Black Bean Brownies

I'm not much of a "gadgety" type of person but this brownie pan was a must-have. Everyone knows the best part of brownies are the corner and edge pieces! Well, at least that's my favorite part, so this was a great gift for moi.

So I'm guessing you're probably wondering what in the world these brownies are all about. Black beans...brownie...say what?! First, I must make a disclaimer: this is not your average brownie and you shouldn't try to trick anyone by telling them it's a regular brownie because they'll think your baking skills absolutely suck. The texture gives the brownie away and some people may not like it. But, if you're like me and enjoy glutinous desserts but also love trying new things, give this one a try. These brownies are a healthy spin to your standard fattening, delicious, high caloric brownie and would be a great gift to give someone who is watching their weight. I'm not guaranteeing they'll taste anything like those brownies we all know and love, but they're a nice healthy alternative. I would designate these more of a "chick's" brownie - meaning probably only women will like them. I fed one to lobster and he was not a fan. Well...his first bite he said, "mmmm" which turned into a "...hmmmmm??" (damn, the bean taste must have kicked in) Then his "hmmm" turned into a funny face and a...."eh, not so much." I tried them out on the rest of the family and the sister-in-law and "G" White Man weren't jumpin' for joy either - but the rug-rats (niece and nephew) loved them, so this would be a great treat for kids. They get chocolate AND vegetables all in one bite - what parent wouldn't love that?!

So if you end up giving this recipe a try, just know that the texture of the brownie actually improves the longer it sits and tasted better the next day. But if you really open your mind and embrace the brownie for its "beany-ness" (don't think that's a word) they are a healthy tasty treat. But, if you really want to hide the taste even more, eat this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it'll make it all better. Be brave...try it and let me know whatcha think.

Black Bean Brownies
9 servings = 164 calories per slice
Adapted from here

• 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons oil (I substituted half the amount with unsweetened apple sauce)
• 4 tablespoons cocoa powder (Hershey's unsweetened cocoa)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3/4 cup sugar
• a pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F.
Pour drained beans into a blender, set on puree and blend until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients and continue blending until evenly mixed.
Pour bean mixture into a greased 8 by 8 pan. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
Let them cool and enjoy.

**I baked mine in the brownie maze pan and they only took 15 minutes.

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Today I made myself a healthy fruit and yogurt parfait. I couldn't tell which one I was more excited about - eating the parfait or just the idea of making something in my cute new glasses. Ain't it perrrrty?! It's like whatever you make automatically looks yummy and fancy. I have great plans for these little tiramisu, strawberries and creme, hot fudge sundaes...nummmmm! I'm getting hungry just thinking about the endless possibilities.

Today they were used to make me breakfast. I filled each layer with a little bit of Special K cereal, topped with greek yogurt, sliced strawberries and drizzled with honey. After you finish the first layer keep building until you get to the top - grab a fork and dig in.

Other suggestions could be:
- strawberries with sour cream mixed with brown sugar
- angel food cake topped with strawberry or blueberry sleury
- holding vessel for cobbler with ice cream

Asian Vinaigrette

Asian vinaigrette
3 to 4 servings
Courtesy of the father-in-law

2 tbs seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
S&P to taste
few drops of soy sauce to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and season to taste with S&P and soy sauce. Vinaigrette should taste fairly acidic and salty since they have to dress and flavor the greens. Make sure after you clean your greens they are dry and not wet so the dressing can adhere to them.

Tilapia with Fresh Cilantro Kiwi Chutney & Succotash Salad

I've been on a healthy eating kick lately and this recipe was light, refreshing and hit the spot. The fish in my mind somehow makes up for the strawberry-rhubarb crumble I've had everyday for the past three nights. Luv it when I can justify things in my mind - as I dig into another bite while I'm typing this.

