Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

If you’ve read any of my recipe posts before, you’ll know how much I like a quick and easy recipe. Like most families, our weeknights tend to get a bit chaotic, so anything that doesn’t take too much time but is still super tasty and can be considered healthy will always be a winner in my book.

When I was meal planning and grocery list writing for this week I was very unmotivated. Normally I have some ideas of things I want to make during the week, but not this time. This time, I was drawing a blank. I was looking at food images to try to get my creative juices flowing when I came across stuffed peppers. Perfect. Done. Put them on the list. I moved on through the rest of the week’s meals and hit up Trader Joe’s.

Often after grocery shopping and putting away the food, I don’t want to cook dinner. It is just a testament to how simple these are to make that I didn’t mind making dinner after I put the groceries away!

Stuffed peppers are pretty easy and can be totally customizable to whatever flavors you want. I went with a southwestern flavor profile for these and they were very good.

When buying your bell peppers, try to get the ones with four nodes on the bottom. The ones with three are fine, but four makes them a bit easier to stand up in the baking dish. Also, try to get round, fat ones. The longer skinny ones won’t work quite as well.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

serves 6-8, depending on the size of your peppers


6-8 bell peppers, any color (*see above for tips on buying)

1 pound ground turkey

½ yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ package taco seasoning (or the equivalent of homemade)

1 4oz can diced green chiles

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese *optional

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup or so shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375.

In a skillet over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the turkey with the onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through and the onions and garlic are softened. Next, add the taco seasoning, green chiles, tomato paste, and corn. Stir.

If adding the cream cheese, do it now.  It is optional, but it does take the filling up a notch. It also makes it a bit creamy and less likely to dry out in the oven. It won’t seem like enough at first, but trust me. Keep stirring it in and it will cover the whole pan.

Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and take out the seeds and core. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  Stand up in a shallow baking dish.

Time to assemble: In the bottom quarter of each pepper, spoon in some rice. Sprinkle with a little cheese, then top with the meat filling. Pack it in and let it go over the top. Don’t be shy with the filling!  Sprinkle more cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty.


Minestrone Soup

I’ve been a bit in a slump lately. At least when it comes to blogging recipes. I’ve been making food I’ve already done on here or making other people’s recipe or even just making stuff that I ultimately deem “not blog-worthy.” (That parmesan French toast was pretty delish, though!)

I blame it on end-of-the-year laziness. I seriously get so lazy after Thanksgiving. I think I only worked out 2 times in the entire month of December. I barely do any housecleaning and the laundry starts when we are all on our last pairs of underwear. Well, it’s January now and a new year has started. I have a list of things I want to start doing. Work has been absolutely CRAZYPANTS but it should calm down in the next few days and my head will stop spinning and perhaps I can actually start accomplishing things.

First up, this soup. It’s been raining like crazy here in SoCal the past couple days. Now, I happen to enjoy the rain. I don’t like going out in it, but I do love being warm and cozy and listening to it pitter patter outside my window. I always like to think Fall weather is soup weather, but in SoCal that is not at all the case. It’s usually pretty warm until mid-December to January when it starts to get a little chilly.

Minestrone soup is a thick Italian soup made of a flavored broth and veggies with optional beans and pasta added in. There is no set recipe for minestrone since you can use whatever veggies are in season. This soup dates back to the Roman Empire, but the basic premise remains today.

This soup really hit the spot and was so easy to make. It hit my trifecta of easy, healthy, and delicious!  If I weren’t in the beginning of a Biggest Loser Challenge, I would have served this with a side of bread as well.

30-Minute Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 16 oz bag frozen veggie medley (green beans, corn, peas, carrots. You can really use whatever veggies you want.)

Parmesan rind (optional)

1 28-oz can low-sodium crushed tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

12 oz box of shell pasta (or other small pasta of your choice) *I used Banza chickpea pasta and it was DELISH! You can’t even tell the difference and it punches up the protein of an otherwise-vegetarian dish.

Add olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the frozen veggies, basil, oregano, some salt and some pepper. I had a leftover rind from some parmesan, so I added this as well. You don’t have to.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until veggies start to soften.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and pasta and cook about 10 minutes (or per package directions for the pasta). Remove the parm rind if you used one and taste the soup for seasoning. I ended up adding more salt, pepper, and basil, but make it how you like it.

