Meatloaf Muffins

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I read an article today titled “The home-cooked family dinner: Yes, it’s a burden for moms but is it worthwhile?” from the Washington Post. The article isn’t new, dated 2014, but all of the questions may still be asked contemporarily. Do we really need family dinner? Is family dinner a burden that we, primarily women, should carry? Do the benefits outweigh the inherent struggle?

For me, the answer is undoubtedly yes, to all three. The takeaway, and I realize that I may be preaching to the choir here, was that family dinner is an integral part of working toward increasing the health of your family– not just physically, but mentally as well. Research shows that kids who eat family dinner five or more times a week are proven to do better in school, to be more adverse to drug and alcohol abuse, less prone to depression, and more likely to avoid eating disorders.

The more I learn about and experience family dinner, the more sold I’ve become. I really do need to give credit where credit is due and recognize Aviva Goldfarb and her meal planning service The Six O’clock Scramble because she and her team are the reason that our family dinners have succeeded.

I’ve written about The Scramble, and sung its praises here on Refined + Rugged more than once, but I really do credit the simple, straigtforward menus, easy grocery lists, and customizable meal plans that The Scramble offers for keeping us on the family dinner wagon for SO LONG- going on seven years now, I believe. You know it’s good when you’ll recommend it to every person you meet, call a radio talk show just to drop the name, and write Instagram love letters to the founder because you life has been so changed! 🙂

To my mother and close friends I’ve joked that it only took me eight years of being home to figure out how to make a home-cooked meal, but the reality is that there will be some trial and error if you do decide to jump on the train and begin family dinners.

However, an equally important reality offered in the article was that of dinnertime flexibility. Anne Kruger, former editor-in-chief at Parenting magazine explains, “I remember as a working mom dragging my kids to Arby’s after picking them up from day-care and kindergarten because I was just too tired to cook when my husband was out of town.” She continues, “I’d let them watch ‘The Simpsons’ in Arby’s and pray that nobody I knew would see me because of [my position] I should have been ‘doing better.’ Which is ridiculous, because we’re all doing the best we can.”

That is the ultimate truism. So this Thursday, friends, I hope you find yourselves in the kitchen, or find yourselves grabbing dinner at some fast food joint. I hope that you feel good about it either way! If you’re home, this meal was SIMPLE, DELICIOUS, and HEALTHY. All things I’ve come to expect from The Six O’clock Scramble which is still the biggest family dinner silver bullet I’ve found.

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic, (1 – 2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef, turkey or chicken, or use 24 oz. meatless crumbles
  • 3/4 cup ketchup, or use tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs (use wheat/gluten-free if needed),  I used almond flour with 1 1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning added
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, oregano and garlic for 3 – 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender (if using meatless crumbles, add them now too and cook for 3 – 4 extra minutes).  Remove them from the heat and let them cool for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then add the onion and carrot mixture, and stir thoroughly.

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the meat mixture into the cups, dividing evenly — each mini meatloaf should completely fill a muffin cup but won’t go much over the top of it.  Bake the meatloaf muffins for 30 minutes.  (Meanwhile, prepare the carrots and the potatoes, if you are serving them.)  Remove the muffins from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before serving, or refrigerate them for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.

*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Chicken Pesto Vegetable Soup

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The following post is a bit lengthy, as I describe my experience on the Whole 30 this time around. If you didn’t come here for insight into the aforementioned diet, skip to the bottom of the post for the DELICIOUS recipe details for Chicken Pesto Vegetable Soup which I got from The Scramble*!!!

Whole 30 complete! In full disclosure. I did not accomplish the Whole 30. I had far too many slip-ups to call it such. The rules of the Whole 30 are that if you have a “mistake”– any sugar, any grain, any dairy– and you are to restart your 30 day countdown. That’s right, back to zero.

I didn’t restart. I just kept going. If I were to quantify how much clean eating I accomplished versus how many taboo ingredients I consumed, I’d say I ate clean 98% of the time. So the 2% was my downfall. These “mistakes” were all on the weekend, all with friends, all social missteps from my diet. I don’t intend to justify my fall off the wagon on the weekend.

The triumph for me in my not-a-Whole-30 has been that during what has been a super-busy, super-stressful, super-time scarce moment in my life I was STILL ABLE TO EAT CLEAN. I was still able to meal prep every day. I was still able prove to myself that it is possible to set and keep healthy eating habits even during times when food may not have normally been the focus. For that reality, I AM STOKED!

So the following are some of my take-aways from this round of the Whole 30. First of all, I am always so glad that clean eating shows me the quiet dietary extras I sometimes allow to get out of hand. It starts with breakfast. When I’m not Whole 30ing I almost always have Greek yogurt and a few tablespoons of granola for breakfast. These are my go-tos out of ease. It’s easy to grab a packaged container of yogurt and store a bag of granola in my desk at school.

But what is the nutritional value of yogurt and granola? If I am honest with myself, it isn’t very high. 150 calories with 13 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. Augmented by 230 milligrams of potassium. However, the calcium is minimal, the vitamin content nonexistent. Don’t stop eating Greek yogurt on my account. I’m sure I won’t. But there are better choices for breakfast.

On the Whole 30 I ate half of a roasted sweet potato, two eggs, and one sausage most mornings. I haven’t calculated the nutritional content, but I know for a fact that the sugar content in that meal is WAY lower in my Whole 30 breakfast meals than it is in a pile of yogurt and granola.

The Whole 30 also helps me to evaluate my snacking. I am prone to pick up handfuls of high carb, low nutritional content munch several times a day. While those bites might not add up to much in one palm-full, they do equate to more empty calories overall, everyday. Over time, those bites and bits at times become binges, and herein is where the problem really lies.

Whole 30 always reminds me that WHOLE food, REAL food, has the ability to satiate not only my appetite, but actually all of my body’s cravings. If a donut and an avocado had the same affect on my body, I could eat a donut a day for the rest of my days. The reality is that constant intake of processed sugars and fats equates to unwanted after-effects on my body each time I consume them. This reminder is key to eating clean and staying clean. It doesn’t mean I’ll never eat a donut again, but it does mean that I’d rather eat an avocado. Truth!

I always see the positive affects of the Whole 30, not only in my diet, but the eating habits of my entire family. My kiddos end up eating a whole lot LESS of the processed crap I sometimes allow to sneak up on the table and into their mouths (yes, this is the stuff they are eating whilst I am being apathetic). I love that we dispense with desert in favor of a piece of fruit. I love that the treats that sometimes linger on the shelves are absent because I’m not buying the for myself or for anyone else. I am pleased when my chicken little tells me that the pesto soup I made (the recipe below) ROCKED his socks off.

To me, these are all positive affects of the Whole 30. Including things like increased intake of ALL vegetables. Learning and remembering that flavor can come from herbs, spices, garlic, and the like is a dream come true for my taste buds. And speaking of taste buds, I feel as though my mouth always undergoes this shift where at some point in the Whole 30 I start to notice that my taste buds are really alive again, as I have previously saturated them with so much sugar that they fail to respond properly to whole foods!

So while my Whole 30 cannot rightfully be called a Whole 30 this time around, it is most certainly they way that I want to continue to eat on a daily basis. In fact, that is another thing that I was reminded of during this not-a-Whole-30. As I neared day 30 for the second time, I remembered my first Whole 30– how excited I was to eat a sandwich, how I couldn’t wait to bite into an ice cream cone, how tempting a donut sounded until the bitter end. This time I started to think about how I didn’t want my diet to change and shift and morph into something else. I still want to eat sweet potato hash and eggs. I still want to consume more vegetables and lean protein. I still want to be able to say that I went the entire week without desert. Not because I forced or convinced myself I didn’t need sugar, but because I didn’t even WANT it!

One indulgent meal once and a while will not keep me from my health goals, but allowing myself simple sugars, and over-processed food day-in and day-out will eventually derail my health and fitness goals. My plan is to complete a mistake-free Whole 30 when we return from vacation in April. At this point, I feel confident in my ability to stay on the train without looking back! On with the recipe! (And your day, if you really hung in here for the entire play-by-play!) Happy Thursday!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 15 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained and diced, or use 1 lb. chicken breast, diced
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 32 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. basil pesto, or more to taste

Directions:

 Heat a large saucepan or stockpot over medium to medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it is hot, add the carrots, celery and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tofu (if using chicken add it about 6 – 8 minutes before the soup is done), tomatoes and broth, cover it and bring it to a boil.
Remove the cover and simmer the soup for 15 – 20 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the parsley and pesto and let the flavors meld for about 1 minute before removing from the heat. Serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
This recipe’s original side was a loaf of Italian bread. Instead of bread, I opted for Roasted Spicy Sweet Potato Bites.
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into one, two, or even three inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp rosemary (or you can use thyme or basil or parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat your oven to 450. Chop the sweet potatoes and put them into a medium sized bowl. Add the olive oil. Mix the dry ingredients together. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and herbs. Bake for 35-45 minutes turning once halfway through baking. Enjoy!!
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*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Eggs Florentine for Two

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The only thing I regret about this meal is cracking my poached egg! 🙂 It was perfectly cooked, but when I went to plate that baby it just kept rolling off– first one way and then the next. That egg did not want to stay put, and I ended up puncturing it with my spoon. Woops!

The idea for this meal came when I was left with two perfect handfuls of spinach that were not enough to constitute two full salads, too much to put into two omlets, and not quite enough to justify cooking up a quiche.

This breakfast, which could just as easily serve as brunch, also came about because of our sweet potato hash burnout. We’ve been munching on sweet potato hash for nearly every breakfast since we began the Whole30, but have needed to come up with some more creative, i.e. different forms of breakfast now that we’re nearly two weeks in.

The results were truly scrumptions. You can make this dish for 4 by simply doubling the recipe but as I knew it wouldn’t be a hit with my kiddos, I simply made it for my husband and me. As with all recipes here on Refined + Rugged, I’d love to know what YOU think!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients

4 slices turkey bacon (or prosciutto)

1 tbs. coconut oil

1/4 onion diced small

1 clove garlic

2 cups baby spinach

Dash of nutmeg

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup of grape tomatoes halved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Lay the bacon on a baking sheet and bake until crispy 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil and saute 1/4 of an onion stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the spinach and nutmeg and cook until the spinch is wlited, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook for an additional 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove pan from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Fill a small saucepan with 3 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Crack an egg into a small bowl, be careful not to break the yolk. Slide the egg into the water, then stir carefully for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until the white is set and the yolk is still soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining egg.

Place 1/2 cup tomatoes on each salad plate and season with salt and pepper. Place two strips of bacon over the tomatoes. Spoon 1/2 of the spinach sauce over the bacon (or proscuitto). Top with a poached egg and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

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Psycho Monkey Smoothie

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that we started the Whole30 this past Monday. My husband almost instantly hit his low, and has been on a steady crescendo back to energy, feeling fabulous, and taking on the Whole30 like never before (last time he lasted 24 hours, this time he is reading food labels and abstaining from all things Whole30 taboo).

On the other hand, I felt GREAT when I started Whole30, and then proceeded to tank a little bit at the end of the week. This could also be the result of a demanding schedule. I’m teaching two cycling classes right now. One indoor cycling class at the gym, and a class at our local bike shop Slim & Knobby’s.

All of this to celebrate the fact that we have found the perfect Whole30 approved treat! Now when I say treat, I mean this loosely. Because everything inside the Psycho Monkey Smoothie from The Scramble is Whole30 approved. I have made sure that I don’t use this delicious drink to cheat myself. The Whole30 recommends eating three set meals, and encourages participants to move away from snacking.

