Ham and Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

Happy 2017! I decided to start up the new year with a more strict diet and exercise plan due to adding a few pounds on over the last year that I’m not too happy about, just like pretty much everyone else in the world. With bikini season a few months away, I know that winter time would be the best time to start focusing on tightening up my healthy lifestyle a bit, starting with what I eat.

While putting together my meal plan for the week, I decided to include a breakfast casserole that would not only taste good reheated, but hold me over until my morning snack. This previous week I enjoyed an overnight oats breakfast and while that was delicious, I was craving something more “solid.” With a breakfast casserole, not only would I be getting a good source of protein from the eggs, but I’d also be getting a good source of calcium from the dairy; something we all could use. Plus I’d feel more full after eating my portion!

A breakfast casserole can vary in ingredients but usually consist of a basic build; eggs, milk and cheese. To add taste and a better base to mine, I decided to add southern hashbrowns and ham as well. The hashbrowns would give a nice golden crust feel to the casserole while the bacon and ham would just be a bonus addition for the tastebuds. It also helps that I already had all of these things on hand.

As for my dairy; I love to purchase products that are locally made whenever opportunity arises and Reiter Dairy has over 20 dairy farms here in the state of Ohio. Our nearby grocery carries Reiter’s milk product DairyPure and after doing a little research on the brand, I decided I wanted to give it a try. 

What I love most about DairyPure is their 5-Point Purity Promise. When you purchase DairyPure milk you’re giving your family not only a product that comes from cows that are fed a healthy-diet, but also has no artificial growth hormones, has been tested for antibiotics, is continuously quality tested to ensure purity and is cold-shipped from their dairy. Hearing that, I knew that this would be a product that I can feel confident feeding to my family. 

Be sure to check out Reiter Dairy to see which of your local groceries carries their products. 

 

Ham and Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole
Serves 8
In need of a quick and delicious breakfast for brunch, "Breakfast for Dinner," or something you can reheat in the morning throughout the week? This breakfast casserole is perfect for just that and can be thrown together in just 5-10 minutes.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 16 oz diced ham, package should state that it's already fully cooked
  2. 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  3. 8 cups frozen southern hashbrowns
  4. 4 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  5. 12 large eggs
  6. 1 cup DairyPure milk
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. a pinch of ground pepper, for taste
Instructions
  1. Well grease two quiche pans or a 9x13 size casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Using a large mixing bowl, combine ham, cheese, hashbrowns and bacon well. Add to combination to casserole dish, spreading evenly.
  4. Wash out large mixing bowl and next add eggs, DairyPure milk, salt and pepper (optional) whisking well. Pour overtop ham and hashbrowns, making sure that it is evenly spread.
  5. Cook for one hour.
Notes
  1. If you'd prefer to just make a smaller serving - cut ingredients in half and use just one quiche pan.
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This is a sponsored post. All thoughts, and opinions I have expressed here are that of my own.

Lentils and Potato Tacos

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What is it with the beginning of the school year and illnesses? Both kids have been sick and now I seem to have caught it, so as I type this up I am “enjoying” a cup of hot alka seltzer and praying that my throat won’t feel as awful as it does now in the morning. Talk about not much of a productive past 7 days.

Anyhow – my husband is out of town, and while I had originally planned on slow-cooking some barbacoa for this Taco Tuesday, I felt it would be a waste if I had a 3lb chuck roast all to myself. Instead of spending more money at the grocery and dragging said sick child #2 out, I worked with what I got and I have to say; I was extremely pleased with the results!

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I was introduced to lentils via FitGirlsGuide a couple years back. I haven’t met a bean I didn’t like and I’ve used potatoes in place of meat before, so paired with pico de gallo, I can totally see why this combination can work great if you’re trying to do without meat or you’re a vegetarian. Just make sure you don’t go light on the lentils! They’re high in lean protein and a great source of potassium.

Lentils and Potato Tacos
Serves 2
Skip the meat! A delicious take on tacos using lentils and potatoes.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  2. 1 cup lentils, boiled
  3. 2 medium potatoes, diced small and cooked
  4. 3-4 tablespoons pico de gallo
  5. ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  6. ¼ teaspoon fresh cilantro, thinly chopped
  7. sour cream, optional
  8. salsa, optional
Instructions
  1. Using a small pot, bring 1 cup of lentils and 4 cups of hot water to a slight boil over medium heat. Allow to cook 25-30 minutes, or until lentils seem tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. At the same time, using a large skillet - add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set heat to medium. Add diced potatoes, making sure to stir with a spatula to prevent burning. Cook until potatoes seem crispy. Set aside.
  3. When both lentils and potatoes are ready, assemble your corn tortilla - beginning with potatoes and followed by lentils, 1 tablespoon of pico de gallo, cheese and cilantro. Top with sour cream or salsa, if desired. Repeat step with each tortilla.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Ranch-Style Cobb Salad

 

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If you’re like me, you’ve gone through your Pinterest feed for what feels like a gazillion times looking for some sort of “different” kind of lunch to prepare for the week. I often like to base my mid-day meals around salads or something close to, as lunch is when I like to get the majority of my greens and vegetables intake. 

With today being Labor Day, the kids being home from school and a local Arts Festival going on; I wanted to get my grocery shopping done early yesterday so that I could successfully complete all my Sunday chores today and not having some spill over into the first of the week and delay any fun or relaxation for today. I started my meal-plan planning extra early because so. (Remember… fail to plan, plan to fail!) – and while things didn’t go as planned (one child is sick), my food was still ready today so I didn’t have to worry about screwing up on my new dietary!

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I don’t feel like I get my share of enough egg-protein, or at least I don’t feel like I have lately. So when I opened my laptop this morning I made sure to search for a recipe that would require at least one egg or more. I can always make the staple recipe for egg salad; I could prepare it blind-folded, but I wanted something that had a little more taste to it. One where by Tuesday afternoon, I’m already sure that come Wednesday’s lunch time I will be wanting anything BUT what I’ve already got prepared. And so I ran across this recipe for a Cobb Egg Salad from Lemon Tree Dwelling that had one key ingredient that won me over – dry ranch dressing mix. I like to use my dry ranch with yogurt for a healthier take on ranch dressing for dipping some veggie sticks in. If you love ranch, you can’t really go wrong with this dressing mix.

Another great thing about egg salad is how quickly you can prep it. Sure, if you’re not much of an hard-boiled egg peeler it can take *some* time, but I promise with practice and correct technique you’ll get the knack of doing it. Afterall, it took me months but I finally got it and I can proudly say that today I peeled 6 eggs in under 10 minutes. That’s an accomplishment! The rest of the ingredients though – super easy to assemble and throw into a bowl. Almost too easy. 

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Ranch-Style Cobb Salad
Serves 3
If egg salad and cobb salad were to meet in an alley, and egg happened to have brought ranch with him and cobb, arugula lettuce - this would be the outcome. Enjoy this recipe with rye crackers, as a salad or on a sandwich. Perfect for both parties and for meal-prepped lunches for the week.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  2. 4 pieces cooked turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
  3. 4 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
  4. ½ dry ranch dressing mix
  5. ¼ cup grape tomatoes, diced
  6. ¼ cup celery, diced small
  7. ¼ teaspoon green onions, sliced thin
  8. ¼ cup chopped arugula lettuce
  9. ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Hard-boil your eggs; bringing your pot of water and eggs to a raging boil over medium-high heat. When this has happened, turn off heat and cover pot with a lid allowing to sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over eggs before attempting to peel. After eggs have been peeled, chop into small pieces.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, arugula and cheese. Next add mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix, stirring gently but combining well. Serve or store in a tight-closed container for later.
Notes
  1. Original recipe can be found at Lemon Tree Dwelling (www.lemontreedwelling.com) - I added a few extra vegetables, etc of my own to their own delicious recipe.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Fit & Chic Over Summer Heats

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Everybody – especially ladies – do their best to transform their bodies and looks before summer into something that’s perfect for them so that they can show off their nice appearance, while the weather dictates more revealing clothes and spending time at the beach. Still, many people pay attention to their health and fitness few months before the summer season while they completely forget about balanced diet, proper skin care and fitness routine when the summer is finally there. This often results in poor skin and hair condition, and your figure starts changing (and not for the good) as the summer is near its end. If you want to keep your good looks and make sure that your previous hard work will be visible for many months and seasons to come, you can beat the summer heat and adjust your healthy habits to the weather.

Drink plenty of water

Let’s get the most annoying advice out of the way first. You’re probably tired of reading about benefits of water in every possible beauty article, but ask yourself the most important question – why is it always there? Proper intake of water during summer is essential if you want to keep your body energized and hydrated. There’s no skincare product that can transform your skin into smooth and moisturized canvas if you don’t hydrate it from the inside first. With lack of water, your skin can become dry and patchy. So, make sure you drink a lot of water while at home, and bring a bottle with you when you go out.

Stay fit with continuous exercise

If you think that having to work out constantly in order to stay fit is bad news, wait till you hear the good news. Once you put a lot of effort into reaching your desired fitness skill and body shape, you don’t have to keep exercising like crazy in order to stay fit. Fifteen minutes per day is more than enough if you want to keep things the way they are, as long as you do it regularly. Since summer heat can pose a lot of problems when running, or even going to the gym, you can exercise at home instead. There are many tutorials that can help you. Also, you can make great use of summer fun and engage in some water sports that will keep you fit and healthy.

Lead a balanced diet

We all know how fun it is to drink one or two cocktails at beach parties and grab a bite at fast food restaurants after long summer nights. Therefore, make sure to keep your diet balanced. For example, smoothies are a great way to start your day and get enough nutrients and energy. You can also make them for dinner. Getting your fill of vitamins is especially important if you are exercising, or if you have to spend a lot of time in the sun. Therefore, be smart with your smoothie ingredients and add some organic pea protein powder in order to get the most benefits out of this tasty meal.

Keep protecting your skin and hair with products

If you think it’s enough to use sunscreen when you go out and completely neglect any other skin and hair care routine, you’ll face a lot of problems. While sunscreen is absolutely necessary, you still have to make time to clean your face in the morning and before bed, use restoring and moisturizing creams and give your hair some special rich treatments from time to time. Also, don’t forget your skin. Because of the heat, it’s more prone to dryness, so applying some body lotion after a shower will keep it healthy and moisturized. If summer weather makes it unbearable for you to have any product on your body, use in-shower lotions.

Staying fit and chic during summer heat is more than possible if you start looking at the whole process as a new lifestyle, instead of a troublesome effort for a short-term effect. Embrace the habit of looking and feeling great!

 

Week 1 of FitGirlsGuide’s #28DayJumpStart Food Recap

I’m sure you’ve noticed a slow-down as far as posts go. I have a good reason! You see I’m currently doing the 28 Day Jumpstart program by FitGirlsGuide. That means for the next few weeks, I will not be posting recipes unless they are ones I’ve cooked up for my family. And if I do post something that centers around me individually, it will mostly consist of notes regarding my health journey and the food experiences I’ve encountered while participating in this challenge.

If you like anything you see, by all means go check FitGirlsGuide out for yourself! Not only do they put together a wonderful meal-plan for you with daily exercises, but there’s a community of supportive individuals who are doing the same challenges as your with similar goals – and best of all, they’re SUPER encouraging. Sometimes that’s what we need most.

I’m only mid-week but since I’ve already experienced each meal that is scheduled for the entire week, I’m going to do a little recap on each entree today. Usually it helps to hear others experiences with food before you know for sure if you want to try something out for yourself. 

Week 1 Food Recap:

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Cherry Pie Fridge Oats

I always look forward to breakfast during week 1 of this challenge because I love Cherry Pie Fridge Oats. They’re delicious, extremely healthy and easy-as-pie to assemble the night before; perfect for those who are on the go super early! I eat mine cold and with a hot cup of coffee after finishing a session on the elliptical. 

Roasted Veggie Power Bowl
Roasted Veggie Power Bowl

For lunch, you’re given the freedom to pick and choose your vegetables. I like to sample a variety of ways of preparing the Roasted Veggie Power Bowl and in the past have came up with dishes similar to a burrito bowl at Chipotle or chicken fried rice (above)… However, if you like to just follow the ingredients and instructions to ensure you’re doing the challenge just as it’s been laid out for you; the main recipe is still fantastic! 

Little suggestion – make your own homemade hummus. While store bought hummus is the quick way to go, there’s nothing like the taste of freshly grounded chickpeas and tahini sauce. 

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Sweet Potato Street Tacos

I remember the first time I scanned the Week 1 Menu, I was hesitant at first on if I was going to like the Sweet Potato Street Tacos. Before FitGirlsGuide, I didn’t really eat sweet potatoes. I guess you could say I was a regular stuck up Russet potato kinda-gal. There is truth that you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you don’t actually “get out there” – and the same goes for food tasting. These tacos are delicious! 

So I guess that means sweet potatoes are pretty special; you can’t throw just any ingredient in a corn tortilla and pass it off as a “taco.” 

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Pita Pizza

Truth be told, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like pizza. So I have a hard time believing that someone is going to read “Pita Pizza” and think “Ew, there is no way I am going to like that.” Think of them as individual pizzas on a flat piece of round pita bread that you get to add healthy ingredients to and then cook in the oven for a few minutes. Sound good? No. It sounds GREAT.

Buffalo Chicken Tortillas

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Love buffalo chicken, but need a little break from the buffalo chicken dip you have at parties? I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for something simple and easy to prepare for lunch this week since I will be back and forth between two houses before we move. I was not only surprised at how almost effortless these tortilla rollups were, but how good they were! You really can’t go wrong with buffalo anything and while this is very similar in ingredients to the buffalo chicken dip; it still has it’s own unique taste. 

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Because we do tacos once a week, I often have an abundant amount of flour tortillas in the pantry and hate to see them go to waste. I try to come up with new and different ways to use them rather it’s just an easy microwaveable cheese rollup, or homemade cinnamon tortilla “chips” to enjoy with a side of fresh fruit. Your tortilla options are endless! This called for 4 tortillas, but let’s say you were to prepare this recipe for a game-day; you’d only need a few to make a plateful of little tortilla rolls. Best part is the prep time is 5-10 minutes max if you’re using rotisserie chicken!

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Buffalo Chicken Tortillas
Yields 15
Simple buffalo chicken tortilla rollups using a few key ingredients and a quick assemble. Great as a game day appetizer!
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
  2. 4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  3. ¼ cup frank's buffalo sauce
  4. 1/8 cup blue cheese crumbles
  5. ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  6. 1 tablespoon sour cream
  7. 2 6-inch flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. Using a medium size bowl, combine cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles and sour cream. Stir so that all are mixed together well.
  2. In a separate medium size bowl, add rotisserie chicken and buffalo sauce. Combine so that chicken is evenly coated with sauce.
  3. Using parchment paper on a solid surface, lay tortillas flat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of cheese mixture to tortilla, spreading evenly to all edges. Next add 2-3 tablespoons of chicken mixture, spreading evenly on-top of cheese mixture. Roll tortilla, tightly, and remove from parchment to a plate. When all tortillas are rolled and plated, place plate in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to allow tortillas to "cool." This makes it easier for cutting.
  4. When time is up, remove tortillas from fridge and place onto a cutting board. Using a large knife, slice into each tortilla to make small rollups that are not too large, but not too thin so that they fall apart.
  5. Serve chilled with green onions for garnishing, if desired.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Creamy Tuna Noodle

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I always purposely plan meals that I know my husband or children will not eat on days when they aren’t home so that I may enjoy them for myself. It’s totally worth it, even if cooking what could be considered a big meal for just one individual sometimes doesn’t seem like it. 

No one in this house likes tuna fish but me. Actually, I don’t think I’ve met a kid who likes tuna yet. But this is a meal that I can remember my mom making every once in awhile. Definitely not the same recipe, but the same concept is there. 

Aside from waiting for your egg noodles to cook, this entree really doesn’t take long to make. And I love the fact that instead of traditional tuna noodle recipes that use cheddar cheese, you’ll be using parmesan. It gives the meal a lighter taste to it so you aren’t left feeling heavy and full when finished. That’s always a good thing 🙂

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Creamy Tuna Noodle
Serves 4
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-ounces wide egg noodles
  2. 1 cup cooked sweet peas
  3. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1 medium onion, diced
  5. ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  7. 1¼ cups whole milk
  8. 5-ounce can solid white tuna
  9. ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan full of water to a rapid boil and then cook egg noodles accordingly.
  2. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, add butter and stir until it has melted. Add onion, garlic and black pepper; stirring frequently until combined well. Next add milk. Continue stirring frequently and allow to cook until sauce has thickened and is bubbling. Remove from heat, adding both tuna (drained), cooked peas and parmesan cheese. Stir well.
  3. Add tuna sauce to your large bowl of drained egg noodles. Combine well until all noodles appear to be lightly covered with tuna sauce. Serve warm.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Arugula Power Salad with Blueberries and Honey-Lemon Dressing

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This may be the easiest salad I have ever prepped before! Aside from washing blueberries, the only thing you really have to put together is the dressing and that’s easy when you have a salad mixer. This one from Crate and Barrel is fantastic; I love how well it combines the ingredients together. 

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Arugula Power Salad with Blueberries and Honey-Lemon Dressing
Serves 4
A delicious salad made of power greens, blueberries, sliced almonds, feta cheese and a honey-lemon dressing drizzled overtop.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 5-ounces arugula, kale, butter and spinach lettuce
  2. 1½ cup fresh blueberries
  3. 2-ounces feta cheese
  4. ½ cup sliced almonds
Dressing
  1. 2 tablespoons pure honey
  2. 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  3. ¼ cup olive oil
  4. ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  5. ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  6. pinch of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all salad ingredients into a large bowl prior to making dressing.
  2. In a smaller bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk well. Drizzle over salad. Toss to cover evenly and serve.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Healthy Banana Blueberry Bread

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I could go on and on about how blueberries seem to make everything tastes so much better, even delicious banana bread. But instead of wasting your time and trying to convince you just why; I’m going to assume you already like blueberries because you clicked on a link somewhere just for this recipe. So just right below the pictures, you’ll find a list of ingredients and instructions. Get to it!

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Healthy Banana Blueberry Bread
A delicious bread baked with fresh bananas and blueberries, healthy enough that you won't feel guilty while enjoying a slice.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. ½ teaspoon salt
  6. ½ cup brown sugar
  7. ¼ cup coconut oil
  8. ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  11. 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  12. 1 cup fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.
  3. Next, in a large size bowl add brown sugar, coconut oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract. When all ingredients have been whisked well, add mashed bananas. Whisk well again. Next, gently fold in blueberries.
  4. Add dry ingredients into large bowl with banana mixture. Combine well and pour into loaf pan. Check at 55 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If toothpick comes out clean, bread is ready. If not, bake for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove bread from oven and allow to cool down for 10 minutes before transferring to a baker's rack. Serve warm.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Meatless Monday: Margarita Pasta

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Holy smokes! I can’t believe it’s already Monday again. I know that the previous week was short because of the holidays but I’m still trying to gather myself together enough to start this week. I intentionally posted this meal today because it is Meatless Monday and my version of this pasta does not have any meat. Who needs it?! There’s enough flavor in the “sauce” as is. If you feel you must have some sort of protein, feel free to add chicken.

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Anytime I know a meal is a skillet-cook, I get excited. My husband bought us this fancy s’mancy gas range for the new place and I am dying to cook on it. I absolutely love the taste of anything gas cooked. Some don’t think there is a difference; oh there is, and I compare it from cooking on an indoor grill to cooking on an outdoor grill. You know the difference once you take that first bite.

I imagine a gas grill also makes a skillet picture just a little more fancy s’mancy looking too.

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My favorite part about this meal is that you’re using all fresh produce. The only thing really considered processed is the noodles and you can make those yourself if you want to be COMPLETELY clean and have a lot of spare time on your hands! I have a pasta maker. I’m not quite a pro at using it yet so I will save myself the embarrassment and just use store bought penne pasta until I have correctly learned how to use it to create presentable noodles.

Enjoy!

Margarita Pasta
Serves 4
A delicious serving of pasta that is sauteed with homemade clean sauce over a hot stove.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 2½ teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  5. 5 roma or 2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
  6. ¼ cup tomatoes, chopped and slightly pureed (optional)
  7. ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
  8. ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta accordingly.
  2. In the meantime, using a large skillet combine olive oil and butter over med-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently 1-2 minutes or until it begins to sizzle. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, followed by tomatoes and basil. Allow to cook for 2 minutes so that juices combine well.
  3. When pasta is finished cooking and has been drained, add to skillet and stir well to mix. Add parmesan cheese and stir again. Serve immediately.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/