Week 23: Raspberry & Apple Honey Almond Salad with Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Raspberry and Apple Honey Almond Salad with Berry Vinaigrette
Raspberry and Apple Honey Almond Salad with Berry Vinaigrette

Holy Cow!!  This was AMAZING and such a great refreshing summer dish!!!  You could sub strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries for the raspberries and the almonds for walnuts if you prefer, but it was SO good just like this!!!  I have broken down the ingredients by part for your convenience.

  • Raspberry Salad
  • 10 oz. spinach
  • 6 oz. raspberries
  • 1 honeycrisp or juicy red apple, diced
  • 1 Granny smith apple, diced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced and diced (optional)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • Honey Roasted Almonds
  • 1 cup almonds sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of  sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 3 tablespoons seedless tripe berry jam (I happen to have this, a raspberry or other jam would work too)
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry basil
  •  salt and pepper (if desired)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
    1. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk all the ingredients together until they are well combined.
    2. Give it a taste taste, if it needs a bit more sweet you can add a bit more honey or if too sweet, add a bit more balsamic.
    3. Season with salt and pepper if you desire.
    4. Stick this in the fridge until you are ready for it so it can chill.
  3. Roasted Honey Walnuts: (If you want, you can do this before making the dressing and make the dressing and/or salad while these cook)
    1. Start by lining  a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Warm the honey in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds (it should kind of liquify) and then add the almonds and stir them until they are evenly coated.
    3. Spread the almonds on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake  them for 10 minutes.
    4. Remove them from oven and sprinkle them with sugar and salt and stir until evenly coated.
    5.  Let these sit about 5 minutes to cool and harden.
  4. Salad: Add all of the Salad ingredients, the now cooled almonds and the vinaigrette (give this a nice shake or whisk beforehand if it has separated) into a large bowl and then toss it until it is evenly combined.

If you are not serving the entire dish, you can keep the feta and vinaigrette aside, toss the other salad ingredients and add cheese and dressing as desired to single serving.  The dressing will keep in the fridge for several days.

The well diced cucumber, apples and green onion
The well diced cucumber, apples and green onion
Pre dressing Salad ingredients
Pre dressing Salad ingredients
Drizzled with Balsamic Dressing, Pre Toss....YUM!
Drizzled with Balsamic Dressing, Pre Toss….YUM!

 

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Week 22: Loaded Baked Potato and with Chicken and Bacon Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserol
Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserole

Ideally I cook my family a nice healthy recipe every night, sometimes we live a little and this was one of those nights…

This was delicious…

Ingredients

3 or 4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into coins (easy to do when just slightly frozen, diced if you prefer)
8 slices bacon (precook it and make it crispy then crumble it)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 green onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter (diced into bits)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use olive oil spray to grease a 12″ x 9″ baking pan or casserole dish.
  3. Spread half of the diced potatoes in bottom of the pan.
  4. Place the coined chicken breasts evenly on top of the potatoes.
  5. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp each).
  6. Sprinkle with half of the bacon, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and half of the green onions.
  7. Spread the remaining diced potatoes on top.
  8. Now layer with the rest of the bacon, another 1/2 cup cheese, the rest of the green onions and another dash of salt and pepper (around 1/4 tsp).
  9. Place the small diced bits of butter evenly over the casserole.
Pre Oven Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserole
Pre Oven Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserole

10. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

11. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes, add the other 1/2 cup of cheese and then bake another 10 minutes.  Top with chives if desired and serve warm.

Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserole
Loaded Baked Potato with Chicken and Bacon Casserole

Week 21: Porcupines (Brown Rice:) and Ground Beef Easy Skillet Meal

porcupines skillet



 I have adapted this recipe from similar I have seen and made to be a bit more healthy.  You can substitute ground turkey for the beef as well if you like. This is a SUPER QUICK weeknight meal that is crowd pleasing and you can feel good about what you are feeding your family!

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef
1 package of onion soup mix (near the salad dressing dry mixes in most stores)
1 1/2 c. hot water
1  c. uncooked brown rice
1 can tomatoes (15-16 ounces) of organic diced tomatoes
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

1.  In a large skillet on medium, crumble your pound of ground beef and brown it.

2.  Once browned, stir in the onion soup mix, the water,  brown rice and can of tomatoes.  Stir it up.
3.  Cover the skillet and cook the dish on low heat for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
4. Once the rice is tender, sprinkle the dish with cheese,  allow it to melt and serve warm!

Week 20: BEST SIDE DISH EVER! Lemony Corn Quinoa “Salad”

corn quinoa salad


I was making a really flavor filled chicken dish the other night and trying to come up with a nice side dish to compliment it.  It needed to be yummy, but simple enough in flavor to not have TOO much going on next to the chicken.  Viola! This was born and has been made 3 times since!  Everyone loved it, the kids went back for more!  It takes no time at all to make and just a few ingredients!  Plan about 20 minutes to prepare and the recipe as listed should serve 6.

 

Lemony Corn Quinoa “Salad”

Ingredients:

2 ears corn (or one cup frozen sweet corn defrosted in a pinch)
1 Tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 scallions, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Place the corn in a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the corn and bring it to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the pot stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

2. Remove the corn from the pot and let it cool.  You can move on to the next steps and then when time permits, come back and carefully cut the kernels off the cob.

3. Prepare the “dressing” by whisking together the lemon zest, lemon juice, melted butter, and honey in a small bowl.

4. Cook the quinoa in a pot of of boiling salted water according to  the package directions.

5.  Once the quinoa is cooked, add it, the corn kernels and the chopped scallions to the bowl.   Mix in the “dressing” well and season with salt and pepper if desired.

You can adjust your corn amount (adding more is fun:) to your liking as well.

WEEK 19: Scallops with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Browned Butter

YUM YUM YUM!  A relatively fast dinner that is TOTALLY decadent!!!


The BEST way to eat Asparagus.  Scallops with Prosciutto and Browned Butter over Asparagus
The BEST way to eat Asparagus. Scallops with Prosciutto and Browned Butter over Asparagus

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Scallops made me nervous but I keep the heat to medium, medium high for only a couple minutes and did not overcook…not even a bit rubbery and SO YUMMY!  The prosciutto was a MAJOR fantastic addition!

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 Lb. asparagus
  2. 3 1/2 tablespoons  butter (I used salted)
  3. 1 and 1/2 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto, bake in 1/2 inch strips and then crumble when cool
  4. 1 pound sea scallops
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  7. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/4 cup chicken stock (or 1/4 tsp of chicken granules dissolved in 1/4 cup water)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook the asparagus in a large sauce-pan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes.  Then transfer the asparagus to a colander but leave the pan of water simmering on the stove.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet. Add the prosciutto and cook over medium heat until it is crispy.  This took me about 5 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a plate for later.  When it is cool enough and you have down time, crumble it.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same skillet. Add the scallops and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook them over medium to medium high heat until browned.  I set a timer and did exactly 2 minutes per side. They were not very brown, but they did not end up rubbery in the end, which is GROSS:(
  5. Now transfer the scallops to a plate.
  6. In the same pan again, add the lemon zest and cook it over medium heat for one minute. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 30 seconds. Now add the chicken stock and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Stir constantly and scrape the sides and bottom well as you go. Add the last 1/2 tablespoon of butter and then eturn the scallops with any juice on the plate back to the skillet.  Cook this over low to medium heat until heated through–I went with about 5 minutes.
  7. During this same 5 minutes, return the asparagus to the simmering water so it can heat through again.
  8. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  9. When ready, put the asparagus in a shallow platter or dish and season with a bit of garlic salt, spoon the scallops over it and pour the sauce on top.  Finally, Top with the fried prosciutto and serve ASAP so it is nice and warm!

Week 17: A–MAZING Granola Bars! No bake, no food processor!


A-MAZING Granola Bars
A-MAZING Granola Bars
Chocolate Coated Bottoms anyone?
Chocolate Coated Bottoms anyone?

I have posted some great protein granola bars that my kids love, but you can tell there is protein and that is not for eveyone!  I have experimented with several no sugar bars but none of them stick to together, without the use of dates, etc. to make them sticky!  So I have “given in” some as summer break begins and attempted a recipe that has some brown sugar.  At the end of the day, I still can use my own ingredients, make choices on organic options, etc. and KNOW where my ingredients come from.  THESE ARE A-MAZING!  You can make them your own in a zillion ways, but here is what I opted for:)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons oil (any kind)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups “stuff”
  • Here is what I used: 1 TBSP Flax seed, 1 TBSP chia seeds, 1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, 2 TBSP coconut, 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • If you want to coat the bottoms in chocolate, another 3-4 ounces of either dark melting chocolate or more chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9 X 13 pan with the oats.  Put the oats in the oven for about 15 minutes to toast.  Stir them every 5 minutes or so.
  2. Line a 9 by 9 pan (or close to) with parchment paper.
  3. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on the stove and one by one add your brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and the nutmeg.  Consider doing this while your oats are toasting.
  4. Simmer over medium high heat,  stirring frequently to make sure the brown sugar dissolves.  Once it has dissolved, turn your burner off.
  5. Place the toasted oats in a large bowl and then pour the hot liquid over them.  Stir them to coat evenly.
  6. Now, stir in all your “stuff”.
  7. Skip this step if you are not interested in the chocolate layer on the bottom.  If you are: Melt your chocolate in the microwave and line the waxed paper pan with the melted chocolate before step 8.
  8. Pour the mixture into your lined pan and press the bars until the pan is filled and try to make them nice and flat and even.
  9. These will need to set for at least an hour, but I put mine in the freezer and rushed the process along just fine.
  10. When ready, remove the bars from the pan and pull off the waxed paper.
  11. Cut the bars in the size and shape you like.   ENJOY!
A nice spoon full of "stuff" to mix in!
A nice spoon full of “stuff” to mix in!
Stirring it up...
Stirring it up…
Pressed Neatly into the Pan
Pressed Neatly into the Pan

Week 18 Scrumptious Orange Scones

Orange Scones
Orange Scones

Are you hosting a summer brunch?  Are you ready for a tasty citrus scone to serve???  These are pretty simple to make and were a big hit for the teacher breakfast a couple week ago (because I HAVE been experimenting, but I am two weeks behind on blogging!)

INGREDIENTS

  • For the scones:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whipping cream, divided
  • 2 teaspoons orange peel, finely shredded
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender (or fork), cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

IMG_0285

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, ¾ cup of whipping cream, and orange peel.

The Orange
The Orange “zest” or peel

5. Add the egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.

6. Using a fork, stir until just moistened. the egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until just moistened.

7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

8.Knead dough by folding and gently pressing until the dough is nearly smooth.

9.Divide the dough in half. Pat or lightly roll each dough half into 6-7 inch circles.

IMG_0288

10. Cut each circle into wedges.  I started out cutting into four but decided  I wanted smaller scones and created more of a “mini scone” and cut each into 8.

IMG_0335

11. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup whipping cream and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

IMG_0380

12.  Place dough wedges 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12  minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet onto a rack.

Glaze:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice.
  2. Stir in remaining orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desired drizzling consistency. Be patient as you stir the glaze as it takes a little bit of a stir to get it mixed in…
  3. Drizzle warm scones with glaze and serve them warm if you can!

ENJOY!!!!

Week 16: Chicken Parmesan Casserole–Gluten Free and Clean Options


An Easy Tasty Weeknight Meal Chicken Parmesan Casserole
An Easy Tasty
Weeknight Meal
Chicken Parmesan
Casserole

 

 

 

I did it again.  Looked at the clock at 4:30 and realized I did not know what was for dinner.   I did not plan to try something new last night, but I had the ingredients to pull this together, with some creativity, and it was a hit!  I did not have bread crumbs or croutons, but I opted to make my own with bread and spices. The kids were excited for what was dinner when the “toast” was in the oven because it smelled so good!  I used Dave’s Killer Seed Bread but a gluten free or any variety will work.  I will break down the breadcrumb process first, but it you opt to buy croutons or breadcrumbs, skip this part.

Do it yourself Italian Breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

For 1 Cup of breadcrumbs:

Place 3 slices of bread on a baking sheet

Sprinkle about 2 TSP of each of the following

Dried Basil

Dried Oregano

Garlic Salt

Thyme

Place in the oven for just about 10 minutes.  Place in a ziplock bag and smash them up! Done and homemade!

Now the Chicken Parmesan…

Ingredients:

  • 2 uncooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts sliced in thin “coin”, see the photo
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or 2 tsp minced garlic (I used Minced:)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 regular jar (24 oz) pasta sauce (or 2.5 cups of home made marinara or pasta sauce)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of your bread crumbs, store bought breadcrumbs or smashed croutons

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Evenly place the chicken in the bottom of the dish in a single layer.
  4. Sprinkle the crushed garlic, red pepper, basil and oregano evenly over the chicken.

 

IMG_0405

 

5. Spread the sauce evenly across the top.

IMG_0406

6. On top of the sauce, evenly sprinkle a 1/2 cup of the Mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan evenly across the top.

IMG_0407

 

7. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly across the top.

8. Top the casserole with the rest of the cheeses.

9. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes, then bump up the heat to 375 degrees for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is a bit browned.

 

I choose to pair it with some spinach and a half “garlic bread” bagel because I had them in the house!

IMG_0408

 

It is best to allow to stand for a few minutes after baking.

Week 15: Perfect Oven Cooked Pork Tenderloin EVERY TIME with Cauliflower “Mac n Cheese” and/or Roasted Veggies


Just minutes to prepare this pork,  a few minutes with the oven on and then turn it off and let it cook!  So moist and juicy!
Just minutes to prepare this pork, a few minutes with the oven on and then turn it off and let it cook! So moist and juicy!

Ummm.  I am not a huge fan of pork and I am definitely not a fan of dried out pork tenderloin, but this recipe is anything but dry!  It is super yummy and a snap to cook.  You just put it in the oven on 500 for a few minutes, shut off the oven and then LEAVE it alone.  Yep.  I left and went for a run, kid pickup, etc. and came home to dinner.  Just like that. I like it with roasted potatoes and carrots, but also added a side of cauliflower Mac N Cheese this week–it went over well!  I will break the two recipes down separately below.  The side will take up your time while the pork cooks so go with the roasted veggies if you need that hour!

PERFECT OVEN COOKED PORK TENDERLOIN

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin, I got a 20 ounce unseasoned

2 TBSP Herb De Provence Seasoning

2 TBSP Olive Oil

1/4 cup Water

Potatoes (cut into large  2-3 bite size chunks) and Carrots if you like

1 TBSP Garlic Salt

Black pepper optional

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.

1. Place the pork in your casserole dish or roasting pan.  Drizzle it with 1-2 TBSP olive oil and top with the herb seasoning.

2. Place the carrots and potatoes around the pork.

3. Add 1/4 cup water over your veggies and then drizzle them with 1 TBSP olive oil and the TBSP Garlic Salt,  you may wish to add some black pepper as well

Uncooked Pork and Veggies with Seasoning
Uncooked Pork and Veggies with Seasoning

IMG_0223

4.  Put your pork into the preheated oven for 5 1/2 to 6 minutes per pound.  For the 20 oz piece I went with 8 minutes.  If you cook 2, get them of equal weight and cook according to their SINGLE weight (2 20 oz would still be 8 minutes)

IMG_0224

5. When your timer goes off, turn off the oven. Reset your time for 55 minutes, now go do whatever you would like to do for 55 minutes.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR, it will let out heat.  Trust me, it is cooking:)

6. Remove from the oven after the second timer goes off and allow the meat to sit about 5 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

IMG_0227

CAULIFLOWER Mac N Cheese

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

4 TBSP cream cheese

1 and 1/2 c. cheese (1/2 c. reserved for top) I used Sharp Cheddar

Splash of cream or Half and Half

garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Chop the heads off the cauliflower and steam until soft.

2. Once they are soft, drain and return them to the saucepan.

3.Add cream cheese, cheese and cream and stir until incorporated.

4. Add  garlic powder, and salt pepper to taste.

5. Add mixture to a baking dish, cover with remaining 1/2 c. cheese and top with pepper and then broil until bubbly and the cheese a bit browned.

IMG_0227
Post Oven
Pre Oven
Pre Oven

Week 14: Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta


Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta is a breeze to make and is done in just a few minutes!
Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta is a breeze to make and is done in just a few minutes!

So…the other night I was caught up in kids homework, laundry, an issue at school–well, life, and realized OH MY GOSH it is dinner TIME and I have NOT STARTED.  Yikes.  It happens, right?  Right??

A lot of times on nights like these, it is bowl some pasta and unscrew a cap of our favorite pasta sauce.  Viola, dinner!  But I had the idea to try something like this in the back of my mind and thought, oh well, tonight is the night!

It worked out great!  It was SO fast to make, not much longer than the boil pour approach I had first contemplated, but it had so much more going on than that!  I suggest it for a easy, but not the same old pasta and sauce night.

I opted, per usual, for using wheat pasta, half in half with cheese instead of heavy cream, and a lower fat sausage.  These can all be subbed to your liking.

Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil

1 Lb. smoked sausage, you can use turkey or chicken (I used Turkey:)

1  cup  diced onion

2 TBSP minced Garlic or 2 Cloves

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes (I like the cilantro lime but you can go with the green chili and/or mild version)

1/2 cup half and half (you CAN use heavy cream and skip the extra 1/4 cup cheese stirred)

12 oz pasta, I used a fun penne like noodle but this could be about any shape pasta

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each

1 to 1 1/4 cup Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/3 cup (it is a topping so how much is your call) sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS
1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned.  For me, this was about 5 minutes.  While this is cooking, add 1/4 cup of the cheese to your half and half and stir it up.

2. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook about one minute more.

3. Now, add  the broth, tomatoes, half and half with the added cheese, pasta, salt and pepper and stir it all up. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until  the pasta is tender which should be about 15 minutes.

Simmering away...
Simmering away…

4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in about 1/2 cup cheese of the cheese, it should melt right in.

5. For step 5, you have the option to simply top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions or to add the cheese and scallions and pop it on your oven to broil until cheese is melted and just a tad browned.  The second is quite tasty, but the first works just as well in a time crunch!

ENJOY!

Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta
Creamy & Spicy Sausage Pasta

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