Cleaned Up Monte Cristo & Butternut Squash Soup

SNACKS

Apple Applesauce Muffins – This is quite possibly one of the best apple muffin recipes.  Applesauce and diced apples make for a super moist and sweet muffin.  The subtle cinnamon and vanilla are delicious extras that can be included, or not.

DINNERS

One Skillet Chicken Fajitas – If this is not a staple recipe in your kitchen, it should be. Enough said 🙂

Butternut Squash Soup & Cleaned Up Monte Cristos – I used an alternative to a whole butternut squash – bagged, pre-cubed butternut squash.  This smooth and creamy soup, with hints of wintery seasonings, pairs beautifully with a fun spin on a Monte Cristo. Instead of deep frying, this cleaned up Cristo is prepared like a pan “grilled” cheese sandwich.

Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese This a family requested favorite. It’s likely my daughter’s favorite pizza of all time!

White Bean Soup with Spinach and Leeks – One soup, two ways.  Day 1: prepare the soup per the recipe.  Day 2: throw the leftovers in a blender and puree.  It is equally delicious either way but presents like two completing different meals!  #doubledutysoup

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from Weelicious 

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. homemade buttermilk (see recipe below) or (alternative organic milk)
1/2 c. honey
1 large organic egg
1 t. organic vanilla extract
Stir In Ingredients
1 c. peeled and chopped organic apples (about 2 medium apples)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I use silicone muffin cups. If using a metal muffin pan, lightly grease with a clean oil (ideas: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil).

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Very gently, stir in the apples.  Fill muffin containers ¾ full and bake approximately 15 minutes.

Tips:

  • Mix/stir as little as possible to create fluffy, moist muffins.
  • I don’t like the toothpick test for muffins as I find they are often overdone. Remember, they continue to cook a bit even when removed from the oven.  Instead, watch for them to begin to release from the edge of the baking cup/tin and for a slightly golden color.  Once you’ve baked a few batches, you’ll begin to learn your oven’s ideal baking time.

Homemade Buttermilk
2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 c. organic milk

Directions: Stir together both ingredients in a small bowl and allow rest for 5 minutes.


One Skillet Chicken Fajitas

 

Fajita Ingredients:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 large organic bell pepper, seeded/sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can organic fire roasted diced tomatoes OR (3-4 chopped medium, fresh tomatoes)
Note: if using fresh tomatoes, add ¼ c. of salsa
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
sea salt/pepper
whole wheat tortillas (idea: Ezekiel brand tortillas)

Optional Fajita Fillers:
canned organic black beans, drained & rinsed
organic shredded cheese
organic Greek yogurt or sour cream
salsa
avocado, sliced

Directions: Warm a non-stick skillet to medium heat. Season all sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. To the skillet, add the olive oil and chicken. Cook until the chicken is browned on all slides (about 5-6 minutes). Add onions and green peers, cooking until the peppers are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Immediately add all remaining ingredients. The tomatoes will sizzle in the skillet. Reduce heat to a simmer. Allow some liquid to cook out (about 10 minutes). Season with salt/pepper to taste. Serve fajita mixture with whole wheat tortillas and your favorite fajita fillers.


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Monte Cristos

Adapted from Alton Brown and Clean Eating Magazine

img_8047

Note: I HATE this picture.  I could not make this meal look appetizing with my camera.  This makes me sooooo sad because it really is a delicious meal.  #badlighting #poorcameraskills

Directions: In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, sea salt/pepper, milk and cayenne.

Separate the turkey slices and sprinkle with oregano. Assemble the sandwiches: thin layer of Dijon mustard on each slice of bread, cheese slice, turkey, a layer spinach leaves, another slice of cheese, and bread.

Heat a large skillet to near medium heat.

Place sandwich on a slotted spatula.  Lower the sandwich into the egg mixture – deep enough that the egg mixture reaches one-half of the way up the slice of bread.  (Be careful that the egg mixture does NOT “enter” the interior of the sandwich).  Raise the sandwich from the egg mixture.

Place your hand on top of the sandwich.  Press down to compact the sandwich just a bit. Carefully and quickly invert the sandwich from the spatula to your hand.  Transfer the inverted sandwich from your hand to the spatula. Again, lower the sandwich into the egg mixture on the dry side to finish coating the sandwich.

Add olive oil or butter to the skillet     Prepare sandwich as you would any other pan “grilled” sandwich.


Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese

Adapted from Bev Cooks

Dough
Trader Joe’s premade whole wheat dough, prepared per package directions

Pizza Toppings
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 NON GMO sweet corn ears, shucked and kernels removed (alternative: 2 c. frozen NON GMO sweet corn)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small pkg. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 c. organic mozzarella, shredded
2 oz. goat cheese
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco style hot sauce, optional topping (recommended if you omit the jalapeno)

Directions: Preheat the oven to required pizza dough temperature.

In a medium/large skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil and onion and jalapeno (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the corn and sauté another 5 minutes. The next step happens quickly because you do not want to burn the garlic! Add the garlic, stirring constantly, allowing it to cook for about a minute or until you can really smell it. Immediately squeeze the lemon over the skillet.  Stir in the cilantro and the cherry tomatoes.  The heat will help the tomatoes to release their juices (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat. With the dough on the pizza stone or baking sheet, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the corn mixture. Crumble the goat cheese atop the pizza and add the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake according to your pizza crust directions. This is amazing – especially with a few drops of hot sauce on each slice!!!


White Bean Soup with Spinach and Leeks

Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life


Ingredients
2 cans organic white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T. of olive oil
½ t. sea salt
½ t. freshly cracked pepper
1 bag frozen leeks, (alternative: 4 leeks, chopped into thinly sliced rings)
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. paprika
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 c. whole wheat couscous
4 c. fresh organic spinach leaves
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4-6 c. organic broth or stock (alternative: water)
Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional topping)

Directions: To a heated stock pot, add the olive oil.  Stir in the leeks, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika.  Saute leeks until softened (about 8 to 10 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 – 2 minutes).  Add the beans, broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the couscous and cook another 5 minutes.  Stir in the spinach leaves.  Season to taste (another ½ t. sea salt or more is likely needed). Enjoy topped with grated Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate leftovers.

Day 2:  Puree soup leftovers in a blender.  If using a Vitamix, you can blend on high until steaming at the lid (or use the soup setting).  Otherwise, warm the soup on the stove top or microwave.

Why pizza when I can eat this!?!

SNACKS

Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Chewy, sweet, and a hint of salt. These are my all-time favorite cookies (that I make).

Blueberry Muffins – Throw it all in the blender and bake. It’s quite possibly the easiest, non-traditional blueberry muffin/brownie recipe ever.

DINNERS

Indian Summer Chili – I will not apologize for this recipe’s appearance here, yet again.  It’s just that great.  My hubs would eat it every week, if I would agree to make it that often.  You’d never guess it’s a turkey chili.

Cheesy Polenta with Bell Peppers & Chicken SausageImpress yourself and others with this incredibly easy and delicious dinner option.  It looks and tastes like a high-end restaurant meal every. single. time.

One Pot Pasta – Talk about easy. A stock pot is all you need to create this pasta. Start to finish…25 minutes. Yes, please.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad – I don’t know why I haven’t introduced you to this recipe sooner.  When my little one took a bite, she said, “Why would I even think about pizza when I could eat this!” Note: I usually make this on weekends.  It’s not hard, but there are a few more steps than some weeknights allow. It’s sooo worth it!

Pan Seared Chicken Sausage with Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower – Sometimes, two ingredients is all you have left in your refrigerator.  There’s something to say about a stupidly simplistic meal that is incredibly flavorful.  Roasting veggies is key to creating powerful flavors and textures that can really “make your tongue slap your brain” (as my father in law would say about fantastic food).

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine 

Dry Ingredients
1 ¼ c old-fashioned oats
½ c whole white wheat flour
1 T. ground flax seed
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. coarse sea salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt)

Wet Ingredients
¼ c.+1/8 c. honey
1 organic cage free egg white
2 T. creamy, salted almond butter (or your preferred nut butter)
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir in Ingredients
¼ c. clean dark chocolate, roughly chopped (my favorite is liberty chocolates)
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Gently stir in chocolate & raisins. Scoop rounded tablespoon size servings onto a baking stone or lined cookie sheet. Cook 9 to 10 min. (Do not over cook. They will be soft and gooey, until they have cooled a bit). Allow to cool on the baking sheet/cooling stone. Makes approximately 16 cookies.


Blueberry Cinnamon Banana Muffins

Adapted from Unnamed Website

(I tried to take a picture, but it was terrible. I refuse to put it here because it made them look inedible. [Pictures do lie, sometimes])

Ingredients
1 very ripe banana (if banana is not ripe, increase maple syrup to 1/3 c.)
1 organic egg
1/2 c. creamy, salted almond butter (or other nut butter)
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 c. rolled organic oats (not steel cut)
1/8 c. whole white wheat flour
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
2 t. organic vanilla extract
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. organic blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a heavy duty blender or food processor, add all ingredients except the blueberries.  Blend until smooth and creamy.   Stir in the blueberries by hand. Fill silicone muffin cups (or greased muffin pan) ¾ full and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from muffin cups/pan.


Indian Summer Chili 

Adapted from Rachel Ray 

Ingredients
2-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 lbs. organic ground turkey (not 99% fat free)
1-2 T. chili powder (check ingredients to avoid preservatives)
2 T. grill seasoning blend (check ingredients to avoid preservatives–Kroger’s Grill Time Chicken is a good option)
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, optional (alternative: balsamic vinegar)
1-3 T. hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy (several ingredients add heat – start slow and add more when tasting at the end)
1 large organic onion, chopped
2 large organic green or other color peppers, chopped
1 bottle of stout beer
1 (14 or 16-ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes (Carly: organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 c. organic smoky barbecue sauce (or make your own – recipe below)
1-2 c. organic, frozen corn, optional
plain Greek yogurt (optional topping)
crumbled organic tortilla chips (optional topping)
organic cheddar, shredded (optional topping)

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to medium heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  Stir the ingredients and break up the turkey into tiny bits.  Continue cooking until the turkey is no longer pink (approx. 5-7 min.). Add the onions and green peppers, and cook until softened (about 5 min.). Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to barely simmering.  Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 min.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients
1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. garlic powder (alternative: 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
1 T. onion powder
4 T. unsulfured molasses
3 T. raw honey
5 T.  balsamic vinegar

Directions: In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Store unused BBQ sauce in the refrigerator, or freeze.


Cheesy Polenta with Bell Peppers & Chicken Sausage

Adapted from BevCooks 

Ingredients
½ c. organic milk
1 log organic polenta, cut into cubes (precision cutting unnecessary – it will be mashed)
1T. organic butter
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan (divided), plus more for garnish
1 pinch sea salt/ freshly ground pepper
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausages, sliced on the bias (I like Trader Joe’s spicy Italian or Andouille style)
2 organic red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced in strips
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (divided)
Hot sauce, optional

Directions: Warm a small sauce pan to low/medium heat. Add the milk and polenta. Mash the polenta with a firm whisk or fork and then stir until creamy.  Add milk by the tablespoon if it’s too thick. If it’s too watery, don’t worry. As it continues to cook, it will thicken. Reduce heat to low and stir in one-half of the cheese and one-half of the cilantro. Allow to rest on low. If your stove top burner is too hot on low and the bottom is sticking, remove it from the heat. (It can be warmed easily on low just before serving).

While the polenta is resting, heat a large skillet to nearing medium heat. Add the olive oil and then sausage. Cook 5-6 minutes or until hot and slightly browned on all sides. (If using precooked sausage, you just need to get it hot).

Remove the sausage from the pan (retaining the olive oil and juices) and cover it with foil to keep warm. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and then the peppers. Add freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Sear peppers in the skillet until softened and slightly blackened (about 5 minutes). Return the sausage to the skillet.

To the polenta, stir in the remaining cheese and cilantro. Season polenta with salt/pepper to taste. To plate, add a generous helping of polenta. Top with the sausage and peppers.

Finish with a sprinkling of cilantro. If you want to spice it up, add a few dashes of hot sauce!


One Pot Pasta

Adapted from Budget Bytes 

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. sea salt
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ T. dried basil
½ T. dried oregano
¼ t. red pepper flakes
¼ t. freshly cracked black pepper
4 c. organic vegetable broth (alternative: 4 c. organic chicken broth)
2 (14 oz.) cans organic diced tomatoes (alternative: 1 can organic diced tomatoes + 1 can organic fire roasted tomatoes)
12 oz. whole wheat fettuccine
8 oz. frozen chopped spinach
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional topping)
Olive oil, optional topping

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to near medium heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion and sea salt. Saute until translucent (3-4 minutes). Add the garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Saute until the garlic is fragrant (about a minute).  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover with a lid.  Simmer until the pasta is cooked (about 10 minutes).  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.


Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Table For Two 

Shrimp Marinade
Juice from ½ of a lime
1 T. olive oil
1 t. chili powder
½ t. ground cumin
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1/8 t. smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
12 large wild shrimp with tails, peeled/deveined, uncooked

Step 1: In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade (lime juice, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, hot pepper sauce, smoked paprika, garlic). Very gently toss the shrimp in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate.

Quinoa Preparation
1 t. olive oil
¼ c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ c. uncooked white quinoa, rinsed
¾ c. water

Step 2: Heat a sauce pan to near medium heat.  Add the olive oil and onion.  Saute until the onion is translucent (3-4 minutes).  Stir in the garlic and quinoa. Toast the quinoa by stirring constantly for 2 minutes (it will begin to turn a slightly golden color).  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the liquid is gone).  While it simmers, proceed to step 3.

