Leftover turkey (or chicken) stuffed shells have become a tradition at my house after Thanksgiving.  There’s always leftovers to be enjoyed but these turkey stuffed shells smothered with a delicious white cheese sauce can also be made year round…so don’t wait until next year!

turkey stuffed shells

 It might be hard to tell from the fuzzy photo, but my homemade stuffing I make every year at Thanksgiving has a combination of sausage, celery, apples and dried cranberries. It’s beyond delicious and full of flavor.  However, any boxed stuffing mix will work in these shells and you can always add to it if you wish!

If you don’t have any leftover turkey a rotisserie chicken is hard to beat!  And there will be leftovers from that too for another meal…I’m all about making things stretch!

white cheese sauce

After you assemble all the turkey (or chicken) stuffed shells in the bottom of a casserole dish, you simply cover them in a delicious white cheese sauce.

Did I mention the cheese sauce has wine in it?

Seriously good.

turkey or chicken stuffed shells

That sauce!  As it cooks in the oven making its way into every nook and cranny of the shells it gets a little thicker and further develops in flavor.

This dish is so comforting over the winter months and perfect for entertaining guests.  In fact, that’s how I came upon this recipe!  A friend of mine served this at a luncheon and I knew immediately it would be a family favorite.

stuffed shells in white cheese sauce

Serve alongside some fresh or leftover veggies, corn, or a simple salad.  No matter what you serve with it, the shells will be the star of the meal.  And you may as well put the bottle of wine on the table too…

enjoy!

Leftover Turkey or Chicken Stuffed Shells in White Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups diced leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups herb seasoned stuffing mix (or leftovers from Thanksgiving!)
  • 1/2 box Jumbo shells (approximately 15-20)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 TB flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 TB white wine
  • 6 oz. shredded monterey jack cheese (more for topping optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl add turkey/chicken and stuffing. Gently stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Prepare jumbo shells according to package.
  4. While the shells are boiling, prepare the cheese sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add flour and whisk continually for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Slowly add chicken broth and stir to combine. Add milk and wine. Gently stir and allow sauce to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly add the shredded cheese and stir over low heat until cheese is well blended.
  6. Pour about 1/4 of the sauce into the bowl with turkey and stuffing and stir to combine. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 casserole and begin stuffing shells and placing in dish. Pour remaining cheese sauce over top the shells and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Additional shredded cheese can be placed on top if desired.
  7. *If using chicken I recommend using a rotisserie to save time and add flavor!
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Double Duty Dinner Pasta

I’ve wanted to share this recipe for Oven Baked Mexican Sloppy Joes for a few months now.  Listen, this takes sloppy joes to a whole new level of awesomeness.  Words can’t adequately describe their scrumptious perfection.

mexican sloppy joe

Unlike my #1 homemade sloppy joes, these mexican inspired bad boys get tossed in the oven with a heavenly glaze overtop the buns.  The glaze gives the tops a bit of a sweet crunch yet they stay steamy and soft and all melty inside.  I might claim this as sloppy joe perfection, people. 

Now I still love the classic version because it’s delicious without the bun (served alongside some broccoli or piled high on some macaroni and cheese).  BUT, you need both recipes in your life! 

These come together in a snap:  brown the meat, toss in the seasonings, add a can of tomatoes with green chiles and dump it on the bottoms of hamburger buns assembled in your casserole dish.  Slap each sloppy joe with a good ol’ slice of American cheese and…(meet me at the next picture…)

oven baked burgers

…Finish them with a slather of glaze.  Now, this glaze is something that I’m very familiar with because my mom slathers it on top of her famous ham and cheese baked sandwiches, which are made in similar fashion.

oven baked sloppy joes

When they come out of the oven the tops have caramelized a bit giving them a nice sweet and slight crunch.

Notice the bun without sesame seeds? Every party has a pooper and that would be my 6 year old son.  He’s anti seed aka, “weird things on my bun.”

But we love him dearly and I provided a seed-less bun.

sloppy joes

Anyone close to me knows I love breakfast (and food in general).  I wake up and immediately want food.  Weekdays I usually rise at 6:15 and have a small snack, then closer to 8 I have a real breakfast, then usually around 10am I have a post workout snack before lunch…

Why am I telling you this?

Because I discovered a reheated mexican sloppy joe for breakfast is the bees knees!  You know those food informercials that show people taking a bite while awkwardly smiling and nodding their heads?? THESE SLOPPY JOES WILL CAUSE THAT EFFECT!

Well, they did for me.  I love mixing non-traditional breakfast food at breakfast once in a while.

baked sloppy joe

Make these for your family, your next social gathering and hit me with your comments!

Oven Baked Mexican Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (I use Kroger brand), undrained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 6 slices american cheese
  • 6 regular size hamburger buns
  • Glaze
  • 2 TB unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 heaping tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, brown beef and onions. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add garlic, tomatoes, salt and cumin. Allow to simmer 5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid.
  3. While beef mixture cooks, arrange hamburger buns in bottom of 9x13 casserole dish.
  4. In a small microwaveable bowl add butter and cook 15 seconds at a time until melted. Stir in remaining glaze ingredients and set aside.
  5. Spoon beef mixture on top of buns. Add a slice of cheese to each and place the top bun on.
  6. Using a basting brush, gently brush each top bun with the glaze mixture allowing it to coat the sides of the bun a little as well.
  7. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes to cool upon removing from oven.
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recipe slightly adapted from www.kevinandamanda.com

Sandwich

Most newbies to the strength training world simply look at it (also referred to as weight lifting or resistance training) as a way to gain mass or improve strength.  Naturally with appropriate training muscles will grow and become stronger.  So it’s obvious that without training, muscles will diminish and become weaker.

Mind blown? I didn’t think so. Pretty basic stuff.  

But here’s what you may not know…

Regular resistance training  also increases strength in the tendons (these are what attach muscles to bones), ligaments (which attach bones to bones) and increases bone mineral density.  Our entire musculoskeletal system, that’s responsible for our form, stability and everyday movement, benefits!

Think about the 5 main movement patterns that we perform in our daily activities:

Bend & Lift– (bend coming from your knees, not hips!) picking up a child, lifting a case of water off the shelf/floor, moving furniture, etc.

Single-Leg–walking, running, climbing stairs, reaching high for something on a shelf

Pushing–doors, strollers, grocery carts, lawn mower, out-of-gas-car (ok that was extreme)

Pulling–pulling a car door shut, tightening a car seat strap, starting a lawn mower, moving furniture

Rotational–makes up the majority of our movement patterns from movement across the thoracic spine, think walking or reaching across your body for something.

Naturally you can assume weight training is essential for maintaining your ability to perform such daily activities, especially as we age. As mentioned above, weight bearing exercises can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing our bone density (though more research is needed to fully understand the effects/changes, but don’t let that stop you!)

BUT I DON’T WANT TO GET BULKY, YOU SAY!

Women often don’t put strength training as a priority fearing they’ll get “bulky.” This term takes on an obvious negative connotation thinking a few weeks of  some bicep curls will have them ready for a match-up against Arnold Schwarzenegger (There’s probably a better example but I grew up with the beloved 90’s Arnold movies!)

Anyways, it doesn’t work like that.

Male and female alike we have two hormones associated with tissue growth and development- growth hormone and testosterone.  Women naturally do not have the levels of testosterone that men do to build said “bulky muscles”.

But then you say, “I’ve seen women with HUGE muscles. I don’t want to look like that. I just want to tone my arms/legs/lose some cellulite”

The average rate of muscle growth per week for a male is about 1/2 pound per week or roughly 2 pounds per month. Women can expect about half that much growth! This is assuming of course you’re following a proper resistance program and eating to support muscle growth.  My point is, it’s a slow process that takes time, dedication and consistency.  If you’re still worried, then do this…when your muscles (on whatever body part) have achieved the look you want, stop progressively overloading them and maintain.  Until then, lift and lift heavy.

If you’re “soft and squishy” and want to be more “toned and defined” yet continue losing weight without resistance training, you’re only going to end up a smaller squishy version of yourself which is commonly known as skinny fat.  In order to reshape your figure you must reduce fat (cardio, nutrition, weights!) and develop muscle (progressive overload). 

YOU STILL WITH ME?

You might have read my last article on HITT or LISS and learned that HITT training burns more calories after the completion of exercise.  Same is true with weight training!  Our resting metabolic rate (RMR) increases with strength training resulting in more calories burned on a daily basis.  Muscle is also more dense than fat so the more muscle you have the more lean mass you have and fat starts to go bye-bye due to that increased caloric expenditure.  It’s beautiful isn’t it.

One quick and very important note before I end this post…

You don’t need a gym membership to get started!  Eventually, as you continue to progressively overload your muscles (which is key), you will outgrow your dumbbells and/or what you can safely perform at home.

NO EXCUSES, START LIFTING. 

Looking for help on getting started? Hit me up with an email.

FITNESS

What’s better than pumpkin bread? Protein pumpkin bread made with Kodiak Cakes!  Each slice of pumpkin bread is just slightly over 100 calories and yields 9 grams of protein!

protein pumpkin bread kodiak cakes

A few weeks ago I shared my pumpkin turkey meatloaf, today it’s pumpkin bread (or loaf to stick with my theme).  Both super easy, flavorful, and packed with protein.

 What’s with all the protein you ask? well sometimes I just like to have options for reaching my protein goals other than the usual (though most days it’s not a problem) and it makes a great on-the-go snack.  I still love a traditional pumpkin bread but I like to play around and have alternatives too! (I’ll be talking more about protein in an upcoming Health & Fitness post).

Anyways, you might be sensing a roll with this loaf theme, but I’m outta loaf recipes at this point.

protein pumpkin bread

Anyways, what gives this pumpkin bread a good amount of protein is a scoop of protein powder and the addition of Kodiak Cakes mix in place of standard all purpose flour.  They have several different kinds of mixes, but I use the Power Cakes version that has more protein than their standard pancake/waffle mix.  Our local Costco carries a BIG box, but it can also be found at Target.

I used a sample pack of Quest Vanilla protein powder which is rated high to bake with and always gives great flavor, but you can use whatever vanilla powder you like.  No need to buy a big tub of protein powder either! You can grab sample packs at most health/vitamin stores.  I recommend using one that doesn’t include greens or something like Jay Robb brand that offers an egg white protein powder (which is awesome as a shake!) because your results will not be the same! Stick to a standard vanilla whey…

kodiak cakes pumpkin bread

I received this recipe from a friend on Facebook who graciously allowed me to share it.  I made only a slight change to her original recipe swapping 2/3c baking stevia for 2 TB maple syrup.

This bread is very dense and also meets my other standards:

Pumpkin bread must have a good balance of spices, but not overpowering. This does!

Pumpkin bread must be able to be sliced thick, yet yield good macros. This does! 

Each slice yields 117 calories, 9.1p, 17.7c, and only 1.4 grams of fat leaving room for some butta, if that’s your thing.  Or, try it with some whipped greek cream cheese and a dusting of pumpkin spice…heavenly.  

healthy pumpkin bread

 And just for fun…here’s what really goes on behind the scenes:

Bosco is always at my feet. If you look at the top of his back you’ll see some crumbs that I swooshed off the table before snapping a photo of the pumpkin bread…I didn’t realize until later they all landed on him.  This is why I vacuum daily- dog and crumbs.

food photography pull back

and my hubby brought me home some Tim Hortons coffee just in time to enjoy a slice…or two…

pumpkin bread

Tired of pumpkin yet? Yea, me neither.

Protein Pumpkin Bread with Kodiak Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz. can pure pumpkin
  • 2 2/3 cup Kodiak Cakes-Power Cakes pancake and waffle mix
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or any milk)
  • 3 TB unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 TB pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (I use the carton kind)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used a sample pack of Quest vanilla which is great for baking)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray a loaf pan with non stick spray and set aside
  3. Combine all wet ingredients-pumpkin, milk, applesauce, maple syrup and eggs- in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently stir to combine all ingredients.
  5. Batter will be thick.
  6. Spread into loaf pan and bake 50-65 minutes (toothpick should come out fairly clean as the bread will dry out a bit once cooled) Cover with foil during last 15 minutes if the top starts to brown too much.
  7. Best within 2-3 days or slice it and keep in the freezer to heat up/toast when ready
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Baked Goods