Friday, October 28, 2011

Greek Night: Greek Marinated Chicken Skewers & Couscous with Artichokes, Sun-dried tomatoes, and Feta

I have only just recently started eating Greek food. My parents never made it and we never went out to eat at any Greek restaurants. I have found that I really like it. This was one of my first attempts at making it at my house. I think it was a big success. I hope to try many other dishes but this seemed fairly easy for my first attempt. The best thing about this dish is that you can marinate the chicken the day before so that when you come home from work, all you have to do is cook it up. The chicken skewers are very versatile. You could make some greek tzatziki sauce and throw together some greek chicken stuffed pitas. You might not want pitas and the couscous together because that is a lot of carbs. A nice Greek cucumber salad might be better suited for the chicken pitas. Feel free to get creative.

Greek Marinated Chicken Skewers
Serves 4 - 6
Adapted from:

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kabob skewers

-Cut each chicken breast into 6 smaller pieces/chunks
-Place all of the cut up chicken into a large ziploc bag or a larger bowl and season with pepper and salt
-In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and thyme and stir together until blended.
-Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for approx 8 hours. You can marinate it up to 24 hours.
-Once the chicken has marinated, take 6 chunks and put on a kabob skewer.
-Repeat the process for all 6 skewers.
-You can grill the skewers for 12-15 minutes, making sure to rotate every few minutes to prevent burning and ensure even cooking OR you can broil the chicken skewers in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they are cooked completely.
-Serve with your favorite side dish or some slices of whole wheat pita

Couscous with Artichokes, Sun-dried tomatoes, and Feta Cheese
Serves 6 large portions
Adapted from:

*The adapted recipe calls for chicken in it but I didn't put that in there because I had the chicken skewers to go with this.

2 1/3 cups water - divided
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 can reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups uncooked plain couscous or whole wheat couscous (we used whole wheat couscous)
1/2 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
3/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2  6-ounce jars artichoke hearts, undrained
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

-Combine 2 cups of water and sun-dried tomatoes in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until the water is boiling. Cover the dish and let sit for about 10 minutes.
-After 10 minutes, drain the water and chop the sun-dried tomatoes into small chunks. Set aside.
-Place 1/3 cup water and veggie broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
-Once the water/broth is boiling, add your couscous. Cover the pan and simmer on low for 8 minutes or until the couscous is tender and cooked.
-Remove the couscous from heat and add in the sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, parsley, black pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes.
-Make sure to stir the dish up to make sure the ingredients all blend together.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Philly Cheesesteak Wraps

I have dreams of one day having an authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Until then, I decided to try and make my own version of one, except in a healthy whole wheat wrap. You can serve these in hoagie rolls but I think the whole wheat wrap is a better choice because it has whole grains and is lower in carbs. I served these wraps with some homemade fajita seasoned sweet potato wedges I cooked in the oven.

Philly Cheesesteak Wraps
Serves 4

1 large onion - sliced
1 large green bell pepper - sliced
pepper and garlic powder for seasoning purposes
1 pound flank steak or boneless sirloin steak - we used boneless grass-fed beef sirloin
Provolone cheese slices - preferably reduced fat or lower sodium
Whole Wheat Wraps - we use La Tortilla Factory low carb/high fiber whole wheat wraps (only 80 calories per tortilla and 12 grams of fiber!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-First you will want to slice your steak into thin strips and season with pepper and garlic powder.
-In a large nonstick skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and add in your beef strips, peppers, and onions.
-Saute the ingredients in the skillet until the meat is cooked to your preference and the peppers are sauteed. You will want the veggies crisp, not soggy, so it won't take but a few minutes if the steak is really thin.
-While the meat mixture is cooking, heat up your tortillas in the oven or microwave, just until they are warmed. You can wrap them in foil to keep them warm while preparing the meal.
-Take a warm tortilla and fill the center of it with some of the meat/pepper mixture. Place a slice of provolone cheese on top immediately. This will ensure it gets all melty. Wrap up the tortilla and place on a plate.

Enjoy! :)

-you can substitute chicken strips in place of the beef and have chicken philly wraps
-you can add in other veggies, such as mushrooms, if you wish to change it up a bit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Honey Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is one of the easiest side dishes you can prepare for a meal. All you need is your favorite vegetables, some olive oil, fresh seasonings, and a baking pan. We oven roast vegetables several times a week. I always try to throw in different vegetables and seasonings each time to give some variety to our side dishes. This side dish is very tasty and reminds me of the fall, which is why I decided to share it with all of you. I served these delicious vegetables with some lean smoked ham steaks and some fresh pineapple. I think you will love this dish.

Honey Roasted Root Vegetables
Serves 6-8
Adapted from:

2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped turnips
1 1/2 cups chopped parsnip
2 cups chopped carrots
1/4 cup pure honey - we use local honey from a local bee farm
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 shallots chopped in chunky pieces or 1/2 onion chopped
nonstick cooking spray or olive oil spray

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees
-In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and make sure to stir them all together and get everything mixed together.
-Take a baking sheet/pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
-Place the large bowl of vegetables onto the baking sheet and spread out.
-Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and cooked. You will want to make sure you stir the vegetables around every 15 minutes or so to prevent burning.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whole Grain Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

OMG....I can't tell you how delicious these sweet treats are. If you like pumpkin, you will absolutely love this dish. If not, I just don't know what to tell you. I had some fresh pumpkin I needed to use that was leftover from making some pumpkin oatmeal this past weekend, so I decided to bake last night. So far everyone that has had them said they taste great. I only made a few changes to the original recipe. One major change is that I used white whole wheat flour, to incorporate some whole grains, rather than all purpose flour. I also used light stick margarine instead of regular.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Serves 12 large bars or roughly 24 smaller bars
Adapted from:

2 cups White whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon McCormick pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 2 sticks light stick margarine, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg or 1/4 cup eggbeaters (i used a real egg)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 package or 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Grease or spray nonstick cooking spray in a 13 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
-In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
-Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined with the sugar and butter.
-Add the pumpkin and mix well. The mixture might look a little funny or like it is curdled, but this is okay.
-Reduce the speed to low on the electric mixer and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients a little at a time into the large bowl of wet ingredients.
-Once the entire mixture is combined well, gently stir in the chocolate chip morsels.
-Spread the batter evenly in the 13 x 9 baking dish.
-Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (my oven took 38 minutes to cook these)
-Cool the bars completely before cutting into squares.
-serve or cover dish and serve at a later time

Enjoy! :)

Homemade Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans

I have always wanted to try to make homemade baked beans but just never got around to actually doing it. We love baked beans in our house and eat them about once a week. The real reason I wanted to learn to make them from scratch is because I wanted to limit the sugar and sodium. The canned versions are all loaded with extra sugars and high amounts of salt, which are so unhealthy for us. The other reason I wanted to learn to make them is because you can make a huge batch for about the same price as one large can of baked beans. 1 While this is only my first attempt at making baked beans, they turned out really well. The pot made a TON of beans. You might wish to half the recipe or you will be eating beans all week. We have a lot of dinners that are being cooked on the grill this week so it looks like we will be eating beans all week long. :)

Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
Serves 8-10 large servings
Adapted from:

1 pound dry great northern beans or navy beans (we used great northern beans)
1 large sweet onion - chopped
4 slices lower sodium center cut bacon - chopped in small pieces
2 heaping tablespoons ketchup (we used Simply Heinz)
1 heaping tablespoon brown mustard/spicy mustard (we used French's spicy brown mustard)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dark brown sugar - packed
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon molasses
3 1/2 cups water

-The night before you are going to start your beans, place beans in a large pot of cold water. Cover the pot and let the beans soak overnight.
-In the morning, drain the beans from the pot of water.
-Place the beans in a large crockpot
-Add the remaining ingredients to the crockpot, to include your onion, bacon, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, brown sugar, molasses, and water.
-Stir all ingredients until blended very well.
-Cook on low for 8 hours.

See how easy this side dish is!

Enjoy! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spicy Bourbon Chicken with Oven Roasted Spiced Edamame

I love asian-inspired dishes, but I can't stand ordering takeout because it is loaded with fat, calories, and sodium. I also will never buy the frozen stuff in the store because it is the same kind of crap that you can get from takeout. We make asian-inspired meals quite frequently in our household because they are super easy to put together and you can do so much with them. Asian meals/stir fry dishes are a great way to start incorporating homemade meals in your home. They do not require a lot of time once you prep everything. A rice cooker will make things even more simple. This Spicy Bourbon Chicken recipe is delicious and I think the edamame compliments it perfectly. You can serve this bourbon chicken over brown rice or serve it alone. We chose to have the chicken, brown rice, and spiced edamame for our dinner. Another great thing about this dish is that is is completely homemade and filled with good stuff for you.

Spicy Bourbon Chicken
Serves 4
Adapted from:

1 clove of garlic - grated OR 1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger (I used McCormick ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup no sugar added apple juice or whatever apple juice you prefer
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons simply heinz ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon light butter
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts - sliced horizontally into long strips
2 bunches of fresh broccoli - rinsed and cut up - optional
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 green onions - sliced for garnish

-In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, ketchup, water, apple juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, apple cider, and soy sauce together. Whisk to combine all ingredients and set aside.
-Slice the chicken breasts into horizontally, thin strips or bite size pieces.
-In a nonstick skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and crispy.
-Once the chicken is browned, add the sauce from the bowl to the pan, stir, and bring the mixture to a boil.
-Add broccoli florets to the skillet and cover.
-Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce reduced and broccoli is tender.
-Remove lid and continue to let sauce thicken for a few minutes.
-In a bowl or on a plate, put some brown rice down. Place a serving of the chicken/broccoli mixture on top.
-Garnish the plate with some chopped green onion/scallions.

Oven Roasted Spiced Edamame
Serves 4 - 5
Adapted from:

1 14oz package frozen shelled edamame - thawed
nonstick cooking spray or olive oil spray
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a medium bowl, place edamame in the bowl.
-Add a few sprays of nonstick cooking spray or olive oil spray, or drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, over the edamame.
-To the bowl, add the chile powder and remaining ingredients and toss together.
-Arrange the seasoned edamame on a nonstick baking sheet.
-Bake edamame for 1 1/2 hours, making sure to flip the edamame about every 30 minutes to prevent scorching/burning.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

One of my favorite things about fall is all the coffee shops start to sell pumpkin inspired coffee drinks. I always feel guilty after having them though because I know that even with nonfat milk and no whip topping, it still is not all that great for you because of all the sugar in the syrups they use. I've tried to find coffee shops that have sugar free options and I have yet to find one that has sugar free pumpkin or gingerbread syrups. I decided to figure out how to make a healthier version at home. I found the right recipe and wanted to share it with all of you. Not only will this drink be much healthier for you, it will also be cheaper and save you some money. Starbucks charged like 4 bucks for a pumpkin latte!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
Serves 1
Adapted from:

1 tablespoon canned pure pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (use 1 teaspoon if you want it spicier and stronger)
1 cup of nonfat milk
1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
3 teaspoons of splenda or sugar to sweeten
cinnamon to top off the drink - optional
Cool whip - optional

-In a medium nonstick sauce pan, combine pumpkin and milk. Heat until steaming and make sure to stir constantly to prevent scorching.
-In a coffee cup/mug, combine coffee, pumpkin pie spice, and splenda and stir together until blended.
-Pour the steamed milk/pumpkin mixture into the coffee cup/mug and combine all ingredients together.
-Top with cool whip or a dash of cinnamon.

Enjoy! :)

Oven Baked Italian French Fries

Yes, I will admit that it is very easy to pick up a bag of frozen french fries or tator tots at the grocery store, but if you read the ingredients and saw just how unhealthy they are for you, you might reconsider making your own. While it is true they take a little longer to prepare, you are ultimately getting the benefits of something much healthier than the frozen kind can offer. Plus, they are extremely delicious! I made these french fries and served them with jalapeno turkey burgers on whole wheat english muffins. YUM!

Oven Baked Italian French Fries
Serves 6 large portions
Adapted from:

-6 idaho potatoes
-2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 tablespoon of dried herbs - oregano, basil, and thyme are good herbs to use (do 1 teaspoon of each spice if you don't have a tablespoon of an italian seasoning blend)
-1/2 cup fresh grated romano cheese
-1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup minced parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley
-2 tablespoons light butter - chopped in small pieces
-sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Peel potatoes if you don't like the peel on them (I keep the peel on because that is where the fiber is) and slice into 1/3 inch thick slices.
-As you peel and cut the potatoes, place them all in a bowl of cold, salted water. This keeps them looking fresh and not turning brown.
-On a large rimmed baking sheet, spray nonstick cooking oil or coat with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking when they bake.
-Drain potatoes from the bowl of water and place them in a large mixing bowl.
-To the large mixing bowl of potato slices, add your italian herbs, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix until all potatoes are coated evenly.
-Pour bowl of potatoes onto the rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly.
-Sprinkle both cheeses and parsley on top of all the potato strips.
-Place the chopped pieces of butter around the baking sheet.
-Place in the oven and bake for approx 30- 45 minutes. Make sure you flip the fries over after about 15 minutes to prevent burning. They will be golden brown and cooked all the way through. My oven took about 35 minutes to cook them. It will depend on the efficiency of your oven, so just watch them closely.

You will love these!

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Side Dish: Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

One of my favorite vegetables are carrots but I do not like them raw. I will eat them cooked in just about any recipe. I love carrots because they are very and highly nutritious. This side dish is a simple and only takes a short time to cook. These carrots were served with sliced baked ham and homemade whole wheat stuffing in our house, but you could have these with just about anything.

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
Serves 4 - 6
Adapted from:

-1 1/2 pounds baby carrots or large carrots cut and peeled in 2 inch strips - I used baby carrots and just split them right down the middle.
-1/2 cup water
-1 tablespoon light butter
-1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-pepper or cinnamon to taste - I sprinkled a dash of cinnamon on top of these when they were done

-In a nonstick skillet, bring carrots, water, butter, brown sugar, and salt to a boil.
-Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 6 minutes
-Uncover the skillet and turn heat up to high, tossing the carrots for 3-4 additional minutes
-season with pepper or cinnamon

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops with Healthy Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I think crockpots are the great invention ever! I love that I can throw a bunch of things in the crockpot in the morning and let it simmer on low all day. When I come home from a long day at work, I don't have to do a lot of cooking because the crockpot did it all for me. I also love how versatile a crockpot is. You can make desserts, appetizers, and full meals in them.  I have a version of baked parmesan pork chops that I make but wanted to try this recipe out since it is similar. You won't be disappointed. I served these delicious pork chops with some healthy garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and some roasted carrots and onions.

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops & Healthy Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6
Adapted from:

-6 boneless pork chops - I bought the thick pork chops because I knew they would be in a crockpot all day and didn't want them to get over done.
-1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dry Seasoning packet
-10 oz can Campbell's 98% fat free cream of chicken soup

for potatoes:
-2 pounds red potatoes - rinsed and cut in small chunks (peel if you don't like the peel in your potatoes)
-4 cloves of garlic - peeled and diced OR 2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
-1 can low sodium chicken broth
-1 tablespoon light butter
-2/3 cup grated light parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper for seasoning
-3/4 tablespoon dried parsley

-In a small bowl, combine cream of chicken soup and dry ranch seasoning packet and stir together.
-In a crockpot, place your pork chops in the bottom of it.
-Pour your cream of chicken soup/ranch seasoning mixture on top of the pork chops. Season with salt and pepper.
-Cook on low in the crockpot for 6-8 hours

for potatoes:
-In a medium pot, add water and bring to a boil.
-When water is boiling, add your potatoes and boil for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender but not falling apart.
-Drain potatoes and return to the stove.
-To the pot of potatoes, you will add the garlic, butter, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese, and parsley.
-Slowly add in your chicken broth while mashing the potatoes. Mash potatoes until you reach the consistency you like.
-You may not use all the chicken broth and you may end up using all of it. If you use all of it and still don't like the consistency, feel free to use some skim milk to make it a little creamier.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Korean Food: Beef Bulgogi

I promised myself that I would start trying different ethnic foods in our household. This recipe is my first Korean dish I have ever made by myself. It was simple and very delicious. I will definitely try harder dishes as time goes on, but I wanted something that I wouldn't screw up for my first attempt. This goes really well with some steamed brown rice or jasmine rice. I made brown rice in my rice cooker and served the beef on top of it. Another side dish that might compliment this is my veggie fried rice (see recipe on my blog).  As always, we had a piece of fruit with this meal.

Beef Bulgogi
Serves 3-4
Adapted from:

3/4 pound ribeye steak, trim off any excess fat
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce - we prefer Kikoman
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic minced or 2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger or 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger - we used McCormick ground ginger
1 red onion cut in 1 inch wedges
1 green or red bell pepper - cut in thin slices
2 teaspoons canola oil
Optional - brown rice or jasmine rice

-First you will want to take your ribeye steak and slice it thinly across the grain into strips (about an 1/8 of an inch thick or as thin as you can get it)
-In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger.
-In another small bowl, toss the peppers and onions in it and pour 1/2 the soy sauce mixture into the bowl and combine. Set aside.
-With remaining soy sauce mixture, marinate the ribeye steak for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
-Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I used a wok and it worked really well.
-To the hot skillet, add your peppers and onions and toss for 3-5 minutes.Transfer to a plate and keep warm in the microwave.
-Heat another teaspoon of canola oil in the pan/wok and add your beef strips. Cook the beef until browned and cooked to your liking (2-4 minutes).
-Toss peppers/onion mixture back into the skillet and combine all ingredients and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
-Serve over rice

-You could serve this dish in lettuce cups if you prefer not to use rice.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Healthy Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

I absolutely love pumpkin butter. It tastes so delicious and goes well on just about anything. You can spread it on top of waffles, toast, bagels, english muffins, as well as pour some on top of yogurt or oatmeal. I know you can typically purchase pumpkin butter at the grocery store, but homemade is so much better, not to mention healthier because you control what you are putting in it. This recipe will make enough for about 2 cups of pumpkin butter. It can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks but I seriously doubt it will last that long.

