Baked Sweet Potato Chips

I definitely woke up this morning with a case of the Mondays. Didn’t get enough sleep last night and I just wanted to be lazy all day long! But alas, to work I went and now it’s all dreary outside and it’s about to rain which means it’s time for a glass of wine, pajamas, and trashy reality shows. I had a couple of sweet potatoes stuffed in my pantry that I wanted to use up before they went bad, but I wanted to do something a little different with them. I decided to try my hand at making some seasoned baked sweet potato chips! They came out pretty good, but I realized one thing while making these puppies. I NEED A MANDOLINE! I tried to cut them as thin and evenly as possible, but of course that was an epic fail. Some did not get as browned and crispy, but they were still good. So, lesson learned folks. Use a mandoline while making these chips!

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin to approx. 1/8″

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 tsp. black pepper

– 1/2 tsp. sea salt

– 1/2 chili powder

– 1/2 tsp. cumin

– 1/2 tsp. garlic pepper

– 1/2 tsp. paprika

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine sliced sweet potatoes and olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and layer potatoes evenly in a single layer.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle about half of the mixture evenly over the potatoes. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. Flip and then cook for an additional 8-10 minutes*. Remove from pan and toss with remaining seasoning and serve!

Notes: I recommend keeping an eye on these while they are cooking (especially after the flip). You don’t want them to burn and if they are sliced thin, they cook quickly. If some start to brown too much, remove them, and continue to cook the rest. You may find that your oven cooks more quickly or more slowly than mine and can adjust the cook time accordingly.

Lemon Balsamic Grilled Chicken

This lemon balsamic chicken is my go-to chicken recipe for grilling chicken. I make this chicken just about every week. You can eat it plain with grilled veggies or other sides, on a salad, or even make a sandwich out of it! I love the lemon flavor it has and the balsamic vinegar in the marinade adds depth to the chicken and helps give it that nice golden brown color while it cooks on the grill! Let your chicken marinate as long as possible for more flavor! Today, I threw my chicken on a big salad! It had so much flavor! :)

Lemon Balsamic Grilled Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

– 1 pound chicken breast, trimmed and halved

– 2 lemons, juiced

– 1/2 tbs. lemon zest

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1 1/2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

– 1/2 tsp. sea salt

– 1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Directions:

1. Pound chicken to approximately 1/2 inch thick and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, zest, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Set aside. In freezer bag, add chicken and pour marinade into bag. Coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (the longer, the better!).

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill chicken for about 5-6 minutes per side until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Frosting Galore!


This is going to be a hodge podge of a post, but I wanted to share my recipes for homemade chocolate buttercream frosting and for peanut butter buttercream frosting that my little sister, Carolyn, and I made. When I was in Cleveland visiting family two weeks ago, I was telling my little sister about this blog. She wanted to make something from the blog while I was home. We decided to make a cake because it was also my Dad’s birthday. We followed my doctored chocolate cake recipe and made a layer cake and then in between the layers, we whipped up a very rich peanut butter buttercream frosting and then did a homemade chocolate buttercream on the outside.

I only had made my own chocolate buttercream frosting once before and it came out okay. I tried to follow the same recipe again from memory, but all we could taste was the powdered sugar! We ended up melting some Hersey’s bars and mixed it in and that gave the frosting the chocolatey taste we were looking for! The peanut butter buttercream was pretty rich. In fact, if the whole cake had this frosting, I wouldn’t have been able to eat more than a few bites. And even with the PB in just the middle, this cake was RICH. Cut modest slices and have a big glass of milk on standby!

Carolyn is a perfectionist (what can I say, she takes after her sister…) and wanted our cake to look as professional as possible. She spent a lot of time trying to smooth out the chocolate buttercream frosting. Then she decorated the sides and the top of the cake! Here was our finished product:

Not too shabby, right? Oh, and while we’re at it. I have to give a little pre-birthday shout out to Carolyn because tomorrow is her 13th Birthday! So, Happy 13th Birthday, Carolyn! I can’t believe she is officially a teenager! Watch out world!

