Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Nice” Cream

Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Nice” Cream.

Can you even stand how decadent and amazing this ice cream looks??!!

Well – it is actually “nice” cream!  A dairy-free, healthy version of ice cream made from fresh, natural ingredients.

When my daughter-in-law, Liz, who is a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) as well as a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN), recently posted this recipe on the blog of  her website about functional nutrition, Nourish & Flourish, I knew I had to try this!

Liz’s knowledge about holistic nutritional health is extraordinary, and she “preaches” and practices maintaining a “normal” lifestyle with most everything in moderation.  I really am very proud of her, and this recipe is nothing short of AMAZING!  You will not miss the dairy, added sugar, or all the preservatives you are used to consuming in your usual ice cream.

Please click on THIS LINK for the recipe for this delicious “Nice” Cream on Liz’s website and blog.  I hope you will subscribe to her blog post as there is always something interesting to learn or to try making for a healthy alternative.  Liz also has a Facebook page and Instagram page, which I encourage you to follow as well.  And if you live nearby Pittsburgh, PA, Liz is available for individualized nutrition consulting.  You can get a free 15-minute consult by signing up here.

But first – make this Nice Cream and let me know what you think!!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet.

We all find ourselves on those days when we just need to throw something together quick for dinner – right?

We want it to be easy, but healthy and delicious if possible.

The other day I threw this together and really enjoyed it.  We had it with a cucumber salad on the side for a healthy delicious meal in 30 minutes.

I’m sure there are many options for different proteins and veggies and spices, but here is how I made this one.  Do you ever throw together quick “skillet” meals like this?  What do you like to use?

Turkey Kielbasa, Brussels Sprouts, and Potato Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Turkey Kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
  • 1 lb petite yellow fingerling potatoes, cut in half (or your favorite)
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary

Directions:

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts, potatoes, red bell pepper,  onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or so beginning with high heat to brown and then reducing to medium and covering with a lid until Brussels are becoming tender and potatoes are almost cooked through (you can test with a fork).  Stir occasionally.

Add additional Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, turkey kielbasa and fresh rosemary.  Cook approximately 10  more minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until all is cooked and flavors are blended well.

Serve immediately.

Stores well to reheat for leftovers.  

Enjoy!

(I ate leftovers for breakfast the next day and LOVED!)

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry.

Do you love going to those fun hibachi restaurants where they cook delicious stir fry meals right before your eyes?

This honey garlic chicken stir fry recipe reminds me of the fresh deliciousness of those experiences.

This might very likely be my all-time favorite chicken recipe!

It is simple and easy, made from ingredients typically kept on hand, and so adaptable to your tastes.

Make it with mushrooms and snow peas and onions if they are your favorite vegetables or what you have on hand.

Make it with beef or pork or shrimp – whatever you like best.

Whatever you like, please do try this awesome recipe.

I wonder if it will become one of your favorites like it is for me?

Here is how I made it this past week.

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  While oil is heating up, steam carrots in microwave for 3-4 minutes.

Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to rest.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, and zucchini to skillet.  Stir fry until vegetables are tender (approx. 3-4 mins.).

Remove veggies from skillet, and allow to rest.

Add remaining oil to skillet and stir fry seasoned chicken.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Add the chopped garlic, and cook for approx. 30 seconds.

Add the veggies back to the pan, and cook for a couple more minutes until the veggies are warmed through.

In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, honey, and soy sauce.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Cook for one minute.

Whisk cornstarch with equal amount of cold water.  Add to skillet.  Bring to a boil, and cook for another minutes or so until sauce begins to thicken.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from DinnerAtTheZoo.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut Squash.

I wanted to do something new and creative with butternut squash for dinner one day this past week.  I absolutely love butternut squash and have shared several recipes through the years here at The Creative Life In Between on how I enjoy preparing it.

The most simple is yummy, but easy Roasted Butternut Squash.

Another fabulous way to serve it is Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna – OOOO LA LA!!

Or how about Penne with Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash?  Such a delight with crunchy toasted walnuts!

But how about a meaty version?

I had a fresh package of grass-fed ground beef in the fridge, so after googling beef and butternut squash, I found some ideas and tweaked up a favorite found at Civilized Caveman Cooking.

This full-flavored, meaty, and paleo version was DELISH!

Another winner of a way to serve Butternut Squash!

Here is how I made it.  Hope you’ll give it a try.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 lb. ground beef (grass-fed organic if possible) or ground turkey
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced and coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Place flesh down in glass 9×13 baking dish.  Pour 1/2 inch of water into baking dish.  Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted through skin into soft flesh.

While squash is roasting in the oven, saute sliced strips of bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy.  Set aside and pour off all but about a tablespoon of bacon drippings.  Saute onions (reserving 1/4 for topping) and celery in same skillet for 2-3 minutes.  Add beef, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir and saute until beef is cooked through.

When squash is done, remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Scoop out all but about 1/4 inch of flesh from squash halves.  Add mashed squash and crispy bacon (reserving 1 Tbsp. for topping) to meat mixture .  Stir to completely combine.  Fill both butternut squash shells with meat and squash filling.  Return to oven in same baking dish for 10-15 minutes.

Saute remaining 1/4 chopped onion with balsamic vinegar until caramelized.

Remove stuffed squash from oven.  Top with balsamic caramelized onions and reserved bacon.  Cut each squash half in half to create 4 servings.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie.

Looking for something to do with the abundance of fresh, juicy, sweet, beautiful tomatoes in your garden or available this time of year?

How about an old-fashioned tomato pie?!

It’s like a deep dish pizza  in an old-fashioned crust….

Layers of tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and parsley… topped with cheesy yumminess.

Make one, and enjoy it hot, warm, room temperature, or even cold.  It is a wonderful treat to celebrate the end of summer’s bounty and the delight of vine-ripened tomatoes.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

Ingredients

  • Single Pie Crust
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/3 cup Crisco shortening
    • Dash of salt (6 shakes)
    • 1/3 cup cold water
  • Filling
    • 2-3 lbs tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used a variety of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes)
    • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil and parsley
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
    • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
    • 1/8-1/4 cup cup mayonnaise

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare pie crust by blending flour, shortening and salt with a pastry blender to create coarse crumbs.  Add cold water, and mix until just combined.   Do not overwork (this is the secret to flaky pie crust).  Roll out dough on floured surface and line a 9″ pie plate with dough – folding overhanging dough under itself along rim to create rustic edge.

Line piecrust with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans (or pie weights) to keep crust in place.  Bake for 20 mins.  Cool completely.

To prepare filling, place thinly sliced tomatoes on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt.  Let stand 10 mins.  Pat dry with another layer of paper towels.

While tomatoes are resting, saute onion and garlic, sprinkled with salt and pepper, in olive oil for 3-4 minutes until tender.

Layer tomatoes, then onion/garlic mixture, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped herbs into pie crust.  Continue layering until all tomatoes, onions, and herbs are used.

Combine shredded cheese and mayonnaise.  Spread over top of tomato pie.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, shielding edges with foil or pie shield (the GREATEST invention ever for pie bakers!) to prevent excessive browning.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, whichever you prefer. 

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Recipe adapted slightly from Myrecipes.com.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

When I have a head cold, nothing makes me feel better than the smell and taste of good old-fashioned chicken noodle soup.

So when my throat started aching, nose started running, cough began croaking, ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton, and head began pounding this week, I knew I had to get a pot of soup on.

Not only does the smell comfort me and remind me of Grandma’s house and love, but the steam clears up the stuffed nose and the warm broth soothes my sore throat.

When other foods lose their flavor when your head is congested, nothing tastes as good as homemade chicken soup.

If you are a beginner cook, I hope you will find this recipe easy to follow.  It is made from staple ingredients I almost always have in my kitchen, and though it takes a couple hours to simmer,  you can throw it together quickly and forget about it during that time – enjoying the aroma and anticipation of comfort.

Here is how I make it.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

  • Servings: approx. 12
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I like to use Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts)
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 sticks celery cut into 4-5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shortcut carrots
  • 5-6 tsp. chicken soup base (I like Bell-View)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved
  • 1/4  cup fresh chopped parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper
  • 12 oz. pkg Kluski egg noodles (I like Pennsylvania Dutch brand)

Directions:

Place frozen chicken breasts in large soup pot.  Cover with 12 cups cold water.  Add celery, carrots, chicken base, whole garlic cloves, onions, parsley, and pepper.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer with lid tilted slightly so it is not tight fitting, but allows steam to escape.  Simmer for approximately 2 hours or until broth level reduces 1/2 – 1 inch.  You can tell this by looking at the side of the pot where a line will be formed where soup started.  This will allow the broth to build depth of flavor.

