7/10/14

Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet


This recipe says "summer" to me. It uses zucchini and bell pepper, it is fast and easy, it is cooked on the stovetop and not baked, it is light and healthy. . . it's a perfect summer dish. I love the Southwestern flair it has, and I love that it uses leftover brown (or regular) rice. I always love finding new, different ways to use zucchini and this one is the winner of the season. The zucchini is wonderfully crisp-tender in it and its flavor isn't completely masked by the other ingredients. If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes in your garden, this dish is even better using diced fresh tomatoes instead of the canned tomatoes. Cook up a batch, eat out on the patio, and taste summer.  


Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

Heat Oven To 350 Published 07/10/2014
Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups quartered lengthwise, sliced zucchini
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, undrained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook and stir an additional minute. 
  2. Add black beans, undrained tomatoes, water and cooked rice to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and sprinkle cheese on top. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min

Recipe Source: adapted from readyseteat.com

6/26/14

Salsa Salad


I don't know what it is about summer, but all my will to cook goes out the window. All that sun just makes me lazy. And it's only June! Hopefully my family won't starve before September rolls around. 

Luckily there are recipes like this. So easy that I can make it while simultaneously giving tummy time encouragement to the 3 month old and with the "help" of a two year old hanging over my shoulder. So fast because there is no cooking required. So so so tasty. It's no wonder I've made it three times this month. And will probably make it a fourth if I can get to the store for more cilantro and tomatoes. It is the perfect recipe for my lazy summer self. It was even born from laziness - why scoop up salsa with a chip if you can mix the chips in and eat it with a fork? It's a hearty, filling salad full of bright veggies and beans. Take out the chips and it is even good for you. (But I don't suggest taking out the chips, because they add crunch and deliciousness. And because you only live once, okay?) If you use diced tomatoes, the only chopping required is for the cilantro, though I do prefer the taste of the salad with the fresh tomatoes if I have the time. If you need a quick lunch or dinner, or a great potluck salad to share, this salad is perfect.



Salsa Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 06/26/2014
Salsa Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced (or 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bag tortilla chips, crushed, or 2 bags tortilla strips
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In colander, toss the tomatoes (if using fresh) with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over a bowl or in a sink and let drain for 15-30 minutes. (If using canned tomatoes, drain thoroughly and proceed to the next step)
  2. In a large bowl, combine drained tomatoes, corn, black beans, cilantro, black olives, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Season with salt to taste. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated at this point)
  3. Stir in crushed tortilla chips and serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: None
Total time: 10 mins.
Recipe Source: HeatOvenTo350

6/6/14

Mediterranean Chicken


Flying alone with a two month old across the country this past weekend has increased my faith in humanity. I have never run across such helpful, nice people when flying as I did this past weekend. People offered to lift my bags, guide me to my gate and watch my bags for me. They smiled at Clara, offered me their place in line and asked if I needed any food or water. Every step of the way I met the nicest, sweetest people and I am grateful to all of them for making my trip so easy. Clara, for her part, was a great travel partner. She thoroughly enjoyed the unlimited mom time without a toddler trying to poke her eyes out, and I got to see family and pay my respects to a wonderful man and grandfather. 

Lovely as the weekend was, it was so nice to come back and be home again with my toddler. She was so excited she threw tantrums and napped short for me. Motherhood is the best, isn't it? Since motherhood for me also includes making dinner, I made sure to add some meals to the meal plan for the week that were personal favorites, and this chicken was one. Easy and full of great Mediterranean flavor, this is the type of weeknight meal I love. The basil gives it a happy, fresh flavor, even though most of the ingredients are things I just have stocked in my pantry or fridge. I love how the kalamata olives lend saltiness to the meal. This is one of those times when they are such a star in the meal that regular black olives are just no substitute. I also love serving this over the plain couscous because it gives it such a great texture. You could easily substitute quinoa or some brown rice if you wanted. If you want a fast, easy, healthy meal with unique flavor, this is the one. 



Mediterranean Chicken

Heat Oven To 350 Published 06/06/2014
Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Cooked couscous

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until all sides are browned but the chicken pieces aren't completely cooked through, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
  2. Add the chopped onion to the now-empty skillet and cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir 30 seconds. Add undrained tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken broth, vinegar, sugar and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken back to the skillet, cover and cook until chicken has cooked through, about 5 minutes. Chop kalamata olives finely, then add to the skillet with the parsley and fresh basil. Cook 1 minute, season with salt and pepper and serve over cooked couscous.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time:25 min

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

5/27/14

Mango Chicken Avocado Salad


Mango and avocado make one of my favorite flavor combinations. There is something tropical and refreshing about it. With spring greens and chicken in a salad that refreshing flavor becomes an entire meal. A happy, tropical vacation meal. Especially when add on the simple tangy/sweet/spicy lime dressing. This salad says "summer" and "relaxing by the pool"and all kinds of wonderfully sunny things. It is light, healthy, and filling, and easy to make and it makes a perfect lunch or light dinner. Throw it together, eat it outside on the porch, and enjoy that summer is here. 



Mango Chicken Avocado Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/27/2014
Mango Chicken Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 4 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 2 medium mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted and diced
  • 1 (10 ounce) package spring lettuce mix

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine brown sugar and water and microwave 1 minute. Stir until sugar is dissolved (microwaving more if necessary) and stir in lime juice and garlic sauce. (If you can make the dressing a day or at least a couple hours ahead of time it is even better.)
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together the chicken, mango and avocado. Add 2 tablespoons of the lime dressing and mix.
  3. Divide the lettuce among four plates, then top with chicken mixture. Pour dressing to taste over each plate and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:10 mins.
Cook time:2 mins.
Total time: 12 mins.
Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

5/22/14

Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach


My brother is the grill master in the family, and when he recommends a recipe I usually try it out as soon as I can because I know it is going to be good. The only problem is that he is one of those crazy people that grills year round, even in tough Vermont winters, so when he recommended this recipe to me it was January. As in, snowy, cold, wet and definitely not grilling season in my book. Now that the weather is warm again and the grill has been dusted off, this recipe has become a favorite in our house. It is easy, has simple ingredients, and tastes wonderful. The chicken thighs are marinated in a simple marinade that gives them a delicious sweet and sour flavor after grilling. The marinade is saved and cooked with spinach until the spinach wilts, giving the spinach the same great taste. Chicken thighs are great on the grill because they don't dry out as quickly as chicken breasts so even someone without great grilling skills could make these turn out great. They also happen to go on sale where I live fairly often, making this a cheap recipe, too. I almost didn't try the spinach cooked in the leftover marinade because I wasn't sure I would like it, but my brother specifically recommended it and I am glad he did. It is so fast and easy, but really tastes great and is delicious with the chicken. I love recipes with a built-in healthy side dish. Kick off your grilling season with this delicious chicken dish and you will be happy you did.



Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/22/2014
Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili-garlic sauce
  • 4-6 boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, about 11 ounces total
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine rice vinegar, canola oil, granulated sugar, soy sauce and chili-garlic sauce in a medium bowl. Pour marinade into a ziploc bag and add chicken thighs. Close the bag and refrigerate 1-2 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove thighs from ziploc bag and save marinade. Grill thighs over direct high heat, turning every 3-4 minutes, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. While thighs are grilling, pour reserved marinade into a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for 1-2 minutes, then add spinach and tomato. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Serve grilled thighs over warm wilted spinach.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min (plus 1-2 hours marinating time)
Recipe Source: Weber's Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance

5/20/14

Apple Pie Quinoa Salad


I love apple pie. The tart apples, the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, the sweet juices that come out when you cut a slice . . . is there a more homey dessert? I'm also a big fan of repurposing leftover ingredients and finding healthier ways to enjoy my favorite food flavors. That's where this apple pie quinoa salad comes in. It uses leftover quinoa. It has the same cinnamon goodness, the same deliciously sweet-tart juices and the best part? It is fast and easy. You can enjoy apple pie flavor in less than ten minutes. I originally made up this salad as a snack for my daughter and put it together during a nap time one day. After sampling a few (maybe more than just a few) bites I decided I should really also see how it tasted cold (in the name of research) and put the rest in the fridge. After discovering that it tasted great cold, I thought I should really see how good it tasted the next day. And after learning that it tasted great the next day, there wasn't much left so I just polished that whole thing off. My daughter had to wait until the next batch (which I doubled) to finally try it. Sometimes being the mom has its perks. Whether you want to share it or not, this is a great fruit salad with apple pie flavor and a healthy amount of protein and vitamins to boot. We are big quinoa fans at our house so this is perfect for us, but if you like another grain or have something different leftover you could sub it in for the quinoa. 



Apple Pie Quinoa Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/20/2014
Apple Pie Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples (about two large; you can use other types of apples but may need to adjust cooking times and ingredients slightly since other varieties soften faster and release more liquid during cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
  • lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and core apples and cut into thin slices. Place in a microwave safe bowl and toss with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  2. Microwave apple mixture for two minutes, stir and microwave an additional 2-4 minutes or until apples are starting to soften and release juices.
  3. Pour off juices into a bowl or mug and reserve. Stir in quinoa and cranberries and add juices back until the salad is desired sweetness and consistency. Add lemon juice if desired and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 05 mins.
Cook time: 05 mins.
Total time: 10 mins.
Recipe Source: Heat Oven To 350

5/16/14

Spinach Chicken Tortilla Bake


A few weeks into my new life as a stay at home mom I came to a sad realization. I had honestly thought that because I was home more and not working that the house would be soooo clean. You see, instead of just having evenings and weekends to do household chores, I'd have all day! Right? Except I didn't quite realize that being home all day also meant making messes all day. Especially with a toddler who takes baby feeding times as a opportunity to get into everything she can. It was a sad moment when I realized that keeping the house clean would be just as hard or harder than before. 

It was a similar realization when it came to making dinner. I still need fast dinner recipes with minimal prep because even though I'm not starting dinner after I get home at five, I'm still running around the kitchen like a mad woman getting everything prepped when it comes to dinner time because I'm fitting meal prep in between feedings, book reading and putting bandaids on various invisible ouchies.

This tortilla bake is the latest favorite for fast dinners. The prep time is minimal, especially if you started with already shredded, cooked chicken. I'm a fan of the little hands on time, but also of the ricotta and spinach layers. The ricotta gives the tortilla bake a creaminess that reminds me of lasagna, but with a twist. The spinach, although it seems like a lot when you are putting the layers together, cooks down to nice, soft layers that add an earthy (in a good way) taste to the chicken, cheese and tortillas. I'm not much of a fan of raw spinach, but cooked spinach is my friend. The whole dish gets a slight tanginess from the salsa verde that I love. If you aren't a fan of salsa verde you could substitute regular salsa but the taste will be completely different and lose its uniqueness. You can control how spicy this dish is with the salsa verde you choose and the ratio of pepperjack cheese to monterey jack. You can also make this a little healthier by subbing in whole wheat tortillas for all or part of the tortillas in the recipe. It's such a versatile, delicious dish you will almost forget that you put it together while talking on the phone, nursing a baby, and playing stuffed animal soccer with your toddler.




Chicken Spinach Tortilla Bake

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/16/2014
Chicken Spinach Tortilla Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa verde
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 8 large flour tortillas, ripped into large pieces
  • 3 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat olive oil until shimmering. Slice chicken breasts in half and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts to skillet and cook, turning once, until cooked through. Let cool slightly and shred.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together salsa verde and ricotta.
  3. Add just enough of the salsa verde mixture to cover the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Top with 1/4 of the torn tortillas, then 1/3 of the chicken, black beans, spinach, a heaping 1/2 cup of the salsa verde mixture and 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat layers, ending with a final layer of tortillas and cheese on top.
  4. Cover springform pan with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until cheese has browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before separating the springform pan and cutting into slices.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 25 min
Recipe Source: adapted from Rachael Ray


 
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