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of frosting

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

– 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

– 8 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2-3 tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth (use paddle attachment if using stand mixer). Add in peanut butter and vanilla and mix until well-combined. Add in 2 tbs. of milk and beat continuously until well-combined. If the frosting is too thick, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough frosting to liberally frost 24 cupcakes or one large cake

Ingredients:

– 2 lbs. confectioner’s sugar

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

– 1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1/2-3/4 cup melted milk chocolate (about 2 Hersey’s Bars)

– 6-8 tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and melted chocolate. Then add the sugar one cup at a time until smooth (use paddle attachment if using stand mixer). Add in cocoa powder and vanilla and and mix until well-combined. Add in about 4 tbs. of milk and beat continuously until well-combined. Continue to add milk one tablespoon at at time until frosting reaches desired consistency. Frost cake or cupcakes.

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies


Alright, so I woke up this morning feeling super sluggish and have been sneezing non-stop! I think I am getting a cold. This is not a good time for a cold (I know, I know, is there any “good” time for a cold?). I have a month and a half to write and defend my prelim paper if I finally want to move onto my dissertation, finish grad school, and get that Ph.D. next summer. I WILL finish!

So despite feeling crappy and having a boatload of work to do, I decided to make these low-carb peanut butter cookies for you all instead (yeah, I know how to prioritize!). I first saw this recipe on a message board I used to frequent a few years ago. I make these cookies a lot because they are healthier than the traditional cookie and they don’t require many ingredients! These cookies are low-carb because they have no flour and instead of using real sugar, I used Splenda. If you don’t care about the carbs or sugar, then feel free to use regular sugar. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some of these cookies, take some DayQuil, and get back to work! Happy Sunday!

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 12 small cookies

Ingredients:

– 1 cup reduced-fat peanut butter

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1 egg

– 1 cup granular Splenda*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Drop from teaspoonfuls onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Using the back of a fork, dip fork into some warm water (you can then dip in some more Splenda if you want) and make a criss-cross patten on top of the cookies as you flatten them a bit. Bake for approximately 9-10 minutes or until cookies start to brown.

Notes:
– You may find that a cup of Splenda is too sweet for your tastes. I actually tend to use more like 3/4 and have even went as low as a 1/2 of a cup because I don’t like for these to be super sweet! So feel free to experiment with the sugar measurements!

Quinoa Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Do you ever go to the grocery store to do your weekly shopping trip, but have no clue what you actually want to cook that week? Yeah, that was me this past weekend. I spent a good 15 minutes just wandering around the produce section thinking about what I was going to cook this week. Then I spotted a big basket of bright red bell peppers and I immediately had a craving for stuffed peppers. As usual, I wanted to make them healthy, so instead of using the usual rice, I used my beloved quinoa. These stuffed red peppers were packed full of flavor and my favorite part was that the top layer got all nice and crispy with that melted cheese!

Quinoa Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Adapted from Vegetarian Times

Serves 6

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa

– 2 cups water

– 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drain and reserve liquid

– 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

– 6 red bell peppers

– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 cups of water and add quinoa. Let cook for approximately 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed. Set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onions and garlic and cook for three minutes until onion is translucent and tender. Add diced tomatoes and black beans. Cook for 3 minutes. Add in cooked quinoa and combine with tomato and bean mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Rinse peppers, cut off tops and remove seeds and ribs. Scoop about 3/4 of cup of the quinoa mixture into each pepper and place in a baking dish. Pour liquid from the tomato can into the dish around the peppers. Cover with foil and cook for approximately 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle evenly with pepper jack cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle pan drippings over each pepper and serve!

Notes: Want more veggies? Try adding some sauteed mushrooms, spinach, or carrots!

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken Tacos

Ok, I am going to let you all in on a little secret about me. I love Mexican food. In fact, it’s one of my vices. This wouldn’t be such a big issue if Mexican food wasn’t so unhealthy! These cilantro-lime grilled chicken tacos allow me to satisfy my craving for tacos without all the guilt and grease. I gave these tacos an extra kick by adding some tequila to the marinade! I topped mine with a scoop of black beans, additional cilantro, and fat-free sour cream. I didn’t even need the cheese. These tacos were flavorful and satisfying!

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 2 large chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half

– 2 limes, juiced

– 2 tbs. cilantro

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1 garlic clove

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– Optional: 1 1/2 tbs. tequila

– 8 corn or flour tortillas

– Suggested taco toppings: black beans, chopped cilantro, avocado, corn, low-fat or fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese, etc.

Directions:

1. In a blender or food processor, purée lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt, garlic, and tequila until smooth. Place chicken in a large freezer bag, pour in marinade and seal. Try to get all of the chicken covered in the marinade. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (the longer, the better!).

2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Brush pan with some olive oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add chicken. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes. Slice chicken into strips and make those tacos!