Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

chili, beef, pinto bean, warm meals, soup, stew

January is one of my favorite months to make stews and chilis.  It’s the best way to heat up your body when you literally turn into a meat popsicle the minute you step outside.  Eat some chili to stop being chilly!  The word “chili” actually comes from “chile con carne”, which means “peppers with meat” in Spanish, which makes complete sense, so I’m going to stop myself from spewing out a bunch of ridiculous, stupid-American jokes about food vs. weather :)

In all actuality, I want to focus on warm soup/chili/stew recipes in January because you all are probably looking for some new ones to try while you’re trying to stay warm.  Here’s the first one!  I found it on the 2013 Cooking Light recipe box calendar that Jess got me for Christmas.  I love it!  I’m speaking about the calendar AND the chili.

Calendar = food porn.  Chili = delicioso.

I happened to have a bag of dry pinto beans laying around from an Aldi shopping trip from loooooong ago.  Seriously, I’ve had these beans for a YEAR.  They’re not my bean of choice, so naturally I didn’t think to use them. When I saw this recipe and realized I had every single ingredient in my kitchen (including the pinto beans!), I knew I had to make it!  So I did.  At 11pm on a Thursday night.  I soaked the beans for a day, then I stuck all the ingredients in the crockpot, put it on low and went to bed.  And at 3am, Jess woke me up because the delicious smells lured her out of sleep, lol.

I brought some in to work on Friday to share with my friend, Richard.  He is a spicy food fanatic like myself and he recently acquired this ridiculously spicy hot sauce.  The first time Richard tried it, his mouth was on fire, he felt like he was dying and laid on the floor curled up in a ball for about two hours.  He put a bit too much on his BBQ sandwich.  He also felt like a demi-god when he survived it.  So, of course, I wanted to try it!  What more perfect pairing is there than chili and hot sauce?  NONE!  (except maybe sea salted caramel and dark chocolate)  So we put about 1.5 tsp into a mere 1.5 cups of chili, stirred it up and ate it in the break room at work.  HOLY CRAP.  That sauce is HOT!  A sweet hot with a gentle, but voracious fire that makes the inside of your mouth sweat and then fires up your belly slowly from the top down.  But you know what?  It tasted great even when it was burning its way through my body and I now feel like a superhuman!  I WANT MORE.  I’m totally getting a bottle because it belongs in my kitchen.  And in this chili.

beef, pinto bean, bean, chili, soup, stew, dinner

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (10 with topping) *See tips on lightening it up even more at the bottom*


  • 1 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 18 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, 7 PP
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 12-oz bottle beer, 5 PP
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 cups fat-free beef broth (like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base), 1 PP
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained, 8 PP


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
  • 1 avocado, chopped, 9 PP
  • 6 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 6 tbsp light sour cream, 5 PP
  • 6 lime wedges

1. Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 tsp salt. Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

2. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeno; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Return beef to pan. Add broth, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1.5 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

4. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls and divide toppings evenly.


– Use half as much meat and this goes down to 6 PP per cup.
– Need some extra filler in now that you’ve take out some of the meat? Add a cup of diced zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped celery and your chili will be hearty and healthy and remain at 6 PP per cup.
– If you use half the oil and only 2.5 cups of onion (not adding in the celery and zucchini), it goes down to 5 PP per cup.
– Top with fat-free sour cream or leave out either the light sour cream or the avocado and you’ll only be adding 1 PP per bowl rather than two. (if you’re using the topping).

Mudslide Cookies

cookies, dessert, chocolate, mudslide

Click here for Jacques’ Chocolate Mudslide Cookies recipe from “Stylish Cuisine”!

Let’s get honest for a minute here.  There’s a solid week every month that women are allowed to be bitchy more abrupt than usual.  This coincides with all sorts of wonderful things like cramps, hypersensitivity, extended bathroom breaks, chocolate cravings, etc.  For the last three years, I barely had a period.  My body seemed to try to have one, but I just couldn’t pull it off most months.  Because of my unruly body, I didn’t have any excuse for my abrupt behavior… except that I was bitchy (What? NO!).

Good news, though!  My body is currently back to working correctly and my excuse for craving chocolate is back full force.  This is a dangerous craving for me.  I love chocolate on a regular day, so when I crave it on an extreme level, my dieting is constantly on the brink of disaster.  Last month, everyone and their mother and their sister and their bestest friend in the whole world decided to make cookies.  I’m not even joking.  EVERYONE MADE COOKIES.  And then they posted about it on Facebook.  Cruel!  Jess said she wanted to make some too and I was happy to participate in that.  I didn’t want to make any regular cookie, though.   My brain told me, “You want chocolate cookies with walnuts in them.”  I said to my brain, “Damn, that’s a great suggestion.”  So I made some.

chocolate, cookie, brownie, healthy, dessert

Click here for this Secretly Healthy Chocolate Brownie Cookies recipe by “Eliza’s Edibles”!

I found a recipe on the Cooking Light website for Mudslide Cookies and went from there.  They were perfect!  Not overly sweet (which is easy to do with chocolate cookies), perfectly crisp on the outside, but pillowy on the inside.  Best part?  Low calorie!  Granted, it’s still a CHOCOLATE COOKIE, so it’s going to have at least a few calories in it, but these aren’t over the top.  I made 30 ginormous cookies (as in the size of the palm of my hand) and they were only 4 PP each.  You could easily make cookies that were slightly smaller, and make 48 at 2 PP each.  Best part?  They satisfy my chocolate craving without making me want to eat seven in a row.  I get my momentary fill of chocolate after one!  That’s incredibly important  for me.  I have a tendency to go for chocolate CHIP cookies and then I eat four in a row just to get enough chocolate chips to actually satisfy my craving.  That’s not so helpful when you’re dieting.

Mudslide Cookies (slightly modified from Cooking Light)
Servings: 30
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4 (or 48 cookies for 2 PP each)


  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, 10 PP
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, 9 PP
  • 1 1/2 tbsp organic unsalted butter, 4 PP
  • 1 1/2 tsp strong black coffee (CL used instant coffee granules, but I’m classy, so I don’t have those)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour, 17 PP
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 PP
  • 2 tsp baking powder
chocolate, cookie, peanut butter, pb fudge, fudge, dessert

Click here for this PB Chocolate Fudge Cookies recipe by “Sarah Cupcake”!

  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, 4 PP
  • 3 egg whites, 1 PP (CL used 1/2 cup egg substitute, but I didn’t have that)
  • 2 1/2 cups organic cane sugar, 52 PP (CL used regular refined sugar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 11 PP

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate is almost melted. (I melted my chocolate in a sauce pan on the stove since I have a tendency to over-nuke my chocolate.) Stir until smooth. Combine coffee granules and 1 tablespoon hot water, stirring until granules dissolve. Stir coffee and vanilla into chocolate mixture.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Combine sugar, egg substitute, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 6 minutes or until thick and pale. Gently stir 1/4 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; stir chocolate mixture into remaining egg mixture. Stir in flour mixture and nuts.

4. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat mat (BUY ONE. Do it now.) Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets; with moist hands, gently press dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (the pressing is optional.  I didn’t press and they turned out perfectly round). Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

When the cookies are done, they’ll be cracked on top and still moist in the center.  And magically delicious!  Hee hee!

Balsamic Beef and Veggie Soup

beef stew, balsamic, soup, dinner

Yummy yummy in my tummy!

You can tell it’s the winter season when the majority of my recipes are soups, stews or chili. Here’s more proof that it’s cold outside! Although not today… it’s a freaky 65 degrees, which Maxwell and I enjoyed with a long walk outside. But that’s beside the point; I still made some damn soup.

