Busy Mom Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

I love my Fixate cookbook–I have a handful of recipes from it that I make all the time (Grandma’s Tomato Sauce and the Clean Eating Sloppy Joes are a couple of examples), and now there is a Fixate cooking show on Beachbody On-Demand that I watch every week to get new recipe ideas!  I was watching it last week and got reminded of this stuffed pepper recipe that is so good, but also a little involved and complicated.

On the show, Bobby Calabrese (the chef) mentioned that instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up into bite-sized pieces to cook, you could just get ground chicken to save some time and energy.  GENIUS!  I’m not sure I would ever have come up with that on my own, but it’s such a simple tip!

The original recipe calls for quinoa and corn, but I opted to leave those out because 1) I don’t really like corn, 2) I didn’t want that many carbs in this meal, and 3) I was being lazy and didn’t want to add quinoa.  If you love corn and don’t care too much about the extra carbs, feel free to add 1 cup cooked corn and 2 cups cooked quinoa to the filling when you add the black beans.

If you want to make this recipe even easier and quicker, you can skip the whole baking step and slice your peppers into large strips and use them as a chip alternative.  You could also skip the peppers altogether and just eat the filling alone, or in taco shells or with tortilla chips.  Check your grocery for pre-chopped onion and minced garlic in the jar.  That saves a few steps, as well!  Last, instead of chopping the cilantro I usually just tear it by hand as I add it to the dish and that is a lot faster, as well.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom’s Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Fixate)–serves 4

4 bell peppers (any color), cut in half and seeds/ribs removed

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can up this to 2 lbs to bulk up the filling if you prefer)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt, to taste (at least 1/4 tsp)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used plain canned tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added)

5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Optional: 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Optional: Hot sauce, to taste, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peppers skin side down on a baking dish (spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir together until all ingredients are fully mixed and heated through.  Remove from heat and turn heat off.

Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each pepper half.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until peppers are soft.  If desired, top each pepper with cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes uncovered until cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top with hot sauce if desired.  Each serving is 2 pepper halves!

 

Clean Eating Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food, especially orange chicken.  When I saw this paleo orange chicken recipe, I made it just a few days later!  This is a pretty involved recipe, so it’s definitely not a quick weeknight meal, but I made this one afternoon when I was home alone and then ate on the leftovers for a few days.  This would be a good meal to make on the weekend and then save it for a quick Monday night dinner.

I did switch out some ingredients based on what I had on hand, so the way I made it isn’t Whole30 approved or necessarily paleo.  I switched the tapioca starch for cornstarch and used coconut oil instead of avocado oil because that is what I had on hand.  I served this with brown rice (the instant kind you cook in the microwave for a minute) over a bowl of fresh kale.  This would be great with broccoli tossed in, served with cauliflower rice, or with fresh spinach.  It was a great mixture of sweet and spicy!

Clean Eating Orange Chicken (slightly adapted from Food Faith Fitness)

Serves 4-6

For the sauce:

3/4 cup 100% orange juice (I used fresh Cara Cara oranges to squeeze my own)

Zest of half an orange

1 tbsp coconut aminos

1 tsp rice vinegar

Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp hot sauce

 

For the chicken:

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp cornstarch

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb chicken, cut into cubes (I used boneless skinless thighs, but you can use chicken breast or tenderloins)

 

In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, zest, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt the coconut oil (for the sauce) on medium heat.  Sautee the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the orange juice mixture and cook on high, stirring constantly.  Meanwhile, put 1 tsp cornstarch in the now-empty medium bowl and set aside.

Once the orange juice mixture is boiling, add 2 tsp hot sauce to the cornstarch and stir together until smooth. Whisk into the boiling sauce and continue to whisk for 2 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and cook until sauce is thick and glossy, stirring constantly.  Pour into a bowl and set aside to thicken while you cook the chicken.

Melt the coconut oil (for the chicken) in the skillet (or in a larger one if you prefer).  Put cornstarch and salt/pepper in a large ziplock bag and shake to mix.  Put chicken cubes in bag and shake to completely cover  chicken with cornstarch mixture.

Put covered chicken in skillet (don’t overcrowd them–you may need to cook the chicken in multiple batches).  Cook chicken until browned on the outside and fully cooked (an instant-read thermometer should read at least 165 F), 2-3 minutes per side, turning once.

Once chicken is cooked, put in a large bowl and pour the thickened orange sauce over it.  Gently stir/toss the chicken with the sauce to completely cover each chicken piece with the sauce.

Serve with rice, broccoli, cauliflower, or greens.  Enjoy!

 

Gluten-Free Orange Cherry Muffins

One of my FAVORITE things about my online streaming workouts is the Fixate cooking show.  The 21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother Bobby (who is a chef) share healthy, clean eating recipes that are so good!  I love looking every week at what new recipes they’ve come up with–they are always adventurous and something that I wouldn’t think of on my own, which makes it fun for me.  I’m actually working on a “Fixate Week” where I only eat Fixate recipes because I love it so much!

Last week I tried the Fixate Vegan Orange Cherry Muffins–I had some Cara Cara oranges I needed to use, and my son LOVES cherries, so I thought this would be a perfect experiment!  I ended up adjusting the recipe a little bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, and I didn’t want to buy special ingredients I don’t normally use just to keep the muffins vegan (especially when I don’t really care that much about eating vegan).

Instead of using fresh cherries, I bought dried cherries (which are a little more tart than fresh, so if you go that route you might want to add a little more syrup for more sweetness).  I also swapped the flaxseed for a whole egg because I didn’t have flaxseed on hand and don’t normally use it (flaxseed is used as a binding ingredient to substitute eggs and is a great source of omega-3s).

These were really good! Next time I’ll use 100% orange juice because the fresh juice I had wasn’t quite enough.  I would love to try these with fresh cherries, so I’m keeping an eye out for cherries at my grocery as we get closer to summer!

For my Fix followers, each serving (1 muffin) is 1 yellow, 1/2 purple, 1/2 blue, and 1 1/2 tsp.

Fixate Orange Cherry Muffins (adapted from Fixate on Beachbody On Demand)

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tbsp orange zest

3/4 cup orange juice

1 egg

1 large banana, thickly cut (about 1 cup of banana)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped cherries (fresh, frozen, or dried)

 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with baking spray.

Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and walnuts in a large bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Put oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, egg, banana, and vanilla in a blender.  Mix for 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture.  Mix just until moistened–do not overmix.

Fold in cherries to batter mixture until just mixed.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon batter into lined muffin tin (1/4 cup for each muffin).

Bake muffins for 18 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean from the center of muffin.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in pan.  Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

These kept well in an airtight container on the counter.  They only lasted a few days before we ate them all, but would probably be fine for about 5-7 days. You could also put baked muffins in the freezer and reheat them in the microwave.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve found a great gluten-free waffle recipe, so I wanted to find a great gluten-free pancake recipe, too!  We love eating breakfast together in my house, and it’s so special to have my little man help me make waffles, pancakes, or french toast and then enjoy the fruits of our labor together.

This was the first gluten-free pancake recipe I tried, and it was great!  The original recipe called for buttermilk, which I didn’t have on hand, so I subbed in equal parts plain greek yogurt and milk.  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but you could use any kind of fruit or choose to leave fruit out of the batter and just top the pancakes with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter, and it made 4 medium-large pancakes.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pancakes (slightly adapted from Bakepedia)

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt+1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for the pan)

Combine all ingredients except the oil.  Mix until completely combined, but not completely smooth.

Heat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Melt oil on skillet.  Use a 1/4- or 1/3-cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto skillet.  Cook for 3-4 on one side until bubbly.  Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes until golden brown.  Top with fresh berries and pure maple syrup.

 

 

Reverse Meal Planning

I love to cook.  I love looking up new recipes to try, experimenting with different ingredients, and trying to think like a chef as I throw things together.  But sometimes that causes us to spend more money than we wanted–at the grocery to get the needed ingredients, or eating out because my experiments didn’t go well.  Oops.

This month my husband and I are challenging ourselves to spend less money on food, both eating out and at the grocery.  So, I decided to try something new this week based on a tip I saw on a Facebook moms group I’m in.  Instead of making a meal plan and then going to the grocery, I went to the grocery first.

No list. No meal plan.  It felt SO backwards to me–how will I know how much food I need?  What if I don’t buy enough?  What if I buy a bunch of random things and then won’t know how to put it all together?  It was so foreign to me to go shopping without a list, but it ended up being really fun.

First of all, I needed to have a little more faith in myself–in my knowledge of the staples we use up every week and of my ability to throw foods together to make something yummy.  I’ve been cooking and following food blogs for years now, and I’ve got a good arsenal of information in my brain to help me.

So, I got the pantry staples and produce staples that we use up every week, and then I shopped for produce and meats that were on sale.  I had already looked through my grocery’s app to look at the weekly ad and their digital coupon options and downloaded the ones I thought I might use–which means I skipped the ones for highly processed, unhealthy foods.  I’m trying to save money, but also still eat healthy.  We’re not suddenly eating unhealthy foods because there are more coupons for those kinds of foods.

I ended up with the list you see below.  I was AMAZED at how much less I spent.  We got good, healthy foods (although you can see some of the unhealthy treats my husband picked up) and spent about $30 less than normal.  I saved almost $25 between sales and coupons!  I was shocked at how much I saved this way.

 

So with these ingredients, these are the meals we made this week:

Gluten-free spaghetti with ground turkey (with sauce from my freezer)

Clean-eating sloppy joes

Smoked whole chicken with green beans and roasted red potatoes (this made a ton of food that we ate off of for several meals!)

Clean eating taco bowl with ground beef

 

It was actually a lot easier to come up with these meals than I thought it would be, and we had enough food to last us almost every meal all week.  We did eat out a couple of times, but that was in our budget, too.

I’m excited about trying this reverse meal planning more to see how much I can get and how much I can save!  Do you always shop with a list, or have you tried this way of shopping before?

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

One of the parts of Whole30 I was looking forward to the least was the fact that the only carb I was going to be able to eat were potatoes.  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes.  That’s it.  I was a full-blown carb addict, so this wasn’t something I looked forward to.  But honestly, I loved it.  I had yummy potatoes every single day, and I never missed the other carbs!  Seriously.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t live it myself.

Potatoes are actually a great carb option because they don’t mess with your blood sugar in the same way breads and other carbs do, and it’s PACKED with some awesome nutrients.  It’s a carb that actually does your body good, and I’m planning on continuing to use potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) as my main carb of choice.

This recipe is how I fixed my potatoes most of the time, and how I continue to fix them!  This was great with sweet potatoes and white potatoes alike.  Plus, you can switch out the dressing for regular olive oil, melted coconut oil, or melted ghee and it’s just as delicious!

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

1 medium potato, peeled and sliced into fries

1 tbsp Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing (or oil of choice)

1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Toss all ingredients together until all fries are completely coated.  Spread fries in one layer (preferably not touching each other) on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until browned and crispy (or your desired doneness).  Enjoy!

***I don’t personally love leftover potatoes, but you can make a huge batch and keep them in the fridge for a few days if you want.

Everyday (Paleo) Meatloaf

My husband LOVES his momma’s meatloaf.  I have never really been a huge fan of meatloaf in general, but I’ve tried several different recipes that haven’t been a traditional recipe to find something that he and I could both enjoy.  None of them have been hits with him, though, so I just haven’t made meatloaf in a really long time.  When I saw this recipe looking for Paleo meals, I knew I had to try it because I was pretty sure it would be a hit with everyone!

I am so glad I tried it, because I was right!  This is so simple and SO GOOD.  The original recipe calls for 1 cup almond meal and 2 eggs, but I went for the note of omitting the almond meal and just using 1 egg.  The original also calls for 6 tbsp tomato paste, which I didn’t have on hand, so I used some leftover marinara on top instead.  It was so good!

I’d love to try to add a few more veggies into this recipe to bulk up the veggies, but I may have to work up to that so my husband doesn’t know what I’m up to!

Everyday Meatloaf (slightly adapted from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso)

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 egg

2 tsp minced garlic

1 red onion, finely diced

1/2 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp dried basil

2 tsp marjoram

1/2 cup marinara

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients (except marinara) in a large bowl, using hand to combine until well mixed.  Put meat mixture in a lightly greased 9×13 glass pan and form into loaf.  Bake 30 min.  Top meatloaf with marinara, using a spoon to spread evenly over the top of the entire loaf.  Bake 30 more min or until meatloaf is completely cooked through (use an instant read thermometer to ensure it’s completely cooked–ground beef should be cooked to an internal temp of 160).  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 min before serving.

I served this with green beans and homemade sweet potato fries!  It would go well with basically any veggie.