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Thursday, October 8, 2015

{Cheesy Broccoli and Spinach Strata}

Hi Friends, I am going to be honest with you for a moment… 
There are weeks (they are rare though) when I simply do not want to go to the grocery store, and the sheer thought of meal prepping makes my head hurt!  There I said it!  But it is during those very rare weeks that I make it my mission to use up all the random leftover we have in our fridge and cabinets to make our weekly meals (I kinda like the challenge)!  

This comforting Cheesy Broccoli and Spinach Strata was the outcome of one of those rare I don’t want to go to the grocery store type weeks!  And you know what, I am completely OK with that, because this Strata is the bomb!  

Is there anything better then thick bread that has been piled high with veggies and cheese before finally being baked to bubbly cheese perfection?  Well, cupcakes and peanut butter might bet better but this strata rates right up there with both (I am a carb lover by nature)!  This delicious pan of cheesy baked goodness is so simple to prepare.  Throw everything together the night before, let the strata sit overnight in the fridge and then bake it up for dinner (or brunch) the next day.  Simple and delicious.  Oh and did I mention that this dish is healthy?  Because it is! 

Cheesy Broccoli and Spinach Strata 
Brunch N'Cupcakes Inspired by Cooking Light 
Serves 8 

8 Cups Sour Dough Bread cut into 1 inch cubes ( I used week old Great Harvest Sour Dough) 
2 Cups Spinach 
1 Onion Diced 
2 Cups Broccoli 
1 1/2 Cup Egg Substitute or Liquid Egg Whites 
1 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk 
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese 
3/4 Cup Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese 
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning 
2 Teaspoons Garlic 
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil 
Cooking Spray

1 - in a large bowl toss bread crumbs with 1/2 tablespoon of the Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Then evenly spread seasoned bread crumbs in the bottom of a well greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.
2- In a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Saute onions until translucent add broccoli to skillet and cook until tender 7-8 minutes.  Add spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted.  Evenly spread the vegetable mixture over the cubed bread.  
3- Sprinkle top of veggies evenly with Parmesan and cheddar cheese. 
4- Whisk together almond milk, egg whites, remaining Italian seasoning, remaining garlic, salt and pepper.  Carefully and evenly pour milk and egg mixture over veggies and bread.  Cover strata and place in refrigerator for 8 hours. 

To bake: 
1- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
2- Bake strata uncovered for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and cooked through.  

Serve with simple salad or fruit for a complete meal!  Perfect for an easy meatless Monday meal or delicious as apart of a beautiful brunch spread! 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

{Classic Two Bean Turkey Chili}

If you follow me on Instagram you know that yesterday I was excited about two things.  1- When workout clothes can double as work clothes, and 2- that Mother Nature finally got the memo that it is supposed to be Fall and finally sent some cooler weather to Minnesota!  Hallelujah!

Although in my little world it has been Fall for the past few weeks, despite the 80 degree weather we have been having.  Yup, I have been enjoying all things pumpkin, gotten the itch to decorate our house for Fall/Halloween, have been swooning over my new Fall clothing just waiting for cooler weather, and munching on this delicious Classic Two Bean Turkey Chili (while pretending it was cool outside)! 

Speaking of this chili... it is hands down delicious!  You can never have to many chili recipes in my opinion.  I think I could honestly eat chili all winter here in MN and be completely happy.  I love whipping up a big batch on the weekend and enjoying the leftovers all week.  Makes for easy week night meals, and great work lunches.  Plus the longer chili sits the more the flavors develop and come together.  What I love about this recipe is how classic and comforting it is!  Two types of beans combined with lean ground turkey make for a comforting Fall meal.  I amped up the veggies in this chili by adding peppers and matchstick carrots!  Cocoa powder and cinnamon give this chili great depth and a little agave lends sweetness to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.  Derek thought this might be his favorite chili that I have whipped up... you know what that means... it must be good!  Serve this chili up with your favorite chili toppings (I like Greek Yogurt, sriracha, and jalapenos), and your favorite bread or cornbread!  Enjoy!

Classic Two Bean Turkey Chili 
Brunch N'Cupcakes - Inspired by Cooking Light 
Serves 6-8 

1 Lb Lean Ground Turkey 
1-15 Oz. Can Red Kidney Beans - Rinsed and Drained 
1-15 Oz Can Pinto Beans - Rinsed and Drain 
4 Cups Chicken Broth 
2 - 15 Oz. Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 Medium Onion Chopped 
1 Jalapeno Pepper Seeded and Chopped 
1 Red Pepper Chopped 
1 Cup Matchstick Carrots 
4 Cloves Garlic Minced 
1 Tablespoon Agave 
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder 
Salt and Pepper to Taste 
1 Tablespoon Cumin and Chili Powder 
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon 

1- In a large stock pot coated with cooking spray saute onion, pepper, carrots and jalapeno pepper until tender.  
2- Add ground turkey to the pot, along with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cinnamon.  Cook until turkey is cooked through.  
3- Once turkey is cooked add fire roasted tomatoes, agave, chicken broth, and cocoa powder to pot.  Bring to boil.  Once chili is boiling reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  
4- Stir in beans cook an additional 5 minutes and serve! 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

{Loaded Veggie Baguette Pizza with Feta and Mozzarella}

This past weekend was a great one, one for the books!  My dear friend and Sorority sister (Go, Tri Delta) Kate came into town to visit Derek and I, and we had an absolute blast showing Kate around Stillwater (the city we call home), Hudson and Minneapolis!   We chatted, laughed, shopped, laughed some more, ate great food, enjoyed the perfect MN weather (most beautiful Fall weekend we have had), and just enjoyed life!  

I also ran my third half marathon this past weekend, the City of Lakes Half around beautiful Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. Kate, Derek, Miranda (my sister) and my parents were the best cheerleaders a girl could ask for!  They had cow bells, signs and cheered louder than anyone I know, you guys rock  and helped me achieve an unbelievable PR.  I ended up beating my last half time by 6 whole minutes which left me in shock!  I ran my third half in 1:40 and it honestly still blows my mind, hard work, dedication and lots of training def. paid off!  Such a great weekend!

Wanna know another highlight of the weekend?  This fantastic veggie loaded baguette pizza!  Super yummy, easy to make and a great light dinner (or app).  I was inspired by ­­­Espresso and Cream after she posted a picture on Instagram.   I topped my baguette pizza with tons of veggies, a little mozzarella, feta and fresh basil!  End results, delicious pizza that takes no time to make! 

Loaded Veggie Baguette Pizza with Feta and Mozzarella
Brunch N'Cupcakes - Inspired by this Recipe 
Serves 6-8 (smaller portions) 

1- Baguette cut in half width wise
1/2 a Medium Zucchini Cut in half and thinly sliced 
1/2 Cup Chopped Red or Yellow Pepper 
1/3 Cup Onion Chopped 
4 Garlic Cloves Minced 
1/3 Cup Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 
1/4 Cup Feta Cheese Crumbles 
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil 
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 
1 Teaspoon Pepper 
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil 
1/2-1 Cup Favorite Marinara Sauce 

1- In a medium bowl toss veggies with minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. 
2- Spread each baguette half (cut side up) with equal amounts of marinara sauce. 
3- Pile veggies on top of each baguette half and cook in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. 
4- Pull pizza from oven, top each baguette half with mozzarella and feta cheese and return pizza to oven.  Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.  Once cheese has melted broil on high for 2 minutes or just until cheese begins to brown but not burn.  Top finished pizza with fresh basil and serve! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

{Coconut Curry Lentil Soup}

There must be a little switch within me that triggers my senses to crave everything Fall once September hits! 

September is here and I am already looking forward to cooler days where I can bundle up in sweaters and boot.  The thought of going to the apple orchard for fresh Honey Crisp apples makes me giddy, and I want everything pumpkin.  I am dying to see the leaves changes colors and I long for crisp Autumn evenings that are just cool enough to sit outside on the patio with a big blanket, cup of tea and good magazine.  Yes, to say I am over this hot summer weather is an understatement… give me Fall!

September in my mind also kicks off soup making season!  There is nothing better then a warm bowl of soup on a chilly Minnesota Fall evening!  So despite the fact that we have had days where we experience 80 degree temps I have been whipping up soup over here like winter is coming!  This Coconut Curry Lentil soup is full of flavor and just what you need on a crisp fall day.  This soup is thick and hearty thanks to the lentils and sweet potato, and the curry adds a nice warming effect!  I snuck in some kale to up green factor, and you know what Derek didn't mind!  Serve with crackers or your favorite hearty bread to make it a meal.   

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup 
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 8 

2 - 15 Oz. Cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste 
1 - 15 Oz. Can Light Coconut Milk - I used Trader Joe's 
1 Cup Chicken Broth 
1 Cup Green Lentils 
1 Medium Carrot Chopped 
1/2 Large Onion Chopped 
1 Medium Sweet Potato Peeled and CHopped 
1 Large Zucchini Roughly Chopped 
2 Garlic Gloves Minced 
2 Cups Roughly Chopped Kale 
1/2 Tablespoon Curry Powder 
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin and Chili Powder 
Salt and Pepper to Taste 
1 Tablespoon Agave 

1- In a large stock pot coated with cooking spray saute veggies until tender - about 7 minutes. 
2- Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, spices, agave and lentils to stock pot.  Bring to boil. 
3- Once soup is boiling reduce heat and cover pot with a lid.  Allow soup to simmer on stove for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are tender. 
4- Gently stir in coconut milk and kale and cook until kale has wilted.  Serve with crackers or your favorite bread! 

Other great soups from around the web:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

{Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Spinach}

Growing up Mac and Cheese was one of my favorite foods.  

However I was pretty picky about my mac and cheese!  I wouldn't eat mac and cheese unless it came from the blue box (you know... the Kraft blue box... homemade just didn't cut it), there had to be peas and carrots mixed into the finished mac and cheese, and I had to have a little pile of the powder cheese mix on the side of my plate to dip my already cheesy noodles in!  Oh and I would never eat leftover mac and cheese... because that was just gross!  Yes, I was an odd odd child! 

However now a days I prefer homemade mac and cheese to boxed mac and cheese and I no longer need a pile of powdered cheese to dip my noodles in... But I do still want my mac and cheese loaded with veggies which is why I love this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Spinach! 

This mac and cheese is so flavorful and creamy and just darn delicious!  You won't even taste the squash!  Trust me my squash hating husband even gobbled this mac and cheese down and said he would even eat it again, that's a winner of a dish!  And if I haven't given you enough reason to make this awesome mac and cheese here is another reason... You make the whole dish start to finish in the same pot!  Have I convinced you? 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Spinach 
Serves 6

Cooking Spray 
10 Oz. Pureed Butternut Squash ( I bought frozen Archer Farms Squash and pureed it myself)
1 Cup Almond Milk 
2 Cups Chicken Broth 
10 Oz. Elbow Macaroni Whole Wheat Pasta 
3 Cups Broccoli Florets 
2 Cups Spinach 
3 Garlic Cloves 
1/4 Cup Onion Chopped 
5 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese 
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 
1 Teaspoon Pepper 
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin 

Serve with additional cheese and sriracha if you like! 

1- Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray ( I used a small cast iron Le Crusest Dutch oven) add onions and cook until tender, add garlic and cook until fragrant. 
2- Carefully stir in butternut squash puree, almond milk and chicken broth. Stir occasionally. 
3- Once squash mixture is boiling add in your elbow macaroni.  Cover the pot and reduce heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes occasionally stirring.  Stir in your broccoli and cover and cook an additional 3 minutes or until sauce has thickened and pasta has cooked. 
4- Carefully stir in 4 oz of cheese, spinach, salt and pepper into macaroni allowing the heat of the pasta to wilt the spinach.  Top with remaining cheese and serve! 


Friday, August 28, 2015

{Spicy Pumpkin Quinoa Bake }

The weather in Minnesota recently has felt more life fall then late August!  And I loved every minute of it!  Cool crisp mornings and beautiful 60-70 degree evenings!

I will say that I am secretly ready for fall!  I am ready to to pull out all my fall clothes, Boots, chunky sweaters, cute light jackets... I cannot wait!  And I am even more ready and excited for the wonderful fall activities (apple picking, pumpkin patches)  and smells!

It was so funny with the weather cooling off a bit this week I found myself craving everything pumpkin!  Pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, but most of all my pumpkin chili!  Which is why I decided to try my hand at a delicious one pan quinoa bake that featured pumpkin like my delicious chili! The end results are hands down delicious.  This is a perfect dish to enjoy on a cool evening.  Serve it up with fun chili style toppings along with crackers/tortilla chips for dipping!  Tasty, healthy and super delicious! 

Spicy Pumpkin Quinoa Bake 
Brunch N'Cupcakes
Serves 6-8

1 Cup Quinoa 
1 - 15 oz can Pumpkin 
3 Cloves Garlic 
1 - 15 oz Fire Roasted Tomatos
1/2 a Large Onion Chopped 
2 Red Peppers Chopped 
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock 
1 - 15 oz Can Kidney Beans - Drained 
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese 
2 Teaspoons Sriracha 
1 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder, Cumin and Cinnamon 
1 Teaspoon Salt and Pepper 

1- Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray.  Toss veggies and kidney beans in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Top veggies and beans with quinoa and toss in casserole dish till combined. 
2 - In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, chicken broth, tomatoes and spices.  Carefully pour the wet ingredients over the veggies and quinoa in the casserole dish.  Give everything a quick stir to make sure that the veggies and quinoa are equally coated. 
3- Bake casserole in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Top casserole with cheese and broil on high for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned! 

Serve with plain or with your favorite chili toppings!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

{Kale and Spicy Chicken Sausage Skillet}

A few weeks ago I had a dear friend over for dinner!  We enjoyed a lovely evening on the patio catching up on life; all while enjoying the beautiful weather, a glass of wine and this delicious Kale and Spicy Chicken Sausage Skillet.  

Let me just pause for a moment and say that there is nothing better then a night spent with a dear friend, where you get to talk for hours and enjoy good food and wine!  Nothing better!  Let me also say that this Kale and Spicy Chicken Sausage Skillet is hands down amazing.  

Oh, and you know what makes this dish even greater?  It is simple to make,  not a lot of complicated steps... week night win!  I used Trader Joe's Jalapeno Chicken Sausage to give the dish a kick, but if your not into heat use a chicken sausage that is a bit milder (like Roasted Red Pepper, or Mild Italian - Trader Joe's has tons of options)!  Don't like kale?  Sub in spinach!  Wanna serve it over rice?  go ahead, but I love the extra veggie boost and flavor the cauliflower rice provides!  PS Derek even loved this dish... cauliflower rice, kale and all!  Win Win for this cook! 

Kale and Spicy Chicken Sausage Skillet 
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 4 


1 Package of Chicken Sausage (5 links total) - I used Trader Joe's Jalapeno - Chopped 
2 Garlic Cloves 
1/2 Cup Chopped Mushrooms 
1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil 
1/2 Medium Onion Chopped 
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin, Paprika, Chili Powder
1-2 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar 
3/4 a large bag of chopped kale
Salt and Pepper to Taste 

Cauliflower Rice
1 Head Cauliflower - Roughly Chopped 
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion 
1-2 Garlic Cloves Minced 
Salt and Pepper to Taste 
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin and Paprika
1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil 
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped 


To make the Kale and Spicy Chicken Sausage Skillet: 
1- Heat coconut oil in a large skillet.  Saute onions until tender.  Add Garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add mushrooms and seasoning to the skillet.  Cook until mushrooms are soft and liquid from mushrooms has absorbed.  Add chicken sausage and cook until heated through and chicken sausage is lightly browned.
2- Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar to the skillet and de-glaze the pan.
3- Add spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted.  Serve immediately over cauliflower rice or plain rice.

To make the cauliflower rice:
1-  Place chopped cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse food processor until cauliflower resembles grains of rice.
2- In a large skillet heat coconut oil.  Saute onions until tender.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Carefully add "riced" cauliflower to the skillet.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.
3- Cook cauliflower for 7-10 minutes until tender and heated through.  Carefully stir in cilantro and remove from heat.