Southwest Style Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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We have been eating so much cheese, pasta and take out recently that we needed to kick off this week with a healthy veggie dinner. I’m sure I don’t need to preach the benefits of quinoa too much these days because it has bee exhausted at this point, but I will highlight a few of my favorite qualities of this grain: gluten free, high in protein, high in fiber and super high in antioxidants. Just heed my advice and get this stuff into your diet immediately! This recipe is a slam dunk in that it is delicious without the fats, salt and carbs. Please note that I am not calling this recipe vegetarian or vegan because I did cook the quinoa with beef broth. YOU CAN make this vegetarian by cooking the quinoa with water.

Makes: 8 peppers     Calories: 176/stuffed half pepper    Time: prep- 30 mins, cook- 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers (the more round the better), cut in half with ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package. I cooked mine with beef broth but you can use vegetable broth or just water.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • OPTIONAL: if you like a little heat 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of sweet whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2/3 cup of your favorite salsa, we used “hot traditional”
  • OPTIONAL: cheese for topping

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package. This takes about 30 minutes so be sure to allot the time for this step.
  2. In a large bowl mix together cooked quinoa, garlic, green onion, spices, beans, corn and salsa.
  3. Prepare the peppers by halving them and cleaning out the ribs/seeds
  4. Scoop the quinoa mixture into each pepper halve and place in greased 9×13 baking dish.
  5. If you want to top the pepper with cheese do so now and cover the baking dish with foil.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes and remove the foil to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.thegardengrazer.com

BLT Chicken Salad

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Chicken salad, I’ve reached chicken salad status… To some this may seem like a stupid thing to consider a milestone, but entertain me for a second. I remember the days my mom was done with every single one of us kids because we were crazy. When it came time for dinner she had very little energy to put into making a big meal. One of her go to recipes was egg salad… Yes, it is as disgusting as it sounds. Hard-boiled eggs smothered with mayonnaise and some salt and pepper. I “yack” just thinking about it. It always made me wonder “how bad are we that she would actually feed this to us?” Nightmares still plague me about how she would sometimes send us off to school with an egg salad sandwich tucked into our lunchboxes. I made my own vow at a young age to never feed my future husband and child(ren) rotten-eggs-on-toast (egg salad). Chicken salad is a big deal for me because it is my go to “quick and easy” and it doesn’t suck. Sorry mom, kinda..

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found on http://www.thegarlicdiaries.com. If you get the chance, please check out their beautiful website. They do the 21 day fix so if you are looking for recipes to fit your diet plan for the 21 day fix you will want to head over there right away. What drew me to the recipe is the BLT part of its title. Why have standard chicken salad when you can have BLT chicken salad?!  Not only is the recipe easy and delicious but we have a few days worth of left overs.

Serves: 8    Calories: 156.4     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz pkg of bacon, I used center cut bacon
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 (5.3 oz) containers of plain greek yogurt
  • I head of romaine lettuce, chopped (yields approx 5.5 cups of lettuce)
  • OPTIONAL: Salt, pepper, dill to taste
  • OPTIONAL: toast, crackers, avocacos

Directions:

  1. Cook chicken and bacon.
  2. Chop up lettuce and tomatoes. Put chopped veggies into a large bowl with greek yogurt.
  3. Shred chicken and crumble the bacon.
  4. Add the meats and optional seasonings to the bowl and mix well.
  5. Scoop onto toast, crackers or like http://www.thegarlicdiaries.com suggested avocados! We grilled our avocados. If you wish to do the same just cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and rub them with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and put the on the grill “cut-side” down. Grill until you get the desired char (only a few minutes at medium heat).
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.thegarlicdiaries.com

Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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I have seen these recipes floating around on pintrest for a while but I’ve been too skeptical to give them a try. Our neighbors, Ryan and Laura, are fellow foodies and we often share samples of what we are cooking. They gave us a sample of their zucchini boats a few weeks ago and it totally fueled this recipe. I was blown away by the flavor and heartiness of their boats. A bit later I bucked up and gave this taco variation a try. This is a safe place to start in the world of zucchini boats because you can add toppings and customize it to your tastes. We floated some Ghost Scream Hot Sauce (a gift from Ryan) that really kicked these babies up a notch. The recipe in general isn’t overwhelmingly “squash-y.” Instead it is a fresh addition to the classic taco flavor. I’m very excited to experiment with these and am looking to try out a sausage or lentil zucchini boat recipe in the near future. Massive thanks to Ryan and Laura for giving me the confidence to try this recipe! I also want to note that this recipe is adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Makes: 8 boats     Calories: 350     Time: 5o minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Zucchini
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno, chopped (if you like it hot include the seeds)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 packet of reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • (optional toppings we used) rotel tomatoes, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. To keep stability of the zucchini boat on your baking pan cut a little sliver out of the green flesh on the bottom side so that the zucchini will lay flat. With a spoon scoop out the seeded middle part. Set the boats aside.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and saute the onion, tomato and jalapeno for about a minute
  4. Add the ground beef and crumble as you cook. When it is about half way done add the taco seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stuff each zucchini boat with this beef mixture and place them on a greased baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and top with pepper jack cheese. Continue to bake them until cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the oven once more and top with your favorite toppings.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Inside Out Cabbage Roll Soup – Crockpot

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I’m late to the “get bikini ready” party. It is the end of June and I’m just now starting to worry about eating healthier, exercising more and ultimately looking decent this summer. Better late than never I always say! I was unsure of this soup at first because I am not a huge fan of cabbage unless it is in colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day. However I needed something to start me off right and everyone raves over cabbage soup. I have to say this recipe took me by surprise. It had a great flavor that was not overpowered by the cabbage. Also, my apartment did not stink as the cabbage cooked either which was a fear of mine. I was pleased with how easy and tasty this recipe ended up being. We had many meals, lunches and dinners, out of one batch. This recipe will make it into our soup rotation for sure! The original recipe can be found at http://www.sugarfreemom.com, but I did modify the ingredients a bit. I halved the amount of ground beef and upped the amount of veggies.

Serves: 9-12     Calories: about 290 per serving    Time: 3.5 hours on high or 6.5 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 16 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, riced
  • 8 cups of beef broth
  • 1 large head of cabbage

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil over high heat and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant
  3. Add the seasonings, cauliflower and marinara sauce to the beef and mix until combined.
  4. Add beef broth, cabbage, and beef mixture to your crockpot. Stir until combined
  5. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Hearty Hot and Sour Soup

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My gosh this soup has so much flavor! With this recipe you’ll expect tons of veggies, tons of spice and such a savory broth. Don’t be surprised to find yourself slurping up every last drop of this stuff. I had started getting tired of the traditional vegetable soups. You know the usual culprits – barley vegetable, summer vegetable, root veggie puree. We desperately needed something different so I turned to my recipe companion, Pintrest. I fall so hard into the Pintrest web but have climbed my way out with some killer recipes, this being one of them. The original recipe does include tofu and mushrooms, but there are just some things I cannot stomach and those are two of them. So if you want to make this soup even more hearty then you will want to visit the original recipe posted at http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com.

Serves: 8     Calories: 200/serving     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (Add an extra one if you really like it hot)
  • 1lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
  • 1 small savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 6-8 leaves bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onions, ginger, and jalapenos Cook for a few minutes, stirring.
  2. Add in the carrots, and cabbage. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, or until cabbage starts to wilt. Add in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, cold water, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini, and bell peppers to the pot. Simmer until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the soy sauce mixture and stir until the soup thickens, about 8 minutes. Add in the bok choy and tomatoes and bring the soup back to a simmer. Stir in the sesame oil.
  5. Dish and Enjoy!

*Photo and video are originals belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com

Grilled Romaine Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

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I am good at cooking. I am scared of baking and terrified of grilling. If you frequent this blog you know of my experiences with the grill. If you don’t frequent this blog I’ll clue you in quickly. I have been known to set a grill to flames and even when the gas is turned off the grill is still engulfed by fire. Up to this point I have not had the finesse to master the grill. Now that it is 2016 and I’m feeling quite comfortable in the kitchen I’m taking it outside and learning to conquer my fears.

