Who thought of the idea of having bunnies and eggs for Easter? Does that make any sense at all? This reminds me of the comedian Jim Gaffigan. If you don’t know who I am talking about please utube him and watch him while you eat this casserole. Having this casserole and Jim Gaffigan in the same day? It will be the best day of your life! In one of his series he goes off about holidays and how they don’t make any sense at all. He has this session on holiday traditions. Easter for instance, he talks about how the traditions of Easter were created. Was it just someone sitting around with some leftover hardboiled eggs and thinking hmmm these would be fun to hide. And then insert the bunny? A bunny? Really?
To this day we continue with the tradition of scaring the pants off our kids by introducing them to a huge freaky rabbit and then reward them by letting them search for eggs. How does this make any sense? My Grandmother had a bunny suit and as soon as you were “of age,” which was code for big enough to fit in that ridiculously furry bunny, you could be the chosen one.
What are your Easter traditions? Do you have the Easter bunny come visit your house? What are all the other bunnies considered, regular bunnies?
On Monday, I went shopping and picked up a basket, colorful plastic eggs and a few toys for Graey. When I came home he was out with his Farmor (code for Grandma in Norwegian). So suddenly I had this raging desire to want to stuff the basket and set it out for him so when he came home he would see it. I couldn’t wait six days, let alone a few hours. I filled it and started pacing. Searching around the corner every 2.5 minutes to see if he was coming. Alas, he finally came around the corner. He crawled straight to his basket, as if it had a neon signed that said Graeyson, and emptied out everything. I think he had more fun emptying out the basket than actually enjoying what was inside.
Ok, enough of that. Let’s talk Chicken Cordon Bleu! Truth? Probably one of the best things I ever had and honestly it was super easy! It only took about 30 minutes out of my life and then into the oven it went. Out popped this cheesy, gooey dish of yum and I hardly had to work for it. It doesn’t even seem fair. Guest will seriously think you slaved over this and it wasn’t even difficult. My kind of meal and mind you it is pretty stinking healthy.
This is a great was to get rid of any extra meat from Easter! You can use your leftover ham, turkey, chicken, whatever! Traditionally Chicken Cordon Bleu is all about the swiss cheese. But, lets face it, it stinks! I can’t stand swiss cheese for the life of me, so I switched it out for some creamy gouda.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Author: Nicole Nilsen
7 ounce package of ham (diced only) or turkey bacon (cooked and diced if using turkey bacon)
1 rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
6 slices of gouda or swiss (any cheese would be fine)
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Pepper and salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt, but try 1/4 first)
1/4 + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 3/4 cup bread crumbs (take any bread you have and pulse it in the food processor or blender)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon salt)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 9X13 baking dish
Layer the bottom with the shredded chicken
After the chicken, layer it with the cut up ham (or cooked turkey bacon)
Then layer with cheese
Then the sauce
Then the breadcrumb topping
Bake for 40-45 minutes and then allow for about 5 minutes to cool before serving
TO MAKE THE SAUCE
Pour the grapeseed oil in a medium to large pot and turn heat to medium-high
Once the oil is heated add the spelt flour
Turn the heat down to medium and allow for it to make a roux
Don’t let it burn! Once it starts to bubble a little add the almond milk
Once the sauce has thickened add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper
Continue to let the sauce thicken for about five minutes. Keep it on medium heat though and continue stirring every minute or so.
TO MAKE THE TOPPING
Add the coconut oil to a bowl and heat in the microwave
Once the oil is melted add the bread crumbs, parsley and paprika.
Hey Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it? Yup, it’s hump day! I love Wednesdays because you are in the clear from the “Monday’s,” but you are also just a hop, skip and a jump away from Friday!
This morning Graeyson decided 5:45 am was a great time to start the day. Ouch. My eyes hurt! I may not have actually had to get ready to go anywhere at that time, but it’s just the fact that I have to be up, standing, moving around and grabbing everything Graey puts in his mouth.
My child ate probably a handful of sand today at the park. He licked every stick possibly. What is wrong with boys. We went with two of his friends, Margot and Mary. They sit in the sand perfectly still and play with the sand toys. My child? Oh yes, he is the one taking off in the other direction with a mouthful of sticks and a handful of sand.
Speaking of a mouthful. Hello? Have you seen this new dish I made (look up or down). Deliciousness to the maximum! It took me two days to figure out what to call it and when people ask me to explain what I have been working on it takes forever! It’s taco, meets enchilada, meets italian, meets nachos, meets in my belly! Do I need to say more?
I told my father-in-law it reminded me of hamburger helper from when I was a kid and he looked at me totally disgusted. He said, “Noooooo this isn’t even in the same ballpark, it’s way better!” Ok I can live with that, but you know how hamburger helper had a meat, pasta, and sauce? So it is kind of like that, but adult version, rated “R”. Ok fine, babies can have it.
Until next time!
Mexican Pasta Casserole
Recipe Type: Dinner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 small onion diced
1 1/4 pound dark turkey meat
2 1/2 cups dry rotini brown rice pasta noodles (I use Tinkiyada)
2 cups chicken broth
1 can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (14 oz)
2 cups of cheese, I used cheddar but you could use any type of omit it to keep it non-dairy
2 green onions, diced
1 can black olives, drained
Set your oven to broil
In a cast iron skillet or a large pot, melt the coconut oil
Add the garlic and onions to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat
Add the turkey meat and cook until browned
Once the turkey meat is cooked add in the chicken stock, enchilada sauce and rotini noodles.
Cook it for about ten minutes, right about when the noodles are still al dente. You don’t want them to be completely cooked
Take it off the burner and let it sit covered for about five minutes
Add in half of the cheese and mix
If you aren’t already using a cast iron pour it into one now and top with cheese and olives
Place it into the oven and allow it to broil about 3 minutes until it starts bubbling and is lightly browned on the top
Pull it out of the oven and top it with green onions and sour cream or yogurt if desired
So next week is Easter! This will be the first year we wont be doing the egg hunting. Now that we are getting mature and older. Okay lets face it, we had a kid and now it’s his turn to do the Easter egg hunting. I mean it would just be embarrassing to have him show us up in an egg hunting contest.
It should be totally fun, except Graeyson can’t walk yet. So pretty much we will be dragging him around from one area to the next until we see that little goofy grin on his face that says “Ooo pretty, shiny!”
With Easter comes the tradition of food, just like every other holiday! Usually the host handles dinner, traditionally ham, and the guests bring appetizers. With that in mind I thought I would give you a healthier option to make and bring for your appetizer! I know you want the traditional pigs in a blanket, but lets face it we are what we eat. I don’t want to be a pig in a blanket, do you?
Typically cheese balls are made with cream cheese and more cheese. I decided to change it up and give it a little more flavor. The only cream used here is plain greek yogurt. This cheese ball has such a great texture and flavor. You bite into it and you’ve got the creaminess going on, then the onions, then the garlic and lastly a nice slightly salty crunch of almonds bits and turkey bacon. Can I hear a “Yum!”?
I made a batch of this and so many people wanted to try it that I had to start rationing it out. I would only let people have a tiny bite so that everyone was able to try it. It went really fast! It will definitely be an appetizer I will keep making again and again because it is a major crowd pleaser!
*Make sure to make this the night before or at least a good couple hours before you need it because it does need to chill in the fridge before you roll it into a ball.
Greek Yogurt Cheese Ball
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Nicole Nilsen
4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and finely chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 green onion, finely diced
1/2-1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup almonds, chopped, mixed with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of salt, and placed in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes until lightly browned.
In a medium sized bowl add your greek yogurt and cheese and mix well.
Add in the green onions and garlic and mix
Once the almonds and turkey bacon have cooled those can be added too
Chill the mix for a couple hours
Pull it out of the fridge and carefully roll the mixture into a ball and set on a platter
Keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve
Serve with fruits, vegetables, bread, or crackers.
Can you believe it is almost Summer! I know that we still have 2 months, but I am ready for it now. All this time in San Diego is making me want Summer like yesterday! With Summertime comes less clothing time, meaning we have got to get into shape! We have to start eating lots of veggies to make our tummies go away. I am so excited this year because I am not 1 month post-pregnancy. So I will actually be able to fit into shorts or a bathing suit.
