tasteovers by jackie

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borough market-inspired peppermint brownies

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

borough market-inspired peppermint brownies

One of the most memorable brownies I ever had was one that I enjoyed at Borough Market in London. But it’s one of those “special occasion” brownies since it’s super rich. With the Recipe Redux theme this moth of “Trimming the Table,” where a healthy holiday dessert was the request, I decided that I’d start with that special brownie recipe, then keep tweaking it until I created a “healthy” brownie that’s perfect for the holidays. I did it!

The result still has just-right richness and fudginess from butter, eggs, and dark chocolate. But this version uses whole-wheat pastry flour, coconut sugar and … wait for it … carrots! I figured that folks like carrot cake, so why not go for a carrot-infused brownie! Yep, I just couldn’t help myself by sneaking a veggie in here for that “healthy” factor. I used organic rainbow baby carrots; but please go ahead and use whatever carrots you have. Or if you’re in an experimental mood, try other veggies. (Hint: Grated zucchini works great! Just squeeze it of excess liquid before using in the recipe.) Then for that distinctive holiday flair and hint of mint, the candy cane topping is a must.

Hope you and your family and friends enjoy them! Happy holidays!

Calories Saved: 380

Why it’s better for you? Carrots (and beta-carotene) in every bite!

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vintage veggie abundance bowl

Posted by on Oct 22, 2016 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

vintage veggie abundance bowl

Like leftovers? I do! In fact, sometimes I enjoy leftover vegetable dishes more than when originally made. Part of that may be because I consider leftovers as “vintage” cuisine! The other is because I may spend less time actively cooking.

Since this month’s Recipe Redux theme is “Plant Protein Power Bowls,” it’s a perfect time to share with you one of my bowls using “vintage” veggies. I made this one with extra Seasonal Butternut Squash Hash Browns. I stir hemp seeds into the brown rice to significantly pump up the plant-based protein. And I finish it with a little touch of goat cheese for a touch of creamy decadence. (Hint: You can swap that for cashew cheese if you prefer to go vegan.) It’s a complete meal-in-one. And it’s yum! Here you go!

Why it’s good for you? Plenty of protein … which can be especially important when not getting enough protein throughout the day.

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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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