Tag Archives: party food

Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad

Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

With Labor Day weekend coming up and football season starting, I’m sure you’ve got lots of potluck or tailgating parties coming up. Since it’s still in season, watermelon is the perfect choice for a healthy party side dish. By now, I’m sure you’ve had your fill of Watermelon Mint & Basil Salad with Feta or something similar. So why not try this Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad using NAKANO Citrus Seasoned Rice Vinegar? This would go well with my Sriracha Chicken Skewers or teriyaki beef or chicken cooked up on the grill!

Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

You can assure all your gluten free and nut free guests that the salad is OK to eat because you’ve used tamari sauce instead of soy sauce, and pine nuts instead of peanuts. Just make sure to double check that the fish sauce doesn’t have any wheat or soy sauce in it. (The kind I used didn’t.)

Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Asian Citrus Watermelon Salad

Inspired by this recipe from the July/August 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine


  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon flavored olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari sauce
  • 3 tablespoons NAKANO Citrus Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 Thai pepper, seeded and minced or 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 5 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts


  1. Whisk together sesame seed olive, olive oil, fish sauce, tamari sauce, vinegar, lime juice, red onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. Add the watermelon and toss to combine.
  3. Let sit 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cilantro, basil, mint and pint nuts to salad.
  5. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Makes 6 to 7 servings
  • Serving size: 3/4 cup

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian Olive Oil.

I’m a big fan of grapeseed oil. It has a light, clean taste, which means it’s a great oil to use in baking. Due to grapeseed oil’s high fluidity, it reduces excess oil from absorbing into food. This means a few less calories! In addition, it’s a good source of Vitamin E and antioxidants.

Grapeseed oil is perfect for all sorts of cooking from stir frying to sautéing. And due to it’s high smoke point, it’s a wonderful oil for deep frying and grilling.  Since July is National Grilling Month, Pompeian, a leader in olive oils, is sharing simple tips and recipes to help you get a taste of the Mediterranean without leaving your backyard. For example, why not use Pompeian Grapeseed Oil instead of butter when sautéing fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market? Or try making your own marinades or salad dressings using Pompeian oils and fresh herbs from the garden? Healthier and way cheaper, too!

Speaking of price, it used to be that you could only find grapeseed oil at gourmet and health food stores – très expensive for even the smallest of bottles! So I was pleasantly surprised to find Pompeian Grapeseed Oil for only $5.75 for a 24 ounce bottle at my local grocery store. It’s even cheaper if you print a dollar off coupon on the Pompeian website. That’s why Pompeian Grapeseed Oil is now my official go to grapeseed oil brand.Pompeian Grapeseed Oil at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

While you’re at the store, check out Pompeian OlivExtra Mediterranean Blend. The oil blend is a healthy combination of canola, extra virgin and grapeseed oil, which represent key components of the Mediterranean diet. The higher smoke point and unique flavor combination of this oil blend make it ideal for everything from salads to grilling marinades.

Pompeian Olive Oil is partnering with Hungry Girl to create easy-to-follow, healthy grilling recipes that are inspired by the Mediterranean diet. Lisa Lillien, also known as Hungry Girl, has created three delicious grilling recipes using the Pompeian family of products for all of your summer cookout occasions, including: Hungry Grilled Romaine Salad, Spicy Mustard Chicken Kebabs, and this one for Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers.

This shrimp dish would make a great party appetizer, too!

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers


  • 12 ounces (about 20) raw large shrimp, peeled, tails removed, deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (not packed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups canned peach slices packed in juice, drained and blotted dry
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Pompeian Grapeseed Oil


  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes to prevent burning. (You'll need four.)
  2. To make the sauce, place 1/2 cup drained peach slices in a small food processor or blender. Add all ingredients except shrimp and remaining peach slices. Puree until smooth. Transfer half of the sauce to a small bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve (for dipping).
  3. Bring grill to medium high heat.
  4. Evenly thread shrimp and remaining peach slices onto 4 skewers. Brush both sides with some of the remaining sauce. Grill until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, brushing with remaining sauce as they cook.
  5. Serve with the refrigerated sauce for dipping!
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: Makes 4 servings
  • Serving size: 1 skewer

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole #iloveavocados

This post brought to you by Avocados from Mexico. All opinions are 100% mine.

