Weekly Review: Good Eats, Friends Date & The Weekend

Another week of March has come and gone, what?! In exactly five days we are going to be into April and I am so excited! April is my favorite month! Why you ask?

It’s BIRTHDAY MONTH!

One of my favorite parts of life is being able to celebrate my beautiful sister’s and my birthday together since they are only two days apart! This year will be different, for the mister and I are traveling during birthday week, but that doesn’t mean anything in regards to birthday month! ūüėČ

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I thought we’d have coffee together on this dreary Monday and just recap our last week. Was yours good? I hope so! Not a lot of sunshine the past few days, but I know that it’s coming. “Be patient Melissa.”

Monday

Monday was a typical day in the life, meal planning, grocery store for vegetables, cleaning & organizing, and of course some time in the kitchen!

I made up a delicious Beef & Veggie Taco Pasta for dinner. Low carb ‚ąö, healthy ‚ąö, dairy free¬†‚ąö and easy¬†‚ąö¬†! I’m going to have to make it again, so I can share what I did, but all you need to do is make taco meat, add all the vegetable you want, pasta of choice, add a little pasta water to help make a sauce and there you have it!

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I also tried out a new recipe for dessert¬†Almond Flour Blondies. I substituted swerve sweetener for the sugar, and halved the amount brown sugar called for by using truvia brown sugar. Then used dairy free chocolate chips. OMG. Get on that recipe. It’s good!

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Wednesday

Wednesday started out on a happy note, the sun was shining and I got to enjoy a lovely breakfast while reading my early birthday present from a dear friend!

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Trim Healthy Mama cookbook is amazing! So if you are looking for great recipes to add to your current way of eating, get on that! Thank you so much to my Lauren for the awesome surprise!

I then joined some of my favorites from work to see Beauty & the Beast! It is everything you dreamed it would be. At one point I did feel like I might be tripping (although I never have so hmmm). Just go see it!

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We ended up getting a late lunch at¬†J. Timothy’s Taverne¬†and it was really nice spending time with these lovelies outside of work.

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Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

I’m very grateful to have a job where we can all get together on a Wednesday, it really made for a great midweek treat!

Thursday

By the time Thursday came around, I was feeling the need to slow down {for no apparent reason} so the day is a blur. I’m sure I spent most of it relaxing and looking at recipes, because that’s what a foodie does, when she wants to do nothing!

We did have some delicious¬†Roasted Cauliflower & White Cheddar Soup¬†paired with some leftover ham. I used Kerrygold’s grass fed white cheddar (which I know is not dairy free) but sometimes, we have to indulge a little!

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Friday

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Can you believe this sunrise? That’s what Friday started with before work, and it was just gorgeous. I really need to start using my “adult camera” more. I am amazed at how beautiful nature, life, everything is, if we just take a moment to really see it.

Before we knew it, the weekend was here!

Saturday & Sunday

Our plans for the weekend were up in the air and I’m happy with how relaxed it was.

We enjoyed a delicious weekend breakfast.

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We went grocery store hopping- Market 32, Costco, Adam’s and Whole Foods in one weekend! (I would live in grocery stores if I could)

We hit up Whole Foods Hot/Cold Bar for some lunch.

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I found some great new items to add to my list of wholesome products I love. We are prepared for some healthy good eats this week!

We ate our favorite The Best Turkey Sloppy Joes over spaghetti squash.

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We marathon watched Bridget Jones, all three of them! Well, the dogs and I did.

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We spent time with our family for Sunday dinner.

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This handsome boy is always on the go, so that’s the best we did! I still love it.

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And we ended our weekend on a sweet note. Sugar free Strawberry Banana Jello, strawberries and coconut whip!

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All in all, a great week of good eats, some wonderful moments with the ones we love, and another week to be thankful for.

Until next time, enjoy all your moments, whatever they may be. They all count!

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Sausage, Spinach & Ricotta Frittata

Whenever I hear or say frittata, I immediately want to break out into dance, is anyone else with me?

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Whether or not the word invites you to move those hips, the aroma of this easy and delicious dish, will definitely have you running to the kitchen!

It’s light, fluffy and packed with some awesome ingredients, that will surely leave you asking for an extra serving!

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I originally saw this recipe on Racheal Ray Show, and adapted it with one tasty ingredient to make it just a little heartier for my dear husband.

It was a complete success and I am looking forward to the leftovers feeding me some breakfast and lunch over the upcoming days!

One of my favorite meals is brinner (breakfast for dinner) and to be absolutely the corniest person you will encounter today, this brinner was a winner!!

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Sausage, Spinach & Ricotta Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 oz of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, add the italian sausage. Break sausage up with a spoon and allow to cook. When mostly browned, add diced onion and saut√© for 2-3 minutes. If there isn’t enough cooking fat/oil in the pan from the sausage, this is when you would want to add a little olive oil.

Next add the minced garlic and thyme, allowing the ingredients to merry together and become fragrant. When the onion is translucent, add the spinach and allow to wilt and cook down.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, the ricotta and parmesan cheese together.  Season with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

When the sausage spinach mixture is cooked, pour the egg mixture over the top and evenly spread out the sausage and spinach with a spoon or fork.

Place into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the center is just set. Take out of oven, allow to cool or serve right away.

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Serve it along side a salad, or with some toast.

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You won’t feel guilty eating this, which as you already know is my favorite kind of meal!

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Do you have a favorite brinner recipe?

Cajun Chicken & Cheddar Zucchini Skillet

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There are so many resources out there to inspire delicious, homemade meals. Between the internet, social media, magazines and cookbooks,¬†I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to make all the things I want to. But man, I am going to try ūüôā

I can spend hours just looking at recipes and often get sucked in when I should be doing something that really needs my attention, like laundry. Life is short though, and laundry happens every day. So what if we don’t have socks,¬†isn’t that why they made sandals? I believe so!

While cruising along Pinterest one night, I stumbled across this recipe for White Cheddar Chicken and Zucchini, and immediately I knew I had to make it. Like all other recipes I find, I needed to make it and in doing so, make it my own. Hands down, I give all recognition for the inspiration of this dish to the original blogger, but I made some changes to better suit our tastes and current eating habits.

Which means, I added some spice, garlic and the almighty food that makes every recipe better- BACON! I also omitted the panko bread crumbs due to our low carb lifestyle.

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This dish has so much flavor, and is easy to make! I hope you try it!

Cajun Chicken & Cheddar Zucchini Skillet

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1-2 tbsp of Cajun seasoning {depending on taste}
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 ¬†tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced into rounds
  • 4 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices of cooked bacon, diced

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare zucchini and onions but cutting them first.

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In a bowl, season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Add Cajun seasoning to your liking, between 1-2 tablespoons.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

Saute chicken on each side for 4-5 minutes until browned. Remove from skillet and place in a separate dish.

To the same skillet, add diced onions and sauté for 2 minutes until starting to soften. Add minced garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Then add zucchini and yellow squash to skillet, season with remaining salt, pepper and garlic powder. Combine zucchini and onions well. Place chicken on top of the zucchini and squash and place into the oven.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender. Then top with shredded cheddar and bacon. Place back into the oven and broil on high until cheese is melted and bubbling.

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This is a meal full of amazing flavors and I highly recommend you try it!

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There is something spectacular to be said about dinners made entirely in one pan because who likes to wash dishes after dinner?! Nobody.

Happy Eating!!

Menu Plan Monday #2

Happy Monday!!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! My weekend was spent working, but it was a good one and it passed by in a flash! Despite some long days, we still were able to enjoy a little excitement at a family party, and it’s just another reminder as to how grateful I am for this season in life.

I don’t know if it is my age, or where I ¬†currently am in life, but I just find such joy in little simple things. Friday morning I looked out the window and saw a sunbeam shining through my favorite willow tree. It made my heart so happy! I just had to take a picture!

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I’m also grateful that we are surrounded by such beautiful people who we love dearly, like these two! My momma and nephew ::swoon::

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I hope you feel the same, and if for some reason you don’t- always remember you can make changes, and find the ones who are meant to be in your lives!

With that said, I hope you also were able to enjoy some good eats last week! Our week was busy, so quick meals were on the menu.

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**Menu Plan Monday was inspired by my constant need to know what everyone is eating. Whether it be the blogs I love reading, or the people in my real life who I enjoy thoroughly.¬†¬†I try to make two new recipes a week while rotating the other days with our favorite go to meals, one leftover day and one free for all day. Free for all days could mean leftovers, a quick easy meal, or just eating whatever we fancy (breakfast foods always win for me). Here’s a look at last week….

Monday

Who doesn’t enjoy an easy meal that comes together with loads of flavor? For some reason, I had been craving Beef Stroganoff in a bad way, so we made it happen! Served over ¬†this¬†low carb pasta¬†that I have been enjoying from time to time, so I don’t detour from my own personal goals.

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Tuesday

Late work day, so leftovers of meal mentioned above were consumed

Wednesday

New recipe of the week, Bacon Ranch Chicken Рwe enjoyed this as a quick easy meal.

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Thursday

Creamy Salsa Chicken – I made mine into a very ugly “bowl” but hey, this is real life, right? We also never eat corn but had leftovers so it’s what got thrown in! No waste household over here ūüôā

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Friday

Free for All- the mister had leftover Creamy Salsa Chicken and I had a Low Carb Cheese Quesadilla for a quick treat after work

Saturday

Family party

Sunday

Summer comfort right here. Hotdogs, and low carb onion rings made by my mister. He does love me, haha. I sent him this recipe, and he made it happen! They were tasty!

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Life is all about moderation and sometimes I do plan easy meals that we can just throw together in minutes, because it’s better than going out to eat when you are busy! Meal planning allows me to always figure out what is best for us, for a particular week.

I’m thinking this next week needs to include a better variety of vegetables, and I have it all planned out! Until next week..

Happy Eating!

Baked Pepperoni & Bacon Pizza Chicken

Life lately has been full of some wonderful but busy moments. We laugh quite often how just a few months ago we were talking about how bored we were. That is certainly not the case now.

Much hard work, fun, good eats and happiness have been going on around these parts, and I hope you all are enjoying this current season in your lives, just as much.

I thought I’d share some random things today, that have made my heart happy. This life is short, so no matter what it is, do what you enjoy!

Recent Eats

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Doggie approved treats! Made with whole wheat flour, carrots, applesauce, peanut butter and coconut oil. Healthy fats for my little pups!

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Those ears! Be still my beating heart. Now on to some people food!

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Memorial Day weekend was spent sweating and doing manual labor with an outdoor project, so easy meals was the plan. A glimpse into our weekend of food- Grilled chicken and steak with a delicious, simple vegetable side. Red onions, red bell peppers and zucchini always taste amazing with some garlic and italian seasonings. Not pictured was the other days of hotdogs, hamburgers, antipasto salad, BBQ pulled pork and spaghetti squash au gratin. So good!

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Oh sunny days, how we all love thee. More grilling goodness = less mess in the kitchen! I needed some Mexican flavors in our lives so this dish completely satisfied my mister. Grilled Carne Asada with Spicy Pico de Gallo, Cheesy Green Chile Cauliflower Rice and Roasted Onions, Peppers and Corn. Oh my, was this delicious.

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Last week, I was craving pizza in a big way. Pizza doesn’t agree with me though. I always feel like I have eaten the whole thing, even if it’s only been two slices. So this low carb alternative was made and it was a huge hit with the family!

This recipe is so versatile, I am hesitant to even write out a real recipe so this is what I did.

I marinated chicken breasts in 1/4 cup italian dressing, olive oil, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and italian seasonings for about four hours.

Then I took two shallow dishes, added two beaten eggs to one and grated parmesan cheese to the other. Dip the chicken in egg, then in parmesan cheese to coat. When all chicken was coated, I heated olive oil in a large sauté pan and sautéed for about 4-5 minutes on each side just so the coating was a crisp golden brown. Place chicken into baking dish.

You can use your favorite homemade or jar sauce for this dish. If you have some leftover from a previous meal, even better!

I love sauce mixed with onions and peppers, so I sautéed some up and added a tomato basil flavored marinara that was low in carbs. I topped each parmesan chicken breast with about 1/2 cup sauce mixture.

Then I layered with a mix of shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese. I ended my creativity with pepperoni and bacon.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until internal temperature of chicken is 160 degrees. Broil on high to add some nice bubbling color to the top.

The things you could do with this dish- different vegetables, cheese, meats, and sauces. I look forward to experimenting with different ingredients!

Made Me Smile

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My new friends. I just love animals and we talk about moving to the woods with a lot of land all the time. Just watching them enjoying their day, munching and hanging in the water, really made my day.

My new health journal. I am always on a mission to better myself. I always want to be the best version of myself and I love reflecting on each day. It makes me think of all the wonderful things I am grateful for, allows me to be positive towards myself and inspires me to keep motivated toward my goals!

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I will end this very long post with these beautiful yellow flowers I am loving! I can’t wait for all the flowers to open up! Fresh flowers are a must in my house! They seem to brighten up every day!

Wishing happy, sunny and beautiful days to you all!

A Weekend in Boston – Day 1

I cannot say it enough, I heart Boston. Everything about it, just makes me feel calm, happy and excited all at the same time.

There is just always something to do, see, eat, drink…. and be merry about!

I thought I’d share a little about our weekend away, because it is something I want to always remember. It will always be etched into memory but writing it out to look back on, just seems right.

We ventured up to Boston on a Friday afternoon. The weather was quite dreary but that didn’t stop our anticipation to meet up with two of our favorite people.

We arrived at the¬†Omni Parker House¬†around 3:30 pm where we were delighted to be gifted valet service right at the doorway. We don’t typically do valet so we already were feeling like a King and Queen!

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We checked in and went straight up to our gorgeous room where we were greeted with another surprise! Our weekend dates were spoiling us even before we got there, and we appreciate it all!

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After settling in, we met these beautiful people downstairs!

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Then it was time to take a nice stroll through Boston to get our feet wet (no pun intended, for it was raining!) What I loved most about this hotel besides it’s perfect description “A classic soul with a modern twist”¬†was how close we were to everything. It is right on the Freedom Trail, and so close to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. It made walking around the city, so very lovely!

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We ended up walking to dinner which was at Mast. It was kind of a weird experience all around in the dining world but our company was spot on, so despite the vibe that was throughout, we enjoyed ourselves.

Why must dinner always be served with this scrumptious but evil food? Mmm, bread.

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We started with sharing the Calamari, a family favorite for sure!

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Sadly, all we could taste was the salt! I’ve never had such salty calamari but we don’t waste food, so….. it was obviously still eaten!

My sister and I shared two small plates and one of them stole the show! The cauliflower was tasty!

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Polpettine Trio- a meatball trio of angus beef al ragu

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Roasted Cauliflower- with a spicy chile goat cheese and baked four cheese spread

The men stayed true to their roots, one enjoying a pasta dish (Italian man through and through!) and my hubby sticking with a roasted chicken.

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Orecchiete Baresi- Orecchiete pasta, friarelli (sauteed broccoli rabe), fennel sausage, pecorino romano

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Pollo al Mattone Sette Spezia- half all natural chicken, grilled, smoked seven spice rub, Borretane onion agrodolce

We ate, we talked, we laughed, and were in the best company!

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After dinner we walked back to our hotel for a drink and dessert!

The hotel has a famed whiskey bar called the Last Hurrah. We sat down at one of their tables, each getting a drink of choice and we shared their famous Boston Cream Pie!

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After, we called it a night! ¬†We needed our rest for Saturday and it seriously was the best day! Stay tuned…..

The Best Turkey Sloppy Joes

These past few weeks have just flown by! They were full of wonderful moments, people and love. This gal turned another year older too! Hello to the new 21 plus some *wink wink*

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There have been birthday celebrations, dining out, dinners made for me and basically no actual cooking by me for the past two weeks! The break was amazing but I did miss the kitchen.

I was spoiled beyond words with beautiful messages, time spent with my favorite people and the most amazing gifts (that were not necessary but completely appreciated!)

A burger bar seemed to be a hit at my sister’s and my birthday bash, I just wish I had some photos to show. Maybe next time!

Later in the week, my sister, momma and I went to Cure for a mother-daughter lunch and it did not disappoint!

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The whole experience of the restaurant is rustic, beautiful and centered around farm-fresh ingredients. The menu offers a variety of delicious choices from amazing appetizers, their own varieties of smoked bacon, unique sandwiches and main dishes, to tasty desserts and cocktails.

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We started with a birthday drink and this Sangria was amazing! It had just the right amount of rose wine and peach flavors. I should have these more!

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Our waiter was the cutest boy there ever was!

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We shared calamari as our appetizer, made with banana peppers, lemon and a wonderful sweet chili sauce.

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I wasn’t feeling like being fancy for our birthday lunch so the burger with BBQ seasoned fries sounded tasty. It was a celebratory occasion so there was no guilt with the fries! They were worth it!

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We ended our lunch with the best dessert ever- frozen yogurt! I will never say no to that. Ever.

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We are a silly family ūüôā

I feel so blessed with how the past two weeks have gone and look forward to whatever this next year of life brings my way!

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After living in a birthday bubble, it was time to get back into my normal role and I couldn’t think of a better meal to start with than my Turkey Sloppy Joes. This is an easy, flavorful dish that you can serve on your favorite roll, on top of zucchini noodles, pasta or enjoy with a side salad. I’ve eaten it in a bowl with a spoon before, it’s that delicious.¬†Don’t judge.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

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  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 jalape√Īos, diced (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp spicy montreal steak seasoning (or regular montreal steak seasoning for less spicy)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar**
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper

** I will use truvia brown sugar blend to reduce my sugar intake. If using, only use 1/4 cup due to the increased sweetness.

Directions

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, red and jalape√Īo peppers to pan and saut√© for about 5 minutes until slightly tender.

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When vegetables tender, add ground turkey and season with montreal steak seasoning (spicy or regular). Sauce turkey until browned and cooked thoroughly.

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Next, add all remaining seasonings to ground turkey including chili powder, ground mustard, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Mix well.

Then add worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and season with black pepper.

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Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes for flavors to combine and sauce to thicken.

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Then serve whichever way you like! The mister can’t seem to live without his carbs. It may not be the prettiest meal, but you won’t deny how amazing this tastes!

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Happy eating!

Ohhhh Veggie….Lasagna

A few years ago I found out something that was hard for an Italian girl to stomach. The news was like a dagger to the heart. There was no sugar coating the truth.

My body hates carbs. ::shudder::

My love for bread, pasta, and sweets was going to have to take a lonely drive to nowheresville. Yes, I get to visit from time to time on holidays, but sometimes these visits are such a tease! The one day visits sometimes lead to weekends, then long weekends, so on and so forth. You get the picture. It is hard to give up what you truly love.

So instead of giving up my favorites, I have learned to make substitutions that allow me to eat what I love but still remain pretty faithful to my lower carb way of eating.

I know low carbohydrate diets are not for everyone and I think that is okay. We all must do what works best for us. For me, reducing sugar and carbohydrates allows me to feel awesome! Goodbye bloating, fatigue, heart palpitations and diabetes risk! Hello happiness, health and new delicious recipes!

So without further ado, I give to you….

Low Carb Italian Sausage & Vegetable Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized green or yellow squash, cut lengthwise to make “lasagna noodles”
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 5 cups of homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 32 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5-6 links of Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 oz of ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to pan, sauté for 5-6 minutes until vegetables are becoming tender. Then add in mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms are fully cooked. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic (or to taste), then remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add the Italian sausage with casings removed, breaking up with a spatula. Add the ground turkey or beef, combining with sausage, season with 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried oregano (or to taste). Cook meat until browned and cooked through. Side aside when fully cooked.

You may cook the sliced squash on the grill, in a grill pan or sauté pan. Brush both sides of squash with olive oil,  seasoning with salt and pepper. If using a grill or sauté pan, heat over medium high heat. Place squash evenly in pan in small batches, lightly marking each side before removing from pan.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp granulated garlic and 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley. Mix together until well combined.

To assemble the lasagna, use a large casserole baking dish or your favorite lasagna pan.

Coat bottom of baking dish with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Layer squash as you would lasagna noodles onto bottom of pan (you will need to divide squash into two layers). Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over squash layer, topping ricotta with 1- 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Then add your sausage mixture. Next add 1-2 cups of marinara sauce.

On top of the sauce, add the vegetables (onions, peppers and mushrooms). Next, add the remaining ricotta cheese. You may reserve 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture to add on top of the lasagna at the end before placing in oven.20160402_173629

After the ricotta layer, place your 2nd later of squash. Top with marinara sauce and 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. At this time you can separate the reserved ricotta cheese and place dollops on top of the lasagna.

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Cook for 35-45 minutes, uncovered until bubbling and cheese has melted. Turn oven to broil, allowing cheese to become slightly browned in color. Remove from oven and allow to   sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

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Pour additional marinara sauce on top and enjoy!!!

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Happy eating!