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low carb cheese crisp photo and recipe by jackie Alpers

Serves 2 to 4

A cross between a Mexican pizza an an open-faced quesadilla, the cheese crisp is the perfect comfort food. Southern Arizona restaurants started selling the dish more than 50 years ago and it’s become a staple of our local “Sonoran Style” cuisine. I ditched the tortilla and came up with this super-cheesy, updated version of the dish that is grain-free, and thus gluten-free and low-carb as well. Parmesan is a hard cheese that crisps when melted, replacing the flour based tortilla. Serve the chipotle ranch on the side as a dipping sauce if you don’t have a squeeze bottle available. I used a blend of jack, cheddar, and queso quesadilla for the Mexican cheese blend. See more of the recipes I’ve developed for Tastebook.com

The Cheesiest Cheese Crisp with Chipotle Ranch Dipping Sauce
2 Hatch or Padilla green chilies, or one of each
Olive oil spray
2 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
Ingredients for the Chipotle Ranch Drizzle
1 cup prepared ranch dressing
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a jar of chipotles chilies


  1. Preheat the broiler to 475 degrees. Wash the chilies and spray them with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally until the chilies are brown and the skin is blistered; about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the chilies are roasting, mix together the ranch dressing and the adobo sauce. Transfer to a plastic squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Remove chilies from the oven, peel off the blistered skin, remove the seeds and stems, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-1/8 inch wide strips. Set aside.
  4. Line a round 12-14” pizza pan with a round silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cover with a layer of shredded Parmesan cheese. You should just barely see the bottom of the pan through the cheese. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven. Set the oven to “bake” and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  5. Sprinkle the Mexican cheese blend on top of the crisp Parmesan “crust”, then arrange the chili strips on top. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  6. Top with fresh cilantro leaves, then drizzle with chipotle ranch in a spiral pattern. Cut with a pizza wheel and serve.


Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches With Sprinkles!

by Jackie Alpers on May 23, 2016


This may be one of the easiest recipes ever. It was originally written for and published on Refinery29 where you can find seven more of my Oreo recipes.

I literally wrote the book on sprinkles, so if you’re interested in learning more ways to cover everything in sprinkles, pick up a copy of Sprinkles!: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts.

Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches With Sprinkles!


  • 1 pint ice cream, any flavor, softened but not melted, I used a chocolate-peanut butter swirl.
  • 1 (14.3-oz) package Oreos
  • 1/3 cup sprinkles


  1. Spoon about a small scoop of ice cream (about 1 tablespoon) onto the top of an Oreo, then carefully squish another Oreo on top.
  2. Roll the exposed ice cream on the sides in a shallow dish of sprinkles if desired.
  3. Refreeze until ready to serve.
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Thai Cauliflower “Fried Rice” with Coconut

by Jackie Alpers on April 11, 2016

recipe for coconut thai fried rice made with cauliflower

Cauliflower that has been pre-chopped into tiny rice-sized bits is my favorite new food product. It’s almost indistinguishable from real rice in recipes, yet contains significantly less carbs, so it’s perfect for grain-free and Paleo diets. If you want a little more protein just add about a half cup of diced cooked pork or chicken.

Trader Joe’s makes both fresh and organic frozen varieties, but if you can’t find pre-riced cauliflower, pulse chopped cauliflower in a food processor for the same results.  Be sure to use gluten free soy sauce (tamari) if you are sensitive.

Thai Cauliflower “Fried Rice” with Coconut
2 cups (16 ounces) riced cauliflower
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce, (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon Thai seasoning blend such as Gourmet Garden
3 eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the riced cauliflower until it starts to brown, about two minutes.
  2. Add the sesame seeds and chopped onion and continue to stir fry for a minute or two more.
  3. One at a time, stir in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, Sambal Oelek and Sriracha.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in coconut milk, cilantro, basil and Thai spice blend. Simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add the beaten egg, stir until well combined and cook for two minutes more.
  6. Enjoy!


recipe for coconut thai fried rice made with cauliflower




Quinoa Burrito Bowl With Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

by Jackie Alpers on April 3, 2016


This recipe originally was written for and published on Refinery29 as part of an article on easy and affordable grain bowls. Check out the rest of the recipes on the site.

The Greek yogurt adds a little creaminess to the vinaigrette, so I recommend arranging it all pretty in bowl, then smooshing and swirling the whole thing together into a big mess before you eat it.

Quinoa Burrito Bowl With Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/4 cup green salsa
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh or dried chopped cilantro
1/2 cup drained and rinsed black beans
1/2 of an avocado, sliced 
2 tablespoons chunky pico de gallo salsa
2 tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt
For chipotle lime vinaigrette
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon grainy mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring broth and salsa to a boil in a medium pot. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 12 minutes or according to package directions. 
  2. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, cover and steam for 5 minutes. 
  3. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon the quinoa into the bottom of your serving bowl. Arrange the beans, avocado slices, chunky salsa and nonfat yogurt on top. Pour vinaigrette over everything and enjoy!


Creamy Wheat Berry Breakfast Hash Bowl

by Jackie Alpers on March 28, 2016

wheat berry butternut hash-_JackieAlpers

Prepare the grains according to package instructions unless otherwise noted. You can do this in advance and store the cooked grains in the refrigerator to save time later.

Different varieties of the same grain have different cooking times so be sure to check the label. This recipe was originally written for, and published on Refinery29 as part of an article on easy and affordable grain bowls. Check out the rest of the recipes on the site.

Creamy Wheat Berry Breakfast Hash Bowl
1 cup prepared wheat berries, warmed
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 egg
1/3 cup ricotta cheese, part skim or full milk
2 teaspoons butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt 1 teaspoon of the butter in a nonstick pan. Toss in the butternut squash chunks and sauté over medium heat until browned and soft, about 15 minutes. It will look mashed. If it doesn’t look mashed, smash it a bit with the back of your spatula. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Fry the egg in the remaining teaspoon of butter. Spoon the wheat berries into the bottom of your serving bowl, leaving a well for the squash. Place the squash in the well, then top with ricotta followed by the fried egg. Season with salt and pepper.


Spinach Linguini with Walnut Pesto

by Jackie Alpers on March 3, 2016


Walnuts are less expensive and easier to find than the traditional pine nuts and I think they taste even better. Plus they’re loaded with healthy fats.

This recipe originally was written for and published on Refinery29 as part of an article on easy pasta recipes. See the rest of the article here.

Spinach Linguini with Walnut Pesto

For Pesto

makes 2 servings


1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil 

1/2 cup good quality olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan/Romano blend 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt


Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until well combined. 

For Pasta


1 pound dry spinach linguini

1 cup prepared walnut pesto

1 cup parmesan cheese plus more for serving

1 teaspoon salt for the pasta water 

salt and pepper to taste 


Fill a large pot or dutch oven 3/4 full with water, (about 4 quarts) Add the salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook stirring frequently until al dente, 5-8 minutes. 

Drain, but do not rinse the pasta, you want a little bit of the pasta water in the sauce. Return to the pot and stir in the pesto and parmesan cheese,  add salt and pepper to taste. Save any extra pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Garnish with a few small basil leaves if you have any left over and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper on top. 


Sweet Pepper Poppers

by Jackie Alpers on February 9, 2016

Easy Sweet Pepper Poppers | Food photography by Jackie Alpers

How To Make Sweet Mini Pepper Poppers

Lay peppers on preparation surface. Slice off the front of each one, leaving a deep well and the stems intact. Fill the remaining hole with jalapeño cream cheese for a kick of heat that’s milder than traditional poppers. Top with panko breadcrumbs moistened with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees until browned.

This recipe and food photograph was developed for a FoodNetwork.com article on 10 Ways to use Sweet Mini Peppers. Read the rest of the article here.


Chicken Pot Pie in a Mug

by Jackie Alpers on January 14, 2016

For centuries, people believed that it was impossible to make a chicken pot pie in the microwave. I have proven them wrong. This recipe first appeared in the article “10-Minute Dinner Recipes That ANYONE Can Make” Get the rest of the dinner in a mug recipes from this article at Refinery29.

Chicken Pot Pie in a Mug
1 tsp butter
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk, cream or half & half
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup peas, defrosted if frozen
1/4 cup corn kernels, defrosted if frozen
1 tsp onion flakes
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Onion flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 small can crescent roll dough (approximately 4-oz), such as Pillsbury’s


  1. Heat the butter in a large mug in the microwave until melted, about 20 seconds.
  2. Whisk in the flour, using a fork, to make a paste. Then whisk in the milk or cream, followed by the broth. Mix in chicken, peas, corn, paprika, onion flakes, salt, and pepper.
  3. Unroll the crescent rolls and lay two or three of them across the top of the mug to make a crust, leaving a small amount of space between them so that steam can vent.
  4. Cook for 3 minutes or until the top is puffy and lightly browned, as shown.



Black & White Sprinkles! Cookie

by Jackie Alpers on October 10, 2015

black and white cookie

Look to the cookie. These soft and cakey half-and-half cookies are the perfect palette for your favorite sprinkles, jimmies, confetti, or dragées in elegant shades of black and white.

This recipe is from my book Sprinkles!: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts. Buy my book and lean everything there is to learn about Sprinkles.

Black & White Sprinkles! Cookie


  • 4 Cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/ 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon lemon extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 Cups milk
  • For The Icing
  • 6 Cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 Tablespoons each chocolate jimmies, white jimmies, and white Sixlets, or other sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium to medium-high speed for several minutes, until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add sugar in a slow stream. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract, then lemon extract, and then egg whites, mixing to combine after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk in 3 alternating additions and mix until just combined.
  3. Drop ¼-cup scoops of dough about 5 inches apart onto cookie sheets. Moisten a small offset spatula or butter knife with water and spread each mound of dough into a flat 3-inch round. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking, just until cookie edges start to turn golden.
  4. For the icing, mix confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Transfer 1/2 of the icing to another bowl and add cocoa powder. Mix until no cocoa powder lumps remain.
  5. Using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate icing on half the cookie. Repeat with the vanilla icing on the other half. Return iced cookies to wire racks to set for 30 minutes and then remove them with a spatula. Store cookies in an airtight container, layered between waxed paper, for up to 3 days.
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Vegan Cocktail Pups recipe With A SECRET INGREDIENT! 

by Jackie Alpers on September 3, 2015

easy vegan cocktail pups made in the crockpot

Vegan Cocktail Pups

The secret ingredient is baby carrots! This is so simple that there isn’t even a recipe. Just toss a bag or two of baby carrots a crockpot with your favorite barbecue sauce and cook on low for 4 hours.

Find out more super easy ways to use up that bag of baby carrots sitting in the fridge in my FoodNetwork.com article, Beyond The Bag: New Ways to Eat Your Baby Carrots.