On the 1st Day of Christmas…

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Greetings all!

Many exciting things are happening and I’m so happy to share them with you. As I sit writing this post, there is 14.5″ of snow outside my window. We are on snow day #3 from school and will have snow day #4 tomorrow. There is just something magical and peaceful about snow at Christmastime, don’t you agree? Since I’m snowed in, I’ve had time to plan and think about where I want to take this blog.

  1. If you haven’t noticed, the blog has been designed! I decided it was time for a change and finally landed on a layout I love. There are still a few more edits to make, but overall, the blog is updated and easier to use.
  2. New additions to the blog include a shop! Yes, I’m linking my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to my site for all the hard-working educators. Also, I’m working on a fun Easy shop that will be debuting soon. These shops are the perfect places to get resources for teachers and gifts for you or a loved one.
  3. For the next 12 days, I’ll be bringing you Christmas fun and joy in my 12 Days of Christmas! On our first day, I give to you —– shortbread bites!

Shortbread Bites: 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. All-purpose flour
3 tbsp. Powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tbsp. Red and green sprinkles
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325º. In a food processor or blender, pulse flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter until combined. Move mixture to a large bowl and knead until combined. Add sprinkles and knead.
  2. On waxed paper, roll dough into a thick square. Freeze for about 15 minutes.
  3. Cut dough into 1/2″ squares and place onto a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake until cookies are golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Check back tomorrow for day #2.

xoxo,

Megan

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Healthier Baking 101

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Sweets are in abundance during the holidays. From the cookies, cakes, and more, there always seems to be something tasty in my kitchen. However, too many sweet treats can be a problem. Many baking recipes include sugar, butter, and other fatty ingredients that are unhealthy for a person’s body. The good news, though, is that there are still ways for you to have your favorite confections that include healthier ingredients. Put the tips below to use this holiday season. Trust me, your recipes will taste the same, and your loved ones will never know that you swapped oil for applesauce.

Replacing Oil: 

  • As mentioned above, a great way to replace some of the fat is using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. A common rule of thumb is for every one cup of oil in a recipe, switch out for ¾ a cup of applesauce. Don’t have any on hand? Combine one mushed apple and a splash of lemon juice.
  • Greek yogurt is another favorite of many and works fantastic in place of oil or fat. It keeps the moisture and flavor of the dish. Plus, the yogurt is full of calcium, protein, and probiotics.

Replacing Sugar: 

  • You can’t have a dessert without sugar! Or so they say. Instead of artificial sugar, mash up a banana into your ingredients. Make sure the banana is ripe. This substitution keeps the sweetness of the dessert but has healthier advantages, such as being rich in glucose, easy to digest, and improves your energy, preventing a sugar crash.
  • Alternatives to white table sugar are honey, maple syrup, or dates. These natural forms reduce the amount of added sugar but still should be consumed in reasonable amounts.
  • Lastly, spices work well in adding flavor and taste to treats with excessive amounts of sugar. Cinnamon and nutmeg are common replacements and boost metabolism, an extra benefit.

Replacing Flour: 

  • Almost all baking recipes include flour. Yet flour can affect your health in many ways, both good and bad. One simple way to add more health benefits is using whole wheat flour in lieu of white flours. The latter is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grain that isn’t good for you. As for whole wheat flour, it is processed differently and has more health advantages.
  • Try making your own flour from oats, flax, and nuts. All you need to do is blend up the items in a food processor or blender, and you are good to go. There is no need to change the needed amount the recipes call for; just blend until you have the same amount of fine dust.

Other Tips and Tricks: 

  • Even though it is a baking recipe, all desserts don’t have to actually be baked. Research and find a no-bake treat for your favorite sweet. No-bake desserts can include healthier ingredients and possibly use less fatty ingredients than are needed for a baked dessert.
  • Dark chocolate is known for its advantages, including aiding in weight loss, reducing stress, and controlling a person’s appetite. Moderation is key, but don’t hesitate to switch any type of chocolate with dark chocolate.
  • Avocados are a healthy fat and a unique way to replace butter. This fruit is packed with protein and nutrients. In addition, it gives a smooth texture to the item.

I love to bake, but sometimes the recipes aren’t the healthiest. The solution to that problem is incorporating these tips. Using substitutions in baking is easy and simple. Plus, you won’t feel guilty eating a few more pieces of a sweet treat, because you know it is healthier.

xoxo,

Megan

Throwback Thursday, Recipe Style!

Happy throwback Thursday to one of my favorite recipes: Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce!

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FW108-Recipes

Talk about a yummy recipe that is perfect for all year long!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 – 8oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
  5. Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of pan, releasing the sides.
  6. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries and lime rind.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. *Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
  3. Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.

Raspberry Sauce (alternate)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

7 Life Skills Everyone Should Know

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Throughout life, people learn many lessons and skills. At a young age, we learn to walk, talk, read, and write. Most of the time, in early adulthood, we are taught how to balance a checkbook and how to properly do laundry. The list of all the tasks goes on and on, but there are a few that everyone should learn how to do as they become an adult.

  1. Cooking: It doesn’t have to be a five-course meal, but learn how to cook something. Freezer meals and take out only go so far. Get proficient in a few simple, go-to meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plus, you’ll be able to impress your family and friends by cooking them one of your signature dishes. Also, when it comes to cooking, everyone should learn how to cook an egg, how to properly cook meat, and what fruits and vegetables are in season.
  2. Basic Home and Car Repairs: You can save lots of money by teaching yourself how to fix the small home and car problems that occur. If you are unsure how to stop the leaky faucet in the kitchen, unclog the toilet, or how to replace a flat tire, a quick Internet search will show you. A piece of advice for all minor problems, if you think you can, try to fix it yourself before enlisting professional help. Also, if you ever get stuck, either in a pinch or out in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be able to get the job done without having to wait for help to arrive. Lastly, by having an understanding of basic home and car repairs you will have the knowledge to decide whether or not a professional is being fair in price and quality of service. For car repairs, DMV.org is a great resource.
  3. Basic First-Aid: It never hurts to have the ability to perform CPR, bandage a cut, and handle a burn. Always have a first-aid kit, filled with Band-Aids, gauze, alcohol wipes, gloves, and more at home. You never can predict when an injury or emergency will occur. Other first-aid skills you should have are recognizing the signs of a heart attack, stroke, allergic reaction, and a concussion. Check with your local Red Cross, community center, and community colleges to see if they offer classes in first-aid and CPR.
  4. Writing a Resume and Cover Letter: This task can be tough for many people and can be a dreaded one. However, it is a skill everyone needs to learn and is a must when looking for employment. Many employers don’t spend a great deal of time reading resumes and cover letters. These documents need to be well-written, professional, and to the point. Think of it as being your 30-second elevator speech on paper. Community colleges and career centers in your area, as well as, Goodwill, are willing to assist and answer your questions. Also, there are multiple resources online to consult.
  5. Organizing Important Documents and Financial Records: Sometimes I’m guilty of throwing away receipts that might be needed later, especially during tax season. It is important to have documents, such as your birth certificate, social security card, and insurance information, in a safe place that you can easily reach. Also, store any receipts and tax documents in that same spot, as well. You never know when you’ll need something, but this will especially come in handy during tax season. A good way to store these documents is to invest in a fireproof box.
  6. Tasks We Rely on Our Cell Phones to Do: It might be a harsh reality, but sometimes you won’t have internet access or a way to charge your cell phone’s battery. Teach yourself how to read a roadmap, in case GPS is down, learn the phone numbers of close family members, in case you can’t reach your address book, and how to compute simple math equations, without the help of a calculator. Utilizing these skills will help pull you out of difficult times, if needed.
  7. Emergency Preparedness: No one wants to think that they might have to deal with a fire, flood, or tornado during their life, but sadly, some people do. Whether the power goes out or an accident strikes, it is vital to have the knowledge on what you should do and the supplies to stay safe. Part of being prepared for emergencies is having the ability to keep yourself safe. Take all precautions to avoid any unnecessary situations and how to handle the moment.

As a person goes through life, they acquire many skills and lessons that can be useful. Always keep learning something new and you’ll be confident knowing what to do when a situation calls for a specific skill.

xoxo,

Megan

Quick and Simple Fruit Dip

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This evening, I’m going to a summer party with some friends. Being from the south, I have learned the aged-old tradition of never arriving to a party empty-handed. Earlier today, I wiped up this quick and simple fruit dip and cut up some beautiful fruit to take. This recipe is a personal favorite and one I had to share!

Fruit Dip:

Ingredients: 

  • 8 oz. packaged cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
  • 2 Tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

Directions: 

  • Scoop the marshmallow fluff into a large bowl and microwave for 15 seconds.
  • Add in the softened cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Whisk until very smooth.
  • Chill for a few hours or overnight.

The dip works great with strawberries, blueberries, and apples!

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

North Carolina BBQ 101

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Some people like Eastern, while other people prefer Lexington. Wondering what I’m talking about? North Carolina barbecue. This tasty food has had a longstanding history in the Tarheel State that dates back to colonial times.

According to historians, barbecue, in general, was first introduced in the Caribbean. During the 1500s, there would be island barbecues with meat, such as lizard and alligator. Shortly after, the Spanish brought hogs to the Caribbean and southeastern United States. This is when pork became the favorite meat for barbecue. As for North Carolina, influences came from the original settlers and African-Americans on plantations. Today, many people associate barbecue with their favorite style and you can’t have barbecue without a sauce.

Main Types of Barbecue:

It is said that Eastern-style barbecue (vinegar-based) was the first style in the state. It wasn’t until Heinz created ketchup and introduced it to the public at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, that we began seeing a difference in barbecue styles. During World War I, Lexington-style barbecue was created in Lexington, North Carolina.

Eastern-stylebarbecue is a vinegar and pepper based style with no tomato. All parts of the hog are used. There is a common saying associated with this style, which is that “every part of the hog except the squeal is used.” Originally, lemon juice was used in the base. However, since this juice was hard to find in many southern states when barbecue started gaining popularity, vinegar was substituted. Eastern-style barbecue has more of a spicy-tartness and focuses more on the actual meat than the sauce. As for Eastern-style slaw, it matches the tangy taste of the barbecue and includes vinegar. This style is mostly famous along the east coast of North Carolina.

Lexington-style barbecue (my favorite) is all about the tomato. This style is commonly referred to as Piedmont or Western style. It uses a red sauce, made up of ketchup, vinegar, and pepper and has a smokier taste compared to Eastern. The slaw mimics the tomato sauce, as well, and is called “red slaw” or “barbecue slaw.” Lexington-style barbecue is more well-known in the Piedmont and western parts of the state.

Other Styles: 

Most people are only familiar with North Carolina barbecue as being Eastern or Lexington. However, another, lesser known style involves pork ribs. The Baby Back Ribs, also called top loin ribs, are cut from the center section of the loin and are a favorite among many. Another type of pork ribs is spareribs. This style is a larger and longer rib and more flavorful than Baby Back Ribs. This style of barbecue can be found at many festivals and competitions throughout the year, including the Twin City RibFest.

Lastly, throughout North Carolina, pork meat isn’t the only type of barbecue a person can find. Chicken and beef are also favorites to serve up. In addition, there are influences from Texas, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jamaica.

Cooking Barbecue  

The most traditional way to cook barbecue is pit style. According to historians, this technique has been used for thousands of years. A pit barbecue is an enclosed, above-ground “pit” that cooks the meat slowly over different types of wood. Some popular varieties of wood are hickory, mesquite, and oak. The smells and smoke of the wood drift up into the meat and flavor it. Also, pit style is known for producing very tender meat. An example of pit style cooking is smoking barbecue or using a smoker. There are many various ways on how to use this style, as well as types of equipment needed. The most common types are cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking is used to flavor the meat and hot smoking can be defined as the meat’s cooking time.

Barbecuing versus Grilling 

Yes, there is a different between barbecuing and grilling. Barbecuing can be defined as a slower process that uses lower heat than grilling, and the food is cooked by the heat of the smoke. In grilling, dry heat is used and is applied to the food being cooked.

Barbecue has been a longstanding staple in North Carolina. Most people, from a young age, find their favorite style and it stays with them for the rest of their lives. Summer has just begun and what better time is there to have a barbecue with your family and friends?

xoxo,

Megan

Originally written for Forsyth Woman Magazine, June 2018. 

A Delicious Look into Cookbook Book Clubs

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Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.

Steps to Beginning 

  1. The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
  2. Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
  3. Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
  4. One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
  5. Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
  6. Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
  7. Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.

There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.

xoxo,

Megan

Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

FW108-Recipes

Talk about a yummy recipe that is perfect for all year long!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 – 8oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
  5. Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of pan, releasing the sides.
  6. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries and lime rind.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. *Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
  3. Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.

Raspberry Sauce (alternate)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

 

  1. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

New Year, New Lunches: Changing Up What’s in Your Lunchbox

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Do you ever feel like you are in a rut? Ever have moments where you can’t think of anything new? Don’t worry—it happens to everyone. One of the most common things people get stuck on is coming up with different meals, especially lunches. Your midday feast might need to be eaten on the go, or you may not be able to refrigerate it. Take a look below for three new lunch ideas for all ages to enjoy and get out of last night’s leftovers routine. Plus, these recipes are great healthy food choices. 

