Friday, March 28, 2014

Healthy Butternut Squash Enchiladas

For today's blog post, I was craving something healthy.  Yesterday, our Spring Break trip took a turn when we went to Tucson for the day.  My Auntie Mare and Uncle Eddy live out in Tucson in a beautiful ranch house with two horses.

Charlie-How cute is he?


We spent the day going to lunch at Saguaro Corners where we had great tacos, then we played bocce ball out in their backyard, and finally, we went to dinner at Brushfire for amazing BBQ.  I basically felt like I would never eat again after all the amazing food.

So, this morning I went for a beautiful 6 mile run with Camelback Mountain for a view and now I want to share a "healthy" recipe to make up for all the crazy food I ate yesterday!

Healthy Butternut Squash Enchiladas
(adapted from SkinnyTaste)

1 small can red enchilada sauce
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 cup packed baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup water
small whole wheat tortillas
1 cup low-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
green onions, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 and cover the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with a quarter of the enchilada sauce.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent.  Add in the squash, spinach, tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, and water.  Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or until squash can be easily pierced with fork.
3. Spoon a few tbsp of the squash mixture into a tortilla and roll tortilla up.  Place fold down in the baking pan on top of the enchilada sauce.  Continue until all your squash mixture is used up.  You can really squeeze those enchiladas into the pan. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the tops of the tortillas and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Cover the pan with foil.
4. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve with the chopped green onion if desired.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

I got to see my very first dust storm yesterday! We were at a baseball game for Spring Training when the sirens went off warning everyone about the impending dust storm.  Nothing happened until we got home and looked out our front door and saw that there was just dirt flying around everywhere.  I was told that this was a pretty mild one, but it was still crazy to see.  We're used to blowing snow, not blowing dust!

After the dust storm, we made our way over to the pool to have some $2 tacos and play bingo.  None of us won, but the tacos are great so I guess we were all winners in some way.  From baseball to tacos, today was a lot of fun.  Zack and I even got to go for a run in the morning.  This trip has been great so far and I can't believe I'm enjoying all of this when there is snow back home!

I've been meaning to share this recipe for ages! It is a delicious dessert and in honor of a fun Spring Break, I am going to share it today!  A while back, I went apple picking with some of my girlfriends and then I made this recipe using some of my apples! You can use any apples that are good for baking here.  This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen's on the Food Network to make it a little lighter (but not much :)).

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 8 oz packages low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tbsp, divided
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 apples (I used a mix from my apple picking experience) peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
Streusel Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with foil.  Grease the foil.
2. Mix the 2 cups of flour with the brown sugar in a large bowl.  Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the 1 cup of butter until well combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of your pan. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from oven.
3. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese with the 1/2 cup of sugar until well combined.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla.  Pour this mixture over your warm crust.
4. In a small bowl, toss the apples with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Sprinkle apples over the cream cheese mixture.
5. In a small bowl, combine all the streusel toppings, sprinkle over the apples.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cream cheese layer is set.  Let cool in the refrigerator and cut into slices.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baked Spinach Cheesy Pasta

I am just loving Scottsdale! Last night I got to catch up with two of my favorite ladies from school.  After graduation, these girls moved out here to become middle school teachers and it was so great to see them and catch up!  After a day lounging around at the pool, my family met up with Courtney and Glynis for dinner and dessert in Old Scottsdale.  I couldn't believe how long it had been since we were hanging out and watching Badger games.  I really hope I get to see more of them before the end of this vacation!

Today I have a recipe that is just one of those staples everyone should have in their back pocket.  This Baked Spinach Cheesy Pasta is so simple, quick, and delicious.  Plus, it's vegetarian so therefore perfect for Bri and I have to have during out busy weeks.  I adapted the recipe from Food & Wine.

Baked Spinach Cheesy Pasta

1 lb whole wheat pasta
olive oil
10 oz frozen spinach, cooked and drained
2 cups low-fat ricotta
5 tbsp grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz grated fontina cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 and grease a 9 inch round baking dish.
2. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente and drain.  Place in baking dish and toss with about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
3. Place drained spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Stir in half the fontina.
4. Stir the cheese mixture into the pasta.  Top with the additional fontina and additional parmesan if desired.
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Build Your Own Nachos with Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Hi! I have so much to tell you all! I am on Spring Break and therefore I am able to seriously catch up on some of this blogging stuff :).  On Friday, I brought in lunch for Payday Friday for the math department, we had an early release, and then I was FREE! I have a week off from school to relax and finally catch up on sleep.  I am very excited about this.  My little brother ended up with the same Spring Break from college and so my whole family decided to go out to Arizona for the break.  We are staying in beautiful Scottsdale and having a great time.

Today I wanted to share some big news, as well as a "big" recipe.  My big news: I just registered to run the Chicago Marathon in October!!! It's something I've been dreaming of for a while and I am very nervous and very excited about running my first marathon.  I will be sharing my training experiences here and I am excited for the support and comments from all of you that helped me stay motivated when I was training for my half marathon.  I can't wait and I hope it goes well!

And now, my "big" recipe.  I had to cook lunch for a crowd this past Friday.  I went with a crock pot recipe and I doubled it so that I would have enough to feed at least 20.  This is half of the recipe and it will still make quite a lot of food, which is great because this is a recipe where you will want leftovers, its so good! I made a salsa chicken recipe in my crock pot, then shredded the chicken and served it on top of tortilla chips with all the toppings could could think of for nachos.  It was really yummy and a huge hit with my math department! In fact, it was all gone before I got any good photos! You will just have to use your imagination.

Build Your Own Nachos
(adapted from this recipe)

Salsa Chicken:
3 lbs. chicken breasts, thawed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 jars salsa (use your favorite)
1 8 oz block low-fat cream cheese
2 packets taco seasoning
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream
tortilla chips

1. Place chicken in crock pot.  Pour salsa over chicken.  Top with the black beans, corn, cream cheese, and taco seasoning.
2. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, stir occasionally to mix in the cream cheese and taco seasoning.  After 5 hours, shred chicken and let cook for an additional 30 minutes or so.
3. Serve on top of tortilla chips with all your nacho toppings.

Enjoy :)