Friday, June 13, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Okay Okay, I know this post sounds pretty "heavy."  It's really not as bad as you think.
I asked my 4 year old son what he wanted for dinner tonight and he said "Cheeseburgers!" Seeing as my husband is working tonight, my oldest son is at a friends house, and it's just the littles and I at home, I'm not about to start up the grill, make burger patties and cut up potatoes for home fries. Just not gonna happen! 
I have a bunch of ground turkey in my freezer and some yams (also often referred to as sweet potatoes) taking up space in my vegetable drawer.  A little of this and that and this meal came together fairly quickly. Even my picky two year old ate hers up! I'd say that's a sign of a successful dish!


4 medium sized sweet potatoes (could also use russet potatoes here)
1/2 lb. ground turkey or lean ground beef
1/4 c. onion diced
1 T light cream cheese
1/2 c. reduced fat sharp cheddar plus additional for topping
Bacon or Turkey Bacon (optional)
 1-2 T ketchup
1 T  yellow mustard
1/4 tsp Lawry's or other seasoning salt
1 T Worchester Sauce
A Dash of Cracked Pepper
2 T chopped green onion

Start by scrubbing your potatoes and stabbing them with a fork a few times. You could either wrap them in foil and place them in the oven for an hour or place them on a microwave safe plate and cook them according to your microwave's potato settings (Don't judge! It's the middle of summer!)

Meanwhile, brown ground turkey in a pan on the stove with the diced onion. Drain any fat, return to pan and add seasoning salt, Worchester sauce and a few cracks of pepper. Set aside.

Pull potatoes from the microwave (or oven) and let cool slightly. With a potholder in hand, handle potatoes carefully slicing horizontally across the top to keep the potatoes shape in tact.  Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the insides of potatoes and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Preheat your oven to 400*

Mash sweet potatoes and add cream cheese, cheddar, mustard, and ketchup. Add ground turkey and give it a good mash and mix. At this point, it won't look too appetizing. Just remember the best is yet to come.

Carefully add potato mixture back into the potato shells, stuffing to the brim. Top with green onions, cheese, and a good zigzag of ketchup. Place potatoes in an oven safe baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes until stuffing is warm and cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

Top with turkey bacon and serve warm.

The 110 calorie Frappe

This summer's Starbucks Frappuccino Happy Hour left me used to getting a cold creamy coffee fix for cheap. Alas, it didn't last forever. Good thing I've figured out how to make something just as delicious, not to mention low calorie, for cheaper than a half price Frappuccino.
Introducing exhibit A: found of all places at the 99 cent store.

This instant espresso powder will keep your ratio of liquid down so that you don't end up with a slushy, unsatifying watered down mess.
My second weapon is my ninja blender. It handles ice like a pro, and I find it does an even better job when I use the individual jar, making a Frappe for 1.
Lastly, you'll need some refrigerated liquid coffee creamer and some almond milk(or milk of your choice. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of chocolate chips and a dollop of whipped cream to the mix, just for good measure.
3/4 c light almond milk
1 c ice
2 t instant espresso powder
3 T sugar free flavored coffee creamer
Optional addins: I tsp. Nutella or peanut butter,  chocolate chips, etc.  ***Warning***this will probably put you over the 110 calorie mark.
Directions: Place all ingredients in your blender jar(No need to dissolve espresso in water). Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gluten Free Brown Rice Rotini with Pesto Cream & Chicken

Pesto. Yum. Homemade Pesto, even yummier! The best part? I can load it full of spinach and get my kids to eat it! Basil is growing in the garden and I've got a whole lotta gluten free pasta taking up space in my pantry. Thank you to my local discount store that has a random assortment of sometimes decent gluten free items.  I also had some chicken I had baked, shredded, and reserved from last week sitting in my freezer. Chicken is tricky. We all love it, but my 4 year old son has recently been diagnosed with a chicken allergy, among-st many other bizarre and frustrating allergies (insert mommy's sad sigh here) so if we're going to have it it has to be an optional ingredient so I can split up the dish and make his without. This is a simple dish that could be simplified even further with some store bought pesto and a rotisserie chicken (or without chicken at all). Sometimes I even add some cooked frozen green peas for some more vegetables and color. It's so good!

Basic Pesto:

1 c of loosely packed spinach
1/2 c of loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c pine nuts (you could also use almonds)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
a few drops of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of salt
a few cracks of pepper

In your food processor or blender, add all ingredients except for the olive oil and give it a good pulse. Once the ingredients pretty much pulverized, stream in the olive oil and continue to mix until combined. Give it a little taste and add salt or more garlic to taste.

Brown Rice Rotini with Pesto Cream & Chicken
Brown Rice Rotini
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
2 tbsp Cream Cheese
1/4 c. Grated Parmesan
3/4 c. Prepared Pesto (see above recipe or use store bought)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook Rotini to package directions. Drain and return to pain. Add cream cheese to hot pasta and toss to melt so that it coats pasta evenly. This should be done while pasta is still very warm.  Add pesto and chicken and toss to combine. Top or serve with remaining Parmesan. Enjoy!

My Two Year Gluten Free, Post Partum, Hiatus

     I can't believe it's been two years since I've posted on this blog. Gasp! This means that my daughter is almost two! You see, the new baby kind of through a wrench into the idea of blogging for awhile. Not only that, but about a month after she was born my husband returned from paternity leave only to return home sick. Very sick. He took an additional month off of work because every time he ate he got violently ill. Terrible gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, nausea. He once described it to me as being stabbed in the stomach repeatedly for several hours. It was terrible and terrifying. He spent the afternoon of our daughter's baptism laying in bed while I did my best to entertain friends and family. We were brought to our knees in prayer, fearing the worst.
     His doctor's couldn't find anything wrong.  There were scans, scopes, blood tests, and after several weeks we were still left without any answers. Finally, after a little bit of research, we decided to take gluten out of his diet. Voila! He was much better. Only it wasn't so much like "Voila. " It was more  like don't eat this, don't eat that, can't cook this, can't order that. Here I was with an infant and two other kids to feed and I now had to figure out this whole mess of gluten free-ness.  It was like a bad dream. I was stressed, he was stressed, (no more bread, pastries, and worst of all no more beer!) and the kids were feeling our stress. Now add another factor into this terrible equation: at about month 6 baby blues were not going away.I found myself crying, raging, flipping out, and drowning in anxiety over the most ridiculous things. I've struggled before with feeling blue, maybe even teetered along the edge of depressed or anxious, but this was like nothing I'd ever experienced! I loved my kids to pieces, absolutely adored my precious baby girl, but I had to come to terms with the fact that I was pretty much making myself and my entire family miserable. This was when I went to my doctor and got diagnosed with post par-tum depression. I was put on medication and just like "Voila," I felt much better.
    These factors, and the fact that life just got plain old hectic, are why I stopped blogging. I needed time off. I needed time to figure things out. I needed to change the way we ate, the way we did dinner, and the way I did life. Unfortunately my depression has not gone away now that my daughter is two. After a few attempts of trying to "wean" myself off of the medication I have found that this is probably going to be a life-long  medical issue for me.  Now I know there are probably those individuals, even in my own circles that would jump to the ignorant conclusion that "if she had a better prayer life," or "if she walked closer with God," than this depression would leave me. My response: That's a load of crap. I believe that God knows every part of me. For some reason, this is part of my journey. I have the hope that someday I will be healed, and I fully believe that my God can heal me! But it is ignorant to take myself of medication for a chemical imbalance that I cannot control.
      So happily, healthfully, I enter into a new direction for my blog (maybe it will continue, maybe it won't.) Welcome to Musings from my Messy (& Gluten Free) Kitchen. Hopefully I can entertain you with a few palatable recipes that my family loves.