Greek Sliders

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Not so surprisingly I decided to come up with another Greek inspired recipe this week ūüôā We were coming off of an awful eight day rainy spell and were itching to get out and grill and since I usually always have feta and frozen spinach on hand, these Greek style sliders were easy to throw together. While I love a good, juicy burger when we’re out, I almost prefer to prepare them at home to both ensure that they are fresh (not frozen) and to save on our fat intake by using a leaner ground beef. I love these little sliders, once I get around to posting my Dad’s Greek meatball recipe you’ll see that the two recipes are very similar, however, since the meatballs are baked it’s nice to¬†have a grilled variation in the form of a recipe so that we can switch it up! Additionally, I love a “fun” burger (I’d say “gourmet” but my use of cost saving ingredients somewhat prevents me from doing so, lol), so if you like these check out my recipe for Kitty’s Mediterranean Turkey Burgers¬†(I use the same Lemon Dill Sauce on these burgers!) and keep an eye out for more burger recipes to come ūüôā

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Squishy baby wishing he could try one of the yummy sliders! Actually, I’m not even sure if this picture is from that day but he is just so cute I had to share it anyway ūüėõ

GREEK SLIDERS (makes 12)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Lean Ground Beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 5 oz. chopped frozen spinach
  • 3/4 cup feta crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian Parsley
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced (yellow, white or red is fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper¬†
  • Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Prepare frozen spinach according to package directions. Once spinach has cooked squeeze out any excess water by either wrapping it in a clean dish towel and squeezing out the excess liquid or placing the spinach in a strainer and pressing with a dish towel or large spoon. 

Step 2: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand until just combined, do not over mix. slid1

Step 3:¬†Form 12 small patties of equal size (or 6 regular sized burgers if you prefer not to do sliders) and brush with olive oil. Grill to desired degree of doneness (is that a word? lol) and enjoy! I serve mine up on mini buns with Lemon Dill Sauce¬†(this time I didn’t have any fresh dill on hand so I just used dry, no big¬†dill lol).

  slid2 slid3

Meal Planning – Week of July 27th

Okay, as I suspected I would be a little behind in posting my weekly meal plans, but I’ll hurry and get this one up so I can catch up! This particular week was pretty simple as our meals went, we even got to dine out on a weekday¬†since J’s Aunt Maryann and Uncle Ron came by for a visit and treated us to dinner ūüôā Since I was going to be doing some extra cooking for a baby shower I was hosting, I planned this week’s meals accordingly, using some of our favorite no-fuss meals.

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This menu isn’t totally accurate since we ended up not dining out Saturday ūüôā If you like my menu, check out this pic’s link to my DIY Menu Chalkboard!

SUNDAY // Homemade California Rolls – lately we have been making homemade sushi! We have been loving our sushi nights, particularly because it’s a fun meal for us to prepare together. I will update this post with the details of our sushi recipe and method soon, but for now it’s pretty straight forward. For this meal, we prepared a simple California roll using imitation crab meat, cucumber, carrots and avocado, but also added some mango and spicy mayo!

Not bad for our first time!

Not bad for our first time!

MONDAY // Dinner Out

TUESDAY // Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps Рwe are a big fan of these, as they are super healthy and easy to prepare! A bonus is that they make a great re-heat for lunch the next day and sometimes we even eat it served over rice or noodle instead of in the lettuce wraps. We will usually make a double batch so we get lots of left overs!

WEDNESDAY // Slow Cooker Pepper Steak РI love almost anything prepared in the slow cooker but I especially love this meal as it is easy and super delicious. To save money I will often use a thin sliced top round or chuck in place of sirloin.

THURSDAY¬†// Quinoa Black Bean Veggie Burgers – these are one of my absolute favorites, hands down! A bonus was having my hubby love them as well, as he tends not to be a fan of veggie burgers. I know so many vegetarian recipes claim that “you won’t even miss the meat” but in this case it is 100% true. J’s boss even asked him for the recipe, haha.

