lightened up chicken, bacon, ranch quesadillas with a clean "ranch" dipping sauce

Chicken, bacon, ranch. What a combo!

Plenty of fast food and chain restaurants have some version of a CBR sandwich, usually made with fried chicken, tons of bacon, and fatty ranch dressing. And yeah... they're usually awesome. Ryan in particular loves this combo, so I figured I'd try to create a healthier version of this tasty combination of flavors. And why not do it in a quesadilla?! I LOVE quesadillas. I could eat plain old chicken and cheese quesadillas dipped in sour cream til' the cows come home. 

This lightened up CBR quesadilla totally satisfies a craving for something carby, cheesy, and decadent. I mean hello... it has bacon and cheddar cheese! But it's WAY healthier than you may think. Each quesadilla only has approximately 430 calories -- including the dipping sauce that tastes like a combination of sour cream and ranch! Not to mention  it has about 30 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber and is actually pretty low in net carbs! Niiiice.

So, how do you make it? Here are step-by-step instructions:


perfect for post-workout: mint cacao smoothie

Have you heard that chocolate milk is supposed to be the perfect thing to consume post-workout? This is because chocolate milk has an optimal combination of protein (from the milk) and carbs (from the sugar), plus calcium and a high water content. Research has shown that chocolate milk feeds and restores your muscles better than any sports drink after endurance training.

The powers of chocolate milk were in my mind when I created this smoothie that, in my opinion, is even better than plain ol' chocolate milk. Plus, I was inspired by dishing up the dirt's mint-cacao banana smoothie (although I left the banana out). PLUS, my colleague just happened to bring in a surplus of fresh mint from her friend's garden this week -- love that! Combine all of these factors and naturally I ended up with this delicious, refreshing smoothie. I created it after doing my REALLY hard HIIT/circuit workout at the gym this morning -- I was EXHAUSTED and knew my muscles needed some restoration after that! 

This is definitely one of my new favorite smoothies -- so fresh and restorative. Give it a try! Here's the recipe:


baked lemon truffle sea scallops

Looking for a meal that will REALLY impress?

These scallops are really not even describable. But I'll try. They are rich, silky, buttery little pieces of heaven in a lemony truffle sauce topped with just a bit of crunchy panko and parmesan. Omg.

You have to make them! They're super easy and quick. Just be sure to buy some large, good quality sea scallops. Real truffle oil. Good EVOO. Real, hand-shredded cheese. And you will NOT be disappointed!

Serve them with asparagus or a salad for a summer meal that's decadent but still light. Perfect!

 Here's what to do:


pop-in post: spicy pork chops with avocado cream sauce

I'm here for 2 quick things:

1) To direct your attention to my new, simpler blog address: just taylormadebytaylorbee.com. No more ".blogspot" here, folks (you should be redirected if you continue to type in the old address though). Yep, we're gettin' fancy!

2) To share a delicious, quick pork chop recipe with you. It is pretty similar to my 10-minute spiced pork chops with mustard cream sauce, just with slightly different spices and a different sauce. This one is spicier and has a more mexican flavor. Best of all: it's also ready in under 15 minutes!

I really like Trader Joe's lean, center cut pork chops. Okay, let's be real, I pretty much like Trader Joe's everything. I can't get enough. I'm constantly discovering new things there that are just amazing. Plus, I trust their quality and always appreciate the short ingredient lists and efforts to produce natural, clean foods for the general public at reasonable prices. Yay TJ's!

The avocado cream sauce in this recipe is super simple and clean. Just avocado, greek yogurt, almond milk, and lime. It's slightly sweet and a nice accompaniment to the spiciness of the pork chops. Give these a try! Here's the recipe:


full body HIIT and circuit workout for the gym

I like to have a plan before I get to the gym. If I'm not going to a group class, I usually like to lay out what I'm going to do ahead of time, either on paper or at least in my head. If I just go and start doing squats willy-nilly or jogging on the treadmill with no idea of how long or hard I'm gonna go, my workout probably won't end up being as challenging. It's way too easy to quit early when there's no set goal you're trying to reach.

This particular workout I planned and implemented recently at the gym was so great and challenging, so I thought I'd share it with you all. I jotted it down on a little notepad before I went (don't worry, I'll spell it out much more clearly for you below).

You do probably need to go to the gym to do this workout (unless you're super lucky and have a home gym!), or you can adapt it to do outside and/or at home. It involves some HIIT on the treadmill followed by 25-30 minutes of circuit training with more HIIT, weights, plyometrics, and abs. It targets all of the major muscle groups and you should definitely feel it the next day! 

I'll try to provide clear instructions and/or a YouTube video where needed. I don't have pictures of each exercise because I work out solo and am too focused to take lots of "selfies" while working out. Okay.... maybe just one. ;)

Full Body HIIT & Circuit Workout 

Duration: 45-55 minutes, depending upon pace and break times
Intensity level: Intermediate/advanced (please adjust to personal fitness level, take breaks as needed, and drink plenty of water)
Equipment needed:
  -Barbell and weights for squatting (I add 40 lbs on to the bar; adjust to your level)
  -Dumbells (I use 10 lb dumbbells; adjust to your level)
  -A bench or step for tricep dips

Here's the simplified version of the workout to bring with you to the gym. Below that, find all of the details and instructions (videos, pictures, tips). Try it out -- I guarantee you'll feel the burn!


super side dish: bacon brussels sprouts

I'm here to share a quick but awesome recipe with you today -- bacon brussels sprouts! These might be my favorite side dish I've made in quite a while... so flavorful, so delicious, so hearty. Even people who think that they don't like brussels sprouts (*cough* my fiance *cough*) will be converted to brussels lovers with this recipe. Seriously!

Pretty much anything mixed with bacon (oh, and bacon grease) tends to be pretty damn delicious though, right?

Serve these brussels sprouts with grilled chicken or steak for a delicious, low-carb, paleo-friendly meal. I served them alongside a delicious red wine and balsamic marinated flank steak -- a recipe that I'll be sharing with you all soon! 

So, how to make the brussels? It's easy! You only need 5 ingredients. Here's how to do it:


orrechiette & chicken bake with summer veggies

I have a wonderful recipe to share with you guys today. This meal came about pretty haphazardly and I wasn't necessarily planning on blogging it -- but it turned out so darn good.

One day this week, I woke up in the morning and had no idea what I'd fix for dinner. We didn't have many meat choices in the fridge and the pantry was pretty bare. I saw that we had some fresh squash and zucchini so I knew I wanted to use those... but how? I couldn't decide, so I just threw some chicken breasts into the crockpot to cook, figuring I'd think of something to put together while at work. I didn't. I came home to cooked chicken breasts that I then shredded and some squash and zucchini. I scavenged through the pantry and found some orrechiette pasta -- yum! I immediately envisioned a creamy, summery, baked combo of the little shells with shredded chicken, squash and zucchini, caramelized onions, and cheese.

Since the pasta would be a bit of a splurge though (not whole wheat!), I had to make it creamy in a healthy way -- I looked in the fridge and found greek yogurt and almond milk. Perfect! Only a small amount of cheese is used. No butter. And since this recipe also includes a hefty serving of chicken and vegetables, each serving only contains about 2 oz. or less of pasta. It's definitely a lightened up version of a creamy pasta bake!

Ryan loved this meal and it was one of those ones where after we eat I get to go, "Guess what?? This was healthy! Guess what's in it?!" He usually says that he doesn't want to know (he's a little funny about certain ingredients) but I tell him anyway. "Almond milk and greek yogurt! No butter!" His response? "Well it didn't taste healthy." I love making meals that taste like a splurge but really aren't :)

I had never used almond milk in a baked recipe before, and greek yogurt can be hit or miss when you use it in cooked recipes, so I wasn't totally sure this would work. But it came out creamy, a little tangy, and very flavorful. Success!

 This pasta bake is a lovely, easy summer meal. Here's how to make it:


chicken souvlaki pita pockets

This week, I've been living in a wonderful world of food. Specifically, the world right in between the "17 day diet" and the "creamy pasta, beer, tacos, and nachos vacation diet" (yeah, it's a thing). This world is pretty perfect, if you ask me. Almond butter, whole grains, veggies, nuts, fruits galore, dark chocolate, avocados, and pb&j-esque smoothies live here. How can that be a bad place? And... so do these chicken souvlaki pita pockets.

The chicken is marinated in Greek-inspired flavors then grilled. It turned out SO flavorful and tender and delicious. Ryan even said it was one of his favorite chicken dishes I've ever made! And I've made A LOT OF CHICKEN. 

The chicken souvlaki is served in wheat pita pockets and topped with homemade tzatziki sauce -- one of my favorite condiments ever. I first showed you my tzatziki sauce atop lamb burgers -- I LOOOVE this refreshing, creamy cucumber sauce. Then, we add feta cheese, raw red onions, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and a squeeze of lemon -- mm!

These chicken pita pockets make for a perfect quick-and-easy light summer meal. Make the marinade and tzatziki the night before, then when it's dinner time just throw the chicken on the grill while you assemble the fixin's. 

Here's how to make some for yourself:


back to reality & a peanut butter, berry, & banana protein drink

Well, fun's over -- we're back from vacation! We had the best time ever in St. Augustine, Florida this past week. It was the most relaxing, stress-free, wonderful vacation I could imagine.... I didn't put makeup on the entire week. I didn't bring a blowdryer or a straightener. I pretty much only communicated with one human being -- Ryan -- the entire time. We spent nearly all day every day on the beach. It was just what we needed :)

We ate delicious food (and yes, I ate whatever I wanted), drank beer on the beach every day and wine on the patio every night, slept in, explored the adorable town of St. Augustine, and just enjoyed our laid-back time together. I have to tell you... we said multiple times during the week that we see ourselves living by the sea in a sleepy little beach town like this one day. It feeds my soul.

the life.

breakfast on the patio each morning.. ahhhh.

no 17 day diet here.


my favorite view in life.

pretty floridian sunsets.

again..... no 17 day diet here :)

st. augustine marina.

taking a beach break for some Stella and fish 'n' chips.

I thought it would super depressing to come home after this wonderful week, especially since I'm going to spend much of the next 6 weeks studying for my qualifying exams that I take at the end of July. Honestly though, it felt pretty nice to get back to our cute little Baltimore rowhome. While it's a fraction of the size of the beautiful home we stayed in in Florida, and it's missing most of the perks (pool out back, ocean nearby, screened in porch), it's comfortable and adorable and it feels like *home* to us right now. The week actually left me feeling rejuvenated and relaxed and ready to get back into the productive lifestyle I'm used to. 

So don't worry: I'm getting right back to the clean recipes and healthy living posts you guys are used to :) While I was gone though, I hope you enjoyed the awesome guest posts -- Emma from bevy richmond brought you turkey and rice stuffed peppers (so good) and my good friend Brittney shared how to make a DIY rustic crate bookshelf. Check them out!

So, back to the healthy goodness: the day after we returned, I got right back to clean eating and hitting the gym -- and my body was quite happy. After my first trip to the gym, I was craving a protein smoothie to feed my muscles, so I made this tasty little peanut butter, berry, & banana protein drink. Delicious! I love pb&j's with banana slices and this drink really brings in those flavors. Also, if you haven't tried PB2 yet, you must! I get it for just a few dollars at Walmart. As for the protein powder, I used Dr. Mercola's, recommended by my good friend, but any kind will do. 

Here's how to make it:


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