Hi Everyone!! I’m so happy to back and sharing recipes with you. My bloggy break was a little longer than expected. My mother in-law passed away right after Christmas and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my husband’s family. As tough of a time it was letting her go, we still managed to have fun as a family. We went to the movies, joined a gym, hosted a New Year’s Eve party and ate a ton of food.
I spent a lot of time with my sister in-law, Janet, during the past few weeks. She truly is one of my favorite people. She’s enthusiastic about everything and has such a great spirit! We probably stimulated the Fort Wayne economy with our daily shopping trips. (We both love shopping malls but rarely get to them since we live in big cities.) On one of our shopping trips, Janet was tempted to buy a Vitamix blender. This is partly my fault; I’m obsessed with mine and always talk about how much I love it. After not being able to find a juice bar in Fort Wayne, Janet was more than ready to buy it but her inner spending demon told her just to wait. Good Girl — because when she returned to Hoboken, Santa had left her a Vitamix underneath the tree.
I got home from Fort Wayne on Saturday and one of the first things I needed to do was make some healthy smoothies for the week. Only eating one food group (casseroles!) for the past 2 weeks, my body needed to get back to healthy eating. And since everyone is still into their New Year’s resolutions, I thought posting a green smoothie recipe would be great!
Did you know you need 9 serving of fruits and vegetables a day?? 9!!! It seems pretty overwhelming. But when you drink your fruits & veggies, it makes it a lot easier. This Green Smoothie is vibrant in color and rich in healthy foods. It tastes great!! I like to make large batches and store individual servings in the fridge so I always have some on hand. This smoothie will keep in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container.
Head to your produce isle and stock up on your produce. Getting your 9 servings of fruits & veggies just got easier.
Kiwi, Kale & Apple Smoothie
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 pear, cut into chunks
- 1 orange, peeled and halved
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 green apple, seeded
- 2 kiwi, peeled and halved
- 1 cup kale, ribs removed
- 1 cup romaine lettuce
- 1 cup parsley
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 2-3 ice cubes
Put all ingredients into the blender and puree until smooth. If you don’t have a powerful blender, that’s fine, just cut the fruits and veggies into smaller pieces.
Quick post today! First off, I will not be doing my usual #FollowFriday post tomorrow. Instead, I’ll be participating in Cookies & Crafts for Sandy Hook. Crazy for Crust has organized a way for the blogging community to show support and give tribute to those effected by the shootings last week. (I’ve copied and pasted part of her post from her blog below.)
On Friday, December 21, 2012, we are going to honor the victims, families, and community of Newtown by doing a post in their honor. Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook will be one way we can show support in the aftermath of this unimaginable event.
On Friday, December 21, write a post sharing a cookie or a craft and a tribute to Sandy Hook Elementary School. There is no specific requirement…just do or make something to show your support. Maybe something you would make for, or with, your children.
Please spread the word about this united effort wherever you can. You can use the hashtag #BloggersforSandyHook.
Don’t have a blog? That’s okay. You can still share something for Sandy Hook. Take a picture and post it on your Facebook wall, your Twitter feed. Share on Instagram or your Google+ or wherever you can to unite us in our tribute.
So please come back tomorrow to see what treat I’ve made. I still have no idea what to do. I tried making cookies yesterday and it was a total epic disaster. I used to think it was my oven’s fault, but now that I see a pattern, it’s probably just me.
Do you love turkey? How about turkey sandwiches? I sure do but doing the typical turkey, mustard and cheese thing gets pretty boring for me. I came up with a Mediterranean sandwich spread, almost like a tapenade, to switch up the everyday turkey sandwich. The spread consists of artichokes, roasted red peppers, onions, banana peppers, balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. Add to a blender or food processor, and then you have a low-calorie and flavorful sandwich spread. You won’t miss the mayo or mustard with this sandwich!
If you’re having guests in town for the holidays, this sandwich is great for everyone and it’s a little different from what you can get anywhere else. Pair it with some sweet potato fries and you’ve got a filling meal.
