful variation on your usual banana bread.  So wonderful, that I will probably never make "just another banana bread recipe" ever again.

This bread is incredibly moist, light, and has the perfect tropical blend of bananas and coconut.  And I can't stop eating it!!!

Coconut Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium-sized very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (could also use sour cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottom of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, beating well.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture.  Blend well.
  4. Add the bananas, buttermilk, vanilla, and coconut.  Stir well.
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.  Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing (otherwise it will be too crumbly).  Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

*Inspired by several banana bread recipes, but adapted primarily from Martha Stewart's Banana Bread recipe.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Simple Dijon Tarragon Cream Chicken

The Dijon mustard, tarragon, and cream combine in this recipe to make a delectable sauce that is surprisingly impressive considering how quick and easy it is to pull together.  Most definitely an easy weeknight keeper, yet fancy enough to serve to company. 

Simply put - it's easy and impressive.  And that's the way I like it.

But let me be honest...

My husband picked out this recipe, put it on our menu last week, and I was very skeptical it would be anything more than ordinary.  I didn't even think it'd be worthy of posting, as I only like to post my absolute favorites.  But, we needed to use up our fresh tarragon, and we had all the other ingredients already on hand, so I agreed to it.  At the very least, I figured it'd be an easy night of cooking for me.  Much to my surprise though, as the sauce came together, my nose quickly realized my husband was right (shhhh).  He had found a dish that was going to taste much better than just average.  In fact, it was a keeper at first bite...and didn't last long on the plate!

Simple Dijon Tarragon Cream Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (Maille's Whole Grain Mustard is my favorite)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 Tablespoon dried)

  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.  When the butter is melted, add the chicken and brown on both sides.
  3. Once browned, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until juices run clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the shallots to the juices already in the pan and cook for just a few minutes, just until softened.  Add the heavy cream, stirring to scrape up the brown bits.  Mix in the mustard and tarragon and cook until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Return chicken to pan and coat with sauce.
  5. Serve with additional sauce drizzled on top.

Notes:  You could certainly omit the shallots if you don't have them on hand, and while fresh tarragon is highly preferred, dried can still give the same flavor in a pinch.  You could probably sub half-and-half for the cream if you wanted to reduce the fat as well, but it's ohhh so good with the heavy cream!  Any extra sauce is also excellent for serving over whatever veggies you serve on the side - asparagus, green beans, etc.

*Adapted from this recipe.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cinnamon Flax French Toast

My little man loves bread.  11 months old, and he's obsessed with whole wheat, whole grain, multigrain, whatever-grain bread.  He loves it.  He loves it so much that I purposely have to serve it at the end of a meal, after he's eaten all his fruits and veggies. 

That being said, I've been trying to find ways to incorporate a little more nutrition into the bread he eats.  Bread all alone certainly isn't a complete meal, but it does get a little more balanced when soaked in a milk, egg, and flaxseed mixture (especially since my child has recently decided eggs are inedible).  And the flaxseed, while optional, is something I try to incorporate whenever I can since it's a great source of fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants.  It also adds a slight nutty flavor that is perfect in french toast. 

I've made this version of french toast several times now.  I usually make it on Sundays to serve my husband, myself, and the little man, and the best part is that there are always enough leftovers for at least 2 breakfasts during the week.  Pop it in the microwave or toaster oven for a quick reheat, and your weekday breakfast is done.  Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fresh berries, and you're good to go!

Cinnamon Flax French Toast

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 8-10 slices 100% whole wheat bread
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • Maple syrup, mixed berries, and/or powdered sugar for serving

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and ground flaxseed.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.
  3. Coat the bread in the egg mixture, one slice at a time and cook in the skillet until the bottoms turn golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Repeat until skillet is full.  When first batch is finished cooking, transfer to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil to the pan before starting the second batch. 
  4. Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, or mixed berries.

*Slightly adapted from this recipe.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

The first and only time I'd ever had rhubarb was about 7 or 8 years ago.  My roommate at the time made a homemade rhubarb crisp one afternoon, and lucky for me, she was willing to share.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  Impressed not only by how delicious it was, but also because I never would have guessed a red celery look-alike type vegetable could taste so good.  

Well, that memory came flashing back to me the other day when I spotted fresh rhubarb at the grocery store.  It was just sitting there screaming to be made into something yummy.  It's a popular spring time vegetable so it didn't surprise me to see it in the stores once again, but the gorgeous bright red color of these stalks did.  I of course grabbed as many as I could and set out to make my first homemade rhubarb crisp.  After researching a few versions, I decided on one that sounded similar to what I had several years back.  A few slight modifications later, and we had a winner. 

