Spiced Butternut Squash with Tart Cherries & Pecans

Fall has officially arrived in Seattle and nothing makes it feel more real than pumpkin and squash everything! I had picked up a couple of bags of pre-cubed butternut squash the other day and was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. I took a peek in my cupboard to see what I could throw in there and found some dried cherries, honey & pecans...couldn't have been more perfect!

This recipe is so easy to whip up, and you don't really need to measure anything...cook intuitively by taste!


Ingredients:

  • 1-2 packs of cubed butternut squash (or cut up your own if you can't find these at your local grocer!)
  • Honey (1-2 tablespoons worth)
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Pecans or other nut alternative
  • Dried tart cherries
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan salt

What I wish I would have also had.... goat cheese! :) 

Recipe:

  1. Dump your cubed squash into a pan on medium high heat and fill with water until it just covers the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pop on a lid and stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes or until the water is gone. Make sure you don't burn your pan!! 
  3. Once the water is cooked off, add in a bit of olive oil and continue cooking until the squash is soft and can be pierced with a fork!
  4. Turn down to medium low heat and add in a few dashes of cinnamon, a couple of pumpkin spice, walnuts, salt & honey. Incorporate well! Take off the heat and toss in cherries and if you're lucky, some goat cheese too! :) 

    Enjoy!

Healthy Zucchini Fritters

I'm back after a long summer blogging hiatus and FRITTERS are what's on the menu this week! I made a batch with some leftover zucchini that desperately needed to be used and my husband and I finished it off before we could even blink. 

Now, if only we could figure out how to grow some in our garden [of death] we could have fritters all the time!

Here's what you'll need...

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shredded zucchini (I found each large zucchini is about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you like - I used two and it had some heat to it)
  • 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • EVOO
  • Cheese cloth bag
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Shred the zucchini using a grater or a food processor if you have the shredding attachment.
  2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well & let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will help pull some of the water from the zucchini - skipping this step will make your fritters soggy and nobody likes a soggy fritter!!
  3. Place the zucchini in a cheese cloth bag and squeeeeeeeze out the water as much as you can! I promise this is the most annoying step!
  4. Toss back into a bowl and mix in with all of the other ingredients. **One thing to note, depending on how well you did with extracting the moisture from the zucchini, you might need to adjust the flour and bread crumbs. If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle in a bit more.
  5. Heat up your oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop the mixture, pack it down in the cup & dump it out on the pan (don't burn your fingers!) Flatten it out like a patty with the bottom of the cup and a spatula. 
  6. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes until crispy golden brown.

Serve with your favorite sauce (vegan alfredo is one of my faves!) and enjoy!

Crockpot Shredded Mexican Chicken

I refuse to go through my bikini competition prep eating steamed broccoli and broiled chicken.... :) Just because I'm trying to be super healthy DOESN'T mean I have to eat food without flavor! I've made it a goal of mine to try some healthy but tasty recipes throughout this 12 week prep period so I don't get sick of the food I need to be eating. 

There is a lot of chicken and turkey involved in bikini prep...good thing I like chicken! Making shredded chicken in the crockpot is seriously one of the easiest and most versatile recipes. You can make one large recipe by doubling or tripling it depending on your family size and use it throughout the week for all kinds of different meals. 

I love curry and mexican cuisine because it's SO packed full of flavor. Using spices is an easy way to kick it up a notch to keep things interesting!

Here's a yummy bikini prep recipe for shredded mexican chicken that will blow your mind!

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 16oz Salsa (we used chipotle salsa from Trader Joes!)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 3/4 tablespoon chili powder (or less if you use spicy salsa)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • +any taco ingredients! Lettuce (for taco shells), greek yogurt (sub for sour cream), avocado, etc.

Dump all ingredients in the crockpot and turn on low for about 5-6 hours. With two forks, pull apart the chicken. Place in lettuce leaves and top with favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken Quinoa Bowl

Upside of this dish: it's freaking delicious. Downside? After you cook it your house will smell of curry for days! :) I've gotten into this weird zone lately where i've been really picky about my leftovers. I usually prefer leftovers (cold pizza, WHAT WHAT!!) but suddenly it's as if they don't sound so appetizing to me and have to force them down for the sake of not allowing money to go to waste.

My discovery: anything with sauces usually make great leftovers! Last week's lasagna post makes GREAT leftovers and found that this chicken curry bowl does too. I love the distinct flavors in this dish and the fact that it's not only filling, but super healthy! Don't be alarmed by all of the ingredients. That's pretty typical of curry dishes, but I promise it's a really easy recipe and totally worth it.

Pro tip: when I'm working with a lot of ingredients like this, to avoid the overwhelm I like to get everything set out, measured and prepped so all I need to do is COOK! It alleviates the chaos in the kitchen when you can remember how much of which spice you may or may not have put in there already!

This recipe would make a great side dish and can easily be made into a vegan dish sans chicken. Maybe even throw it into a wrap with some additional veggies and, BOOM, you have yourself a completely different meal. << that's the key to good leftovers right there. Versatility! 

If you're down to get a little curry action going for yourself, here's what you're going to need: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Raw cashews (optional for toppings)
  • 1 purple onion, chopped
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1 head cauliflower (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed 
  • 6 teaspoons yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric

Recipe:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to instructions in two cups of the chicken broth.
  2. Coat the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of curry powder and mix well until evenly coated. Set aside.
  3. Using the same pan, add two teaspoons of olive oil and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat for about two minutes.
  4. Add cauliflower, peas, salt, pepper and remaining spices.
  5. Add in remaining two cups chicken broth and chicken. Stir well, incorporating all ingredients. 
  6. Cover and allow to simmer until the cauliflower is cooked (can be pierced by a fork - about 5 minutes.)
  7. Remove from heat and stir in greek yogurt. 
  8. Stir in remaining ingredients - cashews, cilantro, quinoa.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

I love a good lasagna but that leads to two issues for me: gluten and dairy. Andrew and I went over to a friends house a couple of weeks back and "cheated" on some lasagna thinking it was a heavy dinner treat. Halfway through my meal I realized that there was ZERO pasta in the recipe and it was in fact, butternut squash! My gluten free prayers had been answered!!

I knew I had to recreate this recipe for my weekly meal prep and finally had a chance to try it out this last weekend. It's a hit!

Here's what you need to make it happen...

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole butternut squash (pick one with a long shaft)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 zucchini 
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella or veggie shreds
  • Mandoline
  • 1 pound hot italian sausage

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook the sausage with the garlic & diced onions + zucchini until lightly browned.
  3. Cut off the ends of the squash and chop off the bulbous part of the squash & set aside. This has all of the seeds and goo in it - we'll only be using the long neck for this recipe so save that for something else!
  4. Using a mandoline, shave off thin slices of the squash. I did not have one at home and carefully used a knife to cut thin(ish) slices. It definitely doesn't turn out the same (I could tell I was eating butternut squash) but it was still yummy. 
  5. Puree the pizza sauce, olive oil, roasted bell peppers & basil altogether and set aside. You can also finely chop up the ingredients and whisk together.
  6. In an 8x10x3in baking dish spoon a bit of sauce on the bottom to coat so the butternut squash doesn't stick. Layer the squash, followed by sausage mixture & top with sauce - repeat until you can finish with butternut squash on top & one final layer of sauce. 
  7. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes, uncovered. When the timer is up sprinkle cheese over the top and pop back in the oven for a final 15 minutes. 

Ginger Curry Roasted Cauliflower

Well, this was definitely a first. I can't say that I've ever made a veggie dish and actually licked the mixing spoon after as if it were cake batter. Last night I came home from work and was in a really weird mood for dinner. We're in that awkward "leaving for vacation in two days" stage where you have the bare minimum in the fridge so you don't wast any food. 

Left in our fridge: pork roast (today's crock pot meal!!), a head of broccoli, goat cheese, some tomatoes and a head of cauliflower...plus a door full of condiments. I know finishing that tupperware of goat cheese will be NO problem, so I figured I needed to work in a veggie. LOL 

One thing I love about my fitness and nutrition challenge groups is on Tuesday's we all share a healthy recipe with each other and it usually inspires me to try new things! We call it Tasty Tuesday! 

A challenger posted a roasted cauliflower dish from a blog a couple weeks ago and have been dying to recreate it myself. Result: I literally almost finished the entire thing before Andrew came home. <<I'm serious. The leftovers made me really happy at lunch today so I'm glad I didn't get TOO greedy!

Here's what you need...

Ingredients:

  • One head of Cauliflower
  • 2 TBS melted coconut oil
  • 1 TSP EVOO
  • 1/4 Cup coarsely chopped Cilantro
  • 1/4 TSP (heaping) Sea Salt
  • 1 TBS Lime Juice
  • 1/3 Cup Goat Cheese
  • 1/4 TSP grated fresh Ginger
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 TBS Yellow Curry Powder

Recipe: 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop up the cauliflower in medium sized florets. Don't make them too small because they'll fall apart a bit one they're cooked and you don't want to be left with a bunch of crumbly pieces!

Place the cauliflower in a large mixing bowl & coat with the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle curry powder, ginger, salt and a bit of freshly cracked black pepper over top. Stir around until the florets are evenly covered.

Line some cookie sheets with tin foil and spray with cooking spray so the cauliflower doesn't stick while baking. Evenly spread out the florets on the sheet(s) and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. 

Once properly cooked, the cauliflower should be turning a deep yellow color with golden edges and you should be able to easily stick a fork or knife through it if it's cooked thoroughly. 

Dump the cauliflower back into the mixing bowl and drizzle the olive oil + lime juice and sprinkle the cilantro & goat cheese in. Mix around well and serve hot (or cold!)

Next time, I'll definitely be doubling my recipe! 

Cauliflower Mash Shepherds Pie

Shepherds pie was always a family favorite growing up and it was always a great cozy-up-to-the-fireplace meal in the winter. Nice and hearty, super satisfying BUT some recipes are very heavy.  

Despite the fact that summer is nipping on our heals, which usually deters me from meals like this, I had a hankering for Shepherds pie the other day so I'll took the liberty to create a recipe that would be just as satisfying but cut out the heavy stuff. 

Thus, the cauliflower mash Shepherd pie was born!  

What's SUPER awesome about this recipe is it's very easy to tweak based on ingredients you have in your fridge (especially with veggies!) So, feel free to get creative and throw together your own combos!

Ingredients:

  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 tbs minced garlic (1 in cauliflower, 1 in veggies)
  • 1.5 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 4 tbs beer stout (you can sub with chicken stock)
  • 1tbs almond flour
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2c frozen peas
  • 1 pint mushrooms
  • 30oz ground turkey or pork
  • 1tbs cashew milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2tsp Parmesan (1 in mash, 1 on top)
  • 1 onion

Instructions:

Preheat oven broiler to 425 degrees

For the mash: 

  1. Boil a pot of water and drop the chopped up head of {cleaned} cauliflower. Boil until fully cooked (about 7 minutes)
  2. Drain and toss into the blender with cashew milk and 1tbs Parmesan.  
  3. Blend until smooth and fold in 1tbs minced garlic
  • Tip: did you know that blending or food processing onions or garlic can cause a stomach ache? The gasses are unable to be released so they can cause tummy issues!

For the pie:

  1. Cook up your ground meat and season with pepper and salt to taste. Set aside. 
  2. Chop up onion, carrots,  green pepper and mushrooms and sauté on med/high heat in the coconut oil until veggies are golden and cooked through. Toss in 1tbs minced garlic and sauté lightly.
  3. Combined the meat and veggies (add in peas at this point!) in one large pot.
  4. Add in worcestershire sauce, flour, paprika, parsley, and beer (or stock) into the veggies and incorporate.
  5. Pour mixture into the bottom of a deep casserole dish, flatten out and spoon out the cauliflower mash on top. Sprinkle top with 1tbs parm and salt and pepper.
  6. Pop in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top is beginning to brown.

Serve hot & enjoy!


Sweet & Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry with Coconut Rice

I don't know why I always overlook shrimp because they are so incredibly easy to prepare and transform into a super tasty dish! I have to admit, I had no clue where I was going with the recipe so it was a bit of experiment that happened to turn out pretty darn good if I do say so myself! 

I failed miserably at meal prepping on Sunday because we bought a puppy (eeee!) so I've had the daunting task of cooking when I get home from work, which makes me appreciate the idea of weekend meal prepping every time it happens. I do have to say this one was very quick to put together and only took about 30 minutes!

Here's what you'll need:

  • 24oz bag of frozen (or fresh!) peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TSP chili powder
  • 1/2 TSP cumin
  • Dash of salt & pepper 
  • 1 TSP honey
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice

For the coconut rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used unsweetened Soy brand. If I had any Soy Cashew milk left I would have used that instead because it's very creamy and 25 calories/cup!) 

Instructions:

For the rice: Prepare according to directions on the package. Typically, one cup of uncooked rice will need two cups of water. Use one cup water and one cup milk to prepare. Start the rice first, it will take longer!

  1. Thaw out your shrimp - you can do this by dumping the bag into a bowl of warm water and allowing them to soak while you prep everything else. Add a bit of salt to the water so they can sit in brine for more flavor. 
  2. Dice the onion, garlic, bell pepper & scallions and add to a large sauté pan with the coconut oil. Cook the veggies through on medium high heat until they're translucent. 
  3. Add in the shrimp & remainder of the ingredients and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. 

Serve hot on a bed of rice and enjoy! We loved this paired with baked asparagus ;) 

Spinach & Goat Cheese Turkey Meatloaf

MOM!!!! THE MEATLOAF!!! 

Sorry, I had to...whenever I think of meatloaf I have flashbacks to Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers... ANYWAY, now that I got that out of my system I want to get into the nitty gritty of this awesome recipe!

Growing up my mom would make beef meatloaf so we would have it all the time, but for some reason I feel like meatloaf has a bad reputation. It's looked at as a non-glamorous slab of meat slathered with ketchup on top (well...I guess when you put it that way...) 

Well i've decided it's meatloaf's time to SHINE, BABY!!! Meatloaf has officially gone from the red headed step child to the tri-athlete honor student. You know why? Because it has associated itself with goat cheese...and if you know me or follow any of my posts, I put goat cheese on everything to make it FANCY! That's right. Fancy meatloaf. 

One forewarning, I adapted the instructions even further once I took the pictures already, so go by the instructions and not the pictures! Things might look a little different. 

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 finely chopped scallions 
  • 1 large chopped yellow onion 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 6 oz of crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 heaping TBS diced stewed tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes will do)  

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sauté the chopped onions in the EVOO until they start to caramelize. This is the part I did not do the first time around (when I took pictures) but it will add more flavor and ensure that the onions are cooked all the way through!

Add in the garlic & green onions and sauté for one minute. In a big mixing bowl, kneed together (roll up those sleeves!) the ground turkey, onion/garlic mixture, eggs, diced tomatoes and all seasonings (keep out goat cheese, spinach and tomato paste.)

When everything is incorporated, grab a loaf pan and stuff 1/2 of the meatloaf mixture into it - and level it off. Originally (in the pictures) I used the roll up method and it was a grand waste of time ;) This is MUCH easier.

Layer the spinach leaves in the middle of the pan and evenly sprinkle the goat cheese on top. Cover with the 2nd half of the meat mixture, smooth over the top and evenly spread the tomato paste on top. 

Put the loaf pan ON TOP of a foil lined cookie tray because there might be some juices that spill over and you do NOT want that encrusted in your oven! Ick! 

Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes until it is cooked through & serve! We had ours with baked asparagus & creamy mashed potatoes!  


Marinated Tomato Side Dish

For whatever reason, I seem to always have a tough time coming up with side dish recipes! BUT when I do find a good one, I can make it multiple times in one week and not get sick of it.

Growing up, my family always made marinated tomatoes with my grandpa’s recipe. Super easy, quite healthy and really yummy – especially with BBQ meat! This recreation isn’t to a T with his recipe, but I made it with ingredients that I always have on hand.

What I LOVE about this one, is it gets better with time…so the longer you let it sit and marinate, the better the tomatoes are. AND you can really eye ball this recipe without measuring it out if you want to get a little crazy! Everything is super easy to adjust by your flavor preference.

Ingredients (2 servings – double or triple the recipe for more!)

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • About 4 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ TBS EVOO
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • ½ TSP rosemary

Recipe:

Wash and slice up the tomatoes and layer them fairly flat in a casserole dish so everything marinates evenly. In a separate bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar, EVOO, S&P, garlic and rosemary.

Taste the mixture to see if you prefer more EVOO, S&P or garlic. I love high vinegar content but some people prefer a more balanced flavor. Drizzle the mixture on top of the tomato slices and finish by sprinkling with the grated parm.

Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and then enjoy!

These tomatoes go GREAT on top of a grilled turkey patty :D Recipe for that coming soon....