Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Mushrooms

sweet potato chicken soup
I saw this soup in an issue of Clean Eating and knew it would be perfect for a night when I needed something quick. I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was all on it's own! (and FYI, it makes tons)

10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 10-oz bunch kale, tough stems removed and leaves coarsely torn
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps thickly sliced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I used 1 can chicken)
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c grated low-fat Parmesan cheese

In medium stockpot, bring broth to a boil on med-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add kale and mushrooms and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Add chicken and pepper and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minuts.
Top with parmesan and ladle soup into serving bowls.

Serving size: 2 cups Calories: 297 Fat: 5g Carbs: 34g Fiber: 5g Sugars: 6g Protein: 31g Sodium: 356mg Cholesterol: 50mg

Broccoli Mac n' Cheese Soup

mac n cheese soup
All this rainy weather has me wanting soup for pretty much every meal. I was excited to try this recipe, from Skinnytaste, since I love broccoli and cheese and I really it. I kept the leftover noodles and soup separate in the fridge and just added them together when I was ready to heat them up eat. It kept the noodles nice and firm and gave me a delicious, healthy lunch for 3 days. I shared some with my 2-year-old for his lunch one day and he loved it too!

* 4 oz dry elbow macaroni (I used gluten-free)
* 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
* 1 large carrot, chopped
* 1 celery stalk, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp light butter
* 2 tbsp flour (I used cornstarch)
* 2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
* 1 cup fat free milk
* pinch nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp dry mustard
* salt and fresh pepper to taste
* 2 cups (about 10 oz) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
* 1-1/2 cups 2% shredded sharp cheddar
* 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
Chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic by hand or mini food processor.
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt light butter. Add chopped vegetables and sauté on low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add flour and fresh pepper to the pot and stir until smooth. Slowly add chicken broth, milk, nutmeg and dry mustard powder; whisking constantly. Set heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil. Cover and cook on low about 10-15 minutes.
Add broccoli florets, parmesan cheese, and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked, about 5 minutes or more to your liking.
Add cheddar, mixing well until cheese melts and immediately remove from heat. Add cooked elbows and mix well, adjust salt and pepper if needed. Eat right away so the pasta doesn't absorb all the broth.

Servings: 5 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts Calories: 252.7 • Fat: 9.5 g • Carb: 27.8 g • Fiber: 3.9 g • Protein: 16.8 g • Sugar: 3.5 g
Sodium: 590.4 mg (without salt)

Soft Sugar Cookie Bars with Buttercream Frosting

sugar cookie bars
I wasn't sure what to make for our Valentine's treats to pass out to friends this year, but I did know life has been extra crazy so we needed to keep it simple. Then I saw these guys on Cassie Craves and knew they would be perfect. What I didn't know is just how absolutely AMAZING they would really be. They are completely addictive so be sure you are sharing them with someone!!! (I doubled the dough recipe but still had enough frosting from one batch to frost them both) I think I may be making these for every holiday from now on :-)!

For the bars:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1) (I used a regular baking pan so mine were a little thicker) with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3. With mixer on low, add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until just combined.
4. Press dough evenly into your prepared pan. The dough will be sticky. (it's very sticky, I put my hand in a baggie and sprayed it with some cooking spray to push it into the pan)
5. Bake for 20 minutes until edges begin to golden. Cool completely before frosting.
6. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. If desired, add food coloring and beat until combined.

Quinoa Breakfast Idea

quinoa breakfast
Yes, I'm obsessed with quinoa! I have been using it instead of rice for nearly everything and then saw this idea on Tickle My Palate. It is a perfect breakfast for these chilly gluten free oatmeal! Top it how you like, but this is what I used.

quinoa cooked per package directions
a bit of milk
a drizzle of agave nectar or honey
Dried cranberries
nuts (I used a mixture from a trail mix I had on hand)

Update: I did a calorie count today and came up with this...
for 1/2 c quinoa, 1 T agave, 1/4 c trail mix and 1/4 c 1% milk, 405 total calories

Grammy's Loaded Veggie Salad

grammy's salad
This salad is amazing! My grandma brought it to our Super Bowl party and I couldn't get enough of it! I will definitely be using it in the future...maybe for a baby shower coming up or having friends over for lunch...or for any occasion I can think of :-). It makes a huge salad, so if you are making it just for your family, you may want to halve it, or keep the dressing separate.

2 7oz mixed greens
2 lge. Avocados
L lge. Cucumber
½ (10oz.) package shredded carrots
¾ C. dried cranberries
½ C. sliced almonds, toasted
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese with herbs (I use 6 oz)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 (0.7 ounce) package Italian dressing mix
½ Cup olive oil
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
2 T. sun dried tomatoes chopped
Croutons (optional)

Valentine Chex Mix

valentine chex mix
My mom brought this tasty treat for one of our Super Bowl snacks on Sunday. It was so cute and SO delicious. I loved that it wasn't too you could eat even more of it :-)! She had posted it on her blog earlier in the week and I had really been wanting to make it, so I was especially excited to see it when they showed up!

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup red, white and pink candy-coated chocolate candies
¼ cup red or pink jimmies sprinkles

♥Step 1: In large bowl, place cereal. In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
♥Step 2: Place 1/2 of the cereal mixture in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
♥Step 3: Meanwhile, stir candies and sprinkles into remaining cereal mixture. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
♥Step 4: In serving bowl, mix both cereal mixtures. Store in airtight container.

Quinoa and Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

grilled corn avocado quinoa salad
I have tried a couple recipes lately that I was disappointed in, which is never fun. You feel like you have wasted time and money on the ingredients, not to mention not getting to enjoy a yummy dinner! Well, this was just the change I needed to get me wanting cook again. I saw this recipe on The Sister's Cafe and couldn't wait to try it. It is perfect for lunch with girlfriends and for dinner too (I grilled some chicken to go with it for dinner). I will definitely be making it again soon and I loved my addition of the black beans because it made it a little more filling. SOOO good!!!

2 cups of cooked Quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
5 ears of corn, husk removed, brush with olive oil and grilled, remove corn with sharp knife (I put under broiler in oven for a bit)
2 avocados, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
2 cups tomatoes, red and yellow cherry variety or equivalent
1 small red onion, finely diced (I'll just use 1/2 next time)
¾ cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 ½ cups english cucumber, skin on and chopped small dice
(I added one can black beans, rinsed and drained)
2 TB of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Add to a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro Vinaigrette
6 T. Olive oil
2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Garlic powder
2 T. Fresh cilantro, minced
½ tsp. Salt
10 Grinds of fresh ground pepper
Add all of the above ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid. Shake really well. Taste and adjust seasoning as you desire.
When ready to serve salad, add the dressing and gently toss.