Spinach & Artichoke Appetizer Wreath

Spinach & Artichoke Appetizer Wreath
recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef

2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 (14 ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheesePreheat oven to 375*F. In bowl, combine artichokes, spinach, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese(or Parmesan, red bell pepper, mayonnaise, garlic and black pepper. Mix well. Set aside.

Unroll the 2 packages of crescent rolls onto work surface. Separate into 16 triangles in a circle on a large round pizza pan(or baking stone) with wide ends 3″ from edge of pan and points towards the outside. Points will extend off the edge of the baking stone or pan(depending on size).


Arrange remaining triangles in center of baking stone or pan; matching wide ends with triangles already in place Points will overlap in the center.


Using rolling pin, roll over seams of triangles where the wide ends meet, creating a smooth surface for filling. Do not seal center triangles.


Using an ice cream scoop, scoop filling evenly over dough in a continuous circle.


Beginning with the last triangle placed in center of baking stone or pan, bring point of triangle straight across filling.


Next, bring point of opposite outside triangle diagonally across point of previous triangle. The filling will show.


Repeat, overlapping points of inside and outside triangles to form a wreath. Tuck last end under first.


Brush top of wreath with egg white. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Smashed potato soup

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

Tricia’s smashed potato soup

3-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped yellow and/or red sweet pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons bottled roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream, half-and-half, or light cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Sliced green onions (optional)

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, sweet pepper, garlic, and black pepper. Pour broth over all.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Mash potatoes slightly with a potato masher. Stir in whipping cream, cheddar cheese, and the 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions. If desired, top individual servings with additional sliced green onions. Makes 8 servings.

Spicy vegetarian chili

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

Betsy’s spicy vegetarian chili

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups black beans, cooked
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa, medium
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup canned corn niblet

Heat oil in a large pot, saute onions, peppers and garilc for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add remaining ingredients except corn.
Increase heat to high to bring to a boil.
Decrease heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in corn, simmer until heated through.
Makes about 10 cups or 6-7 servings of 1 1/2 cups.

Stuffing It… In a Healthy Way!

Today was a dreary, cold, wet and cloudy day… a typical fall night in Chicago. It definitely called for a warm and comforting dinner, but I wanted it to also be healthy. (Often times, warm and comforting means starch heavy and sauce laden meals in our house!)

It’s been a few nights since we had some seafood so I baked some flounder fillets, seasoned with rosemary, garlic and lemon slices. To go along with our flounder, I roasted some asparagus spears and served up these stuffed tomatoes:

Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes
courtesy of Weight Watchers Best Eats Cookbook

1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup whole wheat couscous
6 (7 oz) beefsteak tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced (I omitted)
1 teaspoon dried basil (I used fresh)
1 (15.5 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup crumbled fat free feta (I used regular feta)

Bring the water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from the top of each tomato and reserve (I accidentally threw it out when I prepared it!). With a spoon, carefully scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a tomato shell. Reserve the pulp for a soup or sauce.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the succhini, onion, bell pepper, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomato sauce; cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the couscous, cheese, and remaining salt & pepper. Spooon about 3/4 cup of the filling into each tomato shell and cover with the reserved tomato tops.

* I baked these stuffed tomatoes in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes to roast them as well. This can be made in advance and frozen too!

Serves 6
Serving size: 1 stuffed tomato
WW Points value: 3 Points

Salads Get No Respect

This weekend was pretty full of good food, but I feel like my body needs to go into detox. I didn’t splurge much at all with the dinner events I hosted over the weekend but I was craving some fresh veggies. So today for lunch, I made a salad.

Don’t you hate the rep salads get? Some folks think salads are lame, boring and too healthy to taste good. I’ll admit, I had that same thinking until I started being creative with salads. They are a blank canvas to capture flavors, textures, colors… only healthier!

Today my salad consisted of a baked boneless, skinless chicken breast that was marinated in southwest seasoning. I also made a quick mango salsa (fresh mangoes, chopped bell pepper, garlic, red onion, salt & pepper, green onion) to offset the spicy chicken with some sweetness. For texture, I added some slivered almonds. Lastly, all my salads involve a little bit of cheese so I added a pinch of gorgonzola for a bit of tang.
Love and embrace salads… they’re good for you!

Seafood Paella

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Seafood Paella
shared at the event by Joelen
recipe adapted from here

3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

1 large head garlic (or 12 cloves), peeled and chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup julienned carrots (matchstick)
2 cups frozen green peas, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound calamari rings
1/2 pound sea scallops, halved
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, to garnish

Ingredient Options: If you don’t care for mussels or any of the other seafood ingredients, simply substitute more of your favorite.

In a paella pan or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and sauté for about 4 minutes or until rice becomes translucent, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups of the broth and 1 cup wine, saffron, paprika, marjoram, red pepper flakes and flakes and salt. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes. Check occasionally, keeping moist with broth if needed. Add all seafood, peas, red peppers, carrots, roasted tomatoes and the remaining broth and wine. Squeeze lemon over entire dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve straight from the pan.

Mejillones a la Vinagreta

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Mejillones a la Vinagreta
(Mussels Vinaigrette)
shared at the event by Teresa
recipe from here

2 1/2 dozen mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
Shredded lettuce
2 tbsp minced green onion
2 tbsp minced green pepper
2 tbsp minced red pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
Dash of red pepper sauce
Salt to taste

Steam open the mussels. Put them in a deep pan with the water. Cover the pan and put over a high heat, shaking the pan, until the shells open. Remove from heat and discard any mussels that do not open.
Mussels can also be opened in a microwave. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl, partially covered, and microwave at full power for one minute. Stir and microwave one minute more. Remove any mussels that have opened and microwave one minute more. Again remove open ones. Repeat twice more. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the empty shells. (Mussels can be cooked in advance and refrigerated.) Shortly before serving, arrange mussels on a bed of shredded lettuce on a serving platter. In a bowl combine the onion, green and red pepper, parsley, oil, and vinegar. Season with red pepper sauce and salt. Spoon the mixture into the mussels in their shells.