Spicy Beef Lentil Chili

lentil chili beef

Photo Courtesy of the “Debbie Does Dinner” blog!

My friend, Carissa, found this recipe on AllRecipes, modified it to her tastes and then sent it to me when I begged her for it.  I modified it as well by using beef instead of turkey, adding in white beans and upping the spices a bit.  It’s got the perfect level of heat for me… which could mean it’s a bit spicy for other people, but I also use very pure chili powder, so it could just be that!

This is a perfect dish to eat on such a perfectly chilly day like today!  It’ll warm you from your head to your toes and leave you with a bunch to eat throughout the week.  Score?  I think so :)

Spicy Beef Lentil Chili
Servings: 15 (1 cup each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4


  • 8 oz raw 85/15 lean ground beef, 12 PP
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, 11 PP
  • 3 cups dry green lentils, 24 PP
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken/vegetable broth, 3 PP (I used water and 3 tbsp Better than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin, 2 PP
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

1. But everything into a giant pot, turn on medium heat and cook for about 3-4 hours! Easy, right? You could even do this in a crockpot… but I’d recommend splitting the recipe in half because it is a LOT for a crockpot.  I even halved the written recipe after making it at home since the crockpot almost overflowed.  I had to put it into a pot and continue cooking it in there!

Top it off with a little Chobani 0% and you’ll be set!  If you don’t eat meat, you can leave it out and put tofu in there.  A little trick for those vegans out there… if you want your tofu to take on a similar texture to ground meat, try freezing your tofu and then thawing it.  Once you’ve drained it, it’ll have the texture you’re going for!

Creamy Butternut Squash Baked Pasta


Although my dairy allergy would prevent me from divulging in this dish, it still looks amazing enough to share! Some of my FB followers asked for a tasty, different butternut squash recipe that could possibly be snuck under a spouse’s nose without them noticing that it’s actually healthy. This recipe is exactly that. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Eat Healthy Be Happy:

Oh, my friends. This dish is wonderful. It’s like fall in my house (even though it’s only July). I received a butternut squash in my box this week and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. Make the Winter Squash Lasagna from Deborah Madison’s book Vegetarian Suppers. I had a bag of whole wheat pasta hanging out in my pantry so I decided to try a baked pasta instead of the lasagna and this is what resulted.

Creamy Butternut Squash Baked Pasta with Kale and Walnuts | Eat Healthy Be Happy

In the book, Madison serves the lasagna on a bed of garlicky kale, so I incorporated the kale and extra garlic into the baked pasta. The end result is very good, the buttery textured squash melts in your mouth and the sweetness from the squash evens out the bite of the kale. The creamy sauce brings with just that little “Hmm, what is that?” (As Rachel Ray would say… or…

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Curried Yellow Squash Soup

On my FB page, I got a request for a good recipe to use with Yellow Squash. Well, I found something that’s different than just a saute or a casserole or covered in cheese. Curried Yellow Squash Soup! This recipe is one that you can all enjoy, no matter if you are vegetarian, dairy-free or just in the mood for something a bit different.

Brown Rice and Lentil Salad


Now that I’m dairy-free, I’m on the hunt for delicious new dishes to add to my repertoire. I stumbled across this one and it looks amazing! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my massive amounts of lentils and I think a version of this dish will do just the trick. I can use up those lentils and fresh herbs and stay dairy-free at the same time. DOUBLE AWESOME.

Originally posted on Melissa's Menu:

I got the inspiration for this recipe while channel surfing one afternoon. Giada De Laurentiis was making a similar salad on her show Everyday Italian. I switched it up considerably to make it my own. I am always thankful for the inspiration of the Cooking Channel though!

Into the rice cooker goes one cup texmati brown rice with two bay leaves and one and three-quarter cups of vegetable broth. I believe in my rice cooker this take about a half hour to cook. Once it clicks to cook, allow to sit an additional ten minutes or so. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool. The rest of the components for the dish can be ready while the rice is cooking.

Heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove top. One turn of olive oil goes into the skillet. For this recipe I used my…

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Pork and Veggie Enchiladas and a New Bike!

Click here for this Shrimp Enchiladas Verde recipe by “Eat, Live, Run”!

I GOT A BIKE!!  Jess and I were finally able to drive up to the REI where it was shipped to and picked it up on Saturday.  Then we drove back the same day… which made it a 6 hour drive round-trip.  But it was totally worth it.  She’s a beauty!  Pictures will come later.  We went for our first bike ride together the next morning instead of going to church and it felt just as good as a spiritual refresher.  We did almost seven miles, which isn’t much on a recumbent bike in a gym, but certainly is with slight hills and lots of cracks in the pavement!  We’re both getting squishy seats soon because, well, you know why.  The feeling of a numb coochie is slightly unnerving. (TMI?)

After the biking, we went swimming!  The water was perfect.  The pool had just opened and no one else was in there, so Jess and I dove right in to cool, cool water.  With the crazy heat we had the last couple weeks, every time we got in the water it felt like we were getting into warm bath water.  Gross.  This was the first time it truly felt like a pool.  Awesome.

Click here for this Zucchini Beef Enchiladas recipe from “Recipe Girl”!

Since I knew we’d both be biking in to work the next day, I wanted to make lunches ahead of time so I could leave the house before the heat index rose too much.  I also wanted to use up some of the veggies I’d had in the fridge for a couple weeks from our local CSA, The Wingfield Farm.  I didn’t have the typical mexican blend cheese in the fridge, so I improvised!  In fact, these enchiladas are full of so much delicious flavor that the tiny bit of feta cheese I put in was really more of an afterthought.  So, these enchiladas can definitely be dairy/lactose-free for those of us who fall into that category.  YAY!  And if you happen to be vegan or vegetarian, take out the pork, use another veggie like corn, potato or kale (just make sure to add a bit of the spices to the veggies that I list for seasoning the pork) and this can be a vegan dish as well!  I love it went that happens :)

This is also my recipe of the week for my cousin’s CSA newsletter.  It’ll be highlighting the tomatoes, garlic, onion and summer squash that everyone will be getting in their baskets.  Score!

Pork and Veggie Enchiladas
Servings: 4 (3 enchiladas per serving, plus fall-out filling!)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10 (or 7 PP for 2 enchiladas each)

Click here for this Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas recipe by “The Novice Chef”!


  • 8 oz pork tenderloin, trimmed, 10 PP
  • 12 extra thin La Mission corn tortillas, 12 PP
  • 3 cups diced zucchini/yellow squash
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed, 7 PP
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3 jalapenos (or less if you don’t want it spicy), diced
  • 3 tsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • spices to season pork (I used ground coriander, ancho chile powder, garlic powder, sea salt and a little adobo powder)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese, 2 PP (optional)
  • 2 packages Frontera Verde Enchilada sauce, 6 PP (or 2 cups of another green enchilada sauce of your choice)

1. Get out a cast iron skillet and turn to medium heat. Season your pork on both sides and cook on each side for about 5-7 minutes or until done.

2. While it’s cooking, get out a medium sized mixing bowl. Rinse the black beans and pour in. Dice up your tomatoes, chop your cilantro and dice your jalapenos and put those in the bowl as well.

3. Now, dice up your zucchini and onion and set aside in a separate bowl. Heat up a medium-sized non-stick pan to medium low heat and pour in 1 tsp of the olive oil and garlic. Let the garlic get fragrant for about 15 seconds and then put in the zucchini and onion. Cook for about 3 minutes or until just tender, then put in the bowl with the other veggies and beans.

Click here for this Thai Chicken Enchiladas recipe by “How Sweet It Is”!

4. Take your cooked pork and let it sit on a chopping block for a few minutes to cool. Then, slice into thin strips (against the grain, preferably) and dice each of those strips. Combined the diced pork with the other filling.

5. Now you can turn your oven on to 375. Take the same non-stick pan you used for the zucchini and onion pour in the enchilada sauce and the last 2 tsp of olive oil and stir up (if you have non-fat greek yogurt, I sometimes stir in a spoonful of it as well to make the sauce creamier). Turn heat to low so that it just gets a bit warm.

6. Take out a 9×13 glass pan and spray with Pam. Organize your counters so you have 12 tortillas on your left, pan of sauce to the right of that, glass dish next to that and the bowl of filling on your right (and a small bowl with the feta if you’re using it next to that). This setup seems to work the best for me. Now, take one tortilla and dip into sauce so that both sides have been covered. Put in the glass dish, sprinkle in a little feta and spoon in a generous scoop of the filling. Roll tortilla, keeping the folded ends on the bottom and shove it into the corner of the pan. Repeat for the next 11 tortillas. You should end up with two rows of six enchiladas, a bunch of leftover filling and about 1 cup of leftover sauce. Scoop the leftover filling into the middle of the dish between the rows of the enchiladas and pour the leftover sauce all over the enchiladas.

7. Rinse your hands and then put into the oven for 35-40 minutes. Take out, top with a little greek yogurt or guacamole or salsa and enjoy!

Italian Spinach and Tomato Egg White Frittata and a New Endeavor

Spinach growing at Dienger Gardens in Cinci, OH

I have awesome cousins. See, I come from a very LARGE Irish/Italian/German liberal Catholic family. I have 27 first-cousins; they’ve survived leukemia, marathons and mudathalons, political protests, backpacking through 6 different continents, stints in the Finnish Army, lots of college and lots of crazy family get-togethers. How could I not think they are amazing?

Some of these awesome cousins started a CSA. That’s “community supported agriculture”. My cousin, Stephen, decided he wanted to be an organic farmer, got some apprenticeships on farms and the rest is history. Well, actually, it’s just starting so it’s not history yet! Here’s a link to more information. He did it last year and my parents took part. They were absolutely thrilled! His produce is BEAUTIFUL. I’ve never seen swiss chard so vibrant. The pumpkins were bright and full of flavor. I love it! Here’s his garden’s FB page if you want to check out pictures and more recipes!

This year, Steve and two of his sisters, Amy and Ellen, decided to do a newsletter for all those who are participating in the CSA. And since I’m their awesome chef-to-be cousin, they asked me to write up a recipe each week highlighting some of the produce that will be given out that week! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this. I’m even participating in another local CSA this year (splitting a basket with a friend since our full basket last year was too much) so that I can get some seasonal produce to be inspired by.

This first recipe highlights spinach. It’s a stealthy, sneaky leafy-green that gives you large amounts of calcium and iron (even some fiber!) without you even noticing. It cooks quickly and tastes amazing. Mix it with some tomato, cheese, egg and italian spices and you’ll be in heaven (especially since it’s only 3 points per portion, so go ahead and have two!)

My cousin, Steve, is on the right and the other guy is Jules. They both have their own farms and together they are “Our Harvest Coop”.

Italian Spinach and Tomato Egg White Frittata
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3


  • 6 large egg whites (or 5 extra-large), 2 PP
  • 4 oz crumbled light feta cheese, 7 PP
  • 3 handfuls of rinsed and drained spinach
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder or red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1. Turn oven on to 350. Then heat up an OVEN-PROOF skillet (small or medium sized) to medium heat.

2. Cut up the onion and tomato if you haven’t already. Spray the skillet with Pam and put in the onion. Saute for about 2 minutes and then add tomato and spinach. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain some of the excess juices from the pan and return it to the stove.

3. While your fillings are cooking, mix your cheese into your eggs whites (shred it first if you need to) and add the spices. Pour egg mixture over fillings. Put away all your utensils now! Leave it be until it browns slightly around the edges.

4. Once it’s slightly browned, stick the whole skillet onto the top rack of the oven and let it finish cooking for about 10-12 minutes. This will finish baking it and let it get nice and bubbly on top. Once the timer goes off, check to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. If it is, there should be no excess liquid on top and it should be able to slide right out of the skillet once you loosen the edge. Slice into fours and enjoy!

If you want to check out some other frittata recipes, try my Havarti Ham and Veggies Frittata or this Bacon Tomato Cheese Frittata that I highlighted from Closet Cooking!

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta

You know, I’ve been sitting here trying to think of creative ways to start off this blog post, but they all sounded like poop. So, I’m just going to give you some random tidbits of my life and then give you the recipe!  Kapeesh?

TIDBIT #1: I have tracked all my food 100% for almost three weeks now and it’s paying off!
TIDBIT #2: I am currently obsessed with protein shakes thanks to my Mimsy. My favorite so far is Choco-Berry. ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST!
TIDBIT #3: I have so much going on in my life right now that I can barely stand it. I just keep taking deep breaths and tracking my food since those are the two things I can control.
TIDBIT #4: I caved and bought some “shape-ups” to help my plantar fasciitis. These ones aren’t quite as atrocious, but they are definitely working!  And I’m not worried about Jess leaving me because I look like a fool :)
TIDBIT #5: The main reason why I got back on track is because I have $200 bucks in gift cards to spend that I promised myself I wouldn’t use until I reached 50 lbs lost and now that it’s getting hot outside, I NEED NEW CLOTHES!

Okay, enough randomness. Time for tasty! It’s inspired by this recipe I saw on Eat Me, Delicious. I just happened to have most of the ingredients and I wanted to do something different with my asparagus, so this was perfect! I switched up the ingredients just a bit, but it’s pretty much the same thing. I hope you like it!

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta
Servings: 3 (around 1 1/2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10


  • 7 oz uncooked pasta of your choice, 19 PP
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in a bag, not oil)
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 2 oz feta cheese, 4 PP
  • 2 tsp olive oil, 2 PP
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp reserved water from the tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp capers (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

1. First, you want to roast the asparagus, so turn the oven to 400 and wash and snap off the ends of your asparagus. Then, take out a cookie sheet, line it in tin foil and lay down the asparagus. Spray with some cooking spray and lightly salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of doneness (should be cooked, but still slightly firm). Once cooked, cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.

2. Now, put a pot of water on to boil the pasta in. I used a tomato-garlic fettucini noodle, but you can use whatever you’d like. Cook until al dente, strain and set aside.

3. While the asparagus is roasting, put the tomatoes in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook them until mostly re-hydrated (around 7-10 minutes). Slice into small strips and set aside.

4. Once your three main ingredients are ready (or while you’re waiting for them to be ready), crumble the feta cheese into a big serving bowl. Pour in the tomato water, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dried herbs, capers and black pepper. Mix it together and then put in the pasta, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss to coat it evenly, serve and enjoy!

Portobello and Peppers Sandwich

Click here for this Grilled Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich with Pistachio Pesto from “Closet Cooking”!

I lost track of my tracking, people.  Gah.  It’s in my nature to do this… but I’m back to tracking today!  It’s been a bit crazy at our house, so I’m going to blame it on that.  The craziness consisted of our floor leaking.  Yep.  The carpet was randomly getting soaked right outside of our kitchen entryway and along the wall.  I mean SOAKED.  Bella and I noticed this on Valentine’s Night when my sock got sopping wet from me bringing our tasty dinner to the table in the dining room.  One step and my toes were squishy.

So, we called the emergency maintenance guys and they came over, but couldn’t figure out what the issue was.  The next day, they concluded that it was probably the leaky dishwasher of our neighbors.  Of course, we were the only ones with a leaky floor.  Just our luck.  They replaced their dishwasher, called over the carpet guys who soaked up as much water as they could and then ripped up the carpet so they could put two de-humidifiers in place before they came back to clean.

Click here to see some easy WWF Portobello Pizzas from “TJ’s Test Kitchen”!

For two days, our dining room area looked like a friggin blow up bouncy castle.  The cats enjoyed it; laying down in the middle and having carpet blowing up all around them, but Bella and I were completely frustrated by all the CRAP flying in the air!  Gross.  It smelled like a swamp down there.  We pretty much ate out for the next few days because there was no possible way to cook without it getting contaminated.  A couple days later, the carpet guys came to take their fans and clean and the apartment smelled good again…. for one day.  And the leaky floor was back.

I worked from home yesterday while a plumber figured out what exactly the issue was, fixed it (not before he put two huge holes in our pretty green wall) and then the maintenance manager came and put some drywall in the wall to cover the holes.  Now, he needs to nail it in place, spackle and then paint over it.  Oh, and the carpet guys have to come back since there’s another de-humidifier drying out the place again!  Goo.  I’m just glad we rent and don’t have to pay for a cent!  That’s the only upside.

Now that our leaky floor issues have been taken care of, I was actually able to get back to cooking!  Last night I made some DELICIOUS soup with pork, veggies and rice.  Definitely going to make that again.  But the sandwich I made for lunch today was sooooo tasty that I just HAVE to share.  I did not take pictures since I gobbled it up, but I included pictures of other delicious things you can make with portobello mushrooms!  This sandwich was so quick to make, had great texture and fantastic taste.  And it is super low in points!

Click here for this WWF Vegetarian Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich from “LaaLoosh”

Portobello and Peppers Sandwich
Servings: 1
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3


  • 2 slices of your favorite 1 PP bread (like Sara Lee’s MG 45 cals-per-slice bread), 2 PP
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Swiss spreadable cheese, 1 PP
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, de-seeded and cut in half longways
  • salt and pepper

1. Get out a cast iron pan and turn to medium high. Spray lightly with Pam. Then wash your portobello and peppers.

2. Toast your bread! This is crucial as it keeps the bread from getting too soggy too fast. Spread the cheese over both pieces.

3. Put the mushroom in the hot pan cap first. Then sprinkle some salt and pepper into the underside (it sits in there nicely). Put the peppers on the pan as well. Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes. Once it’s done, put the cap side down on the bottom piece of bread and pile the peppers on top. Put the other piece of bread over top and enjoy!

Try to keep the sandwich in this position as the juices will fall out if you flip it over. Eat within an hour for the best texture and taste! The bread will get too soggy after that. DELICIOUS! I thoroughly enjoyed mine. If I was to ever go vegetarian or vegan, I’d pretty much live off mushrooms. Waaaay better than seitan!

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

Click here for this Red Lentil Hummus recipe by “Sweet Potato Soul”!

There is hummus among us. This simple dip/spread has worked it’s way into my life over many years. My parents used to make hummus and tabbouleh for dinner occasionally! I’ve had spicy ones, savory ones, plain ones. I’ve eaten it on sandwiches, crackers, veggies, chips, spoons. It’s pretty much awesome.

It’s also super filling and good for you! There aren’t many health and fitness blogs that haven’t mentioned the awesomeness of hummus at some point. Today is that day for me! I’m sharing with you a recipe that I found on The Novice Chef Blog. That Jessica, she’s so crafty! Not only is she a hilarious writer, but her recipes and pictures are just amazing. I want to be like her when I grow up. Especially if it involves eating this hummus.

Click here for this Jalapeno Cheddar Hummus recipe by “Eat Live Run”!

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus (based off a recipe from The Novice Chef Blog)
Servings: 12 (1/4 cup per serving)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4


  • 1 large sweet potato, 4 PP (she used two, but I only had one)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 17 PP
  • 1/4 cup tahini, 10 PP
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, 7 PP
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 PP
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 PP
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Click here for this Roasted Garlic and Sriracha Hummus recipe by “Olives for Dinner”!

1. If you haven’t already baked the sweet potato, go ahead and turn your over to 400 degrees. Wrap the sweet potato in foil and set in there for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. You’ll know it’s done when it’s soft and mushy to the touch and your whole house will smell like sweet potato pie.

2. Once your sweet potato has been baked, peeled and mashed, get out a food processor and puree the chickpeas and garlic. Add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, brown sugar, and spices. Puree until smooth. Then add sweet potatoes and puree until completely combined.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. To freeze, place in a freezer safe ziplock bag and ensure there is no air in the baggie and freeze for up to 3 months.

Now, I only have a two-cup food processor, so I tried this in my blender at first. Blenders are practically USELESS when attempting to puree something that isn’t mostly liquid already. Sheesh. That was a big mess. So I just mixed all my ingredients in a bowl and then did two batches, one at a time, in the food processor and it worked just fine!

Arabian Rice and Lentil Soup


So I’ve decided to try this “reblogging” thing. Basically, once or twice week, I’ll search for a delicious looking recipe that includes WW Points and reblog it. Here’s a recipe I found that all my vegetarian friends will love! Everyone needs a little tofu in their lives. And it’s only 5 PP per serving :)

Originally posted on Please Pass the Tofu:

Looking for a new soup to try?  This Lebanese soup/stew from Appetite for Reduction is delicious.  The whole family loved it, and it’s very easy to make.   Enjoy!


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup dried red lentils (I think I used yellow)
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  1. Spray olive oil into a 4 quart pot over medium high heat and saute onions till translucent.
  2. Add garlic, pepper, salt, cumin, coriander and stir a minute.
  3. Add carrots, lentils, rice, zest, broth.
  4. Cover pot and bring to boil, then simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary.
  5. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Let…

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