Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cozy, comforting AND healthy...

Hey all!  Hope you're having a great week.  I'm not sure if it's the change in the weather OR that I'm feeling slightly UNDER the weather lately, but I have been craving COZY foods (aside from today, when it's HOPEFULLY going to be the last day of 90-degree weather till 2017!) and vegetables.  Vegetables like CRAZY!  I was full on craving roasted brussel sprouts the other day and I would NOT say that unless it was VERY true because...umm...super random, no??

Well, I'm bringin back this great recipe to share with you for the Collingswood blog project today because it fits all the bills: cozy, comforting and packed with healthy veggies.  BOOYA!  I present...


Weeeeeeeee!  Fun right?  Plus, what a happy way to use up a bunch of veggies I had on hand, right?? 

Oh yeah...and some bacon!  (because WHY NOT??)  The first thing I did was add bacon (You only need 2 strips for this recipe.  I crisped up some extra to use today in another recipe) and some cherry tomatoes to a baking sheet to toss in the oven at 350 while I got to working.  In the 30 minutes while I cooked on the stove top, these guys were doin their thing in the oven. 

While the baking was well under way, I took another bunch from the LOAVES & FISHES pile of peppers that just NEVER seems to diminish!  Every time I think I'm going to polish them up, they just seem to MULTIPLY in that bag! 

Anyway, I lopped off the tops, pulled out the seeds, chopped em into chunks and took the easy route and just pulsed em in the food processor until chopped.  
I just could NOT bear the thought of standing around dicing all of these (AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!), so THANK YOU FOOD PROCESSOR

I tossed em into a pan coated with olive oil cooking spray and let them saute for a couple minutes... 

Next, I de-eared 3 ears of fresh corn and added that to the pan and let everything cook for a couple more minutes... 

Next, I got my pasta cooking up, removed the pepper & corn to a plate and got to working on the cheese sauce right in the same pot... 
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk that together for 2 minutes until toasted.
  2. Add 1 cup chicken broth & 1 cup 1% milk and whisk until combined with the flour.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Add 2 cups cheese and swirl until melted.

Next, add your cooked pasta and the corn & peppers and stir to combine.

By now, the bacon was crisped and the tomatoes were warm and SLIGHTLY caramelized... 

 Top your Mac with some bacon & tomatoes and chow down!

This dish was ULTRA creamy & dreamy studded with lots of fresh taste from the corn & peppers.  And don't even get me started on how much I LOVEDDDD the bites of tomato mixed in.  It just gave it that extra UMPH.

Oh yeah...and the bacon.  I mean, come on?  Do I even need to tell you that was a divine addition?

Hope you guys try this one out soon and let me know what you think!  Have a great day.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A tale of two peppers...

Hey guys!  I know it's been a minute since I've shared a recipe with you for the Collingswood Farmer's Market Bloggers, so today I'm bringing you a DOUBLE whammy. 

But first?  A photo of Katie, who lingered by this mural next to the market for a good half hour while we noshed on Tortilla Press Quesadillas.  She just couldn't get over all of the animals hidden in the tree branches, and I couldn't get over watching her love it:)  #Momlife.

And of course, we have our produce picture...
...and this STILL doesn't tell the tale of how many beautiful and fresh veggies are just BURSTING at the seams at every turn at the market.  TIS THE SEASON for ALL the beauties.

And one big theme this week:  Peppers.  Peppers ALL DAY.  "You get a pepper!  And YOU get a pepper!"

OK, I'll settle down.

BUT not before sharing 2 recipes with you today.  The first is for one of my favorite ways to 'healthy up' one of those awesome decadent treats:  Pepper nachos!
Swoooooonnnnn...nachos minus the cards and + lots of vitamins & minerals?  Done and DONE.

You can use any peppers you want for this recipe, but my favorite is to use those ADORABLE baby peppers to make bite-size 'nachos'...
Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and bake the peppers for about 10-20 minutes on 350 just to soften them up a bit.

While the peppers are cooking up a bit, it's time to get your fillings together.  For this recipe, I poached some chicken breasts until cooked, give em a shred and sprinkle with taco seasoning.  (you could also use ground meat/turkey, black beans, whatever sounds good to you)

Next, pile the chicken (or your favorite filling) into the peppers...

