Easy Crock Pot Apple Sauce

This fall I found out making homemade apple sauce in the crock pot is easy! A cinnamon stick, apples, and sugar (optional) are all you need to make this recipe. The crock pot does all the work for you (well, except for chopping the apples!). A nice perk is that your house will smell like cinnamon and apples as it cooks away. I just love crock pot recipes, don’t you? (P.S. If you haven’t checked out my crock pot apple butter recipe, click here!)

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You will want to adjust the amount of cinnamon/sugar you use depending on your apples. I used apples I picked myself but they were very, very tart, so I did have to add about 1/2 cup sugar to the batch. If your apples are sweeter, however, there may not be a need for sugar at all. For this reason, you may want to wait and add the sugar AFTER the apples cook down.

Did I mention you can double this recipe for a larger quantity or even half it for a small batch? This recipe is SO versatile I hesitate to even call it a recipe! Feel confident to adjust it any which way you like! After the apples cook down for about 6 hours, you can take a whisk or immersion blender to the apples to make the apple sauce smooth, or you can leave it chunky. Be sure to taste and add more cinnamon or sugar. It should look something like this when it’s done:

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Ready to be jarred and used in delicious recipes, given away to family and friends, or just eaten as is!

Everything is better homemade, am I right?? The answer is yes. ūüôā Enjoy!

Easy Crock Pot Apple Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 10 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (white or brown will work. You may want to wait and add this after the apples cook down unless they are very tart!)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

1) Spray your crock pot with cooking spray for easy clean up. Add the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and sugar (or add sugar at the end).

2) Set crock pot to low for about 6 hours (this can vary depending on your crock pot), stirring occasionally. Blend with immersion blender for a very smooth apple sauce.

3) Taste and add more sugar and cinnamon, as needed. Allow to cool before refrigerating.

Recipe courtesy of Audreysapron.wordpress.com.

Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash

I absolutely LOVE butternut squash. It is one of my favorite root vegetables, and I love it in soups, pasta sauces, or simply roasted by itself. Roasting vegetables seems to be my go-to method, but that does not mean it has to result in redundant dishes! A couple of flavorful additions make this butternut squash fantastic. The key player here is the parmesan cheese. A little bit goes a long way! I used 2 pounds of chopped butternut squash and only 1/4 cup of cheese. You could certainly use more if you prefer.

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The texture of the squash was perfect–not too firm but definitely not mushy. I do not care for mushy squash! I liken this to the “al dente” bite of pasta when cooked properly. Plus, this is so simple to make; a quick toss and this dish is ready to go in the oven. The parchment paper ensures the squash will cook evenly and without sticking. I made this side dish for my family this past weekend and we all enjoyed it a lot!

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This is quickly becoming my favorite way to cook butternut squash and I think even picky eaters will love it! I may never roast “plain” butternut squash again.

This would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal as well!

Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chopped butternut squash
  • 1-2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsely, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large ziplokc bag, combine all of the ingredients. Shake to mix well.

2) Transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 97 Fat: 5g Carbs: 10g Protein: 4g Fiber: 2g

WW PointsPlus: 3

Recipe adapted from http://ohsheglows.com/2009/02/08/garlicky-baked-butternut-squash/

Oven Baked Corn on the Cob

My preferred method of cooking corn on the cob is, by far, on the grill. However, there are times when it is not possible or very inconvenient to do so. So, I want to share with you my back-up method of cooking corn. It is perfect for cooking a large quantity of corn (think parties!) and it could not be easier! I really prefer this over the boiling method.

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This oven baked corn yields amazing results and requires just a few simple steps. Essentially all you have to do is preheat the oven, wrap up each piece of corn in foil, and let it bake. That’s IT! I told you it was easy! I am simplistic when it comes to corn in that I do not add butter, but if you would like you can add the butter before you wrap it up and bake.

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Oven Baked Corn on the Cob

Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn on the cob (husk/silks removed)
  • (optional) Salt and/or butter
  • Foil

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. If using butter, lightly add a small amount of butter/salt to each ear of corn. Wrap each one in foil and place on a baking tray.

2) Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Nutritional Information per medium ear of corn: Calories: 84 Carbs: 20g Fat: 1g Protein: 3g Sugar: 5g Fiber: 5g

WW PointsPlus: 1. 

Recipe adapted from: http://breadplusbutter.blogspot.com/2009/08/oven-roasted-corn-on-cob.html?m=1 

Blue Cheese and Cheddar Baked Sweet Potato Rounds

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Blue cheese lovers, you are going to be amazed at how yummy these baked sweet potato rounds are! The texture is a cross between sweet potato chips (crisp) and sweet potato fries (crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle). You can actually decide if you want them more like chips or fries by varying the baking time. I came across this recipe on Pinterest just a couple hours before I need to prepare dinner, and I quickly realized A) they look amazing and B) I already had everything I needed to make them!

If you do not like blue cheese, I recommend substituting a different cheese. I actually think feta could pair nicely, but I haven’t tried that option yet! If you have any other ideas, let me know.

The key to getting these sweet potatoes crispy is to spread them out on one layer, so no rounds are overlapping. I had to use 2 baking sheets for 2 potatoes. Keep an eye on them as some may crisp up faster than others, and you may need to pull a few off early to avoid burning. Crispy is good, but not burnt to a crisp!

I used my chef knife to cut the potato into thin rounds, but you can use a mandolin if you feel comfortable with one. I’ve mentioned this before, but that is probably the most dangerous kitchen gadget ever! I had a pretty gruesome encounter with one a couple years ago, so now I prefer to simply use my big ol’ chef knife!

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This side dish was surprisingly easy to prepare, and so delicious. The blue cheese gave the sweet potatoes a bit of a kick, and the cheddar was the perfect accompaniment! They honestly reminded me of nachos, with sweet potatoes in lieu of chips. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed them and I hope you will, too!

Blue Cheese and Cheddar Baked Sweet Potato Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

1) Preheat oven to 425.

2) Slice sweet potato into thin round discs (using a knife or mandolin).

3) Toss with oil and season with garlic powder & salt and pepper.

4) Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until rounds are slightly browned and crispy, turning once half way through. Keep an eye on them the last 5-10 minutes of cooking time–small pieces may need to be removed before the rest to avoid burning!

5) Remove from oven and move sweet potatoes closer together. Sprinkle with cheeses and return to oven for another 3-4 minutes or until cheeses are melted.
Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 160 Carbs: 19g Fat: 7g Protein: 6g Sugar: 6g Fiber: 3g
WW PointsPlus: 4 Old points: 3

Summer Pasta Salad with Baby Greens

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Fresh baby greens tossed with whole wheat pasta noodles, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette! This salad is perfect for summer and a great option to take to a potluck or cookout because it can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. It is vegetarian friendly, and can be made gluten-free by substituting brown rice pasta. The original recipe called for capers, but my husband and I are not fans of that ingredient so I omitted them! You can absolutely add them if you’d like.

There are so many ways to serve this salad. It can be the perfect side dish to a grilled chicken breast or fillet of fish, but it can also be a meal in itself! The vinaigrette is perfect and after making this salad, I made extra to be able to serve on top of other salads throughout the week. It is delicious!

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Summer Pasta Salad with Baby Greens

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz (about 4 cups) baby arugula and baby spinach mix
  • 5 oz high fiber or whole wheat pasta (use brown rice pasta for GF)
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1) Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. When done, drain and rinse under cold water.

2) In a large bowl, combine the pasta, baby greens, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss well, then just before serving top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Makes about 6 cups.
Servings: 4

Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 169 Fat: 5g Carbs: 29.5g Fiber: 4g Protein: 6g Sugar: 4g Sodium: 271 mg without salt Cholest: 2mg

WW PointsPlus: 5 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from: skinnytaste.com

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

I may never buy canned beans ever again after having made this recipe!! It does not get any cheaper, faster, or tastier than this. So long sodium-ridden canned pinto beans, hello crock pot beans!

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This recipe may or may not be as earth-shattering for you as it was for me. I have always been a bit intimidated when it comes to preparing dry beans. I didn’t want to bother having to remember to let them soak over night to be able to cook them for dinner the next day. For years I have been buying the canned beans and rinsing them a profusely in hopes of washing off the sodium. After my husband and I got married, my wonderful mother-in-law told me about making beans in the crock pot. It has been in the back of my mind until this past week, when I finally made them. These have SO much more flavor than what you get in the can! And they are¬†so much cheaper! Win-win. There is half a seeded jalape√Īo in this batch to add a very subtle kick, but they are not spicy at all!

These pinto beans are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and fat free! This recipe also makes a lot, so if you have a small family you may want to cut the recipe in half.

My crock pot cooked these beans perfectly in just 3.5 hours on high. I would suggest checking on them after 3-3.5 hours, but depending on your slow cooker you may need to add additional time.

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Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion¬†peeled and halved
  • 1.5 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons minced¬†garlic
  • 2.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons fresh¬†ground¬†black¬†pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 cups water

1) Rinse pinto beans and place in crock pot with all remaining ingredients.

2) Turn crock pot to high and let cook for around 3.5 hours. If possible, stir occasionally. Beans should¬† be soft and a lot of the water should have evaporated but you don’t want them to turn to mush, so I would check them around 3 hours, then 3.5 hours and if they aren’t done let them go up to 4 hours. You want them to be soft so they melt in your mouth!

Servings: 12. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 34 Carbs: 12gh Fat: 0g Protein: 4g Sugar: 1g Fiber: 7g

WW PP: 2 Old points: 0!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.theaprongal.com/2012/05/crock-pot-pinto-beans.html 

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini season is almost here! I have an incredibly easy recipe that is my new favorite way to prepare the vegetable. I can’t think of a single vegetable I don’t like roasted, so maybe this should come as no surprise. My husband is really not a fan of zucchini but agreed this was delicious. The secret is seasoning the zucchini well and sprinkling just a bit of shredded parmesan cheese at the end. It is a perfect¬†accompaniment¬†to chicken, fish, steak, whatever!

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This recipe is a testament to the fact that when it comes to food, sometimes simple is better. Just a few simple ingredients combined together can be really fantastic! The salty parmesan adds a lot of flavor and the texture of the zucchini after roasting is great. I had to go back for seconds on this one! This simple, easy recipe can be on¬†the table in 30 minutes. Give it a try, even if you normally don’t care for zucchini. You just might surprise yourself!

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1). Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a cookie sheet (may want to line with foil for easy clean up later). Chop the zucchini in quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (Note: I like to arrange the zucchini in a single layer on the cookie sheet, then season. I think it ensures even seasoning on each bite!)

2). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 69 Carbs: 7g Fat: 4g Protein: 4g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 2g

WW Points Plus: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe loosely adapted from: http://www.thegingeredwhisk.blogspot.com/2012/06/garlic-roasted-zucchini.html 

Espinacas Con Garbanzos (Spinach with Garbanzo Beans)

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During my time living in Spain, I fell in love with a few dishes–today’s recipe is one of them! Espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with garbanzos beans), can be found as a “tapa” in most restaurants across Spain and is very popular. It is delicious but so simple to make: saut√© fresh spinach among garlic and onion, then season with cumin and salt. I will admit this version is not exactly like the one my host mom would make or that we would find as a “tapa” on the streets of Sevilla, but it is very close. I make this recipe frequently because I love that it can be ready in under 10 minutes on a busy week night!¬†The flavor in this simple dish is so unexpected. I love the smoky flavor from the cumin, and fresh spinach is so healthy! It’s a perfect way to use up any spinach that might go bad soon, or just another way to incorporate it into your meals. If you do not have fresh spinach, you can substitute frozen. And, in case there is any confusion: garbanzo beans and chick peas are the same thing!

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Ingredients:

  • About 9 oz fresh spinach (or 1 10 oz bag frozen chopped spinach), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 12 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute longer. Roughly chop the fresh spinach.

2) Stir in the spinach, garbanzo beans, cumin and salt. Use your stirring spoon to lightly mash the beans (optional) as the mixture cooks. Allow to cook until all spinach is wilted and thoroughly heated.

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 169 Fat: 4.9g Protein: 7.3g Sodium: 600 mg Carbs: 26g Fiber:6.4g

WW Points+: 4 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Baby Kale Salad with Strawberries and Chia Seed Dressing

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Strawberry season is upon us! Although I love eating them fresh by themselves, I also like to include them in dishes whenever possible. I love fruit in salads. There is something refreshing and light about biting into a juicy strawberry alongside crisp greens. I recently traded in my bag of mixed greens for organic baby kale. Regular kale can be tough and bitter, but baby kale is absolutely delightful! If you do not have baby kale, you can use a spring mix, baby spinach, or even romaine lettuce for this salad.

I had an¬†epiphany¬†the other day when I realized that Chia seeds can be a healthy substitute for poppy seeds in dressings. This realization came as a result of not having poppy seeds for the dressing and debating whether or not to omit them. I love the crunch that poppy seeds add to salads, and because chia seeds are a similar shape and texture, they accomplish the same purpose. Added benefit? They are very healthy! If you’ve never heard of chia seeds before, here’s what you might want to know:

If you do not have chia seeds, you can obviously use poppy seeds or simply omit them. I promise you will still have a great homemade vinaigrette for your salad!

A note:I reduced the amount of olive oil in the dressing from 2 tbsp to 1 tbsp to cut back on calories and fat, but if you feel the salad is too dry you can add a little back in.

I recommend you serve this salad with my lemon and herb marinated grilled chicken. The citrus marinade pairs nicely with the strawberries in the salad. Also, feel free to be creative and add whatever you would like to this salad. Slivered almonds, crumbled gorgonzola or feta cheese, or even blueberries all sound like delicious additions!

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Baby Kale Salad with Strawberries and Chia Seed Dressing

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 5 oz baby kale (or other lettuce)
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • Any additions you would like (almonds, cheese, etc.)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds (or¬†poppy seeds)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey (or agave)

1) Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

2) Assemble salad. Toss with dressing. Serve with main dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 71 Fat: 1g Carbs: 16g Protein: 2g Sugar: 10g Fiber: 4g

WW Points Plus: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower brings out a delightful, nutty flavor. I’ve mentioned this before in this post on how to roast cauliflower. Today, we are kicking it up a notch with a simple ginger-soy sauce that is added after roasting. This sauce makes for some of the most interesting cauliflower I have ever had! It also pairs very well with the healthy stir fry recipe¬†from earlier this week!

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Adding the sauce after the florets roast allows the Asian flavors to absorb into every bite, truly transforming this cauliflower into something special. The fresh ginger root grated into sauce is what adds the majority of the flavor, so I would not recommend substitute dried ginger. If you do try it, let us know in the comments how it turns out. Quick tip: did you know you can freeze fresh ginger? Wrap the ginger whole (with skin still on) in aluminum foil until later use. It will actually be easier to peel and grate frozen!

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If you are like me and are always looking for interesting (and delicious!) ways to cook cauliflower, try this recipe. It could not be simpler and more unique!

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 green onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast for 25 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned and stems are easily pierced with a fork.

2) Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the cauliflower to serve.

Servings: 4. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 79 Carbs: 9g Fat: 4g Protein: 3g Fiber: 4g

WW Points +: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from: Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites Cookbook