Sunday, March 31, 2013

Clean Brownies

Clean Brownies

1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

Mix all these ingredients together with a whisk. Add 2 Eggs, 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, 1 teaspoon Vanilla. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 9 pan.

*To customize your mixes, add milk or dark chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, or what ever kinds of add-ins you like in your brownies! 

You could also double, triple or quadruple the dry mix and put the extra portions in ziploc bags to use for later. They tasted great! Just like the boxed version :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asian Pepper Steak

Tried another great crockpot recipe today:

Asian Pepper Steak
Adapted from Mark's Daily Apple

2 lbs. steak (sirloin is preferable, but any other good cut will do)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup wheat-free tamari (similar to soy sauce...I got mine at Whole Foods)
Any variety of stir fry veggies (I used one package of Kroger frozen stir fry veggies) 

Salt and pepper to taste

On a chopping board, cut the steak on an angle to make strips about a ½ inch thick. Liberally coat the meat with ground pepper and put the meat in the crock pot. Add garlic and tamari, and mix so that the steak is thoroughly coated. Cook in a crock pot on low for 6 hours. One hour before serving, add stir fry veggies and turn crock pot to high. Cook for one hour and then serve piping hot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicken, broccoli and rice bake

Yesterday and today we got 8 to 9 inches of snow (yes on March 25!!) and so I wanted something warm and filling for dinner. We opted for Baked Cheddar-Broccoli Cups, which I modified a bit by adding chicken and cooking in a casserole dish rather than muffin cups.

Baked Cheddar-Broccoli Rice Cups
Adapted from Daydream Kitchen

1 cup quick-cooking rice (like Minute Rice-use brown rice to keep it all-natural)
1 cup chicken stock
1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and excess water squeezed out
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing, or store bought
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare rice as directed on package, substituting stock for water.  Place cooked rice in a large bowl and let cool slightly.  Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, and stir until combined. Transfer mixture to eight well-greased muffin cups–I like to use an ice cream scoop–and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are lightly browned and edges are starting to get crispy. Instead of the muffin cups, I mixed everything and put in a greased casserole dish. For the chicken, I sauteed up chunks of chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper and added into the mixture before baking.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm not a huge breakfast fan and tend to choose the sugary, preservative-filled breakfast foods like cereals and waffles. Eating clean has forced me to become creative in finding clean, filling and delicious breakfast options. My MIL found this recipe for mini-quiche, which has become a family favorite and is the perfect (and easy) breakfast food. I double or triple the recipe each time I make them because they freeze really well. They are good hot or cold, so they are great for traveling and on-the-go. I suggest investing in a really nice mini muffin tin, like the ones from Pampered Chef, because it will really cut down on overall prep time.

1/2 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
I usually also add in chopped ham or bacon or crumble sausage. You could also add in spinach or other veggies like peppers. 

Combine butter, cream cheese and flour; mix well and roll into a ball. Divide into 24 small balls and press into the bottom and sides of mini muffin tins. Put onion, meat and cheese into each cup. Beat egg and milk together and fill cups. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake another 10 minutes or until tops are brown.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seasons 52

Last night, my hubby and I went out on a date to enjoy Northside Indy Nights, which is a two-week long event where participating northside Indy restaurants offer a prie fix menu for two. We decided to try out Seasons 52, a restaurant and bar that specializes in seasonal, fresh and all-natural dishes. Their menu changes four times a year, to correspond with each season and each dish, from the appetizers to the desserts, are all under 475 calories.  
It was AMAZING! We started out with the steak and cremini mushroom flatbread with blue cheese. My second course was organic spring greens with white balsamic vinaigrette (best vinaigrette I've ever had!). Matt and I both got the filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and mushrooms. The filet mignon was perfectly cooked at medium rare and the asparagus was nice and crisp. For dessert, they offered a choice of one "indulgence". I had the belgium chocolate rocky road and Matt had pecan pie with vanilla mousse...I am still dreaming about that vanilla mousse :) I loved that the portion sizes were just right and everything was all-natural and fresh. We both left totally satisfied but not overly stuffed. If you're in the Indy area, definitely try out Seasons 52 if you have a chance, or check out one of their other locations throughout the country. 

*I am not getting paid for my opinions...I just loved the it that much I had to share! :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Pizza

As I've mentioned before, I LOVE pizza. So tonight we tried another new pizza recipe, Spinach Artichoke Pizza. It was easy (perfect for a Friday, end-of-the-week dinner!) and tasted great. Bonus, my kids gobbled it up! The mozzarella cheese on top and creaminess of the spinach hid the fact they were actually eating spinach :)

Spinach Artichoke Pizza
From Rachel Ray Magazine

1 baguette, quartered (to cut down on the carbs, I used wheat sandwich thins)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 pinch nutmeg
2 10 ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 9 ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I used jarred artichoke hearts)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . Arrange the bread on a baking sheet. In a medium skillet, melt the butter with the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and season with the nutmeg. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Pull the spinach apart, then add to the sauce. Fold in the artichokes and cook until heated through. Stir in the parmigiano-reggiano, season with salt and remove from the heat.
Spread the spinach and artichoke mixture on the bread and top with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with the thyme.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cake Batter Brownies

You're probably thinking, did that just say what I think it said? And, the answer is yes...Cake Batter Brownies...pure delicious decadence! Sadly, they only make a 8x8 pan...on the other hand, if they made more I would just eat them all they are so good!

Cake Batter Brownies

From the Angie River Show
1 white Cake Mix (to make them all-natural, use an all-natural cake mix...I found mine at Whole Foods)
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/4 c. rainbow sprinkles (not all-natural, but I did see a recipe floating around Pinterest for all-natural homemade sprinkles if you're feeling ambitious)

1) Mix together cake mix, milk, whipping cream, oil, vanilla and egg.
2) Add in chocolate chips and sprinkles.
3) Bake in 8x8 greased.baking pan for 25-40 minutes at 350ยบ **DO NOT overcook. Batter will be slightly undercooked and may even look gooey. Wait 20 minutes before cutting in so the bars set.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

Before we went clean, we ate a lot of boxed Betty Crocker au gratin and scalloped potatoes. I love both but I always thought they were too hard and took too much time to prepare, so I always opted for the boxed varieties. Tonight, however, I tried a clean scalloped potato recipe, added some ham and voila, dinner!

Scalloped Potatoes
4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used mild cheddar)
1/2 cup grated cheese, to sprinkle on top

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and blend in flour. 
  2. Let sit for a minute.
  3. Add all of cold milk, stirring with a whisk.
  4. Season with salt and cayenne.
  5. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
  6. Reduce heat and stir in cheese. 
  7. Place a half of the sliced potatoes in a lightly greased one quart casserole dish. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes. Repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  9. Top with some paprika for color.
  10. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Granola Bars Part 3

I have an amazing husband for many different reasons, including he loves to cook and bake. I really liked the last homemade granola bars we made, but he wanted to experiment and come up with his own recipe. They turned out amazing!! They are a little more cookie-like, but they cut into bars well and really stay together like "regular" granola bars.

Here is his recipe:

Matt's Homemade Granola Bars
3 cups oats
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix together all dry ingredients. Melt butter and mix in brown sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Combine dry ingredients with butter mix. Add in eggs and mix well. Allow to cool before adding in chocolate chips. Put in pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. 

$$ On a money-saving side note, Walgreens has a great deal now on toilet paper and paper towels. They have 12 rolls of Cottonnelle toilet paper for $5 and 6 rolls of Scott paper towels for $5. If you spend $15, you get 3,000 Walgreens points, which equals $3. There are also coupons for $.55 off the Cottonelle and $.75 off Scott. So, I got 2 packages of Cottonnelle and 1 package of Scott for $15 minus the $3 for the points and minus $1.85 for coupons, so all three for $10.15 or $3.38 each. That makes the toilet paper $.28 a roll and the paper towels $.56 a roll!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken

Keeping with my recent crock pot kick, tonight I made creamy lemon pepper chicken, paired with twice-baked potatoes and Parmesan green beans. The recipe was super easy but the taste was just okay. I would probably use more lemon pepper seasoning next time. The recipe introduced me to making my own cream of chicken soup, which will come in handy with plenty of other recipes!

Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken 
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (either frozen or thawed out is fine)
1 recipe cream of chicken soup--recipe below (equivalent to 1 can*)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp.+ lemon pepper seasoning
4 oz. chopped mushrooms

Place chicken breasts on the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper.
Mix soup, milk and 2 Tbsp. lemon pepper.
Add mushrooms to soup mix.
Pour soup mixture over chicken in the crock pot. Add chicken broth.
Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
1/3 cup butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 Tbsp. minced celery tops OR 1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook garlic and celery (if using) in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt and pepper (and celery seed if using). Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened.

Cream of Mushroom–toss in a handful of minced mushrooms
Cream of Broccoli–toss in a handful of minced broccoli
Cream of Celery–toss in a handful of minced celery

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is easy and so good. I always double it and put one in the freezer. 

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup salsa, divided
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, cubed
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup Shredded Cheddar & Monterey Jack Cheeses, divided
8 flour tortillas (6 inch)

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COOK and stir onions and garlic in large skillet spayed with cooking spray on medium heat 2 min. Add chicken, 1/4 cup salsa, cream cheese, cilantro and cumin; mix well. Cook 5 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese; mix well.

SPOON about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining salsa and shredded cheese.

BAKE 15 to 20 min. or until heated through.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Salsa Pork Chops

Another try at a new pork chop recipe...this one is just eh....pretty good flavor, but not as good as the teriakyi pork chops I made last week.

CrockPot Recipe for Salsa Pork Chops with Cumin, Garlic, and Lime
Adapted from Kayln's Kitchen

4 pork chops with fat trimmed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or less if you're not a pepper fan)
1 T olive oil (or less for a non-stick pan)
1 cup salsa
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
(If you want more sauce you could use 1 1/2 cups salsa and 3 T lime juice)

Trim all fat around the edges of pork chops and discard fat.  Combine ground cumin, garlic powder, salt, and fresh ground black pepper in a small bowl; then use the spice mixture to rub the trimmed pork chops on both sides. 

Spray sides and bottom of the slow cooker with olive oil or non-stick spray.  Put pork chops into the slow cooker, pour over salsa-lime mixture, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the pork chops are very tender when pierced with a fork.  (I switched them halfway through so the ones on the bottom were on the top, but it's not essential.) 

Serve hot, with a little sauce spooned over each pork chops.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pizza Quesadillas

I love pizza and so I take any chance I can to eat it! My family, however, tires of pizza, so I tonight I tried Pizza Quesadillas. So easy and oh so good! Paired with a nice salad, it was a great alternate to regular pizza, plus I used all-natural quesadillas I found at Whole Foods, so the entire meal was clean.

Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas

  • 8 flour tortillas (I used 6 to make 3 whole quesadillas)
  • 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 16-ounce jar of pizza sauce (I used pasta sauce)
  • For the "toppings" I used pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and onions

  1. Brush each tortilla with a layer of pizza sauce
  2. Sprinkle cheese on top of the sauce on the bottom tortilla. Top with pepperoni and other toppings, if desired. Sprinkle with another layer of cheese and place the other tortilla on top (sauce side in).
  3. Pre-heat a medium cast-iron skilled over medium heat.
  4. Lay quesadilla in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy.
  5. Slice into quarters and serve with a little bowl of pizza dipping sauce.
  6. I actually baked mine in the oven rather than using the stove.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sam's Club

Last week Living Social ran a fantastic deal on a Sam's Club membership. A one-year membership was $45, plus you got a $20 gift card and $20 worth of vouchers for Sam's Club rotisserie chicken, pizza and cookies. On top of all that, since three of my friends (thank you kind friends!) bought off my link, I got mine for free! 
I've never been a huge Sam's or Costco fan because I think I can do better with coupons, sales and stockpiling at the grocery stores. But, since it was such a good deal, we decided to give it a shot. Overall, I was impressed with the all-natural selection. 
Here's a look at what I got and what I spent...

Veggie Chips $4.98 for a big bag...I've never had this brand before, so we'll see how they are. 
Yogurt $8.58 for 18...Kroger brand is a little cheaper on sale, but my kids like the Yoplait better.
Chix breast 6 lbs...a great deal at $10.98
Fruit cups $6.98 for 4 packs of 4...these have one perservative ingredient in them, but they are so convenient for traveling and going out to eat, I look past it. 
Butter...4 lbs for $7.98. I can usually get 1 lb for $2.50 on sale at Kroger, so a great deal

Goldfish crackers...Thompson household staple $9.65 for that huge box
Rotisserie chix...3 lbs of chix for $ awesome deal since Kroger just raised the price on their rotisserie chicken to $7.99 for one half the size. Plus, I've found rotisserie chix freezes well.

On a side note, we ate out at O'Charley's after shopping...who is this girl that got broccoli over fries??? Clean eating is sinking in deep :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Canned Oranges

My kids love mandarin oranges and Cuties oranges, so I tend to buy the huge 5 pound box because it is a great value. However, sometimes we don't get to the end of the box before the oranges go bad. I found a pin on Pinterest that showed how to can mandarin and Cuties oranges, so I decided to try it out. It worked great! 

How to Can Mandarin Oranges
From Pick Your Own
1. Clean your jars, rings and lids. A dishwasher works great for this.
2. Peel your mandarins. Remove as much of the white pith as possible.
3. Pull apart the segments.
4. Pack sterilized jars with Mandarin segments, leaving about 1/2 space at the top of the jar.
5. Prepare your syrup solution. It is up to you whether you want a light or thick syrup and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. The sugar does not actually preserve the mandarins. Preservation is achieved through the canning process and water bath technique. I just added hot water to the jars for no added sugar. If you want to use a sugar syrup, use  a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Place the solution over medium high heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring solution to a boil and immediately pour over packed jars of fruit. Slide a knife down the edge of each jar to release any air bubbles. I found an offset spatula worked great for this step.
6. Place lids and rings on jars.
7. Place jars in a boiling water bath and boil for 15 minutes. You will need to adjust the time if you are living above 6,00 feet.
8. Ensure the jars are sealed. Any unsealed jars should go directly into the fridge. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 9 months.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Granola Bars Part 2

Last night we got almost 5 inches of snow. The kids and I had fun playing in it today, going for a walk and building a snowman. Tonight for dinner, I opted for easy-peasy chili with grilled cheese (on clean, all-natural bread). Simple, warm and filling! For my chili, I just brown 1 to 2 lbs of ground beef with 1 cup of onions. After the meat is cooked through, drain off grease and add in 1 large can of tomato paste and 1 can of kidney beans. Add about 1 to 2 cups of water and let it all simmer on the stove.

Also this week we tried another granola bar recipe my SIL suggested. They set up much better and we were actually able to cut them into bars. They also tasted good, in fact, they only lasted two days ;)
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars
1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1 cup oats
1 cup total of any combination of:  sesame seeds, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, mini chocolate chip (we used mini chocolate chips)

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey and coconut oil.

Remove from heat and add one cup of oats.  Choose your favorite combination of coconut flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit and mini chocolate chips, to equal a total of ONE CUP. Pour in and stir well.

Stir well, then spread mixture into a 8×8 or 9×4 pan.

Chill for two hours, then cut into bars.

Wrap in plastic wrap for a quick grab and go snack!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teriyaki Pork Chops

I am not a huge fan of pork chops, but my hubby loves them, so I have been searching for new and different ways to eat pork chops. Tonight, we had Crock Pot Teriyaki Pork Chops. My husband loved the flavor the chops had after cooking all day and I enjoyed how tender they were coming out of the crock pot. I thought the flavor was good too. We paired the pork chops with homemade broccoli slaw and stuffed mushrooms (not homemade!) :)

Teriyaki Pork Chops 
  • 4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick (I used bone-in pork chops, but you could use boneless as well)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and add to crock pot with remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days...we were gone for a long weekend and to be honest, I didn't do so well on the natural eating front! For example, Friday night's dinner was a good old-fashioned Lenten fish fry, complete with curly fries, Cole slaw and green beans. Before we left for the weekend, I did make an easy and delicious dish in my crockpot, Beef and Broccoli. We paired with brown rice and store-bought egg drop soup, which was delicious on that cold and yucky night.

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli
1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips (I used strip steaks I found on sale and cut those into thin strips)
1 cup beef broth (I didn't have all-natural beef broth, so I just used water)
1/2 cup soy sauce (I found all-natural soy sauce at Whole Foods)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooled sauce from the crock pot after being cooked
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
Hot cooked rice

1. Place beef in a crock pot.
2. In a small bowl, combine consomme, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
3. In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce form the crock pot until smooth. Add to crock pot. Stir well to combine. (If your sauce is not thickening, try bringing your sauce to a boil on the stovetop with the corn starch mixture. Boil until your desired consistency is reached).
4. Add broccoli to the crock pot. Stir to combine.
5. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high (the sauce has to boil for it to thicken).
6. Serve over hot cooked rice.