Green Chile Tamale Pie

tamale casserole
This is a Cooking Light recipe that I decided to try until I get brave enough to attempt real tamales :-). I loved the lima beans in it and the tang from the tomatillos! Throw all the ingredients in a food processor instead of chopping them to save some time!

* 1 cup masa harina
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1 cup boiling water
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 8 ounces ground sirloin (I used ground turkey)
* 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 8 ounces tomatillos (about 8 small), chopped
* 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco (just used sour cream)
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 4 lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine the masa harina, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and ground red pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Add 1 cup boiling water to masa mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover until ready to use.
3. Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, garlic, poblano chile, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatillos and lima beans to pan, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Add butter and baking powder to masa mixture, stirring until smooth. Dollop batter over filling, and spread into an even layer. Cover pan with foil; bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned around edges. Remove from oven; let stand 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro; serve with lime wedges.

Serving size: 1 1/2 cups * Calories: 378 * Fat: 15.2g * Saturated fat: 6.2g * Protein: 20.5g * Carbohydrate: 43.4g * Fiber: 8.6g * Cholesterol: 50mg * Iron: 5mg * Sodium: 643mg * Calcium: 154mg

Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Mushrooms

sweet potato chicken soup
I saw this soup in an issue of Clean Eating and knew it would be perfect for a night when I needed something quick. I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was all on it's own! (and FYI, it makes tons)

10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 10-oz bunch kale, tough stems removed and leaves coarsely torn
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps thickly sliced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I used 1 can chicken)
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c grated low-fat Parmesan cheese

In medium stockpot, bring broth to a boil on med-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add kale and mushrooms and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Add chicken and pepper and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minuts.
Top with parmesan and ladle soup into serving bowls.

Serving size: 2 cups Calories: 297 Fat: 5g Carbs: 34g Fiber: 5g Sugars: 6g Protein: 31g Sodium: 356mg Cholesterol: 50mg

Broccoli Mac n' Cheese Soup

mac n cheese soup
All this rainy weather has me wanting soup for pretty much every meal. I was excited to try this recipe, from Skinnytaste, since I love broccoli and cheese and I really it. I kept the leftover noodles and soup separate in the fridge and just added them together when I was ready to heat them up eat. It kept the noodles nice and firm and gave me a delicious, healthy lunch for 3 days. I shared some with my 2-year-old for his lunch one day and he loved it too!

* 4 oz dry elbow macaroni (I used gluten-free)
* 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
* 1 large carrot, chopped
* 1 celery stalk, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp light butter
* 2 tbsp flour (I used cornstarch)
* 2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
* 1 cup fat free milk
* pinch nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp dry mustard
* salt and fresh pepper to taste
* 2 cups (about 10 oz) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
* 1-1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
* 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
Chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic by hand or mini food processor.
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt light butter. Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add flour and fresh pepper to the pot and stir until smooth. Slowly add chicken broth, milk, nutmeg and dry mustard powder; whisking constantly. Set heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil. Cover and cook on low about 10-15 minutes.
Add broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5 minutes or more to your liking.
Add cheddar, mixing well until cheese melts and immediately remove from heat. Add cooked elbows and mix well, adjust salt and pepper if needed. Eat right away so the pasta doesn't absorb all the broth.

Servings: 5 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts Calories: 252.7 • Fat: 9.5 g • Carb: 27.8 g • Fiber: 3.9 g • Protein: 16.8 g • Sugar: 3.5 g
Sodium: 590.4 mg (without salt)

Soft Sugar Cookie Bars with Buttercream Frosting

sugar cookie bars
I wasn't sure what to make for our Valentine's treats to pass out to friends this year, but I did know life has been extra crazy so we needed to keep it simple. Then I saw these guys on Cassie Craves and knew they would be perfect. What I didn't know is just how absolutely AMAZING they would really be. They are completely addictive so be sure you are sharing them with someone!!! (I doubled the dough recipe but still had enough frosting from one batch to frost them both) I think I may be making these for every holiday from now on :-)!

For the bars:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1) (I used a regular baking pan so mine were a little thicker) with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3. With mixer on low, add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until just combined.
4. Press dough evenly into your prepared pan. The dough will be sticky. (it's very sticky, I put my hand in a baggie and sprayed it with some cooking spray to push it into the pan)
5. Bake for 20 minutes until edges begin to golden. Cool completely before frosting.
6. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. If desired, add food coloring and beat until combined.

"Burrito" Chicken Enchiladas

burrito enchiladas 1
burrito enchiladas 2
These were de-licious and they are huge! One is plenty, even for someone who eats a lot like me :-), so with it making 6 you are sure to have plenty of leftovers as well. I found the recipe on The Recipe Club and especially loved the sauce. It is a slightly more tangy and spicy Cafe Rio dressing. I will definitely be making these again. We hadn't had Mexican-style food in way too long and these hit the spot!

{Santa Fe lime rice}
1 cup rice, either long grain or basmati
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
juice of 1/2 lime
2 TBSP butter
1/4 tsp cumin
1/3 cup cilantro
melt butter in a pot & add all seasonings & cilantro. add rice & cook over medium heat for 2 minutes stirring constantly. add stock & lime juice return to simmer, turn to heat to low. cover & cook about 30 minutes.
set aside.

1 pound chicken, cooked & shredded (I used 1 can chicken and warmed it in a skillet with a little taco seasoning)
you can cook the chicken any way you want. My favorite way is to boil it on the stove, it takes about 25 minutes. I have also cooked it in the crockpot for about 3 hours on high, or just cut up one of the already made chickens from Costco.

1 cup salsa verde
1 package buttermilk ranch
1/3 cup cilantro
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayo
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 Tbls fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup sugar
Put in a blender and blend away
( I usually do one and a half of this for the six burritos. I love the sauce so I like more of it then the recipe calls for.)

6 burrito size tortillas
shredded cheese
1- 15 oz can black beans, drained
rice, recipe above
Put the chicken, rice, beans and cheese in the tortillas. wrap them up cover them with sauce and then put them in the oven on 350 for 40 min covered with tin foil, then I take the tin foil off sprinkle more cheese on top and then cook them for another 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, guacamole, and/or pico!

Quinoa Breakfast Idea

quinoa breakfast
Yes, I'm obsessed with quinoa! I have been using it instead of rice for nearly everything and then saw this idea on Tickle My Palate. It is a perfect breakfast for these chilly gluten free oatmeal! Top it how you like, but this is what I used.

quinoa cooked per package directions
a bit of milk
a drizzle of agave nectar or honey
Dried cranberries
nuts (I used a mixture from a trail mix I had on hand)

Update: I did a calorie count today and came up with this...
for 1/2 c quinoa, 1 T agave, 1/4 c trail mix and 1/4 c 1% milk, 405 total calories

Greek Pastitsio Casserole

greek pastitio
I saw this recipe recently on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and was excited to try it. It has been awhile since we had a pasta dish and I LOVE creamy sauces! She adapted it from a Cooking Light recipe so the nutrition info isn't exact, but it still gives a ball-park idea. The kids weren't crazy about the sauce, but Mike and I both really liked it...especially me :-)! (and I totally forgot to add the parsley at the end)

12 ounces penne pasta (I used gluten-free)
1 pound ground turkey or ground sirloin (I used turkey)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (from about 1 large onion)
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
8 ounces light cream cheese
2 cups milk, 1% works great
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I used 2%)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coat a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the broiler.
In a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water, cook the penne pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add beef or turkey to the pan with the diced onions and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring to break up the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through. Drain excess grease from the meat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture, stirring to combine, and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the cream cheese in pieces, scattering it over the meat. Let it melt into the meat and stir to combine. Whisk or stir in the milk, nutmeg and tomatoes. Stir to combine well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook 5-6 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and is thoroughly heated through.

Stir in the pasta and spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta and broil for about 3-5 minutes (watching carefully so it doesn’t burn!). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. Let it stand fora bout 5 minutes before serving.

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups *Calories: 431 *Fat: 15.9g *Protein: 27.8g *Carbohydrate: 41.9g *Cholesterol: 61mg *Sodium: 679mg *Calcium: 289mg

Grammy's Loaded Veggie Salad

grammy's salad
This salad is amazing! My grandma brought it to our Super Bowl party and I couldn't get enough of it! I will definitely be using it in the future...maybe for a baby shower coming up or having friends over for lunch...or for any occasion I can think of :-). It makes a huge salad, so if you are making it just for your family, you may want to halve it, or keep the dressing separate.

2 7oz mixed greens
2 lge. Avocados
L lge. Cucumber
½ (10oz.) package shredded carrots
¾ C. dried cranberries
½ C. sliced almonds, toasted
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese with herbs (I use 6 oz)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 (0.7 ounce) package Italian dressing mix
½ Cup olive oil
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
2 T. sun dried tomatoes chopped
Croutons (optional)

Valentine Chex Mix

valentine chex mix
My mom brought this tasty treat for one of our Super Bowl snacks on Sunday. It was so cute and SO delicious. I loved that it wasn't too you could eat even more of it :-)! She had posted it on her blog earlier in the week and I had really been wanting to make it, so I was especially excited to see it when they showed up!

