Monday, April 14, 2014

Healthy Turkey Chili





Lately it's been really hot in Miami, which reminds us that beach season is right around the corner! Although it is a little too warm for chili, we still like to treat ourselves to a nice bowl of it every now and then, especially when it won't make us feel guilty for eating it. For a few months now, we have been making small healthy changes that have added up to a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes its the little changes that make the most impact. This recipe is a lighter version of the original beef chili. We promise you won't miss any of the fat or calories from regular chili. This healthy turkey chili will satisfy your family and friends and they won't even know its good for them. All they will notice is how thick and satisfying this dish is, not matter what the weather is like outside!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions
1 green pepper
8 garlic cloves
3 lb. of ground turkey
2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bottles of light beer
1 15 oz. can of black beans
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans
1 15 oz. can of red kidney beans
Salt 
Pepper

Toppings:
Light sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Cilantro
Fresh jalapenos
Fresh tomatoes
Limes

Kitchen essentials:
Stove
Dutch oven or large pot
Knife
Cutting board
Wooden spoon or spatula
Measuring spoons
Can opener
Strainer

Directions:
Chop the onions and peppers finely. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. When the oil is hot, throw in the onion and peppers. Add a little salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Finely chop the garlic and cook for about a minute. Next, add the ground turkey and cook thoroughly. Add some more salt and pepper. It is important to season each layer for intense flavor. 

Once the meat has browned, add the tomato sauce, beer and diced tomatoes. Add the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is bubbling.  Strain the liquid from the canned beans. Lower the heat and add the beans. Simmer on low for about 45 - 60 minutes and allow the flavors to marry. Stir the chili occasionally. Taste to make sure the seasoning is right. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cheddar cheese and cilantro. This turkey chili pairs perfect with warm bread! Enjoy!






Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Dip




We've seen a bunch of dessert dip recipes on other blogs, but we have never had an excuse to try one for ourselves. Last weekend, a good friend of ours made cannoli dip for a Superbowl party. We were hooked! We probably ate more dessert dip then the variety of cheese dips at the party. The following weekend, our neighbors invited us over for dinner and we were in charge of dessert. Of course we made cannoli dip! We were inspired by the recipe our friend gave us, which she found in a blog (ValSoCal). We made a few tweaks to make it our own. This dessert is so light and fluffy, that it will be hard to stop eating it. That's why we made sure to pack up the leftovers and give them away to family members. Everyone loved the sweet, smooth cream. It doesn't really matter what you dip into it - fruit, wafers, a spoon or your fingers - you won't be disappointed! Plus, this recipe is totally feasible even for the busiest sweet lover. Just throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix!

Recipe modified from ValSoCal

Kitchen Essentials:
Stand or Hand Mixer
Mixing bowl
Cutting board
Knife
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Spatula

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of chopped milk chocolate chips

Prep:
Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Measure out the milk chocolate chips and roughly chop.

Measure out and mix the water and instant coffee in a small bowl and set aside.

Directions:
Measure out the ricotta and cream cheese and add to a mixing bowl. Mix until smooth and fully incorporated. Next add the vanilla extract and instant coffee and give it a quick mix.  Then add the powdered sugar and slowly mix.

Lastly add the chopped milk chocolate chips and mix using a spatula. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour until the dip is cold and has thicken. 

Transfer to a decorative serving bowl, sprinkle some more chopped chocolate chips onto and serve with lady fingers, graham crackers, fresh fruit and vanilla wafers. Enjoy!






Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lemon Shortbread Cookies




There’s no better way to show your children how much you love them on Valentine’s Day then by baking homemade heart-shaped cookies. Allow them to help you decorate the treats and you are guaranteed to earn the title of best mom or dad of the year! This fun recipe will bring your family together by creating something from scratch in the heart of your home – the kitchen. This cookie dough is so versatile that you and the kids could experiment with different shapes, sizes and decorations. If you and your family are willing to share these moist and crumbly cookies, pack them up in a tin container or individual clear bags as gifts for teachers, classmates and neighbors. Y

Kitchen Essentials:
Oven
Refrigerator
Baking sheet
Stand or hand mixer
Plastic wrap
Parchment paper
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Mixing bowls
Cookie cutters
Whisk
Piping bag and tips

Ingredients for Cookies:
2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon on vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of ground white pepper
Zest of one lemon
3 cups of flour
Sprinkles

Ingredients for Royal Icing:
3 ounces of egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar

Directions for Cookies:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer over medium speed. Next, add the egg, egg yolk, salt, vanilla, white pepper and lemon zest to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly begin to add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is firm and turns into a big ball. With clean hands, create two round disks out of the dough. Cover each disk in plastic wrap and chill for an hour to three hours in the refrigerator.  

Now the fun part begins! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. While the oven heats up, cover clean surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the chilled dough until it is about half an inch thick. Begin to cut out the cookies using cookie cutters of your choice. We used heart-shaped cutters about 3 inches big for this recipe but have also used smaller ones and they come out just as great. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet one inch apart. Create another disk of dough using the scraps and chill and roll out again until you have used all the dough. Bake the cookies 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Keep a close eye on them by turning on the oven light. Resist the urge to open the oven door to avoid changing the temperature in the oven. The cookies are done baking once the edges turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack before decorating them with the royal icing.

Directions for Royal Icing:

Royal icing is one of the best recipes for children to make because there is no heating involved. It could be a little messy, but definitely fun. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Divide the icing into separate bowls and add the food coloring of your choice. For this recipe, we divided the icing into two small bowls. We dyed one half red. The other half of the icing remained white. We used the white icing as glue for the multi-colored sprinkles we added to some of the cookies and the red icing to write on the cookies using a piping bag and a thin tip. Feel free to let your kiddo’s imagination run wild. No matter how the cookies end up looking, they will still be delicious!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Living a Balanced Lifestyle in 2014 #wowthatsgood

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Nestle.

Happy 2014 everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season filled with tons of happy moments and celebrations! We sure did! This first blog post of the year is all about what we are doing to get back on track after indulging in holiday treats and outstanding cuisine during our recent trip to New Orleans. We've made big changes to our diet in the recent months by simply substituting some of the richer foods we normally would eat with healthier options. We don't believe in dieting, we believe in a balanced lifestyle. That's why we made a decision a few months ago to take better care of our bodies and get back to the weight we were almost five years ago when we got married. We had each put on about 10-15 pounds over the years and lost it all in about four months by just making healthier meal choices.


Picture of us 25 pounds ago at the end of July 2013 with our niece Audrey

Picture of us last week - Michael lost 10 pounds and Cristy lost 15 pounds!

It's no secret that we love to cook and eat. We thought it would be harder for us as foodies to make this change, however we learned that because we have a passion for food and cooking, it actually made it easier! You see, if you love experimenting with food as much as we do, then half the battle is already taken care of. All you have to do to become healthier in the new year is to eat less of the "bad" stuff and eat more things that are good for you. For example, we used to have ice cream or dessert almost every night while watching television or blogging. Now, we only have dessert once a week on the weekend. If we have a sweet craving during the week, we don't ignore it (that only makes it worse), we simply have an 8 ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk, non-fat greek yogurt, some fruit or share a serving of Skinny Cow Divine Candy.





We also discovered that we were eating too much of certain things that are considered healthy. For example, now instead of eating an entire banana as a snack, we split one in half and share it. It is just as satisfying wether you eat the whole thing or half of it. The key is to listen to your body. Only eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. As food bloggers, we are always working on delicious recipes to share with our followers. It can sometimes be difficult to control ourselves from overeating, however it is more important to us to be able to enjoy a small portion but still feel good in our skin then to over eat and then feel miserable afterwards. We encourage all of our followers to do the same - enjoy our recipes sensibly (like you would with alcohol.) It's all about balance. Sometimes we do eat a little more than we should, but then we will balance it out by eating less the next day.




