Bacon Brussles Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza

22 Feb Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza

Oh yes, you read that correctly. This dietitian put bacon and Brussels sprouts on PIZZA (the same pizza).

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am always looking for a pizza recipe. To me, pizza is the perfect food. You can have all the food groups addressed in one beautiful, easy-to-eat pie. Another reason that I love making pizza…? My kids eat it without complaining! SCORE!

I came across this recipe on a recent Pinterest binge (please tell me I’m not alone in getting completely lost in that black hole) and it just looked and sounded so amazing. In my mind, Brussels sprouts and bacon go together like cilantro and lime (can a relationship get any more perfect?) so I set out to conquer this new feat.

I started with freshly made dough (really so simple – as long as you plan for the rising time), rolled out nice and thin. I would love to say that I was going for an “artisan” crust, but really my rolling was distracted by a couple of hungry children fighting over who was the better cheese shredder! (If the state of my floors after all the cheese was shredded is any indication of a quality shredder, then they are both A+).

Pizza Dough

Finely slice the Brussels sprouts and green onions.
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Mix sliced Brussels sprouts, bacon, onions, garlic, oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper together in a bowl.

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WARNING: This mixture by itself is highly addictive.
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Place the dough on a parchment-covered pizza stone, brushing with olive oil. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture evenly over the crust and top with cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

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Slice and enjoy!

Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza

All you need:
Raw pizza dough
4 tablespoons cooked bacon (I cheated and used the bagged bacon pieces found near the salad dressings)
5-6 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsps minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for brushing the dough
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, broken into pieces
1/4 Parmesan cheese

All you do:
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees for about 30 minutes prior to baking.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with the green onions, garlic, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Lightly dust counter top with flour or cornmeal, roll the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle (or any shape that fits your pizza stone). Place on a parchment paper-covered pizza stone. Brush the outside edge of the dough with olive oil.

4. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture over the crust then top with cheeses.

5. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the toppings are cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.

DIY Beach Salt Texturizing Hair Spray

3 Jan Surf Beach Spray

I have been trying to reduce the amount of chemicals that are used in my household. I have been making my own laundry soap for several years now and LOVE it. So I set out to tackle another favorite. I am in love with my Salt Surf Spray from my salon, but at $26.00 for just 4 ounces, I have to ration it like good dark chocolate. So I set out to create my own. I figured it couldn’t be too hard since the spray is supposed to mimic the look of hair after spending the day frolicking in the ocean. – Since Minnesota is not known for it’s coastal location (lakes yes, ocean no!), I’ll have to settle for the spray.

After several trial batches, I found a mix that works best with my hair (wavy, fine strands, but thick concentration). Mixing up a batch takes 5 minutes or less and helps give texture to my fine strands. I really like adding essential oils to give it fragrance, but it is completely optional. My current favorite is a mixture of lavender and lemon.
Surf Beach Spray
As you can see, the ingredient list is pretty simple. Salt (I prefer Epsom salt because it isn’t as drying and a little Himalayan salt for stiffness), aloe vera (for moisture), conditioner (to keep hair from drying out) and essential oils (for fragrance).

To make, heat 1 cup of water in a pan. Remove from heat. Add Epsom Salt.Epsom Salt

Add Himalayan salt.IMG_9693

Add aloe vera gel.IMG_9694

Add conditioner.IMG_9695

Add essential oils (3-4 drops is plenty). Stir until combined.IMG_9697

Let cool in pan before filling your spray container. Note: letting it cool is a crucial step that I was too impatient to do one day. And this is what happened to my container…… Thankfully it still works, but it doesn’t hold quite as much as it used too…

Poor, melted bottle...

Poor, melted bottle…

To use the spray, I prefer to spritz it on my hair when it is slightly damp then continue to style as normal. Which for me means to blow dry with a diffuser and use a 1″ straightener to put in accent curls. You can also spray into damp hair, scrunch and let air dry for authentic beach waves.

Here are a few photos of my hair once complete. Please don’t judge me! Self/hair photography isn’t my strength. IMG_8558[1]

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Or, for those of you wanting a nice, gentle wave, shower at night, spray into damp hair and braid. In the morning your hair should be dry and wavy. You might want to spray a bit more salt spray in your hair for finishing texture.

Beach Salt Surf Hair Spray

All you need:
1 cup of hot water (not boiling)
2 tablespoons Epsom salts
½ tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt (optional but adds stiffness)
1 teaspoon (heaping) aloe vera gel
½ tsp conditioner
Optional: a few drops of essential oils (lavender and lemon are great options)

All you do:
1. Get a spray bottle that holds at least 8 ounces. Put water into a pan on the stove. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat.
2. Add in Epsom salts, sea salt, aloe vera, conditioner, essential oils (optional).
3. Stir until combined. Let cool.
4. Pour into bottle. Use as you would other surf spray.
*Note, you will need to give the bottle a gentle shake before each use to mix up all the ingredients as they will settle a bit between uses.

Roasting a Turkey: No Dry Meat Allowed!

12 Nov

Turkey time is here! For some reason during the fall and winter I really enjoy roasting whole birds. Turkey, chicken, it doesn’t matter. I used to be really intimidated by the thought of cooking an entire turkey (or chicken). I mean, that is the kind of cooking reserved for grandmas and moms, right!? Someone who wears and apron and has mad-wicked cooking skills….

Whelp…. I hate to break it to you, but I am a mom (3 times over), AND, I wear an apron (a cute, coffee-themed one my friend gave me for a wedding gift).

Ignore the crazy bat behind my shoulder...

Ignore the crazy bat behind my shoulder…

SO, let’s give this roasted turkey thing a try! I promise, you won’t be disappointed. AND you will actually WANT to eat the white meat. No dry meat allowed!

Start by cutting up some onions, carrots, celery and lemon into small chunks. No need to wash or peel the carrots (you can use baby carrots if that is what you have). For this turkey I cut up 4 carrots, 1 onion, 3 stalks of celery and 1 lemon. You can use what you have (this is a great time to use of fresh herbs you have leftover from another recipe).
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Once your veggies are cut up, combine salt and pepper in a separate bowl (I used approximately 2 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper). You will want to get all this done ahead of time, before breaking out the bird. -Trust me, you will be getting your hands dirty with the bird, you don’t want to have to grab ingredients from the fridge with turkey all over your hands.

Unwrap your thawed bird over the sink. This can be a bit messy because of the juices, but the sink will help contain everything. Take out the neck and any of the other packaged bit and pieces (discard or save for another use). Wipe down the outside of the turkey with a paper towel. Dry skin = crispy skin. Wet skin = soggy skin.

Now the fun begins. Stand that bird up (well actually, the bird will be upside down with its legs in the air). ;) Salt and pepper the inside by grabbing a bit from the bowl and massaging it all over the inside cavity. Fill the cavity with the chopped vegetables. (I warned you that your hands would get dirty).
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The next step requires you to separate the skin from the meat. I promise you, you will not want to skip this part. This is how the magic happens. Sit the bird down so the legs are pointing towards you and the breasts are up. You will be using your fingers to do the work. Work your hands all around (don’t forget the thighs and legs. Rub more salt and pepper between the skin and meat (this is how you season the meat) then add the remaining vegetables under the skin. IMG_9025[1]

With the last bit of salt and pepper, rub it all over the outside of the bird. Put the turkey in a roasting pan (or a cake pan would work too – you just want something large enough with a bit of an edge). Fold the chicken wings backwards and tuck them under (this helps prop the turkey up and keeps the wings from burning). Don’t worry, you won’t hurt him. ;)
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Now you are ready to pop him in the oven. I roast mine at 325 degrees for 3-3.5 hours (13# bird). I always go to the Butterball site for reference.
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The last step is to clean up and disinfect while your labor of love cooks. Sit back and enjoy a book (or glass of wine)!
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I loosely cover my turkey after 2 hrs to prevent over-browning. Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes to keep the juices in the meat.

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Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

30 Oct

For the final week of Crocktober, I’m whipping up Thai Chicken. Let’s take a moment of silence to mourn the end of this delicious month.

Like the previous Crocktober recipes, this one is a snap to throw together. This recipe uses my absolute favorite chicken products, SmartChicken boneless, skinless thighs. Yes, you read that correctly. This dietitian LOVES dark meat chicken!

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Nutritionally speaking, it’s not that different than breasts, but worlds apart in flavor and texture. In fact, I love chicken thighs so much, that you can always find at least a couple pounds in my freezer.

The recipe. Drumroll please…………

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Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Ingredient:
2 small bell peppers (any color), sliced
1 white onion, chopped
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 (16 ounce) bottle Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing & Marinade
1 tbsp Thai chili paste
1 tbsp honey

Directions:
1. Place peppers and onions at the bottom of the slow cooker. Place chicken on top.
2. In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter, dressing, chili paste and honey. Pour sauce over chicken.
3. Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH 3 to 4 hours.
4. Remove from slow cooker and serve over brown rice, in lettuce wraps or as a salad topper. Garnish with cilantro and peanuts (optional).<

Slow Cooker Italian Pork Chops

23 Oct

If you’re looking for a simple and delicious supper, then you have come to the right place. This Slow Cooker Italian Pork Chops recipe puts a twist on the traditional spaghetti meal that many of us make. Plus, it uses ingredients that I ALWAYS have on hand and takes just minutes to mix up.
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Feel free to add in extra veggies (peppers, shredded carrots, mushrooms) for a nutritious bang. Serve with a side salad and your meal is complete!

