Fresh Strawberry Brie Bites


Need an appetizer for a party?  Or a refreshing dessert after dinner?  This recipe serves both needs!  Fresh strawberries washed and hulled deliver color and sweetness when paired with creamy brie and fresh basil leaves.  Balsamic glaze provides a sweet yet savory finish for a fabulous combination!

Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze (makes 20-24 pieces)

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled

Fresh basil, one leaf per strawberry (about 20-24)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 pound Brie cheese, cut 1/4-inch slices into 1-inch squares (20-24 pieces)

Toothpicks or small bamboo skewers

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the glaze is thick and coats a spoon (consistency of chocolate syrup). Set aside and allow to cool in pan.

Prepare a serving dish with a light coat of oil or cooking spray. Start stacking ingredients with a piece of brie as the base. Add basil (leaf should curve up to catch the glaze).  Next, add the strawberry (hulled side down). Spear stack with toothpick and drizzle with glaze. Arrange on the prepared serving dish. Enjoy!

Note: Any unused balsamic glaze can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup

Overnight Oats

A hot breakfast is a welcome start to any day this winter in Chicago!  This recipe is a breeze since it cooks overnight and is ready as soon as you are in the morning.  Simply prep the ingredients in the slow cooker at night and set on low for 7-10 hours.  You’ll be happy to have this hot breakfast waiting for you the next morning!  And any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated for breakfast or snack time throughout the week.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup (serves 6)

2 apples, sliced and cut into ½ pieces

1-½ cups low fat milkOvernight oats 3

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked steel-oats

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Optional toppings: Chopped nuts, maple syrup, additional milk

If needed, coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours

Serve oatmeal into bowls. Add optional toppings. Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings

It’s going to be another cold week in Chicago, but I have a recipe to keep you warm!  Simmering Chicken and Dumplings will warm your kitchen and your tummys with comforting aromas and flavors.

This is a recipe I’ve been making for my family for many years.  It’s especially tasty on cold winter nights when it helps us forget we were counting down the days ’til spring!

(Ssssh!  Only 39 remain…but who’s counting?!).

Simmering Chicken & Dumplings (serves 6)


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 small onion, diced

2 ribs celery, sliced thin

5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin

3 cups plus 1/2 cup water

1 bay leaf

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1 teaspoons salt

Black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup flour


1-1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried

2/3 cup skim milk

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the chicken, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large covered saucepan. Add the chicken and brown them on each side for 2 minutes. Stir in onion, celery and carrots. Sauté briefly, then add 3 cups of water, bay leaf, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the chicken, covered for 30 minutes. Whisk together the flour and the remaining ½ cup of water in a medium bowl until smooth.   Add the mixture to the simmering saucepan. Cover and continue to simmer.

For the dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the milk, egg and oil. Stir briskly to make a batter. For each dumpling, spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter into the simmering broth. Cover and simmer (no peeking!) for another 10-15 minutes, without stirring. Ladle into soup bowls and serve hot. Enjoy!

Homemade Chicago-style Pizza

Honduras Cooking Class

This week marked my seventh trip to a country I consider a home away from home, Honduras.  My family and I have returned to Honduras annually since 2008.  During this last visit, I had the privilege of teaching a cooking class to a group of girls I absolutely love!  They asked for me to make something unique to my hometown.  So, as a life long Chicagoan, I opted to make homemade, Chicago-style Pizza for one of my recipes.  They enjoyed it!  I loved sharing this with them and now I can share it with you!

This recipe is provided in both English and Spanish.  Enjoy!

Homemade Chicago-style Pizza (makes 2 pizzas, serving 6-8)

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1-1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt

3-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can (15 ounces) pizza sauce

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


In large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water; let stand for 5

minutes. Add oil and salt. Stir in flour, a cup at a time, until a

soft dough forms.


Turn onto floured surface; knead until smooth, about 2-3

minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook beef and onion over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.


Punch down dough; divide in half. Press each into each of two greased 9×12-in.

pans. Spread the pizza sauce equally over each crust (you might not use all the sauce). Top with beef mixture Top with cheese.

Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.


Pizza Al Estilo De Chicago

1 paquete (1/4 onza) de levadura seca

1 cucharadita de azucar

1-1/4 tazas de agua caliente (110-115 grados F)

1/4 taza aceite de vegétale

1 cucharadita de sal

3-1/2 tazas de harina

8 onzas carne molida

1 cebolla, cortada en cubitos

1-1/2 tazas de salsa de pasta

1 pimento verde, cortado en cubitos (opcional)

3 cucharaditas de orégano seca

2 tazas (8 onzas) de queso rallado

En un tazón grande, disuelva la levadura y el azúcar in el agua. Deje reposar durante cinco minutos. Agregar el aceite y la sal. Agregar la harina, una taza a la vez, hasta que se forme una masa suave.

Mover la masa en una superficie enharinada. Amasar hasta que quede suave y elástica, unos 2-3 minutos. Colocar en un recipiente engrasado, Cubrir y dejar crecer en un lugar calido hasta que doble de unos 45 minutos.

Mientras tanto, cocinar la carne y la cebolla hasta que pierda el color rosado. Escurrir.

Golpee la masa; dividir por la mitad. Presionar cada uno en un molde engrasado bandeja para pizza de 12 pulgadas. Combinar la salsa de tomate y el orégano. Poner la salsa en cada corteza. Cubrir con la mezcla de carne y pimiento verde (si se utiliza). Cubrir con el queso.

Hornear a 400° para 25-30 minutos o hasta que la masa este dorada.

Esta receta es para 2 pizzas. Disfrute!

Adapted from Taste of Home 2014

Asparagus & National Nutrition Month!

National Nutrition Month

March is a month I definitely enjoy. Besides the coming of spring (although, as I am typing, it is snowing outside), there are many things to celebrate:  St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and National Nutrition Month.  The theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is ‘Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right’ and that’s just what we do at Myplate2yours!

Spring Asparagus

Today’s recipe celebrates much of what March has to offer.  Broiled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar boasts a taste of spring, a terrific nutritional profile (especially rich in fiber, folate, and vitamin K), and it’s even green for St. Patrick’s Day.  From the time you grab the asparagus from your fridge, this dish will be on the table in less than 10 minutes.  Here’s the recipe:

Broiled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

1 bunch asparagus spears, washed and trimmed of woody end (1-2 inches cut from bottom)

Olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat broiler.  Place asparagus spears on a baking sheet.  Lightly spritz with olive oil (or use a pastry brush).  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over spears.  Place under broiler (about 4 inches from heating element) for 3-5 minutes (until asparagus turns bright green and some brown spots just begin to appear).  Immediately remove from heat and place spears on a serving plate.  Enjoy!

Endive with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate


Just this past weekend, I presented ‘No Fuss Holiday Appetizers’ on NBC5 News in Chicago.  If you missed it, check it out here:  NBC5 No Fuss Holiday Appetizers.

In this segment, I was promoting my classes with the same title that are running at Marcel’s Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn on December 4th and 13th, 12:30-2pm.  The December 4th class is sold out but the 13th has open seats.  The classes will feature five new recipes, tips and techniques on how minimize your time in the kitchen while serving delicious, healthy food for your guests.  Here is a link for more information and to register for the December 13 class.  I hope you can join me!

Endive with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate is one of the three appetizers I presented on NBC5 .  My insider’s tip is that Trader Joe’s sells already seeded pomegranates (and Belgian endive, goat cheese, and honey).  That’s all you need for this recipe in one stop.  It’s that easy!

Endive with Goat Cheese, Pomegranate and Honey  (serves 10, 3 leaves each)

4 heads white and/or red endive, trimmed and separated into leaves

2/3 cup soft goat cheese

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon honey

Fill bottom end of each endive leaf with about 1 teaspoon cheese.  Top cheese end with a few pomegranate seeds.  Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with honey.  Arrange on a platter to serve.  Enjoy!

Sweet Sunflower Muffins

Sunflower Muffins

We like muffins!  When made with whole grain and fruit or nuts, they are great for breakfast or snacks.  Our long-time favorite is Oatmeal Blueberry and I usually double the recipe so I always have enough to freeze.

Recently, I was in search of a new favorite.  Sweet Sunflower Muffins are great!  They are high in protein (5 grams) and are made with whole wheat flour.  With school right around the corner, it will be good to have these easy, freezable muffins on hand for busy mornings and for after school snacks.

Sweet Sunflower Muffins (makes 1 dozen)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (found in grocery stores near the peanut butter)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup skim milk (or soy or almond milk)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place paper liners in muffin tin.  Combine flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  With a stand mixer, combine sunflower seed butter, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until batter is well blended.  Add milk and mix until evenly distributed.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.  Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sunflower seeds on top of each muffin.  Bake 25 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Food & Nutrition Magazine 2013

Chocolate Almond Frosty

Chocolate Almond Frosty

YUMMY!! That’s what my kids said with their first taste.  This Chocolate Almond Frosty is a refreshing drink as a snack or dessert.  And all of these ingredients I had on-hand which makes it super easy to prepare.  Also, you can substitute peanut butter or even sunflower butter in place of the almond butter.  You’d just have to change the name!

What’s great about the Chocolate Almond (or Peanut or Sunflower) Frosty is that it’s another recipe featuring dairy.  I recently wrote about the benefits of including 3 servings of dairy into our diets.  This is a yummy addition to the many ways to enjoy dairy.   If you can, chill the glasses in the freezer ahead of time for an authentic ‘frosty’ effect!

Creamy Chocolate Almond Frosty (makes 2 servings)

12 ounces cold skim milk

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tablespoons agave nectar (honey or brown sugar works too!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ice cubes

Add all ingredients, except ice, in a blender cup.  Pulse and puree until smooth.  Add ice and blend until frothy.  Pour into two chilled glasses and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

No Cook Summer Meal: Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho SoupWhen it gets hot outside, I do my best to keep heat out of the kitchen.  The oven and stove top stay off when no-cook meals are on the menu. This easy, tasty Gazpacho soup is one of my favorites.  I’m teaching more favorite no-cook meals this Tuesday, July 9,  6:30-8pm at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.  On the menu is a Shrimp and Mango Wrap with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Summer Fruit and Veggie Slaw, and Creamy Chocolate Almond Frosty.  If you can join me, please register HERE.

Here’s the Summer Gazpacho Soup recipe to help keep the heat off in your kitchen. Enjoy!

Summer Gazpacho (serves 4-6)

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

2 red bell peppers, seeded

4 ripe plum tomatoes

1 red onion

3 cloves garlic

3 cups tomato juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

juice from 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, if desired

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and red onion into 1 inch cubes.  Put half of veggies into food processor.   Blend until puréed to desired texture, 15-20 seconds.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat with remaining veggies and garlic.  Pour into the bowl and stir in the tomato juice, oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly to  blend.  Season to taste and add cumin, if desired.  Chill before serving.

The recipe was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 1999

Sweet Ricotta Strawberry Chocolate Cups

Sweet Ricotta Cups

Lately it seems there’s always a request to bring a dessert…to a block party, a grad party, a friend’s party.  This one is a dietitian’s dream!  With sweet strawberries, dark chocolate and low fat ricotta, it’s one of my favorites.  And every time it’s served, it’s a hit!

Sweet Ricotta, Strawberry & Chocolate Cups (makes 18 minis)

1 package won ton skins (18 skins used)

1 cup low fat ricotta

1 ounce (1/4 cup) dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao), chopped

9 ripe strawberries, cut in half and sliced thin

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare mini muffin tins with light coating of cooking spray.  Place 1 skin in each cup, pressing gently to form.  Brush edges lightly with oil.  Bake 7-10 minutes (until very lightly brown).  Allow to cool.

In the meantime, mix sliced strawberries with sugar in a small bowl.  Allow to sit until the strawberries release some juice (5 minutes).  Combine ricotta and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Mix in chocolate.  Fold in strawberries.

To serve, place about 1 tablespoon filling in each cup.  Arrange on a plate for serving and ENJOY!