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole #iloveavocadosMy husband, Paul, and I threw a party for his coworkers and their families after work last Friday, figuring that would be a perfect evening for our guests since it didn’t interfere with their weekend plans. As we do for many of our barbecues, we ask our guests to bring a side dish, buns, or dessert since we’re providing the drinks and the main course – in this case two smoked Boston butt pork shoulders and two smoked chickens. (Check out my recipes for smoked pulled pork and smoked chicken.)

The party

However, I wanted to prepare a gluten free, vegetarian side dish just in case we had a guest who didn’t eat meat or had to stay away from delicious mac and cheese someone inevitably brings. (I live in the South, after all.) So I decided to prepare a bowl of Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole. It’s one of Rick Bayless recipes with Avocados from Mexico. This healthy recipe can be used as a salad, as a dip with tortilla chips, or in tacos.

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole is a great way to use leftover corn on the cob, too! If you don’t normally cook your corn on the grill, try it as it’s delicious! Or you can cheat like I did and use the one pound bag of frozen roasted corn they sell at Trader Joe’s. Since I used a lot of corn and didn’t mash the avocados, this turned it into more of a side dish type salad. If you want a true corn guacamole, use the amounts from Rick’s recipe below.

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole


  • 2 small ears fresh corn, shucked
  • 1 small poblano chile
  • 8 ounces tomatillos, husked (about 4 large)
  • 3 avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat gas grill to medium or prepare a charcoal grill. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cob; remove to a large bowl.
  2. Grill the chile and tomatillos, turning until skins are nicely charred, about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin from the peppers with your fingers. Remove stem, core and seeds; chop chile and remove to the bowl. Finely chop tomatillos, capturing juices, and add to the bowl.
  3. Add avocado, onion, cilantro and salt.
  4. Coarsely mash avocado and gently stir to combine all ingredients

Enter the BBQ Like Rick Bayless sweepstakes

Have you heard about The Avocados From Mexico BBQ like Rick Bayless! Sweeps? They’re giving away a trip for two to Chicago to have dinner at Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. All you need to do is register online via The Avocados From Mexico Facebook page.

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Memorial Day party recipe round up!

Memorial Day party recipe round up!

I hope you're having a marvelous Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and some well deserved time off. If you need some healthy recipes for party food and drinks, you’ve come to the right place!






What are you serving up this Memorial Day weekend?

Practical Magic Midnight Peach and Cherry Beer Margaritas #glutenfree

Practical MagicFood‘nFlix

April’s Food ‘N Flix movie is Practical Magic (affiliate link), hosted by Glennis at Can't Believe We Ate. (Read her announcement here.) It’s a late-90s romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and a red-haired Nicole Kidman as the Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian, raised by two aunts played by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest. They’re all witches living under a curse. You see, the men they fall in love with are doomed to an early death. The serious and somewhat nerdy Sally and wild woman Gillian must their witchy powers to fight the family curse and a swarm of supernatural forces after the accidental death of Gillian’s bad-boy boyfriend, played by Goran Visnjic of ER fame. Aidan Quinn plays an Arizonan policeman who investigates the sisters and ultimately falls in love with Sally.

This month’s Food ‘N Flix film is a cute as far as romcoms go, and I was super envious of Nicole Kidman’s amazing red hair. (Sandra Bullock is gorgeous, as usual, and both male leads were not hard on the eyes.) I especially liked the ending when the Owens witches go from pariahs to the most popular and beloved family in town.

All the actors and actresses are wonderful – and wonderfully directed by y Griffin Dunne – but the story's a bit silly at times. Still, it’s a fun movie to watch with your family (it’s PG-13 for some violence, intense thematic elements, mild profanity, and sensuality) and if you have Amazon Prime, it’s a free rental.

Bewitched? You can read the full plot on Wikipedia.

Practical Magic Midnight Peach and Cherry Beer Margaritas #glutenfree

Making Midnight Margaritas

In the movie, one night the entire house of witches (except for the little girls, of course) get lit up on magical Midnight Margaritas and dance around to the song, “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson. Inspired by Practical Magic, a friend telling me about beer margaritas, and this video, I decided to brew up my own healthed up and gluten free version of a beer margarita.

