Brown Butter Baklava Spread

I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. 

This is easy and delicious recipe is inspired by the flavors in baklava, a traditional rich dessert made of filo layered with chopped nuts and syrup. The original dessert originates from the Ottoman Empire; you can typically find it served at Greek restaurants. As a spread, baklava can be stirred into oatmeal or layered onto fruits and vegetables. If this recipe gets you to eat more fruits, veggies, or whole grains, I call that a win! As indulgent as it tastes, the walnuts in this recipe make it a nutritious snack choice. Walnuts provide important components of a healthy diet – an ounce of walnuts has 2.5 grams of the essential plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber to keep you feeling full. Read more about walnut nutrition here.

If you have any qualms about enjoying this delicious brown butter baklava spread, think back to this chart and indulge happily:

California Walnuts ALA Chart

Yum!

Baklava Butter

Baklava Spread

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An indulgent and flavorful dessert spread to enjoy with fresh fruit, toast, or even celery sticks!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant but not dark. Allow to cool completely.
  2. While the walnuts cool, heat the butter in a small saucepan until bubbling and beginning to turn golden brown. Do not burn; remove from heat once the butter is fragrant.
  3. Place the walnuts, browned butter, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a thick, chunky nut butter. Serve with toasted bread, apple slices, or celery. Alternatively, stir it into oatmeal or leftover quinoa heated with milk.

Here it is on toast:

Baklava Sread on Toast

And here it is stirred into quinoa porridge! It’s easier to make than you think- just heat 1 cup of leftover cooked quinoa with 1/2 cup milk of choice and stir in a heaping spoonful of baklava butter.

Quinoa Walnut Porridge

Are you loving these walnut recipes? Check out more ideas below!

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Skinny Mini Calzones

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “Small Bites” and I’ve been craving pizza, so here’s a fun twist for you to try! My sister and I used to love snacking on Pizza Rolls and 3D Doritos (remember those??) when we were kids. These  mini calzones are like the adult version of Pizza Rolls. Kids would probably love them too, of course!

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Skinny Mini Calzones

  • Servings: 8 palm-sized calzones
  • Print

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough (homemade or store bought. I’m partial to the Trader Joe’s Herb dough!)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/3 cup diced mushrooms

1/3 cup chopped spinach, frozen

6 ounces light mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 ounces salami, diced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

Flour, for rolling the dough

1 egg white, in a small bowl

1 cup marinara sauce


Directions

  • Set the pizza dough out on the counter to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over high heat. Sauté the onion for about 1 minute, until beginning to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and chopped spinach. Sauté for 1 minute more. Set aside.
  • Make the filling by stirring together the cheese, sautéed veggies, salami, and fresh basil in a bowl.
  • Cut the dough into eight 2-oz pieces. Work with one piece at a time: Make a ball our of the dough piece and set on a lightly floured surface. Press the ball into a disk and roll out into a 6-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Scoop a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of filling onto one half of the circle. Fold it over to form a half-moon shape and press the edges to seal it. Place the calzone on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Crimp the edges with a fork and brush with egg white. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.


Each dough ball should look like this:

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And then you fill it like this:

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This is how they should look before they’re baked:

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Once they’re fresh out of the oven,  you can enjoy these cute little calzones with marinara sauce!

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As always, check out other Recipe ReDux posts below!

Pancake Mix Mug Cake

Need a fast breakfast that’s packed with protein, whole grains, and fruit? Search no further! I’ve been experimenting with easy ways to make mug cakes. This one is healthy enough to eat for breakfast and is perfect for this month’s Recipe Redux theme!

If you haven’t tried Kodiak Cakes pancake mix yet, you’ve been missing out! It’s made from whole wheat, oats, whey protein, and buttermilk. This pancake mix rocks because it makes hearty yet fluffy pancakes and is very versatile! It’s perfect for mug cakes like this one.

My favorite thing about this particular mug cake is that you only need a few ingredients and can mix everything together in one cup! This saves a lot of time in preparation and clean up. Definitely a must for busy mornings!

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Ingredients:

(Serves 1)

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

2 tablespoons milk of choice

1/4 cup Kodiak Cakes pancake mix

1/4 cup frozen fruit of choice (I used mixed berries and sliced bananas)

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

Additional toppings (optional- I used sliced plum and hemp seeds. You could try granola, sliced nuts, and/or fresh fruit!)

Preparation: 

  1. Whisk oil, sweetener, and milk of choice in a microwave safe mug.
  2. Whisk in pancake mix.
  3. Top with frozen fruit.
  4. Microwave for about 1 minute 15 seconds – 1 minute 30 seconds, or until the batter is set
  5. Spoon Greek yogurt on top and sprinkle with any additional toppings of your choice!

That couldn’t be any easier! Please share your variations in the comments. I’ve tried this recipe with mini chocolate chips and banana slices in the batter as well. It’s very good topped with some milk instead of Greek yogurt, too! This is what the mug cake looks like without toppings:

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I think I’ll be having it again as a late night snack! Check out these other ideas to get out of a breakfast rut:

Homemade Nutty Seed Crackers with Hummus

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra Dipping Co. LLC, and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Hummus is for dipping! Here’s a recipe for crunchy crackers to dip in your favorite variety of Sabra hummus. My favorite is the Supremely Spicy flavor, although I’m hunting for their new pizza flavor. 

  
Ingredients: (4-6 servings)

2 oz all purpose flour

2 oz almond meal

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 tablespoons water

Preparation:

1. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add in olive oil and enough water to make the dough bind, but not overly sticky.

2. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times, or until it forms a ball. Divide the dough in half and place back in the mixing bowl. Cover with a lightly damp towel for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

3. Roll half the dough out 1/8 inch thick and bake on a cookie sheet for 6 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

4. Break into pieces once it’s cool and serve with hummus dip! Extra crackers can be stored in an airtight container for about a week.

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

I should probably be studying… or writing an article that’s due Wednesday. I swear I’l get to all that, but I had to interrupt all that to bake muffins! Colby and I bought this pumpkin pecan waffles candle at Bath and Body Works yesterday,  and the decadent smell compelled me to make a pumpkin treat. It was definitely worth taking a break to make these pumpkin protein muffins– they’ll be a great study snack anyway. Each muffin has a balanced macronutrient ratio to power a study session or keep you focused at work or school between meals: 85 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrate,  2 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein. 

  
Ingredients:

(Makes 24 muffins)

1 cup oat flour (Rolled oats crushed in a blender)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 scoops vanilla whey protein isolate (I used Quest brand)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup egg whites

1/2 cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

nonstick cooking spray

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all dry ingredients (starting with oat flour down to ground ginger) in a mixing bowl or large measuring cup. 

2. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together all wet ingredients (pumpkin puree to vanilla extract). Fold in the dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

3. Grease two muffin pans (24 muffins) with cooking spray and use a 1/4 cup measurng scoop to fill each cup about 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle each with a few chopped walnuts and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the fluffiest muffin comes out clean. 

4. Cool on a cooling rack and serve warm! These freeze well in zip top bags. They also keep well in a refrigerated airtight container for about 2 weeks. 

  
The pumpkin puree and greek yogurt make these muffins perfectly moist despite the omission of fat in the batter. That means you can slather these with some whipped butter knowing they aren’t aleady full of oil or fat! I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Have a great week, everyone! 

  

Supreme Pizza Quinoa Bites

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Football season is upon us! Here’s a game day snack that makes football worth watching! Have 4-6 of them and make it a meal that works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Bite sized foods are just the best, and these are nutritionally balanced so you can feel good about munching on them. These mini pizza bites get a flavor boost from California black ripe olives, which contain monounsaturated fat, vitamin E (0.25  mg per serving), iron (.49 mg per serving), vitamin A (60 IU per serving), and fiber (0.5 grams per serving). If you have a can of these in your pantry, think beyond the typical Greek salad and try out these  pizza bites!

  
Ingredients:

(Serves 2-3 as a meal, 3-6 as a snack)

-1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked

-1 cup water

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1/2 cup onion, diced

-1/2 cup zucchini, diced

-1/2 cup California ripe black olives, about 10, diced

-1/3 cup roasted red pepper, diced

-1/3 cup cooked and drained lean ground turkey

-1/2 teaspoon dried basil

-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

-1 teaspoon garlic salt

-1 egg

-4 egg whites

-1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

-1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

-Cooking spray or olive oil for greasing muffin tins

-Pizza sauce, for serving

Preparation:

1. Begin by rinsing and draining the quinoa well in a mesh strainer. Combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes and remove from heat.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 10″ skillet, add the diced onions and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in diced black olives, roasted red pepper, cooked ground turkey, basil, oregano, and garlic salt. Set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in egg, egg whites, mozzarella cheese, and cooked vegetable/ turkey mixture. 

4. Scoop the mix into a well greased muffin tin (12 cups) or mini muffin tin (24 cups). Sprinkle each with a bit of feta cheese and bake. The regular muffin tins will require 25-30 minutes and the mini muffins will require 15-20 minutes. 

5. Remove carefully from the tins using a spoon and serve warm with pizza sauce. 

  
I hope that you’ll enjoy these Mediterranean inspired supreme pizza bites this football season! They reheat easily in the microwave and store well in the fridge or freezer. 

Easter Party Recipes

Colby and I just got back from a trip to Sacramento and the Bay Area. We were there for his grandpa’s funeral, but also enjoyed some hiking and restaurants. Grandpa Jim died at the age of 93 after living a full life and shaping a large family of Christ followers. He has 6 children, 16 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren! Isn’t that amazing? 

Next weekend is Easter and I will be catering a party for work on Saturday! The menu will consist mainly of healthy, bite-sized appetizers and desserts. Here’s a roundup of fresh springtime recipes to make at your Easter party:

First up, a great tutorial for making professional looking chocolate dipped strawberries from Doll House Bakeshoppe here.

  

Next up, some easy and gorgeous caprese tortellini bites from Southern Living here.

  

I’ve been yearning to make something like these adorable phyllo cup Brie bites from A Spicy Perspective for months! Check out the recipe here.

  

These beet dyed deviled eggs are so pretty and dyed naturally! The recipe is provided at Create by Diane here.

  

Colorful Peeps and fruit kabobs are beautifully laid out on The Frugal Girls site here.

  

I like the way Catch My Party styles this simple appetizer of fresh veggies in ranch! Link to it here.

  

Finally, this fresh farro salad with lightly roasted vegetables looks delightful! The Proud Italian Cook teaches you how to make it here.

  

Do you have any other favorite Easter party recipes or traditions? Next Sunday we’ll be headed out to Valley of Fire for sunrise service in the desert. I’ll be sure to take pictures! After an Easter nap, I’ll be cooking lamb for the first time. Wish me luck! If it turns out well, I’ll share the recipe with you!

Oh yeah, one more thing. The image for this blog post comes from Martha Stewart’s lace dyed eggs tutorial here. I’ll be making these for our annual egg fight

  

High Protein Chocolate Coconut Granola

I love Greek yogurt, but after eating it for a snack five days a week for at least a year, I decided it needed some sprucing up. Nothing brings life to a cup of yogurt like granola! This version can be made crispy or chewy and you can make 12 servings in under an hour. Granola you buy at the store is typically high in sugar and fat, but this granola has a higher protein content thanks to the addition of whey protein isolate and lower in fat and sugar. The combination of chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and roasted almonds make it taste like a candy bar! Irresistible!

High Protein Granola Recipe

Ingredients:
(12 servings)

3 cups whole grain rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1/4 cup sliced almonds1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
2/3 cup vanilla whey protein isolate
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine the oats, shredded coconut, and slivered almonds in a mixing bowl.3. Whisk together apple juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, whey protein, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, whisking occasionally, until thickened and beginning to bubble. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Pour the hot liquid over the oats and stir together with a spatula to coat evenly. Pour the sticky oat mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet and use the spatula to spread it out evenly.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring or flipping the oats once or twice with a spatula partway through.
6. The granola is done when it is dry (or mostly dry if you prefer a chewy granola). Allow to cool completely before adding chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container.
high protein granola recipe

For a different variation, try adding a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and ground cloves to the oats instead of coconut and dark chocolate. Enjoy a handful on its own, as a yogurt topper, or with your favorite cereal!

High Protein Granola recipe

Cheddar Beer Nachos

Ready for the big game this weekend? While I’m not a huge football fan, I love watching the expensive commercials and snacking during the game. Thanks to the generosity of Cabot Creamery, I had several varieties of cheddar to play with for this crowd pleasing recipe. It’s a lightened up nacho recipe to serve at your next get together! It uses baked tortilla chips, which are 40% lower in fat than the regular restaurant kind, but this recipe doesn’t skimp on flavor! The combination of extra sharp cheddar with IPA and smoky ham more than makes up for the healthier corn chips. Using extra sharp cheddar in recipes is smart because it’s so tangy and cheesy that you can use less of it than you would a milder cheese and still get amazing depth of flavor. Cheddar cheese pairs well with hoppy IPA- the beer I chose for my cheese sauce! Bonus: you only use 1/2 a cup of the beer, so you can sip on the rest while you cook!
IPA Cheddar Nachos

Cheddar Beer Nachos (Serves 4)
Ingredients:
1/2 Bag of baked tortilla chips (about 6-8 oz)
Cooking Spray
4 oz lean ham, chopped into 1/4″ dices
1/2 of a 15 oz Can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 of a Tomato, diced into 1/2″ dices
1/4 Cup red onion, sliced very thin
Handful of fresh cilantro, torn into pieces

For the Cheese Sauce:-4 oz Sharp Cabot Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
-1/2 Cup IPA or Lager Beer
-1 Tablespoon 1% milk
-1/2 Teaspoon cornstarch

Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tortilla chips on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in the oven to warm.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet lightly misted with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Sauté the ham dices and pinto beans, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside.
2. Bring 1/2 cup of beer to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
3. Whisk in the cheddar cheese and continue whisking until melted and incorporated. To thicken the cheese sauce, add 1/2 a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold milk. Continue whisking until thickened.
4. Sprinkle ham and beans over the warm tortilla chips. Drizzle cheese sauce over the chips, beans, and ham. Top with fresh red onion, tomato, and cilantro.
IPA Cheddar Nachos Full

*By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.