SIMPLE BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP

Some days we have it all together and follow our meal plan for the week. Other days, we find ourselves in a pinch. There are many times that I need a quick and easy dinner recipe that everyone in my family will be excited to eat.  In order to stay on track with our healthy eating and budget,  I always keep simple ingredients around for dinners when we are in a pinch. One of my favorite dinner recipes is beef vegetable soup. You can keep everything on hand in the pantry and fridge or freezer for whenever you need it. If you are planning to make the soup, use fresh ground beef. Or, cook your ground beef in advance and then freeze. When you are ready to make soup in a pinch, just add the ground beef that you’ve thawed!  We always have cooked ground beef and ground turkey in our freezer for quick dinners. Trust me….you should try this! 

 

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Ingredients:

1 can minestrone soup (I prefer Trader Joes brand)

1 can organic sweet corn

1 can organic black beans

1 can organic diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (green beans, peas, carrots, etc.)

1 lb lean, ground beef

 

Here’s how you make it:

Over medium heat, cook ground beef until well done. Drain any fat.

In a dutch oven, add your minestrone soup, corn, black beans and diced tomatoes. Do not drain any liquid out of the cans. Add in the frozen mixed vegetables. Heat soup over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat, add cooked ground beef, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Enjoy this delicious and easy recipe that your whole family will love!

 

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QUINOA SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND FETA

Have you heard that saying that you shouldn’t eat anything you can’t pronounce…..except quinoa? So funny and yet so true. We pronounce it “Keen-wah” in our house. After doing a bit of research online to get a final answer on this, I realized that there are different ways to say it and apparently some pronunciations are considered snobby. LOL.

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People often think that quinoa must be hard to make at home. I felt that way too and was ridiculously intimidated by the thought of making it. Of course, once I bought some, I realized that it is so, so simple to make. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the back of the quinoa bag! Seriously….it is that easy. We love to cook ours in the rice cooker but recently I found some pre-cooked quinoa in the freezer section at Trader Joes (score!!!).

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Here’s an easy and delicious recipe that we love to eat (and did I mention it is healthy too?). It makes a great side salad or vegetarian meal. This week we’ll be eating this as a side dish with our grilled garlicky shrimp. I may even have eaten a big bowl for lunch. Yum, yum, yum!

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Quinoa Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/3 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained and roughly chopped

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed

1 cup diced bell peppers (I used 1/3 cup each of yellow, orange and red peppers)

1 cup arugula

1/4 – 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

 

Dressing Ingredients:

2 T olive oil

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 T key lime juice

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

salt and pepper to taste

 

Here’s how you make it:

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, cumin, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, artichokes, black beans, bell peppers, arugula and feta. Stir in the dressing and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Add salt and pepper before serving if needed. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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CHRISTMAS BUBBLES

Cheers to all of you! I just adore Champagne and bubbles during the holidays. There is just something so festive about a glass of bubbly to put a smile on your face. Bubbly alone is delicious but sometimes kicking it up a notch is so much fun.

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Here’s a simple and festive way to update your glass of bubbly Christmas-style!

Ingredients:

Bubbly

Creme de Cassis

Fresh Cranberries

Sugared Sprigs of Rosemary (or plain)

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Pour a glass of good bubbly and add a generous splash of Creme de Cassis. Voila, instant Christmas drink! Next, add a few fresh cranberries and a sprig of sugared rosemary!

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Note: To make sugared rosemary sprigs, simply bring to a boil 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of white sugar. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then dip your rosemary sprigs in the liquid. Shake off excess and sprinkle your rosemary sprigs with granulated sugar to coat. Set aside and let dry completely. Then add to your favorite drink or dessert.

Yum, yum, yum! I love everything about this drink!

 

Cheers friends!

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CHRISTMAS MARSHMALLOW PENGUINS

Hello friends! We have been truly enjoying this wonderful Christmas season and I hope you have as well. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to bake and make goodies for friends and family. We make fudge, cookies, and pretty much anything we are in the mood to make! This year we made a few goodies from my childhood days and attempted new treats too. I am so excited to share this latest Christmas treat with all of you today.

I was poking around on Pinterest last week and found these adorable and mostly healthy Marshmallow Penguins by Eats Amazing. I fell in love with their adorableness and knew I had to make these with the leftover marshmallows I had in the pantry! 

 

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Here’s what you need to make these:

Marshmallows (regular size)

Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Candy eyes

M&Ms

 

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First, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. I started with 30 second increments and then 15 second increments, mixing after each until the chocolate was very smooth. Next, grab your marshmallow from one edge and dip each side in the chocolate, leaving about a thumb’s width of marshmallow showing (this will form the stomach of the penguin). Lastly, dip the head in the chocolate, about halfway down the front of the marshmallow. These form a slight tail in the back. I pressed mine down slightly to smooth it out but a small amount may form at the bottom which is totally fine. Pop these in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the chocolate.

Using a toothpick, add chocolate to glue the eyes on the penguin. I found it easiest to place the chocolate on the marshmallow and stick the eyes on afterward. Cut each m&m in half using a sharp knife. These will cut more cleanly if you do a quick, swift chop. They do not need to be perfect! I used red and green m&ms but you can use any color you would like. Using the toothpick, add chocolate to the cut side of the m&m and place on the marshmallow to form a nose. And that’s it! Can you believe how easy these are to make? They took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

 

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I placed these on a cake plate with shredded coconut dusted with powdered sugar. They make an adorable centerpiece! You will definitely impress your family and guests with these and they are so easy to make. 

 

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Merry Christmas!

Pascale

ZUCCHINI LASAGNA ROLL-UPS

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was one of those things that I just threw together on a whim. I was craving lasagna and comfort food now that the weather is cooler but I wanted to avoid all the carbs. Let’s just say that my hubby was very, very skeptical about zucchini lasagna. LOL!

I took just a few minutes to make this for dinner and the house smelled so good all afternoon. I actually left the lasagna to keep warm in the oven until dinnertime. Everyone loved this so much. I cannot even begin to tell you how good this was! My hubby even had seconds!

Trust me, if you love lasagna, you will want to make this recipe!

 

Ingredients

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3 medium-sized zucchini

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (I prefer Red Gold Brand)

15 ounces low-fat ricotta

16 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1/4 cup plus 2T Parmesan cheese, grated

Italian Seasoning

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking dish. I prefer to use a round glass dish for this recipe but anything you have on hand will work.

Reserve 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 T parmesan cheese for the topping.

Take each zucchini and slice off the top and bottom. Stand the zucchini on one end and then make thin slices from top to bottom. These will not be perfect and that is ok. Just make sure they are slightly bendable.

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Mix together the remaining mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheeses. I sometimes find it easier to mix this by hand to make sure all the cheese are well incorporated.

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Smear about 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture onto each zucchini slice and then roll up. Some of these will be stiffer than others and that is ok.

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You will find that as you place them in your dish, some of them will unroll. Just keep adding zucchini roll-ups and fixing the ones that unroll. As you fill up your dish, they will stay put together.

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Pour the remaining sauce over your zucchini roll-ups.

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Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.

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Cover the baking dish and then cook for 45 minutes or until the entire dish is bubbling, especially in the center.

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Turn the oven off. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish and return to the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.

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You can leave the dish in the oven that has been turned off for up to an hour to keep warm. Look at how delicious and cheesy it looks! Yum, yum, yum!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

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HOLIDAY SANGRIA WITH CINNAMON

Who says Sangria is just for warm weather??? Not me! I love a festive Sangria all year round.

Here is a really fun twist on a festive sangria that will have you refilling your glass! The twist….well, the twist is the cinnamon stick! It adds a delicious flavor punch that is unexpected and wonderful! You will love serving this at Thanksgiving and during the holidays.

This Sangria is so, so good! You must make it and let me know what you think!

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Ingredients

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1 Bottle Sauvignon Blanc wine

1/2 cup Cointreau

2 Tbsp bottle key lime juice

1/4 cup simple syrup (homemade recipe below)

1 red d’anjou pear, cored and chopped

1 orange, sliced and then quartered

1 gala apple, cored and chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

 

Directions

Simple Syrup: Take 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar and mix with 1/4 cup of water. Microwave until sugar is melted (about 1-1.5 minutes). Stir and chill. This will make more than you need for the Sangria Recipe.

Sangria: Mix wine, 1/4 cup chilled simple syrup, Cointreau and lime juice in a pitcher. Add fruit and stir. Chill for a few hours in the fridge and then serve over ice.

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Enjoy!

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CARROTS PROVENÇAL

With the falling leaves and cooler weather, I start to think about all the great food that we eat during the Fall season. As the weather cools, I turn to comfort foods such as roasted vegetables, stews, soups, and hearty meats. Nothing beats the taste of a perfectly roasted vegetable though! Well, except for maybe a freshly picked one!

During the Fall and Winter, I will make roasted vegetables on a weekly basis. They are easy to make, delicious, and make your house smell amazing. You can use any combination of root vegetables and herbs. Roasted carrots are my absolute favorite and something the entire family will eat.  Honestly, there is nothing better than a perfectly roasted carrot because it brings out their natural sweetness.

My Carrots Provençal are so easy to make and they look beautiful. All you need are a few simple ingredients to make these.

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INGREDIENTS

2 bunches of organic carrots, with stems

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 t Herbes de Provence

Fresh cracked white pepper

Coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Organic carrots are wonderful but they are often very dirty. Make sure to scrub the carrots well, especially near the stem to get all that dirt off. I love roasting the organic whole carrots without peeling them (make sure to do this only with organic or fresh from your garden) but you can peel the carrots if you prefer and they will still turn out amazing.

Once you have washed all of your carrots and dried them well, trim the stems so that they are all about the same length. Make sure to remove any bad stem pieces and any leaves. You will also want to remove any stringy root pieces at the tip of the carrots.  Just trim this with a quick clip of the scissors.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease your baking pan with olive oil and place your carrots into the pan in an alternating pattern so that you can maximize space.

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Using a basting brush, coat the carrots with olive oil, turning to coat all sides of the carrots. If you don’t have a basting brush, you can use your fingers to rub the oil onto the carrots.

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Sprinkle the carrots with Herbes de Provence and a pinch of sea salt. Using a pepper grinder, sprinkle a dash of white pepper over the carrots.

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Roast the carrots in a 400 degree oven for about 30 – 45 minutes or until tender, making sure to turn the carrots at the halfway point. 

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Serve the carrots as a side dish with your favorite Fall meal. If you prefer sweeter carrots, you can warm a bit of real maple syrup and coat the carrots after they get out of the oven. Leftovers can be reheated or chopped up and served cold over a salad. Leftover carrot chunks are one of my favorite salad toppings!

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Enjoy!

 

DASHING TURKEY CHILI

I love, love, love this chili recipe! It is so good to eat on a cool day and it makes your house smell amazing! My favorite part is all of the toppings that you add to your already delicious bowl of chili….diced avocado, shredded cheese, a huge dollop of Greek yogurt, diced onion…..yum, yum, yum!

Oh, did I mention that is was a “good for you” recipe? It sure is! I prefer to use all organic ingredients but the best part is that this recipe is filled with super foods that are so good for you. Super foods include avocados, onions, garlic, beans and tomatoes.

This recipe is made on the stove but you can definitely make it in the crockpot if you prefer. See my crockpot tip at the end of the recipe and other notes for substitutions.

I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know how you like it.

 

DASHING TURKEY CHILI

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INGREDIENTS

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1 lb lean ground turkey

1 yellow onion, peeled

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added

½ can corn, drained

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 ½ T tomato paste

1 packet of Mrs. Dash Chili Seasoning, no-salt added

Olive oil

Toppings: Diced avocado, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt and diced red onion

 

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat until fully cooked.

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Meanwhile, finely chop the yellow onion and mince the garlic cloves. I prefer to use my garlic clove press for garlic.

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Coat the bottom of your Dutch oven or pot with olive oil to prevent the chili from sticking.

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Add cooked ground turkey to the pot.

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Add diced onion and minced garlic.

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Add can of diced tomatoes with juice.

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Add cans of beans with juice.

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Add ½ can of corn, drained.

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Add 1 ½ T of tomato paste.

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Add packet of Mrs. Dash chili seasoning.

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Stir all the ingredients until they are well combined in the pot.

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Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

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Ladle the chili into bowls and top with diced avocado, shredded cheese, diced red onion and a large dollop of Greek yogurt.

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Ah, the gloriousness of delicious toppings! These are my favorite part and they totally take this chili up a notch. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Crockpot Tip: You can make this recipe in the crockpot if you prefer. Brown your ground turkey and then add all the ingredients to a crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Substitution Notes: You can substitute lean ground beef for the turkey. You can also substitute your favorite beans for the can of pinto beans.

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7 HALLOWEEN SNACKS FOR KIDS (SHHH…)

Here are 7 of my favorite Halloween snacks that you can make this year (shhh…..they are healthy too!):

FRUIT BAT SNACK BAGS

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by Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

These adorable Fruit Bat Snack Bags are perfect for Halloween. Want to make these? Check out her blog here!

ORANGE PUMPKINS

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By A Thrifty Mom

These orange pumpkins are so cute! I love the simplicity and kids will eat these right up! Check out the tutorial here!

BANANA GHOSTS

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By Spaceships and Laserbeams

These Halloween ghosts are so easy to make and I adore how you can sneak it just a few chocolate chips to make everyone happy. Check out how here!

WITCH’S BROOMSTICKS

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By Mom Foodie

I love how adorable these witch’s broomsticks turned out! Who doesn’t love cheese and pretzels! Instructions here!

APPLE MUMMIES

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By Two Healthy Kitchens

These spooky apple mummies are adorable and they couldn’t be easier to make. Check out how here!

FRANKENSTEIN KIWI

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By Two Healthy Kitchens

Do your kids love kiwi fruit? If so, these Frankenstein kiwi are so creative and fun! Check out how to make them here.

CANDY CORN POPS

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By Feasting on Fruit

These candy corn pops are so create and the kids will love eating these! Check out the tutorial here.

SPOOKY CHEESE

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By Get Fit With Pascale

I love using cookie cutters to make spooky Halloween cheese shapes and my kids love these. You can eat them alone or pair with yummy wheat crackers. Check out the details here.

SPOOKY CHEESE

I love this time of year but it can be so hard to eat healthy while surrounded by all the sweet stuff! And don’t get me wrong…..you can definitely indulge in the sweet treats sometimes! I definitely do. But, it’s all about keeping a healthy balance.

Over the years, I’ve tried different and creative ways to make healthy Halloween snacks fun. I’ve found that the more visually appetizing (and fun-looking) the food looks, the more likely your kids will be to gobble it up. My favorite trick is to use mini Halloween themed cookie cutters to make spooky cheese shapes. You can also use these cookie cutters to cut the center out of apple slices (or cucumber slices!) or to cut festive fruit shapes. If you have the larger sized cookie cutters, you can create spooky shapes for sandwiches, pancakes, cookies and so much more.

For the Spooky Cheese shapes, you’ll need to buy some mini Halloween cookie cutters and some blocks of your favorite cheese. My cookie cutters are really old but they came in a pack of 6 shapes and I found them at a craft store. They are the perfect size for cutting cheese shapes! For this project, I used mozzarella and sharp cheddar, but you can use any type of cheese that your kids will eat.

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Begin by slicing each cheese block into 1/4 inch slices (they don’t have to be perfect!). You can use a kitchen knife and cutting board, or a cheese slicer for this task. Next determine which shapes to use for each type of cheese.  I used mozzarella for the ghosts and skeletons and cheddar for the bats and cats.

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Press the cookie cutter shape into each slice. Make sure to do this on a hard surface, such as a cutting board. Once you have pressed the cutter firmly through the cheese, lift the cutter up and gently press the cheese shape out of the mold. You will want to be extra careful in the corners.

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These are my cute mozzarella ghosts.

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Check out how cute the cheddar cats turned out!

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These are the mozzarella skeletons.

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And the fun cheddar bats!

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It can be really easy to make a fun and healthy treat for your little (or big) kids! I’ve even brought cheese cut-outs to grown up parties and they were a hit! It takes just a few extra minutes but makes a huge impact! Have fun making these!

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