Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{ RECIPE :: No-Bake Energy Bites }

A few weeks ago I met some girlfriends in Corona Del Mar for a beach day!  It was the most gorgeous day I could remember at the beach since...well, since last summer!  But that's not what I remember most about that sunny day at the beach, I remember THESE!

They're No-Bake Energy Bites that my friend Crystal introduced me to.  They kind of look like strange little meatballs, but they are SO incredibly good.  And "healthy" too.  I'll leave the definition of healthy up to you.

But seriously, I love popping one of two a day right around 3 or 4.  You know, when you want SO bad to snack but you know you shouldn't because you've been so good all day!  Well these little guys are my guilt-free go to!  Try them!  I promise you'll like them!




INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup (dry) oatmeal*
- 2/3 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup all natural chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla

 DIRECTIONS:
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

*You can use GF oatmeal for a gluten free treat!  So yummy!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole }

The husband LOVED this dish!  After he licked his plate clean he said "Put a couple stars next to that one!"  And as if that wasn't enough, my 1 year old monotonously cheered "Yummm" every time I placed a new bite on her tray.  So I guess we've got another winner on our hands with this one.

Of course I found the original recipe through Pinterest on THIS website. I love that this recipe calls for protein-packed quinoa rather than rice, and then I just added some shredded chicken (because my husband says "it's not a real mean unless there's a little meat") and swapped out the mayonnaise for some greek yogurt.  Your taste buds will never know the difference, but your waistline just might!

INGREDIENTS:
One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup (or mushroom), low-sodium if you prefer (*see note for gluten free)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
1/2 teaspoon Stevia/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

TO COOK QUINOA:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS: 
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible. Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the soup, greek yogurt, milk, shredded cheese, Stevia, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.

Spoon mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden. Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

*NOTE FOR GLUTEN FREE…Progresso makes a Creamy Mushroom Soup that is gluten free

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Easy Pad Thai }

I'm sorry that this blog has somehow turned into a cooking blog. Oops! Oh well.  It's just easier for me to keep all my favorite recipes in one place like this.  Heck, maybe one day I'll compile my own cookbook!

I found this next recipe through the blog Brownies For Dinner and I was skeptical at first. Mostly because every pad thai recipe I have made was a total disaster. But this one had me saying at the end of dinner "Honey, I think this recipe might have cured me of my cravings for take-out!" Imagine that! So if you're a pad thai lover like me, you might just want to try this recipe.

And for a step-by-step tutorial of this recipe (which I highly recommend following) check THIS out. Good Luck!

INGREDIENTS:
8 ounces dried, wide and flat rice noodles
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
3 tablespoons GF soy sauce
1 squirt (about 1/8 teaspoon) Sriracha (optional)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, separated and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large eggs, light beaten (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

DIRECTIONS:
Soak noodles according to package instructions. Drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add scallion whites and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add eggs and cook, scraping skillet with spatula until eggs are almost set (about 30 seconds). Transfer eggs to a plate.
Add noodles, scallion greens, and sauce to skillet. Cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are soft (about 1 minute). Add egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking eggs up gently.
Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with cilantro and peanuts.

NOTES & VARIATIONS:
Per serving: 315 calories, 7g fat (0.9g saturated fat), 3.6g protein, 60.5g carb, 1.4g fiber
Per serving: $1.50 or less.
As long as you use a gluten-free soy sauce, this is a gluten-free recipe.
Vegetarian, even. Skip the eggs for vegan.
If you’re a carnivore try this: While the noodles are soaking, cut up 1 small chicken breast (or half of one of the colossal ones) into bite sized pieces. Marinate the chicken in a little bit of soy sauce and garlic (or make a little extra of the sauce for the noodles and marinate the chicken in that). OR: use shrimp (marinate same as chicken)… heck, use both. Cook them before you add the noodles to the pan. Leftovers: heat in the microwave or toss in a hot skillet for a minute to warm the noodles. Not as good as the first day but with a little extra lime juice, it makes a nice leftover-lunch.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Chicken Gloria }

This dish is called Chicken Gloria, but I'm just gonna call it Chicken Get-In-My-Mouth-Right-Now!  Yup, it was THAT good!  I'm a huge fan of the Chicken Marsala at Cheesecake Factory and I would almost go so far as to say that this was even better than that!  Ok, I'll just go ahead and say it: This dish was even better than that!  Thank you www.cookingwithsugar.com for the fabulous recipe.