Sauce Ingredients
Juice from ½ of a lime
2 T. olive oil
½ t. cumin
1 t. sea salt
½ t. black pepper, freshly ground
1 t. honey
1 avocado, sliced
1 c. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
½ c. organic canned chickpeas, rinsed/drained
½ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Step 3: Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper and honey. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients.  Add the cooked quinoa and stir.

Shrimp Sauté
1 T. olive oil (alternative: organic butter)
1 t. sea salt

Step 4: Heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Drain, (do not rinse) the shrimp. Sprinkle shrimp with sea salt.  Add olive oil or butter to the pan.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer in the skillet.  Sauté (2 minutes), quickly flip with tongs, and allow to saute another 2 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove from the heat.  Serve shrimp atop the quinoa mixture.    


 

Pan Seared Chicken Sausage with Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients
2 heads of cauliflower and/or broccoli, separated into florets
2-3 T. olive oil
Sea salt/pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Parmesan cheese, grated (topping)
Fresh lemon juice (topping)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 (bake, NOT convection setting).  In a large bowl, toss the florets, olive oil, salt/pepper, & garlic. Spread onto parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower for 20-30 minutes (flipping with a spatula half-way through roasting). It will be slightly browned and crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

While the cauliflower roasts, pan sear the chicken sausage on all sides until thoroughly cooked.

 

Stuff It To Impress…Peppers and Acorn Squash That Is.

SNACKS

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Cookies
– Despite the flat and unappealing appearance of this batch, they were yummy.  “Why are they flat?” You may be wondering.  Or, maybe you are like me and could care less as long as they are good. For those who do care, there are lots of reasons cookies end up flat.  In my case, a warm baking stone was the culprit. I set the baking stone on the oven while preheating … oops.

Chocolate Orange Avocado Pudding – What feels good on a strep ridden sore throat? Pudding!  No, not store bought pudding laden with sugar, chemicals, and who knows what else??? A creamy homemade chocolate pudding with an orange juice kick.  The avocado is undetectable from a taste standpoint; however, the creaminess is heavenly.

DINNERS

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Roasted Carrots – This is such a cook and crowd pleaser meal.  It’s easy to make, beautifully colorful, and delicious.  The carrots accompany this meal perfectly too.  Gotta give credit to my little one for the carrot seasonings.  Her inspiration source: many o’ episodes of America’s Worst Cook during a recent snowpocalypse in our area 🙂

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Organic Greens – Here’s another impressive option for entertaining – guests eat from individual squash bowls.  The organic greens make a perfect side. The original recipe calls for ground turkey. This time, I made it with bacon. Outcome: great success!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Yep, you’ve seen these recipes here before.  This is an easy go to meal that tastes like someone slaved in the kitchen when it’s quite the opposite.  And the sandwiches…oh my! The roasted tomatoes, stolen from the soup recipe, take these to a whole new level.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Reinvented Recipes (Notorious Ingredients)

Turkey burgers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and zucchini noodles have bad reputations because they’ve tasted horrible or they have a notorious history.  Either way, many refuse to give these ingredients a shot.  Here are some new ways to prepare these  ingredients that will result in happy taste buds.

SNACKS

Banana Cake Cookies – We couldn’t wait on these to cool before tasting because they smelled so good!  Slather with a bit of almond butter for another layer of deliciousness!!

DINNERS

Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce & Creamy Coleslaw – A staple meal in our house.  In my experience, traditional grocery stores tend to carry ground turkey that is gamey and less than  appetizing.  Opt for a higher quality ground turkey, ideally organic, to allow the feta and olive to take center stage.   If you are in a rush, skip the tzatziki sauce and top your burgers with coleslaw.  While a different flavor altogether, it gives it a delicious creamy crunch that hits the spot too!

Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Quinoa Salad & Chicken Sausage – I know, I know, you “hate” Brussels Sprouts. This time, they  are shredded and served as salad greens.  That traditional overcooked, stinky, and mushy thing is nonexistent.  My original intent was to serve the chicken sausage on the side.  However, at the last minute, I decided to slice it and throw it in the salad.  Outcome: Great success.

Pan Seared Chicken with Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli –  Start with a good quality organic chicken breast, pound it out so it’s even, season it well, and presto!  Served with roasted broccoli that is slightly crunchy and garlicky with a hint of lemon and cheese and dinner is ready in a flash.

Lemon Zoodles with Artichokes & Chicken Sausage ­– Zucchini should be organic if it’s to be eaten.  That didn’t happen this week b/c the grocery store didn’t have any.  So, I used non-organic zucchini [the horror, I know!!] I don’t make a habit of it, but on occasion, it happens.  As for the recipe itself, within two bites, the hubs requested that it “be on the rotation.” My little, one who typically despises zoodles, agreed.  That is sayin’ something.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Greek Chicken Today, Greek Salad Tomorrow #doubledutydishes

SNACKS

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – The original recipe, in my opinion, is not sweet enough. With some adaptations, these babies got a face lift and passed our taste test.  These are great a grab and go breakfast option as well as an anytime snack.

DINNERS

Lemon Israeli Cous Cous with Asparagus Spinach and Feta – Flavorful dinner option that is ready in a flash.  This is not a stand alone meal because it does not feed our family of three. If served alongside some preservative free chicken sausage, this meal would be complete.

Greek Chicken (Day 1) – This can be a double duty recipe.  On day 1, serve the chicken atop whole wheat pita bread or tortilla shells along with some feta cheese, olives, and maybe some thinly sliced red onions.  Don’t be scared of the unique seasonings.  The spices work so well together and make the kitchen smell amazing.  If not planning to use the chicken as a double duty item, this recipe can easily feed 6 adults.  If using it as a doubly duty dish, allow one-half of the chicken to cool before refrigerating.

Greek Chicken Salad with Feta and Tomatoes (Day 2) – Talk about easy.  The work was done a day or two before.  All that is left to do is shake up some salad dressing and pour it over the salad that is assembled in less than five minutes! Easy, peasy and delicousy [that’s a word, right?.?]

Winter Minestrone – I’ve made this recipe a number of times.  It makes lots of soup.  A few notes and mishaps…I’ve made it without pesto and/or white wine on different occasions simply because I didn’t have them on hand.  In reality, the pesto does add some interesting depth, flavor wise. However, it’s still great without it. I just prefer it with the pesto (who doesn’t love pesto??) The wine, unless exceptionally dry, is relatively undetectable.  I’m sure Barefoot Contessa would argue that my palate is not advanced enough to detect the subtle flavor differences.  She’s probably right.  I’m ok with that so long as the soup tastes delicious to me – and it definitely does!

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Whole Foods New Body


Ingredients
3 c. old fashioned oats
¼ c. whole white wheat flour (optional – makes for a more traditional cookie feel)
1 (heaping) t. pumpkin spice
1 (heaping) t. cinnamon
1/2 c. organic coconut palm sugar
1/4 c. organic milk (alternatives: almond milk, cashew milk)
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. organic pumpkin puree
2 organic eggs
1/2 c. organic unsweetened applesauce
dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (I like Liberty Chocolate (dark)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degreesIn a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir just until combined.  Scoop the dough into cookie molds on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.  Lightly press chocolate into the cookies.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.


