Summer Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

{the summer soup}

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I used to hate soups.  I never was a big fan of them growing up.  Chicken noodle soup was served when you were sick, but soup was never a frequent visitor to the dinner table.  I did LOVE beef stew.  However, stew is not soup is not chowder.  In my old age, I have grown to love soups, stews, chowders, bisques, gazpachos etc etc.  They definitely appear on my dinner menu often, but in the fall & winter more.

However, I don’t discriminate soup in the summer so I add some delicious summer flavors to keep it light.  You’ve probably noticed a decent amount of posts including corn lately.  Well, it is summertime and I really cannot get enough of it.  [I will be posting a Mexican Corn Salad shortly where I use the corn straight up off the cob.]  This recipe uses the corn’s kernels and “pulp” to add creaminess to the broth.

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So what exactly is the difference between a stew, chowder, and soup?  I did some research to answer this question for you…..

  • SOUP:  Liquid is very thin.  Can be cream based or broth based.  It is majority liquid with some, if any, added pieces
  • CHOWDER:  Broth is thickened using an agent such as flour and has more “stuff” in it than liquid.
  • STEW:  Mainly solid pieces of veggies & meat cooked in a small amount of liquid (beer) cooked slow resulting in a gravy base.

Based off of these Sara-determined definitions, this is a soup because I didn’t use any flour as a thickening agent.  I am still going to call it a chowder because I like the word chowder and there is more “stuff” than liquid.

This is the ultimate summer soup.  It has many bold flavors, is light, creamy, salty, sweet, and in my chowder, spicy.  If you aren’t a shrimp fan, substitute crab or lobster – yum!  This dinner sounds a bit fancy, but it is yet another “Dinner in 20″ meal.  It requires one pot too which makes for easy clean up :)

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summer corn & shrimp chowder with bacon
Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
3 slices of thick bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk [I used fat-free]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
Optional:  cilantro, cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs over a bowl.  Squeeze any excess “juice” from the cores.
2.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium and add the bacon.  Cook until crispy.  Remove about 2 Tbsp from the pot & set aside.  If there is a lot of grease, discard all but about 2 tsp.
3.  Add the onion and celery & saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic & thyme and saute an additional minute.
5.  Add the corn and any pulp acquired during cutting and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for 2 minutes.
7.  Stir in the milk.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and cayenne.
9.  Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro and remaining bacon pieces.

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Enjoy!

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Beef Enchilada Stuffed Peppers {Dinner in 20}

{low-carb Mexican}

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Working full time + an hour commute to & from work + squeezing in a work out makes dinner time a little challenging during the week.  Dinnertime at our house is no earlier than 7:30pm so senior citizens wouldn’t be too pleased.  However, it works for us and cooking is my favorite!

So many people ask me, why do you take the time to make such elaborate dinners at night.  In all seriousness, my dinners are not elaborate at all.  They typically are 30 minutes or less or made ahead of time.  Not to mention, it is my outlet, my passion and I love the satisfaction in pleasing Bryan & Chase when he’s with us.

Added bonus:  lunch the next day for me.  I typically make recipes for four servings.  Chase usually eats “half a serving” and Bryan will eat about 1.5 servings.  The remaining two go to me for dinner & lunch.  Bryan is always out and about during the day and he has some weird fear of certain leftovers.

Stuffed peppers are a frequent character on my dinner menu.  They also keep nicely for lunch the following day.  I have made original stuffed peppers, southwestern stuffed peppers, and peppers stuffed with quinoa.  Last week, I was going to make enchiladas, but I have been trying real hard to eliminate carbs from our dinners.  I decided to ditch the tortillas and stuff the insides of the enchiladas into a pepper.  Clever, huh?

