Chickpea and Tomato Basil Salad

I love going out to my little herb garden to pick fresh basil for recipes. There is something so satisfying about growing what you eat. As summer comes to a close, I imagine many of you probably have an abundance of basil to be used in the next few weeks. This recipe is perfect for taking advantage of summer’s bounty, specifically fresh basil and tomatoes.

IMG_20130630_083928

This salad has bright flavors, making for a light side dish, or it could be a main dish if you are vegetarian/vegan.  Did I mention it is dairy free, gluten free, and incredibly healthy? It is very quick to prepare and gets better the longer it sits because the flavors meddle together. You can easily add more fresh vegetables to if you’d like. I think cucumber would be a lovely addition!

Chickpea and Tomato Basil Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 25 basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey ( or agave to make it vegan)
  • pinch of salt

1). Toss all ingredients together. Allow the salad to sit about 20 minutes (or longer) for the flavors to mingle. Refrigerate or eat! Told you it was easy. : )

Servings: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish. 

Nutritional information per serving as a side dish: Calories: 123 Carbs: 20g Fat: 3g Protein: 4g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g 

Recipe adapted from: http://greenlitebites.com/2011/06/20/chickpea-and-tomato-salad-with-fresh-basil/ 

Crock Pot Baked Beans (No-Soak!)

A couple months ago I refused to follow the typical recipe instructions of soaking dried beans overnight and successfully made delicious pinto beans in my crock pot. This week I decided to use the same principle. I rebelled against the overnight soaking directions and made baked beans in the crock pot. I actually had never made baked beans (the ones in the can seemed to do the trick until now!) and I wanted to make them from scratch for a cookout.

IMG_20130623_200103

 

I learned a few things through this process:

1) Truly, you do not have to soak dried beans overnight if you are cooking them in the crock pot.

2) You really do have to put bacon in baked beans for them to taste right. I think I have only purchased bacon twice in my entire life.

3) There’s a lot of sugar in baked beans and if you attempt to eliminate those sugary ingredients, they don’t taste right.

4) You will seriously waste your time if you soak your beans overnight (see lesson #1). I tried them both ways and the cooking time was, surprisingly, the same.

Aside from not needing to soak the beans, I was most amazed at how much cheaper it was to make my own batch of baked beans than to buy cans of them. This is especially true for feeding a large crowd (which we were).

We had some leftover and a quick Google search led me to the realization that you can actually freeze baked beans in Ziplock bags! So, if you have some leftover, feel free to freeze them.

IMG_20130623_205502

The final product was soft (but not mushy) beans, covered with a thick, sweet, smokey sauce. We were really pleased with the results and I would definitely make them again!

This recipe is perfect for the upcoming holiday and cookouts!

Crock Pot Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag white navy beans
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup or molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 1/2 cups of hot water (may need to add more depending on your crock pot)

1) Spray your crockpot with cooking spray for easy clean up later. In a medium bowl, combine molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, bbq sauce, dijon mustard, cloves, and hot water. Whisk to combine.

2) Place beans at the bottom of your crock pot. Add the chopped onions and bacon. Pour the sauce mixture on top and stir to combine.

3) Cook on HIGH for 8 hours. Check on them after about 3 or 4 hours to see if you need to add water. You don’t want them to burn!

Servings: 18 1/2 cup servings.

Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 148 Carbs: 29g Fat: 1g Protein: 6g Sugar: 15g Fiber: 6g

WW PointsPlus: 3 Old points: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://lmld.org/2013/06/03/slow-cooker-baked-beans/

 

Blue Cheese and Cheddar Baked Sweet Potato Rounds

IMG_20130617_191403

Blue cheese lovers, you are going to be amazed at how yummy these baked sweet potato rounds are! The texture is a cross between sweet potato chips (crisp) and sweet potato fries (crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle). You can actually decide if you want them more like chips or fries by varying the baking time. I came across this recipe on Pinterest just a couple hours before I need to prepare dinner, and I quickly realized A) they look amazing and B) I already had everything I needed to make them!

If you do not like blue cheese, I recommend substituting a different cheese. I actually think feta could pair nicely, but I haven’t tried that option yet! If you have any other ideas, let me know.

The key to getting these sweet potatoes crispy is to spread them out on one layer, so no rounds are overlapping. I had to use 2 baking sheets for 2 potatoes. Keep an eye on them as some may crisp up faster than others, and you may need to pull a few off early to avoid burning. Crispy is good, but not burnt to a crisp!

I used my chef knife to cut the potato into thin rounds, but you can use a mandolin if you feel comfortable with one. I’ve mentioned this before, but that is probably the most dangerous kitchen gadget ever! I had a pretty gruesome encounter with one a couple years ago, so now I prefer to simply use my big ol’ chef knife!

IMG_20130617_192814

This side dish was surprisingly easy to prepare, and so delicious. The blue cheese gave the sweet potatoes a bit of a kick, and the cheddar was the perfect accompaniment! They honestly reminded me of nachos, with sweet potatoes in lieu of chips. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed them and I hope you will, too!

Blue Cheese and Cheddar Baked Sweet Potato Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

1) Preheat oven to 425.

2) Slice sweet potato into thin round discs (using a knife or mandolin).

3) Toss with oil and season with garlic powder & salt and pepper.

4) Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until rounds are slightly browned and crispy, turning once half way through. Keep an eye on them the last 5-10 minutes of cooking time–small pieces may need to be removed before the rest to avoid burning!

5) Remove from oven and move sweet potatoes closer together. Sprinkle with cheeses and return to oven for another 3-4 minutes or until cheeses are melted.
Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 160 Carbs: 19g Fat: 7g Protein: 6g Sugar: 6g Fiber: 3g
WW PointsPlus: 4 Old points: 3

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

I may never buy canned beans ever again after having made this recipe!! It does not get any cheaper, faster, or tastier than this. So long sodium-ridden canned pinto beans, hello crock pot beans!

IMG_20130502_191658

This recipe may or may not be as earth-shattering for you as it was for me. I have always been a bit intimidated when it comes to preparing dry beans. I didn’t want to bother having to remember to let them soak over night to be able to cook them for dinner the next day. For years I have been buying the canned beans and rinsing them a profusely in hopes of washing off the sodium. After my husband and I got married, my wonderful mother-in-law told me about making beans in the crock pot. It has been in the back of my mind until this past week, when I finally made them. These have SO much more flavor than what you get in the can! And they are so much cheaper! Win-win. There is half a seeded jalapeño in this batch to add a very subtle kick, but they are not spicy at all!

These pinto beans are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and fat free! This recipe also makes a lot, so if you have a small family you may want to cut the recipe in half.

My crock pot cooked these beans perfectly in just 3.5 hours on high. I would suggest checking on them after 3-3.5 hours, but depending on your slow cooker you may need to add additional time.

IMG_20130502_190424

Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion peeled and halved
  • 1.5 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 cups water

1) Rinse pinto beans and place in crock pot with all remaining ingredients.

2) Turn crock pot to high and let cook for around 3.5 hours. If possible, stir occasionally. Beans should  be soft and a lot of the water should have evaporated but you don’t want them to turn to mush, so I would check them around 3 hours, then 3.5 hours and if they aren’t done let them go up to 4 hours. You want them to be soft so they melt in your mouth!

Servings: 12. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 34 Carbs: 12gh Fat: 0g Protein: 4g Sugar: 1g Fiber: 7g

WW PP: 2 Old points: 0!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.theaprongal.com/2012/05/crock-pot-pinto-beans.html 

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini season is almost here! I have an incredibly easy recipe that is my new favorite way to prepare the vegetable. I can’t think of a single vegetable I don’t like roasted, so maybe this should come as no surprise. My husband is really not a fan of zucchini but agreed this was delicious. The secret is seasoning the zucchini well and sprinkling just a bit of shredded parmesan cheese at the end. It is a perfect accompaniment to chicken, fish, steak, whatever!

IMG_20130430_190722

This recipe is a testament to the fact that when it comes to food, sometimes simple is better. Just a few simple ingredients combined together can be really fantastic! The salty parmesan adds a lot of flavor and the texture of the zucchini after roasting is great. I had to go back for seconds on this one! This simple, easy recipe can be on the table in 30 minutes. Give it a try, even if you normally don’t care for zucchini. You just might surprise yourself!

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1). Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a cookie sheet (may want to line with foil for easy clean up later). Chop the zucchini in quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (Note: I like to arrange the zucchini in a single layer on the cookie sheet, then season. I think it ensures even seasoning on each bite!)

2). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 69 Carbs: 7g Fat: 4g Protein: 4g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 2g

WW Points Plus: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe loosely adapted from: http://www.thegingeredwhisk.blogspot.com/2012/06/garlic-roasted-zucchini.html 

Espinacas Con Garbanzos (Spinach with Garbanzo Beans)

IMG_20130414_190355

During my time living in Spain, I fell in love with a few dishes–today’s recipe is one of them! Espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with garbanzos beans), can be found as a “tapa” in most restaurants across Spain and is very popular. It is delicious but so simple to make: sauté fresh spinach among garlic and onion, then season with cumin and salt. I will admit this version is not exactly like the one my host mom would make or that we would find as a “tapa” on the streets of Sevilla, but it is very close. I make this recipe frequently because I love that it can be ready in under 10 minutes on a busy week night! The flavor in this simple dish is so unexpected. I love the smoky flavor from the cumin, and fresh spinach is so healthy! It’s a perfect way to use up any spinach that might go bad soon, or just another way to incorporate it into your meals. If you do not have fresh spinach, you can substitute frozen. And, in case there is any confusion: garbanzo beans and chick peas are the same thing!

IMG_20130414_190229

Ingredients:

  • About 9 oz fresh spinach (or 1 10 oz bag frozen chopped spinach), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 12 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute longer. Roughly chop the fresh spinach.

2) Stir in the spinach, garbanzo beans, cumin and salt. Use your stirring spoon to lightly mash the beans (optional) as the mixture cooks. Allow to cook until all spinach is wilted and thoroughly heated.

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 169 Fat: 4.9g Protein: 7.3g Sodium: 600 mg Carbs: 26g Fiber:6.4g

WW Points+: 4 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Baby Kale Salad with Strawberries and Chia Seed Dressing

IMG_20130410_181518

Strawberry season is upon us! Although I love eating them fresh by themselves, I also like to include them in dishes whenever possible. I love fruit in salads. There is something refreshing and light about biting into a juicy strawberry alongside crisp greens. I recently traded in my bag of mixed greens for organic baby kale. Regular kale can be tough and bitter, but baby kale is absolutely delightful! If you do not have baby kale, you can use a spring mix, baby spinach, or even romaine lettuce for this salad.

I had an epiphany the other day when I realized that Chia seeds can be a healthy substitute for poppy seeds in dressings. This realization came as a result of not having poppy seeds for the dressing and debating whether or not to omit them. I love the crunch that poppy seeds add to salads, and because chia seeds are a similar shape and texture, they accomplish the same purpose. Added benefit? They are very healthy! If you’ve never heard of chia seeds before, here’s what you might want to know:

If you do not have chia seeds, you can obviously use poppy seeds or simply omit them. I promise you will still have a great homemade vinaigrette for your salad!

A note:I reduced the amount of olive oil in the dressing from 2 tbsp to 1 tbsp to cut back on calories and fat, but if you feel the salad is too dry you can add a little back in.

I recommend you serve this salad with my lemon and herb marinated grilled chicken. The citrus marinade pairs nicely with the strawberries in the salad. Also, feel free to be creative and add whatever you would like to this salad. Slivered almonds, crumbled gorgonzola or feta cheese, or even blueberries all sound like delicious additions!

IMG_20130410_181526

Baby Kale Salad with Strawberries and Chia Seed Dressing

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 5 oz baby kale (or other lettuce)
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • Any additions you would like (almonds, cheese, etc.)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds (or poppy seeds)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey (or agave)

1) Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

2) Assemble salad. Toss with dressing. Serve with main dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 71 Fat: 1g Carbs: 16g Protein: 2g Sugar: 10g Fiber: 4g

WW Points Plus: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower brings out a delightful, nutty flavor. I’ve mentioned this before in this post on how to roast cauliflower. Today, we are kicking it up a notch with a simple ginger-soy sauce that is added after roasting. This sauce makes for some of the most interesting cauliflower I have ever had! It also pairs very well with the healthy stir fry recipe from earlier this week!

IMG_20130416_193029

Adding the sauce after the florets roast allows the Asian flavors to absorb into every bite, truly transforming this cauliflower into something special. The fresh ginger root grated into sauce is what adds the majority of the flavor, so I would not recommend substitute dried ginger. If you do try it, let us know in the comments how it turns out. Quick tip: did you know you can freeze fresh ginger? Wrap the ginger whole (with skin still on) in aluminum foil until later use. It will actually be easier to peel and grate frozen!

IMG_20130416_192952

If you are like me and are always looking for interesting (and delicious!) ways to cook cauliflower, try this recipe. It could not be simpler and more unique!

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 green onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast for 25 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned and stems are easily pierced with a fork.

2) Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the cauliflower to serve.

Servings: 4. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 79 Carbs: 9g Fat: 4g Protein: 3g Fiber: 4g

WW Points +: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from: Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites Cookbook

Crispy Parmesan Edamame

Crispy, salty, crunchy parmesan-crusted edamame!

IMG_20130413_192037

The next time you consider reaching for a bag of chips or popcorn to satisfy a salty craving you have, consider making this easy snack (or side dish) instead! There are over 10 grams of protein in a serving which will keep you full for longer than those other snacks will.

Have you ever had edamame? It is a nutritional powerhouse! Here’s what WebMD has to say about it:

“Here’s what you’ll find in a half-cup serving of shelled edamame:

  • 120 calories
  • 9 grams fiber
  • 2.5 grams fat
  • 1.5 grams polyunsaturated fat (0.3 grams plant omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 0.5 gram monounsaturated fat
  • 11 grams protein
  • 13 grams carbohydrate
  • 15 mg sodium
  • 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin C
  • 10% Daily Value for iron
  • 8% Daily Value for vitamin A
  • 4% Daily Value for calcium

As you can see, that little serving of edamame gives you a bunch of fiber: 9 grams, about the same amount you’ll find in 4 slices of whole-wheat bread or 4 cups of steamed zucchini. It has almost as much protein as it does carbohydrate. It contains around 10% of the Daily Value for two key antioxidants; vitamins C and A. And for a plant food, it’s quite high in iron; it has about as much as a 4-ounce roasted chicken breast.”

Not too shabby, huh?

Prepared this way, edamame is delicious and quite addicting! Even the pickiest of eaters will definitely enjoy this treat. You can easily make this vegan by omitting the cheese. It is still delicious without the cheese too!

Crispy Parmesan Edamame

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz bag frozen shelled edamame (preferably thawed, but if not, increase baking time to 25 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

1). Preheat the oven to 400F.

2). Mix the edamame with a tablespoon of oil in a 9×13 baking dish. Spread into a single layer and sprinkle parmesan, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes (or 25 minutes if still partially frozen).

IMG_20130413_192017

Servings: 4. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 141 Fat: 8.5g Protein: 10.3 g Fiber: 2.9g  Carbs: 7.7g Sodium: 149 mg

Recipe adapted from allrecipes. com

Farmer’s Market Quinoa

Audrey’s Apron has a fresh new look for spring! Let me know what you think of the new blog design!

Spring finally feels like it is here (or maybe summer…it’s in the mid 80’s in Georgia today!) and farmer’s markets are a bustling place on Saturday mornings! If you are in need of a healthy side dish or need to clean out your fridge of a random assortment of vegetables from your last trip, you must try this recipe!

There are so many things I adore about this dish:

#1. I love quinoa (and shared some of the health benefits associated with it in this post.)

IMG_20130409_175952

#2. It is BEAUTIFUL! Look how colorful and bright the red of the tomatoes is when paired against the vibrant yellow corn and deep green spinach! You just know it is going to taste delicious.

#3. The homemade “dressing” is actually oil-free. The lemon juice and zest make the quinoa tangy and delicious.

#4. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand…thus the title of the recipe! Extra zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc., are all welcome to this skillet quinoa. Herbs too. Fresh basil, oregano, parsley…or dried. Whatever. The quinoa provides a blank canvas for you to be as creative as you would like to be!

IMG_20130409_175806

While I do not think this dish is complicated or labor-intensive, keep in mind it will take at least 25 minutes to make because the quinoa requires 20. Once the veggies are sauteed and the quinoa is cooked, combine them in a giant skillet with the dressing and serve.

This can easily be a main dish for vegetarians (use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth), and even vegan by using agave nectar instead of honey and omitting the feta cheese. As a side dish this serves about 7 people, so it is perfect for a large family or if you would like to have leftovers throughout the week!

Farmer’s Market Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or water)
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (or zucchini, etc.)
  • 2 ears or about 1 1/2 cups sweet corn (if using canned, rinse and drain first)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)

For the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or microplaned
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

1). In a medium sauce pan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

2) For the vinaigrette: whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

3). In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds. Add corn, green onions, fresh spinach and season with salt and pepper. Sautee until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and half the honey lemon vinaigrette. Stir and cook for about 1 more minute.*

4) Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, feta cheese, and basil to the skillet. Mix well and taste for seasoning preferences. Enjoy!

*If you want to make this a cold salad, cool cooked quinoa and veggies separately, then mix with the remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, feta cheese, and basil, and chill completely.

 

Serves: about 7 as a side dish. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 184. Fat: 5g Carbs: 28g Protein: 6g Sodium: 160 mg

Recipe adapted from: http://iowagirleats.com/2012/05/14/farmers-market-recipe-collection-farmers-market-skillet/