Behold the butternut! It’s a big ole winter squash, but don’t let the size intimidate you and keep you from making butternut squash recipes! It’s delicious, healthy, versatile as a recipe ingredient and really not that hard to prep (plus, you can always have the store do the work).
I’ve got bounty of fit and fast butternut squash recipes, from snacks to salads to soups, that will help you use up all the butternut squash you’ve been blessed with! Read on for a week’s worth of my favorite dishes: Continue reading →
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Farmer Direct Co-op, however all opinions, content and enthusiasm are my own.
Spiralizing zucchini is trend that will never grow old, but every now and then I like to turn the tide and unleash deliciously stuffed zucchini boats for dinner. I’m not talking about the old-school stuffed squash my mama used to make with our backyard garden bumper crop, it might have been a bit mushy, bland, and hard to swallow (sorry mom). Instead, my recipe for Carnitas & Street Corn Stuffed Zucchini Boats with “Ole Frijoles” Pinto Bean Sauce is totally crave-worthy and turns supper-time with spicy south-of-the-border fiesta.
With pre-shredded pork roast and pinto beans cooked overnight, this family favorite recipe can be made in just 30 minutes – making it perfect for a busy weeknight meal. It can also be prepped the night before and popped in the oven 20 minutes before dinner. I’ve used pinto beans from Farmer Direct Co-op and, at the end of this post, you can grab the zucchini recipe and also enter to win a giveaway prize pack that includes an assortment of their top-selling organic, non-GMO and fair-trade products packaged in 1lb. bags.
That old Saturday Night Live skit where Jason Alexander asks for more “juice” at Bob’s Gyros still cracks me up. You like-a da sauce huh? The sauce is good, huh? I get you more . . . because March is National Sauce Month!
Seriously though, today I’m sharing 10 of my favorite sauces, from sweet to spicy to savory! Feel free to dunk, drizzle, douse and dip as your heart desires! Most are a healthy way to add tons of flavor to recipes and a few are splurges – because it’s all about balance! Continue reading →
What’s spicy, sweet and oh-so nice to eat? My Paleo Sichuan Date Sauce! I was looking for a sugar-free, soy-free, corn starch-free way to replicate one of my favorite take-out dishes and came up with this amazing sauce — it’s now the secret wham-bam-kapow to my Paleo Kung “Power” Chicken!
March is National Sauce Month and this easy sauce recipe makes a feisty sidekick on everything from vegetable side dishes to an entire side of salmon.
This post is sponsored by Mountain States, however all comments, opinions and enthusiasm are my own.
I had a wonderful weekend with my family cooking up new memories – well, grilling them up, to be exact! Sitting down together to a simple yet super flavorful lamb dinner was the perfect exclamation point to the end of our summer together (as school started back up Monday and our oldest left the nest again for 2nd year in college). Until recently, my three teen boys didn’t have many memories centered on lamb, but I sure had some recollections – and they mostly involved around stuffy Sunday dinners of yore at a relative’s home wearing uncomfortable clothes, shoes that pinched and being forced to “politely” clean my plate of mushy vegetables and an old-school prepared lamb roast.
Grilling lamb for our last summer weekend together!
After hearing various friends, from Paleo diet devotees and flavor-centric foodies, rave about the virtues of this red meat that’s been enjoyed across various cultures for century upon century, I penciled lamb onto my “things to grill sometime” list – oh, you how I like to grill everything! When Mountain States (producers of Shepherd’s Pride and Cedar Springs lamb, raised right here in the U.S.) sent some delicious looking lamb loin chops my way, they were bumped to the top of the to-do list – it was time to give ‘em my modern, fit foodie spin. If the speed at which my guys devoured dinner is any indication, you are going to LOVE my recipe for Grilled Lemony Lamb Loin Chops with Spinach Gremolata Sauce. #GoForTheBOLD
After marinating for 1 hour, lamb loin chops are ready for the grill!
