Chai Tea Spiced Apple Muffins (Vegan)

One of the most requested foods my oldest son asks me to bake when he comes home from college to visit is a big batch of muffins. From pumpkin muffins to blueberry muffins to banana chocolate chip muffins, I’m always happy to oblige my son!  With limited cooking skills, he’s very grateful – at least I think that’s him saying “thank you” with his mouth stuffed full of my newest muffin Vegan Chai Tea Spiced Apple MuffinsVegan Chai Apple Muffins

These are perfect to make ahead for quick breakfasts and snacks, plus they freeze fabulously – so of course extra were made to send back to college. Read on to get the full recipe and the cookbook that inspired these easy vegan muffins.  Continue reading

Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso

When it comes to appetizers, are you looking for a starting player for your football parties and other fall-season entertaining? It’s the winning call to move my Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso to the top of any line up. This creative hamburger-inspired dip is insanely flavorful, fun to serve, and quite likely to cause a celebration dance in the chip-and-dip zone.  Light Truffle Mushroom Burger Queso

Oh, and did I mention that in the scheme of indulgent, creamy, cheesy dips, this queso is not the diet disaster that you might assume it to be? I’ve lightened it by using lower-fat milk and cheeses along with lean ground beef! Read on to get all the deets and this winning recipe. Continue reading

Lightened-up Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch

Panzanella, a classic Italian salad made with greens and crusty bread, benefit from a hearty (but still healthy) down-south makeover with loads of lettuce, my clean-eats cornbread croutons (with healthier sugar and fat substitutes), small splurge of bacon crumbles and fresh home-style ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt. These southern-inspired swaps have been my little secret to getting teen boys to wolf down first and second servings of salad.

Bacon Cornbread Panzanella Salad

Y’all, I do declare, this Lightened-up Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch is a winner for lunch and dinner. You can even pair it up with grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs if you’d like a little extra protein. Continue reading

Jalapeno Feta Cornbread + Cast Iron Recipes

Um, YES PLEASE! Give me that Jalapeno Feta Cornbread — and find out why I don’t mind having a second slice!Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread SkilletMy Jalapeno Feta Cornbread will be the star of your next meal and makes the perfect paring for my Best-Ever, Super-Secret Beef Chili.  Bake up a batch of this old-fashioned quick bread in a cast iron skillet for the crunchiest crust, a country-style presentation and a surprising health benefit – extra iron in your diet!

Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread makes the perfect pairing with soups, stews, and salads.  Also, did you know that cooking and baking in cast iron helps add additional iron to your diet? Another reason to make a batch for dinner tonight.,

You heard me right, cooking and baking in cast iron can fortify a recipe with iron transferred from the pan. Iron is an essential mineral that the body uses to deliver oxygen to the body via our red blood cell. On average 10 of American women are iron deficient with one recent study suggested that more than half (56%) of recreational joggers and competitive runners suffer from an iron deficiency that may negatively affect performance. Runners, cyclists, CrossFit athletes and other athletes typically need more iron in their diet than the average Joe because this essential mineral is lost via menstruation, pregnancy, sweat, GI distress, and even repetitive foot-strike (“footstrike hemolysis”). Also, some chronic medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease can prevent the prober absorption of iron.

The more acidic a food (like tomato sauce), the more iron will be leached from the pan, but even baked goods like this cornbread can get an iron-boost from cast iron cookware. On average, one cup of cast-iron skillet food gains 6 to 8 milligrams of iron, helping you to meet daily allowance of this mineral (For women aged 19-50, the RDA is 18 milligrams per day).

However, don’t just count on cast-iron or iron supplements to get the optimal amount – getting iron from fresh foods is optimal. Beef, spinach, broccoli, beans, legumes, and dates are all high-iron choices, you can find out more on this earlier blog post I wrote about Anemia in Runners.

Here are some iron-rich recipes to serve up with this cornbread!

Molasses Steak Salad Dates Blue Cheese overheadSuper-Iron Boosting Molasses Steak, Spinach & Date Salad

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for dinner on busy weeknights -- weekend meals too! Slow-Cooker Steak & Squash Harvest Stew

Best Ever Beef Chili

Best-Ever, Super-Secret Beef Chili.

Note, I originally developed this Jalapeno Feta Cornbread recipe for Litehouse Foods, using their deliciously tangy, creamy artisan feta cheese.

Truvia NectarAlso, let me just add — this cornbread is off the hook drizzled with honey — I like the new Truvia Nectar, a honey/stevia blend that has 50% fewer calories and carbs. Get a free sample! #sponsored #UseLikeHoney

 

 

What do you cook in cast iron? Cornbread fan? Do you make yours plain, or mix “extras” in? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet
Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread
Print Recipe
The crispy crust and homey presentation of this easy cornbread recipe is the perfect addition to your best chili, soup or stew recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet
Easy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread
Print Recipe
The crispy crust and homey presentation of this easy cornbread recipe is the perfect addition to your best chili, soup or stew recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to large bowl and mix together.
  2. In separate medium bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture until just combined. Stir in 3 ounces of the feta cheese, reserve remainder.
  3. Place butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 2-quart baking dish and set in oven for a couple minutes to melt. Remove skillet and swirl butter around to coat bottom. Pour remaining butter in batter and stir to combine.
  4. Top cornbread with sliced jalapenos, seed side up and sprinkle batter with chives and remaining feta. Bake cornbread in center rack until golden brown on top and toothpick pulls clean from center, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm. If not serving right away, turn from pan to cool on wire rack.
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Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – Good Game Day Grub!

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”

But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland?  I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips.  That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire Roasted Tomate Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.

I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which.  Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!

litehouse-blue-cheese-queso-snack-tray-beer-day

While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods.  Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)

Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.

If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.

Healthy Snack Stadium - TheFitFork.com

[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]

What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
  2. At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
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Willpower Rest Day – Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac

Bacon & Blue Cheese MacI try to eat green and eat clean, but sometimes I need to give it a rest! And, now I have the science to prove that it’s okay to indulge in my Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac recipe every once in a while. A recent study says that our willpower is like a muscle, after use it becomes fatigued and is no longer able to perform at peak levels. After a lot of use, your needs to take a break, just like you need to recover after a hard run or workout!  The scientists studying decision making called it “self-regulation failure,” and people in the food and fitness world call it a “cheat day” when these decisions come to food – I don’t like those terms and am rebranding the idea a Willpower Rest Day!

 sauce for blue cheese mac

This pot of cheesy goodness is about to be poured onto noodles.

I first developed this rich and creamy recipe for macaroni and cheese for Litehouse Foods using blue cheese crumbles from their Simply Artisan Reserve line of cheese. It’s become famous with friends, family and readers of the Living Litehouse Blog. And, also beloved by the thousands of people who have sampled it at Fresh Summit in Atlanta and recently the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I’m not trying to brag (oh, who am I kidding?!), but I’m heard exclamations like, “OMG, this is the BEST macaroni and cheese I’ve EVER eaten.”

BAco

Smoky, salty bacon complement bold blue cheese – there is a lot of umami action going on with this fancy mac and cheese. However, the flavors aren’t so over the top that the kids will be freaked out. However, maybe you WANT to keep them out of it (more for you) so just double up on the blue cheese! Have I convinced you to give your willpower a rest day and make up a batch of this delicious baked macaroni and cheese recipe?  This baked pasta recipe can even be made ahead and then popped into the oven an hour before serving.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac

 

Also, check out these macaroni and cheese making tips from from Cooking Light — everything you need to know to satisfy your mac madness!

What is your favorite comfort food? Do you rest your willpower every now and then? Fan of blue cheese? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer 

Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac
Willp
Print Recipe
Treat yourself to this rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese made with blue cheese and bacon -- delicious as a side dish to steak, a casserole for your pot luck or just straight out of the dish.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Bring water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions, but shaving 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time to keep al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When butter begins to sizzle, quickly add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in milk and whisk constantly, stirring until the mixture slightly thickens.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add in white cheddar and blue cheese a couple handfuls at a time until cheese melts and sauce is thickened.
  6. Stir in Blue Cheese Dressing. Stir in Instantly Fresh chives and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add cooked pasta to baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over top, tossing to coat all the noodles.
  8. Cover top in panko bread crumb mixture.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden and crunchy and sauce is bubbling. Top with crumbled bacon
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Comforting Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe – Really Helps You Feel Better!

Comforting Chicken and Rice SoupThis is a bad news, good news post. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when the sneezes, sniffles and the stuffy-head crud comes on. But the upside is that a comforting bowl full of chicken soup (your grandmother’s remedy) actually has some merit to making you feel better — plus, it tastes great too!

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup

fort davis boysI whipped up a huge batch of my  Best-Ever Chicken and Rice Soup when the kids came back from our recent trip to the mountains feeling under the weather. I had them licking their colds . . . and the bottom of their bowls in record time.

Dozens upon dozens of scientific studies have investigated the basis for this centuries-old remedy — from how the hot temperature unblocks stuffy airways to how the zinc found in certain ingredients might just shorten the length of a cold. Science aside, it’s pretty much agreed on that slurping up soup helps keep you hydrated, chases away chills associated with fever and reduce certain annoying symptoms of being sick. Plus, the addition of turmeric, a golden spice related to ginger, helps to provide the antioxident power you need to start feeling better.

Immunity Boosting Turmeric Chicken Soup takes away the chills and provides nutrients you need to start feeling betterIf you’re not feeling up to par, please see a doctor to make sure it’s nothing serious. But, I’d also highly recommend a batch of my Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup.

<——- PIN THIS

This easy soup recipe is also ideal for light dinner and lunch leftovers to keep your wellness in check every day of the year.  Plan ahead and double the recipe – freeze in single serve portions for busy or sick day convenience.

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs

instantly fresh herbsI’ve used Instantly Fresh Italian Herb Blend as a recipe shortcut to lighten and brighten the broth – it’s a medley of basil, oregano, garlic, red onions, red pepper, marjoram, rosemary and sage conveniently bottled together. I love these freeze-dried Instantly Fresh Herbs by Litehouse Foods — they have a huge assortment (I also love the Mint). Find them in the produce section or herb aisle of your grocery store. Head over to my Instagram profile (@thefitfork) now through this Monday (1/4) at midnight for a flash giveaway for three free product coupons. Look for my Chicken Soup photo and follow the post instructions to enter.

Do you have a home remedy for times when you’re feeling under the weather? What is your favorite soup? Please share in the comments below, XOXO — Jennifer  

I

Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs
Best Ever Chicken & Rice Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Best Ever Chicken and Rice Soup with Instantly Fresh Herbs
Best Ever Chicken & Rice Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 large bowls 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions. Set aside. In large stock pot, boil chicken breasts in water for 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside and internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 F degrees.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from pot, but do not discard water. Skim off any residue not desired in soup. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull apart with fingers or fork into large shreds. Add back to pot with water. Add bouillon cubes. Turn heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, add olive oil to large skilled and bring to medium high heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are softening. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Add vegetables to stock pot with chicken. Return skillet to stove top. Add Instantly Fresh Herb Blend to pot with chicken and vegetables, keep simmering and stirring occasionally.
  5. To make thickening roux, melt butter in skillet over medium heat. When butter is beginning to bubble, whisk in flour and stir constantly and quickly for several minutes, or until it has turned a light golden brown. Remove skillet from heat and allow roux to cool a bit.
  6. Once roux is no longer hot (can be warm), scrape into stock pot and stir well to combine. Stir in prepared rice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to simmer soup for 15 more minutes, or until everything heated through.
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Brunch on This | Tipsy Topsy Turvy Cranberry Ginger Cake

Tispy Topsy Turvy Cranberry Ginger Cake delicious for breakfast, brunch or dessert!Merry Christmas, y’all! Actually, I’m getting my post up late . . . so the day is almost over, but I hope lots of hugs were had, laughs were shared and memories were made!  With our oldest home from college, it’s been wonderful to have everyone together again . . .  and get back the full-immersion effects of being the only female of five people under the roof.

christmas jennifer and boys 2015

Today, I made big Christmas morning brunch for my kiddos, husband, mom and dad and family visiting from out of town.  A few of the dishes are traditional non-negotiables, like the Overnight French Toast, Barn Raiser Beef & Egg Bake, and Cinnamon Monkey Bread.  But, I always like to come up with a new holiday brunch recipe – and this one for Tipsy-Topsy-Turvy Cranberry Ginger Cake was a hit! There is still plenty of holiday time left to make this delicious dish which can also double as a dessert (throw a scoop of ice cream on top). Don’t worry, the alcohol content in the liquor burns off, so it’s just fine to feed to the children.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Oh, so did I mention that after brunch and presents and clean-up, we went stand-up paddle boarding?! Only in Austin!

Jennifer Fisher of thefitfork.com stand up paddle board

So, what was your most memorable happening today? Or, have you ever made an upside down cake — with what fruit? Please share in the comments, XOXO — Jennifer

Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Tipsy Topsy Turvy Cranberry Ginger Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Tipsy Topsy Turvy Cranberry Ginger Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in liquor and brown sugar. Stir in ginger and lemon zest and continue to cook for 2 minutes until combined and beginning to bubble.
  3. Spray pan with cooking spray and pour brown sugar mixture into bottom of pan. Add cranberries to top of brown sugar mixture; set aside.
  4. In medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour wet contents into bowl of dry contests and beat for 2 minutes with mixer or by hand, until well combined but not over mixed.
  6. Pour batter over cranberries.
  7. Bake for approximately 50 minutes in center rack of oven or until toothpick pulls clean.
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