I decided to make this recipe because the ingredients sounded so interesting. Kiwi and cilantro blended together - how could that be good, right? But it was. It tastes very similar to salsa verde or chimichurri but more complex since it's sweet and spicy. This sauce would be great over chicken or meat as well. A good variation on this dish would be to eat all the components together wrapped up in a taco. But if you're watching your carbs, this was equally delicious without the starch. The succotash was really flavorful too and tastes like you're eating something straight from the farmer's market. Overall, this meal was yummy, healthy and delightful.

Tilapia with Fresh Cilantro Kiwi Chutney
Adapted from Bon Appetit
4 servings

1 cup (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
1 large kiwi, peeled, cubed
1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk* (I used Taste of Thai Lite Coconut Milk)
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile (I used half a jalapeno with a little bit of the seeds)
4 6- to 7-ounce mahi-mahi fillets
Ground cumin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Season chutney with salt and pepper. If chutney is too spicy, add more pureed kiwi and sugar. Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, and cumin. Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fish. Sauté until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plates; top with chutney.

*Sold at many supermarkets and at Indian, Southeast Asian, and Latin markets.

***If you'd like the recipe for the succotash salad, click here

Prosciutto & Chicken Sandwich and a Basil Pesto Recipe

The other day I went to lunch with a friend and had a super yummy sandwich. We went to this new restaurant in Marina Del Rey called Mendocino Farms. It's a cute little place where they have tons of different, creative sandwiches and salads. I absolutely love sandwiches and could eat them all day everyday and this one in particular was delicious. Of course since I love all things sweet and salty, that's exactly what the flavors of this sandwich are. You get the saltiness from the prosciutto, the sweetness from the balsamic and honey and the cheese melts beautifully and holds the sammie together. If you've never had Havarti cheese before, it's similar to string cheese but the flavor is much richer. Although my sammie didn't taste as good as the one I had at the restaurant, it was a tasty "knock-off" and satisfied my craving.

**The basil pesto was also a new recipe I tried and the flavors were great. I substituted pistachios for the pine nuts and it gave the pesto a different taste then your standard pesto. The spread was great in the sammie and would be delicious as a sauce over pasta as well. Next time I'll make a big batch and freeze it for a quick weeknight meal.
**You can freeze extra pesto in ice cubs trays. When ready to use, remove them from the freezer and defrost over night in the fridge.

Basil Pesto Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 1/2 cup serving

• 2 tbs pine nuts (I used roasted salted pistachios)
• 1 1/2 garlic cloves
• 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
• 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 4 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
2. Combine nuts and garlic in a food processor; process until minced. Add basil, oil, salt, and pepper; process until blended, scraping sides occasionally. Spoon into a bowl and fold in cheese.
*The sauce tasted great even without the cheese so I'm betting you could even omit that if you're watching your calories.

Prosciutto and Chicken Sandwich
Created by NuM NuM
1 serving

Oroweat Sandwich Thins
Prosciutto di Parma
Cooked chicken - dark or white meat
Basil Pesto
Balsamic Vinegar
Honey or any kind of sweet preserves or jam
One slice of Havarti Cheese

Slice cheese in half. Spread pesto sauce on one side of bread and top with one slice of the cheese. Shred chicken breasts and layer on top of cheese. Next add prosciutto di parma and drizzle with a good amount of honey. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over other half of sandwich thin then top with remaining slice of cheese and top the bread over other half of the sandwich. Heat a skillet to medium-low and place sandwich on dry skillet. Place a heavy pot or skillet on the sandwich to weigh it down so it becomes a hot melty panini. Toast each side of bread for about 3-4 minutes per side until cheese is melted and bread is nice and toasty.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad

This salad was quite tasty and made for a healthy, delicious light dinner. I love finding recipes that make you feel like you're actually eating something healthy. While I do love a good mac 'n cheese, I hate the bloated after effects and the food coma that follows. I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish and it was a little spicy from the cayenne too. I made this salad a few hours in advance so the flavors could marry together and it tasted even better the next day. Since you can make this dish ahead of time, it would be a great dish to serve to company or take to a potluck.

This was my first time cooking quinoa and it cooked up in no time at all. If you've never had quinoa before, it has the same consistency as couscous and is very nutritious, full of protein and gluten free. The original recipe called for barley but I only had quinoa in my pantry, so that's what I used. But I bet this would taste even better with barley or farro since they have a nice crunchy and nutty consistency. Since the quinoa is very soft and the vegetables were roasted, everything was pretty mushy so I added a 1/4 cup of diced jicama and cucumbers for some crunch - just in case you substitute with quinoa like I did.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
Makes 2 large servings (main course) or 4 (side dish) servings
Adapted from Epicurious

3/4 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallion
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or adjust to taste
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup roma tomatoes – seeded and cut into1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1/2 cup bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata

Roast eggplant and zucchini: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss eggplant and zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then spread in shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 bowl and cool.
Cook quinoa: Heat 1 tablespoons oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed for about 15 minutes.
Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients along with cheese to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

Do ahead: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I'd always heard about strawberry rhubarb desserts but never had the opportunity to try one until last week. After my first bite I quickly became a fan of rhubarb and knew I wanted to re-create it at home. Fridays are always a great night to make desserts since lobster and I can relax and this was a no fuss dessert that came together fast. It came together fast and it was eaten very fast by moi b/c it was delicious! The taste reminded me very much of the flavors of a lemon tart. Sweet and tart all at the same time in one bite. I think this dessert is even better then a lemon tart because you get to eat it with ice cream. The cobbler is piping hot when it comes out of the oven and you take a bite along with the cold ice cream and it's just heavenly....num! My mouth is salivating just thinking about it. If you like sweet and tart desserts then I would definitely give this a try. It's also the perfect dessert to entertain with since you can make it before guests arrive and pop it in the oven right when you sit down to eat.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
Adapted from here
Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For the topping:

1 1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar aka Sugar in the Raw)

Zest of one lemon

1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted –

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries plus a few extras, hulled, quartered

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (I used an oval dish)
3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a (foil-lined, if you really want to think ahead) baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Salad

Now that spring is officially here, it's time to say goodbye to comfort food and hello to light and healthy cooking - let's hope. On my way home from work I picked up a couple of heirloom tomatoes along with some fresh mozzarella and made this salad. It's amazing how fresh ingredients can take a simple dish from good to GREAT. When you're making a dish that uses such few ingredients, you really should use the best you can afford. A fruity extra-virgin olive oil and good aged balsamic vinegar are a must. For this dish I used some of my fancy balsamic vinegar that I have hidden in the back of my cupboard. Using really good balsamic vinegar makes all the difference in the world. I'm not talking about the stuff you buy at the grocery store, but the thick, rich, syrupy kind you spend some bucks on - and for this salad my friends, it was a special occasion.

If you've never seen or tasted an heirloom tomato before, they are rather ugly looking but don't let their appearance turn you off. Despite getting beat with an ugly stick, these babies are much more flavorful and juicy than your regular supermarket tomato. Since they're so rich in flavor they can be a bit expensive too - but it's worth the splurge. Consider them the BMW's of tomatoes :) I only bought two from the store but lagged a bit from when I brought them home versus when I actually made the dish. Therefore, one of the little guys was looking the tiniest bit scary - okay maybe it was smelling a little rancid - so lobster made me throw it away....DAMN HIM!! But the other one was delicious and fulfilled his heirloom tomato destiny and we had a delicious salad before dinner.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Salad
One fresh ball of mozzarella (usually packed in water)
Good aged Balsamic Vinegar (Fattoria Estense Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Sur La Table)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Marca Verde il Classico from Sur La Table)
Fresh basil leaves

Slice tomatoes 1/4-inch thick, brush with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Slice cheese into 1/8-inch rounds and season with S&P. Use one large basil leaf per tomato slice. For plating start with tomato then cheese then basil overlapping them a bit. Continue until all ingredients are used up. Drizzle all over with balsamic vinegar.

Southwestern Butternut Squash & Black Bean Egg Rolls

I found this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs. She always has new innovative recipes and makes them sound so appetizing. Since I was leaving for a business trip I thought I'd make these egg rolls for lobster so he'd have something to munch on all week. But after I had one, I liked them so much I left him only a few and froze the rest so WE could eat them together when I got back :) Hey, it's the thought that counts! I liked these egg rolls especially because they're a "freezable meal." These would also make a great gift to give a friend who's about to have a baby since they won't have much time to cook with a screaming peaceful, sleeping baby around.

Southwestern Butternut Squash & Black Bean Egg Rolls
Adapted from Cara's Cravings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 200gm)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs peeled, diced butternut squash
3 tbsp canned diced green chilies
2 tsp cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
1 1/2 packages egg roll wrappers (I used Nanka Seiman Golden Dragon Egg Roll Skins)
Mae Ploy Sweet chili sauce for dipping

Roast butternut squash for 25 minutes at 425F flipping halfway through until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, green chilies, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, and cook for a few more minutes. Add the black beans, cilantro and lime juice and stir to combine evenly. Remove from heat.

Place the butternut squash and the onion mixture in a large bowl and mash to combine. These will be best if the mixture is left a little bit chunky.

To assemble the egg rolls, place a wrapper on your surface with one corner pointing down (diamond position). Place a couple tablespoons of the squash mixture onto the wrapper, and use a pastry brush dipped in water to wet the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up, then fold the outside corners in, and roll it all up. Make sure you place a damp paper towel over the wrappers and finished egg rolls as your making them or else they will dry out. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until squash mixture is used up; I got about 24 egg rolls using a large ice cream scoop for the squash portioning.

To bake: Place a baking sheet in the oven while heating at 400F. When it's hot, remove from the oven, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and place the egg rolls on the sheet. Spray them well with nonstick spray. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Extra egg rolls can be frozen and baked straight from the freezer. To freeze for later consumption place egg rolls in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in freezer for about an 1 1/2 hours. Once frozen place them all in a freezer zip lock bag and keep frozen.

Serve these with Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce. The sauce goes especially well with the egg rolls since they're kinda spicy and the dipping sauce is a little sweet.

***I also stuffed these inside of a pita pocket and enjoyed them just as much. Simply cut a pita in half, insert the stuffing into one half and roast in a pre-heated 400F oven for seven minutes or until pita is brown and nice and crispy. However, of course this does defeat the purpose of a freezable meal.

Baked Kale Chips

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to potato chips, and want to satisfy your salty crunchy craving, give these kale chips a try. I was a little skeptical too at first. I thought, "like roasting a piece of lettuce is gonna taste good?! All these food bloggers must be on crack." BUT my friends, this is GOOD! Even lobster who said he doesn't even like kale was gobbling these up. Try them and you too can be a member of the kale chip fan club.

I made these along with another recipe called the "world's best lasagna," which ended up being the "world's heaviest lasagna" and just tasted okay. It was my first time attempting lasagna from scratch and with that amount of time and energy I expected something spectacular, but it was just aiiight.....booooo! But the kale was a nice texture contrast to the soft lasagna so maybe try the two together next time you make lasagna and/or something soft and mushy.

Baked Kale Chips
Photo and recipe adapted from Steamy Kitchen

4 giant handfuls of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces - tough stems removed (about 1/3 pound)
PAM olive oil spray
kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Rinse the kale thoroughly. Put the leaves in a salad spinner and spin to remove all of the water. Dump the water from the spinner and repeat one or two more times to ensure the kale is completely dry. Place the kale on the prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle the olive oil over the kale leaves and use your hands to toss and coat the leaves with the oil. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the leaves are crisp. Be sure to check the kale often toward the end of its baking time as you don't want to let the leaves turn brown, which will make them bitter. You'll know the kale is done when the leaves are crisp and fragile. If they feel soft, give them another minute or two and check again. Once they're done baking, remove them from oven and sprinkle with kosher salt before serving

Watermelon, Arugula, Feta Salad

I love making dishes that I've never tried before and this one seemed like an interesting combination of flavors. I knew it would be sweet and salty and that's always a winner in my book. The sweet watermelon and salty feta compliment each other very well and make the salad very refreshing. The colors on the plate are gorgeous and would be a great starter when you have company over. Impress your next guests and serve this salad.

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
2 servings

• 2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tbs minced shallots
• 1/2 tablespoon honey
• 2 tbs good olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 3 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry
• 1 cup seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1/2-inch cubes (watermelon should be cold)
• 2 ounces good feta cheese, crumbled (I used Greek feta)
• 2 tbs whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.
Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately

**When I tasted the vinaigrette it seemed a little bland but when tossed with the salad it was perfect

Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes aka Molten Lava Cake

At almost every restaurant today they always have some sort of lava cake on the dessert menu. You know which one I'm talking about. That warm chocolate cake with the ooey, gooey melted chocolate center. The kind when you break into it and the chocolate just flows like lava in a volcano. The kind of lava I would looove to bathe in :) Okay, sorry for the visual, but holy mother this dessert is sooooo good and decadent and a chocolate lovers dream come true. Soooo good it makes you want to roll your eyes back....yes, it's that good. Best of all, it has less calories then a regular lava cake so that means more room for ice cream :) (Love how I can justify things) You could probably get three servings out of this because it's so rich and it would completely satisfy your sweet tooth. I shouldn't even be sharing this recipe with you b/c I want to hoard it for myself but OMG...NUM NUM NUM you too will be doing the happy dance soon after eating this. Try it, you won't be sorry!

Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes
2 servings

390 calories each
Adapted from here

• 3 tbs all-purpose flour
• 2 1/2 tbs unsweetened cocoa
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 tbs granulated sugar
• 2 1/2 packed brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 oz bar dark (71% cocoa) chocolate (such as Valrhona Le Noir Amer) or semi sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.
2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a hand mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars, beating until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add egg and vanilla, beating until well blended. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture until fully incorporated and nice and glossy; fold in chocolate. Divide batter evenly among 2 (4-ounce) ramekins; arrange ramekins on a jelly-roll pan. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.
3. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Let ramekins stand at room temperature 10-12 minutes. Uncover and bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes or until cakes are puffy and look the tiniest bit underdone in the center, center should be soft and not jiggly. Serve immediately with ice cream.

**Next time I will try and invert these onto a plate like a traditional lava cake. To do that, you can butter the ramekins and lightly flour. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds, bake and invert each ramekin onto a plate and let sit for 10 seconds, unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately. (NOTE: I have not tried this and can't guarantee it will work but if all else fails, you can just eat them straight out of the ramekins like we did)

Tofu "Egg Salad" Sammie

With summer just around the corner it's time to get into shape. There's going to be lots of B&B's. Barbecues and bikini's! So our bod's need to get into tip-top shape and these sammies are a great healthy start. I was a little skeptical when I saw this recipe at first, but since I like tofu I thought I'd give it a shot. This sammie was super light and refreshing. I couldn't wait to feed it to lobster and trick him again. He really liked it too but thought something was a little "different" about the texture. I think he thinks everything I give him that's white and crumbly is tofu now - must have tricked him one too many times :) But if you decide to trick someone for the first time, I'm sure they'd believe it was egg salad. Try it.

I ate the tofu salad between two slices of Oroweat Sandwich Thins. Next time I would try eating this in a pita that way I can have more salad to bread ratio and I won't have to worry about tofu squirting out of the sandwich. Then a light bulb went off! What if the tofu was trapped, stuffed inside of a pita - problem solved! I also made these as open faced sammies on top of some good crusty multi-grain bread. The crunchy bread was a great contrast to the soft salad and it was the perfect combo. Nice and light. Pleasure on the lips and good for the hips :)

Tofu Sammie
4 servings

Adapted from here and here and a little bit of me :)

1 14 oz block of firm tofu
2 tbs chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced onion greens
1/4 cup fennel, small dice
2 tablespoons mayo
4 tbs sour cream or greek yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp onion and garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder or cayenne
2 tsp capers drained, chopped
Lime juice to taste
Season with lots of S&P
Sliced tomatoes 1/4" thick

Drain the water from the tofu and cut into 1/2" slices. Place tofu in one layer between a few paper towels and place a heavy pan on top so tofu releases all liquid for fifteen minutes.
Put the tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork
Add the onion greens, parsley and fennel and stir.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, mustard, and rest of the ingredients through the capers. Season to taste with lime juice, and S&P
Add the mayo mixture to the tofu and stir until well blended and season with more S&P. If mixture seems dry you may need to make more of the sauce or add a couple more spoonsfuls of sour cream and season again to taste.

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding

This is one of my all-time FAVORITE chocolate desserts. It's so simple to make and not that bad for you - unless you eat it with three scoops of vanilla ice cream like me.

It's so nice having your own individual serving of dessert - that way you don't have to share :) This recipe makes two serving and is only 319 calories each. Soooo good and decadent, you'll make this dessert over and over again. Nummmmm!

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding
Adapted from here

Try not to chop the chocolate too finely so you'll have good-sized chunks to bite into. Hawaiian bread pudding is a soft, sweet bread found in the bakery section of most grocery stores. Leftovers are good for ham and Swiss sandwiches.

1 3/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed Hawaiian sweet bread
2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur), optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350°.
Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove bread from oven; decrease oven temperature to 325°.
Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (milk through egg) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add bread, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Divide half of bread mixture evenly between 2 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray;sprinkle evenly with half of chocolate. Divide remaining bread mixture between ramekins; top with remaining chocolate.
Place ramekins in an 8-inch square baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 35 minutes or until set. Serve each pudding warm with 1 tablespoon whipped topping.

**I eat this with vanilla ice cream

Butterflied Cuban Style Pork Chops

This was a dish I was really excited about making. I've always enjoyed eating Cuban sandwiches and thought this was a great twist on it. You're basically taking all the ingredients that are usually inside of the sandwich and stuffing them inside the pork instead - you don't even miss the carbs whatsoever. I inhaled mine and lobster said it was a new fav! The flavors in the marinade are amazing and the combination of ham and gouda are an added bonus. The original recipe calls for swiss cheese but I find swiss rather bland so I substituted with gouda which has a much sharper taste IMO. This dish would be great to serve to company since it's a unique dish and the flavors pack a yummy punch.

Butterflied Cuban Style Pork Chops
Adapted from Grill It With Bobby Flay
4 servings

3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup canola oil
4 (8-ounce) pork chops, butterflied and thinly pounded cut side up 1/4" thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices of Gouda
8 thin slices of boiled ham
2 sour dill pickles, thinly sliced (need about 16 slices)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Kitchen twine*

Heat the grill to high.

Whisk together 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons oregano, the garlic, cumin, and canola oil in a large baking dish. Add the pork and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Place the chops on a flat surface, cut-side up and season with salt and pepper. Place 1 slice of cheese, 2 slices of ham, a few slices of pickle and another slice of cheese on 1 half of the chop. Fold over brush the top with oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place the chops on the grill, oil side down and grill until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chops over and continue grilling until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Whisk the remaining orange and lime juices, oregano, and the cilantro with the olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon over the chops and serve

*To keep the pork together on the grill, I tied it horizontally with one piece of kitchen twine

***To make this an authentic cuban pork "sammie," next time I'll put in a layer of yellow deli mustard inside the stuffing too.