Apple cinnamon pork chops

Everyone knows that pork chops and applesauce are a winning combination, and an epic comfort food duo.

I don’t have applesauce right now, but I do have a bunch of fresh apples ready for eating. Apples are a perfect autumn ingredient, and for once I’m not using them to make a dessert – they are also wonderful in savory dishes. Baking apples with sugar and spices will soften the fruit and create a wonderful caramelized syrup that would go perfectly with seasoned pork.

After trying this out, I realized I was 100% right. This is DELICIOUS. We ate our pork with french fries, but this would be even better with roasted (or mashed) sweet potatoes, a green salad, and some warm crusty bread. YUM!

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A-1 chicken meatloaf

One of my ultimate comfort foods is meatloaf – especially once fall weather has kicked in.

The best meatloaf recipe will always be the one on the back of the A-1 steak sauce bottle. I have tried countless meatloaf recipes, and I keep going back to the A-1 version. I could basically drink a bottle of A-1 and be happy… that stuff is delicious. Easily one of my favorite condiments.

Anyway… This is my lightened-up version of A-1 meatloaf. I used ground chicken, and omitted the tomato sauce for extra A-1. I added a couple more ingredients in as well, like fresh garlic and dried parsley. If you aren’t a fan of ground chicken, this works well with ground turkey, beef, or beef-pork-veal meatloaf mix.

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Cheeseburger pie

Like many kids who grew up in the 80’s/90’s and liked spending time in the kitchen, my first cookbook was the Alpha Bakery Children’s Cookbook. I remember my grandma ordering it for me from the back of a bag of Gold Medal flour. I remember how happy she was to give it to me when it came in the mail –  and how excited I was to look through a cookbook with recipes made for children, complete with colorful cartoon illustrations and large font. I still have this book on display with the rest of my cookbook collection, and I proudly whip it out when I feel like cooking a blast from the past.

the alpha-bakery, the OG of cookbooks.

My favorite alpha bakery recipe was called “Quick Cheeseburger Pie”. I absolutely loved it, and I still do. But as I got older, my taste changed a bit. I’ve made quite a few modifications to an already great recipe, adding in some extra flavors and making the dish more bold.

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Tuscan barley dinner

This was actually the first time I’ve ever had barley.

I heard it was similar to rice – but with a heartier texture, nuttier taste, and a decent amount of protein. Sounds like a carb I could get used to.

However, I didn’t really know what to pair it with. I searched online for some recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me. Since a plain carb is somewhat of a blank canvas I decided to liven it up with sausage, peas, onions, and cheese – as if it were a pasta dish.

The result was absolutely delicious & super filling! My husband and I practically licked our plates clean, and I’m definitely looking forward to making this again.

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Spicy lemon baked shrimp

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten (let alone cooked) seafood.

I was really craving flounder fillet… maybe broiled with some lemon, butter, and parsley…  but when I got to the fish market, these jumbo shrimp just caught my eye. They were huge.

I needed to buy them and eat them for dinner ASAP.

That broiled flounder does sound delicious, though. There’s always next time 🙂

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Loaded protein pancakes

My husband and I LOVE breakfast foods, especially pancakes and waffles. On the down side, they have little to no nutritional value – especially protein.

For me this is a big no-no. Since I work out regularly and lift weights, I need to eat enough protein to remain full, fueled, and ready to build muscle. This pancake recipe uses hemp, a plant-based protein. Though I prefer the taste of standard whey protein, it often gives me an upset stomach where hemp does not. The vanilla flavored hemp has a pleasant taste, and it blends in seamlessly with the Bisquick powder to create a mildly sweet pancake with great texture.

With a mix-in of chocolate chips, blueberries, or whatever else you want to toss in there – these pancakes will keep you full & energized and are super tasty.

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Mediterranean chick pea salad

My mother always says I’m like my grandmother because I have a sweet tooth and a knack for making killer salads. She was known for eating a pack of kitkat bars for dinner, but could seriously jazz up any entrée with an amazing salad.

Sure, salads aren’t a difficult thing to make. Many of them don’t even require cooking of any sort. But when one is composed of the perfect combination of veggies, a tangy dressing, and spices that brighten up the dish – it can truly be something wonderful.

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Low-sugar BREAD MACHINE banana bread

Well… LOWER sugar, at least. This recipe makes about 16 servings, and each one is around 9.5 grams of sugar… which is pretty damn low for a fruit-based bread. This is still as yummy and sweet as ever, and super simple to make because the bread machine does everything for you – from mixing to baking!

This bread makes a killer french toast for breakfast, or warmed up with butter and jam. It’s also perfect if you want it for dessert with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and some berries.

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Tex-Mex turkey stuffed peppers

September is drawing near a close, and the first full month of school is almost over. The mornings and evenings are becoming more brisk, and soon enough we will have true autumn weather.

Autumn is definitely my favorite season. I love the colors of all the leaves, the cooler (but not too cold) weather, apple and pumpkin picking, hot apple cider – the list can go on and on. But the BEST thing about the weather getting cooler is eating hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. That’s right – the warmer weather is on its way out, and its time for me to start turning the oven on once more.

This dish is the perfect segue between light summery meals and autumn comfort. You still get to eat a low-carb meal that incorporates beautiful peppers and a good deal of tex-mex heat, while the filling is hearty and cheesy.

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Lemon chicken stew

Unfortunately, kids have germs. And now that I’m teaching again, I’m surrounded by kids. Welcome to my first upset stomach of the school year.

Whenever I’m having tummy troubles, I eat chicken soup for lunch and dinner. But I HATE most canned soups – they have practically no flavor and barely any chicken. I prefer to make my own in the crock pot – it’s relatively little prep, I can add a substantial amount of protein, and I can season it the way I want to.

My favorite type of chicken soup is Greek Avgolemono. There’s something about lemon and chicken that pairs so well together. I love that the soup is thick, almost like a stew.

I decided to make this lemony chicken stew as a spinoff of standard chicken noodle soup and greek avgolemono soup. I kick it up a notch with some Italian dressing seasoning, two different kinds of pepper, and some protein pasta. It’s soothing enough to heal a troubled tummy but tasty enough to eat when you’re feeling great.

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