Healthy Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter
Yields 2 cups - 1 serving is 2 tablespoons and equals approx 43 calories per serving
Adapted from:

15 oz can Libby's Pure Pumpkin
1/3 cup No Sugar Added 100% Apple Juice
1/4 cup pure honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-Combine all ingredients in a small crock pot. Make sure you stir the ingredients well.
-Cook pumpkin butter on low heat until it thickens. This will take approximately 5-6 hours.
-Place pumpkin butter in a heat-safe container and store in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
-Spread some pumpkin butter on whatever you wish to spread it on and eat it.

-You will want to taste the pumpkin butter the morning after it has chilled in the refrigerator. If you want it sweeter, you might add a little more honey and stir it together.

Enjoy! :)

Breakfast for Dinner: Healthy Whole Grain Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Syrup and Pecans

I believe I have said this before and I will say it again....breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. I think there are so many tasty options when it comes to breakfast type foods and most of them are pretty darn tasty. I grew up in a household where my mom would have "breakfast for dinner" nights, which were always a big hit. I hope to carry on the tradition when we start a family one day. Bryan is slowly coming around to the idea. His idea of dinner is meat, potatoes, and a veggie. :)

I decided to celebrate this fall weather with some homemade pumpkin waffles. If you like pumpkin, this recipe is going to be one of your favorites. I hope you like it as much as I do. This dish is highly nutritious because it is made with whole wheat flour, which contains your whole grains. It also contains pumpkin, which is extremely healthy for you. Americans don't get enough veggies/fruits in their diets, and orange/yellow veggies are often the least kind of vegetable eaten. This is a great way to get an orange veggie incorporated into a delicious meal.

I served these delicious pumpkin waffles with some fresh sliced strawberries and turkey sausage patties.

Healthy Whole Grain Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Syrup and Pecans
Serves 4-6 (depends on the size of your waffle maker)
Adapted from:

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice OR 1 teaspoon of each of the following: cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs OR 3 egg whites OR 1/2 cup eggbeaters
1/4 cup light brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1 cup Libby's pure pumpkin
1 2/3 cups skim milk
1/4 cup canola oil OR 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce OR 2 tablespoons canola oil and 2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons chopped pecans - Optional

-Preheat your waffle maker
-In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spices, and salt. Set aside.
-In a small bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, milk, and oil/applesauce together.
-Pour contents of small bowl into the medium sized bowl of dry ingredients and stir together. You only want to stir until the mixture is combined. Do not OVER MIX.
-Spray your waffle maker with nonstick cooking spray and add approx 1/4 cup of the batter to it.
-Close the waffle maker and cook until the timer tells you it is done.
-Continue doing this until all the batter is used up and you have 4-6 large waffles.
-Take a large waffle and place on a plate. Add some light butter to the waffle.
-Drizzle maple syrup on top of the waffle. (we use sugar free syrup in our household)
-Top your waffle with a dash of ground cinnamon and some chopped pecans

-If the batter seems a little runny, add a small amount of flour to thicken it up. If it seems thick, add some milk or applesauce to thin it out.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baked Spicy Chicken Tenders

This was just something I threw together for dinner tonight. It was a very long day and I knew I had a busy night ahead of me. I wanted something simple, quick, and tasty. Bryan and I agree that these were awesome. We are already thinking of having them again next week. I served these chicken tenders with some Alexia oven baked fries and steamed broccoli with melted cheddar cheese on top.

Baked Spicy Chicken Tenders
Serves 4

1 pound Tyson boneless chicken tenders
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I only had italian breadcrumbs so that is what I used and they turned out good)
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce
pepper and salt for seasoning
Nonstick cooking spray

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and seasonings together.
-In another small bowl, add the hot sauce.
-Take each boneless chicken tender and dip it completely in the hot sauce, then dip it in the breadcrumbs to cover the chicken.
-Place all coated chicken tenders on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
-Bake chicken tenders for 10 minutes.
-Remove from the oven and flip over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely.
-Remove from oven and eat.

-Bryan is using his leftovers by having some of these on a spinach salad and I plan on having a spicy chicken wrap on a whole wheat flour tortilla tomorrow for lunch. These would taste good served several different ways. Feel free to be creative.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham Casserole

I know that most of my recipes are made with chicken, pork, and turkey. I am trying to get better at putting up some recipes that are made with beef and other kinds of meat. Bryan and me do not eat any seafood, so unfortunately you will never see any recipes containing anything remotely close to seafood. However, we like just about any other kind of food. I promise to get better at posting a variety of cuisines. Here is a really delicious ham recipe. It's always a big hit at our house and makes enough for several leftovers for the work week. All you need with this dish is a simple side salad or a vegetable of your choice. I served buttered peas and sliced pears with this casserole.

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham Casserole
Serves 8
Adapted from:

-2 1/4 pounds red potatoes - cut in 1/4 inch slices (use a mandolin slicer to slice potatoes or use a sharp knife but try to get them as thin as possible)
-8 ounces light or fat free sour cream (I used fat free sour cream)
-8 ounces 2% milk Velveeta - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
-1/4 - 1/2 pound ham - chopped into small cubes (I used closer to 1/2 pound cause we love ham)
-2 green onions - sliced
-1/4 cup grated reduced fat parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper for seasoning purposes

-Heat oven to 350 degrees
-In a pot, add water and bring to a boil on the stovetop.
-Once the pot is boiling, add your cut up red potatoes and boil until potatoes are tender. 10-15 minutes is probably all the time you will need. Drain potatoes and return to the stove with the heat off.
-Remove half of the potatoes and place in a large bowl. To the bowl, add sour cream and mash until smooth. Add additional sour cream if you need to get it smooth.
-Once the potatoes are mashed, add velveeta, ham, green onions, and seasonings (salt and pepper) and stir together until blended well.
-Gently stir in the remaining red potatoes.
-In a 13 x 9 baking dish, spray nonstick cooking spray and pour contents of the bowl into the baking dish.
-Sprinkle top of the dish with parmesan cheese.
-Bake 25-30 minutes.

-We smoked a boneless ham and used some of the leftovers to make this dish. A boneless ham or ham steak will work just fine. Make sure to cut off any bones.
-With the holidays coming up, you might find yourself with lots of leftover ham. Here is a great way to use some of it.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meatloaf with a Barbecue Glaze Topping

You will see on my blog that I have 3 or 4 different recipes so far for meatloaf. Meatloaf is one of those dishes that can be altered each time you make it. Yes, the end result is still meatloaf, but you get to change it up and have different flavors in your meatloaf each time. This meatloaf is definitely my husband's favorite kind that I make. It pairs well with some oven roasted rosemary potatoes and some fresh steamed veggies. Our veggie of choice with the potatoes and meatloaf was sugar snap peas. 

Meatloaf with a Barbecue Glaze Topping
Serves 6-8
Adapted from:

-2 tablespoons skim milk
-1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
-1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup yellow sweet onion - diced
-2 cloves of garlic minced or 2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
-2 tablespoons of carrots - diced finely
-2 tablespoons of celery - diced finely
-2 tablespoons parsley - minced or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
-1 pound lean ground beef (ground turkey breast can be substituted but I chose to use very lean organic grass fed beef)
-2 tablespoons bbq sauce - whatever kind you prefer
-1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
-1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
-salt and pepper to season

Barbecue Glaze Ingredients:
-3 tablespoons bbq sauce
-1 teaspoon dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon brown sugar

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-In a 9 x 5 loaf pan, spray with nonstick cooking spray.
-In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the bbq glaze and set aside.
-In a large bowl, add all ingredients (egg, milk, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley, beef, bbq sauce, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Combine all ingredients until blended well.
-Shape the mixture into a loaf and place in loaf pan
-Pour half of the bbq glaze on top of the meatloaf
-Bake meatloaf for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and check temperature. Also add remaining bbq glaze to the meatloaf and bake in the oven until meat is completely cooked. Meat thermometer should read at least 160 degrees for it to be done.
-My meatloaf took about 50 minutes total in the oven.

My husband and I add even more bbq sauce after we cut the meatloaf in slices. We love lots of bbq sauce. Feel free to do this as well.

Enjoy! :)

Pumpkin Cornbread

I am sure most of you are thinking that pumpkin and cornbread seems like an odd combination of ingredients but it is so delicious! If you are a pumpkin lover like me, this recipe will be a huge hit for you. I try to incorporate pumpkin into a lot of recipes, especially during the fall and winter months. Pumpkin is so healthy for you and can be used in a variety of ways in different recipes. This particular recipe goes very well with some homemade chili. I served this with some homemade beef and black bean chili (this recipe is on my blog). The leftover cornbread was heated up in the morning for breakfast and I drizzled some maple syrup on top, a dash of cinnamon, and added some light butter to it. I hope you like this as much as I do.