One of our secret weapons to keeping a slim figure is Lean Cuisine meals. We don't know what we would do without this easy, quick meal! We both have office jobs and take lunch to work. We rarely go out to eat for lunch during the week unless it is a co-workers birthday or special occasion. Sometimes we have healthy leftovers from the night before or if we got up early enough, we will prepare a small turkey sandwich for lunch. But at least twice a week, we each take a Lean Cuisine to work for lunch. We love Lean Cuisine not only because it is satisfying and delicious, but also because it has a money-back guarantee, which we have never had to use, but are glad to know it's there!



A typical healthy lunch for us: Michael had Lean Cuisine's Wrap Additions with a side salad and fruit and Cristy had Lean Cuisine's Stuffed Pretzels (Three Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Pretzels) with a side salad and fruit.





A typical lunch for us look like this - a lean cuisine meal, a spinach and kale salad with tomatoes, a sprinkling of cheese and a teaspoon of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and a cup of fruit. The portions are perfect because we are neither full or hungry afterwards. If we are hungry in the afternoon, we'll either have a cereal bar or a piece of fruit to hold us up until dinner. We are not big breakfast people, so we normally have some coffee with sugar-free CoffeeMate and oatmeal or cereal.







All of the foods we mentioned in this post are available at Walmart. Here's a shopping list of the items we got this week: Skinny Cow Devine Candy, LEAN CUISINE® Sesame Chicken, LEAN CUISINE® Simple Favorites™, LEAN CUISINE® Morning Collection™ (Turkey Sausage English Muffin), LEAN CUISINE® Wrap ADDITIONS™, LEAN CUISINE® Stuffed Pretzels (Three Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Pretzels) and CoffeeMate (Sugar-Free French Vanilla). As multitaskers, we love shopping at Walmart because we could buy groceries, toiletries and just about anything else we need for the home all in one place. For information on other Nestle products at Walmart, visit http://www.walmart.com/nestle 

If you have any questions on how we lost the weight and keep it off, please comment below. Good luck!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spring Roll Holiday Appetizer #SeaPak #PakTheParty

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Rich's SeaPak.



In two weeks we will be celebrating the third annual Ornament Exchange Party at our home. We are so excited to have our close friends over for some yummy food, festive drinks and laughs. We still have a lot to do before the party so we went to our local Walmart to buy some holiday decor and entertaining essentials. While at the store, we found these tasty Rich's SeaPak Spring Rolls in the frozen seafood section and we thought it would make a great holiday appetizer. It's the perfect snack option for parties because you could actually enjoy yourself instead of slaving away in the kitchen all night on homemade treats. These spring rolls are a healthy quick dinner option as well when paired with a salad. We decided to test it out last night for dinner to see if we would like to serve it at our upcoming party. We were impressed and decided that these spring rolls will definitely be part of our menu. The flaky crust and warm filling of shrimp and vegetables really hit the spot.

These spring rolls were easy to prepare. All we did was place them on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Although it was just us two having them for dinner, we decided to experiment with ways in which we would display them the day of the party. We placed the rolls on a bed of peppery arugula on a round white platter. We think it kind of looks like a Christmas wreath! We added a pop of color and decoration to the dish by adding yellow juicy tomatoes and plump cranberries. Then we used our homemade cranberry sauce, which we made for Thanksgiving, as a dip. We love the green and red colors of this quick and east dish! These Rich's SeaPak spring rolls are one of the the best frozen appetizers we have ever tasted.


Here is the link to the Ladies Home Journal mention as the "The 15 Best Frozen Appetizers to Serve at a Party": http://www.lhj.com/recipes/easy/appetizers/best-frozen-party-appetizers/?page=10 and the Today's Show mention of the product as well: http://www.seafoodsource.com/en/all-news/24666-seapak-featured-on-nbc-s-today-show
You could also follow SeaPak on Facebook for other entertaining ideas at www.Facebook.com/SeaPak




Monday, November 25, 2013

Creamy Pumpkin Soup




We believe that every household should have at least one pumpkin item on the buffet table on Thanksgiving and this recipe is probably the best one you could choose to have on yours. Every year we begin our night at Michael's parent's house (we visit three houses) and enjoy this warm and delicious soup. It's a luxurious way to begin your dinner with it's thick, creamy consistency and robust flavor. We've made it for pot lucks and it is always a hit. This recipe is a guaranteed winner! I don't think we will ever celebrate Thanksgiving without it!

Ingredients for the soup:

2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 medium yellow onions
3 ribs of celery
Salt
Pepper
3 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
4 teaspoons of poultry seasoning
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
5 dry bay leaves
1 30oz can of pumpkin puree
2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Ingredients for the topping:
1 apple
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of honey

Kitchen Essentials:
Large pot or Dutch Oven
Stove
Cutting Board
Knife
Wooden spatula
Whisk
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Grater
Vegetable peeler
Medium sized bowl
Can opener

Prep:
Begin by finely chopping the onions and celery. We normally cut the rib of celery in fourths lengthwise. Then we finely chop. Becsuse this soup is not blended,  it is best to have tiny pieces.

Directions for the Cranberry and Apple Topping:
Add the lemon juice to a bowl. Using the vegetable peeler, peel and core an apple. Chop into pieces and add to the bowl with the lemon. Mix the apples and lemon juice well. This prevents the apples from turning brown. Next add the dried cranberries, cinnamon, chili powder and honey. Mix well. This topping really makes the soup! It's not the same without it.

Directions for the Creamy Pumpkin Soup:
Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and olive and allow to heat. Add the finely chopped onions and celery and mix with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let the onions and celery cook for 10 minutes until the onions have become translucent and soft.

Next add the flour and using a whisk, mix to make sure that the onions and celery are coated. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two and slowly begin to add the chicken broth. Don't get scared, the flour will begin to clump up and turn paste-like, but keep drizzling in the chicken both while whisking. After you have added all of the chicken broth, add the poultry seasoning, hot sauce and bay leaves. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Check for salt and pepper and add if needed. This soup does need a good amount of seasoning.

After the soup mixture has simmered for 5 minutes, add the pumpkin puree and whisk. Put the lid on the pot and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.  Lastly add the nutmeg and cream and give it a good stir.  Check again for salt and pepper and add if needed. Keep warm until you are ready to serve!

Pour a generous amount into a bowl and top with your cranberry and apple topping! Everyone will go crazy for this soup, even if they are not big fans of pumpkin! Get ready because you will be expected to make this every year for Thanksgiving or any Fall occasion!



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Infused Sweet Potato Mash



Although we love sweet potato fries, we rarely ever make mashed sweet potatoes except for Thanksgiving. However, the other night we were experimenting in the kitchen and decided to make some recipes for the blog using whatever ingredients we had in our kitchen at the moment. We had some sweet potato, heavy cream, apple juice and some spices and nuts handy. So we came up with this apple infused sweet potato mash recipe. We thought it was delicious and unlike anything we had ever tried, but we needed a second opinion, so we called our neighbors and invited them to dinner. They absolutely loved it! We hope your family and friends will love it too!

Ingredients:

4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of apple juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 cup of walnuts

Kitchen Essentials:

Medium sauce pan
Stove
Oven
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Knife
Cutting board
Oven safe ramekin
Potato Masher or hand/stand mixer



Prep:
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into one inch cubes.  Fill a medium sauce pan half way with water and add a pinch of salt. Place on the stove over medium heat and let the water come to a boil.

Directions:

Add the peeled and cubed sweet potato to the boiling water. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is fork tender. Once softened, strain the mixture and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In the same sauce pan that you boiled the sweet potatoes, add the apple juice and heavy cream and place over low heat. Let the mixture get warm.


Add the butter, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg  and heated heavy cream and apple juice to the sweet potatoes and mash until smooth and creamy. You can do this by hand with a potato masher or with a hand or stand mixer.


Transfer to a oven safe ramekin and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Please in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes and serve hot.





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