Tag Archives: recipes

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

18 Nov

I promised you this recipe over two weeks ago, so I apologize for the delay. I think it’s quite worth the wait, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

(Serves 6: Two Cups Each)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, minced with 2 teaspoons sauce

2 cans black beans (15 oz each)

3 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz each)

3 cups cubed butternut squash

2 cups vegetable stock

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried cilantro

1-2 tsps chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1) Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in large stock pot or dutch oven. Add minced garlic cloves and diced onion; cook until onion is translucent, about five minutes.

Prep time!

2) Add the butternut squash cubes and cook about 3 minutes. Add all the spices; cook for another two minutes.

Cut the bottom of your squash off to create a flat surface for cutting in half. Scrape out the seeds, and begin to peel off the skin. This squash yielded about six cups of cubed squash.

3) While cooking, put one can of beans into a bowl, one can of tomatoes, and the chipotle chilis with sauce. Blend with immersion blender, food processor or blender. If you prefer soupy chili, you can omit this step, but I like the thickness it adds.

Blended beans, tomatoes, and chilis

4) Add one cup of vegetable stock and deglaze bottom of pot. Add the remaining ingredients, including the other cup of vegetable stock.

5) Bring ingredients to a boil, then turn heat to low to simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.

Thick and hearty

You can add more chili powder if you like. The chipotle chilis already add quite a bit of heat with the seeds and some great smokiness.

Remember to stir up your chili before you dish it out, as the onions, garlic, and pureed goodness sink towards the bottom when cooking.

I’m going to use the rest of my cubed butternut squash for an easy and healthy recipe for Thanksgiving, courtesy of the Tone it Up gals.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Spice Hut Review and Giveaway!

23 Sep

Okay, how long have you all been waiting for this??? I’ve talked about it at least three or four times over the past month and I’m ready to deliver.

I’ve been going to Spice Hut for about five years. When I was a senior in college I was introduced to loose leaf tea (I know, how did I go so long without experiencing this!) and I’ve never wanted to go back. Granted, loose leaf can be quite a bit pricier than the tea bags you buy in the store but it’s honestly worth it. Essentially, the tea from the tea bags is almost like the dust of the loose leaf tea, meaning less flavor. My husband would have a heart attack if I only bought loose leaf tea but I definitely keep at least 2-3 bags on hand at all times. A four ounce bag can actually last quite awhile if you only have two cups a day. Since I drink about six cups a day, I definitely have to supplement with tea bags.

Spice Hut is located in a small strip mall in Bellingham, Washington off Meridian Street and West Kellogg. I am really disappointed in myself that I didn’t take any pictures of the inside. They have the cutest mugs, tea pots, and pretty much any tea or spice related product. In fact, we even bought my mother-in-law a modern cat mug for her birthday (she’s obsessed with cats). If you ever looking for a gift idea for me, just go to Spice Hut!

I’ve tried so many of their teas, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to find one I haven’t tried. Have no fear, there are still many more for me to sample. I decided to take the Hot Chili Truffle. Ever since watching the movie Chocolat, I’ve had an obsession with anything chocolate and spicy. This tea did not disappoint. I love spicy food so I enjoyed the zing I got from the chili flakes. Since I don’t drink coffee, I like to have a black tea to wake me up in the morning and the heat from the chili helped with that as well.

How gorgeous is that?!

And hello, who can’t resist a little chocolate in the morning, especially when it’s virtually guilt free (unlike a mocha). Now, if you have a sensitive pallet, I highly recommend adding a little splash of cream, milk or even vanilla soymilk. For an even fancier treat, take 8 ounces of water and use two heaping teaspoons of tea to brew. Then heat up 8 ounces of milk and combine. You’ll have a yummy Chili Chocolate Tea Latte!

Onto the spices! I’ve recently become very interested in spices, probably because of my devotion to shows like Top Chef, Chopped and The Next Food Network Star. Also, when you are eating healthy I find the food choices aren’t as flavorful. What better way to spice things up (pun intended!) then adding some exotic spices into your dishes? It makes eating healthy that much more interesting and enjoyable.

A few seasons ago a contestant on Top Chef made some sort of chocolate dessert with a Chinese five spice. I had no idea what he was talking about but I was definitely intrigued. I love all sorts of food so I knew I had to try it. I immediately knew Spice Hut would have it. Though I didn’t try something as adventurous as dessert, I definitely improved upon a recipe I recently made.

Do you remember a month or so ago when I made a stir fry from a Clean Eating magazine recipe? Good because I don’t! I tried finding the post in my past blogs but apparently I didn’t write about it (???). Anyway, I thought that recipe would be perfect with a little more flavor. The almond butter sauce adds quite a bit of depth, but I thought I would lighten up on the sauce and give more of that to the hub (cuts down the calories!). I combined the following ingredients in the wok with a couple teaspoons of safflower oil–

1 lb chicken breast cut into equal 1-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green pepper cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup edamame

3 minced garlic cloves

2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews

I tossed those all in the wok and added about 2 teaspoons of Spice Hut Chinese Five Spice at the end with the sauce. We put the stir fry on top of some brown rice.

The five spice completely elevated the recipe to the next level. It gave the stir fry so many different dimensions. You could taste each of the five spices individually, but it all harmonized into a great blend in your mouth. I tasted the licoricey (is that a word?!) fennel, the warm cinnamon, the spicy black pepper, the exotic star anise, and the aromatic clove. I’ve always been a little nervous and confused about what spices go together besides the obvious (basil and oregano, sage and rosemary, etc); that’s why I love the spice blend. Also, you don’t have to buy each of the spices individually.

What the heck am I going to do with the five spice besides stir fries you ask and why should I buy my spices at Spice Hut? I googled Chinese five spice recipes and so many options came up. I also plugged the ingredient into allrecipes.com and there were so many choices. Also, Spice Hut is nice enough to put a recipe on the bag of five spice. As far as purchasing your spices at Spice Hut; have you ever had rancid spices? Not so good. Have you seen some of the “spices” in the containers at the grocery store? As with the tea, they look like dust. All of spices are fresh at Spice Hut and you can just tell by looking at them that the quality is so much better. I often find quite a few spices there I’m not able to find at the grocery store.

Now that my mouth is watering from recalling all the delicious things I’ve made, I better go eat dinner. One more small thing….I’m doing another giveaway!!!! I know I missed August but I’m hoping you’ll let it slide since I’ve been so busy. 🙂 I am going to give a lucky winner (picked at random) to receive 4 ounces of tea from Spice Hut. How do you enter? Simply go the Spice Hut’s website at http://www.thespicehut.com and comment on this blog telling me what flavor of tea you would like.

Have a great weekend! The winner will be picked on Tuesday at 7pm Pacific Time. 🙂

Edie’s Rough Life and Berry Chocolate Smoothie

3 Aug

Did everyone have a good morning? I know one person (or mammal) who did.

Before I entertain you with Edie’s antics of the morning, let me give you a little background. Edie is a three year old labradoodle (because I am allergic to everything—luckily not her!) who is full of mischief. She is also the princess. Edie started out a crate trained dog but during an unfortunate incident at the in-laws (before we were married) with a pop-up fabric kennel (yeah, those don’t work at ALL) she became a bed sleeper. We NEVER wanted to do this with her. We started out with the best intentions, but there is nothing better than cuddling up to a fuzzy warm pup in the middle of the night. There are also few things worse than getting farted on in your face by a dog in the wee hours of the morning, but hey, we must pay a price.

Other examples of Edie’s royal status include her massive bin of toys, the fact she goes everywhere with her parents, when I get up to put something away and come back to my spot with her in it she gets to stay, and she gets taken to the vet if there is even the slightest thing wrong with her (I’m working on the latter). Edie is the first dog I’ve owned (since my mother and I both have allergies we never had a dog), and she is like my baby since we are childless (for now).

However, I did not think I would have to do what I did this morning for a very long time; not until Edie was geriatric. Edie went about doing her business in the field while I cleaned it up (she walks when she poops so it’s a process). When we started to go on our way she kept reaching her head back towards her bottom as if to scratch her back. I went around to see what was bothering her, and low and behold she had poo sticking out of her bum. And it wasn’t like it didn’t fall off of her massive quantity of hair, it was literally stuck. I had to undo the poo bag and…well, I won’t go into any more detail but you know what I did.

When we got home the Hub wanted a clean towel so I went to grab one and threw his towel on the floor so Edie could partake in her favorite activity—rolling on dad’s towel. There is something about the husband’s smell on the towel that makes Edie go nuts. She spreads it all out and rubs her face on it as hard as she can and then rolls around on her back.

I left the little princess with her Kong and I’m sure she’ll just be postin’ up on the couch when her papa gets home.

This morning I made a Berry Chocolate Smoothie, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. The flavor was good but I’m not sure how I feel about chocolate in the A.M. I’m going to give it another day. I chased the smoothie with the Clean Eating Banana Bread and some PB.

Berry Chocolate Smoothie

1 cup soy milk

handful spinach

1/2 tbsp flax meal

1 cup frozen berry blend (I used Very Cherry from Trader Joes)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

And you know the drill here. I drank this whole thing this morning.

I had quite a few snacks today since I did Jari Love’s weight lifting video. I had the Planters Energy Mix, cottage cheese with blueberries, and yogurt with Erin’s granola and a white nectarine. Can I just say new favorite? Who would’ve thought nectarines, yogurt and PB granola would go so well together? This girl!

Dinner is the same for this evening since there is one turkey burger left and the Hub graciously offered it to me. And we just have to eat the rest of those Alexia’s Chipotle Sweet Potato fries because they could get….freezer burned…or something…if they are in the freezer too long. 🙂

Top that off with a glass of white wine and some Property Brothers on HGTV. Ah…..

Contest Winner and Meal Planning

31 Jul

And the first blog giveaway goes to……Gregg!!! Congrats! I will get that in the mail to you this week. 🙂

This morning I woke up extremely crabby for no apparent reason. Maybe it was after effects from my hunger last night. I was determined to stay a grump for the whole day but my planned was foiled by several things.

1) A walk/hike with Elisa, Benny and Edie resulted in laughs and got the endorphins going.

2) I discovered the most delicious Larabar flavor yet. It honestly tasted like a cookie. I couldn’t tell the difference.

So freaking good! Nom nom nom.

3) This wonderful tool that helps me get dandelions, those spiky things, and pretty much any type of weed out of the yard. I used it after grocery shopping and I seriously went around the whole yard looking for weeds because it was so fun. Yes, I lead an exciting life.

Got this puppy at a garage sale for about $.50

4) When I got home, the Hub defrosted the whole freezer from the problem we had earlier this week. It looked absolutely gorgeous in there. It was even organized. Saturday he mowed the lawn, cleaned the garage and swept it, and unloaded the dishwasher before I got home from work. LOVE THIS MAN!

After our hike I went grocery shopping. The Hub has me on a less than $100 per week for groceries. Totally doable but I tend to go a little crazy with fancy things. I was under budget today by at least about $20-$25. The meals for this week include–


Berry Chocolate Smoothie

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Banana Bread


Shrimp and Pea Salad with Basil


Pistachio Chicken

Chicken Parmesan

Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

Thai Lime Chicken

Since the Hub was so domestic this weekend I made him waffles for breakfast (at 1pm!). Benefit–I get waffles too. 🙂 I used the Bob’s Red Mill mix which I really like. It’s multigrain but not so much that the Hub says, “What is this?”

A big cup of Apple Cinnamon Tea on the side please!

Tonight I made pistachio chicken, a recipe from the Abs Diet Cookbook, which I’ve been meaning to make all week. The Hub was trying to predict the odds of me actually making it this afternoon. It turned out really good but the frozen snap peas I bought (which you steam in a bag) did not look very appetizing. I did eat them and about half tasted good and the other half tasted limp and dead.

Before I made dinner I banged out my lunches for the week. The recipe is one I adapted from a Clean Eating Magazine Recipe.

Shrimp and Pea Salad with Basil

(Makes 5 servings; 1 heaping cup)

  • 1 lb cooked shrimp
  • 4 cups cooked basmati brown rice (recipe called for brown but I improvised)
  • 4 cups cooked peas
  • 1 cup roughly chopped basil
  • 4 tsp lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  1. Combine cooked shrimp, peas, and rice in large bowl.
  2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in pan on medium heat. Mince garlic and brown in pan, about 2 minutes.
  3. Put garlic in large bowl with shrimp mixture.
  4. Add other 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Slice onion and put into pan on medium high heat. Brown, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and caramelize onions, stirring often. Cook for about 40 minutes.
  5. Add onion mixture to bowl and basil.
  6. Add lemon zest to bowl along with lemon juice.
  7. Toss and serve!

It’s so delish! I added the garlic to the recipe and caramelized the onions to impart more flavor. I also doubled up on some of the ingredients to make it last the whole week.

I also tossed a banana bread in the oven to eat with my smoothies this week. I adapted this recipe from the Clean Eating Club.

Clean Eating Banana Bread

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 slightly beaten egg whites
  • 1 c. mashed ripe bananas (3 medium or 2 large)
  • 1/2 c. agave nectar
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • A pinch of sea salt (1/16 tsp.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds


  1. Coat an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mash bananas and set aside. In a medium bowl combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine egg whites, banana, agave nectar, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and oil. Once mixed well, add flour mixture all at one time to banana mixture. Stir until moistened. The batter should be lumpy. Spoon mixture into pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 50 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick near the center of the bread. The toothpick should come out clean.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for approximately 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

I was so pleased with the result. The whole wheat pastry flour makes the bread very light and not so heavy as some baked goods can be with regular whole wheat flour. The chia seeds add a little crunch (and keep you fuller longer!) with the added benefit of those Omegas 3s. The original plan was to add walnuts but I think the chia seeds were a great substitute.

The Hub and I topped off dinner with a new ice cream. I’ve seen this for months and always wanted to buy it. It was finally on sale and I didn’t eat as much as I normally do today, so I figured a treat was in order. 🙂 Next week I have to tone down my treats, but with the hormones back to even levels, this shouldn’t be a problem! I lost one pound this week which is great considering how many “treats” I had.

Off to bed! We have four miles on the agenda in the a.m.


Third Times a Charm!

26 Jul

One last post! I made a fun dinner so I had to share. It’s a super easy quick meal to whip together if you’ve had a long day at work (hello!).

Breakfast Tacos

One egg and two egg whites

1/3 cup rinsed and drained black beans

sprinkle of cumin and garlic powder

salt and  pepper to taste

2 corn tortillas

Avocado Salsa (see this blog for recipe, in the comments)

Scramble eggs and toss in black beans just at the end so they warm; sprinkle with seasoning. Put the egg and bean mixture on two warm corn tortillas and top with as much salsa as you can handle. Mmm….



Turkey Tacos and Stuffed Peppers

24 Jul

I’m pretty anal, which I get from my mom. We like things organized, perfect, and in their place. Sundays are the day I get everything in order. I make lunch for the week, I clean, I water the plants, I do laundry, and I get my exercise clothes set for the morning. This last one is the most important because it’s hard enough to get up on Monday morning, let alone get up and exercise.

I have some stir-fry in the freezer from last week for one of my lunches this week so I had to make four more meals. I went with Stuffed Turkey Peppers from Clean Eating Magazine.

While I made dinner and lunches I watched The Next Food Network Star. There is nothing better than cooking and watching people cook. Part of the reason we bought this house was because of the kitchen (plus the huge walk-in closet and gigantic jetted tub) and it’s the best decision we ever made. 🙂

Dinner was Lime-Grilled Turkey Tacos. I got this recipe from The Abs Diet Cookbook. I grilled Jennie-O turkey tenderloin after rubbing it with some olive oil and Mexican spices. After a squeeze of lime, I put in on the grill. Mmm…

The after product was so delicious! I cut the turkey into small pieces, threw it on a corn tortilla with romaine, and avocado salsa. I will definitely make this again.











After running four miles this morning and doing Rodney Yee’s Yoga Burn, I needed some replenishment. These tacos hit the spot. Tomorrow I get to have them again since I have to go straight from work to book club.

What do you do during the weekend to get ready for the week?