Day 1: Greek Chicken

Adapted from He and She Eat Clean


Ingredients
2 T. olive oil or melted coconut oil
3-4 lbs. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 T. softened coconut oil or olive oil (hint: if coconut oil is hard, run under hot water to soften in seconds)
½ onion, diced
2-3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c. of Greek seasoning (see recipe below)
100% whole wheat tortilla shells (optional side)
Plain organic Greek yogurt (optional side)
Feta cheese (optional side)
Olives, sliced (optional side)
Red onion, thinly slice (optional side)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the chicken, onions, and garlic cloves to the pan.  Mix to evenly distribute.  Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the mixture.  Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.  Optional: serve atop a tortilla topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, feta, a few olives, and/or some thinly sliced red onion.

Greek seasoning
Ingredients
3/4 T. oregano
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 T. onion powder
1/2 T. garlic powder
1 t. black pepper
1 t. parsley
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. thyme

Directions: Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.

—————————————– 

Day 2: Greek Chicken Salad with Feta and Tomatoes

Ingredients
Leftover Greek Chicken
Organic greens of your choosing
¼ c. black olives
¼ c. feta cheese, shredded into crumbles
¼. red onion, very thinly sliced (optional)

Dressing Ingredients
1 large clove of garlic, minced with garlic press
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. Sea Salt
1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 c. freshly lemon juice, strained of pulp and seeds
1/2 c. olive oil

Directions: To a jar with a lid, add all ingredients and shake vigorously.  In a large bowl, assemble the salad ingredients.  Drizzle dressing atop the salad.


Lemon Israeli Cous Cous with Asparagus Spinach and Feta

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


Ingredients
1 c. orzo
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t. olive oil
2 bunches of asparagus spears, end removed & cut into 1” pieces
Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
2 c. fresh, organic baby spinach
1 large lemon, juiced
1/3 c. feta cheese

Directions:  Cook cous cous according to package directions (Do NOT omit the toasting step. It adds an incredible nutty flavor).  While the cous cous cooks, warm a skillet to near medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Cook until the garlic is fragrant (about a minute). Add the asparagus and saute for about 5 minutes before adding the spinach.  Continue to stir until the spinach wilts.  Give the lemon a few good squeezes.

To a large bowl, combine the cooked cous cous and the asparagus mixture.  Stir in the feta cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and give a final squeeze of lemon.  Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil.  Leftovers (if there are any) can be served cold or reheated.

Served alongside pan seared preservative free chicken sausage.


Winter Minestrone Soup

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


Ingredients
Good olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, ½-inch-diced
1½ c. chopped yellow onions
3 organic carrots, diced
3 organic celery stalks, diced
2½ c. butternut squash, peeled and diced (time saver: buy precut and bagged butternut squash)
4 garlic cloves, minced garlic
¼ to ½ t. each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 – 14 oz. cans organic diced tomatoes
6 to 8 c. organic chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 c. whole wheat pasta spaghetti, broken into approx. ¾” pieces (precooked or uncooked options)
1 (15-ounce) can organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 to 10 oz. fresh organic baby spinach leaves (alternative: organic tatsoi)
1/2 c. good dry white wine (not cooking wine – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it!!!)
2 T. store-bought pesto
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions: In a large stock pot heated to near medium heat, add the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.  Add the pancetta and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions, carrots, celery, butternut squash, garlic, and sea salt/pepper.  Stir and allow to sauté until the veggies are beginning to soften, stirring occasionally (about 7 minutes). Add the thyme, tomatoes, broth/stock, and bay leaf.

Here’s where some pasta options come into play… 

  • If using uncooked pasta, add it now.
  • If using precooked pasta, do NOT add it now.  Otherwise you’ve have pasta mash 😦

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer a minimum of 15 minutes (if using uncooked pasta).  If using precooked pasta, do NOT add it now.  Continue simmering for 30 minutes (The flavors marry a bit longer, but not enough to make a substantial taste difference).  Remove the bay leaf.  If exceptionally thick, add more stock.  Add the beans, (precooked pasta – if using this option), spinach, wine, and pesto.  Stir until the spinach wilts into the liquid.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste – it will likely need at least ¼ to 1/2 t. of sea salt.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, ideally freshly grated.

 

Call In The Troops…Leftovers For Days

SNACKS

Banana Oat Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble Top –  A muffin is just a muffin, unless it has a sweet, crumbly top.

DINNERS

Slow Cooker Chicken (or Turkey) Osso Buco – Call in the troops, this meal can feed an army.  Throw it all in the slow cooker.  Top it with some lemon and freshly chopped parsley just before serving.  Your troops will salute you.  I think I’ll replace the rice with quinoa next time…I like options.

Rigatoni with Broccoli and Organic Bagged Salad with Apple Cider Chia Seed Dressing – Here’s a fast and super easy meal that is exceptionally flavorful and nutritional.  It’s crazy just how easy this is to make. Who doesn’t love broccoli with a bit of butter and Parmesan cheese in their pasta?

Jambalaya – Ok, it’s time to get serious here.  This is my “it” recipe.  I have never found a taster who hasn’t enjoyed this jambalaya.  Admittedly, I’ve never served it to a true Cajun, but Cajun cuisine lovers alike tell me this is good stuff.  Leftovers alert!! This will make tons of jambalaya.

Clean Eating Sloppy Joes & Sweet Potato Fries – Mark my word, you will NEVER need to buy a can of store bought Sloppy Joes sauce ever again.  What’s even more impressive…it’s ground turkey.  Some of you are doubting ground turkey Sloppy Joes, I know.  That’s fine.  Make it with grass fed beef first. Then, once you know what I know about the sauce, try it with ground turkey. You won’t be saying… “Where’s the beef?” [I couldn’t resist!]

Hope something makes your belly smile.

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Banana Oat Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble Top

Adapted from Home to Heather


Muffin Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
1 c. almond flour
3 ripe bananas
3 organic eggs
2 T. honey
1 t. organic vanilla extract
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt

Topping Ingredients
1 c. oats
1 t. cinnamon, optional
3 T. organic coconut palm sugar
3 T. coconut oil (or organic butter), softened

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the muffing topping ingredients and set aside.  Grease muffin tins and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, mash the bananas.  To the bananas, stir in the remaining wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stir just until combined.  Fill muffin tins ¾ full.  Top the muffins with the oat topping.  Bake for about 20 minutes.


