Stuffed Cocktail Peppers

Today I needed something for late lunch/early dinner before work. I’m trying to eat more veggies, and usually I do that by adding them into an egg scramble or into a pasta. But I wanted to try something different. In the past I’ve done stuffed Portobello mushrooms, but didn’t have any of those. So I scoured my fridge, pulled out a bunch of veggies, and suddenly had an idea. When I was at my mom’s this past weekend she let me try some homemade stuffed peppers – the mini cocktail kind – that she stuffed with soft brie cheese and refrigerated. Also, I’m slowly becoming obsessed with goat cheese… it’s so creamy and velvety! So here’s what I did!

Preheat your oven to 375¬ļ. Cut the stems/tops off cocktail bell peppers. Scrape the inside to remove any white veins and any seeds. Set aside.

Heat a pat of butter over medium-low heat; add chopped onion and diced mushroom. Stir/toss. Add a tablespoon or so of parmesan cheese and stir; I just used the powdery Kraft kind in the green container. Saute for a few minutes, then add diced garlic and quartered grape tomatoes. Remove from heat when all veggies are soft and it’s aromatic (3-4 minutes).

Scrape veggies into a bowl. While they’re still hot, add about 1/8 cup goat cheese. It will melt and become very creamy… it will look like this:

Stuffing mixture!

Stuffing mixture!


*if you don’t have goat cheese and/or don’t want to spend extra money on it, you can substitute cream cheese (I suppose…) ūüėČ

Now take a spoon and stuff that stuffing into a pepper! If it is bent or deformed a little, squeeze it to reshape and open it up a bit. Be sure you’re applying enough pressure to get out any air bubbles that may occur from stuffing (you will probably hear a little ‘puff’ each time).
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Pre-baking

Pre-baking

I was only making 7, so I put them in a ramekin to ensure they all stood up straight. I placed the ramekin on a sheet pan and baked for 9 minutes or so in the oven, until the tops were beginning to brown and the peppers had softened just a bit.
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Let them cool for at least 5 minutes. You can eat them right away, or wait 5-10 minutes more for them to be easy to handle.

Let me mention that I was on borrowed time, getting ready for work before picking up A from school. This maybe took me a total of 20 minutes, because the onion was already chopped in a bag in my fridge. While the peppers were in the oven, I did all the dishes in the sink that needed to be hand-washed, and a few other things around the kitchen.

They were pretty flavorful and would be a really fun appetizer for a gathering. They’re super easy finger foods, and look pretty displayed in the ramekin. I know it’s not SUPER healthy because of the cheese, but at least there were a lot of veggies in it. ūüôā I believe I got the bag of peppers in one of those “10 for 10, get the 11th free” sales at Meijer – and considering I had all these ingredients in my OHI, it was really affordable. It would be fun to make a bunch of these.

I also had some stuffing left, so I saved it in a bowl in the fridge. The next morning I scrambled a few eggs with it – delish!

Next time I’ll try adding paprika and maybe a bit of onion powder to the stuffing – or maybe even red pepper flakes for extra spice! ūüėČ

Give it a try and let me know what you think!
What would you add to the stuffing mixture?

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Mini-stuffed Peppers

Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Casserole

Today I’m going to share with you one of my GO TO meals on the rare occasion I don’t have anything planned for dinner, I’m low on groceries, or short on time. Part of the reason for this? It’s basically made only¬†with OHI. Sometimes I’ll work this into my meal plan too, because it’s so easy and the whole family loves it.

This is a great Second Meal, because you can use leftovers from another chicken dinner for this casserole. When the chicken is leftover from another meal, this one should take only about 45 minutes to prepare.¬†It’s homey comfort food at its best!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
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1 can¬†Campbell’s¬†Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup  milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables РI use carrots & peas, and corn
2 cups cubed cooked chicken (or shredded chicken is good too)
About 2 cups Egg noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup  grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon  ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Triple Cheddar cheese (or more if you really like cheese!) for topping
*Sometimes I’ll add a little extra shredded cheese into the mix also
I’ve made this enough times that I usually eyeball the ingredients – except for the milk. Too much milk and it’s tasteless and watery.

Preheat your oven to 400¬ļ. Start by putting hot water in a medium pot and salting the water. Bring to a boil and cook your egg noodles according to package directions.
In the meantime…Start with the soup,¬†milk, parmesan, and¬†pepper¬†and¬†stir in a casserole dish (I think I use a 2 Quart one). Then I add the veggies (which I usually leave out a bit so they’re not frozen solid) and mix. Add the cooked, drained noodles next.
While the noodles are cooking I chop the chicken into cubes and add it last.
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Remove from oven, stir if noodles on top look hard or browned, then sprinkle cheese to cover top. Bake for another 5 minutes to melt cheese. I usually let it sit for a few minutes, then dig in!! Hope your family enjoys this as much as we do ūüôā

First meal ideas for chicken:
Spinach Artichoke Chicken (if you use this, you have the bonus of additional veggies, AND it will be creamier!)
Fresh Take Italian Parmesan chicken
Stuffed Chicken

Healthy Stuffed Chicken (Second Meal)

The Hubs has been doing an awesome job lately of consistently exercising and especially eating foods that are out of his comfort zone (raw veggies! gasp!). I am super proud of him! I know he will reach his weight loss goal if he continues down this road.

On the other side of that is: if he wants to continue down this road, I need to be on board to help him. Genesis 2:18 says “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (emphasis mine) I love this verse, because it’s very practical when it comes to being a wife. I am created to be my husband’s helper. I read a book by a Christian author that gave me this awesome filter to ask of everything I do: Am I helping or hindering my husband? (Always good for a gut check!) So, in his weight loss goals, I am coming alongside him to be his HELPER. Which means making healthy (well, health-IER) meals! I’m so excited that he’s motivated enough to try new things.

A Second Meal using tomatoes, onion, and spinach is stuffed chicken. (See here for a First Meal.) The first time I made this was before work one night,¬†when I was prepping dinner before I had to leave for work. The hubs had requested something healthier than the chicken nuggets and Mac n Cheese I was making for the kids.¬†I got a family pack of chicken breast when it was on sale, and some of the breasts were really large and thick. I cut them into smaller tenderloins and was thinking about butterflying some too. I was going to just grill a chicken breast for him, but then this idea came to me. I recently used it again for my brother-in-law’s birthday dinner at our house. Modifications for a larger group are in red.¬†

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Chicken Breast
Bell peppers – red, yellow, and orange
Onion (any kind will do – red, Spanish, or white)
Tomatoes (Roma work best because they’re firm)
Spinach
Italian dressing (click here for homemade recipe)
Butter or cooking oil
*Optional: shredded cheese like Parmesan, Mozzarella, or Italian Blend
*As always, adjust ingredients or recipe to your tastes!

1.¬†Butterfly a thick chicken breast, leaving enough connective protein to keep it shut after you stuff it (I’d say it’s in between a butterfly cut and cutting a pocket in your meat – more open than a pocket, but not completely cut through either.) Drizzle with some Italian Dressing, spread with a pastry brush all over¬†and let it marinate on your raw meats cutting board while you cook vegetables.¬†When I made this for the whole family, I made a homemade Italian dressing for the marinade, adding 3 extra garlic cloves for more flavor. I put them in a glass baking dish and poured the dressing over top.

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2. Heat a small pat of butter or drizzle of oil in a small skillet. For a large group, I used my large skillet. Add chopped onions, tomatoes, bell peppers (I used yellow and orange and red), and spinach. Saute very gently and sprinkle a little S&P.  Remove from heat. You can stir in cheese to the filling as well; I added about 1- 1 1/2 Tblspn Italian blend. For the large group, I used a handful of shredded parmesan cheese, about a quarter of each color pepper, half a Spanish onion, 5 Roma tomatoes, and a whole bag of spinach (remember it shrinks!), then put the stuffing in a bowl until I needed it. *Be careful with this though Рyou might have to drain the veggies of liquid before you stuff your chicken!

3. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile add the vegetables to the chicken – inside the ‘pocket’ – and fold the other part of the chicken over to close. When grill pan is hot enough that water sizzles loudly when flicked onto surface, lift chicken with tongs & spatula and set on grill pan. (Use tongs on open side holding it closed¬†and spatula underneath closed side.) Cook for approximately 7 minutes or until chicken no longer sticks to pan and there are nice grill marks on bottom. Then flip and cook the same on the other side (using tongs again to keep pocket from falling open).

4. Move chicken to a sheet pan with edges. I line with aluminum foil for easy clean up. I had a lot of extra filling, so I spooned more over top before baking.¬†Finish in a 350¬ļ oven for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (If you want to know if it’s cooked or not without cutting into it, ‘feel’ it with the tongs. It should no longer be soft, but springy and almost firm. If it’s too firm and hard, it’s overcooked and will be dry and chewy.)

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That first time I made this, I wished I had made two so¬†I could have devoured one before work. He loved it and even though he’s never been a big spinach or tomato fan, he ate the WHOLE thing and said the stuffing was awesome. At my brother-in-law’s birthday dinner, all the plates came back empty.¬†I hope you enjoy this healthy, quick and delicious entr√©e!

Veggie Omelet (First Meal)

By now you know I am big on buying grocery items that I can utilize in more than one way. Here’s how you can use some of the same veggies in a few different meals.

We’ll start with breakfast! The hubs has been getting serious about losing weight, so he’s actually agreed to more veggie intake and decreasing carbs. Today I made him a veggie omelet. Super easy!

Here’s what you do:
1. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese into the bottom of a bowl.
2. Crack 3 whole eggs into said bowl (see this article for info on why eggs do not raise your cholesterol)
3. Add a splash or two of milk (we use 2% here)
4. Mix with a whisk, fork, or my personal favorite when I’m in a hurry, the whisk attachment on your hand mixer.
5. Meanwhile chop, dice, or pull out of the fridge your pre-prepped veggies of choice. I like onion, pepper, tomato, and spinach.
6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add a little pat of butter, and cook the veggies till softened. Remove from heat.
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7. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray. **You can use a large skillet here, but I like the small omelet size ones as they are easier to flip.**
8. Pour egg mixture into small skillet. Leave alone for about 2-3 minutes so bottom can start to set. Then swirl the mixture around the pan. You are basically enlarging the omelet by cooking more egg around the outside.
9. NOW. I don’t know if this is what professional omelet makers do, but it works for me. What I do is once it’s started to set a little, using my spatula I will pull the egg away from the side of the pan and into the middle, tilting the pan simultaneously so that the runny, uncooked portion of egg flows onto the exposed skillet and starts to cook. I do this 4 times around the pan. Visualize an imaginary square, and you are pulling up each side once. Then I will continue to tilt the pan while still leaving it close to the source of heat, to make sure most of the runny egg is now stable. (I should’ve taken more pictures! I hope this is making sense.)
10. Once the egg is at a jello-type consistency but no longer runny (it jiggles but doesn’t run all over when you tilt the pan), it’s time to flip. Be sure to use your spatula all the way around to be sure there are no parts sticking. Then put the spatula underneath, tilt your pan a bit, and flip!
11. Reduce heat to low. Spoon in your veggies and sprinkle a little cheese if desired. I like Triple Cheddar.
12. Fold one half over the other and cook for about a minute more.
13. Slide out of the pan onto a plate and enjoy! ūüôā

Fun kid’s lunch – English Muffin pizzas

I wish I could remember where I saw this idea. On a blog or Pinterest, maybe in a magazine? Either way, I saw it at the perfect time because I did have an extra set of English Muffins as they were BOGO a week or so ago.

So today, impulsively, I decided to try it. The kids always love when they get to help with stuff so they were all for it. Plus, it gave me a day off from sandwiches, which is nice because I’m not using bread (that saves me money in the long run- we use up to 12 pieces of bread, about half a loaf! – if everyone has sandwiches!)

What you’ll need:
Sheet pan
Toaster
Oven
English Muffins
Pasta sauce
Shredded mozz or other cheese
Fresh veggies and/or meat for toppings
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I started by lightly toasting 3 whole grain English muffins. Then I covered a small sheet pan with aluminum foil and put the muffins on it. I used a spoon to scoop and spread sauce on each muffin. My eldest (in the picture) is 5- almost 6!- and wanted to do her own sauce. Then I let the kids add their own veggies and top with cheese.
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Then I baked in the oven at 400¬ļ for 6 minutes.

I thought they were delicious. I’d probably make them for ME next time, or maybe for dinner with mushrooms and red onion and fresh tomato. Yum!

I have to be honest though. My 5 1/2 year old LOVED hers, but as much as my two youngest love tomatoes, they really just wanted them raw. Camille picked the tomato and cheese off hers and left the muffin. Brendan only ate half of one and left the rest for me. Haha. I’m guessing it had something to do with the whole grain, as they only occasionally have whole grain toast.

Try it! You’ll be surprised how quick, easy, delicious and nutritious it is!