First, I replaced the frozen limeade concentrate with Welch’s 100% Juice White Grape Peach concentrate. (Have you ever read the label on a can of limeade? It’s pure high fructose corn syrup and some lime flavorings – blarg!) Instead of a cherry soda, I used Hansen’s Diet Black Cherry. And I used a gluten free sorghum beer homebrewed by my husband. (You can use your favorite gluten free beer or a light beer if you’re not gluten free.)

Call on your inner witch to brew up variations of my Practical Magic Midnight Margarita recipe using different 100% juice concentrates and Diet Hansen's sodas. This would make a wonderful party drink or serve it at a Sunday or Mother’s Day brunch!

Practical Magic Midnight Peach and Cherry Beer Margaritas #glutenfree

Practical Magic Midnight Peach and Cherry Beer Margaritas

Makes 4 to 6 margaritas


  • 1 12-ounce can Welch’s 100% Juice White Grape Peach concentrate
  • 1 12-ounce can Diet Hansen’s Diet Black Cherry soda
  • 12 ounces gluten free beer
  • 12 ounces tequila
  • 3 concentrate cans of ice


  1. Pre-chill your margarita glasses.(Chilling makes a big difference, believe me!)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large blender.
  3. Place blender lid on firmly and hold it down with your hand. (There’s a lot of liquid in this recipe, and your margarita may threaten to overflow a bit!)
  4. Blend the margaritas using the blender’s pulse setting to prevent a spillover.
  5. Immediately pour into chilled glasses and serve.

Quick and Easy Nachos with Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas!

Quick and Easy Gluten Free Nachos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

As a part of my work with the Udi’s Gluten Free Community, I try to serve as your go to source about Udi’s Gluten Free new products. One new offering that got me really excited was their new gluten free plain tortillas. One of the foods I really missed when I first started eating gluten free were tortillas. (Since I was eating corn free for a while, I couldn’t eat those either!) I’m sure many of you – especially those with gluten free kids – feel the same way since tortillas are something many of us eat regularly. I couldn’t image having any sort of Mexican style dishes from quesadillas to taco night without them!

About Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas

Udi’s Gluten Free’s tortillas come in two sizes – small and large. Also, you may have to search in the refrigerator or freezer section of your store to find them, as they need to be refrigerated. I learned the hard way and had them out on the counter for a week when they started getting moldy.

As far as taste and texture goes, I like them a little better than the brown rice tortillas I usually purchase. They’re less chewy, especially if I cook them in the microwave for 10 seconds before making a wrap with them. Unfortunately, the tortillas are a bit fragile and tear easily, but this is true of other gluten free tortillas I’ve tried. So make sure to store them perfectly flat in the refrigerator. If you don’t, they’ll tear in the package.

Udi’s Gluten Free plain tortillas

The reason I gave you that warning because I didn’t store them flat, and had a package of broken tortillas that were useless for making breakfast egg wraps or hummus and arugula rollups. So I decided to make lemonade with lemons, or in this case, nachos with torn Udi’s Gluten Free tortillas!

Quick and Easy Gluten Free Nachos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Quick and Easy Gluten Free Nachos

This is a great way to use up leftovers from taco night or an easy party dish to make for your gluten free guests.


  • cooking spray
  • 3 large or 5 small Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas, torn into bite sized pieces (or enough to line your oven safe dish)
  • Your favorite healthy nacho toppings – low fat Mexican style grated cheese, chunks of queso fresco, salsa, olives, leftover fajita beef, chicken or pepper stir fry, diced onions and tomatoes, no fat refried beans, etc. Get creative!


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spray an oven save dish with cooking spray. (I used a glass pie plate.)
  3. Line dish with torn pieces of Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas.
  4. Place dish on highest rack of the oven and cook for 10 minutes until the tortilla pieces start to get a little bit brown and crispy.
  5. Remove dish from oven. Cover tortilla with your favorite nacho toppings.
  6. Place dish back in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 1 large platter of nachos
  • Serving size: varies

Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken and Ranch Sliders

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken and Ranch Sliders at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Healthy St. Patrick’s Day snacks: Avocado Deviled Eggs

Avocado Deviled Eggs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Looking for some green party food for St. Patrick’s Day that’s also healthy and naturally gluten free? This recipe healthens up a party classic – deviled eggs – by substituting avocado and plain yogurt for mayonnaise. You can sprinkle the tops with chives or blend them in for a punchier green, too!

This would also make a terrific healthy snack when the kids are reading Green Eggs and Ham at school.

Do you have a go to healthy recipe for St. Patrick’s Day?

Avocado Deviled Eggs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Avocado Deviled Eggs


  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • 1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 tablespoon plain low or no-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • Chopped chives (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, place egg yolks; add the avocado and mash until smooth.
  2. Stir in yogurt, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in jalapeño and onion, then spoon into egg white shells, dividing equally.
  4. Arrange on a serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Don't serve long after 3 hours as the avocado will start to darken.)
  5. Garnish with chives, if desired.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: Yield: 12 deviled eggs
  • Serving size: 1 deviled egg

Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Hunt’s® Easy Gazpacho #HuntsRecipes

Hunt's® Easy Gazpacho | At This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comLooking to throw a party to celebrate American Heart Month? (Hey, why not?!) Here’s a short video on some of the fun ways you can entertain with and serve Hunt's® Easy Gazpacho:

Also, if you haven’t had the chance yet, could you take a minute to fill out a quick survey about tomatoes? Thanks!

Hunt's® Easy Gazpacho | At This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Hunt's® Easy Gazpacho


  • 1 can (14.5 ounces each) Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 ounces each) Hunt's® Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (3/4 cup = 1 medium pepper)
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl; stir well.
  2. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 4 servings
  • Serving size: 1-1/3 cups each
  • Calories: 137
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 894mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Remember, Hunt's diced, whole, stewed, and crushed tomatoes are naturally peeled with steam – FlashSteamed – not with chemicals like some other brands use. Plus, they add no artificial preservatives in the process. So you can feel good about using 100% natural Hunt's tomatoes in your recipes.

Disclosure: I’ve been compensated by Hunt’s for my time and efforts on their behalf. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Healthy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

In its infinite wisdom, my daughter’s school scheduled the Daddy Daughter Dance on Valentine’s Day. So Paul and I won’t be going out on Thursday, but may take in a dinner and a movie at The National in Athens, Georgia if the movie at The Ciné is something I actually want to see. (All the movies I do want to see are done after the 14th, darn it!)

However for many of us, going out to eat for Valentine’s Day is a total pain. First of all, this year it’s on a Thursday and who can stay out late when you have to get kids ready for school and head out to work early in the morning? Second, depending on where you like to eat, you may have to make reservations weeks in advance. Third, between babysitters, drinks and a nice meal, and a Valentine's Day present for your sweetie, it’s expensive!

Why not stay home and fix a nice Valentine's Day meal instead? Afterwards, put the kids to bed – early if possible. Then start a romantic movie on Netflix, open a bottle of sparkling wine, and have a delicious but healthy snack that won’t spoil your diet too badly, like Peanut Butter Caramel Corn from Cooking Light's The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today's Home Cook. Leftovers will make a nice after school snack the next day, too!

I bet this would be good with almond butter, as well. If you have nut allergies or sensitivities, try sunflower seed butter (Trader Joe's brand is awesome!) instead of peanut butter and pine nuts (which are seeds) for the sliced almonds. You could also substitute your favorite vegan buttery spread instead of using butter, too.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add popcorn; cover and cook 4 minutes, shaking pan frequently. When popping slows, remove pan from heat. Let stand until popping stops. Uncover; add almonds.
  4. Combine sugar, syrup, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  5. Add peanut butter and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Drizzle over popcorn; toss well.
  6. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Servings: Serves 20
  • Serving size: About 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 155
  • Total Fat: 7.4 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.8 g
  • Unsaturated fat: mono 3.5 g, poly 1.6 g
  • Sodium: 108 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21.3 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 4 mg

Recipe and photo used with permission of Cooking Light.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comMy son, Nathan, came home from school the other day asking me if I had a goat cheese and fig pizza recipe on my blog. Seems he has a teacher who grows figs in her yard and she needed some ideas. Nathan told her about the goat cheese and fig pizza made with Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crusts I'd made for dinner a few times, and thought I'd a posted recipe for it. However, while I had recipes for Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Baby Greens and Balsamic Reduction and Caramelized Onion & Fig Mini Pizzas, I didn’t have one that combined the two. That is until now, thanks to my friend, Holly Clegg.