When soup is almost done, boil noodles in a separate pot, cooking 2-3 minutes less than directions.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.  Set aside.

When soup broth is done, pour through strainer into a larger pot.  The broth will go into the pot, and the chicken and vegetables will remain in the strainer.

When cool enough to handle, chop chicken and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Add back to broth, then add drained and rinsed noodles.   Stir to incorporate all.

Your soup is now ready to enjoy.  This soup keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator and also freezes well.

Beginner’s sidenotes/tips:  You can certainly use a whole chicken or chicken parts, but it is a lot more work to clean the chicken from the bone, and remove the skin and fat after cooking to cut up for the soup.  Using chicken breasts also eliminated the need to allow the broth to cool and fat to rise to top to skim off as there is little to no fat in the chicken breasts.  Chicken breasts also allow for a heartier soup with big chunks of tender chicken.  Buying a better grade and organic chicken will give you better flavor and better food value.  I’ve found with cheaper brands of chicken, there is fat and gristle that needs removed as well as ligaments that need cut out.

You can certainly use whole raw carrots, but the convenient short-cut carrots save the need for peeling and cutting down carrots into manageable pieces.

While dried herbs are always good to have on hand in a pinch, nothing will make your recipes better than using fresh herbs.  Fresh parsley as opposed to dried will really add a whole new sophisticated level to your soup.

Always cook your noodles separately, and drain and rinse well in cold water.  This will remove the starch that cooks off the pasta from being in your soup and “muddying up” the broth’s texture and flavor.  Rinsing in cold water will stop the “cooking” that still continues in food like pasta while it is still hot.

Cook noodles 2-3 minutes less than directions say to avoid soggy, mushy noodles in your soup.  As they sit in the soup, they will soften and plump even more, so no need to over-cook.

Do not add oil or salt to the noodles when boiling.  There is plenty of salt in the soup base that will make the broth.  It is almost impossible to “unsalt” soup, but additional salt can always be added for individual taste or preference.  If you over-salt, add more water to broth or consider boiling a whole peeled potato in the broth.  The potato will absorb some of the salt.  You can then throw the potato out, hopefully salvaging your broth.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash.

I have always enjoyed spaghetti squash, but now that I have discovered this recipe…….. well…. now I LOOOVVVEE spaghetti squash!

This is absolutely the most amazing way to eat it!

Imagine a version of mac ‘n cheese without the macaroni carbs or calories and replaced with healthy spaghetti squash “noodles.”  (Macaroni carbs 78g/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash carbs 7g/cup – Macaroni calories 221/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash calories 31/cup!)

But…… it also has the most amazing flavor, you won’t even miss your macaroni!

When I saw a recipe at Eatwell101 for this amazingness, I knew I had to try.  I tweaked it up a bit, and here is how I made it.

Hope you will give it a try!  You won’t be sorry!

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Half and Half
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions or green onions
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheese – I used the following combination:
    • 1/4 cup Mozarella
    • 1/4 cup White Cheddar
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan
    • 1/4 cup Gruyere

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut both ends off of spaghetti squash and cut in half lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds.  Place both halves in a 9×13 baking dish flesh side up.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Combine half and half, garlic, chicken base (or bouillon), thyme, and scallions in a small bowl.

Sprinkle half of shredded cheese in the cavities of each halved squash.  Pour half of cream mixture into each squash half.  Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Roast for 40 mins, or until squash flesh is tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and carefully scrape squash from skin with a fork creating spaghetti “noodles.”  Mix well with cheese and cream, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili.

Autumn is the season for all things pumpkin!  (Can I get an “Amen?”)

So when a friend recently mentioned pumpkin chili, I just knew I had to try it.

I found a recipe online and tweaked it a bit.

And Oh My Pumpkin Lovin’ Heart!!!!!

Not only is this pot of comfort delicious, it is healthy and nutritious!  It’s chock full of veggies and ground turkey and chicken.  Pumpkin is heart healthy with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.  Tomatoes provide the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

A tub of this is being delivered today to a family near and dear to my heart who just welcomed a new baby (their second), along with some cornbread, so busy Mommy doesn’t have to worry.  Hoping big brother loves this as much as my granddaughter loved sampling all the ingredients that went into making this yesterday.

Give this yummy recipe a try, and let me know how you LOVE it.

