My Return and a Recipe to Boot (Napa Chicken Salad)

So I have been MIA from blog-land for almost 2 years…yikes!  An awful lot has happened in that time, but I can break down the important things in a few small snippets.

I started a second side business called The Vintage Onion where I sell lots of fun vintage jewelry, other items, and new creations made out of vintage goods.  The shop is closed right now because of snippet #2, but I plan to re-open soon.

So what is snippet #2 you ask…I am a mommy!  We welcomed Eli Stephen on August 13, 2013 and life has been a whirlwind every since.  That little boy makes my heart burst with more love than I ever could have imagined was possible.  He is going to be 7 months old next week and he is a handsome little man.  Yes, I say little man because he is over 20 pounds and 28 inches.  He is huge for his age…97th percentile.  Oh, but he is fantastically healthy and is going to be a heart-breaker!

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And my third little snippet is that I have been so crazy busy with everything that I have gotten beyond out of shape.  I gained almost 70 pounds when I was pregnant with little man and not much has come off since.  So I am starting my fitness and healthy food journey anew to get back to a healthy weight.  I need to make sure I can keep up with Eli because he will be running around before we know it.

With that said, here comes my first new recipe for you in ages – Napa Chicken Salad.  So I know Panera Bread makes a version, as well as many other places and just about every blog under the sun has a recipe too.  Well I had some fabulous Napa Chicken Salad recently at a local deli near my office building.  It was so scrumptious that I wanted to take a stab at re-creating it in a waist-friends yet tasty way.

I am super happy with how it turned out so I thought it was perfect for my return to Dishing up Life – trust me I have lots of life to dish up now.

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Napa Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories per serving: 335.8

Fat per serving: 13.8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Cooked Chicken Breast, cut up in small chunks
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Diced
  • 1 cup Red Grapes, Halved
  • 1/2 cup Raw Pecans
  • 1.5 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
  • 3/4-1 cup Dressing (see below)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dressing (Makes 1 cup):
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
  • 1/4 cup Chobani Plain 2% Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs)
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar, Granulated (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix chicken, celery, grapes, pecans, and poppy seeds in medium bowl.
  3. Add 3/4-1 cup dressing and mix well.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes

Calorie information includes sugar and 1 cup of dressing. Calorie count will be less if you use less dressing and/or sugar.

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Serve it up over a bed of lettuce with cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and a little bit of raspberry vinaigrette or make it into a wrap with spinach and a side of sugar snap peas like I did for dinner.  I also kept it gluten-free by using a millet and flax lavash from a local bakery.

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Makes for a very tasty lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!

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Fun with Flowers and Photography

So I really love flowers and I really love photography, but I like photographing flowers even more – who would have thunk right??

While I was outside shooting pictures of my oh so yummy Nutella Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce I decided to shoot some pics of just a few of the gorgeous flowers growing in our yard.

 

I have been told that I have a great eye for photography, which I am very grateful for since the camera just captures the image – it doesn’t figure out what that image should be.

However, I also have a fabulous camera with a couple of stellar lenses.  I absolutely love my macro lens.  It is the one I use the most to get all the great detail in my flower shots, but also in my food shots.

I also like to play around with editing the images as well, but you have to have a great image to start with in order to come out with something even better.

This was my fun photo edit from my flower shoot the other day.  I love what I was able to do with the image.  It happens to be an edit of one of the lily photos (I can’t remember if it was orange or yellow). It is also my favorite image from the flower shoot.

What do you think?

I would love to do some shoots with people on the side (as I could use a bit more practice in that area), if I could manage to fit it in with all the other things I have going on.

Here a couple of my recent “people” shots from our trip to Binder Park Zoo – hopefully my family won’t object to my posting them here.

What do you love about photography?

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Nutella Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce

When the warmer weather returns my ice cream cravings go through the roof.  A couple of days ago I really wanted an ice cream sundae complete with hot fudge sauce and peanuts.  Problem was I had ice cream and peanuts, but no hot fudge and I wasn’t up to a trip to the store.

So I did a quick Google search and found plenty of recipes I could have made with items I already had on hand.  However, they all took about 10 minutes of cooking time and made about 3 cups of sauce and I was not up for that at 10pm.

So instead I did the next best thing and threw a few things together in the microwave and next thing you know I had a crazy good Nutella Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce in under a minute.  I won’t be going back to that jarred hot fudge ever again.

