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!

Low Carb Pudding Parfaits

I don’t know about you guys, but some of my favorite sweet treats include cake, chocolate and pudding. If only I could eat my favorites everyday…. okay maybe that’s a little too indulgent.

What if we all could enjoy our favorites knowing that they aren’t as bad for you? That is my mission in this life and I truly enjoy sharing these creations with you.

A few months ago, I was craving my favorite chocolate cake. Costco’s chocolate cake, to be more specific. Layers of rich, dark, moist chocolate cake with sweet, creamy and decadent chocolate frosting, covered in delicious chocolate shavings. That is really what dreams are made of. I never looked up how much sugar is in that cake, although I know it’s probably right on the label. I didn’t want to cry after eating it.

So instead of venturing out to buy a huge cake that would leave me with a million servings (exaggerating, it’s probably more like 30ish), I tried my best to make a lower carb chocolate dessert that would kick the craving and leave our stomachs happy.

That’s when these were born. Yummy, healthier, chocolate, delicious parfaits. Layers of low carb chocolate cake, sugar-free pudding and whipped cream have completed my life. A dessert that is very versatile, for you can mix it with whatever flavors you like.

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In the words of Guy Fieri, “this is money”.

Low Carb Pudding Parfaits

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Ingredients for Cake

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup swerve sweetener**
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water

**You can substitute your favorite sweetener- 1/2 cup swerve = 1/2 cup of regular sugar. So use according to that ratio.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, breaking up any lumps in the flour.

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In a mixing bowl, add eggs, sweetener and vanilla. Mix together until combined.

Add dry ingredients into the egg mixture. You will have a thick batter at this point.

Mix in cocoa powder.

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Add melted butter and water, allowing for all ingredients to blend and batter to thin out.

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Pour batter into a 8 X 8 inch baking pan either greased or with covered with parchment paper. Spread evenly into pan.

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Bake for approximately 22 minutes or until the top is set, but cake feels moist. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

 

You could stop here, top with your favorite frosting, whipped topping, ice cream…the possibilities are endless. I took it a step further.

Ingredients for Parfait

  • Chocolate cake, recipe above
  • 1 box of sugar-free instant pudding (or regular pudding), any flavor
  • 2 cups of preferred milk (skim, whole, almond, coconut, cream etc)
  • 1 large container of cool whip (or make your own)

Directions

In a bowl, if using instant pudding, mix milk and pudding for 2 minutes using a whisk. Place into refrigerator for at least 5 minutes to allow to set.

Cut the chocolate cake into cubes.

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Using whichever cup, dish or bowl that you prefer, being to layer your parfaits.

First add cake, then pudding, then whipped topping, making three layers.

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Try not to put spoonfuls of pudding or cool whip into your mouth during this process. It can be difficult.

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You can make ahead and place back into refrigerator or enjoy right away!

 

Happy eating!

Disclaimer: This cake is meant to be light and easily crumbles for this parfait. If you are looking for a more dense cake, come back when I create that *wink wink*

A Chocolate Chip Blondie Snow Day

It’s the beginning of April, and spring is here! The birds will be chirping, sun shining and our plants sprouting! Well, that’s what we all thought.

Mother Nature had quite a spring surprise, covering us with her humor and quite a dusting of powdered sugar, also known as snow. Cold, wet, unwanted but pretty snow. Everywhere. All day long.

While I was fortunate enough to be home enjoying a day inside with my pups and a warm fire, I definitely would have preferred sunshine on my face and an iced coffee in hand. That was not the day that was meant to be had, but I hope to see some in the future!

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Despite that, I am grateful for the day that I was given. I cleaned, organized and rearranged furniture all day long. I lit the most wonderfully scented candles, drank hot coffee, and enjoyed being enclosed in my little nest. Cozy, warm, blessed and happy would be words I would use to describe today. The only thing that would have made today better is having my mister home with me.

Since he wasn’t, I decided to make him something delicious and sweet for when he got home. Sweets for my sweetie! Too corny? Moving on…

These Blondies are full of flavor, yet healthy for you! They will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth craving without making you feel guilty. In my book that equals perfection!

Paleo/Low Carb Chocolate Chip Blondies

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup any nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar or swerve)
  • 4 oz of your favorite chocolate (dark, milk, white, sugar-free, etc)

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, spray with nonstick spray and put aside.

In a bowl, mix together nut butter, egg, coconut oil, vanilla and sweetener.

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Then add almond flour, baking soda and salt. When fully combined,  fold in your chocolate.

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Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Place into oven, bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then cut into 16 squares.

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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!

Paprika Pork and Mushrooms

There is nothing better than coming home to the aromas of a hot meal simmering away on the stove top. Well, that’s what I assume since I seem to be the one always doing the cooking and the mister is the one reaping the benefits of that! We win some, we lose some.

Do you want to know a secret though? There just might be a better scenario that brings a smile to this girl’s face, a delicious meal that is ready in just 20-30 minutes! The kind of meal that comes together so easily, but tastes like you have been in the kitchen all day.

There are days where we will gladly spend all day in the kitchen preparing an enormous amount of love for our families, through food. Holidays, birthdays, special occasions or a  family Sunday dinner, are some of the days that stand out in my life.

On other days, the monotony of work and responsibilities, sometimes leaves little desire to cook a meal that leaves your palate craving more. These are the days that we should all pull out our tried and true recipes that are easy, yet amazing.

This paprika pork and mushrooms, is one of ours. I hope you enjoy it!

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Paprika Pork and Mushrooms (with or without sour cream) 

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork loin, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8-12 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tsp of minced garlic
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or see * in directions

Instructions

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large sauce pan over medium high heat. Trim visible fat from pork loin and cut pork into 1″ cubes. Season pork with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and 1 tbsp of smoked paprika. Sauté over medium high heat, turning pork several times to brown all sides, then remove from pan into another dish.

Heat the additional tbsp of olive oil into sauté pan and add mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to cook for 5 minutes until soft and remove from pan. Place mushrooms into the dish with pork.

If needed, add a little more olive oil into sauté pan and add onions. Sauté onions until translucent. Then add minced garlic, 1 tbsp of smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp dried thyme. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Next add diced tomatoes with green chiles and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to allow to simmer for 5 minutes until flavors are combined.

Add the pork and mushrooms back into sauté pan, covering with a lid. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

(At this point, I personally believe that we all have different tastes. So adding additional salt and pepper for your preferences would be acceptable)

*If you like sour cream and will be using all servings, add sour cream at the end, stirring into dish until well combined. If you will have leftovers, simply place 1-2 tbsp of sour cream over your serving and combine. The dish tastes delicious when sour cream is also omitted.

Serve over pasta, rice, or potatoes. We like to eat ours with vegetables!

Happy eating!