Kodak Photo Book: A carb-free, calorie-free post!

Hey everyone, as you may have guessed, today’s post is not about food. But it is pretty exciting, and there is something in it for you at the end. I promise you a tasty recipe tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this carb-free, calorie-free, [insert here whatever you want]-free post!

Mike and I were married nearly 3 years ago and went on our honeymoon shortly thereafter. It was an absolute dream vacation exploring Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.  We were busy!  We hiked many miles up volanoes, through jungles and canyons; we saw dolphins jumping and whales breeching; we went kayaking and snorkeling; we wined and we dined. Like I said, we were busy!

We were so busy that by the time we got home, I realized we took over one thousand pictures.  *gulp*   It was overwhelming to think about the time it would take to narrow down the pictures and then figure out how to preserve the memories in an album. So we went without an album…until now!

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was given the opportunity to create a Quickstart Photo Book using fun, new photo book creation features.  It was time to tackle the beast of the honeymoon photos.  I couldn’t wait to create an album to preserve and relive those fun memories!

So I started to play.  I uploaded pictures, created pages, and then showed Mike.  His response was “Wow! That’s awesome!’ He was right. It was awesome! 

With KODAK’s album creation software, I was able to choose the number of pictures per page in a variety of formats, had the option to use a caption, and had a variety of covers, colors and backgrounds from which to choose.  The website was also very easy to use, which definitely enhanced the experience.

What might have otherwise been a daunting task became something really exciting and fun!  The photos throughout this post are of various pages of the finished album.  Mike and I couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of the final product!

So my friends, now you can have some fun too!  The generous folks at KODAK Gallery have given me an exclusive offer to extend to you.  Now through 8/31/11 go to  and receive 40% off a medium hardcover or a large photo book. 


Disclaimer:  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was given the opportunity to create a  medium-sized, hardcover KODAK Gallery photo book for free (including free shipping).  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella

The first time I made this pasta, I was a little underwhelmed. It was good, but not great. While I love pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and chickpeas, there was something that just wasn’t doing it for me. However, I was not willing to give up on this recipe so easily. It had all the potential to be something fantastic, just clearly needed a little tweaking. 

First, I decided to marinate the tomatoes and mozzarella in the vinaigrette while I cooked the pasta. I also added some garlic for good measure. It then became obvious. While thyme may offer a unique flavor, it was just not right in this dish. What goes best with tomatoes and mozzarella is…basil! Nothing beats classic caprese-inspired flavors. 

As I hoped, with just a few changes, this dish became something extraordinary. It was simple, delicious and very easy to make. We enjoyed this pasta warm as an entree, but it would also be excellent served as a pasta salad. This quick and easy pasta has definitely landed a spot in our weeknight dinner rotation!

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Yields 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

12 ounces pasta (any shape short pasta, any flavor; I used whole wheat & flax rotini)
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Coarse salt and ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Add tomatoes and mozzarella and toss until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions.   Add chickpeas to pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot.
  3. Add tomato mixture to pasta.  Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce to coat the pasta (you may not need all of the water). 
  4. Season with salt and pepper, as desired and toss to combined.  Serve, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.
Adapted from Everyday Food

Strawberry Vanilla Pancakes

My Adam is a pancake-eating machine.  Though he is pretty set on eating his favorite Cottage Cheese Pancakes every morning, I like to encourage a little variety.  So when I had some extra strawberries, I decided to give strawberry pancakes a whirl.  I figure Adam loves strawberries. Adam loves pancakes. It just might work. I scoured the internet, found some inspiration, and crafted this recipe with fingers crossed it would be a success. 

I had Mike test the first pancake. After one bite, he asked for another. 🙂

I gave a pancake to Adam…instead of pushing away the new pancake, he ate the whole thing.  Success!  

Strawberry Vanilla Pancakes are packed with an abundance of juicy strawberries and simply delicious. I used whole wheat pastry flour, but you can definitely substitute all-purpose flour if that’s what you have. I diced the strawberries (in eighths), though sliced strawberries would work just fine and yield a beautiful result. Using orange zest is optional. You could substitute any other citrus zest or simply omit the zest if that’s your preference.

There is no question that Cottage Cheese Pancakes are Adam’s favorite, but these Strawberry Vanilla Pancakes may someday rival that top spot.  Mike and I definitely love them, so here are tasty fruit-filled pancakes that will please everyone at the table, big and small.

Strawberry Vanilla Pancakes
Yields 32 small pancakes

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, diced or sliced
1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar
zest of 1 orange (optional)
powdered sugar or maple syrup, for serving (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, mix strawberries and orange zest (if using) with 1-2 teaspoons of granulated sugar (adjust the sugar based on the sweetness of your berries). 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar and baking powder.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, oil and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Fold in strawberries and orange zest, if using.
  5. Heat griddle to medium heat (add oil and/or use cooking spray as needed).  Pour about 1 tablespoon of batter onto griddle for each pancake.
  6. Cook until you see bubbles appear (about 2-3 minutes), flip and cook on the other side until set (about 2 minutes).

Adapted from All Recipes

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

My maternal grandmother was incredible in the kitchen and notorious for her baking.  She always had a vast array of ‘Grandma Goodies’ on hand, which certainly pleased her lucky grandchildren!  She knew everyone’s favorite goodie (granted it was near impossible to choose just one) and loved to make sure those favorites were always available.  One of my favorite goodies was a peanut butter rice krispie treat she made.  Much to my delight, she once told me it was okay to have one for breakfast.  “It has cereal after all!” is what she told me.  Who was I to argue with such reason!  I tried using that rationale to convince my parents, but it didn’t quite go over the way I hoped.  I found myself faced with yet another bowl of cereal for breakfast.

My grandma was a wise woman and definitely on to something, if you ask me.  I think she would support me wholeheartedly today, because I am going to tell you IT’S OKAY TO HAVE CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST!

Chocolate in the form of Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Muffins, that is!  After all they are made with banana, peanut butter and whole wheat!  I think individually each would be reason enough to forego your everyday cereal in favor of these muffins. Together, there is no excuse really.

These muffins are phenomenal.  Chocolate and clove are a genius combination.  The spices, along with the banana, take this muffin from a chocolaty dessert to a chocolate spice muffin.  Combined with the peanut butter, it becomes the perfect breakfast muffin.  My grandma would have definitely approved of this!

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (approximately 2 large bananas)
  • ⅓ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)
  • 8 tablespoons natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare standard 12-cup muffin pan with liners or by spraying with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt (if using), cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk mashed bananas and yogurt until smooth. Whisk in the egg, sugar, oil and vanilla until well blended. Add the flour mixture and fold gently until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with the batter. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of peanut butte into the center of each cup. Evenly divide remaining batter to cover the peanut butter.
  5. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Christina Marsigliese and Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are a delicious meatless taco recipe filled with black beans and vegetables. {gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, depending on toppings}
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos |
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are my favorite dish for meatless Monday, taco Tuesday or any day. They are fabulous! These tacos are made with mashed black beans, onions, peppers, chipotle peppers, spices, salsa, some broth, and then topped with any of your favorite taco toppings. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos |
These Chipotle Black Bean Tacos can be vegan and gluten free, depending on the tortillas and/or toppings. I enjoy them as a vegetarian options, since I like to add a bit of cheese. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos
Yields: 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
  • ⅓ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 6 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • Topping ideas for serving: spinach or lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped green onions, salsa
  1. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and peppers to pan and saute for 3-5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chilis, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add beans and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until mixture has thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salsa. Mash lightly using a potato masher (or fork).
  5. Stack tortillas, wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 45-60 seconds.
  6. Serve ⅓ cup filling for each tortilla along with desired toppings.
Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Cooking Light

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos |

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Happy Friday everyone!   I hate to the be the bearer of bad news, but can you believe the end of July is upon us?   Summer is whizzing by in the blink of an eye.  We are trying to take advantage of all that summer has to offer, though a few activities still remain on our ‘to do’ list.  On the other hand, we certainly are taking every opportunity to grill (something we did not do once last summer, back when I was still working, and we were stuck in our pizza/pasta/p’eggs routine).   

In any case, we are having a great summer here at Alida’s Kitchen, and I hope you are too!

After making Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes, I developed an appreciation for the delicious flavor of grilled tomatoes. So when I saw a Caprese Chicken recipe that grilled the chicken AND the tomatoes, it went on my ‘must make’ list immediately!   

Grilled Chicken Caprese is a simple weeknight (or quick weekend meal) that takes little effort and yields an impressive result.  First you make the marinade.  Then marinate slices of the fresh mozzarella (yum!).  While the cheese is marinating, you grill the tomato slices and chicken cutlets, which takes about 5 minutes.  Last, simply put everything together, let it sit a little bit if you can, and then eat!

The result is a delicious Caprese-inspired grilled chicken dish that is quick and easy to make. The original recipe states it takes 30 minutes, which sounds about right…but that includes eating time! 🙂  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Grilled Chicken Caprese
Yields 4 servings

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vingar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices, halved and patted
4 chicken breast cutlets (or butterflied chicken breast halves)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
8 tomato slices (2-3 tomatoes), cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices

  1. Make marinade/dressing: whisk together basil, vinegar, garlic and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference.
  2. Take 2 tablespoons of the marinade and pour over mozzarella slices, turning the slices to make sure cheese is coated.  Set aside.
  3. Pat chicken dry and then drizzle about a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on each side of chicken cutlet and season with pepper.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and spray grates with cooking spray or rub with oil. 
  5. Grill chicken and tomatoes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and browned and tomatoes are slighly charred (about 2 minutes per side).
  6. Transfer chicken to platter and top each cutlet with 2 tomato slices.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with mozzarella.  Cover with an inverted plate or tented foil and let sit for 5 minutes (up to 10 minutes, if you can wait that long).  Serve.  

Adapted from Cook’s Country, August/September, 2011

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

As my rosemary plant continues to flourish, so continues my search for tasty recipes using rosemary.  I recently made Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken, which required a suitable accompaniment.  For some reason it was just screaming potatoes to me.  

This recipe for Rosemary Roasted Potatoes has a nice short list of ingredients and could not be any easier.  It is very hands off, which worked well with cooking the rest of the meal on the grill (or doing whatever else you need to do).

The only changes I made from the original recipe were adding more garlic and increasing the amount of potatoes to use up my 2 pound bag.  Otherwise, this recipe is absolutely THE perfect go-to recipe for roasted potatoes.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher flake salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Cut potatoes in quarters and put in bowl with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss making sure potatoes are well-coated.
  2. Dump potatoes on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread out so they are 1 layer.
  3. Roast in oven for at least an hour, or until browned and crisp.  Flip twice during cooking to ensure evenly browning. 

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten

Veggie Pizza Puffs

Garden Pizza Puffs

Veggie Pizza Puffs

We eat a lot of muffins in this house.  We also eat a lot of pizza.  So when I stumbled upon a recipe for pizza made in a mini-muffin tin, it was like two worlds colliding into something brilliant!

Garden Pizza Puffs are cheesy, delicious and very easy to make. With only about 35 calories per puff, they are a fun and healthy option to satisfy your pizza cravings.

The original recipe is made with pepperoni, which would be pretty good.  I thought it would be even better with made vegetables and herbs.  The recipe written below reflects the vegetables that I used, though you can experiment with the same amounts of whatever meats and/or vegetables you like.  I have also used whole wheat and all-purpose flours, and either one works great.  The beauty of this recipe is the ability to customize everything to suit your preferences.

Served with a side of pizza sauce for dipping or with a dollop of sauce on each puff, these would make for a super cute appetizer at your next dinner party.  Mike and I had 10 puffs each and called it dinner.  These puffs would also be a tasty treat for kids.

Given the unlimited possibilities, I look forward to doing lots of experimenting with this recipe.  In the meantime, we will just have to continue to test several variations of pizza puffs.  Oh the sacrifices we make! 🙂

Garden Pizza Puffs
Yields: Yields 24 puffs (see note)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • pizza sauce, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and egg. Fold in the cheese, garlic, onion, roasted red pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper (if using). Let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the batter and divide evenly among the mini-muffin cups (fill to about ½ to ⅔ full).
  4. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 mintutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan serve with pizza sauce.
Yields 12 puffs in a regular-sized muffin pan - adjust baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken

I love cooking marinated chicken on the grill. It is such a quick and easy way to make a delicious dinner.  Mix the marinade, pour it in a Ziploc bag, put chicken in the bag and let is sit.  Easy.

So when I saw this recipe for Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken, it was calling my name.  I made a few changes to the recipe, which are reflected in the recipe written below.  I reduced the oil, added garlic and substituted Italian herbs seasoning for the herbes de Provence.  Combined with the balsamic vinegar, I dare say the combination resulted in the best grilled chicken ever!

Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken is a light, healthy and versatile dish that can easily go with any vegetable, starch or salad.

Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken
Yields 4 servings

1 pound chicken breast or breast tenders
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of kosher flake salt

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper until combined.
  2. Put chicken in a Ziploc bag.  Pour vinegar mixture in bag with chicken, making sure chicken gets coated.  Refrigerate for at least two hours, turning the bag occasionally.
  3. Grill chicken over medium-high heat until cooked thoroughly (approximately 4-5 minutes per side).

Adapted from Cooking with Chrissy, originally from Bon Apétit, June 2009

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins are a healthy muffin recipe made with buttermilk, brown sugar and topped with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.  

When I boldly declared Whole Wheat  Peanut Butter Muffins as my favorite muffin of all time, Mike was not surprised in the least.  Not only do they have peanut butter, which I love, but they also have brown sugar and buttermilk, two of my favorite baking ingredients. Chocolate chips and chopped peanuts don’t hurt either. 🙂

Today I am sharing with you a muffin recipe that I thought was lost forever. Many years ago, I bought a bag of whole wheat flour, and featured on the back was a recipe for peanut butter muffins.  I decided to give the recipe a try and was blown away. The muffins tasted just like a peanut butter sandwich only in muffin form. They were incredible.

Fast forward years later, after many moves, the recipe sadly got lost in the shuffle. Until now! I googled away and found my beloved recipe at A Tasteful Garden. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so immediately got to work.

I decided to swap canola oil for butter and add chopped peanuts on top.  I also used mini chocolate chips.  I like that with small chips, it seems as though you get more chocolate per bite.  As with most quick breads made with whole wheat flour, these muffins are dense and hearty.  I find they are best enjoyed with a big glass of milk.

These muffins are even better than I remembered, and now thankfully will never be lost again!

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins
  • 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray or muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Cream together the oil and brown sugar. Add the peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape sides of the bowl often to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
  4. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Add half of the buttermilk, mix until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using. Bake until golden brown, 22-24 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from King Arthur Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins, found on A Tasteful Garden

Kiddie Cheese Square

All right folks, here is a tasty treat for your little ones. Now Adam is not a picky eater per se, but he will not eat plain cottage cheese, and he will not eat plain eggs (no matter how much cheese is added).  Put the 2 together, along with some flour and shredded cheese and voila! Kiddie Cheese Square is delicious, protein-packed, and one of Adam’s favorite lunches!

Making Kiddie Cheese Square could not be any easier – just mix everything together and bake. I typically cut the square in quarters and then wrap each quarter in cling wrap to store (and refrigerate after a couple days).  I have also stored cheese square in the pan, but fridge space is a premium in our house, so storing them as quarters is easier. Do what works best for you.

To serve, I cut 1-2 strips from the square and heat in the microwave for about 5 seconds (enough to heat and soften the square).  I then cut the strips into bite-sized pieces for Adam. At 16 months, he averages about 4 strips per sitting, and at 12 months, he ate 1-2 strips.

I think cheese square tastes like a cheesy pie crust.  Others have remarked it is like kiddie pizza without the sauce.  Regardless of what we think, Adam just thinks it’s great!  Who would have thought that 4 simple ingredients mixed together could turn into something so tasty! 

Kiddie Cheese Square
Yields one 9 x 9 square, serving size varies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (see note)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 ounces cheese, shredded (any cheese, such as cheddar, colby jack, mozzarella)
1 cup cottage cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cheese, egg and cottage cheese.  Add flour and mix until combined.  Be careful not to over mix. (Note: mixture will be stiff to stir, yet sticky to the touch).  
  3. Pour mixture in baking pan.  Using waxed paper, press mixture to spread out and fill the pan.  
  4. Bake for about 35-40  minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.   Be careful not to over bake.  Cool and cut into squares. 

Note:  I have tried using whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, and this definitely works best with all-purpose flour.  Whole wheat flours made the square too dense for Adam to “chew” but might work for a child with molars. 

Adapted from The Everything Cooking for Baby and Toddler Book

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Have I told you lately that I love summer produce? Because I do!  This weekend we are planning a visit to our local farm to pick up several pounds of blueberries.  I am so excited! While we love to eat plain blueberries by the handful, I have a long list of great recipes using blueberries that I can’t wait to share with you!

So in honor, and anticipation, of our future blueberry windfall, I would like to share with you my favorite blueberry muffin recipe.

Years ago, I was flipping through a Bon Apetit magazine, and this recipe for blueberry muffins caught my eye. It just so happened to be an advertisement for Pam Cooking Spray – go figure!

Now I know that I promised you a break from yogurt recipes, and well…I stuck to that for over a week. It would simply not be fair to keep this recipe from you any longer. These muffins rock!

The beauty of using yogurt in baked goods means that you can use less oil/butter, which makes them a healthier option.  These muffins also contain oats, which provide a little texture that goes well with the juicy blueberries. And what more can I say about the blueberry-lemon combination – it just works.

Over the years, I have made these muffins using different types of flours and yogurts.  This time, I made them using whole wheat pastry flour and Greek yogurt.  These muffins are just as delicious using all-purpose flour and/or regular yogurt, so use what you have or go crazy and try something different!

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (or regular plain nonfat yogurt)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 12-cup regular muffin pan with cooking spray or liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, oil, egg and vanilla.
  3. Pour yogurt mixture into center of dry ingredients; stir until just blended. Do not over mix. Fold in blueberries and lemon zest. (Note: batter is thick)
  4. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups. Bake 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove from muffin pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Adapted from a Pam Cooking Spray Advertisement found in Bon Apetit magazine



Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes

Copyright 2011 Alida’s Kitchen. All rights reserved.

Growing up, I remember summer was filled with an abundance of zucchini, rhubarb and tomatoes. According to me, zucchini was best served as bread, rhubarb was best served as crisp and tomatoes were best served to someone else. I was not a fan of tomatoes.

Actually, I still do not care for plain tomatoes, unless they are in a salad. I like my tomatoes made into something. And I must say, these Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes are definintely something!

Of course you can’t go wrong with balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and garlic. In fact, that makes for a pretty common (and tasty) vinaigrette.  The role of the marinade in this dish is perfectly subtle.   

What takes these tomatoes from ordinary to extraordinary is in the grilling. The charring from the grill, combined with the marinade, results in tomatoes literally bursting with fresh flavor.  Topped with Parmesan cheese, Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes are an easy, healthy, and delicious side dish made on grill.

Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes
Yields 4 servings (2 tomato halves per serving)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 medium tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. In a wide shallow bowl (13 x 9 baking dish works well) mix together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
  2. Add tomatoes, and turn to coat them on all sides.
  3. Prepare grill: brush grates with oil or spray with cooking spray, and preheat to medium high.
  4. Place tomatoes, cut sides down, on the grill rack.  Brush once with remaining marinade, and then discard marinade.  Grill about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until tomatoes begin to blister, soften and brown.  (Note:  They can burn easily so keep an eye on them.)
  5. Remove the tomatoes from grill and top with parmesan cheese.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Health, June, 2007

Grilled Peanut Butter Chicken

If I had to pick my all time favorite food, it would be peanut butter (although cheese is a very close second).   I love peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, bars, on apples, plain, ice cream…*sigh*  I could go on and on.

So one day when I was opening my lovely jar of peanut butter, this chicken recipe caught my eye. Peanut butter? Chicken? Mmm… I do not often stumble upon many savory peanut butter dishes, so I was eager to give this a try.

As with most of my chicken recipes for the grill, I adapted this recipe to be quick and easy – mix the marinade, put marinade and chicken in Ziploc bag, let sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, grill, eat. It’s that simple.

The peanut butter, soy sauce and ginger combination give this chicken dish a Thai-inspired flavor. It is really quite tasty AND another way to eat more peanut butter. Yum!

Grilled Peanut Butter Chicken
Yields 4 servings

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breast  cut into 1 1/2 inch strips

  1. In a bowl, prepare the marinade by mixing all of the ingredients except the chicken.   
  2. Put chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken.  Make sure chicken gets completely coated. Set in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. Lightly oil grates on grill OR use a foil tray to cook chicken.
  4. Place chicken on grill (or foil tray) and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Adapted from Smuckers Peanut Butter Jar Lid

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Salad

Garlic Beef Enchiladas

My husband has been wondering ‘where’s the beef?’  Well here you go, Mike! 

This week I am participating in an online recipe swap hosted by Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking, and the theme is Mexican.  I received Garlic Beef Enchiladas courtesy of Heather Lynne of Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks.  This is not necessarily a recipe I would have selected on my own, simply because I do not eat a lot of meat.  But that’s the whole point of the recipe swap – try something different.  I was looking forward to making these enchiladas! (and Mike was very excited about meat!) 

In order to give the enchiladas a bit more veggie-flair, I used the entire onion and entire bell pepper.  I also used vegetable broth, simply because that was what I had on hand, corn tortillas instead of flour, and made a few adjustments to the garlic and spices.  In lieu of stewed tomatoes, I used diced tomatoes with chiles to give it an extra kick, and they worked great.  This recipe ended up a combination of Heather Lynne’s adaptation, the original recipe and some of my own recipes.    

These enchiladas were a bit more labor intensive than most weeknight meals, but in end it was worth it.  They were phenomenal!  I savored every last bite – meat ‘n all.  I will definitely be making this recipe again, though next time I plan to try substituting black beans for the beef.

Be sure to check out the round up of the recipe exchange at A Taste of Home Cooking.  A big thank you to Sarah for hosting the recipe swap and a big thank you to Heather Lynne for the great recipe (and Mike thanks you for meat)!

Have a great weekend!

Garlic Beef Enchiladas
Yields 6 servings (2 enchiladas per serving)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilis

6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 all purpose flour
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) vegetable or beef broth
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin

12 corn tortillas (6 inches) warmed
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese (cheddar or colby jack)

  1. In a large skillet, heat beef, onion, pepper and garlic over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink.  Add seasonings and stir well.  Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring periodically.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.  Stir in flour until blended (making a roux).  Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of the sauce into the bottom of pan. 
  4. Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 45-60 seconds.  Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup filling, top with 1 tablespoon cheese and roll up tightly  Place in baking dish seam-side down.  Continue with remaining tortillas. 
  5. Top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce.  Cover with non-stick foil (or spray regular foil with cooking spray) and cook for 30 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Adapted from Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks and from Taste of Home

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes |

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are made with whole wheat flour, studded with blueberries and a bright flavor from the lemon. These are a wonderful breakfast treat!
Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes |

Recently, my favorite (well,…only) pancake turner met an early and unfortunate demise.  Let’s just say the combination of a very hot pan, quesadillas sticking to said pan and a non-silicone turner resulted in a slightly melted pancake turner (and a slightly not pleased Alida).  Now I am armed and dangerous with a fancy silicone pancake turner, ready to take on the world…of pancakes!

What better way to christen this handy new tool than by making ricotta pancakes.  Ricotta pancakes are delicate to flip, so they’re sure to put this new device to the test.

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes |

Not just any ricotta pancake recipe would do, however.  It was time to liven up my go-to ricotta pancake recipe from Everyday Food.  First I swapped lemon zest for the orange zest, and whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour.  I then decided to add vanilla and blueberries to the recipe.

The result was fabulous!  We thought they were perfect without any topping, though you could add a little confectioners’ sugar or maple syrup, if desired.  While these pancakes are easy to make, the batter is quite thick, thus requiring a few extra minutes to cook and extra care when flipping. In the end, it is all worth it – trust me!
Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes |
Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes
Yields: 4 servings
  • 15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • cooking spray
  • confectioners' sugar or maple syrup, for serving (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl. whisk together ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, grated lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  2. Fold in flour until just combined; add blueberries, gently mixing until combined.
  3. Spray large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-low heat. Add batter, using a scant ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Serve hot, with confectioners' sugar or maple syrup, if desired.
  Adapted from Everyday Food
Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes |

Banana Split Cupcakes

For my husband’s birthday, I asked what he wanted for his treat.  He said ‘whatever you want to make for the blog.’  Aww shucks…  Well I was not about to choose his birthday treat.  So after some pressing (and dropping subtle hints that we had nice overripe bananas to use) he asked for Banana Split Cupcakes.  I was very excited about his choice because they are fun to make and just so gosh darn cute!

These are a family favorite, and we just happened to be visiting both of our families for a birthday celebration.  When my mom saw them, she exclaimed ‘Are those Banana Split Cupcakes?  Oh my!  Those are my favorite!’  I’m sure Mike knew that…scoring points with the mother-in-law again.

These cupcakes are truly easy.  The cake is quick to whip together, and using the chocolate square makes for a simple surprise filling inside the banana cake.  With the smooth frosting, decorating is a cinch, and they look just like a mini sundae.  You could certainly add any other sundae-inspired toppings you like (i.e. sprinkles, nuts, etc.) or stick with the classic chocolate drizzle topped with a cherry. 

Banana Split Cupcakes
Yields 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 chocolate bars, such as Hershey’s Special Dark*, separated, broken into squares

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

12 maraschino cherries with stems

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. 
  2. In another bowl, combine the banana, butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients; stir just until combined.
  3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each paper-lined muffin cup.  Top with one candy bar square.  Divide remaining batter amongst the muffin cups (approximately two-thirds full).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla and milk.  The frosting will be smooth – if too stiff, add more milk, if too runny, add more sugar.  Frost the cupcakes.
  6. In a microwave, melt the remaining chocolate candy and drizzle over frosting.  Top each cupcake with a cherry.

Tip:  In order to get the cherry to stick, it helps to drizzle a little extra chocolate in the center of the cupcake prior to topping with the cherry. 

*Note: I have used both dark and milk chocolate in this recipe, and either one is delicious.

Adapted from Taste of Home: Cupcakes and Muffins

This post is linked to Sweet as Sugar Cookies: Sweets for a Saturday, Screaming Sardine: Cupcake Party, A Well-Seasoned Life’s Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I wish you all a wonderful holiday with good food and sunshine.  Have a great day and there will be a new recipe posted tomorrow. 

How are you celebrating the 4th?  I will be chasing after the little guy pictured below. 🙂   

Be safe and have fun everyone!

Fresh Strawberry Pie ~ Lightened up!

Let’s just get this out in the open.  Yes, I am doing another strawberry recipe.  And yes, I am doing another strawberry recipe with yogurt.  Every year around the Fourth of July, I look forward to making this healthy version of a strawberry pie.  It just so happens to coincide my Strawberry Yogurt Muffins post from Wednesday.  I promise you a break from strawberry and yogurt recipes in the coming weeks.  In fact, there are even some indulgent recipes on the horizon!

There are 3 parts to making this pie.  The first step is making yogurt cheese, which is draining plain yogurt through cheesecloth.  This step needs to be done a day in advance, as the yogurt needs at least 16 hours to drain.

Part 2 is making the crust.  This crust is a simple stir and roll crust which uses oil instead of shortening.  It is nice and thin, and serves as the perfect vehicle for the rest of the pie. 

The last step involves mixing the yogurt cheese with sugar, vanilla and chopped strawberries; then pouring that mixture in the crust and topping/decorating with strawberry halves.  It is all very easy.

Now I do not want to mislead you into believing this pie is a replica of its sugary, fat-laden counterpart because it is not. It is, however, delicious, light and healthy!  It’s a wonderful summer dessert!

 Happy pre-Fourth of July and have a great weekend!

Fresh Strawberry Pie ~ Lightened up!
Yields 8 servings

16 oz plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (adjust amount to taste and the sweetness of your berries)
1 cup diced strawberries
approximately 1/2-1 pound strawberries, halved (the amount depends on the size of your berries)
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves (optional) – amount many vary depending on size of strawberries
1 Stir ‘n Roll Pie Crust (recipe below)

  1. Make yogurt cheese:  Arrange wire strainer lined with double thickness cheesecloth (or coffee filters) over bowl.  Spoon yogurt into lined strainer; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until liquid has drained from yogurt and yogurt is very thick (16-24 hours).  Discard liquid.
  2. Combine yogurt cheese, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and diced strawberries.
  3. Pour yogurt mixture in cool pie crust, spreading evenly.  Top with strawberry halves.
  4. Optional (see note below):  Microwave strawberry preserves for 5-10 seconds, just to melt it.  Then with a spoon or silicone pastry brush, brush the strawberries with preserves. 
  5. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until serving.

Note:  If you do not plan on serving this immediately, I highly recommend using the preserves in order to seal and preserve the appearance of the berries.  It gives them a little shine as well, which can be nice.

Stir ‘n Roll Pie Crust
Yields 1 9″ pie crust

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons cold skim milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour and salt; stir in oil and milk just until blended. Form dough into a smooth ball.
  3. Dampen counter top.  Place 12 x 15 inch sheet of waxed paper on dampened counter.  Place pastry on paper; cover with another sheet of waxed paper.  Roll dough into a 12 inch circle, turning dough and paper over once to roll evenly.
  4. Peel off top paper.  Lift dough and paper, and place dough-side down in pie plate, fitting dough to the plate.  Carefully peel off the remaining paper. 
  5. Trim edge so it fits evenly with the pie plate.  Prick dough with fork, and press edges with tines of fork. 
  6. Bake until golden brown (12 to15 minutes).  Remove to wire rack to cool.

Adapted from The Best of Byerly’s Cookbook

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins are an easy, healthy muffin recipe made with lots of fresh strawberries and Greek yogurt.  

After picking up 8 pounds of strawberries from a local farm, I noticed these were the most perfect strawberries I have ever seen.  They had a perfect shape, a perfect stem and were a deep red throughout (no white inside these berries).  My husband wondered what I could possibly do with 8 pounds of strawberries?  Spend a LOT of time experimenting in the kitchen, that’s what!

In fact, I was thinking 8 pounds might not even be enough.  I eat strawberries on my plain Greek yogurt every day.  My son eats strawberries by the fistful.  There is also a long list of goodies that I want to make with strawberries…hmm.

For the longest time, I have been searching high and low for the perfect strawberry muffin recipe.  I was inspired by this recipe for Strawberry Bread on Cate’s World Kitchen.  I love that Cate uses yogurt, a good dose of vanilla, and this recipe uses more actual strawberries than other recipes I found.  From the original recipe, I reduced the amount of sugar and used plain nonfat Greek yogurt.   The recipe below is written accordingly.

These muffins smelled incredible while baking in the oven.  It was hard to resist digging in while they cooled, but I knew they would be worth the wait.  And worth the wait they were indeed!  They are moist, delicious and have bits of sweet strawberries in every bite.  We are definitely going to make another trip to the farm to pick up more strawberries, and I will definitely be making more of these muffins!

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins
  • 1½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1½ cups strawberries, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, oil and vanilla until blended. Add to flour mixture and gently mix until combined (Be careful not to over mix). Gently fold in strawberries.
  4. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins to wire rack and let cool completely.

Adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins |

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I am always looking for tasty vegetarian options for the grill, and these Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers are a definite winner.  The thirsty mushrooms soak up the balsamic vinegar and garlic, yielding an amazing flavor.  Paired with the goat cheese, it is a combination that pleases both non-meat and meat eaters alike. 

These burgers are very quick to make.  Just mix the marinade in the baking dish and let the mushrooms and peppers soak.  You can even get your preparation out of the way the day before, intensifying the flavor by letting everything marinate overnight.

On each burger is a slice of red pepper topped with a portobello mushroom, topped with goat cheese, topped with another portobello.  Then sprinkle on a little more goat cheese, top with spinach, close the sandwich and eat!

Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Yields 4 servings
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grates
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 4 equal pieces
8 portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound total), stems and ribs removed
4 onion hamburger buns
4 ounces goat cheese (crumbled or log; if using a log, cut into slices to place in between the mushrooms)
several spinach leaves
  1. In a shallow dish (a 13 x 9 baking dish works well), whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, turning to make sure everything gets coated.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up to overnight.  
  2. Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Grill bell pepper, skin side down, until blackened, about 10 minutes; remove from grill and place in Ziploc bag. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin; set bell pepper aside.
  3. Starting with dome-side down, grill mushrooms, covered, until lightly charred.  Flip and grill the other side of mushroom until lightly charred and mushroom is tender.  (approx. 3 to 4 minutes per side).
  4. Dividing evenly, top bottom half of each bun with bell pepper and mushrooms.  Put goat cheese in the middle of the 2 mushroom caps.  Top with spinach and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.  Close burger, and serve immediately.

Alternative:  This recipe would also make an excellent salad (great for someone who is watching carbs or if you just want more veggies).  To make this into a salad, follow the directions above through step 3.  Then slice the mushrooms and peppers, toss with a bowl of spinach or mixed greens and top with goat cheese.

Adapted from Everyday Food

Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers

Happy Summer!  ‘Tis the season for visits to the beach, bike rides, and of course, grilling.  I have several favorite recipes exclusive to the grill, so my anticipation of grilling season rivals that of Christmas.  While I enjoy the reliable stand bys, it is always fun to find new and healthy recipes to add to the favorites.  

So in the spirit of summer, when I saw this recipe for Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers, I could not wait to fire up the grill!   Skewers are such a convenient way to serve your meat and veggies, all threaded on a handy little stick.  Plus there is something fun about having dinner on a stick.    

These tasty skewers did not disappoint.  The rosemary, mustard and balsamic vinegar are an incredible flavor combination with the chicken and veggies.  From the original recipe, I reduced the oil, used chicken breast instead of legs, and increased the balsamic vinegar, scallions, and garlic (can never have enough garlic!).  I have written the recipe below according to these changes. 

These skewers are perfect for entertaining at your next summer celebration and have landed a spot on the grilling favorites list in this house.

Have a great weekend!

Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers
Yields 4 servings

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill (or use cooking spray on grill)
1 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Note: if using wooden skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling…perfect to do while the chicken and vegetables are marinating.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Slowly whisk in the oil.
  2. Place chicken, bell pepper and scallions in a Ziploc bag.  Add the marinade, making sure to coat chicken and vegetables. Refrigerate at least 40 minutes.
  3. Heat the grill to medium high and brush with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray).  Thread chicken, peppers and green onions on skewers.  Transfer to grill and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is charred and no longer pink (approx 8 minutes). 

Adapted from Fitness Magazine

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

With a toddler, pancakes are a huge hit in this house. They’re easy to make ahead and a good finger food for my boy, Adam. Instead of a basic buttermilk pancake recipe, I wanted to find a nutritious protein-packed pancake recipe.  Cottage Cheese Pancakes sounded perfect!

Not only are these Cottage Cheese Pancakes delicious, they smell amazing when cooking on the griddle.  It reminded me of a doughnut or a funnel cake.  But fortunately, these pancakes are a lot healthier than those greasy treats!  They freeze really well too, which makes it easy to have healthy, delicious pancakes on hand at all times!

Adam absolutely LOVES these Cottage Cheese Pancakes, and they have become a household staple. 

Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Yields 20 pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
Cooking spray (or oil) for the pan


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cottage cheese, vanilla and honey until blended.  Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Preheat nonstick skillet over medium heat (about 325 degrees) and spray with cooking spray. 
  4. Pour batter by the heaping tablespoonful and cook until bubbles start to form and batter looks set at the edges (about 3 minutes).  Flip and cook until set (about 2-3 minutes).

Tip:  These pancakes freeze really well.  I let them cool to room temperature. Then place a waxed paper square between each pancake, wrapped in plastic wrap (or a plastic bag) and then a freezer bag.  I typically bag then in groups of 6-8 so it’s easy to pull out a few portions at a time.

    Adapted from Weelicious

    Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese

    My husband and I are creatures of habit.  We have a salad with dinner (almost) every night.  It’s usually spinach or mixed greens and tomatoes with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds.  It’s simple.  It’s tasty.  It’s routine.   

    So when I had leftover goat cheese from the Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese, I wanted to shake our routine up a bit.  Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese became a welcome change from our usual salad.  The creamy goat cheese with the bitter radicchio with the sweet apricots is a combination that is simply a-ma-zing!  


    Since I had mixed greens on hand, I decided to use that in place of the spinach.  This salad is equally delicious using just spinach.  I reduced the amount of the oil in the vinaigrette, which is nice and light and just pulls everything together.  Soaking the apricots is an excellent method to plump up the fruit into soft juicy bursts of sweetness.

    Have a Happy Father’s Day weekend!  

    Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese
    Yields 4 servings
    1/2 cup dried apricots
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    coarse salt and pepper
    1 head radicchio, halved, cored and roughly torn
    5 ounces fresh spinach or mixed greens
    2 ounces soft crumbled goat cheese 
    1. Place apricots in a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand for about 5 minutes.  Drain and pat try with paper towels.  Cut into small pieces, if desired.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
    3. Add spinach and radicchio to bowl with vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Add apricots.  Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese.
    Adapted from Everyday Food (November, 2007)

    Tomato Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese

    After taking a bite of this frittata, my husband sat for a minute and then said ‘Goat cheese is great, when done in the right way.’  Uh oh…and while I couldn’t agree more, I do know he’s not as fond of goat cheese as I am.  Fortunately he followed that up by saying ‘This way was definitely the right way!’ and quickly cleaned his plate!

    Goat cheese is definitely an ingredient that makes a statement.  Too much can ruin a dish.  Just the right amount can take an ordinary dish and make it extraordinary.

    So is the case with this frittata.  Goat cheese is the perfect complement to liven up the sauteed vegetables and eggs.  I reduced the amount of goat cheese from the original recipe, as I found it a bit overpowering.  I was a little generous when measuring the leeks because I love the subtle flavor and beautiful color.  Since I had large grape tomatoes, I halved them, and they still burst with each bite.  Beating the egg whites gives this frittata a souffle-like quality that just melts in your mouth. 

    The result is an exquisit blast of flavors in a light and airy frittata.   

    Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese
    Yields 4 servings

    3 teaspoons olive oil
    2 1/4 cups sliced leeks
    coarse salt and ground pepper
    1 cup grape tomatoes
    6 egg whites
    4 egg yolks
    3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium. Add leeks ; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Cover; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
    2. In another bowl, beat 6 egg whites with salt and pepper to stiff peaks. Whisk in 4 egg yolks.
    3. Heat skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add eggs; sprinkle with vegetables and goat cheese. Cook over medium until sides are dry, 3 minutes. Transfer to oven; bake until eggs are set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
    Adapted from Everyday Food

    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

    It is not very often that a new recipe immediately leaps way to the top of the list.  But when I saw a tasty recipe in Experience Life magazine, I think my heart skipped a beat with excitement.  I got that ‘I just found a recipe that will change your life’ feeling.  Cheese, black beans, green onions, garlic and spices, all nestled in a tasty little jalapeno?  Seriously?  Time to fire up the grill!

    In fact, I was tempted to simply grab a spoon and eat the filling straight from the bowl.

    I resisted and instead stuffed these beautiful jalapenos.  The result is a delightful, healthy twist on a jalapeno popper.

    This heavenly dish makes for a perfect appetizer at any summer gathering, yet is easy enough to whip together for a light weeknight dinner.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers
    Yields 8 (appetizer) or 4 (dinner) servings

    16 jalapeno peppers
    1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    4 green onions, chopped
    4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    3/4 teaspoon chili powder

    1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the peppers.
    2. Make a lengthwise slit down each pepper, leaving the stem intact; carefully remove ribs and seeds.  (Tip: a quick rinse helps remove the seeds from the inside, lessening the heat)
    3. Distribute filling evenly among peppers (about 1 tablespoon per pepper).
    4. Heat grill to medium heat.  Place stuffed peppers on a sheet of foil on the grill.  Cover and cook until cheese mixture has melted and peppers are softened, about 10-15 minutes.

    Adapted from Experience Life

    Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Chicken

    Sometimes is pays to be picky.  Or at least to be cooking for picky guests.  I was hosting a summer get together and, by request, was making my “Magic Hamburgers.”  However I knew one of my guests would not eat ground beef, so I was on a two-fold mission: find something delicious that she will like and find something with ingredients I already have.

    Enter Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Chicken.  Mission accomplished.

    I am so thankful for my picky dinner guest.  If not for her, I would not have found this recipe and my life in the kitchen would not be the same.

    In all seriousness, this barbecue sauce is incredible.  I love that it is so easily made from basic ingredients commonly found in the pantry.  The hot sauce, along with the black pepper, add the perfect zing which can be altered to your heat tolerance.  I prefer using chicken tenders, though you can easily adapt this recipe to whatever part of the chicken you like to grill.  It also makes for great barbecue chicken sandwiches.

    Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Chicken
    A simple barbecue sauce made with pantry ingredients.
    Yields: 4-6 servings
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
    • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
    • ¼ cup hot sauce
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
    • 1 lb chicken breast tenders
    1. Mix first 6 ingredients in bowl.
    2. Place chicken in ziploc bag. Pour ½ sauce in bag, making sure chicken is well coated. Marinate for at least 4 hours.
    3. Grill chicken as usual, about 3-4 minutes per side.
    4. Serve with remaining barbeque sauce for dipping.

    Adapted from Food & Wine

    Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins

    Raspberry season is upon us with a plethera of delicious berries to do with as we wish.

    And I wish for Raspberry White Chocolate muffins.  Seriously.  I have been waiting all year for raspberry season just so I could make them.

    These muffins are definitely one of those muffins.  The kind of muffins that feel like dessert for breakfast…and well….it kind of is.  But there’s fruit, so it’s totally legit.

    Raspberry and white chocolate are such a classic combination.  The juicy raspberries burst in your mouth and the white chocolate chips provide a nice texture.  The cream cheese gives the batter a sticky consistency, resulting in beautiful, rustic-looking muffins.  Enjoy!
    Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins
    Yields: 12 muffins
    • 1 package (8 oz) light cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 cup fresh raspberries
    • ½ cup white chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
    3. Combine the flour and baking powder.
    4. Add dry ingredients to the cream cheese mixture until just blended. Stir in chips. Gently fold in raspberries.
    5. Distribute batter evenly amongst 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.


    Slightly adapted from Taste of Home: Cupcakes & Muffins

    Mixed Green Salad with Dried Cherries

    I love this salad!  It’s simple.  It’s elegant.  It’s delicious.

    What’s not to love really.  Mixed greens.  Mustard and red wine vinaigrette.  Sliced red onion.  Sweet dried cherries.  Toasted pepitas.

    The tangy vinaigrette is the perfect complement to the sweetness of the cherries and red onion.  And the roasted pepitas add a complexity that tops off the salad perfectly.
    Mixed Green Salad with Dried Cherries
    • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Fresh ground pepper
    • 8 oz mixed greens
    • ½ cup sliced red onion
    • ½ cup dried sweet cherries
    • ¼ cup pepitas
    1. In a 350 degree oven, toast pepitas on a pie plate for 10 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, olive oil and ground pepper.
    3. Add mixed greens, onion, cherries and pepitas to bowl and toss to combine.
    Nutrition Information
    Serving size: 4 servings

    Adapted from Martha Stewart

    Thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen!  Have a great weekend!