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

Baked Jalapeño Popper Rolled Tacos

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I snagged this recipe from the Land o Lakes website. That’s right people I actually found a decent recipe off of a commercial brand’s website. I am willing to try my hand at anything inspired by jalapeño poppers. How could a recipe involving creamy, cheesy, spicy goodness go wrong?

These rolled tacos are amazing. There is really no other way to describe them. Their crispy baked shell add the perfect texture to a creamy filling. I went crazy with the jalapeños because we like spicy food so if you are not a big fan of heat I suggest using half of what this recipe calls for. These tacos are perfect for weeknights when time is tight as it doesn’t take very long to make. We finished with quite a few left overs, but keep in mind that only two of us were eating these. That said, if you have a larger family with older children you may want to double the recipe and stock your freezer with left overs. These are large rolled tacos, not your small 6 inch rolled street tacos. One of these with a side dish is more than enough to fill you up for dinner.

Makes: 10 rolled tacos     Calories: 295 per rolled taco    Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of milk, I used 2%
  • 1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
  • 1 (12oz) jar jalapeños, drained and chopped finely
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 10 flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add cooked chicken, milk, cream cheese and jalapeños. Mix together until the cream cheese is soft and all ingredients are well mixed.
  2. Turn off heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the chicken mixture over one half of each tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place each rolled taco on a baking sheet with the seam side down.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and brush a little over each taco.
  6. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from the oven to flip the tacos. Bake for an additional 7 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two before serving.
  8. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

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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

Southwestern Style Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing – ★★★★★

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When I think of a fulfilling meal salad is not the first thing that comes to mind. I am trying to teach my boys healthy eating habits and in order to do that I feel the need to set an example. That is where the idea of salad for dinner was conceived. This recipe blew me away because not only is it healthy but it is filling and delicious too. The vegetables add substance and texture while the dressing provides out-of-this-world flavor. The only thing I might do differently is add a little bit of avocado to the dressing to thicken it up a little bit. I never thought I would want salad for dinner, but I am certainly looking forward to the next time we do. Another great thing about this recipe is that it is so easy to throw together. I had everything prepped so when it was time to have dinner I just threw it all together, two nights in a row 🙂  Perry gave five stars and here is why:

“This salad is awesome. It is packed with so many different vegetables that every forkful is different. My favorite part of the salad was the green dressing. If I know Kelsey she put way more garlic then the recipe called for originally and that made it almost a little spicy which is how I like it. I suggested to Kels that she make the dressing again the next time we do tacos, because who doesn’t love a saucy street taco?! Five stars!”

Serves: 4 huge salads     Calories: 326.25 per serving      Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • Bag of 3 hearts of romaine, chopped OR 4-5 cups of romaine lettuce
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Santa fe tortilla strips for garnish

For the dressing:

  • 1.5 bunches of cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (original recipe calls for two but I used four. If you like it spicy use four cloves.)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend/pulse until completely combined. Set into refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Assemble the salad with prepped ingredients. Pile lettuce into a bowl or onto a plate. Lay tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, beans and tortilla strips on top. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
  3. Enjoy!

*Dressing recipe adapted from http://www.damndelicious.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me 

Creamy Tomato and Garlic Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons – ★★★★★

ImageI came across this recipe on pintrest which took me to Cheap Recipe Blog. Haley, the creator, has an amazing site and my stomach started to growl as soon as I started browsing. Please take my advice and check out her recipes because, my gosh, they ALL look amazing (I should note that I make no profit on this blog and Haley did not ask me to say any of this. It is my sincerest opinion). Tomato soup and grilled cheese is total comfort food where I am from, and seriously I don’t think there could be a better pair. This soup is not your ordinary Campbell’s condensed tomato soup. Now that I know how easy this is to make I’ll  never go back. Perry gave 5 stars and this is why:

“Tonight’s soup was so was creamy and rich. I would describe the overall flavor as savory sweet. The tomato, onion and garlic chunks make it thick and filling. My favorite part was the grilled cheese that practically melted into the soup. Five stars!”

Serves: 8+     Calories: 141/serving of soup + 173 if you use half of a grilled cheese for croutons     Time: Approximately 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (28 oz) cans of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (this is essential don’t skip it!)
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, basil and garlic powder, to taste
  • If doing the grilled cheese croutons you’ll need bread, butter and shredded cheese of your choice to do so

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until the begin to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  2. Crush the whole tomatoes and add them (with the left over juice) to the pan, after the tomato mixture warms, add baking soda and stir well. It will froth but do not worry that just means it is doing it’s job. 
  3. Add chicken broth, half-and-half, and sugar, and mix well.
  4. Add spices and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  5. While soup is settling cook up a grilled cheese and slice into bite sized squares. Use half of the grilled cheese croutons per bowl of soup.
  6. Dish and enjoy!

*Original recipe found at http://www.cheaprecipeblog.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Fresh Pesto Filled Tortellini – ★★★★★

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This was my first homemade pasta recipe and we all instantly fell in love. The pasta has a perfect combination of bite and chew while the pesto is packed with ridiculous amounts of flavor. Each bite is completely different but equally amazing. It did take me a quite a while to roll out the pasta dough and fill/form the tortellinis but if you get someone to help you make these you can bust them out really quick. I know that I will never EVER buy pre-made tortellinis ever again. Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“I really really really enjoyed this recipe. The sauce Kels whipped up was nice and light so it didn’t take away from the powerful pesto flavor but added a nice muted tomato taste. Everything came together so great and I am looking forward to having these again.”

Serves: 6-8     Calories: w/o sauce – 503…w/sauce – 618    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how long it takes to fill/form tortellinis

NOTE: In the directions when I say “Check out this video I found to help you” or “Recipe Here” that whole sentence is a link to the video. For some reason my “link text” won’t differentiate from regular text.

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Fresh Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for (Optional) Light Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 carton of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on how chunky you want your sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make your dough ball. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting assemble pesto sauce. Recipe found here
  3. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts.
  4. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  5. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  6. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or pastry cutter or a plain ol’ knife cut out as many squares as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Take one of the squares and roll it flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/4 tsp of the pesto to the center of the square. Fold the square in half (making a triangle) and pressing the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your triangle to complete the seam. Roll the triangle to make a crease where the filling is cupped. Take the outer edges of the triangle and fold the across to “hug the filling” and press to seal. I would recommend watching this video I found on youtube to demonstrate how tortellini is rolled.
  8. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked tortellini in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  9. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the tortellinis start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  10. If you are whipping up my light sauce just combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium until tomatoes start to “wilt” and let out their juice
  11. Top tortellini with sauce of your choice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com and Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com