Grilled Cheese Curd Sandwich

5 Oct

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

It’s a cool, fall day; leaves of varying color are fluttering to the ground, and you’re heading home to make a warm, comforting and healthy dinner. A sandwich may not sound like it fits the bill, but a toasty one, filled with melty cheese and covered in a layer of flavor is just enough to hit the spot.

Sabra has asked members of The Recipe Redux to develop tasty sandwich and wrap recipes using their new product: Sabra Spreads. Available in three flavors, these spreads come in a squirt bottle for easy use, and add just the right amount of flavor. Like their dips, Sabra Spreads are just hummus – plain and simple. The ingredients list is one that I can get on board with, especially during October #Unprocessed!

This grilled cheese sandwich takes flavor to the extreme. Sprouted bread adds some oomph to the entrée, while mixed cheddar cheese curds melt into chewy perfection inside. Rather than slathering butter on the bread’s exterior, I use the Garlic Herb Sabra Spread to add flavor without extra calories.

A warm, filling dinner is ready in no time! Pair with salad or hot tomato soup, and you’re good to go.

Grilled Cheese Curd Sandwich | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Grilled Cheese Curd Sandwich

Serves 2

  • 4 slices sprouted grain bread
  • 4 tbsp Sabra Spreads Garlic Herb spread
  • 2 oz mixed cheddar cheese curds

Heat a large pan over medium-high.

Spread one tablespoon of the Garlic Herb spread on each of the four slices of bread.

Grease the hot pan with olive oil spray. Place two pieces of bread spread-side down in the hot pan. Top each with a layer of cheese curds and place the other pieces of bread spread-side up on top. Cover with a lid and let cook a few minutes until the bottom bread browns and the cheese melts. Flip and let the other side brown without the lid on.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Grilled Cheese Curd Sandwich | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.)

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake and Dolittle Half Marathon Recap

29 Sep

This past weekend required a lot of prep work. Months of sacrifice, sore legs, tired feet, and lots of laundry. Yep, I ran my third half marathon! The inaugural Dolittle full and half was held in Waukesha, WI on Sept. 25. Chris dropped me off for the 8am start.

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Pre-race pose!

We headed out on the Glacial Drumlin trail, where the entire out-and-back route was run. It was SO GORGEOUS. The weather was perfect: slightly cloudy with a high of 65 degrees. The trail was clean and flat and wide enough that I never felt crowded.

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Couldn’t ask for a better day or path!

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Mid-stride. Of course I know how to pose while running!

My thighs started feeling sore halfway in. Hitting the turn-around point was revitalizing, but the pain persisted. And then I started to feel a twinge in my knee. At this point, I was walking more than I was running, or at least that’s how it seemed. At about mile 10, I decided that it was alright to feel the pain now, because THIS is what I had trained so long for! So, I consciously let the pain wash over me for five seconds, after which I told myself that it’s all in my head and that I could get through to the end. This worked, but only for a little while. I knew my time was no where near what I wanted. I kept going, with the mile markers motivating me further.

Finally, at mile 12, I put away my earbuds, as it’s best to experience the final mile and finish line with all the senses. I pushed through, passed people on the sidelines cheering, and gave it all I had to finish strong and with a smile on my face.

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Rocking out as I crossed the finish line!

Chris and my mom were at the finish line, waiting with cameras at the ready. Some gatorade and a handful of fruit tasted so darn good!

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The medal is really pretty!

We headed off to brunch where I shamelessly gobbled up a veggie omelet, sweet potato hash browns, toast and a beer. The rest of the day was spent mostly on the couch.

Except for dinner. I was sooo hungry by dinner time, that I wanted something substantial. A beautiful butternut squash had been sitting on our counter for a week, waiting to be crafted into a delicious meal. I combined that with pasta and two (!) cheeses for an amazing, comforting, and easy dinner.

I call this a “bake” rather than mac & cheese, because it doesn’t use béchamel sauce as a base. Simply boil the squash, puree it with the other sauce ingredients, mix in pasta, and bake to create a slight crust. Whether you’re refueling from a long run or just looking for a tasty, filling meal, this is where it’s at!

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Serves 4

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 8 oz whole wheat or gf pasta – a small shape like macaroni, penne or rotini work best
  • ¼ C milk
  • ½ C reserved pasta water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 3 oz aged cheddar, shredded
  • 2 oz gouda, chopped small
  • Additional paprika to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8” baking dish; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add all of the cubed butternut squash, cover, and boil 12 minutes. Remove the cover if it threatens to boil over. Drain in a colander.

Refill that same pot with water; add salt this time and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

While the pasta cooks, transfer the drained squash to a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, spices and pasta water. Use an immersion blender to puree until completely smooth. Alternatively, use a stand blender to puree.

Stir in the cheeses, and then the cooked pasta. Transfer to your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika for some added color. Bake at 400 for 15 min, uncovered.

Serve and enjoy!

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake & Dolittle Half Marathon Recap | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Spaghetti Dinner with Black Bean Pasta Sauce

22 Sep

With an oversized apron tied ‘round my waist and a wooden spoon in hand, I was always an eager young cook. This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “first cooking memories,” and I have quite a few of those! I remember rolling, cutting and decorating sugar cookies for Christmas with Oma (and trying to sneak some of the raw dough while she wasn’t looking). I remember stirring the contents of various pots of food on the stove at Grandma’s house during holiday & birthday dinners. I remember rolling out the dough and prepping the fillings with dad for apple and pumpkin pies leading up to Thanksgiving. And I remember how much I loved spaghetti for dinner, and helping mom prepare it.

Vegan Spaghetti Dinner with Black Bean Pasta Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Those daily memories are often the most basic, yet enjoyable to think back on. Oma had made kid-sized aprons for my sister and I to don while helping our parents cook. Which is good – I can only imagine we created somewhat of a mess in the process! My love of cooking and food began with all of that. My family respected my help in the kitchen, and the older I got, the more responsibility was given to me. Where I first was allowed to stir the sauce, I progressed to browning the meat for the sauce (yes, I used to eat meat). Instead of just putting the pot of water on the stove to boil, I actually cooked the noodles all the way through. We switched from store-bought garlic bread, to garlicking (is that a word? It is now) a fresh loaf of bread.

When my sis and I were finally old enough, and knowledgeable enough, to cook on our own, our parents tasked us with making dinner once a week for a whole summer! We had to plan the meal, add the ingredients to the grocery list (after first checking the pantry & freezer for anything we already had), go shopping with them (an activity I still love to this day), prep the ingredients, and cook the entire meal. Sure, we frequently asked questions regarding technique, timing, and what something in the recipe might mean, but we did it all on our own, at a relatively young age. This was fantastic prep for meals when we were alone, and certainly for college survival.

Thanks to my parents and grandparents for those early cooking experiences! Because of that, I now find great joy in the entire cooking process, from recipe creation to meal devouring. And with that, here’s a healthy, vegan take on that spaghetti dinner I used to help prepare. Mashed and seasoned black beans replace ground beef, and a homemade sauce elevates the flavor of jarred varieties. It’s a great weeknight dinner that you can even get your kids to help with🙂

Vegan Spaghetti Dinner with Black Bean Pasta Sauce | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Spaghetti Dinner

Serves 4

  • 8 oz whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 C water

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Cook the onion 5-7 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add the black beans and cook another 3-4 minutes to heat through. Use a flat wooden spoon or fork to mash the black beans and onions together. You’re looking for consistency similar to cooked ground beef. Stir in the seasonings, cooking through another 2-3 minutes.

Now stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, garlic and water. Mom always taught me to add a spoonful of sugar to tomato-based sauces, to cut the acidic properties of tomatoes and bring out their taste.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes. Cook through another 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it into the skillet with your sauce, and toss to coat. Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired.

Serve and enjoy hot! This pairs well with a leafy green salad and bottle of red wine (or juice for the kids).

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles

22 Aug

Pommes Frites. Bananaweizen. Currywurst. Spaghettieis. Schokolade. Doener-kebab. Broetchen. Torte. These were the foods that defined my time studying abroad in Germany. Six years ago, I spent the most wonderful semester immersed in the culture of my background, learning & speaking German, cheering on the German National soccer team during the world cup, making friendships to last a lifetime, traveling throughout Europe on long weekends, and eating and drinking…a lot.

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I grew up eating German food, thanks to my mom, and Oma and Opa living right next door to us. I knew all about Spaetzle, Rolladen, Sauerkraut, Schnapps, and real, good chocolate. Studying in Germany was just as much about the classes as it was about the culinary experience. My friends and I tried new foods, beer you could only get locally (though not always the most delicious), and sweets that would make anyone’s mouth water.

That’s why, for this month’s Recipe Redux theme of “vacation foods,” I knew I had to recreate something from my travels. One trip that stands out from my semester abroad was when my friend Lisa and I traveled through three countries in four days. We hit up Luxembourg first, followed by a day in Brussels (where our hostel was next door to a Godiva factory), and finished with two days and nights in Amsterdam.

Brussels was an epicurean blur. In the span of 24 hours, I ate and drank:

  • the best beer of my life,
  • the most amazing chocolate,
  • original Pommes Frites, with real mayonnaise and caramelized onions,
  • and the best. waffle. ever.
Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This photo is from 2010!

That’s a lot to consume in one day. I still hold that we each gained 5 pounds in Brussels, which we luckily walked off over the duration of our trip. Those waffles were something from another sweet, delicious world. They were crispy and caramelized on the outside with a soft and sweet interior. The pearl sugar melts right into and onto the dough, creating a magnificent flavor.

Alas, bready waffles filled with pockets of sugar aren’t exactly healthy. So, for this recipe, I used mostly whole wheat flour, reduced the amount of pearl sugar, and swapped in coconut oil for traditional butter.

If you don’t intend to eat all the waffles at once (ha, good luck!), these freeze really well, which makes them perfect for a lazy weekend morning in the future.

Whether you’ve traveled to Belgium or not, I guarantee these sweet waffles will transport your mind, and stomach, all the way to Europe🙂

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

Makes 15 small waffles

  • 3/4 C lukewarm milk of choice – simply measure the milk into a large measuring cup and let sit on the counter for a bit to bring up to room temperature
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (two of the small packets)
  • 3 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 1/2 C + 2 tbsp softened coconut oil (place in the fridge while the milk warms up if yours is liquid)
  • 3/4 C pearl sugar

Mix lukewarm milk and yeast together. Let sit 15 minutes so it can become bubbly.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flours, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Pour in the milk and eggs and mix with a wooden spoon to begin incorporating the ingredients.

Using the dough hook on your mixer, knead the dough for 5 minutes on the slowest setting.

Add in the coconut oil and knead again long enough so all the oil is mixed in and the dough becomes one big, sticky ball.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise two hours, or until the dough is doubled in size. Time will vary based on the temperature and conditions of your kitchen.

With a wooden spoon, mix in the pearl sugar. Scoop out dough balls, about 2″ wide, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You should get 15 balls of dough. Let rest for 15 minutes while your waffle iron heats up.

Place one dough ball in each of the four parts of your hot waffle iron. Flatten with your fingers, press down the lid, and cook 4-5 minutes. You want the surface to be a shiny, sticky brown color, and the edges should look just cooked.

Transfer waffles to a cooling rack and let sit for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. It’s important not to place these on a plate, as the steam will make the waffles soggy, rather than creating the ideal crispy exterior.

Repeat with remaining dough balls. OR, place the baking sheet with the dough balls in your freezer and let freeze a few hours before transferring to a freezer-safe ziplock bag. When you want fresh waffles, thaw as many dough balls as desired for 3 hours at room temperature, and then cook like normal!

Enjoy warm, and try not to eat them all🙂

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy! (Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.)

Kiwifruit Coconut Granola {gluten free, oat free}

11 Aug

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

Overnight oats, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and homemade protein bars… these are a few of my favorite hot-weather breakfasts. Because when I’m rushing around, getting ready in the morning for work, the last thing I want is to eat warm food that just increases my internal temperature.

Granola is another one of those favorites. I like to mix it up by serving with yogurt, milk, or just on its own as a snack. This granola bakes up quickly (for minimal oven time), and tastes absolutely amazing!

Kiwifruit Coconut Granola | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

It’s grain free, which makes it naturally gluten free, and has just the right amount of sweetness thanks to honey and dehydrated kiwi.

Yep, I dried out some SunGold kiwifruit to pair with this granola! My boyfriend recently surprised me with a dehydrator, something I’ve wanted for a long time but never did the research. Luckily, he did for me, and one day I came home to a brand new dehydrator sitting on our kitchen table!

My mind began racing, planning out what I would dehydrate first. Fruits? Veggies? Snacks? Pantry staples? It was so overwhelming in the best way! And then came along the Zespri kiwifruit challenge, and it seemed so obvious that I should dehydrate these gorgeous yellow fruits, and mix them in with a nut and seed-based granola.

Kiwifruit Coconut Granola | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This granola is packed with all the good fats, can easily be made vegan by using maple syrup in place of honey, and is versatile, so you can use whichever nuts and seeds you prefer or have on hand.

The kiwi add a vitamin punch, as they’re high in both C and E, and when dried, have an amazing chewy texture, which pairs perfectly with the crunchy granola and creamy yogurt. Enjoy as a breakfast, lunch, or hearty snack!

Kiwifruit Coconut Granola | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kiwifruit Coconut Granola

Makes 12 servings

  • 1 C chopped raw almonds
  • 1 C chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 C pepitas
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 C cooked Quinoa
  • 1 C shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 C raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled, halved and sliced thin. Dehydrate 18 hours in a dehydrator or a low oven

Dehydrate your kiwifruit ahead of time. Fresh kiwifruit baked with the granola will burn. Alternatively, you can serve the baked granola with fresh sliced kiwifruit if desired.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (except kiwi).

In a small bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, honey and extract. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat.

Spread the granola in an even layer on the prepared sheet – don’t break up any clumps, as these will be extra delicious!

Bake at 300 for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Remove and allow to cool completely on the pan. Stir in the dehydrated kiwi and store in an airtight container in your pantry, up to two weeks.

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.)

Staying in the theme of bright colors, SLS3 sent me a pair of neon running socks to test out. I love colorful running shoes, so the added color from these socks are so fun! They held up great on my 6 mile run last night, and despite the heat, didn’t leave my feet feeling sweaty. That’s because these were created with dual layer moisture removal technology, to help keep feet dry and reduce the chance of blisters. SLS3 wants to give all my readers a discount: order a 3-pack of the socks from Amazon and save $5 with this exclusive code: DKJIJERK.

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