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Crave-Worthy Recipes

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Healthy carrot cake smoothie

Don’t you just love dessert for breakfast? Of course eating actual carrot cake for breakfast isn’t exactly a healthy or energizing way to start your morning, but this cool and creamy smoothie is the best of both worlds. Actually, you’ll love this smoothie anytime you want a perfect breakfast, dessert or even a snack. This carrot cake smoothie tastes just like your favorite carrot cake dessert, only lighter and healthier — so it’s totally guilt free. The Greek yogurt replaces with cream cheese so you’ll get a filling dose of protein instead of fat. Maple syrup makes for a great smoothie sweetener, and it can work really well, so start with just a tablespoon and adjust accordingly from there. It’s just eight ingredients and can be whipped up in no time with any high speed blender in under 5 minutes. Keep this one on file for the new year, or…

Lemon Almond Chicken Salad

Show me the person that isn’t looking for more delicious, healthy lunch ideas — we all are! Rarely are we dreaming of digging into a lunch we threw together at home in a hurry. So forget the sad salads you usually pack, and whip up a batch of this lemon almond chicken salad for tomorrow. With this recipe in your arsenal, you might actually stick to eating the healthy lunch you brought from home — and you’ll definitely look forward to it. The crunchy almonds are so satisfying, and the lemon pepper seasoning makes this recipe oh-so-craveable. Eat it with crackers, or wrap it up in a lettuce leaf for a low-carb option. It’s great all on its own, too! We snack on it by the spoonful at my house. There are tons of other ways to customize this recipe. Omit the tiny bit of mayo if you’re going for…

Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill

This elegant appetizer is easy enough to prepare, you’ll whip it up party after party. Pour your guests some Chardonnay and snack on these salmon bites to get the engagement going! Notes: Substitute Italian bread if that’s what you have on hand. Also, you can use goat cheese instead of butter, or chives or capers instead of dill — all delicious alternatives. Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill Ingredients 1 stick butter, softened  1 tbsp stone ground mustard 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp lemon zest 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill + 1 tbsp chopped dill for garnish 1/8 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper 1 long, thin French baguette, sliced about 1/4-inch thick About 10 ounces of best quality smoked salmon, thinly sliced and cut into 1-to 2-inch pieces Lemon wedges (for serving) Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF. Position baguette slices in a…

Winter white hot chocolate with cinnamon

Living in Pittsburgh, it seems hot chocolate is everywhere — and that, in my opinion, isn’t always been a good thing. Those watered-down styrofoam cups at freezing cold football games or the overly sweet stuff handed out after cold weather 5Ks, are really consumed out of a need to stay warm, more so than for the enjoyment. It had been a long time since I had a cup ‘o chocolate that I actually enjoyed. But I was feeling a bit Christmassy decorating the house, so I thought I’d whip up something warm and delicious to sip on as we watch holiday movies on repeat. This Winter White Hot Chocolate has a dash of cinnamon to give the cup some complexity. You can add more or less, if you like. Even some nutmeg would taste pretty good. The best part of making drinks like this is always the extras, so if you’re…

Lightly creamy chicken and rice soup

I like to keep a pot of homemade soup on hand at all times. It kills the question “what’s for lunch?” almost immediately. Plus, it never hurts to have something delicious on hand to help you avoid the drive-thru line during the busy holiday season. Feel free to adjust the amount of broth. I like a lot, but you might like less. It’s definitely a personal choice with soup, so see what works for you! Here is a quick and easy chicken and rice soup. It’s not too creamy, yet it has just enough to add some flavor. lightly Creamy chicken and rice soup Ingredients 2 tbsp olive oil 1 large carrot, chopped 1 large celery rib, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 tsp minced garlic 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, rinsed 2/3 cup uncooked long grain rice 1 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp pepper 32-36 ounces chicken broth (or…

Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

Crispy Cheese Tortellini Appetizer with a kick

If I had to think of the one* recipe that I’ve been making my entire life, it would probably be these parmesan crusted tortellini bites. I’ve been making these since before I knew anything about food, and definitely before I cared even the slightest bit about cooking. So let me share this most delicious of all appetizers. These cheese tortellini are breaded and fried to crispy, golden perfection. Sprinkle them with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and dip them in warm marinara sauce. I call it an appetizer, but really, I never want to eat anything else when these are around. You can use a deep fryer, but I just stick with a deep pot. It can be a little tedious moving the little tortellini through all of the steps of breading and frying, but it’s worth it. I typically just settle in for the long haul, pop on some…

Holiday Ornament Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats might already be your go-to when you need a quick treat for a kid’s birthday party or snack for the class, but this holiday season, dress them up a bit for a brand new take on the old classic. They’ll look just as good in your kid’s lunchbox as they will on the buffet table at your holiday party. I made red and green Rice Krispie ornaments, but you could easily adapt to make them match the color scheme of your holiday decor — blues or purples. Leave some without food coloring for an all natural golden ornament look. I sprinkled in some golden sugar sprinkle for extra shine, but the photo doesn’t pick up on it well. Add sprinkles in the colors of your choice for extra customization.  I could even see them decorated with piped white chocolate for more fun and flavor. The Rolos were…

Roasted butternut squash with cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts

Cranberries can turn just about anything into a festive side dish. I’m definitely guilty of overusing the little red seasonal berries, but I can’t get enough of their sweet, tart taste this time of year. Roasted butternut squash is good on its own, but trust me, it’s made better by a little juicy pop. I learned a saying years ago — “If it grows together, it goes together.” (It’s actually pretty common in the gardening and food world nowadays.) I think about it often when I pair foods. And it’s so true. Strawberries and rhubarb; tomatoes and basil; squash and cranberries. They both peak this time of year and are a perfect pair. I purchased some pre sliced squash at the grocery store the other day. I couldn’t resist. It was on super sale since it was about to go bad. That meant I needed to use it up right…

Baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam

I am, without a doubt, an appetizer person. It’s where all the best foods are found! They’re always so cheesy, gooey, warm, and dunkable — This spicy baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam appetizer is no exception. This recipe is great around the holidays because you might already have fresh cranberries are your house. You can substitute a cup of homemade cranberry sauce for the fresh cranberries if you have leftovers. Plus, just look at those colors! They’re a perfect pop to any holiday table. This delicious sweet and spicy brie recipe comes together without a whole lot of work involved. Just warm the brie and top with a simple 10 minute cranberry jalapeño sauce. It’s so creamy and such an unusual combination, it will be gone in no time! Serve it with crackers, apple slices, and/or sliced baguettes. Baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam Serves 8 as an appetizer…