Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Crock Pot Jambalaya

When we went on our family vacation last March, my future sister-in-law made a Jambalaya for everyone.  Jason really liked it so I got her recipe and then (of course) made some changes to make it my own.  You can make this as spicy or as mild as you'd like.
Serves 4

1 lb chicken breasts (about 2 large)
6-8 oz andouille sausage
1 bell pepper
1 onion
4 celery stalks
28 oz diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, diced
Hot sauce (optional)
1/2 lb shrimp
Rice, for serving

1.  Chop the chicken, sausage, bell pepper, celery and onion into large, bite size pieces and place into a crock pot.  Add in everything else except the shrimp and rice.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. 

2.  Twenty minutes before serving, stir in the shrimp.  Cook uncovered until shrimp is warmed through.  Serve over rice.  Enjoy!

Cajun Seasoning

This is a great seasoning or rub if you like it spicy!  I've only used this in my Jambalaya, but it would be a great rub for grilled or sautéed chicken or fish.

Cajun Seasoning
Makes 5 tablespoons
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1.  Combine all ingredients is a small dish or jar.  Mix or shake well.  Store in an air tight container.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad

One of my favorite sandwiches growing up was Tuna Salad.  I still find myself craving it occasionally and, even though I do eat seafood every once in awhile, I just cannot bring myself to eat any type of fish that comes out of a can.....or a pouch :)  I personally like mine with onions and loads of celery, but add in whatever you like; pickles, relish, hard boiled eggs, etc.  I've also made a vegan* version before which was delicious!  Serve it on bread or in a wrap.  I like mine with lots of pickles and pepper jack cheese.

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad
4 servings

1 can no salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise*
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried dill
3 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Place the chickpeas, mayo, mustard and seasonings in a food processor.  Blend until the mixture reaches desired consistency.  Transfer to a bowl, mix in the celery and onions and add more seasonings if needed.  Enjoy!

*To make this vegan omit the mayonnaise and replace with one ripe avocado.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ravioli Soup

This is a delicious, filling, super easy soup that takes no time to throw together.  It's full of healthy veggies, but also has hearty ravioli (tortellini works great too!) to fill your belly.  Use any type of ravioli you like.  The last time I made it I used one filled with asiago cheese and pesto.  Delicious!

Ravioli Soup
Serves 4

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
26-28 oz chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 pkg (about 1 lb) fresh or frozen ravioli
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach (about 2 large handfuls)
Freshly grated parmesan

1.  Combine all ingredients except ravioli, spinach and parmesan into a large pot*.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add in the ravioli and spinach and cook for an additional 10 minutes, uncovered, until the ravioli is warmed through.  Serve and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

*If you prefer your veggies softer, sauté them in a tablespoon of olive oil for 5-10 minutes before adding the broth and tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I have been obsessed with pumpkin bread this fall.  Obsessed!  I think I have made it five times in the past four weeks!  Be sure to have friends and family to share it with, because you won't be able to stop once you taste it!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves (10-12 slices per loaf)

2 tbsp flax meal*
2 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1 can pumpkin purée
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 bag mini chocolate chips
2 tbsp granulated sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine the flax meal with 6 tbsp water.  Let sit for at least two minutes.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugars, applesauce, oil, pumpkin, vanilla and reserved flax/water mixture.  In batches, whisk (the batter will get thick - use your muscles!) in the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.  Stir in the chocolate chips reserving 1/4 - 1/3 cup.

3.  Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.  Sprinkle one tbsp in each pan coating the sides and bottom.  Divide the batter between the two pans and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.  Bake for 60-75 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool - if you can wait that long! - and serve.  Cover any leftover bread with foil.  Enjoy!

*No flax meal?  Just use two more eggs instead of the flax/water mixture.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This soup was the perfect mix of sweet & heat.  Perfect for a cold fall or winter day.  Just a few ingredients, about 20 minutes of prep and a crock pot is all you need!  I had some leftover Pesto & Roasted Garlic Bread so I cubed and toasted it up to serve on top.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4

1 medium butternut squash (about 2lbs), peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 of a large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 heaping tbsp red chili paste
1/2 tsp hot curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk

1.  Add all ingredients except heavy cream into a crock pot.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours or until carrots and squash are tender.  Using an immersion blender (or in batches with a regular blender), carefully purée the soup until creamy.  Stir in the heavy cream and serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Beef and Noodles

I'm always amazed at how many types of noodles I find in my pantry when I clean it out (last time I had seventeen different kinds!).  When I decided to clean it out once again late last week, I found a brand new bag of whole wheat egg noodles.  My first thought was to use them in soup, but it's still a little too warm for soup.  It's been so long since I've made Beef and Noodles for Jason I decided on that instead!  He loves this recipe!

Beef and Noodles
4-6 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs stew meat, cut in chunks
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp marjoram
2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 lb whole wheat egg noodles, cooked and drained

1.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or a heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Evenly coat the meat with the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.  Once the oil is hot and near its smoking point add in the meat.  Cook the meat for 10-12 minutes, just until brown.  Work in batches if your pan is too crowded.

