Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Appetizers

I was in charge of the appetizers at this year's Thanksgiving celebration with the McNamee clan. I wanted to make something that was tasty and unique, not too terribly filling, and somewhat healthful. I also wanted appetizers that were visually appealing, likable by all palates, and fun to eat. I decided on the following items:

Spiced mixed nuts
Smoked almond and goat cheese olives
Zesty deviled eggs
Bacon roll-ups

I took step-by-step photos of the nuts and the olives, as these are the healthier and more interesting items.

Note: I tripled this recipe for the large group (and to have leftovers!).

Yields 2 cups

2 T butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 T water
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups mixed nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts)

Mix spices and reserve.

Heat nuts in a skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to toast, about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Add butter, sugar, water and spices to the hot skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until a glaze forms, about 1 minute.

Return the nuts to the skillet and toss to combine with the glaze.

Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the nuts are glazed and golden brown.

Remove from heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil, separating with a fork.

Let rest until cooled and the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Serve in a decorative bowl for some extra pizazz.

Yields 32 olives

2/3 cup smoked almonds
8 oz goat cheese
32 Spanish green olives, stuffed with pimiento


Assemble ingredients.

Add almonds to a small food processor or chopper and pulse briefly to chop. Pour into a small bowl.

Cut the goat cheese into 8 equal pieces, and then cut each piece into 4 equal pieces. Each piece will be about 1/4 ounce.

Wrap each olive with 1/4-oz piece of goat cheese and shape into a ball.

Roll into chopped almonds and place in a container.

Repeat with the remaining cheese, almonds, and olives.

Once the container is filled, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve on a tray with a toothpick placed in each olive.

Zesty Deviled Eggs
Yields 24

12 hard boiled eggs
Dirty sea salt, pepper
Cayenne pepper

Slice all 12 eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl. Combine the yolks with mayo and mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Use a fork to smooth out yolk clumps. Add small amounts of cayenne to achieve desired spiciness. Place the yolk mixture in a plastic bag, cut the corner of the bag, and fill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle paprika on top.

Bacon Roll-ups
Yields 40

20 pieces of white whole wheat bread, crusts removed
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
20 slices of bacon

Flatten each piece of bread with a rolling pin until very thin. Combine cream cheese and shredded cheese in a bowl. Spread cheese mixture over each slice of bread. Roll each piece of bread up into a tight roll. Cut bacon slices in half, length-wise. Wrap 1 bacon piece, spiraled, around each bread roll-up. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is fully cooked and the bread is lightly browned.

We served these on a personalized McNamee Thanksgiving platter I gave my inlaws as an early Christmas gift.

Happy holiday feasting!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Christmas spirit is in the air! Even though Thanksgiving is still ahead of us, my husband and I decided that we were going to get this holiday party started by putting up the tree and decking our halls a bit earlier than usual. If you're in the holiday spirit, or if you're one of the many who is trapped inside today due to inclement weather this weekend, consider making some yummy, healthier ginger crinkle cookies! They are easy, made with real ingredients (including disease-fighting spices like cinnamon and ginger), and most importantly really yummy.

I adapted this recipe from last year, and they're still popular this year. I substituted grapeseed oil for canola oil. Grapeseed oil can be found in most grocery stores and at Trader Joe's. Raw turbinado sugar is more coarse in texture than regular raw sugar, and it gives these cookies their crunch.

Ginger Crinkle Cookies
Makes 34 cookies

2/3 cup grapeseed or cold pressed safflower oil
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar, divided
1 large organic egg
4 tablespoons molasses or real maple syrup
2 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Assemble your ingredients.

Mix oil and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined.

Beat in egg until combined.

Stir in molasses or maple syrup until evenly incorporated.

Add flour:

Baking soda:


Ginger (and salt):

Put the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the sugar before placing them 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. DO NOT FLATTEN.

Bake the cookies until set, but still soft when gently touched, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The best part? After rolling them in sugar, you can place them in a glass or plastic container and freeze them for later! I made them for two Karve seminars that I was giving one week apart. I made the dough, baked half, and froze the other half in the form of prepped, sugar-rolled dough balls. I simply popped them on a cookie sheet straight out of the freezer (they don't even stick together) and baked them for just a minute or two longer than I do when they're raw. Easy and convenient!



Monday, November 15, 2010

Pad Thai

I just had a totally awesome, go-back-for-seconds (if you're still hungry) dinner. Pad Thai is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and I really wanted to see if I could make a healthier home version. Mission accomplished.

As usual, I consulted my favorite website,, for ideas, and boy did it deliver! This dish was easy to make and tasted just like the "real thing," just less oily and a bit lighter. Check it out here.

I bought all of these ingredients at Sprouts, but I'm sure you can get them at most large grocery stores or Whole Foods.

Pad Thai
3 servings (1 1/3 cups each)

4 oz dried rice noodles
2 tsp. peanut oil (I used sesame oil)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
8 oz small shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup sliced scallion greens
3 T. rice vinegar
2 1/2 T. fish sauce
2 T. sugar (I omitted this)
1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
2 T. chopped dry roasted peanuts

Soak rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes. (Instead of doing this, I just boiled them in hot water for 4-5 minutes, or until soft.)

(Dry noodles):

(Post boiling):

Heat oil in wok over high heat until very hot.

Add the garlic and stir-fry until golden.

Add the eggs and cook, stirring, until scrambled. You can add one, like the instructions recommend...

...or 3 if you really like eggs...

Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and curl, about 2 minutes.

Drain the noodles and add to the walk, tossing with tongs until they are soft and curl, about 1 minute.

Add bean sprouts:

Scallion greens:


Fish sauce:

Chile-garlic sauce (and sugar if you use it):

Toss until shrimp are heated throughout. Add peanuts and serve with lime wedge.

Serve with a nice big green salad and enjoy! If you make one thing this month, and you seriously love Pad Thai, I highly recommend trying it out!