Category Archives: Food

The Best Healthy Chicken Spaghetti

A glass pan with healthy chicken spaghetti in it

Healthy chicken spaghetti? Is it even possible? If you grew up eating the classic version of this dish, you might find yourself wondering.

Honestly, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I first ate this dish. My siblings were in town visiting and a friend had us over for supper. My brother loved the chicken spaghetti they made. Of course we got the recipe. Her recipe (and I discovered all the typical chicken spaghetti recipes) contains Velveeta and cream of chicken soup.

Cream soups were something my mom never had in the house growing up. In fact, the only time I remember her using cream soup was for beef stroganoff. Velveeta cheese my mom bought once a year to make cheese dip. So neither ingredient have ever been a part of my pantry either.

I decided to try and make this Mexican Spaghetti using ingredients I keep on hand while keeping the recipe almost as simple as the original.

The experiment was a success! This is my recipe for healthy chicken spaghetti without using any velveeta or canned cream soup. Score.

Such a easy meal and it makes a ton – perfect for eating again a day or two later. This would also be a great dish to bring to a church potluck. Serve with salad or veggies of your choice. The most recent time we had it with sauteed zucchini and carrot & celery sticks.

close up of a glass pan filled with baked healthy chicken spaghetti

A couple of comments:

  • Use whatever type of noodles you like – spelt, wheat, brown rice, or gluten free. (These pictures are with brown rice pasta)
  • If you don’t have access to Rotel (a can of diced tomatoes and green chilis), you can make your own! I’ve done it a couple of times. The Humbled Homemaker has instructions here. I like to use some jalapenos and to roast and peel the peppers before I chop them. (I also de-seed the jalapenos)
  • If you or someone in your house doesn’t care for cream cheese, you can’t even tell it’s in the recipe. It just adds a little extra creaminess and depth of flavor. My husband doesn’t like cream cheese and he doesn’t even know it’s in this dish. So be sure to add it!
  • If you don’t have half and half or cream, you can use milk. In these pictures I used 2 cups of whole milk and decreased the stock to 1 cup.
  • Arrowroot. If that’s something that you don’t have on hand, you can substitute cornstarch or try using flour. I’ve even made this with tapioca flour (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons).

Horizontal picture of a pan of baked healthy chicken spaghetti

Healthy Chicken Spaghetti

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chicken Spaghetti (without Velveeta and Canned Soup)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces noodles
  • 1-2 cups diced onion (I used two)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can Rotel or 1 cup homemade (regular or mild)
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup cream or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar (can use more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles to al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or a soup pot, saute the onions. Add garlic and cook until tender.
  3. Add Rotel, chicken broth, and salt and bring to a simmer.
  4. Mix the arrowroot powder in the cream and stir into mixture in the pan.
  5. Add the cream cheese and gently heat the mixture and stir to melt the cream cheese and let the arrowroot powder thicken.
  6. After thickened, stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese and the chicken.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add the cooked noodles to the pot and stir to combine.
  9. Pour into a 9x13 pan (it will be full) and top with the remainder of the cheese.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This recipe was originally published May 15, 2014. Updated comments and pictures May 2, 2019.

 

A spoon of healthy chicken spaghetti being taking from the baking dishtwo pictures are healthy chicken spaghetti in a 9x13 panscoop of mexican spaghetti being taken from the baking dishChicken Spaghetti without Velveeta or cream of chicken soup! Yay! We love this and the leftovers are awesome.

Comprehensive List of Basic Kitchen Needs

wooden spoons and a whisk on top of a towel for a list of must have kitchen items

How do you know what to purchase for your kitchen when you are first starting out – what those must have kitchen items are? How do you know if a kitchen gadget is really worth buying and taking up space in your kitchen? Don’t worry, I’m going to make your life easier with this list of basic kitchen needs.

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The Kitchen Essentials List You Need to Have

When my husband I were first married we lived in a duplex with a small kitchen. I had no pantry to store excess tools and appliances.

As you move into bigger homes, you have a little more leeway with what you can have in your kitchen. Today, I want to give you a list of the most important items for your kitchen – the must have kitchen items list. Obviously, if you are someone who doesn’t cook you will be able to eliminate several of things things.

After being married over 12 years, these are the kitchen tools I use on a weekly (if not more frequently) basis. Everyone of them except for the first three items under the possible baking essentials list.

