Cranberry BBQ Chicken

A while back, I was contacted by The Cranberry Institute to help spread the word on cranberries and not only their deliciousness, but their many health benefits too.

I will admit that when I think of cranberries I think of Thanksgiving. That’s one of the few times that I actually eat whole cranberries throughout the year. Besides that, I will buy dried cranberries and add them to salads or trail mixes. But there are other ways to use cranberries!

Ways to use cranberries:

  • Sprinkle dried cranberries on cereal or yogurt
  • Add cranberry sauce and make a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce (recipe below!)
  • Add dried cranberries to muffins and bread mixes
  • Combine cranberry sauce with cheese for a sweet and salty quesadilla
  • Blend frozen cranberries into smoothies

Health benefits:

  • Cranberries contain flavonoids which prevent bacteria from sticking to the cell walls—example: they prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls in the bladder which is associated with bladder infections
  • They can help to improve heart health
  • They may improve blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Can help boost the immune system

For more information on cranberry health research:

Cranberries are tart as we are all well-aware, and that is because they are so low in sugar. They have similar sugar content to a lemon! Pucker up. Adding sugar to the cranberries makes them more palatable (just be aware of your sugar intake always)!

So how about a fun cranberry-inspired recipe for your Wednesday courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee?!

Cranberry BBQ Chicken! 

cranberry BBQ chicken

cranberry BBQ chicken cranberry BBQ chicken cranberry BBQ chicken

Cranberry BBQ Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 cup minced onions (white or yellow)
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. dark molasses
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water if needed (I didn’t need any)


  1. In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard, chili powder, and continue cooking 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a simmer, whisking often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if needed if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and serve on top of chicken!

Their recipe recommended mixing the BBQ sauce with shredded chicken, putting it onto a sandwich and topping it with coleslaw. I thought that sounded great, but what I decided to do was place the BBQ sauce on top of baked chicken breast that I seasoned with onion powder, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. I also melted monterey jack on top of the chicken.

SO good!

Such a fun and different kind of BBQ sauce. Give it a shot for yourself!

Do you enjoy cranberries? How do you use them?

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Thai Chicken Quinoa Salad

It’s BBQ season. That means lots of potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and hamburgers  (there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time). But why not switch it up every once in a while and bring a delicious and healthy gluten-free salad to share instead?

Today I’m guest-posting for the sweet and talented Kim who blogs at Hungry Healthy Girl. Head over to her blog to check out my Thai Chicken Quinoa Salad recipe!

thai chicken quinoa salad.jpg

What’s your favorite dish to bring to a BBQ? 


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Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Remember how I told you I treated myself this weekend to some time in the kitchen baking, cooking, etc.? Well one of my goodies that I baked up was two loaves of gluten-free sandwich bread.

I used my nutty gluten-free bread recipe but substituted in some brown rice flour for the almond flour (recipe is below). The end product was a loaf of bread which wasn’t quite as dense or moist as the full almond flour bread. It has more of a sandwich bread consistency. I was pretty pumped about this! At first bite it tasted a bit to me like corn bread, and to me, that was a good thing!

gluten-free sandwich bread.jpggluten-free bread gluten-free bread gluten-free bread gluten-free bread

It would be perfect with some deli sliced turkey, mustard and veggies, and of course you can’t go wrong with a pb and j.

What I love about this recipe, and the nutty gluten-free bread recipe, is that they are SO easy. You literally put everything into one bowl at one time, mix it all together, and bake it. That’s it. No need to dirty up any extra bowls for this one.

Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread
Makes two small loaves.
  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together all ingredients (I use a hand-mixer).
  3. Pour into two lightly greased bread loaf pans.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Bread is done when toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

You could try making this in one loaf pan for a taller loaf, but I can’t make any guarantees how it would turn out and of course baking times would vary. Feel free to experiment though!

Enjoy and happy Thursday!

What is your favorite sandwich? 