FRIDAY¬†// Appetizers – I was so stuffed from eating appetizers at the baby shower (I’ll link that post to this one as soon as I write it) that I had no desire to eat dinner and J had no problem gobbling up the left overs as well, lol.

SATURDAY¬†//¬†Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach¬†– this was just a little something I came up with while trying to think of a way to jazz up a plain package of Trader Joe’s gnocchi. I decided to do a healthy non-soup version of Olive’s Garden’s Zuppa Tuscano (the cream based soup with gnocchi, sausage and spinach). I loved that I was able to incorporate the “cauliflower alfredo” sauce into the recipe since it is one of my favorite things ever!

Check out all of my favorite recipes on my “Tried and True” Pinterest board!

Gnocchi with Sausage & Spinach

Alas, yet¬†another recipe that I didn’t document with pictures, lol. Thankfully this one is pretty easy to explain sans pics, so I will do my best. I came up with this one as a result of having picked up some gnocchi on my last Trader Joe’s trip.¬†The best way to describe this recipe is as a healthy, non-soup version of Olive Garden’s “Zuppa Tuscano”, which is one of my absolute favorites (but I bet I wouldn’t like it as much if I got my hands on it’s nutritional info. lol). While this recipe isn’t totally guilt free (turkey sausage is still sausage, haha), it is significantly healthier than it’s inspiration and is a nice hearty meal when you’re craving some Italian comfort food ūüôā

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Package regular potato gnocchi
  • 4 links hot Italian turkey sausage or about 1 lb. ground turkey sausage
  • 10 oz. cut leaf spinach (fresh or frozen, I used frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups¬†Cauliflower “Alfredo”¬†
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Begin by preparing your Cauliflower Sauce according to the link above. I make big batches and keep it frozen in my freezer (it freezes well!). When finished set to the side.

Step 2:¬†Heat olive oil in pan. Remove sausage from casings and discard casings, add sausage to pan and break into small pieces. Since my sausage didn’t contain any fennel seed I added some to give it a more authentic sausage flavor.¬†

Step 3: While sausage is browning, prepare spinach and gnocchi (gnocchi will only take a few minutes to cook in boiling water). If you are using frozen spinach prepare it according to package directions (stovetop or microwave). Once the spinach has cooked make sure you squeeze it using either a dish towel or paper towel and strainer to rid it of any excess liquid. If you plan to use fresh spinach simply wait for the sausage to finish browning, then add it to the pan and allow it to wilt, stirring constantly.

Step 4: Add spinach, gnocchi and cauliflower sauce to pan with sausage and stir to combine allowing all ingredients to heat through, then remove from heat. Enjoy!

Meal Planning – Week of July 20th

So I know I had previously mentioned that I would try and post my weekly meal plans, both for the benefit of anyone that cares and for me to refer back to when trying to plan future weekly meals. Anyone that has tried to stick to a strict budget while maintaining a healthy diet knows the challenges that this combo can pose. In our house we don’t follow any particular diet plan, we just try to eat mostly healthy meals prepared by healthful methods of cooking. I plan on creating a separate post regarding our budget, but we¬†try to stick to a strict $50.00/week grocery budget (this doesn’t include household goods like cleaners, toilet paper and other non-food items available at the grocery store, only food). We also don’t buy lunch food, I just prepare large enough dinner meals that reheat and pack well so that they can be eaten for lunch by both myself and J the following day. Personally, I am always looking for new dinner ideas (a big reason I waste so much time on Pinterest, haha), so the purpose of these “meal planning” posts will mainly be to share some new meal/recipe ideas with my friends, followers and fam! If I can be as diligent as I hope to be with these weekly posts, I plan to eventually make a whole “meal planning” category.¬†

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The menu, as displayed in our home ūüôā I ended up replacing “summer quiche” with another recipe, however, I will be posting that soon! Check out this pic’s link to my “DIY menu chalkboard”!