This salad is my first attempt and I am happy to report that so far I am pulling it off. I quite enjoyed the charred bits of romaine and would liken the wilted bits to spinach. The entire thing does not wilt or char, but the enfolded parts stay crisp leaving this salad with a lot of texture. The grilled corn and tomatoes with feta add a sweet and creamy taste. The star of this show, however, is the Dijon vinaigrette. It is the perfect tangy addition to this salad. The onion and garlic gives you a little bite but the vinegar and Dijon really stand out and balance out the sweet creaminess of the corn, tomatoes and feta. I am certainly going to make this dressing and try it on other salads. For someone who does not grill this was extremely easy to pull off. If you’re a beginner like me and are looking to learn the craft of grilling I highly suggest you start here.

Serves: 4  Calories: approximately 220 per serving  Time: 1 hour soak, 15 minutes prep, 30 minutes grill

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears fresh sweet corn with husks on
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, depends on how large your lettuce is
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 carton of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Soak corn with the husks still attached in a bowl of full of enough water to cover them. Let soak for an hour
  2. Prepare dressing by combining 3 tbsp of the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, chives and garlic. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Once an hour has passed place the corn (still in husks) on your grill rack over medium heat, approximately 350 degrees F. Cover and grill for 20-30 minutes or until the kernels are tender. Turn the ears of corn once to get an even char. Once kernels are tender remove corn from the rack and set aside to cool enough to handle.
  4. While corn is cooling brush the romaine with remaining 1 tbsp of oil. You may need a little more oil if your romaine is bigger. Depends on the size of your lettuce really. After they’re all oiled place them on the grilling rack over medium heat (again approximately 350 degrees F). Let them grill for about 3 minutes until they are charred to your liking and slightly wilted. Plate the romaine chunks.
  5. Corn should be cool enough to handle by now. Strip off the husks and the silk. Using care, cut the kernels from the ears of corn into a large bowl. Add the tomato halves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle this corn and tomato mixture with about a tbsp of the dressing and toss. Top the each romaine chunk with a bit of this mixture. Sprinkle feta over the salad and drizzle the whole plate with more Dijon Vinaigrette.
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from:

Better Homes and Gardens. “Grilled Romaine Salad with Tomato and Corn Tumble.”  Fresh Grilling. Ed. Jan Miller. Iowa: Meredith Corporations, 2014. 215. Print.

Mediterranean Meatball Soup

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This soup is the epitome of comfort. The spices add a distinct warmth while the meatballs and couscous fill you up. It isn’t too heavy which is something I love about this recipe. It’s on the brothy side which is a nice base for the meatballs. It is also one of the best soups I’ve made to reheat. I worried about using couscous because I know that pasta and grains usually suck up the broth and get mushy when put in the fridge to be reheated. This recipe did not do that which was a pleasant surprise. I found this soup to be quite easy to put together, but you do need to use a couple different pots so expect a bit of cleanup. One thing that could turn you off is the spices used in this recipe. I always have these bold spices in my cabinet as a staple but if you don’t the grocery bill could creep up quickly. Do keep in mind though that these spices last a long time and there are so many lovely recipes you can add them to. They are definitely a kitchen investment but I think it’s worth it.

Serves: 8-12     Calories: approximately 360 per serving     Time: approximately 1 hour

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, the more lean the better

Ingredients for Soup

  • 8 oz package of Israeli pearl couscous
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line your baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
  3. In a marge bowl add all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix thoroughly.
  4. Form small-ish meatballs with about 1 tsp of the mixture and put on the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until browned.
  6. While meatballs are in the oven prepare the couscous according to the package.
  7. In a large pot heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic and zucchini and saute until fragrant.
  8. Add vegetable broth, 2 cups of water, turmeric, curry and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and add in the meatballs and couscous. Simmer for 10 minutes and add salt/pepper to taste.
  9. Before serving toss in the chopped parsley.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.littlespicejar.com