Apple Harvest Salad

The air is getting a bit crisp around here, and our tendency to gravitate toward heartier fare isn’t far behind. This is a great lunch or dinner option when you want to fill up but don’t necessarily want to feel like you’re indulging in some unnecessary calories. 😉 I just love the crunch of the apples alongside the tenderness of the chicken in this salad, plus it’s packed with add ins to keep your tummy happy but not stuffed. I even really enjoy the dressing and I’m not a fan of balsamic vinegar on a normal basis! It’s also just a really beautiful dish full of fall colors and flavors… Can’t beat it. Give this a try next time you need a quick, satisfying meal. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 cups salad greens of your choice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained, and cooked 
  • 1-2 medium apples, cut into chunks 
  • 1 tbsp pepitas or sunflower seed kernels (whichever you have on hand) 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped 
  • Sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Herbs de Provence 

For the dressing:

  • 1 tsp shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper

Directions:

Season your chicken breast with the salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Inhale those herbs, because mmmmm…  

 

Then dice into cubes. Add a splash of olive oil and a pat of butter to a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken to the pan. Cook until well-browned, then remove to a plate and set aside to cool slightly. 

While your chicken is cooking, rinse your lettuce and chop your shallot, apples, and walnuts. Now would also be a good time to throw your quinoa in the microwave (according to package directions) if you haven’t cooked it already.  

 

Be on the lookout for small children swiping your produce mid-prep… Cute little stinker.  

 
Combine dressing ingredients in a squirt bottle and shake well. Add greens to salad bowl or individual plates, then top with quinoa, apples, chicken, nuts, and cheese. Top with a spray of dressing and enjoy!  

 
Adapted slightly from Life Made Simple.

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Ahi Tuna Steaks

Ah, summertime. It’s pretty much synonymous with grilling, right? If you’re looking for something light, citrusy, tasty, and fast- look no further. The most prep you need is to remember to thaw the fish and then marinate for 30 minutes before throwing it on the grill. So simple! We love this with some couscous and veggies, so it’s a healthy option too. Can’t get much better than that!

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4) oz ahi tuna steaks 
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:

In a medium-large dish, combine all ingredients but tuna steaks and whisk lightly to blend. Add tuna steaks to marinade, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

    
 
Once your 30 minutes is up, heat your grill to high heat and lightly oil the grates. Take your juicy marinated tuna out of its bath…  

 
Then slap ’em on the grill for 5-6 minutes. Turn over and baste with additional marinade, cooking for another 5 minutes or so.  

 
Remove to a plate to rest a minute or two before serving! That’s it! 😎 One of my favorite simple summer recipes, full of flavor to boot. Enjoy! 

Recipe from Allrecipes.com.

Sun-dried Tomato, Kale, & Chicken Sausage Quinoa Bake

Ok guys, I don’t think it’s a secret… I love quinoa. And I love chicken sausage. While the combination of flavors in this dish aren’t necessarily something I’d salivate over, I found it intriguing enough to give it a try. And then I made it again a couple of days later! This bake is super flavorful but is also really light, so you don’t feel disgusting after a big ol bowl of it. Mark’s not a huge fan of kale, so next time I think I’ll try spinach in it’s place. I froze several batches for work lunches and it holds up beautifully. Plus it’s pretty healthy, so if you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner or something you can make ahead and still feel good about eating, give this a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (I used the olive oil from the sun-dried tomato jar)
  • 2 stalks of kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 chicken sausages, fully cooked and sliced into coins (try Trader Joe’s fontina, spinach and garlic variety… Yum!)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Sprinkle of Italian cheese (optional)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 9×13 baking dish, add the quinoa and chicken broth, spreading evenly along the bottom.  

 

Spread the chopped kale over the top of the quinoa/broth mixture.  

 

Next, spread the sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle the shallots on top of the kale. Drizzle on the olive oil.  

 

Season with some salt, pepper, and the garlic salt. Finally, layer the chicken sausage and top with sprinkling of cheese, if using.  

  

Pop the whole blessed pan into the oven for an hour, or until the quinoa is cooked.  

 

I failed to get a photo of my bowl because it was devoured by so quickly! Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by. 😋🍴

Recipe adapted slightly from Fit Foodie Finds.

Baked Cookie Butter Oatmeal

I think the secret’s out: I’m a bit obsessed with cookie butter. I’ve tried just about every cookie butter flavored product I’ve come across, and I’m sad to say none have really captured the absolute deliciousness that is the original cookie butter spread. When I found this recipe, I went in to it expecting to be let down. Y’all, I’m happy to report that my expectations were exceeded! Oatmeal doesn’t really get my gears going, but cookie butter oatmeal is something with which I can definitely get on board. With the banana sauce, a serving clocks in at about 400 calories so I’m hesitant to call it healthy. It’s so filling though, it’s totally worth it! 5-6 hours later I’m still not hungry. This is a breakfast worth getting excited over, for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned dry oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 heaping tbsps cookie butter
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla 

For the banana sauce (optional):

  • 1/2 large ripe banana
  • 2 tbsps plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a small ovenproof bowl. (I used my 18 oz square Le Creuset baking dish and it was perfect.) In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, salt, and baking powder. In another small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg white and cookie butter. This can take some work; cookie butter is super thick and sticky! I promise it comes together. Once well combined, add the milk and vanilla to the cookie butter mixture.  