Slow Cooker Chicken (or Turkey) Osso Buco

Adapted from Milk Free Mom 

Ingredients
2 T dried thyme
4 large organic chicken thighs, skin removed and fat trimmed (approximately 3-4 lbs.)
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. frozen organic crinkle cut carrots (do not thaw!)
4 organic celery stalks, chopped
1.5 c. organic brown rice
8 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 c. dry red wine, optional (alternative: organic stock)
1 28-ounce can organic diced tomatoes in juice

Post Slow Cooker Ingredients
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 lemon, grated (juice retained as well)
Parmesan cheese, optional topping

Directions: Rub the chicken with thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Place in the bottom of the pot.  Next add the onions, carrots, and celery.  Evenly pour the uncooked rice atop. Carefully pour the liquid ingredients all around (wine and diced tomatoes and their juices).  If the rice is not covered, add some additional water or stock.  Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

Use two forks to bring the chicken to the top while also fluffing the rice.  The chicken will fall apart without much effort.  If needed, use the forks to break apart any larger pieces.  Top with the lemon peel and give the lemon a good squeeze too. Add the freshly chopped parsley and stir.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese.


Rigatoni with Broccoli and Organic Bagged Salad with Apple Cider Chia Seed Dressing

Adapted from Sunset Foods


Ingredients
16 T. olive oil
4 T. organic unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic
2 lb. fresh broccoli florets
2 c. organic broth or stock (Do you know the difference?)
1/2 c. fresh basil
2 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
5 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions: Begin by cooking the pasta in salted water.  While the pasta water is heating, prepare the sauce.  (When the water is boiling, add the pasta.  When the pasta is al dente, drain it and reserve approximately 1 cup of the pasta water.  Do NOT rinse the pasta.)

In the meantime, heat a large skillet to near medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter.  When warm, saute the garlic for about a minute or until fragrant.  Add the broccoli, stir, and allow it to saute for 2 minutes.  Add the stock, bring to a simmer, and cover.  Allow to simmer until the broccoli softens just a bit (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the pasta to the skillet along with the basil.  If needed, add some pasta water to create a bit more sauce.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some more fresh basil.

Organic Bagged Salad with Apple Cider Chia Seed Dressing

Salad Ingredients
Organic greens of your choosing
Feta cheese (alternatives: Blue Stilton, other stout cheese variety)
Red onions, very thinly sliced
Walnuts, roughly chopped (alternative: pine nuts, sliced almonds)

Apple Cider Chia Seed Dressing
Ingredients
1/3 C. apple cider vinegar
2/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. local honey
1 T. chia seeds

Directions: In a jar with a lid, add all ingredients and shake vigorously.  Assemble the salad.  Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.


Jambalaya

[Forgot a pic – who doesn’t know what jambalaya looks like, right?.?]

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients
3 T. olive oil
4 organic bell peppers (a variety of colors preferably to add variety of flavors and sweetness)
4 large organic stalks celery
2 large red onions
½ t. sea salt
½ t. black pepper, freshly ground
2 lbs. clean Andouille style sausage (alternatives: shrimp or extra chicken if a clean sausage isn’t available)
2 lbs. organic chicken breast  (alternatives: organic boneless thighs)
1/4 t. cayenne
2 T garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 T. paprika
2 t. thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 (15 oz.) can organic tomato sauce, no sugar added
1 (15 oz.) can organic diced tomatoes, no sugar added (alternative: fire roasted tomatoes – cautionary note, things will be spicy!)
3 c. organic chicken broth, (reserve extra broth or use water)
3 c. organic brown rice, dry (quick cooking or tradition)

Directions: To a large stock pot heated to medium, add the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.  Add the holy trinity – aka vegetables (bell peppers, celery, and onions) and the salt/pepper.  Give it all a good stir.  Saute until the veggies have softened (approximately 5-7 minutes).  Add the meat (chicken and sausage), dry spices (cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and thyme), and the garlic.  Cook until the chicken is no longer pink (approximately 10 minutes). Add the liquids (tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and broth) and the rice.  Give it all a good stir.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and allow to cook, until the rice is done, stirring regularly.  This could be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.

Tips: If using quick cook rice, keep a very close eye on things, and stir more regularly.  It will likely need more liquid (broth or water) to prevent sticking/burning.  If using traditional rice, it will require nearly an hour to simmer.  It will likely need more liquid added along the way as well.


Eating Sloppy Joes with Sweet Potato Fries

Adapted from Broke and Bougie and Broke and Bougie

Preparation Note: Prepare the sweet potato fries.  While they are baking, prepare the Sloppy Joes.

Sweet Potato Fries 
(1 sweet potato per person)

Ingredients
3 sweet potatoes
2 T. coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1/8 to ¼ t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. sea salt

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 475 degrees (bake not convection).  Slice the potatoes (skins on) into French fries.  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil and dry seasonings.  Line a baking dish with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the fries on the pan (do not allow them to touch one another or they won’t get crispy).  Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook 8 to 10 additional minutes or until done to your preferred crispness.

Sloppy Joes
Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 organic bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground turkey
3 T. honey
1 T. Italian seasoning (alternative: Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
1 t. sea salt
1 t. pepper
1 can organic tomato sauce
2 T. organic tomato paste
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. hot sauce*
1 t. soy sauce*
1 t. apple cider vinegar*
*These 3 ingredients can be replaced with Worcestershire sauce.

Directions: In a large, deep skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, and bell pepper. Cook until the veggies are softened (about 3-4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the turkey and break it up into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer to allow the liquid to reduce and thicken a bit (about 5 more minutes). Serve immediately.

Enough already with the holiday food!

SNACKS

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies – Talk about easy. Throw everything in a food processor and scoop the dough onto a baking sheet.  Bake. That’s it.  I know you may be thinking that these are a holiday treat, but in my book, chocolate and peppermint are delicious year round.

DINNERS

Indian Summer Chili – I don’t need an Indian summer to eat this chili. It is fantastic year round.  If you don’t like a spicy chili, cut back on the hot sauce – it’s definitely spicy as is!

Avocado & Bacon Grilled Cheese with Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli – Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich? Add some bacon and avocado and you’ve got a slightly different take on a classic.  Don’t forget about the broccoli!! This is, by far, the best way to prepare broccoli.  It’s slightly crunchy at the edge, garlicky, lemony, and cheesy.  What is not to love? This meal is on the table in 30 minutes!

One Skillet Chicken Fajitas – I don’t know about you, but after loads of holiday food, I’m ready for a dinner time staple.  You’ve seen this recipe here before, and it’s back again!

Hope something makes your belly smile!

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Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

(No picture this time – I forgot.  That’s ok, really, because they aren’t necessarily pretty.  They are however yummy.)

Adapted from My Whole Food Life

Ingredients
1 c. nut butter (ideas: peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)
¼ c. cacao powder (alternative: unsweetened cocoa powder)
4 T. pure maple syrup
¾ to 1 t. organic peppermint extract
¼ c. chopped clean chocolate (I like Liberty Chocolate)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add all ingredients to a food processor (omitting the chocolate chunks).  Process until smooth.  Add the chocolate chunks and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Using a tablespoon to scoop the dough onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.  (Alternatively, a baking stone works too.  May require a few more minutes in the oven).  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes.



