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There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

The BEST Snack Ideas to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions ALIVE!!

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza Bites

Today I am here to help you keep on the right track for your New Year’s resolutions!  One of the hardest things I fight while trying to stick to a diet is my carb craving. I am an absolute CARB JUNKY!! Who’s with me?! One of my favorite foods is pizza and seriously, I would eat it every day for every meal if I knew it wouldn’t make me 300 pounds overnight. Lol. I would have to say pizza is also one of the HARDEST cravings to satisfy with other things. When you want it, you WANT it! It doesn’t help when you’ve had a long day, a million things going on and for $5 you can pick it up “hot” in a drive thru. That is just asking for me to break down. UNTIL NOW! Enter, my pizza snacks made with cauliflower crust. I actually came up with this recipe by finding other things online but eventually developed it into my own. I also started using it for snacks because snacking keeps me from eating three meals at one sitting after I have starved myself all day. (Not a good way to stay healthy!!) One of my favorite options about this is different toppings because my husband and I have different pizza preferences. I am more of a veggies girl and he likes the meats. By doing these little snack bites, we both win! They also stay good in the fridge for a while so you can make a big batch to use for the week or even freeze for another time. Add to that they have just a few simple ingredients you almost always have around the house, and BOOM, an ideal recipe without much effort.

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Here’s what you will need:

  • 2 bags (16 oz. each) of frozen cauliflower
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese (you can use ANY kind. My favorite had been pepper jack but I honestly use whatever we have in the fridge!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of Garlic salt
  • Pizza sauce (Check to make sure it has low sugar and NOT regular pasta sauce! I chose to use tomato sauce and added my own seasonings like Italian herbs and chopped garlic. This is only because the store I was at did not have pizza sauce and to keep the recipe low in sugar, you can’t use regular paste sauce.)
  • Any toppings you like! I used pepperoni, bacon, sausage, banana peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and orange bell pepper.
  • Muffin pan
  • Non-stick cooking spray

So the first thing to do is prepare the crust. First, throw the cauliflower in a bowl and run water over it for a few minutes.

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Next, throw into the blender trying to keep water out. After you have blended for a minute, stir it around and blend again to get most of the chunks out. This does NOT have to be perfectly smooth. Next, take some paper towels and blot off the excess water from the blended cauliflower.IMG_0235 For me, I just put it back into the original mixing bowl and start squeezing the water out. Then take the 3 eggs, 1 cup of the shredded cheese, and garlic salt stirring together with the cauliflower. (Save the other cup of cheese for toppings.)

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Spray your muffin pan and place a spoonful of mix to fill half of the muffin cup. Place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes, or golden brown on top. If you have made the crusts thicker, you may want to broil an additional 5 minutes until you see the top become a golden brown crust.IMG_0232

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My Kitchen Helper MaeBelle

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Your crust is ready for toppings! Place a spoonful of sauce on the top, and layer away your choice of veggies or meats.

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Place back in the oven for 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and voila! Your pizza bites are ready to be devoured!

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Looking for more ideas of what you can snack on? Head on over to Healthy Snacks from Nuts.com to find all kinds of ideas to keep you on track! Wondering about some other food hacks that can satisfy those cravings?! Check out the chart below!

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What are YOUR go to snacks to keep you and your family healthy? I would love to hear what your favorites are!  Xoxo, Brooke

Cooking with Brooke!
Cooking with Brooke!

The BEST EVER Eggplant Parmesan

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Are you looking for something other than the traditional meals that you eat and make during EVERY holiday? Well, how about becoming Italian for a night?! A few years ago when I first got married one of the biggest problems I had was coming up with meals my man (all carnivore) and I (a vegetarian) could both enjoy. Finding a way to make a meal we both felt satisfied on also became quite the challenge. (I guess salads are not a meal for most men??) One day I was looking through recipes and found Eggplant Parmesan. Over the years, I have tweaked this to become my own recipe and even discovered the SECRET to making it the best you have ever had! If you have had this recipe before and found your eggplant to be bland and rubbery, this is the revamped version that will amaze you and leave your family begging for more! First, a list of ingredients you will need:

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1 Large Eggplant (the purple kind that is found in the produce aisle, make sure it isn’t nicked or black)

8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella (the fresher the better, but buying the cheaper store kind like the one pictured is ok if you are on a budget)

8 ounce package of Fresh Parmesan (Do yourself a favor and do NOT use the chemical powder they sell in the dry goods aisle)

1 Package Fresh Basil (this should NOT be substituted for dried)

1 Small Tub of Ricotta Cheese

1 Jar of Newman’s Own Marinara (you can sub this BUT I have tried several different kinds and this is by far the best option)

1 Can of Italian Bread Crumbs (using panko or cornbread as a coating will change the flavor)

1 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (This is what I always use, not sure why my picture shows Canola. Lol. This amount is estimated and you should have plenty on hand to replenish as the eggplant soaks it up. Aim for about a ½ of an inch in the pan at all times.)

3 Large Eggs (beaten), 1 Cup of Milk, and 1 cup of All-Purpose Flour

And now we are ready to begin making this delicious dish!

STEP 1: Start by cutting the eggplant into even slices, about ¼ inch thick. I use even the small slices to fill in the gaps in the casserole dish, so don’t worry that the circle size differs. Just aim for the depth to be consistent. I personally do not peel my eggplant as it gives you something to use to turn over the eggplant while frying.

STEP 2: Pay special attention here because this is the secret trick to making this dish. Place all the eggplant slices on a cutting board or a clean space on your counter tops. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt. Yep, salt! Wait about 5 minutes and you should see water beading up on the tops. This is actually taking out all the bitterness of the eggplant to give it a better flavor. Simply towel blot the water off the slices and now you are ready to start battering them for the fryer!

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STEP 3: Place a ½ inch of the olive oil in the pan. Place on medium-high heat. Make sure your oil is not too hot as this will turn the eggplant black, but if it isn’t hot enough, it will take forever to cook your eggplant.

STEP 4: Set up your battering station. This should include a bowl of milk, a plate of flour, the 3 beaten eggs in a bowl and lastly your bread crumbs. Make sure to have it in that order as the milk helps the flour stick, and the eggs help the crumbs stick. Place your first slices in the frying pan. Turn when those sides are a golden brown. (Usually a few minutes.) Cook all the slices and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. I don’t always use every slice in the casserole dish, but will use the leftovers for sandwiches or cutting them up for salad toppings. (YUM!)

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STEP 5: Now you are ready for layering inside the casserole dish. Place a fried eggplant slice on the bottom of the casserole dish. I usually use the largest slices for the most coverage and my dish uses about 4 per layer. Place a spoonful of ricotta on each eggplant slice. Cut the mozzarella into ¼ slices and place one on each eggplant. Then place one basil leaf on each eggplant. Then sprinkle Parmesan on each slice. Then top with some Newman’s marinara. Place another fried eggplant slice on top of the marinara and start the layering all over again until you reach the top and have no more room for eggplant. Cut the smaller eggplant slices and put them into the side cracks in order to get use of them and make bigger/heftier servings. I use the rest of the marinara on the top and add additional Parmesan to the top as well.

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STEP 6: Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the marinara is bubbly and the cheese on top is melted.

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Viola! Dinner is served and this is sure to be a crowd pleaser! Add a dinner salad and some garlic bread to complete your meal! Tell me what you think about my recipe! Any differences you noticed in mine you were happy to try?! I love to hear from my readers!!                                       xoxo, Brooke

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