a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac |

Chili is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. We just got out of a mega deep-freeze up here in Wisconsin (“feels like -35°F” is something I would be OK with never seeing and feeling again) and this spicy turkey chili mac hit the spot. I made this on one of the nights that Mike and I were apart, so having to wash only one pot was a huge bonus. Doing dishes is the least exciting part of cooking.

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac |

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

1 1/4 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes*
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup dried whole wheat elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
optional toppings: shredded cheese, fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream, jalapenos

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook turkey, onion and garlic until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is tender.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, jalapenos, chili powder, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until macaroni is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Top with optional toppings before serving.

*I used a pint of quartered tomatoes I canned over the summer.


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Turkey & Rice Taco Skillet

Before I dive into our weekend adventures and the recipe,  I want to explain why I haven’t been posting as much (and why I’m eating dairy again). I’m unable to complete even a simple 5 mile run without almost collapsing. I can’t eat without being sick. Two of the most important things in my life: running and food, are now what frustrate me the most.  I’m taking it a day at a time, praying that my doctors can figure out what’s wrong with me soon so I can go back to being normal. Until then, I’ll be posting a bit less; it’s hard to post new recipes when you don’t each much of anything besides cereal and salads 🙂

But onto happier things… Mike and I went on our first camping trip of the season this past weekend with our pups. It rained Friday, but Saturday was picture-perfect and we were able to get in a nice long hike. Really long hike. Because we got lost. But hey, what’s the point of life without a little adventure? I’ve got two camping meals to share with you this week. For our Friday night dinner, I made a Turkey and Rice Taco Skillet. It was pouring, but we huddled under the tarp with the dogs and ate our dinner. It was the perfect meal to keep us warm in the cold, wet weather. I figured I would share this recipe first since it kind of works with the whole Cinco de Mayo thing, too.

Though this was made over a campfire, it is easily adaptable to be made at home on the stove top. That’s the beauty of cast iron – it can be used inside and outside. I’ve finally gotten my “inside use” Dutch oven and skillet to where they are pretty darn well seasoned. The skillet I used while we were camping, though, has been on hundreds of camping trips with Mike when he was growing up. The skillet is so perfectly seasoned that it puts my pieces to shame. I guess I have something to work on, eh?

Turkey & Rice Taco Skillet {camping meal} |

Turkey and Rice Taco Skillet
serves 4 – 6

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (seeded if desired)
1.25 pounds lean ground turkey
1 packet hot taco seasoning mix
4 cups water, divided
3 cups Minute Brown Rice
1 – 15 ounce can corn
1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes with jalapenos
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
sour cream to garnish
olive oil spray

  1. Spray a large 12″ cast iron skillet with olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and jalapeno and cook over the fire (or medium-high heat) until onions are tender. Add the turkey and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning and two cups of water. Bring to a simmer and stir in rice and remaining two cups of water. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and corn and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.
  2. To serve, divide between 4 – 6 bowls. Sprinkle with lettuce, cheese and top off with sour cream.



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Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet

This easy meal uses my favorite baked turkey meatballs and is on the table in 20 minutes. The best part? Cleanup is simple – this is a one pot meal, folks. If you’re a starch-lover like me, serve this with your favorite crusty bread, quinoa, or brown rice.

Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet |

Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet
serves 4 – 6

16 baked turkey meatballs (recipe here)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1-15 ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
4 cups chopped kale
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in corn, beans, tomatoes, kale, and broth. Season with lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  2. Nestle meatballs into the vegetables and bring mixture to a simmer. Partially cover and let cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.


Easy Baked Turkey Meatballs

I love it when I can make one thing and use it for several meals. These meatballs were meant to go into a southwestern meatball dish, but I was wiped out after a long day of work and a 10 mile run. By the time I finished mixing up the meatballs, I was done. I just couldn’t do anything more – I threw together a quick tomato sauce and cooked up a few meatballs for dinner and threw the rest of the meatballs into the fridge for later.

Fair warning – this recipe makes a lot of meatballs. Like 5 dozen+ depending on how big you make them. But, don’t worry – they are super versatile and freeze beautifully!

Easy Baked Turkey Meatballs

Easy Baked Turkey Meatballs

3 pounds lean ground turkey
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
6 egg whites
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two large baking pans and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with hands until well incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. Roll into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter and place onto prepared baking pans about 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until meatballs are golden brown and reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  3. Use meatballs immediately, or lay on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once the meatballs are frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or dish. Meatballs will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. 