INGREDIENTS:
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and filleted in half lengthwise
1/3 cup of rice flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 (8 oz) container of sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup of sherry wine
1 small can of condensed GF cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup whole milk
6 slices of Muenster cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge lightly in flour to coat both sides. Shake off excess.

Add oil to frying pan and brown chicken in batches on both sides. You don’t need to cook the chicken completely. It will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the chicken to a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Add the butter to the frying pan and let it melt over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown mushrooms until golden. Then add the sherry wine and cook for another minute or two. Add the creamy mushroom soup and milk and mix well.

Pour sauce over the chicken breasts, cover with foil and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top each piece of chicken with one slice of Muenster cheese. You can fold the cheese in half if it is too wide for the breast.

Place chicken back in oven uncovered and broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

{ RECIPE :: Zucchini Lasagna }

I can't believe how much I loved this dish. I've had my eye one it for quite some time and finally got around to making it tonight. It's a naturally gluten-free Zucchini Lasagna from Skinny Taste. It was just like she said "you won't miss the pasta!" It's true! What a delicious, low carb, gluten free dish. The only thing I wish I had for the prep work was a mandolin to slice the zucchini quick and easy. Maybe a birthday present? Hint. Hint. We will definitely be making this recipe again and again and again.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb 93% lean beef
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
15 oz part-skim ricotta
16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 large egg

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

In a 9x12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: I used a ready made tomato basil spaghetti sauce for lack of time. Still tasted great!

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1/8 • Old Points: 8 pts • Points+: 9 pts Calories: 345 • Fat: 17 g • Carbs: 16 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 36 g • Sugar: 8 g Sodium: 801 (without salt)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

{ Dear Blair :: 11 Months Old }

My baby is 11 months old? Say it isn't so! In just one months time this baby girl of mine will be ONE!  I love all of the exciting new tricks you've learned in the last month and can't wait to see what's next.

You are so full of energy and life and always surprising me with how smart you are.  I've said this before, but sometimes when I worry that you aren't meeting a specific milestone by some specific date, I get all nervous.  But really, you are just such a cautious spirit and sometimes it takes you a little longer to get the courage to try something that a lot of other babies are already doing.  But no matter the task, you eventually come around and pick it up quick.

You are amazing Blair!  Everything you do makes us smile.  Here's a look back at the things you did this last month that made us smile...


