My name is Shawnda and sometimes I eat cookies for breakfast.
But only sometimes. Usually on days where I’ve said something like, “I thought about running 4 miles, I half-way earned it!” (The things we tell ourselves, huh?)
These cookies could lovingly be called “Road Trip Cookies.” Because a gas-station granola bar somewhere between Houston and Lafayette inspired them.
And since I knew there would be a weekend of calorie-bomb debauchery in New Orleans ahead of me, they just seemed like a smart idea. At least, smarter than the Funyuns that I usually get.
Just like in that granola bar, the combination of dark chocolate, tart dried cherries, and a sprinkle of sea salt is completely amazing. But unlike that granola bar, they aren’t trying to hide under a healthy label.
These are cookies. Made with butter. And chocolate.
I took one of my favorite chewy cookie dough recipes and loaded it with a bag of 63% [swooooon] Guittard Dark Chocolate Chips, cherry-flavored craisins (because holy crap, dried cherries are $18/lb!), and finished them with a sprinkle of sea salt straight out of the oven.
Chewy, rich, sweet, tart, and salty. If that doesn’t say “breakfast” and “the perfect road trip food,” then I don’t know what does.
Salted Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cookies
Thick and chewy cookies studded with dark chocolate, tart dried cherries, and sprinkled with sea salt.
Calories: 243.0 | Fat: 11.0g | Fiber 2.9g | Protein 2.5g | Carbs 36.5g
12 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz dark chocolate chips
7.5 oz dried cherries (or 1 1/2 bag Cherry Craisins)
Preheat oven to 325.
Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon mat.
Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add chocolate chips and cherries, just until combined.
Chill dough 15 minutes. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet (my scoop is just under 1/2 cup and I break the dough into 2).
Bake 12-16 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft.
Sprinkle with salt when they come out of the oven.
Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
You are looking at the greatest thing to ever happen to eggplant since pizza crust and goat cheese.
The eggplant tree in my garden still thinks it’s summer. And frankly, with highs still in the low 90s, it IS still summer.
While I was out of town last weekend, Jason sent me a picture of the three soccer ball-sized fruits he picked from the “tree.” All bigger than my 4-year-old’s head. When I got back, I took one of those soccer balls (just one – and I had leftover slices!) and turned it into the most amazing version of Eggplant Parmesan.
The dish comes together pretty easily – assuming you don’t find out at the last minute that what you thought was a jar of marinara turns out to be calorie-bomb vodka sauce and then thank all the baby Jesuses for those two cans of crushed tomatoes buried behind the year-old can of pumpkin.
You roast sliced eggplant for ~30 minutes to remove excess water and concentrate the flavors and then you layer it in a dish on top of half-cooked pasta with marinara (or “improvinara”), mozzarella, and parmesan. Another 30 minute spin through the oven and you have a golden brown, bubbling dish of Eggplant Parmesan perfection.
And your house doesn’t stink like yesterday’s fried foods the next morning.
Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake
Not all comfort food is terrible for you. This version of Eggplant Parmesan is lighter on fat, heavy on flavor.
Calories: 331.8 | Fat: 10.4g | Fiber 8.9g | Protein 12.9g | Carbs 49.5g
8 oz dry pasta (I used whole wheat)
~3 lbs eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 1/4 cups marinara sauce, divided
4 oz fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded Parmesan
Lightly grease a casserole dish and a baking sheet (two sheets, if your eggplant is soccer ball-sized).
Preheat oven to 400.
Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the package and then drain.
Add the pasta to the casserole dish along with 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, stirring to mix. Top with another 3/4 cup marinara
Brush each side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 15 minutes more.
Place half of the eggplant rounds over the pasta and top with half the mozzarella and Parmesan.
Spread the remaining 3/4 cup marinara over top, followed by the remaining eggplant, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
Football is back. Which means so is spending my Sunday yelling “mommy words” at the TV. It’s not all bad, though. The best part? Eating too much on Sunday afternoons.
Luckily, we’re a month out from our first half marathon on the calendar so we usually start out the day with a nice, big calorie deficit. (Also luckily, my 4-year-old mostly understands which words that she shouldn’t repeat. Mostly.)
This month’s Tailgating Primo Picks arrived and we made quick work of picking out a gameday favorite recipe to showcase some of the Primo Picks. Because let’s be real here: Food and football go together like chili and fritos.
After dominating the bag of Butternut Squash & Chia Tortilla chips (those things are seriously awesome), I grabbed the bottle of HEB Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce (the house-favorite bbq sauce) and HEB Dessert Honey, and began praying to the flour gods to give me just 1/2-cup more of flour from the empty container so I’d have enough for pretzel rolls.
They weren’t listening. Or they’re Cowboys fans.
No matter. I whipped up a batch of pretzel dough, shaped them into rolls, and then filled them with brie cheese, pulled pork, red onions, and a sweet & tangy sauce made with the Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce and Dessert Honey (a reeeaaallly robust and flavorful honey).
