Southwestern Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Salad

This is another recipe from Eat, Live, Run and another picture as well. Food pictures taken with a flash just don't look appetizing. I am going to have to have our meals ready to eat by 5pm to get my own pictures and so far I am just not that on top of it!
I was excited to try spaghetti squash for the first time and had a lot of fun peeling it out after it was done baking...crazy how much it really looks like spaghetti! The salad was a surprise hit. I was pretty sure I would like it but even Mike raved about this one. The dressing is delish and it is a healthy yet filling meal. We will be making it again soon!

for salad —
1 small spaghetti squash
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro, minced
2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced cooked chicken breast (I used 1 can chicken, drained)
avocado for serving
for zesty buttermilk dressing—
1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice your spaghetti squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a greased sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes, until very tender. Let squash cool before using a fork to scoop out “spaghetti” and place in a bowl. You can do this step up to three days before you prepare the salad.
Next, make the dressing. Whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
To prepare the salad, place the cooled spaghetti squash in a large serving bowl. Top with black beans, chicken, bell pepper, shredded green cabbage, cilantro and jicama (I left out), if using. Toss all ingredients together well. Drizzle dressing over salad {you may not want/need to use all the dressing}.
Serve salad on plates topped with sliced avocado.

**Assembled salad will stay fresh, without dressing and avocado, for up to four days covered in the fridge. Dressing will stay fresh for up to a week and is also great served as a dip with raw veggies

Crock Pot Tex-Mex Chicken Lettuce Wraps

crock pot tex mex chicken lettuce wraps
The time change has really made it difficult to take my own pictures of my food, so we will be seeing lots of borrowed images for a bit I think. The top picture and the recipe come from the site Eat, Live, Run which I just recently found out about. The chicken could be used for so much more than just these lettuce wraps. The kids ate them in tortillas and it would be great in soup, enchiladas, quesadillas, taquitos, you get the idea. You can't go wrong with crock pot meals...the easiest way to go!

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
1 16 oz jar of salsa
1 yellow onion, diced
salt, as needed (I used 1 tsp)
iceberg lettuce leaves for wrapping

Sprinkle seasoning all over chicken breasts, then place breasts at the bottom of the slow cooker.
Scatter onion and jalapeno over chicken breasts. Pour salsa over top. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
After 4-5 hours, remove chicken breasts from slow cooker and chop up. Place chopped chicken back in slow cooker and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste.
To serve lettuce wraps, spread one lettuce leaf out and scoop about 1/4th cup chicken mixture on top. Roll up lettuce leaf and enjoy!

Crock pot Ropa Vieja with Cuban Cauliflower Rice

I took a picture when I made this, but I have no idea what happened to it! So, this is from the blog where the recipe originated, paleOMG, and is probably better anyway :-). I saw this on the Daily Dish and was excited to try it, especially since it was a crock pot meal, I made the cauliflower rice, which was actually pretty good, and some plain brown rice as well. The recipe made tons so we froze some for dinner another week...I always love that :-)!

For the ropa vieja
•1.5-2lbs chuck roast
•1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
•1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
•1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
•1 (6 oz) can tomato sauce
•1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
•3 tablespoons capers, drained (I left out)
•1 tablespoon cumin
•1 tablespoon dried thyme
•1 tablespoon dried oregano
•4 garlic cloves, peeled
•1 bay leaf
•salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cuban rice
•1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and roughly chopped
•3 thick sliced of bacon, diced (I used turkey bacon)
•1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
•2 teaspoons cumin
•1 teaspoon garlic powder
•1 teaspoon onion powder
•salt and pepper, to taste

-Layer your onions and peppers to the bottom of the crock pot.
-Plop your chuck roast on top and cut 4 deep slices into the chuck roast and push your garlic cloves into the roast.
-Now add all your spices and salt and pepper.Then add your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, capers, and bay leaf to the rest of the crock pot.
-Place on low for 6-8 hours or high for 5-7 hours.
-When your ropa vieja is almost done, it’s time to cook your rice

-Add your chopped cauliflower to a food processor with the shredding attachment. And rice all the cauliflower up.
-Add your diced bacon to a large saucepan and cook down up bacon has browned and cooked almost completely through.
-Then add your cauliflower, tomato sauce and spices to the saucepan. Mix thoroughly then cover.
-Let cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring randomly to help incorporate all the flavors.

-Once your ropa vieja is done cooking, use a couple fork to shred your beef in the crock pot. Serve ropa vieja on top of cuban cauliflower rice

Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew

butternut squash quinoa stew
It is finally cold enough to eat soup here without sweating, which I am excited about :-). I even bought my first butternut squash to try this one out. The soup came together so quickly and was healthy and delicious. The picture is actually from my leftovers for lunch the next day when it tasted even better! (and you could easily leave the chicken out and it would still be tasty)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts (I used 1 can chicken breast and added it when adding tomatoes, etc)
1 can (14-oz) petite or regular diced tomatoes
3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled and seeded)
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cups chopped fresh spinach


In a large 4 quart pot heat the olive oil until hot. Add the chopped onions, oregano, and garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil until the chicken is cooked, 7-9 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa. Simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and quinoa is cooked. If desired, scoop out some of the squash, mash it and return it to the pot. Shred the cooked chicken and return to the pot. Add the salt and pepper, adding more salt to taste, if needed. Stir in the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Serve warm.

*In the whole batch of soup there is only 1250 calories by my best calculations, and it makes a ton!

A New Strategy

Every post is better with a picture, so here is a recent one from our busy life.
With all the craziness I have been having a hard time figuring out when to even get to the grocery store! So, I am trying a new strategy and planning 2 weeks at a time.
I know many people do this already but it never really appealed to me. Now I am seeing there may be some big benefits to this. We'll see :-).
I'm planning a quick run for produce and milk the second week. And I am hoping that the yummy new recipes I found to try will motivate to get back in the kitchen more often.