Thursday night after my spin class, however, I was severely in need of a pick-me-up. Something that would give me a little boost, but leave my sugar levels alone. This smoothie is it!!

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1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup filtered water, or use tap water
2 bananas, frozen
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter or other nut or seed butter
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (also called raw chocolate or cacao), or use 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Blend!

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Only after seeing these pictures did I realize that I left out the unsweetened shredded coconut. I don’t recommend doing this, but our smoothie was delicious, nonetheless.

*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

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I made this salad for Sunday dinner with my sister and her family and it was a HUGE  hit– with the adults, that is. The kids had grilled cheeses, sliced nectarines, sugar snap peas and gobbled up their meal in an instant.

We paired the Chicken and Nectarine Salad from The Scramble with a Green Salad with Pistachios and Goat Cheese and a warm baguette. Heavenly. That’s how it all tasted.

It is fun to have family and friends who enjoy delicious food as much as we do and this really was the perfect summer meal. Today will be a driving day for us as we return home, but it was such a wonderful trip with so many beautiful memories made.

I hope your mid-week comes cruising through with goodness. Many happy returns to you all!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients

1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced (1 cup)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted if desired
3 – 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green parts only (1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juice only, about 1 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
1 – 2 Tbsp. fresh mint

Directions

Cut each chicken breast crosswise into thin strips. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil, and when it is hot, sauté the chicken, turning occasionally, until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. (Set aside some cooked chicken, sliced nectarines and cucumber for non-salad eaters, if necessary.)

In a large serving bowl, combine the chicken, nectarines, cucumbers, almonds and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. oil, the vinegar, lime juice, honey, curry powder, ginger and salt. (Alternatively, you can shake them all up in a jar to emulsify them.)

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat. Gently toss in the mint (optional). Refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days. (Meanwhile, prepare the baguette slices, if you are serving them.) Season the salad with salt and pepper, to taste, at the table.

*The Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Farro with Pan-roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pistachios

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A mouthful of delicious, that’s what this meal was. Even little Chicken Nugget, my picky eater, took a sniff, took a bite, and declared, “Mom, this is so good!”

I wanted to make this as a main course (which I did), and have Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint and Lime (which I did not) for a side but I ran out of time so we settled for watermelon and cherries straight up.

I should not that this salad is meant to be served warm, so if you are experiencing a heat wave, you might do well to wait until temps cool off a bit.

I hope your Wednesday is full of watermelon and other deliciousness!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0122For the Farro
6 cups spring water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large garlic cloves – skinned and left whole
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cup farro (semi-pearled or pearled barley is a good substitute)
For the Brussels Sprouts
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
12 oz (340 g) Brussels sprouts – trimmed, halved and cut lengthwise in 1/8″ slices
1 shallot – skinned, halved lengthwise and cut in 1/8″ slices
2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup salted shelled pistachios
1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid from the farro

Place the water in a medium heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt, garlic, bay leaf and grains. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until tender but still al dente. Drain well, remove the garlic and bay leaf and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter. As soon as the butter has melted, add the olive oil and syrup. Stir well and add the Brussels sprouts. Sauté for 6 to 7 minutes until golden-brown, stirring only from time to time.

Add the shallots and sauté for 2 more minutes until softened. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and sauté for an additional 30 seconds until the garlic has released its flavor, but don’t let it brown. Add the pistachios, farro and reserved cooking liquid. Toss well and sauté for a few seconds only. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

This recipe was originally posted on Food and Style.

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Mango and Black Bean Salad

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The summer months have me craving all things light and flavorful. All of that healthy, delicious goodness is often poached by an after dinner milkshake or other sugar-laden dessert, so please don’t get the impression that we eat clean every meal of every day of every week.

But I do like to keep our food as light and clean as I can. Whole foods are so much more vitamin and nutrient packed than anything you can get from the freezer isle (or the milkshake shack for that matter ;)! We all try, right?

This salad comes from The Six O’Clock Scramble*, and if you haven’t tried their service yet, why not?!? (See details at the end of this post.) This is the side dish I brought to our Thanksgiving in July party at our friends’ home last night.

These friends began this tradition four years ago and it is going strong!!! I have eaten some of the most delicious food of my life at this soirée, including some smoked sausage that is truly amazing!!!

This 4th we also brought spice-rubbed apple wood smoked baby back ribs, and some of my mom’s famous brownies to share. Our plates were full, our bellies were happy, and the fireworks were awesome!

Happy Tuesday, friends!! Here’s to a short week, and getting back on the eat clean wagon!!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients

1 cup quick-cooking brown rice, (about 2 cups prepared)
15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 2 fresh mango, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, or use frozen
1/4 sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup scallions or chives, green parts only, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only, about 2 Tbsp.
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
6 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves, separated, rinsed and dried (optional)
6 whole wheat tortillas (use wheat/gluten-free if needed) (optional)

Directions

Thaw the frozen mango, if using it. Cook the rice according to the package directions and when cooked, remove it from the heat. (If you want to serve this salad immediately rather than allowing it to chill for a while, put the rice in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beans, mangos, onions, scallions, lime juice and cilantro. I also added one hot pepper (optional). Add the rice, season it with the salt, and toss gently. Chill it for at least 10 minutes (an hour or more is ideal) and up to 24 hours.

Serve the salad on its own or wrapped in large lettuce leaves, warm tortillas, or both.

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*The Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich Heaven

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About last night… I think I found my summer thing. You know, the “thing”. That little bit of goodness that you just want to keep happening over and over and over again. That little treat at the end of the rainbow, if you will.

This summer my thing is going to be homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Yes. Hands down this is my favorite treat-of-the-moment! Picture a fresh chocolate chip cookie you pulled hot out of the oven. Now picture two of them, perfectly squished around a ball of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Wha?!? I’m telling you. There’s not much better out there!!! I recommend using THIS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE recipe, and this ice cream. So if you’re ever just hanging around, wondering what I’m up to this summer (cause I know that is at the top of your priority list ;), you can find me here (see below).

On my deck, under the lights, cramming yet another Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich between my lips! Happy Summer, and Happy Wednesday, friends!

XX, Megan

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Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

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I’m already putting this salad on repeat for the summer! Yet another winner from The Scramble. I have made it a handful of times already, and I am just going to keep whipping it up. Especially when my healthy eating habits have been lacking, this is the perfect dietary reset.

A few things to note. I have ALWAYS roasted my sweet potato for 20 minutes. I like them to be a little more on the soft side. I also reduce the honey content in the dressing from 1 Tbsp. to 1-2 tsp. Last but not least, I haven’t ever added cinnamon to the dressing. I really enjoy cinnamon as a general flavor, but in a salad like this I stick to chili powder and cayenne.

With all of that said, I hope you are ALL experiencing, or about to experience a very wonderful Wednesday!

XX, Megan

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20 oz. sweet potatoes, about 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 cup quinoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lime, juice only, about 1/4 cup
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 oz. fresh spinach or other mild greens, coarsely chopped
15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed, or use 1 1/4 cups cooked beans
2 Tbsp. chives or scallions, finely chopped

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large serving bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp. oil and the paprika. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet and bake them for 10 – 15 minutes, tossing once, until they are fork tender. (Reserve the bowl to serve the salad.)

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Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions, adding 1/4 tsp. salt to the water. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, honey, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and the cinnamon.

In the bowl you used to toss the potatoes, combine the potatoes, quinoa, spinach, beans, chives and the dressing. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, if time allows, and serve, or refrigerate the salad for up to 3 days.

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*The Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.