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup red, white and pink candy-coated chocolate candies
¼ cup red or pink jimmies sprinkles

♥Step 1: In large bowl, place cereal. In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
♥Step 2: Place 1/2 of the cereal mixture in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
♥Step 3: Meanwhile, stir candies and sprinkles into remaining cereal mixture. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
♥Step 4: In serving bowl, mix both cereal mixtures. Store in airtight container.

Crock Pot Chicken La Criolla

This another tasty, yet healthy, recipe from Skinnytaste. After a week of not feeling like cooking in the kitchen, this one seemed easy enough even for me in my lazy state. We did need to add salt when we ate it, but overall it was really good. I ate mine over quinoa and loved it!

10 (2 lbs) skinless boneless chicken thighs (I used 3 large breasts)
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
4 plum tomatoes
2 tbsp alcaparrado or pitted spanish olives (I left out)
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1-2 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus 2 tbsp more for serving)

Place chicken, onion, garlic, pepper and tomatoes in the crock pot. Season with salt, cumin and oregano. Mix well so everything is seasoned.
Add tomato sauce, alcaparrado (or olives) along with 1 tbsp of the brine, 1/2 cup water, bay leaf and cilantro.
Mix well and set crock pot to HIGH 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours. When done, taste for salt and seasoning and adjust spices as needed.
Add 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro and serve over rice.

Servings: 5 • Size: 2 thighs + vegetables & sauce • Points: 5 pts Calories: 211 • Fat: 6.2 g • Protein: 28.8 g • Carb: 9.9 g • Fiber: 1.9 g • Sugar: 2.1 g Sodium: 447 mg (without salt)

Quinoa and Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

grilled corn avocado quinoa salad
I have tried a couple recipes lately that I was disappointed in, which is never fun. You feel like you have wasted time and money on the ingredients, not to mention not getting to enjoy a yummy dinner! Well, this was just the change I needed to get me wanting cook again. I saw this recipe on The Sister's Cafe and couldn't wait to try it. It is perfect for lunch with girlfriends and for dinner too (I grilled some chicken to go with it for dinner). I will definitely be making it again soon and I loved my addition of the black beans because it made it a little more filling. SOOO good!!!

2 cups of cooked Quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
5 ears of corn, husk removed, brush with olive oil and grilled, remove corn with sharp knife (I put under broiler in oven for a bit)
2 avocados, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
2 cups tomatoes, red and yellow cherry variety or equivalent
1 small red onion, finely diced (I'll just use 1/2 next time)
¾ cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 ½ cups english cucumber, skin on and chopped small dice
(I added one can black beans, rinsed and drained)
2 TB of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Add to a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro Vinaigrette
6 T. Olive oil
2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Garlic powder
2 T. Fresh cilantro, minced
½ tsp. Salt
10 Grinds of fresh ground pepper
Add all of the above ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid. Shake really well. Taste and adjust seasoning as you desire.
When ready to serve salad, add the dressing and gently toss.

Potato-Cheddar Soup

creamy potato soup
This soup was in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens last year and our rainy days have had me wanting warm comforty types of food. Potato soup is one of my favorites and this one was super easy because you use a bag of hashbrowns instead of dicing all the potatoes! I don't know why I had never thought of this before, so smart! We added crumbled turkey bacon to the top and some extra FF cream cheese I had in the fridge. It was so yummy!

1 28-oz pkg. frozen diced hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers
1 c chopped miniature sweet peppers (I used a red bell pepper)
3 c FF half-and-half
1/2 t salt
1/2 t curry powder
1/8 to 1/4 t cayenne pepper (I used 1/4)
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 2%)
(I also added 2 oz FF cream cheese)

1. In 4-qt Dutch oven (or any big pot) combine potatoes, sweet peppers, half-and-half, salt, curry powder, cayenne and 1/2 c water. Bring to just boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, over medium heat 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Carefully transfer about half of soup mixture to a blender; add 1/2 c water (I didn't add water here) and blend until nearly smooth. Return to Dutch oven; stir to combine. Cook and stir over low heat until heated through. Stir in cheese until melted.
3. Top servings with sliced sweet peppers and parsley (and turkey bacon :-). Makes 4 2-cup servings.

Serving size: 2 cups, calories: 438, fat: 17g, Chol: 54mg, Sodium: 883mg, Carbs: 53g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 19g