Apple, Spinach, and Blue Cheese Nachos

IMG_4245This is not your average nacho and I know a number of readers are going to turn up their nose before they even read the post.  Nachos are typically a fan favorite, but blue cheese is definitely a love it or hate it food.  I never really hated it, but I definitely did not consume it often and really still do not.  However I do think blue cheese works well with certain foods and apples are one of those.

I have a weakness for a couple types of food.  You know the types of foods that no matter what you are willing to eat.  Sort of my own type of comfort foods since I have never been a meatloaf and mashed potato type of girl.  We have already established in previous post my love for pizza, or anything resembling pizza.  If you did not realize that here are a few of my pizza creations BBQ Chicken Pizza, Swiss Chard Naan Bread Pizza, Grilled Peach and goat cheese pizza.

Another love of mine is mexican food.  I have not posted that many mexican type foods aside from tacos and my mention of taco salad that we eat quite often.  We probably eat more mexican food in the winter, but I eat it year round.  I love nachos.  Typically my nachos are classic in nature containing beans or meat for protein, diced onion or pepper, and topped with cheese.  There used to be a favorite local restaurant of mine that served nachos as an appetizer.  Their appetizer nachos were not your typical nacho.  I remember ordering the spinach dip ones multiple times and I think they may have had a thai chicken one as well.  Recently I have thought about that restaurant and how their uniqueness in nachos is not found at many places.  I am not sure I have ever come across another restaurant they put such a twist on the mexican staple chips and dip.

Well my thoughts of that restaurant might have been the inspiration for this dish or maybe it was my yearning to use up the blue cheese I had in the refrigerator and the thought in the back of mind that I really should eat something healthy… fruit.

Nachos are one of those foods that I love because I can give you a recipe, but really you make what you need.  On the particular day I created this dish, I was home alone and it was one of the first cool days so I wanted a warm lunch.  Since then I tried it on Little Miss Mixture for a quick weeknight dinner.  Individualizing and making a plate full, whether a small plate for one or a large one to share with others, nachos are a go to type of food in a pinch.

Apple, Spinach, and Blue Cheese Nachos

White Corn Tortilla Chips

1/2 Cup Fresh Baby Spinach*

1/2 Granny Smith Apple

3 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

2 oz. Mozzarella cheese

Arrange nachos on a microwave safe plate.  (Note nachos can also be done in the oven, but I chose the microwave to decrease the cooking time for melting the cheese in order to keep the apples crisp.)  Chop the spinach and apples and arrange on top of the tortilla chips.  Sprinkle with blue cheese and top with mozzarella.  Microwave on high 30-45 seconds.  I served Trader Joe’s corn salsa along side for a cool, yet spicy contrast.

* You could substitute arugula or chard for the spinach.

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Meatless Monday: Cottage Peach Smoothie & What we Are Eating

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When it comes to making breakfast for the family, I really try and ensure it is balanced.  I know there are a lot of smoothie recipes and people who use their vitamix and juicers to make a nice beverage, but when I make a smoothie I want it to be of high nutritional content.  This is one reason you will never find a smoothie recipe I create that uses water.  As a dietitian in a nursing home you start to learn a lot about puree food.  One of the most important factors in serving puree is to ensure you give your customers the most bang for their buck.  Appetites vary so you want to make sure even the smallest appetite is getting an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.  Water is great at thinning food when you need to change the consistency but it also lessens the nutritional content.  I prefer to use juice, dairy, or dairy alternative beverage.  This was how I taught cooks and dietary aides to make puree, and I use the same concept when I feed my family a liquid meal.

In addition to a nutritional beverage I sometimes add some yogurt as well.  I love greek yogurt but I know it has a tanginess that is not always ideal in all smoothies.  The other day I found some of the peaches we picked this summer in the freezer and decided it had been a few weeks since we had that summer flavor.  When I think of peach smoothies, I tend to think sweet as they are a sweet fruit especially when perfectly ripe.  As I began to add ingredients to the Vitamix, I was torn between greek yogurt or just using fruit in addition to the almond milk.  Then it caught my eye – cottage cheese.  Recently we discussed that I have a new found love for ricotta cheese and you find it in a lot of recipes where it is made to be sweet, but cottage cheese, I was not sure.  Of course then I realized I have a great kugel recipe that calls for cottage cheese and one of Little Miss Mixtures favorite things is cottage cheese with applesauce and cinnamon, so I figured it could not be too bad.  It definitely was not bad in fact it was really good. The cottage cheese helped to thicken the smoothie slightly while of course increasing the protein and calcium content as well.

As I sit here writing about this I realize how nice these same flavors would be using apple or pumpkin instead of peaches.  A perfect Fall flavored smoothie.

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Cottage Peach Smoothie

1/4 cup Almond Milk, Vanilla

1/3 cup Cottage Cheese

1 fresh banana

1 cup Frozen Peach Slices

1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon

 

Place all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix. Remember liquid on the bottom and frozen on top when using a Vitamix. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

 

What we are eating (September 14 – September 20) 

Sunday – Leftovers

Monday – Roasted Mushroom & White Bean Puree (Cooking Light)

Tuesday – Ground Chicken Tacos with homemade Taco Seasoning

Wednesday – A version of this Chopped Salad 

Thursday – Patty Melt with Waldorf Salad

Friday – Ham & Swiss Sandwiches, Organic Trader Joe Corn Chips, Fruit

Saturday – Night Out

Thanks for reading and have a great week.  Looking for some more Smoothies that are packed with protein.  Check these out.

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Protein Packed Smoothie

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Waldorf Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

DSC_0606I decided that the perfect fall accompaniment to dinner one night would be waldorf salad. This is a salad that I remember from my childhood. It just made since with a drawer full of apples. The Waldorf Salad was first created by the Maitre’d at the Waldorf hotel in New York City.  So if I had any doubt that Little Miss Mixture would enjoy this I knew I could entice her with the fanciness of being from the Waldorf Hotel and being a New York City food.  Like many little girls she is taken by all things fancy and she absolutely loves the city.

Classic waldorf salad uses mayonnaise as the primary ingredient to bind the salad.  As a southern girl there are things that mayonnaise is definitely needed for and I do enjoy some mayonnaise, but Little Miss Mixture is not a big fan and it is not the healthiest of condiments.  So in an effort to lighten the salad and ensure everyone in the house would enjoy it, I decided to use greek yogurt.  The problem, which is not really a problem depending on your preferred taste is that greek yogurt can be tangy.  I love the tanginess of it but to create this salad and make it more traditional I needed to mask that.  I am happy to say in less than fifteen minutes I had created what I thought was a pretty good version of Waldorf Salad.  Give it a try and see for yourself.  Waldorf salad can be a light meal served atop a bed of lettuce or as a nice side salad.

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Waldorf Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

1 1/2 cups apples*
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cups walnuts ( chopped )
1/2 cup celery ( diced )
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt ( non-fat )
2-3 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix together the apples and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl or serving dish.  In a small bowl combine the yogurt, honey, and mayonnaise.  Combine to ensure the honey is evenly distributed in the mixture.  Pour over the apple mixture and stir.  Add lemon juice atop the bowl and stir once then refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Stir lightly before serving.

* I used Jonagold apple, as a sturdy apple holds up best in this dish.

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Other great recipes that include apples and fall flavors.

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Spinach, Apple, & Mushroom Salad in Maple Vinaigrette (Let’s Have Mixture)

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Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait (Let’s Have Mixture)

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Kale Waldorf Salad (The Fountain Avenue Kitchen)

Apple-Pie-Panini-Recipe

Apple Pie Panini (Just a Taste)

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 Acorn Squash with Red Quinoa, Almond and Apple Salad in Maple Vinaigrette (Caroline Kaufman)

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken PizzaWhen you live in North Carolina you start to realize people have some very strong opinions about BBQ. Growing up in the south, but not this far south I had BBQ as a child, but I had really only had one type. Looking back I believe it would have been considered Eastern NC style BBQ – a shredded pork with a vinegar based sauce, no tomato.  BBQ was not something we ate often, but I did enjoy it and I still do.  To be honest I am not a tried or true BBQ purest. I like both Eastern and Lexington style, which apparently there are bills regarding the BBQ in North Carolina.  I may not be a BBQ purest, but I do know that North Carolina reigns in BBQ.  Don’t get me wrong other areas in the South claim to know BBQ, but throwing something on the grill is not the same as pork barbecue slow cooked, covered in just the right amount of sauce and served along side cole slaw and hush puppies.  That is called grilling and I love that to, with just about any type of meat, fish, vegetable; but to me that is not BBQ.

Here is where I allow my own opinions and taste to enter.  Barbecue sauce, which typically when I think of BBQ sauce I am looking for that tomato influenced sauce that tends to be served with Lexington style BBQ or the wet ribs of Memphis style BBQ can add a nice flavor to meats other than pork.  I enjoy chicken tossed on the grill and basted with bbq sauce, or ribs done well and served with bbq sauce on the side.  So for this recipe, I meld my opinions together and create my own BBQ chicken Pizza.  These days you can find a bbq pizza on a lot of menus, but that was not always the case.  California Pizza Kitchen was one of the first restaurants known to have added a pizza like this to their menu.  It was an instant success.  I don’t remember when I had my first taste of BBQ pizza, but I have been making a version of my own since the early 2000’s.  It has changed some over the years as I have realized I prefer to keep it simple in flavor using Mozzarella and a small amount of cheddar or gouda, but only as an additional flavor.IMG_3947

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 Pizza Dough ( my go to is trader joe’s pre made dough)

1 Chicken breast, cooked and chopped*

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (fresh, frozen in small pieces)

1/4 cup red onion, diced (optional)

1/2 cup Barbecue sauce of choice, divided

3/4 cup shredded or sliced mozzerella cheese

1/4 cup shredded or sliced cheddar or gouda

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

* I find it easiest to plan ahead for this pizza and cook an extra chicken breast a day or so ahead. I prefer to grill chicken and use what we do not eat or plan by cooking an extra breastPreparing the Pizza Dough

Preparing the Dough

Allow dough to sit out for at least 30 minutes to become room temperature. This will make rolling the dough out easier. I did not say it would roll into a perfect circle as that takes skill which I don’t focus on, I just roll and go. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and allow to heat for 30 minutes with pizza stone. Remove hot pizza stone from oven and pour 1 Tbsp olive oil over the stone. Spread it around if you want or the quick and easy way just toss the dough on top. I always try and roll a little more once the dough is on the stone to thin it out and reach the edges of my stone.

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IMG_3943Preparing the toppings

In a small bowl toss together chopped chicken, red onion, pineapple, and red pepper.  Add 3 Tbsp. barbecue sauce.

Assembling the pizza

Remove the pre baked dough from the oven when it begins to turn golden brown in some spots.  If there is an air bubble in your dough allow some steam to escape.  Spread the remaining barbecue sauce on the dough then spread the toppings evenly around the pizza.  Cover with cheese and return to preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to bubble an turn brown.

Remove from oven sprinkle fresh cilantro over the pizza.  Slice and serve.

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A couple of our favorite pizza recipes

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Traditional Turkey Pepperoni & Veggie Pizza

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Shrimp Pesto Pizza

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Naan Bread Pizza

Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait, What we are Eating

DSC_0608It is Monday again and once again I am pondering what to write, what to eat, and what needs to be done this week.  As I said in late August this is my busy season.  What does that mean exactly?  I am not sure, but I keep thinking it as it just seems that between all the back to school stuff, holidays, and family celebrations, I lose focus because I have so many things going on.  Whereas each year late winter, spring I find myself pining for things to do, such as this project: starting a blog.  Well my post may be more sporadic for the next few months, but I do not want to bore my readers so when I do post, I want it to be a recipe or something that I feel is worthwhile sharing.

Over the past few years, we have become parfait people.  I say we, but really it is Little Miss Mixture who can eat this daily.  There are recipes for beautiful yogurt parfaits all over the internet, but really a parfait does not need to be beautiful and you can make a single serving very easily.  A parfait by definition is a a dessert containing layers of ice cream, fruit, etc. served in a tall glass, so by definition maybe what we eat is not exactly a parfait, but yet a yogurt sundae.  A sundae is defined as a dish of ice cream with added ingredients.  Regardless of what you choose to call it a breakfast like this is simple, healthy, and balanced.  An excellent way to start your day.

IMG_33124th of July Breakfast Parfaits

With the burst of cool air and storms that were expected this weekend if finally started to feel like fall.  Fall to me is about apples.  In years past I have baked apples and I remembered Ihad a recipe for a simple microwaved apple dish.  Using the basis of this but making some changes so as to use honey rather than sugar, I came up with this healthy breakfast.

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Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait   ( Serves 4)

3 Apples, Chopped

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Honey

1/4 cup Water

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic baking dish.  Microwave for about 6-8 minutes or until apples are soft and water has evaporated.

Serve with yogurt of choice ( Vanilla, Plain, or Greek yogurt works best)

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What We Are Eating ( September 7 – September 13)

Sunday – Grilled Chicken and Biscuits, Grilled Okra, and Corn

Monday – Calypso

Tuesday – Pasta and Sausage Bake

Wednesday – Mexican Casserole

Thursday – BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday – Sandwiches on the Go

Saturday – Night Out / My night off, but not really as I prepared a plate of desserts for a get together we attended.