2.  Remove the meat and add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pan.  Sauté the onions and garlic just until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

3.  Remove the mushrooms, onions and garlic and add the wine to the pot.  Cook the wine for about 5 minutes, scraping all of the bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the beef, mushrooms, onions and garlic back to the pot and sprinkle with the marjoram.  Add in two cups of the beef broth and bring to a simmer.

4.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender.  During the last 30 minutes, cook your egg noodles and drain.  Serve beef and gravy over noodles.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Peeling tomatoes

We have LOTS of fresh tomatoes in our garden this year.  Way more than we can possibly eat.  So, I'm freezing some and using some to make homemade sauces. Peeling tomatoes is super easy.  All you need is a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water!

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Make an 'x' just through the skin on the bottom of each tomato.

2.  Very carefully drop the tomatoes in the boiling water.  Allow to boil for 5-10 seconds, remove and place in an ice bath.
3.  Once tomatoes have cooled, remove from the water and peel at the 'x'.  Voila!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fruit Cobbler

This is a super easy, lighter cobbler recipe.  You could use whatever fruit, or mixture of fruit, you're in the mood for.  The first time I made this, I used fresh blackberries.  Today, I used some really ripe organic Red Haven peaches.  It's so delicious!

Fruit Cobbler
Serves 6

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 cup skim milk
3-4 cups peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon*

1.  Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 2 qt baking dish with cooking spray.  Cream together butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.Add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture alternately with 1/2 cup milk.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.

2.  Spoon peaches over batter, sprinkle them 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and pour 1 cup milk over the top.  Bake 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Serve warm out of the oven or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

*Depending on the fruit you use, you may want to omit the cinnamon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan could quite possibly be my favorite meal.  Crispy eggplant, melted cheese, pasta, what's not to love!?  After many attempts, I have finally figured out how to get a crunchy, crisp exterior without frying.  When I make this for myself, I make Chicken Parmesan for Jason.  

Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 2-4
1 medium eggplant
1 cup Italian Panko
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1-2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella
Kosher salt

1.  Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the slices on a wire rack and sprinkle each slice with kosher salt.  Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, flipping halfway and wiping excess moisture off.

2.  Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.  Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a shallow dish.  Place the beaten egg in another shallow dish.  Dip the eggplant slices in the egg, dredge in bread crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. 

3.  Once eggplant is crispy and tender, remove from oven.  Place 1 tbsp marinara and mozzarella on each slice of eggplant.  Place under the broiler for 2-4 minutes; until cheese is melted.  Carefully remove from the oven and enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan

This is one of Jason's favorites. Before I learned how to make Beef Wellington, this was the meal he would always request for special occasions.  Then, when I was pregnant with Ashlyn, I craved Eggplant Parmesan all the time.  Luckily for him, when I make Eggplant Parm for myself, I make Chicken Parm for him.

Chicken Parmesan
4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Italian Panko
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1-2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.  Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a shallow dish.  Place the beaten egg in another shallow dish.  Dip the chicken breast in the egg, dredge in bread crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through. 

2.  Once chicken is cooked through, remove from oven.  Place 1/4 cup marinara and 1 oz mozzarella on each chicken breast.  Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes; until cheese is melted.  Carefully remove from the oven and enjoy!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Perfect Bacon

My sister taught me this cool trick.  She's been baking her bacon for as long as I can remember.  You can get perfect bacon every time, without splattering grease all over your stove or yourself.  She bakes hers on a stoneware cookie sheet.  I like to bake mine on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet to minimize the amount of grease the bacon cooks in.  You could even bake it on a disposable pan for super easy clean up!

Perfect Bacon

Bacon (yep, that's it!) 

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Place bacon in a single layer on a cookie sheet or wire rack over a cookie sheet.

2.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on your preference, turning once or twice.  Place bacon on paper towels and gently pat off any excess grease.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rigatoni & Ricotta Pie

This dish wasn't nearly as time consuming as it looks.  In fact, it was really simple.  I used homemade marinara and sliced fresh mozzarella - you could easily use jarred sauce and pre-shredded mozzarella to save even more time!

Rigatoni & Ricotta Pie 
Serves 6

1lb rigatoni pasta
16 oz marinara
15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella
Extra marinara for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Cook rigatoni just shy of al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water. While pasta is cooking, mix pasta sauce and ricotta cheese until ricotta is incorporated.

2.  In an 8 inch springform pan, arrange the cooked and cooled rigatoni standing upright.  Top with sauce smoothing it as you go to be sure the rigatoni is filled with sauce.

3.  Top pasta with fresh mozzarella and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from pan, slice and top with additional pasta sauce.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Parmesan Spinach Quinoa

I've been trying to incorporate more quinoa into our diet lately - trying to make it at least once a week.  I always have fresh Parmesan in my fridge (and you should too!) and I had some fresh baby spinach that desperately needed to be eaten.  So, along with a little onion and vegetable broth, this side dish was made!