I wasn’t going to blog this recipe, but I want to show my readers that dinnertime can be delicious yet quick.  So these pictures don’t really do the meal justice.  I served them with corn muffins {59 cent box} and a salad.  Dinner was ready and on the table at 7:45 and my family was able to set aside our busy schedules and spend time together.  Take the time to research some quick & easy dinners that your family can enjoy together.  Here are some by me:

Pad Thai Pork Tenderloin

Speedy Shrimp Scampi

Tilapia with Cilantro Pesto

In the meantime, I will be compiling a list of other Dinner in 20 meals to share on the blog!

beef enchilada stuffed peppers

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 15 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients
3-4 green peppers, cut in half length-wise
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15oz) can of red enchilada sauce [I used Old El Paso]
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
6 Tbsp sharp cheddar cheese
salt & pepper

Directions
1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2.  Once boiling, add the peppers and submerge and boil for about 3 minutes.  Remove and place in a casserole dish.
3.  In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute about 4-5 minutes.
4.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute.  Remove onion and garlic from pan and set aside.
5.  Add meat and brown until still a bit pink.
6.  Add enchilada sauce and spices.
7.  Stir in cilantro.
8.  Spoon the meat mixture into the pepper shells and top with 1 Tbsp per pepper.
9.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.
10.  Serve with hot sauce and sides.

IMG_4191_2Enjoy!

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Raspberry & Vanilla Trifle

{a little less doughie}

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We live around the corner from Dairy Queen.  It is dangerous and a contributing factor to my doughiness.  But seriously, Double Fudge Cookie Dough blizzard, dilly bars, oreo shakes… so delicious.  We walk to the DQ so that makes it OK, right?  Okay, now that I have officially made myself sound like a huge moo-fatty (shout out to my best friend cousin for coining that term)… We don’t get it that often, but it is nice having it nearby!

If I had to give up sweets or salt, sweets would be hitting the roads.  I enjoy a dessert, but I really don’t LOVE them.  However, some evenings after dinner my sweet tooth strikes & I just need a little something.  I hate having to use up my calories on a heavy dessert that just makes me feel bad about myself.  So I am trying to experiment with some not so doughie summer dessert ideas.

One of my favorite summer desserts is obviously strawberry shortcake.  It’s not really humane to make a low-fat shortcake.  However, I may attempt some type of deconstructed one on the blog.  Another classic I enjoy is a nice trifle made with angel food cake and fruit.  I did a slight spin on this one with my Raspberry & Vanilla Pudding Trifle.

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I used a sugar-free instant vanilla pudding and instead of pound cake or angel food cake, I used vanilla waffer cookies.  This gave my trifle a small little crunch as well.  The cookies were used only in a couple layers which reduced my calories & sugar a lot compared to a cake.  Raspberries are full of antioxidants and vitamins making this a nice light summer option!

A bonus is that this can be make in 5 minutes & kept in the fridge until time to serve.  So if you are feeling sweet, but don’t want to splurge add these to your next menu.

Raspberry & vanilla trifle

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 0 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
1 box sugar-free instant vanilla pudding [usually requires low-fat milk]
1 pint of raspberries
36 Nilla wafer cookies
Small piece of chocolate [optional]

Directions:
1.  Make pudding according to directions on the box.
2.  Gather 4 mason jars or clear glasses and spoon a bit of pudding into the bottom.
3.  Add a layer of raspberries.
4.  Then a layer of 3 nilla cookies
5.  Repeat until the glass is full using only a total of 3 cookie layers
6.  Use a microplane to add some shaved chocolate on top
7.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready.

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Enjoy!

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#LoveYourLunch – Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad

{what’s in your cupboard lunch}

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I can’t believe this is the 5th week of the Lunch Your Lunch series!  Cooking Like Lou & I were just going to post for 5 weeks, but I am in for it again next week too.

If you are new to the series, all the details are here in my first Love Your Lunch post.  I definitely started to become more creative when it has come to my lunches.  I really am loving my lunch too!  Sometimes, if the day is busy I tend to just eat at my computer.  However, I try to avoid this at all costs because it is important to get up, stretch, eat, and most importantly take my eyes away from the computer.  Having a yummy lunch makes it a more enjoyable break too.

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So I’d be lying behind these lines if I said this post was planned and I got the ingredients and everything was organized ahead of time.  Nope.  That is why the subtitle of the post is called the “what is in your cupboard lunch”.  This happens to us about 95% of the time, right?  Well, this recipe shows you that if you get a little creative and make lunch ahead of time you will Love. Your. Lunch.

I hadn’t been to the store and knew I needed to prepare my post for today so I dug through the pantry to see what I could throw together as my lunch.

The cast of the show:  leftover box of farfalle, a can of artichoke hearts, bag of spinach, parmesan cheese.

And the recipe was born.

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Pasta for lunch is not typically on my lunch menu.  However, a small amount with some healthy oil and some veggies won’t kill me.  I highly recommend preparing this dish the night before for a grab-and-go morning.  It is especially easy to make if you had pasta for dinner the night before.  Save a bit of whatever noodle you have and add the rest of the ingredients.

spinach & artichoke pasta salad
Recipe By:  Sara
Yields:  2   ///   Prep Time:  10 minutes   ///   Cook time:  10 minutes   ///   Serve:  Chilled

Ingredients:
4-6 oz pasta [I used bow ties]
3-4 artichoke hearts, quartered
1 handful fresh spinach
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Cook pasta according to directions and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
2.  Add pasta back into the pot it was cooked in.
3.  Add spinach and artichokes.  Stir until spinach wilts.
4.  Stir in oil, vinegar, pasta water, cheese, and spices.
5.  Place in tupperware and store until the next day.
6.  Eat chilled or warmed in the microwave briefly if desired.

*This recipe made enough for two people so grab a lunch buddy & treat them #loveyourlunch style :)

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Need some more lunch ideas?  Be sure to check out Cooking Like Lou & Two Places at Once have this week!

Enjoy!

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I wanted a Banana Split

{banana split, reconstructed}

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Last weekend, we went to Kalahari with Chase & my little brother.  On Friday, I started to get that sore throat feeling / clicking in your ears when you swallow feeling.  Great.  I was going to have a head cold while in a germ thriving 85 degrees indoor water park.  Luckily, I ended up being completely fine the day of the water park & only started to get congested Saturday evening.

On Sunday, I wasn’t feeling too hot at all.  When we came home, I took 4000mg of Vitamin C.  Since I work in a pharmacy, I am very aware that the majority of this was expelled from my body, but I also believe vitamin c cures all. Remember when I talked about eating organic after watching several food documentaries?  Well, they discussed their thoughts on how vitamins heal and cure in depth.  Since watching those, I’ve been religiously taking a vitamin C tablet and multivitamin everyday.  That being said, it may be in my head, but I instantly started feeling better after the vitamin c and a brief cat nap.

Once I started feeling better, I made myself a sandwich and spent the rest of the night on the couch perusing Pinterest and catching up on my Bloglovin’ feed.  After eating somewhat very crappy last weekend, I knew the last thing I needed was dessert.  Buttttttttttttt I neeededdddd something sweet.  I walked in and out of the kitchen convincing myself NO.  Must. Lose. Ten. Pounds.  I hate playing this game and it only makes me cranky.  So I gave in, but made myself a simple, not too unhealthy dessert.

Enter the reconstructed banana split.

Such a simple, yet delicious dessert (or snack) that won’t hurt your waistline too terribly.  You certainly can add whatever toppings you fancy / have on hand at the time too.  Another recommendation is to use Nutella instead of peanut butter!  So if you’re craving something sweet, but want to reduce your sweets, try out this dessert!

reconstructed banana split

Ingredients
1 banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 strawberries, diced small
2 Tbsp mini oreos, crushed

Directions
1.  Cut the banana in half lengthwise.
2.  Smear the peanut butter overtop the banana.
3.  Top with strawberries and oreos.

IMG_3795Enjoy!

 

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Shrimp Scampi {lightened up}

{same taste. no guilt.}
IMG_3468So I have to give myself a huge pat on the back.  Go me.  I did a great job eating clean and light last week.  The result: a pleasant reduction on the scale.  I hate scales and I try to avoid using it, but I was involved in a Diet Bet so it was required. The month was coming to an end and I needed to submit by final weigh in for the challenge.  I ate so well and the motivation to win the diet bet definitely worked because.. I won!  I was able to lose 4% of my weight in the month of February, resulting in being $50 richer.

I was back at Bikram three times a week & 1 day at the gym.  On top of that, I was only eating clean and organic.  It definitely paid off and I am even more motivated now.  I joined another Diet Bet and plan to lose another 4% in the month of March.  Hello more money!  Cheer me on & enjoy my healthy recipes this month!

Onto the yummy meal pictured above….

Isn’t so annoying how all bad things taste the best?  It seems the higher the calories, the better it tastes.  Not with this recipe though.  It contains the same delicious flavors, but way less calories that the original scampi.

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For this recipe, I used all organic ingredients including the pasta.  The silky sauce perfectly coats the shrimp and noodles and the broccoli is an added blast of nutrients.  Compared to heavily buttered scampi sauces, this lightened up version contains no butter or wine.

I tried to avoid carbs as much as possible, but I thought a small splurge with this meal was OK.  I just worked out extra hard & ate light for my other meals.  Shrimp is one of my favorite proteins. They are very light & healthy, aiding in the production of the good LDL cholesterol.  Shrimp is a great addition to a heart healthy diet.

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If you are in a rut and thinking that it is hard to eat healthy and that you have to give up all your favorites.  Pull yourself back up and tell yourself that is not true!  Any high calorie, high fat meal can be altered and still provide the same wonderful tastes.  This shrimp scampi dish is light, healthy, and incredibly tasty!

Shrimp Scampi [lightened up!]
Recipe Adapted from:  Cooking Light Magazine
Hands on Time:  20 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  20 minutes   ///   Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 lb wild caught shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 small organic shallot, minced
8 oz organic spaghetti
2 cups organic broccoli
1 cup organic, low sodium chicken broth
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp organic parsley, chopped
zest of juice of 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp H2O, mixed together into a paste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese + additional for serving
salt & pepper

Directions:
1.  In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
2.  About 2 minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli.  Cook 2 minutes & drain.
3.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the shallot & 4 garlic cloves. Saute about 1 minute.
4.  Add the shrimp and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until pink.  Remove and set aside.
5.  Add remaining garlic and chicken broth to the pan.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat and add lemon and cornstarch mixture.  Whisk to incorporate.
7.  Slowly add in the parmesan and stir until melted.
8.  Add the pasta, shrimp, and broccoli and toss to coat.
9.  Stir in parsley and serving with a sprinkle more of parmesan cheese.

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enjoy!

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Simple Spicy Asian Slaw

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I may sound like a broken record, but once again I fell off the clean eating band wagon and am pulling myself back on.  This past weekend Bryan and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 3 year/Valentine’s Day.  Needless to say, I always struggle to be healthy when going out to eat especially for special occasions.  We shared an amazing caramelized bacon pimento cheese spread accompanied by homemade pretzel rolls, drank wine, and I smashed my face into a Seafood Risotto.  Langoustines & Shrimp with mushrooms and peas drizzled with a vanilla butter.  Omg.  Check out my instagram for the picture.

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The one two three glasses of wine plus a few after dinner shots at the bar lead to.. well… a difficult Sunday.  Hangover city.  The only cure.  McDonalds nuggets + fries + fountain pop.  Not so clean eating.

So here I am again, yet another week gone and still struggling to stay on the clean eating train.  But similar to every Sunday I pledged to myself to go to the store, meal plan, schedule work outs, and stop being doughie.

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I grabbed a head of cabbage (that was so cheap!!) and decided to try out an asian slaw.  I didn’t want to put too much into the slaw to keep it simple and all about the star of the show, the cabbage.  Now, I know that soy sauce contains a large amount of sodium (that’s why I used the low-sodium version, duh) and isn’t necessarily clean, but considering how great cabbage is for you it doesn’t matter.

I had the slaw as just a simple lunch and it kept me full for awhile.  It keeps well in the fridge and doesn’t even get soggy due to the thickness of the cabbage.  I ate it for several meals and even as a small snack.  Pair it as a side with any stir fry dish or pile it on top of some delicious fish tacos!  Yum.

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Simple Spicy asian Slaw

Hands On Time:  15 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  0 minutes   ///   Servings:  4

Ingredients
1/2 head of green cabbage, cut into thin slices
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp Sriracha (or more if you want really spicy)
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp Sesame Ginger salad dressing
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt & pepper
sesame seeds (optional)

Directions
1.  In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cabbage & cilantro.  Whisk to thoroughly combine and season.
2.  Drizzle over the cabbage and stir in the cilantro and sesame seeds if you are using them.
3.  Place in fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy.

 

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