Recipe Makeover – College Football Saturday Cheesy Beefy Dip

dipjpgOne of Mike’s favorite foods ever on college football Saturday is cheesy beefy dip. 1 thing of Velveeta, a can of rotel and a pound of ground beef. As much as he enjoys it, I just really can’t bring¬†Velveeta into our kitchen. Enter my quest to come up with something different yet similar…

I started experimenting years ago and have finally come up with a permanent substitute that passes the test with Mike, and the kids and I happen to enjoy too ūüôā And while not the “healthiest” thing out there, it is made from whole food, staples that I keep in my kitchen regularly. Pair it with some salty corn tortilla chips and you’ll satisfy that college football Saturday craving right away! Without reaching for the Velveeta!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of browned ground beef (I prefer grassfed, not only does it taste much better but it is so much leaner so you don’t have to drain tons of grease off the meat)
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar (I like to shred my own cheddar in my food processor so you don’t have to deal with that “anti-clumping agent” they add to the shredded cheese you get at the store)
  • 1 c of medium salsa (pick a fresh pico de gallo from the deli or a jarred version with no added sugars)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of sour cream (or plain greek yogurt if you don’t use sour cream)

Directions

  1. Brown your ground beef and drain the grease.
  2. Either in the same pan, or in a saucepan, mix all the ingredients together over medium low heat. Stir often so it doesn’t stick.
  3. Once its bubbling and clearly heated through, grab a chip and taste it. The beauty of this recipe is how flexible it is. If its too spicy, add a little more sour cream or yogurt. If it’s not cheesy enough, add a little more shredded cheddar.
  4. Enjoy with corn tortilla chips, or whatever your favorite is!

Asian Lettuce Wraps Made-Over

Story time! I ran a huge freezer meal club for 18 months. We met monthly and made a record breaking 220 meals in 2 hours one time (I know. We were crazy.) For more about that season of my life, see all my freezer meal posts here.¬†During freezer meal time, I was taking my meal prepping and planning (and organizational skills lol) to the next level while simultaneously making the transition to clean eating. This led to my first experiments in writing my own recipes (or re-writing ones I found out on the internet) to suit my own family and things we like to cook with. Here’s the deal – the transition to how we eat now wasn’t completely sudden (though I can definitely identify certain decisions where we made more of a sweeping move than a gradual one). Rather, it can better be described as tackling one thing at a time, one recipe at a time, one meal at a time. Baby steps got us as a family to where we are now.

6a00d8341ef22f53ef01311008bfb7970c-500wiFreezer meal club hasn’t been meeting for awhile now (miss you ladies!) but I do get cravings for certain meals that we made OVER and OVER and haven’t had in awhile from time to time. I have some killer romaine lettuce right now in my garden and I thought about how badly I REALLY wanted Asian Lettuce Wraps with it. So I opened up the recipe. And there it was. Hoisin sauce. Something I don’t really want to cook with anymore ūüė¶ Why? Check out the first ingredient in the ingredient list… SUGAR! We’ve done a really good job with eating very little sugar, especially in our meals (some of the kids snacks are still a work in progress) and so I wanted to come up with an alternative. If I eat sugar, I want it to be chocolate. Or ice cream. Or something completely and utterly delicious. But hiding in my everyday meals? Nope, no thanks. One thing at a time, right?

Enter, my new Asian Lettuce Wraps recipe. #BOOM

Ingredients
2 lb ground turkey, browned
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
2t minced garlic
6T reduced sodium soy sauce (reduced sodium is really important!) OR coconut aminos
2T natural peanut butter
1T honey
2t rice wine vinegar
2t sesame oil
1/4t garlic powder
1t ginger
6 green onions, sliced thinly
1 head of “large leaf” romaine lettuce (this isn’t actually a thing just look for some sizable romaine)

Directions

  1. Brown your turkey, chopping it up well in the pan.
  2. Add bell pepper and onion to pan and saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Mix the garlic, soy sauce/coconut aminos, peanut butter, honey, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic powder and ginger together. Pour into pan and stir well to coat. When making sauce with peanut butter, I really like to warm it up a little so I can mix it together well before I add it to the pan. I mix my sauce up in a glass pyrex measuring cup and then right before I add it to the pan I hold it over the pan so it steams it up a little. Then I whisk it all together right before adding. 
  4. Once heated through, add the green onions to the top
  5. Serve with large romaine leaves and alongside cauliflower fried rice! YUM!

Do those look amazing or what!?!?

THEY WERE! (And I’ve got leftovers…. wheee!)

Makes 8 servings – 21 Day Fix container conversion – 1 red, 1/2 green, 1 orange, 1 teaspoon

Have a recipe you want “made over”? Let me know! I’d be glad to take a look at it and make suggestions!

 

Cauliflower Cheeseburger Skillet

Click back to our very early married days when my very budget-conscious hubby would look at our grocery bill (which, for the record, was HIGHER back then when it was just the two of us and we ate a TON of processed food!) and, in an effort to trim the grocery bill, would say things like, “One night, can’t we just get hamburger helper!? I LIVED on that stuff growing up!” I never actually made it but I do think that I got some in the house for him for the nights that I would work late (1-2 times a week before we had kids) and he’d have dinner on his own.

Fast forward 7 years. While we’ve never had hamburger helper as a family, I’m finding it a fun challenge to “recreate” some of the classic “mainstream” dishes into clean eats that our whole family (or at least 3/4 of us) will eat. I got a STEAL on cauliflower at Sam’s this week so we need to make at least 2-3 dinners with cauliflower this week (not a problem around here). So I thought it’d be fun to make a hamburger helper-esque dish for dinner!

Seriously, before I begin, can I just share the cuteness of this moment with you? These two were so adorable (and not at all fighting) when it came to cooking dinner tonight. Asking questions left and right and waiting their turns… ¬†the moments a mom lives for!

Cauliflower Cheeseburger Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (OR a bag of frozen cauliflower)
  • 1 lb of grassfed beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 c of cheese (colby, cheddar, etc.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 TB parsley
  • 2 TB grassfed butter
  • 1 TB brown mustard (dijon, spicy, etc.)
  • 1 TB worcestershire

Directions

  1. Boil a pot of water and cook cauliflower until tender (about 15 minutes)
  2. Once cauliflower is boiling, melt butter in your skillet.
  3. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add beef to skillet and break it up, browning it.¬†If you have grease to drain off the pan after this step, do so. However, if you use a high quality beef, you’ll be able to skip that step!
  4. Add salt, pepper, parsley, mustard and worcestershire and mix over low heat.
  5. Drain cauliflower. Add to skillet and thoroughly mix.
  6. Add cheese and stir until completely melted.
  7. Serve your dish!

I’d definitely consider this a “low carb” recipe if that’s something you keep track of. And if you follow the 21 day fix, this makes 4 servings and counts as 1 red, 1.5 green, 1 blue, and a teaspoon!

…because its all about the sides

Thanksgiving, Turkey Day,¬†whatever you want to call it is coming and while the big bird gets a lot of the attention, its really all about the sides and desserts right?! We will be spending Thanksgiving at my Mom and Dad’s as my Mom whips up her traditional T-Day meal and Mike, the kids and I¬†get to spend time¬†with the whole fam. Since I am NOT cooking on Thanksgiving, but wanted to give you some options of things you might add to YOUR menu, I played around in kitchen tonight ūüôā

And since I’m not cooking a turkey for me, a friend and my two unpredictable small children, our protein was plain ol’ chicken breasts. On to the more exciting things. The sides. The good, the “eh” and the “I don’t look¬†bad but I sure ain’t good.”

First up. THIS. Oh my goodness. Called a “holiday butternut bake”, I knew I wanted to try it right away. I have been in love with butternut squash this fall and yea, my house smelled beyond amazing while this baked. I used more cinnamon than the recipe called for, double the apples that it called for and me, my friend and the kids gobbled this entire tray down. If I made this for a crowd, I would make like three of four times this batch. Recipe cred here thanks to the gracious pantry.¬†¬†We call this “the good” (or the great!)

Then we have the “eh”. Mashed potatoes right? Nah. This is cauliflower! Cauliflower is one of the most versatile things you’ll ever come across. It really does a great job masquerading as a potato type dish. And while I enjoy it as a low carb staple (sometimes I’ll make it and have it with a steak and some steamed veggies) I’m not sure I’d vote this in to the Thanksgiving feast. (Here’s the super simple recipe I use.)

Then…. there’s this. Paleo pumpkin pie… (NO link to recipe for this one). I made the coconut flour crust and baked it. First off the crust looked like WAY too much so I scooped a bunch out. It was STILL a ton as when I cut into that sucker it was more crust than pumpkin ūüė¶ The flavor of the pumpkin filling was the better part of the dish. It was recommended to have a “coconut milk whipped cream” with it so I did that. It looked ok at first but melted quickly….