If you have a little extra room in your house, I highly recommend you check out the list of my Favorite Kitchen Tools and my Favorite Kitchen Appliances! Not everything on those lists I would consider essentials, but they are all things I love and use on a regular basis!

wooden spoons with black handles on a towel for a list of must have kitchen items

Basic Kitchen Needs List:

Cooking Kitchen Essentials

  • Vegetable Peeler – Don’t get the cheapest one out there. They hurt your hand and break much sooner.
  • Box Cheese Grater – I don’t buy grated cheese so I use this any time I need grated cheese. I also use it to grate carrots for egg rolls, fried rice, etc.
  • Soup Ladle – There not another great option for dishing up broth-y soups.
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Non Slotted Spoon
  • Can Opener – Buy a decent can opener. They cheap ones are a pain. I have this one. My sister has this one and says it is amazing.
  • Kitchen Shears or a Pizza Cutter –  I have a pizza wheel with a handle. I’ve had super cheap ones and the one we have now is middle of the road. It definitely cuts much easier. You can also just skip the pizza cutter and use the shears for pizza along with a myriad of other things.
  • Colander – I have a smaller mesh one and a larger pasta one
  • Cutting Boards – I recommend two large ones (one for veggies & bread and one for meat) and a small size one. I’m needing to replace my full sized cutting boards, so I don’t have specific recommendations for these. My mini sized one is from Pampered Chef, though, and I like it.
  • Food Storage Containers – I love my Pyrex set! The perk of having glass is that you can use them in the microwave and they can double as food prep dishes. I also have a set of decent plastic ones that I like. I’ve found that having some mini containers (4 and 8 ounces) has been really useful!
  • Good Knives. Start with just a couple decent knives. A bread knife, a paring knife, and one or 2 chef’s knives.
  • Good Pots and Pans. Start with an 8 and 10 inch skillet, 1 sauce pot, and a stockpot. You can add to your stash after you know what else you will use. I’d recommend stainless steel for your sauce pot and stockpot at least. Your skillets you’ll have to decide on stainless, non-stick, cast iron, ceramic etc.
  • Silicone Spatula You need this! Great for making cookies or things like scraping out pots and bowls or the last of the peanut butter. Mine is from Pampered Chef and it’s amazing.
  • Pancake Flipper Considering my kids are pancake fans, we use this multiple times a week.
  • Mini Serving Spatula These are the perfect size for brownies and bar desserts. I used mine tonight for lasagna too.
  • Blender – This may or may not be an essential. I mainly use mine for smoothies, oat flour, and salsa. (I’d suggest looking for a great deal on a Vitamix or Blendtec.)

Possible Kitchen Essentials:

  • Potato Masher – If you make mashed potatoes or a lot of your own refried beans, this becomes an essential! If not, try without one for a while. I have one of the ones with holes in the masher part but I could see how the ones with the wavy metal base would be easier to clean. Haven’t tried that kind though.
  • Pasta Fork – This is only an essential if you use spaghetti or fettuccine noodles. If you use elbow, penne etc you could just use the slotted or unslotted spoons.
  • Whisk If you aren’t sure if you’d use it, do without. You can purchase one later.
  • Ice Cream Scoop – This is an essential in our home. If you don’t eat ice cream frequently you can use a sturdy regular spoon. My favorite scoop came from Bed Bath and Beyond but they no longer sell it.
  • Microplane You can get by without this by using your knife for mincing garlic and the small side of your box cheese grater for zesting lemon peel, but I do find myself using the microplane frequently.

Baking Kitchen Essentials

  • Airbake Cookie Sheets – Love these! Perfect for cookies, rolls, breadsticks. Get the lighter colored ones.
  • Cooling Racks I think this one looks nice. If you are short on counter top space, check out the stackable ones.
  • Mini Muffin Tins – This is the pan I have. I prefer having 2 12 cup pans over 1 24. I recommend mini over regular sized ones because they make the perfect sized muffins for kids and when you bring muffins or cupcakes to a function a lot of the time people won’t finish an entire regular sized one and it always makes me a little sad when food I’ve made gets tossed. They are also great size for appetizers
  • 9×13 and a 8 or 9 Inch Square Pan – I use these all the time. I actually have 2 of each. Unless you know you’ll be using them a lots start with one of each. All of mine are glass (Pyrex) but you might consider getting one set in glass and one in metal. The metal ones are great for taking places – no worrying about breakage! I also recommend that you buy the ones that come with lids.
  • Measuring Spoons – If you are going to cook or bake at all you’ll want a set, maybe even two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I recommend metal over plastic and prefer a set that included 1/8 of a teaspoon.
  • Measuring Cups – The same as the spoons. These are essentials. If you are a baker, you might want two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I have had plastics ones, and they have accidentally been melted. I also have a cheap set of stainless steel ones and the handles are falling off less than a year later (they just happen to be the first set that currently appears on this link).
  • Liquid Measuring Cups – I have a set that comes with a 1, 2, and 4 cup. The ones that that are angled and you can read standing up make things a little easier but I haven’t seen them in glass. A basic set is fine, no need to spend extra on this.
  • Glass and Metal Mixing Bowls – Get a variety of sizes. Our largest one gets used for tossing big batches of popcorn with butter or making pancakes for a herd. The middle sized one is great for cookies and muffins. The small ones are good for whisking an egg or two. One of my metal bowls nestles perfectly into a saucepan for a double boiler.
  • Stand Mixer  – If you aren’t a baker, you can skip this one but I use my KitchenAid 1-3 times each week. It definitely makes kneading dough a lot easier. Don’t get anything small than the 5 quart one.

Possible Baking Essentials:

  • Pie Pan – You  may or may not want this depending on how many pies you want. It can also fill in for a cheesecake pan like in this recipe. Honestly, I use mine maybe once a year.
  • Jelly Roll Pan We use this for oven fries or roasting veggies. Mine is an old uncoated one. This gets used on a regular basis.
  • Pastry Brush – If you don’t do much baking, you won’t need this. Most often ours gets used for brushing the butter on top of breadsticks. I use one with natural bristles. If you get a cheap one, the bristles fall out way sooner so be sure to read reviews and don’t by the cheap ones. Some people love the silicone brushes.
  • Rolling Pin –  I have a traditional rolling pin and a pizza and pastry roller that I love! Do you make pizza, sugar roll out cookies, or tortillas? Then this will be a must. If not try without and on the rare occasion you need a rolling pin try using a bottle.
  • Bread Pan – This is an essential if you are going to make homemade bread. Otherwise you can just use the muffin tins for quick breads. If you really want bread pans for quick breads I love this size. Otherwise I use stainless steel bread pans for my yeast bread.
  • Wooden Spoon – this is another item you can do without, but I use mine frequently for stirring sourdough, making cookies, etc. One is plenty.

Other Kitchen Items:

  • Silverware – In my opinion there is no need to buy silverware that is $50 a setting. One the other had, don’t buy the the cheap stuff. It bends easily, tarnishes, and hurts your hand. We purchased a middle of the road set that we really liked from Bed Bath and Beyond. Using one of their 20% off coupons made it a great purchase. A service for 12 cost under $200.
  • Dinnerware – Fine china was something that I didn’t want. When you are in a small house you most likely won’t have space for storing plates that seldom get used. I love corelle. They are thin and won’t take up a lot of space in the cabinet.
  • Glasses – If you are limited on space, make sure your glasses will stack otherwise they will take up a lot of space. Ours came from Ikea and they work great. Next time we’ll most likely purchase something a tiny bit thinner.
  • Hot Pads and Trivets – One or two trivets would be plenty. Hot pads or kitchen towels could always fill in on the occasion you need more. You will want at least 2 hot pads.
  • Wash Clothes and Dish Towels – Enough to get you through to the next wash day. I dislike drying my dishes with the cheap microfiber towels. Look for something that will absorb the water easily.

Don’t forget to hop over to the Favorite Kitchen Tools List and my Favorite Appliances List for more fun kitchen tools! (You’ll also get to hear about my all time favorite appliance. You might be surprised. A total splurge item, but I love it. The kids do too. 😉 )

What items do you consider kitchen essentials?

wooden spoons and a whisk with words top kitchen essentials

 

Kitchen Essentials! The list of must haves for every kitchen. Great for making wedding registries or updating your own kitchen!

Originally published April 1, 2014. Updated list and graphics April 30, 2019.

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes

whole wheat apple pancakes stacked on a plate with a bowl of apples next to them

Anyone else have kids who LOVE eating pancakes? I think my family would be okay with a rotation of pancakes and waffles for breakfast everyday of the year. In fact, they frequently make an appearance as an easy weekend lunch too. Today, I have a recipe for whole wheat apple pancakes to switch things up a bit. They are still super easy and if you want to use good old all purpose flour, you can. 😉

[If you want a wonderful, fluffy buttermilk pancake recipe, you need to try this one! Or if waffles are more your thing, I have the easiest sourdough waffle recipe here.]

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes

This apple pancake recipe is fairly standard recipe but with the addition of some cinnamon (yum) and grated apples!

If you prefer chopped apples, go for it. I find taking a couple washed apples, with the peels still on, to a box cheese grater is the quickest way to get it done. If your apples are super large, you might only need one. I ended up using 1 1/2 apples (my 3 year old gladly helped me out by eating the remaining half).

My girls love these pancakes topped with maple syrup. I recommend making extra and keeping them in the freezer to a fast weekday breakfast. Reheat in the toaster or microwave. Yum!

These whole wheat apple pancakes are also the perfect thing to use up those bruised or slightly past their prime apples. You know, those ones your kids refuse to eat. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. 😉

I know this calls for whole wheat flour (and it’s definitely a great recipe to use it in) but as I mentioned earlier you can definitely sub all purpose flour. If you do choose to use whole wheat flour in this apple pancake recipe, I highly recommend using the soft white variety! It really does make a big difference.

I have young kids, so I don’t make huge pancakes (I know all the other moms out there understand that philosophy) and I got 12 pancakes out of 1 batch.

This batter is fairy thick so I spread the batter out slightly after placing it on the preheated skillet.

One more tip before we get to the recipe.

When you are baking with fruit, or other ingredients that add moisture, you often have to turn down the temperature and cook slightly longer to ensure no doughy middles or overcooked exteriors. These really do pretty well but I keep an I on how quickly they are cooking because no one likes a burnt pancake.

close up shot of whole wheat apple pancakes stacked on a plate with a bowl of apples next to them

Apple Pancake Recipe

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or apple pie or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated apples (I left the skins on)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
  2. In a small bowl whisk eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently. (I just use a fork.)
  4. Fold in the grated apples.
  5. Cook pancakes over medium heat (or slightly lower).
  6. Top with butter and maple syrup.

This post for whole wheat apple pancakes was originally published November 17, 2013. 

whole wheat apple pancakes stacked on a plate with a bowl of apples next to them

 

Easy and healthy apple pancakes! Freeze well too.

Easy English Muffin Bread Recipe

Row of sliced english muffin bread

Do yourself a favor and add this English muffin bread recipe to your repertoire! Bake up a few loaves, slice, toast, butter and enjoy! We love having this with soups and for breakfast. You can turn it into breakfast sandwiches, serve along side eggs, or simply enjoy spread with your choice of toppings.

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I’ve made traditional English muffins before and they are delicious but I’m all about saving steps and therefore saving time! Those minutes add up when we are taking care of our kiddos and trying to get all the things done. That’s where this bread comes it. English muffins without the shaping, griddling, flipping and all that.

Side note, have you ever wondered where English muffins came from? I was curious so I Googled. Wikipedia says that there were references to English muffins as early as 1850. But English muffins were “officially” invented in New York by a man who moved there from England and started his own bakery! This man was Samuel Bath Thomas. Ever heard of Thomas English muffins? Yep, that’s him!

Now, back to this English muffin bread recipe!

This recipe has ingredients you should have on hand. Flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, water, and baking soda (to help with the holes in the bread).

This dough is very sticky, it will not be like a traditional bread dough, so don’t add too much flour! You dump it into the pans and spread the dough out.

English muffin bread batter in the pans

See the stickiness of that dough?!

You will need to make sure you have prepared your pans properly, besides you need cornmeal for the traditional English muffin look! I used my USA pans (this set of 4 mini pans), spread with a little butter and sprinkled the bottom and sides with cornmeal. If you want, you could also sprinkle a little on the top before baking.

I like making this in 4 small loaf pans, but you could also do it in 2 regular sized ones. If you don’t use USA pans be sure you butter and cornmeal really well!
A great thing about this English muffin bread is that it comes together quickly! Hooray! I pull out my stand mixer and use the paddle attachment but the dough is soft enough that you can easily make it in a large mixing bowl using a wooden spoon.

Let’s get to the recipe! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Be sure to check out this recipe for Homemade French Bread as well – you will love it!

Sliced English muffin bread on a cutting board

English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread Recipe
 
Ingredients
  • 5½ cups flour
  • 2 pkgs. yeast (1½ tablespoons)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. milk
  • ½ c. water
Instructions
  1. Measure 3 c. of flour, yeast, salt, sugar, soda into large bowl or stand mixer and mix. Have 2½ additional cups of flour ready.
  2. Heat liquids in pan on stove to 120-125 degrees.
  3. Add hot liquids to yeast/flour mixture. Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture is very smooth, elastic, about 5 minutes or in the mixer using the paddle attachment for 3 minutes.
  4. Add remaining flour, continue beating until smooth. Divide into equal parts.
  5. Grease 2 pans and sprinkle with cornmeal. Put dough in pans. Pat top of loaves smooth with floured hands as well as you can. Let rise 45 minutes. (Covering with a tea towel - no plastic wrap because this dough is sticky!)
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  7. You can divide the dough into 4 parts and bake in 4 smaller pans - what I like to do, or use 2 regular sized bread pans.

Slice english muffin bread and a partial loaf sitting on a cutting board

 

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

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During our recent Whole30 we made this recipe three times. We also served it with brown rice for the reintroduction phase. All that to say, we are fans of this easy, healthy broccoli chicken stir fry! My husband proclaimed it his favorite way to eat broccoli.

Most days I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen so fast recipes are my favorites. This one is really so simple!

If you are gluten free or on Whole30 soy sauce is a no no, however coconut aminos is an option, but I couldn’t find it in our Wal-Mart and didn’t want to spend a fortune on a small bottle so we did without. Even without soy sauce or coconut aminos this recipe had great flavor.

I recommend that you make this broccoli chicken stir fry without the soy or aminos and instead have the bottle of coconut aminos or soy sauce at the table to use to taste.