Indian Summer Chili 

Adapted from Rachel Ray

 

Ingredients
2-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 lbs. organic ground turkey (not 99% fat free)
1-2 T. chili powder (check ingredients to avoid preservatives)
2 T. grill seasoning blend (check ingredients to avoid preservatives–Kroger’s Grill Time Chicken is a good option)
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, optional (alternative: balsamic vinegar)
1-3 T. hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy (several ingredients add heat – start slow and add more when tasting at the end)
1 large organic onion, chopped
2 large organic green or other color peppers, chopped
1 bottle of stout beer
1 (14 or 16-ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes (Carly: organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 c. organic smoky barbecue sauce (or make your own – recipe below)
1-2 c. organic, frozen corn, optional
plain Greek yogurt (optional topping)
crumbled organic tortilla chips (optional topping)
organic cheddar, shredded (optional topping)

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to medium heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  Stir the ingredients and break up the turkey into tiny bits.  Continue cooking until the turkey is no longer pink (approx. 5-7 min.). Add the onions and green peppers, and cook until softened (about 5 min.). Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to barely simmering.  Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 min.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients
1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. garlic powder (alternative: 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
1 T. onion powder
4 T. unsulfured molasses
3 T. raw honey
5 T.  balsamic vinegar

Directions: In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Store unused BBQ sauce in the refrigerator, or freeze.


Avocado & Bacon Grilled Cheese

Adapted from Table for Two

Ingredients
8 slices of 100% whole grain bread, (ideas: Ezekiel, sourdough, etc.)
12 slices of preservative free bacon, cooked to desired doneness
3 avocados, smashed
1 c. good quality  cheese, shredded (ideas: Dubliner, gouda, etc.)

Directions: I’m not sure, but I’m thinking directions might be offensive to most, but just in case… prepare sandwiches layers with bread, cheese, bacon, avocado slices, a final layer of cheese, and bread.  Heat skillet to medium heat and add a tad a butter. Once one side is golden brown, flip.  Once the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted, it is ready. Don’t skimp on the cheese!!

Both sides of the sandwich deserve a slice or two 🙂

Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

1 bunch of broccoli, separated into florets
2-3 T. olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated Parmesan cheese (topping)
Fresh lemon juice (topping)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees (bake, NOT convection). In large bowl, toss the broccoli, olive oil, salt/pepper, & garlic.  Arrange in a single layer on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes (at 10 minutes, flip the veggies with a spatula).  After removing from the oven, sprinkle with cheese and freshly squeezed lemon. Serve immediately.


One Skillet Chicken Fajitas

 

Fajitas:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 large organic bell pepper, seeded/sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can organic fire roasted diced tomatoes OR (3-4 chopped medium, fresh tomatoes)
Note: if using fresh tomatoes, add ¼ c. of salsa
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
sea salt/pepper
whole wheat tortillas (idea: Ezekiel brand tortillas)

Optional Fajita Fillers:
canned organic black beans, drained & rinsed
organic shredded cheese
organic Greek yogurt or sour cream
salsa
avocado, sliced

Directions: Warm a non-stick skillet to medium heat. Season all sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. To the skillet, add the olive oil and chicken. Cook until the chicken is browned on all slides (about 5-6 minutes). Add onions and green peers, cooking until the peppers are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Immediately add all remaining ingredients. The tomatoes will sizzle in the skillet. Reduce heat to a simmer. Allow some liquid to cook out (about 10 minutes). Season with salt/pepper to taste. Serve fajita mixture with whole wheat tortillas and your favorite fajita fillers.

“Let them drink eggnog.”

SNACKS

Semi Clean Sugar Cookies Yep, there is a bit of refined sugar in these cookies – specifically in the icing.  I’ve tried several icing recipes, and to be honest, I can’t seem to find one that tastes, looks and acts like traditional sugar cookie icing.  If you have a great “clean” icing recipe, please share.

Clean Eating Eggnog Oh.my.goodness. This is the real deal without all the nasty ingredients in store bought eggnog!  I’d put this recipe up against any store variety.  Have you ever read the ingredients in that stuff !?! Store bought organic eggnog is still full of questionable ingredients.

DINNERS

Creamy Avocado Spinach Pasta A beautiful and creamy pasta option that is ready in a flash.  What makes an already great recipe better? One that requires only a stock pot and a blender.

Kale (or Spinach) Egg Strata This is a trickster recipe. Everyone in my family turned their nose up at the looks of this dish.  However, my “two bite rule” saved the day.  Actually, one bite is all it took to convince them that this recipe is a keeper.  There’s just something about the slight bitterness of rye bread brings that works so well with creamy, cheesy goodness.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes This is a favorite pancake recipe, so it was a no brainer for Christmas morning. It’s fluffy, lemony, & a tad bit decadent. It’s a sure crowd pleaser every single time.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Semi Clean Sugar Cookies

Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food  

Cookie Ingredients
1½ cups white whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
¾ t. baking powder
¼ t. sea salt
½ c. organic cold butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2/3 c. organic coconut sugar
1 organic egg
4 t. organic heavy cream
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sea salt.  In a mixer, cream together the butter and coconut palm sugar for two minutes. Reduce the speed, and add the cream and vanilla. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and allow it to combine.  Add the remaining flour in thirds just until combined.  Use your hands to form a ball of dough.  Liberally flour a flat surface to roll out the dough.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes into the dough.  Carefully place the cookies on a silicone line baking sheet.  Bake for 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to cool a cooling rack.

Icing Ingredients
1½ c. powdered sugar
7 – 8 T. organic heavy cream (alternative: orange juice)
2 – 3 T. orange juice
Food coloring, optional (clean dye: India Tree natural dyes)

Directions: In mixing bowl, stir the icing ingredients together with a fork.  Adjust the texture with more/less powdered sugar.  Pour icing into individual containers and stir in food dyes, if using.

Truth: I used some India Tree dye as well as some store bought food coloring with terrible ingredients. Here’s were the 90/10 rule of clean eating comes in to play. It’s Christmas, and we only use these  once a year. I’m quite certain we will all live to tell about it 😏 


Clean Eating Eggnog 

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry  

Ingredients
2 c. organic milk (alternatives: almond milk, cashew milk, etc.)
3 organic egg whites
1/3 c. organic honey
1.5 t. organic vanilla extract
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon + extra to sprinkle on top

Directions: In a medium saucepan, add all of the ingredients.  Use an emersion blender to thoroughly combine the ingredients.  (Alternatively, add all ingredients to a blender.  Run at high speed to combine the ingredients before adding to a sauce pan).  At near medium heat, stir with a whisk, almost constantly.  Do NOT allow to boil or the eggs will scramble.  Instead, aim for barely simmering.  Cook at this temperature for 15-20 minutes. Once it begins to simmer you will notice the mixture beginning to thicken slightly.  At twenty minutes, remove from the heat.  Continue to whisk until simmering has stopped. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours).

When ready to serve, some additional milk may be needed to thin the eggnog just a bit.


Creamy Avocado Spinach Pasta

Adapted from Jo Cooks   

Ingredients
10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
1 clove garlic
1 avocado
1 c. fresh organic spinach
½ c. pine nuts
¼ c. organic fresh basil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
¾ to 1 c. salted pasta water, reserved
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional topping
Good quality olive oil, optional topping

Directions:  Heat salted pasta water to boiling and cook pasta to your desired doneness.  Drain the pasta, retaining the pasta water. Do NOT rinse the pasta.  

While the pasta cooks, in a food processor or blender, pulse together the garlic, spinach, pine nuts, basil, and lemon. Add the pasta water slowly to achieve your desired sauce consistency.  Season with salt/pepper to taste.  (Note: sauce has no salt, so don’t be surprised by the amount of salt/pepper needed.) 

In a large serving bowl, add the pasta followed by the sauce and stir to evenly coat the pasta. 

Serve individual plates with some Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.


Kale (or Spinach) Egg Strata

Adapted from Nutritionist Reviews 


Ingredients
1/2 loaf whole wheat rye bread, cut into bite sized chunks
2 c. organic kale, roughly chopped (alternative: organic spinach)
2 large organic tomatoes, chopped (alternative: 14 oz. can organic diced tomatoes, excess juices drained)
1 small yellow onion chopped or 2-3 chopped green onion or scallions
5 organic eggs
1/4 c. organic milk
1 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. dried dill, optional
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder,
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Salsa, optional topping
Several dashes of hot sauce, optional topping
Organic plain Greek yogurt, optional topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9×12 baking dish, mix together the kale, tomatoes, onion, and bread.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, garlic, dill, black pepper, and garlic powder.  Evenly pour the liquid over the kale mixture.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the egg mixture has set up (no jiggles when you wiggle the pan).  Remove from the oven and evenly top with the parmesan cheese.  Serve as is, or add some salsa and/or a few dashes of hot sauce. If you’re feeling really adventurous add a dollop of Greek yogurt along with some salsa and/or hot sauce.


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Adapted from Sugar and Charm

IMG_6881

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. sea salt

Wet Ingredients
6 drops or organic, organic liquid stevia (alternatives: ¼ c. honey or pure maple syrup)
1 c. organic milk (ideas: almond milk, cashew milk)
1 organic egg
1 T. organic butter, melted
1 t. organic vanilla extract
1 c.  organic whole milk ricotta cheese
2 lemons, juiced
Zest from 2 lemons

Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stir just until combined – do NOT over stir.  Make these pancakes as you would any other pancakes by adding a small amount of clean oil or organic butter to the pan (ideas: coconut oil, olive oil, etc.).  Top with hot, pure maple syrup!

Tip: If you want to take the lemony flavor to the next level, squeeze some lemon juice in the maple syrup before serving!

Alternatively, heat frozen blueberries and mash them into hot syrup.

Serve with preservative free bacon.

Christmas Breakfast Pancakes and Gingerbread Cookies

SNACKS

Chocolate Chunk Gingerbread Cookies – If you are looking for a soft gingerbread cookie with a hint of chocolate, then look no further.  These cute little guys maintain their softness (thanks to coconut oil), and they pack a big ginger and cinnamon punch. Enjoy one, or more than likely two, with some hot chocolate for a perfect treat!

DINNERS

Vitamix Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Hot Ham & Swiss Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – This creamy soup comes together quite quickly.  Simply roast the butternut squash, and then blend it with the several other ingredients until it’s hot.  That’s it!  Serve it alongside a hot ham and Swiss cheese grilled cheese sandwich and you’ve got a fantastic meal that warms the belly and soul.

Easy Caprese Salad – Recipe repeat alert!  I can’t count the number of times this recipe has saved the day when I have less than 30 minutes to make dinner.  Not only does this come together fast, it can be made in advance too.

Pear Apple Oven Pancakes – Here’s a great Christmas morning breakfast option.  I don’t know about you, but pears and apples are in abundance this time of year #officegifts.  Put them to good use in a most delicious way.  These pancakes are sweet, cinnamony, and visually impressive.

Hope something makes your belly smile!

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Chocolate Chunk Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from My Whole Food Life

Ingredients
2 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
1 – 1+1/2 t. ginger (depending ginger flavor)
1+ ½ t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. organic vanilla extract
1/3 c. 100% pure maple syrup
1 free range, organic egg (optional: flax egg replacement)
1/4 c. coconut oil (warmed in microwave to soften, but not liquefied)
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses
½ clean chocolate bar, chopped into chunks (I like Liberty Chocolate)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Combine and whisk wet ingredients until coconut oil is pea size or smaller.  Add roughly 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula. Repeat until dry ingredients are combined into the wet.  Top with chocolate chunks.  Dough will be too dry to mix in chocolate using spatula. With your hands, work the chocolate into the dough just until the dough becomes shiny (warmth of your hands will begin to melt the coconut oil resulting in a shiny surface and provide additional moisture).  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of parchment paper) to 1/4 – 3/8 inch thickness.  Cut out cookie shapes and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges begin to brown ever so slightly.  Do not over bake. Gingerbread men will still be soft in their belly regions when done. 

Note: I bake them on a baking stone. If using a baking sheet, they may require less baking time. 

Confession: for the pictured gingerbread cookies, I forgot to stir in the chocolate. I improvised by pressing chunks into them as if to create chocolate buttons 😏


Pear Apple Oven Pancakes

Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food  

Ingredients
2 eggs, 4 egg whites (organic)
2 t. organic vanilla extract
¼ c. + 1 t. organic honey, divided
½ c. white whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1½ T. organic butter
1 organic apple, thinly sliced
1 organic pear, thinly sliced
1 t. ground cinnamon
Pure maple syrup

Directions: Preheat the oven 375 degrees.

To the blender, add the first six ingredients (eggs, vanilla, honey, flour, baking powder, and sea salt). Turn on medium speed for 15 seconds.

Heat a nonstick to near medium heat.  Add the butter to coat the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the pears and apples evenly on the bottom of the skillet.  Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon the on the fruit and drizzle with the honey.  Sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until the fruit begins to soften, stirring gently once or twice.  Pour the pancake batter evenly atop the fruit.  Once the batter begins to set up on the bottom of the skillet (approximately 5 minutes), insert the skillet to the oven. Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until the top has set up and is slightly golden.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven.  Cover the skillet with a plate slightly larger than the skillet.  Invert it to reveal the sliced pears and apples.  Serve with warmed maple syrup.


Vitamix Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Hot Ham & Swiss Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted from Vitamix

 

Ingredients
2.5 c. organic chicken broth
1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed (how to roast a butternut squash)
½ T. olive oil
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
1 t. maple syrup
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
2 T. Parmesan cheese
1 slice Ezekiel bread
Salt and pepper, to taste
Organic Greek yogurt, optional garnish

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degree (bake, NOT convection).  On a baking sheet, lay butternut squash halves flesh side up.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt/pepper.  Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is very soft.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest until it can be safely handled and the flesh scraped out with a spoon.

