Turkey Taco Soup

In my house crock-pot soups, like this turkey taco soup, are a life saver and are usually on the menu at least once a week. It’s easy, healthy and is ready to eat when I walk in the door after work. I cannot explain how comforting it was last night to come home from a long day at work to smell this soup ready to go in our crock-pot.

And even better this turkey taco soup recipe leaves plenty of left overs for lunches I can bring to work. I usually pack my soups for lunch in a mason jar so I can microwave and eat right out of the jar. And no spills on my way to work!

Turkey Taco Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped onion
3 minced garlic cloves
2 cups black beans (or a 15 ounce can)
3 cups chicken broth
8 ounces tomato sauce
15 ounces diced tomatoes
4 ounces green chilies
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:
Green onions
Cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Begin by browning the turkey in a large skillet until cooked through. Drain any fat.

Then simply add the turkey and all remaining ingredients into your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. And dinner is done!

I prefer to top mine with cheddar cheese and chopped scallions. The hubby prefers crushed up tortillas chips and cheese.

Turkey Taco Soup

 

Carrot Pancakes

Carrot pancakes sound a bit crazy – but stay with me. These pancakes are not only an easy breakfast or dinner option, they pack extra veggies and are slightly sweet. It’s a win, win, win.
And in my house, pancakes for dinner are a big deal because my husband loves eating breakfast for dinner – I think it makes him feel like a rebel or something. So he gets to feel like a rebel and I get to each something fun and healthy. Again with the win, win.
Just think of these carrot pancakes like carrot latkes with syrup.
 carrot pancakes

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
 3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups finely grated carrot (about 1 pound)
Maple syrup, for serving
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, through ginger. In a second bowl mix all remaining ingredients, except the carrot. Slowly stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined. Fold in grated carrots.
Heat a non-stick pan with cooking spray. Spoon mixture onto pan, flipping when the the tops begin to bubble – just like normal pancakes. Flip and finish cooking for another two minutes or so.
 carrot pancakes
Top with maple syrup.
Enjoy!

Kitchen Gadget Wish List

Kitchen gadgets are meant to make life simpler and like any home cook – I love a good kitchen gadget. And now that we have a house – instead of a teeny tiny apartment – I have room to grow my collection. I now have a closet in the basement specifically for my kitchen collection, with everything neatly organized in bins. Mixer attachments, baking sheets, muffin and donut tins, pie plates, pastry bags – I have them all. But of course there are always a few tools I’d love to add.

Here are just a few from my kitchen wish list I found while daydreaming/shopping William and Sonoma:

Spiralizer
kitchenaid spiralizer

When I first saw these I thought it was crazy but then I made pasta from zucchini and I was hooked. I’ll love anything that helps replace my pasta habit with something a bit more healthy. And I have a bad pasta habit. And I can it as a KitchenAid attachment. Done.
Garlic Peeler
garlic peeler

I love garlic but I hate peeling it. It’s oddly sticky and smelly. No matter what I do I swear I can smell the garlic on my hands days later. Cure? Garlic peeler.
Herb Keeper
herb keeper

In the summer we have a herb garden  on our deck. However, in the winter I buy  fresh herbs and they always end up rotting in my fridge. I am thinking of a bunch of basil that has turned black in my fridge right now. This little herb keeper will solve my winter herb problems.

Ice Cream Maker
ice cream maker

Just cause this would be fun. Who wouldn’t want to experiment and make their own crazy combinations? PB&J, blueberries and pistachios, carrot and dark chocolate…. And again its a KitchenAid attachment.

Trust me, carrot and dark chocolate is going to be a HUGE hit.

Be back soon!

 

 

Pear and Maple Muffins

We are spending the day inside watching the nor’easter outside our window and a cold, snowy day begs for homemade muffins. This recipe started as an apple cinnamon muffin then transformed into a pear and maple version.  Pears and I have been having a moment.

pear and maple muffins

And this muffin is healthy! Whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Canola oil is replaced with a combination of apple sauce and coconut oil. And this recipe gets its sweetness from the pear and maple syrup – no refined sugar! A delicious muffin that you can feel good about?! Sign me up!

pear and maple muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
3 eggs
2/3 cup pure maple
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated pears, about two medium pears

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and prep a muffin tin with liners.

Begin by combining all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. In a second bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except the pear. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, lightly stir until just combined. Fold in grated pear.

Spoon batter into muffin cups until 3/4 full.

pear and maple muffins

Begin baking the muffins at 425 degrees for the first 5 minutes before dropping the temperature to 350 degrees and baking for another 18 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

pear and maple muffins

 

Enjoy!

Weeknight Zoodle Lo mein

Food trends come and go and most of the time I ignore them. However, zucchini pasta is something  I have definitely embraced. I love anything that tricks me into thinking I am eating pasta without all of the carbs. This lo mein recipe is a great weeknight dinner. It’s fast, delicious and has tons of veggies. AND its a healthy cure for a Chinese food craving.

zoodle lo mein

Ingredients:
2 zucchinis
1 cubed chicken breast
4 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower etc.)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon corn starch

Begin by whisking together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chicken broth, Sriracha, ginger and corn starch. Whisk until fully combined and set aside.

Cut both zucchinis into noodles either with a spiralizer or a mandolin. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook through. Add veggies and cook for another 3 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking. Remove chicken and veggies from the pan and set aside.

Add sauce to pan and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stirring constantly. Add zucchini noodles and cook for another 2 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Be careful to not overcook the noodles!

Remove from heat and add the chicken and veggies to the zucchini, stirring until everything is coated in sauce.

zoodle lo mein

Enjoy!

Cowboy Cookies

These are the kind of cookies I dream about with a giant glass of milk. These are not fancy cookies, they are not multi-day creations. They are simple, delicious and remind me of what a cookie should be. Soft, crunchy, buttery, chocolately…
And I tell myself the oats and almonds makes them healthy.

cowboy cookies

cowboy cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 chopped almonds

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Begin by creaming the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add into the wet mixer and mix until just combined. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips and nuts.

cowboy cookies

Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough on a prepped baking sheet. Be sure to place the dough a few inches apart – these will spread a bit.

IMG_4188

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

cowboy cookies

This recipe should make about 3 dozen cookies – if you don’t eat too much of the dough like I do.

Enjoy!

Pittsburgh Steak Salad with Sweet Potato Fries

Those of us from Pittsburgh have a habit of putting french fries on everything. Making even the healthiest of salads unhealthy – but delicious – with a fried potato topping. Trust me, once you give this a try you will not complain.

Steak Salad

To save time, this recipe uses frozen french fries. But you can of course make your own! And another hint, if you don’t enjoy the strong taste of onion simply rinse the sliced onion in cold water. This will remove that intense bite.

Ingredients:
1/2 lb flank steak
6 cups spinach
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup feta cheese
Frozen fries
Preferred salad dressing

Begin by preparing frozen french fries.

As the fries cook, preheat a grill pan (or the grill if you are lucky and its warm). Lightly season your flank steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak for just a few minutes on each side. Set aside to rest before slicing (against the grain).

Steak

Assemble your salad with the remaining ingredients, top with steak and sweet potato fries.

steak salad

Enjoy!

 

Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

It’s a Steeler Sunday in Pittsburgh! 

The Steelers are in the playoffs and that means homemade chicken black bean nachos and beer in my house. And really, when it is snowing outside and there is football on what could be better than a big plate of fresh, hot nachos?!

chicken black bean nachos

And the Steelers lost…. but Max still looks adorable in his jersey!

IMG_7351_

Ingredients:
1 cup shredded chicken**
1 cup black beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 avocado, diced
tortilla chips

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by heating the black beans and cumin in a small skillet with a little water. Once the beans are warm, take a fork and smash slightly so they don’t roll off the chips. Remove from heat.

Begin layering the chips with all toppings, except avocado. Layering ensures you do not have the lonely, naked chips on the bottom – no one likes those.

Bake nachos for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese melts. Top with diced avocado.

IMG_4280_

** Salsa chicken is my go-to for recipes like this. Before running our Sunday errands, I just throw frozen chicken in the crockpot with some salsa, onions and peppers and let it cook on high for four hours. Once cooked, the chicken shreds easily and is perfect for nachos and weekday brownbag lunches.

Salsa Chicken

 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Homemade pizza is a staple in my house. We started purchasing dough from Whole Foods but soon began making our own to save money. The below dough recipe is our go-to and can easily be doubled to freeze for future pizza nights. Making the dough is a longer process – so you should try to plan ahead and make this over the weekend or the dough the day before. If you refrigerate or freeze the dough you want to leave it out to bring it to room temp. This makes it easier to work with.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This dough also makes delicious sausage bread – but that is another recipe for another time.

Ingredients:
Dough
3 to 4 cups flour (we use 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce
1 cup marinara
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Toppings
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced chicken
1 sausage, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella or both
1 tablespoon olive oil

Begin by making the dough in a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment. Combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl. Begin running the mixer and add the warm water and oil. The water should be warm enough to activate the yeast but not so hot that it will kill it, around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the mixer running until the dough forms a ball – adding additional flour if the dough is too sticky.  Remove dough from mixer and knead gently on a floured surface.

Place the dough in a bowl coated in olive oil, cover and put aside in a warm area for about one hour – or until the dough has doubled in size. Once the dough has doubled, place again on a floured surface, dividing into two equal parts. One piece is enough for one large pizza. Freeze the extra dough in a plastic bag.

While the dough rises, cook the chicken and sausage. Slicing both.

When you are ready to begin building your pizza, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll or stretch dough to desired thickness and shape and place on a baking sheet or preheated pizza stone. Pre-bake your dough for 10 to 15 minutes – this will help prevent the dough from getting too soggy when it is topped.

Once the dough is pre-baked you can begin topping. Brush the edges of the pizza with olive oil so it will crisp up. For the sauce, simply mix together the marinara and BBQ sauce. You can adjust the ratio to taste. Layer the toppings.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Feel free to finish the pizza under the broiler to get the crust crispy.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Enjoy!

Apple Cheddar Frittata

My husband and I usually make frittata for dinner a few times a month. Mostly because its a simple, healthy recipe that can be easily adapted for whatever we have on hand. And I know the apple sounds crazy – but trust me on this one. It adds a slight sweetness that is amazing with the eggs and cheese. Trust me.

Frittata

Ingredients:
1 small potato, sliced
1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup cubed apple *I used a Fuji
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together the eggs, cheese, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Set aside. 

Prep a 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Begin by quickly cooking potato, apple and broccoli on medium heat until just soft. About 10 minutes.

Pour egg mixture into skillet being sure all ingredients are covered with egg. Reduce the heat and cook until the edges begin to set, for about five minutes. Do not stir!

Frittata Edges

Place the entire skillet into the oven, baking for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the frittata is completely cooked through. This recipe takes slightly longer than other frittatas – I think the apple adds more moisture. Be patient!

Frittata

Enjoy!