Healthy Cookie: Double Bean Enchilada Soup

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I didn’t think I’d be interested in enchilada soup of any kind when my mom made it for dinner a few nights ago. Her version was made with chicken, so I couldn’t have eaten it even if I wanted to. But when I walked through the door after getting home from the gym, my stomach growling like a ticked-off grizzly bear, all I could smell was the intoxicating scent of that soup, and I wanted it.

Of course, like I said, I couldn’t eat any because of the chicken. But I instantly decided I would make my own meatless version instead: Double Bean Enchilada Soup. I’m so glad I did too, because that wonderful aroma of the soup my mother mad would have haunted me forever if I never got to try it.

My soup is just slightly tweaked with two kinds of hearty beans taking on the role of protein in place of chicken. I also added some green chiles, which bring serious heat to the table. Make sure you have a big ol’ glass of water at the ready. The heat might slow you down, but the delicious, warm flavors will keep you pressing on, inhaling spoonful after spoonful in a state of soup-induced euphoria.DSC_2126

I can’t even explain how good this soup is, especially because one big fat cupful is less than 130 calories. Seriously? Yes, seriously. I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t made it. This soup is so hearty and thick from the cornmeal, singing with saucy Mexican flavors, and it’s even got some creamy American cheese. Can all that goodness come with a teeny-tiny calorie count? Yes, sir!

This is officially my favorite low-cal soup ever. Why? Because it doesn’t taste like a really good low-cal soup; it just tastes like a really good soup period. I also adore how quick and easy it is; no day-long simmering required. Make it in under 30 minutes with just a few ingredients.

If you don’t have this Double Bean Enchilada Soup for dinner tonight, then you’re missing out. Down a big bowlful, and you can feel satisfied without feeling an ounce of guilt.DSC_2131

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Need your meat fix? Trade the beans for 2 cups shredded chicken.
  2. All black beans or all kidney beans is fine if you only have one kind on hand.
  3. Tailor this to meet your diet needs: use all vegetable stock if you’re a vegetarian instead of the combination I used.
  4. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you like. I hate the stuff, but some people love it.
  5. Red onion instead of yellow will kick this up even more.
  6. You can skip the green chiles and use a can of Ro-tel instead, which will give you the heat plus diced tomatoes.DSC_2033

Double Bean Enchilada Soup
Adapted from Eat More of What You Love

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (or use all vegetable stock if vegetarian)
  • ¾ cup enchilada sauce
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. diced green chiles, drained & rinsed
  • ¾ cup black beans, drained & rinsed
  • ½ cup kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 slices 2% milk American cheese singles
  • Optional garnish: diced tomatoes, lettuce, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream

Directions:

  1. Add about ¼ cup of chicken stock to a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in both stocks, 1 cup water, and the enchilada sauce and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornmeal with ¾ cup water in a small bowl. Once soup is boiling, whisk in cornmeal mixture, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Let simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in green chiles and beans. Let cook for another two minutes then stir in cheese until completely melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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Shamrock Spinach Pesto Pizza + How-to Video

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As you’ll hear me say in today’ video, I ain’t Irish. However, I am a very festive individual, and I love going all out for holidays.

There is an exception, though. In the past, I haven’t given much love to St. Patrick’s Day, which is silly. Just because I don’t normally go all out on St. Patty’s Day doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have some awesome recipes for those of you who do.

Forget the same old corned beef and cabbage; we’re chowing down on pizza this St. Patty’s Day! Not just any old pizza of course, but a Shamrock Spinach Pesto Pizza. From its shamrock shape to its vibrant green color, this pizza is the definition of festive.DSC_1605

I bet you didn’t know pizza could have such Irish pride. And I bet you also didn’t know something so cute could be so easy to make. We start with a store-bought crust then cut out a simple shamrock shape: literally 3 circles stuck together. Then, to make up for the store-bought crust, we make our smooth Spinach-Basil Pesto from scratch. Don’t be afraid! All that means is you toss some fresh spinach, basil, garlic, nuts, olive oil, and a sprinkling of parmesan into the food processor and let it do its thing. You’ll save a ton of money not buying store-bought, plus homemade is so fresh and flavorful.

