Chicken Cordon Bleu & {Homemade} Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

 

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{Homemade} Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Today my kids were asking for something "yummy" to snack on after school.  Sound familiar?  The after school snack rush is always eventful with my 7 year old frantically scavenging through the pantry and fridge.  He's convinced that if he doesn't eat in the next five seconds he will literally "starve to death".  So while they helped themselves to some "ants on a log" (only the best healthy kid snack ever: celery stick topped with peanut butter and raisins or "ants") I whipped up these pumpkin surprise muffins for when the peanut butter ran out. Wondering what the surprise is?  Don't tell the kids, but these muffins have no refined sugar like most muffins, ground flax, and....(pause for effect)....pureed black beans in place of oil.  Yep, amazingly you don't taste the beans, but you get all the fiber, protein and vitamins anyway. These muffins are moist and filling.  Perfect for those starving growing 7 year-old's snack attack.  Just tell you're kids that the dark chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts are the surprise, they'll never know :) P.S.  Don't you just love the tin foil instead of muffin liners.  Guess I better put that on my grocery list for next time :)

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"Spaghetti" with Lemon Pepper Marinara and Herb & Veggie Meatballs

I never liked the term diet or the phrase, "I should really start doing that" (even though I am as guilty as any of saying it). However, I love new years resolutions.  I love the idea of having a fresh start, a whole new year and a new found resolve to make more of the coming year than I did of the last or to simply stay consistent with the things that make me happy.  So here's to new years resolutions and here's a delicious recipe that with start your year off healthy and satisfied.This spaghetti and meatballs redo is full of flavor.  The fresh lemony sauce with a kick of pepper is a perfect blanket for the slightly sweet flavor of the squash and topped with the herb and veggie stuffed meatballs adds even more layers of flavor and yum!

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{Homemade} Chick 'n Noodle

Chicken noodle soup is kind of the universal cure all.  It's the soup your mom gave you when you were sick and no matter what's wrong it just makes you feel better.  In my gluten free interpretation of this classic I've added some pureed cannellini beans as a thickener and to add that extra boost of flavor and make it a little more hardy.2 cans chicken broth4 cups water2 chicken breasts2 bay leafs1 carrots, sliced1 sweet potato, chopped1 small onion, chopped1 celery rib, sliced3 sprigs fresh parsley, choppedsea salt and pepper to taste1 can cannellini beans, drained and pureed2 cups gluten free egg noodles or prepared quinoa stirred in just before servingIn a large pot pour in broth, water and add chicken breasts, bay leafs and parsley.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts) until chicken is cooked through. While chicken cooks, cut up vegetables.  Remove chicken and set aside.  Keep the heat on while you add sweet potato,carrot, onion and celery.  Boil for another 5 minutes until veggies are a crisp tender.  Add egg noodles and salt and pepper.  Cook for another 6-7 minutes then turn down the heat and let it simmer.  While that works drain and puree beans in a food processor.  Stir beans into soup once noodles and veggies are done.  Serve hot with crackers.*  As it turns out mom was right about chicken soup being the best thing for when you're feeling under the weather.  "Pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA school of medicine, Dr. Irwin Ziment notes that chicken noodle soup contains drug-like agents similar to modern cold medicines.  Basically the amino acids released during the process of cooking the chicken resembles that of a drug called acetycysteine which is prescribed for those with bronchial problems."

