Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WIAW: Cheesy Cajun Quinoa Bake

Hello!  Happy Wednesday to you all :)
Why has nobody told me how difficult it is to get a good, clear picture of a lit Christmas tree?  Hmm, well above is as good as it's gonna get, I suppose.
We are all decorated for to get started on gifts-lol.  Yep, only 13 more shopping/crafting days left!  Eek!!!

Peas and Crayons

Breakfast: Omelet & Toast

This morning I put together an omelet that consisted of one whole egg, thinned out with 1 tbsp of almond milk.  Once that cooked a bit, I added a sprinkle of mozzarella, 1/4 of an avocado and 2 slices of deli turkey; then I folded the egg over the filling.  On the side I had a piece of wheat toast with strawberry jam...and coffee, of course.

 A.M. Snack: Yogurt

Discount yogurt!!  There was a bunch of mark downs on yogurt this week, so I stocked up.  This was not my favorite.  It was too tangy and not enough strawberry flavor.
But you can't beat yogurt at that price!

Lunch: Frozen Meal...Jazzed Up

For lunch, I grabbed some frozen meals by Kashi.  They were pretty good.  I added 1 cup of cooked, frozen spinach, fresh avocado and cilantro and that really jazzed it up.

 P.M. Snack: Pear

I've had a couple of really good pears lately!  I am very much looking forward to our annual office Christmas gift of Harry & David pears...they are the best!!  Hopefully those happen again this year.  But, for now, just grocery store Bartlett pears will be consumed.

P.M. Snack #2: Chips

After work, I popped into Aldi to get paper towels and grabbed an impulse buy of veggie chips.  I snacked on a handful before heading out to a boot camp workout.

Dinner: Cheesy Cajun Quinoa Bake

For dinner, I made a quick and comforting casserole thingy.  It was pretty healthy too!

I saw these bags of 90 second quinoa at Target and I was sold!

For this casserole I took the idea of my skinny alfredo and the delicious heartiness of quinoa and mashed them together for a meal I will definitely make over and over again.

Cheesy Cajun Quinoa Bake
serves 4

olive oil
Cajun seasoning, salt & pepper
1 1/2 cup shrimp, shelled & deveined (and chopped in bite sized pieces)
1 cup chopped smoked turkey sausage
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
splash of white wine or chicken broth for de-glazing of the pan
1-2 cups chopped fresh Brussels sprouts
2 bags of microwavable quinoa (or 2 cups cooked quinoa)
"faux-fredo" sauce (recipe below)
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Season shrimp with cajun seasoning, salt & pepper.
Coat a large skillet with olive oil, saute shrimp on medium heat until pink.  Remove from pan and add the garlic, onion, green pepper and sausage.  Cook until the onions are tender (about 5 minutes).  Pour in a splash of white wine or broth to deglaze the pan and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove everything from the pan, add a little more olive oil and the brussels sprouts.  Saute for about 3 minutes, then cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender.
Microwave quinoa & prepare sauce.

"Faux-fredo" Sauce
makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce

1 1/2 tbsp light butter spread
1/4 cup flour
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 wedges Laughing Cow Swiss Lite cheese
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
cajun seasoning, salt & pepper

Heat a small skillet to low-medium and add butter and garlic.  Once the butter has melted, add in flour and whisk.  Pour the chicken broth in and whisk some more.  Let this cook for 2 minutes or so and then add the cheeses and seasonings and cook for another 2 minutes.  The sauce should thicken upon standing.  I didn't let it sit for too long, though, before I used it for this recipe.

Mix everything together in a bowl (except shredded cheese), spray a small dish (I used 8x8) with non-stick spray and spread the mixture into the pan.  Top with cheese & bake for 25 minutes at 400F degrees.

This is also very good without baking it, but firms up a bit when baking, making it more like a casserole.

I hope you try it!!!

 After dinner, I had a serving of mint chocolate chip-yum!!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of the week!  See ya on the flip side!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WIAW: In a Bowl is How I Roll {Roasted Red Pepper Chili}

Well, hey there, strangers!
I am back after a long holiday week.  I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Mine was fantastic.
So, yeah, getting back on track after holiday eating and lazing around is always a challenge.
My biggest challenge is getting back to those fruits and veggies and making myself exercise.
I'm just one of those people who has to force themselves to work out...I feel better after, but the "doing it" is the hardest part.
You feel what I'm laying down?

Ok, on to the food things!
Peas and Crayons

Breakfast: FMW

Breakfast was a quick and easy bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats with half a banana on top (and almond milk).  Coffee on the side.
Fruit & Veg count thus far=1

A.M. Snack: Cheese & Crackers

I smeared a few crackers (leftover from a holiday cheese tray) with a 35 calorie cheese wedge.

Lunch: Turkey, Veggie & White Bean Soup

Before eating this yummy food, we took a 15 minute walk with the dogs (pic at the top of the post).

For lunch, we enjoyed some leftover soup that I made over the weekend.  I also had half a light English muffin with cheese, on the side.
I roughly followed THIS recipe, but used turkey and made my own turkey stock.
 Well, I'll just tell you how I made it.

Turkey, Veggie & White Bean Soup
serves 8

olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
turkey carcass with a bunch of meat still on the bone (you could also use chicken)
water (about 4-5 cups)
1 cup frozen spinach
2 cans of white beans
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup lite sour cream

Cook the carrots, onions and celery in the olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat,  add the garlic and cook for an additional few minutes.
Throw the turkey in, add water and bring to a boil.
Boil until the water looks more like a broth (maybe 15 min?).  Then remove the turkey, cut the meat off the bone and add back into the pan. (discard the bones)
Add the spinach, beans and seasoning and simmer until everything is done. Stir in the sour cream.


Fruit & Veggie Count Thus Far=3 (I'm counting the soup as 2)

After lunch, I split this magnificent looking cupcake with my boyfriend (it was his dad's birthday & we brought him some cupcakes).

It's half the calories if you split it!  That's my motto in life!

besides, I totally got the small half

P.M. Snack: Applesauce

Fruit & Veggie Count Thus Far=4

At this point in my day, it was time for fitness!
That exclamation point was false enthusiasm.
I went to my evening bootcamp session after missing a week and it whooped my butt.

Dinner: Roasted Red Pepper Chili with Zucchini

I tried this recipe a week or two ago, and it was so good I had to repeat it.  The red peppers give the chili a lovely flavor.  I also added zucchini for an extra veggie!

Fruit & Veggie Count Total=5 (not too shabby)

Roasted Red Pepper Chili
Serves 8

1 (24-ounce) jar of roasted red peppers, diced
1 frozen bag of diced onions and green peppers
1 frozen bag of diced zucchini
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound lean ground beef
2 can reduced-sodium black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles (undrained)
2 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray (or drizzle with olive oil) and place red peppers through garlic power in the pot. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until the onions are tender.
Add lean ground beef, cooking for an additional 6 minutes, allowing the meat to crumble and turn brown.
Stir in remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Spoon into bowls, top with desired toppings and enjoy.

recipe adapted from Peanut Butter Fingers

I promise, this is a perfect chili.  You will get rave reviews.

After dinner, I had some cookies & cream frozen yogurt in a cone.  I love cookies and cream flavor; can you tell?

And that about does it for me!  Have a lovely week!

In case you missed it...

3 Ingredient Potato Broccoli Soup (You'll be surprised at how awesome 3 ingredients can be)

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread (would be perfect with chili...just sayin')

Monday, November 25, 2013

1-2-3 Cheesy Potato & Broccoli Soup

Oh, here come the holidays.  Can you hear them?

Get ready for the busiest time of the year with a super simple recipe.

Like, no brain power involved.

And even less physical effort.

I'm telling you.  You'll be surprised at how good of a soup comes from 3 ingredients.

I came up with this concoction based on two Weight Watcher soups I used to make back in the day.  One was a potato soup using frozen hashbrowns and one was a broccoli cheese soup using frozen broccoli.

So, now I bring you, thick, creamy, hearty and healthy potato soup with broccoli and cheese!!

For your soup, you will need:

1. Frozen Potatoes O'Brien (if you don't like peppers and onions, just get the regular frozen hashbrown potatoes)
2. Frozen Broccoli Florets & Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
3. Chicken Broth (one 32 oz box)

Dump all these things in a big soup pot and get it boiling.  Once it boils for about 5 minutes, lower the temperature to medium and simmer for about 20 or so minutes.  The soup will thicken upon standing.

I added salt and pepper to the soup, as well and topped it with cheese and chives.

The soup makes about 6-8 servings.

I mean, really.  Doesn't get much easier than that!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

I had no plans to share this recipe.

It's just too good, though.  I need to tell you about it!

I was planning some budget friendly meals last week and decided on red beans and rice.  You can't have beans without cornbread.  You just can't.

As you can see, I was a little wonky with my pictures.  I think it was cornbread intoxication.

That could be a thing.

Make this!!!!

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread
serves 8

1 heaping cup of self-rising flour
1 heaping cup of yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter, melted (I used lite)
1 6 oz container of fat free plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream
1 cup plain almond milk
2 chopped jalapenos, de-seeded & diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and spray a 9" cake pan with non-stick spray.
Combine wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix them all together.  Fold in the jalapenos and cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes and brush with an additional 1 tbsp of melted butter after baking.

You can also use this same recipe to make plain cornbread by omitting the cheddar and jalapenos.

Believe me when I say, moistest (gross word, sorry) cornbread ever.  Your mouth will be watering.

My guy grilled up some bacon wrapped turkey legs and we had the cornbread and beans and rice alongside of it.  Also, slaw.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIAW: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oh, would you look at that.  It's Wednesday again!

How amazing is that picture above of the sunset from Tuesday afternoon?  It's not even half as pretty as it was in person.  It just makes the day happier to be dumbstruck at how beautiful nature is, am I right?

Anyways, let's talk about food now!  Yay!
Peas and Crayons

Breakfast: Waffles!

I started the day off in a yummy way by eating some Eggo Nutrigrain low fat waffles, topped with strawberries and sugar free syrup.  I also had some coffee, of course.

A.M. Snack: Grapes

I packed way too many grapes for snack today.  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, for sure.  I ate about half of these little gems.

Lunch: Soup & Sandwich 

Lunch was kind of haphazardly thrown together, but ended up being quite tasty.  I split a can of Campbell's Homestyle Gouda bisque with chicken with my boyfriend and made us turkey sandwiches with brie wedges I found at the store (not sure of the brand at the moment--they are 70 calories a wedge..we split one).

We started to walk the dogs, but decided it was too dang, naturally we went to Starbucks instead.

We went to my favorite Starbucks in the city.  They make the best cappuccinos.  I had a tall soy cappuccino with one Splenda and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Also, I was talked into buying a snowman cookie.  It wasn't a hard sell, people.
I split the cookie with my guy and it was soooo good.  Like 10 times better than the pumpkin cookie from last month.  The snowman cookie is shortbread (instead of a sugar cookie).  It was delectable.  I recommend it if you need a treat...I also recommend splitting it, because it's like 350 calories.

P.M. Snack: PB Toast

From my WIAW posts, I bet you think I eat peanut butter toast everyday, huh?  I usually just have it on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have boot camp.  It makes me feel like I'm fueling my body for a strength workout.

So, anyways, ate my toast and went to workout.  Then home for a fantastic dinner that I will share with you now.

Dinner: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes & Veggies

I made these for the first time last week and knew I would probably repeat the recipe every week.  
So far, I'm right ;)

My guy loves buffalo chicken and, obviously, so do I.  But I think even if you are not crazy about buffalo chicken flavors, that this would be the recipe to convert you.

Come to the buffalo side with me.

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
An Attack of the Hungry Monster Original Recipe

3 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup buffalo sauce
1 lb lean ground chicken
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
Salt, pepper, garlic salt
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Bake or microwave your whole sweet potatoes until fork tender. Carefully slice them lengthwise and scoop out flesh, leaving the skin in tact for stuffing.
Cook ground chicken with buffalo sauce, salt, pepper and garlic salt until done.
Combine sweet potato flesh, cooked chicken and all other ingredients except shredded cheese and mix to combine.
Stuff the skins evenly with the mixture. I start by putting 1/2 cup scoops in each, then I divvy out the rest. Top with mozzarella and bake for 25 minutes at 400F degrees.

 I mean, seriously...

If buffalo chicken just isn't your thing, check out these Cheesy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Shrimp & Spinach that I made back in April.  They are amazing!!!

After dinner, it was time to snuggle this little beauty!

I posted a video of Bizzy doing her tricks on Instagram.  I tried to post it here, but apparently I don't have the skill set to do such things.  Watch it here.  Be amazed. 
She's so smart and cute!

Ok, enough about my pup...for now ;)

Happy Wednesday!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WIAW: Pumpkin Risotto {20 Minute Pantry Meal!}

Hello!!  Happy Wednesday!  We are halfway through the week--yay!
I expect most people are feeling a cold front in their neck of the woods.
Although I really don't know for sure.  I should do some research, but I think I'll just ride on that assumption ;) #lazyblogger
So, with assumed cold fronts coming your way, I'm sure you are in need of some comfort foods!  I have a, probably not even 50, but whatever...comfort food fall recipes on the blog.  Feel free to search over there on the right side of the page for fall recipes to get you all warm and toasty.
But for anyone without the extra time for searching through my poorly organized recipes, I bring you another 20 minute meal!  This time it's pumpkin risotto!!! We'll get to that.  First, let's discuss the eats for the day...

Peas and Crayons

Breakfast: Healthy Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

These oatmeal cookie pancakes are super dense and healthy, but also delicious.
For breakfast, I whipped up a batch using 1 mashed banana, 1/2-3/4 cup of quick oats (I did not measure), 3 tbsp egg substitute and about 1/4 cup almond milk.  After all was mixed together, I just scooped out 1/2 cup portions onto the oiled griddle and cooked until they were brown on both sides.
I added some thawed (frozen) blueberries on the top and sugar free syrup.  Yum!
Also, I had 2 cups of coffee.

Morning Snack: Yogurt

For snack, I actually ate a yogurt.  I like yogurt alot, but it is one of those things that never sounds very appetizing to me.  So, this container has been sitting in the work fridge for a week, while I just ignored it.  But, today, I topped it with the remaining blueberries (from breakfast) and it was so super tasty.  Makes me wonder why I never want it as a snack.

Lunch: Fish Taco & Soup

For lunch, I made my boyfriend and I some leftover fish tacos and we split a can of Italian wedding soup.  Kind of a random meal, but it was filling and quite delectable.
On the taco--blackened tilapia (I made Monday night), shredded lettuce, cilantro, tomato, avocado and goat cheese on a carb smart tortilla.

For dessert, we had some knock off Samoa type cookies and some coffee.

It was too cold out to walk, so we just hung out with Reggie inside (Bizzy stayed home.  No use in driving her across town to watch us eat).

Afternoon Snack: Graham Squares

I got hungry for a snack around 3:30, so I went rummaging through my work snacks that I stash in the kitchen.  I found some unopened graham squares, so I enjoyed two of those...I might have added peanut butter after the picture was taken ;)

Perfect to hold me over until boot camp, which was filled with squats, jumping and shoulder presses..oh my.

Dinner: Pumpkin Risotto & Spinach

Dinner came together so very quickly!  I made this dish last week when I was just searching through the pantry for something to make.  A box of chicken broth, a box of orzo and a can of pumpkin and 20 minutes were all I needed to get me started.
This is comfort food, for sure.  If you aren't crazy about pumpkin, try it.  It tastes like the best mac and cheese of your life...without all the calories.  I added some cooked frozen spinach on the bottom of my dish.

Pumpkin Risotto
serves 4, as a main dish

3 slices of bacon--optional, but delicious*
2 tbsp olive oil
1 box of chicken broth (32 oz)
1 small box of orzo pasta (1 lb)
1/2 can of pumpkin puree (1 cup)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles (or any kind of soft cheese-I also have used Lauging Cow Swiss wedges in this and they are amazing)
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat and add half of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.  Cook bacon until crispy, and remove from the pan. 
Add the rest of the olive oil and garlic & pour in your orzo, stirring to coat. Toast the orzo in the oil for about 2 minutes. Stir it the whole time (or most of the time) it is toasting.
Add 1 cup of chicken broth to toasted rice and stir, stir, stir. Once that liquid is absorbed for the most part, add another cup of chicken broth and repeat.  Keep doing that until it tastes done.  It takes about 15 minutes until it is done.
Stir in pumpkin and cheese.  Chop the bacon and add as a topping.

*Again, the bacon is totally optional.  If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, omit the bacon and use vegetable stock  instead of chicken broth.

*Also, you can use arborio rice instead of orzo,  if you want to make a more traditional risotto.  Or you can use brown rice to make risotto.

All mixed up..a beautiful mess!

After dinner, I did a few house chores and cuddled with this gal.  Unfortunately we had no dessert in the house, but I stuffed myself full of risotto so it wasn't really necessary.

Have an amazingly awesome rest of the week!  Thanks for reading :)