Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers

I am now taking writing prompt suggestions! Seriously, ask me questions, tell me things you want to read about, ANYTHING! I do want to start posting recipes again for sure. But I just love writing about life and people and Jesus and things even more than I like sharing recipes with you. 31 People(s) was absolutely my favorite writing I’ve ever done. Give me ideas!

In the mean time, I’m dipping into recipes I never posted. I made a batch of these for my work lunches one week and I loved them EVERY SINGLE DAY. I admit that sometimes I don’t love my prepped lunches every day that I planned them for, but this was not one of those weeks. They were healthy and filling and low carb and pretty and delicious! For lunches I ate them with grape tomatoes, strawberries, and topped them with a little avocado and some fiesta sour cream (fat free sour cream or greek yogurt mixed with a taco seasoning packet).

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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CALORIES:  384 for 2 pepper halves, 192 for 1 (via MyFitnessPal)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken (I used half a bag of the Kroger pre-cooked frozen diced chicken breast)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (could also use frozen)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups kale leaves
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup reduced fat fiesta cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Carefully cute peppers in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds and white ribbed parts. You don’t have to keep the stem in tact, but it makes for pretty presentation! Rinse the pepper halves out and line then up in a 9X13 casserole dish.

Spray a skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Saute sliced onions and diced chicken until chicken is cooked or warmed through. Timing will depend on what kind of chicken you are using. Add frozen corn. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning and lime juice. Add black beans and kale and stir until combined and warmed a little.

Fill each pepper with as much topping as you can, packing it in to get the most. Very carefully pour warm water into the casserole dish so it covers the bottom half of the pepper halves. This helps the peppers get soft while they cook. You can also blanch them before to help with softness, but this method is way easier to me. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with cheese and turn the broiler to high. Watch closely, but let the cheese melt and the tops get a tiny bit charred.

Serve with other veggies, rice, or fruit. Top with sour cream, avocado, salsa, or whatever you like!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Potato Foil Packets

Say hello to my new obsession… FOIL PACKETS! I saw the idea from a Hungry Girl Facebook video. If you Google “Hungry Girl foil packets” she has lots of ideas! Her general “recipe” is veggie + meat + seasoning + sauce. This was the version I came up with with that inspiration and the same inspiration I plan on using for MANY other versions. Think of the possibilities! Sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, zucchini, even sausage, Asian flavors, honey mustard, herb-y flavors, etc etc etc. Since I just made this up on a whim I don’t know exact measurements of seasonings, but sprinkles, pinches, and drizzles count right?? Just don’t be too heavy handled, jerk seasoning is spicy! These were super easy, virtually no clean up, and great for portion control. Seriously, I loved this! My roommate and I were both sad when we were done eating it, not because we weren’t full, but just because it was over!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Potato Foil Packets

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 10 minutes prep + 30 minutes cook time
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS (IN ORDER OF USAGE):

  • 1 3lb bag of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 18 red potatoes (3 per packet, used a 3 lb bag of them but there were a couple of rotten ones)
  • 1 large onion
  • Paula Deen House Seasoning (http://www.pauladeen.com/house-seasoning)
  • Jamaican jerk spice (I got mine in a little ziplock at Fresh Market)
  • Jamaican spiced skinny ranch (1 dry ranch dressing packet made per package instructions but subbing mayo for 1 cup Greek yogurt + 1 cup skim milk + couple of pinches of the Jamaican jerk seasoning to taste)
  • 12 pieces of tin foil about a foot long each (length of a 9×13)
  • cooking spray
  • olive oil

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DIRECTIONS:

Spray 6 pieces of the foil with cooking spray. Cube potatoes in pieces as even as possible. I cut three at a time and put them down on their piece of foil. I used my scale to make sure the potato groupings were as similar in weight as possible for even cooking time. Dice onion in similar sized cubes (I cut it in half, then with flat side down sliced it in half again horizontally, then made verticals cuts all the way across then crisscrosses back again to get cubes, not that it matters or that anyone needed that much detail haha, but it’s the most even cut I think!). Divide onion up evenly and add to each piece of foil. Drizzle a little (really just a tiny bit) olive oil over each pile of potatoes and onions. I sprinkled a pinch of house seasoning and a pinch of jerk seasoning on each one then tossed the piles around with my fingers to get the potatoes and onions evenly covered with oil and seasonings.

Rinse thawed chicken breasts and pat them dry with paper towels. A 3lb bag of chicken comes with about 7-8 chicken breasts and two inevitably are usually really tiny. I don’t like the weird fatty/skin/veiny parts so I cut those off. I used my scale and measured the biggest one which was about 5.3 ounces, so used the extra piece of chicken to get each packet to have about 5.3-5.5 ounces of chicken. I left the main piece per packet whole then added in the extra pieces right beside them. Sprinkle the chicken in each packet  with more house seasoning and jerk seasoning until the top is evenly coated as if I had dry rubbed it (not to heavy, just a pinch or two).

Drizzle each packet with a tablespoon of the skinny ranch. Fold in the long sides first and then the short sides. I put 3 packets each on a baking sheet for cooking in case there was any spillage. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Carefully slice open the foil (it will be hot!) of the packets you are eating then (I made extra for leftovers). Turn the oven broiler on and leave them in the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown it just a bit. Each person gets their own fun packet! Use the leftover ranch on side salads to serve with the meal.

 

The Green Smoothie

If I told you that I have several (16 to be exact) posts saved in my drafts folder with titles and pictures already edited with pretty words on them that are only lacking a few words here and there to be post-ready, would you scold me? (Editor’s note: If I had an editor, or was an editor, he or she would probably add some extra commas in that really long sentence you just read. But alas, no editors here.)

Editor’s notes aside, I should be scolded! And not for my lack of comma usage. Words are the easiest part and I need to get some dang words added to those drafts. One day. One day, or not, but hopefully one day, I’ll easily be able to make time to blog regularly again. But until then, I’ll randomly happen upon a draft every few months and throw a little something out in the blogosphere. Or I’ll type a bunch of spastic thoughts in my iPhone Notes and post it (like I’ve done quite a few times amidst the most “recent” blog posts).

Now I will stop speaking so I can share something that almost seems extinct around this space lately… A RECIPE! This smoothie is a regular staple for me, but super on my mind right now because I did a self-imposed made up burger detox last week. I went to Boston the week before for a work conference and had FOUR burgers. I was only there for 5 days y’all. I needed a healthy eating/living restart anyway. So I’m did smoothies for breakfast (a berry detox smoothie I might post sometime soon) and smoothies for lunch (this green smoothie). This week I’m back to just this smoothie for breakfast and healthy packed by me lunches. (I also must confess that I ate two burgers last weekend immediately following the burger detox that ended Friday. And they were delicious!)

I’m going to post the “base” recipe, but depending on your needs you can add extra things to it. And let me tell you, don’t be scared of the green! This smoothie literally tastes like a peanut banana smoothie. My friend Lindsey introduced me to a version of this and I’ve been hooked since. The spinach is tasteless in this and just adds extra needed nutrients! Lately I’ve been adding protein powder (just basic vanilla whey protein). I started working out again and noticed I wasn’t meeting the protein goals My Fitness Pal sets for me. I looked back at old logs and notice I rarely meet my protein goals! So I decided it was time to supplement. I add two scoops for an extra 90 calories and 15 extra grams of protein (I use this one). Previously I added a tablespoon of chia seeds. So like I said, depending on your needs you can tweak this how ever you need to!

THE Green Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: less than 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Calories: 260 for 1 serving (via MyFitnessPal)

INGREDIENTS (IN ORDER OF USAGE):

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons PB2 (note, if you use real peanut butter the calorie count will go up)
  • 2 handfuls of raw spinach

DIRECTIONS:

Easy! Add all ingredients randomly or in listed order and blend. For my cheap Black Friday deal way less fancy than the fancy blenders kind of blender, I’ve found this order of ingredients blends the best. Putting the banana on bottom followed by the liquids and remaining ingredients seems helps it get going and blended smoothly. This makes a large serving, about 30 ounces. I drink the whole thing and just that (with protein powder added like I said previously, which is a total of 350 calories) for breakfast (or lunch if a detox week). If you need to not just drink your breakfast, you could split this with your housemates.

One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Sweet Sausage

A RECIPE! I promise I’m gonna try ya’ll. Last year was full of transition. This year shouldn’t be unless God wants to send the bearded, huggable, Jesus loving man I always ask for, and there would be no arguments there! Therefore I should be able to establish some writing, posting, taking pictures of food (oh wait, I never stopped doing that) patterns. Kinda sorta made this dish up for last night’s dinner, and it was a hit! The roommates loved it, it’s pretty healthy for a creamy pasta dish, it was REALLY filling, and it was EASY! I see a new obsession coming with one pot concoctions.

One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Sweet Sausage

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: less than an hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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Inspired by: this recipe, but I changed it/added to it LOTS

Calories per serving: 427 for 8 servings / 570 for 6 servings (via MyFitnessPal)

Ingredients (in order of usage):

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons of refrigerated minced garlic (or 8 cloves of garlic minced)
  • 2 packages of chicken apple sausage, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons light butter (I used light I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, italian seasoning
  • 1 lb pasta (I used Barilla Campanelle, but you can use any)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon or chicken base + water to make my chicken broth)
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan (this kind, not the fancy kind, it blends better into sauces)
  • 1 10oz bag of spinach

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a big stock pot (you’ll need it to be high for when you add the spinach). Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add sliced sausage and saute until browning on the edges. Add all seasonings to taste, probably a teaspoon of each is what I did if I had to guess, maybe a little more for the salt and italian seasoning and a little less of the pepper. Add butter and stir until melted. Add pasta and let it get coated in the yummy stuff. Add milk and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes then reduce heat to medium low. Should be softly bubbling just at the surface. Stir frequently and let simmer for 18-20 minutes or until pasta reaches desired al dente consistency and sauce is thickening. Add parmesan and stir until combined. Add spinach and stir until wilted and combined. DONE! Dinner in 30 minutes.

*How about a MyFitnessPal recipe calculating tip! It’s SO easy to put recipes into MyFitnessPal to figure out calories/track them. If you find a recipe anywhere online, you can actually put the link into MFP from the web or from the app. From the web: on your dashboard page click food, then recipes, then copy and paste the link into recipie importer. You can take away the ingredients you aren’t using, change ingredients like 2% milk to skim milk, and add ones you are, change serving size, etc. From the app: click more, my recipes and foods, the add symbol in the top right corner, then add from the web. You can do the same adding and changing from the app. You can also start from scratch in both and make your own recipe. In the app you can even scan the barcode of the exact ingredients you are using. Just make sure for all ingredients you select the correct portion size, like for pasta in this one I had to select whole container. IT’S SO EASY!

Creamy Kale Dip

A few “fun” facts: 

1. It’s been so long since I’ve posted a recipe, I had to go in search of the last recipe I posted to remember how I format recipe posts.  

2. (insert dramatic pause with gasps and lots of  exaggerated dot dot dots)…

This is the first recipe I’ve posted in 2014… 

… (we needed some dramatic extra dot dot dots here)

… IT’S NOVEMBER! And not just November, but November 19th. What the heck?! I AM SORRY!  

3. The last time I even kind of posted a recipe was on September 20th, 2013. Even then, it was just linking to one of my recipes posted somewhere else. 

4. The last real recipe I posted was on July 13th, 2013.

5. That was 1 year and 4 months ago. That was 495 days ago. That was 70 weeks ago. (Who knew the internet had a date calculator to insert dramatic unnecessary facts.) That was several job interviews, another job, another house, hundreds of cupcakes, over a thousand cookies, way too many pictures of food, unimaginable pounds of butter and cartons of eggs, and a feature article in a food magazine ago. 

6. This is a food blog. Apparently food blog is a loose term and doesn’t always include food. Or anything. Oops. 

I AM SO SORRY! I know I don’t have to apologize to you, but I’m apologizing to me too! I have 16 posts saved in my drafts that I never finished and 500 pictures saved on my phone and on clouds that I never used. Let’s call 2014 the year of transition and the year that I got lost. It was a GREAT year, I hope to write more about just how great it was. But it was busy year. A busy busy busy year. A year where I prided myself on not following other people’s rules, loved myself more than I ever have, and loved my life more than I ever have. But it was also a year where I felt like blogging had too many rules I thought I had to follow and therefore not enough time to make perfect posts to fit into perfect rules. Not the right backgrounds, not the right lighting, not healthy enough, not decadent enough, not unique enough, too wordy, not enough words, too shallow, too deep, too broad, not broad enough, and so on. 

Today, I just want a recipe. And so I’m going to. 


If you’re a post college grad (aka old enough to want to contribute) but still the younger generation in your family like me (aka still the niece/nephew, granddaughter/grandson, daughter/son, etc. and not one of the matriarchs/patriarchs of the family), it’s likely all of the staple holiday dishes are claimed with white knuckles and when you ask what you can bring they tell you ice, cups, or canned cranberry sauce. I declare that instead of getting our own white knuckles in a passionate speech about how you’re an adult now and want to contribute too (maybe I’m the only one who has such speeches prepared), just bring that ice or those cups, and some non-claimed dish to knock their socks off and do all the talking for you (no speeches required). 

If they assign you cranberry sauce, make your own dang homemade cranberry sauce (I’ve been using this recipe for years, and now it’s MY claimed staple). Bring a seemingly fancy secretly easy fall side dish they’ve never thought of  (like pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash or spicy roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and toasted pecans). Bake a fall flavored dessert that’s not pie (I’m bringing pumpkin cobbler this year and giving you a pumpkin spice trifle recipe soon). And my favorite idea, MAKE THE APPS! Appetizers, not to be confused with applications. Appetizers are frequently forgotten for holiday feasts, especially Thanksgiving. But what a great idea! Instead of everyone having to sneak bites of turkey behind Mr. Protector of the Turkey’s back while waiting for the Mr. and Mrs. Always Late, be the Miss Thanksgiving Hero with your apps! 

Creamy Kale Dip

  • Servings: LOTS
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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INGREDIENTS (IN ORDER OF USAGE):

  • 1 16 oz bag chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (the kind in a jar), divided
  • 1 cup fat free mayo (It exists! Kraft brand with a red cap. If you are a mayo snob, it’s in a recipe mixed with other things and is not the main star, so just try it, or go for full fat if you must.)
  • 1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese (the kind you shake on pizza)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

 
Saute kale in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic, distribute around pan, then add half of the kale. Saute for about 3-5 minutes tossing it with tongs until all the leaves are turning a bright green color. Don’t overcook! You just want to bring out the brightness of the kale and infuse it with the garlic and olive oil. Set first batch aside on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and repeat with remaining oil, 1 more teaspoon of garlic, and the rest of the kale. Put the second batch on another baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.
 
 
 
Mix mayo, greek yogurt, sour cream, parmesan, last teaspoon of garlic, seasonings, and spices together in a large bowl. Set aside. With more paper towels, squeeze out any excess natural waters from the kale. Use a food processor (or a good knife and elbow grease) to chop the kale up finely. Mix finely chopped kale with creamy mixture. Add liquid hot sauce to taste, probably about 2 teaspoons to give it a good kick. Let chill for at least an hour. Hollow out a bread bowl to serve it in for extra fun flare. Serve with carrot chips, celery, bell pepper sticks, crackers, or bread cubes. 
 
Note: I made this for a friend gathering with girls and guys, and everyone loved it and didn’t believe it was healthy!
 

Chickpea Tomato Basil Salad

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SUMMER IS UPON US! Notice how I almost seemed excited? I actually don’t love summer, especially in the ‘Sip (Mississippi for any non-southern readers I might have). It’s hot and muggy and I can’t wear my cardigans and pumpkin isn’t in style. I just love fall, it’s my favorite and I long for it 9 months of the year. But of all the fall off seasons, summer is my least favorite. Therefore, I do things to try to make summer more fun! I will admit that it is a fun cooking/baking/meal planning season. THE PRODUCE! Oh man, the produce. Farmer’s Markets, my papaw’s garden… ALMOST makes me love summer. Actually, I do love summer for that sole reason, produce from Farmer’s markets and the garden! And grilling. I love it. LOVE! So all that to say, expect summer themed recipes rich with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and grilled things. Like this yummy, bright salad! 
This lovely salad would pair perfectly with any summer dish, like fish tacos! I was featured over at Mississippi Women Bloggers for Foodie Friday with a yummy Greek Fish Tacos recipe that you should definitely make with this salad. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Green Lite Bites.

Ingredients:

  • 2 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Directions: 

Combine garlic, vinegar, and honey in the bottom the bowl you intend to serve the salad in. Whisk. Add the tomatoes, basil, and chick peas to the same bowl and toss to coat everything. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Breakfast Fruit Parfaits

You know my breakfast story. Before the getting healthy journey, I was really bad at eating breakfast! I usually woke up with just enough time (sometimes not) to get ready and run out the door, always skipping breakfast. You know my speech and the speech of every person who eats healthy or TRIES to eat healthy, breakfast is important! Statistically, people who eat breakfast lose more weight and make healthier food choices for the rest of the day.

Allow me to confess though, I still haven’t gotten any better at the making time to sit down and eat breakfast part. I still get up with barely just enough time to get ready. And I used the phrase “get ready” very loosely  My version of getting ready usually involves second day hair in a bun or wet hair in a bun. I’ve gotten a little better at showering at night since boot camp, but buns happen often. So for me, breakfast has to be quick! Unfortunately quick isn’t always healthy! Quick is poptarts or things with too much sugar. The solution? Make ahead things! You know I love make ahead breakfast things! I love make ahead Breakfast Burritos. I’ve made make ahead egg mcmuffin sandwiches. There have been Banana Pancake Muffins. So many batches of Crustless Breakfast Quiche. And oh, the overnight oats! Over Night Oats 1. Overnight Oats 2. Making things ahead the weekend before is the way to go for me! And thus Breakfast Fruit Parfaits were inspired!

This recipe makes eight pint jar sized parfaits. They keep pretty fresh for 5 days, but I used mine even into the next week. They had a little more liquid from the fruit, but I just added in some granola and they tasted fine. The expiration dates for the yogurt and cottage cheese was much later.

Ingredients:

  • 32 ounce container of lowfat or nonfat vanilla yogurt (can use Greek or regular)
  • 32 ounce container of fat free cottage cheese
  • fruit of choice (I used 2 cans of mandarin oranges, 2 cans of sliced peaches, 2 cans of sliced pears, and frozen raspberries, thawed. All the canned fruits were in Splenda, not syrup)
  • slivered almonds, optional
  • low fat granola, optional

Directions: 

I made two of each flavor. I split the raspberries evenly and used one can of fruit per each parfait. Dice peaches and pears into smaller pieces. Layer 1/4 cup of yogurt on the bottom of each mason jar. Add 1/4 cup cottage cheese, smooth down slightly. Add 1/2 – 3/4 of the fruit per parfait in. Add another 1/4 cup of cottage cheese then another 1/4 cup of yogurt. Top with remaining fruit per parfait. Refrigerate, grab, and go! Top with optional slivered almonds or low fat granola right before eating.  

Layered, healthy, filling, hearty, refreshing and yummy! I didn’t get tired of these the entire eight days that I had one!


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Salad in a Jar & Boot Camp

Remember that whole boot camp starting this week thing that I mentioned in my last post? Yeah. It started. It’s not called boot camp to just sound cool, it’s intense! Today is the first day that I didn’t make audible noises every time I moved to or from a standing position. Getting up, sitting down, it all hurt. I also left a trail of things everywhere I went that I dropped on the ground of floor. Just today I was able to pick up the bar of soap that I dropped in the shower two days ago. Sorry Starbucks about that pink plastic spoon I dropped on the floor and couldn’t pick up, it just hurt too bad!

I would say it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, but I won’t lie… It was pretty awful!  Life is good, I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a truck anymore, and I’m proud of myself! However, my apartment is a wreck because my week consisted of nothing but wake up, Jesus & Starbucks time, work, boot camp, eat something I didn’t have to stand to make, sit until I could convince myself it was better to take a shower at night than in the morning when I’d hurt worse, shower, sleep, rinse and repeat. I don’t remember the last time I went to be before midnight every night in a week. Several nights I went to be before 11!

A few things I learned the first week: Burpees were created by Satan himself. I suck at sprinting. I can sweat way more than I thought I could. My entire body turns red when I work out intensely. I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Weight Watchers gives more Activity Points for doing intense physical activity for a reason! It’s apparently normal to gain weight the first week of starting new, intense work out programs (we all did!). Even when it feels like my heart and lungs are about to leap out of my chest, my body can apparently keep going. Working out with people makes a huge difference! I need to marry a personal trainer so I have a motivator for life.

Now to the food! For me, lunch can be the hardest meal of the day to make healthy choices for. It’s the one meal we usually aren’t home to eat. So today I bring you my all time favorite lunch idea!

A few things you probably already know about me.

  1. I love any make ahead recipe.
  2. I like food prep work A LOT.
  3. I love anything with layers.
  4. I love anything in a mason jar, anything. 
  5. I don’t believe in paying money to eat out for lunch breaks!
  6. I’m not a fan of the whole get up early to pack a lunch thing.
If you share any of these things in common with me. This recipe, which is more of an idea, is for you! I don’t do these every week, I like variety! But it’s one of my go-to make ahead favorite lunch ideas. I love salad! Love it. But before this idea, it was impossible to bring salad to work for lunch without bringing everything and the kitchen sink with me to work. And who wants to be that much of a diva and have a lunch bag bigger than the purse and work bag we already have, or am I the only one who carries three bags to work? If you layer these salads correctly, they can keep in the refrigerator for up to four days! Last week I made two, but I’ve made four before and had them every day for lunch.

First let’s talk a little prep. Prep! It can be so easy with the right tools. So many prep tasks can be done before.

I used to hate carrots in my salads. I liked them dipped in hummus or ranch, but hated them in salads for two reasons. 1. Carrots are hard to cut up into bite sized pieces! Every time I tried little carrot pieces would fling across the room. 2. Stabbing little carrot slices with a fork is equally as hard. Carrots meet mini food processor. It chops carrots in seconds to little crumbly type pieces, about the size of bacon bits. Perfect!

Other prep involves chopping whatever you want in your salad. I usually use whatever I have. For this one my prep involved boiling and chopping eggs, sauteing some pre-cooked frozen chicken pieces, and chopping green onions. That’s it!

Then it’s all about the layering and ingredients. The most important thing is to keep the dressing and lettuce as far away as possible. Keep the wet stuff on bottom and dryer stuff on top. I layered this batch of salad with the following ingredients in the order listed.
  • strawberry balsamic vinaigrette
  • green onions 
  • finely chopped carrots
  • julienne chopped cucumbers
  • quartered grape tomatoes
  • dried cranberries
  • a little sprinkle of mexi-blend cheese (close to expiration date)
  • a little sprinkle of feta cheese (close to expiration date)
  • cooked chicken breast, seasoned with Tony’s, pre-diced
  • a little sprinkle of turkey bacon bits
  • one boiled egg, chopped
  • romaine lettuce (Keep stuffing it, lettuce compacts!)
  • dried french onions (left over from holiday cooking)

Did I mention this recipe can also be used to clean out your fridge/cabinets? If it can be put in a salad, put it in! Be sure to bring a paper plate or large bowl with you to work to pour out the salad. The blog where I found the idea, said to shake it up and eat out of the jar, but that’s never worked for me. Just slowly pour it on a plate or bowl and eat!

I saw a blog that posted weekly pictures of what she brought for lunch, no recipes, just ideas. It was useful to me, and I’d be willing to do that if it would be useful for you! Yes? No? Let me know and I’ll start doing it! 


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Skillet Peach Blueberry Crumble (Sugar Free)

I know, I know. On January 2nd I gave you my list of New Year’s Resolutions, which included a commitment to blog more. Yes, I am aware it’s now January 19th, over 2 weeks later. BUT… I hadn’t forgotten! I was steadily cooking and snapping pictures and fully committed to blog more. I was just also incorporating some of my other resolutions and getting used to adding those into daily life too. I’m 6 for 6 this week with taking intentional time out of my day to not be in my apartment having idle time and to be somewhere else without distractions where I won’t find TV shows to watch, things to clean, or things to eat (aka Starbucks, and another coffee shop once). I’m starting to like being at Starbucks more than being at my apartment… I get a little upset when I walk in and someone is at MY table. I mean don’t they know?! Since Starbucks breeds productivity for me apparently, I decided to try it out for blog stuff too. So productive! In addition to reading, journaling, praying, and listening to my Bible app, I also edited pictures for 3 blog posts, prepped all 3 to go out this week, AND organized all my other pictures into folders labeled with the recipe (or DIY project) and put them all into a BLOG ME folder! Aren’t you proud?! 
First up… Sugar Free Skillet Peach Blueberry Crumble! 

A healthy one to kick off my commitment to blogging! You know I love sugar and am by no means committed to a sugar free lifestyle. I mean I do want to open a bakery the summer of 2014 and buy stock in sugar. However, this is one of the best sugar free things I’ve ever made and/or eaten! One of my RAs made a New Years resolution to not eat sugar. I like a challenge, so I decided to try and make something yummy and sugar free that she could eat and that the rest of us would like. AND I got to use one of my new cast iron skillets to do it!

Don’t be fooled though. I start boot camp next week, so I’ve been taking every last moment to eat unhealthy things while I can. Confession – my first thing to make in a cast iron skillet was donuts. Fried biscuit dough donuts covered in glaze. And I made them twice in two weeks. I also ate Zaxby’s for lunch today. Monday. Monday things are getting serious! I mean it is a competition and one of the winning prizes is a gift certificate to take a class at a cooking school. I’m gonna win, duh! And thus the cast irons will only be used for healthy things until April. They probably would have been mad at me if I didn’t use them to make donuts at least once though right??

Skillet Sugar Free Beach Berry Crumble

Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag of frozen blueberries (12 oz)
  • 1 bag of frozen peaches (16 oz)
  • 2/3 cup Splenda (can replace with equal amount of sugar)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar (can replace with brown sugar, increase to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup light butter (I used Brummel and Brown), melted
  • Optional – vanilla ice cream for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Combine frozen blueberries, frozen peaches, Splenda, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 2/3 cup water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the peach berry mixture. Gently stir in the lemon zest and reduce heat to low. Continue simmering the fruit, gently stirring, until the juices have thickened and the mixture is more on the clear side than the creamy side. Remove the saucepan from the heat and scoop the mixture into the prepared skillet.

Stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add the melted light butter, stirring until butter is mixed evenly. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the peach berry filling.

Bake until the topping is nicely browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or eat just like it is!

My personal preference, is to top it with a small scoop of ice cream and let it completely melt until it looks messy and not quite as pretty and picture perfect. I love melted ice cream with berry desserts.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? 


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Overnight Oats

You know how I have all those weird seasonal food aversions? No soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, or hot coffee unless it’s cold out. No watermelon, or any melons for that matter, unless it’s hot out. I also kind of feel this way about oatmeal. I LOVE a bowl of warm cozy oatmeal in the fall and winter, but I’m not a huge fan in the summer. 
I kept seeing cold overnight oatmeal on Pinterest. I didn’t buy into it at first because I thought the texture might be weird and most recipes called for chia seeds, which freaked me out a little. Chia pets. Chair seeds. They are the same things. I’m not a picky eater, but that made me hesitant. Since then I’ve discovered it’s normal and okay to eat chia seeds. I’m not scared of them, but still haven’t tried them. Apparently they are really good for pregnant women. One day when/if I get pregnant, I’ll add chia seeds to my oats. For now I’ll save my self a trip to a health food store. 
All that to say, try these! You don’t have to have the fancy chia seeds. My pregnant friend made them first (with chia seeds) and highly recommended them to me. We have similar food likes, so I trusted her recommendation. I’m in love! I got obsessed and game up with EIGHT flavor combinations. I’m gonna work on a pumpkin version next week. This is one thing that will not be a seasonal food. I love them for summer to take the place of hot oatmeal, but I love them so much I will definitely eat them year round. 

Base Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (NOT the instant kind)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup non fat Greek vanilla yogurt

Directions: 

Pour yogurt, oats and milk in a pint sized mason jar. Shake it until all ingredients are combined. At this point your jar will be about 3/4ths full. 

Add your toppings of choice, and shake until mixed. You may have to shake a little extra for some toppings. If it’s not combining well, stir in the toppings to combine all ingredients. 

Refrigerate overnight. I made four at once and they were good up to 4 days. I don’t think I’d go more than 4 or 5 days because fruit and non-fat yogurt can produce excess water.

For pretty presentation you can save out tiny bits of your toppings to garnish the tops. 

Each base recipe is 7 points on Weight Watchers. Extra points for different topping combinations are listed below. 

Peach Melba

  • 2 small nectarines (or peaches) diced
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Add 2 points for jam.

Peaches and Cream

  • 2 small nectarines (or peaches) diced
  • dash of cinnamon
  • drizzle of honey

Add 1 point for honey.

Strawberry Banana

  • 1 medium banana, diced (I sliced it, halved the slices, then quartered the slices)
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Add 2 points for jam.

Banana Nutella

  • 1 medium banana, diced (I sliced it, halved the sliced, then quartered the slices)
  • 1 tablespoon Nutella (one really is enough, Nutella is SWEET)

Add 3 points for Nutella.

Banana Peanut Butter

  • 1 medium banana, diced  (I sliced it, halved the sliced, then quartered the slices)
  • 1 tablespoon reduced calorie peanut butter (2 if you like more)
  • drizzle of honey

Add 2 points for 1 tablespoon of peanut butter + 1/2 teaspoon of honey.

Banana Chocolate (for those who like chocolate, but not Nutella)

  • 1 medium banana, diced  (I sliced it, halved the sliced, then quartered the slices)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 packet of Splenda

No extra points! 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder is zero. According to recipe builder you’d count the points for bananas in recipes, but I say if they’re free as a snack they are free as a topping!

Banana Nut

  • 1 medium banana, diced  (I sliced it, halved the sliced, then quartered the slices)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
Add 2 points for honey and how every many points for the nuts you choose. 

Apple and Cinnamon

  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Parkay spray butter
Saute diced apple with a little Parkay spray butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar until they loose a tiny bit of their crispness. Add 1 point for brown sugar.

Stir into base recipe. Shake to combine completely. 


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