Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

It's winter.  That means it is time for comfort food.

And what is more comforting than macaroni and cheese?  And what's easier than a crockpot?

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the Crockpot Gourmet, and it looked absolutely delicious.  But, as I am trying to be healthier, I wondered if I could maybe modify it to make it a little better.

At least a little, it's still macaroni and cheese.

This was the result, and it was absolutely delicious!  Rich and creamy with a nice kick from the buffalo sauce.  When I input the ingredients into MyFitnessPal, it came up with the calculation of 488 calories per serving, which is about a cup.  It's super filling, so a cup with a nice side salad would be a perfect meal!

I made a few changes, using vegan butter and greek yogurt, as well as reduced fat cheese and coconut - almond milk.  I also used whole grain pasta (and tried it with gluten free as well) and both were delicious.  Some added protein and healthy ingredients and you can't tell the difference!

And, it's even better the next day.  I actually doubled this recipe and had lots of leftovers!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
(Serves 5 - 488 Calories per Cup)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
8 oz. whole grain pasta
3 tablespoons butter (I used vegan butter and it was delicious!)
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups unsweetened almond or almond coconut milk
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

Spray crockpot insert.  Place the chicken breasts, hot sauce, chicken broth, garlic powder, and onion powder in the crockpot and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove cooked chicken and shred with a fork, then add back into the crockpot.  Pour the pasta in the crockpot and cook in the sauce for about 30 minutes (or until done).  If you need to, add a splash more chicken broth.

When the pasta is near done, melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour.  Cook for a minute, whisking constantly, to cook out the flour taste.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking until smooth.  Then add Greek yogurt, whisking until it is melted into the sauce. 

Bring to a simmer - about 4-6 minutes - until sauce thickens.  It won't be as thick as a regular cheese sauce but it will thicken up!  Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted and smooth.

Add cheese sauce to crockpot and stir to combine.  Turn the crockpot to low and let it sit for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fabulous Finds: Jimmy Dean's Turkey Sausage Crumbles

I was checking out Mind Over Munch's YouTube Channel (which is awesome by the way, lots of great tips and healthy recipes!) and she had done a grocery haul, and I was totally intrigued by these!


Look, when I have time, I love to cook up my own sausage, but on those mornings (or evenings) when I just want to eat, fully cooked is a nice option to have!

Unfortunately, I haven't seen them in my Stop and Shop yet, but as it happens, was in Target yesterday and there they were!  So, of course they landed in my cart!

Very impressive stats!

90 calories for a half a cup.  And take it from someone who cooked up a half a cup with veggies for a scramble, that's A LOT!  Also, a very nice pronounceable ingredient list!

I think these would be great in a number of dishes, not limited to breakfast.  I have a few ideas to try them out with pasta and veggies as well!

If you are a fan of turkey sausage and, even better, a nice filling yet low calorie protein boost, definitely look for these!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rolo Stuffed Cookie Cups

So let's just classify this as one of those occasional treats.

Because we all need those!

These are super simple and super delicious.  And bonus, you can make a lot, so they are great for a crowd!

Now, you could totally use whatever homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe you have to make these.  But I had no time the day I was making these and I spotted a tub of ready made Toll House cookie dough in the store so I just picked that up and used that.

Warning:  You will want to eat way more than one!

(Thanks Mom for the pic since I totally forgot to take a picture!)

Rolo Stuffed Cookie Cups
(Makes 24 cookie cups)

1 tub of Toll House cookie dough (this was big, I only used about half)
1 bag of Rolos

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 24 cup mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Using a spoon, spoon about a tablespoon of the dough.  Roll into a ball and place in each muffin cup.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.  While those are baking, unwrap the Rolos.

When the cookies are done, remove from the oven and simply press a Rolo into the center of each muffin cup.  Leave in muffin tins to cool completely (this is important - the Rolo melts from the heat of the cookie and if you don't let it cool all the way they will not come out of the tin easily!).  Once the tin is cooled, I actually threw the whole tray into the fridge for about 20 minutes to make sure the candy cooled back down completely.

Then, take a knife to loosen the edges and the cups will pop right out!

Great with a cup of tea!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Blog Bites: Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Tasty Kitchen

New series on the blog!

I read lots of cooking blogs, and often try their recipes, so I figured I'd start a series where I can recommend some of the terrific recipes that are out there (and there are a lot!).

And naturally, I'm starting with a dessert.

These cookies from Tasty Kitchen are chewy, sweet, salty, and delicious.  I had my doubts at first, as the dough was extremely thick (prepare for a workout stirring!), but they came out absolutely wonderful.

So if you are gluten-free, you can make sure you use certified gluten free oats and enjoy these cookies!  And even if you're not, enjoy them anyway :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Side Dish: Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Is there anything better than the combination of salty and sweet?

In my opinion?  No.

If someone had told me years ago that Brussel sprouts would become pretty much my favorite vegetable, I would have laughed in their faces.

And yet here we are.  I LOVE them.

This side dish is the perfect combination of sweet from pure maple syrup, and salty from the turkey bacon.

This recipe makes one serving but could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group!

Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

1 cup Brussel sprouts, chopped
1 slice turkey bacon
1 tsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper

In a nonstick pan, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan.

Add coconut oil to pan, and once melted, add Brussel sprouts.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Crumble bacon and add back into pan.  Add the maple syrup and cook for another minute.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mexican Egg White Omelette

It's probably no secret, considering what's been on this blog, that I love breakfast food.

I would literally eat breakfast food for all three meals if I could.

I'm also a huge fan of anything that I can include either avocado or guacamole in.

So Mexican omelette?  Sure.

True fact - I don't like salsa, but for anyone who does it would probably be delicious on top of this!

I'll also be sharing my little omelette trick because I absolutely am incapable of flipping an omelette without destroying my kitchen.  This trick puffs the omelette up a bit,  making it borderline frittata like, and makes the eggs a little more done on the bottom - which I personally love, but if that's not your thing, flip away!

This is also really protein packed, between the egg whites and the black beans, and a dose of good healthy fats from the guacamole (you totally could use homemade, however I'm a big fan of Wholly Guacamole because the work is done and it's all natural!).

The whole omelette comes out to be about 275 calories (per the recipe builder on MyFitnessPal), which makes it perfect for breakfast!  The chili powder does give a kick, it's not too spicy but if spice isn't your thing, you might want to reduce that to a 1/4 teaspoon!

Mexican Egg White Omelette
(Serves 1)

1 cup chopped zucchini (or vegetable of choice!)
1/4 cup rinsed and drained black beans
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup egg whites
2 tbsp. guacamole
2 tbsp. reduced fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
Couple dashes of hot sauce (optional)

Spray a small frying pan with your favorite spray, and cook zucchini and black beans for about 4 minutes on medium heat.  Add in the chili powder and cumin and cook for an additional minute.

Add in the egg whites, along with the hot sauce.  Let the egg whites set up a bit, and then, using a spatula, gently push the edges in, allowing the uncooked egg whites to move to the sides of the pan.  Repeat this process until the eggs are about 3/4 of the way cooked through.

And now for the trick.

Take a lid larger than your frying pan, and place it on top.  This captures the heat / steam and will cook the rest of your eggs!  There is no set time (mine took about a minute, but it's something you have to watch!)

Then, spread the guacamole and sprinkle the cheese on one half of the omelette.

Then, using the spatula, gently fold the empty half over the top, and cook for an additional 30 seconds or so to ensure the guacamole and cheese are heated through.

Then, serve and enjoy!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fabulous Finds: Wild Veggie Breakfast Bowl

As I'm trying to be healthier, I'm trying to steer clear of frozen, premade meals.

However, life happens.  So I've been trying to find some healthier frozen, premade meals.

I saw these in Stop & Shop and was immediately intrigued.  Quinoa?  Barley?  Steel Cut Oats?  Only 150 calories per bowl?

The ingredient list?  Stats?  Impressive.

2 and 1/2 minutes in the microwave, and done!

There are a few flavors.  I had the apple cinnamon, which had huge chunks of real apples in it.  I also added a tablespoon of organic sunflower seed butter to mind, for an extra boost.  Really delicious and filling!  I also have the blueberry but haven't tried it yet.

So, I plan on getting some more for busy mornings.  Filling, healthy, and yummy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Snack: Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

I don't know if it's just me, but I could eat peanut butter straight out of the jar.

Unfortunately, you shouldn't.  Because while peanut butter has its benefits, there is a lot of fat in it.


I was home one day with some extra Greek yogurt and whipped this up.  I mean, I love apples and peanut butter, but the tablespoon of peanut butter always runs out before I finish the apples!

This dip remedies that.  And at 132 calories per serving (not including the apple), it's creamy and delicious and packed with protein (not to mention quick and easy)!  This particular recipe is a single serve but could certainly be doubled or tripled!

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip (Serves 1)

1/4 cup of 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. natural peanut butter

Combine and stir well.  Then enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Avocado Chicken Salad

Straight up?  I hate mayonnaise.  Like really hate it.

So basically I've never liked chicken salad or egg salad.

Until I found a genius idea, of course, on Pinterest.


Because avocados?  I LOVE.

This chicken salad has zero mayo.  Instead, I use a combination of Greek yogurt and avocado and it is creamy and delicious, and added in some dried cherries for a burst of chewy sweetness.  I used a good amount of Greek yogurt (2% because it's less tart), you certainly could adjust the amount down if you would like!

Also, I used Trader Joe's pre-grilled chicken breast.  Because it was that kind of day.  And it was also delicious.

Avocado Chicken Salad

(3 servings - 1/2 cup each: 188 calories per serving per MyFitnessPal Recipe Builder)

1 medium ripe avocado
1 lime
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
6 oz. chopped up or shredded chicken breast
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup dried cherries

Scoop the avocado out of it's skin and into bowl.  Juice the lime over the avocado and mash with a fork until creamy.  Add in the greek yogurt, chicken, salt, pepper, and dried cherries and stir until well combined.

(Side note - it does make three servings, and even with the lime juice, the avocado still turns a bit brown in the fridge however it still tastes delicious!)

Serve on a wrap with some lettuce or just on a bed of lettuce, would even be delicious with pita or pita crips!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Out of the Kitchen: Favorite Winter Lip Products

So just like dry skin, chapped lips are the bane of my winter existence.

But with this winning combination, my winter lip blues have definitely subsided!

First, let me be upfront.  These aren't the cheapest products on the market. BUT.  They both last an extremely long time because a little goes a long way.

First up, Popcorn Lip Scrub by Lush.

OMG you guys.

So basically, you take a pinch of this, rub it on your lips to exfoliate, and then lick it off.  Yes, the directions say lick it off.  And it basically tastes like kettle corn.

I do this a few times a week before bed, and then follow with this.

The Agave Lip Mask from Bite Beauty.  I pretty much love anything this company does (they deal strictly with lip products).  This is $26, so not cheap, but again, a little goes along way.  I've had this tube since last March or so and I have barely made a dent in it.  Basically it's like a thick balm that you can put on before bed and when you wake up, your lips feel incredibly hydrated.

Any other lippy recs?  Throw them at me!