Healthy and Easy Game Day Grub: Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus

I have a confession. I've never watched a Superbowl in its entirety. In fact, I don't recall a time when I've focused on the big game for more than 10 minutes... Oh wait. As I sit here typing about my indifference to one of America's most favorite days, I remembered. The Tampa Bay Bucs did make it to the Superbowl when I was a senior in high school. And I did watch that game. In its entirety. But I am positive that was the only exception.

Don't judge me...but I don't give a rats behind about professional football. I'm a college football fan through and through and I'm certain that will never change. Thankfully, my fiance shares my sentiments. Yes ladies, it's okay to be jealous. I don't have to deal with all that obnoxious "hoot'n hollerin' on Sundays and Mondays. He will never need a "man cave" either. (I really hope I don't jinx that)

But I freaking love Superbowl Sunday. Because while I don't care about the game, I get to behave like an absolute glutton and no one will question it. Buffalo wings, crunchy potato chips with French onion dip, sub sandwich platters, and fried God knows what...it sure does suit my palate's fancy. Sometimes it's that kinda food that makes me happy. Food that's tried and true and just about as American as it gets.

Problem is, I'm kind of on a wedding diet this year. In case you didn't know, I'm tying the knot in just a couple of months. Before that, I'll be flaunting my stuff in Puerto Rico with my closest girlfriends. So this petite bod is not allowed to be plump. That means no fried goodness for me. Even the occasional "cheat day" wouldn't allow me all the game day grub I'd normally consume. 

So today I'm bringing you a healthy game day food alternative. Something that won't make you regret all those bad eating decisions on Monday. Something that still boasts tons of flavor and is actually, quite addicting. Something that's also insanely easy to prepare.

Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus. It's smooth and creamy with one kick ass bite from the homemade pesto. It's also refreshing too, since my pesto contains a bit of mint and the hummus boasts a nice zing from the lemon. 

Happy Superbowl...but more importantly, Happy Eating!

Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

1 can organic cannellini (white kidney) beans

2-3 tablespoons Pesto (recipe below or store-bought is fine)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Combine all of the ingredients except for the pesto into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.

2) Add a tablespoon of pesto and pulse 2-3 times.

3) Spoon into a small serving bowl and create a well in the middle. Pour the rest of the pesto in the well and top with a few pine nuts.

4) Serve with carrots, celery, pita chips, etc.

5) Enjoy!!!

 

Basil and Mint Pesto:

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.


Friday Food Bites: Bay Cities Italian Deli's Famous Godmother Sandwich: My Review

I hate to sound like a snob...but when I heard word of the famous Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, I wasn't impressed. Sure, the sandwich sounds tasty - layers of Italian meats, cheeses, and a delightful relish of peppers, onions, and crunchy lettuce all stuffed between two slices of freshly made crusty Italian bread. What's not to love? But, haven't we all feasted on sandwiches much like this one before? Like many, many times before? Truthfully, the so-called "best sandwich in L.A." didn't sound the least bit unique. 

But we can't all be fancy. And you know what? Sometimes those tried and true kinda recipes live on...and...on...and...on for good reason.

So...I had to try it. And it had better live up to its name.

After waiting in a 30-minute long line for one of the sandwiches everyone and their mother in Santa Monica rank supreme, I finally got to the counter to place my order. "One Godmother to go." For there wasn't a seat in the house. This place stays slammed. You'd think they were giving away the sandwiches for free.

No substitutions? No problem. For I'm down with all of its Italian ingredients. Genoa salami, Mortadella Cappacola, Ham, Prosciutto, and provolone made to order with “The Works” (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, house made Italian dressing, and pickled hot or mild peppers) - it all sounds rather satisfying to me.

Paper-wrapped and rolled I could still smell the deli aromas on my 10-minute drive home. While I wasn't exactly ravenous, I did find myself salivating a bit as I thought about taking a large bite out of the massive meat and cheese filled beast.

Within seconds of walking through my door, I unwrapped the Godmother and took a big bite. And to my surprise, it kinda sorta lived up to the hype. I wouldn't dare say it's the best sandwich in all of L.A. but its flavors and textures are pretty solid for a splurge meal on a Saturday.

The bread boasts a deliciously crunchy exterior with a perfectly soft and salty interior. The various meats all compliment one another with tastes of spicy, peppery, and slightly sweet. The sandwich veggies add their own something special to the party too with a little bit of crunch and a little bit of heat. Let's not forget about the impeccably portioned mayo and mustard spread either. Keeping the sandwich ever so moist, the condiments also harmonize so beautifully with the other sandwich ingredients.

