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 😉

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Roasting Veggies: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

SNACKS

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Another great muffin recipe that can serve as breakfast on the go or as a lunchbox treat.

Oatmeal Raisin Nut Butter BitesThese are not new to We Eat For Real – we just love them.  Since they can get a little soft, I sometimes freeze them if they are going to be in a lunchbox. Per Per my little one, they are “perfect” by lunchtime.

DINNERS

Sweet Corn with Beets and Basil and Grilled Chicken Sausage This is an impressive and side dish that doesn’t take a lot of effort other than to boil the corn and beets.  After that, it’s a matter of chopping up some basil and stirring in the cheese.

Warm Butternut Squash Quinoa Humph…I “over roasted” (a.k.a. burned) the veggies.  I programmed my oven and headed out the door for my little one’s horseback riding lesson.  When I returned, my veggies were blackened.  Unfortunately, this is not a Cajun recipe 😦  This was a sad, sad moment in time as this dish really showcases natural sweetness that emerges when veggies are roasted.  Do as I say, not as I do and keep a closer eye on roasting veggies!

One Skillet Chicken Fajitas – Nothing new to see here.  Just a tried and true recipe that makes the weekly menu list more often than not.  Who doesn’t love a one skillet meal that allows everyone to create their own favorite fajita?

15 Minute Swiss Chard Pesto Quinoa Bowl and Organic Greens (Salad) with Garlic Vinaigrette – Apparently, I was on a quinoa roll this week. It’s quite versatile as you can tell from this week’s meal plan. This particular recipe is a really fast option.  This is especially true if you use a store bought pesto. Luckily, we can all find “clean” pesto fairly easy. It may be in the specialty area of your local supermarket, but they are out there 🙂

Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta with Our Take on Smashing Tomato’s House Salad – I feel as Italian as a Kentucky chick can when I make this meal. If you use fresh, good quality ingredients, this dish is molto buono! Don’t feel like chicken? Leave it out. It will still be fantastic and ready about 10 minutes sooner. That’s saying something because it’s a 25 minute meal!

Game Day Mexican Pasta Salad – Mexican pasta?? Is that authentic Mexican food? Doubtful! However, it worked out great for tailgating. I never take a mayo based dish for tailgating (makes me nervous).  Due to this, I had to rework the original recipe a bit. I used goat cheese in place of mayo, but I think Greek yogurt could work too.  Next go round, I’ll change the pasta to increase visual appeal – maybe a multi-colored spiral of sorts. 

I hope something makes your belly smile…

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

Adapted from Super Glue Mom

 

Wet ingredients

½ c. creamy almond butter (alternative: nut butter of your choosing)
¼ c. raw honey or maple syrup (or 1/8 c. of each)
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Dry ingredients

¼ c. coconut flour
5 T. oats (I’ve used old fashioned or quick cooking oats)
2 T. ground flax seed
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. sea salt
Stir In
¼ c. organic raisins
Directions: In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix together with a rubber spatula or your hands. Add in the raisins. If the mixture seems to wet, add a bit more coconut flour. If too dry, add a bit of water. Using a tablespoon to measure, roll the dough into bit sized balls with your hands. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Sometimes, I freeze these for about 10 minutes to speed things up a bit. Store in refrigerator (or freezer).


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Adapted from My Whole Food Life


2 c. gluten free oat flour (make your own by grinding old fashioned oats in blender or coffee grinder)
2 t. baking powder
½ t. sea salt
2 ripe bananas
¼ c. unsweetened organic applesauce
¼ c. maple syrup
¼ c. organic milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. chocolate chunks (try my favorite chocolate liberty chocolate bars)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray/grease a muffin tin. In small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). In a larger bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in the remaining wet ingredients (applesauce, maple syrup, milk, & vanilla). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chunks. Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake 10-12 minutes.


Sweet Corn With Beets and Basil With Grilled Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 ears of organic corn, husked
8 baby beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1-2 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 oz. goat cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions: In a large pot of salted water, boil the corn until cooked (about 4-5 minutes). Remove corn and set aside, retaining the water. Add the beets to water and simmer until soft (about 30 minutes). Remove the beets and allow them to cool slightly. Before peelings the beets, protect your hands with “sandwich bag gloves.” Once the skins are removed, dice the beets and place them in a bowl. Cut the kernels from the cobs, add them to the beets. Gently mix to combine. Top the salad with fresh basil and goat cheese crumbles. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Do not over stir the salad or all will become pink.

Serve with grilled preservative free chicken sausage.


Warm Butternut Squash Quinoa

Adapted from Shape

 

1 small butternut squash, chopped
2 organic apples, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 c. Brussels sprouts, chopped
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp. cardamom (optional)
Chopped parsley for garnish
Sea salt and pepper
1 c. quinoa, optional (consider cooking in vegetable stock for even more flavor)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the squash, apples, Brussels sprouts and onions with the olive oil, cardamom, and salt/pepper. In a single layer, add vegetable to the baking sheet – do not overlap. Roast for 45-50 minutes, flipping halfway through roasting. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the quinoa per the package directions (replace the water with vegetable stock). Remove the quinoa from the heat and keep covered until veggies are done roasting. In a large bowl, add the roasted vegetables and quinoa. Stir in the feta and chopped parsley. Season with sea salt/pepper to taste. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. 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. Enjoy!


15 Minute Swiss Chard Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Adapted from Table For Two


2 c. organic quinoa
4 c. stock (vegetable, chicken, or just plain water)
6 c. organic swiss chard, washed, de-stemmed, roughly chopped
(Alternatives: other organic greens…spinach, kale, arugula, etc.)
4 T. basil pesto
½ t. sea salt
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Directions: Cook quinoa according to package directions, substituting the water with vegetable stock.  Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the remaining ingredients: swiss chard, pesto, sea salt, and Parmesan cheese.  Plate and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit more Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Organic Greens (Salad) with Garlic Vinaigrette
Salad Ideas
2 handfuls of organic greens
¼ c. olives
Cherry tomatoes
2 T. gorgonzola cheese (alternative: your preferred cheese)
Directions: Gently toss all salad ingredients and top with the Garlic Vinaigrette.

Garlic Vinaigrette
¼ c. balsamic vinegar (alternatives: apple cider vinegar, white balsamic vinegar)
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. local honey
sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
Directions: Add ingredients to a lid with a jar. Shake and pour over organic greens salad.


Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta

Adapted from Menu Musings


3-4 organic chicken breasts (pound out to ensure even cooking)
Sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 c. organic tomatoes, chopped
4 t. garlic, minced
3 T. organic butter
1/2 c. organic basil, chopped
1 lb. 100% whole wheat pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Directions: Warm a deep, large skillet to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Don’t be shy.  The olive oil will be the base for the sauce. Season both sides of the chicken with sea salt & freshly ground pepper. Add the chicken to the olive oil and saute for 6 minutes on one side.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted water. If you time this right, both the sauce and pasta will be ready at about the same time. When the pasta is done, drain it. Do not rinse!!

Flip the chicken, and allow to to cook another 4 minutes before stirring in the tomatoes.  Things will get a bit explosive with sizzling and bubbling at the edges. Two minutes later, add the basil and then the garlic. Finally, stir in the butter. This butter is not really optional. I’ve omitted it once.  It just wasn’t not the same! It’s only 1 tablespoon, and it’s organic- relax 😉. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 2 minutes (not a minutes less).  Cut the chicken into slices on the bias before returning it to the skillet. Season the sauce with sea salt/pepper to taste.

Plate the pasta and sauce. Top with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and Parmesan cheese!

Our Take on Smashing Tomato’s House Salad
Salad
Organic greens of your choice
¼ c. chopped walnuts
½ red onion, sliced
¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Balsamic reduction (see recipe below)
Balsamic Reduction
1 c. store bought balsamic vinegar
4-5 drops organic stevia drops (optional) (alternative 1 t. honey)
Directions: In a small sauce pan, add the balsamic vinegar and stevia. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer until it has reduced by one-half (about 30 minutes).  Stir occasionally. It’s ready when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.


Game Day Mexican Pasta Salad

Adapted from The Recipe Critic

 

1 lb. 100% whole wheat pasta
1 c. organic corn, frozen or fresh
½ pint organic cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ to ½ c. Kalamata olives, chopped
½ can organic black beans, rinsed
¼ red onion, chopped
½ organic bell pepper, chopped
4 oz. goat cheese
1 c. salsa
¼ c. olive oil
Sea salt/freshly cracked pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Directions: Cook the pasta in salted water. During the last two minutes of cooking, add the corn to the boiling water. When the pasta is al dente, drain the corn and pasta.  Do not rinse!

In a large bowl, stir together the cherry tomatoes, beans, onion, and bell pepper. In a small serving bowl, whisk together the goat cheese, salsa, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic.  Pour the dressing over the veggies and stir.  Once the pasta and corn are cool, gently stir them into the mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.