tasteovers by jackie

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seasonal butternut squash hash browns

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

seasonal butternut squash hash browns

I don’t know about you … but when butternut squash is in season, I love finding ways to include in meals … at least a few times a week! So here’s my latest recipe using this crave-worthy veggie. It’s a colorful and scrumptious twist on hash browns. Make it for breakfast and pair it with eggs. Think beyond breakfast, too. Serve it as an any day (or Meatless Monday!) side. If you have leftovers, they reheat just fine. Toss with pasta and goat cheese for an intriguing entrée. Or stuff them into tortillas along with refried vegetarian beans and avocado for a seasonal burrito. Enjoy!

Why it’s better for you? Lots of nutrient variety and fiber!

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charred tiger stripe fig salsa fresca

Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

charred tiger stripe fig salsa fresca

Hey fig lovers … this recipe is for you! (It’s for me, too!) When fresh figs are in season, I gotta have ‘em often … basically every day! I adore black mission and tiger stripe varieties. And I love serving them every which way, especially grilled and paired with cheese for a party platter. When doing this, I leave the stems on, cut in half lengthwise, and grill until charred. When grilling up figs for inclusion in recipes, I remove stems before they hit the grill. Charred figs have an interesting smokiness and enhanced natural sweetness. Here, I picked tiger stripe figs which are gorgeous and notably sweet naturally. They transform fresh salsa into a seasonal conversation starter! And I think this may just be my new favorite salsa! Enjoy this recipe anytime in place of traditional salsa for a smoky-sweet change of taste. (Hint: For Meatless Monday, try it as an intriguing topping for spicy vegan chili, crunchy vegetarian tacos, or simple beans ‘n’ rice!)

Why it’s better for you? The before and after versions are both good for you! But when figs are in season, do choose this figgy version of salsa. When seasonal, they’re at their peak of ripeness, nutritional value, and flavor! Plus, this salsa recipe requires little salt for optimal taste!

Disclosure: I received free samples of fresh figs from California Fig Advisory Board. I did not receive compensation for this recipe post. The recipe and opinions here are my own.

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salted & spiced dark chocolate chip cookies

Posted by on Sep 21, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments


One of my favorite childhood memories with my mother is baking Original Nestlé® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies. My mom always measured everything out in advance—which I’d later realize as being super helpful in good culinary practice. To make the cookies, we actually rolled the dough into perfect little balls because that’s the way my mother preferred them. Then I’d plop a little stool smack dab in front of the oven window and be the very important lookout person to tell her the second the cookies were ready. And yes, I was the first one to get to taste test the freshly-baked cookies (usually more than once!) to make sure! (Thanks to this month’s Recipe Redux theme, “First Cooking Recollections,” for allowing me to reminisce!)

Today, I no longer use the famous cookie recipe. I’ve created well over a dozen versions of chocolate chip cookies over the years.  Many are rather fancy or use ultra-trendy ingredients. This is my latest; it’s basically a back-to-basics style, family-friendly cookie with a noticeable hint of specialness. It’s got dark chocolate and whole grain goodness along with flavor intrigue from spices and an extra pinch of salt to make them even tastier. But no matter which recipe I use, the delightful memories remain. Now … let’s take a cookie break!

Calories saved: 20

Why it’s better for you? Darker chocolate. More antioxidants. Less than 100 calories a cookie!

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orzo, greens & pan-charred corn salad

Posted by on Aug 21, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

orzo, greens, and pan-charred corn salad

I recently had a mini-getaway to the Hamptons for a badly needed stress break. Clean air and a beachy breeze does wonders for the psyche! I also get slightly giddy over the farmstands and fresh produce that’s so readily available there. One of the local dishes that a friend served me while visiting was a corn and orzo salad picked up from my favorite little market, Round Swamp Farm. That provided the inspiration for this seasonal vegan salad. It’s a perfect fit for the Recipe Redux theme this month: “A Vacation-Inspired Recipe!” And it’s absolutely scrumptious!

Calories saved: 62

Why it’s better for you? I used a whole grain orzo rather than the “white” version–plus added arugula–to boost an array of health-promoting plant nutrients.

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lebanese salad with lemony tahini dressing and za’atar pita chips

Posted by on Aug 8, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

Lebanese Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing_main

I actually thought Lebanese food was American food as a kid. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up with a Lebanese mother (who was also a caterer)! When I’m wanting a little taste of comfort, I don’t think first about things like mac ‘n’ cheese; I crave Middle Eastern cuisine. So here’s a salad I created that’s inspired by fattoush, a simple salad that ideally takes advantage of leftover pita bread. But I’ve given it a tasty twist with freshly-baked za’atar pita chips, a tahini-spiked dressing, and plenty of chickpeas. It’s a refreshing luncheon entrée salad (perfect for Meatless Monday!) that’s surprisingly comforting. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Calories saved: 128

Why it’s better for you: Better balance of carbs and protein to fit into more diets, including those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

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grilled mango salad with avocado & pistachios

Posted by on Jul 21, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

grilled mango and spinach salad with avocado

I crave salads in the summer. How about you? When that urge strikes, here’s a new salad for ya. If you’re a mango lover like I am, it’ll literally make your mouth water!

The Recipe Redux theme this month is “Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape.” Rather than cutting up this salad’s fruit into a new shape, I decided to add shape on it. I created crosshatch grill marks on mango “cheeks.” Using grilled fruit is a simple way to upgrade a recipe! Not only does it add eye appeal, it adds smoky flavor interest. What’s more, I used grilled mango in two ways here—as cubes and pureed into the dressing.

Enjoy it!

Hint: Add black beans, edamame, or grilled shrimp or organic chicken to transform this side salad into an entrée!

Calories saved: 40

Why it’s better for you: Spinach and pistachios further boost this salad’s lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that can play a key role in prevention of age-related macular degeneration.

Disclosure: I work with Wonderful Pistachios to help consumers make healthful snack choices.

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juice-infused quinoa salad with pistachios

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

juice-infused quinoa salad with pistachios

“How can I make quinoa taste good?” I’ve been asked that question a lot! Here’s one answer to that. Use juice as the cooking liquid!

Try a juice that’s a flavorful blend of fruit and veggie juices with no added sugar. It’ll pump up the nutritional value to superfood levels. Plus, it’ll provide color and memorable flavor. Here I used a juice that’s a blend of carrot, apple and lemon juices, ginger puree, and coriander. But you can simply use plain carrot or orange juice if you have that on hand. (Hint: Alternatively, you can use half juice and half water as the cooking liquid for a lighter touch!)

Then, to add herbal fragrance, I’ve included fresh basil. For pops of color and crunch—as well as a protein and fiber boost—roasted pistachios are a highlight. A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil adds a just-right richness to this lovely recipe.

While it’s a high-flavored side dish when warm, I prefer to chill this, toss with baby arugula, and serve as a refreshing salad. Add it to your Meatless Monday recipe collection! Hope you enjoy it!


Calories saved: 150

Why it’s better for you: You’ll get a punch of superfood nutrients from cooking in juice rather than just water or stock.


Disclosure: I work with Wonderful Pistachios to help consumers make healthful snack choices.

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kale & couscous breakfast bowl with egg

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 4 comments

kale and couscous breakfast bowl with egg

In honor of the Recipe Redux’s June birthday, I’ve chosen a fellow ReDuxer’s recipe for inspiration. The original recipe is 5-Ingredient Healthy Kale and Quinoa Bowl by Kara Lydon, “The Foodie Dietitian.” I appreciate her straightforward, holistic, plant-based approach to recipe creation that appeals to everyday cooks. Plus, Kara’s photography is beautiful. Her quinoa bowl recipe has just five main ingredients. Love the simplicity!

I went for a breakfast interpretation of Kara’s recipe—aiming to make the recipe in 20 minutes or less, since most of us simply don’t have the luxury of time to whip up a lengthy morning meal. I opted for whole-wheat couscous in place of quinoa to speed things up. I added lemon zest to heighten citrusy goodness and scallions to boost savoriness. I picked some thyme from my building’s rooftop garden to add herbal flair and fragrance. And I topped each bowl with an egg to make it notably breakfast worthy.

So how long did it ultimately take to fix from start to finish? It took 12 minutes for prepping all ingredients and bringing the water to a boil. It took 5 minutes total for the couscous and egg preparation–and then another 2 minutes for stirring, transferring to bowls, and serving. I finished with 1 minute to spare! What if you only have about 5 minutes of freedom in the morning? Make this recipe without the eggs the night before; chill; then in the morning, gently reheat the couscous mixture in the microwave (for moistness, splash a tablespoon water onto each serving before heating) and freshly prepare the eggs. Hint: For a power breakfast bowl, top each serving with two eggs instead of one–or stir some toasted pine nuts into the couscous!

Hope you try both Kara’s and my recipe!

Why it’s better for you: This version and the “before” version are both good for you!

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