Sundried Tomato & Fresh Spinach Dip

Spinach.  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Me – I like baby spinach (aka arugala) in a salad.  I like spinach in dishes where it is a ‘backdrop’, not the main ingredient.  But I LOVE spinach dip.  And since it’s key ingredient IS spinach, I consider it healthy, and find myself eating almost half the batch right after making it.  Don’t judge me.  (But seriously…if you use low-fat cream cheese and sour cream, it really is pretty healthy.  Seriously.)

This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make.  Blanch some fresh spinach, chop up some sundried tomatoes and onion and throw it all in the food proccesor with the other ingredients.  Easy peasy.  This recipe is a great party dish, but you can also use it as a sauce for pasta (that recipe/post is coming tomorrow!)

Sundried Tomato & Fresh Spinach Dip

  • 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (dry packed)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

Blanch spinach in boiling water for one minute.  Draine and rinse immediately in cold water to stop the cooking.  Squeeze to remove excess liquid.  You should have about one cup of cooked spinach at this point.

Place spinach in food processor along with remaining ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Serve immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Sun-tella Spread (Sunflower Seed-Chocolate Spread)

Nutella.  It’s smooth, creamy, delicous.  It’s also kind pricey.  I wanted to try to make my own version.  So, I go to the grocery store only to discover that they don’t carry hazelnuts.  Seriously?  Change of plans.  What can I use in place of the hazelnuts that would still taste yummy.  On a whim, I decided to try sunflower seeds.  Yes.  Sunflower seeds.  The end result was yummy.  Not the same at Nutella, but  yummy none the less. I decided to go with salted sunflower seeds because I love that salty-sweet combination.  If you don’t want the salty-sweet combo, just use unsalted sunflower seeds.   I’m anxious to try other nuts/seeds for other flavors as well! 

 *NOTE* Because this is made with seeds, not nuts, those with nut allergies SHOULD be able to eat this.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Ask your doctor first if you’re not sure.

Sun-tella Spread

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4-6 teaspoons vegetable oil

Place sunflower seeds in food processor and process until almost powdery.  (If you want a chunkier spread, don’t process quite as long).  Add enough vegetable oil to form a smooth, soft paste.  Pour in the melted chocolate, pulsing until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, pulsing until it forms a smooth, spreadable consistency.    

Store in airtight container.  Because there is no dairy in this spread, and because we’ll eat it up in about 3 days,  I just leave it at room temperature.  If you will be storing it for more than a few days, I’d refrigerate it and let it come to room temp before using.

Makes: 1 cup

WW Points + Per Tablespoon: 3

Lavendar Peach Butter

I have a great neighbor.  She brings me fresh tomatoes from her garden.  She gives me homemade strawberry freezer jam.  And the other day she gave me some fresh basil and fresh lavendar from her garden.  I had never used fresh lavendar in cooking before, so I was excited to try it!  With peaches being so scrumptious right now, I thought it would be great to mix the two flavors.  Thus, Lavendar Peach Butter was born.  This recipe makes a small batch – only about a pint – but you can easily double, triple, or quadruple the recipe if you want to make several jars.

Lavendar Peach Butter

  • 4 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp fresh lavendar leaves, chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Place water and lavendar in small saucepan.  Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and let steep for 10-15 minutes.  Add peaches, lemon juice, and lemon zest to pan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The peaches will start to break down and thicken slightly.

With an immersion blender, puree the peach mixture until smooth.  (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor to puree.  Then, transfer back to the pan.) 

Add sugar and bring to a boil again, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 25 minutes.  Pour mixture into jars and let cool before adding the lid. 

Store in the refrigerator and use within one week.

Skinny Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Last week I decided to try something totally new…pita bread!  I was going to make individual pizzas that night for dinner, and I always use pita bread as my ‘crust’ for those.  But, I was out of store-bought pita bread.  I went to my trust friend, Google, and found the recipe.  I was surprised at how easy they were to make!  They do take some time to prepare, as any yeast based bread does.  But, they really were easy.  Give them a try and see for yourself!

Skinny Whole Wheat Pita Bread

  • 2-1/4 tsp instand yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cornmeal, for dusting

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, honey and 1/2 cup of the warm water.  Stir gently to blend.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of the bread flour and 1/4 cup of the whole wheat flour until smooth.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and place the bowl on the mixer, fitted with the dough hook.  Add in the remaining 3/4 cup water, 1-1/4 cup bread flour, 1-1/4 whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt.  Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  (Add more flour a little at a time, if needed)  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm place, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Place oven rack in the middle position.  Place a baking stone in the oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, punch down and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball and roll out into a disk about 6-7 inches in diameter.  Transfer the disks onto baking sheets dusted with corn meal.  Cover loosely with kitchen towels.  Let stand for about 30 minutes or until slightly puffy.

Transfer pitas onto preheated baking stone.  Bake until puffy, about 2-4 minutes.  Glently flip over with tongs and bake another 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  Repeat with remaining disks.

 

Makes: 8 pitas

Weight Watchers Points + : 6 each

Skinny Zucchini Fritters

About a year ago a community college near me started offering a culinary program.  My sister was interesting in attending, and I was just curious what they would be offering (maybe one day down the road I’ll attend as well…who knows?!?!), so my sister, my then 7 year old daughter, and I headed off to the culinary program’s open house.  They had refreshments that the chef had prepared, and zucchini fritters were one of the offerings.  My oh-so-picky daughter ate one without knowing what they were and started raving about how Uh-MAZE-ing they were.  I let her eat another one or two and then told her they had zucchini in them – something she THOUGHT she didn’t like.  She was a new believer!  I asked the chef what was in them and he gave me a brief run-down.  Zucchini, feta cheese, and spices with some bread crumbs and egg to hold it all together.  Well, that sounds easy enough!  I attempted to recreate them a few times with no success.  My girl would take a bite and promptly tell me they were NOT like the chef’s.  So, I gave up.  But, when my husband brought some zucchini home from the farmer’s market this week, I decided to give it one more shot.  I didn’t have feta, so I used fresh parmesan instead, and used a homemade adobo spice.  I watched as my daughter took a bit…waiting…waiting…waiting…a smile produced and she started shaking her head up and down and proclaimed that I did it!  I made a zuchinni fritter that was just as good as the chef’s!!  SCORE!!!  And they’re good for you too!

Skinny Zucchini Fritters

  • 1 large zucchini, grated (leave skin on)
  • 2 tbsp egg substitute
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • heaping 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • scant 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • scant 1/8 tsp chili powder (use more or less, depending on the level of heat you like)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Remove excess liquid from grated zucchini by pressing between two paper towels.  Place zucchini in a medium bowl along with egg, bread crumbs, and all spices.  Stir well to combine.

In a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the olive oil.  Shape 1/4 cup of the mixture into a patty; place in hot pan.  Repeat with remaining mixture.  Cook on each side for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

 

Serves: @10

Weight Watchers Points + : 2 pts each

Skinny Corn Bread Muffins

These quick to prepare corn bread muffins are sure to please even the pickiest eaters in your family!  They take just minutes to mix up and less than 10 minutes in the oven.   These are a great side dish with a warm bowl of soup.  (I’ll be sharing a great Chicken & Wild Rice Soup recipe tomorrow!)

Skinny Corn Bread Muffins

  • 1 cup white cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups lowfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk together all ingredients.  Spoon into muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. 

 

Makes approximately 16 muffins.

Weight Watchers Points + : 2 points each

Monterey Ranch Bread

For a quick side dish, I created this yummy bread!

Monterey Ranch Bread

  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 loaf french bread (or, any bread you have on hand)
  • melted butter

Split the loaf of french bread down the center.  Brush cut sides with melted butter; broil until lightly browned.

In small bowl, combine cheese and ranch dressing; spread over bread.  bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.  Serve immediately.