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Italian Pork Chops (6 servings)

All you need:
6 (1-inch thick) boneless pork loin chops
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (25 oz) jar pasta sauce
1 (13.25 oz) box whole wheat rotini noodles, cooked (for serving)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (for serving)

All you do:
1. Place pork chops, salt, pepper, onions, garlic and pasta sauce in 4-quart slow cooker.
2. Cover slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours. Serve with cooked rotini noodles and mozzarella cheese.

Moroccan Beef and Sweet Potato Stew. Crock-Pot and Freezer Meal

16 Oct IMG_8687-0.JPG

It should be no secret that I love my Crock-Pot (her name is Kate). And I’m happy to report that “Kate” has done it again.

I’m always searching for slow cooker recipes that are a bit different, but still simple. I use my slow cooker because I don’t have time to slave away in the kitchen. This recipe has everything. Simple, delicious and nutritious. It is simple enough to whip up on a busy morning before work AND would make a terrific freezer meal.
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*Recipe courtesy of Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.

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Moroccan Beef and Sweet Potato Stew
Ingredients:
2-1/2 pounds beef Stew Meat, cut into 1 to 1-1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup regular or golden raisins
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
Salt
Hot cooked couscous
Chopped toasted almonds (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions:
1. Combine flour, cumin, cinnamon, salt and red pepper in 3-1/2 to 5-1/2-quart slow cooker. Add beef, sweet potatoes and raisins; toss to coat evenly. Pour tomatoes on top.

2. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours or on HIGH 4 to 6 hours or until beef and potatoes are fork-tender. (No stirring is necessary during cooking.) Season with salt, as desired.

3. Serve over cooked quinoa. Garnish with almonds and parsley, if desired.

Homemade Laundry Soap

11 Sep IMG_8297

I have been making this laundry soap for 3 or more years now and wouldn’t ever go back. I came across a recipe that seemed simple enough and only used 3 ingredients. Many homemade laundry soaps seem to take several ingredients and a lot of time. I love this soap for so many reasons.

1. No over-powering scent. Unless you purchase unscented laundry soaps, most are so strong that you can smell them through several washings. I am really sensitive to fragrances, so this is a HUGE plus in my book.

2. Effective! I have 3 kids (ages 5, 3, and 6 months) so I know a thing or two about weird stains. Ketchup? Grass? Carrots/Sweet Potatoes? Coffee (on my clothes – I have 3 kids, I need caffeine)? Mystery stain? This stuff has taken it all out!
Plus, my husband is an ultra-marathoner. He runs. A lot! With all that running comes a heck of a lot of stink! (Sorry hunny, but it’s true). This soap takes care of it, without masking the odor.

My husband after finishing his most-recent 50 MILE race!

My husband after finishing his most-recent 50 MILE race!

3. It is inexpensive. Traditional laundry soap is SO expensive. This laundry soap, not so much.

4. It is easy to make. Some homemade soap recipes have you boil water, grate soap, etc. All things that take TOO much time in my book. I’ve said it before, I’m not lazy, I’m efficient. If there is a better way to do something for the same result, I’m all in.

The magic 3 ingredients you need are:
Fels Naptha (you can use any bar soap you want, but I really like this. It seems to be the best at stain-removing).
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Washing Soda (not baking soda) and Borax
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You can find all three ingredients in your laundry aisle.

To make, you take the Fels Naptha soap, unwrap it and place it on a microwave-safe plate. -This is where this recipe differs from most. Place the soap in the microwave and cook until it puffs up like a marshmallow. Take this slowly, you don’t want to scorch your soap. For 1 bar, in my microwave, I start out cooking for 90 seconds and cook additional 30 seconds as needed. For 2-3 bars, start out cooking for 3 minutes, then 30 seconds added on. Once it is all puffy, take the plate out of the microwave and let cool completely. **Note, the soap and plate will be hot. Also, if you are sensitive to fragrances like me, you will want to have a little ventilation as the smell of the hot soap can be strong. I solve this problem by opening a nearby window and letting the soap cool outside.

Soap all puffy in the microwave after cooking. Look at how huge it is!

Soap all puffy in the microwave after cooking. Look at how huge it is!


Soap from above. Note, I made 3 bars.

Soap from above. Note, I made 3 bars.

The next part is fun. Once the soap has cooled, put it into a resealable plastic bag and crush up into a powder.

Then add your washing soda and borax to the bag. I use a ratio of 1 part Fels Naptha to 2 parts washing soda and 2 parts borax.

