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

Strawberry Cheesecake Quinoa Oat Breakfast Bake

Everything in life should be accessorized, including oatmeal! Despite it’s inherent healthiness, serving of plain, unadulterated “sunrise slop” reminds me of the gruel I feed my babies when they were first learning to eat. It’s bland, it’s boring and gonna get pushed back to my pantry. But, then there’s my  When I kick of the texture of my oatmeal with quinoa and bedazzle it with berries, this morning mush turns into make-ahead morning magic!  Strawberry Cheesecake Quinoa-Oat Breakfast Bake

You MUST try my recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Quinoa-Oat Bake, it’s healthy, hearty and will have you racing to the kitchen before the rooster crows!  Continue reading

Beef, Egg and Potato Bake + Make Ahead Meals for Busy Days

Check out Double Batch Weekend Cooking

by The Fit Fork at

  Welcome! If you are stopping by via Taste of Home Feb / March 2015 Issue or my cooking segment on the Home & Family lifestyle show (Hallmark Channel), the Beef Egg and Bake recipe is featured below. I invite you to take a look around my blog, I have lots of other family-friendly recipes and meal solutions that will make your life easier and healthier! In fact, I’ve rounded up a collection of “Double Batch Weekend Cooking” recipes that are ideal for stockpiling during weekend, freezing and  thawing out for quick meal on those days when your to-do list just keeps growing.

Jennifer Fisher on Home & Family Hallmark Channel


This is the video link to the cooking segment if you have 7 minutes to spare 🙂 

Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole -

Back to the Beef, Egg and Potato Bake — this down-home, country-inspired breakfast casserole has been lightened for today’s hungry yet health-conscious go-getter. What tastes like sausage is actually super-lean ground beef that has been specially seasoned — but that’s not where the health swaps stop! Added dairy products are reduced in fat and nutrient-rich veggies are incorporated to round out your morning meal.


breakfast egg and beef casserole I originally made this breakfast casserole recipe as a way way to incorporate more protein into breakfast — and ended up demonstrating it all over the state of Texas at the American Heart Associations “Go Red for Women” events last year. I never had a scrap of samples left, so I think it was a hit!  When making this at home, you can save precious time my preparing it the night before and baking in the morning. Leftovers may be frozen in single-serve portions and reheated in microwave for the busiest of busy mornings. If you need to eat it while walking out the door, just wrap it in a whole grain tortilla!

Double Batch Weekend Cooking Recipes - TheFitFork.comThis post is sponsored by — however, all commentary and opinions are my own.

Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole -
Beef, Egg and Potato Bake
Print Recipe
To keep my family going all morning, I start with lean ground beef and spices, then sneak some spinach into this protein-packed breakfast dish.
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 10 minutes
Beef Egg Potato Bake Breakfast Casserole -
Beef, Egg and Potato Bake
Print Recipe
To keep my family going all morning, I start with lean ground beef and spices, then sneak some spinach into this protein-packed breakfast dish.
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 10 minutes
Servings: servings
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook beef with onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, sage and pepper flakes over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking up beef into 3/4-inch crumbles; drain. Stir in spinach. Remove from heat.
  2. Spread potatoes in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish; top with beef mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, ricotta cheese, milk, pepper and remaining salt; pour over top. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with tomatoes.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes


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Kale & Quinoa Casserole Recipe + The Running Event

It was a busy day visiting with old friends (like Altra, Nuun Hydration, Pocket Fuel, and others) and meeting new folks in the running industry at THE RUNNING EVENT conference right here in Austin. I have lots of new running gear and race fuel products to update you on —   and perhaps a giveaway or two coming up soon!

Bart Yasso & Jennifer Fisher at TRE14It was also fun to bump into Bart Yasso (aka the “Mayor of Running) who I threatened to track down if his world-famous “Yasso 800s” don’t pay off in my upcoming Dallas Marathon.In the meantime, I wanted to share a nutritious comfort food recipe that is perfect addition to a holiday potluck party or just as a make-ahead and bake later meal for a busy night – Ranch Kale and Quinoa Casserole.  Originally created for the Litehouse Food blog (please visit), this home-style dish a hearty yet healthy riff on broccoli rice casserole, one of my favorite Christmas side dish (but most versions I’ve seen have tons of butter, cream, or “cream of” soups).

Ranch Kale & Quinoa Casserole -

Ranch Kale & Quinoa Casserole Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1 large white onion (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup dry)
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)
  1. Add olive oil to 12” to 14” cast iron skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Add chopped onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until softening. Add half of kale and cook down for about 2 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water, if needed.  Add remaining kale to skillet and sauté for 2 -3 more minutes until completely wilted.
  3. Add garlic, salt and pepper to kale and continue to sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in pre-cooked quinoa, ranch dressing and ¾ cup of parmesan cheese.
  5. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and bake in 350 F degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling and cheese browning on top.
  6. Serves 8.


cheesy quinoa bake

Using quinoa instead of rice or pasta in a casserole adds extra protein and can often stand alone as a vegetarian or Meatless Monday meal – check out another favorite of mine, Lightened Cheese Quinoa and Cauliflower Casserole.



What is your favorite comfort casserole?

What new running gear do you have your eye on?

Healthier Comfort! {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

When you hear the words “melted cheese,” what comes to mind? I think of all kinds of comfort foods like homey mac & cheese, ginormous slices of mozzarella blanketed pizza blanketed, and hot Tex Mex queso and a basket of chips. However, all this ooey, gooey goodness comes with high-fat, high calorie consequences if I’m not careful. But, there are a few tweaks and tricks that will allow you to enjoy cheese in recipes while keeping you light on your feet (and hands)!

yoga handstand pose jennifer fisher

My cheese tips & tricks will keep you light on your feed (and hands)!

First of all, portion control. Just because you CAN eat a whole batch of cheese sticks, doesn’t mean you should. Second, moderation in the use of cheese as an ingredient – if a recipe calls for 1 cup, cut back and see if a little less will still yield the same effect. If you don’t want to sacrifice the “creaminess,” often you can also substitute a little Greek yogurt or a roux made with low fat milk as in my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole recipe below. Another way to keep cheese the star of the dish without globbing it on is to use a high quality cheese. Fresh cheese and artisan cheese taste so much better than the dried out, shredded stuff hanging in the bags at the supermarket – the taste is more pronounced and therefore you can use less!

aged cheddar cheese thefitfork

Recently, I took advantage of this last healthy cheese tip, by making a comforting casserole with a ton of healthy swaps.   First off, I used one of my favorite cheeses – Kerrygold Aged Cheddar – as the topping on my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar is a cheese made from the milk of grass-fed cows and then aged for taste for one year – it’s described as “rich and full-bodied with a smooth finish” and I agree (nom,nom).  By using aged cheddar as the bold accent on top of the recipe, I was able to cut significantly on the cheese used within the interior of the casserole – in fact, only two ounces were stirred into the easy roux that had been kept light with low-fat milk and just a skosh of canola oil (no butter)! Also, instead of traditional rice or noodles, I used quinoa in this healthy casserole recipe for added protein – although it has no meat, it could make a hearty side dish as part of a Meatless Monday dinner.  Oh, and it has cauliflower – it just seems to turn to creamy, dreamy butter in this dish!

cheesy quinoa bake

{Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 1 12-oz bag microwave-in-bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic from jar
  • ½ cup 1% milk
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  1.  Heat medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons oil and coat pan. Add quinoa and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly toasted; stir frequently.
  2. Add 1 ¼ cups water and bring to a bowl. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  4. In large skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan and sauté onions for 3 to 4 minutes until softened and turning golden. Stir in garlic during last 1 minute of cooking.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together milk and flour; stir chicken broth, salt and pepper into this mixture.
  6. Add milk-broth mixture to skillet and bring to a boil; stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted.
  8. Microwave cauliflower according to package directions. Carefully remove from bag and very coarsely chop.
  9. Stir in quinoa and cauliflower into Parmesan mixture.
  10. Place in 1 ½ to 2 quart baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Or, you can do in individual ramekins as pictured below.Top with grated cheese.
  11. Bake at 400 F degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese bubbling and lightly browned on top.
  12. Serves 6 – 8.

cauliflower quinoa ramekins

Cooking Light Best Cheese RecipesOkay, so I won’t lie. I was inspired to make this cheesy, delicious dish after getting my October issue of Cooking Light magazine. Hello, the headline is “Our Best Cheese Dishes” and it included a kid-friendly, make-ahead recipe for a Broccoli Quinoa Casserole with Chicken — of course, I HAD to tweak it and make it my own. Check out some of the other healthier cheese recipes from Cooking Light – you will be drooling!


What is your favorite type of cheese or recipe using cheese?

This post is sponsored by Cooking Light and KerryGold. I received free products / gifts in return for this post; however, all opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) are my own. 

Skinny Mama Beef & Veggie Manicotti Recipe Makeover

Beef & Veggie Manicotti Pasta

I’m always looking for a way to lighten comfort food because, I’ll admit it; emotional eating is a friend of mine. Whether celebrating or wallowing in sorrows, getting my mouth around a good meal always makes things better.  Everyone at my house agrees that pasta is a go-to comfort food; spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, raviolis – you get the picture! This carb and cheese fest doesn’t really fit my higher protein day-to-day diet, typically if we’re doing spaghetti, I just take a taste of the noodles and a heaping helping of the sauce.

Man, oh man; wouldn’t it be comforting to have some manicotti for dinner tonight? These long tubes of pasta stuffed with meat and cheese — the word is derived from an Italian diminutive for “sleeve,” which is exactly what they are! At restaurants, I’ve had “manicotti” wrapped in zucchini and eggplant instead of a noodle, but I didn’t want to scare the kids off immediately. Instead, I stuck with a traditional recipe and made some healthy swaps. For example, I chopped up zucchini and other veggies into almost a mince so they would be discretely hanging out in the filling – like, “who me, a piece of squash? Ya, no big deal.”  I also substituted the heavy ricotta cheese with low-fat cottage cheese and kept the mozzarella to a minimum –just a skosh in the filling and a bit sprinkled on top. And, of course, our family favorite lean ground beef (more nutritious than ground turkey, people) was the meaty, mouthwatering source of protein.