I love a good old turkey sandwich from Subway with all of the veggies (minus jalapeños) with a little bit of mustard. That is another thing I have actually kind of been craving during pregnancy but since I am staying clear of deli meats, I will have to wait another five months. I am PERFECTLY okay with that! Hehe. I also really like any sandwich with melted cheese. Pb and J is a fav too. Oooo and Cubans. NUM!

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Baking, Shopping, and Good Food

I am most definitely linking up with Becky for Treat Yourself Tuesday today because I have been treating myself quite a bit lately.

This weekend I treated myself to time in the kitchen. I baked up a couple of loaves of gluten-free bread using brown rice flour and almond flour.


And I made these amazing snack bars!

raw cocoa bars

I enjoyed a relaxing evening with two calming essential oils: gentle baby and lavender. I also treated myself to a couple new ones: ylang ylang which smells AMAZING and citronella to try diffusing when we are sitting out on the deck to help keep the skeeters away.

ylang ylang essential oil

On Saturday Dana and I treated ourselves to lunch at The Bulldog in Minneapolis. We were both in the mood for a good burger (typical these days) and Becky recommended this place for amazing burgers, so we thought we would go check it out.

the bulldog

Patty melt for me! So good!

the bulldog burger

I treated the babes to a new outfit from Target. It was on the clearance rack for $5 and I just couldn’t resist.

baby boy clothes

I also treated myself to some maternity clothes and some looser fitting regular clothes. Besides pants and shorts, I should be set for a while! I stocked up on dresses!


Last night I was treated by my brother as he cooked up an awesome stir-fry dinner for me and the fam! As much as I love to cook, I love it even more when someone else cooks for me!

stir fry

Thank you Becky for hosting the link-up!

How did YOU treat yourself this week?!

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Raw Cocoa Bars

Thank you for all of the sweet comments in reply to my last few posts! In case you missed them:

Beautiful Changes
Pregnancy: Some of the Details
Gender Reveal: It’s a…

We are so excited to know that we are having a boy and are dreaming about what he will look like, what his personality will be like, and what his interests will be! I’m also having a really good time starting to think about how I want to decorate the baby room.

I have baby on my mind all the time….but one must still eat and function on a day-to-day basis. 🙂

Yesterday I was a busy girl in the kitchen. Along with baking GF bread, and prepping fruits and veggies, I also put together a super tasty, fudgy, chocolaty bar. This bar is refined sugar-free, raw, and perfectly healthy! It’s great as a snack or even a dessert.

raw cocoa bars.jpg

There are only four ingredients involved in this bar:

  1. Dates
  2. Almonds
  3. Walnuts
  4. Raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder such as Hershey’s)

raw cocoa bars raw cocoa bars raw cocoa bars

They are so easy and so delicious. I ate three yesterday and wanted to keep going back. What I love about making my own bars is that I can make them in whatever sizes I wish. I like to make them in a variety of sizes because you never know when you might need just a mini pick-me-up or a more substantial one!

Raw Cocoa Bars
  • ½ cup unsalted almonds (I used raw)
  • ¼ cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1 cup dates (pits removed)
  • 3 Tbsp. raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder such as Hershey's)
  1. In food processor, add almonds and walnuts and process until they resemble wet sand texture; pour into small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add dates to food processor. Process until mixture begins to form a ball, and pieces are small.
  3. Add nut mixture and cacao powder into food processor with the dates. Process until combined; about 1 minute.
  4. Form combined mixture into bars or balls using your hands and store in air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (they last longer but they start to get hard).

There you have it! You don’t have to get the oven going, they are easy, AND they are healthy. There’s no reason not to make these cute lil’ guys!

Happy Monday my friends!

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Spaghetti Cauli-fredo

I wish I could take credit for the recipe you are about to see, because in my opinion it is sheer genius.

I am not one to usually order any dish with alfredo sauce because in general, I feel like absolute crud after I eat it. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the taste of alfredo sauce because I most certainly do. So when I ran across this recipe for healthy, lighter alfredo sauce, I knew I had to give it a go.

This recipe comes from Pinch of Yum and uses steamed cauliflower as the base of the sauce. You’re initial reaction may be, “blah, that is going to taste absolutely disgusting like cooked cauliflower,” but no, no, no. It doesn’t.

When I took my first bite of the sauce I was 100% blown away at how much it actually tasted like real alfredo sauce.


I followed the recipe except I cut it in half. Here is Pinch of Yum’s cauli-fredo recipe:

Author: Pinch of Yum
Serves: makes about 5 cups
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
  • ½ cup milk (more to taste)
  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  3. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.
I like to add a little bit of olive oil for the flavor and to help keep the sauce really smooth. Several other readers have mentioned that they really liked the addition of Parmesan cheese as well.
To check out her website: Pinch of Yum
I whipped up a batch of brown rice spaghetti, seamed broccoli and one chicken sausage. I added the cauli-fredo sauce to the pasta, broccoli, and chicken, gave it a good stir and plated it up. I added a touch more salt and pepper, then finished it with parmesan cheese. *Note—you don’t need to use all of the sauce. I halved her recipe and I used half of that sauce for Dana and my portions.
The sauce is creamy and garlicky. I ate a little too much I think because I was feeling pretty full the rest of the evening because it was just SO good. It’s a rich dish and a really truly delicious dish.
Still skeptical? Don’t be. Be adventurous and try it out for yourself! 
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Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)

Growing up my mom used to make us goulash. I remember macaroni noodles with ground beef and tomatoes. Talk about the perfect meal for four growing teenagers! Go mom!

It has been years since I’ve had this dish, and I thought it sounded delicious. Plus it’s something new and different for me to get thrown into the mix.

So, I got crackin’ in the kitchen. This was actually an incredibly easy meal to prepare. And just a forewarning, this is by no means an authentic Hungarian Goulash recipe. It’s Melanie throwing a bunch of things into a pot and hoping that it turns out well with the right seasonings kind of a recipe.

I have to say, my experimenting, tasting (always taste!), and seasoning turned out to be a success. I present to you:

goulash  goulash  goulash


Dana and I really enjoyed this dish. Another un-authentic touch was that I added grated parmesan cheese on top. Everything’s better with cheese am I right?

Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)
4.0 from 1 reviews
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup gluten-free pasta (dry)--I used brown rice and quinoa spirals
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • ½ tsp. dried mustard
  • 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5.5 fl oz can tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup peas
  1. Cook pasta as directed on package to al dente. Drain; set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, brown and chop ground beef into small pieces.
  3. Add onions and celery and let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper, dried sage, dried mustard, red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder, tomatoes, tomato juice, and worchestershire. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add butter and peas. Stir and allow peas to get warm; about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and gently stir in pasta.
  7. Taste test goulash for seasonings. Add additional seasonings if desired.
  8. Serve hot!

Add this to your rotating dinner menu. It is satisfying, healthy, serves a crowd, and is delicious!

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Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Happy Cinco de Mayo and happy birthday to my papa!!! I love you love you love you!

mom and dad

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I have a an Italian pizza recipe for you. Hahahaha. Kidding obviously that isn’t very Cinco de  Mayo–y.

On Friday I made a gluten-free pizza that turned out pretty darn well. There are some changes I would absolutely make to it to make it better next time, and I am going to offer you those suggestions today. With that, you will have to experiment with baking times.

The crust was just a little too thick for my liking, so what I would do next time is halve the recipe and make a thinner crust. This would account for less cooking time.

gluten-free pizza crust

I used an all-purpose gluten-free flour for the crust. I found this humungous bag at Costco.

gluten free flour

It’s made up of rice flour, ground flaxseed, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and xantham gum. I’ve also used just plain old almond flour or almond meal in pizza crusts and they turn out great.

gluten free flour


What made me really excited about this pizza was that I could actually pick the piece of pizza up with my hand without having it fall apart. Most of my other gluten-free pizza crust attempts involve a fork because the pieces aren’t strong enough to pick up. I considered this a success for sure and I think that even if I made the crust much thinner, it would still hold up.

gluten-free pizza crust gluten-free pizza crust


gluten free pizza crust


Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

What I did and what I think you should try versions.

1. What I did (the crust was thicker than I would have liked and not as crispy as I like).


  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grab a large baking pan and either coat it with non-stick cooking spray or use a non-stick baking mat.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and place dough onto baking mat on the counter (not inside of the pan at this point). Cover the top of the dough with a piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough as flat as possible so that it still fits on the mat. Then, place mat onto baking pan. If you don’t have a mat you could do this by placing parchment paper on the bottom and the top of the dough and then transferring the dough to the pan once rolled.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove crust from oven, use fork to poke holes in the crust but do not puncture all the way through. Add toppings as you wish. I added marinara sauce, cheese, and loads of veggies.
  5. Place back in oven and bake for 25 more minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings looked cooked.
  6. ENJOY!

What I think you should do especially if you like thinner crust….

  • Halve the crust recipe and make a thinner crust
  • Keep an eye on your pizza while it bakes because baking times will be less than I mentioned
  • Let me know how it turns out and how long you baked it

So much for a super guided recipe, right? Think of it as a fun experiment! If you enjoy a thicker, not so crispy crust, you would probably enjoy the recipe I provided. But personally, I enjoy thinner and crispier!

Happy day my friends!


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Baked Beef Tacos

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Give me tacos and I will be one happy girl. Last night was taco night.

baked beef tacos.jpg

To make things more exciting (as if tacos need more excitement), I baked the tacos so that the cheese melted into the beans, beef, and onions before adding the cool toppings.

baked beef tacos  baked beef tacos

I then added toppings: lettuce, olives, tomatoes, and salsa. I totally forgot to make guacamole but it really didn’t even matter. So much flavor and goodness in these crunchy gems.

baked beef tacos baked beef tacos baked beef tacos

Baked Beef Tacos

(Make as many as you wish with as many toppings as you wish—this is why specific measurements are not given. These are supposed to be super easy!).

What you will need:

  • hard corn tortilla shells (heads up: look for ones without hydrogenated oils—I made that mistake and am kicking myself about it)
  • refried beans
  • cooked ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning*
  • white onion, diced
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • tomato, diced
  • lettuce, chopped
  • green or black olives, chopped
  • salsa
  • guacamole (optional)

*I use Rachael Ray’s homemade taco seasoning recipe which is one part each of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and a quarter of the amount of crushed red pepper (although I used cayenne instead of crushed red pepper).

To make:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Find a oven-safe dish that will fit your taco shells so that they can stand up (you can make as many tacos as you wish).
  2. Use a spoon to spread refried beans along the bottom of the shell and on one or two sides.
  3. Next, layer on the ground beef, onions, and cheese.
  4. Make sure all shells are standing up (preferably) in your dish.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. Top with remaining topping ingredients. ENJOY!

Dana and I both were crazy about these babies! Baking the tacos was a fun little change-up to standard tacos. I lovvvvvvveee melty cheese! Love love love.

Once again, taco night never fails.

What did YOU have for dinner last night?

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

This ugly-looking smoothie deserves some major recognition. I’ve mentioned my favorite smoothie over and over, but I’ve never dedicated an entire to post to it. Considering I eat this smoothie at least 4-5 times a week, it’s time to give it some credit.

I’m talking about my chocolate peanut butter smoothie that I eat for breakfast. It tastes like a peanut butter chocolate shake except it’s wayyyyyy healthier.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie.jpg


It’s smooth, creamy, sweet, chocolatey, and knocks my socks off.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

I’m not one to measure ingredients when I’m making smoothies, but I will do my best to share what I think are the approximate measurements for each ingredient. Feel free to play around with it though!

chocolate peanut butter smoothie


Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie


  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 handfuls frozen kale (approximately 1 cup?)
  • 1 heaping spoonful of raw cacao powder
  • 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
  • 1 heaping spoonful of ground flaxseed
  • almond milk (as much as you need to cover the ingredients


  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed above. I use the personal-size cups in my Ninja Ultima Blender and it is perfect.
  2. Blend until smoothie.
  3. Enjoy right away!

It’s as easy as that! I always feel good about getting some fruits and veggies in right away in the morning! It’s a great way to start the day.

QOTD: What are your current go-to breakfasts?

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