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

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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.

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Easy Crowd Pleasers, Please…

SNACKS

Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins – Make a double batch – you’ll be glad you did. Don’t opt out on the organic coconut palm sugar topping. It just makes that outside bite a tad sweeter, and who doesn’t like that???

DINNERS

One Skillet Chicken Fajitas – If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’ve seen this recipe before. It’s fast, easy, and delicious. The filling options are limitless – allow your stomach be your guide.

No Bean Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili – What makes this different from everyday chili is cumin. Cumin gives it an earthy, slightly spicy flavor that is distinctly yummy. The sweet potatoes are an added bonus that blend in with the southwestern feel. Finish it with a few organic chips and a dollop of organic Greek yogurt.

Creamy Squash Soup – This is my second go round with this recipe. I changed absolutely nothing from the last time. It’s a great creamy, fall soup. The buttermilk is an interesting twist. No worries, you don’t need to buy buttermilk. Make your own with regular milk and lemon or vinegar. Buttermilk recipe included!

Eggs, Avocados, & Olive Oil Drop Biscuits with Easy Oven Bacon – Another solid recipe on repeat. This “breakfast for dinner” is a frequent request at my house.

Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta – Bottom line…super duper easy crowd pleaser. Do things right and use a good quality cheese and olive oil to finish each plate.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Banana Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins

Adapted from Bowl of Delicious

Wet Ingredients
½ c. coconut oil, softened
¼ c. local honey
2 organic eggs
2 very ripe bananas
½ c. organic Greek yogurt
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Wet Ingredients
¼ t. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. sea salt
1.5 c. whole white wheat flour
1 c. organic rolled oats

1-2 c. frozen organic blueberries (or other berry)
organic coconut palm sugar, optional muffin topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with olive oil (alternative: silicon muffin cups that require no greasing).  In a large bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the wet ingredients to the bananas and whisk to combine. Stir the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined (ideally under stir it just a bit).  Stir in the frozen blueberries – maximum of three turns of the spatula.  The less you mix, the better when it comes to muffins. 

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle each muffin with some palm sugar. Bake for 20/25 minutes.


One Skillet Chicken Fajitas

 

Fajitas 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 with whole wheat tortillas and your favorite fajita fillers.


No Bean Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Ingredients
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. organic ground turkey
1 t. cumin
1/4 t. chili powder
1/4 t. paprika
sea salt, to taste
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans of organic fire roasted tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can of tomato sauce
14.5 oz. water (refill from empty can of tomatoes)
2-3 medium organic sweet potato, peeled and diced into bite size cubes
1 bay leaf
fresh cilantro, chopped optional garnish
Greek yogurt, optional garnish
Organic sweet potato chips, optional garnish

Directions: In stock pot, on medium-high heat, coat the bottom of pan with olive oil. Add the turkey, cumin, chili powder, paprika, & sea salt. While stirring, break apart the turkey into small bits. Cook about 4-5 min. or until the turkey is no longer pink. Stir in the onion and cook until softened (about 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until the it’s fragrant (about a minute). Add remaining ingredients (tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, sweet potatoes, and bay leaf). Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. If it too thick, add some water. Remove bay leaf.

Eat as is, or serve topped with chopped cilantro, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and a few crunched up sweet potato chips.


Creamy Squash Soup

Adapted from Super Healthy Kids

Ingredients
1 T. organic butter
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 organic yellow summer squash, cut into rounds (no need to peel or remove seeds)
1 small winter squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into cubes (see squash peeling tip below)
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into cubes (see squash peeling tip below)
¼ t. each sea salt/freshly ground black pepper
1 large organic potato, cut into cubes (alternative, several small potatoes)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 c. organic chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk (homemade buttermilk: 1/2 c. milk + good squeeze from a lemon)
Fresh herbs, finely chopped, for garnish (chives, rosemary, basil, etc.)
Organic Greek yogurt (alternative, organic sour cream), optional

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil followed by the onions, squash, and salt/pepper. Give it a good stir and allow the veggies to cook until softened (about five minutes). In the meantime, microwave the cut potatoes for 3-4 minutes to soften them just a bit. Stir in the garlic to the stock pot and cook until the garlic is fragrant (about a minute). Add the potatoes to the stock pot, followed by the broth/stock. Bring it to a boil and then remove from the heat. Carefully pour the mixture into a blender to liquefy. If you have a superb quality blender, this will be your final step (other than to stir in the buttermilk right before serving). If your blender is so-so, you may need to pour the soup over a strainer to create a smooth, creamy texture. If the latter is your method, stir in the buttermilk, after straining. Season with salt/pepper to taste. Drop in a dollop of Greek yogurt and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Tip: Microwave hearty winter squash for 1-2 minutes prior to peeling. Use a shark knife to easily remove the outer skin.


Eggs, Avocados, & Olive Oil Drop Biscuits with Easy Oven Bacon

Adapted from A La Graham
IMG_7094
This meal requires a bit of commentary to help ensure the steps are timed right.  The bacon is prepared for baking (line baking sheet with foil & lay out the individual bacon slices).  Similarly, the biscuits are prepared and ready to pop in the oven, when it’s time.  Once these both are in the oven (which does not happen simultaneously – keep reading below), the avocados and eggs are prepared.

This meal starts with a cold oven.  The bacon goes in the cold oven, and then it’s turned on and begins to heat.  When the oven reaches full temperature, the biscuits go in the oven.  When the biscuits are done, your bacon will most likely be done too. (An exception would be for those who desire exceptionally crispy bacon. In that case, the bacon may need to remain in the oven a few minutes longer than the biscuits).

Easy Oven Bacon            
6 slices, preservative free bacon

Directions: Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. Place the bacon in a cold oven (note: the oven is NOT preheated). Heat the 450 degrees. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness. It’s soooo easy this way, and there is no mess!

Biscuits (this recipe can be doubled)
1 c. whole white wheat flour
1.5 t. baking powder
.5 t. sea salt
1 T. local honey (alternative: 6 drops of organic stevia), optional
¼ c. olive oil
½ c. milk

Directions: In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk and olive oil (add the sweetener now, if using it). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined. Use large serving spoons or a large scooper to “drop” the biscuits on a baking sheet. Once the oven reaches 450 degrees, bake for  for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until slightly golden.

While the biscuits are baking, prepare the avocados and eggs.

Avocado Mixture
2 avocados, mashed
Lemon juice
Sea salt/pepper, not optional
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
Organic tomato, sliced (optional)

Eggs – prepped to your preference (I whisk eggs with a splash of milk and sea salt/pepper)

Directions: Half the avocados, remove the seeds, and scoop the goodness into a small bowl. With a fork, mash the avocado. Season with salt/pepper and add a squeeze of lemon (note: lemon keeps the avocado from browning). Stir once more.

Cook the eggs as desired.  I typically scramble the eggs for a week night meal.  However, sunny side up (AKA “dippy eggs” in my house) is also popular.  The warm, but still liquid yolk, adds richness to each bite!

Assembly

Start with an upside down biscuit (the flat surface is key). Next, is a healthy slathering of the avocado mixture. Finally, top with eggs, pressing the eggs into the avocado to help them “stick” to the biscuit. Finish with a dash or two of Tobasco style hot sauce, if you’re feeling daring.  It really adds a great layer of flavor.



Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta

Adapted from Menu Musings

 

Ingredients
4 organic, free range chicken breasts, pounded to ensure even cooking
Sea salt and black pepper
Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. 100% whole wheat pasta
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. chopped fresh tomatoes (alternative: 2 cans organic diced tomatoes, drained)
1 c. fresh organic basil, chopped (reserve a bit for garnish)
1-2 T. cold organic butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garnish
Good quality olive oil, garnish

Directions: Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with sea salt/pepper and 21 Seasoning Salute. Warm a large skillet and the olive oil to near medium heat. (Yes, you need all 4 tablespoons of olive oil). This is an olive oil and fresh tomato sauce.

While the skillet heats, bring a stock pot filled with water to boiling. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse once cooked.

Add the chicken to the hot skillet. Flip the chicken once it has cooked halfway up the sides (approximately 4 minutes). After cooking an additional 4 minutes on the other side, add the tomatoes and garlic to the skillet. Give it a stir. Add the basil and the butter. (The butter is critical). It adds a certain silkiness that makes it oh so yummy. Stir everything one more time. Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Serve each plate with some fresh basil, cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tip: Pasta is always best enjoyed with a glass of wine 😉

Kale & Eggs…Is that really good?

SNACKS
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – Give serious consideration to doubling this recipe. You’ll be sad when these soft, cake-like cookies are gone.

DINNERS
Basil Gremolata Potatoes and Tomatoes with Organic Greens Salad – This is how potatoes should be eaten! I’ve never seen potatoes get eaten so quickly. They are slightly crunchy at the edges, a little bit salty, and insanely good with the gremolata topping.

Zucchini/Squash Lasagna – My little one is convinced she does not like zucchini/squash. She never suspected that the thinly sliced zucchini/squash were anything but pasta. She ate this like it was her job! This recipe is a great way to use up the squash/zucchini that seems never ending this time of year

Baked Zucchini with Goat Cheese – Thank you Mary Margaret (\We Eat For Real guest blogger) for sharing this recipe with me. The original recipe calls for cooked chicken.  I did not have any when I made it.  But, I did have my favorite pesto. So, I added a bit of it. I also had lots of cherry tomatoes.  So, I threw in a few of those too. This is a perfect stand-alone meal, but it could easily serve as a side to chicken sausage, chicken, etc.

One Skillet Chicken Fajitas – Fast, easy weeknight go to meal. (We needed to eat and run in order to life’s next event = no time for picture.)

Kale & Eggs – Ok, let’s be honest…the name doesn’t sound all that appealing. As a result, folks are hesitant to jump on this bandwagon.  This is unfortunate because kale and eggs compliment each other beautifully. Top with a bit of goat cheese, and serve it alongside some sliced tomatoes and you’ve got a  #gourmetbreakfast

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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