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Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

Soup is great for cold, snowy days. Soup is also good for men who have had their wisdom teeth out. Mike lived off of chocolate ice cream, chocolate pudding, and chocolate protein shakes for a day. Chocolate is good and all, but I’m pretty sure there is a limit to how much chocolate a person can consume. I decided to make some lasagna soup for Mike to try. I knew I could cook the veggies and noodles long enough to make them extra soft and manageable for my wisdom tooth-less husband. For me? I kept my noodles al dente. But I’m not dealing with major jaw pain and all.

LIghtened Up Lasagna Soup {dairy free} |

Since this soup doesn’t have cheese it’s really not much like lasagna at all. But hey, it was tasty and I didn’t really miss the cheese. But the lack of cheese and the use of a lower-fat turkey sausage versus a pork sausage means fewer fat and calories. Tasty, healthy, and a perfect comfort food.

Lightened Up Lasagna Soup
serves 8

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1.25 pounds Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
3 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
15 ounce can tomato sauce
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, diced

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add turkey break it into bite-sized pieces. Cook until browned and cooked through, 4 – 6 minutes. Drain excess fat from pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add in broken lasagna noodles and bell pepper and cook until pasta is al dente.
  3. Remove bay leaves before serving.

slightly adapted from the Deen Bros

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Chicken (or Turkey) Dumpling Soup

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I am always with those that I love, surrounded by tons of good food. I’ll be honest – I really don’t like turkey that much. Thanksgiving meals are all about the side dishes to me. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, veggies… those are the dishes that take up prime real estate on my plate. Buried underneath all that goodness will be the smallest piece of turkey possible.

I actually made this chicken and dumpling soup a couple weeks ago after a business trip. During my trip, I ate a small-town family restaurant and got their chicken dumpling soup. It was pretty disappointing – watery with a million tasteless dumplings and no chicken whatsoever. When I finally got home, I had two things on my to-do list: 1) Give Mike a kiss and 2) Make some chicken dumpling soup. Let me tell you – this recipe was a million times better than the restaurant stuff. I’m hoping to make this soup again with leftover turkey – I imagine that the results would be just as tasty.

Chicken or Turkey Dumpling Soup |

Chicken or Turkey Dumpling Soup

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

  1. Place chicken, broth and water in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally,  for 5 – 7 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Transfer cooked vegetables into broth.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup water until well combined. Whisk in ground mustard and thyme. Add mixture to broth and add in bay leaves and shredded chicken. Bring soup to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. While soup is simmering, make the dumplings: Whisk together flour, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Whisk in almond milk until combined.
  5. Once soup has cooked for 15 minutes, bring it back to a boil. Drop dumpling dough by tablespoons into the soup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. Remove bay leaves before serving.

adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Turkey Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers & Race Day Recap

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers |

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I know we did! Mike ran his first half marathon and I accompanied him as I ran my fourth. My husband, the man that detests running, laced up his shoes day after day after day to get ready for this race. I am so, so incredibly proud of him. I (lovingly) pushed him and we finished in 2:15. This was a full 15 minutes before our goal finish time (and a PR for me)!

Madison Half Marathon Fall 2013

The day was perfect. A mix of sunshine and clouds. A start temp of 35°F (ish) and some wind. To celebrate his first half and my fourth, I’ve decided to sign up for my second full marathon. I ran my first one September 2012 and vowed to never do it again. But here I am, one year later, starting my training for another marathon. A spring marathon. Which means I’ll be doing my runs in the Wisconsin winter. What the heck was I thinking?! Marathon training is hard. Winter marathon training may prove to be impossible 😉

Ok, so on to these stuffed peppers. I was originally going to remake the last pre-race meal I had of sausage and bell peppers, but I changed my mind last minute and decided to make some stuffed peppers instead. These were easy to make and easy on my pre-race jittery stomach, too!

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers |

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 bell peppers
1 pound mild turkey sausage, casing removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup white rice
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, optional (omit for DF)
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly spray a baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Cut tops off peppers and remove the core and seeds. Place them into prepared baking dish and set aside.
  3. Brown sausage in a large pan over medium-high heat. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break the sausage up into crumbles. When sausage is browned, carefully drain off most of the grease. Add in onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add in red pepper flakes, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, pepper, tomato sauce and tomatoes. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  4. Pour in chicken stock and rice and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and spoon filling evenly into the 6 prepared bell peppers. Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese, if desired.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted and browned. Enjoy!