Lightened Pumpkin Spice Crumb Cake (gluten free option)

Autumn means ALL the pumpkin-spiced things! It’s a seasonal craze I can support  — and, by support, I mean “hold up to my mouth and shove in!”Lightened Pumpkin Crumb Cake - gluten-free

So, with the hubby’s birthday right in the smack of pumpkin month, I don’t even ask him what flavor cake he wants. He’d normally say “chocolate,” but in September, October and November, the only option is pumpkin spice. Check out my Lightened Pumpkin Spice Crumb Cake (gluten-free), get the recipe and find out what yumminess I served it with. Continue reading

Chipotle Butternut Squash Enchiladas – Vegetarian & Gluten-Free

Enchiladas are an easy, make-ahead family meal that gets my Tex-Mex loving family congregating in the kitchen early to count-down the oven timer. When the teenage boys found out I was serving vegetarian Chipotle Butternut Squash Enchiladas they seemed a little bummed about missing the meat. One said, “Well, at least there’s lots of butter and nuts”!  Chipotle Butternut Squash Enchiladas

After I educated him on this sizable squash (which is technically a fruit) packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins like C, A & E, he took his plate with an eye roll. But, soon his plate was licked clean and he was coming back for more – read on to find out why and get the recipe! Continue reading

{Slow Cooker} Steak & Squash Harvest Stew

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!I felt it for a second, the cooler morning that is. So I pulled out fringy scarf, boots and slow-cooker – yeehaw, fall weather is here. But, it was a total fake out, ended up being 90 degrees that day. Even though I shed my fall finery, my Crock Pot creation was a dinner winner not about to be tossed.  Rich, meaty, hearty and amazing nutritious thanks to wholesome ingredients like lean beef, pumpkin, acorn and butternut squashes.

You absolutely must pin this photo below if you like healthy, hearty and helpful! 

Steak and Squash Harvest Stew comes together in the slow cooker for a hearty, healthy meal that is perfect for fall and winter meals.

I originally made this recipe for my friends at BeefLovingTexans.com, I almost tried to call it Chili but then remembered some Texans don’t think beans belong in chili. Well, heck, I don’t care – I think everything belongs in chili! This one has a bit of chipotle chili powder to add smoky spice, but feel free to tone it down or kick it up with your favorite chili seasonings. chipotle-beef-butternut-pumpkin-chile-browning-meat

The beauty of this recipe is just dumping all the ingredients into a slow cooker and walking away. I prefer to sear my chili meat (I cubed up a sirloin steak) because that magical caramelization process that happens in the skillet creates a deeper, more complex flavor. But, if you are pressed for time, the stew still turns out dang delicious if you just dump the uncooked beef straight into the slow cooker crock.

I was worried the kids would be suspicious of the trio of winter squashes in the dish – pumpkin, acorn and butternut. But, they loved it and a new autumn family favorite was born – especially when paired with some cast-iron skillet cornbread. I can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe in photo below — it’ll be served up on the blog next week! COME BACL!

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Skillet

So, why don’t you make this Steak & Squash Harvest Stew for supper this weekend – free yourself up some time to hang out with the family, hit a hay ride, visit the pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze.  It’s also a great little warmer-upper for those chilly afternoons tailgating and talking all things football or for the neighborhood Halloween potluck!

So, do you have a special family chili (errrr, I mean “stew” recipe)? Doing any special fall activities this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

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
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
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
Print Recipe
Fall in love with this healthy, hearty stew featuring pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash -- toss in slow cooker to skimmer all day, come home to dinner!
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
6 to 8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chipotle chile powder and “bloom” in skillet by stirring around constantly for approximately 1 minute. Add stew meet and brown; add to 4 qt. to 6-qt. slow cooker.
  2. To slow cooker, add onion, squash, beans and pumpkin. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, syrup, red pepper and salt. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Serve with desired toppings such as sour cream, cheese and green onions
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Ancho Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous

I’m all about keeping things simple in the kitchen, my life is already complicated enough! On busy week nights, a one-dish dinner can really lessen mealtime stress — especially a quick-to-clean-up recipe that is made with seasonal ingredients in 20 minutes or less. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

Everyone in my family loves seafood; it’s often hard to decide what variety to cook! However, my recipe for Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous keeps everyone happy with a trio of gulf shrimp, sea scallops and haddock fish.  Ancho chili powder (from the milder poblano pepper), bourbon and real maple syrup get  friendly together for a smoky sweet flavor that is “kid-approved” spicy without being a tongue torcher. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

After blackening the seafood in my Swiss Diamond Fry Pan (more about that practical luxury in a second),  seasonal vegetables such as butternut squash and Brussels sprouts get a quick searing and then finish alongside the whole grain pearl couscous as it cooks with  Better Than Bouillon® Seasoned Vegetable Base.   Better Than Bouillon

I’ve been a fan of Better Than Bouillon® blendable bases for years and use them in so many recipes ranging from soups, sauces, pasta and anywhere you would use a stock. Available in a range of flavors made from real ingredients including beef, chicken, vegetable and more, each jar of “flavor magic” as I like to say, punches up the flavor intensity so quickly and conveniently. I just stir a teaspoon into a quart of water to use as a traditional stock or use as much or as little as my creation of the day dictates.  I love that I can just make what I need, no wasteful half-full cans of broth sitting around to spoil. Pouring Better than Bouillon in Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

So back to the fry pan! While I mentioned I like things simple, I don’t like to skimp on quality. I always use the freshest, most beautiful produce and best cuts of meat and seafood selections that I can afford – eating well is my deserved splurge in life! I would not risk ruining my perishable investments in anything less than high-end cookware that delivers results. Even though nicer pots and pans may cost a touch more, it keeps from burning or otherwise ruining my food and having to routinely replace cheap pots and pans that can’t keep up with my tasks.  Chef quality cookware from Swiss Diamond suits my tastes and makes it easy to create my kitchen masterpieces with confidence.Putting lid on Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

The 11” Non-stick Fry Pan with Lid  I used to make my skillet dinner has been called the “Rolls Royce of Non-stick Fry Pans” by the Wall Street Journal!  When I blackened the seafood and cooked couscous in it, I was sure that there was going to be some elbow grease involved in getting off the crispy bits and goo – but no, it just swipes clean with a dish towel or brush.  So, how does this magic happen? The pots and pans are made with cast aluminum and treated (three times!) in a proprietary non-sticking coating that includes REAL diamond particles. I learned that diamonds “are a chef’s best friend” because they are durable, non-stick and are excellent conductors of heat!  I also loved how this fry pan has an ergonomic handle that that is cool-to-the touch but can go in the oven up to 500F degrees and comes with clear view lid with an adjustable vent to keep steam in or out! Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous.

So, I hope you find 30 minutes tonight to make my delicious, autumn-inspired Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous. Creative, convenient and easy to clean up!

How do you #MakeMealsBetter ? Please share your favorite one dish dinner or time-saving meal prep tip in the comments. XOXO – Jennifer

Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin and Ancho powder.
  2. Pat seafood dry and rub spice mix on all sides of seafood liberally.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil in 11” skillet to medium-high. Add seafood and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until blackened and cooked through. Remove seafood from pan with spatula for use later in recipe.
  4. Add butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to same pan over medium-high and good until beginning to brown and caramelize, but slightly “undercooked,” about 4 minutes.
  5. Add bourbon to skillet and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to deglaze pan. Add syrup and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add dry couscous to skillet. Stir vegetable base into hot water and pour into skillet. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, add lid with vent closed, and simmer for approximately 5 to 8 minutes or until water absorbed and couscous tender.
  7. Turn off heat. Arrange seafood on top of this mixture and replace lid to “warm” for 1 minute.
  8. Garnish with sliced green onions.
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Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque + Start of Holiday Shopping

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab BisqueI love me some soup in colder weather and finally it feels like autumn has arrived in Austin – so bring on the soups, bisques, broths, stews, chilies, cioppinos and other steaming hot heaven in a bowl. A soup that always catches my attention when I’m out running errands is the Butternut Squash Crab Soup from Whole Foods – I indulge in a to-go carton every once in a while but I’d be so much happier if it was more Paleo-friendly.  So, out with the dairy cream and in with the coconut milk, it’s an easy swap that keeps my recipe for Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque a rich and creamy winner.

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque

Enjoy a nice, big bowl for dinner – or pour into a thermos for lunch at work or a warming treat in the football fan stands. If you can’t find or afford the crab, small salad-sized shrimp from the frozen aisle make a pretty darn good substitute.

 

Songa Designs Bella & Bling CuffAlso, with the holidays coming up, I want to share with you a fabulous gift idea for the women in your life — like a mom, sister, special aunt or best running friend. Even though it seems waaaay to early to start holiday shopping, it’s really not — the craziness of the season sneaks up so fast and I hate to be scrambling for last-minute gift ideas. So, how about a piece of gorgeous, artisan-made jewelry from Songa Designs?! I’m totally loving this Bella & Bling cuff bracelet, it’s a little tough and a lot pretty — and better yet, it’s made with natural fibers and reclaimed stones by women in Rwanda who built up this business to self-empower and create a better life. Be part of this circle of extraordinary women and check out the lookbook — if you’d like to order,use FITFORK15 at checkout for 15% off through Dec. 16th.

Soup or salad — or both? Have you started holiday shopping yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Print Recipe
Warm up with a mug full of this delicious crab bisque brimming with the natural sweetness of apple along with my favorite winter squash.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Paleo Butternut Squash Crab Bisque
Print Recipe
Warm up with a mug full of this delicious crab bisque brimming with the natural sweetness of apple along with my favorite winter squash.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to large stock pot and heat over medium heat.
  2. Saute onion and apple for 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring constantly.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add butternut squash, seafood stock, coconut milk, and cinnamon; bring to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Blend with immersion blender until smooth, and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne – adding more or less, to taste.
  7. Stir in lump crab meat and continue to simmer soup for approximately 5 minutes or warmed through.
  8. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and additional sprinkle of cayenne.
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Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples + 10 Best Baking Apples

Cinnamon Super Oatmeal Stuffed ApplesCooler, crisper days have arrived and I have a hankering for a more homey and comfy breakfast than my typical smoothie or on-the-go protein bar. But with the craziness of my morning routine (my personal running, tying up work loose ends and giving rides to school), I rarely have time for anything coming out of the oven. But my recipe for Cinnamon Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples can be quickly prepped and cooked in the microwave, so I’m winning before sun up. In fact, this is what I ate for breakfast the morning that I woke up really early to drive to Marble Falls, Texas and ended up winning the entire Hill Country Half MarathonSuper Oatmeal Stuffed Apples

My “super” oatmeal is far from the cement-like, sugar-laden and fake-flavored oatmeal packets found next to the Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts. Instead, this powered-up oatmeal stuffed in my apple has been fortified with extra taste, texture and nutrition thanks to the addition of uncooked quinoa, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and spices mixed together with my dry, quick-cooking oats.  I typically will make a big batch and then scoop out what I need in the morning for this apple recipe or just for a simple bowl of oatmeal.

On crazy weeks when I don’t have time to scoop and stir, I like to buy Super Oats Nuts & Seeds.

After pulling my stuffed apple out of the microwave, I drizzle it with Almond Vanilla Opadipity by Litehouse sweet Greek yogurt dip. I love this lightly sweet Greek yogurt dip as a healthy topping on all my family’s favorite breakfast foods including this oatmeal recipe, but also pancakes, waffles and granola parfaits.

Oatmeal Stuffed Apple Scoop 686 x 550I like to use a great big Honey Crisp apple as my vessel to hold my mix of “super” oatmeal, the center is just scooped out with a melon-baller to create the perfect edible bowl.

Now, not all apples are the bomb for baking – some varieties, like the ubiquitous Red Delicious, seem crisp and crunchy when plucked off the tree (or out of the produce bin) but can turn mushy and mealy in the oven. For treats like apple pie, tarts and muffins (and especially my recipe for Super Oatmeal Stuffed Baked Apples), I prefer my apples to remain a little al dente – and I think most would agree!  Here is a list of my favorite 10 apples with flesh that stands up to baking and offer a delicious balance of sweet and tart flavors. Try using a variety of these apples for a more complex flavor and colorful presentation.

TheFitFork.com - Apples10 Best Apples for Baking

  1. Honey Crisp
  2. Golden Delicious
  3. Granny Smith
  4. Braeburn
  5. Jonathan
  6. Melrose
  7. Mutsu (Crispin)
  8. Pink Lady (Cripps Pink)
  9. Rome Beauty
  10. Winesap

If you are looking for more healthy apple recipes, check out this bumper crop collection from CookingLight.com.

Best Apple Recipes - Cooking Light

 

Are you an apple fan? What is your favorite variety to eat out of hand, or bake with? What is your favorite topping for oatmeal? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples +10 Best Apples for Baking
Print Recipe
Stuff your morning breakfast with good things like this apple filled with nutritious oatmeal featuring nuts and seed and a cinnamon Greek yogurt topping.
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
Super Oatmeal Stuffed Apples +10 Best Apples for Baking
Print Recipe
Stuff your morning breakfast with good things like this apple filled with nutritious oatmeal featuring nuts and seed and a cinnamon Greek yogurt topping.
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Slice top off each apple approximately 1-inch down.
  2. Use melon scooper to scoop out apple flesh, leaving a ¼” to 1/3” thickness on apple.
  3. Pick out seeds and core of flesh and chop remaining apple flesh finely.
  4. In medium bowl, toss together oats, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and Stevia. Stir in chopped apple pieces.
  5. In microwave-safe measuring cup, boil water and stir in ONE CUP into the oatmeal until combined.
  6. Place apples in microwave-safe baking dish. Stuff mixture evenly into the two apple “bowls,” packing down and over stuffing, if necessary. Set “lid” apple pieces in the side of baking dish.
  7. Add ¼ cup water to bottom of baking dish. Cover with dish lid. Microwave for 3 minutes on high, and then in additional 1-minute increments until oatmeal is cooked through and apple is tender (microwave times will vary by appliance).
  8. To serve, top oatmeal stuffed apples with Opadipity Greek Yogurt Dip, extra pumpkin seeds and a dash of cinnamon.
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