I love everything about Summer! The BBQ’s, the late sunsets, the water and all of the fellowship that comes with it. What is your favorite part about summer?
Here is the perfect meal to help you cleanse and shed some of those unwanted love handles. Don’t be mistaken flavor is not lacking here. It is so crunchy, hearty, filling and has flavor pouring out the brim! This salad is packed with nutrition and I promise you wont even feel like it is “diet food.” This is a great summer food because it will keep you lean but it is also really cool and refreshing!
Just make sure to pour the dressing on as needed so that it doesn’t get soggy!
Happy Friday everyone!!
Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad
Recipe Type: Lunch/Dinner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
For the salad:
1 cup red cabbage, grated
3/4 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup cilantro, leaves chopped only
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup unsalted almonds, smashed or cut up and toasted on 350 degrees with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of salt for about 8 minutes until browned. Make sure to flip them every couple minutes
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup Coconut Aminos
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sesame chili oil
3/4 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon agave
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Take out two large bowls and a whisk
In the first bowl add all of the salad ingredients listed, except the almonds. (#1-6)
In the second bowl add all of the sauce ingredients (#8-17) and whisk away!
Pour the dressing on top just before serving (so it doesn’t get soggy!) or have everyone pour their own dressing.
Happy Wednesday! Graeyson, who has become the official taste-tester of The Nilsen Pantry, and I caught a flight from San Francisco to San Diego last night to visit my husband. Yes, kind of a weird situation my husband and I have. He is in the military and so for now this is how our lives are! So, we will be reporting to you from sunny San Diego!
I love the weather in San Diego! Even though it is only about 500 miles from where Graeyson and I live it sometimes it seems like a completely different world when it comes to the weather, especially in the winter. We spent our whole winter this year in San Diego and I believe it rained once and not even for an entire day! At home they had a couple of flash flood warnings! The humidity in San Diego is much higher as well. You could probably where shorts 365 days a year, okay maybe 363 days.
The food here is fabulous! I have never found a place with more variety, uniqueness and flavor. I usually go home with lots of inspiration for cooking in the kitchen when I leave San Diego.
Before we had Graey, we would go to nice restaurants occasionally and actually get to savor, chew and enjoy all the food we ordered. Now, I don’t even think I get the chance to swallow my food!
We used to go to this restaurant called Primavera in Coronado. It was a lovely, quaint, quiet restaurant. Super romantic! I always wanted them to prepare a dish that wasn’t on the menu! It was similar to this Shrimp Carbonara, however, I have made my health tweaks to this dish.
My Shrimp Carbonara tastes like Shrimp Scampi meets Alfredo meets Carbonara. I realize none of those are even healthy, but trust me this version is. I also use brown rice noodles, so it is gluten-free! It is creamy, garlicky, salty, sweet, meaty, yummy, seriously do you need me to keep going!
Enjoy and don’t be too jealous that Graey and I are sunning it up in sunny San Diego!
Recipe Type: Dinner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
**Side Note: Cook the pasta a couple minutes less than the package instructions. You want it to be al dente because it is going to cook a little more once the heat from the bacon sets on there. You don’t want it to be mushy!
1 pound fresh shrimp or prawns
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 T olive oil
1 scallion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of linguine (I used brown rice noodles)
3 green onions, diced
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 eggs yolks
1/2 cup coconut milk (full-fat), mix cream and water in the can well before measuring out
1 package of turkey bacon, cooked and diced
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and pepper
Fill a large pot with water, a good pinch of salt and a couple splashes of olive oil. Once it begins to boil throw in your pasta and cook as directed. (See note in summary)
While the pasta is cooking grab a medium sized bowl and add your eggs yolks, coconut milk, and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese and mix well. Set aside.
Add half of the scallions, 2 garlic cloves and the chopped shallot to the cooked turkey bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes
In a medium sized skillet melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Add in the other two garlic cloves and the shrimp.
Cook shrimp until it is pink
Once the pasta is done cooking, drain the water but do not rinse.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pasta and mix it around the help separate the pasta.
Add the cream mixture to the pasta and mix well
Add in the ingredients that were in the skillet with the bacon and gently mix
Pour the entire skillet with shrimp, liquid and all into the pasta pot and mix well.
The oils from the shrimp skillet will help to keep the sauce thinner as well as add more flavor
Have you ever tried making dinner with a child, or even worse children! It is so difficult. I was trying to make this while also occupying Graeyson. I close both doors to the kitchen so it is completely closed off and will throw a bunch of toys on the floor. However, he always seems to find something he is not supposed to play with. His toys occupy him for a few minutes, the pots and pans a few extra minutes and some puff cereal will possibly buy me a few more.
Being a food blogger is not all glimmer and glam! It is hard work, especially when you have little ones under your feet while you are trying to write down and calculate measurements. If I had to do math all over again I would probably get an “A” just because I had a peacefully quiet room and an entire hour to myself to take a test. When will I ever get that again? A whole hour to myself in the peace and quiet? Maybe in twenty years. For now it is going to be extra pots and pans on the floor with an 11-month-old.
Luckily, this meal was super easy and quick! It didn’t require a lot of bribing with the baby. Once this is done cooking the chicken shreds so easily! It is so tender and moist. The coconut sugar gives the chicken a nice sweet caramelized flavor that is absolutely to die for! Pour it on top of some gorgeous colorful quinoa and you have dinner done in no time!
Sticky Crock Pot Chicken with Colored Quinoa
Recipe Type: Dinner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup coconut sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup zevia lemon- lime soda (sweetened with stevia)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more if you like it really spicy)
2 cups prepared colored quinoa (Cook with chicken broth and a pinch of salt)
In a medium sized bowl mix together all of the ingredients (except the chicken)
Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot and pour the sauce over the chicken
Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours
Shred the chicken up in the crockpot and serve on top of quinoa
Did you ever make the Honor Roll when you were a kid? I was one of those children many would call a pain in the butt. I had to be bribed to do anything! My parents made a deal with me when I was younger. Whenever I made the honor roll we would go out to Black Angus and I could have a steak and lobster dinner. I worked so hard to get a B-! I needed at least that, so that’s where the bar was set.
My grades have always been a roller coaster. Who seriously wants to sit in a class and listen to someone talk non-stop for what seemed like an eternity? Why couldn’t we just go to the beach? My Mom would try to make light of our grades calling them “F for fabulous” or “D for dandy.” My Dad was never amused. Lighten up Dad! Maybe I did need a few math classes, but seriously geometry? What is that all about? Is someone trying to mess with us?
Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days where I could just sit around and have someone talk. Sitting down, whats that like? I wish someone was giving me a steak dinner to sit on my duff now as an adult. But, in order to do that I have to pay for a babysitter and pay or dinner! Things were much simpler back in the day.
Chateaubriand is basically a fancy name for Top Sirloin. I love this cut of meat because it isn’t as expensive as your finest meats, but when cooked correctly it can be just as delicious and tender.
I am and will always be a meat and potatoes kind of girl. I love the sunset fingerling potatoes. Especially when they are drenched in garlic! All of the colors make everything feel like a special occasion. But, really it’s just Tuesday night.
This is a great meal for any day of the week. It is really easy and quick to make! Start to finish it is only about 45 minutes and most of that is the oven working its magic. My kind of meal! Now if I could just get someone to help me with the dishes!
Chateaubriand with Sunset Fingerling Potatoes
Recipe Type: DInner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
2 pounds Chateaubriand
1 bag of Sunset Fingerling Potatoes (about 20)
Santa Maria Seasoning (from Whole Foods Market)
1/4 cup coconut oil + 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Put 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a cast iron, dutch oven or large baking pan
Place the meat on the cast iron (or other pan)
Cover the meat with Santa Maria seasonings and pepper on both sides
Put in the oven for a total of ten minutes. Flip the meat over to the other side after the first five minutes.
While the meat is in the oven melt 1/4 cup coconut oil in a large pot.
Add the potatoes and a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
Saute on medium heat for 4 minutes and take then take the potatoes off the heat
Add the freshly minced garlic to the potatoes and stir
After the meat has been in the oven for 10 minutes remove the meat and place the potatoes on the cast iron (or other pan)
Put the meat on top of the potatoes and bake it for 15-20 minutes
Take the meat out once it is cooked to medium (total of 25-30 minutes)
Leave the potatoes in the oven for a few additional minutes or until you can prick them with a fork (potatoes should cook for a total of 20-25 minutes)
Remove the potatoes from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley
There is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter and when you put them together lets just say magic happens. The clouds part and the rain goes away. In that moment everything is right in the world.
When I was a kid we always made brownies out of the box. The colorful box consisting of powdered chocolate sugar with chocolate chips. All you had to do was add the nasty canola oil. I thought it was the best thing at first, but as it started to digest I wished I had never opened the box. The days of the colorful box is finally past me. These brownies don’t contain any flour, butter or refined sugars and you certainly won’t find any cardboard boxes lurking about.
There is one problem with these brownies, they are seriously addictive! I even ate one for breakfast. They didn’t even last a day in my house. I made the mistake of sending a couple of friends a picture of what I was working on and they came banging on my door saying, “So where’s the brownies?”
If you let anyone know you are making these you better make a double batch and hide one of them!
Peanut Butter Brownies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Nicole Nilsen
1/2 cup 365 creamy peanut butter (make sure to stir really well so that you don’t end up with a lot of oil)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup agave
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder, not cocoa
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chips
Grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil
Pulse all of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips in a food processor
Pour the ingredients into a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips by hand
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan
Bake the brownies at 350 degrees for 13-16 minutes
Allow brownies to cool completely and to un-puff before serving.
When you take the brownies out of the oven they will be very puffy but will settle down as they cool
Does anyone shop at Costco? Costco can be great for large families, but for small families like mine you could end up eating the same meal for three weeks because there is way too much food! Who seriously wants to eat pizza for three weeks straight? Ok prego’s, put your hands down I’m not talking to you. Pizza is like crack when you are pregnant. The day isn’t complete without pizza. “What do you want to eat today honey?” “How about a pizza donut for breakfast, for lunch I’ll have a pizza salad and for dinner how about if we just order some pizza?”
For this Costco go around we have been stuck with apples. I didn’t know we needed 25 apples, but Costco thought we did. I mean come on, they are only going to be good for about a week and then they are going to start getting brown spots. Therefore, we are going to have some apple recipes coming your way! In fact there will be 102. I hope you are ready! Wow. what if that were really true? Snooze-fest!
As always you will find no refined sugars or butter in this recipe. I used whole wheat flour, but the muffin is still light and fluffy! In case you were wondering, yes it is jam packed with apples. I mean somehow we have got to get rid of these apples. They are taking over the house.
Let me just say we ate a lot of Apple Cake Muffins these past two weeks. I made them four times before I got the right consistency.
They are so moist, crumbly, flavorful and melt in your mouth buttery. They have the perfect combination of seasonings and textures. They taste just like biting into a yummy apple cake, but better because it is for breakfast! Who wouldn’t want cake for breakfast and bonus points because it is good for you?
Apple Cake Muffins
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Nilsen Pantry
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons xylitol
1 large eggs
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/16 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 cup pink lady or green apples, peeled and chopped into 1/4 – 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons quick oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line 8 muffin tins in a muffin baking tin and grease them
Mix all of the streusel ingredients with your fingers. Pinch and press everything together until well combined and solid dark brown
Take out two large bowls
In one bowl combine and mix all of the dry ingredients (not the apples)
In the second bowl combine and mix all of the wet ingredients (not the apples)
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well
Stir in apple chunks
Fill the muffin tins to the brim with the muffin mix
Top with streusel and slightly press down
Put the muffins into the oven on 425 for 5 minutes and then set the oven to 350 degrees for a remainder 10-12 minutes
French fries are something that has been in my life for a very long time. I don’t think people realize how bad the fast food restaurant fries are. Sure, regular potatoes are vegetables and all, but they aren’t the most beneficial to our health and then you throw on some disgusting hydrogenated oil on the top of them that has been sitting in the fryer for weeks and you’ve got yourself a nice bath of free radical garbage! You start off with something descent and turn it into one of the most unhealthy food products on the planet. What is sad is that people are feeding these to their children! Oh here you go you’ve been such a good boy how about I give you a higher percentage of getting heart disease. It makes no sense.