Nutella Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 1 minute

Total Time: 2 minutes

Yield: about 1/2 cup

Serving Size: 1 T

Calories per serving: 45

Ingredients

  • 1 T Nutella
  • 1 T Peanut Butter
  • 1 T Mini Chocolate Chips (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 T Non-Dairy Milk (I have used Silk Almond Milk and Silk Coconut Milk, regular would work fine too)
  • 1 T No-Calorie Sweetener (I use Ideal)
  • 1/2 T Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  1. Combine the Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and milk in a microwave-safe dish. I use a coffee cup.
  2. Microwave on high in 15 second increments, stirring in-between, until melted. It only took about 30 seconds in my microwave.
  3. Remove from microwave and add sweetener and butter. Stir until melted and combined.
  4. Add vanilla and stir until completely mixed.
  5. Drizzle over your ice cream and enjoy.
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It is easy and delicious and not horrible calorie-wise at about 45 calories per tablespoon.  It made a fabulous ice cream sundae that I have enjoyed several times over the past week.

Plus it is just as fabulous on fruit.  Nutella Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Dipped Strawberries anyone??

If you have any left after you have finished it just store in the fridge in an airtight container.  Just heat it up for a few seconds in the microwave and give it a good stir when you need it.  It is also fabulous cold right out of the dish when you need a little chocolate fix.

Enjoy!!

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Binder Park Zoo

It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day – perfect for an outdoor adventure.  So we hit the zoo today, Binder Park Zoo that is, to celebrate my sister’s 28th birthday.  I haven’t been to a zoo in ages – in fact I believe the last time I went was when I visited Binder Park Zoo for the first time 10 years ago.

Feeding the giraffes was just as much fun today as it was 10 years ago.  Today presented lots of great photo opportunities, which was great because I love taking photos.

Here are some of my favorites from today.

The giraffes and prairie dogs are by far my favorite and I spent quite a time near both and got some great shots.

Such a great way to spend a Sunday with family.  Enjoy the pictures.

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Nature at its Finest

A couple of weeks ago I was able to get outside and shoot some photos of the lovely budding spring that was happening around me.  It is one of my favorites times of year, next to fall, and photography is one of my many passions.

Here are of few of my favorite shots from the day (click on any image to see full size):

My favorite is the flower shot with the bee.  They are such amazing insects and look really cool up close.

Which one is your favorite?

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in purchasing any of my photographs.

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Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

Sometimes life gets in the way of, well, life.  By that I mean the everyday responsibilities of being an adult with a job, a mortgage, and bills to pay gets in the way of those other things we really want to do like create recipes, read books, paint, draw, dance, sing, create, you name it.

Sometimes those adult responsibilities are just overwhelming, so much so that you begin to lose yourself in them.  That has been my problem as of late and that is why there have been no new recipes or posts of any kind in about a month now.

I set out to write about food and life, but I haven’t been doing that.  When I didn’t have a new recipe to post I just didn’t bother to post anything at all, so the life part of this thing quickly got lost.

I am here now to set things right.  This site is going back to the roots of what I intended it to be – a site about food, life, and everything in between.

I am hoping you will join me again on this journey and help to set me straight when I start to veer off the path.

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Walnut Chocolate Chip Bars – Gluten Free and Vegan

 

These bars, or in my case wedges, are gluten-free, dairy-free, flour-less, and vegan.  They were a quick experiment last night and turned out delicious.  They really taste like a baked larabar only better!

Walnut Chocolate Chip Bars – Gluten Free

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 16 wedges or squares

Serving Size: 1 wedge or square

Calories per serving: 250

Ingredients

  • 12 Pitted Dried Dates
  • 2 1/2 cups Walnuts
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4 cup Ideal Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Pecan Meal (or ground pecans)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 T Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 T Coconut Butter (I use Olivio Coconut Spread)
  • 2 T Almond Milk
  • 1 T Flaxseed Meal
  • 1/2 tsp Xantham Gum
  • 1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chip Minis

Instructions

  1. Put flaxseed meal in small bowl and add 3 T water. Let sit for 2 minutes to form "egg substitute".
  2. Add dates to a cup with a bit of water and microwave for about a minute to soften. Drain water.
  3. Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until a dough forms.
  4. Press mixture into a greased pan. I used a 9 inch glass pie plate greased with coconut oil to make wedges, but you could use a 9"x9" square to make bars.
  5. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. Cut into bars or wedges and enjoy.
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Now they are not the lowest calorie treat, but that is not my goal.  My goal is to create recipes that taste delicious and are able to nourish my body in ways that the processed junk lining grocery store aisles cannot.

 

This bar does just that – it is packed full of walnuts which helps me get a good dose of Omega-3s in a delicious treat that satisfies my sweet tooth.

I promise you won’t be disappointed in this bar if you try it.

 

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Mediterranean Egg Scramble

Eggs tend to be my go to breakfast when I am craving something warm and quick with staying power.  This is one of my favorite new egg dishes and it is packed full of nutritious veggies.

