Monday, April 25, 2016

21 Day Fix Creamy Chicken Salad

 Well, here's a newsflash for you...I have NEVER finished a diet plan, ever.  I also am just hitting my 6-week mark post-baby boy and am desperate to get these unwanted baby pounds some.  So I am really putting my heart all-in this time.  Plus, the hubs is actually doing it with me this time which will make a huge difference.  AND I am in a weightless challenge to keep me accountable.  So, between all these things, I am hoping to stay on track.

The program I chose to follow is the 21-Day Fix.  If you have not heard of it, it is a portion-controlled diet along with 30-minute exercises.  The reason I chose this was the length of the exercises, the fact that it does not eliminate any food group, and I am hoping teaches me good habits for the future.  I have been experimenting with the workouts and a few recipes the last few weeks, but today is my day #1 of doing this full-out.  So far, I have been impressed.  I feel like there is no way I will ever eat the calories allowed (I bumped myself up  to the next higher calorie bracket since I am breastfeeding).  The best part is I do not feel limited on what I can have (besides the junk stuff)...just how much.

The other part of the diet I have really enjoyed and have been doing for about a week is drinking Shakeology.  The stuff is pricy, but it is delicious.  It definitely makes me want less junk and sugar by curbing my cravings, and keeps me fuller longer.  I am going to bite the bullet of the cost and keep it going, because it is full of goodness.  

This chicken salad is super yummy and the dressing is tasty as well.  Keep watching for my final review of the program after 21 days!

21-Day Fix Creamy Chicken Salad

Serves 4 (1 1/4 cups each) | Containers: 1 green if serving over romaine or 1 yellow if eating over 1 piece whole grain bread, 1/2 purple, 1 red, 1/2 blue, 1/2 orange

3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast (boneless, skinless) (I used turkey breast this time)
1/2 cup chopped green apple
1/2 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
1/3 cup raw almonds
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup honey mustard salad dressing (see below)
8 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) plain greek yogurt
3T Dijon mustard, gluten-free
3T raw honey
3T rice vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
pink salt to taste
Combine the yogurt, mustard, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk until combined

Then slowly add oil, whisking until well blended.

Adjust the salt until it’s totally awesome for ya!

…putting it all together

Combine all ingredients except for the lettuce in a large bowl, mix well, and refrigerate (covered) for 2 hours

Serve 1 1/4 cups of the creamy chicken salad over 2 cups of romaine lettuce or whole grain bread.

Recipe Source:  Fit Baby Steps

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cheese Fondue

I think we have just found a new Valentines Day dinner we can have year-to-year!  The hubs and I definitely like our own time around Valentines Day to go out to eat at a fancy restaurant or a winery (for the food, not the wine), but we also like to do something fun with the littles.  It had been years since I had made a cheese fondue, probably because the last one I did turned out a little less than stellar ;)  This one, however turned out great and my 7-year old thought it was the greatest dinner ever.  The recipe caught my eye because it was actually one that doesn't call for alcohol...and that is something that is never in my house, so I was all over that!  Plus, it comes from one of my fav food bloggers, so I trusted that as well :)  Enjoy!!

Cheese Fondue

2 cups lightly packed shredded Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups lightly packed shredded Swiss cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup low-sodium, good-quality chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice (don't leave this out! I just gave a quick squeeze of a lemon without properly measuring)
1 tablespoon finely minced or pressed garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of paprika

Place both the shredded Gruyere and Swiss cheeses in a gallon-size resealable bag with the cornstarch and shake until evenly coated.

In a stovetop-safe fondue pot (or in a regular saucepan or electric fondue pot), add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and garlic and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the cheese, a small handful at a time, stirring constantly, but not briskly. It works best to use a wooden spoon and and stir in an S-shaped motion, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn't burn.
Once the cheese is melted and begins to just barely simmer, add the remaining spices and move it immediately to the table on the fondue stand with the sterno flame below. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Add more or less cheese for perfect consistency and additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Serve with your favorite fondue dippers: steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower, carrots, apples, chicken sausages, bread (and more bread!), lightly sauteed mushrooms, tender potatoes - the options are endless! 

Recipe Source:  Meds Kitchen Cafe

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

I did something for the first time...I put cottage cheese in a smoothie.  I knew it would all taste fine in the end, but just scooping it in for the first time freaked me out just a bit, I'm no afraid to admit it!  It yielded a different texture than I could have gotten with lets say, yogurt.  So I will be using it more and more in my smoothies, hopefully not cringing next time :)

This smoothie turned out super good, perfect consistency and fulfilled my craving for something sweet that was pretty darn healthy as well.  

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

One ripe banana, quartered
⅓ cup lowfat cottage cheese
⅓ cup lowfat milk
1 packet sweetner (optional...I like Stevia)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup ice
Graham crackers (I just threw one whole cracker in)

Add all of your ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glass and enjoy!

Recipe Source:  A Night Owl Blog

Friday, April 8, 2016

Puerto Rican Style Beans

One of my FAV trips by far has been a cruise with friends to the Southern Caribbean.  We flew into San Juan, Puerto Rico and got to spend a few days there.  Our absolute favorite thing was just the rice and beans (and mofungo).  Trying to re-create the beans has been tough.  This recipe definitely gave me the flavor I was looking for, finally!  They were super good, I kind of impressed myself ;)  I will post about the chicken I made to go with it soon.  Enjoy!

Puerto Rican Style Beans

For the sofrito:
1/2 small onion
1/2 cubanelle (banana) pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

For the beans:
1 tsp olive oil
15.5 oz can pink or red kidney beans (I like Goya)
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1 medium potato, peeled and diced 1/4-inch (4 1/2 oz)
1 1/2 tbsp Sazon seasoning (homemade or store bought)
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp oregano
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a mini food processor, chop onions, garlic, pepper and cilantro. Add oil to a medium saucepan and sauté the chopped ingredients, cook on medium heat until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the beans (not drained) to the saucepan along with 3/4 cup of water. Add tomato sauce, potato, sazon, bay leaf, oregano, salt if needed and pinch of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Discard bay leaf and serve over rice. Makes about 3 cups.

Recipe Source: Skinny Taste

Friday, January 15, 2016

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

10 red potatoes, cubed
3 TB flour
1 cup real bacon bits
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 TB ranch dressing mix
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 cups water
1 cup half n half
1 cup cheddar cheese

Add potatoes to crock pot. Sprinkle flour over potatoes and then add the rest of the ingredients through to the water. Bake on HIGH for 4 hours.

Add half n half, and cheese and mix well. Cook an additional 15 minutes. Mix well.  Serve warm.

Recipe Source:  Lil Luna

Orange Muffins

It happened...our church time got switched to the afternoon. It is always stressful just thinking about trying to deal with church with young kids during nap time, let alone trying to make dinner after we get home.  Whenever this happens, I have to switch gears.  I generally make big breakfasts and take Sunday dinners to the simplistic level.  So be prepared for lots more breakfast posts from me!

These muffins were just what I was hoping for.  I LOVE baking with citrus fruits, and this gave me the tang I was craving.  They are not overly sweet themselves, but the glaze adds just enough sweet to balance it all out.  So good :)

Orange Muffins

For the muffins:

1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Zest of 1 orange (organic if possible)

For the glaze:

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tsp. orange zest (organic if possible)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 16 wells of a muffin pan (or pans) with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs and melted butter.  Whisk together to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to blend.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the orange zest with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.

To make the glaze, combine the orange juice, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest in a small bowl.  Whisk together until smooth, adding more juice if necessary to achieve your preferred consistency.  Drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they are still warm.  Allow the glaze to set before serving.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Source:  Annie's Eats

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cranberry Fluff

We were ready to head out of town the day after Christmas and I had a package of cranberries that needed to be used up.  I just happened across this recipe while browsing some of my "usual" blogs.  I had seen many other versions of this recipe and decided to finally give it a try since I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  Sadly, I am the only one that tried it.  My husband has never been a fan of anything that reminds him of a jello-y type salad and my boys must have gotten his genes when it comes to that.  I thought it was so so good!  I ate it alongside my Christmas dinner and it was perfect.

This would be a great Thanksgiving side as well, so stash it away for future use :)

Cranberry Fluff

12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups mini marshmallows
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a food processor (you can use a blender or by hand, also), pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. I don't like really large pieces so I chop them until they are somewhat finely chopped without turning to complete mush.

Add the sugar and pineapple, pulse once or twice, and pour into a container - cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend.

Stir in the marshmallows.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Pour in the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the creamy mixture into the salad.

Cover and refrigerate for four hours or up to overnight. It tastes best, in my opinion, if it has at least 8 hours to hang out before serving.

Recipe Source:  Mels Kitchen Cafe

Friday, December 4, 2015

2 Crust Lemon Pie

In my hubby's family, this pie is a Thanksgiving tradition...well almost.  The family recipe is a secret, and so I am sharing one that is almost the same, but super delicious as well :)  The cinnamon and sugar on the top is super tasty and the lemon custard is just perfect.  It definitely cuts all the sweet taste you get on your plate when you do the pie sampler plate for dessert like I do.  The tart yummy lemons are super tasty.  Try won't be disappointed!  

2 Crust Lemon Pie

1-1/4 c. sugar (softened)
1/2 stick butter

Mix together until fluffy.  Then add: 

2 T flour
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon rind
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp salt
3 beaten eggs (take a little bit of white to brush over top)

Place 2nd crust over top, brush with egg white and cut slits in top. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.

Recipe Source:  I can't remember!  I emailed this to myself a few years back and didn't include the link for myself.  

Sausage Stuffing

I love this pic for a couple reasons. 1) It encompasses how our winters are here...frosty.  We never get a lot of snow (at least the 3 winters we have lived here).  It is a lot of gray skies, fog, and frost with a few ice storms mixed in.  2) This stuffing turned out awesome for Thanksgiving.  It reminded me a lot of the one my Grandma makes...minus the sausage.

The flavors were spot-on if you ask me, and after putting a small drizzle of turkey gravy on top...forget about it!  This is definitely a keeper and will be made for years to come!  And yes, I know the appropriate term for this is dressing...but where I come from it's stuffing no matter what.  That is all :)

Sausage Stuffing

Serves 10-12

1 1/2 loaves of sliced white sandwich bread (about 35-40 slices) 
48 oz chicken stock
2 cups diced celery (I like to use the inside stalks first, leaves and all)
1 1/2 TBSP poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt  
1 lb breakfast sausage 
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Break bread slices up into bite size pieces.  Place onto two cookie sheets and toast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.  Check and turn bread every 10 minutes.  You only want it slightly brown, but dry through out.  Cool completely and transfer to a extra large bowl. 

In a large pot add chicken stock, diced celery, poultry seasoning and salt.  Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large pan break up sausage and brown over medium high heat.  Drain onto a paper towel and add to bread.  Using the same pan, melt butter over medium high heat and add in diced onions.  Saute until translucent and slightly browned.  Pour onions and butter over bread and toss together. 

Slowly ladle in seasoned chicken stock and celery over the bread mixture and stir to combine.  Don't add in all the stock at once because you might not need it all.  Just add enough till the bread is completely moist, but not drenched. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place stuffing into a 9x13 pan and bake for 40 minutes. 

You can make this ahead.  Once you've placed it in a 9x13, cover well with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to bake it, let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes and bake it for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  

Recipe Source:  My Name Is Snickerdoodle

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

 Do you ever just trust a person when they share a recipe?!  There are a few bloggers/friends if they say something is good I trust them whole-heartedly!  This recipe comes from one of those bloggers and I was not disappointed :)  These cookies turned out soft and delicious.  My family loved them minus my child that hates anything that contains mint.  

I had a bag of the regular Andes mint chips to use from the baking aisle, but the Andes peppermint pieces would be AMAZING, too I'm sure :)

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

1 cup (8 ounces) butter, cool room temperature (not warm or overly soft!)
3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs (3.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (3 ounces) crushed or finely chopped regular or peppermint Andes mints (In baking aisle or holiday section)
Additional 1/2 cup or so crushed or finely chopped Andes mints for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), cream the butter, brown sugar and white sugar together until well-mixed, 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until just combined (it's ok if there are a few dry streaks). Mix in the chocolate chips and 1/2 cup crushed Andes mints until combined and no dry streaks remain.

Scoop the dough and shape into heaping tablespoon-sized balls (I use a #40 cookie scoop) and gently roll the tops into the additional crushed mints, pressing lightly into the plate or bowl of crushed mints so they stick to the top of the cookie dough ball.

Place a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes (watch closely and don't overbake; the edges will be set with soft middles).

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source:  Mels Kitchen Cafe

Apple Pecan Spinach Salad

I love finding me a good salad recipe!  Thought I'd throw this one in amidst my seriously indulgent December food posts :)  I would not recommend leaving any ingredients out.  They balance each other very well AND the dressing is seriously super yummy!  So if you need a new potluck dish or a side for a Christmas dinner, this one is easy to put together and is tasty.  Enjoy :)

Apple Pecan Spinach Salad

Yield: About 7 - 8 servings

10 oz baby spinach

3 small gala apples or 2 medium, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup pecans, toasted
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled 
1/2 cup dried cranberries
12 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin strips (optional)

Maple-Cider Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

If using red onion, place slices in a colander and run under warm water for about 10 seconds, tossing once, to remove harsh bite. Drain well.

In a large salad bowl toss together spinach, apples, pecans, feta, cranberries and optional bacon and red onion. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat. Serve immediately after adding dressing.

For the dressing:

Add all ingredients to a medium mason jar. Cover with lid and shake to blend well (or alternately just blend well in a bowl with a whisk).

Recipe Source:  Cooking Classy

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fruity Pebble Cookies

 I am always excited to try new cookie recipes.  My almost two-year-old LOVES to "help Mom" more than my other kids ever did.  Recipes like this make it super easy for him to help me without stressing me out to the max.  We both had a fun time making these and they tasted yummy to boot!

Fruity Pebble Cookies

1 box Funfetti Cake mix (I actually had a rainbow chip mix with pudding, so I used that)
2 eggs
⅓ cup oil
1 cup Fruity Pebble Cereal

Preheat oven 350.  Mix all ingredients together gently until combined.  I oil my hands and roll the dough in balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake about 8-10 minutes.
See it doesn't get any easier!!

Recipe Source:  Life With the Crust Cut Off

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Grilled Artichokes

This was my first attempt at cooking artichokes whole like this myself...I LOVE artichokes and order them when and where I can, so when I glanced and saw these at the store it clicked that I should finally try them.

 They were really easy, and they turned out really yummy. The balsamic vinegar and the spicy aioli were perfect combo to the grill flavor. These will be made again for sure at this house!

Grilled Artichokes


1/3 cup olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T salt
1 T Black pepper
1/2 T white ground pepper (optional)
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 T Oregano flakes
+/- 1 1/2 T Lawery’s
1 T minced garlic

 Spicy aoili:

 1/2 cup mayo
tapatio hot sauce {or whatever your fave is.}

Cut the artichoke in half first, {so it doesn’t fall apart later}, then place in boiling water for about 20-25 minutes.

Spoon out the feathery middle part, without hurting the heart, the best part. Spoon the marinade over the insides of the artichoke and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Heat grill or indoor grill pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning every few minutes. Remove once there is a nice char.

Recipe Source: Big Red Clifford

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Turkey Avocado Rollups

I have been a part of a few "get fit" groups over the last year, and going through the process of that, I have found some really great Instagram accounts on eating healthy/eating clean/whatever you want to call it.  Scrolling through one day I found this yummy idea and I'm pretty sure I ate this every day for lunch for about 2 weeks!  I wish I could remember which one it was and I'd give them some credit :)

Anyhow, this is another one of those lunch ideas, more-so than an actual recipe.  In any case, ENJOY!

Turkey Avocado Rollups

Deli turkey slices (I prefer the Columbus brand or Costco equivalent)
slices of avocado
slices of red bell pepper
light balsamic or light italian dressing

Just roll up your slices of pepper and avocado in 1/2 a turkey slice, place on a bed of spinach, and drizzle a bit of salad dressing on top.  Perfect lunch or snack!  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Jalapeno Jelly

 A few years back we planted about 6 jalapeno plants at a little farmhouse we were renting.  The problem was the place we were renting, the landlord did not have sprinklers set up, therefore no drip lines, and all the watering was on us.  Sometimes we'd forget, or go out of town, or our automatic timer for our small sprinkler would not work.  The plants did OK, and we got a decent amount of peppers, but no like when regular watering takes place.  

Fast forward 2 years and we now have our own new home with sprinklers, drip lines, the whole bit!  So this time I only bought one plant and put it in a pot since we don't have a dedicated garden yet.  This one plant EXPLODED!  I can only guess that over a few months time we have gotten over 100 peppers from this one plant.  
Needless to say, I needed to find a way to use our awesome harvest of peppers.  I had pinned a recipe for jalapeno jelly, and remembering the one time I had tried this stuff in the past I knew it was something I had to try :)  

So plucking 20 jalapenos off my plant, I set off on my jelly adventure.  It was super easy to make and canned up nicely.  When I was done, I busted out some Wheat Thins, some cream cheese, and lunch was served!  

Some ideas for this stuff is just like I said... crackers, cream cheese with a little jelly on top.  Or for a party, soften a whole block of this stuff and throw a whole jar on top and serve with crackers.  Use it as a sauce for chicken or steak.  Some people mentioned how great this is with coconut shrimp and even chicken nuggets.  The blogger that I got this recipe from loves it on her paninis as an alternate spread to the normal mustard.  I am willing to venture out and find some some uses for this delectable stuff!

I doubled up the recipe and got about 13-14 half pint jars.

Jalapeno Jelly

1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
10 jalapenos (I leave about 1/2 the seeds in)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups granulated sugar (yep, you really need this much to combat the spice!)
1 3-ounce pouch liquid fruit pectin (like Certo)

Finely chop the bell peppers and jalapenos in a food processor fitted with a fine shredding blade (if you don't have a food processor, no worries, grab a knife and get started chopping up those peppers into little tiny pieces).

Add the peppers to a large pot (the jelly will foam when it first comes to a boil so use a pot at least 5-6 quarts for a single batch and larger if doubling the batch).

Stir in the vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the liquid pectin and boil for 1 more minute.

Remove the pot from the heat. Pour the jelly to within 1/4-inch of the top of clean, warm canning jars. 

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp rag. Place a lid and ring on each jar and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes (you may need to add additional time if you live above sea level; the pectin box/info should give details).

Once removed from the water bath canner, let the jelly rest for 1-2 days to let it fully set up.

Recipe Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe