5 Minute {Vegan} Rawnola

I’m always so curious about those people who don’t eat breakfast. Like, aren’t you hungry when you wake up?? Didn’t you dream about food? Didn’t you wake up thinking about food?

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Is it just me that dreams about food? Probably. My entire life revolves around food. Personally, I have to eat within a half hour of waking up or I get reeeeal hangry. I don’t need a big lavish spread every morning–usually I just have maple yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and this super delish rawnola.

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Maybe some of you don’t eat breakfast because you don’t have time? Trust me you have time for this! If you use your food processor, this rawnola might actually take less than 5 minutes. Like 3 and a half minutes. AND it makes a big mason jar full so you’ve got enough for at least a week’s worth of breakfasts depending on how many people you’re feeding. It will stay fresh in your fridge for a couple weeks too, but your kids are sure to gobble this up so chances are good it won’t last that long.

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This recipe is a great way to use up any nuts, seeds or other add ins that you might have taking up valuable real estate in your cupboards. Chocolate chips would be a welcomed addition or maybe even some dried fruit!

5 Minute {Vegan} Rawnola

  • Servings: 32
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes
  • 1/4 chopped pecan
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • pinch of Kosher salt

Directions

Add dates to a food processor and process until they are chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until everything is well chopped and mixed. The texture should be clumpy yet soft. Serve with your favorite yogurt or sliced fruit and enjoy!

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Better Than Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I know it’s quite a statement to say that these are better than Reese’s. But they are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ol’ commercially produced peanut butter cup as much as the next gal. But when you make your own, they just taste way better! I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. But I would take these over a mini Reese’s cup in a heartbeat.

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Personally, I am always reaching for a sweet treat after I finish lunch. And dinner. And then usually before bed too. It needs to have chocolate and it needs to be tasty. The cups fit the bill on both accounts. And the best part is they are healthy(ish)!

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Filled with peanut butter, old fashioned rolled oats, honey, a pinch of salt, chocolate and coconut oil you can feel good about serving these treats to your kiddos (and indulging in a couple yourself). They also couldn’t be easier to makes; no baking or fancy equipment required.

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Better Than Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

  • Servings: 24
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (dark, milk, whatever you want)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Directions

In a bowl combine peanut butter, oats, honey and salt. Place mixture in the fridge to harden.

Add chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring until it’s melted and smooth. Line mini cupcake pans with 24 mini cupcake liners. Scoop about half a teaspoon of chocolate into the bottom of each liner and use the back of the spoon to spread chocolate across the bottom and slightly up the sides a well.

Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, scoop balls of the peanut butter mixture then use your palm to flatten them into discs. Press the discs into the chocolate coated cupcake liners and top them about a teaspoon or so of chocolate. Use the back of the spoon to smooth out the chocolate on top and make sure it meets the chocolate from the bottom, sealing the peanut butter inside.

Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until set. Keep them in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

I have tried this with regular Jif peanut butter and natural peanut butter. I find that the Jif works better as the natural seems to be a little too stiff and doesn’t give you that same creamy texture.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (3)

Bacon & Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

Do you have a Woodman’s where you live? Have you tried ordering your groceries online? You literally pick out exactly what you want (including back ups in case they are out of something) and pick the date/time you want to pick them up. They text you a reminder when your groceries are ready and you text them back when you have arrived. They wheel the groceries right out to your car and even help you load it up. It literally could not be easier! It has saved us so much time it’s ridiculous! There is a $4.95 charge if your order is $50-$99.99 but get your order over $100 and it’s free! In the long run I’m convinced it’s also saved us money too, because there’s no impulse purchases as you’re navigating the aisles.

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The biggest plus for me is the not having to deal with the anxiety and annoyance of grocery shopping. I hate dealing with the aisle blockers, slow walkers, dilly dalliers, loud talkers, yelling parents, screaming children (mostly my own) and worst of all those shoppers who act like they are literally the only people in the entire store. You know the ones, blocking the entire dairy aisle with their perpendicular cart only to leave it in the middle of the aisle and wander down 10 feet to look at the sour cream. Meanwhile a line of 8 people is waiting to get around her. I may have lost my temper a bit and after politely saying, “Excuse me” also muttered under my breath, “Not like there’s a line of 10 people behind you.” This lady got super pissed and started yelling at me. Admittedly, I was being a bit snippy and I probably deserved the words she said to me. But damn lady, get outta the freakin’ way! We all have places to go and no one wants to stand here and watch you spend 20 minutes debating sour cream brands.

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So now it’s click, click, click, pick up my groceries and I’m done. No more starting shit at the grocery store for me!

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I do have one complaint though…I hate all the plastic bags! I have tried writing “paper bags only, no plastic bags please” in the notes section of every single order, and I still get everything in plastic bags. I could probably bring my own canvas grocery bags and switch them out, but you know they are just going to throw away those plastic bags and no reuse them, so what’s the point? At least when I get them home, I can recycle them. But, come on Eau Claire, let’s get on this “plastic bag ban” bandwagon please!

Rant over. This pizza is delicious and you need to make it now. It easy, it tastes great and your family will love you for putting this delicious creation on the dinner table.

Bacon and Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 2-3
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Ingredients

  • 1 (12-14 inch) pizza crust (1/4 of my no knead pizza dough recipe)
  • 1/2 recipe of my homemade dill pesto (or 1/2 cup of your fave pesto)
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh chopped dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you’re using my no knead pizza dough recipe, line a pizza pan or baking sheet with foil and and sprinkle a thin layer of corn meal to prevent the crust from sticking. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Gently shape it into a disc, then carefully working in a clockwise motion, gently press and stretch the dough into a 12 inch circle. Don’t overwork the dough; the less you touch it the better. If you’re using a pre-baked store bought crust you can skip these steps and just place your crust on a foil lined pan.

Spread pesto in an even layer across the pizza, leaving about a half inch of crust. Then add, leeks, bacon, mozzarella and Parmesan, spreading everything in an even layer across the crust. Bake for 15 minute or until the edges are dark golden brown and the cheese starts to brown as well. Garnish with fresh dill and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

The Best Ever Crispy Baked Fries

Spoiler Alert: If you just want the recipe keep scrolling because Olivia’s about to get real. I can’t say for sure what it is, but there’s a certain quiet loneliness about the late winter months that I just can’t seem to shake. The warmth of the holidays has worn off, the sun is out for like 3 hours and I’m not much of a cold weather person so I don’t really get anytime quality time with mother nature. Did anyone else feel the seasonal anxiety and depression that comes along with winters in Wisconsin this year? I honestly have never realized it before. But looking back, the last few years I’ve been buried pretty deep in those mid-winter blues. As the sun starts shining, the temps warm up and I come out on the other side now, I noticed that I have quite a distinctive pattern around the same time every year. Usually it’s late January or early February, but sometimes it even rolls into March. I start to feel really out of it and melancholy and start contemplating life and how crazy it all is. Which prompts me to schedule a visit with a doctor, who of course tells me everything is fine and then spring comes and I forget all about it. One year it was a few trips to the ER, a few EKGs and finally an echo-cardiogram because I was having palpitations and chest pains (which I later realized were actually panic attacks). A couple years in a row it’s just triggered me to schedule my annual exam and have some labs drawn; I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve tested my thyroid levels. This year it was some delightful rectal bleeding and lower abdominal CT, followed by a colonoscopy. Oh, and there’s usually a drastic hair cut or color thrown in there somewhere. How have I never noticed this about myself before? But with this realization comes the ability to do something about it!

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Move to a warmer climate, right?! JUST KIDDING. I do love Wisconsin; mostly because it’s where my family lives, but I also appreciate the seasons. Even if I go a little crazy for half the year. Every season has it’s pros and cons, but I like living somewhere where you get to experience each season so distinctly. Plus I hate big spiders, snakes and scorpions. So climates where it’s warm all year are out of the question for me. I need that deep freeze to make sure the spiders only get pretty big and not gigantic.

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This past winter my anxiety actually got so bad and constant that I considered adding some sort of prescription pharmaceutical to my daily routine. Which if you know me at all, is quite a surprising thing to hear (see my latest post regarding a sedation free colonoscopy) because I am someone who hates to even take Excedrin when I have a raging migraine with aura. But, almost like clockwork, the seasons have begun to change and I am feeling good again. Certainly not anxiety free, but leaps and bounds better than I had been feeling even just a month ago.

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*Just to clarify: I am in no way putting down those who take prescriptions for anything. I realize it is very necessary for many and might even be for me some day. I just really hate to put any medication of any kind into my body so when I started to consider it, it was a sign that my anxiety was really starting to take a toll on me. It’s so important to listen to your body and take it’s queues.

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The Best Crispy Baked Fries

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice each potato into 1/2 inch slices, then cut each slice into 1/2 inch wide sticks. So basically, cut the potatoes into french fries. Then add potatoes, oil, garlic powder, thyme and paprika to a large bowl. Add a couple generous pinches of salt and large pinch of pepper. Stir until seasoning is well distributed and fries are well coated.

Spread fries in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the fries so all sides get nice and crispy. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Then crank the heat to 500 and bake for 15 minutes. Flip fries and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I’m not going to pretend like mine isn’t Heinz ketchup, because it is.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (8)

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

You may have noticed that I’ve been pretty silent on the blog and my social media pages this past week. Well, that’s because I’ve been eating the blandest of bland food in preparation to be the lucky recipient of a colonoscopy! *insert shudder and disgusted face here* A colonoscopy at 30?? Yes, my friends. A couple months back I experienced some rectal bleeding that lasted about a week. To be honest, it scared the shit out of me. Pun intended… I can only attribute it too a few too many take out pizza nights accompanied by a couple too many glasses of wine. Other than that there was no change to my diet, exercise or sleep habits. I experienced no pain, no cramping, nothing out of the ordinary other than some very bright red blood in the toilet bowl and streaked through my stool. I know, too much information, but after doing some research, colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer related death is this country. So it’s time to start talking about your poop people!

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Even with the introduction of fiber supplements and ridiculous amounts of fruits and veggies, the bleeding continued every morning like clock work all week. By Friday morning I was feeling light headed and dizzy (most likely related to the unsettling feeling of now knowing what the hell is going on with my body). I could only get an appointment with the GI doctor if I had a referral from my primary care doctor or an urgent care doctor. I didn’t have a primary care doctor (although you can bet your bottom dollar that I do now and you should too!) and after a quick trip to urgent care I was told they don’t treat issues like mine and that I needed to go the ER. So, after an abdominal CT and some labs they said everything looked normal and I finally got that referral to the GI department!

Of course, the GI provider told me that while the CT didn’t show any masses or abnormalities, they really wouldn’t be able to rule everything out until they did a colonoscopy. Now I am one of those people who likes to really do my research and know exactly what I can expect before something happens. I told the provider I needed to think on it and mentally prepare for the colonoscopy before scheduling one. A little background info on the topic: My grandma is almost two years cancer free after her own battle with colon cancer, so this really hit close to home for me. She had a large mass removed from her colon along with chemotherapy treatments and to be honest, she handled it like a champ. Although they say your risk only increases if you have a first degree relative who had colon cancer, I have to imagine that my risk is still somewhat increased if I have a second degree relative who had it. In my mind, I knew that I had to have the colonoscopy but I needed some time to learn more about the process and what I could expect. The provider I had the consult with assured me that the risks were minimal and rarely occur, but there was the possibility of perforation of the colon (when removing a large polyp) and there’s always risks with sedating a patient (issues related to heart rate, blood pressure, etc.).

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Armed with my limited knowledge of the procedure, I started doing some research using the good old Google. I discovered that in most cases the patient is sedated for the procedure and has no memory of it at all. They wake up and hang out in the recovery area for about a half hour and then head home to sleep and relax for the rest of the day. Obviously sedation affects everyone differently, but many people feel foggy and out of it for the rest of the day. You aren’t permitted to sign legal documents and are considered legally impaired for the rest of the day. While having no memory of the procedure sounded great, being sedated and out of it for the rest of the day just did not sit well with me. The more research I did, the more articles I found about sedation free colonoscopies. I was surprised to find out that most health care providers, health care staff and those who are “highly educated” opt for sedation free colonoscopies because it’s just not necessary to be sedated. Now, I don’t have a college degree but I can tell you that I if I don’t have to put sedatives in my body, I don’t want to. I hate to put any anything in my body if I don’t have to (unless it’s wine or pizza…now you see how I got in this predicament). I don’t even like to take Excedrin when I have a throbbing migraine with aura so the thought of a sedation free colonoscopy appealed to me.

Contrary to popular belief, colonoscopies are not painful. Your colon actually does not have nerve endings that sense pain, temperature or touch. Most people who experience extreme pain or discomfort during the procedure are those with inflammation, digestive issues or obstructed bowels.

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Post Procedure Update:

WOW. Glad that’s over. But seriously, it was no where near as bad as I was expecting! Like I mentioned above, I started eating a low fiber, very bland diet about 4 days before the procedure and also reduced my overall intake of food. The day before the procedure I only drank clear liquids, ate gummy bears and lemon popsicles. While the lack of food for over 24 hours was not as hard as I thought it was going to be, I did have a lot of difficulty focusing at work and only lasted for about half the day before I had to go home and be foggy in the comfort of my own home.

I made sure to pump myself full of water in anticipation of the dehydrating prep that I had to drink the night before the procedure. In most articles I read, the prep portion was the hardest for patients to complete. It requires you to drink 16 (8 oz.) glasses of this nasty, salty liquid. You drink 12 glasses the night before and 4 glasses the morning of. I channeled my younger partying days and poured myself shots of the prep liquid which I threw back and then chased with white Gatorade. This made it a lot easier for me, but seriously drinking 72 oz. of liquid in 3 hours is quite a feat! The actual evacuation of my bowels really wasn’t too bad. I hadn’t eaten much over the last few days, so there wasn’t much left to come out! I heeded all the warnings and was sure to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper during the process which made things a lot less painful. Overall, while unpleasant, the prep was not awful. The worst part was just the sore bottom afterwards. Thank you Desitin!

Although by the time the first round of prep was completed things were coming out clear, I drank the second round of prep in the morning as instructed. I read many stories of people’s colons being too dirty to undergo procedure and having to reschedule and start the whole cycle over–no thank you! So I choked it down and then rested for a few hours before my appointment. My appointment was in the afternoon because they were able to squeeze me in on short notice with my doctor of choice, Dr. Jaime Zighelboim. He was a clear choice for me after reading this article about how he performed sedation free colonoscopies. I found my experience to be very similar to the lady in the article.

I do have to note that I was overwhelmingly impressed with the nursing staff and their ability to keep me feeling very calm, comfortable and relaxed during my entire visit. My admitting nurse had me laughing and was very encouraging when I relayed my plan to forgo sedation. He described the procedure in great detail so I knew exactly what to expect. He explained that the first part of the procedure they are just working on getting the scope all the way to the end of your colon, then the remainder of the procedure they are cleaning the colon with water and suction while they inspect every inch. Once you make it through the full insertion of the scope, the removal process is a piece of cake. He also explained that they would still place an IV in my arm in the event that I did choose to have sedation mid-procedure; they would be able to hook me up and get those going right away. It was comforting to know that if it was painful or uncomfortable, there was always the option of sedation.

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It seems like such a small thing but it also really helped to have the procedure nurse hold my hand during the entire procedure. She kept asking how I was doing and reminded me to breath during the times where I felt some pressure as the doctor guided the scope around the 90 degree angles of my colon. At first, I closed my eyes and didn’t want to watch the TV screen projecting the view of the scope. But as I relaxed, I opened my eyes and started watching as he steered the scope skillfully shooting water at little particles that were stuck to the walls of my colon. His movements were calculated and confident. I truly felt like I was in good hands.

For the most part, it really was an uneventful procedure. It lasted maybe 10-12 minutes. I felt some little wiggles from inside and I could feel the presence of the scope just at the opening of my rectum but it was well lubricated and was not painful during insertion or during the procedure. I did feel some poking and pressure once and it lasted for maybe 8 seconds. It was on my left side and it was just as the scope rounded a sharp corner. On a scale from 1-10 I’d give the pain maybe a 3-4. It was not a pain like when you cut your finger or even when you hit your shin on something. It was more just a poking pressure. I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes again and it was pretty much over as quickly as it as it began. During this time the doctor explained that while the colon itself cannot feel pain, the pressure that I was experiencing  was the ligaments that hold the colon in place stretching and moving as scope navigated the corners. In the end, I was given a clean bill of health and sent on my way!

I realize this is like WAY TOO MUCH detail for some people. But honestly, it’s something we need to talk about. I wonder if my grandma would have had a colonoscopy earlier in her life if she’d known what to expect and known the consequences of not having regular exams after age 50 or before if you are having issues. It’s amazing that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in this country despite it being extremely preventable and treatable in many cases with early detection and regular screenings. So that’s why I chose to write about it. Because colonoscopies have a bad rap and they really don’t need to.

Personally, I would 100% do it again without sedation. Being awake and aware of what was happening to my body felt empowering. Being able to get up and walk out of the hospital after the procedure felt great. If you are contemplating a colonoscopy without sedation, I would strongly urge you to try it. You can also opt for the drugs if it’s not your cup of tea. It’s important to remember that you have options, and to find a health care provider you trust who is willing to discuss alternatives to traditional medicine.

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

  • Servings: 8 tacos
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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups cooked red lentils
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Start by heating oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with tamari and water. Then add lentils, quinoa, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook until just heated through.

Serve with your favorite taco toppings! I chose my favorite Chipotle Lime Slaw, sauteed veggies and fresh made guacamole.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (9)

Spicy Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

Do you ever feel like you overthink things? Like maybe you put way too much time and energy into something that really would be better off if you’d just let it be? Or sometimes you try to make something more complex or intricate than it needs to be? Of course not, me neither.

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Hah, yeah right. For me it’s my recipes and food photos. Sometimes I think they need to have 20 ingredients or they’ll be too boring and simple. I will make something, taste it 1000 times and even though it’s delicious, I will stress over whether it could be better. More salt, some acidity, a hint of heat? Let it go already! Sometimes I think I miss out on the good looking for the perfect. Have you heard that saying before? It’s really been resonating with me lately. Don’t miss out on the good looking for the perfect. And honestly, when I see a recipe with too many ingredients or something that seems too difficult or time consuming, I generally scroll on past. So why, you might ask, would I think that my recipes need to be complex and over the top? Because, I tend to overthink things!

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My other obsession is getting the perfect shot. I hate to even admit it but I will sometimes spend 1-2 hours staging the scene and taking 389 shots of the same dish. Even though I know I really love the first 5 and probably don’t need to spend any more time fussing. And as you can see 4-5 is usually the sweet spot for blog pictures, so any more than that is really just overkill.

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So, here’s to not overthinking things. Appreciating whole foods prepared in simple recipes that taste delicious. I think I might have stumbled across my new catchphrase…

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Also, do you remember last week when I was all, “Oh, I’ve gotta get one more soup recipe in before spring arrives!” Well, spring is still here. Along with 12 inches of snow. Although I really shouldn’t complain because one year we got this much snow during the first week of May. So this is at least a couple weeks earlier. And this is a great excuse to hunker down and snuggle in with a hearty bowl of soup while the flakes fall and binge watch Netflix.

Spicy Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. ground hot Italian (or mild) sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of your favorite beer
  • 1 cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 heaping cups chopped kale
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

In a large pot over medium heat, brown sausage, using a spatula crumble until cooked through. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and saute 1 minute, stirring frequently. Deglaze pot with beer, then add lentils, tomatoes, chicken stock and water. Stir to combine. Cover pot, turn heat up just to bring things to a simmer, then simmer on low for 15 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes.

At this point remove from heat, stir in cream if desired and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

The Best Roasted Breakfast Potatoes

I can guarantee these will be the best breakfast potatoes you have ever eaten. They are golden brown and crispy on the outside, while perfectly tender and soft on the inside. They are seasoned but not too salty or too herbaceous. These are the perfect accompaniment to a sunny side up egg with a buttered piece of toast a few slices of ripe avocado.

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I have never before cooked breakfast potatoes with such ease and grace and I owe it all to Ree Drunmond over at a little blog called The Pioneer Woman. Ever heard of it? I thought you might have. My recipe was adapted from her’s and I think we can all agree that Ree takes the cake when it comes to any sort of comfort food.

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These potatoes do all of their work in the oven, leaving you free to prepare other food on your stove top or just kick back and relax with a cup of tea. I used to dice my potatoes, boil them, drain them, saute them in oil and spices and every single time I’d end up with soggy, overcooked potatoes and still somehow never managed to get golden brown on the outside.

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Then while laying in bed on Sunday morning, I scrolled across this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. And I thought, hell yeah! This is worth trying. The potatoes are roasted at 425 for about 25 minutes to get them nice and tender, then you crank the heat to 500 for another 20 minutes to give them that golden brown color and crispiness on the outside. It’s genius. And if you’ve ever used any of Ree’s recipes before, I’m sure you’re not surprised. Her recipes are always spot on and super tasty.

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The Best Breakfast Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. baby red potatoes, large diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • large pinch Kosher salt
  • pinch fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start by heating your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl and stir until potatoes are thoroughly coated. Spread potatoes in a single layer across the pan. Spread them out as much as possible to promote even cooking.

Bake for 25 minutes, stirring potatoes halfway through. Crank the heat up to 500 and bake for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve! Does it get any easier than that?

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (1)

 

My Favorite Chicken Burrito Bowl

Do you ever just have “one of those days”? One of those days where you’re so frustrated you just want to scream and pull your hair out at the same time? One of those days where nothing is really actually wrong, yet somehow everything is wrong? One of those days where every drawer in the kitchen that you try to open is jammed so full of stuff you can’t open it and when you do finally get it open you can’t find what you were looking for because there’s so much damn stuff in the drawer?! One of those days when your toddler is cranky and screaming and might be teething and you’re hungry and you don’t want to cook dinner but you’re seriously starving? And you just want to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and shut off all electronics and screaming babies and sit quietly for just a moment.

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Yeah, me neither. My life is perfect. Every day is a gift and nothing is ever wrong and my kitchen drawers are neatly organized and my toddler is never grumpy and I always love making dinner and I never want to sit on the couch and have a glass of wine in the quiet.

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Right… Now, all kidding aside…I had “one of those days” just yesterday. My husband was at work so I had no reinforcement, every drawer in my kitchen was filled with crap and jammed shut, I hadn’t meal prepped for the week so I had no dinner, and my toddler literally screamed for an hour about nothing. So amidst it all, I poured myself a glass of wine, turned off the TV and sat down on the couch. I pulled my daughter up on my lap and started very loudly exhaling. Then inhaling. Then exhaling. And you know what my daughter did? She started mimicking me! Breathing in and out, loudly through her mouth. It looked almost comical when she did it. And I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.

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All I needed was a moment of relaxation a little bit of joy and I felt immensely better! I left the chores for tomorrow and we both went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep and I woke up this morning ready to concur the world–or at least ready to clean out the drawers in my kitchen.

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I am trying to get better and taking things one moment at a time. Sometimes I get so preoccupied with the future and getting things done that I forget to enjoy the little moments that are happening right now. So for the time being, my kitchen drawers are clean and I am taking time to meal prep this delicious recipe and enjoy a healthy lunch!

My Favorite Burrito Bowl

  • Servings: 5
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced widthwise
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • optional: fresh guacamole for topping

Directions

First, start by cooking your rice according to package directions. We have this awesome rice cooker so it takes about 20-25 minutes to cook 2 cups (which makes 4 cups when cooked). While the rice is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and  onion powder in a small bowl along with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Use about 2/3 of your spice mixture to season both sides of the chicken breast. Saute chicken breast for 3-4 minutes on each side or until each side is dark golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. If the pan seems to be getting to dry/burnt before the chicken is cooked, add a splash of chicken broth or water, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and allow the chicken to finish cooking. I find that this method works well without adding additional oil or drying out the chicken. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest.

Heat the last teaspoon of olive oil in the same large saute pan over medium heat. Add green pepper, onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes and add the remaining seasoning mixture. Add a splash of water and stir to evenly coat veggies in seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Time to assemble! I divided this recipe into 5 lunches but you could easily adjust the serving size to fit your needs. Start with a bed of brown rice, then divide beans, corn, veggies, chicken, pico de gallo and cilantro evenly between each serving. Top with a heap of guacamole just before serving if you’d like. Now you can enjoy healthy burrito bowls in a moment’s notice all week long!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (10)

 

My Favorite Oatmeal Breakfast

If you’re a regular around here you’ve seen my posts about my intentions for 2018 and all the healthy habits that I am trying to develop over this coming year. One habit that has become a regular part of my routine is meal prep. I honestly don’t know what I did without it. Well, actually I do know. I spent way too much money on eating out and ate highly caloric meals that were not healthy for me. And a lot of frozen pizza. So here is one of my favorite breakfasts that I actually just prep this the night before so that it doesn’t get too soggy. If you’re a regular around here you also know about my neurotic aversion to anything soggy. Which is why I don’t typically eat oatmeal. It’s basically just a big bowl of warm soggy. However, I have discovered the secret to enjoying all of the health benefits of oatmeal, without any of the sogginess!

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I like to start with half a cup of dry old fashioned rolled oats. Then I add a splash of full fat coconut milk, then a big dollop of my favorite Maple Brown Cow Yogurt (which I almost always accidentally call brown bear yogurt…), lots of fresh fruit and a hearty squeeze of locally produced Wisconsin honey.

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Let it sit in the fridge overnight and when you’re running out to the door in the morning, grab it and take it with you! I like to enjoy a big glass of water and sometimes a cup of tea before I dig in to my breakfast. So I just let it chill at room temp while I check my emails, then mix it up and enjoy!

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My Favorite Oatmeal Breakfast

  • Servings: 1
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 oz. (about 2 tablespoons) full fat coconut milk
  • 70 grams (about a 1/2 cup) your favorite yogurt
  • 100 grams (about 1/3 cup) your favorite fruit
  • 20 grams (about 1 tablespoon) honey

Directions

Add old fashioned oats to your container. I like to use a 16 oz. mason jar. Add coconut milk, yogurt, fruit and honey. Seal and refrigerate over night. Stir to combine and enjoy!

Depending on the brands you use this recipe has about 269 calories per serving. Below is a nutritional breakdown in detail.  You could reduce the saturated fat significantly by omitting the coconut milk. However, I love the flavor of coconut milk and it actually has tons of health benefits (when consumed in small portions) like lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

{Vegetarian} Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This is my favorite kind of meal prep recipe. It’s simple to prepare, makes a huge batch, re-heats beautifully and it’s seriously so packed with flavor you will be looking forward to lunch before you’ve even had breakfast. Or you could just eat this for breakfast!

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I try to make 2-3 meals over the weekend so that during the week we have something for lunch and dinner that’s already made and nearly ready to eat. It can definitely be difficult to find dishes that re-heat well or ones that won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours preparing.

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So when I find a dish like this, it’s hard not to get excited!

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Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup cooked Spanish rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1.5 cups enchilada sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon diced chiles in adobo
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cojtia or queso fresco
  • 3 stalks green onion, thinly sliced for garnish

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add green pepper, onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes, then add garlic, cumin, chili powder and another pinch of salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl along with beans, corn, rice, cilantro, 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce and chiles in adobo. Combine and add salt to taste.

Halve the poblano peppers lengthwise. Remove and discard the ribs and seeds. Pour remaining enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Place peppers on top of the sauce cut side up. Divide filling evenly, stuffing the cavity of each pepper until it’s nearly overflowing with filling. Then crumble cheese on top of the filling and bake for 40-45 minutes. If you like a crunchy pepper, remove around 35 minutes, if you prefer a softer pepper leave them in for the full 45 minutes.

Garnish with sliced green onion and serve with fresh guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

My Favorite Veggie Enchiladas

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something. Have you started making your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or at least started thinking about them? I don’t usually make resolutions anyway, but this year I decided I am going to set my intentions for the year. They are your typical resolution-ish type intentions but there is nothing firm or concrete about them. They are more like goals. Long term goals that I have a year to work towards. That sounds way better than resolutions, right?

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What are my intentions for 2018 you might ask? Well, let me share a few with you! Probably the most common resolution people make is to cut back on drinking. Well that’s number one on my list! I have been trying (with very little success) to lose weight (for the last…10 years maybe?) and I think that my daily glass (or two on the weekend!) of vino could definitely be hindering my journey. But seriously, this time of year a glass of malbec is my favorite way to unwind after a long day… So my new night cap? Tea! I am trying all kinds of new decaf teas to cozy up with this season.

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Next on my list is spending more time being present at home. It’s so easy to get sucked into our hand held devices and I am guilty of spending too much time with my face in front of my phone instead of in front of the people I love. So this year, I am trying oh so hard to put that phone down and limit the time I spend looking at everyone else’s delish food. Which is kind of ironic if you think about it, because I’m posting my food photos hoping that everyone else will spend their time looking at them…

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Another big intention of mine this year is to take more time for self-care. I spend a large majority of my time thinking about everyone else in my life and I don’t often take time for myself to unwind, relax, re-group or just chill. This intention actually goes hand in hand with another intention…to wake up earlier! Mornings will be “me time” from now on. No more hitting the snooze button; I will be setting my alarm 1 hour earlier and plan to use this extra time to make breakfast, enjoy a cup of coffee, blog, do yoga; whatever my heart desires!

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Lastly, I also intend to continue meal prepping like crazy this year and filling my house with delicious food. Like this recipe. Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!

My Favorite Veggie Enchiladas

  • Servings: 12 enchiladas
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon diced chiles in adobo
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion + more for garnish
  • 12 fajita size tortillas
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of your favorite enchilada sauce
  • sour cream for garnish
  • avocado for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for about 4 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add cumin, chili powder, beans, corn, green chiles, chiles in adobo and another pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine until everything is well coated in seasoning. Then add cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 cups of cheddar and 1/2 cup of sliced green onion.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Time to fill and roll the enchiladas! Each enchilada will get about 1/2 a cup of filling. It’s easiest to spread the filling in an even layer on one half of the tortilla. Then with the filling side closest to you, roll the tortilla away from yourself until the enchilada is rolled into a tight cylinder. Place seam side down on the lined baking sheet.

Use a brush to coat the outside of each enchilada using the remaining olive oil. You may not use the entire 1/4 cup of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and use a spoon (or brush if you prefer) to coat the outside of each enchilada with enchilada sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce for serving. Divide the rest of the cheddar cheese evenly between the enchiladas and bake for another 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is warm and melty.

Heat remaining enchilada sauce over medium heat until warm.

Then remove enchiladas from the oven and garnish with sour cream, avocado and sliced green onion. Serve with warm enchilada sauce and enjoy!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (1)

 

Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

This is my most favorite soup I have ever made! It is so hearty and creamy–perfect for the single digit temps and windy nights we’ve been experiencing up here in the Midwest. My husband made a delicious potato soup last week (maybe you saw it on Insta?) so we still had broth, carrots, celery and onion waiting to be transformed into something delicious.

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I debated long and hard about whether it would benefit from the addition of chicken breast and in the end, I’m glad I decided to skip it and add mushrooms instead.

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It has just enough cream to make it feel indulgent, but it’s also loaded with veggies so you can feel good about eating and serving it to your family. A big loaf of crusty bread and a side salad of mixed greens would round out this dish into the perfect winter meal!

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Creamy Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 16 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 teaspoons dried sage + 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start by heating olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add veggie broth and wine to the pot. Then dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water and add the slurry to the pot as well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on medium high for 50 minutes.

Then stir in cream and parsley, add more salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

Secret Family Recipe Falafel and Tzatziki

If you follow me on Insta then you saw this epic grain bowl I had at Forage a couple weeks back. It honestly was life changing. I know I know, you might think that sounds crazy. But it was seriously loaded with so much flavor and healthy ingredients; I’ve just had grain bowls on the brain ever since I ate it. So this weekend I turned to another grain bowl for my weekly meal prep menu.

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I fell in love with falafel at first bite down at Water Street Deli many years ago when I was a broke college student living downtown. It was cheap and the portions were huge. And I had never had anything like it before. Growing up in the Midwest in a mostly “meat and potatoes” home the flavors my taste buds were experiencing were life changing. And ever since I have had a great fondness for falafel.

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Oh and tzatziki. Don’t even get me started on my love for that sauce–I can’t get enough of the stuff. I have a weakness for sauces and condiments in general, but then add fresh dill and lemon. Game over.

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Secret Family Recipe Falafel

  • Servings: a million, actually like 50 depending on their size
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Ingredients

For the falafel:

  • 3 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, drained (but not rinsed)
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • olive oil for frying

For the tzatziki:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed dill
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start by adding the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to a food processor. Process for about a minute or so, scraping the sides as needed, until everything is finely minced. Add one can of garbanzo beans and process for another minute or two until the beans are finely minced, but not quite hummus consistency. Transfer herb and garbanzo mixture to a large bowl.

Add remaining two cans of garbanzo beans to the food processor and pulse until the beans are chopped, but still in pretty large pieces. This will give your falafel some texture. If you don’t want texture, process them a bit more. Add them to the large bowl and sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Stir until flour is well combined. Then add egg and stir until egg is well combined. Refrigerate for about one hour.

While the falafel are chilling, get the tzatziki made. Add ingredients to a food processor and process until everything is finely minced and a sauce forms. Add water to thin if your sauce seems too thick. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil or enough to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop falafel into equal size balls and then using slightly oiled hands, gently form them into discs. Cook them in batches of about 7-8 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Be sure to leave about an inch between each falafel so as not to crowd the pan.

Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes or until a dark golden brown crust forms. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and continue cooking remaining falafel. Serve with tabbouleh, hummus, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, green olive and of course loads of tzatziki. Or wrap them up in some fresh pita bread!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (2)

 

Secret Family Recipe {Vegan} Tabbouleh

This is hands down one of my favorite foods. It’s so versatile and can be eaten with so many different things, or by itself for a quick snack. My favorite way to eat it is with some fresh pita bread and roasted garlic hummus from Water Street Deli. It also tastes amazing paired with fresh made falafel and tzatziki like in these grain bowls I made over the weekend.

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The best part about this recipe is how quickly it comes together. I usually have some leftover quinoa in the fridge from my weekly meal prep and with the food processor doing most of the work for you, prep time is minimal.

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My recipe for tabbouleh is only slightly different than traditional versions in that it uses quinoa instead of fine bulgar and I also like to add garlic and onion to mine. It’s super fresh with just a hint of lemon and plenty of olive oil to hold it all together.

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I would definitely consider this a summer time salad but it brings a little sunshine to your meal on these cold winter days too!

Secret Family Recipe Tabbouleh

  • Servings: about 3 cups
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Add parsley, red onion and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Process for a minute or so, scraping the sides as needed until everything is well minced. Then add parsley mixture to a large bowl along with quinoa, cucumber, tomato, olive oil, lemon juice and  a large pinch of salt and pepper. Gently mix until well combined and then season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (3)

Slow Cooker Peach Whiskey BBQ Meatballs

Looking for an easy holiday appetizer? Here you go! This is one of my family’s favorites and I have friends who still text me asking for the recipe to this day. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, and seriously think about doubling the batch depending on how many people you are serving, because there will not be leftovers and chances are good you will run out.

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You could make your own meatballs if you’re cool like that. But honestly my scarf making season is in full swing right now so I’m taking every shortcut I can when it comes to meal prep because that means more time to crochet. Winter in Wisconsin brings out my inner old lady–my faaavorite thing to do when the temperatures start to dip is watch some cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix, put my slippers on and crochet to my heart’s content!

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Of course, my toddler has other ideas. Her favorite thing to do all the time is have me read every single book that we own. And seriously children’s books these days…who comes up with this sh*t?! I could write a better story about the orange and chamomile tea that I had for breakfast today than some of these so called authors. Okay, maybe not really. Maybe it’s just when you are made to read the same story 700 times in one day it starts to suck. This year for Christmas, new books! Good books!

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Slow Cooker Peach Whiskey BBQ Meatballs

  • Servings: about 52 (1/2 ounce) meatballs
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Ingredients

  • 26 oz. bag Italian or traditional style frozen meatballs (feel free to make your own if you have the time and energy, this year I am all about making scarves so I have no time or energy)
  • 1/2 cup Peach Whiskey (2 of those cute little bottles)
  • 1/4 cup (regular) Whiskey (1 of those cute little bottles)
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup peach preserves
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start by combining all sauce ingredients in a large slow cooker. Stir until everything is well mixed. Add meatballs, cover and cook on low for 4 hours (or high for 2 hours) or until meatballs are heated through. Serve with toothpicks, because who doesn’t want to eat meatballs with toothpicks?!

If you’d like to make these ahead of time, combine the sauce, add the frozen meatballs and then refrigerate the whole crock pot insert overnight. This will thaw the meatballs and cut down on the cooking time too. If they are thawed you could get away with about an hour on high before serving, but double check that they are warmed through.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (5)

Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese and Fig Jam Tart

Mmmmmmm. Is there anything better than caramelized onions? Well, yes, actually. Caramelized onions with tangy blue cheese and sweet fig jam atop a flaky, puff pastry crust. This lip-smacking appetizer made an appearance this year at Thanksgiving and it was promptly devoured.

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We are lucky enough to have most of our family in town, which means the holidays are extra busy for us! We used to hustle and bustle from one side of the family to the next, house to house, all day long stuffing our faces. But several years ago we started celebrating with my in-laws the Saturday after the actual holiday and what a game-changer that has been. No longer are we rushed and full all day. We enjoy a quiet morning at home, a leisurely dinner at my grandparents and then a rousing game of catchphrase or farkle. Then the following Saturday the fun continues at my in-laws.

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Each holiday for my in-laws celebration we pick a different theme–Mexican, Italian, appetizers, pizza, etc.– and everyone brings something, potluck style. This year’s Thanksgiving celebration theme was appetizers which happens to be my personal favorite. I could eat appetizers for every single meal. A wide variety of small plates is my jam.

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Speaking of jam, the real winner here is the fig jam. It’s deliciously sweet without being too sweet and it really marries the caramely onions and the bite of the blue cheese. Yes it takes 60 minutes to caramelize those babies, but they are worth every second. If you’re into making things ahead of time, you could easily assemble the tart, then freeze, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight, bake and top with the fig jam.

Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese & Fig Jam Tart

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry (thawed in the fridge overnight)
  • 4 large yellow onions, halved, then thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fig jam
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Heat butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and and stir to coat in oil. Grab a glass of wine and a magazine and plop yourself in front of the stove because you are going to be here for a while. You will cook the onions for 60 minutes total, stirring every 4-5 minutes or so. After they’ve cooked for 10 minutes add a pinch of salt. After they’ve cooked for 40 minutes add a teaspoon of sugar. After they’ve finished cooking for 60 minutes and are a gorgeous dark brown color, add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the puff pastry and cutting each of the sheets into 3 pieces lengthwise, cutting along the folds of the puff pastry. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each piece into a  4″ x 10″ rectangle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, then place 3 tart crusts on each baking sheet about an inch apart. Score the edge of each rectangle about a half inch from the edge, creating the crust.

Spread caramelized onion in an even layer across the puff pastry staying inside the scored edge. Divide the onions evenly between the six tarts. Bake tarts for 15 minutes, then divide crumbled goat cheese between the tarts and baking for 8-10 more minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown as well as the edges.

While the tarts are baking, heat fig jam in a small saucepan over medium high heat. You just want to loosen it up enough that you can spoon it over the tart. Remove tarts from the oven and spoon fig jam in a zigzag pattern across each tart. Serve warm or at room temperature (I actually prefer them at room temp myself).

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (6)

Kale, Goat Cheese, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad

Everyone in our house is sick. We have all come down with the dreaded cold. We’ve managed to stave off sickness for nearly a year and half so far; would you believe this is the first our daughter’s ever been sick?! It’s so sad to watch her try to sleep at night while whimpering with frustration because her nose is so stuffy that she can’t suck on her nook and breathe at the same time. The other night she propped herself up on her elbow in the middle of the night and fell asleep half sitting up so she was able to breathe through her nose and suck on her nook. It was the most pitiful and adorable thing I’ve ever seen. Of course I scooped her up and snuggled her, sitting up and rocking, until she fell back into a deep sleep and we nestled back into our usual bedtime snuggles.

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Speaking of bedtime snuggles…every night we go to bed with our toddler snuggled in between us (in our king size bed). And 90% of mornings I look over to see my husband sleeping on the tiniest sliver of mattress, teetering off the edge, with our daughter snuggled up so tight against him that he must be doing all he can to hang on and not fall off the bed. Usually her head is sharing his pillow and nuzzled into his neck. I bet I’ve taken 50 pictures of them like this. It makes me smile every morning. The other 10% of the time I wake up with her nuzzled up against me. But my husband sleeps like a rock and rarely moves so I think she naturally gravitates towards his stability at night. Also, he becomes a giant radiator the second he hits the sheets so I think she likes to soak up his warmth also. I flop around like a fish every couple hours, getting up to use the bathroom at least once a night. He’s a much more stable, reliable sleeper.  

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I do wonder when our bed count will be back down to just two. Quite honestly if we have another child in the next couple years it might go up to four for a while! But someday we’ll have an empty bed and think on the days when we’d wake up to our little girl’s giant smile and soft gentle, “HI” each morning. She wakes up in the best mood (most days) and it’s just contagious. She greets you with a smile like she’s missed you so much and she’s so excited for the day ahead. I haven’t woken up “on the wrong side of the bed” for months and I can say it’s thanks to her. She reminds me to greet each day with a  smile and a hello. And I am so thankful for that.

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I am also thankful for salad. Snuggles and salad. Great segway, I know. This has been one of my favorite meal prep recipes as of late. I am actually considering bringing this to Thanksgiving as dish to pass this year because it just screams FALL to me and because my soon-to-be sister in law loves salad. And most of the time all we have is ham, potatoes, bread and other heavily caloric things. So this year, salad!

Kale, Goat Cheese, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 8-10 cups chopped kale
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start my combining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, thyme and a large pinch of salt and pepper to make the dressing. Emulsify either by whisking vigorously or shaking the dressing in a mason jar until well combined. Toss dressing with kale and let sit for 15 minutes. Then divide dressed kale evenly between 4 plates. Divide goat cheese, pecans, pomegranate seeds and quinoa evenly between the plates and serve!

I find that the longer the dressing sits on this salad the better it tastes. I like to dress my salad in the morning before work and then by the time lunch comes around my kale is beautifully wilted and bright green.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

Roasted Curried Squash Soup

I am IN LOVE with fall. You know, all the classic parts that everyone loves — the changing colors, the cool crisp air, the pumpkin spice everything — but even those dreary, rainy days where the leaves get soggy and everything is a little chilly and dingy and dirty. Actually those days might be my favorite! Sneaking out for a walk around the neighborhood, dodging raindrops. Or a quick trip the grocery store and then scurrying back inside to roast something warm and comforting for dinner. Like this soup! You can snuggle up and get cozy with the fam while your oven does all the work and warms up your house a bit too. Then toss everything into a high speed blender for a few minutes, simmer in a pot and serve.

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Although we’ve had quite a rollercoaster of weather lately, I have comfortably settled into my cool weather meal rotation already. Which means you’ll be seeing lots of soup, chili, and my personal favorite, pasta sauce! You’ll probably be seeing some pizza recipes pretty soon here because I can’t stop ordering Domino’s and Pizza Hut for dinner and it’s starting to become a problem. It never tastes as good as I think it’s going to, it’s never worth the exorbitant amount of calories, and it never makes me feel anything but stuffed and tired! But damn, it sure is easy to order online and not have to worry about putting a meal together! I have some leftover spaghetti sauce that would be a perfect pizza sauce in fact…

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If you’re looking for a departure from your classic squash soup, you’ve found a comforting crowd pleaser with this soup!

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Roasted Curried Squash Soup

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and pulp removed
  • 1 head garlic, halved widthwise
  • 1 red onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place garlic in the center of a small piece of foil, drizzle cut side with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the corners of the foil up, creating a sealed pouch around the garlic. Lay squash cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Arrange onion in a single layer next to squash on the baking sheet. Make sure there is room for your foil garlic pouch on the baking sheet as well. Drizzle squash and onion with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. In a small bowl combine curry powder, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the spice mixture across the surface of the squash and the onion wedges. Set the remaining seasoning aside.

Roast squash, onion and garlic for 1 hour or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then remove skin from squash and transfer it along with the onions to a high speed blender. Squeeze roasted garlic from the skins and into the blender as well. Add the vegetable stock and blend on high for about 3-5 minutes or until it is smooth.

Pour pureed mixture into a large pot over medium heat. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining seasoning mixture. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (1)

Secret Family Recipe Spaghetti Sauce

My toddler LOVED this spaghetti! Like, fistfuls of ‘sgetti straight to the mouth she loved it so much. And the best part is I feel good about serving it to her because I know exactly what’s in it! Just a teaspoon of sugar added to the entire recipe (to offset the acidity of the tomatoes) and no artificial flavors or ingredients you can’t pronounce! We are working on teaching her to use a spoon and although most of the time she ends up scooping the food right into her hair, she’d definitely improving. I am still consistently amazed at all the things her little brain has learned in just over a year.

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We are at that stage where I thought by now we would be adopting another child. I always had it in my head that we would adopt two children and they’d be rather close in age. I grew up with a brother who was 14 months younger than me and although we had our fair share of fights, for the most part I really enjoyed having a built in friend and childhood playmate. And now that we are older I appreciate him even more than I used to!

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But lately I find myself thinking about how much I appreciate being able to really soak up every minute of our daughter’s toddlerness without distraction. And I’m not sure if I’m ready for another baby yet. I love being able to focus and pay attention to her when she needs me. Obviously we are encouraging her to be autonomous and independent as she gets older, but we definitely fall into the attachment parenting category and appreciate all the snuggles and cuddles she offers. I like that we are just this cute little family of three. It seems simple. I like simple. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if we shouldn’t wait until she’s 5-6 before diving into the adoption process again. Once she’s off to school and gaining her independence and you know, using a toilet and a spoon properly!

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I’ve never been one of those people who had a life plan or even a dream of what I thought my life would be like. I prefer to go with the flow and see where the tide takes me. So I suppose this is just another shift in our family’s future. I am sure we will still have another child, but for now I am feeling very content just being the three musketeers.

Secret Family Recipe Spaghetti Sauce

  • Servings: 12 cups
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (turkey sausage would be great too)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • (2) 28 oz. cans tomato puree
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Start by browning the ground turkey in a large pot over medium heat. Once cooked through, drain grease and transfer cooked turkey to a bowl; set aside. Then heat olive oil in the same large pot over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add all remaining ingredients, including more salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked turkey. Stir to combine and bring to a low simmer. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and a moderate amount of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (9)

Swiss Chard, Leek and Potato Tartlets

If you’ve been following me for a while you may, or may not have noticed that I took quite a long break from blogging and then did a little re-branding and created this new blog. My food blogging journey started years ago as a way for me to keep track of my favorite recipes and then it turned into a way for me to share my recipes with friends and family. Then it took on a life of it’s own and it became less of a hobby and more of a stressor and almost an addiction. I was constantly checking Instagram to see how many likes my pictures were getting. And legit feeling bad if I didn’t get X amount of likes in the first few hours. Some of you might read this and think I’m crazy, but I guarantee there’s a lot of other people out there who read this and can relate, or read this and thinks it’s normal! I found that my mood was being dictated by the response my posts were getting on social media and I was constantly stressing about posting more frequently and producing the best quality writing and photos.

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I was putting unnecessary stress on myself trying to create and blog a new recipe every day or at least 4-5 times a week. I was spending hours on recipe development and photo sessions and writing and critiquing. And I was starting to feel really drained. Things needed to change. So I took a step back and I took a break from social media. And man, did it feel good! I have been spending more time with our child, my husband, our family and friends. I’ve been trying to spend more time being present.

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For those who know me (probably my husband knows best of all) when I’m passionate about something I throw everything I have into it. I am one of those people who gets an idea and runs with it. Like runs a marathon with it. Not literally, but you get what I mean. When we started the adoption process, I had a one-track mind for 2 years. Find. Our. Baby. When I wanted a new job, I spent hours perfecting my resume and applying for jobs until I got my ideal job offer and accepted. When I was passionate about making jewelry, I made 2,000 pairs of earrings and went to every craft show within 50 miles of my hometown for two summers. However, for me, cooking has always been a constant. It has always been a creative outlet for me and I have always enjoyed it. So to hell with the posts and the likes and the followers! I’m getting back to the basics. Just enjoy cooking.

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Why am I telling you this? Who knows! This blog is kind of like therapy for me and sometimes it just feels good to vent. Does this have anything to do with these adorable tartlets? Nope. Not a thing. But my favorite food blogs are the ones where the bloggers open up about who they are and what makes them tick. Also, like I said, writing is cathartic for me. Just like cooking is. So there’s a piece of my heart and here’s the damn recipe!

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Just kidding, one more thing. Where did all of my old posts go?? Yeah, good question. I’m sure they are out there somewhere in the interwebs but I sure as hell can’t find ’em. After some well intentioned blog migrations, I somehow lost all of my old posts. How did this happen?! Um, pretty much because I cannot wrap my brain around the inner workings of technology and I have no idea what I’m doing. So I’m in the process of trying to recreate some of my old recipes. Give me a shout if there’s one you’re itching for and I’ll see what I can do. I’ve already had multiple requests for my Whiskey Bourbon Meatball recipe — I’m working on it as we speak.

Swiss Chard, Leek and Potato Tartlets

  • Servings: 36 tartlets
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small leeks, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 10 oz. fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/8″ thick pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 oz. herb and garlic goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and Swiss chard. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then set aside.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry along the seams creating 6 long rectangles. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll each rectangle out slightly larger until it’s about 3 x 12 inches. You’re mostly just making the rectangles longer, not much wider. Cut each rectangle into 4 equal size pieces. Score each tartlet about a half inch from the edge creating the crust. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer pastry squares to the baking sheet, spacing them apart about an inch.

In a medium bowl combine potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder, fresh thyme and large pinch of salt and pepper. In another medium bowl combine goat cheese and heavy cream. Divide goat cheese mixture evenly between the puff pastry squares, spreading it within the scored crust. Then layer potatoes on top of the goat cheese, dividing them evenly between the tarts. I used about 6 slices of potato per tart. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the crust of each tartlet with the egg wash, then bake for 12 minutes.

Remove tartlets from the oven, divide the leek and Swiss chard evenly between the tarts, placing it on top of the potatoes, and then bake for another 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and serve warm!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (11)

 

 

Creamy Curried Corn and Coconut Chowder

Talk about a mouthful! Speaking of mouthfuls…get a mouthful a this chowda’ ASAP. This corn chowder is the perfect kick-off to the sweater weather and colorful scenery that are just around the corner. As Fall closes in you’ll be seeing lots of soup recipes here on Midwest Foodie. Over the years, Fall has slowly become my favorite season; usually because the summer is so dang hot that Fall is a welcomed relief! This year’s summer wasn’t even that oppressively hot though. We don’t have central air; just good ‘ol window air conditioners and I think we only turned them on a handful of times. Which was quite a different story from last summer! However last summer we had a newborn baby, so I think we just felt everything a little bit more because we were so sleep deprived. Boy am I glad those days are over. This momma needs at least 7 hours to function (although I prefer a sold 9 hours).

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We practice co-sleeping in our house so I usually get about 8 hours of moderately interrupted sleep peppered with several little toddler kicks to my ribs and every once in a while a little hand reaching out to find me. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I heard somewhere, It’s the best worst sleep you’ve ever had, and I couldn’t agree more! We’ve co-slept since our baby girl was about 4 months, and she has slept through the night ever since! I love waking up to her cheerful “HI!” and hearing the little giggles she lets out in her sleep. I feel like it’s such an important bonding experience for her and for us.

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People often ask if we are worried she will never sleep in her own bed? Honestly, no. As she gets older she will want her autonomy. She will want to do everything herself and eventually I expect that will include sleeping in their own bed. I am in no hurry to kick her out of ours; as I said before I think it’s a really special time for us and I am going to soak up every second of snuggles and kicks to the ribs I can before she grows up and starts rolling her eyes at me and telling me how lame I am! 🙂

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I’ve spoken with other parents who have co-slept and they tell me the kids always find their way to their own bed in time. I find that those who have the most apprehension about co-sleeping are those who have never done it! I’m not saying co-sleeping is for everyone. It’s certainly something that should be researched (ie: safe co-sleeping habits, your sleeping habits, age of the child, etc.) and discussed thoroughly before the decision is made. But for us, it works. And if you have a fitful baby who’s not sleeping through the night, it might be a good option for you to consider too! So as they say, let’s eat soup!

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Creamy Curried Corn and Coconut Chowder

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7-8 ears of corn (about 8 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk + more for garnish

Directions

Start by shucking the corn. Carefully cut corn from the cob and discard cobs. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add corn, onion, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add curry powder, chili powder, paprika and cayenne and stir to coat veggies evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes still on medium heat.

Add cannellini beans, chicken broth and white wine vinegar. Turn heat to medium high, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then transfer to a high speed blender and blend on high until mostly smooth, with just a bit of texture. Transfer back to the large pot and stir in coconut milk. Dish it up and garnish each bowl with a quick pour of coconut milk and fresh chopped herb of your choice.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (3)

Spicy Sausage and Swiss Chard Soup

This soup is so perfect for this weird, rainy, crappy weather we have been experiencing and a great way to use up the chard from your CSA or the farmer’s market! Enter the raincloud:  It’s also great if you are in the process of re-homing your dog who has been your baby for the last 7 years and you’re feeling pretty blah. Our toddler and our doggie have been good friends since our daughter started crawling and being mobile. However our sweet little girl (toddler) is also pretty rough with our other sweet little girl (doggie) and no amount of discipline has seemed to work to make this situation better. Last weekend it resulted in a nip on the finger that drew blood and it was pretty traumatic for all involved. It’s not that our dog is a bad dog; she’s a lover. She loves to snuggle, give kisses and bark at squirrels. But she doesn’t love dealing with our toddler constantly exploring and pulling on her fur. And it’s not fair to keep her in her room all day (yes, she literally has her own bedroom complete with her food/water dishes, a couch, blanket and pillow that are exclusively hers to snuggle with). So in the end we decided our doggie will be better off with another loving family who doesn’t have small children. We are choosing to take action now, before something worse can potentially happen. This is where you can start judging me if that’s something you’re into.

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I took to Facebook of course to find a new home for my little doggie in a “Pets for Sale” group and I was overwhelmed by the response! There were tons of folks right in our area who offered to adopt her and provide her a loving home! So many in fact that I had to send out a blanket message saying I will keep everyone posted as we meet with potential families and make sure we find the right fit for her. And while I was expecting the crazy internet trolls to come out of the woodwork on my post (because that’s just what they do; sit at home all day and wait to pounce) I was still quite appalled at the things some people had to say. “Get rid of the baby!” might have surprised me the most. Like duh, why didn’t I think of that?! Are you kidding me??? That comment was followed by several other (very grammatically incorrect) jabs at my parenting and many folks questioning my capability of raising a child.

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Of course I threw a few snarky comments back because sometimes I just can’t help myself, but in the end I decided to take the high road…and block all those haters! Seriously though, thank you Facebook for the block button. Because sometimes you don’t need Facebook trolls to make a very tough situation even more difficult. I also must note that for every one judgmental person spewing hate, there was at least 2-3 people with messages of encouragement and positivity, so the good certainly outweighed the bad (funny how you only remember the bad though, right?). I am trying to find comfort in knowing that our doggie will find a loving home and people who can appreciate her in all her glory and treat her like the princess she is.

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So, make this soup. It’s delicious and it might make tough situations just a tiny bit easier to deal with.

Spicy Sausage and Swiss Chard Soup

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 19.5 oz. hot Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stalks removed and diced, leaves roughly chopped (about 6 cups chopped leaves + 1 cup chopped stalks
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups V8 (or generic vegetable juice)
  • 15 oz. can cannellini beans
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • shredded Parmesan for garnish

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Squeeze sausage from the casing and discard casing. Brown sausage, crumbling with a spatula. Drain most of the grease off of the sausage and transfer to a bowl. Heat the same pot over medium heat. There should be just a sheen of grease from the sausage still. Add Swiss chard stalks and onion to the pot along with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Return sausage to the pot and add Swiss chard leaves, chicken stock, V8, cannellini beans, diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine, turn heat up to medium high and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid, turn heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove soup from heat and slowly stir in cream. Garnish with shredded Parmesan and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (2)

 

Honey Lime Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

Typically I am one of those people who loads up any Mexican dish with extra sour cream and tons of cheese. I have often joked that to me tacos are just a vehicle for sour cream. But in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been scouring the internet for lighter versions of my Mexican favorites. The only problem is, most of the recipes I’ve found end up tasting like diet food. I don’t want to eat diet food. Because I’m not on a diet. I’m working towards living a more healthy lifestyle–long term. I want healthy food that tastes delicious and leaves me feeling full and satisfied, not diet food that leaves me feeling deprived and hungry. Well friends, look no further! I present to you healthy tacos loaded with lean protein from the chicken breast paired with a crisp crunch from the broccoli slaw and a kick of heat from the chiles in adobo. You will not miss the cheese or sour cream, I promise. You don’t have to sacrifice the flavor to get rid of some of the fat!

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These tacos are pretty much the quintessential summer food! Hand-held, fresh, light and flavorful. The perfect way to enjoy the last few weeks of a great Wisconsin summer and use up some fresh veggie from the garden. They are a unique, healthy alternative to the traditional ground beef version loaded with fat and grease; however, they are still loaded with flavor! The best part? They are super easy to make and cook up great on the grill so you won’t have to spend your whole day inside making dinner.

You could use flour tortillas for this recipe if you prefer, but corn tortillas are really the clear winner when it comes to health. They are typically lower in calories, fat, sodium and sugar than their flour counterparts and are also higher in fiber than flour tortillas. While I will admit, at first I did not enjoy the texture of corn tortillas (since I grew up strictly on crunchy hard shells or soft flour tortillas) but over time my taste buds have grown to enjoy the texture of a soft corn tortillas.

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Keep your eyes peeled for some other healthy(ish) Mexican fare coming to the blog soon. I am thinking my next endeavor will be enchiladas…

Honey Lime Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

  • Servings: 6 tacos
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Ingredients

For the chicken tacos

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (I like to use tenders)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon diced chiles in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 soft corn tortillas

For the slaw:

  • 12 oz. broccoli slaw
  • 1/2 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion + more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons diced chiles in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

In a large bowl combine lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, cumin, chiles in adobo, chili powder, garlic powder, a large pinch of salt and pepper. Add chicken to the bowl and stir to combine. Try to cover the chicken completely with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably over night.

While the chicken is marinating, combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed. Cover and let the flavors marry in the fridge.

These chicken tacos taste best when cooked on the grill over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until a nice golden brown crust forms. Alternately, you can also cook them on the stove top by heating a large saute pan over medium high heat. Use a tongs to remove chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off. Cooking in 2 batches, place chicken tenders into the pan about an inch apart and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until a dark golden brown crust forms. If the chicken doesn’t seem to be cooked through at this point, pop it on a sheet pan and in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes until it’s fully cooked.

Allow chicken to rest for a few minutes and then slice into half inch pieces width wise. Heat corn tortillas in the microwave, heating 3 tortillas for 25 seconds or in a large sauté pan over medium heat for about a minute each, flipping frequently. To assemble, place sliced chicken in the center of a tortilla then top it with a heaping spoonful of chipotle slaw. If you’re feeling a little crazy, add some pico de gallo!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (4)

Secret Family Recipe Chili

So you can just throw away all your other chili recipes right now–all those ones that boast they are the best in the world or even claim to be the best ever. This is the only one you will ever need. It’s got the classic duo of chili powder and cumin along with a bit of a kick from one of my secret ingredients–diced chiles in adobo (smoked, dried jalapenos in a tangy, sweet red sauce). It’s also loaded with fiber rich beans and lean ground turkey which means it’s a healthy meal that you can feel good about serving it to your family!

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If your kids (or significant other) are super sensitive to spice you can certainly omit the chiles, however I would strongly urge against it. They add a slow, smoky flavor that builds with each bite. Even those who don’t typically enjoy spicy foods can appreciate the flavor of these chiles. I add them to EVERYTHING–enchilada sauce, fajitas, pork carnitas, chicken marinades, tortilla soup. They add so much depth of flavor and just the right amount of heat.

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V8 juice is my other secret ingredient. I’ve never seen it in another chili recipe and I have no idea why! It’s the perfect liquid to simmer and marry all those delicious flavors and it also lends a nice smooth texture to the chili–not too watery like some that I’ve come across, but also not too thick!

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Seriously I don’t mean to toot my own horn here. But, yeah I do…TOOT TOOT!

Secret Family Recipe Chili

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (you could use ground beef if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon diced chiles in adobo
  • 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups V8 (or generic vegetable juice drink)
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can pinto beans
  • (2) 15 oz. cans black beans
  • (2) 15 oz. cans kidney beans

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, jalapeno and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

While the veggies are doing their thang, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add ground turkey and a pinch of salt and pepper. Brown turkey, using a spatula to crumble as it cooks. Once it is just about cooked sprinkle chili powder and cumin over turkey. Stir to distribute spices evenly. Cook for another minute or so, until the turkey is completely cooked through.

To the large pot add, browned turkey, sugar, chiles in adobo, tomato sauce, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. Season again with a large pinch of Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper and stir to combine.

Turn heat to medium high and bring the chili to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer on medium low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, thinly sliced green onion and a dollop of sour cream. If you’re feeling really rowdy, serve it with some Fritos too!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (5)

Easy Baked Falafel

Looking for a healthy appetizer to make for girls night? I am usually that person who brings the rich, creamy spinach and artichoke dip with French baguette or homemade soft pretzels with homemade nacho chees sauce or hand dipped mini corndogs and hand cut French fries. So, in an effort to eat a little lighter and get a little lighter, I introduce to you, baked falafel! Loaded with garbanzo beans, fresh herbs, onion and garlic, this is a Friday night favorite you can feel good about eating!

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With that said, obviously there is a time and a place for super indulgent foods and I am certainly not one to tell you to skip your favorite greasy pizza or fabulously rich dessert. However, I personally am trying to make some lifestyle changes and appetizers like this one are making it easier for me to do so!

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I for one am not into the calorie counting. Which might be why I weigh 20 pounds more than I did 10 years ago… So I have tried to at least start writing down everything I eat in a day. Not necessarily thinking about the calorie count, but more just realizing how much I am eating, when I’m eating and maybe even why I’m eating. I’ll tell you I’m not someone who eats for fuel or when I’m hungry. I mostly just eat whenever there is yummy food around and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll notice that is more often than not. So I’ll let you know how things go. Hopefully in 6 months I can post one of those awesome transformation Tuesday posts on Insta and tell you about how much better I feel and sleep and blah blah blah.

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But for now I am trying to find the little things that make me happy and focus on those. A walk on the bike trail with my daughter and husband. A really good show on HBO. A quiet evening to read when my daughter goes to bed early. Laughing with good friends and maybe a glass of wine now and then. Because it’s the little things that make life so great, right? Like these falafel!

Easy Baked Falafel

  • Servings: 30 falafels
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Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add onion, garlic, parsley, olive oil, flour, cumin, baking powder, salt and pepper to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are minced and well combined. Then add garbanzo beans and pulse until they are finely diced, but still a bit chunky. The mixture will be tacky but not too sticky.

Spray a baking sheet with coconut oil baking spray. Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop balls of falafel. Place balls about an inch apart and use a little oiled palm to flatten the falafel into 1/2 inch thick discs. Spray the tops of the falafel with another thin layer of coconut oil baking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for another 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple minutes before serving.

Enjoy falafel nestled in a big pita pocket along with tzatziki, cucumber, onion, feta and tomato. Or just dip them in some hummus!

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Pork and Poblano Taquitos

Remember last week when I shared that yummy Pork Carnitas recipe? Well somehow I ended up with leftovers (I have no idea how!?!?!?) and some extra poblano peppers. So naturally my mind went straight to my meal prep for Sunday. These taquitos are loaded with flavor and pack a bite so crisp you’d swear they were fried, but they’re not! They’re baked!

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To achieve the same crispiness as our fried friends (with wayyyy less fat) you just wrap your filling in a corn tortilla and then brush it with oil. Bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes and voila!

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Crispy, crunchy, melty, healthier taquitos. These would be the perfect appetizer for your next party!

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You could make them ahead and refrigerate, and then just before your guests arrive brush with olive oil and bake. Of course I serve them with my signature dipping sauce – equal parts full fat Greek yogurt and Taco Bell hot sauce, combined.

Pork and Poblano Taquitos

  • Servings: 18 taquitos
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Ingredients

  • 18 yellow corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Beer Braised Pork Carnitas (or your favorite Mexican pulled pork)
  • 2 cups shredded Chihuahua cheese (or any shredded cheese)
  • 1/2 cup diced poblano pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Taco Bell hot sauce (for the dipping sauce)
  • Whole milk plain Greek yogurt (for the dipping sauce)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil. Place a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. In a small bowl combine pork, cheese, poblano, onion, jalapeno, chili powder and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Heat tortillas in the microwave in batches of 4, heating each batch for 30 seconds. This will make them warm and pliable. Work quickly, as the cooler the tortillas get the more likely they are to rip.

Place about 2-3 tablespoons of filling in a line down the center of each tortilla and roll the tortilla tightly away from you forming a fat little cigar shaped taquito.  Place rolled taquitos, seam side down, onto the cooling rack on the baking sheet about an inch apart.

Brush the entire top surface of the taquito with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to get brown and the taquito is crisp. Serve with my favorite dipping sauce/dressing combo–equal parts Greek yogurt and Taco Bell hot sauce combined.

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BBQ Pork Carnitas Breakfast Pizza

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because it’s Saturday and I want to spend it outside with my family and not inside on my laptop. But I really want to share this recipe with you because it’d be perfect for Sunday morning breakfast.

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Do you remember my Beer Braised Pork Carnitas from last week? We didn’t quite finish it all so I showcased those tender, juicy, crispy leftovers in this meal. I’ve been trying really hard not to let any food go to waste, especially when it tastes as amazing as this pork.

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The fried egg on this pizza really makes it for me.

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But don’t take my word for it. Get going and make this pizza for your family tomorrow! Or tonight!

BBQ Pork Carnitas Breakfast Pizza

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

  • 2 lavash breads or your favorite kind of pizza crust (about 8 inches across)
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I like Annie’s Chipotle BBQ)
  • 1 cup Chihuahua shredded cheese (or any other melty shredded cheese)
  • 1 cup of my Beer Braised Pork Carnitas (or your favorite pulled pork)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced poblano pepper
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • pico de gallo

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place crusts on a foil lined baking sheet. Divide BBQ sauce evenly between the two crusts, leaving about a half inch of crust around the edge. Next divide the Chihuahua evenly between both pizzas, sprinkling it in an even layer. Then divide the pork, onion, and peppers between both pizzas. Bake pizza for about 10 minutes.

While the pizza is baking, fry up those eggs! Add olive oil to a large saute pan over medium low heat. Allow the pan to heat for a couple minutes. Carefully crack eggs into the pan and sprinkle them each with salt and pepper. If the oil starts to sputter and spit, turn the heat down. You want to cook the eggs low and slow. Cook until the egg whites are set, but the yolks are still runny.

Place fried eggs onto the center of each pizza. Garnish with pico de gallo and enjoy!

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Beer Braised Pork Carnitas

Try as I might, I am not a morning person. I never have been. I’m definitely not a night owl either. I’m more of a “needs 9 hours of sleep to function properly or I’ll be super grumpy” kind of person. When I was younger my parents used to call me Margaret whenever I was tired and grumpy. Or hungry and grumpy. Looking back on it now, I realize it was their polite way of telling me to quit being a grouch. I shared this fond memory with my husband years ago and he has carried on the tradition of calling me Margaret since he takes the brunt of her grumpiness. Lucky him…

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And so, Margaret has kind of become my alter ego. I try not to let her out, but sometimes it just happens. It’s usually when I’m woken up any time between 10pm and 8am. Or whenever I go more than 3 hours without eating. But seriously other than that, I’m pretty easy going, I swear. Every once in a while I forget about Margaret and I get this crazy idea that I’m going to start being a morning person. Not just a morning person, but a morning person who works out. In the morning. Before I go to work. In the morning. Even as I type the words, I realize how crazy it sounds.

But without fail, every few months I try for a week to wake up at 6am and get my sweat on. And without fail, when my alarm goes off at 6am, I shut it off, reset it for 730am and go back to bed. Then at some point I feel frustrated and Margaret probably makes an appearance and nobody is happy and I’m still not a morning person. So just like last week, when I came to terms with not being a gardener, now I am admitting that I will never be a morning person.

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To minimize the appearance of Margaret and let myself sleep in as much as possible, I have been getting really into meal prep on Sundays. My goal each Sunday is to create two meals that we can eat throughout the week that are healthy and satisfying at the same time. This week, it was Beer Braised Pork Carnitas (which I mixed with brown rice, black beans and veggies to make burrito bowls) and Turkey Meatball Gyros. I find that my mornings run so much smoother when I can just grab my lunch from the fridge and go. And I’m less tempted to eat crap when I get home from work if I have dinner made already.

This recipe makes a ton of carnitas because no matter what I always find myself wishing there were more. These would be great to make and then freeze too if you’re just cooking for one or if you don’t like to eat the same thing multiple times in a row. However, once you taste these carnitas, chances are pretty good you’ll want to just eat them until they’re gone. They are juicy and tender, but also crisp and filled with flavor. And best of all, they are SUPER easy to make. 20 minutes of prep and the rest is just inactive cooking time. Alternately you could make these carnitas in a slow cooker too. I’d cook the pork on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, checking about halfway through to see how tender and shreddable they’ve gotten. I usually just want to eat them as soon as possible, so I make them on the stove. My favorite new dressing/dipping sauce for anything Mexican is equal parts full fat Greek yogurt mixed with Taco Bell hot sauce. It might sounds weird, but it’s really good and mostly healthy.

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas

  • Servings: 10
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons + 3-4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 lb. pork shoulder/butt roast
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. bottle of your favorite beer
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. In a small bowl combine cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika, cayenne and a couple large pinches of salt and pepper. Rub spice mixture all over the surface of the pork roast. Place roast into the pot and cook each side for about 1-2 minutes or until the entire outside of the roast is seared nice and dark golden brown. Remove roast from the pot and set aside for the moment. Add onion to the pot and turn heat to medium. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring often. Put roast back into the pot.

Add beer, chicken stock and orange zest and juice to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium low for about 2 hours or until pork shreds easily with two forks.

Transfer pork to a large bowl. Heat the same pot you cooked the pork in over medium high heat. Working in batches, add one teaspoon olive oil and then an even layer of pork. Sauté the shredded pork for about 1-2 minutes, then flip it over and let the other side get nice and crisp. The goal here is to have tender, juicy shredded pork with dark golden brown crispy bits on the ends.

And seriously, don’t skip that last step. It makes the dish.

Serve in a burrito bowl with brown rice, beans and veggies or in a warm corn tortilla with chopped raw onion and fresh cilantro.

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