Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

Let me just start by saying that I am not one who typically makes soup. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all kinds of soup. I just assumed they were complicated to make and require lots of time which is something no momma has! Soup and sandwich combo on a cold winter day…mmm, nothing is better am I right??

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I had some amazingly savory, buttery butternut squash soup at a friend’s wedding this past Fall and have been dreaming of it ever since. I wouldn’t have ordered it if presented the option at a restaurant but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it when I saw the tray of beautiful orange shooters with the soup inside.

One of my New Year resolutions is to include more vegetables into my diet so when I saw butternut squash was on sale at the grocery store I thought I’d give it a shot! It was very easy to make, is a great way to get extra vegetables and vitamins into your diet, and is super tasty! 

Soup

If you have an immersion blender, this recipe would be a breeze for you to make! I don’t have one so I have to resort to blending everything together in the blender and pouring back into the dutch oven to finish simmering. This process causes a lot of dishes and mess to clean up so be forewarned. But if you stick with it, I promise the end result is so worth it!!!

As always, comment below to let me know if you tried this and how you like it!


Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • Two butternut squash, peel and seeds removed, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peels removed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
  • 1/2 cup organic half-and-half
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. no-salt all purpose seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, toss squash, garlic, onion, and red pepper with olive oil. Place onto baking sheet and bake for 25-30 min. or until tender.
  3. Remove from oven and place mixture into blender. Slowly add in the chicken broth while blending, until well incorporated. Blend until mixture is smooth in texture.
  4. Remove from blender and add into dutch oven with half-and-half, thyme, all purpose seasoning, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm topped with cheese, chives, and/or bacon.

Basil Pesto Penne with Chicken

Hope everybody enjoyed their holidays – I know I certainly did! I spent my time off eating lots of yummy food, collecting awesome gifts from relatives, putting away said gifts (amazing how much stuff an infant gets!), and cooking. I really enjoyed the cooking. It is so relaxing and fulfilling for me. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like being a mother to an infant so the extra time at home during the holidays is a welcome reprieve. 

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Today I bring you a fresh, lighter take on a favorite comfort food of mine: pasta. When made with this pesto sauce it tastes surprisingly refreshing and light. This dish will surely wow any dinner guest! My mother was impressed when I made it for her the other night…so there’s that. Of course, like all of my recipes, this dish is very simple, quick and nutritious. 

pesto pasta1

I used this basil pesto recipe that I have posted about before (it’s that good!) but this time I went a step further by baking with additional cheese, tomatoes and basil, mmm. You can even make a bulk prep of the pesto to freeze and use as needed. I tend to do this more often than not as I usually have more herbs on hand that I need to use up before they go bad. This is a great money saver and way to have an easy, healthy meal on hand at all times!!

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Basil Pesto Penne with Chicken

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino,  Parmesan-Reggiano, or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 package whole-wheat or brown rice penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (for topping)
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose seasoning (salt-free preferred)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Coat chicken in all purpose seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Add to medium pan on medium-high heat and cook chicken in 1 tsp. olive oil until cooked through (no pink). Set aside.
  3. In food processor, add pine nuts and garlic cloves. Process until finely ground. Add in cheese, basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Slowly adding in olive oil, pulse until well combined and consistency is to your liking.
  4. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain.
    1. Note: You could simply mix pasta, sauce, and chicken together at this point, topping with tomatoes and basil leaves and eat as is.
  5. Add pasta, pesto sauce, and chicken to prepared baking dish. Mix well. Top with remaining basil leaves, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

 

Loaded Veggie Mac and Cheese

Hey ya’ll! Hope you guys have enjoyed the holiday season thus far. I am getting into the Christmas spirit this week trying to wrap up the last of my gift purchases.. Since I am still working on losing the last 10 pounds of baby weight (or just all that gelato I ate while pregnant…) I have been trying to focus on including lots of vegetables and lean proteins in my diet while avoiding all the sugary sweets people in my office keep bringing in!

mac and cheese

This recipe was a hit in my house! It hits all the marks on winter comfort food being warm, gooey, and hearty but packs a punch of protein, vitamins and minerals with all the cheese and veggies. I love to spice it up a bit with some red pepper flakes which in turn spices up your metabolism, win-win! 

mac and cheese2

Make sure to use whole wheat pasta or pasta made from brown rice/quinoa/vegetables whenever possible. I personally have sworn off any bread or pastas that are not made from whole wheat or brown rice/quinoa. Another thing to note is that you should be using whole fat cheeses or milk (although I can’t bring myself to do that a lot of the time!). It is healthier to be as close to the natural source as possible…once you start going low-fat foods tend to become more and more processed. This recipe uses 1/2 low-fat and 1/2 whole fat cheese in order to cut down on total calorie count. It is little choices like this that can really overhaul your diet without making too large of a lifestyle sacrifice. 

 mac and cheese5

Try bringing this to your holiday party instead of regular mac and cheese and you won’t be disappointed!! One tip I use to keep myself on track with my diet during holiday parties is to bring a dish of my own to the party. It really helps to have at least one dish you know you can eat that is good for you but won’t leave you craving the bad stuff!


Loaded Veggie Mac and Cheese

Servings: 8

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package whole wheat (or brown rice pasta) rotini
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups skim milk
  • 1 cup low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup gouda cheese
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Bring a pot of water to boil and coat a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil (or nonstick cooking spray). Once water is boiling, add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
    3. Toss frozen veggies in ½ Tbsp. olive oil, spread evenly onto baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove from oven, toss with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
    4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in dutch oven (or large skillet) over medium heat. Add garlic and cook ~30 seconds. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Add cheddar and gouda cheese, mixing well. Add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, salt and pepper, pasta, and vegetables, mixing well.
    5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place dutch oven (or casserole dish filled with mixture) into the broiler in your oven at 500 degrees F for 3-4 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Southwestern Chicken Burrito Bowls

Hey friends! As the weather is (finally) cooling off I have been cooking up some hot recipes to warm up. Today’s recipe is super easy to make for a quick weeknight meal that is healthy for the whole family! 

southwestern bowls

I have been addicted to my crockpot as a working mother. It is SO much harder to find time to cook when I get off work and have a million things to do upon arriving home so cooking gets put on the back burner. I have found getting everything into the crockpot in the morning makes having a healthy dinner a breeze. Just add chopped or frozen veggies, meat of choice, sauce and set it and FORGET IT! There’s my Billy Mayes impression, you’re welcome. 

gumbo1

Anyways, this recipe can be a bit spicy so if anybody in your family dislikes that it is very easy to adjust the recipe to remove the jalapenos. I make this weekly for dinner but love it even more the next day after the flavors have melded together overnight. 


Southwestern Chicken Burrito Bowls

Serves: 6-8

Cooking Time: 6-8 hours on low

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 14.5 oz can no-salt added black beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced no-salt added tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can no-salt added corn
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, cheese, guacamole, salsa, diced green onions, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Combine the chicken breasts, diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, onions, peppers, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, salt, and cumin in the bowl of a 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Make sure the chicken is covered, and add additional stock if needed. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
  2.  

    Remove the lid and add the rice, black beans, corn, and the remaining chicken broth. Replace the lid and continue cooking on low for another 3 to 4 hours. Check the rice periodically in the last hour of cooking, stirring once or twice to make sure the rice cooks evenly and adding more chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Cooking is done when the rice is tender — if the rice is done while there is still liquid left in the slow cooker, remove the lid and cook on high to let the liquid evaporate.

    1. Modification: If you will not be home to add rice to slow cooker during this step you can modify this recipe by adding ingredients from this step 1 to slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8hrs. For the last 1/2 hr of cooking, add beans, corn and remaining broth and cook until warmed through. Cook the rice on the stovetop according to package instructions then serve with chicken mixture over rice.
  3. When cooking is done, remove chicken from slow cooker and use two forks to shred into bite size pieces. Transfer chicken back into bowl of slow cooker, mix well, and serve warm with desired toppings (cheese and salsa suggested!!).

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Hey there friends! So, by now many of you know that I had my beautiful baby girl about 6 weeks ago. I sincerely apologize for completely ignoring my blog in the final months of my pregnancy and first weeks of motherhood but…I’m sure you can understand why. =)

pepper

In hopes to win you back I want to share what I have been up to, you know, aside from Netflix/HGTV binge watching, and sleep walking through Target or Kroger with a baby in one hand and Starbucks in the other. I also have had more time this week to really get creative in the kitchen with what ingredients I happen to have on hand, as you can imagine, it is hard to run to the store if I forget something.

peppers

These stuffed peppers are SUPER easy to make. Especially if you have leftover meat like I did and can throw that in a bell pepper as shown below, bake, and serve with rice for an impressive looking dinner with minimal effort.

Try these out this weekend! I promise they won’t disappoint!

peppers


Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 lb ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In dutch oven or large saucepan over medium high heat, heat olive oil, add in turkey and cook until no longer pink. Drain excess fat, set aside. To same pot, add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.
  3. Add turkey into pot with garlic and onion. Add in spices (cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper) and tomatoes. Simmer for minimum of 10 minutes.
  4. Slice a “cap” off of poblano peppers by removing a sliver of the pepper lengthwise on one side creating a bowl to place the meat mixture into. Do not cut all the way through both sides of the pepper. You should be able to stuff it full and for it to lay flat on baking sheet. Remove any veins and seeds.
    1. Note: Add the extra poblano from the caps removed into meat mixture to reduce waste!
  5. Stuff meat mixture into peppers, filling as much as possible.
  6. In casserole dish or on baking sheet lined with either foil or parchment paper, add filled poblano peppers. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender. Take out of oven, top with cheese, then place back into oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve over brown rice and top with sour cream, guacamole, taco sauce, or salsa.