Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese

If I could face plant into a pile of all things Fall, I would. I know, I know – just living up to all of the internet memes out there. But I have my reasons…

Overhead_SproutsSalad

It’s not because of Starbucks…although their Salted Caramel Mocha does make a good case for itself.

It’s not because of scarves. Because no matter how many times I pin it, I still don’t actually believe there are 12 ways to tie a scarf cause they all turn out the same when I do it. I just get frustrated and give up.

It’s not because of the boots. Okay, I love boots – but I love looking at them in stores more than I actually love buying and wearing them. I’d rather a fancy pair of heels any day…I know, totally going against the grain here.

What I CAN (and do) get behind in the Fall are the colors (reds, yellows, jewel tones!), the smells (cinnamon, fires, pumpkin!) and the flavors (all of them!)…and yes, smells and flavors are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

Well here, we’re all about the flavors. Enter a delicious side salad that screams Fall. Roasted brussels sprouts? Toasted pecans? Bring it on!

Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese (2 servings/4 WW points per serving)

Ingredients_SproutsSalad

½ pound uncooked Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. minced garlic
Dash cracked black pepper & kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped/halved pecans
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Whisk together shallot, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350. Thinly slice sprouts and arrange on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange pecans on baking sheet. Bake (both) for 5 minutes to soften sprouts and toast pecans.

SlicedandDressedSprouts

Add sprouts to a small bowl and drizzle with dressing, stir to coat. Divide and top with 1 Tbsp. each pecans and blue cheese.

BrusselsSproutSalad_cookingonthebrightside

Note that this is a small portion to be enjoyed as a side. We enjoyed it with some Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops and green beans for a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure red wine was involved as well, so there’s that.

On that note, hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Greek Pasta Salad

I have a confession to make.

I am completely obsessed with Pharrell’s song “Happy” – and I know I’m not alone. I swear, it just makes me want to stop whatever I’m doing and break out into a dance. Which I have actually done. In the comfort of my home. While folding laundry. And getting the side-eye from my husband. Sorry for letting the music guide my soul babe.

Anyways, the other day my co-worker and I were talking about just the little things that get us through long and/or tough days. A big one was our girl friends and just getting to spend time with them – which we were both lamenting over the fact that we just don’t get to do enough. But then later that day she sent me a message about how the musical score to Harry Potter was making a tedious project almost enjoyable. Which was funny, because I was listening to my Harry Potter (Film Score) station on Pandora and it really is just amazing how music can help shape my mood.

I think the “Happy” song really just brings out my inner happiness, no matter how much it seems to be hiding that day. You know what else brings out happiness for me? Cooking.

Seriously, I know some people hate it. Dread it. View it as a necessary evil in order to provide nourishment. But hello, I have a blog about cooking on the BRIGHT side because I think preparing food for yourself or for others can bring so much joy.

So, in light of all of this talk of happiness and brightness, I’m sharing a delicious and beautiful dish with you – Greek Pasta Salad. This is totally an “eat with your eyes” recipe – and it tastes at least as good as it looks…

Close Up_GreekPastaSalad

Greek Pasta Salad (6 servings / 7 WW points per serving)

Ingredients_GreekPastaSalad

6 oz. whole wheat or enriched Rotini pasta (I used Barilla Plus)

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 medium cucumber, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped (I didn’t quite use a whole onion)

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

8 Tbsp. sliced black olives

4 oz. fat-free Feta crumbles

Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to directions.

While the pasta is boiling, chop your veggies and make your dressing by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. I personally like the level of “tang” in this, but if red wine vinegar has too potent of a taste for you – maybe start with 1/8 cup and work your way up. I like the pizzazz.

Veggies-Dressing_GreekPastaSalad

When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add to a medium bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes.  Pour your dressing over the pasta. Then add your chopped vegetables, sliced olives and crumbled feta. Using a rubber spatula, mix until all ingredients are combined.

AssembleSalad_GreekPastaSalad

Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. I made a batch of this one Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful, vibrant and healthy lunch every day that week. Honestly, how can looking at this awesome pop of colors not make you happy?!

Greek Pasta Salad

Have a great weekend y’all!

Roasted Buffalo Chickpea Salad

Friends – we know I have some issues when it comes to all buffalo flavored things.

As in, I want all of the buffalo flavored things.

Now that the husband and I are getting back on track in watching what we eat and taking care of ourselves, we have started doing “Meatless Mondays” again. It can be tricky making it through one when you are absolutely craving something buffalo flavored.

But I’ve taken care of that.

Roasted Buffalo Chickepea Salad - Overhead

 

You’re welcome.

I’ve heard about (and seen) recipes for roasted chickpeas and they always sounded intriguing. God bless the chickpea. Shameless Friends reference.

Well, I decided to kick up the roasted chickpeas a notch and add some buffalo sauce. But obviously that would be a bit messy. So I threw it on a salad. Nothing like some crisp celery and carrots, some blue cheese crumbles, and spicy buffalo sauce to make a salad exciting.

The best thing about this delicious salad? It’s only 5 WW points…so perfect for lunch or a light dinner! The chickpeas are packed with protein – so it leaves you feeling satisfied.

