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

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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

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

Seven Clove Garlic Green Beans

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This is my all time favorite gathering of ingredients. Crunchy green beans surrounded by soft buttery garlic and topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, oh my word. I could eat it every day with every meal that is how much I love this stuff. It goes with just about anything, but I wouldn’t serve them with a main dish that is also heavy in garlic. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlic but love getting kisses goodnight from my babies even more 🙂

Serves: 4     Calories: 93 per serving    Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 7 cloves of garlic (or more, I don’t judge), chopped fine
  • Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium high heat
  2. Once butter is melted add green beans into pan and stir to coat the beans with butter.
  3. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. I like my green beans a bit crunchy so I don’t allow them the time to go soft. I let them cook covered for about 7 minutes stirring occasionally. If you want them softer you’ll have to play with time but I estimate it would take 10 minutes or so.
  4. Once green beans reach your preferred texture, add garlic to pan and stir until caramelized. Do this over low heat because you are looking to caramelize not burn the garlic.
  5. Right before you serve the green beans sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese  and salt and pepper.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

CrockPot Cheesy Burger Soup – ★★★★★

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It’s that lovely time of year when pintrest is FILLED with seasonal soup/stew recipes. I came across this fantastic recipe from http://www.familyfreshmeals.com and knew it would be my first soup of the season. Seriously, who wouldn’t love a cheeseburger inspired soup? My family loved it and I am certain we will be making it a few more times before winter is over. The flavor was described as “creamy cheeseburger.” Everyone had seconds and we still have left overs for lunch. Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

This soup can only be improved upon with a hot roll accompaniment. The flavor was excellent with a silky broth and hearty meat/veggies. I like that Kels cooked the bacon separately and added it as a garnish because it added a nice crunch. I don’t enjoy soggy bacon, no matter how much flavor it is supposed to add. I think next time I will suggest warm bread and a bleu cheese crumble topping. Five stars for this soup!”  

NOTE: Since we’ve moved back to Pennsylvania I have the added adventure of trying to tailor my recipes to fit my parents’ dietary needs. My dad is diabetic which is why you will now see Carb values, and my mom is doing weight watchers which is why you will now see the PointsPlus values. I hope these extra calculations I’m providing will help not only my parents but also anyone else who clicks on this blog with dietary needs. That being said, I am aware this is a “high carb”/”high points” recipe. Please, please, please change ingredients as you see fit. Substitute turkey for beef, turkey bacon for regular bacon, low fat cheese for shredded cheese, etc… I am making it as close to the original for the first time to gauge taste so in the future I can substitute things and see what I can change without sacrificing too much flavor. 

Serves: 8+  Calories: 448 per serving  Carbs: 39.5g per serving  WW PointsPlus Value: 13 points per serving

Prep Time: 30 min  Cook time: 7 hr (low)  Total Time: 7hr 30m

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups of white potatoes, cubed
  • 8 oz of cream cheese, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp back pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled to garnish (reserving a little bit of the grease to stir in for flavor)

Directions:

  1. Sautee onions over medium high heat. Before they start to become translucent add your ground beef and cook until the meat is no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Add the onion/beef mixture to your crockpot along with the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, celery, carrots, potatoes, cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. Stir to mix the ingredients in together.
  3. Cook on low for 7 hours
  4. Before cooking time is up, fry up the bacon reserving a bit of the grease. Also, mix together the milk and flour until there are no lumps in the mixture. Add the bacon grease, flour/milk mixture, and shredded cheese.
  5. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted
  6. Spoon a healthy serving into bowls, garnish with bacon and anything else you would garnish your burger with
  7. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

Crockpot Chicken Potpie – ★★★★★

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Its getting colder which means it’s about time to start making soups and stews in the crockpot. We’ve also been feeling a bit under the weather so I decided it was time for me to try my hand at chicken potpie. I stumbled on a gem of a recipe at allrecipes.com and was shocked to find out that you can make potpie in the crockpot. I changed so much of this recipe so I am adapting it as my own but want to give allrecipes credit for giving me the idea and the base. This is my dream recipe because it has little mess, little fuss, it is delicious and perfect for the chilly weather. Perry gave it five stars and this is why:

“I really liked this diner because it was creamy, full of veggies, and hit the spot after a long day of work. I think the best way to eat it is with the biscuit on the bottom with the soup poured overtop. Kelsey tried making it with the least amount of added salt so you may need to add a little if you like your soup salty like me. We had leftovers for a few days and it got better each day we reheated it.”

Serves:8           Calories:  263 (without biscuit)         Time: 6 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, washed/ trimmed and cubed (about 1in cubes)
  • 2 bags mixed frozen vegetables (we used corn, peas and carrots)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cans cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1 can cream of celery condensed soup
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • Biscuits

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the frozen veggies in the crockpot. Cook on high for 5 hours
  2. Add the frozen veggies and cook for an additional hour.
  3. Serve with biscuits and enjoy!

*Idea adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Baked Eggrolls – ★★★★★

263983_10200250275437662_815732732_nMy newest obsessions are eggroll and wonton wrappers. They are so easy to work with and you can fill them with virtually anything. It is a great way for me to trick my son into eating veggies and my husband loves every single bite. I was a little unsure if I should try making eggrolls because they just seem like a lot of work.  In my mind lots of things could have gone wrong. As per usual the only thing that was wrong was me haha! These are not only tasty but also guilt free at only 150 calories per serving. So to my friends out there who love chinese takeout but are counting calories here is the answer to your problem! I loved that these were crispy without all the grease and the veggies tasted ultra fresh which was also a plus. I was satisfied after 2 of them and had lots left over. They keep well but I would suggest reheating in the oven to keep them crisp. Perry gave them a full ★★★★★ and here is why:

“I didn’t expect a baked eggroll to be as crispy as a fried one so I was a little unsure how good these would taste. They actually came out better than the fried ones because they were still crispy without needing a lot of napkins to clean greasy hands. I thought he veggies were also better than you would get at a restaurant because Kels hand chopped them fresh. All in all I feel these were 100% better than the ones we get at the restaurant.”

Serves: 8        Calories: 150 for 2 eggrolls

Ingredients:

– 2 cups grated carrots

– 1-14.5oz can of bean sprouts

– 1/2 cup of chopped water chestnuts

–  1/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper

– 1/4 cup chopped green onion

– 1 clove of garlic, minced

– 2 cups finely diced cooked chicken

– 4 tsp cornstarch

– 1 tbsp water

– 1 tbsp light soy sauce

– 1 tsp canola or olive oil

– 1 tsp brown sugar

– 1 pinch cayenne pepper

– 16 eggroll wrappers (You can get these at your regular market usually either by the refrigerated gourmet pastas or where they keep vegetarian foods next to tofu)

– nonstick cooking spray.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a cooking sheet. (Don’t go crazy with the spray.. Remember these are baked eggrolls not fried eggrolls haha!)

2.) Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium. Add the carrots, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, green pepper, green onions, and garlic. Cook for approximately 3 minutes (You want the veggies to be a little crisp). Stir in chicken and cook until heated through (approximately 3-5 minutes).

3.) Combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, 1 tsp oil, brown sugar, and cayenne in a small bowl. Stir into chicken mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Constantly stirring, cook until the sauce is thickened (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat.

4.) Spoon 1/4 cup of chicken mixture onto the bottom 1/3 half of an eggroll wrapper. Fold the sides towards the center and roll tightly. Place seam side down on your baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the wrappers.

OPTIONAL: If you want a little extra crisp very lightly spritz the tops of the eggrolls with cooking spray.

5.)  Bake until golden brown (10-15 minutes)

6.) Serve with soy sauce or spicy mustard and enjoy!

*Original recipe can be found at http://www.allrecipes.com

**Photo is an original taken by me