“People find life entirely too time consuming.” ~ Stanislaw J. Lec

Oh! The lazy days of summer.  I love it!

Although, that saying doesn’t ring true much anymore.  Schedules are crazy and there is no structure or there is too much structure. Years ago you didn’t even need structure because life was just simple.

You got up, you went out to play, you came in for lunch and a little down time (mine was watching I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show at 12:00 and 12:30 while I ate my lunch on the floor in front of the TV) and then you went back out until dinner time which was followed by a bath and a little more down time before you got in the bed.

You got up and did it again.

For 3 months. 3 whole months.

Life was perfect. And simple.

I really do feel sorry for today’s children, they will never know that sense of “easy”.

Makes me sad.

On another note something that is easy and makes me happy are simple things like one skillet meals. I have posted several on here and now I have another to add to the category.

These are perfect for those more hectic summer days.

BBQ Chicken Skillet Pasta

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
  • 3 cups rotini pasta
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, or more, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet or pot, brown bacon until crispy, then remove from pan reserving 1 Tablespoon of fat.

Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned on all sides.

Add garlic and onions and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Mix in chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce and simmer for around 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked.

Stir in BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese. Mix until heated through.

 

 

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-abp

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“Let the past be content with itself, for man needs forgetfulness as well as memory.” ~ James Stephens

Stuffed Peppers.

A childhood favorite! Mom used to make them all of the time but bless her, she doesn’t remember quite how she did…… 🙂

I can understand that, I cant remember what I made last week. Does the baby brain ever go away?!?

That’s the thing about childhood favorites and all that good food that your mom and grandma made. They didnt have recipes written down. It was just in their head. I honestly do not know how my grandmother kept up with them all. (She obviously didn’t have baby brain)

Thank goodness for the internet and the beloved Pinterest because now I do not even have to try.

Since I knew I would not be able to recreate the ones my mom made, there would be no reason to even try so I’m putting a different spin on them. More Mexican than Italian. Also, since my husband is not a fan of green bell peppers, I will do a mixture of red and green bell peppers.

Although, I haven’t given up on finding a recipe close to mom’s. Stayed tuned!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

(adapted from Trisha Yearwood)

  • 6 large red or green bell peppers
  • 2½ cups long-grain white rice (or rice of your choice)
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • ½ medium-size sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 10-oz can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 16 oz sharp Mexican blend cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut the bell peppers in half, top to bottom. Remove the seeds and the ribs and wilt peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To save time cook “boil in the bags” rice according to directions in the same water you cook peppers. Or you can cook regular rice in another pot. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Drain the meat. Add tomatoes to the meat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in rice, salts and pepper.

In a foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray, place the bell peppers skin side down. Evenly divide the beef mixture among the pepper halves. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese and cilantro on the top. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts.

**** Next time I think I may add taco seasoning to kick up the Mexican flavor. ****

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-abp

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

You wanna know a sure fire way that you are officially a “grown up”?

When you feel like a kid at Christmas, I mean pure giddy over getting a new appliance.

I realized this a couple years ago when I got a deep freezer for the garage. But that does not even compare to the excitement of getting my new Vitamix in the mail!! Fun times!!!

Remember this is coming from the same girl who has been known to clean out the pantry on New Year’s Eve.

And call it a very successful night.

But, come on ladies (and gents), you know what I mean!!

It also means my poor husband will be drinking half his meals for the next couple weeks or until the new wears off!

Here is an example:

Blueberry Banana Oat Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

(makes one smoothie)

Yum!

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-abp

“As long as there’s a few farmers out there, we’ll keep fighting for them.” ~ Willie Nelson

One of the things I love about the spring and summer is the River Market Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning!

It’s a fabulous way to start your Saturday morning! There is just something about it that makes me happy. 🙂

Growing up on a farm with a huge garden will pretty much spoil you to any other kind of vegetables. Unfortunately, for years I had to do without such fresh homegrown vegetables but with the new interest in fresh homegrown food – I am now able to get a little bit of my childhood back.

I love to just look around a grab a few things for the rest of the week but today I had several things on my list that I had to have for tonight’s dinner and they did not disappoint.

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Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

  • 4 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Cook pasta according to directions and preheat oven to 400º.

Sauté squash, zucchini and onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic for 3-5 more minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the cooking spray).

Then add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture and pour into an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

 

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“I have CDO, it’s like OCD with the letters in alphebetical order, as they should be…..” ~ unknown

No secret here – I love a crock pot meal.

I love them even more now that I have started using crock pot liners! They make easy, easier!!

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I don’t know about you but I absolutely despise scrubbing all the cooked on mess off! It really needs to soak off but I hate leaving things soaking in the sink. I want it all cleaned up and put away, right away.

Definitely my OCD coming out. An affliction that has been greatly tested with an 8 month old. 🙂

Sweetened Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

(adapted from Food52)

Pork

  • 2 pounds Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Clove Garlic; crushed
  • 1/2 cup Water

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

Mix together sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub onto tenderloin and place in crockpot with 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

With about 45 minutes left to cook, preheat oven to 350º and mix together glaze ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium/low heat until thickened. Remove pork loin and place in oven safe dish and spread half the glaze onto pork and cook in oven for around 15-20 or until glaze starts to firm up.

Remove from oven, shred meat and drizzle remaining glaze.

 

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-abp

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

When I think of flavorful foods, I normally think rich, heavy, warm foods.

Maybe that has been my problem when it comes to not wanting more figure-friendly food.

Case in point, a lean pork tenderloin.

You have to have some thick, rich, heavy sauce to combat the plainness of it, right??

Well, guess what? You don’t!

Below is a way to spice up your grilled tenderloin without all the fat and calories!

It’s pretty too! Perfect for a summer meal on the patio. 🙂

Cantaloupe and Red Pepper Salsa

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

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“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” ~Abraham Lincoln

I stepped totally out of the box on this one, folks.

This is a recipe I would normally skipped right on past.

But it was the Fourth of July and what better fits that holiday more than watermelon?

– Not much.

And who is trying to lose baby weight?

– Me.

So I thought “why not?”.

I was still skeptical even as I filled the bowls but after all the garnish was applied, it all came together.

The flavors were amazing together and every bite was better than the last!!

Watermelon Gazpacho

1 large tomato, pureed
1/2 Serrano chile
2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 cucumber, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chile, and 1/2 of the watermelon. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse. Add the onion, cucumber and dill and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with dill, feta, and remaining watermelon.

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-abp

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Believe me – I’m not a health nut.

I would love to be but I cannot even pretend to be.

I know lately all I seem to be posting are lighter, healthier meals but let’s be honest, I’m not trying to be health conscious – I still have baby weight to lose!! 🙂

So one of the “healthy” things I now incorporate with my meals is using whole wheat pasta. This is because I need to not because I want to. I still vastly prefer the regular but what can you do?

I will tell you! You make a fabulous sauce that masks any taste you are not particularly found of in the whole wheat pasta.

Here’s an example.

Chicken and Penne Pasta with Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Stir together lemon juice and minced shallot; let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in olive oil, parsley, honey, and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

For the Pasta:

  • 2 – 3 pan grilled chicken breasts or 2-3 cups rotisserie chicken (can be served whole or chopped, shredded)
  • 1 (16-oz.) package whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 (8-oz.) package thin green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1.5 cup Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans to boiling water during last 6 minutes of cooking time; drain. Rinse pasta mixture under cold running water until cool; drain. Toss together chicken, pasta mixture, tomatoes, and vinaigrette. Just before serving, stir in dill, and add salt/pepper and feta to taste.

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-abp