Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kung Pao Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)

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Chris and I have a diet that is packed with protein, and that's usually in the form of some sort of meat or fish. Even though most nights these two usually find their way onto our plates, I think it's healthy to cut back on the meats and have some vegetarian meals once in a while. Pasta is a front-runner on those nights, but it's also very starchy so I try not to go that route too often. Although zoodles (zucchini noodles) aren't a permanent replacement for our favorite starch, they are a great substitute that make you feeling satisfied, but not overly stuffed.
Zoodles can be used in place of pasta in almost any dish, which makes them very versatile. This particular recipe has some heat, some acid, some sweetness and some savory elements to cover all our bases. We both really enjoyed this meal and I was also a big fan of how quick the zoodles cooked. Two minutes and they were ready to go! Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

2 servings
  • 3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp. dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp. scallions, thinly sliced along diagonal

For the sauce:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tbsp. hot chili paste
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they’re easier to eat. (If you don't have a spiralizer or a mandolin, use a vegetable peel to peel the zucchini and then cut each peel into thin strips lenghwise.)

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, water, chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

Heat a large pan to medium heat. Add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Add the bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for about two minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don't worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce. Once cooked, divide between 2 bowls (about 2 cups each) and top with peanuts and scallions.

Source: Adapted from Skinnytaste

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Dream Bars

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I used to find it extremely difficult to find a good gluten-free dessert that didn't taste like cardboard. Now there are so many mixes and pre-packaged goodies that are actually edible, so it's impossible not to find a few sweet things to snack on while on a gluten-free diet.
My mom recently went gluten-free and it has been helping her out a lot, but I'm my mother's daughter and we both suffer from the same enormous sweet tooth. So it was super important that even though she's following certain diet restrictions, that she could still indulge in something sweet now and then. She made these bars one day when I had her and my brother over for lunch, and if we didn't know they were gluten-free we never would have known. They had chocolate and coconut and pecans. And were drizzled with sweetened condensed milk! My favorite. This is a sweet treat absolutely anyone will enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Makes 24 bars
  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 bag King Arthur Gluten-Free Cookie Mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (3 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

Combine the butter, extract, and cookie mix; the dough will be crumbly. Remove 1 1/2 cups of crumbs and reserve for streusel topping.

Add the egg to the remaining mix and blend until smooth. Spread dough in an even layer on the bottom of your prepared pan.

Drizzle dough with sweetened condensed milk. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and pecans. Lightly mix the coconut with the reserved crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the chips and pecans.

Bake the bars for 26 to 28 minutes, till they're golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool for 30 minutes, then cut into squares while still warm. Cool completely before serving.

Source: King Arthur Flour

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chicken Fajita Burgers

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When my entire family went to the beach a few weeks ago, we decided that each individual family would pick a night to cook dinner so we didn't have to try to find reservations to accommodate all 13 of us every night. On my little family's night, I chose to make beef and chicken fajitas, guacamole and Mexican rice. The perfect set-up for a crowd. And it turned out perfectly.
When we got home I was still in a fajita mood since they turned out so great, but instead of making Chris endure the same meal two weeks in a row, I wanted to use the same ingredients in a new dish. I used the same seasonings, but mixed them in with ground chicken to make a burger patty. I topped the burger with my amazing guacamole and sautéed vegetables, and it was a huge hit. Perfect for these summer months, too. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Makes 4 burgers

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • Dash of paprika
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
For the topping:
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • Guacamole
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 sandwich buns
In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, bread crumbs, garlic powder, seasoned salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes and lime juice. Use your hands to combine. Pat into 4 equal sized patties.

Place the chicken patties on a hot grill over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Top with the cheese, turn off the grill, and close the lid to let the cheese melt. Remove to a plate.

While the burgers are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Add the sliced peppers and onion to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers and onions are tender, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the buns in a toaster and toast until light brown.

Top the buns with guacamole, burgers, and vegetables to serve.

Source: SK Original

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Review & Giveaway!!

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Healthy Solutions Spice Blends is a maker of 16 distinct spice blends that are recipe ready and made to cook with fish, beef, pork and poultry. They offer flavorful meals that can be prepared in minutes! I recently made the Shrimp Scampi using the spice blend packet and the dish was on the table in under 20 minutes! The flavors were amazing as one would even know this came from a spice pack!
They have a ton of spice blend options to try, too! Some flavors they offer are: Herb Crusted Tilapia, Shrimp Scampi, Cajun Seafood, Lemon Pepper, Sesame Ginger Tuna, Grilled Swordfish, Bold Beef Rub, Authentic Chili/Tacos, Hearty Beef Stew, Perfect Steak and Savory Meatloaf. Each packet also all have handy recipes right on the back for your convenience! Check out their website for additional details.
The spice blends are all natural and are mixed together using only the highest quality spices and made with no fillers or preservatives. This is exactly what I look for when feeding my little family. Amazing flavor is just an added bonus!

One lucky reader will be able to win some Healthy Solutions Spice Blends samples for themselves! Just enter using the widget below! Winner will be announced August 29th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Giveaway is open until Thursday, August 28thth at 11:55pm EST. Winner will be announced August 29th. Contest open to US residents only. Winner will be drawn at random and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!!

Note: Healthy Solutions Spice Blends graciously provided me with personal samples and the samples for this giveaway. All comments and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

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Think chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate and with lots more brown sugar. That's basically what these cookies are in a nutshell. And the thing that gives chocolate chip cookies that amazing flavor is the brown sugar, already know what these cookies are going to be. Amazing, that's what. 
Sure, you can add in some chocolate chips or nuts if you really want to, but they really don't need it. They're slightly chewy and slightly crunchy and have just the right amount of sweetness. Serve these up with milk and they really hit the spot. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one.

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Add it into the creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing it until just combined. Mix in the oats until just combined.

Use your preferred size cookie scoop (or a regular spoon) to drop portions of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until dark and chewy. If you'd like a crispier cookie, just cook a little longer.

Let them cool slight on the pan after removing from the oven, then transfer the cookies onto a plate for serving.

* Note: Add 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts to the flour mixture if you'd like a nutty flavor and crunch.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman