Jack O Lantern Quesadillas with Midnight Salsa

Jack O Lantern Quesadilla

Maddie’s quesadilla at ‘Kid’s Halloween Class’ October 25, 2014

Another fun recipe for Halloween that is sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces.  All you need are whole grain tortillas, beans and shredded cheddar; they bake in the oven for just 10 minutes.  You can serve them with your favorite salsa but I provided a recipe for ‘Midnight Salsa’ for you to try. Enjoy!

Jack O’ Lantern Quesadillas (makes 4)

8 small whole grain soft tortillas

1 cup canned refried beans (fat-free)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a tortilla on a cutting board. With the sharp tip of a paring knife, carve triangle shapes for eyes and a crescent shape for the mouth. Repeat with 3 more tortillas. Place the other four tortillas on a baking sheet, spread each with a 1/4 cup of beans. Sprinkle each with a 1/4 cup of cheese. Next, top each with the carved tortilla and place in oven for 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbly and browning begins). Serve with Midnight Salsa*.

*Midnight Salsa (makes 2 cups)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Toss well and chill for 20 minutes.

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups

Candy Corn Fruit Cups

Just in time for Halloween!  It’s a snack that is both fun and healthy, unique amongst all the sweets & candy of the season.  It mimics candy corn when assembled:  yellow-orange-white as pineapple-oranges-yogurt.  These are easy to make and individually packed for a party or to simply ‘grab & go’.  Enjoy!

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups (serves 12)

3 cups low fat vanilla yogurt

2 cans pineapples chunks (in juice), drained

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained

12 plastic, clear, 6-ounce cups

Candy corn, for garnish

Using a spoon, equally distribute pineapple in bottom of each cup.  Repeat process with orange slices.  Top with a 1/4 cup dollop of yogurt.  Garnish with a piece of candy corn.  Now they are ready to share with your favorite goblins!

 

Meatless Monday: Tuscan Quinoa Casserole

 

VEGGIES!

What I love about this dish is the hefty load of veggies that are nicely and flavorfully incorporated into this casserole.  Serve it as a main dish or a side.  It works well in both roles!

Tuscan Bean and Vegetable Quinoa Casserole (serves 6)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, dry

2 tablespoons olive oilTuscan Quinoa Casserole

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 zucchini, diced

2 bell peppers, 1 red/1 yellow, diced

1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, sliced)

1/2 cup diced red onion (1/2 large)

juice from 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa as directed per package, undercook by 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic and vegetables (zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, red onion) in olive oil until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, and parsley. Stir in milk and cheese. Add red pepper flakes, to taste. Transfer to a prepared 9×13 baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Myplate2yours!

birthday cake

It’s been 3 years today since I wrote my first blog post and I want to celebrate with YOU!  Please send me a photo of a Myplate2yours recipe you’ve made and in return, I’ll send you something!  You will receive an unpublished recipe collection that I used in a recent class.  It was a class for college students and new cooks.  The collection contains 10 recipes from 15 main ingredients.  It’ll be a great resource for any kitchen as the recipes are budget friendly and easy to make.  Please send me your photos on twitter @myplate2urs, or Facebook at Myplate2yours, or in a comment on this blog post.  What will your photo be…a smoothie? a slow cooker meal? soup or stir fry?   I sure look forward to your photos and will honor this celebration until December 31, 2014.

Thank you for celebrating with me!

Meatless Monday: White Gazpacho Soup

White Gazpacho

A fall treat!  Crisp cucumbers and sweet grapes!  Its an easy, healthy, lunch or snack.  I made this soup in a class last week and saw guests trying to lick their bowls (their identities will remain confidential).  Enjoy!

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Fresh Dill (serves 4-6)

1/2 pound green grapes

1/3 cup almonds, toasted

1 English cucumber, seedless and sliced into 1 inch pieces

2 green onions, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 clove garlic

3 tablespoons fresh dill

2 tablespoons non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Place grapes in freezer (reserving 6 for garnish). In a food processor, process almonds, garlic and dill until chopped. Add frozen grapes, cucumbers, onions, milk, yogurt, and vinegar. Process until pureed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and more vinegar, as needed. Blend in EVOO with a drizzle. Serve with sliced grapes (cut side up) as garnish.

 

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes are one of my ‘go to’ recipes when I need to bring a dessert to a party or pot luck.  It  is an easy treat that also boasts a healthier profile.  The flavor is fresh and light. It is quick to assemble and cooks in 15 minutes.  Lots of reasons to enjoy!

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes (makes 1-1/2 dozen)

2- 8 ounce reduced fat cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, plus additional for garnish

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine

18 vanilla wafer cookies

18 paper muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill muffin tins with paper cups and add a wafer cookie in each, flat side down. Top each cookie with 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, blend cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Blend in lemon zest and vanilla. Scrape down sides, as needed. Add eggs and mix until creamy.

Spoon cheese mixture into each muffin cup, 3/4 full. Bake 15 minutes until center is rounded. Cool in pan. Garnish with additional lemon zest, as desired.

September is Breakfast Month

BREAKFAST!

We all know how important breakfast is…but more than half of American adults do not eat breakfast everyday and it’s estimated that 12 to 34 percent of children and adolescents regularly miss this morning meal. There are many benefits of eating breakfast that you won’t want to miss…here are the highlights:

Breakfast fuels your brain after the overnight fast.  That is why it’s called break-fast.  Your brain needs the energy and you benefit!  Kids benefit, too.  Studies have shown that children do better in school (improved memory, alertness, concentration, and test scores) compared to kids who skip breakfast.

Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers.  Unfortunately, many people skip breakfast just to save calories.  The fact is that breakfast skippers are at a greater risk for weight gain and obesity.

Eating breakfast helps you meet nutritional goals, especially for whole grains, dairy and fruits.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to get all of the recommended servings of whole grains (3), dairy (3) and fruits and vegetables (5) in your diet even spread across three meals and one or two snacks.  If a meal is skipped, it is even harder to meet the requirements.  Breakfast is a natural opportunity to include whole grain (with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, hot cereals, and whole grain toast and waffles), fruit (100% juice, fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruit) and fat-free or low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese).

Emerging research suggests that eating breakfast may improve your overall health, helping your heart, digestion, and bones.  All of these benefits may be due to the nutritional boost from breakfast- fiber from fruit and whole grains for heart health; fiber for digestive health; and calcium from dairy foods for bone health.

This weekend, I hope you’ll make breakfast a priority.  You can even try some easy, favorite Myplate2yours breakfast recipes like baked oatmealsmoothiesgranola, andoatmeal muffins. Or, for the busy school/work weeks ahead, try one of these make-and-go breakfast options (remember that fat-free and low fat milk are also available in aseptic packaging to-go):

#1 Toasted whole grain waffle with natural peanut butter, banana, and fat-free milk

#2 Individual fat-free or low-fat vanilla/plain yogurt, granola cereal, fresh berries (or raisins) – mix before eating

#3 Trail mix: whole grain breakfast cereal (LifeWheat Chex, Oatmeal SquaresCracklin Oat Bran), dried cranberries, almonds, and fat-free milk

#4 Single serving fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese, single serving canned peaches (packed in juice), toasted whole wheat English muffin with 100% fruit spread

#5 Cubed cheddar cheese, apple slices,  whole grain toast lightly ‘buttered’ and sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar, and fat-free milk

My hope is that Myplate2yours followers eat their breakfast!  Please share YOUR favorite weekend or to-go breakfast!

Homemade Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

This week, my friend Mary Ann found a large zucchini hiding under a big leaf in her garden.  Have you found one too?

image Whether its from your garden or a farmers’ market this weekend, I have two ideas for you!  First, a delicious quick bread adapted from a Whole Foods’ recipe.

And, if you’re looking for a main dish, my Stuffed Zucchini Italian Style is a favorite.

Either way, please use that zucchini, it needs to be enjoyed!

 

 

Zucchini Bread (makes 3 mini loaves or 1 large loaf)

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup grated zucchini

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the whisked mixture and stir until well combined. Next, fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Transfer the batter to the sprayed pan and bake for 30 minutes (for mini loaves) or 50 to 60 minutes (for large loaf). The bread should have risen and will be deep golden brown.

Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes then remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack.

 

Cooking Classes!

Calendar

It’s a new season and its a pleasure to share my new classes at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn, IL.  I hope you can cook with me soon!!

September

17- Indian Summer Garden Lunch: Refreshing Cucumber & Grape Soup, Vegetable Medley Pancakes with Cilantro Cream, Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes. Demo, 12:30-2pm, $35 Register here

25- Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight (come to class for a fresh breakfast and leave with the know-how and key ingredients to make a delicious dinner): DIY Homemade Granola, Yogurt, Berry Parfait / Saucy Pepper Steak on Toasted Farro. Demo, 9:30-11am, $45  Register here

October

7- Buried Treasures- Root Vegetables: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Orange Sections and Hazelnuts, Parsnip Mash with Pork Medallions with Mushrooms and Madeira Glaze, and Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake. Demo, 6:30-8p, $45  Register here

16- Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight (come to class for a fresh, hot breakfast and leave with the know-how and key ingredients to make a delicious dinner): Avocado Egg Breakfast Pita / Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers. Demo, 9:30-11am, $45  Register here

November

6- Something for Everyone on the Holiday Table (gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian): Holiday Citrus Salad with Fresh Baby Greens and English Cucumber, Savory Ricotta Muffin Cakes, Mushroom Asparagus Tart with Cornmeal Crust, Pesto Broccoli Quinoa Bake, and Flourless Chocolate. Hands On, 6:30-9pm, $65  Register here

11- Indulgent goes Healthy: Creamy Shrimp Dip with Homemade Olive Oil Crackers, Stroganoff Meatballs on Whole Grain Noodles, and Banana Chip Ice Cream. Demo, 6:30-8pm, $45  Register here

December

9- Hors D’oeuvres in 10: Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Baby Shrimp Salad Tostada Bites, Goat Cheese Log with Pistachios and Pomegranates, Spicy-Citrus Party Cashews, and Greek Style Dip with Homemade Hummus. Hands On, 6:30-9pm, $65  Register here

Kids Eat Right! Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

KER_MonthAugust is Kids Eat Right month!  It is a great time for families to focus on healthy eating  and active lifestyles as we begin a new school year. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging families to take the following steps:

Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help. “Talk to your children. Learn the foods they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” says Angela Lemond, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

Helping families eat healthy is what Myplate2yours is about!  Just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a 2-day little kids cooking camp called ‘Farm to Plate’.  Here is a favorite recipe from a similar class earlier this year.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Sauce (makes 6 slices)

6 slices whole grain white bread

4 eggs

1 tablespoon skim milk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

10 fresh strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup strawberry fruit spread

1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread (or butter)

Wisk eggs in a shallow bowl with milk and cinnamon. Combine strawberries and fruit spread in a small microwavable bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and set aside. Heat large skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance and allow to melt. Dip 3 slices bread in egg mixture and cook on skillet, about 2 minutes per side. Remove slices to a clean and dry cutting board. Repeat with remaining 3 slices of bread. Using a 2 inch biscuit or round cookie cutter, cut a hole in center of toast. On individual plates, place one slice of bread, and fill with 2 tablespoons strawberry mixture. Top with toast round. Repeat with remaining 5 slices. Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup. Enjoy!