 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Pour oatmeal into your prepared dish/bowl.  

 Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the oatmeal is nice and puffy. While your oatmeal is baking, make your banana sauce (if using). Add the half banana and yogurt to a small food processor.  

 Blend completely, then sprinkle in a little cinnamon and the vanilla…  

 Then drizzle some sauce on top of your slightly cooled oatmeal. Oh yes. So. Much. Yes.  

 Don’t think you have to wait for cooler temperatures to give this scrumptious little breakfast treat a try! 

Recipe from Healthy Food for Living.  

Strawberry Banana Scones

Remember those chocolate chip scones I blogged a while back? I won’t pretend I like these better, as chocolate will always win in my book. However, these are a lovely little breakfast treat that you don’t have to feel too guilty about enjoying. A scone by definition is not especially sweet, so the bananas themselves lend the majority of the sweetness to these, and fresh chopped strawberries deliver a nice fruity punch. I love to make big batches of scones and freeze them individually; wake up, throw a few on a cookie sheet, and voila! Warm, delicious breakfast bread. A little too easy…

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsps cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cups fresh, chopped strawberries

Directions:

Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper (skip this step if making ahead). In a liquid measuring cup, combine the egg and heavy cream. Add the bananas and mash with a fork until well combined.  

 

Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, add butter cubes and work into dry ingredients until a pebbly dough forms. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. 
  
Finally, fold your strawberries into the dough with a spatula, just a few gentle turns.  

 

At this point, you can use a dough scoop to form your scones and wrap in plastic wrap to freeze…  

 

Or you can pop them onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until golden.  Enjoy with a cup of joe! 😊☀️☕️

 Recipe from What’s Cookin Chicago?

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Have you guys figured out that I really, really like meals I can make in advance? One of my favorite ways to spend a day, usually Sunday, is in the kitchen preparing a meal or two for the week ahead. With the weather getting cooler, of course we tend to gravitate to comfort foods… You know, the hearty, stick-your-ribs, not necessarily good for you stuff. This meal, while full of cheese, also packs a nice veggie punch with spinach and tomato sauce. You could easily add extra veggies or whatever you want. Another theme of mine- customizable meals. Another one of those meals that would be great to bring to a sick friend, a friend who’s just had a baby, etc.
Ingredients:
Makes 2 casseroles
For the pasta and filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 oz (~1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
To finish (per casserole):
3 cups marinara sauce, divided
1 oz (~ 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Pour 1 inch of boiling water into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and slip the lasagna noodles into the water, spreading them out into as even a layer as possible. Obviously mine overlapped a bit! Let the noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating with the tip of a knife to prevent sticking.
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Remove the noodles from the water and place in a single layer on clean dish towels or a baking rack.
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In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, grated/shredded cheeses, spinach, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.
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Spread about ¼ cup of the mixture over the bottom three-quarters of each noodle. Roll the noodles up around the filling.
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At this point the filled noodles can be frozen for later use by placing seam-side down on a baking sheet and putting in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer to Tupperware or ziplock bag until ready to use.
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To finish and serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of an 8X8 inch baking dish. It might be a tight squeeze but it’ll work! Arrange 6 of the filled manicotti over the sauce. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake about 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with the cheese.

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Continue to bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve! If baking from frozen, simply add a few extra minutes to the initial baking time.
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Recipe from Annie’s Eats.

Sausage and Butternut Squash Chili

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Pinterest wins again! In an attempt to branch out from my usual red chili-green chili-chicken chili trifecta, I researched a few new chili recipes on the ubiquitous site and found this one intriguing. Sausage and… Squash? Ok. Sure. Goat cheese?! Practically a guaranteed yes in my book. Plus, it’s ready in 30 minutes! We know I like quick and simple. It’s even relatively healthy. Mark took one bite of this and said nothing else but “Mmmmm” until the bowl was empty. I thought the hot Italian sausage brought a nice kick this would have otherwise been missing, but perhaps we’ll give it a try with the original recipe’s suggestion of sweet. And fresh sage next time 😉

Ingredients:
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1 lb Italian sausage (we used hot; recipe called for sweet. Use what you like!)
1 tsp sage
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
12 oz butternut squash, puréed
1 cup chunky chipotle salsa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (personal preference; you can just use water if you don’t have the broth on hand.)
1-1.5 oz goat cheese

Directions:
In a large saucepan, cook sausage and sage together, breaking sausage up into small pieces. Cook sausage until no longer pink.
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Drain excess fat (if any, mine was pretty lean), leaving sausage in the pan. Add the beans, squash purée, salsa, and broth to the pan and stir until completely combined.
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Heat over high heat, stirring frequently, until a boil is reached.
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Now reduce your heat and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or long enough for the chili to thicken. Like this!
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Scoop a good portion into a bowl and top with crumbled goat cheese. Mmmm indeed.
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Recipe slightly adapted from A Family Feast