All The Christmas Goodies!

Good morning everyone!! It’s 2 days after Christmas, and I am tired and ready to get back to a normal routine! While the past few days have been amazing, I am ready to go for a run, meal prep, and cook an easy and simple dinner tonight.

The past few days have been filled with lots of yummy food, family, friends, and drinks. We spent our first Christmas morning in our new home, and it was so nice to be able to wake up and cook a delicious breakfast for Jeff and I. I think I have eaten more chocolate and cheese in the past 72 hours than I have all year!

I have 2 yummy recipes to share that definitely should make your holiday menu next year. One is an easy sweet and salty snack that your guests will love, and the other can be added to your holiday brunch. Like I mentioned, chocolate has been a key ingredient in my diet the past few days so you can expect it to be a key ingredient in these recipes as well!

I love breakfast food, so any time I get a chance to make it a little extra special I jump on the opportunity! While my usual breakfast consists of eggs, oatmeal, or a smoothie filled with fruits and veggies, special times call for something a little more fun and definitely on the sweet side. Jeff and I both have a serious sweet tooth, so why not indulge a little on Christmas morning?

Side note —- it’s ok to indulge during the holidays!! A day or two of eating foods that aren’t in your “typical diet” is not going to make or break your health and fitness goals of 2017. So don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy what is in front of you!

The two recipes I’m going to share today are for my Christmas Reindeer Chow and Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast.

If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the reindeer chow, but only because I’m a sucker for a salty and sweet combo. They are both super easy and can feed a crowd. I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend as much as we did! Merry Christmas and happy almost New Year! Let me know what you think if you give these recipes a try!

Christmas Reindeer Chow

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1/3 cup red, green, and brown M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
  • 1 cup cinnamon Chex cereal (optional)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper.

Spread all ingredients out evenly onto wax paper. You can break apart some of the pretzels so all pieces aren’t so big.

Melt the white chocolate either in the microwave or with a double boiler. If microwaving, be sure to stop and stir every 15-20 seconds to avoid the chocolate from burning.

Drizzle the white chocolate on top of the pretzels, marshmallows, peanuts, cereal (optional), and M&Ms. Use as much chocolate as desired.

As the chocolate dries, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the ingredients. Let site for 15 to 20 minutes or until the white chocolate is fully dry. Once dry, break apart the mixture into bite size pieces. Some of the M&Ms and peanuts may fall off; that’s ok!

Put your Reindeer Chow into a large decorative or festive bowl for serving! Leftovers can be kept in a ziploc bag or air tight container.

Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of freshly baked bread (I used a whole wheat loaf from a bakery)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (other options – fresh blueberries, blackberries, peaches, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut loaf of bread into large chunks. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour milk and egg mixture on top of the bread. Massage the bread to assure all pieces are moistened.

Grease a medium sized baking dish that is shallow enough to contain any extra liquid that may not be absorbed. Evenly distribute the bread in the pan. Sprinkle dark chocolate chips on top (I pushed a few into cracks between the bread as well).

Allow bread to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top starts to become golden brown and crispy. Serve warms with a side of fruit, nut butter, syrup, or honey on top.


Football Food is Back!

Guess what time of year it is ya’ll! Football is back…now I’m just waiting for the AZ weather to get up to par with how I am feeling. You better believe my Ohio State Buckeye decorations are out and ready for Saturdays… not to forget the pumpkin candle as well!

While football season is my absolute favorite, I’ve heard many times before that tailgating and watching the games on Saturdays comes with a lot of extras calories. Yes, for the most part this is correct. Between the beer, chicken wings, pizza, and long list of dips, it is easy to pack in a few extra hundred calories during your game-filled weekends. While I love buffalo chicken dip and pizza just a much as the next person, this post is meant to give you a different look at your game day menu. My homemade baked hot chicken “wings” and garlic herb fries were a big hit with hub, so that means they must not be too shabby! I hope you try these 2 lighter game day recipes and let me know what you think! Go bucks!

The recipes serve 2-3

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Garlic Herb Fries: 

  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into strips (you can make your fries whatever shape or thickness you like)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • herbs/seasonings: black pepper, dried thyme, dried Italian herb blend, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt

Baked Spicy Hot Wings:

  • 7-8 bonesless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 1/3 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Light Ranch dressing
  • 3/4-1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • bread crumb seasonings: garlic powder, red pepper, black pepper, salt
  • canola oil spray

Fries: 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Once you have sliced your potatoes, add them to a medium sized bowl with your canola oil and seasonings. I tend to not measure my seasonings. I will tell you I used quite a good amount of black pepper. I only added a sprinkle of salt at the very end when they came out of the oven.

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Finely mince your 2 garlic cloves and add them to the bowl as well. Toss your potatoes until they are evenly coated. Add them to a large baking sheet (I sprayed it will a little extra cooking spray just to make sure they didn’t stick. Let your fries cook for 30 minutes exactly. Be sure to use a spatula half way through to move them around a bit so both sides become golden brown.

Once they have finished cooking, let your fries cool on a few paper towels to soak up any extra oil. While they are still hot, top with a little salt. Enjoy!

Wings:

Start by cutting your tenders in half or thirds to make them about the size of a normal chicken wing. In a large bowl, mix your ranch dressing with the hot sauce. As you cut your tenders, add them to the bowl and toss. In a separate shallow dish, mix your bread crumbs with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a PINCH (I cannot emphasize this more!!!) of red pepper. Red pepper is EXTREMELY hot, so unless you like things unbelievably hot, cool it with the pepper. Don’t forget, they are already sitting in hot sauce!

Once your chicken is coated in the hot sauce/dressing mixture, toss each piece in the bread crumbs, patting them down slightly to assure the bread crumbs stick. Place on a baking sheet with a little cooking spray.

Cook your wings at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes then lower your heat to 375 and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Once they are finished, place your oven on broil and broil for an additional minute or so to get the exposed side a little crispy. Don’t look away for too long; you don’t want them to burn! Let cool for 5-10 minutes before digging in! Enjoy!

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Basic Blueberry Waffles

Happy Sunday! I can’t even explain how nice it is to not be traveling at all this month! I’ve truly learned to appreciate my weekends and take full advantage of my days off.

What’s on this mornings menu? My Basic Blueberry Waffles! After 48 hours of intense leg exercise (7 miler Friday plus 2 hours of hiking yesterday) my legs are completely shot and my body is hungry for fuel….. And by fuel I mean carbs. I know, I know, protein is important for muscle repair, but with my appetite in full gear I need a little something extra special this morning (yes I got plenty of protein in last night!).


My Basic Blueberry Waffles are simple, sweet, and perfect for this chilly Arizona morning…. Yes IT’S COLD! Heat up your waffle maker and kick your appetite into high gear! I know you are going to want to try these!

Ingredients: makes 1 large waffle

  • 1/3 cup Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 over-ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Honey to taste
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries

  

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl except the honey and blueberries. Allow your waffle to cook until golden brown (don’t forget to add a little cooking spray to prevent sticking!). Heat your blueberries in the microwave until soft and warm, about 30 seconds. There should be a little juice in the bottom of your blueberry bowl! Once your waffle has finished, pour your blueberries over the top, add a drizzle of honey to sweeten it up, and finish with a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

These waffles are perfect to curb a sweet tooth, but not so sweet that you’ll be regretting your Sunday morning decision. Enjoy and have a fantastic Sunday!


Easy Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken

BOY HAS LIFE BEEN BORING. My food life that is…

Between a broken refrigerator and an upset tummy, my foods have been bland, boring, and cooking just hasn’t really existed in my house. Toast, bananas, and soups have been the base of my diet this week, so as you can probably guess, I haven’t been a happy camper!

Last night, I had finally had it and stopped at the store on my way home. I wasn’t feeling too brave just yet, but I figured my stomach could definitely handle chicken and potatoes. I am a big fan of herbed chicken, so that was where I started for the evening.

When picking out seasoning blends, I always look for salt-free versions. No need for added salt when you’re adding other flavors! Another basic rule of thumb for me when it comes to seasoning, taste first before you salt! Sprouts, a local farmer’s market in Arizona which I frequently mention, is one of my favorite places to pick up spices or seasonings. While there pre-made seasoning mixes are a little pricey, they are always delicious and have a wide variety of salt-free blends available. For this simple and easy dish, I used their Lemon Pepper Seasoning Mix which is potent, flavorful, and adds the perfect bit of lemon taste and aroma.

