Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Homemade SUGAR FREE Applesauce

Okay, I live in Texas.  It's rumored here that October has been kidnapped by September, because we are still reaching temps in the 90's in October!  It's crazy!  But  we want our Fall.  We want all the delicious scents, spices and flavors that traditionally come with Fall.

My people love applesauce.  They like plain ole store bought applesauce.  They like the cinnamon flavor and the strawberry flavor that is FULL of sugar!  We are working hard to cut back on processed foods and sugar, so I thought I would make my own version of applesauce.  So easy, so delicious, and people pleasing!  :)


  • 5 lbs. of apples (I use a sweeter variety such as honey crisp, fuji or gala) peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 T ground cinnamon (yes, TABLESPOONS)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. Layer apples into a slow cooker and sprinkle the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg over the top.
  2. Cook on high until apples are soft, 4-5 hours.  
  3. For chunkier sauce, whisk the apples vigoroiusly or use a potato masher.
  4. For a smoother applesauce, puree with an immersion blender.  (too much hassle for me!) 
/Cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.  
Chunky applesauce, using a potato masher.

 This is such an easy recipe!  My family loved the applesauce served warm.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat (in the microwave) for a delicious, but guilt-free dessert or late night snack.  I did not add any sugar and it honestly did not need it.  If you use tarter apples, it will yield a tarter sauce, so to keep it naturally sweet, go for those sweeter apples.  Happy Fall!  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Wednesdays are awesome!  I only teach my dance classes in the morning, and then I work out with my trainer (who likes to "push me") and then I focus on FAMILY DINNER.  Woohoo!  It's the best!  It's the one weeknight that all my chicks are home to enjoy dinner together. All the other nights, we eat in shifts.  :(

I know it's Tuesday, but maybe you can make this Wednesday night hit for your family, too.

We're Texans!  We like Mexican food and we like it weekly.  And this slow cooker recipe was a perfect alternative to taco night and allowed me to toss in the ingredients and forget about it!  


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (Don't be scared it doesn't turn out dry and icky!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Taco Seasoning--you can use a package of McCormick or whatever brand you like, but I buy mine in bulk at HEB in the Healthy Living Section.  I used about 4 T.
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar of your favorite salsa (I used HEB B and Medium Heat Picante sauce)--if your peeps don't like "spicy" go for the mild salsa
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or run through a garlic press
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish


  1. Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts.  TIP:  Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle 2 T. of taco seasoning (if you are using my seasoning, or half the packet of pre-packaged seasoning) over the chicken breasts.  PLOT TWIST:  Flip them over and sprinkle remaining taco seasoning over them.  
  3. In a large skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil,  saute the onion until transparent 3-4 minutes.  Add in garlic and saute an additional minute.  
  4. Pour onion/garlic mixture over the seasoned chicken.  ALMOST THERE.
  5. Pour entire contents of the jar of salsa over the chicken.  (My grandmother always said to add a little water to the jar and shake to get it all out--so do that too.)
  6. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours.  NOT KIDDING.
  7. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks.
  8. Return to the slow cooker and toss in those most amazing juices.  

So many ways to serve:  

  • In flour or corn tortillas
  • In crispy taco shells
  • Over tostadas with a smear of refried beans--we use BAKED ones
  • Over rice and add a vegetable or fresh salad
  • Over a salad
  • Super tip:  squeeze fresh lime juice over the top of the chicken any way you serve it!
This one is soooooooo good you will want to add it to your weekly rotation!  And it's FABULOUS as a dynamic do-over--or leftovers as some people call it.  ;)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Putting Family Dinner BACK on the Calendar!

Are you juggling a hectic weekly schedule?  Ours changes every year along with my teaching schedule and the girls' dance schedules.  Thursday has become one of the toughest days in our week, and Charlieman is stepping up and helping out BIG TIME!  :)  

Each week, I comb the internet and magazines looking for easy (usually one-dish) meals that Charlie can make for Thursday night dinner.  He is a master BBQer and proficient breakfast chef, but every day cooking isn't really his forte.  Charlie is working hard on his Thursday night meals and is doing an outstanding job, learning the tricks of the trade as he goes.  

Last night's dinner was another success!

Golden Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup large green olives, quartered (I get these from the olive bar at HEB, but large pimento stuffed olives also work)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c. white wine
  • 3/4 c. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • brown rice (I love to speed things up with the HEB brand frozen brown rice.  4 min. in the microwave and it's ready!)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side and transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, olives and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken to the skillet, add the wine and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened.  (4 to 6 minu)
  5. Stir in the parsley and serve with the rice.  
***Side note--as Charlieman learns those tricks of the trade, I might mention that you halve the tomatoes lengthwise.  And "slicing" the garlic, means thin slivers, not "chops".  :)   I love his learning curve and am sooooooo proud of his amazing dinners!  Please try this one.  You will LOVE it!  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Breakfast of Champions

Did you know that I am not a breakfast person?  Nope, not a bacon and eggs kind of girl.  But as we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It gets your metabolism going and fuels your body for the busy day ahead.  --AND it can keep you full longer and curtail that dreaded snacking that seems to get us into trouble.  I  have seen lots of recipes for this online, even the Pioneer Woman has a version.  You can get as creative as you like, but here's the basic recipe.  

Overnight Oats


  • Old fashioned oats
  • Protein Powder (I use whey protein in vanilla)
  • Almond Milk ( I use unsweetened vanilla0

  • Fresh fruit such as blueberries, peaches, strawberries, apples
  • Healthy nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios or brazil nuts
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, all spice
  • Spoonful of canned pumpkin (NOT PIE FILLING)

Here's what to do:

1.  Measure 1/2 c. of oats and put into a storage container.  

2.  Add 1 scoop of protein powder of your choice.

3.  Stir well.  (Sometimes I put the lid on and shake to combine)

4.  Add 1/2 cup of Almond Milk

5.  Mix well.  (I use a fork to mix)

6.  Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, I put my oats in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and then add fruit.  I make as many tubs as I have room for in the refrigerator, usually 7-8 at a time.  It's great to make a lot and have breakfast already made for the week!  I hope you give it a go and get your mornings started off right!  :) 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Healthy but Hearty Turkey & White Bean Chili

Texas weather is something else!  It's been so hot and humid that it doesn't seem possible that it's already the end of September.  But the rain has cooled it off enough for me to pull out one of my family's favorite soup recipes.  I thought you might enjoy it as well.  :)

I double this recipe so I have plenty of leftovers for lunches or another night of dynamic do-overs, but I am sharing the original recipe in this post.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I use a sweet onion)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I run mine through a garlic press)
  • 1 to 2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced (I like it spicy and always use 2)
  • 4 tsp. chopped FRESH rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast
  • 5 c. chicken stock
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c. frozen white shoepeg corn 
  • 3 T. cornmeal

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat (one swirl of olive oil around the bottom of the pot will do).  Add onion and cook for about 8 minutes.  Add garlic, Serrano chiles, rosemary, cumin, oregano and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt.  Add turkey and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. 

The best part is not having to drain the pot!  And the aroma is amazing!  

Add the chicken stock, beans and corn and bring to a boil over high heat.  

Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer until chili is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.  Stir in cornmeal and cook another 15 minutes.  

Garnish with fresh rosemary or a touch of cilantro.  A dollop of reduced fat or fat free sour cream is tasty, too.  

Finished product!  So tasty and healthy, too!
My family loves a little fresh cornbread too!  Not as healthy. 

Hope you love it as much as we do!  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Soup with an Italian Flair!

Tuscan Chicken Soup


My youngest daughter was not a fan of the spinach,
but that's part of what makes it so tasty.  She ate
around it.  Everyone else gobbled it up and I
noticed someone went back for seconds!  <3 
  • 1 c. onion, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, cut into thick, half moon slices
  • 2 T. Tomato Paste (I used Contadina w/ Italian Seasonings)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 (15 oz.) Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. chicken stock (plus extra for later)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can substitute chicken breasts if you prefer), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat orzo pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. (or more to taste) chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (6 oz.) package of fresh baby spinach
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese for garnish

Here's what to do:
  1. Combine onions, carrots, tomato paste, salt and pepper, seasoning, beans, chicken stock, chicken and garlic add to slow cooker.

    ***NOTE:  I remove every bit of visible fat from the chicken.  I like to use thighs because they do not dry out during the cooking process and are more flavorful.  With that said, when cutting the thighs into chunks, it enables you to cut off every little piece of fat.  I take the time to do this.  You will be glad you did, too.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour.
  3. Reduce heat to LOW and cook for 3 hours.
  4. 40 minutes before you want to serve, add orzo.

    ***I add a little more chicken stock if I think the soup is too thick.  Maybe 1/2 a cup.  I just pour it from the box without measuring.  (eyeball it)
  5. 10 minutes before serving, add rosemary, basil and spinach.
  6. Serve topped with fresh Parmesan Cheese.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Super Flavorful Soup--Vegetarian, but Hearty!

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

Such a flavorful soup.  It's even better the next day!

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1-15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 c. red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 8 c. vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 T. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 T. cilantro, chopped

  1. Saute the onions, celery and carrots in 1 T. of olive oil for 5 min.  Add garlic and stir for one more minute.
  2. Add sauteed veggies to slow cooker
  3. Add spices, salt and pepper, crushed tomatoes and lentils to the slow cooker and stir to combine.  
  4. Pour vegetable stock over lentil and veggie mixture and cook on LOW (if you are starting in the morning and will be gone all day) or HIGH (if you are starting it around lunchtime).
  5. Prior to serving, stir in vinegar, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, parsley and cilantro, and cook an another 10 min. on HIGH.
  6. Serve with warm pita bread and garnish with parsley and cilantro if you wish.