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Herb-Crusted Chops & Apples with Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It seems like the cooler it gets the more comfort food I crave.  These savory pork chops crusted with herbs and topped with sweet sauteed apples and paired up with creamy garlic mashed potatoes is perfect for when family comes for a visit or just for a night at home. Pork Chops4-6 center cut pork chops (one per person)Salt and pepperthymerosemarysage1 tbsp. olive oil1/4 cup chicken broth 1/4 cup lemon juiceSeason pork chops on one side with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage (just sprinkle until it looks good to you).  Heat olive oil and chicken broth in large skillet.  Lay chops, seasoned side down into skillet.  Only 3-4 at a time so they don't get over crowded.  Squeeze some lemon juice on top of the chops in the skillet and sprinkle more salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage on.  Cook on both sides until no longer pink inside (cook time will depend on thickness of chops.)  Repeat for remaining pork chops.Garlic Mashed Potatoes3-5 lbs. small red potatoes (adjust for how many hungry people you've got. * Cream sauce amount is for 3 lbs.)1/4 cup fat free cream cheese1 1/2 - 2 cups skim or 1% milk1 tsp thyme1 clove garlic, grated1 green onion, chopped.  Reserve green tops. (I forgot the tops for the picture...oops!)Boil potatoes in salted water.  Just leave the skins on, but remove any eyes or blemishes before. (Eww, that just sounded like I was describing a head.  It's just potatoes peoples!).   While potatoes boil combine in a small sauce pan cream cheese, milk, garlic, thyme and white ends of the green onion.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until cream cheese is melted and steamy.  Dump water off potatoes once they are easily pierced with a fork.  Pour garlic cream sauce over top and, using a hand mixer or potato masher, mash potatoes and incorporate cream sauce. Top with chopped green onion tops.Sauteed Apples4-6 apples, sliced (about one per pork chop)2 tbsp lemon juice1 tbsp Smart Balance butter2 tbsp apple juice2 tbsp oat flour (place about a 1/4 cup of plain instant oatmeal in food processor until about the consistency of flour)1 tbsp agave nectar or 1-2 tsp stevia powderCut up apples and squeeze lemon juice over top.  Melt butter in small skillet, add oat flour and whisk together until it makes a paste.  Pour in apple juice, sliced apples and agave or stevia.  Saute until apples are a tender crisp. Put it all together So everything gets done about the same time, here's probably the best order to do things.  First slice up your apples, pour lemon juice over top, cover and set aside. Put oats into food processor and pulse until as close to a flour consistency as you can get.  Rinse pork chops and pat dry.  Rinse potatoes (you can half or quarter if they're big) .  Start by boiling potatoes while you prepare chops.  While first shift of chops are cooking prep another skillet for apples. While second shift of chops are cooking make garlic cream sauce for mashed potatoes.  Cover chops when done and set aside. Mash potatoes and blend with garlic cream sauce.  Cover and set aside. Cook apple in skillet. Now stack it up.  A mound of mashed potatoes, a pork chop on that, and topped with a scoop of apples.  Savory food l'more! * By just making a few simple adjustments I made this savory and potentially very fattening dish a little less fattening, but still just as savory. 1: Instead of using a ton of oil to fry the pork chops I just used a little oil and replaced the rest with chicken broth and lemon juice. 2: By using fat free cream cheese and skim or 1% milk I cut out a bunch of fat and calories.  3:  Instead of using regular butter I used Smart Balance butter with Omega-6, ground up oats instead of using bleached white flour, and if you replace sugar with agave or stevia  you're cutting out calories and adding nutrients to your savory and HEALTHY meal.

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Orange Chicken Curry

 

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Turkey Tetrazzini with Spaghetti Squash noodles

 

My first encounter with a spaghetti squash was only a couple weeks ago when my friend Rene had one baking in the oven and was planning to top it with spaghetti sauce for lunch. This mild flavored squash, when cooked, turns into spaghetti shaped strands without being fibrous.  It made for a great, healthy replacement for pasta in this turkey tetrazzini dish...

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Stuffed Chili Rellenos

I always liked the idea of a chili relleno, but the usual deep fried poblano pepper stuffed with cheese just doesn't do it for me.  So here's my healthy version of a chili relleno, only this time lets stuff it with seasoned brown rice, veggies, and some ground turkey cooked up in a mango pico de gallo...then we'll top it with cheese.  Hold the deep fryer please!

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{Homemade} Zucchini Muffins

This was a staple food item in our home growing up.  My mom, an avid gardener, always had more fresh zucchini than she needed and that meant lots of zucchini muffins.  So for me, late summer means zucchini muffins.  Since I'm prone to nostalgia, I don't venture too far from mom's classic zucchini muffin recipe, except that it's gluten free and no refined sugar.

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{Homemade} Gluten free Banana Nut Bread

 

You know whenever you see the bananas on your counter start to go brown and get a little mushy that it's time to make banana bread! I may be biased, but my mom makes the best banana nut bread.  I was hesitant to mess with the perfection of her recipe. Obviously it needs to be gluten free so I'm going to have to make some changes anyway, but aside from that I've made a commitment to myself to significantly cut out refined sugars and over-processed foods from my family's diet. I was pleasantly surprised that by switching out a couple ingredients with healthier alternatives, the bread still tasted as good as mom's!

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Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers

This meatless wonder is so fresh and perfect for summer or fall when peppers are right in season.  I decided to stuff these guys with some herb seasoned quinoa followed by sauteed veggies topped with cheese.Couscous Stuffing:1 cup organic quinoa1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cups for couscous, reserve remaining1 bay leaf5 basil leafs, finely chopped3 parsley sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped

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Chocolate Coconut Dream...

Awww, chocolate :)  It makes you smile just saying it.  Can you believe that this delectable dessert contains no flour, eggs, vegetable oil, butter, milk or sugar? It's not even cooked.  In fact this cool treat is practically ice cream (without the cream). First you'll need a good blender or food processor.1 cup walnuts1/4 cup raw, unfiltered honeyBlend until walnuts and honey stick together and look sort of like crumbs then add remaining ingredients one at a time.  Blending as you go until smooth and creamy.  You're going for pudding consistency.2 tbsp organic peanut butter, almond butter, or sunbutter

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Round Steak Basil Rolls

The main course for our father's day feast was ingenious and yummy, and very beefy and manly for the men in my life.  Round Steak Basil Rolls2 boneless beef round steaksMcCormick Montreal Steak Grill seasoning20 basil leafs1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese1 tbsp olive oilsalt and pepper First thing you need is a couple boneless beef round steaks.  They look like giant thinly cut steaks.  Cover meat with plastic wrap to avoid splattering then using meat mallet hammer them until tenderized. Grind some of the grill seasoning over top (how ever much you want) followed by 10 basil leafs per steak and finally 1/2 cup mozzarella per steak. Starting at one end begin rolling steak up like a burrito.  Disclaimer:  tuck your ends in other wise you'll lose lot of cheese and moisture out the sides.Secure with meat string. (notice how we did not secure ends...don't do that.  Remember roll it up like a burrito, tucking the ends in as you go). Rub olive oil all over outside of steaks then salt and pepper.  Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30  minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and finish baking another 45 minutes.   Enjoy!
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Spinach & Artichoke Mac

 I love spinach and artichoke dip and was in the mood for some the other night.  I really do try to not indulge in dairy much (cow's milk, cheese, etc). But, when I get a hanker'n for cheese, I use raw, organic mozzarella. So, I decided to combine the goodness of my favorite chip dip with mac and cheese for a simple dinner or side to some grilled meat. Spinach & Artichoke Mac 1 box (13-14 oz.) gluten free rotini pasta 2 tbsp. butter1 clove garlic, minced2 cups organic milksalt and pepper2 sprigs parsley. chopped5 basil leafs, chopped1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided1 large tomato, diced or 1 pint cherry, pear, or grape tomatoes3 cups fresh spinach leafs1 - 6.5 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (Delallo brand is gluten free)

Cook rotini according to package directions in salted water.  In medium saucepan melt butter and add minced garlic bring to a nice sizzle.  Add flour and whisk together until it makes a thick paste.  Pour in milk, salt, pepper and herbs.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and add Parmesan and 1/2 mozzarella until melted and incorporated. Drain pasta and combine with cheese.  Add in tomatoes, spinach and artichoke hearts.  Put in baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with tin foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and return to oven for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. * Raw, tomatoes are high in vitamin C while cooked much of the vitamin C is lost.  However, cooking tomatoes increases lycopene.  "Lycopene is the most-efficient single oxygen quencher, and devours more than 10 times more oxygenated free radicals than vitamin E.""...antioxidant power can be boosted even more through the simple act of cooking the tomatoes.  Researchers from Cornell University in the US said that cooking the tomatoes increase the level of phytochemicals they contain, although it also reduces the amount of vitamin C found in the vegetable."So the moral of the story is...eat tomatoes!  Cooked, raw, whatever. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Cooking-tomatoes-boosts-health-benefits

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Hobo Dinner

My mom made "hobo dinner" regularly when I was growing up.  I think it's called that because you usually make it when you haven't had time to get to the store and you just have a bunch of odd veggies laying around that need to be eaten.  I remember my mom putting the hamburger patties, potatoes, carrots and whatever frozen vegetables she could find into a casserole dish, topping it off with cream-of-"something" and putting it in the oven for an hour and a half or so.  Here's my recreation of her classic meat and potatoes meal.6-8 big red potatoes (about one per person), sliced2 carrots, choppedBoil potatoes and carrots in salted water until just tender. While that's cooking start thawing whatever frozen veggies you got taking up space in your freezer (i.e. corn, green beans, peas)2 lbs. organic hamburger or turkey burger1/2 tsp. dried thyme1 tsp. dried tarragon leaves1/2 tsp. garlic salt1 parsley sprig, chopped2-3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauceMix seasonings and Worcestershire sauce into hamburger or turkey burger.  Form into patties and cook in large skillet until browned and cooked through.  Remove and set aside. Into the same skillet you just cooked the meat in add:1 tbsp olive oil1 small onion, diced6-8 mushrooms, slicedCook onion first for a couple minutes before adding your mushrooms.  Let sizzle away for a few minutes.  While that's busy whisk together:1 can beef broth (or chicken broth if using turkey burger)1 tbsp cornstarch 

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Sun-dried tomato and warm potato salad

 

My garden is starting to produce!  Yay, go me!  Those cute little yellow balls in there are my homegrown pear tomatoes! 2 chicken breasts, butterflied (cut in half horizontally) 4-6 red potatoes, quartered, skins on 1 onion, sliced 2-4 whole garlic cloves, smashed 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed & cut in half 1 pint cherry, grape or pear tomatoes 1 jar, 4 oz. gluten free sun-dried tomatoes (I used this blend that had some herbs in it) garlic salt and pepper to taste 1 - 5 oz. container fresh baby spinach graded Parmesan cheese to taste  Preheat oven to 450. Fill one cookie sheet with potatoes, onions and 1-2 smashed garlic cloves.  Drizzle olive oil from sun-dried tomato jar onto veggies.  Pull out half of the sun-dried tomatoes, dice them up and throw them on there too.  Garlic salt and pepper to taste then toss to coat.  Bake for 15 minutes. On another tray put asparagus, fresh tomatoes and remainder of smashed garlic cloves.  Do the same thing as before with the sun-dried tomatoes, drizzling veggies with the oil from the jar and adding rest tomatoes, diced,  followed by garlic salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Put in the oven with potatoes and bake for another half hour. While that's cooking defrost chicken and butterfly cut (lay on cutting board and cut into chicken breast horizontally) Season with a salt and pepper then cook either in a skillet with a little olive oil or grill. Slice of chicken into strips. When veggies are done cooking throw them all into a big bowl.  Add fresh spinach and toss gently until spinach begins to wilt.  Place chicken strips on top then grate the Parmesan over it all. * "With the skin, one medium red potato (5.3 oz) contains 3g of dietary fiber per serving. That's the same amount of fiber found in many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. In addition to being beneficial to the digestive system, offering protection against colon cancer, and lowering cholesterol levels, fiber also gives potatoes their substance, helping you to feel fuller for longer.

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Almond Orange Confetti Cupcakes

 For all those birthdays or parties when you just need to throw some confetti. 1/2 cup honey1/2 cup melted butter3 eggs1 1/2 tsp. vanilla1 tsp. almond extract1/2 cup almond milk (original, not sweetened)1 tsp. orange extract + 1/2 tsp orange zest1/4 tsp. sea salt1-1/2 cup gluten free flour blend6 tbsp. ground flaxseed Mix all wet ingredients together then combine the dry and mix all together.  Preheat oven to 350. Pour mix into 12 cupcake cups 3/4 of the way full then bake for 30-35 minutes. While they're baking make the confetti top. Almond orange glaze1/4 cup organic powdered sugar1-2 tbsp. almond milk 2-3 tsp. orange juiceWhisk together (adjust almond milk and sugar until its a thick creamy consistency) Almond chocolate Confetti1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped 1/4 tsp (just a drizzle) agave nectar 1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips In a small pan place chopped almonds and agave nectar and toast for a minute. When cupcakes are done remove from cupcake pan to cool for a few minutes.  Drizzle a little glaze on tops of cupcakes so the almonds and chocolate chips have something to stick to.  Top with your confetti concoction, then drizzle a little more glaze over top the almonds and chocolate chips.  (If you eat them while they're still warm the chocolate chips are soft and slightly melted)  So, so yummy! *Flaxseed is not only the highest plant derived source of omega 3 fatty acids and a great source of fiber, but can be substituted in place of butter, margarine, oil, and eggs. * Almonds are "very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Magnesium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)." It is also a mild anti-inflammatoryRead More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2#ixzz1NJIXI05h Here's a fun tip if you look at the shape of nuts like walnuts, what do they look like? A brain.  Now look at an almond.  It shares a vague resemblance to reproductive organs, like woman's ovaries.  So guess what.  Walnuts are great for your brain and almonds are great for...yep your reproductive organs.  Kind of cool right?    "Products which balance hormones [are] primrose oil, flaxseed oil, soya products...and nuts like walnuts, almonds...."

Read more: http://www.lifemojo.com/lifestyle/tips-for-women-to-fight-hormonal-imbalance-6563154#ixzz1NJKo87iG

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Creamy Saffron Vegetable Soup

    I first made this soup almost a year ago and after making it for dinner recently I knew I had to give it the spot light.  This soup is light yet so savory.  And here's my tricky little secret...it's creamy without using any cream.  So good for you and good tasting!  1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 yellow onion, diced2 clove garlic, minced2 celery ribs, chopped4-5 cups chicken stock (however thick you want it)2 bay leafs1 tsp turmeric1 pinch saffron threads, about a quarter of a teaspoon2 carrots, chopped2 red potatoes, cubed1 can great northern beans, pureed1 small yellow crookneck squash, slicedchopped parsley Heat olive oil in pot.  Add onion, garlic and celery.  Saute until onions are caramelized then pour in your chicken stock, bay leafs, turmeric, carrots and potatoes.  Bring to a low boil and let cook for about 5 minutes while you puree the beans (you may need to add some of the stock from your pot into the beans in the food processor) Mix pureed beans in until well blended.  Add squash and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and top with fresh parsley. *I'll just say if up front, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, about $800 a pound!  Don't worry you don't need near that much.  You'll probably pay about $13 for a packet of these tiny red threads, but the flavor and benefits may make it worth it.  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/saffron.html The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines since long time ago as anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic. Research studies have shown that, safranal, a volatile oil found in the spice, has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties. Αlfa-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the spice its characteristic golden yellow color, has anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties. 
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Stuffed Baked Apples

 

 This is a camping favorite, wrapped in tin foil and set in the fire coals. It also is a yummy oven baked dish on any night. The apples are soft, but still with a slight crisp and the stuffing is caramelized and crunchy.  Yummy!

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Smokey Southwestern Rice Wraps

    Tacos for the win! My kids go crazy for tacos and just keep eating, and eating, and eating. Maybe it's because its so hands on and they get to control what goes on it. Well, this Southwestern version is a yummy variation to add to you taco Tuesday repertoire.    Smokey Southwestern Rice Wraps4 strips bacon1 garlic clove, pressed2 ½ cups chicken broth1 cup brown riceRed pepper flakes to taste1 cup frozen corn1 can black beans, drained and rinsed1/2-1 cup {Homemade} Salsa2 green onion, chopped6-8 corn  tortillas, heated in a non-stick pan1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese1 ripe avocado Combine broth, rice, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil then turn down and let simmer on medium low.  Start the rice about 45 minutes before you want to eat.  Chill out while the rice works.  When rice has about 10 more minutes start cooking the bacon till crispy. Crumble bacon and set aside. Drain excess grease (leave just a little).  In the same pan that you cooked the bacon, pour in the rice (its okay if there’s still a little water in it)   Scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the bits up.   Add salsa, black beans, and corn.  Simmer till water is completing gone.  Stir in crumbled bacon and onions. Top with fresh avocado and cheese.   Enjoy!
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Melissa Cornwall has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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