Tag Archives: chicken

Recipe: Mel’s Stuffed Peppers with Avocado Sauce


Stuffed Pepper Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 tsp. sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped red and green bell pepper
  • 2 c. stemmed and chopped kale leaves
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. uncooked red quinoa
  • 6 whole bell peppers
  • parmesan rind and freshly grated cheese (optional)
  • fresh cilantro leaves (optional topping)

Stuffed Peppers Instructions:

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onions and peppers with salt and pepper until almost translucent. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add ground chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t worry about getting it fully cooked yet–it will keep cooking through to the end. Stir in sriracha, Worcestershire, and spices.

Add water, quinoa, and kale, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes (see quinoa package cooking instructions for time length; if you have parmesan rinds available, add them during this step).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425ºF and prep whole bell peppers by carefully cutting off (and reserving) pepper tops. Remove seeds and pith. You may need to remove a small portion of the bottom of the pepper so it stands upright, being careful not to cut through into the shell of the pepper.

Stir stuffing till mixed evenly. Oil a medium size casserole dish and line with about 1-2 cups of the stuffing. Stuff peppers and place in stuffing bed in the casserole dish.  Place pepper tops back in casserole dish as well. If there’s any remaining stuffing, add it to the casserole dish around the peppers to help them stand up. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Meanwhile, prepare Avocado Sauce (below).

For serving, remove parmesan rinds, drizzle with Avocado Sauce, and top with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Avocado Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water (or more to desired consistency)

Avocado Sauce Instructions:

Add all ingredients except olive oil and water into food processor (or high power blender) and blend till smooth. Slowly drizzle olive oil in till emulsified, then slowly pour water in until sauce reaches desired viscocity.

Note: This dish is great to make the night before and reheats very well. On the second day (if there is any leftover stuffing), use as taco filling and top with chopped fresh tomatoes, sour cream, avocado sauce and fresh chopped cilantro.

Recipe: Citrus Chicken with Roasted Peaches

Citrus Chicken with Roasted Peaches, served with Mixed Greens Salad topped with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Sliced Plums

Recipe: Citrus Chicken with Roasted Peaches

by Melissa McKinnon


  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons raspberry blush balsamic vinegar (or any sweeter vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons organic olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
  • 2-4 large peaches, halved and pitted
  • 1 small whole organic chicken, separated (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 boneless breasts, 2 thighs; or you could use boneless, skinless chicken breast)
Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together all ingredients (except peaches and chicken). Place chicken and peaches on baking stone (or oiled baking pan) and brush with citrus dressing. Bake for 20-30 minutes (or until chicken is white throughout but still moist); you may need to flip the chicken and peaches half way through baking.
Note: If you have leftover roasted peaches, they would go perfectly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!


Dinner: Moroccan Couscous with Sweet & Spicy Chicken and Honey Glazed Carrots

Believe it or not, this is a 30-minute meal! Everything came together very quickly and each piece took about the same amount of time to cook. The carrots and couscous are low maintenance (cover and cook on low, basically), and then you just have to watch the chicken. Tonight’s dinner came from this week’s meal plan:

I used Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs for the meat and we seasoned it with our favorite Sweet & Spicy Rub, pan-frying in about 1 Tbsp. of butter over medium-low heat (about 20 minutes).

For the couscous, I added chopped frozen spinach and minced garlic to the couscous as it was cooking instead of cooking the spinach separately (only cooks for 10 minutes after it comes to a boil).

For the Honey-Glazed Carrots, I peeled the carrots and left them whole. I added 1 Tbsp. of butter to a large saute pan over low heat. I lined up the carrots across the pan and covered them, letting them steam and become golden brown on one side (about 10 minutes). I rotated them one time, covered again, and let them finish browning on the opposite side. Meanwhile, I melted 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. Raw Mesquite Honey in a small saucepan with 1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes (fresh would be even better). I drizzled the honey butter over the carrots after they were plated. So pretty! (This took about 15-20 minutes from start to finish.)

Not pictured: a beautiful salad of romaine, grape tomatoes, green pepper slices, chopped carrots and chunks of feta cheese with a celery seed vinaigrette. (This was left over from last night, so it didn’t add into the prep time for tonight’s dinner, but if you prep your vegetables when they arrive, it makes it a lot easier to pull together quick dinners.)

We had our friends Nate & Leigh over for dinner and finished the evening with French Pressed Vanilla Coconut Coffee and a few games of Dominion. Bryan’s been wanting me to try it for months now. I think we know what we’re going to spend our anniversary gift on this year! This is such a fun game!

Recipe: Chicken Leek Soup (and How to Clean a Leek)


  • 2 Tbsp. Butter (you could use olive oil instead)
  • 2 organic Leeks, white portion only, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove organic garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 – 1 tsp. prepared minced garlic)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth (I use 1 tsp. vegetable bouillon + 1 c. water)
  • 2 c. chicken broth (I use 2 chicken bouillon cubes + 2 c. water)
  • 1 1/2 c. organic Yukon Gold Potatoes (I used 4 small potatoes)
  • 1 c. chopped organic rotisserie chicken breast (Bryan made this earlier last week)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 c. organic heavy whipping cream

How to Prepare Leeks:

Organic Leeks - remove outermost leave and rinse

Remove and discard root tip and green portion of stems.

Cut each leek in half lengthwise.

Leeks tend to be quite sandy. Press the center of the halved leek and thoroughly rinse between each layer to ensure the lack of grit in your meal.

How to Make the Soup:

1. Melt butter in Medium Pot on stove over medium low heat.
2. Thinly slice prepared leeks and mince garlic.
3.  Add leeks and garlic to butter with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until soft and slightly golden brown.
4. Finely chop potatoes; roughly chop rotisserie chicken.
5. Add vegetable broth, chicken broth, potatoes and chicken to pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.
6. Add seasonings and whisk in cream.
7. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Bon Appetit! ~Melissa

Veggie Cravings…

I hurried out of the house today and only had time to grab some sliced turkey and provolone for lunch. My coworker had a bowl of homemade hummus that smelled delicious and it made me start craving veggies! So, I decided to run down to Quizno’s and get a small chopped salad. What a great deal!

They have several of their small chopped salads that are on the 2 for $5 menu. I didn’t want two, so I just got one and it ended up being $3.12 with tax. But I don’t know why they call it small. It was the perfect size! And it doesn’t come with the flatbread, so you don’t have to worry about the extra carbs. I ordered without the cheese and got extra veggies (red onion, black olives, banana peppers). Quizno’s must be trying to compete with Subway now, because they let you add extra veggies to your salads and subs at the end for no charge. It also comes with guacamole, salsa, and a side of chipotle dressing. I only used about 1 tsp. of the 2 Tbsp. serving of dressing (to cut calories).

All in all, I spent $3 for less than 300 calories and a satisfied belly. It really was delicious! I forgot to take a picture before diving in, so you’ll have to imagine my add-ins on the picture from the Quizno’s website. Yum! Click the picture below to be directed to their site.

On a general side note, do watch the nutritional facts at Quizno’s. Check out their “Under 500 calories” menu and watch the mayo, cheese, and dressings they like to add. The good thing about Quizno’s is they’re consistent. They weigh the meat, so you get the same amount every time. And you can choose warm or cold subs too. Just because the word “salad” is in the title does NOT mean it’s healthy, so check the facts, and eat smart. Bon Appetit!

Ready to Go, Willing to Stay

God has been so good to us! We’ve had a very busy few weeks couple of months, but even through some difficulties, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Lord has been teaching us so many things through church, teaching the names of God to our fourth grade Sunday School class with Dave & Rachel, various discussions and times of prayer, and personal study. I’ve been reading a really good book recently, called Turn Away Wrath by Rand Hummel. It’s a simple layout and easy to follow with practical illustrations with good use of scripture references to backup the key concepts.

Bryan’s job here is changing gears in a fast way and we’re not sure how much longer he’ll be with the company. So, we’re looking for a job for him, either here or wherever God has for us. We’ll see what the Lord does. Either way, we have to be ready. If he’s unable to find a job for a while, we have some reserves and no debt, but I’d like to keep our savings growing and I’m not sure we’d be able to remain status quo without his income contribution. So, we’re being flexible and getting ready for change (which can sometimes be a little scary).

We’ve been able to sell one of our cars. This was a great story: we actually sold it to a couple in our church who needed a second vehicle. We put it up on FB and the blog late on Friday night, got a call Saturday, and signed the car over on Sunday, with cash in our pockets. Praise the Lord! The hope is to sell the other one too and buy one vehicle, like a small SUV, wagon, or truck, that would be good for hauling stuff, if and when the need arises.