SUNDAY // Chicken Cordon Bleu РI stretched a buck by purchasing a large package of chicken breasts and using them in both this meal and my Panini recipe below. Instead of spending the extra money on thin sliced breasts, I slice the large breasts and pound them thin myself.

MONDAY //¬†Fried Rice¬†– I love this recipe! It really is very close to “restaurant quality” as the creator claims it to be and it’s super cheap to prepare! I added some roast pork that I had left over from one of our weekend meals but usually I’ll just add extra scrambled eggs as the protein element.¬†

TUESDAY //¬†Almond Crusted Shrimp – Prepared in the same fashion as my Almond Crusted Flounder, so simple and delicious and I only use a little bit of oil to fry them up but if you’re trying to be super healthy you could always bake them.¬†

WEDNESDAY // Baked Felafel РThis is one of my favorite recipes! I serve it with my Skinny Tzatziki and yellow rice. I always double this recipe so that we will have enough for lunch the following day. I also tend to add a little extra flour, my mixture is always a little looser than hers looks in her prep pics. 

THURSDAY //¬†Grilled Chicken & Summer Veggie Paninis – This was simple as grilling up some thin sliced chicken breasts, zucchini and summer squash. I like to use veggies in our cooking that I can also steam up and serve to baby P. I finished it off with some sliced gouda (I bought the cheap Sargento slices, well, because they’re cheap, lol, but also because they melt quickly) and some of my simple Red Pepper Aioli that I always keep on hand. Instead of using artisan breads for my paninis I instead buy a loaf of Italian bread, cut it into thirds and slice it (digging a little out of the middles before forming the sandwiches), they crisp up nice and cost as little as $1 for a loaf!¬†

FRIDAY // Grilled Steak Rolls РThis was the first time we tried this recipe and we loved it! We used a cheap cut of thin sliced top round beef and a combo of peppers, onions, zucchini and summer squash. Instead of balsamic glaze we substituted teriyaki sauce to give it an Asian flare, it reminded me a lot of beef negimaki (little beef and asparagus rolls served in a lot of Japanese restaurants).   

SATURDAY //¬†Since we had a birthday party to attend this was our night “out” but typically we will choose one night of the week to either order in or go out to a restaurant, just to give me a break from cooking ūüôā

Check out all my favorite recipes on my “Tried and True” Pinterest board!

Almond Crusted Flounder

I should really entitle this post “Almond Crusted Anything” but since my favorite preparation of this recipe is with flounder I will name it as such. I love this recipe because it is so simple and with the exception of pan frying (although you could always bake it!), is extremely healthy! It is¬†so hard to get my hubby to eat any seafood besides shrimp and since I love seafood so much I feel like¬†doing cartwheels anytime I get a thumbs up on a fish recipe, lol. I have had almond crusted or pecan crusted flounder at restaurants before and absolutely loved it, so when I decided I wanted to attempt to make it at home my original plan was to just find a recipe online and go for it. The problem was that so many of the recipes I came across¬†included¬†some pretty weird ingredients or wanted you to combine breadcrumbs with the crushed nuts and I wanted it to be simply¬†almond crusted in order to achieve that really wholesome nutty flavor. So after deeming Pinterest useless on this one (gasp!¬†lol) I decided to just use pulverized almonds as the breading on my flounder, figuring that it would work seeing as how I recently buzzed up some oats and used those in place of oat flour, same idea right? The finished product was amazing! I’m sure everyone is sitting there like “umm, duh! You know a million people have probably done that before, right?” lol, but hey it’s new to me so I’m thrilled to have figured it out¬†and¬†to be able to try it out on all different seafood and meats from this point forward! I don’t really pay as much attention as I should to eating “whole” so when it happens by accident and is this delicious I like to give myself a big ol’ pat on the back ūüôā

p.s. sorry for the lack of pictures this time! Since I was expecting this to be a complete fail I didn’t document the cooking process at all but I will update this post with pictures just as soon as I make it again which I promise will be very soon!