When the rolls were nearly finished baking, I glazed them with a little more honey and sprinkled with coarse salt for a perfect, 3-bite gameday snack. Dipped in extra barbecue sauce, of course!
HEB has provided a selection of their Tailgating Primo Picks for one lucky reader. To enter, simply answer the question in the comments below: What is your favorite tailgating or football-watching food?
Soft and chewy pretzel rolls stuffed with honey barbecue pulled pork and brie.
Calories: 217.5 | Fat: 6.4g | Fiber 1.2g | Protein 11.2g | Carbs 28.7g
For the pretzel roll dough:
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp (1 package) yeast
1 cup warmed milk (I used 2%)
2 Tbsp softened butter (I used Smart Balance)
4 1/2-4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
~1lb shredded pulled pork (about 3 generous cups)
4 oz brie, sliced and cut into 18 chunks
1/2 cup HEB Texas-style Barbecue Sauce
2 Tbsp honey
For boiling and finishing:
2 quarts water
4 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp honey whisked with 1 Tbsp water
In your mixer bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let proof for 10 minutes.
Add the milk, softened butter, 4.5 cups of flour, and salt; knead for ~5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky and might not completely come off the bottom of the bowl. If overly sticky, add 1-2 Tbsp of extra flour at a time.
Cover and let rise for an hour, or until doubled.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly oil.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 18 balls (a scale makes this easy to do in 2-oz portions). Cover with a light towel and prep the filling and boil.
Place the pulled pork and red onion in a large bowl.
Whisk together the honey and bbq sauce and pour over top of the pulled pork, tossing to mix thoroughly.
Keeping your surface lightly floured to prevent sticking, flatten your dough ball, top with a chunk of brie and a heaping small spoonful of pulled pork (it might take you 1-2 rolls to figure out the perfect sized scoop of filling).
Pull the edges of the dough to the top, pinching and crimping the roll to prevent any leaks. Transfer the roll to the prepared baking sheets (9 each).
In a large pan, bring the water, baking soda, and salt to a boil.
Working with 4-5 rolls at a time, boil the rolls 30 seconds on each side, transfer to the baking sheet with a slotted spoon, and slash the top of the rolls 2-3 times with a very sharp knife (but don't cut too thick or your cheese will ooze out the top).
Bake the rolls for 18 minutes, glaze with the honey-water mixture, and then bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown.
Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve. Leftovers should be refrigerated.
This recipe was developed in conjunction with H-E-B and I was provided ingredients as well as compensated for my time. Messy fingers, stretchy-waisted pants, and baby-Elmo-clogged-toilets are all mine. You can find H-E-B on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you’re as lucky as we are, 3 locations within a 5 mile radius.
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The fine print:
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If you are what you eat, I’m a large bag of shredded broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and dried cranberries coated in a sweet & tangy poppyseed dressing. And a half-empty bottle of Sauza.
Because life is all about balance.
Now that school and soccer practice is back, I’m finding myself short on time and energy in the evenings and have been putting some of our favorite quick & easy dinners back into heavy rotation and relying on the “cook once-eat three dinners” method. We’ll be sharing some of those new quick & healthy recipes with y’all in the next few weeks.
Because it only takes, like, 9.37 minutes to make, “Spicy” Honey-Glazed Salmon shoots to the top of the list, as does anything I can make with the two bags of Salad Chicken (or Purse Chicken, if you’re Erica) I always have in the fridge.
Both of those are excellent candidates to top the bag of my latest obsession, the Sweet Kale Salad that my friend Shannon introduced me to from Costco.
And it’s a legit obsession. I bought 3 bags yesterday. Each bag will expire inside of a week. And there’s absolutely zero chance that they even last that long.
The poppyseed salad dressing that comes in the salad kit is too high fat/high sugar for my 1500-calorie, 45-30-25 half-marathon nutrition plan so I extend the dressing with some skim milk, fat-free Greek yogurt, and some cider vinegar (as noted in the recipe below). The dressing goes farther and I can use more.
But most importantly: dinner is on the table in 14.68 minutes.
Salmon & Sweet Kale Salad
A quick, halfway homemade dinner starring the Sweet Kale Salad Mix from Costco.
1 bag Sweet Kale Salad Kit (found at Costco in the cold produce room)
1 pack of poppyseed dressing from the salad kit (it comes with 2)
1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Open the salad kit and empty the greens and the packet of cranberries and pumpkin seeds into a very large bowl. (If you are going to eat all 4 servings within the next 48 hours, make the entire salad. If not, make half now, half later.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the poppyseed dressing, yogurt, milk, cider vinegar, and a tiny pinch of salt.
Add the dressing to the greens and toss until completely coated.
Let sit 15 minutes and then serve topped with salmon or chicken.