Sweet potatoes are a go-to side for me. I tend to mix sweet potatoes and red potatoes because my husband isn’t a huge sweet potato fan, so our side last night was homemade baked mixed fries (which looked more like hash browns but had the crispy, browned tasted of homemade fries). Combined, this is the perfect easy 30 minute meal (including cooking time) which added a little flare to our otherwise boring food week! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  

Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken:

Seasoning blend: salt-free lemon pepper seasoning, dried basil, garlic powder, black pepper

Other ingredients: 2 large chicken breasts or 4 thin-cut breasts or cutlets, olive or canola oil spray, 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

For this meal, I used 2 large chicken breasts which I cut in half to have 4 thinner pieces of chicken.

Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray and lay your chicken out evenly. Season with a heavy amount of lemon-pepper seasoning and basil. Add a dusting of garlic powder and black pepper. Flip your chicken over and season the other side. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has past, sprinkle your feta cheese over your chicken breasts and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. Finish the chicken off with a quick broil to lightly brown your feta cheese for about 2-3 minutes on high.

Easy Baked Potato Fries:

For our side, I used 2 small sweet potatoes and 4 small red potatoes. I cut each potato into smaller pieces, about 1/2 in thick, 3/4 in wide. You can change the size of the potatoes, or cut into simple rounds, but this may change the cooking time a bit. On a large baking sheet, I added a little olive oil spray, then spread the potatoes out evenly. I sprayed the top of the potatoes lightly then seasoned with my go-to potato seasoning blend:

  • paprika
  • ground red pepper
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt to finish them off (immediately once they leave the oven)

  
 As I’ve said before, I never measure spices or herbs unless I’m baking, so use quantities that you enjoy. Red pepper flakes and ground red pepper can become very spicy very quickly, so use with caution until you find a spice level that works for you!

Bake your potatoes on 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. be sure to flip your potatoes about halfway through the baking process to assure both sides get golden and crisp!

Finish off your dish with whatever dipping sauces you may like or a side of extra veggies! Enjoy!
 


Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza

So, I cannot take all the credit for this pizza. I was browsing through a fellow OSU grad’s blog the other day (Hummusapien), looking for a little inspiration, and stumbled across a pizza post (looks like I’m not the only foodie/health nut that has a cheesy craving every now and then!). Although I may not prepare mine exactly like hers, I think mine came out pretty darn good…. and not to mention picture perfect!

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Pizza doesn’t have to be the greasy, gooey, calorie-packed take-out food that we make it. First step is taking the time to make it at home; second is finding good quality, fresh ingredients that will pack your pizza with flavor, body-nourishing nutrients, and a pop of color. Pack on those veggies!

Most of my ingredients for this pizza came from Whole Foods. Whole Foods is somewhere that I can go when I’m bored on a Saturday afternoon and let my mind wander in food heaven while sampling some tastey homemade and/or local treats. Really, sometimes I will look at my watch and wonder where the time when and hour….or two……later.

The base of this pizza is a whole wheat crust that I found near the prepared foods section of the store near the salads, wraps, bagged soups and other pre-packaged healthy quick-meal options. The pizza is covered in a blend of veggies, local cheeses, and spices and was topped off with (not pictured) a little fresh, organic hummus. Let your imagination run wild when it comes to making your own pizzas at home; a little cheese and veggies never hurt nobody 😉

Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza:

Ingredients:

  • 1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust
  • ~1-2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into about 1/2 in circles, then cut in half
  • 1/3 cup frozen or fresh corn (you may use yellow, white, or sweet)
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh feta cheese
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, red pepper flakes
  • hummus

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Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you are using frozen corn, thaw first, if using fresh there is no need to prep. Toss your zucchini, corn, and sliced onion in about 1-2 Tbsp canola oil, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder (use as much as you like, or you may switch up the seasonings). Roast your veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly brown and caramelized. Once your veggies have cooked, top your pizza crust with the veggies and 2 different types of cheese. Top with a little extra garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flake.

*FYI: Red pepper flakes pack a BIG kick in a very little amount, so unless you want your mouth on fire, I caution you from using to much!

Bake your pizza in the oven for ~15 minutes or until the bottom and edges of your crust are a golden brown and have nice, crispy feel. Allow your pizza 5-10 minutes to cool before slicing and digging in! Again, I topped mine with a little fresh hummus, but you can omit that if you’d like. Enjoy!