I love figs and can usually find fresh ones here in Georgia when they’re in season or dried ones when they’re not. However, if you’re having a tough time finding any sort of figs, you can substitute dates or even dried plums.

Find more of Holly’s trim& TERRIFIC® recipes at hollyclegg.com and The Healthy Cooking Blog. Don’t forget to check out Holly’s new cookbook, KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence, too!

Gourmet Aphrodisiacs this Valentine’s Day

If you are looking for just the right subtly sweet and savory dish with gourmet appeal yet quick and easy – then look no further than my delightful Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza. Did you know that figs are considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac? From the “Food for the Mood” chapter in Holly Clegg's trim&TERRIFIC Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age, this is the go-to cookbook for a fun-filled Valentine’s Day gift! Filled with recipes for romance, aphrodisiac ingredients, and enticing words like, “A good marriage is like a good wine, it gets better with age.”

Turn up the heat this Valentine’s Day and you’ll definitely sizzle in your kitchen!

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza

Figs, considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac, turn pizza into an alluring palate pleasing masterpiece.


  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 (12-ounce) thin pizza crust
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 4 ounces figs, sliced in thirds
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, optional


  1. In small nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and sauté onion, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until start to turn golden. Add sugar and continue cooking until caramel color. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven 450°F. On pizza crust, spread remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover with orange marmalade. Arrange cooled onions, figs, prosciutto, goat cheese and mozzarella on crust.
  3. Sprinkle with rosemary, if desired. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust crisp.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 281
  • Calories from Fat: 96 (34%)
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 279mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 38g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg

Dietary Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

Recipe and photo used with permission of the author.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Two dishes in one: Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds and Polenta and Ham Casserole

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boar's Head. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of my go to meals when I can’t think of anything else to make is polenta. The great thing about polenta is that you can keep a couple of tubes of it in the pantry since it’s shelf stable. My favorite way to cook it is to sauté slices in a pan, cover them with warm spaghetti sauce, and add a little parmesan cheese on top. However, this recipe for Lower Sodium Ham & Polenta Rounds from Boar’s Head bakes the polenta rounds, which seems so much healthier!

Inspired, I created these Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds using Boar's Head lower sodium deli meats and cheeses. In addition, I created a Polenta and Ham Casserole using leftover lower sodium ham and provolone from the first dish. The ingredients shown below are for making both dishes. If you just want to make the Pizza Rounds, halve the recipe and use leftover ham and provolone in quiche or omelets.

The Pizza Rounds make wonderful party appetizers as well as a main dish. They’re a little messy to eat with your hands – and you have to wait for the rounds to cool down a bit. Even so, my nine-year-old daughter managed just fine. Her verdict – “Oh Mom, these are so good that I can’t stop eating them!” – as she ate her third Polenta and Ham Pizza Round!

While I had used Boar’s Head products before for sandwiches, I had never cooked with them and was impressed with the results. Check out their website to learn which of their products are gluten free, lower sodium, and on the Feingold Association list.

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds and Polenta and Ham Casserole


  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (18 ounce) rolls of polenta, cut into 32 rounds
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 slices Boar’s Head Black Forest Brand 25% Lower Sodium Smoked Ham
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Boar’s Head 42% Lower Sodium Provolone Cheese (or 16 slices)


For Polenta Ham Pizza Rounds:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully slice polenta. Keep best slices for the pizza rounds. Broken and funky rounds will be used in the casserole.
  4. Carefully slice polenta. Keep best slices for the pizza rounds. Broken and funky rounds will be used in the casserole.
  5. Spray a large oven safe dish or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place 16 polenta rounds on dish, 1/2 to 1 inch apart.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut ham and cheese. I used a flower shaped one that was just slightly bigger than the polenta rounds. If you run short on ham, overlap two smaller pieces of ham. Then carefully cut it with your cookie cutter. Since the ham will be under the cheese, no one will really notice that you’ve had to “make due.”
  7. Spoon a large dollop of the tomato mixture on to the polenta round – just enough to almost cover the polenta.
  8. Carefully place ham and cheese slices on top and top with a piece of tomato from the leftover tomato mixture.
  9. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  10. Remove from oven and place pizza rounds on a platter to serve as appetizers. Or serve two to four rounds per person as a main dish along with a vegetable or salad.

For Polenta Ham Casserole:

  1. Coat the inside of a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer half of the “less perfect” polenta rounds on the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover with half the remaining tomato mixture.
  3. Layer the rest of the polenta rounds. Cover with the rest of the tomato mixture.
  4. Chop up remaining pieces of ham and cheese and liberally sprinkle on top of casserole until evenly spread.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes until cheese has melted and starts to brown a little. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: Many!
  • Serving size: Don't go crazy!

Making Polenta and Ham Pizza Rounds

The Polenta and Ham Casserole is a very cheesy dish. If you’re worried about too much fat and calories, use less cheese and save the remaining pieces for chef salad, omelets or a quiche. In addition, you can health up this dish by adding chopped up broccoli, squash, zucchini and/or cauliflower to the layer below the ham and cheese. It’s a great way to sneak in some healthy veggies into your family’s dinner!

Polenta and Ham Casserole

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Healthy holiday desserts: Chocolate Ginger Mousse

Chocolate Ginger MousseIt’s always a challenge to cook up healthy desserts for the holidays. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe for Chocolate Ginger Mousse from Chef Anthony Stewart, Executive Chef of the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa. Regular chocolate mousse can tally up 8 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat, which is more saturated fat than many cheeseburgers! There’s zero saturated fat in Pritikin’s Chocolate Ginger Mousse.

Chef Anthony has worked with thousands of guests to create healthier versions of their favorite, tasty foods. He’s won accolades worldwide, including five gold medals in top culinary competitions, for his masterful use of foodstuffs like fresh seafood and tropical fruit from his native Jamaica. When not in the kitchen, he’s in the classroom, and has inspired thousands of Pritikin guests “to have some fun!”

For more information about Pritikin, please visit pritikin.com.

Chocolate Ginger Mousse


  • 4 ounces Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Splenda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 12 ounces firm or extra firm silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice (Slice off skin of ginger root, then grate the root and squeeze to extract juice.)
  • Optional garnish: 4 fresh raspberries


  1. In a small stainless steel bowl, combine cocoa powder, Splenda and hot water. Stir till mixture has a smooth, thick, fudge-like consistency, adding more water as you stir, if needed.
  2. In a food processor, blend tofu till completely smooth, about 10 seconds. Then add fudge, vanilla extract, and ginger juice, and blend until smooth.
  3. Place mixture in parfait glasses. If desired, garnish each glass with a raspberry, and serve cold.

This Mama’s tips

  • Party serving idea: place the mousse in a mini dessert glass and garnish with a single raspberry and mint leaf.
  • For variation, add mint leaves or mint extract, or sugar-free orange marmalade.
  • You can also garnish with a few shavings of dark or white chocolate.

Recipe and photograph courtesy of Pritikin.

Making dips with World Harbors marinades

Making dips with World Harbors marinades at This Mama Cooks! On  a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I love using  World Harbors premade marinades when grilling steak or fish or making Beer Can Chicken, but was always frustrated when I had a shelf of half-used up bottles in the refrigerator. So I started to experiment and realized that World Harbors can also be turned into great dips! You don’t have to use their marinades straight from the bottle either. Instead you can combine them with low fat sour cream, Greek yogurt or my favorite tofu sour cream to make yummy and somewhat healthy dips.

My family and I tried the Maui Mountain Sweet ‘n’ Sour two ways – plain and with no fat lemon flavored yogurt on a 1:1 ratio – with our sweet potato fries. Hands down both dips were a hit with my family, so I encourage you to experiment with other flavors. For example:

  • Honey Dijon, Lemon Pepper or Italian would all be terrific with veggie sticks as a party snack. Again, combine the marinade with sour cream, yogurt, etc. for your guests!
  • Island Mango would be wonderful for French fries or sweet potato fries.
  • Just about any World Harbors marinades combined with yogurt or sour cream would go great with pretzels, too!

If you have children who are reluctant to eat their veggies, serve up your World Harbor dip alongside their dinner plates in small ramekins. Kids can use fondue forks, toothpicks, skewers or regular forks to dip their veggies in the marinades. I bet they’ll like it so much that they’ll ask for veggies and World Harbors dip during snack time!