The only thing better than an adorable shamrock-shaped pizza topped with made-from-scratch robust Spinach-Basil Pesto is topping all that good stuff with ooey, gooey fresh mozzarella cheese. It’s got to be fresh mozz, not the pre-shredded mozzarella. If you’ve never had it, fresh mozz is a whole new world of stringy, mellow mozzarella heaven, creating melty, mile-long ropes of cheese straight out of your dreams.

I don’t know about you, but I’m drooling over this cheesy, flavorful St. Patty’s Day pizza. No need to wait until the actual holiday to make this cutie pie; get in the kitchen now!

A Few tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You don’t have to make this for St. Patrick’s Day; just shape it like a normal pizza and eat it any time of year.
  2. This pesto is absolutely delicious, and it’s good for more than just pizza. Serve it over pasta instead of the same ol’ marinara, dip bread in it, top grilled chicken with it, and more.
  3. You will have some extra pesto, so try some of the suggestions above to use it up.
  4. If you get a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter, you could make a bunch of mini shamrock pizzas.
  5. Make sure you watch my video for helpful how-to tips.DSC_1577

Shamrock Spinach Pesto Pizza
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 store-bought pizza crust (I used Boboli Thin Crust)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 3 generous cups fresh spinach
  • 1 2/3-oz. package fresh basil, stems removed
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • About 12 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the crust on a cutting board. Use a toothpick to trace the shamrock shape: draw three circles overlapping in the center and a small stem on the bottom, taking up as much of the crust as you can. Use a sharp knife to carve out the shape. Gently remove excess crust and discard. Carefully transfer crust to an ungreased pizza pan.
  3. Add the garlic, spinach, basil, and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse until the contents are finely chopped. Add the salt, parmesan, and 2 tbsp. of the olive oil. Pulse until well-combined and smooth. Stream in 2 more tablespoons of oil until smooth, and finish with the remaining oil. Pulse until completely smooth. Taste-test to make sure it’s to your liking. It should be smooth and spreadable.
  4. Spread pesto onto the crust, leaving about 1/2-inch space around the edges. You will not need all the pesto; you’ll probably only want 2/3 of it.
  5. Arrange mozzarella slices in an even layer, using more or less to your liking. Fresh mozz goes a long way, so you don’t need to completely bury the pizza.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let sit for 2 minutes then slice and enjoy.DSC_1580

Two-Bite Red Velvet Candy Cakes

 

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Do you want to know why these Two-Bite Red Velvet Candy Cakes exist? Because I can be an absent-minded idiot sometimes. Let’s not sugarcoat it; you’ve got to be a fool to do some of the things I do. You see, I went to make my Chewy Red Velvet Bars with Whipped Cream Frosting the other day, and I knew exactly how to make them: ignore the boxed directions; beat in a stick of butter and two eggs instead. So what did I do? I completely ejected that from my mind and poured the cup or so of water called for in the box directions onto my cake batter.

Bars = ruined.

So my marvelous Mother Cookie was kind enough to go buy me another box of red velvet cake mix for the bars, but I still had that whole bowl of ruined battered that I didn’t want to waste. So I followed through with what I started and baked it into a cake instead.

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Of course, then I needed something to actually do with the cake. Given the ingredients I had on hand, these Two-Bite Red Velvet Hearts were an easy solution. I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly addicting these red velvet devils are, and the fact that they’re bite-sized makes it so easy to inhale a hundred of ‘em. They are even better than a box of chocolate, and that means a lot coming from me.

Even with a boxed cake mix, you get a super moist and decadent red velvet cake center that’s perfectly complimented by a smooth white chocolate shell. They remind me of the snack cakes you buy at the grocery store, like the Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes I loved so much as a kid. Of course, these are even better because they’re homemade. And you only need a few ingredients to make ‘em.

Don’t disappoint your Valentine this year with boring chocolates when you can give them these candy-cake hybrids instead. They’re really easy to make, but your sweetheart will think you slaved over them. One thing he or she can be sure of is that they were made with love.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Although I’d normally scold you for using boxed mix, it’s totally okay here because we’re doctoring it up.
  2. This idea would work for any holiday, with any cake flavor, and any shaped cookie cutter. Get creative!
  3. If you don’t freeze the cake before dipping, you’re going to have a crumbly mess. Trust the recipe, my friends.DSC_1006

Two-Bite Red Velvet Candy Cakes
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – about 2 dozen hearts

Ingredients:

  • 1 9×13 red velvet cake , use your favorite recipe or a boxed mix
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • Red & pink sprinkles

*The cake will be moist and fragile, so freezing it will make it hold up better to the chocolate.

