Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Boy oh boy do I have a recipe to share with you all! Remember last week when I mentioned Derek was out of town and it gave me the chance to spend time with my family and cook up an awesome dinner while watching my man Jameis Winston win the Heisman? Yes, all in all it was a wonderful night, and our dinner was the icing on the cake of it all. I was browsing one of my favorite recipe bloggers, Skinny Taste, and stumbled upon a deliciously rich enchilada recipe and I knew I had to recreate it. Below is the recipe, which I made a few tweaks to!

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  • 1 cup red enchilada sauce (I used canned)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch-dice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 medium low-carb whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • reduced-fat sour cream, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno and cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add cubed butternut, Rotel tomatoes, black beans, water,  cilantro, cumin and chili powder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.

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Place about a generous 1/3 cup filling in the center of each tortilla and roll, place on the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese and bake, covered with foil until hot and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Top with scallions and eat with sour cream if desired.

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These were by and far the most delicious enchiladas I have ever made, and probably one of my favorite uses of butternut squash. The dish definitely had a little bit of a spicy kick to it, and it all froze and reheated beautifully for lunch the next week. And by beautifully, I mean that it looked like a mess but tasted even better than the first time I ate it.

Please, do yourself a favor and make these enchiladas!

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I Made Friends + Light Cajun Chicken Pasta

Hi, friends ! How goes it? I hope everyone is recovering from the Monday blues! My Monday was an easy one, and for that I am thankful! My day of training got out unexpectedly early, and I was able to head to the gym for a nice sweat sesh after work. My original plan for the week was to take Monday off after my 8 mile run on Sunday, but how could I pass up working out after finishing my day at 4:30 p.m.? I just couldn’t.

I completed the following interval run and weight session before calling it quits.

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(Repeat 3 times)

After the gym, some new work friends from North Carolina and Tennessee invited me to dinner and to hang for the night. One of my favorite parts about training is meeting people from all over the U.S., and staying in contact throughout our careers. We had a great night at Ormsby’s in Atlanta – a tavern with delicious food and drinks. I had a killer cup of sweet chili, along with an arugula salad loaded with beets.

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I loaded up on sleep and am ready to rock and roll today, but not until I share this new recipe with you all!

Last week after a trip to the farmer’s market, I returned with arms full of fresh peppers, onions, and scallions (all for under $5 – benefits of eliminating the middle man aka Publix). I wanted to incorporate all the veggies, as well as some chicken breasts I had on hand, into a filling and nutrient-rich meal. I haven’t incorporated pasta into my meals lately, and I thought this meal would be a good time to do it. I came up with a healthy spicy Cajun chicken pasta recipe, that came together like this.

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Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 box uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 3 tbsp light cream cheese
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

Cook pasta  in a very deep pot according to package instructions, strain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan prepared with cooking spray, cook chicken breasts for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine onion, bell pepper strips, garlic clove, Cajun seasoning, pepper and olive oil in a large bowl. Coat vegetables completely.  Saute onions and peppers over high heat on stove for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables have softened.

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Reduce heat to low, and add in tomatoes, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/3 cup almond milk, and 3 tbsp light cream cheese. Cook for 2 minutes more.

Add chicken strips and pepper and onion mixture to the pot of pasta, and stir to combine. Top with chopped scallions and serve immediately.

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Like always, keep smiling and enjoy this recipe if you try it!

Chicken Francese

Hi friends and Happy Thursday! I have a tasty chicken recipe for you today, and the end product seems like it was much more difficult than it actually is! Don’t you love these kind of recipes?!

Chicken Francese

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into thin cutlets

1 egg white

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 large lemon, sliced

¼ cup lemon juice

½ cup chicken broth

1/3 cup white wine

½ cup parsley, chopped

1 tsp butter

Directions

Place bread crumbs on one large plate and egg on another large plate.

Heat butter over high heat in a large sauce pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of chicken, and dip chicken in bread crumb plate. Next, transfer chicken to egg plate, and spread egg over both sides of chicken. Transfer chicken to sauce pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and set aside.

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In the same sauce pan, pour chicken broth, white wine, and lemon juice. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 3 minutes. Place chicken breasts back into sauce pan, and top with lemon slices and chopped parsley. Let sit for a couple of minutes to soak in sauce. Serve hot!

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Hope you all enjoy!

Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Fresh shrimp, a little bit of lemon juice, and some powerful garlic. Does it get any better? Today I’ve got an easy and healthy seafood recipe for ya!

Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients

1 cup white wine or white cooking wine

1 lb. peeled + deveined shrimp

juice from 2 lemons

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp oregano

salt + pepper to taste

1 tomato, diced

2 basil leaves, shredded

Directions

Heat a large skillet to high heat and pour white wine, lemon juice and garlic in the skillet. Heat until the sauce reduces to half its original content. After 5 minutes, add in tomatoes and shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Spoon shrimp and sauce onto plates, top with shredded basil and serve immediately.

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imageI served our shrimp scampi with fresh bruschetta and a Mediterranean couscous salad. Boun appetito!

Seven Ways To Make September Sensational

I LOVE a new month! The beginning of a new month feels like a fresh start, and a great opportunity to set new goals and try out new activities. The following seven things/activities/ideas represent how I plan to make September Sensational!

1. Cook with seasonal produce! September is great because summer vegetables are still around and fall produce is starting to come into season. In the beginning of the month, try cooking with avocado, mango, tomatoes and summer squash. Pretty soon, these tasty veggies are going to be set aside, as sweet potatoes, figs, pumpkin and butternut squash take center stage.
2. Set a new fitness or health goal – mine is to train for my first half marathon. I began training late last week, and I’m following this training plan. Derek and I plan to run our first half-marathon in Orlando this December. Maybe you want to try out a new fitness class, or start incorporating more produce into your meals – now is the time to start!

3. Savor the last bit of summer by throwing a pool party or summer BBQ.
4. Take a step into fall in the latter part of the month by hosting a football tailgate for friends, or attend a game of your favorite team.
5. Start reading a new book. I’ve spent this summer reading auto-biographies, comical books, dramas, and self-help books. While I do love the instant download on my iPad or Kindle, I’ve been ordering books off of Amazon lately, saving up to 75% and enjoying the “old-school” hard copy.
6. Find a halloween outfit – I’m not sure if I’ll be dressing up, but I plan to have fun finding a costume for Louie. I’m thinking he’d be an adorable Minion from Despicable Me.

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7. This may sound crazy, but I start brainstorming Christmas gifts right around this time. By the time the holidays roll around, I’ve already found the perfect personal gifts for family and friends, and don’t feel like I’ve gone broke spending all my money at once!

What do you plan to do this month to make it a special one? Please share!

Cedar Plank Heaven

Did I say heaven?? I meant salmon. Slip of the tongue! Wednesday night for dinner I cooked salmon over a cedar plank for the first time, and it most definitely will not be the last. I’m still over here day dreaming about that smell….. But before I share that recipe, I know you guys are dying to hear about my day. Breakfast started out with a plate of cheesy eggs and hot salsa, just the way vacation days should start.

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After I let breakfast settle, I drove over to the gym and jogged for 15 minutes to warm up before going to the cycling room for a new-to-me cycling class. Naturally, I needed help setting up my bike, and the instructor noticed immediately and came over to help. Can’t reach the pedals = no bueno. As soon as the class started, I knew it was going to be a toughie, but I knew I was going to love it. The music was mostly 80s throw backs, and all of the songs kept me pumped up. The class was wonderful and I didn’t even have to wait ’till the following day to be sore! I was sore immediately!

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Lunch time rolled around and I was so excited because I had a lunch date planned with my sweet grandparents. They are as precious as precious can be, and we very much enjoyed our lunch at Pane Rustica. I especially enjoyed my massive salad, which was topped with roasted zucchini, eggplant, peppers, fresh mozzarella, and various fresh fruit. It held me over ALL.DAY.LONG. Eureka!

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I ran some errands and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon until it was time to start preparing dinner. Now here comes the good stuff, the cedar-y sweet goodness that I promised. Like I mentioned, this was my first time grilling anything on planks, but I knew I wanted to try it out a few weeks ago when Derek’s mom made the most delicious salmon I’ve ever eaten on cedar planks. I purchased planks several months back and never used them, but Wednesday night was the night!

Cedar Plank Salmon

1 1/2 pound fresh salmon

1 T thyme

1 T cumin

1 T garlic powder

1 T brown sugar

2 lemons

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cedar planks, soaked in water at least 2 hours (I soaked mine in the kitchen sink)

Directions

Cut salmon into 4 fillets and set aside. Cut both lemons in half, and set one half aside. Cut the other 3 halves into slices to place on top of the cedar planks, under the salmon. Squeeze the juice from the remaining half into a bowl, and add vegetable oil to the lemon juice. Whisk together. Place salmon fillets atop the lemon slices on the cedar planks.

In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, thyme, cumin and brown sugar. Rub spice mixture over salmon, and cook over medium-high heat on a grill for 30-40 minutes, or until flaky and cooked through.

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image-321I served the cedar salmon with green beans that I blanched and sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

image-320I think I will have serious trouble going back to regular ole grilled salmon anytime soon. The thought is horrifying.

Anyone else ever grill over planks before?

Mustaches and Braised Chicken with Peppers, Olives, Capers etc.

Happy Friday, friends! I woke up very thankful today that I wasn’t broken out from an allergic reaction. The combination of time, antihistamines, and a little steroid pill has cleared me of my worries! The trade off from taking the steroid wasn’t too bad, I only grew a small beard during my recovery time..

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Last night I made a very flavorful chicken dish that I’m going to share with you all in a bit – but first I thought I’d bring you through my day. I finally felt comfortable running faster and longer than 3 miles, and had extra time in the afternoon to go for a 5 miler. I know it’s time to start making my average run length about 5 and my long runs closer to 7 or 8 miles, or I’m never going to be prepared for a half-marathon. Training at a longer distance is a current goal of mine – hold me to it!!

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Following my run, I tried an “Arm Burner” from Fitnessista that looked like this600x567xarm-burner.jpg.pagespeed.ic.OIUasHmjcG

I wanted to complete it twice, but I was working out at home and wasn’t allowed. And by wasn’t allowed, I mean that this guy wouldn’t let me:

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.. Now on to the good part: dinner time! I typically don’t like re-creating recipes that I find on Pinterest, as they haven’t really been vouched for if they are pinned by a random pinner (I could pin anything on there, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good!). However, I figured if Williams-Sonoma pinned it, it’s probably a good one. I found my inspiration from a recipe on their board, and tweaked it by adding a few vegetables and taking out some ingredients as well. image-67

Braised Chicken with Peppers, Olives & Capers

4 pieces of lean chicken breast

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. rosemary seasoning

2 large bell peppers, sliced

1/2 of an onion, sliced

1 zucchini, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 cups gold and red baby tomatoes, sliced length-wise

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 Tbs. capers

Sprinkle chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper on both sides.In a deep sautee pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a plate.

Add the bell peppers, garlic, onion, zucchini to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Next at the red and gold tomatoes, olives, capers and wine. Bring to a boil and return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook about 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

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The rest of my evening after dinner consisted of studying CPA materials (until my laptop died and I was too lazy to get the charger), and finishing a book I’ve been reading – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It was a really great read and very insightful and informative – I love a book that can demonstrate ways in which I can live a better life and be more successful in my endeavors!

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