I love this dish best when served straight from oven (or reheated) and topped with a nice healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top.  My husband, however, didn't care how I served it.  He was just impressed that I made a vegetable into dessert.  Obviously I'm not the first, but who am I to tell him otherwise?

Rhubarb Crisp

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 cake pan with cooking spray or grease with butter.
  2. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a large bowl.  Mix together until crumbly, and  press half of the mixture into the bottom of the greased cake pan.
  3. Heat the sugar, water, salt, cornstarch, and vanilla in a saucepan set over medium high heat.  Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.  Add the rhubarb and toss to coat. 
  4. Pour the rhubarb on top of the crust and top with the remaining crumb mixture.
  5. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until bubbling.   

Note:  My crisp ended up bubbling over just a bit and almost caused the smoke alarm to go off (but surprisingly didn't), so you might want to play it safe and put a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil on the rack below the crisp to catch any syrup that might bubble over while cooking.  Or, you could just clean your oven the  next day, as I did...oops.

*Adapted from this recipe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Salmon with Bonefish Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce

Several years ago my mom and I fell in love with the Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce served at Bonefish Grill.  Unfortunately though, soon after falling in love, they stopped listing it on their menu as one of their signature sauce choices to be served alongside the grilled fish.  Now the only mention of this delectable sauce is in their Saucy Shrimp appetizer.  Luckily though, they have always honored my mom's and my request to have it served alongside our grilled salmon or halibut.  We are so thankful they do because it is absolutely divine.  

One day when I was looking for new ideas for making salmon at home, my mom came across a copycat version of the infamous Bonefish Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce  and sent it my way for me to try.  As expected, it was as stupendous at home as it was in the restaurant.  This recipe is a true keeper, worthy of seconds, and definitely worth serving to company.  And hey, at least at home I can serve it on anything I want.  No special requests required!

Salmon with Bonefish Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce

  • 4 salmon filets
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces


Bonefish Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce
  1. Put sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, wine and sugar in a saucepan set over medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer and let cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add heavy cream, salt, and pepper and reduce again until thick.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly add butter, mixing between additions until melted.  Remove from heat when all butter is incorporated, but keep warm until salmon (or other fish) is ready for serving.

Broiled Salmon
  1. Position oven rack on 2nd highest setting from the top.  Set oven to broil.
  2. Place salmon filets in a glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.
  3. Use a foil “snake” to prop your oven door open a bit while broiling, and broil the filets for a total of 7-8 minutes, flipping them once about half way through.  Test for done-ness by cutting into one filet.  Salmon should flake easily and be opaque in color.  Top with Bonefish Lime Tomato Garlic Sauce just before serving.

Note:  This sauce is not only a great pairing for salmon, but it's also great with other fish and shellfish, such as tilapia, halibut, and shrimp.

Yield: 4 servings


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Dijon Viniagrette

Throwing frozen veggies in the microwave is certainly a quick and easy way to get your veggies on the table, but I was getting tired of the slightly soggy and boring result.  Knowing my 11 month old loves cauliflower (let's hope that never changes), I decided to buy a whole head of cauliflower last time I was at the grocery store and try roasting it.  I've roasted many a veggie  before with wonderful results, but never cauliflower.  Turns out, it's even more delicious when roasted.  The caramelization, the fact that it retains a slight crunch, and the lemon dijon viniagrette drizzled on just before serving turned this ordinary vegetable into a side dish that will be joining my regular rotation.  The viniagrette can be optional if you have picky eaters, but my 11 month ate it just as he normally would, and it definitely escalates the dish to a whole new "worthy of serving to company" level.  No longer will I smother my cauliflower in butter! 

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Dijon Viniagrette


  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (as always, I prefer whole grain Dijon mustard)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Spread cauliflower florets on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly toss to coat (fingers work best!).

  3. Roast in the oven for approximately 60 minutes or until fork tender.

  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, whisk together the 1 Tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and garlic.

  5. When cauliflower is done roasting, transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with the lemon dijon viniagrette and serve immediately.

*Recipe slightly adapted from this one.  The original recipe was created by registered dietitian, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN, so you can even feel great about eating it since it's incredibly healthy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pumpkin Sage Tortellini

Anyone else have a can of pumpkin puree sitting around in the pantry leftover from the holidays?  If so, this is an incredibly easy and delicious way to put it to good use and help clean out the pantry.  But even if you don't have a 4 month old can of pumpkin puree on hand, this dish is so simple, satisfying, and comforting that I encourage you to go to the store and grab a can just so you can make this! 

In this dish the pumpkin, butter, and parmigiano reggiano are a perfect combination of flavors, but the fresh sage is what really transforms those flavors from good to great.  The chopped walnuts added just before serving finish the dish with the perfect amount of crunch and texture.  The flavor combination here is so simple, yet so perfect.

Pumpkin Sage Tortellini


  • 2 (8oz.) bags Three Cheese Tortellini (I use Barilla)

  • 1/2 pound sweet butter

  • 8 leaves fresh sage, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie filling

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.  (Once boiling, add 2 Tablespoons salt.)

  2. While the water is coming to a boil, heat butter and sage leaves over medium high heat in a large saute pan and cook until the butter turns golden brown and spatters a bit.

  3. Add the pumpkin puree to the pan and remove from heat.  Mix together and set aside.

  4. Drop the tortellini in the salted boiling water and cook according to the package instructions.  Drain in a colander and immediately toss in the pan with the pumpkin sage butter mixture. 

  5. Heat the pan over medium heat and toss until pasta is well-coated and heated through. 

  6. Mix in the Parmigiano Reggiano and toss.  Serve immediately and top with chopped walnuts (optional) and fresh sage leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

*Recipe slightly adapted from a free online cookbook download put out by Barilla a few years ago.  The recipe stated this dish was inspired by Ashley Judd's favorite pasta dish and was recreated by Mario Batali.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

As I mentioned back in my Green Smoothie post a couple months ago, I couldn't wait to start sharing green smoothies with my son, and yesterday I finally did.  And I'm happy to report that I now have a little 11 month old green smoothie loving buddy! 

In hopes of not wanting to scare him away from smoothies forever, I decided to use two familiar flavors - strawberries and bananas - and to go easy on the spinach, adding a little less than half of what I normally would use.  I was tempted to leave out the spinach completely this first time, but I'm so glad I didn't.  I added a small handful of spinach, tasted it, and I couldn't even taste the difference, so I figured why not.  I also added the ground flaxseed to his smoothie as I normally add to mine, since it doesn't change the taste and is a great source of omega-3s, fiber, and antioxidants.  No surprise, he slurped this baby down faster than I could say smoothie.  In fact, he loved it so much that when I tried to take the sippy cup away from him to refill it, he responded with a death grip.  He did NOT want to let that thing go!  Thankfully, after a few silly smiles and a little coercing, I managed to almost willingly remove his fingers.  I refilled his cup and promptly returned it to him, and he greeted me with a big smile and happy little kicking feet. I have a feeling this will be the first of many healthy green smoothies for this little man.

As for serving it to the little man, I used a Dr. Sears Smoothie Sipper (photo at right).  I had attempted to serve it in a regular straw sippy cup awhile back with no success.  The straw wasn't wide enough to accomodate liquid with a thicker consistency and ended up being very difficult to clean.  I would recommend either using a regular cup with a disposable flexible straw or a sippy cup designed for thicker liquids, such as the Dr. Sears one.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie


  • 2 cups frozen strawberries

  • 1 large ripe banana

  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or water or milk)

  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (I prefer greek yogurt)

  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

  • 1 small handful of baby spinach


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender. 

  2. Mix until smooth, approximately 2 minutes, stopping to mix the ingredients down with a spoon as needed.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Notes:  For the strawberries, I used half frozen and half fresh since I had a few fresh berries on hand.  If you were to use all fresh berries, then you might want to add a little ice to get the right consistency.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baked Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Before I came across this recipe, I always associated pork chops with the word "dry" and therefore always stayed away from them.  Then I got married.  And now, much to the hubs' delight, I'm a seasoned pork chop maker.  This recipe converted me.

After trying more "pork chops with mushroom sauce" type recipes than I can count, this one stood out as the tried and true winner.  The most tender and juicy pork chops I've ever had, no chopping required (quick prep!), and made with ingredients I usually already have on hand.  This recipe is pork chop perfection!  Serve with a side of rice or potatoes and some green veggies and dinner is done!

Note:  A few handfuls of sliced fresh mushrooms are a great addition to the sauce if you have them on hand.  Speaking of the sauce...  It's really good, so you might want to double it for extra dipping.

Baked Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I prefer Lawry's brand)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs (I made my own using Italian seasoning)
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup white wine (to omit the wine just double the milk)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Season pork chops with garlic powder and seasoning salt.
  3. Place beaten eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls.
  4. Lightly dredge the pork chops in flour, dip in the egg, and then coat liberally with breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat the 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the pork chops and cook for 5 minutes per side or until breading is well-browned.  Transfer the pork chops to a 9x13 inch baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. While the chops are baking, whisk together the soup, milk, and white wine in a small bowl.
  7. After baking for 45 minutes, remove the chops from the oven and cover them in the soup mixture.  Replace the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.

*Recipe slightly adapted from
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