The loin chops couldn’t have been any easier to prepare with a simple marinade, less than 10 minutes on the grill, and an easy no-cook sauce. When meal-making is a no-brainer, there is more precious time to spend with family and friends – mine will be seeing this lamb recipe again soon at my backyard Labor Day cookout.
Wow, my lamb chops and lemons grilled up in 7 to 8 minutes!
If the weather turns too cool this fall season to barbeque al fresco, these lamb chops easily translate to an indoor grill or stove top grill pan. And, the bright lift of lemon will remind you of a beautiful, never-ending summer! You can see them here served with grilled Shishito Peppers (that recipe posted tomorrow).
While these lamb chops are delicious served unadorned, I prefer to drizzle them with a gremolata sauce prepared with olive oil, lemons and spinach (another twist on tradition). I get so excited when this tangy, flavorful gremolata runs off my chops and into my grilled veggies, potatoes or pasta– it’s a versatile sauce to dress nearly every main dish, side dish, pasta and salad.
Protein-lovers, let me tell you a little more why lamb should make it onto your menu weekly rotation. First of all, a 3.5 ounce serving contains approximately 25g protein, the optimal amount for your body to process at any one “eating experience.” How many times have you heard me stand on my soapbox and tell y’all to eat 25g to 30g of protein at every meal – you need this amount for sustained energy, muscle management, healthy aging and more! Mountain States lambs roam pastures, grazing on grass, herbs and alfalfa, making it a great source of omega 3s (especial alpha-linolenic acid) and is also rich in iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-12 and niacin. If you want to try cuts other than lamb loin, every choice (which the exception of ground) is classified as “Lean” or “Extra Lean” by the USDA. Get more lamb nutrition information here.
Because I love feeling connected directly to the ranchers, I will keep getting my lamb from Mountain States. Mountain States (sold as the brands “Shepherd’s Pride” or “Cedar Springs American”) is a co-op owned by more than 150 hardworking families across the US who have been ranching for generations. These Shepherd’s Pride ranchers are committed to producing a clean, complete protein given no hormones or antibiotics, raised just the way nature intended. Additionally, it is the only lamb that carries the third-party Where Food Comes From ® source-verified label. This means, with a scan of the label, I know exactly where my food comes from, where it was raised, and who handled it. Now THAT is some detailed data that will satisfy even the cleanest of clean eaters! Wondering where to buy lamb from Mountain States? When I used their Store Locator, I discovered (yay) my neighborhood H.E.B. grocery store carries it – or, you can ask your butcher!
Add lamb chops, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to heavy-duty plastic zip-top bag. Move the chops around in the bag until well-coated with marinade. Marinate for 1 hour to overnight in the refrigerator, no longer than 12 hours.
After marinating, remove chops from marinade and discard remaining liquid. Season to preference with salt and pepper.
Heat gas or charcoal grill to approximately 400F degrees. Grill chops with the lid up, flipping once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (medium-rare).
While lamb is grilling, also grill lemons for several minutes per side, or until beginning to lightly char. Transfer chops and lemon slice to platter and rest for at least three minutes before serving or slicing.
While lamb is resting, place all ingredients for gremolata in food processor or blender and pulse until partially smooth but with small spinach pieces.
Serve chops with a grilled lemon sauce and drizzle of gremolata.
July 4th festivities will be firing up through the week . . .and I bet your grill is too! It’s no coincidence that July is National Grilling Month considering 200 million Americans own a grill and 72% plan to put a gas or charcoal grill to use on Independence Day (HBPA data). Personally, I enjoy the freedom from cooking in the kitchen and, while it’s traditional to throw down some burgers, dogs or steaks on the grates, my recipe for Sticky-Sweet Shrimp, Pineapple & Kumquat Kebabs gives you the liberty to let your creative food flag fly.
While I’ve skewered up shrimp, pineapple and kumquats, it’s your inalienable, edible right to use the proteins, fruit and veggies you like best on a kabob. However, I highly recommend the kumquats, grilling makes them even more fabulous. However, in the USA, this fruit (that is like a mini orange with edible skin) is in season from November through July – so hurry up and grill some! If you can’t find kumquats, you can substitute orange wedges.
Nutritional and Health Benefits of Kumquats:
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a serving of eight whole raw kumquats (including peel) has 108 calories. This same serving size is an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing 9.9 grams — more than 25% of the Daily Value for men, and nearly 40% for women. Kumquats are also a great course of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, riboflavin and even calcium (providing almost 10% of the adult daily needs).
A diet high in dietary fiber is beneficial to the health of your heart and gastrointestinal tract. Eight raw kumquats provide 9.9 g of dietary fiber. The amount of fiber recommended daily by the Institute of Medicine is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. Dietary fiber also controls blood glucose and insulin concentrations and reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and is necessary for the health of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bones. According to the USDA, eight raw kumquats have 66.7 mg of vitamin C. The National Institute of Health has set the daily recommended amount at 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. Adequate vitamin C is also necessary for proper wound healing.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes vision and is necessary for the health of teeth, skeletal tissue and skin. Eight raw kumquats have 441 IU of vitamin A. According to the Institute of Medicine, men need 3,000 IU of vitamin A daily and women need 2,333 IU. Vitamin A also functions as an antioxidant, protecting your body from free radical damage.
Kumquats provide the B vitamin, riboflavin, which is a component of various enzymes involved in energy metabolism. Eight kumquats provide 0.137 mg of riboflavin. The daily amount of riboflavin recommended by the National Institute of Medicine is 1.1 mg for women and 1.3 mg for men.
Calcium is essential for nerve transmission, muscle contraction and for formation of teeth and bones. The USDA National Nutrient Database shows that eight kumquats have 94 mg of calcium. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily.
The little secret that pulls this super easy kabob recipe together is brushing on Stubb’s Sticky Sweet Bar-B-Q Sauce – seriously, why you make your own barbeque sauce when you can buy Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q sauce (available in six different flavors) down at your local market?! The Sticky Sweet Bar-B-Q Sauce is my current infatuation of the moment – it’s got real southern flair, is rich and thick and loaded with brown sugar and gooey molasses. Plus, I really appreciate how this product and the other sauces, marinades and rubs make it easy to add flavor to a meal while avoiding the fat, calories, or artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or preservatives often found on the condiment aisle.
Looking for a side dish to serve with this tropical take on BBQ skewers? My recipe for Coconut Macadamia Fried Ricemakes a pleasing pair-up – it’s been a frequently requested dinner on it’s own at my house.
As far as selecting your shrimp, you can grab a bag from the market, but I prefer to get mine from SizzleFish.com because I really trust their commitment to bringing me a responsibly sourced, perfectly-portioned seafood products with no additives or yucky stuff. additives – plus all their products are healthy, high-quality perfectly portioned and have an athlete’s lifestyle in mind! From these shrimp to Coho salmon to halibut and more, their products are vacuum-sealed in individual serving size packets, nestled in dry ice and shipped straight to my door for ultra convenience — I always have a lean protein on hand in the freeer to make a quick and easy dinner!
Get the recipe for Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried Ricehere!
Yeah, yeah . . . National Pizza Day was yesterday. I may be a day late, but definitely not a dollar short with this easy-to-make homemade garlic pizza sauce recipe that will take your pie to the next level. Store-bought sauces can be kind of pricey, especially the better ones – but my creation saves you some dough (see what I did there?) that can be put towards your favorite fresh toppings. Personally, I love Campari tomatoes, spinach and roasted garlic – but the kids are pepperoni addicts all the way. As for the crust, I’m staying out of the crust controversy – pan crust, thin crust or even cauliflower-carrot crust, it’s up to you. Make it your way, I’m just here to share the sauce. The secret to this pizza sauce recipe is a can of “fire-roasted” tomatoes and Instantly Fresh herbs – I’m a big fan of these freeze-dried herbs and garlic from Litehouse Foods, but you can also use regular dried herbs or fresh if feeling fancy. Those not in the know would think this hearty sauce had been simmering all day on the stovetop and not whipped up at warp speed in a blender. Make a double batch and freeze for a busy weeknight dinner solution. Other recipes that are insanely good with this pizza sauce:Egg & Zucchini RaguMore Eggs . . .Portabello Eggs Inferno:Dip Roasted Spicy Creole Shrimp into Pizza Sauce (instead of cocktail sauce):
So, what is your favorite topping for pizza? Dare I ask, what is your sauce strategy? Do you cut your pizza in wedges or squares? Do you consider pizza something for a “cheat” day or a well-balanced, hand-held meal? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Add all ingredients to blender and blend for approximately 45 seconds or until ingredients combined and tomatoes broken down but not completely pureed. Spread out sauce thinly on prepared pizza crust. Makes sauce for 3 medium or 2 large pizzas. Store leftover sauce in refrigerator or freeze in air-tight zip-top plastic bag.
I have to admit, making long complicated recipes is NOT a family tradition. I do it sometimes, but not on typical nights when I am trying to fit in running, working out or watching the kids play their sports – you know, HAVING FUN! Instead, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let creativity reign, based on what I happen to have in the fridge, produce bin and pantry. So, I guess you could say dinner traditions in my family of five are rooted in being quick and easy yet fresh and flavorful – you’ll see this with the two RAGÚ pasta sauce recipes I’m sharing today (Eight-Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu and Low-Carb Chicken Club Zoodles).
Yeah, here we are in 1986 — the early Ragu days.
One ingredient that is always on hand help me pull off a speedy supper is RAGÚ® Pasta Sauce. When I say I’m a fan, I mean it – I’ve been eating the RAGÚ® Traditional Sauce (and now Organic Traditional) for 30 years beginning when I first met my husband in college (It’s the only sauce we eat)! Who has time for homemade, really?!
I appreciate how RAGÚ® does all hard work, and when I pop open the jar it tastes just like grandmother’s secret recipe that had been simmering all day. That’s because RAGÚ® has super high standards and uses no artificial anything or high fructose corn syrup – it’s slowly simmered to add layers of insane flavor, just like Assunta’s (the single-mom founder) original recipe from way back in 1937.
So, this first vegetable pasta recipe is seriously made in eight minutes – Egg & Zucchini Ragu. It’s my go-to meal solution when totally slammed but in need of a nutritious meal packed with protein and fresh veggies. By the way, did you now that a serving of Ragu pasta sauces is the equivalent of two servings of veggies?!
Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu
2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 4 eggs (depending on appetite)
Salt and Red Pepper flakes, to taste
Garnish – snipped basil
Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy. Add pasta sauce and microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Heat olive oil in small skillet and cook eggs sunny side up, until yolks set to preferred consistency. Top eggs on pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with snipped basil. Serves 2.
My second under ten minute dinner fix (Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles) is a yummy use for nights when I have some slowcooker chicken already in the fridge (I make big, big batches at once) or have swung by the store for a rotisserie chicken. I love to use zucchini in place of traditional noodles to keep the grains and carbs down – I like to eat a higher protein diet and prefer most of my carbs to come from fruits and veggies.
Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles
2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
12 ounces shredded slow cooker or rotisserie chicken with skin removed
4 slices par-cooked bacon
1 ounce shredded cheese of choice
Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy. Add pasta sauce and chicken and microwave for an additional 60 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Wrap bacon in paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or per package instructions. Sprinkle top of pasta with bacon and cheese before serving. Serves 2.
I have another family dinner tradition to share – and it’s just being silly. With three now teenage boys, it can get pretty crazy and rowdy at the dinner table. More than one time, I’ve spewed water out my nose – the utensil balancing contests always crack me up. We’ve been doing it for years, as you can see – youngest son holds the record number of spoons and forks balance. Yes, we’re weird – but these are indelible (if insane) memories to enjoy along with the RAGÚ® Pasta Sauce.