Easy, Healthy Apple Crisp

Another week gone by!  I was out in Denver for work Tuesday afternoon through Thursday night for a team training.  It was nice to get together with the new team, we’re all scattered all over the country and this doesn’t happen a ton so it was nice that it happened so soon after I transferred!  My favorite part was our team building activity on Wednesday night.  We did a cooking class, “A Night in Tuscany.”  Everything was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to remake some of the recipes at home and share them on here!

Matt’s parents drove down from Syracuse today so we made them dinner and hung out at our apartment tonight.  We made one of our favorite soups, the Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, from last year.  We made a delicious salad (post coming up next), and then this healthy apple crisp recipe!  It is absolutely delicious, the addition of the pecans is absolutely perfect.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Easy Apple Crisp (recipe from here)

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if making this recipe GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal*
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
  • 4+ apples, cored and diced (about 5-6 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add oats, almond meal, nuts, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt to a mixing bowl, and toss until combined.
  3. Add maple syrup and melted coconut oil (or butter), then toss until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and toss until combined.
  5. Spread the apple mixture evenly into a greased 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan, then sprinkle the oat mixture evenly on top of the apples.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and golden and the apples are soft and cooked through. Serve immediately, with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Crisp can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

*If you can’t find almond meal at the store, you can pulse almonds in a food processor until fine to make almond meal.  Or, you can substitute in white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour) in place of the almond meal.

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Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Bake

Well we’re finishing up a pretty solid weekend with a new recipe to share!  This weekend was just what we needed – a good mix of friends and “us time,” some relaxing, nice weather, and finishing it off with some cooking!  My friend and I babysat on Friday night for our other friends.  Which means we drank wine, painted our nails, and watched Anne of Green Gables.  Man I forgot how great that movie is!  Saturday Matt, James, and I ran the 4.01k, a free race sponsored by Prudential to raise awareness about how 2/3 (!) of Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement – get it, a 4.01K?  I signed up because it was free, a short distance, and clever.

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Post-race water bottles, how do you not find that clever?!

Today we went to church, hung around and caught up with some friends, and then had the afternoon to ourselves.  We relaxed a bit, took a (long) walk to gravelly point to watch the planes take off, and then came home and made this new recipe.

This recipe was perfect for a Sunday.  We had to roast the pepper and the spaghetti squash, which took some time, so we did that while relaxing before our walk.  Then everything was ready to go this evening and came together very quickly for dinner.  We’ve been trying to eat better and I’ve always wondered what the big deal with spaghetti squash was so I bought one from Trader Joe’s earlier this week, and searched for a recipe from my trusted recipe bloggers (Annie’s Eats and Gimme Some Oven).  This recipe is a keeper – a great mix of healthy and delicious!  We modified it a little from the original, added chicken for some extra protein (highly recommended).

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Bake

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small poblano peppers
  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • ½ lb chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 2 oz. shredded medium sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 oz. shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Sliced avocado, for serving
  • Fresh diced tomato, for serving

Directions:

  1. To roast the peppers, preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  Place the peppers in a medium baking dish.  Bake, turning every 6-8 minutes or so, until the skin is blistered over most of the surface about 15-20 minutes total.  Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with a plate and let sit 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and discard.  Remove the stem, seeds and ribs.  Coarsely chop the peppers and set aside.
  2. Lower the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Place the spaghetti squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash, cut side down, for about 40 minutes or until it shreds easily with a fork. Remove from the oven, let cool briefly, then shred the squash out of the peel. Spread on a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel) and let drain about 10 minutes. Maintain the oven temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the butter, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped poblanos, shredded squash, black beans, compound butter, greek yogurt, shredded chicken, and half of each of the cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold together until all ingredients are evenly combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm topped with sliced avocado and fresh diced tomatoes.

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Fettuccine with Sausage & Kale

Happy Wednesday!

Life update – I started the new position at work this week.  Right now I’m doing more training and learning and it’s really great.  I also travelled to New York (near Westchester) today for a presentation about Investing.  Every day this week I’ve had a ‘pinch me, this is now my job!’ moment.  It’s great.  There are some obstacles to overcome, like the fact that the new office is very different from the old one and I can’t even figure out how to print stuff right now.  But the fact that I can walk outside of this office and be in downtown DC, and walk home from work outweigh that.  I did walk home from work on Monday.  It’s like 3.5 miles, but I’m in a step challenge and needed the steps.  It gets dark really early these days…

This new recipe is another quick and easy one.  Since I flew to and from New York today I needed something quick to make when I got home.  It’s pretty good, and since it’s quick and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, we’ll be adding it to our rotation for sure.

Fettuccine with Sausage & Kale

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage*, removed from casing
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large bunch kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for topping

Directions:

  1. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-low until browned, about 7 minutes. Drain fat if desired.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and cream; simmer until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil if you drained the sausage fat.  If you didn’t drain the fat, no olive oil should be needed. Add cheese and mix until melted.  If it doesn’t seem very sauce-like add a little more oil and parmesan.
  4. Add kale; toss until wilted.
  5. Remove from heat; toss with pasta.
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy.

*Make sure you use spicy Italian Sausage, even if you don’t think you like spicy things.  It give the dish a majority of its flavor.  Also, it’s not that spicy once the dish all comes together, and my tolerance for spice is very low!

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Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts and Fettuccine, Apple Pie with French Crumble Topping, and Shrimp Perloo

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Ahh it’s been a while!  Sorry everyone, busy season got real bad at the end.  But that is in the past and I have some exciting news (and then some recipes to catch you up on)!  As of November 1 I will be transferring into PwC’s financial education practice.  I have worked on some projects with this group in the past and I am beyond excited for the transition.  This has been in the works since June and my current partner and the partner of the new group agreed that I could make the switch after busy season. So what will I be doing?  Basically companies hire PwC’s financial education to be a benefit to their employees.  We do in person presentations on financial planning topics such as cash and debt management, 401(k), pre-retirement planning, and topics like that.  We also have a phone line that the employees can call and ask us financial planning questions, anddd one of my favorite things we have is a “financial fitness assessment.”  The employees can take this and then schedule a one on one call with me or one of my teammates.

‘How did this all come about?’ you may wonder.  Well, you may recall that back in June they were doing a “money matters” series at our church that I was super pumped about.  During the first sermon I’m just sitting there on the edge of my seat, resisting the urge to yell “amen” and clap after everything the pastor said.  I quickly realized that this was a topic that stirred something up in me and started to think about how I could switch into doing more of this for work (I was also already studying for the CFP exam at the time and getting really excited about everything I was learning).  I talked to a few people at work and called one of the managers in the FEP group to see if the switch was something we could make happen.  Since I’d done a good amount of work with the group in the past the answer was a quick “yes!!”  Then it was just a waiting game until my group would give me up.  Knowing the switch was coming was one of the only things that kept me going this busy season.  I’m pumped!  Also, this group does have busy seasons at the same time as the old group (we share people in between tax deadlines and then lose the extra help during tax season), but they’re a lot less extreme and don’t require weekends.  Just icing on the cake 🙂

Alright, now to the recipes.  We made a couple during the last weeks of busy season but I didn’t have time to post them!

First up – Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts and Fettucine.  This was pretty delicious, Matt made it one night during busy season and added garlic to the original recipe – great call on his part.

Second Up – Apple Pie with a French Crumble.  We went apple picking with our friends a few Sundays ago and somebody thought that we needed 12 lbs of apples, so there were plenty around for making a pie.

Lastly – we got Blue Apron this week (thanks to my bday gift from my brother)!  The recipe from the first meal we made had fairly normal ingredients that’s easy enough to remake, and it was pretty delicious too!

Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts and Fettuccine (recipe from here)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine, cooked, plus 1 cup reserved cooking liquid
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. Cook fettuccine according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In skillet, cook butter over medium until golden, 3 minutes. Add minced garlic during the last 30-60 seconds of cooking
  3. Add sprouts; cook until tender, 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in pasta, cooking liquid and 1/2 cup each cheese and nuts; season.
  5. Top with remaining cheese and nuts.
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Apple Pie with a French Crumble

Makes: One 9 inch pie (8 inch pies have different proportions! Or just a bit of leftovers from this recipe)

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp shortening, or 2/3 cup lard
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 Tbsp cold water

For the Filling

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 6 cups thinly sliced tart apples (about 6 medium sized apples)

For the French Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup firm margarine or butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

Directions:

For the Crust –

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas (this can also be done in a food processor or a kitchen aid mixer with the whisk add on.
  3. Sprinkle in water, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour moistened and the pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl. (A couple more Tbsp can be added if necessary)
  4. Gather the pastry into a ball; shape into a flattened round on lightly floured surface.
  5. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than the inverted pie plate.
  6. Transfer crust into the pie plate and trim/shape the edges as desired.

For the Filling –

  1. Peel and slice apples
  2. Combine, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt, then stir in apples.
  3. Pour into the pie dish (already lined with raw crust).

For the Crumble Topping – 

  1. Mix the crumb topping ingredients (flour, butter, brown sugar) until crumbly.
  2. Top pie with crumble before baking.
  3. Bake 50 minutes, cover pie with foil during the last 10-15 minutes of baking to avoid excessive browning.

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Matt helped peel the apples!  anyone seen that video of using a drill to peel apples?  He saw it and had to try it!

One Pot Shrimp Perloo

Eh, just go to the website for the recipe – https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/one-pot-shrimp-perloo.   Blue Apron has pretty recipe cards you can print too.  Picture is below, it was delicious and definitely made more than two servings.

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Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Pasta

Busy season has been…busy.  Ugh we’re in full on ‘what am I doing with my life, is it October 15 yet?’ mode.  Less than 3 weeks!  And then I’ll never have to go through a busy season like this again.  Light at the end of the tunnel!

This week we tried a new, seasonal recipe from Gimme Some Oven.  It we pretty delicious!  I don’t know if I’ve ever really had butternut squash before… Matt even liked it.  It wasn’t an ‘omg we need to make this again tomorrow’ kind of like, but he said ti was pretty good and since he knew it was really good for him it made it better.  And it was easy with not a ton of ingredients!  I will say, this is definitely better fresh and leftovers are just ‘meh’, next time we’ll be making a little less.

Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Pasta

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or any high-heat oil)
  • salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 12 ounces whole wheat dried pasta
  • 2-3 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 big handfuls fresh baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or mist it with cooking spray).
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butternut squash and oil, and toss until the squash is evenly coated. Spread the squash out the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the squash at the halfway point then returning them to the oven, until the squash are cooked through and soft on the inside.  Remove and set aside.
  1. While the squash is cooking, bring a large stockpot of generously-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente, according to package instructions.  Once it reaches al dente, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and set it aside for later.  Then drain the rest of the water and return the pasta to the stockpot.  Immediately add in the goat cheese along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, and toss until the cheese is completely melted and is evenly coating the pasta.  (If it seems too thick and you’d like a lighter “sauce”, add in a few more tablespoons of the pasta water at a time until the cheese reaches your desired consistency.)  Add in the arugula, pine nuts and roasted butternut squash, and toss until combined.
  1. Serve immediately, garnished with extra black pepper if desired.

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Creamy Pasta Primavera

Friends, we have a new winner of a dinner dish!  I made this a while ago in college and forgot all about it until now.  This is a lovely summer dinner dish, I hope you love it as much as we did.  I can’t wait for leftovers!

Creamy Pasta Primavera (recipe from here)

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp. Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups cut-up fresh asparagus spears (1-inch lengths)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt.
  2. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and vegetables; cook 10 to 12 min. or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Add broth and cream cheese; cook 1 min. or until cream cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Stir in Parmesan.
  3. Drain pasta; return to pan. Add chicken mixture; mix lightly. Cook 1 min. or until heated through. (Sauce will thicken upon standing.)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle

Happy Labor Day weekend!  I’m looking forward to the year where I don’t have to work on Labor Day…but until then, we’re making the most of it!  I took today off from busy season because it’s Matt’s birthday!!  We had a really great day.  Went for a walk and got coffee and our favorite bagels this morning (birthday bagels).  Then we had people over this afternoon for pizza, food, and hanging out.  Despite several of our friends being out of town for labor day, a lot of people came and it was so good to hang out with old friends (3 of Matt’s college friends live in the area) and new friends!  Afterwards we just took it easy, which was really nice after a pretty crazy week.  Such a solid weekend so far.  Good is good, life is good, everything is great!

For the birthday celebration I made a couple of desserts – Cookie Cake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle.  I’ll spare you the cookie cake recipe, it’s literally a half batch of chocolate chip cookies, cooked in a quiche dish, and then I decorated it:

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The chocolate peanut butter truffle is always a hit.  My mom use to make this and Matt loved it from his first bite, so she’s passed the recipe along to me (and many others).  I hope you enjoy it too!

(We made a couple of new dinner recipes this week but they weren’t spectacular so I won’t be posting those, hopefully we’ll find some more winners soon!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 ¾ cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 12 oz cool whip
  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 2 eggs (for brownie mix)
  • Canola oil (for brownies)
  • 6+ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (frozen)

Directions:

  1. Bake brownies according to package instructions, let cool.
  2. Cut brownies into small (1” or smaller) squares. (I always cut off the edges before doing this.  I say it’s to make the pieces in the dessert less chewey, and because it’s what my mom did.  But it’s mostly because I love brownie edges and I get to eat them myself this way)
  3. Melt ½ cup peanut butter
  4. Mix 2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding with 1 ¾ cups milk, until thickened
  5. Mix peanut butter into pudding mixture
  6. Fold pudding mixture into 12 oz cool whip. This makes a “peanut butter mousse”
  7. Chop frozen Reese’s into small pieces.
  8. In a larger bowl, or trifle dish, layer brownie, pudding mixture, chopped Reese’s, and repeat.
  9. Enjoy!

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