ALMOND CRUSTED FLOUNDER (makes 4 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pieces of flounder, skin and bones removed
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • canola or vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS

Step 1:¬†Start by blending your almonds to a fine consistency (mine was a little more coarse than flour but any consistency will likely do, if you prefer your breading to be a little more coarse go for it), I did so by using a coffee grinder as I think it is the easiest way. You can always use your food processor if you don’t have a coffee grinder, I just hate having to lug that giant thing out ūüôā

Step 2:  In a medium sized dish beat the two eggs with about a tablespoon of water. In a separate bowl of similar size, season the flour with salt and pepper (about a 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp. of salt will probably do but it all depends on your preference).

Step 3: Now you are ready to bread your fillets. Working one at a time, coat each piece of flounder with flour then dip into the egg mixture and finally into the crushed almonds.

Step 4: Once all of your fillets have been breaded, heat the butter and oil (about 2 tbsp. or enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large pan over medium-low heat. Once your butter/oil mixture is heated place the fillets into the pan (if you do not have a large enough pan just work in batches, switching out the oil and butter if it becomes too brown) and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until almond crusting is crispy and browned. Enjoy!

If you are looking for¬†a lighter preparation of this meal try spraying with a bit of cooking spray and baking at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. If you don’t like flounder try on another firm white fish or on shrimp, scallops or chicken!

Natural Pear Martini – from an unlikely source!

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I love a good cocktail, and while I’ve had to put my enjoyment of cocktails on hold for the better part of a year on account of squishy baby P, J and I have just gotten back to being able to enjoy a little homemade drink here and there. Since I was sure that any amount of hard alcohol would actually kill me after such a long drinking hiatus, lol I stuck to my occasional glass of wine for a while, but after having a martini while we were home for a visit (and not dying, yay! lol) I decided that I really would like to try to make a homemade version of one of my favorites – a pear martini (without the $12/drink price tag)!

Now, back to baby P, this is where the unlikely source for my recipe comes in – one of the star ingredients is actually baby P’s homemade baby food (questionably bad mother or genius? you decided, lol)! Since I love to cook and I take the time to fix homemade meals for my hubby and I, I figured that I would be doing my squishy baby a disservice if I didn’t do the same for him, so ever since I started him on solids at six months, I have been making his baby food from scratch. Now, I know this can be time consuming and I don’t necessarily save boatloads of money by doing this, so I don’t knock anyone that buys jar food or anything (do yo thang girlll!) but I genuinely enjoy preparing little P’s food and I have the time to do it, so why not? Since the beginning, one of his favorite foods have been pears so I have whipped up several batches of homemade “pear sauce” (recipe below) using my slow cooker – so easy! So when reading over an over-priced cocktail menu while having a date with my hubby while we were home and seeing that one of the ingredients in the pear martini was “pear puree” I thought, “oh hey now, I’ve got some of that”!

In just a second I will stop boring you with my lame stories about baby food and few-and-far-between date nights, lol. First let me tell you that this martini came out amazing and without using any weird ingredients like “elderflower liqueur”, which if you Google “pear martini recipe” is actually called for in most (and FYI it’s $32.99 for the bottle and you will probably need to use less than an ounce, no thanks!). I think it’s also worth mentioning that I’m not sure if you can deem a cocktail “natural” unless you buy one of those organic vodkas so this might not be a 100% “natural” recipe as I claim it to be but other than the vodka there is no added sugar or processed ingredients. Also, if martinis aren’t your thing I’m sure you could find a use for use for the delicious pear sauce, even if you don’t have a baby in need of purees :). Cheers!

PEAR BABY FOOD RECIPE (Makes about 4 cups)

INGREDIENTS 

  • 8-10 pears, cored and large diced
  • 1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Begin by peeling, coring and dicing your pears and placing them in the slow cooker with 1/2 cup of water. Cook on high for 4 hours. When cooking is complete remove the pears with a slotted spoon and place in a blender or food processor (I use my nutribullet)¬†don’t discard the liquid from the slow cooker, this is part of the next recipe.

I know this puree looks wildly unappetizing lol, but I promise it's delish!

I know this puree looks wildly unappetizing lol, but I promise it’s delish!

The pear juice that I collected after the cooking process, works perfectly as a natural simple syrup and it's already pear flavored!

The pear juice that I collected after the cooking process, works perfectly as a natural simple syrup and it’s already pear flavored!

 NATURAL PEAR MARTINI (makes 2) 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 parts vodka (I sprung for the Grey Goose, but whatever you have on hand will work! Feel free to use pear vodka, I just wanted to use a regular vodka so I could use it easily in other cocktail recipes)
  • 2 parts pear juice (reserved from cooking process above)
  • 1 part pear puree
  • lemon lime seltzer (or 7-up if you want it sweeter and don’t care about the “natural” element of the recipe)
  • Ice

DIRECTIONS

Combine vodka, pear juice and pear puree in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds and strain between two martini glasses. Top off with seltzer or lemon-lime soda. 

TA-DA! I was too excited by the drink to actually garnish it with a pear slice, but look how cute this pear is with the leaf still attached!

TA-DA! I was too excited by the drink to actually garnish it with a pear slice, but look how cute this pear is with the leaf still attached!

NOTE: I am no mixologist so this may not be the proper “method” for martini making these are just the ingredients that worked for me based on what I had and my limited budget for cocktail making ūüôā

 

Skinny Tzatziki

Having grown up around Greek food and flavors, and now having come up with a lot of my own Greek-style recipes, it is no wonder that traditional Greek tzatziki is one of my favorite condiments. While I enjoy the thick yogurt-consistency tzatziki the way it is served in Greek restaurants, it sadly doesn’t cater to the “skinny” style of home cooking that we try to stick to here at casa de Schulze ūüôā Since tzatziki is something we whip up quite often to go with our Greek inspired dishes, I have come up with a “skinny” tzatziki that I’d like to share with you, that packs the same flavor punch as traditional tzatziki but at 0 grams of fat! Try this one out soon, it’s great to go with just about any Mediterranean style dish and even makes a great salad dressing. Sorry that I don’t have a pic to post, I will get one up just as soon as I whip up another batch which I’m sure will be very soon! ūüôā

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fat-free plain Greek yogurt¬†
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill (or fresh, but I make this so often that I always just keep dried on hand)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 DIRECTIONS

Begin by peeling your cucumber and removing the seeds (I do so by cutting it in half length-wise and running a spoon down the middle to easily scoop out the seeds), then use a box or hand-held grater to grate the cucumber over a bowl. Once your cucumber is grated, use a paper towel to blot any excess water from your grated cucumber, then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine. Refrigerate your tzatziki for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow your flavors to develop. Enjoy!

Skinny Gyro Pizza

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Who doesn’t love a good gyro? I know I sure do and boy have I been missing gyros and authentic Greek food in general since I moved down south. Back home I was spoiled with an abundance of great Greek dining options (including my Dad’s cooking, lol) and am sure to get my fix whenever I visit, however, since the closest Greek restaurant that I know of locally is about an hour away, I’m always needing to find ways to get my Greek fix at home via my own recipes.

Now, back to my love of gyros, I am obsessed, like if there was a cheap¬†way for me to get that metal spinn-y thing in my home with an endless supply of gyro meat I would seriously consider it, lol. Luckily for me and my waistline that will more than likely never happen, lol, so instead,¬†I’ve come up with a healthy and¬†super easy¬†alternative to¬†a traditional gyro¬†– a “gyro pizza”. This¬†idea actually came¬†to me while I was preparing slow cooker¬†chicken gyros (great recipe I found on Pinterest!)¬†last week and was going¬†to have a ton of my Skinny Tzatziki¬†left over and was determined to use it in this week’s recipe line-up before it went bad.¬†I think that the standard lamb or beef gyro (you know, the one that they slice off the spinning thing, lol) is something that people don’t typically think to¬†try and replicate at home because¬†of the spinning thing (what the hell is that called!? lol), however, while¬†the cooking and serving process¬†may¬†not be home-cook friendly, the flavors certainly are.¬†Having¬†adapted several¬†Greek meals to¬†“skinny” versions I¬†knew that¬†I could very easily create another (I will eventually create an “It’s all Greek to Me” collective post of all of my Greek inspired skinny dishes), I wanted the “pizza” part of it to be my creative spin on a traditional gyro, although after I made it I realized that it’s more of a flatbread than a pizza. It’s also worth mentioning that when I went to cut them into quarters J grabbed his up, folded it like a gyro and started eating it that way, lol, so much for my pizza idea! That being said this recipe can be enjoyed in the “pizza” for as it was originally intended or as a traditional gyro or over a Greek salad, so if you’re looking to get your gyro fix without the guilt or extra time in the kitchen, give this recipe a try ūüôā ¬†

SKINNY GYRO PIZZA (makes 6 pizzas)

TIP: If you buy in bulk this is a great money-saving meal to get rid of your freezer stock of ground beef! Beef not your thangg? No problem, just substitute ground turkey or chicken.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (93% or 97% lean)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. ground dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground dried rosemary (this one is not imperative, if you are missing it feel free to skip it)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 head romaine or 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup tzatziki (use my skinny recipe found here¬†or purchase ready made)
  • 6 whole wheat pitas¬†

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add diced onion. Cook onion until it just begins to soften (about 4 minutes or so) then add garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Step 2: To the onion and garlic add ground beef, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces and cook until it is no longer pink. Drain any liquid from pan and return pan to stove.

Step 3: To the meat mixture add oregano, cumin, pepper, salt, marjoram, rosemary and thyme and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

Step 4:  Heat pitas in a skillet or in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes (this is optional, pitas do not need to be heated I just enjoy mine that way). Taking one pita at a time, spread about 3 tablespoons of tzatziki on each (depending on how much you like) then topping with ground beef, lettuce, tomato and finally a bit of feta. Cut into quarters and enjoy! 

These make great leftovers! Another fun take on this might be “gyro tacos”, using the pita in place of the tortilla.

Skinny Crockpot Broccoli & Cheese Chicken Chowder

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As usual I have a million projects going on and have a bunch of recipes from the last few weeks that I’ve been meaning to post, each of which I’m super excited to share with you, but since it’s a rainy, gloomy day on my end¬†(as it was when I came up with this recipe) this soup recipe seems fitting. Now as you can imagine, soup is rarely on our menu during these summer months when it feels like it’s nine million degrees outside, but as I previously stated, every¬†now and again we’ll get a dreary day that warrants a soup fix. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I love Panera’s broccoli cheese soup, but being that I really have no business eating anything in its full-fat form until I reach my goal weight, I’ve been forced to explore healthier soup options and this inspired me to come up with a “skinny” version of broccoli cheese soup (and I already had the ingredients on hand).

So upon hunkering down for fake hurricane Arthur, lol, I prepped this recipe and threw it in the crockpot, I decided to add chicken¬†in order to¬†satisfy my hubby’s need for a “meal”¬†(we¬†often disagree on whether or not pasta¬†or soup without meat¬†constitute a meal, I say yes, he says no way, lol) and because I had two chicken¬†breasts left over from¬†the yummy crockpot chicken fajitas I had made¬†a few nights prior. This soup was super easy and was a huge hit!¬†The chicken makes it hearty so you’re less likely to miss the heavy cream and extra cheese. Speaking of heavy, I actually now find¬†myself to prefer the “skinny” version of many recipes, because while comfort food¬†is delicious I tend to feel like a¬†sluggish blob after finishing a meal, where as¬†after enjoying¬†the skinnier¬†version¬†I find myself feeling satisfied but¬†less blob-like ūüôā¬†If you’re a broccoli¬†cheese soup fan try this one out and let me know what you think,¬†it’s super easy¬†(thank you, crockpot!)¬†to¬†throw together andeasy on the wallet as well!¬†In your face, Panera (just kidding, I love you lol)!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

SKINNY CROCKPOT BROCCOLI & CHEESE CHICKEN CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS

  • 2¬†boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 10 oz. package frozen¬†chopped broccoli (or use fresh)¬†
  • 1¬†cup water
  • 1 Tbsp.¬†(or 2 cubes)¬†chicken flavored bullion (I had the granulated version on hand)
  • ¬†1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cup fat free half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Add cubed chicken, diced carrots, diced onions, bullion, black pepper, garlic powder and thyme to the crockpot (if using fresh broccoli add at this point as well), and set to high for 4 hours, adding frozen broccoli when there is about 1 hour remaining.

before

before 4

before adding cream and cheese

before adding cream and cheese

 

Step 2:¬†¬†Once time is up add the half-and-half, shredded cheese and corn starch (use some liquid from the pot to dissolve the corn starch before adding it to the pot so that it won’t clump up) and stir to combine. Cook on high for an additional 30-45 minutes. Enjoy! I was too lazy to whip out the¬†emersion blender, but if you like a less chunky soup, blend it up a bit. I served mine with some shredded cheese and crackers, not bad for a two step cooking process, huh? ūüôā

I didn't puree mine and it was great, feel free to give yours a buzz if you want it to be a smoother soup :)

I didn’t puree mine and it was great, feel free to give yours a buzz if you want it to be a smoother soup ūüôā

Banana Nutella Protein Muffins

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As so many men are, my husband has been blessed with a super fast metabolism and needs to eat a TON to keep from losing weight (must be nice huh? I eat¬†one crab rangoon and am bloated for a week, lol). Given this fact, I am always looking for creative and healthy ways to provide J with snacks throughout the day in addition to the lunches (yes, multiple lunches – why can’t failure to gain weight be my problem? lol)¬†I pack him, because if he were to buy all of his meals/snacks at work we would literally have zero money, haha. I’ve had a lot of success with sending him with “protein balls” (we’re a big fan of this recipe for¬†no bake energy bites) or little egg muffins (I’ll post my version of this recipe soon!), but we’re always looking to switch it up. Since he prefers his pre and post workout meals to be something quick and not too heavy, I decided to create a recipe for flourless protein muffins. In coming up with this recipe, I adapted it from several that I viewed online, just omitted flour and added extra egg whites and nutella since I had it on hand (and who doesn’t love nutella?). Well, I whipped up a few batches during¬†the¬†fake¬†Independence Day¬†hurricane while we were stuck in the house, and J gave me the thumbs up! Granted he will eat anything, but I tried one myself¬†and really like it, you won’t even miss the flour in the recipe (probably because of the yummy nutella lol). Needless to say these went right into the snack rotation for the next¬†work week, since they will keep in a ziplock bag or container for about 3-4 days, I am able to make a large batch on Sunday and have them ready to go for the week. Try these out in place of your protein or power bar, as they are super high in protein and are much more cost effective!

BANANA NUTELLA PROTEIN MUFFINS (MAKES 6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup Nutella (sub peanut butter or another form of nut butter if you wish)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or vanilla, whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 Tsp. baking powder

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix all ingredients together until smooth. 

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Step 2: Line a muffin tin with six cupcake or muffin liners (I use the foil ones) and fill each about 3/4 of the way with muffin batter.

I didn't use muffin liners for my first batch but will from now on for easy clean up.

I didn’t use muffin liners for my first batch but will from now on for easy clean up.

Step 3: Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops are no longer gooey and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy!  

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