A Little Chili for an Autumn Day

Fall is the perfect time for a warm bowl of chili!  This Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples recipe has the flavor of fall rolled into it with a nice hot spice and apples!  I’ve never added apple cider to a chili before, it was a great combination.  The original recipe is from one of my favorite food bloggers, her recipes are always fabulous.  I wish my pictures of the chili looked as amazing as her’s but don’t let my ugly photos stop you from making this.

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First thing I did was take a large pot to cook up the pound of ground turkey over medium heat with a chopped Granny Smith apple and a chopped small onion.  I seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper.

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Once the turkey was cooked I added garlic and let that cook for a minute then added the two chipotle peppers that I chopped up while the turkey was cooking.

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Along with adding the peppers I added one tablespoon of the adobo sauce that the peppers come in.  I also stirred in two teaspoons of cumin and chili powder and let that cook for a minute,

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Next I stirred into the pot a 15 oz can of tomato sauce, with a cup of the apple cider, a cup of the chicken broth, one bay leaf plus a cinnamon stick.  When all the items were mixed together I brought the chili up to a boil and then turned the stove down to simmer for 10 minutes.  Then it’s done!  I topped a bowl of the chili with some crushed blue chips and Mexican cheese (a dollop of plain greek yogurt and avocado would be amazing as well).

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Baked Eggplant Stacks

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes to order from an Italian restaurant but of course it’s not the healthiest choice.  I healthified (is that a real word?) eggplant parmesan by using almond meal in place of breadcrumbs and baking the eggplant instead of frying.  You won’t be disappointed making this.

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First thing I did was slice 3 small eggplants.  I then whisked together 2 eggs in a bowl to dip the eggplant in before “breading” them with a combination of almond meal, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Once they were breaded I put them on a baking sheet that I sprayed with cooking spray and baked them in a preheated 250 degree oven for 30 minutes and flipped them over after 15 minutes.

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While the eggplant is baking I took a block of Goat Gouda cheese and chopped it up (I could have grated it too).

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When the eggplant was finished baking I poured jarred pasta sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 glass pan.

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Then I placed the eggplant rounds on top of the sauce.

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I sprinkled 1/3 of the goat gouda and 1/3 of the crumbled goat cheese on top of the eggplant.

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Then the sauce is layered on top of the cheese, another layer of eggplant with 1/3 cheese, layer more sauce and the rest of the cheese.

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Bake the dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes till the cheese is melted and it’s warmed through.

The eggplant is a perfect compliment to zoodles with sauce.

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Here’s the exact recipe:

Baked Eggplant Stacks

2-3 Eggplants (depending on the size)

2 Eggs

1 cup Almond Meal

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1 jar of your favorite Pasta Sauce

4 oz Goat Gouda

4 oz Crumbled Goat Cheese

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Slice the eggplant and wisk the two eggs together and mix together almond meal, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Dip the eggplant slices into the egg wash then the almond meal and put the slices on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake the eggplant for 15 minutes, flip over the slices and bake for another 15 minutes.  Grate or chop the Goat Gouda.  When the eggplant is done preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly cover the bottom of a 13×9 with some of the sauce.  On top of the sauce put a layer of eggplant then sprinkle with 1/3 of the goat gouda and 1/3 of the crumbled goat cheese.  Layer more sauce and another layer of eggplant sprinkled with more cheese then sauce and the rest of the cheese.  Bake the dish for 20 minutes until the cheese has softened and it is warmed through.  Pairs well with zoodles, spaghetti squash, pasta or bed of wilted spinach.

Friday Favorites #7

Happy Fall!  Finally!  Yay to the fall smell, the chill in the air, the pumpkins, apples, jackets, leggings, boots, blankets!

1. These peanut butter cups!  I foolishly walked around Target even though I only needed two things.  Well 30 minutes, 11 items and $58 later I left with my favorite Justin’s peanut butter cups!  Why did I have to walk by that end cap?  But well worth it, great little treat!

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2. Great that Target is getting on board with health but it would be nice if they had apples and bananas and little Justin’s packets of almond butter up there, not just processed foods!

3. Did you know Amazon has a special on their Prime Membership today!  Great deal!

4. Loving this midi ring I bought this past Saturday at the mall.  If you live near Buffalo and go to the Galleria, stop in at Sunshine and Bluebirds.  Adorable little store!  Perfect for gifts!

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5. Starbucks!  Making it even more difficult to avoid that place!  It would be even better if I didn’t have to sit through a drive thru, can they just run it out to me when I pull up?

6. Pumpkin + Chocolate!  Thank you for this recipe!

7. These are the ugliest sandals I have ever worn on my feet but I highly recommend them!  I just got them shipped to me and I never want to take them off, walking on a yoga mat all day!

8. My sister made these Tex-Mex Baked Spaghetti Squash, I’m thinking of trying it out this weekend.

9. I bought a Himalayan Salt Lamp a few days ago and I’m in love with it!  So calming!  If you haven’t heard about them before here’s a good site about them.

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10. This is pretty true about me!

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Have a fun first weekend of fall!

Corn Tortilla Mexican Lasagna

Every week I must eat some type of Mexican food!  I could eat a spicy Mexican meal for every lunch and dinner every day and never be tired of it!  Bring on the margarita on the rocks with salt please!

This Mexican Lasagna recipe is a great addition to my list of Mexican foods I can enjoy.

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I have tried a bunch of Anne’s recipes before from her blog, I like that she is a registered dietitian so she is thoughtful in putting her meals together.  This recipe made a large amount, 8-10 servings!  Thankfully my sister in law and I divide the food I make for the week and I only had four portions of it.  If I were to make this for myself I would split it into two smaller pans and freeze one to cook at a later date.

I couldn’t believe how quickly this recipe came together but I credit the rotisserie chicken I used.  From a rotisserie chicken I end up getting 4 cups of shredded chicken!  It’s such a time saver and moist and it’s perfect to use the chicken in soups, casseroles and salads.  Huge fan!

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All I do it take off all the skin of the chicken and remove the meat from the bone.  This recipe only uses 2 cups of chicken so you can keep the rest in the fridge to top your salads for the week.

Here’s what I used for the Mexican Lasagna, 2 cups of cooked chicken (you could also cook your own instead of buying a rotisserie), 9 corn tortillas, 1 can of rinsed and drained kidney beans and a rinsed and drained can of black beans, 1 jar (16 oz) of salsa, 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1 chopped green pepper, 4.5 oz (that’s 2 small cans) of sliced black olives, 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese, avocado and plain Greek yogurt to top when serving and bed of spinach to serve with.

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I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and started layering the ingredients.  On the bottom of my baking dish I put two whole corn tortillas and ripped one in half to cover the rest of the bottom, topped that with about a cup of the chicken, half of each type of bean, half of the salsa, half of the greek yogurt, half of the green pepper, half of the black olives and half of the cheese.

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Next, I put another layer of the tortillas like I did on the bottom and layered all the ingredients again (saved a little of the salsa and the cheese).  Then, put another layer of tortillas and top that with the remaining salsa and cheese and voila you’re done!  See, told you, simple!  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and put it on a bed of spinach, add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and half of a cut up avocado!

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This is just as delicious reheated for meals for the week!  Next time I think I will add a can of diced green chilies and a margarita on the side!

Chicken, but it’s Turkey, Parm Muffins

For some reason making anything in muffin tins just tastes so much better!  Not only do I think they taste better but it’s a great way to keep portions in check.  The recipe is perfect to prepare and cook and reheat leftovers for lunch or dinner.  I found the recipe for Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins years ago on Emily Bites blog and have made them a bunch of times.  My niece and nephew even eat these so they are kid tested and approved!

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  If you make them once then typically the second time you go to make it you’ll only need to buy the ground chicken, onion, pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese.

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The first thing to do is throw the 1 1/2 pound of ground chicken (I used organic ground turkey this time around because Wegmans didn’t have organic ground chicken in stock) with 6 tbsp of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 1 egg white, 3/4 tsp of basil, oregano, thyme, salt, 1/3 tsp pepper, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 small onion, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese.

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Mix all those ingredients together and fill 12 muffin tins that you have sprayed with a cooking spray.  I became a little smarter this time around and bought the disposable foil muffin tins, at $2.50 a piece they are well worth it!!!!!  Everytime my sister in law and I would make these we would spend forever scrubbing the muffin tins to get clean.  Never again!

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Place the muffin tins in the 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Once the 20 minutes are up, take the muffin tins out of the oven and top with your favorite pasta sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Next, put the muffins back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted.

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I have found that using a fork to get the muffins out makes it a lot easier and lessen the chances of some of it getting left behind in the tins.  Put two muffins atop a bed of spinach and there’s lunch or dinner for you!  You could also have a side of zoodles and sauce with this too.  Extra tip, the muffins freeze nicely as well.  Hope you enjoy!

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Friday Favorites #6

Did this week fly by or what?  It’s already Friday!  TGIF!!!

1. Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for all the lovely words this week about my post “My Most Recent Thoughts”.  I was so hesitate to share how I felt and I am glad that I didn’t shy away from it.  It’s nice to hear that others feel/have felt the way I do.  Hopefully if you’re visiting the blog more often that you find the things that I post to be helpful and will be on your list to try as well!

2. My autumn decorations!  Are these pumpkins not the cutest?!?!  I’m almost embarrassed to say how cheap I bought them for.  They were at the Christmas Tree Shoppe for $1.50 each.  I need to go there more often.

3. Did you see this video of a high school cheerleading squad dedicated to 9/11?  To think that they weren’t even in elementary school when they tragedies occurred.

4. This is me anytime I am going somewhere!  Anyone else?


5. I am trying this!  Everytime I attempt to cook chicken on the stovetop it comes out dry and stringy, hoping these instructions will make it a success for me next time.

6. Simply beautiful!  As an advocate for individuals with disabilities, seeing a moment like this come to the news makes me incredibly happy.  I hope that we have more and more occurrences like it!

7. All I keep doing is drooling over all these pumpkin recipes I keep seeing.  I think I need to stop delaying and finally make one.  This one came through on my blog roll and this one might be my first to try this season, Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.

8. Hopefully I can get to apple picking this fall and make homemade applesauce and these baked apples.

9. A fabulous list of Quotes About Life.

Enjoy your weekend!  Take a minute to relax and find the beauty in a day!

My Most Recent Thoughts

I’ve been hesitant to write a post like this, I don’t want to sound overly opinionated or for anyone to think they need to have sympathy towards me plus this blog’s purpose is for things that I have tried and liked, not a place to get a point across to others.  There are two things that I am going to address in this post, one being the fact that I am very secure in my status of being single and the other being that even though I am not a mother doesn’t mean that I do not have a very special place in a child’s upbringing and my experiences do count.

My niece is nine years old and for the last at least 3 years she asks me who is older, myself or my sister.  Everytime we go through the whole line of who is older and younger between my brothers and my sister and I.  My niece will then say, I thought Aunt Ashley was older because she is married (well now she has a baby so that has gotten added in recently too).  My niece will then go into questions of why am I not married, when will I get married, who will I get married to, and this past weekend she added in that she wanted to babysit my kids so she could read them Bernstein Bears books.  When she brought this topic up while we were in DisneyWorld a few weeks ago she included questions of why my most recent ex-boyfriend wasn’t around anymore and why I couldn’t marry him.  Answering any of these questions to a 30 year old isn’t easy, let alone a nine year old inquisitive girl.  I luckily have been able to give her enough explanation for her to move on to a new topic but this one wasn’t as easy (the little thing is getting too smart).  Thankfully my sister in law was there and jumped in a little.  We continued to tell her (like we do all the other times) that people marry at all different ages and you only get married when you love someone that you want to share your life with and be with for forever.  She then proceeded to say that she wanted me to get married, I responded with hopefully someday when I love someone that loves me as much as I love them but that if I had been married or even had a boyfriend I wouldn’t be able to spend all the time I do with her and her brother and do all the fun things we get to do together.  And finally that monorail pulled up and the questioning stopped.  My sister in law and I were talking and she is very wise and she always has the right things to say.  She said she was happy that my niece had someone in her life that was single and independent, that she could see that you don’t need to get married to have a full happy life.  Never before had I thought about those things.  I’m very happy that I haven’t settled in my life, geez had I had the life I thought I was going to have while I was going through my first couple of years in college I could have been married, living in the midwest in the country and had six kids by now (pretty scary since that is not me AT ALL!).  At times it can be difficult to be the only single person at a family or friend gathering as many people in Buffalo settle down pretty early in age but I do not regret the choices I have made to remain single.  As I tell my niece and want to continue to be a role model to her, you only get married to someone that you love and who loves you back.  Life isn’t always easy but I think I’ve done a pretty fair job getting through it and have experienced a lot that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do had I been tied down.  Moral of the story is, everything happens for a reason, my reason for being single could quite possibly be to be a role model for independence for little girls.