Mediterranean Turkey Sandwich
- 10 oz can artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
- 1/4 cup onion
- 1/2 banana peppers, mild
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 8 sandwich rolls
- 1 lb deli turkey
- reduced fat feta cheese crumbles
- shredded carrots
- In a blender or food processor, add artichokes and the next 6 items. Blend until is a paste consistency.
- Warm sandwich rolls in the oven. Split and spread both sides of bread with the artichoke mixture.
- Top with turkey, feta cheese crumbles, lettuce and shredded carrots.
Christmas is less than a week away!!! I finished my holiday shopping on Monday. (Thank you, Amazon!) I had everything shipped to my in-laws houses, so fingers crossed all of the gifts will be there when I arrive this weekend.
I really do try to eat healthy during the week and get to the gym 5-6 days/week. It’s an active effort everyday and trust me, there are days when I think to myself, “It would just be easier to pick something up to eat.” Or, “Gosh, I have so much work to do. I should just skip the gym.” But I know that’s just my lazy inner self just getting the best of me. There are a few strategies I use to keep me on track.
- Packing a gym bag in my car prevents me from coming home and keeping me there.
- Find others who can be support you and help you to be accountable — Find a gym buddy. Sign up for classes. Write down in your planner when you’ll be going to the gym each day.
- Plan meals ahead of time and look for healthy substitutes.
I can’t help you with making sure to pack a gym bag everyday, but I can help you with a getting involved with a community and healthy meal planning. Emily from Sweet Bella Roos has started an online community called Counting Cupcakes. (How cute!!) This group is for anyone who wants to start (or continue) to live a healthy lifestyle. There will be a weekly newsletter which will feature a healthy recipe, a sweet treat recipe and a weekly meal plan. Click on the cute lil cupcake to sign up!
When you look at your favorite recipes, try to find new ways to make it better for you. Add more vegetables so you get fiber and stay full longer, skip butter & cream and use olive oil & skim milk instead, use fresh herbs and seasonings instead of salt or fat. It takes some practice, but I know you can do it.
There is a local restaurant in town and they have the best chicken & rice soup I’ve ever had. It’s creamy and delicious. I really wanted to recreate it at home and make it a lighter option. I added vegetables & brown wild rice. Instead of cream, I used skim milk and reduced fat cream cheese to give it a creamy texture. It totally worked! And since I made it at home, it wasn’t loaded with salt and I wasn’t tempted to dunk a huge loaf of bread into the soup. (this restaurant gives you huge portions and a loaf of bread which every order. It’s a total calorie bomb.)
I know with Christmas & New Years right around the corner, you might not be in the mood for a soup makeover recipe, but pin it and come back when you’ve started your new years resolution to get healthy. It doesn’t taste like a “diet” meal, which is important to me!
Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben’s and included the spice packet.)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups skim milk
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 to 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 2 cups cooked skinless boneless chicken breasts, chopped
- Salt & Pepper
- Parsley, chopped for garnish
- Cook rice according to package directions. When cooked, set aside.
- In a large dutch oven, bring the heat to medium and add oil. When the oil is warm, add onion & thyme. Stir & cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stock; bring to boil. Cover pot; reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are tender.
- Combine milk and flour; stir with a wisk and make sure there are no clump. Pour milk mixture into soup and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream cheese. When all of the cream cheese has dissolved, add in rice & chicken. Let all of the ingredients fold into the soup and warm up. Taste and season with salt & pepper if needed. Garnish soup with parsley.
I only post recipes I love. And in this case I really really LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this pork recipe. There isn’t much to it. Excluding the pork, all of the ingredients I had on hand and you should too.
I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love using my crock pot. It makes my life so much easier. I like to put the meal together the night before so it hangs out in the fridge over night. In the morning after I walk the dog and make my coffee, it’s time to grab the crock pot and turn it on. I’m out of the house for the day but dinner will be ready when I get home.
The first thing I do when I come home from work is take a deep breath — the smell coming from the crock pot fills the whole house. When I walked in on Tuesday, I was happily overwhelmed by the smell of brown sugar pork. I ran to the kitchen and took a little bite. I seriously almost melted. The pork was so tender! And the sauce, oh my… it’s a combination of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. All pantry items and it made the most divine tasting sauce. It’s sweet with a touch of acidity. Perfection!
To round out the meal, I whipped up some sweet potato mash. It’s super easy — peel and dice a couple sweet potatoes, boil for 15 minutes and drain, add some butter and brown sugar and skim milk, mash until you get the right consistency. This was an easy week night meal, but I’d make this any day of the week! It’s a great recipe to use if you have guests coming over for the holidays. It makes a lot and leftovers taste better the next day.
I really wanted to name this recipe “OMG Pork.” It’s all I could say when I was eating it. I hope you’ll love love love it as much as me.
Brown Sugar Crock Pot Pork
- 4 lb pork loin (or your favorite cut of pork for a crock pot)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- 2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Equal part cornstarch and cold water (slurry)
- Remove excess fat from pork. Using a fork, stab/make holes through out the pork. Season with salt & pepper. Spray crock pot with cooking spray and add onions. Place pork on top.
- In a bowl, combine garlic, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar. It will be a paste like consistency. Spread all over pork. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- When the pork is done cooking, take out of the slow cooker and let it rest for 10 minutes. (cover pork with foil) Strain the liquid in the slow cooker into a sauce pan. Save onions. On a medium heat, cook and stir in slurry. The slurry will thicken up the sauce. You may need to repeat this step a few times to get the consistency you want.
- Place onions on top of pork and cut into pieces. Serve with sauce drizzled on pork pieces.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and I’m already entering sugar coma status. Holiday lattes start off my morning. Everyday seems like a cookie swap party at work…and it’s rude to turn away treats people have baked, right?? And for the past few nights, I’ve been having these as dessert – they’re sooo addicting. I know I’ll have to make more once they’re gone.
Since I’m eating so much sugar, I’m really trying to balance out my diet with some healthy meals like this soup. It’s filled with vegetables and has a rich tomato base. If you like tomato soup, you’ll want to try this! By blending a can of diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, each bite you take is full of flavor. Not even a pinch of salt went into the soup!
If you’re a sugar addict like me, make this soup so you can enjoy all the holiday treats the season has to offer.
Tomato Based Vegetable Soup
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, sliced
- ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz. can small white beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes. Get the ones that aren’t packed in oil. They come packaged in a resealable bag, can be found in the produce section.
- 8 basil leaves, torn plus more for garnish
- 8 oz bag baby spinach
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, and thyme. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft.
- Add broth, 1 can tomatoes, and beans. In a blender, add remaining can of tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, torn basil leaves and 1/2 soup liquid. Purée until smooth. Add more soup liquid to get the consistency you want. Stir mixture into soup, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Add baby spinach and simmer 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat, and stir in basil garnish.
Happy Friday! I’m totally looking forward to my weekend. Do you know what I have planned?? NOTHING! It’s going to be a weekend to relax because after this weekend, the holiday chaos will start. My work life gets busier. I’ll start my holiday shopping. Parties start popping up on the calendar. All great things but a weekend of relaxing is just what I need.
I’m super excited to share my #FollowFriday blogger with you. Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest is a very talented young lady! She loves cooking for her family and sharing their reviews on each dish. Teighan has to be pretty creative to keep everyone happy! Here are 5 of my favorite recipes.
How cute is this?? I don’t think there could be a more perfect breakfast for the holiday season.
Thank you, Tieghan, for all of the great recipes! Be sure to check out Half Baked Harvest. She has some creative holiday treat posts you should make with your family. Here are some ways to keep up with Half Baked Harvest.
Have you missed my past #FollowFriday posts? No fear, I have a pin board with all of the past blogger’s recipes for easy reference. How can you be my Featured #FollowFriday Blogger next week? It’s easy! All I have to know is know about you! Make comments on my blog, get active in Link Parties or take drool worthy pictures. (I’m easily distracted by yummy looking food!) If you are featured, all I ask is for you to tell you fans & followers you were featured on The Tasty Fork.
Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!
I have a secret…About once a month, usually on a Sunday night, I get a craving for Taco Bell. Yes, I know that stuff is just terrible for you but why does terrible taste so darn good?!! And why is terrible so cheap??!
I always order the same items. One of those items being a Meximelt. It has ground beef, pico de gallo and cheese all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla. The cheese is melted and the pico de gallo has a lot of cilantro. There really isn’t much to it… which got me to thinking, “Why can’t I make meximelts at home?”
You totally can. I made a few changes to make my at home Meximelt a healthy option. It was just as delicious! I’m not going to say I’ll never order a Meximelt again from Taco Bell, but knowing I can get my fix at home is pretty satisfying.
Do you have a favorite copy cat recipe? I’d love to know all about it! Head over to my facebook page and post your copy cat recipes. I’ll highlight the ones I want to try!
Taco Bell Inspired Meximelt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 taco seasoning packet
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced (no seeds)
- 1 jalepeno, diced (remove white ribs and seeds)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Juice from 1 lime
- Salt & pepper
- 8 flour tortillas, taco size
- Reduced Fat Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded
- Hot sauce, optional
- In a warm skillet, add oil and ground turkey. Cook until browned, 8-10 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Add taco seasoning to the meat mixture. (I followed the directions on the packet by adding 2/3 cup of water along with the taco seasoning.) Cook with meat for 5 minutes.
- Make pico de gallo – combine tomatoes, jalepeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt & pepper.
- When the taco meat is cooked, take 1/4 cup of meat and add it to the middle of a flour tortilla. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted. Top with pico de gallo. Add hot sauce, if needed.
I may have a slight obsession with meatballs…but can you blame me? I have yet to meet a meatball I didn’t like.
Meatballs are easy to make. You can mix & match ingredients and know it’s always gonna taste good. My favorite part about making home-made meatballs — they bake fast and clean up is easy as long as you remember to line your baking sheet with tin foil. (please don’t forget this step!)
I made BBQ Meatball Sliders for dinner the other night, but sliders are the perfect party sized snack! All of the prep work can be done before guests arrive and the meatballs go under the broiler for just 12 minutes.. so they’re super quick to pass around when guests are getting hungry. Not to mention, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of enthusiastic “oohs and aahs” when offering this slider to party goers. Let’s give two scenarios – The Everyday Slider vs. BBQ Meatball Slider.
You – “Hi Uncle Bob. Would you like to try this slider?”
Uncle Bob – “Oh sure. Thanks.”
You – “Hi Uncle Bob. Would you like to try a BBQ Meatball Slider.”
Uncle Bob – “BBQ Meatball Slider??!! I love meatballs! Ooohh my!”
Obviously, scenario #2 will generate the praise every party host wants and you can be happy you’ve made an amazing party snack people will talk about for years. Ok, “for year”s might be slightly over exaggerated but I’m sure you’ll get requests to make BBQ Meatball Sliders again.
Or you can be like me and eat BBQ Meatball Sliders on a random Monday just because they taste good.
BBQ Meatball Sliders, makes 12 meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 cups shredded cabbage mix
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 tsp celery seed
- Salt & Pepper
- Cooking Spray
- You favorite BBQ Sauce
- 12 dinner rolls or slider buns (I used Hawaiian Bread Dinner Rolls. Perfect size for a slider!)
For the Meatballs:
- Combine the bread, onion, parsley, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the milk and Worcestershire, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef, eggs, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and gently combine. Form into 12 meatballs (about 1.5 tablespoons each)
- To cook immediately: Place the meatballs on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Broil for 10-12 minutes, or until no longer pink.
For the Coleslaw:
- Toss the cabbage and scallions with the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, and celery seed; season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.
When you’re ready to assemble the slider, place meatball on the slider bun and top with BBQ sauce & coleslaw.
Inspired by Real Simple
Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Something really exciting happen to me. Pillsbury’s social media team shared my Biscuits, Sausage & Gravy Casserole on their Facebook & Twitter pages. The amount of activity I got on my blog and Facebook has been so amazing! I’m so thankful for all of my new visitors. I can not stop smiling. It’s really nice to be recognized and know people love my recipes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
For all of my soup lovers, I got a great chowder for you to try. And guess what? You won’t find a touch of cream in this recipe. (just reduced fat sour cream.) The chowder get’s it thick consistency by adding diced potatoes and using an immersion blender. I’d say it’s healthy but the night I made this I was craving bacon….which is like every night. If you’re vegetarian or looking to cut calories, you can omit the bacon.
Like most of my week night meals, this soup will be ready for you to eat in less than 40 minutes. I enjoyed this chowder with some crusty bread. It’s great for dipping and rounding out the meal.
This chowder has everything I love — Veggies & bacon. Creamy texture. Lots of flavor. Quick ready meal.
I hope you give it a try!
Creamy Mushroom Chowder with Bacon
- 8 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 oz container sliced mushrooms, cleaned
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups stock (I used beef)
- 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
- Salt & Pepper
- Parsley for garnish
- Crusty bread
- In a large cast iron dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon pieces. When the bacon has browned, remove pieces and set on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- In the same pot, add onions to the bacon fat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to stir & cook for 5 minutes. Pour mushrooms and cook until slighty soft.
- Add potatoes and stock. Add more stock if the potatoes aren’t covered with liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, puree half of the chowder. (You can also use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.) Add sour cream. Stir to incorporate into soup. Add bacon to the chowder. (I saved a couple pieces to garnish.) Taste chowder, add salt & pepper if needed. When you’re ready to serve, garnish with parsley and warm bread.
Happy Friday! I’m so glad the weekend is finally here, aren’t you? I mentioned earlier this week The Tasty Fork will be getting a makeover. I’m undergoing a blog redesign and moving to a self hosted server. I’m so excited! I’m so anxious! I’m really excited about getting a bloggy makeover! Meg from VintPrint Designs has been amazing and she’s so patient with all of my question. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with! I’m so anxious because I heard when you move to a self hosted server, you can lose a lot of your followers. I really really really don’t want that to happen! If you’re subscriber to my blog, you’ll need to re-subscribe once I make my official move. Trust me, you won’t want to lose me! Once I’m up and running, I’m going to have a give away to celebrate my new look. You won’t want to miss out! This would be a great time for you to follow me on Facebook & Twitter so you can stay up to date on my posts.
Ooook, enough about me! #FollowFridays are never about me. This post is all about my blog crush of the week. And this week, I got a good one for you to start following. Have you heard of Kitchen Meets Girl? Ashley is amazing! Her recipes are creative, she takes beautiful photos and she’s very interactive with her followers. She’s doing everything right as a blogger. I hope to be like her when I grow up
If you’re new to #FollowFriday, this is how it works. I select a blogger and highlight 5 of my favorite recipe posts. Ashley made this job very hard on me. After 5 minutes of surfing through her blog, I had 15 posts written down to highlight…. and I had barely made a dent into her recipe catalog. The next 20 minutes of my life were very indecisive as I tried to narrow my list. Luckily I picked my 5 but trust me, you’ll want to head over to Kitchen Meets Girl and see for yourself what Ashley can do. Soo, here we go!
Oh yes she did. I mean, I think my head almost exploded when I saw this post. She combined my two favorite breakfast items. Bacon & Cinnamon Rolls.
This is the recipe which got my attention to Kitchen Meets Girl. I made this chili and it was everything she promised. Delicious & Spicy! I was sad when the leftovers were gone.
This would be a great dip and cute presentation for a holiday party. Plus, you can double dip your chip!
Another great holiday party treat! I love a bite sized desert.
Just looking at this picture warms me up inside. I can’t wait to make this when I’m decorating our home for Christmas!
Do you like the 5 recipes I picked? I hope so! Head over to Kitchen Meets Girl and bookmark her page. If you like what you see, here are some more ways you can stay up to date on her latest & greatest.
- Like Kitchen Meets Girl on Facebook
- Follow on Twitter
- Check out her pin boards
- Kitchen Meets Girl also has a link party every week. If you’d like to add some of your own recipes to What’s in your Kitchen Wednesday, you still have time to participate!
I hope you liked my #FollowFriday Blogger Feature! How can you be my Featured #FollowFriday Blogger next week? It’s easy! All I have to know is know about you! Make comments on my blog, get active in Link Parties or take drool worthy pictures. (I’m easily distracted by yummy looking food!) If you are featured, all I ask is for you to tell you fans & followers you were featured on The Tasty Fork.
Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!