This one was thrown together when I went home during a lunch hour to check on our sick little poochie. I peeled/cut everything, threw it in the crockpot and came home to fantastical smells permeating from our apartment. If you follow these simple steps, you too shall experience such fantastical smells permeating from YOUR home. Ridiculously awesome, right?

Balsamic Beef and Veggie Soup
Servings: 4 (2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (or 4 PP per 1 cup)


  • 9.5 oz lean and trimmed steak, 12 PP
  • 5 oz frozen green beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium red potatoes, diced, 12 PP
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 tsp Better Than Bouillon beef base, 1 PP
  • 5 tsbp balsamic vinegar, 2 PP
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. Chop up all those veggies and the meat and throw in into the crockpot. Then mix the tomato paste and bouillon base into the water and pour over the veggies. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and the rest of the spices. Cook on low for six hours and enjoy!

Yep, that’s the beauty of a crockpot.  No worries, just dinner!

Pork Enchilada Soup

Click here for this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe from the “Cooking Classy” blog!

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and I DID promise this recipe to a few of my facebook followers, so here you go! You can be thankful that I got it up amongst my busy days :)

This is a soup that is very easily thrown together and very easily modified to your own tastes. I prefer green enchilada sauce, but I’m sure that red enchilada sauce would work as well. This is also amazing as leftovers! I just top it off with some tortilla strips and I’m in heaven. I’ve made it with chicken before, but I think there’s something extra special about the pork flavor in here, so try it with the pork first if you can. And at 6 points per serving (and they are quite large servings; almost 2 cups worth!) this is definitely a soup you can enjoy as a dieter!

FYI, I recently downloaded a great app to my iPad called My Recipe Book. It lets you import recipes directly to your iPad! You can either import them from typical websites like AllRecipes or Epicurious, or you can “custom import” recipes from ANY website, including blogs! I started importing some of my own recipes using the app and I found that when I had the little dashes in front of my individual ingredients, it messed up the import and I needed to manually remove them. In order to make it easier for you all to import my recipes when using this app or similar ones, I’ll be going through all my recipes and removing the dashes from in front of the ingredients. Apps are about convenience, so I’d might as well do my part to make getting my recipes through this app TRULY convenient! You should all check it out. I love it!

Click here for this Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe from “The Family Kitchen”!

Pork Enchilada Soup
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6


  • 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 8 oz raw pork loin, cut into bite sized chunks 8 PP
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder or regular chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp hot chili pepper, minced
  • 4 cups fat-free chicken broth, 1 PP
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pouch/can green enchilada sauce, 4 PP
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro flakes (or fresh!)
  • 1 cup corn, 5 PP
  • 2/3 cup uncooked white rice, 12 PP (replace with brown rice if you’d like. It’ll just take longer to cook)
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers, chopped, 1 PP
  • 2/3 cup mixed sweet peppers, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Click here for this Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe from “Amy Bites”!

1. Heat up a large soup pot with the olive oil over medium heat. Put in the onion, hot pepper (I like habanero!) and garlic and cook until fragrant (just a couple minutes at most). Then put in the pork. Sprinkle the chili powder and some salt and pepper over top. Cook until the pork is no longer raw and then pour the chicken broth and extra water over top.

2. Pour in the enchilada sauce, cilantro flakes, corn, rice, jalapeno peppers and sweet peppers. Bring to a boil and let it boil for a few minutes, then turn it down to medium low and let it cook until the rice is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Top it off with some tortilla strips and MAYBE some sour cream and/or cheese if you’d like and enjoy! Quick and easy!

You can add beans in there if you want, but with the rice and corn, your carb sector is covered. Basically, anything that you’d want to eat as a normal enchilada, put in the soup (except for the actual soft tortilla). You could do sweet potato, black bean and pork. You could try shrimp, zucchini and corn. It’s really hard to fail at this one. Just remember to put in the enchilada sauce! It really makes it.

Eating Healthy on a Budget: Steak Diane

We hooked up our cable cord to the TV before the Olympics started. Prior to that, we haven’t had regular TV for over two years.

My (somewhat) productive life is on the brink of destruction.

Create TV is just about the only thing we watch now, and we watch a LOT of it. There’s just so many cooking and travel shows that it’s as if we’re watching so much just to make up for all that we’ve missed out on for the past two years! Not good.

But there’s a silver lining. Julia Child dominates that station. On Sunday alone, I learned the joy of omelettes (especially when drenched in clarified butter), three different uses for focaccia dough, how to make chocolate cups, a delicious yellow cake with fresh raspberry sauce, Julia’s obsession with parsley garnish, steak au poivre and steak diane. Julia made steak diane in literally 5 minutes. I wanted to do that.

So, when Jess went to pick up a few things at the grocery store, I told her if she picked up some steaks, I’d make her steak diane for dinner. She picked them up and steak diane we ate! Granted, this is a different version than Julia’s because it’s not drenched in butter or cream, but this version was quick, healthy and VERY tasty. I simplified the ingredient list and I’m pretty sure you have everything you need in your fridge right now.

Don’t have sirloin steak? Use a different cut. The points might vary a little, but as long as you beat your meat down to about 1/2 an inch thick, it’ll work just fine. Don’t have shallots? Use garlic or yellow/white onion and it’ll taste just as good. Don’t have spicy brown mustard? Use some dijon. Don’t have any of the ingredients? Well, damn. It’s time for you to go shopping.

Here’s my perfectly portioned steak diane with a mountain of cast iron roasted veggies (carrots, onion and purple potatoes). And a cilantro garnish since I had no fresh parsley!

Steak Diane (my quick and easy version)
Servings: 2
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6


  • 8 oz lean sirloin steak or eye of round, trimmed of all fat, 7 PP
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 1 tbsp light butter, 2 PP (I used a coconut butter since I’m dairy-free now and it worked just the same)
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp diced shallots

1. As Julia Child says “beat the meat to within an inch of it’s life”. Place the meat between two sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a meat mallet or even a rolling pin until it’s about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick. Then, rub half the olive oil and soy sauce on one side, flip it and use the other half of the olive oil and soy sauce on the other side.

2. Warm up a pan (I’d use a stainless steel one if you have it, but nonstick will work fine too). Once it’s around a good medium heat, add in the butter to melt and then put the steak in. It’ll need about 2 minutes on each side. Put the meat on a plate and set aside.

3. Whisk together the beef broth and mustard. Pour about 1/2 the mixture into the pan and scrape all the good crusty bits from the meat into the broth to flavor it even more. Add the shallots to the pan and saute for about a minute. When the mixture starts getting a bit thick, add more broth until it’s more of a saucy texture.

4. Put the steak right back into the pan on top of the shallots. You can also pour the juices from the steak plate back into the pan as well. Cook for about a minute each side (or 30 seconds each side if your meat is super thin), adding more broth if the sauce gets too thick. Plate right away, pour the delicious pan sauce over the meat, top with a bit of chopped parsley or cilantro and eat it up!

Why do I consider it to be a healthy dish for those on a budget? Because you can use a cheaper cut of meat! A delicious and cheap one is an “eye of round” steak. It averages around $2-$3 per lb. And a lb is 16 oz. If you’re like me and you try to only eat around 4 oz of protein per meal, you’re doing it right! Here’s the breakdown for the steak diane.

– Meat: $1.25 (for 8 oz)
– Butter, Soy Sauce, Olive Oil: maybe 75 cents total?
– Beef Broth: 25 cents
– Mustard: 10 cents
– Shallots: 50 cents

Total Cost: $2.85
Total Cost per Serving: $1.42

WIN!  Even if you eat all 8 oz yourself, it’s a RARE occasion to get a nice steak for under $3.  I haven’t seen that price at Texas Roadhouse in…. EVER.

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.

Fiesta Salsa

Beautiful photo by Jess!

Because it’s a party in the bowl AND a party in your mouth!

In case you didn’t know, Jess has a green thumb. She’s been able to keep our three outside plants alive with LOTS of dedicated watering throughout this ridiculous heat and lack of rain. Well, during our weekly trip to the Farmers Market on Saturday, we stopped by a vendor that had tomatillos and got the scoop on how to know when they’re ready to be harvested. Apparently they should still be pretty firm and the husk will get pretty dry. Then they’ll be ready! So, Jess went outside and picked off the three that we’ve been patiently waiting to harvest from our own tomatillo plant.

What does a person do with only three tomatillos? I looked through my cookbooks (sadly, not many tomatillo recipes) and found a couple for salsa that looked good. But still, I only had three. Then, I looked up at the beautiful heirloom tomato in our hanging fruit basket. It only had about 3 days left until it would get soggy and I decided it needed to be used as well.

Now I had enough tomato/tomatillo to make a salsa! Those, plus some jalapenos and even a habanero that’s been in my freezer for months came together with the other essential salsa ingredients and the result was spectacular. This salsa is a farmers market delight. As long as you have jalapenos, onion a little lime juice and a lot of cilantro, you can literally make any salsa your heart desires. Mine was sweet from the heirlooms and the tiny bit of cane sugar and spicy from the habanero. And the garlic (german garlic, which is ginormous), was a spectacular find from last week and it lent its flavor splendidly. No need to waste those heirlooms anymore. If it can go in tomato sauce, it can go in salsa!

Beautiful photo by Jess! Don’t you just want to dig in?

Fiesta Salsa
Servings: 1 (about 1.5 cups worth)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1


  • 3 small tomatillos, finely diced
  • 1 cup skinned and finely diced red heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 medium white or red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 small jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 habanero, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar (or regular sugar), 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp sea salt

1. Take your garlic, onion, jalapenos, sugar and tomatillo and simmer for a few minutes over medium heat in a nonstick pan. This tempers the bitterness of the tomatillo.

2. Put your heirloom tomato and habanero into a bowl. Pour in the simmered tomatillo mixture. Put in the lime juice, cilantro and sea salt. Mix well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes so the flavor can deepen.

3. Serve with chips and enjoy!

Protein Bar Review: Think Thin Bars

I’ve discovered a great new protein bar and I knew I had to share. ThinkThin Bars.  These have officially become my “go-to” snack during my work days. They are big enough to feel like a true meal replacement if you’re using it as one and full of protein (20g each!) to keep you full until you actually get to sit down at a table for a meal. I tend to break these in half and each it with a piece of fruit for a snack and I’m STILL getting around 10g of protein.

Not only do they have an insane amount of protein each, they actually taste great and they’re relatively low in points!  (Around 6-7 per bar, which are around 1.5 inches wide and 4 inches long.)

Chocolate Espresso: This is my favorite one, to my surprise! It’s got chunks of espresso beans in the actual bar, so it’s definitely got the right flavor, especially when it’s my breakfast or morning snack! Keeps me going for a while.

Chunky Peanut Butter: Peanut butter… delicious. This one tastes exactly like the creamy PB one, except it has “chunks” which really aren’t peanut chunks, but more like concentrated creamy bits. It’s also not as sweet as most people expect when they get chocolate covered peanut butter stuff, but it’s still really good.

Creamy Peanut Butter: Exactly like the one above only without the chunks. Just pure PB awesomeness.

White Chocolate: This is my second favorite one, again, to my surprise. It’s more of a light brownie taste on the inside and covered in white chocolate. The flavor is just really nice.

Brownie Crunch: Chocolate with a little crunch. What more can I say?  It’s tasty!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry: Not so good… unless you like the taste of fake strawberry.  People just need to learn to stay away from putting it in their products unless they can truly make it taste GOOD.  They didn’t pull it off.

These are just a few of the flavors.  It also comes in chunky peanut butter, cookies and creme, caramel fudge, dark chocolate and a few more.  Click here for more!  I’ll definitely be ordering the last three I mentioned because I haven’t found them in stores just yet.  They also carry fruit and nut bars, bites and a few other delicious-looking products.  Hopefully one of these days they’ll respond to my tweets so I can work out a giveaway!

The bars are also gluten-free.  They aren’t dairy-free, but they do use certified kosher regular dairy ingredients.  All of them are no to low sugar (0-4g per bar).  If they used stevia instead of sugar, they’d REALLY have me wrapped around their finger.

thinkThin Protein Bars
Calories per Bar: ~230
PointsPlus per Bar: 6-7
Texture: 4/5
Flavor: 4/5
Ingredients: 4/5

Ricotta Chard Pasta Sauce

This weekend, Jess had a taste of what it might feel like to be pregnant… backwards. Confusing? Well, let me explain.

Jess took this lovely photo of me cheesing it up right before we biked back home with all our farmers market purchases!

For some God-forsaken reason, my body woke up at 5:26 am on Saturday morning. Then Max got up and then Jess woke up because everyone left her. What do you do that early on a Saturday? You bike to the local cafe for a cup of iced coffee and then you bike over to the Farmers Market and get your pick of the beautiful produce, that’s what!!

We picked up 1.5 pounds of green beans, 1 lb of yellow squash, 1 ginormous zucchini, 1 bouquet of flowers, 1 lb of lettuce, 1 quart each of yellow peaches and fingerling potatoes and one 7 lb watermelon. It didn’t matter that we only had bikes to get back home; we wanted that watermelon. So, Jess put it in her backpack and strapped it on. The first thing she said was, “I feel like I’m pregnant, but backwards.” Hah! True true. And then we biked home. She could feel it in her back and her knees, but she got it home! I faithfully rode behind her to make sure she was okay (although it could be because she’s just faster than me in general) and luckily we arrived home without incident, but definitely with a little extra sweat!

Today she enjoyed a huge bowl of it all to herself, which she thoroughly earned! Thank you, my love, for a great effort and tasty reward :)

And now I give you a new recipe that I made up for the weekly CSA newsletter I contribute to! This highlights the swiss chard, garlic and herbs that they’ll be receiving in their baskets. Jess and I have made numerous versions of pasta sauces and this combines the best of the veggies with just the right kind of creamy cheesiness. If you don’t have swiss chard, you can substitute spinach and it’ll taste just as good!

Semi-Homemade Ricotta Chard Pasta Sauce
Servings: 8
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3

I think her bike likes my bike. Good thing too because the feeling is mutual :)


  • 1 jar roasted garlic pasta sauce, any brand (preferably Meijer Organic), 8 PP
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided, 4 PP
  • 3-4 handfuls fresh swiss chard
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini/squash finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 3 PP
  • 2 tbsp light butter (optional), 4 PP
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice

1. Warm up 2 tsp of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add minced garlic, onion, basil, parsley and red chili flakes and cook until fragrant (around 2 minutes). Then, add swiss chard and cook down for about 4-6 minutes. Once it’s cooked down and onions are translucent, transfer to a food processor and chop it all up until almost pureed, but not quite to a smoothie texture. You still want some texture!

2. Now, get out a big sauce pot and warm up the last tsp of olive oil and the butter (if you’re using it) and put the finely diced zucchini in. Add the dried oregano and a pinch of the salt and pepper you’re using just to flavor it up a little. Cook for about 3 minutes and then pour in both the jar and can of tomato sauces. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice and stir until well blended.

3. Once it’s warm (around 5-8 minutes or so), add the chard/onion puree and stir well. Cook for about 8 minutes on medium low heat, test it and then add salt/pepper according to taste, and then lower heat and let simmer for around 10-20 minutes. The longer you simmer, the better the flavor!

4. Serving size is around 1/2 cup. Pour over your favorite noodle, use in a lasagna or on a meatball sub, put on steamed veggies or even straight over lettuce or sprouts! It might be good enough that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon :)

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!