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 :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WIAW: Skinny Sweet & Sour Chicken {20 Minute Meal!}

Happy Wednesday!

It's time for another rousing installment of What I Ate Wednesday!

Peas and Crayons

The theme for this month is "falling into good habits."  I think my habits are mostly decent, but sometimes I make poor nutritional choices.  So for me, the theme is always "making better choices."

Sometimes I'll crave something like a BLT, so instead of driving to Sonic and picking up the gut bomb of a sandwich from them, I will make a healthier choice and make myself a turkey bacon BLT on whole grain bread (with no mayo).  See, it's still a BLT, but it is a healthy swap (plus it's cheaper to just make it yourself).  Yay!

Dinner on this night was a healthy spin on a take-out favorite of sweet and sour chicken.  It's so, so much better tasting and better for you.  I hope you try it!

Ok, onto the eats for the entire day...and we'll get to that healthy swap in just a sec.

Breakfast: Frosted Mini Wheat Cereal & Banana

I'm glad my boyfriend is cool with waiting to eat his breakfast until I take a picture of our meals together.  I wonder if he'll ever get tired of me doing that...
Anyways, we both had some frosted mini wheats with banana and almond milk.  Mine is the purple bowl.  Coffee on the side, as usual.

Morning Snack: Shake & Kit Kat

While I was waiting for coffee to brew this morning, I whipped up a shake to take with me for snack.  It contained half of a frozen banana, about a cup of frozen strawberries, a couple chunks of frozen mango, a squirt of honey and almond milk to get everything moving.
Also, there was a Kit Kat I had put in the office freezer the day after Halloween that I  found today.  So I ate it.  Sigh.  It's all about balance, right folks?

Lunch: Butternut Squash, Black Bean & Swiss Chard Quesadilla & Veggies

This concoction was leftover from Monday night's dinner.  It's such a quick and easy meatless meal.
I just microwaved some pre-cubed butternut squash, some pre-shredded swiss chard and some frozen rice/quinoa blend and combined it with a can of black beans.  Add some cheese and a Flat Out wrap (this was Light Italian-90 calories) and you got yourself a colorful and filling meal.
I also had some roasted carrots, peppers and butternut squash on the side from Sunday's dinner.  Leftovers Queen, I tell ya.

Here's the inside of the quesadilla:

I had gone home for lunch to check on these cuties...who watched me eat, of course.

Reggie & Bizzy=Best Friends Forever! 

I had a cup of coffee with a dollop of fat free Cool Whip (and a sprinkle of cinnamon) and a handful of chocolate chips as my dessert.

 Sweet Tooth Satisfied!

Afternoon Snack: Peanut Butter Toast

I got home a little earlier than usual yesterday, so I fixed myself some peanut butter toast and got started prepping dinner for the next night.

I actually like chopping veggies.  It's therapeutic.  Plus, I get to work on my knife skills.

All packed up to make my favorite soup!

Then I went to my evening boot camp class before dinner time...

Dinner: Skinny Sweet & Sour Chicken with Rice & Veggies

Here's a healthy swap on Chinese take-out for ya...and you know what?  It literally took me 20 minutes to make!

Skinny Sweet & Sour Chicken
serves 2

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized cubes
salt + pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup flour (whole wheat works great)

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp sugar free pancake syrup
2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (I used garlic seasoned)
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and either spray pan or line with parchment paper. Pour the egg substitute in a small bowl. Put some flour, salt and pepper and paprika in another bowl and stir.  Dip your chicken in the egg, then in the flour and put it on your lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes. While it is baking, make your sauce.

To make the sauce, combine broth and cornstarch in a sauce pan and stir to dissolve. Heat the burner to medium low heat and add the other sauce ingredients Let it heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens up. Once the chicken is done, put it in a bowl and pour the sauce over it and toss to coat.

recipe adapted from Hungry Girl

Here's how I made it a 20 minute meal:

The first thing I did was throw the bag of stir fry veggies in the microwave for 5 1/2 minutes and got my chicken prepped and in the oven.  The chicken stays in the oven for 15-17 minutes, giving you plenty of time to cook your rice and peas in the microwave as well!

Then I mixed 1/2 cup of peas to the rice mixture and that's how I served it.  I just used about 1/2 cup for each plate, so there was half a bag of rice as leftovers.

Here's a prettier picture if you happen to want to pin this on Pinterest.

This recipe is easily doubled to serve 4...I just only had 2 chicken breasts.
It's probably a good thing, because I would have gobbled up more than one serving for sure, if I had made more.

After dinner, I was hovering around the freezer deciding if I wanted to spend 270 calories on Ben & Jerry's.  I decided NOT to.  So I rummaged around and found some frozen bananas and made banana soft serve, instead.

All you do is just pulse 1 1/2 frozen bananas (cut in chunks) in a mini food processor until creamy.  I added chocolate chips to mine, as well.  Then I put it in a bowl and nestled it in some ice in the freezer for about an hour.

Such a creamy, delicious alternative to high calorie ice cream (and frozen yogurt).  Hooray for smart choices!

Have a super fantastic rest of the week!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday, Bizzy the Dog!

Happy Birthday to my sweet puppy girl.

I can't believe how much you've grown since we met last March.

Thanks for always making me laugh!

And for taking me on walks.

And for making life just seem happier.

I'm glad you're cool with dressing up.

And that you like to participate in my antics.

Looking forward to every day with you.

I love you alot.

And yes, you are a dog and cannot read.  But I'll say these things to you and you'll get it.

Dogs are amazing anyways, but Bizzy, you are one of a kind, boo.