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad: 

 Ingredients:

  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. capers, drained
  • Salt
  • ¾ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ lb. pasta of choice
  • ½ lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup black olives
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan

Directions: 

  1. Mix together half of the sun-dried tomatoes, all of the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. Process until almost smooth.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Once drained, set it aside in a large bowl. You can either pour the dressing you just made on top of the pasta or put into a container and pour at lunchtime.
  3. Mince the remaining sun-dried tomatoes. Add the tomatoes (both cherry and sun-dried), mozzarella, olives, and parmesan to the pasta and toss.

 

Sushi Sandwich with Turkey and Cheese: 

This recipe can be done with any type of meat or cheese. You can also get creative with your choices of veggies. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 spinach or plain tortilla
  • 1 tsp. cream cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 4 slices turkey deli meat or meat of your choice
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup Ranch dressing, optional

Directions: 

  1. Cut edges of tortilla to make a square shape and cover with cream cheese.
  2. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the tortilla. Place the turkey and carrots on top.
  3. Roll the sandwich tightly, making sure nothing falls out. Finish by pressing down the sandwich, letting the cream cheese “seal it” together.
  4. Cut the roll into ½″ pieces and serve with Ranch dressing, if desired.

 

Flatbread Crisps and Hummus

Flatbread Crisps: 

Ingredients: 

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup grated cheese of your choice

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add ¾ cup water and stir until dough forms into a ball. Knead dough in bowl until smooth. Divide in half. Cover one half in plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. With a floured rolling pin, roll the other dough-half into a paper-thin rectangle about 20 by 12 inches. Cut the dough lengthwise in half to create two smaller rectangles. Then, divide these rectangles in half, crosswise.
  3. Place strips on ungreased cook sheets and let set for 10 minutes. With a pastry brush or back of a spoon, brush strips lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on half of the grated cheese.
  4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly brown, rotating the pan(s) between the racks halfway through baking. Remove from oven and pan and cool. Repeat process with the remaining dough. The flatbread crisps can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Hummus: 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 2 Tbs. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. red pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

 Directions: 

  1. In a saucepan, heat 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add in garlic and cook 3 minutes to blanch and drain.
  2. Grate 1 teaspoon lemon peel and squeeze 3 tablespoons juice into a bowl. In a food processor or blender, combine garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, lemon peel and juice, oil, water, salt, and red pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl and cover.

An ice pack can be added to your lunchbox to keep the above meals cool, if desired. These recipes will soon become favorites that can be incorporated into your weekly diet.

xoxo,

Megan

Article written for Forsyth Family Magazine. 

Quick Bites for New Year’s Eve

As another year comes to a close, there is no better way to celebrate than with family, friends, and delicious food! Sometimes it can be hard to find quick and easy recipes, but never fear, I’ve done the hard work for you. Enjoy these 3 simple appetizers for your New Year’s Eve festivities!
Mini Lasagna Roll-Ups
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Ingredients:
Filling:
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
Lasagna Roll-Ups:
  • 10 cooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Tomato sauce
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the filling ingredients together.
  2. Cut the cooked noodles individually in half widthwise.
  3. Spread the filling on each noodle half, leaving about an inch at one end.
  4. Roll the noodle up, beginning at the end with the filling.
  5. Cut the rolled noodle in half widthwise.
  6. Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish and place the noodles on top.
  7. Place a small scoop of sauce on top of each roll and top with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Cranberry Pinot Noir Meatballs
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Ingredients:
  • 1 (1 lb. 10 oz.) bag of Italian Style Meatballs
  • 1 (16 oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
Directions:
  1. Prepare meatballs according to package directions.
  2. In a saucepan, combine cranberry sauce, brown sugar, Pinot Noir, and mustard. Whisk to combine over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and pour sauce over meatballs. Serve immediately or place in a crock pot on warm or low setting.
Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites with Cheese Sauce
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Ingredients:
Soft Pretzels:
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ tsps.)
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ½ tsps. kosher salt
  • 4 ½ cups to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 quarts water
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. cold water
  • Coarse sea salt
Cheese Sauce:
  • ½ Tbs. unsalted butter
  • ½ Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Directions:
Pretzels:
  1. Combine 1 ½ cups warm water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl in a mixer with dough hook. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and continue kneading until dough is smooth and begins to pull from bowl. If dough appears too wet, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and knead into a ball.
  4. Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough, and coat with oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Bring the 3 quarts water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and carefully add in the baking soda. It will boil over; add slowly and be careful!
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces, about 4 ¼ to 4 ½ ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 22 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites.
  8. Boil the bites in the water solution about 15 bites at a time for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place on a greased baking sheet.
  9. Brush the tops with egg wash and season with salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes.
Cheese Sauce:
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until smooth and all of the cheese is melted.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour of the pretzel bites or serve as a dip on the side.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan