Wednesday, July 30

Roasted Honey-Dijon Potatoes with Chicken, Pepper and Onion

With gardens and farmer's markets bursting with fresh produce, this dish is the perfect meal for a mid summer dinner. I was thrilled to add my garden bell peppers to this easy and delicious supper. As I've mentioned before, our all-time favorite chicken sausage is the the Al Fresco Roasted Pepper & Asiago. I love that they are all natural, no msg and gluten free. But feel free to use you favorite or whatever you have on hand.

Adapted from Inspired Edibles

Yield: 4 Servings

Roasted Honey-Dijon Potatoes with Chicken, Pepper and Onion
4 large russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch x 2 inch pieces and skins intact
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons course ground Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 fully cooked chicken sausages, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4 inch slices

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with middle rack in the second to top slot in the oven. Prepare potatoes and place in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, mustard, honey and rosemary until smooth and pour over the potatoes. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated in the mixture.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and spread the tossed potatoes in an even layer. Salt and pepper to taste and roast for 15 minutes on the upper rack. While potatoes are roasting chop your onion, peppers and chicken sausage. Flip the potatoes after the 15 minutes and add the onion and peppers. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and lightly browned. Turn the oven to broil and add the chicken sausage. Broil for about 5 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.

Serve Warm

Monday, July 28

Whole Wheat Bagels

If there was one food that I could eat every day it would be the bagel. Breakfast bagels with cream cheese,  panini style sandwiches with pepper roasted turkey and Havarti cheese, pizza bagels. The possibilities are endless! Unfortunately, most of the "healthy" labeled store-bought bagels still contain processed ingredients and if you do find a good product they can be pretty pricey. I am in love with these soft and chewy whole wheat bagels and warm from the oven...yum!

An important trick to making that dense, soft, and chewy bagel goodness is to really work the flour into the dough. Your dough should be smooth, slightly shiny and elastic after it has been kneaded and fairly stiff, so if you have a heavy mixer and a dough hook this would be a great opportunity to pull that baby out. Or if you need a really good workout, kneading by hand is always a great option. We inhaled these healthy bites for brunch toasting them and then slathering them with cream cheese.

Adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen

Yield: 12-16 bagels

Whole Wheat Bagels

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 cups plus 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (approximately)
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup butter, melted

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

Optional Toppings
Poppy seeds
Sesame seeds
Ground flax seeds
Cinnamon sugar
Sea salt
Dried onion flakes
Ground flax & oatmeal

In the bowl of your stand mixture combine the water, honey and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let mixture set for five minutes. Stir. With dough hook attached, add 3 cups of flour, gluten and melted butter. While mixing on low, add the remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixer. Increase speed to medium and mix for five minutes. Dough will be slightly stiff but still pliable.

Lightly oil a large bowl and let dough rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size (cover the bowl with plastic wrap while rising).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Turn dough out onto a counter and gently knead the air bubbles out. Separate into 12- 16 pieces (depending on the size you like your bagels) and roll into smooth balls. Cover dough with plastic wrap as you prepare the bagels. Once you have rolled the dough into balls, gently poke a hole in the middle of each ball and stretch until a 1-inch in diameter hole forms. Place on a lightly oiled parchment lined baking sheet.

Add baking soda to the boiling water and drop 4-5 bagels at a time into the water, boil for 30 seconds and then remove to a drying rack. Sprinkle with desired toppings. Once all the bagels have been boiled, place on prepared baking sheets and bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.

Let bagels rest on cooling racks for at least 30 minutes before freezing.

Friday, July 25

Meals for the Week

Welcome to Friday! I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the weekend and some quality time with my family.  Enjoy these top FIVE meal ideas.

1. Easy Healthy Breakfast Crepes- These may say breakfast in the title, but make a delicious light summer dinner. One of the best parts of this recipe is how FAST and EASY these are to whip up.

2. Keeping in line with the breakfast theme are PW's Breakfast Burritos by Ree Drummond. If you're short on time, use frozen hash browns instead of russet potatoes. This recipe makes a bunch and the leftovers are an easy lunch for the next day.

3. For those who don't want to eat breakfast foods every night, this Kale Pasta Salad also by Ree Drummond is delicious and made for a yummy meat-free meal. We substituted the white pasta for whole grain wheat and found it tasty warm or cold.

4. These Spring Vegetable Potstickers by The Smitten Kitchen may be a little time consuming but well worth the effort. I couldn't believe how delicious the fresh asparagus was in the filling. My family isn't a huge fan of tofu so I used chicken instead. Fill these potstickers with your favorite veggies and serve with basmati rice.

5. And lastly, Zucchini Quinoa Fritters with Parmesan by The Scrumptious Pumpkin. We ate these with a fresh garden salad for a satisfying meal. Grilled chicken would also be a tasty accompaniment.


Easy Healthy Breakfast Crepes

We love eating breakfast for dinner at my house and one of our favorites are crepes. This recipe is a healthy variation of my Crepes recipe and a cinch to make. These are incredibly light and have the perfect crisp on the edges. Serve with your favorite seasonal fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.

Easy Healthy Breakfast Crepes

Yield: 2-4 Servings

1 cup cottage cheese
6 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high for 1 minute (you may need to pause and scrape the sides half-way through). Scoop out the batter in 1/4 cups onto a non-stick heated griddle or skillet. If using an electric griddle turn your heat to about 375 degrees or if using a skillet on the stove, turn your heat to medium-high. Tilt the griddle to spread out the batter until thinned, cook until browned on the bottom and then flip. Serve Warm.

Tuesday, July 22

Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls

We love Asian inspired cuisine at my house, from the stir-fries, egg rolls, sushi and soups, we love it all. Having made a number of different egg roll recipes, I wanted to change it up a bit and try some fresh spring rolls. Filled with fresh veggies, herbs, rice noodles and cold shrimp, these taste fantastic! And after a weekend of some unhealthy eating choices (like Ghirardelli Caramel Turtle Brownies ) I needed to start the week off right.

Yield: 4 Servings

Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls

10 spring-roll wrappers
Sweet and sour dipping sauce

1 cup raw spinach
2-3 ounces dried rice sticks
12 ounces cooked shrimp, thawed
1/2 English cucumber, cut match-stick style (skin and seeds removed, if desired)
1 carrot, cut match-stick style
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh cilantro
Handful of fresh basil
Handful of fresh mint leaves

Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Place rice sticks in a metal bowl and pour boiling water over the rice sticks. Gently stir every minute until noodles are cooked. Watch the noodles carefully, as they can become mushy very quickly. Drain noodles and run cool water over them. Set aside.

Prepare veggies and set aside.

To make rolls, fill a large bowl with warm water and submerge one spring-roll wrapper in water until it becomes pliable. This will only take a few seconds. Place softened wrapper on a plate and layer filling ingredients down the bottom-middle of the roll. Fold bottom and sides in and tightly roll. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately with your favorite sauce or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Wednesday, July 16

Meals for the Week

Meal planning done! We had fun trying some new recipes and throwing in our classic favorites.


1. One of my favorites this week was the Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Pea Tacos by Two Peas & Their Pod! Their incredible recipe takes healthy vegetarian eating to an entire new level. If you thought healthy eating had to be boring take another look with these top-notch and beautiful looking tacos. Their Lime Crema sauce is also an absolute must and only takes a couple of minutes to whip up. Top with chopped tomatoes, extra avocado, baby spinach and some red onions.

2. Next up Healthy Beef and Cashew Stir Fry from ifoodreal. Chicken was on sale last week so I used chicken instead of the beef. The flavors in the sauce meld beautifully and the cashews add the perfect nutty element. Word of advice, when roasting the cashews watch them VERY, VERY carefully. They can go from no color to burnt in a matter of a few seconds. So unless you want to be salvaging through the cashews looking for non-burnt non-carcinogen pieces, do your family a favor and don't walk away from the stove to take pictures of your super cute baby. Just trust me :)

3. My Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta has become of our favorite summer dinners. I love incorporating the garden produce into our meals and the basil and spinach pesto is the perfect place to do so. This also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

4. Salmon Baked in Cream with Sweet Bay, Thyme and Dill from The Nourished Kitchen is absolutely delightful! My local grocery store has had frozen salmon fillets right about $3.50 a lb. They may not be straight from the sea to your plate wild Alaskan salmon, but for living in a landlocked state and at that price, I'll take it. Serve with a fresh salad and some roasted potatoes.

5 Lastly, Apple Bacon Cheddar Mac n Cheese by Rachel Ray. When it comes down to a favorite mac n cheese recipe, this one is the best! Substitute the regular pasta for whole wheat and serve with a fresh spinach salad. For the dressing try my personal favorite Classic Vinaigrette Dressing.

Sunday, July 13

Easy Pita Bread Pizza

Usually I'm a sucker for pizza with a homemade crust but don't always have the time or want to take the time to make my crust from scratch. Here at my house we LOVE making individual pizzas with whole wheat pita bread. They bake up fast and we have fun creating our own personal pizzas. Get creative with the toppings and let the kids design their own dinners.

Easy Pita Bread Pizza

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place pita bread on cookie sheet and spread a thin layer of sauce over each pita. Sprinkle with desired toppings and bake 10-12 minutes or until cheese is gooey and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Favorite Toppings and Ingredients 
Garlic pasta sauce
Whole wheat pita bread
Green pepper
Red onions
Black olives
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil
Dried pizza seasonings

Saturday, July 12

Skinny Chocolate Pudding

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to try the most delicious chocolate pudding from A Vibrant Life. Just four ingredients, vegan and super easy to prepare. Rich chocolate, silky smooth consistency and the perfect touch of sweetness. Since my first taste of this treat I've made it about five times and loved it even more (if that's possible) each time. Personally, I love serving this with some summer berries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. If you want to keep with dessert strictly vegan try using whipped coconut cream instead of the heavy whipping cream.

Yield: 6 servings

Adapted from A Vibrant Life

Skinny Chocolate Pudding

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup vegan or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ripe avocado, pealed and pit removed
1 sweet potato, cooked and pealed
Strawberries, for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and prick sweet potato with a fork and bake for about 1 hour or until soft. Meanwhile combine almond milk and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Continue stirring until chips are melted and then set aside. Peal cooked and cooled sweet potato and add to a blender with the avocado and almond milk mixture. Blend until smooth. Pour into an 8 x 8 inch pan or other shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set. Scoop into individual dishes and garnish with berries and fresh cream.

Thursday, July 10

Trio Cheese Zucchini Melts

With my zucchini plants on mass production mode I've been trying to get creative on preparing this versatile vegetable. Last night the hubs was out so I just needed to cook for one. Technically for two but the 7 month old doesn't eat much yet. These trio cheese melts are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese meld beautifully in this essence of pizza zucchini melt. Simple and delicious, what more you want? Try pairing these melts with a fresh garden salad for a balanced meal.

Yield: 1 Generous Serving

Trio Cheese Zucchini Melts

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons pasta sauce
1 heaping tablespoon ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons, Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon pizza seasoning*

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Lightly spread the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Place zucchini face up in the prepared dish and bake for 8 minutes. Remove zucchini from oven and evenly spread sauce in each zucchini half. Dollop the ricotta across the zucchini and cover with the remaining cheeses. Sprinkle pizza seasoning over cheese and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

*The seasoning I used contains a blend of onion powder, bell pepper, fennel, oregano, garlic, basil, chilies, parsley, thyme, marjoram and celery flakes. If you don't have the premixed seasonings a dash of basil, oregano and little garlic would also be fantastic. 

Wednesday, July 9

Meals for the Week

Five delicious meals! Perfect for summer and three vegetarian options. Enjoy!
These burgers are super yummy! Use whatever beans you have on hand. Serve with your favorite green veggie. These will not disappoint!

2. Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza.
You can find one of my favorite crust recipes at Ambikas Kitchen . I like to substitute the white flour for whole wheat. Some of our favorite veggie toppings include: Fresh spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, red and green peppers, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Love, Love, Love this recipe from my friend Yvonne at Tried and Tasty Serve with basmati rice, a fresh garden salad and naan.

Super yummy, refreshing and vegetarian.

One of my favorite personal blog recipes, a little chicken sausage in the soup gives it a great flavor boost. Serve with fresh whole wheat bread!

Meal Planning and Saving $$$

If there's one thing that saves my family money on the grocery bill each week it would be meal planning. Not only does it prevent me from running to the store for that "one thing" that ends up being a whole basket full of food but we eat healthier when we stick to the original menu. Growing up, it wasn't uncommon for us kids to do the family grocery shopping for the week. Shopping on a budget and living about 20 minutes outside of town mean't you didn't run to the store or grab fast food for dinner, you ate what was planned for the week.

Because of MY love for meal planning and saving money, I'm super excited to begin posting a week of dinners for you each week. My intent is to post healthy and frugal meal ideas from a variety of different bloggers and websites.

A few tips that save us money include:

1. Pay no more than $3 a pound for protein. Chicken or pork I look for prices under $2 a pound. If a recipe calls for a protein that's pricey, I substitute it for a meat that I can find for a good deal.

2. Eat Vegetarian. My meat and potato military husband was at first a little skeptical on this one. On an average week we have 2 meals that don't include meat. These dinners are a great opportunity to try satisfying veggies and legumes and save money on the grocery bill. My husband now requests these meatless meals! 

3. Don't pay for convenience food. Frozen dinner's are EASY I get it! They're also often packed with tons of salt and preservatives, things I don't want my family consuming on a regular basis. And if your trying to save money, these tend to cost more than their homemade counterparts. 

4. Be careful with coupons. Coupons can be a great money saver, but only if that product is something you were already going to use. Stocking up on "pudding cups" or "chocolate cream cookies" no matter how good the deal is, won't save me money unless those items were already on my list. 

5. Stick to a budget. If you've budgeted say $100 to spend each week on food, than don't go over that amount. It may be helpful to carry that budgeted amount in cash to the store, that way you have a visual on how much you can spend shopping. 

6. Live a little. It's okay to splurge once in a while. I've had weeks when I really wanted shrimp and paid the $10 (ouch!) a pound for those succulent little sea creatures. 

I'd love to see your tips on saving money and eating healthy so please post your tips and advice! 

Friday, July 4

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Whipped Cream

Happy 4th of July! You were probably expecting to see a patriotic themed recipe this morning. These cool and creamy chocolate puddings may not be patriotic themed but are Perfect for the hot and sunny days of July. Recently, a friend and I were comparing chia pudding recipes when she mentioned how delicious chocolate chia pudding is. Super easy to make and the taste is phenomenal! You can make these with prepared almond milk or make your own with unsweetened almond milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. As I have a serious weakness for whipped cream I topped these with a little fresh whip and finished them off with a dusting of Dutch processed cocoa powder! Wow!

Adapted from Britney A.

Yield: 2 Servings

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Whipped Cream

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 heaping tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
Dash of vanilla
2 heaping tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
Cocoa powder (for dusting)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the almond milk and chocolate chips. Stir until chips are melted, add a dash of vanilla and then set aside. Divide chia seeds between two small glass dishes or small cups. Add half of the almond milk mixture to each cup. Stir and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

*Note- I've found that it is best to stir the chia seed mixture after 30 minutes in the fridge.

When ready to serve, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form, add powdered sugar and beat until cream forms stiff peaks. Dollop whipped cream over chia puddings and dust with cocoa powder.