Directions:

  1. Use a large bread knife to slice off just the domed top of the cake. Discard or snack on the scraps. Next, slice the cake lengthwise into two even layers, like you’re making it into a sandwich. Carefully separate the two layers. Freeze the cakes until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Set up your work station: Place one layer of cake on a cutting board and line a baking sheet or cooling rack with wax paper or parchment paper. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, no bigger than 2-inches in diameter, to cut hearts out of the two cake layers. Be gentle.
  3. Place the chocolate and shortening in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring well in between. This should only take about 4 intervals to be able to stir it smooth as long as you stir in between each interval.
  4. Gently dip the red velvet hearts into the chocolate, letting it coat the sides. Let excess drip off and transfer to the prepared baking sheet or rack. If you don’t get all the sides completely coated during the dip, just use a spoon to drizzle more chocolate on. Immediately sprinkle on sprinkles after dipping each one, before the chocolate has a chance to set.  Repeat with remaining hearts.
  5. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge and allow to set completely.DSC_0986

Sweet Potato & Squash Marinara Skillet

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If every person over the age of 18 got together and compiled a list of why growing up stinks, we’d have a list long enough to circle the globe ten times at least. Here are just a few to skim the surface:

  • Exponentially increasing responsibilities as you age
  • Bills
  • Free time? What’s that?
  • No more cartoons
  • People no longer think it’s cute when you screw things up.
    And the one I’ve had the hardest time coming to terms with:
  • Your diet can’t consist of just chicken nuggets, Dunkaroos, pizza, and cereal anymore.

Seriously, who decided it would make sense that, as our palate matures to a wider spectrum of foods and our passion for eating grows, we should have increasingly worse metabolisms? It’s a sick joke, one that makes for a very difficult life as a food blogger and general food lover.

I have to try really hard to eat healthy, and I very rarely do so as strictly as I should. I’ve found the key is combining healthy ingredients I love so I can trick myself into thinking I’m eating indulgently.

A perfect example is my Sweet Potato & Squash Marinara Skillet. I took nutrient-packed veggies I love – sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, and zucchini – and served ‘em up in a kickin’ marinara sauce, made with fresh herbs and topped with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese. It looks too good to be healthy, right?DSC_9409

Here’s the secret: all those delicious veggies are full of vitamins and other good stuff, plus they’re really filling. Then, I made my own sauce instead of using jarred stuff that’s packed with gobs of hidden calories and sugar. I topped it all with my favorite kind of light mozzarella cheese that’s s a compromise between full-fat cheese, which is crazy high in calories, and fat-free cheese, which tastes like feet. You still get great flavor and protein with this light cheese, but for fewer calories. Lastly, spaghetti squash is a special star of the show since it makes us feel like we’re eating pasta with marinara sauce, when really, we’re cutting carbs and calories without cutting flavor.

This dish is hearty and full of multidimensional flavors that will make your tongue sing with joy. Eating healthy is a hard pill to swallow as an adult, but think of this delicious meal as the spoonful of sugar to help it go down.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. If you’ve got picky eaters who are skeptic about spaghetti squash, trade half the squash for regular whole wheat spaghetti so you can ease them into it.
  2. Can’t find the light Sargento mozzarella cheese sticks I used? You can use fat-free instead, or use a 1/2 cup grated parmesan.
  3. You’re looking at less than 200 calories per serving here. Yay!
  4. Fresh veggies + fresh herbs = a MUST.
  5. Sweet potatoes can easily be swapped with butternut squash.DSC_9377