Some other delicious dishes that require no meat? Our favorite – Baked Tacos. Another buffalo favorite – Buffalo Quinoa Cakes. A yummy Veggie Strudel. A warm Lemon Spinach Orzo Soup. A veggie-packed Tortellini and Vegetable Pasta Salad. And a delicious twist on pizza – Shaved Asparagus Pizza.

Roasted Buffalo Chickpea Salad (Serves 4 / 5 WW points)

Ingredients - Buffalo Chickpea Salad

1 14 oz. can chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

8 cups iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup sliced carrot

1/2 cup Reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

6 Tbsp. Frank’s Hot Sauce

2 Tbsp. Blue Bonnet Light

4 Tbsp. Fat-free Italian dressing

Extra hot sauce

Heat your oven to 425. Drain and rinse chickpeas and pat dry. Add to a small container and toss with oil, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet (line with parchment paper or foil to avoid clean-up duty) and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Let chickpeas cool and assemble your salads.

Each serving gets 2 cups of lettuce and 1 Tbsp. of dressing. (I really just drizzled it on to make sure there was enough of a dressing since the buffalo sauce is added later. I also dotted a little hot sauce over the dressing.) Top lettuce/dressing with 2 Tbsp. blue cheese crumbles and 2 Tbsp. each celery and carrots.

Once your chickpeas have cooled slightly, melt the margarine in a small dish and stir in the hot sauce. Toss with chickpeas to coat and add about 1/4 cup to the middle of each salad.

Buffalo Chickpea Salad - Steps

We only did 2 salads – so I left the roasted chickpeas in an airtight container without the sauce so they wouldn’t get too mushy. They do make a pretty good snack!

Easy, unique, filling and delicious…

Roasted Buffalo Chickpea Salad

What more can you ask for?

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Asian Steak and Bok Choy Salad

So lately I feel like we’ve been so busy that I’ve had no time to go the store. Which means we’ve gone out to eat or ordered take-out a bit too frequently for my taste. It’s just hard for me to be “good” when I go out – I’m like, oh, that salad sounds lovely but I’ll have the bacon-cheeseburger with crispy onions and a side of fries please.

Well, I FINALLY made it to the store the other night and just needed a little something light but filling for a good dinner! I had been craving some Chinese food – so I whipped something up with a lil Asian flair and boy was it delicious! I had never used bok choy before, but it actually wasn’t so scary!

Try this for light dinner or a fabulous lunch!

Asian Steak and Bok Choy Salad (serves 2 / 10 WW pts. per serving)

8 oz. trimmed flank steak

1 bunch bok choy

2 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. peanut oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. pickled ginger, minced

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. sesame oil

2 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 medium green onion, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Salt and pepper your steak on both sides and add to skillet. Cook 7 minutes on each side (ended up about medium in the center – reduce time 2 minutes for medium-rare) and remove from heat. Cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat 1/2 Tbsp. peanut oil. Add bok choy – I ended up only using about 3/4 of the bunch. I layered mine in the skillet and played the rotation game, cooking each piece for about 5 minutes. The leaves should be wilted and the lighter part should soften slightly. It has the same texture of celery – so you want it to stay slightly firm and crunchy!

Remove bok choy and add to your plate.

Now, heat the other 1/2 Tbsp. peanut oil. Add your ginger and garlic and saute for 30-45 seconds.

Reduce heat to medium and add soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil and sugar. Whisk to dissolve sugar and bring to a low simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Take your steak out of the foil and slice, against the grain, into thin strips.

Lay steak on top of bok choy and drizzle with the dressing.

Top with sesame seeds and green onion.

Now it’s time to dig in – and it’s so “light” on points for a dinner that you don’t have to feel guilty about pairing it with a nice glass of wine!

Hope y’all enjoy this – please let me know if you try anything on my blog by leaving a comment on that recipe – I’d love to hear from you!

 

BLT Pasta Salad

I hope everybody had a fabulous Mother’s Day weekend and that all of the mommies out there got a little spoiled for a day!

Now I’ll give you a little something to spoil yourself without feeling too guilty…

I think my favorite sandwich to eat is a BLT – love the soft bread, cool tomato, crisp lettuce and crunchy bacon! And okay, I hate mayo on sandwiches – but just a little glaze of it just does the trick.

Now I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to make myself a healthy lunch during the week – but if I forget to pack a lunch or that frozen thing just isn’t sounding good to me, it’s hard to find something healthy that’s also not breaking the bank (I’m sorry, $7 for a sandwich just does not work for me!)

So seriously, do yourself a favor. This is so easy to throw together and you can totally make enough to enjoy a few days a week! Best part…you don’t have to worry about bread getting soggy!

BLT Pasta Salad (Serves 2-3)

4 oz. Barilla plus elbow noodles

1 medium tomato

2 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1 slice turkey bacon

salt and pepper to taste

Fill medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside until cooled.

While pasta is boiling, cook your bacon in the microwave. Crumble and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise and dry mustard.

Chop tomato and add diced pieces, along with juice, to mayonnaise. Mix well until blended. Add a few dashes of salt and pepper. (You can always add more later!)

Once your pasta is cooled, add to the mayonnaise/tomato mixture until coated well.

Tear spinach slightly and measure 1 cup. Add to pasta and chill.

Add bacon just before serving.

I took the bacon in a plastic bag to work and added it just before I ate. Yes, that means I sat at my desk with a piece of bacon in my drawer for a few hours…

That’s just how I roll.