Shredded Pork Black Bean Chili

My go-to chili recipe! It’s been perfect for this winter and I’m so glad I worked on the recipe this summer. Using pork chops we have on hand in the freezer makes it easy and the meat shreds great. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Shredded Pork Black Bean Chili

  • Olive oil, tablespoon (or so) to sauté vegetables
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 celery ribs and leaves, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pork chops, cubed
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Cactus Jacks salsa
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Tb chicken bouillon base
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 2-3 Tsp chili powder, depending on your desired spice level
  • 2 Tsp Italian seasoning

In a large stock pot, sauté onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper (until crisp tender) in olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garlic and add pork to brown on all sides over medium high heat. Mix in all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and simmer for 3-3.5 hours. Stir occasionally. Gently fork shred pork before serving. Chili will be rich in color and thick.


Avocado Slaw 

I’ve been making this avocado coleslaw as a yummy, healthier alternative for those of us that like a creamy based salad.   It’s become my favorite topper to fish tacos at home! The slaw was also well received as a side to beef BBQ with shelled and cooked edamame mixed in for extra an extra boost of protein and heartiness. You could also add some heat with a few shakes of the hot sauce bottle.

Avocado Coleslaw 

1 package broccoli or shredded cabbage coleslaw 

1 ripe small avocado

1/2 Cup plain Greek yogurt

Juice of half a lime (about 1 TB)

1 TB olive oil

1/2 TSP garlic salt

1/4 TSP pepper

Rinse the coleslaw and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients. Fold in the coleslaw and refrigerate covered until chilled. Serve and enjoy!

Tuna Melt Pizza

Yum! I decided to get creative and go out on a limb for tonight’s dinner. Friday’s during Lent sometimes make it harder to be creative without meat. I wasn’t feeling the usual salmon burger, fish fry or grilled white fish. I wondered how I could make a seafood pizza and came up with the below.  It turned out great and my tough critic approved!!! This recipe will make it into the rotation.

Tuna Melt Pizza

Fresh pizza dough 
Boursin Pepper cheese
Fresh arugula
1 can albacore tuna packed in olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Roma tomato
Kalamata olive to taste
1 C mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°. Roll and press the dough, by hand, onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Dock the dough with a fork to reduce bubbling of the crust. Spread or crumble the Boursin cheese (about half the package) on the dough as the pizza “sauce”.  Tuna Melt Pizza 

In a separate bowl, combine a handful of arugula, the tuna in olive oil, peppers and onion. Spread the mixture overtop the dough and Boursin. Top with thin slices of tomato and olive (if desired). Finish with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until crust has crisped and cheese is melted.  


Pretzel & Mustard Chicken Tenders 

I’m excited about this recipe! Quick,  easy and kid (or picky man) friendly
Pretzel Baked Chicken Tenders 

1-1.5 Pound chicken breast tenderloins 

1/2 C olive oil mayonnaise

1/4 C yellow mustard 

2 C ground pretzels

1 TB Italian seasoning

1 TSP garlic powder 

1 TSP pepper

1 dash Cajun spice (if desired)

Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard to coat the chicken breast tenderloins. I then let them sit awhile in the fridge while I prepared the pretzel mixture. 

Using a food processesor (or rolling pin/ziplock) crush the pretzels. Add in the seasonings and stir. 

 Coat each tender with the pretzel mix and lay on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until crisp and chicken is cooked through! 

Lighter Potpie

Tonight’s menu necessitated some comfort food! I’ve made this recipe several times and it covers the craving. This evening I had a request for strictly veg and left out the chicken. When I do make this with meat, I tend to just get a grocery rotisserie chicken and cut/cube the white meat. 

Lighter Chicken Potpie

2 rotisserie chicken breasts, cut and cubed 

2 TB olive oil

4 carrots, sliced

4 ribs celery, sliced

2 cloves garlic

1 green pepper, diced

1 medium sweet onion, diced 

2 large kale leaves, finely minced 

1 TSP herbs de Provence

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

2 1/2 cup milk

2 TB lemon juice 

1 package phyllo sheets, thawed overnight in refrigerator

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and stir in all chopped vegetables. Cook until crisp-tender, adding some salt and pepper for flavor. Stir in the finely chopped kale (if your crew is a fan of kale, you won’t need to sneak it in with the mince like me!) and add flour. Cook the flour into the vegetable mixture for one minute. Gradually stir in the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. You’ll see it begin to thicken will be able to run your finger along the back of the spoon to know it’s done.   

If using chicken add it to the pan now (off the heat) with lemon juice, herbs and salt & pepper. 

Using a deep pie dish, pour in the potpie mixture. Unfold the phyllo and lay it gently on top. Fold in edges so it’s not overlapping the sides of the dish. 

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes. The potpie will bubble and the pastry will have puffed and turned golden brown. Let stand to cool before cutting and serving.


Weekly Snack Prep!

Let’s be honest, staying on track during the week is hard! The days are busy and night time is tiring (especially if you make to the gym)! I find it’s easiest for me if I take some time either Sunday, or (like today) Monday, to prep some snacks to have on hand. Healthy things that are easy to grab and go are key. 

One of my favorite products for this are Kroger brand “portion control” snack bags. They have measurements right on the baggie. These are my go-to for almonds and dried tart cherries. Both of these healthy snacks become the opposite of that if you have too many! I measure out 1/4 cup of both and they’re ready for grabbing during the week.   

I also find that unless I prep, cut and wash produce all at once, it won’t get eaten. Today I bought two bunches of celery and immediately cut and washed the stalks to have in the fridge. The same goes with bell peppers. Because we don’t always eat these veg raw, most of the time I’ll pack up mini Tupperware containers of either peanut butter or hummus for dipping. 

It’s hard to stay on top of it but I find a week of healthy eating is made so much easier with some prep work at the beginning of the week. The prep keeps you in check!

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas



This is an easy weeknight dinner! I really like the flavor and it’s quick! I based this off Martha Stewart’s recipe, adding some more vegetables and black beans. The recipe is lightened up, not using store bought enchilada sauce and also high fiber, low calorie wraps or tortillas. Rest assured, the cheese is still there!

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

10 OZ shredded white meat chicken
1 TB olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1 can reduced sodium black beans
1/4 cup flour
1 TSP ground cumin
1-2 TB chipotle peppers minced, in adobo sauce
1 can reduced sodium chicken stock (14.5 oz)
1/2 cup water
8 tortillas or high fiber low calorie wraps
1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°. Combine the chicken, beans (drained and rinsed) and broccoli in a bowl. Set aside. I use canned chicken for this recipe. It takes out a step and is very easy to shred.

Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil with salt and pepper. Add flour and cumin, cooking for a few minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock, water, adobo sauce and chipotles. Summer the sauce for five minutes or until thickened.

Stir one cup of the enchilada sauce into the chicken, bean and broccoli mixture. Add 1/4 cup sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 glass dish. Assemble the enchiladas one by on, adding filling, folding in the sides and rolling tight. Finish by topping the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake until bubbly, 10-15 minutes. Let stand before serving and enjoy!


Make Ahead Roast Turkey

I made my second ever thanksgiving turkey this year. It was a roaring success! Per Ina Garten, I made it ahead! This freed space in the oven for the day of and eliminated a lot of stress. I had my reservations but the turkey was full of flavor, tender and moist. The prep is well worth the work. I was even able to make a workout class the morning of Thanksgiving! All of the holiday preparation paid off.

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Roast Turkey

For the turkey
12-15 pound fresh turkey
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1 lemon, quartered
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 TB butter
For the gravy
6 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, halved and sliced
4 large garlic cloves, whole
6 TB flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 TB bourbon
10 large fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 cup white wine

For Thanksgiving Thursday, I picked up my bird on Monday. Rinse the turkey, inside and out. Dry it well with paper towels and place into the roasting pan. Cover and coat the turkey (including inside the cavity) with salt, pepper, lemon zest and thyme. Cover tightly with Saran Wrap and refrigerate.

On Tuesday, I uncovered the turkey, removing the Saran Wrap. This allows for the skin to become translucent. This is also the day I made the gravy base. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter, onions and garlic cloves. Cook and simmer until the onions brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the flour, cooking about a minute. Stir in stock, bourbon, sage, tarragon and pepper. I leave out salt, considering the stock is already salted. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.
Let the gravy base sit at room temperature for an hour and then strain out all of the solids.
Refrigerate the base until you’re ready to make the gravy Wednesday.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Wednesday was roasting day! Take out the roaster and be sure to drain any juices in the pan. Cover the bird with butter and salt and pepper. I then made a pouch out of cheesecloth. Fill the satchel with onion, lemon and fresh herbs. Place the bag into the cavity. Tie the legs together and wrap the wings tightly under the back.

Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours until the breast meat registers at 165° with a meat thermometer. Baste the bird throughout cooking time. Carefully carve off both breasts. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place the rest of the turkey inside the oven to continue cooking. Most likely, another hour (at least that was the case for me) or until the thigh meat registers at 180°.

Carve the carcass and wrap all meat tightly in foil. With the pan drippings, add the gravy base and white wine over medium heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the bits inside the pan. Let simmer until smoothed and thickened. I ended up adding an additional 2 cups of stock here. I know gravy is a favorite and wanted to bulk up our inventory for the big day.

In an ovenproof dish, add enough gravy to cover the bottom 1/4 of the dish. Add all of the turkey on top of the gravy and cover tightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

On Thanksgiving, remove the turkey and let sit at room temperature an hour before you’re ready to eat. In the oven, heat the meat in its gravy, uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

This technique worked amazingly for me! I think it’s my new standard for the holidays. Thanks Ina!












I’ve never attempted a cheesecake before! In addition to the two and a half pounds of cream cheese, the only real thing I needed to purchase was a springform pan. We’ll see how this goes! Recipe will follow based upon the success of this very special birthday cheesecake!



Fabulous and Classic Cheesecake

5 tb unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
12 graham crackers (3×5 inch)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp course salt

2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tb fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Start by making the crust. Butter the springform pan and set aside. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers until finely ground into crumbs. Stir in the melted butter, sugar and salt. Combine the mixture well and press into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until set. Let the crust cool and turn down the oven to 325°.

Boil a tea pot of water. I used my electric kettle! This will be used later.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar until the mixture is creamed. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Add the eggs one at a time. Continuously scrap down the sides of the pan as you go. Beat in sour cream

Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in wide aluminum foil. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and place in a roasting pan. Now it’s time to use the boiling water; add it into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the pan. Bake cheesecake until it’s just set on the center, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and let it cool 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge, cooling completely. Cover and chill overnight before serving.




Grandma’s Casserole

This is my ultimate favorite comfort food. I’ve made a couple of adaptations from my moms original recipe. If you can believe it, this is a figure friendly dish coming from Weight Watchers 1987. I’m normally not a fan of leftovers, but this is actually one dinner I look forward to heating up the next night. Enjoy!

“Grandma’s Casserole” Weight Watchers 1987

3 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lean turkey
2 TB pepper
2 TB salt
1 TB red pepper flakes
15 oz can tomatoes with liquid
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1 package (12 oz) very thin egg noodles
1 package (8 oz) light mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and peppers in oil. Add turkey breast, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until done. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. (I like using canned stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil) Bring to a simmer, cooking 15 minutes.

Spray a 9×14″ pan with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce and add the noodles atop. Spread the meat mixture over noodles and sprinkle on the cheese to finish.

Cover with foil and bake at 360° for 45 minutes or until noodles are cooked and mixture can be cut to serve.