CROCKPOT CHICKEN VEGGIE QUINOA SOUP

You know those vegetables that are left over from the last soup or dinner you made? The ones that tend to sit in the bottom drawer of your fridge just *waiting* to be made into something delicious? Because you always have good intentions for the leftover vegetables right? I always have those good intentions and then somehow I seem to find a few completely wilted celery stalks and some less than firm avocados (okay fine. squishy and brown beyond any desire to eat) in the bottom of the fridge. And honestly I hate wasting food.
I mean who doesn’t, right? And that is why this soup has become a favorite as of late. It’s totally customizable to keep any of your vegetables going to waste. It’s one of those recipes that makes you feel good in the “I just used the last bits of random veggies in the fridge” kind-of-way.
And THEN, you taste the soup, and it’s a whole new level of excitement. Because this soup is not only keeping you from wasting any small amounts of veggies, but it’s also tasty, filling, and very healthy. We’ve made this soup a few times now always using different vegetables. You can pretty much chop up and add just about whatever you have on hand or whatever you like.
My favorite combos always start with celery, carrots, and onion (chopped super fine and the husband can’t even tell there are in there (he’s not an onion fan)). If you add in the carrots slice them thin and small to get them tender in time with the other ingredients. And basically any other vegetable you add — make sure it’s chopped or sliced into pretty small bits so it can get cooked through in the time the chicken and quinoa is cooked in.
We’ve also tried both chicken breasts and thighs. The thighs result in a more tender (and a bit more flavorful) meat, but both will work. If you use chicken breasts, slice them into large chunks (about 3 chunks per breast) to help the chicken cook evenly with everything else.
Since quinoa absorbs liquid like crazy, I’ve found it’s best to only use the high setting when cooking this soup. Cook this soup on low and it turns into more of a stew (also good, just depends on what you like.) For a very brothy soup, you can always add in more broth and make sure to cook it just until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.



INGREDIENTS :
  • 1 pound (~2 large) boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4-6 thighs
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery 2 stalks
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup quinoa I use garlic infused packet
  • 1/2 cup orange juice or extra broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 5 cups chicken broth or stock
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
SEASONINGS :
  • 1-2 leaves bay
  • 1 teaspoon chicken seasoning blend or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning*
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toppings: low-fat sour cream, fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges or lime juice
INSTRUCTIONS :
  1. Trim the fat off the chicken breasts or thighs. If using breasts, cut each breast into 3 large even pieces.
  2. Place the chicken breasts or thighs in the bottom of a large crockpot. I use a 6 quart crockpot.
  3. Add in the drained and rinsed pinto beans, drained corn, thinly sliced carrots, sliced celery, diced onion, quinoa (rinse if not pre-rinsed to remove the bitter saponin coating), orange juice (or extra broth), undrained can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (such as Ro-Tel), tomato paste, minced garlic, and chicken broth or stock.
  4. Add about 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (or to taste) and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste), bay leaves, chicken seasoning blend, cajun seasoning, oregano, ground cumin, and paprika.
  5. Stir and then cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or until the chicken easily shreds and the quinoa has "popped." My crockpot takes about 3 hours.
  6. The longer it cooks, the more liquid the quinoa absorbs which is why I don't recommend cooking on low unless you are fine with a stew 🙂
  7. Remove the chicken and shred. Return to the crockpot.
  8. Remove the bay leaves and then enjoy the soup topped with optional toppings such as fresh cilantro, fresh lime, sour cream (we use low fat), and additional cajun seasoning, salt, pepper.
You can find complete recipes of this CROCKPOT CHICKEN VEGGIE QUINOA SOUP in chelseasmessyapron.com

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND CREAM COOKIES

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Cookies: These easy cake mix cookies are full of chocolate chips and cookies and cream cookies. They are the perfect after school snack, lunch box snack, or midnight snack. You choose! For some reason this week I am obsessed with cookies.
I really think it is because last week we were on vacation, and I ate anything and everything I wanted. It was fun, for a while. Unfortunately, eating like that isn’t great for summer clothes wearing. I know summer is coming in just a few short months. Time to back off the sweets again.
Drinking smoothies + eating heathy dinners = cookie dreams! You would not believe how many new combos I have thought through…just in one day! It must be the sugar withdrawals hitting me big time. Maybe just one little bite wouldn’t hurt…
I had to giggle at my daughter last night. My husband and I were discussing our food intake for the day, and he was telling me that I had plenty of room to have a protein bar if I wanted. I must have been grumbling under my breath about this said healthy bar as I left the room, because all of a sudden I heard laughing in the living room.
Apparently my daughter was informing my hubby that “Mommy, doesn’t want that kind of bar…she wants Reese’s gooey cake bars.” Man, does she know me or what!!!
Of course, now I have tons of ideas running through my head for gooey bars too…
These are one of my daughter’s favorite cookies. Of course, anything cookies and cream related gets her vote. Cookies get made at least once a week around here. Then I have to really stay out of the kitchen because those cookies tease me. I think they know that I am trying to cut back on sugar! Cookies made from cake mixes are starting to become regulars around here. I hope you don’t mind a few more variations that I’m thinking through.
It is a fun trick to turn a cake mix into cookies. I like to add a little bit of cream cheese. It makes the cookies so soft and incredible tasting. Feel free to use your favorite mix-ins. Today we went with Oreo cookie chunks and two kinds of chocolate chips. There is no right or wrong combo when it comes to these cookies.



INGREDIENTS :
  • 1 vanilla cake mix
  • 8 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Oreo cookie chunks
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS :
  1. Combine the cake mix, butter, egg, vanilla, and cream cheese.
  2. Beat until a soft dough forms. Stir in the cookie chunks and chips by hand.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour. Roll into 24 balls.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not over bake.
  5. The cookies will seem under done, but will continue to set up as they cool.
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Tap the tops of the cookies with a flat spatula to even them out.
  8. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can find complete recipes of this CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND CREAM COOKIES in insidebrucrewlife.com

STRAWBERRY WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE (DAIRY FREE)

I couldn’t help myself. I’m in the Valentine’s Day spirit and had to create another treat, perfect for two.
Be sure to check out my Chocolate Fruit Crisp, a dessert also meant to be shared with someone you love.
Who doesn’t love a good cup of hot chocolate?  What if I told you that you could easily make a strawberry white hot chocolate with only 5 REAL food ingredients?  Would you be as excited as I am?  I thought so!  You are in luck because I have created just that for you – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
If you take a look at any package of white chocolate you will usually find added ingredients, which I personally try to stay away from in the name of health. A main difference between white chocolate and milk or dark chocolate is the lack of cocoa solids.



INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa butter(you could use coconut oil or coconut butter but it will not have the same chocolate-y flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small sauce pan over medium low heat.
  2. Warm through until the cocoa butter is melted, strawberries are thawed, and the coconut milk is warm, but not boiling.
  3. Add the mixture to a blender (being careful to start slow as the liquid is hot) and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately.
You can find complete recipes of this STRAWBERRY WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE (DAIRY FREE) in theorganicdietitian.com

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread – perfect to go with pasta dishes or soups! So easy and so good, you won’t be able to stop eating it!
Last week, I posted a photo of this bread on my Instagram asking if I should blog about this bread. I have to admit, I was hesitant because this recipe uses a shortcut – a store bought Italian bread. As you may know, I love to bake breads from scratch. However, I am still working on my Italian bread from scratch, hence the store-bought.
Let’s face it – sometimes you just need a shortcut. And this is a good one. Especially if you love a side of a delicious bread with your dinner like I do!
This bread has a perfect garlicky taste and an ooey-gooey cheesy top. You can’t say no to that! We love it with soups, like our homemade chicken noodle soup. My Hubby always requests it when he makes his chili. It’s also perfect with my Garlic Mushroom Pasta, the Lemon Asparagus Pasta or my Bacon Potato and Corn Chowder.
Cheese and bread are one of those things that I could never give up. Or at least I would have a reeeeeeeally hard time doing. I heart it so much! I could eat this bread by itself! And I have! Slice some tomatoes on top and add a sprinkle of sea salt – so so good!



INGREDIENTS :
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (see note)
  • 1 cup and 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese
INSTRUCTIONS :
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut the bread lengthwise and place both parts face up on the sheet.
  4. Brush both pieces with melted butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder.
  5. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and place in the oven.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Uncover bread. Top with cheese.
  8. Place bread back in the oven for 2 to 4 more minutes, to melt the cheese. (see note)
  9. Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.
  10. Let cool for few minutes. Slice and serve.
You can find complete recipes of this Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread in crunchycreamysweet.com

Ricotta and Spinach Calzones

A cheesy vegetarian calzone to substitute into your pizza routine!
Friday! We made it! I’ve been a total slacker on posting lately – I don’t know what happened, but we all of a sudden got wayyy busier than we’ve been since we moved to Austin. I think it’s good though. We needed a bit of a break after moving to get settled and just take a breath, but now we’re back into the craziness of life and loving it. Well, most of the time. Just not when I don’t get to talk to you guys for a week because I have a hard time finding a few minutes to post these beauties!
If you read my last post or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know we did a 10 day cleanse that ended a few days ago in an effort to reset our eating habits and cleanse our system. We’ve done this same cleanse 4-5 times now and every time I absolutely love it! I regain energy, get back into the habit of drinking lots of water, lose some of my crazy cravings for sweets, and as a bonus, shed a few pounds! We also made a few decisions after ending the cleanse.
#1. We eat as healthy as we can during the week and we allow ourselves some splurges on the weekends.
#2. We’re going back to not buying meat. We’re at a stopping point right now where we feel uneasy about eating meat that isn’t responsibly raised and we don’t quite have the grocery budget to buy farmers market/local meat on a daily basis, so that means we just do without!
So, the plan is that we’ll eat vegetarian during the week and then on the weekend have our splurge meal with some fresh, local meat. It’s a happy compromise for our bellies and our wallets.
Okay, these calzones. I mean, come on, don’t you just wanna pop the whole thing in your mouth?? I love checking out new cookbooks from our local library and since I need some more vegetarian recipes, I just had to try America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook”.
I used my favorite pizza dough recipe and stuffed them with all the yummy ingredients they recommend and they turned out perfectly! I’m in complete favor of the meatless calzone because you don’t get all the unnecessary grease from the meat soaking into your calzone bread — it’s just a lighter, but still filling meal!



INGREDIENTS :
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lbpizza dough
INSTRUCTIONS :
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Combine spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, oil, egg yolk, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes in a large bowl.
  3. Place dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 4 even pieces.
  4. With a rolling pin or your hands, flatten each piece into a 7 inch round on a piece of parchment paper.
  5. Spread half of spinach filling evenly over half of each dough round, making sure to leave a 1 inch border around the edge.
  6. Brush the edges with the egg wash and then folkd the other half of the dough circle over spinach mixture,
  7. leaving the bottom ½ inch border uncovered.
  8. Press edges of dough together and pinch with fingers to seal.
  9. With a sharp knife, cut 5 steam vents in top of calzones and brush tops with remaining egg wash.
  10. Transfer calzones onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, brush with any remaining egg wash and sprinkle with grated parmesan, then bake for another 7 minutes.
  11. Move to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
You can find complete recipes of this Ricotta and Spinach Calzones in kitschencat.com