Sunday, December 14, 2014

{ Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna }

This recipe is most definitely a keeper!  Sometimes I have a craving for some real hearty comfort food, but don't want to pay the consequences of a carb dense, high-calorie, dairy logged meal.  That's why I love this dish right here!  All the deliciousness without any of the guilt.  This Butternut Squash Lasagna has no grains, no dairy, and no sugar, making it both paleo and Whole30 compliant.  This recipe is a must for all you clean eaters out there! {Recipe adapted from Stupid Easy Paleo.}


Ingredients
  • 2 medium or 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 36 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 4 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & pepper
  • Coconut oil or fat of choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in a spoonful of coconut oil until it’s softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef, garlic and oregano and raise the heat to medium-high. Saute until the beef is cooked through.
  3. Add the olives, tomato sauce and paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low and simmer while you prepare the squash.
  4. Peel the butternut squash. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice into very thin rounds by laying the squash on a cutting board. I tried to make mine about 1/8″ thick. The key is to make the slices as uniform as possible so they cook evenly.
  5. To prepare the lasagna, start with a bit of sauce to cover the bottom of a 9x13 dish. Then place the squash in a single layer. Now add another layer of sauce. Don’t skimp because the moisture from the sauce is what cooks the squash. Now add about 1/3 of the scrambled egg and smear it around. This is what gives the appearance of cheese.
  6. Repeat the squash-sauce-egg sequence until sauce and squash are used up.
  7. Finish with a light layer of sauce.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the squash.

Friday, December 5, 2014

{ Free ABC Play-Doh Mats }

I love finding fun and creative activities for my almost 3 year old, and it's always an added bonus when they're free!!!  Mornings are our favorite time together.  Little brother goes down for a nap and we have time to play together.  This morning we decided to search through our "Kid Stuff" pins on Pinterest and find something new to do.  That's when we found THESE free Printables from This Reading Mama for ABC Play-Doh Mats.  They were so easy to pull up on my smart phone, print, and stick on plastic sleeves for easy, clean play.  We've started our own little play-doh binder now and Blair is already begging for MORE printable pages.


Here's a quick link to the free PDF: Click HERE!!!  

I know some moms are anti play-doh because of the mess, but supervised activities like this are so great for sensory, creativity, and the development of fine motor skills. Just look at the concentration on that face! We hope you like playing with these mats as much we do!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

{ Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers }

I've tried many stuffed pepper recipes, but I think this one is my new favorite! It's healthy, has amazing flavor and is so easy.  The trifecta of recipes!

The original recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious.  If you're not familiar with her recipes, I suggest you change that. She is amazing and has genius ideas.

My favorite things about this recipe are that 1) It's vegetarian but you don't miss the meat at all! And 2) The feta!  Oh, the feta! It shines so brilliantly in this recipe and in my opinion it's what makes this dish stand out among the rest.  So don't skip it!


QUINOA STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Yield6 servings
Loaded with protein, veggies and healthy grains, these stuffed bell peppers will provide the nutrition that you need for a healthy, balanced meal!
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheeses, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Spoon the filling each each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish, cavity side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

Friday, September 19, 2014

{ Chicken Zoodle Soup }

If you only ever make one thing off my blog, make this!!!  I have found my new favorite healthy version of Chicken Noodle Soup. It's paleo, Whole30 approved, and it's EASY!

I would compare it's taste to the big batch of chicken noodle soup you can buy at Costco, you know, the ones in the refrigerated section in the back that comes with shredded rotisserie chicken and veggies all bundled up in a big plastic tupperware?

And I know what you're thinking, "But I want REAL noodles."  People!  These zucchini noodles are gonna fake your brain out like you wouldn't believe. It's true.  It's proven science that the brain can be stimulated and satisfied by replacing our unhealthy vices (like noodles) with a more healthy alternative, in this case a vegetable which contains WAY more nutritional value.

Ok, enough with the rant.  Just promise me you'll try this one and come back and tell me what you think. Deal?

CHICKEN ZOODLE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 quarts of chicken stock/broth
- garlic powder and pepper to taste
- dill weed to taste
- 2 cups of celery, chopped
- 2 cups of carrots, chopped
- 1 large zucchini or yellow squash, spiraled

DIRECTIONS:
Rinse chicken and place the chopped onion in a large soup pot.  Pour in chicken stock and season with garlic powder, pepper, and dill weed.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Chop celery and carrots.  Remove chicken and shred after the 30 minutes is up or the chicken is cooked through.  Add back in the meat and vegetables, cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve up and enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

{ Bacon Wrapped Peach Salad }

This one is so easy you might laugh that I'm even posting "directions."  This Whole30 approved dish has the perfect blend of sweet and salty and I mean, come on!  Who doesn't love bacon?  Well, besides my husband.  I know, so weird!  

I think you'll really love the delicate flavor of the peaches with the dynamic taste of bacon.  Marry them together with the balsamic vinegar and you've got a happy, healthy plate of food that you'll probably eat before you can say "More please!"

BACON WRAPPED PEACH SALAD

INGREDIENTS:
- spinach (or your favorite leafy green)
- sliced fresh peaches
- slices of bacon (sugar & nitrate free)
- balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS:
Wrap your peaches with bacon.  Grill over medium heat on each side.  Place on a bed of lettuce of your choice and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  That's it!  So easy you could cry!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

{ Watermelon-Lime Salad }

 I will admit that before I made this salad I was a little skeptical.  I thought to myself ok, i'm on board with the whole watermelon and lime part, but avocado and pecans?  Aren't those kind of strange together?  But I thought what the heck, it's such a gorgeous looking salad and sounds super refreshing so I'm just gonna give it a whirl.  And wow!  Its did not disappoint.

The textures were definitely interesting, but a good interesting.  I found myself really thinking about each flavor in my mouth as I chewed.  You could taste the watermelon, and then the lime, and then the avocado, and the pecan, and the flavors just kept going 'round and 'round in my mouth.  I even went back for seconds!




Saturday, September 13, 2014

{ Vanilla Macadamia Ice Cream }

The other night my husband had a craving for ice cream (ok, ok it was ME!) So I searched the world wide web for something "healthy and simple" aka, paleo with minimal ingredients.  That's when I found THIS recipe from daily bites.

My favorite thing about this one, besides the taste, is the consistency.  Is that weird to say?  I feel like sometimes when you make homemade ice cream the consistency is just a little...off?  This one was PERFECT!  And actually even better the second day after being in the freezer all night.  Ok, you caught me.  Ice cream two days in a row. But when you see the ingredient list you'll know why I justified it.


Vanilla Macadamia Ice Cream
Makes about 2  1/2  cups
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (full fat)
½ cup raw macadamia nuts
½ cup (packed) pitted Medjool dates
¼ cup honey or Grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
Place the coconut milk, macadamia nuts, dates, honey, and vanilla extract in a high-speed blender or Vita Mix. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the side of the knife to scrape the tiny seeds out of the pod. Add them to the blender with the other ingredients. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

{ Whole 30 Approved :: Chicken Nuggets }

If you have kids or are just a kid at heart (like me) then this recipe is for you!  And no, you don't have to be on the Whole 30 to eat clean.  This easy and healthy Chicken Nugget recipe will be making an appearance in my home again and again!  I'd go so far as to say they're even better than my beloved Chick-Fil-A nuggets.  And that's a SERIOUS compliment.

I love the added flavor that comes from cooking in coconut oil, not to mention all the amazing health benefits.  And the almond meal/flour is pretty much the perfect texture to satisfy that "breaded" texture.

I also made a dipping sauce by mixing spicy brown mustard (Trader Joe's makes a great sugar free one) with some honey for a delicious Honey Mustard sauce.  If you're doing Whole 30 obviously leave out the honey.  Still just as awesome! I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think.


CHICKEN NUGGETS

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 lb. chicken breast or tenders, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup almond meal/flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- coconut oil

DIRECTIONS:
1. Beat egg in one bowl and mix the almond flour with the salt in another bowl.
2. Dip the chicken pieces into egg, then drop them in the almond flour and coat well. (Watch out your hands don't get sticky from the egg or you'll find it hard to get a nice clean coat on the nuggets.
3. Heat enough coconut oil to coat the pan over medium heat.
4. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until done.
5. Transfer to paper towel to cool and to absorb any excess oil.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{ Meet Our Newest Addition :: Van Robert Laidlaw }

We've had our hands busy these last 5 months with our newest addition to the family, Van Robert Laidlaw.  He is the most WONDERFUL baby!  So happy and easy going, just like his mama.  Haha!  Ok, maybe not, but at least he kind of looks like me!  I could not have asked for a more perfect little boy to love. Welcome to our home, Van.


Photography by :: Stephanie Faye Smith
Birth Announcement by :: www.minted.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{ Blair's 1st Birthday! }

Well I guess I'll go ahead and blog Blair's 1st Birthday Party now that my kid's 2-1/2 years old.  No big deal. Oops!  It's funny how things in your life (like blogging) just become less important when you have someone other than yourself to look after.

Nevertheless, I knew that if I never "journaled" my baby's 1st birthday I would look back with regrets.  So without further adieu, I give you Blair's 1st Birthday!

Sunday morning Blair woke up to a room full of balloons!  Because what one year old doesn't absolutely LOVE balloons?  Then we spent the rest of the morning popping them.


Sunday was Blair's actual birthday so we decided to celebrate will a small get together with our family at our home. When guests arrived we had a table set up with all the pictures I had taken of Blair from 1 month all the way up to 12 months and they had to guess how old she was in each picture to win a prize.  It was pretty fun to see everyone's guesses.  Of course Mimi was the big winner of the night!



I kept the flowers pretty simple.  I love succulents so I just used my already assembled succulent arrangements and added pops of color with carnations. I know the world looks down on carnations, but I secretly love them.  When done right I think they look awesome!


And of course we had to have one of Blair's favorite treats out for snacking: chocolate covered sunflower seeds.  You can pick up these colorful ones at Trader Joes.



The cake and treats were one of my favorite parts of the party.  I tried my hand at an ombre cake and I love how it turned out.  I used a box mix (because who has time to make something from scratch when there's an entire dinner party going on!) I love how it turned out!  And I think Blair was a huge fan, as you'll soon see...







Dinner was fantastic!  If I do say so myself.  We had delicious soup in bread bowls with all the toppings.  Along with some delicious sides provided by family and friends. 








We were so grateful to have all of Blair's family and friends there to celebrate with us.  I cherish this picture of Blair with her Gigi.  So special!



At the end of the night we showed a movie I put together of all the iPhone videos I had taken of Blair over the course of the last year.  It was so fun to watch her grow up in a 15 minute video.  Something I will cherish forever!


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