Monday, October 20, 2014

Black Bean and Butternut Enchilada Skillet

This meal is delicious and so filling (and don't forget healthy!). It can be made vegan by omitting the chicken and cheese, which is how I made it, and I didn't even miss it (though I meant to add cheese later, but forgot). I have to admit that only half of my kids ate it. The ones that did seemed to enjoy it, and the other half were turned off by the mere mention of butternut squash! But it's extremely flavorful, so if you like these flavors, you will love this dish.

Black Bean and Butternut Enchilada Skillet
adapted from  Mels Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, coconut, canola, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (from a small to medium butternut squash that has been peeled and seeded) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 yellow or white corn tortillas, cut into large squares (I cut each tortilla in thirds and then chopped the strips in half)
  • 2 cups green enchilada sauce 
  • 2-3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  1. In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno, if using. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften. Stir in the butternut squash, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. 
  2. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the squash is tender. If you want a smoother consistency to the squash, continue cooking until it breaks down to a creamy consistency, otherwise you can cook it just until it becomes tender.
  3. Stir in the beans, tortillas and enchilada sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes so the tortillas can soak up some of the sauce and start to cook down just a little bit.
  4. Add the chicken, cilantro and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to combine and heat through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes over medium-low or medium heat until the cheese melts.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sweet Paprika Skillet Chicken

Sweet Paprika Chicken
Photo from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I made this for dinner tonight and was blown away by it's deliciousness. Seriously. Christian said it was one of the best meals he's had in a long time. It's super easy and fast, but it's also really impressive. I served mine with the Cilantro Lime rice and it took it to a whole new level of yumminess.

Sweet Paprika Skillet Chicken

I almost always cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts lengthwise into two thinner chicken cutlets (slicing it like you would a hot dog bun but all the way through). This means that often I can get away with using 2-3 thicker chicken breasts and still feeding our family of 7. If you don't choose to do that or the chicken isn't thick enough to cut that way, you may want to pound slightly to flatten to a more even thickness.
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to flatten slightly or cut in half to form two thinner chicken cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • Cilantro Lime Rice, fresh mango slices, lime wedges for serving (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and pat the spice mixture onto the chicken breasts, rubbing it into the chicken to create an even coating.
  2. In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil (or other oil) over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chicken in a single layer (you may need to do separate batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side depending on how thick the chicken pieces are (the chicken will register 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer when cooked fully). The chicken will darken quite a bit due to the brown sugar in the spice rub. Adjust the heat if you feel the chicken is burning or overcooking - it will be dry if it overcooks so cook it just until cooked through so it stays juicy and tender.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, if needed.
  4. Let the chicken rest 5 or so minutes before serving. Serve with cilantro lime rice, fresh mangoes and lime wedges for the ultimate dining experience.

Cilantro Lime Rice
from Mel's Kitchen cafe

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups rice (long grain white rice works best)
  • 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • juice and zest of 1 large lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  1. In a skillet or medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the rice. stir, letting the rice and butter cook for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-16 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Black Bean and Lentil Chili

If you are trying to eat healthier, then this is a fantastic option.  This is a great Fall soup- my kids all enjoyed it except for the pickiest one (Lauren).  We've been eating it for 3 days too- it gets tastier every day as the flavors meld.  Plus, its vegan!

Black Bean and Lentil Chili

3 T. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. chili powder
1 T. paprika
1 t. chipotle chili powder (I didn't add this, just put subbed chili powder instead)
1 t. allspice
1/2 t. cumin
1 bay leaf
5 – 6 C. vegetable or chicken broth
2 C. lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 29 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C. frozen sweet corn kernels
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, diced
1 – 2 t. Tabasco sauce
1 T. honey
salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco Sauce
sour cream
avocado, cubed
shredded cheddar cheese
a squeeze of lime
cilantro leaves
In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil, then the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until the onions have softened, then add the garlic and continue to cook for just one minute. Add the spices next through the bay leaf. Cook for about two more minutes to get them fragrant.
Add the broth (start with 5 cups first, you may need an additional cup later to thin the sauce out), lentils and tomato sauce and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes to get the lentils tender.
Add the black beans, corn, red peppers, Tabasco and honey and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. Add the extra cup of broth, if needed.
Serve in bowls with the toppings of your choice.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Light Broccoli and Cheese soup

 picture and recipe from (through

 Its me again! Trying to cook healthier so I can have my cookie at the end of the day! :) Jason and I really enjoyed this soup. It had a great nutty texture and a very healthy flavor. I will go ahead and warn: my kids did not like it much at all. That's because it actually tastes like broccoli with a hint of carrot! If your kids love vegetables, then they will love this. My kids don't like anything. Not exaggerating. Jason and I both agreed it was a little more of an adult soup.But it whipped up in less than 30 minutes and was great reheated!

Light Broccoli and Cheese Soup
3 c chicken stock
2 c broccoli
1 c diced onion (I used about 1/3)
1/2 c chopped carrot
3/8 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 garlic cloves
3/4 c half n half (I used fat free evap. milk)
4 oz sharp cheese

Combine first seven ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer 10". Blend. Stir in half n half and cheese until incorporated. Garnish with parsley, saltines and a little more cheese. The soup was beautiful and did not look at all like this picture. It was very nutty in texture and you could see the pretty green and orange flecks from the veggies.

Broccoli & Chicken with Bacon Quinoa Bake

 picture and recipe from

I've been trying my best to experiment with healthier recipes and expand my palate. I tried this last night with a fresh home-made french loaf. It was delicious. I've tried many quinoa recipes lately and this is the only one that I feel is good enough to share. I was determined not to go to the store so I made several changes to the original recipe (from to work with things I had in my pantry.

Broccoli & Chicken with Bacon Quinoa Bake
2 c chicken broth 
1 c milk divided (I used fat free) 
1 t poultry seasoning (I used Mrs.Dash)
1/2 c flour
1 c uncooked quinoa
1/4 c bacon bits or fresh bacon
1 lb raw chicken breast  sliced
8 oz broccoli
cheddar cheese (the recipe calls for gruyere...way too fancy for us! But I bet it would be yummy!)
salt and pepper

Bring chicken broth and 1/2 c milk to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 c milk and poultry seasoning and 1/2 c flour and form a thick bechamel type sauce. Pour boiled broth mixture and bechamel into a greased 9x13 pan. Add 1 c. uncooked quinoa and bacon. Lay uncooked chicken breast throughout and season with salt and pepper generously. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or as needed. LIGHTLY steam broccoli. Place alongside chicken and quinoa and then spread cheese over. Bake for an additional ten minutes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I know there are a million chocolate chip cookie recipes out there BUT these were amazing!  I don't know if the secret is the cornstarch or what, but they are so so yummy!

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Recipe from


  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour, measured correctly
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 170 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (180 grams) chocolate chips or chocolate chunks


Click here for step-by-step photos and careful explanations of all of these steps.
Toss together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium size bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, whisk in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft, yet thick. Fold in the chocolate chips. They may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter, but do your best to have them evenly dispersed among the dough. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to slightly soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Roll the dough into balls, about 3 Tablespoons of dough each. The dough will be crumbly, but the warmth of your hands will allow the balls to stay intact. Roll the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide, to ensure the cookies will bake up to be thick. See this post for more clarity and a photo. Put 8 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet. Press a few more chocolate chips/chunks on top of the dough balls for looks, if desired. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. They will continue to bake on the cookie sheet. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies stay soft and fresh for 7 whole days at room temperature. Cookies may be frozen up to 3 months. Rolled cookie dough may be frozen up to three months and baked in their frozen state for 12 minutes.
*Room temperature egg + egg yolk are preferred for even disbursement.  Typically, if a recipe calls for room temperature or melted butter, it's a good idea to use room temperature eggs as well.  To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, simply place the whole eggs into a glass of warm water for 5 minutes.  

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

I tasted this meal at a recent book club and was astonished.  This is the first curry I have ever enjoyed.  I have never enjoyed the taste of curry.  However, in this dish it was delicious, especially with naan!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Recipe from


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1, 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1, 13.5oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about one cup)
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1, 14.5oz can of tomato sauce (about 1 3/4 cup)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  •  2 tablespoons curry powder
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon crushed red pepper


  1. In a bowl, combine tomato sauce, garlic, honey, and seasonings. Set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to your slow cooker. Cover with the tomato sauce/seasoning mixture.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours.

To Freeze

Combine all of the ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. When ready to cook, thaw overnight in your refrigerator and cook in your slow cooker for 10-12 hours on low. Since the Slow Cooker Chicken Curry cooks for the first time in your slow cooker, it won’t taste like leftovers!
Serve with white or brown rice, and enjoy!