Tagged: garlic

Real Food Recipe Roundup #3 – Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Baked Spaghetti Squash

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!!

Lolz.

I know it’s not St. Patty’s yet – but I figured it’s close enough that I could greet you all like an enthusiastic leprechaun without too much judgement.

Anywho – I’m going to keep this short and sweet today because I’ve got not one but TWO recipes (ya know…that are particularly delicious when served together) and they’re kind of lengthy. I made these for the fam last weekend and everyone loveeeeedddddd it!!! Even the men were happy with the spaghetti squash, which really made me happy!!

If you’ve got a real food recipe that you’d like to share, don’t forget to grab a badge and link up at the bottom of the post!!!

Twenty-Something & Starving

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Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Baked Spaghetti Squash

For the Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs (makes about 30 meatballs)

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
    (or about 1.5 lbs lean ground chicken)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto + More to taste
    (you can make your own or use store bought! I use Wegmans brand when I’m in a pinch. It’s delicious AND check out the ingredients)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb of part skim mozzarella cheese, cut into little cubes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add the bell pepper, garlic, and basil to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. Add about half of the chicken breasts and pulse until ground. Remove the chicken mixture and place in a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Once all of the chicken is ground and in the bowl, add the pesto, Parmesan, panko, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well until thoroughly combined.

To prepare the meatballs, grab a small handful (about the size of a golf ball) of the chicken mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Add a mozzeralla cube to the center and form the meatball around it, being careful not to expose the cheese.  Repeat until all of the meatballs are formed.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add meatballs to the pan (fill it up, but make sure they aren’t touching) and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until brown. Remove meatballs from the skillet as they are done and place them on a large baking sheet, adding more meatballs to the skillet as you go, until all of the meatballs are brown.

Place the cookie sheet in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Remove, and brush the meatballs with some more prepared pesto. Return the pan to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the meatballs are cooked through to a safe 165 degrees.

Serve on top of Baked Spaghetti Squash!

For the Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 2 spaghetti squash, roasted, cooled, and spaghettified
    (Yup, that’s the technical term. Directions for spaghettifying here!)
  • 1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except mozzarella cheese.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray and add the spaghetti squash mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and brown and the squash is warm through.

Serve topped with Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs!

chicken pesto meatballs with baked spaghetti squash

Real Food Recipe Roundup #2 – Shrimp Scampi

It’s Thursday, ya’ll!! That means it’s thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssss close to the weekend!! I’m particularly excited for a pretty chill weekend. I’ve got yoga on Saturday morning and I’m meeting some of my favorite gals for coffee on Sunday. Otherwise, I plan to read, clean, cook, and eat….and that’s about it! Does that make me lame? I don’t really care! It brings me joy…just like shrimp do!! (I am a fantastic transitioner – obvi!)

I was cravvvvvvvvvvvving shrimp for weeks. I still wish I could eat my weight in them. But alas, they cost monies. These particular shrimp were free, though, thanks to Kyle and Melinda!! (Woot! You guys rock!!) So when ya got shrimp, ya make shrimp scampi!

This recipe is sooooooooooooooo simple. The ingredient list is pretty short, too, which makes it even better in my book! And they’re all just real, tasty, albeit not the most healthy, but if you’d like you can go ahead and substitute whole grain pasta if you’d like. My hubby doesn’t love it, so this time around I stuck to plain old pasta. I also use a combination of real butter and olive oil here…the butter is important so I wouldn’t recommend omitting it completely, but if you’re more comfortable using more oil than butter I’d say go for it! Here’s the recipe!!

Twenty-Something & Starving

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shrimp scampi Shrimp Scampi

  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb spaghetti
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parsley, for garnish

Bring a large, salted pot of water to boil. Prepare the spaghetti to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt the two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and saute for about 4 minutes until fragrant.

Add the shrimp and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until pink. Add the wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice and cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce reduces just a bit. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and toss in the parsley.

Serve immediately over spaghetti!

shrimp scampi close up

Do you have a Real Food Recipe you’d like to share?! Share your Real Food Recipes with other folks like you and me who love to cook and eat!! No judgement. Nothing fake. Just the real deal!!

Saturday Sorta Spaghetti Carbonara

IT’S SATURDAY!!!!!!

Saturday is the best day of the week if you ask me! I know that during Football season many folks may disagree… buuuut I don’t care… because I love Saturday!! You can use it to do whatever you want. You can sleep as long (or as little) as you like. You can stay up however late you want (ya know…eleven…if you’re me) You can use the whole day to do whatever you please knowing that if you don’t get everything done you want to, there’s always Sunday!

Take today for example. Today was a particularly wonderful Saturday (and it’s not over yet!) After an evening of snuggling with the hubs and watching some season four of Archer I woke up fabulously rested right at 8:00am. I peeped out the window and I saw that it snowed last night. It was just a tiny dusting, but it was perfectly untouched and still flurrying a bit when I looked outside and it was a beautiful morning. I made myself one of my favorite  weekend breakfasts – a big bowl of banana oats with peanut butter and chocolate chips! While my oats cooked away on the stove top I woke up the hubs with a cup of coffee and made him his weekend scrambled eggs and toast. We enjoyed breakfast together before heading out to conquer the day! What is your favorite weekend breakfast?

We hit the gym at 10:30 and I enjoyed the launch of the newest BodyFlow class. We haven’t been members at this new gym for very long, but the I’m really loving this class! The two BodyFlow instructors are both fabulous!! I let them know I was pregnant and I just love that they both remembered and happily present me with the few modifications I need during class. (Mostly the stuff where you’re flat on your belly. I pretty much officially cannot do any of those poses any more. If I lift my arms and legs I feel like a weeble wobble!)

Johnny and I just ran a bunch of errands after the gym. We grabbed some lunch at Chipotle (RANDOM ASIDE: I really enjoy the food at Chipotle, and I love that’s it convenient and fairly healthy as well, but I really hate how it’s almost never hot!! Today I got a brown rice bowl with black beans, pinto beans, grilled veggies, and corn salsa and it was hardly warm at all! Does anyone else have this problem?), I finallllllllllly changed my name over on our bank account (1 year and 4 months after we got married), Johnny got a haircut and a new pair of glasses, we snagged a few things at Target (Like Divergent!! For only $8.00! I finished reading Orange is the New Black and decided it was about time I hopped onto the next big book train) and scoped out some baby gear before we start our registry, I bought some Turbie Twists at Bed Beth and Beyond because I love them and haven’t had them in forever, and finally we came home. (P.S. If you actually read all of that…HIGH FIVE! You rock!! I hadn’t intended for this to be such a marathon post. I hope the prospect of bacon kept you chugging along!) Time for dinner!!!

spaghetti carbonara

Now I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always been pretty iffy about Spaghetti Carbonara. Not iffy in the way most people are. I’ve never doubted that it would be delicious. Bacon, eggs, pasta, cheese. What is there NOT to like about it, right?? It’s not the technique that’s kept me away, though I know it’s  intimidating to some. I love a good kitchen challenge.

Restaurants are what make this dish iffy for me. I can honestly say that I have never ordered it off of a restaurant menu and I probably never will. So often it’s described as spaghetti in a “Parmesan cream sauce” with bacon or pancetta and either peas or tomatoes or…well…you get the idea.

Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder? Parmesan cream sauce…isn’t that Alfredo sauce?? You are not serving me Spaghetti Carbonara. You are serving me Spaghetti Alfredo with bacon. If you like Alfredo sauce then, by all means, dig in and enjoy. Me? I’ll pass thank you. I decided it was time to make myself a delicious plate of Spaghetti Carbonara. One that I can trust and one that I can devour!

My version of Spaghetti Carbonara…is it “traditional” Spaghetti Carbonara.

Nope.

Purists believe that true, authentic Spaghetti Carbonara is just spaghetti with guanciale, eggs, and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Most folks aren’t able to get their hands on cured pork jowls. Bacon – that’s realistic. Pancetta is delicious and perfectly acceptable, too. Authentic Carbonara wouldn’t have any veggies in it (mine does) because it was a peasant dish and they used what little they had to prepare it. I had bell peppers and spinach and I deem it necessary to never not have veggies with my dinner.

So no, this is NOT authentic Spaghetti Carbonara. But it’s certainly closer to traditional than any Carbonara with cream sauce you’ll ever come across!! And it’s effing delicious. So please, enjoy. 😀

Sorta Spaghetti Carbonara

  • 1/2 box spaghetti
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more to taste
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions until just shy of al dente. (While the pasta is cooking, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve it for later.)

Meanwhile, cook the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan and allow it to drain on some paper towels.

Remove all but about 1/2 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onions, garlic, and red bell pepper and let saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and the spinach to the pan and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, adding some reserved pasta water if it seems dry, and remove the pan from the heat. (This is the most important part!! This is the difference between creamy delicious spaghetti and scrambled eggs!!)

In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and black pepper until very well combined. Add the egg mixture to the pan, tossing the pasta together constantly with a pair of tongs, until a sauce begins to form, adding more pasta water as necessary if it seems too thick.

Add the reserved bacon to the pan. Serve immediately topped with more Parmesan cheese and black pepper if you so desire…which you should… because they’re delicious.

extremmmmeee close up

 

 

What I Ate Wednesday #10

Hello, world!! A very happy Wednesday to you.

I’ve grown particularly fond of Wednesday’s lately, thanks (pretty much in ALL parts) to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting the wonderful linkup that is What I Ate Wednesday. I really do love sitting around Wednesday nights and going through as many other blogs as I can to check out what everyone else is munching. I think it’s silly and fun to see how we’re really all the same, you know. We all get stuck in ruts. We all have a few favorite things that we eat all the time (like my string cheese!). We all seek inspiration from others at times to shake up our food routines. And we all love to eat! Taking a peek into someone else’s life for a day can be kind of exciting, don’t you think?! Here are my Wednesday eats!!

Breakfast: I had a big bowl of Special K Chocolaty Delight with Red Berries with some 1% milk, a clementine, and some decaf Lady Grey tea. I actually keep cereals like this on hand for dessert most of the time! Late at night (ya know, 9 o’clock) and when I want something sweet I’d rather have a little 100 calorie bowl of cereal and low fat milk than cookies or candy, ya know what I mean?
specialk

Snack: I had a hard-boiled egg, followed shortly by a string cheese. 

hbegg stringcheeseLunch: Very soon after my snacks I felt suuuuuper hungry. Like…I had the hungry shakes. Does anyone else ever experience those?? I stood up and was like “Whoa, man, I need to eat something right now before I fall over.” Not qutie sure what the deal was with this today, as I felt like I had eaten enough up to that point in time. I decided not to mess around, though, and I got up and made my lunch right away. I had a Morning Star Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger on a whole wheat engish muffin with 1/4 of a perfectly ripe avocado, cilantro, and butter lettuce leaves! I had some baby carrots on the side, too. I usually bring along some cheese and salsa to go with my veggie burgers, too, but I forgot them today. Oh well, it was still delicious (and I made much less of a mess eating it!)!

veggieburger

Snack: I ate lunch at my desk today so Johnny and I had our full lunch hour to head over to the outlets on our break. We made a pitstop at Starbucks and I snagged a decaf-short-soy-latte with cinnamon dolce sprinkles on top!! It was perfect to sip while we walked around outside, as it’s a tad bit chilly out. I can’t complain too much, though, as 45 degrees is waaaaaaaaaaay better than 2 degrees! I also had a few dried apple slices when we got back to work. (Thanks again, Nicole!)

babylatte driedapples

PreGym Snack: Today I had a Carrot Cake Luna Bar. Chocolate Peppermint Stick is still my favorite of the Luna Bars (followed VERY closely by S’mores). I like the carrot cake one, but not as much as I hoped considering how much I adore carrot cake! What’s your favorite Luna Bar flavor??

lunabar

Dinner: Oh man. I loved dinner tonight. So quick and tasty, which in my opinion are two adjectives that should describe every dinner ever! NO RECIPE RECIPE: I grilled some chicken on the George Forman grill that I rubbed with some store bought pesto. When I pulled them off the grill I topped each with a slice of 2% milk provolone cheese. I sauteed some cherry tomatoes in garlic with a touch more pesto to top mine and had some green beans with garlic, lemon, and olive oil on the side. Absolutely perfect dinner!!

pesto chicken and green beansThat’s all she wrote, today!! Though, I won’t lie, I’m pretty sure imma snag a piece of toast with some pb&j on it and a glass of milk when I watch Top Chef later!! Perhaps I’ll update the post later with a photo. We’ll see! Anyone else out there a Top Chef fan?? I’m routing for Shirley this season…or for Louis to come back and win it all from last chance kitchen!! His smile …. he’s so adorable … and I’d eat the heck out of his food!!!

Until next time! Hopefully I’ll be posting a recipe later this weekend! And you’ll be getting a Baby Yoder update soon, too! Only TWO WEEKS until we know if it’s a boy or a girl!!!!

 

 


This Snow Sure is Chili

So how many of you East Coasters out there had a snow day today?!?

Lucky. You. 

I wish I could say the same. I was up extraaaaa early to make sure Johnny and I had enough time to scrape all of the ice and snow off the car and get to work on time. The roads weren’t too shabby this morning, though. Especially compared to last night! Yikes! Our usual 40 minutes commute took an additional hour. It was insane. I’ve been living in Central PA for almost four years now and they just never seem prepared for snow.

Oh well, ya know what I do when it snows?

Make cozy foods.

Like chili! And oatmeal!!

I don’t know how you feel about chili, but I effing love it.

Beef Chili. Chicken Chili. Turkey Chili. Green Chili. White Chili. Bean Chili. On a train. In the rain. You name it, I love it. It’s definitely up there as one of my most favorite foods of all time. One of the many delicious reasons I love chili so much is all of the fun ways you can serve it!! You can top it with cheese, cilantro, red onions, green onions, tortilla chips, sour cream (if you’re into that sort of thing), with cornbread, over rice, over spaghetti (Cincinnati style), on a baked potato, on french fries – the options are endless!! I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I just love any food that I can customize and play with! On any given day I can mix up whatever pot of chili I’m feeling like and I can top it with whatever I have on hand and it’s like a party! But ya know…with just me…and chili….which sounds kind of lame but I swear is actually really exciting!

Johnny enjoys chili…but not the same way I do.  He thinks that I make too many “southwestern” inspired dishes. Boooooooo!! Chili powder, garlic, cumin, cayenne, chipotle. I go through these spices faster than anything else in my pantry. I can’t help myself. I’m so drawn to the smokey/spicy/sweet combination that so many southwestern dishes offer and chili is no exception and the best by far! I have tried many-a-different version of chili. This, of all my recipes, is my favorite. It’s not too complicated to make and the it’s the perfect combination of lean ground beef and beans with a hearty portion of peppers and onions, too. It’s even more appropriate for me these days (meaning “being pregnant” days) since it’s super important to make sure I’m getting enough iron and fiber – which this recipe is chock full of thanks to the beef and bean combo!! Johnny describes my chili as “weird – it’s spicy and sweet all at the same time!” Well, my love, that’s exactly what I was going for!  Here is the recipe!!

My Favorite Chili Recipe Ever

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced (plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo the chipotles come in)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional Garnishes: Cilantro, Scallions, Avocado, Lime, Cheese, Sour Cream, Red Onion, Tortilla Chips

Begin by heating 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the peppers and onion and let them cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. They will start to char in some places from the high heat and this is exactly what you want!! Add the beef and garlic and continue to cook until the beef is brown. (If your using a less lean beef, you may want to stop and drain off some of the fat).

When the beef is brown,  lower the heat and add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon or spatula to get up all of the good stuff from the bottom! Fill the crushed tomato can halfway with water, swirl it around to get out any extra tomato hanging out on the sides of the can, and add it to the pot. Add all off the spices and stir well to combine. Add the beans, stir, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (or as long as you can patiently wait before digging in!).

Serve with whatever topping you like!

This time around I had cheese, avocado, red onion, and some tortilla chips for scooping….and it was perfection.

chili!Now did I mention something about oatmeal up there before? I seem to have gotten particularly excited about chili. Oh well! I love to enjoy a cozy bowl of oatmeal from time to time. Sometimes, though, I just don’t feel like standing over a pot in the morning to make myself a cozy bowl. The instant stuff just doesn’t do it for me anymore these days. I had some suuuuper ripe (like I had to use them up before the turned to mush) pears on hand this week and I whipped up a quick, healthy, and easy baked pear oatmeal for breakfast! If your New Year’s resolution is to watch you waistline this is a hearty recipe that will definitely tide you over until lunch (unless, maybe, you’re pregnant and find you’re eating everything in site…then you may want to have some clementines on hand to munch on the side…or maybe that’s just me…) Here is the recipe!

Baked Pear Oatmeal

  • 2 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup reduced fat vanilla soy milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 4 ripe pears, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, eggs, extracts, brown sugar, and maple syrup. When the mixture is combined, add the pears and whisk gently to combine.

Add the soy milk mixture to the oat mixture and mix well until everything is combined.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish sprayed with a little nonstick spray. Bake at 375 for thirty minutes or until golden.

Serve immediately! (Or, let cool completely before slicing and placing the squares into individual baggies and freeze! Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes or until warm through!)

bakedoatmeal