"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatless Monday - Crock Pot Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I was planning on sharing a quinoa stuffed squash recipe with you for Meatless Monday today but I made it and it just wasn't worth posting in my opinion. I was a little bummed. Oh well! I made these delicious sweet potatoes to share with you instead! Aren't crock pots the best? Who knew you could make tasty and moist roasted sweet potatoes in a crock pot?? Mmm...you really should try this recipe.

Crock Pot Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. water

Scrub the sweet potatoes to wash and cut them in half long-ways. Spray your crock pot with cooking spray and place potatoes inside cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt according to your taste. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the tops. Pour the water around the potatoes into the bottom of the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, until tender. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I really love this blog called Budget Bytes and I have a lot of her recipes saved and I finally got around to making one! We had some friends over the other night and I made this then and everyone really liked it. I changed a few minor things, mostly because of the ingredients I had (or didn't have) on hand. I've never used wild rice in any recipes before...it's tasty stuff!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small or medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
1 large zucchini, diced (optional. I had one that I needed to use)
2 chicken breasts
4 c. (32 oz box) fat free chicken broth
2 c. water
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. wild rice mix
2 tbsp. butter (I used Smart Balance)
2 tbsp. white flour
2 c. milk (I used 2%)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the hot oil and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Next, add the carrots, celery and zucchini (if using) and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts (whole and raw), broth, water, parsley, italian seasoning, salt, pepper and dry rice mix. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
Near the end of the hour, begin to make the creamy mixture. In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. When it is fully melted, whisk in the flour. Cook and stir the butter and flour mixture for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and allow it to come to a simmer, whisking occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Once it reaches a simmer, it will have thickened slightly.
Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the soup and shred or dice with a knife and fork and add back to the pot. Slowly stir the creamy milk mixture and serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken in Tomato-Basil Broth over Cous Cous

Sounds like a complicated dish...but it's not! This was fun and simple to make, loaded with flavor and perfect for two people! I'm a huge basil fan so I knew I wanted to try it the minute I came across it in Mary Ellen's blog. It  did not disappoint! I used low fat feta instead of the suggested mozzarella and it gave it a really tasty kick.

Chicken in Tomato-Basil Broth over Cous Cous

1 small box pearl cous cous
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, finely diced
2 campari or plum tomatoes, diced
1.5 c. fat free chicken broth
6-8 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 tbsp. crumbled low fat feta cheese

Cook cous cous according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Place in the skillet and saute for 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove the chicken and cover to keep warm. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same skillet as well as the shallots and garlic. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute another 2 minutes. Next, add the broth and half the basil and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Place the chicken back into the pan and simmer an additional 5 minutes. To plate, place a large scoop of cous cous on a plate, top with a chicken breast, half the broth mixture, half of the remaining basil and one tablespoon of the feta cheese. Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I love love love Kayln's Kitchen! It's such a great blog for low-carb recipes. I starred this one when I saw it the other day and I'm glad I did! It was so yummy and light and the avocado salsa on top made it even better. It called for lots of cilantro which I left out. We loved this dish! The only bummer thing is the salsa will go bad if you don't eat it all right away. So if you're making it for just a couple people, I'd make half the salsa then and the other half when you eat the leftovers.

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

1 tsp. olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. can green chilis
1.5 lbs ground turkey
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. sliced green onions
Romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves (about 6-8)

2 ripe avocados, diced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the garlic and green chilies and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until brown, stirring as you go to break up the meat. Stir in the green onions and saute for 1 minute longer.
In a medium bowl, toss the diced avocado with the lime juice and olive oil. Carefully stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. To assemble, place the taco meat down the middle of a lettuce leaf and top with the salsa. Makes 6-8 tacos.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lasagna Soup

I saw this recipe in one my my very favorite food blogs, Closet Cooking and my heart skipped a beat! It's not at all low carb but I really wanted to try it! I made it a little healthier by using turkey sausage, whole wheat pasta and low fat broth and cheeses. It turned out delicious! It was one of those times I had to make myself stop eating because I was just continuing to eat because it tasted so amazing. Thanks, Kevin, for this awesome recipe!

1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed (I used turkey Italian sausage)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, depending on your taste
4 c. low fat chicken or vegetable broth
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 lb. small shaped pasta (I used whole wheat rottini)
1 c. low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 c. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil, chopped (for garnish)

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook the sausage until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, breaking it up as you go. Add the onion to the pan and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Next, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute an additional 1-2 minutes.
Add the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the three cheese and set aside.
Bring the soup back up to a boil, add the pasta and boil until al dente, about 7 minutes. Spoon the soup into bowls and top with a heaping spoonful of the cheese mixture. Garnish with fresh chopped basil if desired. Makes 6 servings.

1 year ago today: Oreo Cheesecake Brownies

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New year, new look! And my 250th post!

You like the new look?? I thought if I updated the look of my blog and shared it with a bunch of people it might keep me motivated to post more and to keep up with cooking and trying new recipes.

It's pretty sad...as you can see, I only posted 67 times last year compared to 152 posts in 2010. I really do love blogging but I definitely slowed down last year. Could be the fact that I was pregnant half of the year and had a newborn the second half. Maybe. :)

I have to give photo credit to my awesome husband. All the photos you see on the left side were taken by Randy on his iPhone. Same thing goes for the banner photo. They're pretty good, huh?

I've officially been blogging for 2 years and 3 months and I'm hoping that 2012 will be my best blogging year yet! Thanks for coming along for the ride!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spiced Honey Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

I recently discovered how much I really like chipotle peppers! And I absolutely love sweet potatoes so when I saw this recipe in another food blog and knew I wanted to try it.  It.was.delicious. The spice of the chilies with the nutty sweetness of the sweet potatoes was an awesome combo. It was pretty stinkin' spicy so of course, Randy loved it. And even though I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy food, I loved this dish as well. The only thing I changed in this recipe was cutting the amount of cumin in half (glad I did! It was a bit over powering) and left out the cilantro.

4 small or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, mined
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the diced sweet potatoes in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, chipotle peppers, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon.  Place 2 teaspoons of this mixture in a separate bowl and mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss with the sweet potatoes. Spread the coated potatoes on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, marinate the chicken breasts with the remaining chili mixture. Stir the potatoes then place the chicken on top of the sweet potatoes, and continue to cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15-20 minutes longer. Divide the potatoes and chicken evenly among serving plates and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is it just me...

...or does anyone else think this would be so neat to do this?? I keep coming across pictures of empty frames hanging together on a large wall space. I love it! I wish I had the space in my house to do this. It seems so simple and really fun..like putting a big art puzzle together on your wall. Maybe I should start collecting cool, cheap frames whenever I see them?

Here are some pictures I saved for inspiration in case I ever get the opportunity to do this:

Here's a neat tutorial I found in someones blog. You should check it out! You can see how cheap and easy this project can be. I'm saving all these ideas in hopes that I can do it one day. I just love all the different options...colors, sizes, shapes. Even using them as little shelves like the last picture I posted! So fun!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

What a year!

Today may be the second day of 2012 but I've been thinking a lot about this last year and I wanted to write a little about it...

The major event (obviously!) was the birth of our second daughter, Amelia in July. We gained a couple new family members. We also lost a couple family members. We had some huge changes at our church. Randy became a manager at his job. We finally tackled potty training with Margot! We finished our 2 year long kitchen renovation. These are just a few things that stand out when I think back on 2011.

As far as 2012 goes, we're not really sure what God has in store. Randy really isn't happy at his job and would like to continue pursuing a career in music which we know won't all happen this year but we're hoping to take a few more steps towards that goal. We'd also like to travel...to Boston to visit some friends and to Nebraska to visit my family. I'd like to kick it up a notch to get to my goal weight. I lost 22 pounds and still have 13 to go! I want to start a "school" time with Margot in the mornings. I'm really intimidated by this idea...so we'll see!

Whatever happens this year, I hope I can learn to really, truly and completely trust God with our life and our future. We've felt like we're on the verge of a big change for several months now and we're still waiting! I think God's still working things out (and working on us!) before anything happens. I want to go into this year being willing to let go of my plans and my ideas for what life should look like and be totally open to what God has planned. Should be exciting!

For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)