Also, you can combine fruit flavored yogurt with a sweet marinade, like Island Mango, for a fun dip for apple slices, grapes, sliced strawberries, and so on.

Save money on World Harbors

World Harbors is offering a coupon on Facebook. Also, don’t forget to sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is World Harbors parent company.) Even if you don’t win, you’ll receive a terrific e-newsletter filled with with recipes and tips using World Harbors marinades.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of World Harbors, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Prosciutto Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

When I entertain during the holidays, I try to mix up healthy appetizers along with small but delicious indulgences. I also believe that if you’re going to treat yourself, it’s healthier to have a few small bites than a big plate of something that’s not so good for you.

That’s why I’m sharing this fun party appetizer recipe from Prosciutto di Parma. Instead of using dough, this recipe uses the prosciutto to form the cups to serve the goat cheese mousse in – a really cool and unique idea that's totally gluten free!

You could cut a few fat calories by using a low fat goat cheese and no fat milk. You could also experiment with other herbs that would go well with prosciutto, like basil.

If you don’t have a piping bag, make your own by filling a ziploc sandwich bag with the cheese mixture, making a small diagonal cut at one corner, and squeezing it out the open corner.

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse


  • 6 slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 3.5 ounces plain goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut Prosciutto di Parma slices in half crosswise. Press a half slice of prosciutto into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine goat cheese with milk and chopped chives until creamy.
  4. Remove Prosciutto di Parma cups from the oven and let cool.
  5. Pipe or spoon the goat cheese mousse into cooled Parma cups, filling each with about a tablespoon of mousse.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Makes 12 cups
  • Serving size: 1 cup

Recipe and photo supplied by Parma and used with permission.

Five tips for healthy holiday hosting #Breville

veggies in a shot glass

Pile on the veggies – Sure everyone serves crudities, but why not make them extra special? Serve veggies and low fat dips in a shot glass like in the picture above. Or you can lay out a spread of healthy salad fixings as well as a variety of fruit, roasted vegetable, and pasta salads.

Lean meats, healthy soups and whole grain breads– Forgo the roast beef and ham and serve up turkey or chicken instead. Or consider having a serve yourself healthy soup bar. Another way to health up your party food is to serve whole grains like quinoa, whole wheat bread, and brown rice in your main dishes and sides. You can check out healthy party food ideas here.

Provide healthy beverages– Try serving up healthy choices like sparkling fruit juices and seltzer with slices of limes and pomegranate arils. Coffee and tea are also healthier choices, especially if you serve them with natural, no calorie sweeteners like stevia and skim milk.

The YouBrew by Breville makes serving coffee at parties so much easier as it’s the first coffee maker that tailors the brew for a cup, travel mug or carafe. You and your guests can customize brew strength with seven settings that increase the amount of ground coffee, as well as your flavor profile with give settings that vary the steeping time of the coffee and water. The unique BrewIQ® System ensures the right amount of coffee is combined with the right amount of water while heating the water to the optimum temperature. It then gives you the flexibility to brew directly into your favorite cup, travel mug or the included thermal or glass carafe for weekend entertaining.

A fun entertaining idea would be to have to go cups of specially brewed coffee prepared for your guests as they leave the party. You could use disposable cups or find some nice to go cups to give as holiday party favors.

Mini desserts–A party isn’t much fun without a sweet treat. But instead of serving up big slices of pie or cake, why not try serving smaller portions in shot glasses? These are called “dessert shooters” and I’ve seen everything from chocolate mousse to key lime pie done in cute little shot glasses. In fact, there’s a whole Pinterest board devoted to shot glass ideas for desserts and more savvy bites.

Get your grove on– Parties aren’t all about eating! Provide music for dancing, a karaoke machine for singing, or get everyone playing an activity video game like Dance Party. If the weather’s mild in your neck of the woods, you can go outside and play bocce ball or take a walk after the main course.

How do keep your holidays healthy?

Breville has released new, time saving products such as the YouBrew, just in time for the holidays! Create your perfect cup or pot of coffee instantly and easily with the Breville YouBrew. Check out their website for more information on this product and other great gift ideas.

And don’t forget to reply below for two chances to win your choice of amazing Breville products either for yourself or as a gift to a loved one: YouBrew, Tea Maker and Smart Oven products ($250 ARV)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Breville. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules