Sunday, December 20

Basil Pesto Chicken

With two small children, meals that I can easily prep and make are seriously my best friend. I'm one of those people who love to cook but between entertaining a very busy and active 2 year old and nursing a two month little girl making anything elaborate or time consuming has gone out the back door.

The fresh pesto really makes this dish stand out but if your extra short on time jarred pesto would be a fine substitute. Juicy tender chicken, garlicky basil pesto, buttery mushroom all smothered in melted cheese! So good. Fantastic over brown rice or  your favorite whole grain pasta.

Basil Pesto Chicken
Serves 6

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley
4 small tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/2 lb chicken breast, tenders or boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 tablespoon butter
2 cups grated coby jack cheese
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cooked brown basmati rice or whole grain pasta

Preheat over to 350 degrees and lay out a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a blender or food processor combine the basil, parsley, tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. In a small saucepan over medium heat saute the mushroom in butter until soft, about 5 min.

Evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pesto on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with chicken. Sprinkle prepared mushrooms over the top. Top with the remaining pesto. Sprinkle cheese over pesto and give it a good dash of salt and pepper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is golden brown.

Serve with brown basmati rice or whole grain pasta.

Friday, December 18

Mushroom, Veggie and Chicken Sausage Soup

Some years back a sweet friend shared a recipe with my family for her husband's famous "Magic Mushroom Soup". Completely mellow the soup was full of mushrooms, bacon, chicken stock, kielbasa sausage and barley. Growing up, the soup was a family favorite and often requested for family dinners. Years passed and I lost the recipe. In my naivety I decided to "Google" "magic mushroom soup" big oops!!! Unless your planning on engaging in shroomery and psychedelic trips I suggest you try a different search term.

This winter soup is inspired by my friend's recipe and is a healthier twist on this family favorite. Even my husband who is usually not a huge fan of anything with mushrooms went back for seconds and maybe even thirds on this tasty soup.

 Mushroom, Veggie and Chicken Sausage Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 portobello mushrooms, finely sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup crimini or baby bella mushrooms finely sliced
3 small zucchinis sliced length wise and thinly sliced
3 jalapeno flavored chicken sausages halved length wise and sliced (we love the Trader Joe's one's found here)
1 cup dry lentils, cooked and drained
8 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups packed fresh spinach
Garlic powder
black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to taste

In a small saucepan add dry lentils with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil than cover and simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes or until tender

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat add in butter and olive oil. Once hot, toss in onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms and onions are soft. Add in zucchini and sausage. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and spinach and heat through. Season to taste with garlic powder, pepper and fresh parsley.

Saturday, December 12

Chewy Healthy Baked Granola Bars

Let's be honest, finding a healthy chewy granola bar recipe is almost impossible. If they taste good they're loaded with sugar, if you actually make something labeled healthy... well you know it tastes healthy or seems to crumble to pieces. I've had success with some no bake bars but sometimes you just want that baked fragrant oatmeal taste. If possible use raw honey, so tasty and unlike most stuff you find in the stores raw honey actually has the good stuff still in it(anti bacterial, promotes digestive health, stabilizes blood sugar...the list goes on and on). If you want to know more take a look at this fascinating article by the Permaculture Research Institute .

But back to these tasty treats, filled with rolled oats, whole grain flour, flax meal, raw honey and your favorite nuts and dried fruits these bars hold together well, don't crumble when you take a bite and taste most delightful. To easily make these gluten free sub the whole wheat flour for oat flour or your favorite gluten free blend.

Yield 16 bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 inch pan with buttered parchment paper. 

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour
1/2 cup flax meal
2/3 cup roasted and unsalted pecan pieces
1/4 dried cranberries or your favorite dried fruit
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 

1/2 cup raw honey
3 T coconut sugar
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (I prefer the pink Himalayan salt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, flax meal, pecans and dried fruit. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth and sugar has dissolved. Pour over oat mixture and stir until well mixed. Using buttered fingers press down into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until oats are lightly browned on the edges. Be careful not to over bake. Let cool at room temperature. Cut into desired pieces and store in an airtight container or in the fridge. 

We love to individual wrap these for easy grab and go snacks and breakfast on the run.