Parmesan Spinach Quinoa
Serves 4

1 small onion, finely diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
2 cups baby spinach
1 1/2 oz freshly grated Parmesan

1.  Rinse the quinoa well and allow to drain. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion over medium heat until just beginning to soften.  Add in the quinoa and cook until the quinoa just begins to toast; about five minutes.  Add in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow to cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed; about 15 minutes.  

2.  Remove the lid and add in the spinach.  Replace the lid and allow the spinach to wilt; about 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan.  Serve and enjoy! 
Nutrition Info Per Serving:  Cal: 228, Protein: 10g, Fiber: 4g, Sodium: 184mg, Carbs: 31g, Fat: 7g

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

A little twist on the classic No Bake Cookies.  These use heart-healthy coconut oil and include a nice sweetness from dried fruit.  The first time I made these I used dried cherries, this time I used raisins.  The raisins are good, but I really liked the cherries.  Would be great with dried cranberries too!  I think the best part about these is that you only dirty one pan!  Be sure to store any leftovers in the fridge.

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Makes approximately 24 bars

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup peanut butter (I prefer all natural)
2/3 cup honey
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins

1.  In a medium saucepan, melt together the coconut oil, honey and peanut butter.

2.  Stir in the oats and coat with the peanut butter mixture.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins and chocolate chips.

3.  Once the chocolate has melted, transfer the mixture to an 8x11 or 9x13 baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate until set.  Cut into bars and enjoy!  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf

This is my twist on the American classic; meatloaf.  I load it with veggies and top it with a simple glaze. You could definitely mince or chop the veggies up finer if you're trying to trick picky kids (or spouses!). It's not something I make too often, but Jason loves it when I do.  Goes great with mashed potatoes or leftover as a sandwich.

Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf
Serves 2-4


For the meatloaf:
1 lb ground chuck
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 large or 4 small Roma tomatoes, chopped 
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire
Black pepper

For the glaze:
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp A1
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl and combine well (best way is with your hands). Shape into a loaf and place on a baking dish. (I like to bake mine on a wire rack over a foil-covered dish. Easy clean up and the meatloaf is less greasy.)

2. Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl. Brush over the meatloaf coating the top and sides. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Warmer weather is (finally!!!) here so that means it's time for cookouts and spending time in the great outdoors soaking up some vitamin D.  This is a great, quick, different pasta salad to enjoy this summer.  I made it for the first time at Easter and have just been looking for reasons to make it again.  Jason is in an annual Memorial Day golf outing today and there's always a cookout afterwards.  Perfect reason to whip this up.  Now hopefully I don't finish it off before it's time to leave.....

Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

1 box rotini pasta
8 oz fresh mozzarella
1 small package (about 3.5oz) sun dried tomatoes
1 large handful arugula (about 3-4 oz)

1.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  

2.  While pasta is cooking, cut mozzarella and tomatoes (reserve two tomatoes for the vinaigrette) into bite sized pieces.

3.  In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula.  Drizzle the dressing over and toss to combine.  Refrigerate, serve or leave out at room temperature.  Enjoy!

*Because the pasta will absorb a lot of the dressing, you may want to double the vinaigrette recipe.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

This was the first salad dressing I have ever made. I created my Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta Salad for Easter this year and needed a light dressing to go on it. This was perfect and the pasta salad was so good. Since I made this I've been experimenting with all kinds of different vinaigrette combinations.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

2 sundried tomatoes, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tbsp basil, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

1. Sprinkle the minced garlic with kosher salt. With the back of your knife, work the garlic and salt into a paste. 

2. Combine all ingredients into a small mason jar and shake well. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Be sure to shake well before serving. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

White & Green Chicken Chili

This is something that Jason loves, and I don't make it often enough for him. I didn't have quite enough of the chicken I made earlier this week leftover so I threw in a couple chicken breasts too. Throw them in whole (they can even be frozen) and shred the meat right before serving.  I even made homemade chicken stock!

White & Green Chicken Chili
Serves 4-6

2 lbs boneless chicken
2 green bell peppers, chopped
8oz diced green chilis
1 large onion, chopped
32oz chicken broth
3 cans Great Northern beans
16 oz frozen corn
1 1/4 tsp cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt & pepper
Shredded cheese and tortilla chips for serving

1. Drain and rinse two cans of beans and add to crock pot. Drain and rinse the remaining can then place in a blender with 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Add puréed beans and remaining ingredients into the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Top with shredded cheese and/or crumbled tortilla chips, serve and enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Stock

One of the reasons I decided to make the whole chicken in the crock pot the other day was because Jason has been asking for White & Green Chicken Chili so I figured I could use any leftover chicken for that recipe.  I then had an 'a-ha' moment.....the Chili calls for chicken broth.....why not just make chicken broth out of the excess skin, liquid and bones from the whole chicken!?  Genius Sara, just genius!

Homemade Chicken Broth

Excess skin, bones and cooking liquid from one chicken
4 cups water
Any root veggies available (onions, celery, carrots)

1. Combine all ingredients into a crockpot. Allow to cook on low for at least 8 hours - I let mine cook overnight.
2. Using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, strain the broth into a large bowl. Bring the broth to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until a solid layer of fat is at the top.  Remove the fat and either use right away or store in the freezer. Easy peasy!