If you like an extra kick, I highly recommend serving this with Sambal Oelek chili paste! It’s how I had mine and it was so good. I love the spice and depth of flavor the paste adds. (I also always add it to my serving of fried rice.)

We loved this served with either cauliflower rice or brown rice! Both ways made a delicious meal.

Ingredients:

Chicken. I used boneless chicken breasts each time, but boneless thighs would work as well.
Broccoli. Fresh broccoli is the best for this recipe! I buy a head and wash and cut it myself.
Onion. Half of a fresh onion, diced!
Garlic. Don’t skimp! Get two large cloves of fresh garlic. I love to use a microplane to grate it.
Ginger. Buy a knob of fresh ginger. Keep what you don’t use in the freezer for later. Again, the microplane is perfect for grating the ginger.
Chicken broth. Because this recipe doesn’t use soy sauce, you need broth instead of water to get a good depth of flavor.
Arrowroot PowderYou could also use cornstarch. You just need a little to thicken the liquid slightly.
Rice Vinegar. Rice vinegar is so good! I love using it in pretty much all stir fry type dishes.
Sesame Oil. Another of my favorite ingredients for this type of food (and for Asian style salad dressings)
Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce. Totally optional. We did without during Whole30.
Sambal Oelek. I love adding this chili paste for an extra kick!
Cooked Rice or Cauliflower Rice. Choice one to serve the broccoli chicken stir fry on. Both are amazing!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

How many does this serve? My family of 2 adults and 3 kids got one meal out of this recipe. It would depend, also, on how much caulirice or brown rice you served it on and if you had any sides.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

P.S. The other recipe we ate weekly on our Whole30 were these amazing baked crispy chicken thighs!

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • oil for sauteing
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
  • soy sauce or coconut aminos, optional, for serving
  • sambal oelek, optional, for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut and wash the broccoli.
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken and diced onion in the hot pan. Cook a few minutes and then add the garlic and ginger. Continue cooking until the onion is tender and chicken almost cooked through.
  3. Add the broccoli and continue to cook.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth, arrowroot power, and rice vinegar. Pour over the broccoli chicken mixture. Cover the pan and cook until broccoli reaches desired tenderness.
  5. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over prepared brown rice or cauliflower rice with soy sauce, coconut aminos, or sambal oelek if desired!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

 

Yummy Healthy Winter Recipes on a Budget

pictures of 25 delicious healthy winter recipes

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Winter. The perfect time to turn on the oven and do some cooking and baking! It’s actually kind-of nice to heat up the house when you are in the kitchen. Unlike the summer, when I cringe at the thought of having to use the oven. The problem is coming up with healthy winter recipes – one’s that won’t break the bank!

So often the typical winter recipes are overly processed and just not that great for you. It also tends to be the time of year I don’t get outside and run near as often – so I don’t need as many calories to fill me up. 😉

So today, I wanted to share a list of healthy winter recipes we can pull from to enjoy cooking and filling our families up with nourishing foods at the same time. They aren’t even all soups, so you will be able to find something for everyone. My brother is one of those people who doesn’t like soup – crazy!

If you are looking for more ways to eat healthy on a budget, check out these ideas!

For some more recipes, check out these cookbooks.

Healthy Winter Recipes

Sheet Pan Dinner

This recipe for roasted sausage and veggies is so easy and delicious. Perfect healthy dinner for even busy nights. You can even change up the veggies. Check it out!

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs

These are incredible and can be in the oven in 5 minutes! Super flavorful and crispy on the outside and tender perfect on the inside. | I'm adding these to my menu this week!

Chicken Spaghetti Made Over

Chicken Spaghetti without Velveeta or cream of chicken soup! Yay! We love this and the leftovers are awesome.

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls

Spaghetti squash burrito bowls are the best! Full of Tex Mex flavors and so healthy. The entire family loves this recipe!

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

spaghetti squash chow mein in the shells. this recipe is so good and healthy!

Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore – from Sweet and Savory Meals

Chicken Parmesan Casserole – from Thriving Home Blog

Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp – from Dancing Through the Rain

Healthy Stuffed Shells with Ground Turkey and Spinach – Mighty Mrs.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli – Sweet and Savory Meals

Shepherd’s Pie – Iowa Girl Eats

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies Thriving Home Blog

Whole30 Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Butternut Squash Mom Foodie

Ground Beef Cabbage Casserole – Melanie Cooks

Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken Strength and Sunshine

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili Margin Making Mom

Chicken Noodle Soup

bowl of delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. Healthy, easy, and so good.

