Quinoa Cakes with Sugar-Free Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Thanksgiving week is here! This week, we will all be stuffing ourselves silly with delicious turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie. I’m not sure about all of you, but I can’t wait! But, in an effort to try to help make your dinners a little less carb-heavy, I came up with these quinoa cakes. Packed full of protein and flavor, they would make a good substitute for potatoes or stuffing. I topped them with some sugar-free cranberry-orange sauce to make these more Thanksgiving-y. But, these would be great any time of the year. A lemon aioli sauce would also be great to dip these in!

Quinoa Cakes

Makes about 20 cakes

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse if not already pre-washed)

– 1 cup water

– 1 cup chicken broth

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

– 1/2 cup shredded carrot

– 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

– Zest of one lemon plus the juice, reserved

– 2 tbs. parsley, chopped

– salt and pepper to taste

– 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

– 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

– 4 eggs

– 2 tbs. parsley, chopped

– Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a pot, add the quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, water, and broth. Cook about 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, add the quinoa, onion (you can saute the onion first if you prefer for it to be more cooked), carrot, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add to quinoa mixture and mix well. If the mixture still seems to dry, you can add some water, 1 tbs. at a time.

3. Heat a medium non-stick fry pan on medium-low heat. Add olive oil (I did about 2 tbs.). Use your hands to form small patties and gently place each cake in the pan. Fry on each side approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Once they are done cooking, place them on a paper towel to drain them and then serve.

Tips for frying:
– Make sure your patties are an even thickness all the way around to ensure even cooking. Some of mine were thicker in the middle and it was harder to get the edges to brown since they weren’t touching the pan.
– Before you flip your cakes over for the first time, make sure they are fully browned on the one side. If they are not cooked enough, they will fall apart.
– Go easy on the oil. You should make sure there is some oil in the pan for each batch, but you really only need a little for each batch. I used a small pan and only did about 3-4 at a time so I only needed about 1-2 tsp. each time. If you drown these in oil, they will fall apart.

– Side note: As I was making these, I was also thinking that it might be possible to bake them in the oven and skip the frying, but I’m not sure if they would crisp up as much. If anyone wants to give it a try, please let me know how they turn out! :)

Sugar-Free Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Ingredients:

– 1 bag whole, fresh cranberries, rinsed

– 1 cup water

– 1/2-1 cup Splenda (add more if you want more sweetness. Any sugar or sugar substitute will do.)

– 1 orange (use all the juice) and zest from about half of the orange

– Optional: pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan on medium heat, add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange juice and sweetener of your choice. Add the cranberries and zest. Cook about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to pop. Pour the sauce into a bowl and the sauce will thicken as it cools. Once it is cooled to room temperature, you can stick it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (Low-Fat and Low-Carb!)


Last week, I posted my recipe for buffalo chicken mac and cheese and I told you all that I also made a different mac and cheese recipe for myself. While my husband is a buffalo fanatic, I can only really stand to eat a few bites and then I’m over it. I know, I’m weird like that. And a few bites was certainly not going to satisfy me for dinner! So, I made myself this pumpkin mac and cheese. In order to cut some calories, I skipped the butter and cream, used skim milk and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. And I also used a low-carb pasta!

This mac and cheese was really easy to throw together and it doesn’t require any baking! I really liked this, but next time I make it, I think I might throw in some veggies for added texture and flavor. Some roasted squash and zucchini tossed in would be awesome!

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

– 1 lb. rotini, shells or elbow pasta (I used Dreamfield’s pasta to make this low-carb)

– 1 cup skim milk

– 1 cup pumpkin puree

– 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

– 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded

– pinch nutmeg

– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook pasta until cooked, drain and set aside. In a saucepan, heat the milk and pumpkin puree. Whisk until the pumpkin is dissolved into the milk. Add nutmeg. Add in your cheeses and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. If your sauce seems a little thick, you can add more milk 1 tbs. at a time. Put the pasta in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. Stir until it is thoroughly mixed in with the pasta and serve! No baking required!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

What the what?! Chocolate cookie dough dip?! I know what you’re thinking, “OMG, that sounds delightful, but also horribly fattening!” I’m going to let you all in on a little secret…this cookie dough dip is actually healthy! It’s healthy because it’s made with chick peas! There is no flour, butter, oil, or eggs in this dip. I first saw this recipe last spring when Chocolate-Covered Katie posted it on her blog. My first thought was that there was no way this would be good. But, then after looking at her pictures and reading the comments, I started to think that maybe this is pretty good stuff so I added it to my list of recipes to try. I finally decided to make it last week!

After whipping up a batch, I took a spoon and dug right in. At first, I didn’t like it at all. The texture was all wrong, so I let it go in the food processor for a little longer and went in for another bite and this time, I still wasn’t sure. I took some graham crackers and dipped them into the dip, still wasn’t quite sure. Two whole graham crackers later, I couldn’t stop eating this cookie dough dip. At that point, I decided it must be good! I stuck in the fridge for a couple of hours and served it at a party later that night. Just as Katie did, I didn’t tell people what it was until after they ate it. Maybe they were just being nice, but my friends said it was good! And perhaps it was the drinks I had, but I think this dip got better and better throughout the night!

I served some graham crackers with this dip which was really great with it, and seriously, how often can you say that the stuff you are dipping into your dip is worse than the dip itself?! If you want a healthier dipper, I recommend some cut up fruit. Apple slices and strawberries would be wonderful!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Serves 4-6

From Chocolate-Covered Katie

Ingredients:

– 1 15-ounce can chick (garbanzo) peas, drained

– 1/8 tsp. salt

– a pinch over /8 tsp. baking soda

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut and it was delicious! Not overwhelming at all!)

– Up to 1/4 cup milk (or soy milk), add 1 tbs. at a time

– 2/3 cup brown sugar (see note below to make sugar-free)

– 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients (except chips) in a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture is smooth and achieves a texture that is similar to cookie dough. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes:
– If you want to make this sugar-free, you can swap out the sugar for Splenda or Stevia.

White Bean and Chicken Chili


I have really been craving some chili lately. We’ve had some cold nights over the past week and I officially declared it a one-pot meal night! There was one problem with my chili plan. My husband informed that he does not like chili! What?! Who doesn’t like chili?! We needed a compromise. I thought that maybe making a white chili with different ingredients might be more appealing to him since it didn’t have the same ingredients as traditional chili recipes.

So, did he like it? Yes, he did! I like it too. This chili has the perfect amount of spice and it was very flavorful! I think I actually liked it more than my traditional chili recipe. Definitely making this one again!

White Bean and Chicken Chili

Serves 4-6

From Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 4 garlic cloves, minced

– 2 lbs. ground chicken

– 1 tbs. dried oregano

– 2 tsp. chili powder

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 2 tbs. ground cumin

– 3 tbs. flour

– 2 (15-ounce cans) white or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

– 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

– 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

– 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

– ground pepper to taste

– Optional: cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips for garnishing

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onion and cook until it is translucent (3-5 mins.). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Break the chicken up and continue stirring until the chicken is fully cooked (about 8-10 minutes). Add the flour to the chicken. Add the beans, corn, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and stir the mixture, making sure to scrap the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 60 minutes until the liquid reduced by about half and has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

If you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably heard me say that my husband is a buffalo chicken fanatic. Buffalo chicken sandwiches, buffalo chicken pizzas, and now, buffalo mac and cheese. I made this dish on the fly one night and it was a total hit with the Hubs. He immediately declared it one of his favorite meals that I have ever made. I was really surprised considering I had no recipe when I made this and wasn’t sure how it would turn out.

Now, if you’ve heard me say that my husband is a buffalo chicken fanatic, you’ve also probably heard me say that I am not as big of a fan. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just not my favorite. This mac and cheese was really tasty, but it is rich. Eat this buffalo mac with caution! For those of you who are little more health-conscious, fear not! I actually prepared myself a low-carb and low-fat pumpkin mac and cheese. I will share that recipe with you next week! Until then, have a great weekend everyone!

Oh, and if you have not done so already, please check out my post from earlier this week , The Perfect Tailgate Pasta Salad, I would really appreciate it if you all could check it out as I am trying to help my dear friend raise money by selling awesome pastas for her daughter’s school, The Katzenbach School for the Deaf in New Jersey!

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 1/2 lb. pasta (elbow, rotini, shells, or farfalle works!)

– 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)

– 2 tbs. unsalted butter

– 2 tbs. flour

– 2 cups milk

– 2 cups cheddar cheese

– 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

– 3/4 cup buffalo sauce (I like Frank’s Buffalo sauce)

– 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1/2 to 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

– Optional: blue cheese crumbles

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta until it is slightly al dente. While the pasta is cooking, you can start the cheese sauce. In a separate sauce pan, heat the butter on medium heat. Once it is mostly melted, add the flour and stir about 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until the flour is broken up. Add the cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Whisk continuously until the cheese is melted. Add 1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Drain the pasta and add to a baking dish. Add the chicken. Pour the cheese over the sauce and mix until it is fully incorporated with the pasta (you may have a little extra left over, which I did, and just didn’t use). Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of the buffalo sauce over the pasta (you can use more if you want). Sprinkle the panko evenly over the top. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the bread crumbs have browned on top.

The Perfect Tailgate Pasta Salad

Last week, my good friend Raquel told me about a fundraiser that her daughter’s school was having so that they could afford to go on their first class trip. In order to raise the money, the Katzenbach School for the Deaf is selling pasta! But, this is no ordinary pasta! No, no, it’s FUN pasta! And when Raquel told me that they had Seminole pasta, I HAD to buy it!

How fun is that?! I am totally loving these little Chief Osceola heads!

The school is not only selling collegiate-themed pastas, but they also have fun holiday pastas and other hobbies (like dance, golf, cats, dogs, oh my!). The pasta is so fun and affordable and would make GREAT holiday stocking stuffers and gifts for your loved ones! Please see the link, along with a note from Raquel below about the fundraiser:

The Early Childhood Program at The New Jersey School for the Deaf is raising money so that their little ones can finally go on a trip this year! The school earns 40% of all online sales. This is my daughter’s 2nd year enrolled in the program and because funds have been tight, she and her classmates haven’t been able to go on a field trip.
For more information on the Early Childhood program, please visit this link! Thank you!
Raquel Parker

If you are interested in buying some of this awesome pasta for a great cause, CLICK HERE! Then click the yellow button at the top that says “Shop Now”. The deadline for orders is November 14th.

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Now, onto this pasta salad. The pasta actually came with it’s own seasoning packet, but I wanted to share my favorite pasta salad recipe with you all so I am going to save the packet for another time. This pasta salad recipe is light and lower in fat compared to pasta salads that use mayo. I guess you can say this is an Italian style pasta salad! Just some EVOO and vinegars is all you really need! This pasta salad is perfect for tailgating because it is so easy to make and it does not require any refrigeration (though, if you plan to leave it out for an extended period of time, you may want to leave out the cheese and meat). I threw in some black olives, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese into mine, but you could use any of your favorite ingredients for this recipe!

The Perfect Tailgate Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the pasta:

– 1 lb. pasta, rinsed and drained (you can use any pasta for this!)

– 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced

– 2 cups mozzarella cheese, diced into small cubes

– 2 cups black olives, sliced

– 2 tbs. parsley, chopped

– Optional: Diced pepperoni and/or salami

Ingredients for the dressing:

– 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

– 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

– 1 tbs. lemon juice

– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and parsley. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over the pasta and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours (or overnight).