Place the remaining ingredients in the Vitamix container in the following order: broth, squash, maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, cheese, and bread. Select lowest speed and slowly increase to highest speed. Blend for 4-5 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.  If you have a soup setting, select this instead.  Season with sea salt/pepper, to taste.  Consider a dollop of organic Greek yogurt for a slight tangy quick.


Easy Caprese Salad

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients
2 pints organic cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz. fresh “mini” mozzarella pearls, halved
6-8 T. olive oil
Big bunch basil leaves (18+ leaves), finely chopped or get fancy and chiffonade
½ to 1 t. sea salt
½ to 1 t. freshly ground pepper
Balsamic reduction, optional (recipe below)

Directions: In a medium bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a drizzling of balsamic glaze (optional). Serve immediately.

Balsamic Reduction
1 c. store bought balsamic vinegar
4-5 drops organic stevia drops (optional)

Directions: In a small sauce pan, add the balsamic vinegar and stevia. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until it has reduced by one-half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. It’s done when it is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.

 

Cold Weather Culinary Comforts

SNACKS

Breakfast Cookies – A great grab and go, guilt free breakfast item.  Or, it’s simply a great treat for when a cookie craving hits! (forgot to snap a pic – oops)

DINNERS

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches  – This is where it’s at when it comes to tomato soup. When you add the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich, your life will be complete.  I’m not even kidding!

Pan Seared Balsamic Marinated Chicken and Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli  – This dinner option may not seem all that interesting at first read. At first bite, you’ll appreciate its flavor and simplicity.  #30minutedinner

Indian Summer Chili – I don’t know why this is a “summer chili.” It is fantastic year round.  Get used to this recipe…it’s on repeat in my house often.  If you don’t like spicy chili, cut back on the hot sauce – it’s definitely spicy!

Arugula and Feta Farro with Pan Seared Chicken Sausage – This is a repeat recipe too.  It’s also a quick, impressive dinner option -great for entertaining.  It’s crazy easy, yet it tastes like hours of kitchen time was spent creating it. I usually double this recipe to ensure we can enjoy it all over again at lunch.  

Hope something makes your belly smile.

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 Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Weelicious

Dry Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. flax seeds

 Wet Ingredients
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (alternative: soften coconut oil)
1/2 c. organic, unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 c. pure maple syrup (alternative: honey)
1 large organic egg
2 t. organic vanilla extract

 Stir In Ingredients
1/2 c. organic raisins (alternative: dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries)
1/2 c. shelled pistachios, optional

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. You can do this by hand or alternatively in a mixer.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir a few times by hand.  Finally, fold in the stir in ingredients by hand.  Use a large scoop to create individual cookie dough mounds. Bake on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone for 12-15 minutes (slight browning at the edges = done).


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted Food Network  

Ingredients
1 lb. organic vine-ripened tomatoes
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (1 T. + 2 T.)
1/2 c. finely sliced fresh basil leaves
sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground
3 garlic cloves, minced
1(28 oz.) can crushed or whole tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano tomatoes)
28 oz. water (tip: refill the can of tomatoes)
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Quarter the tomatoes and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt.  Roast in the oven for approximately 15 – 20 minutes until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat.  Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil, fresh basil, minced garlic.  Sauté the basil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato and their juices).  With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes (if using canned whole tomatoes).  Season with freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Stir in the bread.  When they are ready, add the roasted tomatoes.  Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil.  Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).   Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (see recipe below)
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential.  You can use bread straight from the bread bag.  It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

Sandwiches Ingredients
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.  Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomato slices, a bit more cheese, bread).  Place buttered side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 8 minutes on each side. Check the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bottoms are not getting too dark.


Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Marinade
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper
3-4 organic chicken breasts

Directions: Seal chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag with marinade ingredients.  Marinade for at least 4 hour (preferably overnight).  Pan sear the chicken on both side until thoroughly cooked.

Note: If making to serve with Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli (recipe below), begin pan searing the chicken once the broccoli has begun roasting.

Lemon & Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients
1 bunch of broccoli, separated into florets
2-3 T. olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Parmesan cheese, grated (topping)
Fresh lemon juice (topping)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 (bake, NOT convection). In large bowl, toss the broccoli, olive oil, salt/pepper, & garlic.  Arrange in a single layer on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes (at 10 minutes, flip the veggies with a spatula).  After removing from the oven, sprinkle with cheese and freshly squeezed lemon. Serve immediately.


Indian Summer Chili 

Adapted from Rachel Ray

IMG_7039-0

Ingredients
3-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. organic ground turkey breast (not 99% fat free)
4 T. chili powder (check ingredients to avoid preservatives)
4 T. grill seasoning blend (check ingredients to avoid preservatives–Kroger’s Grill Time Chicken is a good option)
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, optional (alternative: balsamic vinegar)
1 – 3 T. hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy (several ingredients add heat – start slow and add more when tasting at the end)
1-2 large organic onion, chopped
2-4 large organic green or other color peppers, chopped
1 bottle of stout beer
2 (14 or 16-ounce) cans organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes (Carly: organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 c. organic smoky barbecue sauce (or make your own – recipe below)
2-3 c. organic, frozen corn, optional
plain Greek yogurt (optional topping)
crumbled organic tortilla chips (optional topping)
organic cheddar, shredded (optional topping)

Directions: Heat large, stock pot (or large Dutch oven) to medium heat. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  Mix ingredients and break up the turkey into tiny bits.  Continue cooking until turkey is no longer pink (approx. 5-7 min.). Add onions and green peppers and cook until softened (about 5 min.). Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to barely simmering.  Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 min.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry
Ingredients
1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. garlic powder (alternative: 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
1 T. onion powder
4 T. unsulfured molasses
3 T. raw honey
5 T.  balsamic vinegar
Directions: In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Store unused BBQ sauce in the refrigerator.


Arugula and Feta Farro with Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Organize Yourself Skinny  

Lemon Garlic Dressing Ingredients
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
2 lemons, juiced
¼ t. sea salt and pepper

Farro Ingredients
2 c. farro (whole grain)
4 c. organic chicken broth (alternatives: vegetable broth or water)
2 c. organic arugula (OR organic kale), reserve the remaining greens for the salad
1c. + ½ c. feta cheese, grated

(Tip: Buy a block of feta and grate it myself. Prepackaged feta crumbles have additives!)

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt/pepper and set aside.

(Note: One-half will be used for this recipe.  I reserve the remaining for a fantastic salad dressing.)

In a medium size stock pot, add the farro and broth.  Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook per the package instructions.

Prepare the chicken sausage by pan searing while the farro is simmering.

Drain the farro and return it to the stock pot.  Mix in the greens (arugula or kale) and feta to the warm farro.  Once the greens have wilted, pour ½ of the lemon-garlic olive oil over the top and mix to combine.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.

Serve the chicken sausage alongside the farro.  Alternatively, slice the cooked chicken sausage and stir it into the prepared farro.