One-Pan Chicken Enchilada w/ Butternut Squash

25467987_10109046782402360_895901230_oI have this awesome recipe I’ve been making for a couple of years now and it wasn’t until this week that a friend asked me, “hey, can you please send me that recipe?”

Um. Sure! It was a good reason to finally type it up and share it with all of you. I found a recipe for a black bean/butternut squash one pan meal a long time ago and have been omitting things and tweaking things and making it my own since the very beginning. It’s a hit in our family and the flavors are SO good.

I choose to make my own enchilada sauce (recipe included below) and freeze it in mason jars in exactly the amount I need for this recipe but you could substitute in a store bought can if that’s not something you’re super excited to do on your own. I can tell you the homemade flavors (even after being frozen for three or four months!) FAR exceed what you get from the grocery store shelves! As is the case for a lot of things, it seems. That is a tangent though!

You can serve this any way you like topping-wise. My husband prefers a generous scoop of sour cream while my daughter and I load up on the guacamole (I’ll share my recipe for my homemade guacamole below, too. Because again, SO MUCH better than what you get at the store pre-made.)

Ingredients for Chicken Enchilada with Butternut Squash Dish
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup of chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs of cooked shredded chicken (can make ahead of time in crockpot or use rotisserie chicken too)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 in cubes (about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic (or 2 teaspoons of garlic in a jar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 c homemade red enchilada sauce (or sub in 15oz can from the store)
1 c cheddar or colby jack cheese
Cilantro, guacamole, sour cream, etc.

Directions for Chicken Enchilada with Butternut Squash Dish

  1. In cast iron skillet (or dutch oven, or any LARGE dish you use on the stovetop), heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
  2. Add butternut squash, salt, cumin, chili powder and chicken broth. Reduce heat to medium/medium low. Simmer until butternut squash is completely cooked, stirring every few moments to rotate the squash. This will take 15-20 minutes if you keep the heat nice and low.
  3. Add chicken, corn, black beans, and enchilada sauce and cook until completely heated through, another 5-10 minutes.
  4. Top with cheese and heat until melted. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.

Ingredients for Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 cups water
8 oz tomato sauce (no sugar added)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Directions for Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

  1. In a saucepan, combine olive oil, arrowroot powder and chili powder. Stir to mix. (I like to use a fork to really break up the powder.)
  2. Add water, tomato sauce, and all remaining ingredients until fully blended. Store unused sauce in fridge or freezer.


Ingredients for super simple Guacamole
2 ripe avocados, mashed w/ some chunks still left
1 tomato, finely diced
Juice of one lime (or more to taste)
Shake of salt (to taste)
Fresh snipped cilantro (to taste)
Add jalapeno or onion if you desire. I just don’t include it.

Directions for super simple guacamole

  1. Mash avocado with a fork so a few chunks remain.
  2. Add lime juice and salt. Taste to make sure you like it.
  3. Stir in diced tomato and snipped cilantro (and onion and jalapeno if desired). Chill and serve!

Juicy Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

20542895_10108425902291080_1867616304_oWe eat a LOT of chicken around here, and Mexican flavors are some of my personal favs. I’m always looking for new dishes to serve that spice things up a *little*, while being easy to prepare and full of flavor. This combo was a winner!

I think the true secret to how these turned out was the pan configuration. Thanks to Nom Nom Paleo, I had the inspiration to try this in my own kitchen and never would have tried such a thing. The trick is to take a (metal of course) wire cooling rack, nest it on top of a baking sheet, and bake/broil at a high temperature, while the food cooks evenly.  I have no idea if they make wire cooling racks out of material OTHER than metal but I’m going to hazard to guess that they do. You don’t want to melt anything or set any smoke alarms off for the sake of fajitas 🙂

Faijtas are traditionally served with tortillas, but honestly, we haven’t eaten them that way for years. Sometimes we serve them with black beans, but usually we just eat them bowl style with the meat/peppers/onions and any toppings we want. Less messy, less carbs and you get to REALLY enjoy the flavor. My favorite topping is a generous scoop of guacamole, while my husband is more of a sour cream and cheese guy.

1/4 c olive oil
3 T fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 – 2 pounds of fresh (or fully thawed) boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips (fajita style)
2-3 colored bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced into 1/4 in thick strips


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Your food is going to rest on top of the rack, so make sure it is somewhat of a fit, and not going to slide around.
  3. Combine ALL ingredients except for peppers and onions in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  4. Evenly distribute chicken (tossed in spices/oil) over your rack.
  5. Add peppers and onions to pan.
  6. Place the tray in the oven and and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Move the chicken and veggies around on the rack (if you desire, I’m not sure you need to do this) and close the oven. Turn it on to “broil” on high.
  8. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Your veggies should be soft but still a little crisp. Enjoy!


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 🙂 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!


  • 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)


  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 😦 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

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)


  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


  • 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


  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 🙂

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 😦 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 🙂

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 🙂

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!)

1 lb breakfast sausage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 ½ 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
¼ c parmesan


  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