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

Sweet Cilantro Lime Chicken Kebabs – ★★★★★

10389603_10205765390272086_5517173262006650960_nI have finally found a way to get Chance, our 4-year-old, to eat chicken that isn’t pressed into a patty with who knows what else. I’m learning that Chance takes interest in things that are not “ordinary.” We usually eat dinner with a fork, so handing him chicken on a stick was the hook (and he bit!). I’ve made this recipe a number of times since our initial trial and can attest to how easy this is to make. I suggest marinating the chicken all day if you can. Throw it in the marinade first thing in the morning then string them onto kebab sticks right before grilling. I would liken the flavor to teriyaki but it isn’t sticky-sweet like teriyaki can usually be. It has a nice zesty zing because of the lime and am looking forward to warm summer nights grilling these puppies out on the patio. Perry gave 5 stars and this is why:

These kebabs are tasty. There is no other way to describe it… Just absolutely tasty. There are three distinct flavors – sweet, salty and sour. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t overly sour just a subtle zing at the end, like how pineapple is sweet yet sour also. They have a lightness to them that had me going back for more.. and more. I give these five stars because they are so delicious and our little guy, Chance, even had a few.”

Serves: 4     Calories: 199/serving     Time: marinade time: at least an hour     cook time: 8 mins 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, we use reduced sodium
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, divided
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, we use the tenders as I find it easier to trim and cut into little pieces
  • Bamboo skewers

Directions:

  1. Combine soy sauce, salt, pepper, honey, oil, garlic, lime juice, pepper flakes and 1 tbsp of cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Trim chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Place the chicken into the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. We let ours sit for about 7 hours.
  3. If using wooden skewers soak in water for at minimum 10 minutes before letting them sit on the grill.
  4. String the chicken pieces onto the skewers (getting rid of the remaining marinade) and grill on each side for approximately 5-8 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the remaining 1 tbsp of cilantro.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

Moroccan Chicken Kebobs – ★★★★★

ImagePerry is sitting here as I write trying to explain to me that his 10 minutes of involvement with this recipe made it a five star recipe. While I’ll never admit it to him he may be right I’ll secretly tell you all since he never reads the description. Cooking these babies to perfection is key. Perry nailed it with his 5 minutes per side on our dinky little grille. How did I survive before him 🙂 The chicken is fantastic with the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The veggies were perfectly salted and had the best tender/crisp texture. Even my picky three-year-old grabbed a skewer or two and went to town. Perry gave these five stars and here is why:

“These tasty morsels were cooked to perfection by me deeming them worthy of five stars. For the sake of my marriage I guess I better give Kelsey some credit by saying she did an exceptional job marinating the chicken and vegetable with exotic and authentic african spices. (can you tell he is fishing for brownie points?)”

Calories: 50/kebob       Serves: 15 kebobs       Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice OR ground cloves
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red onion, sliced into squared 
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before 

Directions

  1. in a mixing bowl combine all the herbs and seasonings
  2. Rinse and cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and put them into the bowl. Toss chicken cubes with herbs and spices to coat. Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl toss onions and peppers with oil, sat and pepper. 
  4. Put together the kebobs by alternating chicken, onion and peppers 
  5. Heat grill to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes on each side. 
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original taken by me

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

 

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili – ★★★★★

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After being on vacation for 10 days it is now time to get back into healthy cooking/eating mode. We went all vegetarian this week and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty good about it. Perry requested that I try to make something that isn’t just vegetables on a plate, and what better way to do that then a veggie chili. The base of this recipe came from Betty Crocker, but I really built on her original recipe. I’m sure her chili is great but this recipe is better 🙂 We’ve packed this chili with three different kinds of beans to not only give an awesome taste and texture but to also increase our protein and fiber intake. To add a smokey flavor to our chili we used fire roasted diced tomatoes and it was absolutely delectable! Perry gave five stars and here is why:

My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook. I could eat seconds and thirds of everything she makes, but that comes at a cost. After staying with my in-laws for over a week the notches on my belt buckle started to get more and more loose. It is a new year so I wanted Kels to make meals less rich and more nutritious. She nailed this one on the head. My favorite thing about this chili is the garbanzo beans. They are a pleasant camouflaged surprise, and honestly they are not a bean I would expect to find in chili. The broth was nice and thick and the veggies were cooked to perfection. All the flavors and spices blended extremely well and I’m half tempted to have a bowl for breakfast. Five stars for flavor, nutrition, and garbanzo beans.”

Serves: 6+     Calories: 387 per 3/4 cup serving     Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (if you like spice leave in the seeds.. Also Betty Crocker suggests serrano chiles if you do not like jalapeño peppers.)
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans (I used dark red), drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp kosher salt (+more to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • If you want to have a thick broth have some flour on hand, or even better masa flour 🙂
  • Optional: Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro to top

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic and jalapeños. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are tender. Stir frequently as to not burn.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes +juice, water, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cut in frozen corn and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer once more and cook uncovered for 5 minutes
  4. OPTIONAL: If your broth is too watery for your liking you’ll want to follow this step.  Scoop about a cup of broth from the saucepan. To that cup of broth add 1-2 tbsp of flour and mix until combined. Once combined add the broth back to the saucepan and mix it into the chili. Repeat this process until you find the texture you like. I had some masa flour on hand, which in case you are unaware is the flour used to make tamales. I used this instead of regular flour and it added an even more earthy corn taste that was perfect for this chili! Add additional salt to taste.
  5. Top with you favorite extras and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Betty Crocker inspired the base and the recipe for her chili can be found at http://www.bettycrocker.com/