Top with cheese (I used monterey jack & cotija) and green onions and bake until the cheese is melty and delicious...

Top with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole or any of your favorite nacho topping and you've got a quick, delicious and HEALTHY way to serve nachos ANY day of the week!

Baby Pepper Nachos

  • 1 bushel of mini peppers, seeded and sliced
  • Poached chicken (or your favorite nacho filling)
  • Cheese
  • Green Onions

  1. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-20 minutes at 350 degrees until warmed through.
  2. Fill with chicken (or your favorite filling) and top with cheese and green onions.
  3. Bake until cheese is melty.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
  4. Devour!

And from the itty-bitty peppers to these beauties...

...I put them to work to make a great meal for these grilling days:  Grilled Pepper Pizza...

I quickly lopped off the tops of the peppers and deseeded them before slicing em in quarters and giving em a quick whirl in my food processor, creating a flavorful 'sauce' in mere minutes.  I also added a couple garlic cloves because, well, WHY NOT?  But feel free to omit if that's not your jam.

While I worked on the pepper, I had the crust workin on that grill.  The way we make grilled pizza is to stretch out the dough and toss on one side directly onto the grill.  When the crust is done, it will easily release from the grates.  Flip the cooked side up.... 

...and start to pile on the goods.  For this pepper pizza, we added the pepper & garlic 'sauce'... 

...we also added some sliced onions (to really extenuate how AWESOME we were going to smell later;) and lots of mozzarella...
...toss back on the grill until the underside is cooked and the cheese is melted.

I mean...
Can you really argue with GRILL kissed pizza laced with fresh flavors?  It's one of the perfect ways to wind down this summer season.

Grilled Pepper Pizza

  • Long peppers, deseeded and quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Pizza dough
  • Onion
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  1. Preheat grill and roll out the dough.  Once the grill is hot, place dough directly on grates.  It will easily release once the dough is cooked on one side.
  2. While the dough is cooking, toss the peppers & garlic into the food processor and whirl until it is a sauce consistency.
  3. Take dough off the grill and flip so the cooked side is on top.  Top with pepper sauce, sliced onions and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Place back on the grill and cook until the underside is cooked and the cheese is melty.
  5. ENJOY!

Hope you liked these recipes.  I'll have more to share with you next week since, this time of year, I am BURSTING with fresh, healthy veggie recipes.  Have a great one!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Lazy/hectic days of summer...

Hi, guys!  I know it's been a while since I've posted an update, but the days & weeks just get away from me these days in a sea of dropping kids off to run & teach yoga and then running back to go get them.  Rinse & repeat about 90 times a week.  Throw in a month-long bout of double pneumonia from Scott and my yoga schedule picking up ten-fold (THANK GOD!) and you have the makings of our own household tornado that never stops spinning.  Just like everyone else on planet earth with their own whirlwind storm, amIright?

The one thing I AM happy to report, even in my blogging absence, is that I've still been practicing what I preached in my last few posts and have spent BARELY ANY time obsessing, focusing or lamenting on weight loss or any lack thereof.  It was most noticeable last week, where we spent most of our time on the beach during Scott's (BLESSED AND TIMELY!) vacation.  Normally I would have spent the whole week with a lot of running commentary through my head of "ugh, I feel so gross, I hate the way I look, NEXT YEAR I'm gonna look SO much better"...etc, etc.  You know the drill, I'm sure.  Instead, I only had two fleeting moments of realizing how I had hardly ZERO of those moment the whole week and how liberating that felt.  That instead of spending SOVERYMUCH of my time berating myself and beating myself up over 'that one last bite' or 'why did I eat that??  Look what I've done to myself!'  Instead, I just...GASP....lived life and didn't worry about it.  How novel.  I just kinda looked around and said "who are these imaginary people that I'm trying to impress with the size of my swimsuit?  And if those people ARE judging me...do I really care??"  So far the answer has come back with a resounding "HELL NO."  I JUST DO. NOT. care.  And it feels awesome.

I've weighed myself exactly 2 times in as many months: the beginning of July & again at the beginning of August, solely just as a gauge and this has nearly STOPPED all of my food/weight obsession 10 fold.  Ironically, not only did I not obsess about weight loss at the beach, but we barely even thought about food much last week.  Sure, we had a couple ice cream splurges and our lunches were bigger than the usual salad, but for the most part...we honestly didn't think much about food at all.  And believe me, I WANTED those chorizo nachos from the boardwalk, but the IDEA of it sounded like more fun than actually HAVING them, ya know what I mean?  
That being said, there are definitely weeks I notice that I'm more indulgent, and ya know what I do the very next week?  Just get back into it, paying more attention to how I FEEL when I eat well vs. berating myself for 'eating bad.'  I know I still have a long way to go with breaking down all of the mental scaffolding I've put up over the last years, but it's definitely progress.  It's definitely more 'fun' to eat well to feel good vs. panicking about every bite that might show up on the scale.

The other 'irony' has been that as soon as I wrote about all of the exercises I love, I actually started doing a lot more routines working on muscle/squats/lunges/etc.  I mostly keep it to those quick, 20-ish minute workouts from Tone it Up MOST days of the week and am completely OBSESSED with this one.  I probably attack that one about 3-4 times a week and I've FELT the difference in my tone VERY quickly.  And who doesn't like quick results??  I just play the video on my phone and do the exercises while I'm catching up on TV.  Gosh...I sorta hate myself for sounding so millenial there, but whatever works and gets ya up & movin is A-OK in my book.

So, I just thought I'd pop in for a quick check-in and let you know my silence has NOT been based on having a tough time (for once!) but rather not focusing on the 'struggle' lately.  I'm sure I'll have more thoughts to share with you soon.  The photo above stirred a lot of thoughts regarding HOW MUCH TIME we spend basing life on CALORIES.  Now that I've stepped back a bit, a lot is hitting me at once regarding how we get to that place.  I'm sure I'll be sharing more with you soon.

I'll also be sharing another post for my Collingswood Farmer's Market recipe project!  I'm bringin back an oldie but goodie to use up our late summer veggies.

And how bout even I am just SONOTREADY to give up Summer 2016 just yet??  I'm sure about 97% of this has to do with the fact that Katie is starting preschool next week (I. CAN. NOT!), or that I've just REALLY embraced ALLTHETHINGS this year...EVEN with our OUT OF CONTROL temperatures.  It DID make me giddy to have a few days/nights with the windows open last week from the cooler temperatures, but I want to really embrace this 'last week' as much as I can....although I surely be breakin out all those great orange-colored items VERY soon.

OK...that's enough rambling sentences for one day!  Have a good one.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Favorites: Summer edition...

It has been WELL (x's infinity) documented on this blog that I am NOT a fan of summer.  In years past, I've been known to close my eyes, bow my head and pray for it to speed by till my beloved FALL rolls in.  And while I'm STILL not a huge fan of walking out of my house at 7pm and the temperature still reading 96 degrees (This actually happened last night) or standing in ONE PLACE and feeling like you're doused in sweat from the 100% humidity rating (ALSO yesterday), summer & I have been changing our tune about each other.  Well, we HAVE been since Katie's 2nd summer where we realized the beach was her absolute happy place, but now I am waving the white flag for making time STOP.  The kids are just at such fun ages, I don't wish one moment away anymore (ok, ok...SOME days are still a crawl-through-barbed-wire till bedtime, let's be realJ) and have really tried to EMBRACE ALL THE SUMMER THINGS and enjoying all it's perks as much as possible.  (I sure as hell ain't hatin' on the late sunsets...a fan of pitch-dark at 6pm, I am not)  
Not that I'm not compiling with Katie's wish to still listen to the $5 Kohl's Disney Christmas CD on the near-daily....and maybe or maybe not letting it play even if she's not in the car.  But, ya know, TOTALLY embracing the restJ

And with that said, we've also been (OF COURSE) embracing all of the good summer eats.  From cool lettuce wraps to bacon-stuffed smores (WHATTT??), it's all-day-everyday seasonal around here!  So I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite recipes we've been making lately and a few more I just CAN NOT WAIT to tryJ

Favorite Burgers: (yes, plural)  Cheddar & Bacon filled burger & Cream cheese & green chili burger
Friday nights have been "summer classics" in our house since Memorial Day...where we get to have ALLTHEBURGERS&HOTDOGS and side salads in the name of summer.  I tried this tradition a few years ago and it lasted...hmmmm, 3 weeks?  This year, however, we are GETTING IT DONE (#lifegoals) and here have been 2 of our favorites thus far.  (until TONIGHT'S!  Tonight's should be EPIC!  More on that later...)

Favorite way to eat the rainbow:  Couscous Salad
A long time favorite in our house for both taste and because it's SO DARN PRETTY!  This Southwestern version is ACES too.

Katie & I have been making Popsicles almost weekly since summer began and these babies are still the favorites out of the bunch (especially when we used our fresh picked strawberries...swoon!)  We also made these with blueberries, but the strawberry tops the charts for me.  Other favorites include these Cappuccino pops (Scott's favs) and these secretly healthy fudge pops.

Favorite healthy breakfast (or snack):  Tone it Up Berry Bright Chia Pudding
This is such a coooooooool way to start the day on a hot morning.  I've made this in both strawberry (for me) and blueberry (for Scott), and we both LOVE it.  Especially while blueberries are at a SEASONAL $$ LOW right now.

Favorite TOOHOTTOCOOK:  Watermelon Caprese
This isn't rocket science, but you'll forgive me once it takes .4 seconds to make dinner and your oven stays O-F-F.  PERFECT for these dog days.

Favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE:  Lettuce wraps
Lettuce wraps.  Lettuce wraps ALL DAY.  I LOVEEEEEEEE em.  I truly do and could eat them 4-5 days a week.  They're light, usually fairly healthy and pretty quick.  MY FAVORITE right now is this chicken satay variation, which we've eaten 3 times in as many weeks.  We also LOVED this Jamaican Jerk Chicken variation.  And to keep your kitchen even cooler, throw all the ingredients for these Honey garlic chicken wraps in the slow cooker in the AM and have a full cooked meal ready by dinner time (sans stove!).

Favorite sneaky way to get healthy:  "The Life Changing Magic of the Veggie Box"
I'm trying my best to keep this as a permanent fixture in our fridge.  All it takes is under-15 minutes of prep to chop up a week's worth of veggies so you have em at your disposal all week.  I can't even tell you how many times in the last few weeks that I've snacked on veggies & hummus, PURELY because they were THERE.  And they make an awesome pack & go snack for your busy days (yes, I'm the gal in the parking lot eating veggies with hummus while going from gym to gym to teachJ)  Now is as good a time as any to customize it with ALL of your favorite summer fresh produce.  Last week we had cherry tomatoes, radishes & pea pods (which I don't even LOVE, but DID like them with hummus) and this week it's rainbow carrots, celery & pepper slices.  A little prep work always goes a long way in eating healthy.

Favorite dessert:  Dirt cake
I've had Oreo dirt cake probably less than a handful of times in my life, but that didn't stop me from DYING for it last night and then proceeding to leave my house at 7pm to get all the ingredients (hence, why I noticed it was still 96 degrees) and come home to whip this up for Katie lickity split.  She actually squealed when she tasted it and yelped "I LOVE THIS STUFF!" (#worthit)  I just bought some gummy worms to add to it tonight to really make her crack upJ  PS- This was all an experiment in my 'eat what you want when you want it,' and I definitely felt satisfied and complete with my small portion.


This has been on my list to make for a couple years and what better excuse than the OLYMPICS IN RIO for finally putting that recipe to use!  Weeeeeeeeeeee....  (I'm not excited at allJ)

Once peach season is in full swing, IT. IS. ON!  
I also want to get on board with this homemade ice cream business with this honey ricotta version for decadence & this Tone it Up Mint chip ice cream for health (that may or may not also be breakfast one dayJ)

Let me know what you guys have been LOVING cooking and, of course, ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!

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