While I'll still stand by my opinion that this sandwich isn't exactly unique, it is, well, pretty damn tasty indeed. Following classic Italian sandwich rules, Bay Cities does kick it up a notch with delectable freshly-made bread and of course, some tender, love, and care given to each and every sandwich.

Is there a famous sandwich shop where you live? Does it live up to the hype?

Individual Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Sauce Topping

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias

I never used to have a sweet tooth. I'd easily pass up on the flourless chocolate cake or the Dulce de Leche pudding. Taking second helpings of the savory has always been my "sweet ending" to any indulgent meal. Definitely not one of those women who swoons over all things sugary and sweet, I wasn't even super stoked about my wedding cake tasting - a step in the wedding planning process that most gals get all sorts of giddy over.

I don't know what's going on, but lately, I've been craving the sweet stuff. Terrible timing too, since I'm dedicated as ever to my wedding diet. Luckily for me, there are some delightful ways to "cheat" once or twice a week in a matter that won't have me feeling terribly guilty. Take for instance, some natural sweeteners on the market today. One of my current favorites is Truvia. With 75% fewer calories than regular sugar, I can use the stuff to make a few weekly "splurges" like homemade hot chocolate on a cold winer night or a heavenly gluten-free and low calorie french toast on a late Sunday morning.

I can also make my favorite dessert of all - a dessert that even throughout my sweet toothless years could get me drooling. Warm bread pudding. Good lord, how this decadent baked casserole cures the worst kind of day. 

I've made bread pudding a handful of times in recent years. Usually sticking to classic recipes with an ungodly amount of sugar and butter, it's no wonder the delectable dessert is so mouth-watering. But I decided to change it up a bit this time around. A slightly healthier bread pudding, if you will. With Truvia baking blend instead of the usual white cane sugar, unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of the whole milk, sourdough bread instead of a french loaf, and a sweet and spicy addition of Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea, I put a lovely little spin on this southern staple.

Bigelow's Vanilla Chai tea is already a must-have item in my pantry. I don't know if it's that kick of spice I love in each sip - or if I just feel awfully mature and sophisticated when I drink tea. Either way, the stuff just had to go in my revamped bread pudding.

Oh, and I must mention....these beauties have one killer Kentucky bourbon sauce drizzled on top. As if they needed any sort of flavor boost at all....

Individual Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding with Kentucky Bourbon Sauce

Ingredients:

1 small loaf Sourdough baguette, set out overnight (if possible) and cut in 1-inch cubes

4 eggs

4 cups unsweetened almond milk (feel free to use milk or half and half)

1/2 cup Truvia natural sweetener-baking blend (or 1 cup regular sugar)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 stick melted butter, plus extra for greasing the ramekins

4 Bigelow Vanilla Chai tea bags

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Bourbon Sauce:

1 stick butter

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup Truvia sugar (or 1 cup regular sugar)

1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon

Directions:

1) Brew the tea bags in the almond milk. In a medium saucepan, add the almond milk and the tea bags. Bring to a very light boil, stirring and pushing on the tea bags with a spoon occasionally. Remove from heat and let col completely - about 20 minutes.

2) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. With a large bowl, whisk the eggs, melted butter, Truvia, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and chai tea infused almond milk together.

3) Place the bread cubes in another bowl and gradually pour the mixture on top. Depending on the size of your sourdough loaf, you may not need the entire wet mixture. You don't want it to be super soupy. Pour and stir in the mixture until the bread cubes are liberally coated. Let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Grease ramekins with a little bit of butter or baking spray. Spoon the bread pudding into each ramekin, packing the bread cubes in tight. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread pudding has completely set.

5) When bread pudding has 5 minutes left to bake, prepare the bourbon sauce. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until thickened. Then, using a small pan, melt the butter with the sugar. Heat on low until caramel in color. Pour the butter and sugar in with the beaten egg yolks and continue beating until thickened. Stir in bourbon. 

6) Remove bread puddings from the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour bourbon sauce on top and serve.

7) ENJOY!

I purchased both Bigelow Tea and Truvia sugar from my local Target. See below for to see where I found the products at my local store as well as coupons for Truvia natural sweetener. 

1) Cartwheel CTA - Save 10% on your purchase of any package of Truvía® Natural Sweetener, Truvía® Baking Blend or Truvía® Brown Sugar Blend with Target Cartwheel. If you are not signed up, visit cartwheel.target.com or download the Cartwheel mobile app to join and start saving today!

2) 2-Pack Sample CTA - If you would like to try Truvía® Natural Sweetener before purchasing, please request your free sample at Truvia.com today!