Thursday, May 5, 2016

Salted oatmeal cookies: a recipe

Salted oatmeal cookies, the perfect blend of sweet and savory -- there's a reason they've been dubbed 'crack cookies'.

Salted oatmeal cookies

Note: Recipe and photos updated May 2016.

Salted cookies sound like an oxymoron, right?

Wrong. So wrong. So very, very wrong.

These cookies were first described to me as "cookie crack" and I can now bear witness that that is a perfect characterization.

Even though I have a bunch of healthier cookie recipes, I'm not even going to pretend that this is one of those. Yes, there are oats in it but there is also a crapload of butter and sugar which cancel out the oaty benefits.

But you will not care.

The balance of savory/sweet is absolutely perfect. You cannot eat just one. Hellz, you can't eat just six!

So please do not waste these on children. Repeat: PLEASE DO NOT WASTE THESE ON CHILDREN!

These are grown-up cookies.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

White bean burgers (Secret Recipe Club)

These simple, healthy white bean burgers with a yogurt feta sauce are super flavorful and won't fall apart like many veggie burgers.

Healthy white bean burgers with yogurt feta sauce


Note: Recipe and photos updated April 2016.

I made this recipe in 2013 as part of the Secret Recipe Club (SRC).

Here's how the SRC works: each month I am assigned another member's blog (a different one each month). I then pick any recipe from that blogger's site, make it and write about it here. There's also a link hop at the end of the post so that I (and you) can check out all the other participating blogs and their great recipes.

I was a little nervous about this month's assignment, as I knew it would fall right during Detox January. I had my fingers crossed that I would be assigned a blog with at least a couple of healthy recipes from which I could choose.

I hit the jackpot!

My assigned blog was Cooking Whims, written by Megan, another New Englandah (yay!). Megan is clearly a big fan of Cooking Light recipes, as am I, so I was thrilled to find so many things to try. In fact, I wound up making two of her recipes and had a hard time choosing which one to feature (really, it came down to which one yielded a better photo).

The winner? White bean burgers, a perfect, meatless dinner option for Detox January.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pistachio chai muffins

Enjoy these simple, not-too-sweet pistachio chai muffins as a skinny grab-and-go breakfast or quick afternoon treat. 

Pistachio chai muffins

So this is a thing I've been wanting to do for some time now...

When I go back and look at my recipe index, particularly the recipes I wrote about in the early days of this blog, I realize that there are a lot of easy, healthy, yummy, awesome recipes in there.

But they are horribly photographed.

When I started this blog six years ago (oh my goodness, SIX YEARS!), I didn't even know how to use the manual mode on my dinky point-and-shoot camera. So my posts really suffered. As did some of you, who have been supporting me from the beginning and willingly looked at those pictures!

Times have changed and so have my skills. Therefore, I'd like to give some of those awesome recipes a second life by re-photographing them to show you just how gorgeous they are.

And delicious. And worth your time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Skinny red pepper chicken sliders

Make these broiled skinny red pepper chicken sliders for a fun and fast weeknight dinner.

Skinny red pepper chicken sliders recipe

I've got another slider recipe for you today -- skinny red pepper chicken sliders, to be specific -- and it's quite honestly because burger buns come in insanely large packages and I hate to waste them.

I'm serious. Think about it. We are just two people but whenever we want to enjoy burgers, I always get stuck buying a package of 8 freakin' burger buns. What's up with that? Does a family of four really eat two burgers each every time it grills? I highly doubt it. So why can't anyone make a package of only four buns -- ostensibly a half package -- for smaller families? I can't be the only one that would be excited about that.

And yes, I've tried freezing the extras. But then I just end up three months later throwing out a bunch of small packages of frozen leftover burger buns instead of day-old ones because, frankly, they never taste any good once thawed, no matter how cleverly I wrap them prior to freezing.

Le sigh.

So my efforts to be frugal and not wasteful with my package of 16 slider buns means that you get a second slider recipe in a row. But this is not a bad thing, trust me. These skinny red pepper chicken sliders are also a great way to use up that half-empty jar of roasted red peppers that's been hanging around your refrigerator door -- not to mention the jar of pepperoncini you just bought to make last week's tangy slow cooker pot roast sliders.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tangy slow cooker pot roast sliders

Update your Sunday pot roast with this tangy riff, made in the slow cooker and turned into sliders for an easy weeknight meal with leftovers.

Tangy slow cooker pot roast sliders

Pulled pork is one of my all-time favorite things to make in the slow cooker. And I think you're well aware of my penchant for transforming chicken into all sorts of awesome dishes in my crockpot. I don't know why I never really thought to do any kind of beef cut in the slow cooker. So when I saw this article in the New York Times about a slow cooker beef roast with some interesting spicy flavors, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Apparently, there's a version of this beef that went viral via Pinterest (called "Mississippi Roast", for some reason) -- but it calls for packaged dressing AND gravy mix. Ugh. No way -- you know that's not how The Ninj rolls. Especially when it's just as easy and no less time-consuming to use real ingredients.

Which is what's happened here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Bloody Mary, Four Ways

Try one of four original recipe riffs on the classic Bloody Mary, often called the World's Most Complex Cocktail. 

Four Bloody Mary recipes, photo by Brent Harrewyn
Photo by Brent Harrewyn for Edible Green Mountains

As a contributor to Edible Green Mountains magazine, I recently wrote an article on the Bloody Mary, often called the world's most complex cocktail.

Here's an excerpt...
I opened Pandora’s box recently by naively asking a group of friends what makes the best Bloody Mary. Their responses were as varied as those of a group of four-year-olds being asked to name the single best Christmas gift. My friends offered up renditions sweet, savory, classic, outlandish and everything in between—and each was adamant that his or hers was the best.

What I have learned is that this variety and lack of agreement applies to nearly every aspect of the Bloody Mary—not only the ingredients but also its very invention and namesake. There’s a reason that the Bloody, as its most ardent fans familiarly call it, has been dubbed the world’s most complex cocktail.

As part of the article, I included four different Bloody Mary recipes:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slow cooker chicken stock

Learn how to make recipe-ready, freezable slow cooker chicken stock from only the bones of a roast chicken, a handful of veggies and water.

Slow cooker chicken stock made with a roast chicken carcass

This is one of those recipes for DIY pantry staples that has been in my repertoire for years yet I haven't shared it with you yet.

Shame on me! I think it's because it's one of those not-really-a-recipe recipes that hasn't seemed "worthy" enough. Until now. Because I've been crockpot cray cray lately, as regular readers well know.

If you've never tackled homemade chicken stock, this slow cooker version will change your mind. It's not at all time-consuming because, well, SLOW COOKER. Plus, all you need to make it is the carcass of your last roast chicken (read: NO WASTE! Practically composting!), some common veggies you've likely always got in your fridge, some spices and water.

Talk about making something out of nothing!

Here's what you do: The next time you make a roast chicken, be a little less thorough than you might be when carving it -- leaving a little bit of meat on the bones means a more flavorful stock.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Skinny black bean tortilla casserole

Skinny black bean tortilla casserole is a healthy, fast and easy way to add a satisfying meatless meal to your weeknight dinner rotation.

Skinny black bean tortilla casserole

This may sound really weird but it's really exciting: I've rediscovered the public library.

I told you it would sound weird. I mean, where did it go that I had to rediscover it, right?

I grew up as a library power user: in elementary school, I couldn't wait for summer, not just for the swimming and playing outside and not attending class part but also for the summer reading program at my tiny local library. Whether I knew it or not, I was a lot more Type A back then and the reading program had a contest for which child could read the most books: Let's just say I rose to that challenge and then some.

Not to mention that I just loved spending time in the library itself. It seemed magical to me that I could wander around, browsing through a seemingly endless supply of novels, taking as long as I liked to make my selections and then I was allowed to just take them home. For free. It was better than a candy store for an avid reader.

Even as an adult, I made weekly visits to the library after work to refresh my book pile, largely because I tried to spend my lunch hours reading the novels I so love. The number of books I read each year was a little mind boggling.

But then something changed all that: We moved to a tiny town in Vermont.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Slow cooker chicken corn chowder

This healthy chicken corn chowder is made effortlessly in the slow cooker -- an easy and satisfying weeknight comfort food dinner.

skinny slow cooker chicken corn chowder

I'm back with another slow cooker recipe.

Seriously: I've been on a slow cooker tear lately -- largely because I am single-handedly painting the interior of our new house (I know, I'm insane. Or just cheap. Or both). As you would guess, this is more than a bit time-consuming and tiring. By the time I finish up for the day, the last thing I want to think about is making dinner.

And you know how I feel about take out. Well, I might consider it if there was any place other than Domino's in my new 'hood that delivered to a house beyond walking distance from the local university... but there's not.

So I've been focusing on making the easiest weeknight dinners possible. Which is why I'm working my slow cooker overtime. Especially with no-prep-required slow cooker recipes, like this skinny chicken corn chowder.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healthy banana chai muffins

Made with no dairy or refined sugar, these banana chai muffins are a healthy choice for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Healthy banana chai muffins with no dairy or sugar

I am lucky enough not to have many dietary restrictions in my life -- other than those that are self-imposed, of course (e.g., I gave up all fast food more than six years ago). But I appreciate that not all my readers are as lucky, so I try, whenever I can, to feature recipes that address some of your dietary concerns.

One of the concerns that comes up all the time is dairy -- and how to eat well without it, if you need to. Whether it's because of lactose intolerance or concern about dietary cholesterol and intake of fats, dairy isn't for everyone (although it would break my heart into pieces not to be able to eat my beloved cheese). Therefore, I'm happy to help by creating delicious dairy-free recipes for my readers, especially during February, which is American Heart Month. But that can prove challenging when it comes to baked goods.

Why? One word: Butter. Which begs one question: Is there really a butter substitute out ther that's good for baking? I say yes!

To help you figure out the best way to bake dairy-free, I created this recipe for healthy banana chai muffins and made it multiple times, not with butter but with two different spreads instead -- SmartBalance Buttery Spread and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! -- to see which one I liked best.