Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Growing up, I never dared to try “that” cranberry sauce sitting on the buffet table. If I remember correctly, it was more like a relish. At some point after meeting my husband, he talked me into trying the stuff out of the can that his grandmother always served. I decided it wasn’t too bad! BUT … over the last several years, we’ve been trying to eliminate canned & processed foods from our diet so we started making it from scratch. I have also become very aware of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods and I refuse to {knowingly} feed HFCS to my family.

Over the years, we’ve tried a couple different recipes for cranberry sauce, but this is THE ONE that we keep coming back to. This recipe is yummy & easy enough for a 10-year old child to make! At this time of the year, you should be able to find all the needed ingredients at one store & I love that it’s made with pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Because this recipe yields about 5 cups, it may be enough for a large gathering or to share with friends to enjoy with their Thanksgiving feast. I figure most people are probably going to take about 1 or 2 tablespoons worth of sauce so a little sauce goes a long ways! This is also the perfect recipe to make several days ahead of time because it keeps very well in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 12-14 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 large oranges, washed
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a medium-size pot, combine the cranberries, zest from both oranges, juice from both oranges, and maple syrup.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; stirring occasionally. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on desired consistency for your cranberry sauce. A shorter simmer time will produce a thinner sauce and 20+ minutes will make it thicker like a jam.
  3. Allow the cranberry sauce to cool and then store in air-tight containers in the fridge. I like to serve mine warm, but it can also be served cold.

Quinoa Chili

When I make chili, I make a lot! Everyone always wants seconds! Chili is always delicious for lunch leftovers and leftovers are perfect for creating another meal by topping baked potatoes … quinoa chili is especially good on top of baked sweet potatoes! Trust me!!

This recipe for chili is vegan, gluten free, and has no added sweeteners, like many chili recipes. I promise you will not miss the meat! Quinoa chili has a variety of textures and flavors and it’s sure to fill your belly on a cool evening. You can also throw some cubed sweet potatoes into the chili when your adding the other veggies like bell peppers to add a little more bulk and flavor.

Quinoa Chili

This recipe is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe with a few small changes. Feel free to cut the recipe in half – Mel does! I feed seven hungry people at the end of each day & we love having leftovers around!

When considering what beans to add, use whatever your family likes! I enjoy a combination of black, kidney, and pinto beans … like maybe 3 cans of black, 2 cans of kidney, and 1 can of pinto, but any combination that sounds good to you will work!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO or avocado oil
  • large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced … I like to use two different colors for variety!
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a couple shakes or pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • 6 (15oz) cans of beans, drained & rinsed
  • 12+ cups vegetable broth (or chicken works)
  • 45 oz tomato sauce
  • frozen corn (as much or as little as you’d like – I like a few cups worth)
  • Optional Topping Ideas: Avocado (a must!), shredded cheese, sour cream, lime, cilantro, crushed tortilla chips

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat and then add the onion, bell peppers, & garlic; cooking & stirring each addition for about one minute before adding the next item.
  2. Add in all the seasonings: chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, cinnamon, & cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Mix in the quinoa, beans, broth, & tomato sauce. Stir everything well then cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Once the chili is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep the chili on a slow simmer until the quinoa has thoroughly cooked, 20-30 minutes.
  4. Before serving, add corn and season with more salt, to taste. If the chili is thicker than you prefer, add more broth. Add optional toppings to individual bowls & store leftover chili in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Chia Pudding

I know I’m super late to the party on this one and that nearly everyone knows how to make chia pudding, but this post is dedicated to my very-soon-to-be college girl. The other night we were brainstorming quick, easy, and healthy breakfast ideas that she can rotate each week. We totally forgot about chia pudding and this is definitely something that can be made on the weekend, kept in the fridge, & eaten on the run! It can also make a great snack, easy lunch, or even be a fun treat for after dinner.