All that to be said, this may LOOK like pumpkin pie but don’t be fooled. Grab one small¬†piece of your aunt’s pumpkin pie, top it with the real deal and move on. I can’t in good faith recommend you replacing the Thanksgiving fav with this ūüôā


Main point of my night? Make the holiday butternut bake and a few other clean eating dishes for your meal. Will there be some richer and indulgent things on the table too? I bet there will be. I know there will be on mine. Dish out some modest portions, don’t overdo it on anything, and I’ll see you in my next challenge group hitting it hard the Monday after Thanksgiving ūüôā

Protein-Packed, Clean-Eating, 21 Day Fix-Friendly Breakfast Casserole

My freezer meal group is an AMAZING group. We come up with some awesome recipes and the best part of this group is that our meals each month get “voted” on and we all share feedback. Since I make the menus, it allows me to tweak the recipes based on everyone’s votes and feedback to make things that (hopefully!) our families all LOVE!

Enter our family’s new favorite breakfast casserole.

So many breakfast casseroles have crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls, processed hash brown potatoes, etc in them and we wanted something that, well, didn’t. This one is seriously delicious. You can make it ahead and freeze it, thawing before using it, or just quickly whip it up one morning or the night before. ¬†It is FILLING and its one of those weekend breakfast casseroles that will keep you full to lunch and beyond! You can also sub in any vegetables you like (I add mushrooms for my mushroom-loving hubby!)

Ingredients
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 ¬Ĺ c finely chopped spinach
1 diced green pepper
4 eggs, beaten
16oz carton of egg whites
8oz low fat cottage cheese
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar
¬ľ c parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with coconut oil.
  2. Brown breakfast sausage and drain grease.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and pour into dish.
  4. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes.

Freezer Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except for breakfast sausage and pour into bag.
  2. Thaw at least overnight before preparing.
  3. Brown sausage and combine all ingredients; pour into greased 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes (depending on how thawed it was).

21 Day Fix Container Equivalents

For 1/6 of the casserole (pictured) – 2 reds, 1 blue, 1 green
For 1/12 of the casserole – 1 red, 1/2 blue, 1/2 green

The spaghetti squash method that changed my life 

The title of this post might be a *tad* dramatic, but seriously, this simple method of turning spaghetti squash into spaghetti is mindblowing. In case you’ve never made spaghetti squash, all I had done up until this point was pierce the squash four or five times with a knife, put on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for an hour. I removed it and let it sit for about five minutes. Then I sliced it into these thick rings (above).

At that point I removed the centers (seeds) and pulled my fork across the skin of the squash to “spaghetti-fy” it. I got SO much more spaghetti squash out with this method and it took MUCH less time. Look at all that delicious squash ready to go! Looks like spaghetti doesn’t it?
  

Zucchini bake (w/ low carb option)

With zucchini in full blown season, its on sale everywhere you turn around. And since we follow a mostly low-carb diet, we eat a LOT of zucchini. Its really versatile. Much like cauliflower, you squeeze the water out of it if you’re using it in a grated form and it holds quite nicely.

After a few months of our new eating routine last year, I noticed I was getting bored with our side dishes.¬†I had pretty much got the low carb “main dish” thing down but we were eating a LOT of boring salads and steamed veggies. So now, oftentimes, I find ways to dress up our veggies to go with our protein.

Enter tonight’s zucchini bake!

I read a couple different recipes out there and then made it my own. You can make it with or without a breadcrumb topping, depending on how you like it. I’m putting 1/4 c in the recipe if you choose to use it, but for my own tonight, I went for a compromise and just used about 2 TB.

It even has some protein in it since there are eggs involved! You can make it in a small casserole dish, but if you choose a bigger dish (like an 8×8) it would probably cook faster. Mine took too long and the littles (and the bigs) were getting HUNGRY!

Ingredients

3 small/medium or 2 large zucchini, grated in a food processor
1 TB of butter or coconut oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Whole wheat breadcrumbs, if desired (anywhere up to 1/4 cup)
1/4 c of parmesan, shredded mozzarella or a combination of the two

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use your butter or coconut oil to grease all sides of your baking dish.
  3. Take your grated zucchini and wring it out with your hands to get out excess water.
  4. Combine zucchini, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread into baking dish.
  5. Top with your cheese and breadcrumbs, if desired.
  6. Cover with foil and bake 20-30 minutes, until “puffed up”.
  7. Remove foil cover and bake another 15 minutes until brown. Make sure its cooked all the way (no runny eggs) when you pull it out!

Serves 3-4