Mediterranean Egg Scramble

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Milk
  • 1-2 cups Fresh Spinach
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Diced Tomatoes
  • 2-3 Tbsp Feta Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chipotle Chile Pepper
  • Oil, I use Safflower or Olive

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in medium pan over medium heat.
  2. Toss in spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach is wilted.
  3. Scramble 2 eggs with 1 tbsp milk in a separate bowl.
  4. Add egg mixture to pan.
  5. Add dash of fresh ground salt and pepper and about 1/8 tsp of chipotle chile pepper.
  6. Add Feta Cheese.
  7. Continue to cook eggs over medium heat and when first sign of setting begins use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently push mixture from edge of pan to center of pan thus "scrambling" the eggs.
  8. Continue to scramble the eggs until thoroughly set.
  9. Place on plate and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with a side of fresh fruit for a wonderful breakfast.
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This is a perfect meal to get your day off to a great start.

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Nutella Kahlua Crinkle Cookies

Don’t those look good?  Even better they are super easy and low calorie!

So let’s cut to the chase and get to that recipe so you can get baking.

Nutella Kahlua Crinkle Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 12

Serving Size: 1

Calories per serving: 61

Ingredients

  • 2 T Nutella
  • 1 T Coconut Butter (I use Olivio Coconut Spread)
  • 2 T Kahlua
  • 1 1/2 T Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C + 2 T Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/4 C + 2 T Oat Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • White Sugar for Coating

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a mixer, cream together Nutella, butter, Kahlua, and sugar.
  3. Add flour mixture a little at a time until well mixed. Should form a pretty stiff dough.
  4. Roll into 1" balls and roll in white sugar to coat.
  5. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 6-8 minutes in pre-heated 375 degree oven.
  7. Cool and enjoy.

Notes

The cookies will be fairly crunchy at first, but will soften to a more cake-like texture overnight (if they last that long)!

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I basically ate the whole batch within 2 days but really didn’t feel that guilty since they were only 61 calories a piece.

Yummy!  They go great with a glass of milk, unless you’d rather have them with a side of more cookies!

Now, I am hoping to get back to posting on a regular basis.  It has been tough creating new recipes in the last couple of weeks since the doctor has me on a gluten-free diet.  That certainly has made my experiments much more difficult as cooking/baking without gluten is a challenge.  I am starting to get the hang of it and have made some lovely sweet biscuits that I hope to perfect and post soon, as well as working on a gluten-free version of these babies.

Until then, go enjoy some gluten for me (if you can).

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Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Fat Free No Sugar Added

So like most of the country right now we are hitting record temps on a daily basis – 80 degrees in March are darn near unheard of in Michigan, but I will take what I can get.  In celebration of the very summer-like weather I made strawberry frozen yogurt!

It was my first attempt at frozen yogurt and was an instant success.  I could hardly put down the spoon to take a picture and seriously contemplated eating all of it.

The best part of it is that it is super healthy with no fat or added sugars (the only sugars are those already in the yogurt) plus all the protein of greek yogurt.  It would make a great treat anytime.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Fat Free No Sugar Added

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 1/4 cups

Serving Size: 3/4 cup

Calories per serving: 163

Fat per serving: 0

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 18 ounces Vanilla Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Ideal No Calorie Sweetener

Instructions

  1. Puree strawberries in blender or food processor until liquefied (if using frozen soften slightly first by popping in microwave for 30 seconds or so)
  2. Press berry mixture through fine sieve to remove seeds (if you don't mind the seeds you can skip this step like I did)
  3. Mix berry puree, yogurt, and ideal in a bowl until until well mixed and sweetener is dissolved (you can just throw it in the blender or food processor with the berries and whip it all together if you don't mind the seeds)
  4. Chill in refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes
  5. Add mixture to ice cream maker and run for 15 minutes or until reaches desired consistency
  6. Remove from ice cream maker and enjoy

Notes

I have not tried this, but I have heard that if you don't have an ice cream maker, then put in a freezer bag and lay flat in the freezer. Every 10-15 minutes pull the bag out and squish contents around. Return to freezer and repeat every 10-15 minutes until reaches desired consistency.

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It is super quick and easy and very delicious right out of the ice cream maker.  Leftovers (ha) can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a few days.  It will get hard in the freezer so you will need to pull it out to soften before eating.

The whole recipe is only 490 calories so just split it with someone and you have a delicious and filling (roughly 21 grams protein for half the recipe) dessert for under 250 calories.

Now doesn’t that just look lick the container good?  Think I might just have to go whip up another batch!

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