Pumpkin Cornbread
Serves 8
Adapted from:

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute (I used 1/4 cup splenda brown sugar blend)
1 cup cornmeal
2 whole eggs beaten or 1/2 cup eggbeaters
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/4 cup oil or applesauce (I used unsweetened applesauce)
1 tablespoon molasses

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-In an 8 x 8 baking dish, spray nonstick cooking spray.
-In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal together.
-In a small bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, oil or applesauce, and molasses and stir together until blended.
-Take the wet ingredients and combine with the dry ingredients.
-Do not over stir! You just want to incorporate them enough that they are mixed together.
-Place batter in the baking dish and spread out until even and as smooth as you can get it.
-Bake approx 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

-If you don't have white whole wheat flour, just use 1 cup of all purpose flour

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  However, I tend to get stuck in a routine of eating the same thing for breakfast every morning. I typically have oatmeal, egg whites, and some kind of fresh fruit.  I am trying to get out of that habit and so I decided to make some muffins. These muffins are scrumptious and were a big hit in my house. I am so glad I have found a healthier muffin recipe that is so quick and easy to make.  Next time you are in the store, look at how unhealthy the muffins are that are already pre-packaged. These are so much tastier and way more nutritious. Make sure to use the white whole wheat flour to get some whole grains. :)

The muffins don't necessarily have to be eaten for breakfast. They are perfect for an afternoon snack as well. Hurry off to the kitchen and make you some of these!

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
adapted from:

-1 1/2 cups king arthur white whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute equivalent
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt - optional (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
-2 eggs lightly beaten or eggbeater equivalent
-1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
-1/4 cup canola oil or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used applesauce to make it healthier and lower the calorie count)
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla
-1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries - chopped

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Place muffin cups in muffin baking tray or spray with nonstick cooking spray
-In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
-In a small bowl, add eggs, yogurt, oil/applesauce, and vanilla and mix together until blended.
-Add contents of small bowl to the large bowl of flour mixture. Gently mix together until blended but do not over mix.
-Fold chopped strawberries into batter with a spoon
-Pour batter into the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes.
-You will know when the muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean
-Let muffins cool before storing

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baked Chicken Taquitos

This past weekend, I went to homecoming at the college I attended with a bunch of sorority sisters. While we were hanging out, we reminisced about the chicken taquitos that we used to be served at our sorority house. I mentioned to all of the girls that I had a recipe I use that I absolutely love, and that while they don't taste exactly like the ones we had in college, they are pretty darn tasty. I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. I know you won't be disappointed.

This recipe makes quite a few taquitos. The leftovers freeze really well. I like to serve these with some spicy black beans or homemade spanish rice.

Baked Chicken Taquitos
Makes 12-16 Taquitos
Adapted from:

1/3 cup or 3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (I use fat free but it does affect the flavor of the dish)
1/4 cup Salsa Verde or green salsa (this can be found in the aisle with all the mexican foods/salsas or you can make some homemade)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro - optional if you dislike cilantro
2 tablespoons green onions - chopped
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (see my recipe for this below or buy a rotisserie chicken and take the skin off and shred the meat from the chicken)
1 cup pepperjack cheese - shredded
12-16 small corn tortillas or flour tortillas (make sure to use whole grain if you use flour tortillas to boost the nutrition in this dish) I prefer corn tortillas but flour tortillas are how the sorority made them.
nonstick cooking spray

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-In a microwavable bowl, add the cream cheese and place in the microwave until it is softened and somewhat melted. This should take 20-30 seconds at most.
-Remove bowl from microwave and add the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder and mix until all the mixture is combined.
-To the bowl, add green onions, cilantro, chicken, and pepperjack cheese and stir until the mixture is completely combined.
-Now time to prep the corn tortillas.
-Microwave corn tortillas wrapped in a damn paper towel for 20 seconds to warm them up. This also ensures they won't tear when you go to roll them.
-Take each corn tortilla and place roughly 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the center portion of the tortilla.
-Once you have placed some mixture on each corn tortilla, roll up each corn tortilla tightly.
-If using flour tortillas, no need to heat them up prior to filling them with the chicken mixture.
-On a baking sheet, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, place each rolled up tortilla on the sheet, seam side down.
-Spray the tops of all taquitos with a light spray of olive oil or nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle a small amount of salt on each of them.
-Place baking sheet in oven and bake taquitos for 15-20 minutes. You will know they are done when they are lightly golden brown and somewhat crispy.
-Remove from oven and eat

Recipe for shredded chicken breasts: Place 3 large chicken breasts in a crockpot. Cover chicken with a large can of salsa. Cook on high 5-6 hours or until chicken shreds easily and is cooked completely.

-These taste really good when you dip them in light sour cream, salsa, or queso dip.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Corn and Red Pepper Orzo

This side dish is absolutely delicious and quite simple to make. I had never had orzo until about 2 years ago. While they don't offer it in whole grain yet, I still like to use it for some of my recipes every now and then. My husband is a corn fanatic and would eat it every day if he could. He loves this recipe and I think you will too. We served this with Al Fresco Natural Asiago and Pepper Chicken Sausage.

One thing I want to stress is how easy this dish is to make. You don't need a box of Uncle Ben's rice or Pasta Roni from the store. Those boxed goods are filled with things that are not good for us. You can have this dish made in the same amount of time it takes to cook the boxed stuff from the store. Trust me...this dish is so much tastier than those anyways.

Corn and Red Pepper Orzo
Serves 6
Adapted from:

3/4 cup orzo (we use Barilla Orzo on the pasta aisle)
1 large red bell pepper - chopped
1 medium sweet onion - chopped (we used red onion)
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (canned will work but make sure you drain it completely)
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper
salt if you prefer to taste - we omit salt from most of our recipes

-Cook orzo according to directions on the box.
-In a large nonstick skillet, spray nonstick cooking spray and heat on medium high heat.
-Once the skillet is warm, add the olive oil, red bell pepper, and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.
-To the skillet, add corn, italian seasoning, pepper, and salt and cook for a few minutes to heat up the corn.
-Drain pasta once it is done cooking and add the pasta to the skillet. Stir the dish until all ingredients are combined.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

We had some extra baby spinach leaves that needed to be used up before they went bad. I also realized that we had a tub of part-skim ricotta cheese. I am a huge fan of stuffing chicken breasts or pork chops. I think you can honestly stuff them with so many different foods, that each time you can enjoy something a little different. I am sure you can look in your refrigerator and find stuff to use for a stuffing mix. Feel free to get creative with this recipe.

This dish is not nearly as unhealthy as you would think it is. I used skim milk ricotta cheese, egg whites, whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs, and skim mozzarella cheese. These are a lovely indulgence without all the guilt. We all know I love meals that seem indulgent but are actually nutritious and not that unhealthy.

Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 4
Adapted from:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
pepper, garlic powder, and salt to season
Part skim ricotta cheese - 15 oz tub
3/4 cup fresh baby spinach leaves or a 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach that is thawed and drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 eggs beaten or 3 egg whites beaten
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated light parmesan cheese
Optional: 1 jar marinara sauce and low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
toothpicks for securing chicken breasts

-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Rinse off chicken breasts and cut a slit down the center of the chicken breast, making sure not to cut all the way through
-Season chicken breasts with pepper, salt, and garlic powder
-In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, garlic, grated parmesan cheese, and eggs (we used egg whites) and make sure you stir together well
-Divide mixture into 4 sections and stuff each of those sections into the slits of the chicken breasts
-After you have stuffed the chicken breasts, use toothpicks to close and secure the slits, so the stuffing stays inside the chicken while baking.
-Coat all of the chicken breasts with some seasoned breadcrumbs
-Place chicken in a baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
-Bake chicken breasts for 30 minutes. Check temperature and continue cooking until chicken is at 165 degrees. If the chicken breasts are larger pieces, you will bake the chicken for up to 60 minutes total.

Now, you can take the chicken breasts out of the oven and eat them just like they are OR you can heat up your marinara sauce and top your chicken breasts with the sauce and top each of the chicken breasts with some mozzarella cheese.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sloppy Joe's with Sun-dried Tomato

If you are anything like me, the thought of having sloppy joe's is just not all that appealing. I grew up with the Manwich sloppy joe mix and never really liked it. Now that I am older and know how easy it is to make sloppy joe's homemade, I really enjoy making them. They are a great meal to serve during the week because they don't take a lot of time or effort. Plus, sloppy joes are very filling so all you need is a simple salad, a veggie, or some fresh cut up fruit to pair with the sandwich. Serving the sloppy joe's on whole wheat buns also gives the dish a nutritional boost, which is what I am all about.

Sloppy Joe's with Sun-dried Tomato
Serves 4-6
Adapted from:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion - chopped
1 small red bell pepper - chopped
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 can tomato sauce - 6 ounces
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes - chopped (I use Trader Joe's sun-dried tomatoes but you can find them in any grocery store)
pepper and salt to taste
4-6 whole wheat hamburger buns (whole wheat toast would work just fine if you don't have hamburger buns)

-In a large nonstick skillet, add olive oil and over medium heat, saute onions and red bell pepper. Should take 3-4 minutes.
-In the skillet, add the beef/turkey, salt and pepper, and italian seasoning and cook beef until it is browned and cooked completely.
-Take a lid and cover your skillet and drain any excess fat/grease from the pan.
-Put skillet back on stove and add tomato paste, brown sugar, tomato sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes.
-Let the dish simmer for 3-4 minutes.
-Serve on toasted hamburger buns or whatever bread you prefer

*As I mentioned before, a simple salad or fresh fruit would pair nicely with this dish. I served these with sliced peaches.

Enjoy! :)