Bell Pepper Nachos

This low-carb take on nachos is a perfect way to use your late season bell peppers and tomatoes. Leave out the chicken and add another type of bean, like pinto, for a vegetarian version. I love to serve this delicious and nutritious meal on game days. Cheer on your team with this healthy dish and hopefully you can celebrate a win.

Ingredients:

4 large bell peppers

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 (15 ounce) can, no-salt-added black beans

2 tomatoes, diced

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 avocado, cubed

Sour cream for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil on high heat. Slice bell peppers into thin strips and place them in a baking dish. Broil for 5 minutes, flipping halfway through the cook time.
  2. Combine chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken in a medium bowl and add seasoning mix. Drain and rinse beans, and add them to the bowl of chicken, stirring to combine.
  3. Remove bell peppers from the oven and top with chicken and beans, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Broil for about 4 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
  4. Remove nachos from the oven, top with avocado and serve with dollops of sour cream.

Servings: 4

Fall Muffins with Pecan Sorghum Granola

Topped with Pecan Sorghum Granola, these pumpkin-like, mini-muffins make the perfect addition to a brunch spread and are also a great grab-and-go breakfast option for busy mornings. Pureed butternut squash and pumpkin pie spice deliver flavors of fall in a moist muffin that is not overly sweetened. If you manage not to eat them all within a few days, extras freeze well for a quick and delicious breakfast that is safely stored away for another day.

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup low-fat milk
1 cup pureed butternut squash
¾ cup Pecan Sorghum Granola

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with oven-safe paper cups or coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until the mixture turns light yellow and slightly frothy. Stir in the applesauce, milk and butternut squash. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches until combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle tops of batter with granola. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, muffin tops will be golden brown and a toothpick will come out clean when inserted in the center.

Servings: 12

Fall Salad with Pecan Sorghum Granola

Granola on a salad sounds weird, but trust me it is delicious! The first granola-topped salad I ever tasted was amazingly delicious, made with pine nuts from the BlueFire Bar and Grill. With just one bite it fueled my curiosity to create my own nutty sweet salad topping. My version, Pecan Sorghum Granola, features seasonal pecans and whole grain oats that are lightly sweetened with sorghum, adding the perfect crunch to this fall salad with earthy, tender-roasted beets and mildly sweet acorn squash.

A simple vinaigrette is all you need for this flavorful salad bursting with color and nutrients. For some extra protein, top with grilled chicken or shrimp. Save cook time by using leftover roasted squash and beets from last night’s dinner and granola from breakfast for a salad you can throw together in about two minutes.

Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch beets, scrubbed
1 acorn squash or butternut squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 bunch or 6 ounce bag spinach
¾ cup Pecan Sorghum Granola
4 ounces goat cheese

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the skin on the beets and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 35 to 55 minutes, depending on their size. Remove beets and set aside until cool enough to touch. With a small pairing knife, gently remove skin from the beets and chop into cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel squash and slice in half. Discard seeds and chop into cubes. Place on a baking sheet in an even layer and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. Combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a mason jar. Tightly secure the lid and shake until well combined.
  4. Create a bed of spinach on four plates and top with an equal amount of roasted beets and squash. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on each salad and sprinkle with my crunchy granola and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

Servings: 4

Pecan Sorghum Granola

Fresh fall pecans were the inspiration for my nutty and slightly sweetened granola. This protein-packed snack is made with only five ingredients and is so simple to prepare. In around 30 minutes, you can have a homemade treat that far exceeds the quality of the boxed varieties you’ll find on grocery store shelves. Enjoy straight off the baking sheet or make a parfait with Greek yogurt, diced apple or pear and granola. For some unique was to eat my Pecan Sorghum Granola, add as a crunchy topping for a fall salad or sprinkle on top of pumpkin muffins just before baking.

Ingredients:
2½ cups pecans
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons sorghum
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil or cover a medium baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine pecans and oats. In a small bowl, whisk together sorghum and butter and drizzle over pecan mixture. Stir until worked through.
  3. Place granola on the baking sheet, spreading it out and gently pressing into an even layer with your hands. Bake until golden brown and crunchy, for about 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip pieces of granola over and continue cooking for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  4. Let cool completely. Then, break granola into small chunks. Add cranberries and toss to combine.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BURGERS

Butternut squash adds a touch of sweetness to this vegetarian burger as it compliments the nutty chickpeas, toasted walnuts, fried sage leaves and blue cheese. This hearty burger pairs well with homemade french fries or a simple side salad.

Veggie burgers are so easy to make and these homemade patties taste a million times better than any of the frozen varieties. If you have never had a homemade vegetarian burger, you are in for a treat. And speaking of frozen patties, leftovers freeze well for a quick meal down the road.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon butter
7 fresh sage leaves
1 (15.5 ounces) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup quick cooking oats
½ cup walnuts, toasted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Spring mix lettuce, for serving
8 whole wheat buns

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, add butternut squash and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat before arranging squash in a single layer. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and lightly brown, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sage leaves and fry for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a food processor, combine the squash, chickpeas, egg, garlic, oats, walnuts, salt and pepper. Crumble the fried sage leaves into the mixture. Pulse until thoroughly combined, and form into 8 patties.
  4. Spray a nonstick skillet, grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Working in batches, cook the burgers for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Top with an equal amount of cheese crumbles after you flip the burger, this will allow time for just enough melting to keep the cheese in place.
  5. While butternut squash burgers cook, whisk together mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar. Set balsamic mayo aside until ready to serve.
  6. Serve butternut squash burgers on whole wheat buns spread with balsamic mayo and topped with desired amount of spring mix lettuce.

Serves: 8

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Greens

Fall squash and greens are two of my seasonal favorites and this dish includes them both for a hearty vegetarian meal. Roasted Acorn Squash and Quinoa with Greens also makes an elegant side dish served with roasted pork tenderloin and a simple salad.

Roasting acorn squash makes the skin tender enough to eat and not having to peel the squash saves time in the kitchen. This recipe is pretty hands-off, giving you more time to relax while your nutritious dinner is cooking.

Ingredients:
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup quinoa
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch kale or other greens
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Trim each half into thin wedges and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake until tender and golden brown, for about 45 minutes.
  2. Add quinoa and vegetable broth to a rice cooker and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted.
  4. When quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and stir in kale, salt and pepper. Serve squash wedges on top of quinoa and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Note: If you do not have a rice cooker, follow the package instructions for preparing quinoa on the stove top.

WATERMELON, TOMATO AND BURRATA CHEESE

When I think of summer, watermelon and tomatoes immediately come to mind. They are two of my favorite seasonal foods and they compliment each other nicely in this appetizer with creamy and decadent burrata cheese. The outer layer of this cheese is fresh mozzarella, and when you slice it in half you will discover a luscious, creamy center made of mozzarella soaked in cream. It is the perfect cheese to pair with this summertime appetizer. This is a great last-minute dish for entertaining guests or taking to a potluck. Cheers to fresh and easy dishes and enjoying the final days of summer!

Ingredients:
burrata cheese
½ seedless watermelon, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Place burrata on a large serving platter, layering slices of watermelon and tomatoes around the cheese.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Grilled Thai Chicken Pizza

If you’ve followed my blog for a while or had dinner at my house, you’ll know that grilled pizza is one of my favorite ways to make this popular pie. This technique takes homemade pizza to the next level, giving you a restaurant-quality meal at home. The thin and crispy grilled crust is similar to a flatbread and cooks so quickly it’s a great meal for busy nights or laid back evenings, giving you more time to relax after enjoying your delicious meal and company.

Pizzas are great for entertaining, and you can offer a variety of toppings or a build-your-own pizza station with individual sized crusts. Pair the pizza with your favorite vino and enjoy an adult version of a pizza party.

Ingredients:
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, halved and divided
3 to 4 dashes of sriracha hot chili sauce
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
2 cups napa cabbage or green cabbage, shredded
1 small bell pepper (any color), diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 homemade or store bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
½ cup shredded carrots
shredded mozzarella cheese, desired amount

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, juice from ½ of lime and sriracha hot chili sauce. Process until smooth and creamy. In a small bowl, toss chicken in 3 tablespoons of peanut sauce until evenly coated. Reserve the remaining sauce.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, bell pepper, cilantro, sesame oil and juice from ½ of lime. Toss until combined and cabbage salad is evenly coated. Set salad aside until pizza is ready.
  3. Roll or stretch (I alternate rolling and stretching) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  4. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  5. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel comes handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust.
  6. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining ⅓ cup peanut sauce, spreading evenly. Add chicken, carrots, cheese and cabbage mixture.
  7. Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, slice and serve.

Servings: 4

Zucchini Pecan Muffins

Zucchini is so versatile and using it in baked goods is just one way I like to cook with this beloved summer vegetable. Pecans add a nutty flavor, crunch and protein to this grab-and-go-breakfast. An ice cream scooper with a release lever works wonders to fill the cups without making a mess. When I have extra zucchini on hand, I like to double the batch and freeze these tasty treats for a quick reheat breakfast on a busy morning.

Ingredients:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini (1 large or 2 small)
½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with oven-safe paper cups or coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until the mixture turns light yellow and slightly frothy. Stir in the applesauce and yogurt. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches until combined.
  4. Fold in the zucchini and pecans. Spoon mixture into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When done, tops will be golden brown and a toothpick will come out clean when inserted in the center.

Servings: 12

Curried Tofu Salad

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients to add to creamy salads like this one, and the first curried tofu salad I tasted was at the Good Foods Co-Op in Lexington, KY. After daydreaming about it so much, I had to create my take on the dish, accompanied with plump golden raisins, crunchy almonds and Greek yogurt. Enjoy my Curried Tofu Salad as a wrap with fresh lettuce or as a sandwich on whole wheat bread. Offering both bread and lettuce options and a few types of sandwich spreads is an easy way to entertain and delight your guests with a build-your-own lunch option. For the meat eaters in your life, chicken is a great substitution for the tofu in this dish.

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) block firm tofu
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Place the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate on top. Set aside for 10 to 20 minutes to press and absorb the water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and set aside.
  3. Crumble tofu in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Drain water from raisins. Fold raisons, carrots, almonds and tofu into the yogurt mixture, stirring to evenly coat. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Servings: 4