Pesto, spinach, and goat cheese stuffed chicken and garlic asparagus recipe

I am working on growing an herb garden in our new house, but birds keep eating my herb sprouts. I put out a bird feeder, so hopefully that will deter them. Along with fresh cilantro and chives, I am really looking forward to fresh basil! I love making pesto and I enjoy eating it even more. This week I was craving some pesto goodness so I decided to pick some up and use it for a stuffed chicken recipe (and maybe a quiche recipe too).

I haven’t made stuffed chicken in a while, and it did not disappoint! This pesto and cheese and spinach stuffed chicken is a yummy and rich meal. Whoever said you can’t eat delicious food while still eating healthy doesn’t know what they are talking about! My husband was happy that it was grain-free and had goat cheese, and I was happy merely because it had pesto.  It may seem like too much work, but it’s all in the preparation. After you put it together, you can stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while!

I paired the chicken with a garlic asparagus side, recipe below as well.
stuffed chicken

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My new favorite: Chicken in tomato and basil cream sauce

We have been in kind of a food slump lately; nothing seems to sound very good and we needed a bit more variety. I needed to eat something new and different! I also didn’t want to be prepping and cooking food all evening when I want and need to spend more time with my baby and husband. I looked around on Pinterest (which makes me mostly just want to bake) and was inspired by a photo on The Big Oven. I wasn’t a fan of all the ingredients so I came up with my own version and used tomatoes instead of pimentos and left out a few ingredients. The result? DELICIOUSNESS. I’m making this chicken again, soon!

Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we used 5)
  • Fat of your choice for cooking chicken
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning, or to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with oregano and other herbs) or 1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh basil, diced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or asiago cheese

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A Family Recipe to Feed a Crowd

I’m going to let you in on a secret recipe today; a recipe from my husband’s Portuguese family. Having a hard time figuring out what dish to make or bring to your next event? Look no further; bring Portuguese Beans!

A big pot of these flavorful beans are easy to make and a big favorite around here. We make them for family gatherings, BBQ’s, and parties. If by chance you have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day for lunch or with some runny eggs for breakfast.

I like this recipe because it is very flavorful and has only a few ingredients. These beans go great with any meal, whether it be hamburgers and hotdogs, steak, chicken or eggs! I like to use beer in the recipe, but if you want to have a gluten-free pot, it is easy to substitute the beer for chicken broth and it will be just as tasty!

I’ve fed about 20 people with this recipe, when it is a side-dish. Technically it’s about 26 servings of beans or so. I cook it in my regular large sauce pot. It’s a pretty cheap dish as well. A huge can of beans costs about $5, bacon $2-5, tomato sauce $2-3, and everything else less than $1. So you can feed over 20 people for about $10.

Portuguese Beans for a Group:
Ingredients:
1 12oz pack of bacon or 8-10 slices of the thick cut kind, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of tomato sauce
1 bottle of beer
OR
2 cups chicken broth
1 huge can of pinto beans, rinsed (the #10 can size with 26 or so servings)

Directions:
In a large pot, crisp the diced bacon
Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon and set aside
In bacon grease, cook onion and garlic until translucent
Add the tomato sauce, beer or broth, and the bacon into the pot
Simmer for 10 minutes
Add rinsed pinto beans and simmer for about 15-30 minutes
Add more liquid if necessary (keep about an inch or two of liquid above beans)

Enjoy!

Portuguese Beans

A bad picture of the beans; I always forget to take a picture because I’m too busy eating them and they are gone by the time I remember!

Experimental Cooking: Protein Packed Breakfast Cookies

Yesterday morning I spent a couple hours scouring the internet on an empty stomach, looking for a breakfast cookie that was actually healthy and didn’t require a ton of specialty ingredients. I didn’t consider 1/4 cup or more of sugar to be considered healthy and I was amazed when people said the cookie was high in protein when they had less than 2 grams per serving.

So I finally pried myself off the couch and went to work in the kitchen, challenging myself to make a healthier breakfast cookie. I concocted a cookie batter from various ingredients in my cupboard and hoped for the best!

The batter seemed a bit soft, but I put them in the oven anyway. After about 11 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised that they had maintained their shape.

They were fluffy in the center and slightly crispy on the edges (which is just how I like my cookies). The flavor was quite light and enjoyable. Next time I would probably not use the banana protein powder though, and keep it to vanilla (or maybe chocolate).  The peanut butter did not come through, so next time I’m going to try to add more vanilla and cinnamon to taste like a regular oatmeal cookie, or perhaps replace some of the Greek yogurt with more peanut butter. I liked the cookies with the chocolate chips the best (who wouldn’t). The next day these cookies still had great texture and they weren’t overly soft (nor did they harden) like some cookies can get when you use fruit puree.

I will label this recipe as a success and will make again – with less than 3 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein for 2 cookies, these might come in handy as a quick snack for when the baby gets here (they say oats helps with milk production, right?)

Protein Breakfast Cookies Recipe

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Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa

Today’s dinner was one of my favorites: thin chicken breasts seasoned with chili, lime, and other spices, then grilled and served with a mango and avocado salsa. It really hit the spot!

I could also eat the salsa by itself. I had to stop eating it by the spoonful or else there wouldn’t be enough for dinner! The salsa lasted us about 3 servings, but it could be more if I didn’t eat half of it just myself. It probably makes about 1 cup of salsa.

Chili-lime chicken with mango and avocado salsa recipe

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Spinach, Pepper, and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Dessert

We had a pretty low-key Valentine’s Day; we ate a lovely dinner and splurged with homemade lava cakes and cookie dough ice cream. We exchanged some notes and treats and called it good.

I decided to experiment with pepper stuffed chicken breasts and I’m so glad I did! They tasted great even for leftovers. We paired the chicken with some asparagus grilled with butter, lemon juice, lemon pepper, and a little bit of garlic (my favorite).

Wish I had a better photo, but I was too hungry to try!

Spinach, Pepper, and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
I made about 5 servings, but ingredients can be easily altered to make more or less
Bake at 425 degrees

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12 Days Until Christmas: Grain-free Appetizers

I have two holiday celebrations before Christmas and everyone is to bring an appetizer. Since I am sure there will be plenty of indulgences, I am dedicated to bringing something healthy that is grain-free and sugar-free.

Here are a few finger foods/appetizers that I have either made with success, or I plan to give a try:

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Spaghetti Sauce vs Tomato and Beef Soup

I’m a picky red-sauce eater. Most restaurant sauces make me gag; they are too sweet and I don’t care for the green pepper taste that many of them seem to have. I prefer to make my own sauce at home. Spaghetti was one of the first things I learned to cook – my dad taught me, so I have fond memories with it as well.

This week I was craving spaghetti sauce but since we aren’t eating pasta, I could only eat the sauce. Then I got to thinking, meat sauce is just like tomato soup with ground beef (close enough, right?). So I kept telling myself that it was perfectly okay to eat the sauce sans noodles. And I still enjoyed it. I could try it over zucchini strips (aka zucchini pasta) or any other vegetable. You can also dip celery or vegetables into it, or just eat it with a salad.

It’s still warm and sunny here, but this would be a nice winter meal, too.

Serve meat sauce/tomato beef soup/spaghetti sauce in a mug or a bowl

Lulu’s Favorite Garlic Meat Sauce

Makes approx. 4 servings (more if using pasta and not heavily sauced)

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Berry Good Goat Cheese Tarts

Gluten-free goat cheese tarts with blueberry compote

I bought goat cheese at the store the other today in hopes of recreating a magical coconut goat cheese tart I had a couple weeks ago. I haven’t bought the coconut yet, but I still wanted to bake something. I also didn’t want to spend a long time over a hot oven in the middle of summer. I opted for mini tarts and no-bake cheese cake filling with goat cheese. And because I still have a ton of blueberries left, I also whipped up a quick batch of blueberry compote.

The little tarts taste even better after being in the fridge and completely chilled, but eating them warm won’t do any harm either.

Quick Gluten-Free Cheesecake Tarts with Goat Cheese and Blueberries
Makes 10 mini-tarts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease muffin tins – I like to then put a little strip of tinfoil in the cups (where the ends reach above the cup) and grease that as well, so that when the tarts are cooked, the strips can be pulled up to release the cups easily.

Tart Crusts:
3/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cups coconut flour
4 TBSP butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp maple syrup
3-5 tsp of water

Mix almond meal and coconut flour together in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, a fork, your hands, or whatever works for you, cut cold butter into flour mixture until crumbly.  Mix in vanilla and maple syrup. Add water, one tsp at a time until mixture becomes a dough consistency and can be formed into a ball. Press dough into greased muffin tin. Poke bottom of each dough cup with a fork a couple of times to prevent dough from rising. Bake 8-10 minutes or until they start to brown and are firm to touch.  Let stand for a couple of minutes and carefully remove crusts and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Blueberry Compote
3/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp arrowroot

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients. Cook on med heat, stirring occasionally. Smash berries and cook for approximately 8 minutes or so, while you prepare the cheesecake filling and finish baking the tart crusts. Place in bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.

Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz goat cheese (I used goat cheese w/honey)
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut butter
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp arrowroot

Using a stand mixer, mix all ingredients  for 3 minutes or until perfectly smooth and creamy.

Assembly:

After the tarts have cooled, gently spoon cheesecake mixture into crusts. Place mini-tarts in the fridge and allow to set for at least an hour, or until firm. Serve with a spoonful of blueberry compote on top.

Variations:

Add lemon juice or other flavor to cheese mixture
Make different fruit compotes – strawberry, blackberry, or a mixed berry, apricot, cherry, the options are endless
Use cheesecake filling for cupcake fillings or even as frosting – just add additional liquid for desired consistency
Mix fruit and cheese mixtures and use for pancake topping

 

Quick and Easy Garden Pizza

Use leftovers and extra veggies for a simple meal

I’m a fan of Food Renegade, and as part of their Fight Back Friday, here is simple recipe for a healthy meal with lots of vegetables.

Sometimes we have trouble eating all the vegetables we get in out CSA Box or sometimes we just don’t feel like cooking. The solution?

Easy Garden Pizza

Ingredients:
Premade or precooked crust – I use organic gluten-free or sprouted-wheat crust
Olive Oil
Seasonings (basil, pepper, garlic, etc)
Vegetables (we use organic vegetables from our CSA Box or garden)
Cheese (we use raw cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, or goat cheese)

The winning combo for us this vegetable season?
Yellow squash
Eggplant (a great way to use this veggie if it’s not your favorite)
Leeks
Red onions
Peppers
Tomatoes
Garlic

I brush the crust with olive oil and 2 spoonfuls of fresh organic salsa. I sprinkle minced garlic throughout.
I top with sliced and chopped vegetables, then sprinkle with cheese. (if using leftover meat, place on the pizza before the cheese).
I then sprinkle basil and sun dried tomato flakes all over the pizza.

Place on a pizza stone after following crust directions for temperature. Should be ready in 8-12 minutes. We find the pizza pairs perfectly with a fresh salad with oil and balsamic vinegar.

This recipe can easily be changed to be gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian.
A friend of mine uses veganaise as a dip to serve with pizza.

Don’t be afraid to use whatever vegetables you have on had. You can put anything on pizza and it can be healthy!