Healthy Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Pasta Sauce

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You guysssss. THIS SAUCE. I could hardly stop myself from devouring it before snapping photos and I’m so excited to share it with you!

It kind of reminds of those times when you find the perfect shirt in the perfect color in the perfect size and it’s 75% off. Or when you’re in a hurry and you find that perfect parking spot right by the door.

You know…those sweet moments that just make you say “Yessss!” and want to do a happy dance.

This sauce is ridiculously easy and fast, creamy, incredibly flavorful from the roasted garlic and rosemary, and it might just have a healthy twist that I promise you won’t even notice!

It’s a win all the way around.

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Don’t you just want to dig your fork in RIGHT NOW?

After the process of putting this post together, I was craving this so much I made it again last night!

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I hope I’ve hyped this recipe enough because 1) it completely deserves to be hyped 2) it will live up to the hype (have I mentioned I LOVE it?) and 3) I’m about to tell you what makes it so healthy and I don’t want you to miss the sauce for the ingredients.

This sauce is actually made with cauliflower (cue gasps & eyebrow raises) but stick with me. Cauliflower is a chameleon of a vegetable and it takes on the essence of whatever dish its in. It also happens to, well, not have a lot of flavor so we inject it with some roasted garlic and rosemary. We also might just add a little cheese for good measure and we end up with an Alfredo-esque sauce without the calories and food coma. Jackpot!

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Pasta Sauce; Recipe or Not

serves 2 (if you pile on the sauce like we do)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

2 bulbs of garlic, roasted (Here’s a great tutorial.)

1/2 – 1 T. fresh rosemary leaves

1/4 c. grated or shredded Parmesan

1/4 c. shredded mozzarella

1-2 T. olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper (Health tip! A small squeeze of lemon will help cut down on the amount of salt needed with no lemon flavor detectable in the sauce.)

The Prep: Bring several cups of water to a boil in a large sauté pan, add the cauliflower florets. Let the florets cook until they are tender (about 10 minutes). Put the roasted garlic, rosemary, cauliflower florets, olive oil, salt, pepper, and one cup of the cauliflower water in a blender. Blend until the ingredients are smooth. Empty the large sauté pan of the remaining water and transfer the smooth sauce back to the pan. Stir in the Parmesan and mozzarella, heat the sauce on low if needed to melt the cheese.

Notes: I had this sauce prepared and pasta boiled in 30 minutes one night. The trick? Roast the garlic the night before and store it in the fridge. Also, for a richer sauce add one cup of milk instead of water in the blender.

Quinoa Tabouli

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Spring is in the air and I’m ready for some light and fresh food.

It’s ironic that I say that because I’m currently deep in the mountains of Colorado, surrounded by snow and dining on chili.

But truly, I am excited for spring and this quinoa tabouli is the perfect thing to welcome the new season. And I might add, it’s a health powerhouse! The perfect thing to give you that energy to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

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Feeling a little leery of quinoa? That weird, funky, grain-like seed taking the food world by storm? I was too! The list of the health benefits of this little seed is impressive so I decided I would give it a try. I tried several recipes and didn’t like any of them! Then I made this quinoa tabouli and I can honestly tell you it’s the first quinoa dish I actually LIKED. So naturally, I had to share it. :)

Read about the health benefits of quinoa here and here.

Quinoa Tabouli; Recipe or Not

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cucumber, finely diced

2 roma or vine ripe tomatoes, finely diced

1/4 of a large onion, finely diced

1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

juice of 2 lemons

3-4 T. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

The Prep: Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (don’t skip this!), then cook as directed. Let the cooked quinoa cool a little and then toss it in a large bowl with the diced cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley. In a small dish, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the tabouli and toss until the dressing is thoroughly distributed. Add more olive oil, salt, or pepper if needed. Let the tabouli chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Mac & Cheese

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I don’t know about you but this winter as me craving comfort food like nobody’s business. All things creamy, decadent, savory, and sure to put a person in a food coma.

I consider myself a healthy eater but I’m learning that when a craving hits for something like mac and cheese, it’s better to just indulge (within reason) and let myself savor every bite.

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I also like to make some subtle but healthier changes like sneak veggies in my mac and cheese and use whole wheat noodles. #fiberforlife

I also like throwing out hashtags at random.

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I called this “easy” baked mac and cheese because there is no cheese sauce making required. Thaaat’s right, no melting of butter, whisking in of flour, adding in of milk, thickening of sauce, and melting of cheese. But don’t worry, you won’t lose that cheesy comfort you know and love.

Easy Baked Mac & Cheese; adapted from Whole Foods

serves 4

1/2 lb (8 oz.) elbow macaroni (I used whole-wheat)

12 slices cheese of choice (I found gouda slices and used those bc that’s my hubby’s fave and it gives this dish great flavor. I also think that pepper jack would be really great or a smoked cheddar, yum!)

1/4 c. finely diced onion

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can peas, rinsed or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/2 c. bread crumbs

1 c. milk (I used almond milk and it worked fine.)

a good pinch of pepper

crackers, crushed for crumb topping

1 T. butter, cut in small pieces

The Prep: Preheat the oven to 350° and butter an 8 or 9 inch pan. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. There should still be a slight firmness to the pasta which will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Add the onion, celery, garlic, peas, bread crumbs, and milk. Stir until combined. Spoon a layer of the pasta & veggies into the bottom of the 8 or 9 inch pan. Then cover evenly with four slices of cheese. Continue layering (I had three layers) until the pan is full. Spread the crushed crackers over the last layer of cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated all the way through.

Nutella Swirl Cookies

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Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

As if there wasn’t going to be enough sweets thrown at you today, I’m adding these Nutella Swirl Cookies to the mix. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

I’d been dying to figure out some type of Nutella cookie because, well, Nutella makes my heart go pitter-patter (and not just from the sugar rush). Chocolately hazelnut goodness, YUM.

In the process of brainstorming ways to incorporate Nutella into cookies (tough business, right?), I remembered this recipe on Pinterest for cinnamon roll cookies (which sound pretty darn AH-mazing themselves). I took the concept and, literally, rolled with it to make these Nutella Swirl Cookies.

(Sorry) (for) (the) (excessive) (parentheses).

Enjoy! Nom nom nom…

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Nutella Swirl Cookies; Recipe or Not

1/2 c. (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

1 egg

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 – 2/3 c. Nutella

The Prep Part One: Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together the butter and sugar in mixing bowl until thoroughly combined, this may take a few minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and egg, stir until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, and flour. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until completely combined. If the dough is a little dry, you can add splashes of milk until the dough sticks together. Form a flattened disc (this makes it easier to roll out later) and cover with plastic wrap. Store it in the fridge for an hour or the freezer for 15 minutes.

The Prep Part Two: Once the dough is chilled, set it out on a well-floured flat surface. Begin rolling the dough out in a rectangle shape as best you can until it’s approximately 1/4 – 1/3 inch thick. Trim the edges with a pizza cutter or knife to get clean edges (see picture below). Gently spread Nutella all over the surface with an offset spatula (see picture below). As the dough warms up, it’s more likely to tear as you spread the Nutella so be careful! Once the surface is covered, start at one edge and roll the dough onto itself. Continue rolling until it forms a log, then cut it into half-inch thick slices (see second picture below). Repeat until all of the dough has been rolled up. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies on flat-side down. Bake for 14-15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Healthy Homemade Granola

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Becoming an adult is tough. They don’t tell you this. You slowly learn to accept that you no longer get a summer break, your fridge doesn’t fill itself, and you learn the value of flossing every day to avoid those bills for fillings. (True story, my husband hates getting dental bills in the mail).

After being out of college for a few years now (crazy how time flies), I feel like I’ve pretty much come to accept being an adult. Reluctantly, if I’m being honest. But there is just one thing that I cannot seem to let go of – the hope of a snow day. Anybody with me on this?

When those weathermen start talking chances of snow, I’m like SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY! Yea, I STILL hope and pray that miraculously we’ll get tons of snow and everything will be canceled and I can stay in my PJ’s all day.

This has never worked out for me, of course. But I still hope.

On a completely unrelated note: YUMMY GRANOLA!! (Sorry folks, I have no segue for the troubles of growing up and granola).

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I’ve tinkered around with recipes trying to find the perfect one and I landed on this one.  I dubbed it “healthy” granola because we are using a natural sweetener (honey) and coconut oil, which has many health benefits. I make large batches of granola because I fill up that glass container in the background and it lasts us several weeks. This recipe is easily cut in half for a not-so-ginormous batch of granola.

Healthy Homemade Granola; Recipe or Not

8 c. rolled oats

2 c. roughly chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, use your favorite)

3/4 c. quinoa, optional

1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. unrefined coconut oil* , melted to liquid state (my label read: expeller pressed virgin coconut oil)

1/2 t. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

The Prep: Preheat oven to 300°. Combine the oats, chopped nuts, and quinoa, if using, in a large bowl. Combine the coconut oil and honey in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave it just briefly to ensure the liquid is nice and runny. Stir the vanilla extract and salt into the liquid mixture. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until all the oats have been coated with liquid. Cover two baking sheets (one if you are making half the recipe) with parchment paper and bake for 40-50 minutes. Let it cool completely and then crumble it into chunks with your hands. Serve with yogurt, as a cereal, with fruit, we’ve even put it on top of pancakes!

*Unrefined coconut oil means that there is still coconut flavor in the oil. I love this in my granola and with the honey? YUM. If you’re not a fan of the coconut taste, you can use refined coconut oil which will not taste like coconut. If you use this, I recommend maybe adding a little extra honey or vanilla extract to make up for the flavor.

Pesto & Goat Cheese Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes & Zucchini

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Hi friends! I may have been absent awhile but I’m back with more great recipes for you. :)

As evidenced by the lack of posts, this year has started a little slow for me. In a way, it has kinda felt like my very first track race back in 7th grade. It was the 100M dash and I was settled in my blocks at the starting line with my slicked-back ponytail and pre-race jitters in my stomach. At the sound of the gun, we all took off.

Maybe it was an excess of nerves and adrenaline or maybe I just got off balance but I tripped and fell right there in the middle of the track! Our coach had told us several times if we ever fell, we should get back up and finish the race. So that’s what I did even though the other girls were long gone.

That’s how I feel about my start to 2014. I was ready, filled with the energy only the beginning of a year can bring. In this case though, I didn’t trip. I got sick and it took me out for three days. It turned out to be beneficial (not the being sick part, just the doing nothing it forced on me) because once I felt better, I was ready to get with it!

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And I started with pizza. Not just any pizza though. THIS pizza. It’s one of my faves and I think you’ll love it too. The pesto sauce is lovely and rich while the goat cheese gives a nice salty bite and the sundried tomatoes round out the whole thing. And the zucchini? Well that’s just on there because I can’t leave well enough alone with my pizza. I’m always thinking “What else can I put on here?”. So yeah, zucchini, take it or leave it. It’s fantastic either way.

Pesto & Goat Cheese Pizza with Sundried Tomatoes & Zucchini; inspired by my local Whole Foods’ pizza

1 pizza crust (This is my favorite recipe. I made the 12 oz recipe and it was perfect for two, I also added oregano to the dough.)

Sauce:

1/4-1/3 cup pesto

1-2 T. olive oil

a pinch of minced garlic, optional

Toppings:

1/4 c. roughly chopped sundried tomatoes

1 1/2-2 c. shredded mozzarella

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled on top

1/2 small zucchini, finely sliced, optional

a handful of spinach, optional (I almost added this but stopped. I think it would be a great topping on this pizza.)

The Prep: Preheat oven to 425°. Prepare the dough as directed by the recipe. Mince the garlic (if using), chop the sundried tomatoes, and slice the zucchini. Prepare the sauce by stirring together the pesto, olive oil, and garlic. Spread the sauce evenly over the rolled out pizza dough, top with the sundried tomatoes, zucchini, and any other toppings being added. Sprinkle with mozzarella, then dot the top with goat cheese crumbles. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Waffles

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Ok, friends – it is one week until Christmas! Crazy, huh?

There’s a lot of emphasis on Christmas morning and such a special morning can’t have any ol’ breakfast…

We need something delicious and festive!

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Enter gingerbread waffles, a festive spin on a classic favorite. A perfect breakfast for Christmas morning.

The molasses in these lends a wonderful depth and richness perfectly complimented by the gingerbread spices to transform plain ol’ waffles into a holiday treat!

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Gingerbread Waffles; from Midwest Living

2 c. all purpose flour

1 t. cinnamon

1 ½ t baking soda

1 ½ t. ground ginger

½ t. ground cloves

½ t. salt

3 eggs yolks, lightly beaten

1 c. molasses

½ c. buttermilk

½ c. butter, melted

2 egg whites

THE PREP: Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and salt. Combine egg yolks, molasses, buttermilk, and butter. Add to flour mixture and stir until moistened. It will be lumpy, set it aside. In small bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in beaten egg whites, leaving few fluffs of egg whites. Do not over-mix. Cook the batter in a waffle maker according to its directions.

Makes about 4-5 waffles, depending on your waffle maker.