Tag Archive | sweet potato

Australia lovin’…mid december

Brandon kindly told me my “week-count” is a bit delayed for my “things I’m loving” posts (what a gem…ha!) so I’ve decided to scrap the “weeks” and just go with a time-frame instead. This past week Brandon was out-of-town for work, and since I’ve arrived in Australia, this was our first week-long separation. However, since we’re pros at the long-distance thing, it was A-Okay. I have to admit though, I sure missed him…especially at dinnertime. I have gotten used to cooking for two people, so reverting back to recipes-for-one was interesting. Anyway, when Friday rolled around, I was so excited for him to be home! We had a fun-filled holiday weekend together, but we both had a hard time coping with the news of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. No words can express the sorrow we both feel for the victims and their families. Brandon and I grieved and prayed, and truly wished we were with our loved ones back home to hug them.

Now we have just 48 hours until we’ll be on a plane back to the U.S.A., and we couldn’t be more excited to see our families and friends. Life is so fragile, and we truly need to remember to be grateful for everyday. I’m grateful to be here, and so grateful that we can go home for Christmas. I’m also grateful for the things I loved in Australia over the last week-and-a-half:

1) Pretty coffee-wherever you get a latte here, they are always beautiful! It almost makes me want to not drink it….almost!
week6.1

2) Betty Blue Café- hands-down, this has become my favorite brunch spot in town. I can’t decide what I like better-the sourdough toast or the outrageous portion sizes. I gawk at each meal being brought out of the kitchen. Take a look at my scrambled eggs and Brandon’s breakfast burrito! If you visit Northern Queensland, this is an essential stop.
week6.2week6.22

3) Animal print sparkling water bottles. These.are.awesome. I’m also a firm believer that a fun water bottle makes water taste that much better!
week6.4
4) Discovering light Cadbury vanilla ice-cream. Best buy of the month, seriously. As you can see, our entire household agrees!
week6.15week6.25

5) Outdoor exercise (minus the humidity-please excuse my forehead sweat). It is still unreal to me that I can be outside in shorts and tank-tops in December!
week6.16

6)Healthy lunches and dinners – Including sherry beef, corn, veggie burgers, sweet potatoes…yum!
week6.5week6.19

7)Breakfast for dinner. Yes I ate pancakes out of a shaker…Yes they were AMAZING.
IMG_0569week6.23

8) Getting a pedicure. Finally, I really needed one!
week6.14

9)Holiday baking & holiday parties-I made the winter white chocolate and pretzel holiday bark in my previous post for the party we attended, and had lots of fun with my handsome date :)

week6.29week6.27

10) Skype with my favorites-can’t wait to see these two SO soon!

week6.7

Advertisements

Crockpot mexican chicken stuffed pepper medley

Well, that recipe name is a mouthful…sheesh. Sorry about that. I really don’t know what to call it, but I promise you this was a delicious (and nutritious) meal . Since Brandon graciously bought me a crock-pot upon my arrival, I’ve been trying to use it once a week for two reasons: 1) because it’s so darn easy, and 2) so that he can’t say I don’t use it! Hahaha just kidding kind-of..not really.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed using a crock-pot for no-fuss dinners, but it’s particularly coming in  handy here in Australia due to the god-awful humidity we’re experiencing.  As much as I love cooking and baking, I can’t say I thoroughly enjoy it in 90 degree+ temperatures, so my crock-pot is coming to the rescue!

This week, chicken breasts were on sale (Amen), so I knew I wanted to make something that incorporated this source of protein. After searching Pintrest for inspiration, I stumbled across a “skinny chicken taco” recipe that I just couldn’t pass-up. After making a few tweaks of my own, and deciding that I’d incorporate it into "stuffed peppers” for dinner,  here’s what I assembled. 

IMG_0444
Keep in mind, you can make your own tweaks to this recipe; crock-pots are so versatile, that’s one of my favorite parts about them. If you don’t have kidney beans, use black beans. If you don’t have chicken, use beef, etc. Use what’s in your cupboard! This helps make it a budget-friendly and a waist-friendly meal.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken Stuffed Pepper Medley
Ingredients
-2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or your bean of choice)
-1 10 oz can salt-reduced diced tomatoes
-1 jar salsa (I used mild, but spicy would work too!)
-1/2 jar tomato sauce ( you can use the whole jar, but this is all I had)
-1 10 oz. bag frozen corn
-1 packet reduced-salt taco seasoning
-3-4 chicken breasts
-about 1/2 cup reduced-salt chicken broth (use enough to cover the chicken)
-1 TBSP of chile powder (optional—this is if you want it spicy!)
-Peppers for stuffing (optional)-I bought 3 large green and 1 large red
-Brown rice (optional)
-Part-skim shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions
1) Spray crock-pot with cooking spray, and turn it on (I forgot to turn mine on for 20 minutes, this is why I’m reminding you!) Chop sweet potato and onion.  Then add these, along with remaining ingredients through the taco seasoning, to the pot. Mix to combine.
IMG_0418IMG_0419IMG_0420

2) Clean your chicken breasts, then add them to the top of the pot (just mesh them in with everything else).  Then, add the chicken broth so that the chicken breasts are mostly covered with liquid.
IMG_0421

3) Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10 hours, stirring every hour or so, until chicken is cooked and fork-tender. Side-note: our crock-pot is new and ridiculously fast, so mine was done in 4.5 hours. Depending on your crock-pot, you may need 6+ hours, just judge the time based on the chicken.  Once tender, remove chicken and place in a bowl. Shred with two forks, then place back in crock-pot and stir-in. Turn off crockpot, and if you’re ready to eat now, dig in! This would be great as-is topped with low-fat cheese, and stuffed into a wrap, on a salad, or by itself. I wanted to stuff green and red peppers with the medley, so I’ll outline that next.
IMG_0422IMG_0423

4) Turn your oven to 400 degrees (about 204 degrees Celsius). Wash your peppers, then cut tops off and remove cores from inside. Assemble on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
IMG_0434

5) I had brown rice on hand that I needed to use up, so I added a small layer (about 2-3 tablespoons) of that to each pepper as a base. Then I filled each to the top with the crock-pot Mexican chicken medley, and topped each with part-skim shredded cheddar cheese (or your cheese of choice). Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly.

IMG_0435IMG_0437IMG_0439IMG_0441

6) Let them cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy! We ate ours with a side of steamed cauliflower and a garden salad. Healthy, nutritious, deeeelicious. The best part about this meal is the amount of leftovers you’ll have…perfect for lunch or dinner.  Hope you like it as much as we did!
IMG_0442IMG_0443

A simple side of sweet potato

Back home, sweet potatoes were quite the trend for the last year or two. It seemed most, if not all restaurants began to offer some sort of sweet potato side dish, french fry option, or meal choice on their menus. I can’t say I’ve seen sweet potato fries as a “chip” option here in Australia, but I can say they have plenty available at the grocery stores. Since I’m semi-sweet potato obsessed(thank God Brandon is to!), we’ve been buying a few each week to incorporate into our dinners. My favorite way to prepare them is definitely as baked sweet potato fries; it’s easy, simple, and always delicious. However, my Mom shared a recipe with me that sounded just as easy, so I gave it a try. It incorporates one onion, and one large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller sweet potatoes) and a few other small ingredients. It takes only minutes to prep, then let the oven does the rest of the work. I think you’ll like this, I know we did!

A simple side of sweet potato
serves 2

Ingredients
1 very large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller)
1 yellow onion
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP canola oil (olive oil would work, too)
2 tsp soy sauce

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius!) and cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Chop sweet potatoes into cubes and chop onion up in similar sizes. Place in large mixing bowl.

sweetpot12
3. Add oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar to the potatoes and onion bowl. Mix well, then spread over cookie sheet.
sweetpot2sweetpot4
4. Cook for 20-25 minutes, toss, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until browned.
5. Enjoy along side your protein and vegetable of choice!  We had ours along with roasted broccoli and veggie burgers.

sweetpot last

I judge the success of a dish by how much is leftover…we scraped the cookie sheet. I guess that’s a good sign?

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Veggie Soup

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Veggie Soup

A simple Sunday calls for a simple soup…and it doesn’t get more simple than a crockpot soup. Today I was craving a classic: chicken noodle soup. This was super simple to make and it’s a perfect meal for lunch or dinner. To me, the best thing about preparing a crockpot meal is that you can wing it…as in throw anything into it and make it work…hence my desire to throw in all of my almost-spoiled vegetables. Plus, I improvised the recipe even more, tweaking it to involve certain ingredients I had on hand and needed to use. To be truthful, I didn’t feel well enough to leave my house today, so I had no choice but to use what I had! For instance, I didn’t have any celery on hand, so I substituted a sweet potato instead. Also, I used whole wheat linguine instead of egg noodles, because that’s what I had in my pantry.

I do believe I’ll be eating this soup for the next 5 days…join me!! 

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Veggie Soup
Ingredients

1/4 onion, finely chopped
15-20 mini carrots, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato, chopped (or a rib of celery)
1 cup cauliflower
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 thin chicken breasts
1 large container of low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup water
Whole wheat noodles of your choice

 

1) Wash chicken breasts. Place in crockpot, and cover with chicken broth.
2) Cut carrots, onion, sweet potato, cauliflower, and mince garlic. Add to crockpot and cover with remaining broth. Add water and noodles.

the start of the soup!

3) Cook on high in crockpot for 4-5 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste

cooking away!

4) Remove chicken breasts once tender and shred with two forks. Add back into soup, stir, and serve!

Done and done!

I have a feeling I’m going to be awfully sick of chicken noodle soup after this week…but for now, I’m okay with it!

Chicken soup warms the soul :)