Tag Archives: food

Fruit Preserves Granola Bars

Fresh. Nutritious. Rich, but not overly sweet.

This recipe is a perfect way to sneak in a serving of fresh fruit and grains to your family, and the best part is it’s a piece of cake to make.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box Jiffy Oatmeal Cookie Mix
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Fruit Preserve
  • 1/4 cup granola

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.


In a bowl, blend together the room temperature butter and the Jiffy Oatmeal Cookie mix. In an ungreased 8 x 8 baking pan, press a little over half of the mixture into the bottom of the glass pan. Make sure to cover all open spaces with a thin layer.


Next add 1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite fruit preserve. I used Bumbleberry, a jar of Blackberries, Rhubard, Apples, Red Raspberries and sugar that my boss brought back for us all from a U-Pick fruit farm in Michigan.

Going back to your remaining half of the oatmeal and butter combination, stir in 1/4 cup of plain granola.  Sprinkle the chunks on top of the fruit preserves.  There will be open spaces, but scatter the topping as even as possible.image

Cook in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the top is an inviting golden brown color.  Let cool and cut into squares.

Much the same as coffee cake topping, the crunchy granola-oatmeal globs cook to an excellent, candied, grainy embellishment.  Oozing out of the crevices of the granola topping is the fresh fruit preserve.  It’s a healthier, tastier version of jelly with whole fruit pieces blended with sugar and pectin to make a jelly.  The chunks of fruit characterize the texture of the bars with a slightly mushy, chewy chomp.  At the very bottom, the oatmeal and butter create a solid base holding the whole dish together.  Delicious, nutritious, and will have your family calling you ambitious.


Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Food

Bean, Corn & Tomato Salad

I used to make something similar to this in college, so you know it will fit your budget.  It’s very filling, so if you are living on a budget, this is the perfect meal to keep your stomach satisfied and your pocketbook happy.

At the store, buy:

  • 1 can fat-free kidney beans
  • 1 can fat-free black beans
  • 1 can no-sodium corn
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (in your favorite flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 3 Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch (Fiesta Ranch or regular)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese

Start by opening the cans and rinsing off the beans.  You can do this together.


Next rinse the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, toss all items together with 1 Tbsp. of Sriracha hot sauce, 3 Tbsp. ranch dressing and 1/4 cup shredded cheese (preferably cheddar or parmesan, but whatever you have in your fridge will work).  The ranch and hot sauce is one of my favorite combinations. I was never a ranch lover until college, and then I put it on everything for an entire year.  We only had cucumber ranch in the fridge, which is too bitter and sour for this mix, so I whipped up the leftover Fiesta Ranch.  This works just as well because it has that great spice included to pair with the Sriracha. You can add iceberg lettuce for an added crunch, also, or leave it as is. 

 I brought this to lunch two days in a row, and by dinner I was still extremely full. I’d portion it off for yourself or you might not be able to stop eating it because of the incredible variety of texture and taste.  The corn sweetens everything up with a crisp crunch while the beans mellow the dish out, pulling the spice out of the hot sauce and creating a soft, smooth texture.  The olives bring saltyness to the dish to match with the cheese which adds just a slight dose of creamy protein.


Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner

Spicy Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

On our Sunday cook-before-football day, Sarah and I also started the fall weather off with one of our favorite comfort soups. 

Go to the store and pickup:

  • 2 cans of pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling-the stuff without the condensed milk and sugars)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-3 cups of vegetable broth (Depends on your desired thickness. You can experiment with the levels of pumpkin puree and vegetable broth.)
  • 1 onion
  • Curry powder
  • Pumpkin Spice (or the spices that make up pumpkin spice)
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne
  • Black Pepper


In a stock pot begin by heating up some vegetable oil and cooking the onion for 3-5 minutes until it appears see through. 


Next toss in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, pumpkin and black beans. We chose to cut the onion into a little larger of chunks than usual for added crunch to eat bite. Stir ingredients together and bring to a boil.image

Add in your spices.  We usually use pumpkin spice, but didn’t have any, so Sarah tossed in a whole cinnamon stick, some nutmeg, black pepper, 1 tsp. of cayenne (we like everything spicy), 1 tsp. cumin and 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder.


Once all your spices are stirred into the soup thoroughly, add in the heavy cream and reduce heat to a simmer.  The cream will mellow out your spices, so you may have to readjust and add a little more of one or another.  Simmer for 5 more minutes to make sure everything is completely interfused.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkling of blue cheese or chives to garnish. 


The chunky nature of this soup makes it hearty and perfect for those cold winter nights or chilly, rainy fall afternoons.  And if you are like Sarah and me, the spicy cayenne pepper will help clear your sinuses, as fall attacks mine every year.  The sweet pumpkin seeps into the equally as sweet and rather tart tomatoes and onions.  While the evenness of the black beans adds another tier of texture and protein.  Dip in an Asiago cheese roll to soak up the juice (Super Walmart’s bakery has these in the day old section and they’ll last up to three more days).


1 Comment

Filed under Appetizers, Food, Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner

Roasted Tomato and Onion Potatoes

Our first night in Phoenix, we decided that, despite not having their fire pit and built-in grill complete yet, we would cook burgers and roast vegetables (mostly for my sake) in the oven and on the stove.


1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 onion
Several garlic cloves
3 red potatoes
1 jalapeno
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil

This recipe is quite simple and the roasting vegetables topped in Italian seasoning will have your house smelling like a gourmet restaurant.

Start by cutting up your potatoes in bite sized pieces after washing them.
I chose to cook these first, as they take a little bit longer than the rest of the vegetables.  You can throw in the sliced onions now, or with the tomatoes depending on the texture you prefer.image  In a roasting pan, place your chopped potatoes (and onions if you are using them now) drizzle on a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of Italian seasoning, a garlic clove or two, half a tablespoon of chili powder and place the pats of butter sparingly on top of everything.
Heat in the broiler for 15 minutes (longer or shorter depending on the size of your potato pieces).  When the potatoes are almost completely cooked through, add the whole tomatoes, onions (if you hadn’t used them already), coined jalapenos (I placed these off to the side since not everyone at the dinner table enjoyed the spice of a jalapeno and served them separate), drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil, half a tablespoon of chili powder, a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and a garlic clove or two and place back into the broiler.


When the tomato skin starts splitting, the vegetables are done.
Toss together in a bowl with salt and pepper.


The roasted vegetables were a great addition to the burgers and corn my aunt made for dinner.


They have a distinct taste from the Italian Seasoning, and the best part is it is all in one, so you aren’t buying 6 different spices you’ll only use once and spending a fortune.  A little salt takes the boring olive oil taste to a new level of satisfaction.  It was perfect for a side to the cookout-but-in menu and great as a whole vegetarian meal.  The kids were a little scared of the Italian Seasoning, but my uncle thought they were so good he finished off the remaining batch.




Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Gluten-Free, Lunch/Dinner

Fiesta Pasta

This recipe came about by simply throwing what I found in the cabinet into a pot.  A sort of hit or miss dinner, and it turned out pretty tasty.

Throw together:

Handful of whole wheat angel hair pasta
1/2 cup sweet grape Tomatoes
1 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup black beans
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
1/4 packet Fiesta Ranch Seasoning
Few leaves fresh basil
1/4 cup milk or heavy whipping cream

Cook the pasta according to the box, drain and set aside.

Cook any vegetables ahead of time if you are using a frozen bag.  In a saucepan, combine fiesta ranch seasoning, pepper, basil, cheese and milk.  I cooked the basil alone a little to crisp the leaves before adding in the milk, cheese and other seasonings.  Cook until cheese starts to melt.  Add in vegetables and cook until they are thoroughly warmed. image

 Put your pasta in a bowl and top with fiesta ranch cheesy vegetable mixture.


I think the taste of fiesta ranch seasoning makes everything taste that much better with its tart, spicy, creamy ranch flavor, so this dish made an amazing dinner.  The sweetness of the tomatoes and corn brought the spicy ranch flavoring to a minimum, blending with the aromatic basil for an ultimate smooth palate.  Fresh mozzarella is the best because there are no artificial dyes and it is still sitting in water keeping each bite moist.  It melts and mixes well with the vegetables adding just a hint of cheesy flavor but ultimately adding another layer of texture to the pasta.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Lunch/Dinner

Red & Yellow Tomato Tart

This easy to make tomato tart recipe is perfect for summer/fall meals because the tomatoes are in season. My mom stopped at the local farmer’s market and picket up these massive, juicy, colorful tomatoes.  During the winter, yellow and orange tomatoes are hard to come by, so I just use all red mixing Roma tomatoes with beefsteak tomatoes or mix in fresh mozzarella cheese.


2-3 tomatoes in varying colors
2 Tbs pesto
2 Tbs honey mustard
1 pie crust (homemade or frozen)
Parmesan cheeseimage

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.  Spray your pie pan if you are using a homemade pie crust.  Bake the pie crust as directed on package.  If you are going all out and making your own crust, add in a little basil to the mix.Bake the pie crust as directed on package.  If you are going all out and making your own crust, add in a little basil to the mix.

My mom decided to make homemade pesto from our flourishing basil plant purchased this summer from Home Depot. Definitely worth the $2.50.  You can go ahead and use store-bought pesto for a time saver.  At the bottom of your crust, evenly spread a helping of pesto topped with the honey mustard. 

You can slice your tomatoes to any desired thickness.  I usually cut them thinner than shown in this pie, and they have more of a cooked squishy texture.  The thicker cut tomatoes hold better when you slice the pie, but may need a little longer cook time.  Layer your tomatoes, alternating colors, overlapping each other.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened to a desired texture and the cheese has thoroughly melted.image

It may sound like a strange combination, pesto and honey mustard, but this easy-to-make pie is mouth-watering.  It’s hard to eat just one slice.  The tomatoes mix with the honey mustard-pesto bottom layer bringing out the sweetness of the basil in the pesto but also ending in an overall green clove and pepper aftertaste on your tongue.  The crust soaks up the pesto leaving a soft, delightful carb to the pie.  It is definitely a perfectly light summer meal when paired with a side of vegetables and a club soda spritzer.image

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Lunch/Dinner

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

My mom found this recipe on Food Network’s website, and I have to say, who doesn’t love a good Paula Deen dish?  They’re always loaded with lots of butter, heavy cream, and Southern love.

For this easy Quiche, buy:

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
  • 1 package of button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • Optional mozzarella or white cheddar cheese for filling or topping
  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a food processor or blender (or whisk by hand), fuse together the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper. In the pie crust (which may already be in a metal baking container or place in a 9-inch glass pie plate) layer your other ingredients: spinach, mushrooms, cheese. Pour on the egg mixture.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the egg mixture becomes a solid and there is no sign of liquid left in the pie.  Serve in wedges.  Top with freshly ground pepper and cheese if desired

This dish is really versatile and can be great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or linner.  The real recipe calls for bacon instead of mushrooms, which would add a lot more flavor.  I choose to add flavor with spices and by swapping in a stronger heartier cheese to mix with the swiss, which can sometimes be too pungent and leave a bad taste in your mouth for hours after.  Shake it up and add tomatoes, broccoli, or any other additive.  I absolutely love when pie crusts flake off and crumble like the Dominick’s brand we bought (Surprising, I know. The off brand was actually good.).  That is the perfect density for a crust, and usually still holds together at the bottom.  If you aren’t a pie lover, this will give you that same pie feeling without all the sweetness.



Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Food, Lunch/Dinner