One Pot Orzo Vegetable Soup

Healthy Crockpot White Chicken Chili Heidi’s Home Cooking

Hearty Pumpkin Chili Recipe The Flying Couponer

Cabbage Roll Soup The Rising Spoon

Green Chili Chicken Stew Mooshu Jenne

Split Pea and Ham Soup Savor the Best

Balsamic Oven Roasted Root Vegetables The Rising Spoon

Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Muffins

baked chocolate banana oatmeal muffins in tin and a muffin split in half

Do you look forward to being able to use the oven in the winter without heating up the house? Hopefully this list will help you come up with some new, yummy healthy winter recipe ideas to add to your menu.

What are your favorite recipes to make in the winter?

3 pictures of healthy winter recipes

Easy Roasted Sausage and Veggies Recipe

Have you jumped on the sheet pan dinner band wagon? They are so easy and customize-able. This  sheet pan roasted sausage and veggies recipe is no different.

This recipe for roasted sausage and veggies is so easy and delicious. Perfect healthy dinner for even busy nights. You can even change up the veggies. Check it out!

This recipe is a go to in the fall and winter months. (Actually, even spring. The only time I don’t make this is in the summer when it’s blazing hot.) It’s a simple meal to add to the menu for one of those days when life is crazy and you don’t really want to think about what’s for dinner.

(If you are wondering more about menu planning and why you should do it, be sure to check out this post!)

It’s easy to switch up the ingredients based on personal preference, what you have on hand, and what’s on sale. See, I told you it’s amazing!

pan of cut up veggies

Ingredients:

Italian Sausage: pork, turkey, spicy, mild – your choice. Amount is also up to you, but somewhere between 12-20 ounces or between half of a link to a whole link of sausage.

Veggies: 8 cups of vegetables. Celery, carrots, onion, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, corn or any other roasting friendly vegetables.

Seasonings: Garlic powder, dried parsley, dried oregano, salt, pepper

pan of cut veggies and sausageHow to Serve: You can serve up just plates of roasted veggies and sausage (my preference)  or put over something like rice, potatoes, zucchini noodles or whatever you like.

Another super easy supper, is this Alfredo or these baked chicken thighs.

This recipe for roasted sausage and veggies is so easy and delicious. Perfect healthy dinner for even busy nights. You can even change up the veggies. Check it out!

Roasted Sausage and Veggies

Easy Roasted Sausage and Veggies Recipe
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced (2 cups)
  • 3 large carrots, sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 onion, large dice (1 cup)
  • 1 bell pepper, large dice (1 cup)
  • 2 potatoes, large dice (2 cups)
  • Italian Sausage, 12-20 ounces
  • 2-3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½-3/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Prepare all of the veggies and place on a large sheet pan (or two smaller ones).
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  5. Slice the sausage (see notes) and spread over the veggies.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Bake another 20 minutes.
  7. Serve by itself or with side of choice.
  8. Enjoy
Notes
1. Sausage: I prefer slicing my sausage when it's partially frozen. You can either slice in circles or cut in half lengthwise and then slice. That is what I do, because I feed kids and don't want to worry about it being a choking hazard. You could also leave the sausages whole.
2. Servings size depends on if you serve with rice or by itself.

 

This recipe for roasted sausage and veggies is so easy and delicious. Perfect healthy dinner for even busy nights. You can even change up the veggies. Check it out!

 

The Best Cranberry Salad Recipe

When I think Thanksgiving this best creamy cranberry salad recipe is one of the first things that comes to mind. In fact, my family loves it so much it also makes an appearance at our Christmas Eve dinner.

This is the best creamy cranberry salad recipe ever! This recipe will be passed down to your kids and you will be asked to make it every holiday! It's my FAV!

One of the things that sets this recipe apart is that it uses fresh cranberries. No canned cranberries allowed here. 😉

I like to stock up on cranberry discounts after Thanksgiving is over and store several bags in the freezer to last through the year. They are perfect for this salad, muffins, and any other fresh cranberry recipes.

This particular recipe came from my grandma. It was one of the ones that my continued to make and now so do my siblings and I. Recipes that hold special memories are the best kind. Add this cranberry salad recipe to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (or really, just meal) and it will be the dish you are always asked to make.

Ground cranberries and sugar mixed together.

Ingredients:

What are the other components of this dish besides good old cranberries?

  • Marshmallows
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Sugar
  • Heavy cream, whipped

That’s it! See how easy it is?

You can also make this dish the day before. The marshmallows absorb any liquid and turn into this delightfully light and airy bite.

Cooking for a crowd, be sure and double this recipe! Besides, you will want leftovers too.

Let’s talk sugar for a minute.

This recipe calls for 1 cup. I never make it with the full cup. Not even when making it for company. To me, what’s the point of cranberries if you aren’t going to have a little tart. Your first time making it, try with 3/4 of a cup and see what you think. If you think it’s too tart, you can always add more. (But I don’t think you’ll need too – the pineapple and marshmallows add sweetness as well.)

When I made this cranberry salad recipe for these pictures, I used just 1/3 cup of sugar and a sprinkle of stevia. It’s a little tart, but still good! Disclaimer: I would not recommend starting with that small of amount of sugar your first time making it!

The Best Creamy Cranberry Salad Recipe

The Best Cranberry Salad Recipe
 
Ingredients
  • 10 ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 20 can of crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1½ -2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Using a food processor or blender, grind the bag of cranberries. Pulse button works well. I like them to to be ground but with some large pieces mixed in.
  2. Drain the can of crushed pineapple very well. It yields approximately 1⅓ cups after drained.
  3. Add the drained pineapple and sugar to the cranberries and mix well. Stir in the marshmallows.
  4. Whip the heavy cream until medium to stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the cranberry mixture.
  5. Refrigerate until serving (at least several hours or up to a day early).
  6. Enjoy!

 

This is the best creamy cranberry salad recipe ever! This recipe will be passed down to your kids and you will be asked to make it every holiday! It's my FAV!

Cheap Healthy Grocery List

A cheap healthy grocery list. I know we’ve talked lots about ways to save money on groceries! If you’ve been around before, you know my number one tip is to have a meal plan!!!

picture of bananas and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget.

Today we are going to get a little more specific with this cheap healthy grocery list.

Maybe it’s the end of the month, maybe money is especially tight right now.

Whatever it is, you are wondering what to put on a cheap healthy grocery list.

Not only what frugal/cheap foods to buy, but what are the healthiest cheap foods you can buy. What are your options.

First, I want to tell you don’t worry and stress. Just do the best you can. Hang in there. Being anxious, as easy as it is to do, (talking to myself here too) does no good.

picture of beans and other foods and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget.

Cheap Healthy Grocery List

The first two that come to mind are the stereotypical budget foods – but don’t let them scare you off.

Beans. Specifically dry beans. They are super easy to cook and you can season them in a variety of ways and use them to stretch meat or replace it all together. Buying them dry will cost you at least a third of buying a can.

Rice. You can buy a pound of brown rice at Dollar Tree for $1. One of our local grocery stores sells a pound bag for $.50! If you don’t like brown rice, you can find white rice even cheaper.

Lentils. Another affordable legume right here. People use these for all kinds of things. A lentil and rice casserole. Meat replacement in things like sloppy joes. Or one of our go tos is a quick lentil soup.

Rolled Oats. Buy the big container, none of the instant oatmeal packets. You can always make your own oatmeal packets. Breakfast really can’t get much cheaper than this. A jar of cinnamon is only $1 and will season a lot of bowls of oatmeal.

Eggs. This is really an inexpensive source of protein. Have them hard boiled for a snack, as part of a meal, or in a salad. Scrambled eggs make a great brinner. Can also use to make cheap things such as pancakes or french toast.

Bag of flour. Grab a bag of whole wheat (or unbleached white) flour. Use it to make a loaf of bread or a batch of pancakes (for dinner or breakfast).

Pasta. Cheap and easy. Make a batch of meatless spaghetti sauce (or replace the meat with some lentils) and supper will cost next to nothing. I always make a big batch so we can have leftovers another meal or two. (<– Another money saving tip right there!)

Milk. Not to drink. I’m a huge proponent of water. Instead use it to make the pancakes, baked oatmeal etc. Dairy free, sub almond milk.

Potatoes. Especially in the fall and winter months when they will often go on sale for $2-$3 for a 10 pound bag. I prefer sweet potatoes and you can also find them cheaper in the fall and winter months. There’s nothing wrong with a baked potato supper. Plan on leftovers and have fried potatoes with the eggs for supper the next night. Make a potato soup with some of the milk.

Carrots. Not the baby ones when you are pinching pennies. Whole carrots are typically super inexpensive. I get them for $1 for a 2 pound bag. Serve them raw as a side for lunch or supper (or try roasting). Add them to soups or a stir fry.

Celery. In my part of the country a bunch of celery is $1. Use in the same way you would the carrots. Carrots and celery also make great snacks.

Frozen Veggies. Frozen green beans and corn are both $1 at Aldi. Use in soup, fried rice or as a side dish.

Apples. In the fall and winter months these are often times under $.70 a pound. Add to oatmeal or slice and serve with lunch or for a snack. Of course apple cake is a fun splurge too. 🙂

Peanut Butter. Takes you back to your childhood, I know, but it’s really hard to get cheaper than peanut butter sandwiches. My kids dislike jelly, but of course you can add some fruit to your peanut butter sandwich. Kroger brand peanut butter has the best price on peanut and salt peanut butter – especially if you get it on sale.

Bread. Make bread using flour for pennies a loaf. Also, watch for your local dollar store to get in a shipment of Nature’s Way bread. You can also find bread marked down at Aldi and other grocery stores.

Cabbage. Right now a head of cabbage is just over a dollar and it will be cheaper in fall and winter months. Shave it for a salad or add to soups and stir fries. I also love sauteing it and having with eggs.

Chicken. If you are going to buy meat, chicken will likely be your cheapest bet. Use it as an ingredient – not the star of the meal. Be sure to ration it out and stretch it with beans, lentils, or veggies when you can. If you buy bone in chicken, use the bones to make stock and stretch your dollar even further.

In Season Produce. This is key to getting fresh produce in on the cheap foods to buy when you are broke list. Only buy what is on sale for a great price.

Popcorn kernels. Buy the kernels and pop it yourself for a healthy and frugal snack or even turn it into a snack supper.

Bananas. Bananas are pretty much always under $.50 a pound and will frequently go on sale cheaper than that.

Canned Tomato Products. Canned tomatoes are cheap. Make your own pizza sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and tomato soup for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them already made. I know canned tomatoes are controversial in the “healthy foods” world. But you do what you have to do. Another option would be to stock up on tomatoes when you can get them dirt cheap and can or freeze them to avoid the cans.

Lettuce. I can get a head of romaine or leaf lettuce for between $1 and $1.30 at my grocery stores. A bean based taco salad would make a great meal or simply have salad for your lunch or a side dish.

I hope this gives you a starting point next time you are trying to make a cheap healthy grocery list.

What other healthy(ish) cheap foods am I missing from the list? What’s the cheapest, healthy meal that you make?

picture of beans and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget. picture of beans and other food and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget.

$170 Grocery Budget

We are back again with another meal plan that uses the produce and meat sales in this week’s Aldi ad. I love shopping at Aldi – the bulk of my purchases come from there and then a will pick up a few items that are on sale at other stores. So an Aldi meal plan is the best!

Meal plan chalkboard for a budget friendly Aldi meal plan!

If you struggle with coming up with ideas for what to eat this week, I hope this post gives you some inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of using menu planning as a way to keep grocery costs down (my first point in this post on drastically reducing your grocery budget). No matter how many of these recipes you use, I highly recommend you get your downloadable menu plan template and put it to use. It has saved me so much money over the years:

This week, I’m not only going to include the sample Aldi menu, but I will also share what I’m feeding my family for the next week on my $170 a month grocery budget. This means twice as many ideas.

Aldi Produce and Meat Sales to Check Out (10/24-10/30):

These prices are in my local ad – your prices might vary.

  • Pomegranates $.69 each
  • Red grapes $.79 a pound
  • 3 pack multicolored bell peppers $1.99
  • Gala apples 3 pounds for $1.49
  • Asparagus $1.79
  • Avocado $.49
  • Chicken Tenders $1.99 a pound
  • Tortillas – $.79

Honestly, there aren’t many spectacular deals. Especially in the meat department. That’s why you try and buy extra for the freezer when you come across a great deal. The produce sales aren’t too plentiful this week either. Thankfully, in season produce you’ll still be able to get for a good price.

Aldi Meal Plan

Suppers:

Fajitas: use the chicken, tortillas (or make your own), and avocados that are on sale
Chicken Noodle Soup: use the chicken that’s on sale and affordable produce
Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet: cabbage is very affordable this time of year
Veggie Fried Rice: use the carrots you bought for the soup
Stromboli: use ricotta left from last week and make your sauce
Brinner: Homemade Egg McMuffins using meat of choice and fruit (and potatoes if needed)
Fend for yourself/leftovers/freezer meal

Snack and Side Ideas:

Apples and grapes
Carrot and celery sticks
Bell Peppers not needed in fajitas
Bread for the soup

Frugal Lunch Ideas:

Sandwiches
Rice Cakes (with peanut butter or meat)
Leftovers
Beans and Rice
Salad
Pancakes

Frugal Breakfast Ideas:

Breakfast Apple Crisp (I’d cut the butter back to 1/2 cup to save money)
Oatmeal

$170 per month Menu Plan for this Week:

Okay, and now for my family’s menu for the week. I plan using the method I outline in my menu planning template:

Saturday
Workday – lunch provided
Pancakes for supper

Sunday
Eggs and hashbrowns for lunch
Fall Festival for Supper

Weeknight Suppers:
Homemade Pizza
Wedding rehearsal/friends & family dinner
Snack Supper (helping with our church’s Trunk or Treat so something fast and easy)
Soup x 2 (maybe potato sausage)

Breakfasts: Oatmeal, leftover pancakes, eggs, maybe oat flour muffins

Weekday Lunches: Soups from the freezer for Shaun, PB sandwiches on homemade sourdough with veggies and fruit for the kids, salad for me

Snack Options: Cuties, pretzels, crackers, carrots, celery

What’s on your menu this week?

Meal plan chalkboard for a budget friendly Aldi meal plan plus my menu for my $170 per month family of 5 budget!