Quinoa and Italian turkey sausage stuffed peppers

Most of the time, stuffed peppers are made with a mixture of white rice and ground Italian sausage made with pork. Although this filling is cooked inside of a vegetable, it is not the healthiest meal. These stuffed peppers were made super healthy by using quinoa instead of rice and turkey sausage instead of the pork. Not only did I cut out a significant amount of calories (each pepper is only 210 calories!!), but the flavor is almost better in my opinion! They are hearty and meaty and best of all – cheesy!!! Yum!

These don’t taste like health food at all and I am so sure that you will love them! They are a great “make ahead” meal too! Once they are assembled (and before you place them in the oven), they can be easily wrapped up and refrigerated or frozen until you want to bake them up. The green bell peppers that I used were HUGE, so they are definitely enough to feel like you have eaten a meal.

Ingredients
Makes 5 stuffed peppers

3 mild Italian sausage links, meat taken out of the casing
1 cup quinoa
5 green bell peppers, tops removed and insides pulled out
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 Tbl basil, chopped
1/2 jar prepared tomato sauce (I used Newman’s Own tomato basil)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Salt/pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water and quinoa up to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and quinoa is cooked through.

In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil. Add to the pan onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook for ten minutes to allow veggies to soften. Add in turkey sausage. Stir around to break up the pieces of sausage into small, bite sized pieces. Cook for another 8 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and basil. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble:

Place peppers cut side up in a large baking dish. Spoon quinoa mixture evenly into each pepper. Top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and broil peppers until cheese is browned.

Serve immediately.

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Roasted potato and green bean salad with caramelized onions, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

I love this salad.

There are few salads that I really enjoy eating. One is a strawberry, spinach and kiwi salad my mom makes. One is this salad. And one is this roasted potato and green bean salad. This salad is so easy but it has so many different flavors and textures that it makes it seem like the most complex salad. But its not. Its so easy. And so tasty. And you must make it. Trust me. People will love you after you make this salad.

I have been making this salad for years. Its a really great salad to make if you’re having company over or need to bring something to someone’s house for a dinner party. It has something in it that will please everyone, and the ease of preparation makes it an instant go-to salad for me.

It is also a great salad to make and then add things to it to make it a complete meal. Sometimes I will add grilled chicken or steak to it and it becomes a really great, fast, and easy dinner.

OK, so I just planned your next dinner. You’re welcome.

Ingredients

1 12 ounce bag of field greens
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
1 sprig of rosemary, minced
2 sprigs of thyme, minced
2 sprigs of parsley, minced
5 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 Tbls. butter
Salt/pepper, to taste
Blue cheese, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, herbs, 3 Tbls. olive oil, and salt and pepper. Coat potatoes and spread onto a rimed baking sheet cut side down. Roast in the oven for twenty minutes, stopping halfway through to loosen potatoes with a spatula and flip them.

While you potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter and remaining olive oil. Add onions to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Caramelize onions by stirring them around the pan every five minutes (Lower your heat if the onions are becoming too browned). After twenty minutes, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and stir onion around. Let onions cook for ten more minutes. At this point, the onions should be a deep brown color. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Reserve the pan with the leftover oil from the onions for green beans.

In the same pan, saute green beans until cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper. set aside to cool.

To assemble the salad, place field greens into a large bowl and add potatoes, green beans, onions and blue cheese. Toss to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad and toss.

Vinaigrette

1 Tbls dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper

In a large bowl or blender, add all ingredients except olive oil. Whisk or blend until all ingredients are well combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking or while your blender in on. Blend until all of the oil has been added. Drizzle over salad right before you are ready to eat.

Enjoy!!!

Southwestern quinoa with roasted shrimp

This weekend I went to Winston-Salem, NC to visit my sister, Jen. We are super close, so every time I go see her we always have so much fun! She also loves to cook so it is always a great excuse to try out some new recipes whenever I am over there because I know she will help out. My first night there we went out for dinner and drinks and then for some frozen custard. If you have never had frozen custard, do yourself a favor and go get some! Its awesome! Its basically ice cream – just a lot richer (and probably more fattening). But it is delicious. And I ate way too much of it.

So after a night of drinks and custard, we decided that we should make some kind of effort to eat slightly healthier the next night – hence the quinoa. Quinoa is so easy to make and with the addition of some other flavorful ingredients, it really makes it a great meal.

Ingredients
Recipe collaborator: Jennifer Reppucci

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and devained
1 Tbl blackening seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
olive oil
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 avocado, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced and caramelized
Salt/pepper, to taste

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a plastic re-sealable bag add in your shrimp. Season with salt, pepper, and blackening seasoning and olive oil. Seal the bag and shake the shrimp around the bag to coat it with the seasoning. Empty the shrimp onto a sheet tray and discard the plastic baggy. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through. Set aside.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add quinoa and toast until slightly browned. Add in stock and bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook, covered for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and add in your corn, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, and onion. Pour cilantro vinaigrette over and serve with shrimp over top.

Cilantro Vinaigrette

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour over quinoa and toss to combine.

Enjoy!!!

Slow cooker chicken caesar wraps

Many of you who know me, know that I have a dog that I am mildly obsessed with. His name is Bruin and he’s a 10 month old Boston Terrier. He is such a cutie and the best dog ever, so I thought I would share a picture of his adorable little face with all of you ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Ok, enough gushing. Sorry I am a proud mom ๐Ÿ˜‰ . On another note, these chicken caesar wraps are where its at. They are so easy. You just put everything in the slow cooker and basically just walk away for a few hours. Once they are finished, they have so much of that classic caesar flavor.

We had these for dinner tonight and then we washed them down with a variation of these.

You can substitute burger buns if you like, but honestly this chicken would be good eaten off a piece of tree bark. Promise me you will make these wraps. Promise??? They will become a definite favorite of yours.

By the way, I have nothing for dessert tonight and I feel sad. Feel free to bring me something if you live close ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

Ingredients
Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup caesar dressing (bottled or homemade)
salt/pepper
Whole wheat wraps
Romaine lettuce

In your slow cooker, add in chicken and water. Turn your slow cooker to the high setting and cover. Let it cook for about 4 hours (Check it every so often. Mine took about 3 hours but it can vary depending on your slow cooker).

Once your chicken has cooked, remove from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Drain water from the slow cooker. With two forks, shred chicken into small, bite sized pieces. Add the chicken back into the slow cooker and add in parsley, cheese, caesar dressing, and salt and pepper. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.

To assemble your wraps layer the shredded chicken on tortilla and top with the romaine. If desired, you can add a little bit more parmesan cheese and caesar dressing.

Enjoy!!!

Baked orzo with broccoli pesto

I just got home from a trip I took up to Rhode Island (where I’m originally from) this weekend. While I was there, I definitely got my fill of Italian foods and desserts. The food up there is hard to find anywhere else in the country, especially North Carolina. So, whenever I am up there, I tend to go a little overboard with indulgences.

Pizza, pasta, pastries = me passed out for hours. I’m really fun to go on vacation with.

One place in particular that I ALWAYS have to go to, is this bakery called Solitro’s Bakery. They have the most amazing pastries. It is so hard to just pick one thing that is my favorite there and if I could – I would eat everything in there once a day. If you are ever in Rhode Island, you MUST go there. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Russian tea cake. It will change your life.

My brother, Peter and I in front of my favorite place in the world ;)

Now that I am back home, I need to get back into my healthy eating. As a way to ease myself back into it, I made this baked pasta. It has some really healthy aspects to it, but it tastes super comforting (which always makes me feel like I’m eating unhealthily). It is really filling and super flavorful and it comes together in minutes.

And since I can’t eliminate desserts completely, here is a little sneak peak of my dessert which I will post tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ingredients

3/4 lb orzo
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups breadcrumbs (I used homemade, but store bought works fine)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cups broccoli pesto
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions on the box. While your pasta is cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Assemble the broccoli pesto and set aside. Once your pasta is cooked, drain and place back into hot pot. Add in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, pesto, and cream cheese to the cooked orzo. Stir to combine and place in a greased baking dish. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and almonds into bread crumbs to sprinkle over the top of the orzo. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Once orzo is hot and the breadcrumb topping is browned, remove from the oven and enjoy immediately.