I also started a new side business selling JuicePlus+ (check out the JuicePlus page on this blog for more details). I’ve done a lot of research on it (and so have lots of medical journals and doctors). It’s a great product! I thought that the more I researched, the more I’d be disinterested and become more and more skeptical, but the opposite is true. I love that it’s made from whole foods (17 fruits, vegetables, and grains)! I love that it’s organic (tested twice to ensure there’s no pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.)! I love that it’s cheaper than a cup of coffee each day (about $1.39 per adult per day, and you can get a free children’s subscription with every adult’s)! And I love that it fits with my lifestyle (still wanting to be a personal trainer and stay-at-home mom some day in the future)! Oh, yeah, and I’m still training two PT clients (they’re so much fun!).

We’re also downsizing. We’re selling a bunch of excess furniture, accessories, etc. (Check out the For Sale! page on this blog.) And we spruced up the house with new carpet, fresh paint, and decluttering. The new carpet has made significant improvements; it was a TON of work though. We saved a bunch of money by tearing out the old carpet and removing the toilet so they could lay linoleum in the bathroom. And we moved the furniture ourselves for an additional savings. And the house is officially a wallpaper-free zone! If the next house we want to buy has wallpaper in  more than one room, I’m pretty sure it will be a deal breaker for me! Way too much time and effort to remove it!

We made a long weekend vacation to Colorado over Labor Day weekend to see friends and visit their church. Redeemer Bible is a church plant from our church here, Heritage Bible Church. Heritage does Shepherding Groups every other Wednesday night. It’s a chance to be involved in a small group and get to know each other in a more intimate and caring setting. We usually meet in homes and sip coffee or tea as we share what we’re learning and pray for one another. Over the last three years, God has moved in the hearts of about 75% of the small group we were involved in to move out of Greenville and help other churches. Some moved to Atlanta and Michigan, others are moving to Ohio, some are praying about other church plants in DC and NYC, and many have already moved to Brighton, Colorado. Our trip to Colorado was wonderful! We brought along some of our best friends, and really enjoyed ourselves. And who doesn’t love Colorado?! We spent a good long vacation there last October and helped the pastor and his family get settled into their new home. It’s our dream to be able to be out there.

So after all that, last night we met with our realtor and the house will be going on the market today! Again, we’ll see what God does. In the meantime, we are ready to go yet willing to stay.

One thing that’s unique with our situation is that we have an amazing realtor (Mark Hoagland of Keller Williams Realty) that I’ve known for years (back from my Ohio days) who now goes to the same church as we do. After he took pictures of the house, we sat down to a delicious dinner. We finished the evening with hot tea and signing documents. Check out the menu:

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 Sweet & Spicy Chicken (I used the sweet & spicy rub I’ve talked about so much and baked the chicken for 40 minutes in a 400F oven), Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Cauliflower (chopped up half a head of cauliflower, sprinkled it with 1 tsp. of minced garlic and 1/3 block of fresh parm and baked at 450F for 30 minutes), Fresh Salad (prepared by the realtor and his wife, it included fresh lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, sunflower seeds, and a balsamic vinagrette), and Whole Wheat Pitas (served with butter, fresh mint, feta cheese and sliced radishes).

The MLS# is 1211903 (click on the number for the listing and pictures of the house). In the meantime, we ask you to pray with us for direction and God’s timing. Thanks so much! Ready to go, willing to stay, and enjoying the journey along the way!


When Life Gives You Thawed Blueberries…Make Cobbler!

Tonight, I got off work around 5 and headed to the gym to work out while Bryan finished up what he had to do at work. I actually like that we get to carpool and that our schedules work out that I still get to use the gym at work most days. Tonight, I knew I was going walking with Jan again, so I decided to do some strength and flexibility training while I had the opportunity. Truth is, I knew if I waited till after the walk, it wouldn’t get done.

So, I did my weights and some yoga and walked a mile on the treadmill while watching Food Network (my favorite pastime in the gym). 🙂 Then we came home. I mixed up a seasoning rub and pulled out the salmon to thaw (we cooked this after our walk and it was delicious!). Then Jan came and we headed on our walk. We did 3 miles together! It started out being a bit warm, but it slowly cooled down as we kept going. Meanwhile, Bryan took the opportunity to mow the lawn.

Well, when we got back to the house, the first thing Bryan told me was that the freezer breaker had tripped and everything in our big freezer in the shed was almost thawed. So, Jan and I quickly moved everything inside to the refrigerator/freezer, sadly tossing some things that weren’t as cool as others. Thanks for your help, Jan! Fortunately, we didn’t have to throw too much away. A lot of the stuff was still slightly frozen, so we caught it in time. While I was putting everything away inside, Bryan cleaned up the freezer (and a small portion of the floor in front of the freezer) for me. What a sweetheart!

One thing that doesn’t really thaw too well is blueberries. And I had two big bags of them out there. They were still chilled, so I decided to make lemons into lemonade…or shall we say, blueberries into blueberry cobbler! I used about 6 cups for the cobbler and patted dry the rest and placed them in the dehydrator. I’ve never dehydrated blueberries before, but they’re selling them in grocery stores next to the raisins and cranberries, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Life happens, and it’s better to throw out a $10 bag of chicken than to get some form of foodborne illness and incur lost wages and possible medical bills! I know it hurts, but when stuff like this happens, use my grandmother’s saying: “When in doubt, throw it out!” And when life gives you a bag of thawed blueberries, make blueberry cobbler!

Soup, Salad, and Mediterranean Chicken

We helped some friends move on Saturday and thought we’d continue to help by serving them dinner. I needed something simple because I didn’t have much time to prepare it. One of our guests has some food restrictions: no wheat, no beef, no dairy. So I made carrot soup for her with olive oil, a leek, carrots, and vegetable broth. I have my own homemade vegetable bouillon made with organic vegetables (see earlier post; 1 tsp. + 1 c. water = 1 c. vegetable broth). And I made potato soup for the rest of the party.

We served the soup with a delicious, fresh salad. The salad consisted of mixed greens, sliced strawberries and pink lady apples, sliced almonds, crunchy bean sprouts, zest and juice from half of one lemon, and chunks of bleu cheese (cheese served on the side).
Bryan was in charge of the Mediterranean chicken. He cut apart 3 large chicken breasts into strips, lined them in a 9″x13″ pan, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and a jar of kalamata olives, and baked at 400F for about 25-30 minutes (make sure the chicken is white throughout before serving).
It was a beautiful day to sit on the back porch and enjoy this meal with our friends. Here’s a basic chart for your basic soups. I’m excited to try this basic soup recipe with other vegetables. It seems like it could work with almost anything.

Mar. 23, 2010: michelle said…”Love the chart, Mel! =) Thanks!”

Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies and Chicken (Feb. 11, 2010)

Here’s another healthy favorite:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Chop vegetables into bite size pieces:
1 red pepper
2 zucchini
2 summer squash
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 leek

Place on baking sheet (I use large stoneware bar pan from Pampered Chef) with:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Toss vegetables in oil gently and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes (or until tender).

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta for 6-7 minutes (needs to still be hard on the inside; it will finish cooking in the oven):
1# whole wheat penne pasta

In a large bowl, mix:
1 large jar of Ragu Organic Original Marinara Sauce
1 c. ricotta cheese
8 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
3 c. pre-cooked, cubed chicken (optional: without the chicken, this dish makes a great side dish or vegetarian meal)

Drain pasta and add to cheese/sauce mixture. Add roasted veggies. Toss gently and pour into greased 9×13 pan or large casserole dish.

Top with:
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces (placed on top of Parmesan to make a nice crispy topping)

Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serves 12. Could also be used as a side dish for a large party.

It is SO yummy!

Mushroom Chicken Corn Chowder (Feb. 8, 2010)


1/2 medium red onion, chopped finely

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 c. fresh spinach, chopped

1 12 oz. can corn (whole kernel or creamed)

6 oz. package of pre-cooked chicken strips, boneless skinless, chopped

1 c. 99% fat free chicken broth

1 c. milk (nutritional info uses Lactose Free Milk)

2 Tbsp. Half and Half cream


Saute mushrooms and onions in butter until transluscent. Season with salt and pepper. (6-8 min.; you can be chopping the spinach and chicken while this sautes.)

Add spinach. Cook until spinach is soft. (2-3 min.)

Add rest of ingredients. Heat through and serve. (3-5 min.)

Number of Servings: 4