  • We've got a crawler!!!  I'm pretty sure your daddy was the first to see it.  Rats!  But oh was it cute the first time I saw you get up on all fours and scoot those little knees across the floor.  It's so dorky but I was having a hard time holding back the tears.  Maybe just because we had taken you to the doctor and he said you might not be crawling because of neurological things or a hip displacement and other funny stuff.  So to see you take those first crawls on your own was awesome!  Now we'll see how long it takes you to figure out walking!  Let's just say I'm not holding my breath!
  • A couple weeks ago at the doctor we had you weighed.  I always thought you were ginormous for your age, but actually you're just right.  Perfect in fact!  You weigh 20 lbs 4 oz (59th percentile) and are 29 inches long (77th percentile).  I'm so excited to see you lengthening out and watching the rolls of your leggies disappear one at a time.  I'm sure the crawling will slim you down even more by next month.
  • Your favorite trick is CLAPPING!  You clap for patty-cake, you clap for yourself when you've done a good job, you clap to get the attention of strangers (you're such a flirt), and you even clap on tv shows when you see the audience clapping.  You're such a little crack up!
  • You also learned to wave "Hi" and "Bye" this month.  Sometimes you'll keep your hands down by your side and give a little flutter in your wrist and other times you'll just go nuts and wave to whoever will look your way.
  • It seems like whenever we go out you flirt with everyone!  And of course they love to flirt right back.  All day long I hear "She's so cute!" or "Look at those blue eyes!"  But my favorite comment was from a lady at the grocery store the other week "She must look like her daddy."  Haha.  It's true my sweet, you look just like your daddy!
  • We put the Christmas tree up last week and I thought for sure with all the crawling and exploring you've been doing that you'd b-line straight for the tree and rip off all the ornaments.  But for some reason I think you are completely intimidated by it.  Good!  Let's keep it that way.
  •  I wish you were talking by now, or at least saying "mama" or "dada" but such is not the case.  I can tell you're almost there though because just today we were playing with your favorite little stuffed dog from Mimi and I kept saying over and over again "Dog, dog, dog..." and you would watch my mouth intently, as if to study the movements of my lips, and then without uttering a sound you would move your lips exactly like mine, as if you were whispering very quietly the word "dog."  I'm sure it's just a matter of time before you finally connect all the dots and belt it out like your cousin Sydney.
  • You are already starting to wear your 18 month clothes!  Say wha??? And I'm sure any day now you'll have outgrown your size 3 shoes.  I mean really, Blair?!  Can't you just stay little forever?  Please?
  • You are slowly but surely saying no to your baby food.  Seriously, you're so over mommy feeding you.  Take the other day at Chipotle for example: there we were enjoying our lunch.  Daddy eating his burrito, mommy a salad, and Blair a cup of black beans.  When you were done making a mess with your beans on the table, mommy tried to feed you some baby food.  Oh NO!  You slapped that food out of my hand so hard and let out a yelp that sent all the eyes in the restaurant our way.  Of course all we could do was laugh our heads off!
  • It's been a LONG road, but we've made it 11 months with nursing.  You have been so good to your mama and so patient as we figured everything out together.  Thank you for sticking with me through all the ups and downs.  It was the best/worst, easiest/hardest, relaxing/demanding, most convenient/inconvenient thing I've ever done. 
  • You looove food from the table.  Your favorites include blueberries, olives, green beans, and chicken.  And just last month for your daddy's birthday you tried a little filet mignon and LOVED it.  Obviously. 
  • You make the BEST faces! We've probably mentioned this several times before, but you really wear your emotions on your face.  The look that gets the most comments from people though is the one you pull ALL the time where you hollow your cheeks and open your mouth as if to say "Oooh!"  It's the CUTEST!  Makes me laugh every time!
  • I think you've finally given up on your afternoon nap, which means you're down to only one nap a day.  And that one nap is GREAT, so long as we're at home and there are no distractions.  Today you took an almost 3 hour nap!  It was unreal.  I even found myself passed out in my bed for 2 of those 3 hours.  When I woke up I was shocked to see you still sleeping.  We'll see if this is your new thing, or just a new thing that you'll switch up again next week.
  • You are still having trouble sleeping at night.  It's weird because some nights you'll sleep through the night just fine, no wake ups.  And other nights its like there's an alarm clock in your room, waking you up every 2 hours.  I really wish we could get to the bottom of what is going on.  I hate the whole cry-it-out thing, but it seems to work...if only for a few weeks.  We'll see how these next 4 weeks go.
I'm sure this list could go on and on and on.  Blair, your mommy and daddy feel so blessed to have your sweet spirit in our home.  You keep us on our toes with your early morning wake up calls and melt our hearts with your sweet kisses and warm hugs.  We could not love you more.  And that's the truth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

{ RECIPE :: Healthy GFree Banana Oat Cookies }

I have a serious sweet tooth! So naturally staying away from sweets when you're trying to diet is sheer torture. So instead of saying no to treats, I cheat! No, not like that. I cheat my taste buds with healthier alternatives that satisfy the craving and still keep my diet on track. And when I found this recipe pinned on Pinterest I was so excited to try it.

Now, I'm not going to go claiming that these are the best "healthy" treats ever, but they are certainly a delicious alternative to all the high calorie junk I wish I could be putting in my mouth. Even my husband though they weren't half bad. "The chocolate helps to hide the healthy," he said. Haha! So true.

INGREDIENTS:
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces dark chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in the top third of the oven.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond or oat flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 – 14 minutes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

{ Dear Blair :: 10 Months Old }

Happy 10 Months to my baby girl Blair and happy Election Day to the rest of you out there! We decided to do a little patriotic attire for today's photo shoot since this day only happens once every 4 years. What a special day to turn 10 months! I can't believe all the growing and learning you've done in the past month and as I sit down to document it all, it blows my mind all over again. You are getting smarter and brighter with each day. Some mornings I wake up and think to myself...did you just do all the growing last night in your sleep? I swear, you are the biggest, brightest baby and I just love you to pieces!

  • At your last 9 month appointment you weighed in at almost 20 pounds (60th percentile) so I'm SURE you've passed that mark and are sailing right on up the charts now.  Every time I pick you up I feel like you've gained another ounce.  You are one SOLID and SQUISHY baby!
  • You can clap your hands now!  You play pat-a-cake, you give yourself a round of applause when you do something good, and sometimes you do it just to make us smile!
  • You still aren't crawling.  Go figure!  We practice each and everyday but still, nothing!  However, you are scooting pretty well on your bum and can get from one side of the carpet to the other with your own weird and tricky methods.
  • You still have just the 6 teeth!  Two on bottom and four on top.  Although trying to get you to show off those top teeth is a feat in and of itself.
  • You're still wearing some of your 6-12 months clothes, but mostly your 12-18 months.  It's making me so sad that my little baby is growing up so fast.  I love this stage so much and wish you would stay this little forever!
  • You babble and chat with yourself all day long.  The other day at the grocery store you were making this awful sound, kind of like a growl, and a lady came right up to me and said to your sweet little face "I heard you talking all the way over on aisle three!"  HAHA!
  • I look to take you shopping with me.  No matter where we go or what we're doing, everyone has to come over and tell you how cute you are and you usually egg them on with a bid toothy smile and some cute baby babble.
  • You're eating more and more solids these days.  Lately you've started eating whatever mommy and daddy are having for dinner: rice, beans, chicken, veggies.  Your favorite is hands down the carrots and potatoes from the crockpot.  When you're eating you crockpot veggies you have this look on your face like "Don't bug me, I'm eating!!!"  You are seriously the BEST eater!
  • Bath time is still yours and everyone else's favorite time of the day.  You're just so happy and playful and WOW do you make quite the mess.  Splish splash Blairski's takin' a bath!!!
  • You give KISSES now!  Big open mouth ones on command.  It's my favorite!  You don't give them out to just anyone though.  Mostly just mommy.  Good girl.  Save those kisses Blair!
  •  Recently you have been figuring out some of your more complex toys and know what to do with them, rather than just eat them and beat them to death on the ground.  Like your abacus!  You now know how to swirl the beads and things through the maze and send them from one side of the toy to the other.  Such a little smarty pants!
  • You love to sit in front of your dresser or diaper bag or your basket of toys and completely unload them all.  Maybe one of these days we'll be able to teach you how to put them all back in when you're done.
  • For your first Halloween you were a butterfly.  And the MOST beautiful butterfly I've ever seen.
  • And now we're off to the happiest place on earth with your friends today to celebrate!  Disneyland here we come...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

{ RECIPE :: Quinoa, Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew }

Fall is finally here!  It's the most beautiful, drizzly, overcast day here and I just polished off whatever was left of this incredible Quinoa, Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew.  I originally made it for a crock pot night at church so this dish has really gone a long way!  It fed my husband and I dinner, was sampled by about 10-15 people, then served as leftovers to my mom and myself while we busily worked on wedding flowers yesterday and then today I finally polished off the last little bit.  And to be perfectly honest, I'm a little sad there's not more.  Guess I'll need to make it again this week!

INGREDIENTS:
1 T minced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 1/2 cups cooked chopped chicken
2 14 1/2 oz. cans chicken broth
1 T chili powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 16 oz. cans red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Saute fresh onion and garlic in pan. Mix all ingredients together in crock pot and cook on high for about 8 hours.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{ Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers }

Okay, I'm in love!  I found this recipe from the Skinny Taste blog and it was soooo good!  And probably taste even better because it's completely guilt free.  Love that! Oh, and you'll probably notice I used yellow pepper for mine...they were on sale.  No brainer there!

INGREDIENTS:
For the filling:
1/2 lb 99% lean ground turkey
3/4 cups canned black beans, rinsed/drained
3/4 cups frozen corn
1 hot pickled serrano pepper, chopped
1 large diced tomato
1 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt to taste

For the peppers:
3 red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth
9 tbsp shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 tbsp chopped scallions, for garnish


DIRECTIONS:
In a large skillet brown the turkey and season with salt. When the turkey is browned, add onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, serrano pepper, diced tomatoes, and cumin. Mix well and simmer on low, covered for 20 minutes. Remove lid, add corn and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until all the liquid reduces.

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, removing seeds and stem.

Place peppers, cut side up in an oven-proof dish. Fill each pepper with 1/2 cup turkey mixture. Pour about 1/3 cup water or chicken broth on the bottom of the dish. Cover tight with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the peppers become soft.

Remove foil, top each with 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese and bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes. Top with scallions and serve with reduced-fat sour cream if desired (optional).
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