Sweet Potato & Squash Marinara Skillet
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – 4 heaping servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • ¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ a medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. zero-calorie sweetener
  • 4 light mozzarella cheese sticks (like Sargento), chopped to resemble the size of shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels. Poke holes in the tops of the potatoes with a fork. Microwave on high until fork tender, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes. Slice open and let cool slightly. Squeeze the potatoes out of their skins and discard skins (or snack on ‘em). Roughly chop potatoes and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the spaghetti squash in half. Place in a microwave-safe casserole dish, skin side down, and fill halfway with water. Cover and cook in microwave on high for two 5-minute intervals, or until tender enough to scoop out innards. Discard the seeds then scoop the innards into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large oven-safe skillet to medium heat. Add chicken stock and onions and sauté until onions are tender, about two minutes. Add the entire content of the can of tomatoes including the juice, 3/4 of the herbs, and garlic. Use a hand blender to puree, or if you don’t have a hand blender, puree tomatoes in a food processor or blender before adding to pan.
  4. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt, and sweetener. Add zucchini and spaghetti squash and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender.
  5. Turn off heat and gently stir in potatoes. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Garnish with remaining fresh herbs and serve immediately.DSC_9447

Roasted Tomato & Garlic White Pizza

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Few things in this world give me as much joy as a good slice of pizza. You’d have to rub your feet on it for me to not enjoy pizza. Considering I’ve made it through 5+ years of crappy CNY pizza and haven’t imploded from withdrawal, I’d say that’s good proof right there that even bad pizza is good. But my God, when I can get a really, really good slice, the kind with the right amount of sauce and cheese and my preferred crust-to-topping ratio, well that’s the closest I’ve come to heaven on Earth.

Ever since I discovered an easy, fantastic homemade pizza crust, I’ve essentially received a passport to a world of infinite pizzatastic possibilities. No toppings are off-limits, and ain’t nobody going to tell me how I can or can’t slice it.00000407

If I want white pizza, I can make it. And I can top it with juicy, fresh roasted cherry tomatoes and sweet garlic. I can hit it with three kinds of cheese since one ain’t enough for this cheese-worshiping Smart Cookie. Then, with a good bake in the oven to turn this baby hot, melty, and golden brown, we’ve got ourselves Roasted Tomato and Garlic White Pizza, aka flavor-packed, cheese-overloaded paradise in a slice.

With a thin and crisp crust, creamy ricotta, caramelized garlic and tomatoes, and goo-rific mozzarella and parmesan, this is one killer pizza you don’t want to pass up. Your local pizza joint will never churn out such a beautiful pie as this: dressed up in thick layers of cheese, dotted with pretty red roasted tomatoes, and freckled with fresh thyme. It’s heaven you can hold in your hand and take a bite right out of. Forget your bad day or your self-loathing from post-holiday weight-gain; grab a slice and let your troubles melt just like that mozzarella cheese.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Store-bought dough is okay, but I urge you to try this recipe. I was afraid of making homemade dough until I tried it. I couldn’t believe how little time and effort it required, but it was so much better than anything else I’ve had!
  2. Roasting the tomatoes and garlic bring out their natural juices and flavors, making them sweet and robust like you’ve never experienced before.
  3. The better quality cheese you use, the better your pizza will be.
  4. Pizza stones are beneficial, but not required.
  5. Craving more pizza with this easy crust recipe? Try my Lil Pizza Bites and White Cheddar Broccoli Pizza.

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Roasted Tomato & Garlic White Pizza
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

For the crust
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water (about 105°F)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 whole cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups good-quality shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar and warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour and salt and pulse 3 or 4 times.
  3. Whisk 1 tbsp. of the olive oil into the yeast mixture. With the motor running, slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Pulse the machine 10 to 15 times to knead the dough. The dough should clean the insides of the bowl but will be slightly sticky.
  4. Coat the inside of a large bowl with the remaining 1 tbsp. oil. Dust your hands with flour and remove the dough from the food processor. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. While the dough rises, roast the tomatoes and garlic. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread tomato halves out in an even layer and place garlic cloves in the center of the pan. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and bursting, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  6. Finely chop cooled garlic. Set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll the dough out on a floured surface however thin you’d like it. Sprinkle a pizza pan or preheated pizza stone with cornmeal. Lay the crust on top and parbake for 7 minutes, or until puffed and set but not yet browned.
  8. In a medium bowl, combined ricotta and chopped roasted garlic. Spread over crust in an even layer. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan, then evenly distribute the tomatoes over top. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Slice and enjoy.00000391