Happy Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 6 links (8 oz.) sweet apple with maple chicken sausage (or your fave), chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • 2 16 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 16 oz. cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnishes (optional):  sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions

Directions

In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and saute onion and garlic for 2 min.  Add peppers, and saute another 3-4 mins.  Remove from pot and reserve.

Add 2 more Tbsp. olive oil to pot, and brown ground turkey and chopped chicken sausage approx. 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add veggies back into pot, along with beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices.  Stir well.

Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

To serve, garnish (if desired) with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Spinach & Goat Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops.

It is taking me a while to learn to cook for just two since becoming “empty” nesters.  Lately, it seems, we order in, go out, eat simple, or eat leftovers for days and days and days when I do cook.

I still try to make a nice meal on Sunday, even if it is just the two of us.  This past Sunday, I decided to make stuffed pork chops with a pack of (just two!) beautifully thick, center cut Iowa Chops I had picked up.

Instead of the usual bread stuffing, though, I wanted to do something different.  So after perusing the web and finding a number of interesting combinations, I came up with a combination of fresh iron-rich spinach, creamy goat cheese, garlic to kick it up, and ruby red roasted red peppers for their beautiful color and flavor.


It made a beautiful, delicious, and healthier stuffing for our chops, and I served them on a bed of zoodles (spiral cut zucchini noodles).

How do you like to stuff your chops?!  Hope you’ll give this version a try.  Simply double or triple depending on how many you are cooking for if you are fortunate enough to be serving a crowd.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 2 thick boneless Pork Chops (I used Iowa Chops*)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

 

Directions

Steam spinach in microwave with 1 Tbsp. water for 1 minute on High until wilted.  Drain, and squeeze water out.  Add chopped roasted red peppers, minced garlic, and goat cheese.  Stir to combine.

Cut a slit in each pork chop to create a pocket, being careful not to cut through to other side.

Spoon half of spinach mixture into the pocket of each pork chop.

Mix breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, parsley, and seasoned salt in shallow dish.  Press stuffed pork chops  on both sides into the bread crumb mixture to coat.

Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium/high heat.  Add pork chops, and cook 4-5 minutes until nicely browned.  Flip over and brown on other side until now longer pink in the middle.  (If chops are extremely thick, you may want to put chops in preheated 375 degree oven for an additional 10 minutes once browned.)

*Iowa Chops:  The notorious “Iowa Chop” is a seriously thick and succulent pork chop cut from the lower back of the hog just behind the rib.   The thickness (1.25-1.5 inches) of this chop led it to be coined “The Iowa Chop” in the 1980’s by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

(P.S. If you are a subscriber and seeing this twice, sorry for the inconvenience!  I somehow scheduled it to publish in an incomplete state last evening, so have updated.  Thanks for reading!)

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi.

I adooooore seafood!

When eating out, I will likely order seafood 80% of the time.

Chilean Sea Bass… Salmon…Lobster… Shrimp… Scallops…  Tuna…  Fish Sandwiches…  Fish and Chips… Fish Tacos!

And then there is Mahi Mahi!  Ohhhh  the light, mild, delicate flavor of heavenly deliciousness…..  no wonder you have to say it TWICE!

I don’t often cook seafood at home as Hubby is not nearly the fan that I am, but I snuck this yumminess in last night for dinner.  A couple of wonderful wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets pan seared with onions, garlic, thyme and lemon zest – this recipe is quick as a wink, healthy as all get out (did you know a 3-4 ounce serving of Mahi Mahi has 20 grams of protein, contains all the amino acides you need to survive, and is under 100 calories?!), and melts in your mouth better than butter!

Here is how I made it thanks to the inspiration from ChicFitChef:

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi

Ingredients:

  • 2 3-4oz Mahi Mahi fillets, patted dry
  • 2 lemons, zested and juice reserved
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp. freshly minced thyme (fresh is always preferred if possible)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Heat olive oil in skillet until searing hot!

Meanwhile, combine lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper.   Coat patted-dry fish fillets on both sides with this seasoning.

Add onion slices to hot skillet.  Once onions are golden brown (about 2-3 minutes), add fish to sear for 3-4 minutes (without moving).

Turn fish fillets over with a spatula, and let sear for another 3-4 minutes on other side.

Lower heat, and add minced garlic and lemon juice.  Cover pan, and cook fish another 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi