Quick and Easy Fruit Salad

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

How beautiful is this vintage bowl????

Fruit Salad is one of my favorite dishes! It is always a beautiful addition to your buffet with all its vibrant colors and let’s face it, it’s just plain delicious!

But…we all know how daunting it can be to make fruit salad. First you have to hope the grocery store has all the fruit you are looking for, FRESH, AND at a good price. Then if you can get that to happen, you have to wash and cut and peel and wash and chop and WASH!!! LOL! So, over the years I have discovered a little trick to have the beautiful and delicious fruit salad without all the worry, work, expense, and stress!

You will need:

*I usually double this recipe for my big family gatherings!

-1 can of Del Monte Very Cherry Fruit Cocktail (with sugar added) -1 can (any brand) No Sugar Added Pear slices (I cut them in half)

-1 can (any brand) No sugar added Peach Slices (I cut them in half)

-1 can (any brand) No Sugar Added Pineapple Chunks

-1 can (any brand) No Sugar Added Mandarin Oranges

**All cans are approx 14.5-15.5 oz.

-Fresh Strawberries (sliced), or Blueberries, or Blackberries, or Kiwi Fruit (you can use all or any of these if you have them) I like to add a little fresh fruit for added pop of color and basically because fresh is just better! When I made this salad for Easter (in pic) I wasn’t able to get any Blueberries or Blackberries, so I just used Strawberries and it was still so pretty…but I do prefer the pop of blue in this salad!

-Fresh Lemon Juice

Drain all cans and add contents to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir. Add fresh fruit of choice and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the salad. Stir gently again. Refrigerate at least 1 hour so flavors can marinate. Add to your favorite serving bowl. Can be made day before and is amazing leftover or to put in lunches for the week! **For a little twist you can sprinkle a teaspoon, or to taste, of cinnamon over the salad when you add the lemon juice. Gives it a “mystery flavor” that will surprise your guests when you tell them!

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

Whatever Ya Have in the Pantry Soup! :)

“Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves” Matthew 14:19

Most of you know I struggle with writing out recipes. I do not measure, and everything is just in my head, so when I have to come up with exact measurements it is a bit challenging!

This soup is really not a traditional recipe. It is basically just a guideline for you to follow. This soup starts with a few basic ingredients and then you add whatever ya have “in the pantry”! 🙂 What I will do is guide you thru the first steps then give you suggestions of what types of pantry items you can add. You can always message me with questions. 🙂 Honestly, if you follow this formula OR follow a recipe, I think soup is one of the simplest most rewarding things you can make in the kitchen!

The magic soup trio!!!
This is what was in my pantry!

You will need:

8–10-quart Dutch oven or large pot

1 large onion chopped (any type but sweet) You could chop 2 onions if you like more onion

About 6 stalks of celery sliced (again add more if you like celery)

6-8 carrots sliced (or more if you like extra carrots…we do!)

Salt and ground pepper to taste (I like to add a little red pepper flakes too but this is optional)

Any seasonings you prefer. I love Italian seasoning in soup.

Any type of oil

Canned tomatoes if you have them

2-4 containers of broth/stock any flavor you prefer (I use the no salt added)

Pour a generous amount of oil into the pot on medium heat. Add onions, salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning you have chosen. I would say about 2 tsp to start. Saute onions for a couple minutes.

Add carrots and celery (Here is where you could add some minced garlic if you like garlic) Stir occasionally until carrots are about 1/2 softened.

This is now your base for the soup. Now if gets fun!

This is where I like to add canned tomatoes…any kind…1 lg can or 2 small. Stir.

Add at least 2 containers of broth. You can adjust and add more as you go. (and when you eat the soup leftover sometimes you have to add more broth so it’s good to have extra)

Let it warm on low/medium heat then add more seasoning 1 tsp at a time and salt and pepper to taste.

Now here is where you can add everything else!

Things like:

Any canned vegetable, any canned beans, any frozen vegetable, cooked or frozen meatballs, more tomatoes, kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, etc. You can really get creative! And the more you practice the more you will discover what ingredients you prefer and in what combination. Then you can keep them stocked for a soup day!

After these ingredients warm, you can add a starch if you prefer. Rice, pasta, or dumplings. (I actually prefer to make the pasta or rice ahead and keep it in a separate container and put it in the soup when its being served in the bowl. When you put it in the pot of soup and you like to eat it leftover the rice or pasta tend to get mushy. The dumplings hold up well in the soup so you may add them if you prefer. The nice thing about the dumplings is they soak up the soup flavors especially when eaten leftover. I use just a simple Polish drop dumpling. If you need the recipe…again I don’t measure lol, just message me here or on social media and I will send it to you. You can make the dumplings ahead or while you are making the soup or use frozen.

Polish Dumplings

Let the soup simmer on low, do not boil, until its good and hot and carrots are softened.

Remove from heat and then I like to add a couple pats of butter and a healthy splash of half and half. Both optional. Stir.

Ready to serve! And of course, it’s usually so good the way it is, but if you like toppings like crackers or cheese…go for it!!! You can get creative here too! Avocado and green onions are delicious on top!

Another little tip is I like to squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the soup when I add the butter and half and half. It just gives it an extra “something”. You don’t realize it’s there, but it really gives it more flavor!

Oohhhh the dumplings! I love them!

Soup is AMAZING leftover and can also be frozen for later!

If you prefer homemade stock, I have a great recipe on here for a Low Sodium Chicken Broth. You can make it ahead and keep it in the freezer for those cold days when you want to make soup.

Again, please let me know if you have any questions!

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

Enjoy!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Trifle

This is such an easy dessert and so delicious! You will want to make it for every event! It’s also so pretty and a bit fancy! It will look like you spent hours on it!! I was inspired to create this recipe from a delicious peanut butter pie my sister-in-law Angie used to make. Enjoy! 🙂

This trifle bowl is from the Pfaltzgraff Winterberry Collection

You will need:

Creamy peanut butter and powdered sugar

2 large boxes instant chocolate pudding (I believe it’s the 5.1 oz)

2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding

Milk (to make pudding) **I have used almond milk but it doesn’t set the pudding as well. But it works!

1 large 16 oz tub of Cool Whip thawed

1 Hershey chocolate bar

A Trifle bowl and a vegetable peeler

In a small bowl put about 1/2 cup of peanut butter and start adding the powdered sugar a little at a time…use a fork or a whisk. The idea here is to create a crumble. The peanut butter will soak up the powdered sugar and it will almost look like granola, (it takes a little while) This is something I have never measured lol. You can add more peanut butter or the powdered sugar. You really can’t mess this up! And if you make too much it’s so yummy by itself! Put to the side.

Prepare both the chocolate and vanilla pudding according to box directions in separate bowls.

Now the fun begins!! 🙂

You can layer this in any order you’d like. I do recommend ending with cool whip.

I like to put a layer of the cool whip, crumble, vanilla pudding, cool whip, crumble, chocolate pudding, cool whip, crumble and in that order until I hit the top. Top off with cool whip and the remaining crumble. Take your Hershey bar and using a vegetable peeler create chocolate curls all over the top. Take the remaining chocolate blocks and arrange them in the center. If you prefer you can also put the chocolate curls throughout the layers. And really you could use any of your favorite candy in this recipe. Reese’s cups would be awesome!

Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

When serving it scoops out like pudding so I would recommend serving in little dessert cups or bowls. Eating it straight out of the trifle bowl works too!! HAHA 🙂

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations-by-Char

Enjoy!! 🙂

Good Grief Guacamole!!

I call this Good Grief Guacamole because that’s what you say when you taste it! 🙂

As most of my recipes this is super easy! And there are so many ways you can change it up and substitute ingredients when needed. I like to say there aren’t many rules in cooking or decorating or even entertaining because most of the time when you change things up it works out for the better! But, even if it doesn’t, you probably learned something…and that makes it all worth it! 🙂

You will need:

8-10 ripe Avocados

1 large red onion chopped

The juice of 2 limes and some zest

Approx 12 oz of medium fresh deli salsa (the reason I prefer this type is because it is not as “saucy” as normal salsas. You could also use a pico. It works great too! You can add more or less salsa to this recipe depending on your taste preference. If the salsa is watery you may want to pour off some of the excess liquid first)

Fresh Cilantro chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper!)

Prepare the avocados (peel and discard seed) and put into a large mixing bowl.

Add onion, lime juice, cilantro, and the zest. The zest of 1 lime is plenty but you can certainly put in more if you prefer.

Gently blend with a pastry blender or potato masher. (I like to leave the avocado a little chunky)

Add the salsa and salt and pepper to taste. I do not add salt but most of you will prefer it.

Gently stir it all together and transfer to a serving bowl.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min. Serve within 4 hours to prevent discoloring.

Can be served with tortilla chips, pretzels, veggies etc. Awesome on sandwiches or in dips. Use your imagination!! ENJOY!!

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations-by-Char

Enjoy!!! 🙂

Ham Burrito/Bowls (Leftover x2 Meal)

IMG_20200413_140226_895If you made a ham for Easter chances are you have some left. Ham is so yummy leftover but I wanted to change it up a bit. I went with ingredients I had on hand but you can use many different substitutions with this recipe. It is about mild to medium heat so feel free to adjust it to your heat preference. You can eat this filling in taco shells, tortillas, in a salad, as a dip or just in a bowl by itself! Enjoy!

You will need:

-Olive oil

-2 cups of diced ham (you can use pretty much any meat you have on hand)

-3 to 4 cups of sliced or chopped peppers and onions (any kind fresh or frozen)

-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (1 tsp if you want more heat)

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp dried cilantro (fresh is even better)

-1 tsp curry powder

-1 tsp chili powder

-1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika

-1/2 tsp coriander

-1/4 tsp ground black pepper

-1/2 tsp salt

-1 cup diced tomatoes (you can use canned too)

-1-1/2 cups leftover corn (or whatever you have frozen, canned etc)

-2 bags of boil in the bag white rice cooked (any cooked rice will work)

-Shredded cheese

-Tortillas, taco shells, chips or whatever you preferIMG_20200413_102902329

In a large skillet over medium heat drizzle a good amount of olive oil and after heated add ham. Use a wooden spoon and heat for 1-2 minutes then add peppers and onions and stir. Add all spices and stir until blended. Add more oil if needed. Stir in tomatoes and corn gently until well blended. Add rice and mix until it is coated with mixture. Turn heat to low and continue to stir until it is warmed thru and blended. Remove from heat. IMG_20200413_103658936

Eat any way you prefer with just about any topping you’d like! If you like heat you can add jalapenos or hot sauce. Avocados, olives or any kind of salsa or cheese would be great especially with the smokiness of the paprika.

This would be great leftover! It would also freeze well and can be made ahead as a great food prep weekly meal.

Enjoy!IMG_20200413_140226_895

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

 

 

Honey and Pepper Jelly Grilled Pork Chops

img_20161130_183551I love pork chops! I especially love them grilled with a tangy marinade. Sweet or spicy, doesn’t matter. In this recipe I use my sodium free marinade using my FAVORITE pepper jelly! It is also the low sugar version of the jelly so this marinade is good AND healthy!! You can use this marinade on any type of pork, chicken or fish. Good stuff!! 🙂

You will need:

  • 1/2 c  Jennifer’s Kitchen Low Sugar Strawberry Pepper Preserves (available on Amazon) *You will need more for dipping! 🙂
  • 1 tsp. Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBS Organic Honey
  • (I prefer Simply Organic herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 2 TBS Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Thick cut boneless pork chops
  • img_20170105_174018330_hdr

In a medium to large bowl add first ten ingredients and mix well. Add pork chops and coat them well (wash hands thoroughly). Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator 30 min up to overnight…whatever fits your schedule. I prefer at least an hour. **give them an extra stir in the bowl after marinating before cooking so they are good and coatedimg_20170105_173341465

There are a many ways you can prepare these. You can broil them, bake them, fry them in a grill pan with a grill press or grill them. My favorite way is the good ol’ grill but not everyone can always grill or weather doesn’t permit it. The last time I made them in the grill pan on medium heat and they turned out perfect! No matter how you choose to prepare them make sure they are cooked to an internal temp of 170 degrees.

When you grill or fry them leave them on the first side until you see white before you turn them. And using a grill pan and a grill press, in my opinion, cooks them more evenly and makes those pretty grill marks! ** Spray your pan and press with a little cooking spray before cooking

Serve with your favorite sides (I prefer rice and vegetables) and give them a drizzle of olive oil and add a dollop of that delicious strawberry pepper jelly on the side for dipping 🙂

** X2 Leftover Meal… Any leftover pork can be sliced and put over any salad you prefer.

** Like I stated this is a sodium free marinade, if you like a saltier taste you may add 2 tsp of soy sauce OR 1/2 tsp salt to the recipe. img_20161130_183551

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!!

 

Chicken Parm Burger

img_20170102_163034This is such a fun, yummy and messy recipe! Who doesn’t love Chicken parm? Well, I created a healthier way to eat it and on a bun!! It is lower in sodium and fits in well with my family’s new healthy way of eating. Ya gotta try it.. but bring the napkins! 🙂

You will need:

  • 1-lb. Perdue ground chicken
  • (I prefer Simply Organic herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 2 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1- 1/2 TBS Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Basil (Fresh or dried) *you will also need a little more for garnish
  • **************************************************
  • Sliced Mozzarella- 3-4 slices
  • Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 4-6 oz Spaghetti noodles cooked al dente
  • 100% whole wheat buns

 

You will need for the sauce:

  • 1- 14.5 oz can Hunts no salt added sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

img_20161230_180238398

In a mixing bowl combine chicken and next 10 ingredients. Mix well. Wash hands thoroughly. Begin to cook pasta. Set aside and keep warm when done.

In a small sauce pan or microwave dish put sauce and the other 4 sauce ingredients and mix well. Warm sauce in dish covered in microwave or warm sauce on low heat in sauce pan. img_20161230_175947722

In a grill pan or non stick skillet on medium heat drizzle some olive oil. Form 3-4 patties from chicken mixture, depending on what size you like your burgers. Put them in warmed pan. If you have a grill press spray it with cooking spray and lay on top of burgers. I think they turn out nicer with the press but it is not necessary. When the burgers start to turn white flip them. Cook them to an internal temp of 170 degrees and until they are no longer pink.

img_20161230_180009615img_20161230_180657052

Turn off heat and top each burger with a slice of mozzarella (you may warm, grill, or broil your buns) img_20161230_180957416_hdr

Now…the fun begins! Place a burger on a bun, then top with a small amount of noodles, then a nice dollop of the sauce, then a generous sprinkle of Basil and Parmesan cheese. End with the top of the bun and give it a gentle press! YUM!!! Be prepared to get a little messy! But, it is so worth it! Serves 3-4img_20161230_182011785_hdr

**I have added zero salt to this recipe. If you are not on a sodium restricted diet or like more of a salty taste you may add 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt to the chicken and also to the sauce. Or you may use regular salt added sauce.

**You can also slice burgers in half or quarters and dip them in the extra sauce

**If you want it spicier.. increase red pepper flakes

*TIME SAVER… noodles and sauce can be made the day before and just warmed up to put on the burgers when they are done 🙂 Or.. warm up that leftover spaghetti from yesterdays dinner to top the burgers for a leftover x2 meal!! 🙂 img_20170102_163034

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!

 

Rustic Glazed Carrots

img_20161208_152920I LOVE carrots… any way shape or form. I love them roasted, in soups, and even just fresh. They are the epitome of “earthy”. So I rarely peel them. I buy organic carrots, wash them thoroughly and leave the skin on. I feel it makes them even better. So when we were forced to follow restricted diets in our house, I have had to slowly revamp our favorite holiday dishes… not an easy task. I was pretty happy with the results of changing my glazed carrot recipe and even though they aren’t perfect, they are much improved, and the flavor is still there. This recipe is lower in sugar, sodium, fat and calories than my original. But, don’t despair.. I will be posting my original recipes as well 🙂img_20170102_084043

You will need:

  • 6-8 large organic carrots washed thoroughly, not peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Truvia sugar substitute
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TBS organic honey

In a medium saucepan put carrots then all other ingredients, except reserve 1/2 c of water to add during cooking. img_20161124_144642916_hdr

Cook covered on low to low/medium heat, stoves vary. You don’t want carrots to boil just simmer. At the 30 min point gently stir the carrots and if it looks like they need more water add some of your reserve. You don’t want them to get dry or they will stick or burn but you also don’t want them swimming lol you want them to get a little syrupy. Cook at same heat another 30 min checking and gently stirring periodically. Add more water when needed. The carrots will take 45-90 min to cook depending on your pan and stoves heat. They are done when you stick a fork in and the carrots are nice and soft. They will stay hot covered in the pan even off the heat while you take time to prepare other dishes for your meal. Stir well before serving and pour entire contents of pan into serving dish. You want all that good syrup in there 🙂img_20151127_095155-1**This is a pic of my original recipe. It’s a lot more syrupy but has more sodium, fat, sugar and calories. I will post my original soon 🙂

Serve with an added drizzle of olive oil and honey. Serves 6-8

**If you like more salt either use salted butter or add 1 tsp of salt to the other ingredients.

Enjoy! 🙂

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Peppered Bacon Green Beans

img_20151126_193203-1If you are looking for a change from green bean casserole for the holidays I invite you to try this delicious and easy recipe. Now this doesn’t fall into my Healthy Selection category (AT ALL) but it IS for the Holidays when you make those little splurges. I have never been a fan of the good ol’ green bean casserole and this is what I have always made, and as far as I know, I haven’t had any complaints 🙂

You will need:

  • 1 pkg. (includes 3 bags) Schwan’s Live Smart Microsteam Green Beans (you can also use fresh washed green beans)
  • 6-8 slices Schwan’s Thick Sliced bacon thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces (you can use the whole package if you like more bacon)
  • 1 c water to start- may need a little more throughout cooking
  • approx. 1 tsp fresh ground pepper up to 1-1/2 tsp if you like a little more pepper flavorimg_20161122_094245284

In a 5-7 quart pot, non-stick works best, on medium heat fry and stir bacon pieces until crispy. Remove from heat. Remove half the cooked bacon and set aside…you will use it for serving. Put all 3 bags of frozen green beans in pot and add the water. Yes, you will leave the bacon and bacon grease in the pot. Cover and cook on very low heat for at least an hour. I prefer 2 hours. Check and stir occasionally because you may need to add a little water at times and you want to mix those flavors around.

Beans should become a lighter green and limp but not mushy… then you will know they are done. Give them a gentle stir and transfer to a serving dish and garnish with remaining bacon. Can’t get easier than that!! 🙂  Makes approx. 10-12 servings

They are also great leftover and can be made ahead for large groups and warmed up to serve. img_20151126_193203-1

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!!

Chunky Chicken Meatballs

img_20161110_123248This is similar to my other chunky meatball recipe but with ground chicken..LOVE.. and lower in sodium and just so much healthier! These meatballs are so versatile. You can have them with pasta, rice, pasta sauce, white sauce, or just by themselves. I love to add mushrooms to them but my daughter wouldn’t stand for that…so I don’t have them in this recipe. Try to add them if you are a fan or for variety. And for large groups you can double or triple the recipe very easily. Enjoy! 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 lbs. Perdue ground chicken
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1- 1/3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 10 saltine crackers crushed
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion chopped a little “chunky”
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped Basil ( chop a bit more for garnish)
  • (I prefer Simply Organic or Olde Thompson herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp dried Basil
  • 2-1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tsp dried Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, or Monterey Jack cheese (optional)img_20161109_161754718   img_20161109_161706553_hdr

In a large mixing bowl add all ingredients except the cheeses. Mix well until blended. (wash hands thoroughly) Marinate in refrigerator at least 15 minutes. img_20161109_161506928

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Form meat mixture into large balls.. a little bigger than a golf ball (no need to be perfect, remember they are chunky meatballs!!)

Assemble them in dish as spread out as you can. img_20161109_162217937_hdr

**(wash hands thoroughly)

Cover with foil and bake approx. 40 minutes (ovens vary)

Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes to an internal temp of 170 deg

Sprinkle with desired amount of parmesan cheese and/or one of the optional cheeses and bake 5 more minutes uncovered

Remove from oven and let rest 3-5 minutesimg_20161109_172943223_hdr

Serve on pasta, rice, or with any sauce you like. They can also be served just the way they are with a garnish of chopped basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Use your imagination!

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!!