And onto my second point, I have seen a lot floating around on social media about unless you’re a parent you shouldn’t have an opinion of raising children.  The act of raising children is extremely trying and I have definitely had my fair share of seeing parents work their tails off to raise their children to be happy, healthy, successful and upstanding individuals in the community.  Their job is the hardest one in the world and I would be scared out of my mind to have to raise a human being to be the best he/she could be.  However, I am always deeply saddened when I see that parents feel as though anyone without children shouldn’t have an opinion on raising kids.  It’s usually no secret to anyone who knows me that I have pretty strong views on child rearing.  I believe I have a pretty decent list of experiences in my life to give an opinion or two.  I won’t go into the details of my history of schooling and work experience and the research I have done plus the long list of personal experiences of being around nieces and nephews and friends’ children but I think that I have seen enough good things that work that can help a person or two.  Even my sister trusts me more than she trusts anyone with her baby (she said that I knew more baby stuff than her and now I will now never let her live that down).  Every parent should receive as much encouragement and assistance as possible to do all they can do to raise their little ones.  I’m not saying every little advice that I have is the perfect thing for one particular child but if a parent is having difficulty in an area with their child why wouldn’t they want to know something that could be beneficial?  I agree there is a time and place for advice and opinions but maybe parents should be more open to hearing a different view once in awhile.

Normally I don’t blab on about something like this but these are two things that I have been thinking about recently and thought that my views are a little different than what is typically shared and should be heard.  Self reflection is something that I have been working very hard on the last few years and I see more and more individuals not able to do the same.  Self reflection is a sign of maturity and growth and hearing a different side of an argument might possibly give someone else that chance to self reflect themselves.

Friday Favorites #5

Welcome to another Friday Favorites!

1. It’s been 14 years since the tragedy that we will never forget.  I have very vivid memories of how I felt that day watching the second airplane crash into the Twin Towers and remember the feeling I had when I went to the 9/11 Memorial a few years ago.

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2. I’m patiently waiting for the fall weather to come but I’m starting to lose my patience!  I want to wear my leather jackets again.  I’m on a hunt for a black moto one to add to my collection.  Some of these outfits are inspiring.

3. My mom always nagged us about making our beds after we would get up in the morning but I hated making my bed when I was younger and still hate it today.  Reading The Scientific Reason Why Making Your Bed is a Terrible Idea makes me feel not so bad about leaving my bed destroyed everyday.

4. A healthy reminder…

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5. Fall and winter are perfect seasons for slow cooker oatmeal recipes.  My sister sent me a recipe today that I am going to try this weekend but this one is on my list to try soon.  Yummy!

6. How adorable are these!  I am surely making them for the holiday!

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7. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson.  She has some major pipes!  I have been obsessed with her cover of Little Big Town’s “I Have a Girl Crush”.

8. I am hoping to get to the Farmers Market tomorrow and load up on some fall items.  I love the Farmers Market during the crisp season.

9. I’ll leave you this Friday with these cute dogs!

Gourmet Sweet Potato Salad

It sounds odd to add a sweet potato to a salad but I cannot even explain to you in words the deliciousness of this salad.  I have made it for others and they love it as much as I do.  The salad is very filling and healthy with a good amount of protein.  It’s easy to prepare the parts of the salad on the weekend and then have it for lunches for the week.

First I cook a few sweet potatoes in the oven.  I preheat the oven at 425 degrees and scrub as many sweet potatoes as I’ll use for the week.  I take a fork and poke holes in the sweet potatoes and individually wrap them in foil.  Once the oven is preheated I put the wrapped potatoes on a baking sheet and cook them until they are softened.  It really depends on the size of the sweet potatoes the length that they cook for, usually it’s between 30 minutes to an hour.  When they are cool to the touch I remove the skin and refrigerate them until I use them.

When I’m preparing food for my week I cook a few chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper and chop them up.  I also drain and rinse black beans too.

For the salad I use mixed salad greens topped with one of the sweet potatoes and chopped chicken that I warm in the microwave, some black beans and my favorite goat cheese.  I whisk together a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and dress the salad with some of it.

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An easy salad to prepare but tastes as though you bought it from a gourmet restaurant!

Daily Smoothie

For years I made myself a smoothie every morning but for the past six months I have been off the smoothie train and I just recently fell in love with them all over again.  This is a quick delicious breakfast that I can drink in the car on my way to work.

All I use is my traditional blender but on the top of my wish list is a Vitamix, I’ve been longing to have one on my counter for awhile.

I buy a bunch of bananas and peel them and put them in a bag and freeze them, that’s what helps make the smoothie creamy.  Any protein powder that you like would work in the smoothie, my favorite brand is Cellucor (especially the chocolate and the vanilla flavors).  The ingredients I put in my smoothie vary but this is my favorite.  In the blender I put in 1 frozen banana, 1 cup of unsweetened regular or vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 2 heaping tablespoons of PB2, 2 large handfuls of spinach.

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Blend all the ingredients together and pour into your favorite to go cup or a wine glass to make it a little fancy!

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