Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you’re in a dinner rut you must try these stuffed sweet potatoes.  So many flavors and textures.  This recipe was in a recent issue of Cooking Light in a section that focused on the use of “tahini,” a rich sesame seed “butter” that can be used in everything from savory soups to desserts.  I’ve found that Trader Joes has the best tahini for the price but you can find it at Harris Teeter and some other local grocery stores.

The most time consuming part of the recipe is baking the sweet potatoes but once their in the oven, you can forget about them for an hour.  Pierce the potatoes with a knife or fork and rub with a little oil before baking at 400 degrees.

Once the potatoes are baked, remove from the oven and let them rest (and cool!) a little bit.  Now it’s time to roast your chickpeas.  Rinse and drain the beans before tossing with sesame oil, garlic powder, ground ginger, and salt.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

While the chickpeas roasted, prep your sauces.  The tahini sauce is made with tahini (make sure to stir it really well), spicy fresh ginger, garlic and rice vinegar.  It is thinned out a bit with the addition of warm water.  Whisk until creamy and smooth.  The other “sauce” is simply Sriracha mixed with a little water.

To serve, halve the potatoes and score with a knife.  Top with the tahini sauce and a sprinkle of salt.  Add the roasted chickpeas and then top with a little more tahini and some of the spicy Sriracha mixture.

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Incredibly delicious.  Incredibly healthy.  Incredible filling.  This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and perfect for any night of the week.

Dijon-Herb Crusted Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

I love salmon.  I find myself ordering it when we’re out and about but I rarely cook it at home.  I decided this week that this needed to change.  Not only is salmon delicious but it’s incredibly healthy and full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Big Guy has been traveling this week for work so on Monday night I had a solo dinner date with the most delicious dijon-herb crusted salmon with a creamy dill sauce.  This recipe came together fast and had so much flavor.

The salmon is seasoned with salt and pepper before being baked for 10 minutes.  While the salmon is baking, prepare the dijon-herb crust.  The panko topping includes crunchy panko (I used gluten-free breadcrumbs), fresh herbs (I used thyme and basil), EVOO and dijon mustard.  I also prepped the dill sauce while the salmon was baking.  Simply mix together 2% Greek yogurt, fresh dill, a little milk and a splash of red wine vinegar.

When the salmon is done cooking, evenly divide the panko mixture on top of each piece and press gently to adhere.  Broil for about 1 minute.

Serve the salmon with a dollop of the creamy dill sauce.

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On the side I enjoyed some roasted tomatoes that I threw on the baking sheet with the salmon and added a little EVOO, salt and pepper plus herbs.

I absolutely adored the crunchy herb topping and you must make the dill sauce that gives the dinner a lot of freshness and creaminess.

Salmon for the win.

Banana Bread Granola

Hi friends!  We had an awesome long weekend celebrating my youngest brother’s wedding this past weekend.  The Bell family just keeps growing! The wedding took place at Trump National on Lake Normal and the venue couldn’t have been more beautiful.  Welcome to the fam, Sara!

On Monday I had the urge to dirty up the kitchen a little bit and I am more than happy with the banana bread granola that I made.  The ingredient list is short and your kitchen will smell AMAZING as you bake the crunchy goodness.  The granola is perfect for snacking by the handful (yes, please), on top of yogurt, or with a little milk in a bowl.

The base of the granola is oats along with walnuts and pecans for the nuttiness that we all love in banana bread.  For sweetness, maple syrup and a little raw sugar.  I love coconut in banana bread and this recipe calls for coconut oil to help it “clump” and become granola. Everything is spiced with a little cinnamon and salt and a mashed banana lends it’s flavor to really give it that banana bread flavor.

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Addicting.

A little sweet.

Super crunchy.

Nutty.

And tastes just like Momma Bell’s banana bread.

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

That’s right, a five ingredient, gluten-free cookie that is PACKED with peanut butter flavor.  Big Guy was a little hesitant at first about these cookies because of the two words “gluten” and “free” but I promised him that these would not taste healthy.

They are indulgent and rich and you only need one to tame that sweet tooth that you get post-dinner.  They are super simple to make and they’re also freezer friendly.  So you better believe I have a stash that I’ve hidden for those nights when I want something sweet but I haven’t gotten around to making anything.

Here’s what you do:

Whisk together 2 cups of coconut sugar with 2 eggs.  Add in the vanilla and salt.

Add an entire 16 ounce jar of peanut butter and mix with a spatula.  Add in the chocolate chips and stir.  Now let the bowl of deliciousness literally “chill out” in the fridge or freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Using a cookie scoop, arrange on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 11 to 13 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan.  Then allow to cook completely before storing.

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Note:  These do not spread out like regular cookies.  They are more round and almost like cookie bites.