Pork Verde Rice Bowls

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, buy one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets is my slow cooker. I recommend everyone get one. I got a really nice one a couple years ago for Christmas and I still just love it.

I tend to use it mostly in the Fall/Winter, even though you’d think it would get a lot of use in the Summer since you can cook lots of things without heating up your kitchen, but that just isn’t how it seems to work out. Maybe because Fall/Winter is more comfort food type weather and slow cookers are good for comfort food? Who knows.

Anyway, the other day I made these delish pork verde rice bowls. I know sometimes pork gets a bad rap when it comes to nutrition, but pork tenderloin is actually a very lean source of meat. It is super tender, low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein (per 3oz serving: 120 cal, 3g fat, 22g protein). It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, zinc, and iron. According the USDA, a 3oz serving of pork tenderloin is actually leaner than a skinless chicken thigh.

Now that you can eat pork guilt-free, here’s a yummy recipe that makes tons of leftovers.

 Pork Verde Rice Bowls

2 pound pork tenderloin (or if you have bad “amount” judgement, 4 pounds, hence all the leftovers)

1 jar salsa verde

½ yellow onion, diced

1 bag frozen corn

1 4oz can diced green chiles

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked rice for serving (brown or white, whatever you want)

Cheese, avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt for topping


In a slow cooker, add your tenderloin and cover with entire jar of salsa. Cook for 8 hours on low. When done, shred and let sit in the salsa juices to soak up some flavor. Add salt if needed.


In a skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil, the onion, corn, green chiles, black beans, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt. Mix together and cook until completely warmed through and the corn is no longer frozen. Taste for salt and pepper.


In individual bowls, add some rice, then top with some pork and some of the corn mixture. Serve with whatever toppings you like.


Store the leftovers in the fridge and make more bowls, or wrap in a tortilla and make a burrito, wrap in a tortilla and top with enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for some yummy enchiladas, serve with eggs in the morning. The possibilities are pretty broad here.

Instant Pot Tropical Chicken & Rice

I know I’ve sung the praises of my Instant Pot before, but here I go again! I really think there is a learning curve with this gadget and I think I may be on the verge of really figuring it out. It is so perfect for busy day meals or days when I forgot to take meat out of the freezer. For me, those days are usually one in the same! I’m terrible at meal planning. 

That’s actually not true. I’m great at meal planning. What I’m bad at is meal follow through.

Anyway, this was a super easy and quick recipe that I will definitely be making again. I use the term recipe lightly.

Throw two chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. Top with one 12oz jar of Trader Joe’s Island Salsa (or any other tropical salsa you may find). Fill the jar up a little more than halfway with water and pour that into the Instant Pot with the salsa and the chicken.


Make sure the vent is closed and select manual and set the timer to 20 minutes if the chicken is frozen and 7 minutes if it is thawed.

When it’s done, shred the chicken but leave it in the juice that generates so it can soak up the flavors.

I topped mine with a mango sauce found in this recipe here:

Serve with brown rice and broccoli or any other veggie you like.

Skinny Nachos

Other than cheeseburgers, I’m pretty obsessed with nachos. I mean, how can you beat a plate of really good nachos? The chips, the melted cheese, the chicken (or other meat), sour cream and guacamole. Beans? Yes please. It’s got it all.

My absolute favorite nachos are from Yardhouse. I could eat them at least once a week. I tell everyone about these nachos. Unfortunately, they clock in at a whopping 2,460 calories.  

Yes, I know you are supposed to share them, but even when it’s just my husband and I, that’s still 1230 calories each. Also, I’m not a huge fan of sharing food. I like my food to be my food. You can have some when I’m done. Plus, it messes up the check at the end of the night.

Anyway, I had to come up with something to get my nacho fix. The other day I was looking in my fridge planning lunch. The kids had their turkey and cheese sandwiches and I was *thisclose* to making that for the hubby and myself as well. Then I saw we had leftover turkey taco meat and the lightbulb went off.
SKINNY(ISH) NACHOS!!! They were delish. There’s not a real recipe here because that’s the beauty of nachos: Freedom. Make as much as you want, put whatever toppings you want. Just keep in mind that the ingredients I use are why I can call them skinny. Make all the substitutions you want, but be wary of whether or not you start to lose the “skinny” in the title.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out a layer of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I used the Trader Joe’s brand that includes quinoa, chia seeds, and sprouted amaranth). 

Top that with a layer of taco meat. I used leftover turkey taco meat, you can really use any taco/tex-mex flavored meat you like here. Top that with a layer of cheese (I used low fat three cheese blend from Trader Joe’s). 

If you wanted to add beans, you can do that at this point as well.

Bake the chips/cheese/meat mixture at 375 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through.

Top with whatever you want to top it with. I cut up some cherry tomatoes and added a heaping scoop of guacamole. I also used plain nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream.

Instant Pot Turkey Meatloaf 

When it’s 90 degrees outside, one of the last things you want to do is turn on your oven to make dinner. That’s when I will either fire up the grill outside or pull out my Instant Pot. 

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about this wonderful kitchen gadget, so I won’t go on and on, except to again how much I love it. 

Recently I wanted meatloaf, but turning my oven on for over an hour did not sound appealing. I did a little searching and decided to try it out in my Instant Pot.

It turned out great! It was super moist, which is hard to achieve with turkey. My husband said it was probably the best meatloaf he’s ever had. And it cooked in half the usual time, which made me a happy woman! 

Turkey Meatloaf 

1 bell pepper, chopped (or 3-4 mini peppers) 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil 

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey 

1/2 tsp garlic powder 

1/2 tsp onion powder 

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs 

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

BBQ sauce if your choice 

In a skillet, sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic in some olive oil until soft. 

Add veggie mix to the ground turkey, garlic powder, onion powder, Parmesan, panko, and egg. Mix until well combined. 

If using an Instant Pot, add 1 cup of water and insert the grate. Form the mixture into a loaf on a piece of foil. Fold the edges up forming a bowl-like shape around the loaf. 

Place on the insert. Set timer to 20 minutes. Let natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release.

Move the meatloaf to an oven proof dish with the foil and pour BBQ sauce over the top. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes. 

Enchilada-Stuffed Poblanos

I think sometimes healthy or ‘clean’ food gets a bad rap. Many assume that it has to be bland and boring. Plain chicken and steamed broccoli, coming up! But in my research I’ve quickly learned that is not at all true. You can eat healthy food that still tastes good. Focus on flavors and quality and you’re in the money. Look at not just calories, but carb, sugar, and protein counts as well. Make substitutions when you can. You can still have your favorites just by making swaps to lower the bad and raise the good in your meals.

And don’t let anyone tell you not to add a little cheese. Like in this dish below.

*Note: I used leftover pulled pork from the 4th of July. You can use chicken, turkey, beef; shredded, chopped, ground. Leftover or fresh made. All vegetarian, even. Whatever floats your boat. This is also a great make-ahead dish. I would suggest adding seasoning to whatever meat you use, especially if you are making it fresh as opposed to using leftovers.

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tablespoon cumin

½ tablespoon chili powder

½ bag frozen corn

1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 cups worth of whatever meat you are using (see note above) Eyeball this to your preference.

1-1/2 cups enchilada sauce, divided (homemade or store bought; use what you like)

Salt and pepper to taste

5 poblano peppers (make sure they are nice a fat, not too skinny)

Shredded cheddar cheese

Over an open flame on the stovetop, char your poblanos. Put the charred peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Steam for about 10-15 minutes.

Please ignore my messy stovetop!

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add in the cumin and chili and mix together. Add in the corn and black beans. Mix all veggies together and cook until corn is thawed and the mixture is heated through.


Add the cooked meat to the veggie mixture along with ½ cup of the enchilada sauce. Let simmer until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.


While the filling is simmering, take the poblanos out of the bag and wipe the skin off with a paper towel, careful not to tear the pepper. The skin should just wipe right off.

Cut each pepper in half and remove the stem and seeds. You should have two pieces of pepper that look like leaves.


Pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spoon a healthy amount of the filling into each pepper half and place in the baking dish. 

Pour the remaining ½ cup sauce over the top of the stuffed peppers and top with cheese.


Bake at 350 covered in foil for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.


They may not be the prettiest looking dish, but they are super tasty!