2

Chicken & Barley Stuffed Peppers: Your Kids’ New Favorite Dinner

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I just had to share this recipe with you. Consider it a gift to kick off your summer! I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and it was an instant success. My husband loved it, my kids loved it, and I loved that everyone cleaned their plates. But for some odd reason, I forgot to add it to my weekly menu again, until tonight! We have been grilling like crazy lately, and my kids needed a little variety, so I decided to make these stuffed peppers again. WOW! Another raving success! My husband even ate seconds. I just love a meal where everyone leaves the table well-fed and satisfied!

Now, before you think it may not work for your family, try it. I do not like traditional stuffed peppers. In fact, I don’t really loved cooked peppers, but this recipe is a winner; I promise!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers (we love red)
  • 1 lb. of ground chicken
  • 1 cup of diced zucchini
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 cans of mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. of paprika
  • 1 tbsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • Drizzle of Sriracha (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Brown chicken in a large skillet
  2. Meanwhile, cut peppers in half and remove stems and seeds.
  3. Place 6 halves onto parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 450 until tender and charred at the edges. Flip after 10 minutes.
  4. Chop the other 2 halves of peppers and the zucchini into small chunks.
  5. Add the vegetables and barley to the browning meat, mixing well.
  6. Reduce to a simmer and add the enchilada sauce and spices.
  7. Mix well and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the barley is tender.
  8. Remove the peppers from the oven and transfer to individual plates. Spoon a heaping portion of the filling into each pepper and serve immediately.

Variations: You can top with taco cheese or cilantro. Feel free to change-up or add additional veggies, such as frozen corn, diced tomatoes, or onions.

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0

Some Bunny Loves You Pancakes

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This morning I was in an Easter mood, so I decided to make the girls some bunny pancakes. They were easy & cute.

1. Make your favorite pancake batter.
2. Use a small measuring cup to drizzle the batter onto the griddle in a bunny shape. I made a large oval for the body, a smaller oval for the head, and one long pointy ear.
3. Cook the pancake completely and remove from the griddle.
4. Transfer to a plate and add the mini-marshmallow tail. I used some melted chocolate chips to “glue” it in place.
5. I added a melted chocolate eye, and a slice of Annie’s Pink Lemonade Fruit Snacks as the nose.

These are not super complicated, but it made my girls giggle on this snugly Saturday morning.

Happy Easter!

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6

Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

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One of the reasons I love Spring Break is that I get to feel like a stay-at-home mom, and join my good friends in their daytime activities. On today’s agenda was a killer kettle bell class that my girlfriends have been agonizing through for the past few weeks. This class, with its drill sergeant instructor, has been a source of curiosity for me, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to try it.

Wow! It lived up to my expectations, and while I am certain that I will not be able to use my arms, legs, abs, or ANY OTHER MUSCLE in my body tomorrow, I loved it. No pain, no gain, right?

Well, since it is my mission not to gain weight, I best be taking the same kick ass attitude towards my diet. So, in order to preserve the benefits of my exercise, tonight we are having lettuce wraps for dinner. The added bonus is that my kids LOVE them!! I’m not kidding, my middle has chosen lettuce wraps over pizza before. Happy wife = Happy life! Here is a meal that will help me achieve my dream of skinny thighs while making my kids happy with a nutritious meal. Everyone wins, and gets to be happy…even if one of us will not be able to walk up the steps for a few days.

Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

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The Chicken:

1 1/2 -2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of honey

Blend all of the ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken, coating each piece in the marinade, and allowing it to sit for about 1 hour.

Cook chicken strips until they are fully cooked. They can be broiled on a baking sheet lined with foil, about 7 minutes a side depending on the strength of your broiler. You may also grill them on the grill, using skewers, or in a grill pan on the stove top.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool a bit, then shred or slice in to smaller pieces. Set aside.

The Noodles:

1 5.5 oz package of rice noodles

1 Tbsp. of coconut oil

2 Tbsp. of soy sauce

Cook noodles according to the package instructions and drain. Toss noodles with oil and soy sauce. Set aside.

The Rest:

2 heads of Boston Bibb lettuce

1 cup of shredded carrots

1 cup of alfalfa or bean sprouts

Optional: Chopped green onions, thin sliced red peppers, cucumber ribbons, and chopped peanuts or cashews.

Carefully separate the leaves of lettuce from the head, wash, and dry. Clean and prepare any other fix-ins.

The Dressing:

For an easy weeknight meal, you can purchase pre-made sauces. My family loves Wegmans Sesame Garlic Sauce and Wegmans Thai Peanut Sauce. We drizzle both on our wraps. But, if you are looking to make your own, see below.

Thai Peanut Sauce-
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
1 small pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan stir to combine over medium heat until smooth, warm, and blended.

Sesame Garlic Dressing-

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. of sesame oil

Combine all ingredients, mixing well.

The Presentation:

On a large platter, arrange lettuce, carrots, sprouts, chicken, & any other fix-ins. This will allow each person to choose based on their own likes. Place the platter in the center of the table with tongs or spoons. You can serve the noodles in a separate bowl or on the platter if there is room. Place dressings in small bowls with spoons for drizzling. Finally, put chopped peanuts or cashews in small separate bowls. Each person needs a small plate on which to assemble their own wraps as they go. Now you are good to go for a fun, nutritious meal!

***Variation: If this seems a bit complicated, or messy, tear lettuce leaves on a plate and top with chicken, noodles, and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and drizzle with dressing for a Thai Chicken Salad. This dish can be tailored to suit your own tastes, so feel free to add or delete ingredients to suit your likes.

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8

Lasagna Muffins

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My friend, Heather, always comments on my “pretty food”. So, I laugh and usually tag her in all of my “pretty food” Facebook photos. I like pretty food. It is nice to look at, you want to eat it, and most importantly, other people want to eat it (like my kids). Pretty food is also necessary if you want people to actually visit and interact with your food blog. But, pretty food has to taste as well as it looks. Pretty food is useless if it sucks, right? So I was so very happy tonight when my supermodel pretty food had hall of fame taste! WOW! When I say hall of fame taste, I’m talkin’ grand-slam H-O-M-E-R-U-N in the 9th inning of the World Series taste! So, naturally I am excited to share.

I made lasagna “muffins” or “cupcakes”. Whatever you call them, they were awesome! Now, I cannot take credit for this idea. It is all over Pinterest, and if you Google it, a million recipes will appear–Food Network, LOTS of blogs, Pinterest… the list goes on. So, why am I bothering to post? Well, when I looked at the other recipes, they were missing taste, so I took the time to blend this creative technique that others have already shared (why re-invent the wheel?) and I added the flavors that I integrate into my homemade lasagna. That is what makes mine different from all of the rest– the “better mouse trap, so to speak.

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Lasagna Muffins

The Sauce: (you can use jar sauce to save time, but then you compromise the flavor)

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  • 1/2  lb. of ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Brown ground beef, drain, & set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sautee fresh minced garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Pour tomatoes into the pan and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add sugar, salt, & pepper.
  5. Add beef and simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The Cheese:

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  • 16 oz. of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fine shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of salt & pepper
  1. mix all ingredients, blending well.

The Rest:

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  • 1 pkg. of square wonton wrappers. (about 3 inch squares)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • cooking spray

1. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each cup.

IMG_06583. Add a small spoonful of cheese to cover the bottom of the cup.

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4. Add a small spoonful of sauce.

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5. Top with another wonton wrapper. 
6. Add another layer of cheese, then sauce
7. Top with parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese

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8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes.
9. Let them rest in the pan, undisturbed, for at least 5 minutes. (if you cheat, they will fall apart)

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*** AWESOME VARIATION***

If you want to make these as an appetizer, or if you have extra wrappers, cheese, & sauce, make them as a single layer in a mini-muffin pan. They are like the cutest little one bite appetizers!

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Picture-less version:

Lasagna Muffins

The Sauce: (you can use jar sauce to save time, but then you compromise the flavor)

  • 1/2  lb. of ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Brown ground beef, drain, & set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sautee fresh minced garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Pour tomatoes into the pan and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add sugar, salt, & pepper.
  5. Add beef and simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The Cheese:

  • 16 oz. of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fine shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small dash of nutmeg
  1. mix all ingredients, blending well.

The Rest:

  • 1 pkg. of square wonton wrappers. (about 3 inch squares)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • cooking spray
  1. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each cup.
  3. Add a small spoonful of cheese to cover the bottom of the cup.
  4. Add a small spoonful of sauce.
  5. Top with another wonton wrapper.
  6. Add another layer of cheese, then sauce
  7. Top with parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes.
  9. Let them rest in the pan, undisturbed, for at least 5 minutes. (if you cheat, they will fall apart)

*** AWESOME VARIATION***

If you want to make these as an appetizer, or if you have extra wrappers, cheese, & sauce, make them as a single layer in a mini-muffin pan. They are like the cutest little one bite appetizers!

9

Doritos Enchilada Casserole

Nothing like junk food

To add to the mix

To make your kids eat

A quick Mexican fix…

       Rarely do I buy junk food such as Doritos, not because I have that much nutritional control over my children, but because I have no personal will power not to absent-mindedly polish off the whole bag myself. Anyway, I ended up with an extra bag of regular Doritos after my daughter’s birthday party. In an effort to not sabotage my quest for skinny thighs, I created a casserole with this tasty temptation.

     First, I started with the filling. Brown 1 1/2-2  pounds of ground beef in a skillet and drain.

Return the meat to the pan and add 2 packets of taco seasoning, 1 can of enchilada sauce, 1 can of Hunt’s Fire Roasted Garlic Diced Tomatoes, and 1 large chopped zucchini.

Mix together and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Next, coat the bottom and sides of a pie plate or casserole dish with half a can of enchilada sauce, much like you’d grease a pan.

 Next, layer with small tortilla shells, overlapping them and pressing them into the scallops of the dish.

Now, spoon the meat mixture into the dish filling it about 2/3 of the way.

Top with 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.

Finally, crush Doritos in a resealable bag. I used about 3-4 handfuls.

Sprinkle on top of the casserole, and drizzle with the remaining enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly with crisp edges.

Let rest 5minutes before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 -2 lbs. of ground beef
  • 2 packets of taco seasoning
  • 2 cans of enchilada sauce
  • 1 can of Hunt’s Fire Roasted Garlic Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini chopped
  • 1 pkg of 16 small tortilla shells
  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 bag of Original Doritos Nacho Chips

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Brown ground beef and drain.

2. Combine beef, 1 can of enchilada sauce, 2 packets of taco seasoning, tomatoes, and chopped zucchini in a large skillet and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Use half a can of enchilada sauce to coat the bottom and sides of a large pie plate or casserole dish like you would grease a pan.

4. Overlap the tortilla shells in the dish to create a crust. Press firmly to the bottom and sides of the pan.

5. Spoon in meat mixture until the dish is 2/3 full.

6. Top with shredded cheese.

7. Sprinkle with crushed chips, and drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce.

8. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the edges are crisp and bubbly.

Variations–

  • You can add whatever mexican toppings that you would normally add to a taco or burritos.
  • Make it vegetarian by substituting the beef for beans, quinoa, or rice.
  • Substitute beef with chicken, fish, or turkey.
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Fishy Fingers

Fishy Fingers—Make a “SPLASH” with these SEAsoned Chicken Bites

Before a big meet or a romp at the pool
Whip up these goodies for a meal that is cool
Your kiddos will flip for this tasty new treat
Because frozen chicken nuggets are just plain old beat!

Ingredients:
• 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin, and sliced into strips
• 2 C. of flour
• 2 Tbsp. of garlic season all
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 1 bag of cheddar goldfish crackers, crushed

Preparation:
1. Pound chicken until thin, and slice into strips
2. Mix flour and season salt in a Ziploc bag & coat the chicken strips
3. Dip each strip in the beaten egg and shake in another bag of crushed goldfish.
4. Placed on a greased cookie sheet and repeat until all strips are coated
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 min until browned and chicken is completely cooked through.

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