The recipe makeover turned out scrumptious. The kids ate some unchartered-territory vegetables (red bell pepper) with nary a complaint – even from my youngest who likes to share his disgusted opinion about everything!  The other beauty of this family meal is that you can make ahead – or double the batch and keep one in the freezer for next month!

Healthy Manicotti

Skinny Mama Beef & Veggie Manicotti Recipe

  • 1 8-ounce package manicotti (14 tubes)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef sirloin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped veggies of your choice (I used sweet onion, red onion, red bell pepper, and zucchini)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces low-fat cottage cheese*
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 6 ounces low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 1 16-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • Garnish: red bell pepper rings.
  1. In large pot, bring water to boil. Carefully add manicotti tubes and boil for approximately 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat, drain off any liquid. Set beef aside and add olive oil to skillet. Sauté chopped veggies until soft-crisp, approximately 3 minutes. Add in garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and continue to cook for 1 more minute, stirring continuously.
  3. In large bowl, add cooked ground beef, sautéed veggies, 16 ounces cottage cheese, whisked egg, and 3 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Spread approximately 2/3 cup sauce in bottom of 9”x13” baking dish.  Carefully, stuff each tube with beef and cheese mixture using a teaspoon. Line up stuffed manicotti in baking dish. If any mixture remains, spoon it into sides of baking dish.
  5. Top with remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Garnish with red bell pepper rings, if desired.
  6. Bake in 350 F degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbling on top.Serves 7 (2 each)

manicotti nutrition

Since this was a makeover recipe, I ran the nutrition information — my version cuts the calories in half with 326 calories per a two manicotti serving versus 668 for traditional manicotti! Plus, 12 grams of fat is totally reasonable for a recipe so gooey and comforting. Plus, with everything I’ve learned about protein consumption, the 29 grams of protein is in the optimal range amount for any given meal.

chop onion

If you’re using onions as one of your veggies in this recipe (or any recipe), check out this video from Cooking Light that shows how to easily chop an onion. I never thought to slice an onion lengthwise first – genius!  Now, my tip on chopping onions is to dip your knife in water with every few slices – this will cut down on the noxious fumes that make eyes water. Yay, no more crying!

beef checkoff


This post was shared by The Beef Checkoff.


Protein for Breakfast | Healthy Beef & Egg ‘Barn-Raiser’ Bake

More eggs, and this time with beef! Last week, I whetted your appetite for the “incredible edible” with an oh-la-la recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Blue Cheese Baked Eggs based on the very Parisian and elegantly yummy recipe for Oeufs en Cocotte.  Even though Oeufs en Cocotte isn’t as fancy as it sounds (it literally means “eggs in pots”), I’m going more down-home today with a Beef & Egg ‘Barn-Raiser’ Bake recipe. This dish is hearty and healthy and cooked up in a big ole casserole, so gather all the egg and beef lovers around.

healthy egg and beef casserole

Guaranteed to provide plenty of energy to start the day, this country-inspired breakfast casserole has been lightened for today’s hungry yet health-conscious go-getter. What tastes like sausage is actually super-lean ground beef that has been specially seasoned; but that’s not where the healthy swaps stop! Added dairy products are reduced in fat and nutrient-rich veggies are incorporated to round out your morning meal.  Think you’re too busy to eat healthy on busy mornings? Not so if you prepare this casserole the night before. Save precious time by popping the uncooked casserole in the oven come morning and, after enjoying your healthy meal, portion out leftovers to last the entire week!

I’ll be taking this egg and beef recipe on a tour around Texas as I tout the benefits of eating protein for breakfast at several American Heart Association “Go Red for Women” events.  If you are in San Antonio, Ft. Worth or Amarillo in early February, leave me a comment and I’ll give you the details on how to attend.  But, the point is – eating a higher-protein breakfast (25 – 30 grams depending on your size) will satiate your hunger and help curb snacking on unhealthy foods later in the day. This strategy helps maintain a healthy weight which ultimately reduces many risk factors associated with heart disease.

breakfast egg and beef casserole

 {Healthy & Hearty} Beef & Egg ‘Barn-Raiser’ Bake Recipe

For country beef sausage crumbles:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (96% lean)
  • ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 14 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ cup shredded, reduced-fat Colby Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz) package frozen shredded hash browns
  • 24 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  1. For country beef sausage crumbles, combine ground beef and seasonings in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly.
  2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add beef mixture; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in large bowl. Whisk in milk, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup of Colby Jack cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Spray 4-quart rectangle casserole with baking spray. Spread frozen shredded hash browns to cover the bottom of dish. Top evenly with beef-spinach mixture; pour egg mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup of Colby Jack cheese and arrange grape tomatoes (cut side up) in an 8 x 6 grid for the final layer.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F degree oven for  40 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 15- 20 minutes or until eggs are set.  Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 12.  

nutrition barn raiser beef and egg bake