Monday, May 6, 2013

Italian Meatloaf's been nearly a month since I've posted a new recipe. I'm still here...and still cooking. Honestly, I just haven't been motivated to make new recipes and have just stuck with our old favorites. I've also been out of town a few times, which always throws my meal plans off track. I made this pizza and these pork chops recently and forgot how much we love both of those dishes. Note to self: must make both more often. :-)
Anyway, I have been growing basil in a container (the only thing that I can grow and not kill) and have basil coming out of my ears. I have added it to my scrambled eggs with feta cheese, put it in chicken salad, pasta salad, and  have also made pesto. All the above are foods that Clayton doesn't care for and dubs "girl food". Fine with me...I can eat it all! :-)  I decided to incorporate basil into some meatloaf the other day and Clayton L-O-V-E-D it. The meatloaf was bursting with fresh flavors and tasted like springtime! I served the meatloaf alongside quinoa and a spring salad. Perfect and healthy meal. I highly recommend using fresh mozzarella cheese, as I did, but if you are in a pinch you can substitute shredded cheese. Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 5!
Italian Meatloaf
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 6-8
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 to 5 sun dried tomatoes (from a jar packed in oil), finely chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup old fashioned oats (you can use breadcrumbs but maybe increase it to 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 ounces (1/2 cup) fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup tomato sauce (for topping)


Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a bakin dish or cookie sheet with oil and set aside.
If you have not done so already, chop up your basil, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and mozzarella. 
In a large bowl comine all ingredients except 1/3 cup tomato sauce. Mix (with your hands) until well combined. Shape mixture into a 9x5(-ish) loaf on greased baking sheet. Top with remaining 1/3 cup tomato sauce. Bake at 350* for 50-60 minutes, or until center of meatloaf registers 160*. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bites

I think it's pretty obvious Clayton and I love all kinds of "granola" snacks. Carrot cake bars, granola bites (a fave), peanut butter granolapeanut butter "larabars", and my original granola name a few!  While I do have my standby granola recipes but I still love experimenting with new flavors and combinations. My most recent creation is definitely a keeper. I just love having these little bites in the refrigerator for easy snacking! You can certainly substitute peanut butter for the almond butter. This recipe is easily adaptable so feel free to be creative! Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 5!
Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bites
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Makes approximately 14 1-inch bites
2/3 cup creamy almond butter (or any other nut butter)
2 tablespoons honey (I use raw honey)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats (I have also used 2 tbsp chia seeds instead of the 2 extra tbsp of oats)
1/4 cup ground flax (be sure to use organic to avoid GMO's)
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (can be omitted or substituted with raisins or nuts)
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
cocoa powder for rolling bites in

In a small bowl melt together almond butter and honey in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Stir well. In another bowl mix together oats and flax. Stir in almond butter/honey mixture. Stir until very well combined. Add more oats if mixture seems too wet. Stir in salt, cinnamon and chocolate chips.
Roll mixture into about 14 balls. Put about 1/4 cup cocoa powder on a plate. Roll balls into cocoa powder. Store balls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

**If mixture seems dry, add more almond butter/honey. If mixture seems too wet, add more oats. For a non-chocolate version, add raisins and roll balls in cinnamon sugar. For a coconut version, add chopped coconut and roll in coconut flakes! Have fun!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce {Lightened Up}

I love making different kinds of enchiladas. We never get tired of them! I saw a similar recipe for these enchiladas but it called for TWO CUPS of heavy cream! WHAT?! No way! So, I substituted it with some greek yogurt and skim milk. Much healthier, right? These enchiladas were gobbled up in record time. While they may not be the "prettiest" enchiladas, they are certainly one of the yummiest I've made! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Hoot Rating: 4.5!
Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce
{Lightened Up}
Recipe adapted from Foodie Crush
Makes 8-10 enchiladas; serves 4
Avocado Cream Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced (about 1 Tablespoon)
Filling Ingredients:
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I like to use a rotisserie chicken)
4 ounce can diced green chiles
1/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup prepared avocado cream sauce
2 cups Monterey blend cheese (Cheddar is fine!)
8-10 tortillas (I used a blue corn/wheat blend)

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside.
Make your avocado cream sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Sauce will be thick.
Assemble your enchiladas:
In a bowl mix together chicken, green chiles, onion and 3/4 cup cream sauce.
Spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons of filing down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese on top. Roll up and place in dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.
Pour remaining avocado cream sauce on top. Bake 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Menu ideas for Easter

Easter seems so early this year, doesn't it? I have very fond memories of celebrating Easter with my family. My mom always made each holiday special for my sister and me. On Easter morning we would wake up to a basket full of Easter goodies. Candy, clothes, toys, etc. Sometimes we had an easter egg hunt in our backyard yard and the eggs would have money! She would put us in our finest Easter dress and shoes before heading off to church. After church, we always went to our local yacht club with the grandparents for a delicious Easter brunch. Oh how I miss those days!
This year my husband and I will be visiting my sister and niece in Baton Rouge. My dad is also coming to join us. We'll still wear our pretty Easter dresses, open fun-filld Easter baskets and worship our King.   However, this year we will probably be having lunch at home since there is no Yacht Club in Baton Rouge. ;-) Do you need some ideas for Easter? I've compiled a few recipes perfect for Easter!

Easter Menu Ideas
Appetizers & Side Dishes

Main Dish


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

{Healthy} Turkey & Spinach Egg Bake

During the work week Clayton and I usually have cereal/oatmeal. Some weeks, I like to switch it up and fix eggs and toast. It is so much easier to make the eggs ahead of time so all I need to do is toast our bread and breakfast is ready in just a couple minutes. I love egg casseroles but a lot of them tend to be unhealthy and loaded with processed cheese, bacon, bread, and cream. I created this lightened up version with turkey, spinach, and cottage cheese. Even Clayton loves it! It is a lot lighter than your traditional egg casserole but still delicious. We like to serve a piece with some toast and fruit. Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 4.6!
{Healthy} Turkey & Spinach Egg Bake
Recipe by Lynn Wise
Makes 10 squares
4-5 packed cups baby spinach leaves
8 large eggs
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked ground turkey (or ground turkey sausage)
1 cup cottage cheese (I prefer Daisy brand because it is all natural)
1/2 cup water
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350*.
If you have not done so, cook your ground turkey or turkey sausage. 
Heat a small amount of olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add spinach leaves and cover. Steam spinach, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
While spinach is cooling, add eggs to a large bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in cooked turkey, cottage cheese, water, and slightly cooled spinach. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (*If you are using ground turkey sausage, you will not need as much seasoning.)
Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, or until center is set. Serve with toast and fruit. To refrigerate, allow casserole to cool then cut into 10 squares and refrigerate.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Healthy} Kale Fried Rice

Yeah Yeah yeah...I jumped on the kale bandwagon and I haven't looked back once. I'm a huge fan of anything green so I don't know why it took me so long to try kale! I love it! I've had it raw, baked, steamed, sauteed, and thrown into smoothies. It hasn't disappointed me yet! The other day I was home for lunch and when I looked in our bare fridge I saw kale, cooked brown rice, and leftover pork tenderloin. A fried rice/stir fry sounded perfect. This dish is so yummy. There's very little oil and no eggs. Definitely MUCH healthier than your typical fried rice! I recommend using brown rice that has been cooked the day before and refrigerated but you can certainly cook the rice as you're preparing the dish. I added some diced (cooked) pork tenderloin for some protein but you can certainly leave it out. This can be enjoyed as an entree or side dish. Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 4.8!
{Healthy} Kale Fried Rice
Recipe adapted from My Wise Mom
Serves 2 main servings or 4 side servings
4 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (or other mild tasting oil)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-3/4 cup cooked diced pork tenderloin (optional)
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I use long grain brown rice)*
sesame seeds; for garnish (optional)
Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Prepare the sauce: Add all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combine. Set aside. 
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add water and salt and bring to a boil. Add kale and cook 5-8 minutes, until the kale is tender. Transfer kale to a colander to drain. Using a paper towel, squeeze kale to remove excess water. Set aside for now.
In the same saucepan over medium heat, add onion and olive oil. Saute onions 5-8 minutes until golden brown and tender. Add garlic and saute another minute, stirring constantly. Return kale to the skillet and cook 2 minutes. Stir in cooked brown rice, pork (if desired), and sauce. Toss to combine. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

{Healthy} Carrot "Cake" Snack Bars

I had a bunch of grated carrots sitting in my fridge that I really needed to use up. I already used it in soups and salads so I was craving something sweet. I wanted it to be cake-like but healthy. I searched all over for something but just couldn't find what I had in mind. I took several carrot bar recipes and carrot bread recipes and made it my own. The end result was delicious. These contain no added sugar, refined flour, or butter! Warning: These are dense bars. It's not a cake. It's not a muffin. It sort of reminds me of a "carrot cake" Larabar, but with a different texture. I ate my first warm fresh out of the oven and topped it with some almond butter. Amazing. I cut up the rest and put them in individual snack baggies and stuck them in the fridge. They're delicious cold as well but I definitely prefer them warm and topped with almond butter. ;-) Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 5!
{Healthy} Carrot "Cake" Snack Bars
Makes 10 snack bars
3/4 cups pitted dates (I use about 15 Sunsweet brand pitted dates. Sunsweet dates are soft and don't require soaking like some dates do.)
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil then melt)
2 cups grated carrots (You need to grate your own carrots with a grater or grater attachment)
1 overly ripe banana, mashed (1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce works too!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup oat flour (*See note below on how to make your own oat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or sliced almonds)

Preheat oven to 375*. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with coconut oil (or cooking spray) and set aside.
In a food processor puree dates and raisins until it reaches a chunky consistency. It will be very sticky!
Transfer sticky mixture to a large bowl. Add melted coconut oil, carrots, mashed banana, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir VERY well. This will take some muscle. Keep stirring until mixture is well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together oat flour and baking soda. (*To make oat flour: blend old fashioned oats in a blender until it reaches flour consistency.*) Add to wet mixture. Stir very well. Stir in walnuts. 
Press mixture into baking dish. It will be very thick and sticky. Make sure it is even and smooth across the top. I use the back of a silicone spoon to smooth it out. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until center is set. Allow to cool before slicing into 10 bars. Refrigerate or freeze leftover bars.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

I had a hard time coming up with a name for this salad! There's so much stuff in it! This salad is seriously so good. The dressing is to die for. Some of you may find this weird. You don't know what you're missing out on! Even Clayton liked the kale and lemon tahini dressing! This salad will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Enjoy! Hoot Rating: 5!
Roasted Vegetable & Kale Salad
with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Dressing recipe adapted from Oh She Glows
Salad by Lynn Wise
Makes 3-4 large salads
*Don't let the ingredients or preparation process scare you! It's really not that bad!

Ingredients for salad:
1 bunch kale; washed, stems removed, and chopped
1 cup cubed butternut squash
1 cup brussels sprouts
1/2 cup chopped onion
olive oil, salt, & pepper
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients for Lemon Tahini Dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes just under 1 cup.

Prep the kale:
Kale should be washed, stems removed chopped, and patted dry. Place chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle lemon tahini dressing over top. Using your hands, toss until well combined. Cover and let "marinate" in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. *Kale will stay fresh (marinated) in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
While kale is marinating, roast the vegetables. 

Directions for Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 400*. Line a baking sheet with foil. Scatter butternut squash, brussels sprouts and onions on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, & pepper. Toss well. Roast at 400* for 45 minutes, turning vegetables halfway through roasting. Allow to cool slightly.

Salad Assembly (divide all ingredients into 3 or 4 servings):
Divide kale into 3-4 large servings (I used 4 large Tupperwares so I could eat this all week). Top with equal parts of roasted vegetables, chick peas and feta cheese.  Serve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Strawberry Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie

Often after working out at the gym, I love to come home and whip up a yummy smoothie for my post-workout snack. My Vitamix whips up delicious smoothies in seconds. I threw together this combination and I think it is a new favorite! I've made this several times already. When I'm famished, I like to throw in peanut butter. Yum! Hoot Rating: 5!
Strawberry Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie
Makes 1 large serving or 2 snack size servings
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
4 frozen strawberries
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
Optional: Sugar, to sweeten (honey, maple syrup, sugar, stevia...)
Optional: 1 tablespoon peanut butter (I usually add it in...delicious!)

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 snack sized smoothies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Recipe Round Up

So...tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I'm pretty sure Target and Hobby Lobby made us aware of that back in December the day after Christmas. ;-) The first Valentine's Day Clayton and I spent together was in 2004 and we had been dating about a month. My sweet grandfather was very sick (and ending up passing away the following day). I was at home with my family. That evening after returning from a family dinner, Clayton was sitting in the driveway at my parents house waiting for me. He just wanted to say hi and give me a gift. Was it flowers? No. Was it chocolates? No. Was it a simple card with a heartfelt note? Nope. The man got me two TURTLES. He presented them to me in a shoe box. Ha. While I was super excited, I had NO idea what to do with them! We named them Chester and Buster. They were sweet little turtles and lived a good 6 months. It was probably my fault for their short life span. I haven't the slightest clue on how to take care of turtles. However, it was a Valentine's gift I'll never forget. ;-)
Flash forward 9 years later. We don't have any turtles but we do have a sweet, sweet poodle that we just adore. These days I much rather prefer to spend the holiday at home, enjoying a delicious home cooked meal, with the love of my life. With that being said, what is on YOUR menu for tomorrow? I'm starting the day off with my favorite pancakes topped with strawberries. I'll send Clayton to work with his usual lunch (PB&J). For dinner I am making chicken parmesan on top of spinach linguine pasta (found it at Trader Joe's). I will serve it with a spinach salad. For dessert, these molten lava cakes are a MUST! I'm sharing a few recipe ideas so you can cook something special for that "someone" in your life. Enjoy!

Breakfast in Bed
Crepes (Make them savory by stuffing them with eggs or make them sweet with cream cheese and fruit!)

Dinner by Candlelight

Sweet Endings