Sunday, September 30, 2012

honey glazed soy chicken in the slow cooker

Over the summer I had several failed slow cooker recipe attempts so I was excited to go two for two last week and add slow cooker meatball grinders  AND this honey glazed soy chicken to my repertoire!  I adapted this recipe from The Tasty Kitchen altering the cut of chicken and swapping out a few ingredients.  Success!!!!

Just a note about slow cooking boneless chicken breast…..
I have dried out chicken in the slow cooker many times!  I have learned that my slow cooker has a tendency to cook quickly!  Chicken breasts can cook no longer than 3 hours on low in my pot.   Yours may be 2 or 4.  Test it and see so you don’t end up with a dried out mess! 

Prep Ahead Plan:  This isn’t a “set it and forget it” cook all day kind of recipe BUT it’s perfect for those crazy, jam packed hours after school where everyone goes in 10 different directions and you are the taxi service that gets them to their designated locations!  Take 5 minutes and prepare the recipe in the slow cooker the night before and let the chicken marinate all night, which is even tastier.  Turn it on at 3:30 and eat at 6:30!

Honey Glazed Soy Chicken
4-5 skinless chicken breast (not too thin)
ground pepper (to taste)
1 cup of honey
1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small onion, diced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 scallions
cooking spray

1.  Spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray.
2.   Mix pepper, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, onion and red pepper flakes in the pot.
3.  Place chicken in the honey/soy mixture, turning to coat and refrigerate overnight (or cook immediately).
4.  Cook on low for 3 hours adding 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water during the last 30 minutes.  Serve over brown rice topped with scallions.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Meatball Parm Grinders

I love having success with a new slow cooker recipe!  I found the original recipe on Pinterest and made some adaptations including the addition of herbs and red wine.  I also opted for 93% lean ground turkey rather than lean ground beef simply because lean ground turkey is lower in saturated fat.  It is true that beef has more iron than turkey meat but I'd rather save on the saturated fat and serve a spinach salad on the side of my ground turkey meatball grinder.  I guess once we loaded it with cheese all fat count considerations go out the window anyway!  Either way, I hope you enjoy these quick and easy meatball parm grinders!   

Prep ahead Plan:  I prepared the recipe the say before and let the slow cooker insert sit overnight until I was ready to bake it!  


For the Meatballs:
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1 ¼ cups of seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons basil (dried)
2 teaspoons parsley (dried)
2 eggs
2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed for meatballs
For the Sauce:
2 cloves for sauce, minced or crushed
2 28 oz. cans san marzano whole tomatoes
¾ cup red wine
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 bay leave
1 Tablespoon fresh basil or a handful of fresh basil leaves torn up
grinder rolls
garlic powder
olive oil cooking spray
sliced, fresh mozzarella

iphone pic

1.  Spray the inside of a slow cooker insert with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs.  Mix with hands and form into 1 ½ inch meatballs.  Place them in the slow cooker.
2.  Open the cans of whole tomatoes and squeeze each tomato over the meatballs.  Pour any remaining juice from the cans on top of the meatballs too.
3.  Combine remaining ingredients in pot and stir making sure not to mash up the meatballs.
4.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours.
5.  To make grinders.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray grinder rolls with olive oil spray and sprinkle them with garlic powder and bake for 5 minutes.
6.  Remove from oven and place meatballs in the roll and top with sliced cheese.  bake for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted. Enjoy! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Garden Quinoa

Quinoa has been a popular lunch item for us lately!  Mike prefers his with olive oil, lemon juice, feta, red onion, and red pepper while I prefer mine like this!  I keep a large container of garden quinoa in the fridge for a quick fix lunch.  MUCH better than the crusts of grilled cheese and left over pb&j triangles I find myself eating all too often!  

Quinoa is very healthy for you and an easy prep dish!  Here’s a little bit about this  “super food!”:

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) tastes very much like a grain; it is actually a seed and related to the spinach family. It also cooks like a grain, making it an excellent replacement for grains that can difficult to digest or for those on a gluten free diet!
Some of the nutrients in quinoa (one of the top super foods) include:
Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.
Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa contains high levels of this vital nutrient!
Fiber. Quinoa is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber!
Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous, disease-causing substances.

Prep Ahead Plan:  Make this  dish and store it in the fridge for an easy pre-made lunch during the week! 

Garden Quinoa


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced (or chives, or red onion diced)
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

1.  Rinse quinoa thoroughly (this prevents it from tasting bitter).
2.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.   Fluff with a fork.
3.  Cool to room temperature or stick it in the fridge to cool for a bit.
4.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl or storage container, combine olive oil, garlic powder lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, and parsley. Stir into cooled quinoa and refrigerate.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A fridge that encourages healthy eating...thanks Pinterest..

With a little help from Pinterest, I took the food we already had in the fridge and organized it in a way that would inspire healthier eating.  I thought I would share!

Over the summer we started to make an extra effort to eat even healthier than we already do and work out more.  I used to try to get on the treadmill a few times a week but nothing consistent.  My husband who now runs anywhere from 6-10 miles A DAY (if not more) has lost over 20 pounds since July 31st simply by eating healthier and exercising.  Impressive and very inspiring!  I try to keep up by doing yoga and squeezing in anywhere from 16-20 miles a week.  I have lots of running friends who probably don't consider that to be any big feat but it's good for me!

"If you keep GOOD FOOD in your fridge, then you will eat GOOD FOOD."  I recently came across this quote on Pinterest and I couldn't agree more!  I find that when healthy snack options are easily accessible, Mike, the kids and I will opt for those over something pre-packaged and/or processed.  Having an organized fridge where everything is visible has really helped us to eat healthy and stay on track!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Over the weekend, take some time to wash and cut fruit, boil eggs, roast meat, dice cheese and do any other prep work that lets you have lots of grab and go healthy options during busy weekdays!

Grab and Go Snacks:
On the top left you'll notice a selection of "ready to eat" foods that we can literally grab and go.  Washed carrots and snap peas, hummus, pineapple chunks, cucumbers and red pepper.  The kids know that they can help themselves to any of those "ready to eat" foods on the top shelf at any time!

Healthy Beverages:
Skim milk, water with lemon, water with cucumber and mint (great for your skin!),  kids water bottles, orange juice (reduced sugar with no added sweeteners), 100% cranberry and pomegranate juice which tastes yummy with Pellegrino are pretty typical weekly selections around here.

Always fully stocked with apples, oranges, pears, lemons, etc...

I'd like to stay from deli items on a more regular basis.  They're loaded with sodium and nitrates and using our own roasted meats (even an all natural rotisserie turkey or chicken from your local market would work!).  This week we have sliced roasted chicken and cubed reduced fat sharp cheddar.

Quick Protein Snacks:
On the bottom left we have lots of protein packed snacks and/or meal options like cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc...

Berries and Lunch Box Items:
My kids LOVE any kind of berry.  We keep blueberries, strawberries and raspberries next to packable lunch box items like apple sauce, yogurt and Fruitable juice boxes.

Soft Cheese Drawer:
Mozzarella for make your own pizza night, feta for salads, etc.  (And yes, we have real butter.  It's a must on our popcorn during the occasional family movie night!  NOT healthy but SO good!)

These are the veggies that we have with meals.  This week they include different types of squash, broccoli, asparagus, salad fixings, green beans, peppers, eggplant,  garlic, etc.

I'm certainly no expert on fitness, health and nutrition but I thought I would share what works for us!  Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

I hate saying farewell to summer but as that cooler, drier air moves in and the mornings and evenings require a light sweater, I start remembering all of the things I love about fall!  If we can't swim in the pool all day then we might as well drink pumpkin lattes and light cinnamon candles!  Well, my girls don't drink lattes but they do love anything and everything pumpkin!  These have been a weekly dinner menu item since labor day.  They're easy, delicious and loaded with everyone's favorite flavors of fall!  I hope you like them as much as we do!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Mix the dry ingredients the night before or even a few days before and store it in a ziploc bag.  When you're ready preheat your griddle and quickly mix up the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix in the dry!

I heart my Cuisinart Griddler.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
non-stick butter spray

1.  Preheat a griddle over medium high heat.
2.  Mix the wet ingredients (the first 6 ingredients) in a large bowl.
3.  Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
4.  Stir dry ingredients into wet, just to combine.
5.  Spray the griddle with non stick spray and drop a 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle (drop as many 1/4 cups of batter on the griddle that will fit).  When the pancake starts to bubble, flip and brown the other side!  Serve with confectioners sugar or syrup!