For example: 1 bar Fels Naptha, crushed is about 1 cup. So I would use 1 cup crushed Fels Naptha, 2 cups washing soda and 2 cups borax. The recipe really isn’t scientific, so if you aren’t exact, it doesn’t really matter.
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Once you get everything all mixed up you are ready to use in your machine. This can be used in energy efficient machines or traditional machines. All it takes is 2 tablespoons per load. I use an 1/8th cup coffee scoop (typically found next to the coffee in your grocery aisle).

I’d love to know what you think about this soap once you’ve given it a try!

Honey Mustard Chicken Nugget Bites

27 Aug

Oh me, oh my! These chicken nugget bites are a keeper. Consider them pinned!

Honey Mustard Chicken Nugget Bites

27 Aug IMG_8068

Oh me, oh my! These chicken nugget bites are a keeper. Consider them pinned!
I’m always on the look out for recipes that are easy, quick, healthy and delicious (I mean, who isn’t?). My kids are always asking for chicken nuggets (thanks to a certain grandma who has been known to take them to a specific restaurant that serves said nuggets), but I’m fairly picky when it comes to my chicken. So I set out to create a chicken nugget that all of us would like.

The recipe is so simple and easy. It requires only 3 ingredients and my 5-year-old and 3-year-old did most of the work.

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All you need is honey mustard dressing, honey mustard pretzels and chicken. Bam!

First, cut boneless, skinless chicken into nugget-sized pieces (or leave whole). Marinate with dressing for 1 hour (or overnight).

Grind pretzels up in a food processor (or smash them in a zip-top bag).

Take marinated chicken and dredge through pretzel crumbs, making sure to coat all sides.
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Place chicken on a broiler pan (or if you are like me, put a cooling rack on a pan). For crispiness on all sides, you will want to do this.

Look at those adorable helping-hands!

Look at those adorable helping-hands!


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Place in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes (or until cooked through).
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Honey Mustard Chicken Nugget Bites

Ingredients
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken (I used thighs)
1 cup honey mustard dressing (I used Cardini’s)
12 ounces honey mustard pretzels (I used Snyder’s)

Directions
1. Cut up chicken into nugget-sized pieces.
2. Place chicken and dressing in a container to marinate at least 1 hour.
3. Once ready to cook, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
4. Grind pretzels in food processor.
5. Dredge marinated chicken in crumbs making sure to coat all sides.
6. Place chicken onto a sprayed broiler pan or cooling rack on top of another baking pan.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until chicken reaches an internal temp of 165).

Grilled Corn with Kale and Cabbage Chop Chop Salad

16 Aug IMG_8011

I have a confession to make, I am an Iowa girl and I don’t really like corn. Or maybe I should say that I am VERY picky about my corn. I have learned to tolerate it when mixed into a recipe, but typically shy away from “corn-y” recipes. I will include the obligatory corn-on-the-cob once per summer (mostly so my kids don’t grow up complaining that they were denied corn), but besides that, you won’t find corn much on my menu. That’s right, no mid-week frozen corn as a side dish. As for canned corn, it makes me a little nauseous. Creamed corn? Fahgettaboudit!!

Now, with that being said, I found my new favorite salad recipe and it features, you guessed it, – CORN! This salad has everything you could ask for. Garden-fresh ingredients, sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, creamy. YUM!

The original recipe is found here and I just made a couple changes because of the ingredients I had on hand.

The process is simple. Grill the corn.
Grilled Corn

Chop the vegetables and layer on a platter.
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Make the vinaigrette (totally worth the extra 2 minutes of work).

Cut the corn off the cob and layer on top.
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Enjoy!

Grilled Corn with Kale and Cabbage Chop Chop Salad

Ingredients:
1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp kosher sea salt, divided
3 medium ears sweet corn
3 tbsp butter, softened, divided
2 c. baby kale
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped green onions

To make:
1. For vinaigrette, in a small container with tight-fitting lid, combine lime juice, olive oil, honey, jalapeno, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
2. Preheat grill to medium heat for direct cooking. Husk corn removing silk. Brush each ear with 1/2 tablespoon softened butter. Place corn over direct heat. Grill for 8 to 12 minutes, turning and brushing every 2 to 3 minutes with additional butter (total of 1 tablespoon per ear), until browned on all sides. Remove from grill and cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, line a serving platter with kale and cabbage. Top with avocado and tomato slices. Using a sharp knife, cut corn from the cobs; discard cobs. Spoon corn over tomatoes. Sprinkle with remaining sea salt. Drizzle vinaigrette over top.

*Note: Chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn skin and eyes. When working with chile peppers, wear protective gloves.

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