Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Crock-Pot Buffalo Chicken in Lettuce Tacos

One of my deepest, truest loves is Buffalo Sauce.  I love it on wings, pizza, in dips or on sandwiches and veggies.  There is something about the spicy, tangy, salty kick that makes me so happy.  With that said, I am always thinking of how to use it in healthier ways.  While the chicken wing is incredible and low-carb, they do come with a bit more fat and can be a little challenging to prepare.  I wanted to come up with a recipe that was super easy, healthy and could be used in a multitude of ways.  Enter the trusty Crock Pot, chicken breasts and buffalo sauce.  I absolutely love the taste, texture and versatility of shredded chicken, and preparing it in a Crock Pot is a super easy and healthy way to get it.  Keeping on the low-carb kick, I use beautiful butter lettuce as a vessel for my chicken and stuffed it with all the usual Buffalo Wing accoutrements like carrots, celery, blue cheese crumbles and dressing.  This is a huge hit at my house.  I make it all the time for my family and for guests when entertaining.  This is exact recipe is on my menu for the Super Bowl.  But the great thing is the Crock Pot buffalo chicken is so easy and versatile.  You can literally do anything you want with it, like adding it to rolls for a sandwich, on a salad, pizza or nachos.  Whether you are eating low-carb, or not, you have to give this recipe a shot.  It is so easy and so yummy and you can do so many fun things with it. I know it will be hit at your house.

This is what you need:

1 lb Chicken Breast ( 3-4 small to medium size breasts)
1 1/3 cup of Buffalo Sauce ( I use Franks Red Hot Sauce, but use whatever you like)
Lettuce ( I use Butter Lettuce but use what you have or prefer)
1 medium Onion- chopped
2 cloves Garlic - chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:
Shredded Carrots
Green Onions
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Shredded cheese

This is what you do:
Add the onion, garlic, olive oil to Crock Pot, the place the chicken on top of that.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on High for 3-4 hours.  When cooked, shred the chicken with a fork and place in the lettuce cups.  Add the toppings of your choice and enjoy!
Serves: 6-8 (you can easily double this recipe to serve more)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 Hours

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheesy Anaheim Peppers Wrapped in Prosciutto

Have I mentioned how much I love the Anaheim pepper?  It is a long, beautifully green chilli pepper with a mild and slight fruity flavor.  They are a fantastic substitute for the jalapeno if you do not like spicy things. The Anaheim tastes amazing in just about anything from salads to chili.  However, my favorite way to prepare them is to stuff them with a mix of cream cheese and shredded cheese, then wrap them in prosciutto and grill them.  The cheese becomes ooey-gooey and the prosciutto crisps up fantastically and flavors the pepper.  The actual pepper softens up a bit and becomes slightly sweet and delicious.  This is a perfect appetizer to serve at parties because they appeal to everyone, even if they are not a spice fan.  The Anaheim pepper can be rather large, so they are little easier to work with than a smaller pepper.  And because they are larger, you do not have to make as many; one per person is usually plenty. The best part is they are low-carb, super easy to make and completely versatile.  You can swap bacon for the prosciutto, goat cheese for the cream cheese and you can bake them in an oven if you don't have access to a grill.  However you make them, just make them.  They are unbelievably delicious, easy and a real crowd-pleaser.  They also go perfect with beer and football...

This is what you need:

1 lb Anaheim Peppers ( I used 6 large peppers for this recipe)
1 block of room temperature Cream Cheese (you can use reduced fat)
3/4 cup of Shredded Cheese (whatever you have)
1 package or 12 slices of Prosciutto
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Toothpicks if needed

This is what you do:
Mix the cream cheese, shredded cheese and all the spices together to make the filling. Slice the top of the pepper off at about 1-2 inches from the top and remove the seeds.  Stuff each pepper and place the tops back on.  Roll the pepper with 1 or 2 pieces of prosciutto to secure the top and cover the pepper.  If the top of the pepper seems loose, secure with a toothpick or two.  Grill on medium heat for 6-7 minutes per side or roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
Prep Time- 10 minutes
Cook Time- 10-15 minutes
Serves- 1 pepper per person

Friday, January 23, 2015

Leaf and Love Organic Lemonade **GIVEAWAY**

I think anyone who is a parent struggles with giving their kids a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners.  We are busy; there are lunches to be packed, snacks to prepare and dinner to make.  And sometimes a juice box just comes in handy.  What is not helpful is when they are loaded with sugar, because I am pretty sure us parents can agree, most kids do not need it.. They drive us nuts just fine without the extra sugar high!  So when Leaf and Love Organic Lemonade wanted me and my kids to try their juice boxes, I jumped at the chance.  It arrived in the most adorable packaging and we could not wait to test it out.  It is a mild lemonade that is not too sweet or sour and it is all natural, organic and non-GMO.  Perfect for kids and would also make an excellent sugar-free, low carb mixer for an adult beverage.  The best part is they want to giveaway an eight pack of juices to one you guys! Enter the raffle below or leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about Leaf & Love please visit their website here!
**Product gifted to me, opinions my own**

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Survived a 3-Day Juice Cleanse

It's January and for most of us, that means it is time to snap back into reality.  The last few months of the year is a dreamy haze filled with carbs, gravy, desserts and booze.  Am I right?  Just me?  Even if you did not go overboard, after the New Year is a good time to buckle down and get back on the healthy train.  Everyone has their own idea of what this means and there are countless programs and methods to help you.  For myself, when I eat carbs, sugar and dairy for too many days in a row, my body begins to crave them and I have a hard time turning them down.  So, what has helped me in the past and very recently, is a 3-Day Reset and Detox Juice Cleanse.  This allows me to physically curb the cravings and, probably more importantly, mentally get back on track.  The particular cleanse I chose is one by Ritual Wellness, called the Seasonal Reset Juice Cleanse.  This one comes with six 14.5 ounce bottle of juice.  Three are green, one is a fruit juice, one is a lemonade and one is the otherworldly cashew mylk.  I found this cleanse through the gym I belong to, The Dailey Method.  They have a partnership with this company and will run specials for members of the gym.  Because, let's be real here, it is not cheap.  In fact, it is quite expensive.  I did a lot of research on cleansing and this company before I could even fathom spending that kind of money.  Ritual Wellness uses nearly 20 pounds of organic, cold pressed produce for each day of the cleanse and claims it will flush out toxins, curb unhealthy cravings and reset your metabolism.  While the scientific jury is still out on if this is actually the case, one thing most everyone agrees on is it is not going to hurt the average, healthy person.  Obviously, this is not going to be for everyone for many different reasons, but it has worked for me and I want to share with you how and why.   Also, I paid for my cleanse (both times I have done it) and every opinion is 100% my own.  So, lets get to the good stuff!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Black Bean and Corn Salad (or Salsa or Side-Dish)

When I call this recipe a salad, I might be doing it a disservice.  Because it can be so much more than just a salad.  It is a fantastic salsa, a delicious side dish and can also work as a light lunch or dinner.  On top of that, it is super easy to make, very healthy and extremely cost effective.  I use fiber and protein rich black beans and sweet crunchy corn as the base for this salad.  Then I add fresh red bell pepper, spicy jalapeno and creamy avocado all mixed with a smokey, tangy homemade dressing. This is an extremely flavorful dish with many different textures and beautiful colors.  It works great with a piece of grilled chicken, fish or a burger.  And because I use frozen corn, it keeps cold for a long time, which makes it great to bring to a potluck or barbeque.  I used to make this all the time when my husband and I would tailgate at different sporting events, (you know, before we had kids) because it would last for a couple hours without refrigeration.  In fact, I made it so much, my friends and family began calling it Corn O'Neill (O'Neill is my maiden name).  Now, I still make it all the time for parties or potlucks or just for my own family to have at home.  Next time you need a super quick salsa, salad or side dish, give this one a shot!

This is what you need:

1 can of Black Beans - rinsed and drained
1 bag (16 oz.) of frozen Sweet Corn 
1 Red Bell Pepper -chopped small
1 Avocado - chopped small
1/2-1 Jalapeno - diced small (optional)
1/2 Red Onion - chopped small
1/2 cup of Cilantro - chopped
1 Lime - juiced
3 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tbsp of Cumin
1 tbsp of Hot Sauce ( any kind you prefer)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp of Pepper

This is what you do:
Rinse and drain your beans then chop the bell pepper, onion and jalapeno and add to a bowl with the beans and frozen corn.  Then make your dressing with the juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp of Olive Oil, 1 tbsp of hot sauce, 1 tbsp of cumin, 1 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Whisk and set aside.  Now, dice your avocado and the chop the cilantro.  Add them to the bowl, add the dressing and gently mix everything together.  Let sit out for 15-30 minutes before serving.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30-45 minutes
Serves: 4-8

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mason Jar Salads

Well, I did it.  I caved to the pressure of the adorable Mason Jar Salad pictures and posts I see all over social media.  I was wary of this phenomenon really for one reason only.  I simply could not fathom how one mason jar could possibly hold enough ingredients for a proper salad and it would fail to satiate me.  I had purchased some 24 ounce mason jars to use as vases for flower arrangements (could I be any more basic?) and had one left over.  Not knowing what else to do with it, I thought I would finally try this salad thing out.  And let me tell you, the results were pretty spectacular.  Not only was there plenty of room for all of my goodies, it saved me a ton of time during my mid day chaos called living with a 4 and 2 year old.  This would be an excellent way to bring salads to work because everything is already there and ready to dump on a bowl or plate.  There is a lot of variety that can be explored with these salad jars too.  So many toppings to pick from and everything is perfectly portioned out.  We try to use glass containers instead of plastic for our food to cut down on any BPA or other chemicals that could be in the plastic, which is just another benefit of using the mason jar.  Now, is this the end-all, be-all of salads on the go?  I am not entirely sure, as one still needs to have a separate bowl or plate and fork but it is a super easy and convenient way to transport a fully prepared salad in a way so nothing gets soggy.  I have detailed out how to make it and what order to put your ingredients in, so have fun with it and let me know what you think!

Now, let's explore this fascinating process!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy New Year!!  I sure hope you had a wonderful holiday season and came back to the reality of 2015 feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.  I hope you did, because I am not quite there, but I am close.  I seriously over-indulged the past few months and am paying for it now.  A few extra pounds and not quite as on point in my fitness level and routine.  But I am working on it!  Which is why I thought my first recipe of the New Year should focus on the delightful Sweet Potato. Not only is this vegetable delicious, it is incredibly good for you with high levels of Vitamins A, B5 and B6 and they are naturally fat free and low in sodium.  They are very sweet but have a low-glycemic index which means they release sugar more slowly which helps keep levels of blood sugar steady.  Because of these benefits and more, they are a perfect food for people trying to eat a low carb or paleo lifestyle.  Often times, I just bake these until their sides are caramelized and eat them plain, no butter or salt.  But on occasion, I will stuff them with whatever veggies and meat I have available.  Since they are so sweet, I like to stuff them with savory vegetables like kale, mushrooms and broccoli for crunch.  The sweet corn ties the dish together and honestly, meat is not even necessary.  However, for this particular recipe, I like to use healthy ground turkey and season it with smokey cumin.  This is a fantastic, filling and extremely healthy dinner that is super easy to make and can be personalized to whatever is in your refrigerator and your preferences. 

Here is what you need:

4 large Sweet Potatoes
1-1 1/2 lbs of Ground Turkey (optional or could use ground beef)
2-3 cups of Kale
1-1 1/2 cups of Broccoli 
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen Corn
1 medium Onion -chopped
3 cloves of Garlic - minced
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Black Pepper
1/2 tbsp of Cumin
1/8 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Optional Toppings:
Feta Cheese

This is what you do:
Heat oven to 425 degrees and wash and poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork.  Place in oven and cook for at least an hour.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink and then add the salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes and onions, mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and kale. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and add the corn.  Heat through and taste to adjust seasoning as needed.  Remove sweet potatoes and fill them up with the mixture.  Top with any toppings you like and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1 1/2 hours
Serves: 4