After researching, talking to a few friends, and trying this recipe a few times, I have found it to be a super flexible recipe! You can use a little more or less milk (personal preference, depending on what you have on hand, or what needs to get used-up) or play around by adding a little more or less chia seeds to the milk. I have been making this recipe with refrigerated coconut milk, but that’s probably not the most cost-effective or practical milk choice for a college student. My daughter will have free cow’s milk available to her from her university “pantry”, so that will probably be her milk of choice!

I make my chia pudding family-size in a half-gallon mason jar, but personal sized portions made in a half-pint jar work just as well. Just adjust the recipe to suit your needs. I have found that the pudding will stay good in the fridge for many days. It may stay fresh a little longer, but my family eats it quickly so I may never know! Mom tip: the first time I made this, my whole family did not love the flavor and thought it was a little weird. By the second time I served it, they were asking for more!

Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, etc)
  • 3-4 tablespoons chia seeds


Directions

  1. To a small glass jar, bowl, or whatever you have, add the milk & chia seeds. Stir or shake (if using a mason jar) to combine the seeds and milk well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  2. Serve with fresh fruit to act as a natural sweetener … peaches, berries, citrus, bananas, dried coconut, pomegranate, or whatever you like. Get creative and add some nuts or a different variety of seeds.

Mexican Rice

Homemade Mexican rice is the perfect side for any Mexican dish that you cook. If you have a good salsa in your fridge already, it makes the process pretty quick and easy. We love to eat Mexican rice with enchiladas, tamales, and burritos, but my favorite way to eat it is on top of a bean tostada because I love the flavor and contrasting texture that it adds to a crispy tostada.

Mexican rice is super easy to make but you do have to baby it a little bit at the beginning before you put it into the oven. Once it’s in the oven, you might check it once to see if it’s done, but you can work on the rest of your dinner and forget about the rice.

Mexican Rice

I’ve made this recipe for my family for years. I’ve tinkered with it a little and love it most with a good, homemade salsa! Try my Fresh Garden Salsa!! And because we no longer cook with canola oil, I have found that avocado oil is a perfect, healthier alternative. You can control how spicy the rice is with the salsa you use. We prefer a mild salsa for a mild rice!

I love to squeeze a little fresh lime juice over my rice … & the rest of my plate! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 2 cups white rice {use your favorite variety}
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fresh salsa {or a homemade-style/refrigerated store bought salsa like El Sol}
  • 2 cups broth {chicken or vegetable}
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pink salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the oven racks so that the pot you plan to use will sit at about the middle of the oven, or just below, depending on how tall your pot is. You will need space to take the lid off the pot to check for doneness.
  2. Add the oil to an oven-safe pot {I use a cast iron enamel Dutch oven} and turn on the burner to medium-high heat. Heat the oil for several minutes {but do not let it burn} and then drop a couple pieces of rice into the oil. When the rice sizzles, the oil it ready to use.
  3. Mix the rice into the oil and stir often until the rice is a light-golden brown color. Stirring often and keeping a close eye on the rice will ensure that it does not burn.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. Stir continuously for a couple minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. To the rice mixture, add the salsa, broth, and salt. Stir to combine the ingredients and then turn up the heat and cook on the stove top until the broth starts to boil.
  6. Cover the pot with a lid and place it into the preheated oven. Bake the rice for about 20 minutes, but feel free to check the rice around 15 minutes. You will know that the rice is done when all the rice is soft and no longer crunchy.
  7. Give the rice mixture a good stir to make sure all the ingredients are well combined and serve!

Nutty Granola

Nothing beats homemade granola! We are loving it on top of açaí bowls and we also enjoy a healthy-size scoop of granola on top of some plain, Greek yogurt with a few handfuls of fresh berries.

When I make a batch of granola, I usually times the recipe by 5 so my kids can enjoy it and I still have enough to fill two gallon-size ziplock bags for the freezer. It’s a little bit of an afternoon project, but so worth it!!

Nutty Granola

Ingredients

4 cups organic old-fashioned oats

1 cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pink salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats with the almonds, pecans, coconut, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.
  2. To the oat mixture, add the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir until the all the ingredients are well combined and there are no dry oats.
  3. Spoon the granola mixture onto a baking sheet until the mixtures goes about 1/2 way up the sides of the rims of the baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 300-degrees F for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Store in an air tight container or ziplock bag. Granola will keep at room temperature for at least a month or in the freezer for a few months.

Fresh Peach Salsa

Peach season is winding down in Arizona. Many Arizona gardeners enjoyed beautiful peaches in May and June. My Red Barron peach trees have been cleaned off by kids & birds over the last week, but I will soon be ordering numerous large boxes of peaches from my favorite “fruit lady” who ships peaches and other yummy foods down from Utah. When Utah peaches start arriving, my family will eat pounds and pounds of them and I will have to act quickly if I want to have any peaches for cobblers, pies, homemade ice cream, and peach salsa!

If you have not tried my peach salsa, you are missing out! I highly recommend making a lot of it because husbands and children seem to drink it by the gallon … you might too! We love peach salsa with Mexican dishes like tacos, tostadas, or just simply eat it with tortilla chips! It’s also good on Mexican-style pizzas, scrambled eggs, and fish.

Fresh Peach Salsa

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh, ripe peaches, peeled & diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded & finely diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl & mix to combine.
  2. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Fresh peach salsa is best enjoyed within a few days of making it.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

We eat asparagus on a weekly basis. It’s always been one of my favorite vegetables! I can prepare a Costco-size bag of asparagus for dinner, the kids will eat every last morsel, and be looking for more! Usually when I make asparagus, I just toss it with a little oil {EVOO or avocado}, salt, pepper, and throw it in the oven to roast. When I have a few extra minutes, it’s nice to kick it up a notch! If you’re not an asparagus lover, swap it for broccoli!

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

This recipe is for about 2 pounds of asparagus, but I would not worry too much if you have a little more or less than 2 pounds.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (1 kg) asparagus, tough ends snapped or cut off
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup EVOO or avocado oil {I usually use closer to 1/8 cup}
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • pink salt & fresh-ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4-6 slices or 8 wedges {use the same
  • lemon that was zested}

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425-450 degrees F.
  2. Place the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Brush or drizzle the oil mixture evenly over the asparagus – you don’t need to be a perfectionist here!
  4. Roast the asparagus in the oven until it is al-dente/tender {but NOT mushy!} and starting to get some golden/dark spots, approximately 10 minutes. Serve while hot.

Veggie Lentil Soup

Sometimes I just need a good veggie soup in my system! This recipe is gluten-free and can be made vegan by using vegetable broth. Keep this recipe simple, inexpensive, & quick by just using carrots and celery for your veggies.

Lentils are a healthy and natural meat substitute. They’re high in protein, iron, and magnesium. They are also rich in nutrients, have a hearty texture, and best of all … they’re cheap! Take a minute to google the benefits of lentils and I believe you’ll want to make them a part of your diet.

Veggie Lentil Soup

This recipe makes enough soup for 12-ish people … it feeds my family dinner plus leaves enough leftovers for lunch the next day. But the recipe can easily be cut in half for a smaller crowd. If you want the soup to have more of a creamy texture, purée some of the soup before serving. Our family enjoys this soup year round {even when it’s super hot outside} because it’s a hearty, healthy meal!

I like a lot of lemon juice to add yummy tang to the soup. Start with the juice of lemon and add more, if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4-6 large carrots, chopped
  • 4-6 ribs of celery, chopped {or you can use spinach, kale, zucchini, sweet potato, &/or other veggies that you love}
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 28-30 oz canned,diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lb or 2 cups dried lentils {green or brown}, rinsed
  • 8-12 cups chicken or vegetable broth, depending on how thick you like your soup
  • 4 cups water
  • salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • couple of pinches of red pepper flakes
  • juice from 1-2 lemons {or more! at least 2 grocery store-size lemons}

Directions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onion, carrots, and veggies (if you are using spinach or kale, do not add at this point) and cook, stirring often, until the veggies have softened and the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and seasonings. Stir to combine & cook for about 1 minute & then add the canned tomatoes.
  3. Add the lentils, broth, water, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the temperature to allow a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.
  4. If you want to blend a portion of the soup to make a more creamy texture, put a couple cups of soup onto a Vitamix or similar blender. You can also just use an immersion blender directly in the pot of soup and just blend for 30 seconds, or until you reach the creaminess you desire.
  5. If using, add in any leafy greens and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they have softened.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat & add the lemon juice.
  7. Taste the soup and add more salt, pepper, &/or lemon juice to your liking.
  8. Serve hot & store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Amber’s Kitchen Asian Salad

I LOVE this salad SO much! I’m making it weekly! Honestly, I think my body is craving all the colorful, fresh, raw veggies. This salad is PACKED with healthiness!

Amber from Amber’s Kitchen is someone to follow on Instagram! She’s real, honest, fun, and excited to share her knowledge. Like me, she has a houseful of mouths to feed numerous times a day, so if you want a little help in the mealtime department, she’s got you covered!

Amber's Kitchen Asian Salad

Check out Amber’s Instagram post for the original recipe and to see how she makes the salad. This recipe is a bit of my own variation. Use whatever veggies you have in your fridge!

Ingredients

  • Organic spring mix
  • Purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Celery, diced
  • Carrots, shredded or chopped
  • Red bell peppers, diced
  • Cucumber, diced {I prefer English Cuke}
  • Purple Onion, sliced as thin as you can
  • Orange segments
  • Cashew pieces {Salted is yummy but unsalted works just as great!}
  • Quinoa, cooked & cooled {totally optional!}
  • Pink salt, to taste
  • Asian Dressing {see recipe below}

Directions

  1. For personal-size bowls of salad, I start with two big handfuls of spring mix per bowl & then add desired amount of each veggie and topping to individual salads.
  2. Top each salad with a couple teaspoons of dressing, or more or less to taste.
  3. Finish each salad bowl with a big pinch of pink salt.

Asian Dressing

This recipe makes enough dressing for my family to have Amber’s salad several times, but we’re only using a couple teaspoons of dressing per personal-size bowl of salad.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup {NOT pancake syrup}
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil {Trader Joe’s Toasted Sesame Oil is my favorite!}
  • 3/4 cup avocado oil

Directions

Combine all dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl or mason jar. Amber says to use an immersion blender to mix it up, but I just shake it up in a mason jar. Keep any leftover dressing in the fridge in an air-tight container. {Mine has stayed fresh for about a month in the fridge.}

Instant Pot Applesauce

I am forever converted to Instant Pot Applesauce! IP Applesauce is thick and creamy and so much easier and quicker to make than other methods that I have tried. The best reason to try IP Applesauce is that you do not have to peel the apples. You can leave all the peels on! This saves me so much time!!

My recipe has no added sweeteners and is just simple ingredients that we all have in our pantry. Maybe you’ve been to an orchard recently and picked apples with your family or maybe, like me, you have a couple apple trees in your yard. Either way, this is the perfect way to use a lot of apples, even if they’re getting old, bruised, and a little mushy.

Instant Pot Applesauce

  • Servings: 6 to 8 cups
  • Print

This recipe is for an 8-quart Instant Pot. If you have a 6-quart Instant Pot, adjust the recipe to about 75%. If your Instant Pot will not come to pressure, add another 1/4 cup of water and try again. Homemade applesauce is a healthy snack or dessert served by itself. You can also drizzle a little heavy cream or milk on top of hot applesauce. For a sweeter treat, top it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 pounds of apples, cored
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients, except for the vanilla extract, into the Instant Pot inner pot.
  2. Place the lid on the pot and make sure the steam release handle is switched to “sealing”.
  3. Cook on manual/high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. When the timer goes off, do NOT move the steam release handle – just allow the steam to naturally release. Once the float valve drops, take off the lid.
  5. Purée the apples – you can make the applesauce as chunky or as smooth you are prefer. Stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
  6. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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