Now where did I stash those cookies…

 

Grilled Artichokes with Bagna Cauda + Roasted Rack of Lamb with Basil Goat Cheese Sauce

This past Saturday was quite delicious!  We were graced with not having ANYTHING on our calendar so we spent most of the afternoon at the pool before heading home to feast on an amazing dinner.

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I’ve never tackled grilled artichokes at home and while they take a little bit of time, they really are quite easy to make.  I had watched Giada make them on a recent episode of “Giada in Italy” (I wanna go!) and that is the recipe I used.  Big Guy and I also watched a YouTube video on cleaning artichokes that was very helpful – I had no idea how hairy and spiky they are inside.  And I also have a whole new appreciation for jarred artichoke hearts and completely understand the cost now.

To make the artichokes, you combine white wine, water, lemon juice + the lemon halves, thyme, rosemary, a bay leaf, and salt in a large pot.  Add the artichokes (after cleaning!) cut-side down and bring the water to a simmer with a top on the pot.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Remove the artichokes and drain.  Drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkle of salt and grill about 4 minutes on side.  The artichokes are then dipped into a luscious mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt and butter.

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I simply love cooking new things in the kitchen with Big Guy.

For dinner, we made a roasted rack of lamb with an incredible goat cheese sauce.  I prepped the lamb and the carrots before we even left for the pool.  Simply process EVOO, garlic, oregano, basil, ground cumin, lemon zest and crushed red peppers in a food processor.  Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper then rub the marinade over the top.  Arrange the carrots around the lamb on the baking sheet.  Cover and let chill in the refrigerator.

The lamb is roasted at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then flipped and roasted for 5-10 more minutes.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.

And with the lamb the most delicious goat cheese sauce.  Simply combine room temperature goat cheese, 2% Greek Yogurt, honey, basil, lemon zest plus salt and pepper.

lamb

Those carrots were better than I ever expected and the lamb was cooked to perfection.  Please don’t leave off the goat cheese sauce – it’s TOTALLY necessary.

I am forever grateful for our little date nights at home.  A time to just relax and enjoy one another.

Antipasto Pizza

Happy Monday, friends!  I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  We spent Friday night hosting “A Night in Havana” which was so much fun and we couldn’t have asked for better whether when it came to dining outside.  Saturday I was up early to teach class and then we spent most of the day lounging by the pool before heading home for a “date night in.”  And on Sunday we got in a long walk and brunch before getting cleaned up and going to a friends house for a gender reveal (it’s a boy AND a girl!).  We ended the weekend in the best way with pizza!

I loosely based our pizza on this recipe but I used our favorite crust recipe.  We decided to grill our pizza so we threw the dough on the grill and then after three minutes flipped it and then added ALL the toppings:

Marinara Sauce

Sautéed mushroom, red onion and garlic

Olives

Salami

Prosciutto

Roasted Red Peppers

Mozzarella

Fresh Basil

Allow the pizza to grill until the crust is cooked through and beginning to brown and the cheese is nice and melted.

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Serve with an extra sprinkle of fresh basil and dig in.

Pizza Pizza!

Friday Favorites

Weeks that “start” on Tuesday sure do go by fast!  It’s been a busy week trying to fit five days into four plus tying up a few loose ends for two events (one was last night and one is tonight).  What does your weekend have in store for you?  Tonight we’re co-hosting Supper Club and I’m so excited about the theme, “A Night in Havana.”  Bring on the mojitos!  My brother and SIL plus the babe are staying here the night and I cannot wait to snuggle my nephew a little more.  Saturday is wide open minus teaching at 8am and Sunday is pretty open minus a little gender reveal party we’re attending.  Perhaps I’ll find time to hit the pool and I’m certain I’ll find time to make something amazing in the kitchen and pour myself a glass of wine.  Have a good one, friends!

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Favorite Spread:  A Late Spring Cheese Board with Beet Whipped Feta.  A platter of my dreams.

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Favorite Layers:  Lemon Poppyseed Cake.  Lemon desserts are one of my favorites.  And it’s so beautiful.

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Favorite Advice:  5 Real People on the Small Lifestyle Shifts They Made to Save Money.  Because saving money is easier said than done.

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Favorite Weekend:  Chicken Burgers with Jicama and Candied Jalapeños.  I’m not usually a fan of chicken burgers but this looks insane.

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Favorite Splurge:  Persifor Women’s Capri Riviera Kilpatrick Dress.  A little pricey considering it’s cotton but I love the print.

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Favorite Craving:  Blackened Salmon Caprese Skewers.  I know Big Guy won’t touch these so I might need to fire up my grill pan inside.

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Favorite Recipe to Save:  Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with Avocado.  The day will soon come when I’m up to my ears in zucchini…

 

Favorite Read:  Adulting.  So interesting and I can totally relate.

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Favorite Salad That’s Not a Salad:  Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Salad.  This looks delicious.  I love a good peanut sauce.

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Favorite Sipper:  Pineapple Punch with Ginger Beer.  Say “hello” to my Saturday cocktail.

 

Cheers!