Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Zucchini Noodle Bolognese

Wow! I can hardly believe tomorrow is Wednesday! Not that I'm counting down the days, but I do look forward to sleeping in a little. We also have a basketball game to look forward to and I only have two more weeks left of my 6 week challenge. Believe it or not, I am becoming a morning worker outer. That is something to be said for someone who has never been much of a morning person.

If you too have been following some sort of New Year's resolution, challenge, or are looking for healthier Italian fare, this recipe is it! Zucchini noodles replace the pasta adding an easy additional serving of veg to your day. Plus, flavor is not sacrificed with this bolognese sauce. I simply swapped out the fatty meat trio of ground beef, pork, and sausages for lean, ground Italian turkey sausage and a few slices of chopped center cut bacon. In the words of the Bear, "Even if it's just a little bacon, everything is better with bacon."

If you do not have a veggie spiralizer, no problem! Simply use a vegetable peeler to create beautiful ribbon like noodles. If you don't feel like putting the work into the noodles, just slice the zucchini into disks. No matter what, you will not be disappointed!

Zucchini Noodle Bolognese
Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil or grape seed oil
3 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. lean ground Italian turkey sausage
1 jar marinara sauce
2-4 zucchini (depending on size)

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the bacon begins to turn slightly brown. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the veggies begin to soften. Add the turkey sausage. Cook, stirring a little more frequently to break up the turkey, for 6-8 minutes or until the turkey is brown and cooked through. Add the marinara sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often, to allow the flavors to marry together. 

At this point, you can cool the sauce and store in a container in your refrigerator until you are ready to serve if you choose. To make the zucchini noodles, trim the ends off each zucchini. Follow the directions for using your vegetable sprializer. If you are using a vegetable peeler, your noodles will be more like ribbons. I like to heat my noodles in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes before serving to give them an al dente texture, but if you are serving your sauce right away, you can skip this step. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Staying Healthy Menu Post

Good Saturday morning to you all! I think Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Today, the in-laws will be coming for their first visit to see our new house. Knowing the pool at the motel will take our niece's top priority, we also have a trip to Rube's, one of the restaurants in the area that we've wanted to try, and a batch of chocolate chip cookies ready for my father in-law's birthday. Should be some good, quality family time.

We will be headed to the grocery store shortly, as the family should be arriving early this afternoon. So, I thought I'd sneak in a quick menu post. Yes! I did achieve one of my goals for the week; getting everything posted and hanging in there with the blog:). Blogging will continue to be one of my goals. I'm also hoping to continue my morning workouts, working towards my 100 miles of cardio by Valentine's Day, and of course eating lean, green, and clean! This week's menu should help accomplish clean eating endeavors. Sunday's soup is one that I posted long ago when I had just started recipe blogging--Cauliflower Cheese Soup. If you decide to check this recipe out, you will see I had just experienced a minor car accident that jacked up my back and neck for a while. Hopefully, there will be no collisions this time. Next, to start the work week off on an even healthier note, I'll be pulling out my veggie spiralizer to make some zucchini noodles for my Zucchini Noodle Bolognese. Finally, mid-week I'll be spicing things up a little with some Mango Salsa Chicken. Did you know mangos are in season right now? I just heard about it on the news and it sparked my enthusiasm to cook with the lovely tropical fruit. Here is the official rundown:

Sunday 1/25          Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Salad

Monday 1/26         Zucchini Noodle Bolognese with Steamed Mixed Veggies

Tuesday 1/27         Leftovers

Wednesday 1/28    Mango Salsa Chicken with Asparagus

Thursday 1/29       Leftovers

Here are the items you will need to make this happen:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. lean, ground Italian turkey sausage
1 package center cut bacon
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2-4 zucchini (depending on size)
1 bag baby carrots
1 bunch celery
1-2 mangos
1 jalapeno
1 lime
1 bunch cilantro
1 red onion
2 yellow or white onions
1 bulb garlic
1 32 oz. carton low-sodium chicken broth
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I am loving Aldi's Simply Nature Marinara sauce right now!)
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
Skim milk
1 brick 2% Velveeta cheese
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Pantry items you will need include:

Corn starch
Grated Parmesan cheese (I know this is stored in the refrigerator, but it is something we always have on hand, so I'm considering it a pantry item today)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Walking Beanitos

First, I need to let you know that the menu took a bit of a change when the Bear discovered that I had planned for salsa salads. He asked, "Is this going to be like taco salads?" I said, "Well, sort of." He then replied, "Can I help you with an idea?" How cute! My husband wanting to help me with the blog! Of course, I said yes. Here is the rest of the story.

When we announced to our families that we were officially moving back to Iowa, the first thing Justin's dad did was buy us season Iowa State men's basketball tickets. Iowa State basketball games are a Nickel father-son family tradition. Needless to say, it has been an exciting season so far; but, what I love the most are the traditions. The walk to Hilton, being there for the ISU pep band as they play around the coliseum, watching the players and Coach Hoiberg walk into the gym, the infamous Clone Cones, and finally-to my subject tonight-walking tacos.

What is a walking taco? Depending on your region, you might also know the walking taco as a Frito pie. It is simply a bag of corn chips, cut along the longer side, filled with taco meat, lettuce, cheese, and other traditional taco toppings. At Hilton Coliseum, they use Doritos. This is what I am most familiar with from other similar game day foods that were sold at my high school concession stand. Fritos can also be used as well as a very thick chili-like topping in place of taco meat. Regardless, it is pretty damn tasty. I had forgotten about how traditional this sort of fair was until getting back to my roots. Long story short, the Bear thought this was the perfect opportunity to lighten up the traditional walking taco.

In my Walking Beanitos recipe, the Doritos/Fritos are switched out for Beanitos. Have you tried these chips? Seriously these chips are highly addictive! Next, I swapped out the beef for lean ground turkey. Sprinkled with light cheddar cheese and a dollop of light sour cream, the experienced walking taco connoisseur would love the change up.

Walking Beanitos
Serves 4

4 1.5 oz. bags Nacho Cheese Beanitos chips (these are the personal serving bags)
1 teaspoon olive oil or grape seed oil
1/2 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted salsa style tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese
Light sour cream, taco sauce, diced green onion, jalapenos, etc. for topping

Heat oil in a medium sized nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the onions become translucent in color. Add the turkey. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until the turkey is browned. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and beans. Stir to combine. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the salsa has thickened. Remove from heat.

Cut the chip bags along the longer side. Top with the lettuce, meat, and other toppings. Serve along with a fork, the bag acts as an instant bowl, so you can walk with your taco salad :).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken & Pepper Saute with Goat Cheese

How is your week going? So far, mine has not been too shabby. Yesterday, I was fortunate to have the day off in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That provided time to get my hair cut and colored, finish cleaning my house, and prepping some things I did not get done on Sunday while this lovely gem of a meal cooked away in my slow cooker. Today, I managed to get my biscuits out of bed and squeeze in a little HIIT workout before work. Then, I came home, took this lovely photo, squeezed in another quick workout with my arms and abs, and now I'm blogging with you. I know you were maybe a little worried that I might not come back again after my last few attempts to get back to blogging; but, here I am. It is all about small, achievable steps. Now let's talk about dinner shall we?

This meal is light, lean, and a majority of it can simmer away in your slow cooker while you multitask your day until your heart's content. To round out the rest of the meal, I steamed some green beans and made a batch of cauliflower puree. Cauliflower puree is an awesome alternative to mashed potatoes. I simply steam 1 bag of frozen cauliflower in low sodium chicken broth until softened. Drain the chicken broth and place the cauliflower in a food processor. I had a dollop of light sour cream and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, give it a whirl until it is all creamy and smooth. Finish with a dash of salt and pepper and that's it! Served along side this chicken dish and you've got a five start weeknight meal!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Pepper Saute with Goat Cheese
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with garlic, drained
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Place the chicken, onion, diced tomatoes, red pepper, herbs, salt, and pepper into your slow cooker. Cover and set on low for 4 to 6 hours. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the chicken before serving.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy 2015 Menu Post

Good morning A Nickel's Worth of News readers! And, Happy New Year to you all! To update you, since my last post in October, life in the Nickel house is going well. We are finally settled into our new home, re-establishing our routines, and learning how to balance our new career lives with home life. It has been a little bit of a journey. I quickly realized that trying to get back into blogging even after moving into our house would be quite challenging with my new responsibilities and roles. I have been grappling since October as to how to make my personal hobby more manageable. I did not want to give up.

What will be different? The good news, not much will change. I still want to bring you healthy, gluten-free recipes that are easy to put together and taste good. The last three months have been an experiment for me in relying on past recipes and discovering new recipes that are manageable to put together on a weeknight. I feel that I have finally achieved a balance! So, what you will see are some recipe repeats and one or two new recipes per week.

I don't know about you, but I am not one for New Year's resolutions. I am more of a goal setter. Goal setting has always been a part of my everyday life. Last year, my goal was to run a 10k by May. This year, I plan to continue my running endeavors. Thursday, I signed up for the Leprechaun Chase again. I loved this race last year! It was such a huge accomplishment for me and encouraged me to not fall off the running bandwagon throughout the winter months. To help support my efforts, this year I've been more focused on my nutrition and cross training with whole body toning. I've been participating in the Love Your Body Challenge with my favorite trainers Karina and Katrina from Tone it Up. This particular challenge runs until Valentines Day. I joined their program back in April with their Bikini Body Challenge, but experienced an epic fail when I had to have my gall bladder removed. Shortly after that, we moved back to the great state of Iowa, started our new jobs, and the rest is history. Now that I've struck the balance in my new life, I've been able to commit! I am 3 weeks in and feeling great. The hard work I've been putting into the challenge has helped my training and I am up to running a solid 3 miles without too much of a struggle.

To supplement my efforts, I know nutrition is key. With that in mind, however, I do not believe in giving up satisfaction. This week's menu, as always, is packed with lean proteins and veggies recipes that nourish your body, but don't give up flavor. Sunday is soup night. Remember my Sunday Soups? I'm bringing back an old satisfying favorite with My Veggie Chili. I know, I know, I had a chili recipe from my last post in October, but we love our chili here in Iowa ;). Next up, I have a new recipe to share with you. Stay tuned for Monday's meal, Chicken and Pepper Saute with Goat Cheese. This meal can be thrown together quickly and rounded out with some fantastic sides such as green beans and cauliflower puree. Later in the week, we will enjoy another meal that can be put together in a flash, Turkey and White Bean Salsa Salads. It will be a great week of eats! Here is the rundown:

Sun. 1/18         My Veggie Chili

Mon. 1/19       Chicken and Pepper Saute with Goat Cheese, Green Beans, and Cauliflower Puree

Tues. 1/20       Leftovers

Wed. 1/21       Turkey and White Bean Salsa Salads

Thurs. 1/22      Leftovers

Items you will need include:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 yellow or white onions
1 bunch green onions
1 bulb garlic
1 green pepper
1 bunch celery
1 bag baby carrots
1 bag of your favorite lettuce or salad blend
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans
1 14.5 oz. can chili beans in chili gravy
1 14.5 oz. can white beans (navy or cannelini)
1 14.5 oz. can diced chili ready tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted salsa style tomatoes
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 jar  roasted red peppers
1 32 oz. box low sodium chicken broth
1 container grated Parmesan cheese
1 bag frozen green beans
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 container light sour cream
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
4 oz. goat cheese

Some pantry items you will need include:

Chili powder
Ground cumin
Dried oregano
Herbs de Provence or dried Italian herbs
Black pepper

I hope you enjoy your weekend! I look forward to sharing with you :).