Category Archives: Healthy Dishes

BLT (Bacon, Leek, and Tomato) Quiche + a Quick Quiche Cheat Sheet

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I have been wanting to do something different for breakfast lately but Kevin, bless his heart, has taken over the chore of making breakfast on the weekends and he leaves too early in the morning to make breakfast through the week. It is not that I don’t love his breakfasts, it is just, well……it is “Man food”. You know what I  mean? Pure, simple, straight to the point. Eggs with sausage, hash browns, and toast. 
I have tried doing BFD (breakfast for dinner) but he hasn’t been real thrilled with that idea. So I decided I had to put my foot down and tell him that I was making something with veggies in it for breakfast. I did add the footnote that there would be bacon in it. I mean bacon, eggs, cheese? How can that be wrong? Right?
He also went along with it because I had picked up leeks for a recipe I made a few days ago and he hates wasting food even more than me. So when I said it was a  great way to use the leeks up he was on board.
When I was buzzing through the grocery store the grape tomatoes looked great so I new exactly what I wanted to do. Bacon, leek, and tomato, yummmm!!

I love quiche. My Mom used to make them when I was little. Although back in the day they sold quiche mix in cartons right along with the Egg Beaters. How simple could that be? Frozen pie crust, carton of quiche mix, hot oven, BOOM, breakfast! But seriously making quiche is so ding dang simple there is no reason to not give it a try. I will have a handy little “Quiche Cheat Sheet” after the recipe.
BLT (Bacon, Leek, and Tomato) Quiche
1 large leek, root end and dark green leaves cut off, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
1 handful gape tomatoes, halved
4 slices thick cut smoky bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
3 eggs
Kosher salt and cracked pepper
1 1/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
Pie dough (handmade or store bought)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pie dough in a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges, chill for 30 minutes. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (can use dried beans if you do not have pie weights). Bake about 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool.
Place the chopped leek into a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish them carefully and allow them to sit a few minutes to release the dirt and grit that is between the leaves. Scoop out with your hands and lay them on a clean kitchen towel. Roll the towel and squeeze the moisture out. Set aside.
Meanwhile cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once bacon has rendered its fat and begun to crisp slightly, remove it with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the leeks and saute being careful to not brown the leeks. Once the leeks begin to soften add the halved tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to let the tomatoes release some of their juices. Remove from heat.
In a bowl combine the eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and evaporated milk. Whisk until completely blended. 
Spoon the leeks and tomatoes into the pie crust and sprinkle with the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top and bake on a baking sheet for 40 to 50 minutes or until the filling is set. Allow to cool 20 minutes before serving.
ENJOY!!
Easy Quiche Cheat Sheet
Make Your Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pie dough in a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges, chill for 30 minutes. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (can use dried beans if you do not have pie weights). Bake about 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool.

Choose Your Veggies
1/2 to 1 cup of up to 3 of the following veggies;
Roasted Asparagus           
Roasted or Steamed Broccoli     
Shredded Potatoes, sauteed     
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
Green Peppers, chopped and sauteed
Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
Onions or Shallots, sliced or chopped and sauteed  
Green Onions, chopped
Jarred Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
Spinach, chopped and sauteed (or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
Frozen peas, thawed
Meat
1/2 cup of up to 2 of the following meats;
Bacon, chopped and cooked
Sausage, cooked and crumbled
Ham, chopped
Shredded chicken
Crab, picked clean
Now Some Cheese
Up to 1 cup of the following cheeses, crumbled or shredded;
Swiss
Gruyere
Fontina
Provolone
Gouda
Brie
Mozzarella
Goat Cheese
Cheddar
Jack or Pepper Jack
Feta
Parmesan
Now Let’s Make Some Quiche
Whisk 3 eggs, salt, pepper, and 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, half and half, milk, or evaporated milk in a  large bowl. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (if desired), seasoning such as chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, grated lemon zest (would be awesome with a crab quiche). 
Spread the vegetable/cheese mixture on the bottom of the prepared pie crust and pour the egg mixture on top. Bake until the filling is set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Avocado Hummus AKA Guacammus

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I was really at a loss when I made this as to what I wanted to call it. It has chick peas in it so it is kind of like a hummus, but it has avocado, Serrano pepper, and cilantro in it so it is kind of like guacamole. Actually when I made it I was craving guacamole for lunch, but knew I needed some protein. I knew I had some chick peas in the pantry so in my mind I just smooshed them together and wound up with a really tasty and healthy lunch.
I really wasn’t to sure about how this would come out when I first started. But as I added all of the flavors I asked myself why I hadn’t thought of this before. I love chick peas, I used to pile them on my salads when I went to salad bars. And DUH I love guacamole, well actually avocado in just about any form makes my teeter totter.
So if you are looking for a new way to have your guacamole and hummus too, give this a shot. 


P.s. Kevin came home and loved this. Wow who knew I could get him to eat healthy?

Avocado Hummus AKA Guacammus
1 15-ounce can of chick peas, drained and liquid reserved
2 avocados, pitted and chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
1 Serrano pepper, finely minced
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
2 limes juiced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Salt and pepper
Pita wedges for serving
In a food processor combine the first 7 ingredients along with about 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid from the chick peas. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid as needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. 
Serve with pita wedges.
ENJOY!!

Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way

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My son loves Ranch dressing. He will literally put it on everything! We used to go through Costco sized bottles in a week at times. 
Well in my quest to try and lighten up recipes, I became very determined to come with up a ranch dressing that was healthier but didn’t lose any flavor. I mean we all have a certain way we expect ranch dressing to taste right?
I have been trying for a couple years, but have come up with things that work ok and tasted good but just not “the” ranch dressing. I was beginning to get a little discouraged until I started working with Greek yogurt a lot. I sub it for sour cream most of the time now. I love the fact that I am not only reducing fat and calories but adding protein to whatever I put it in. I decided that was one of my missing ingredients in this recipe. Between that and adding more fresh herbs I nailed it this time! I will never go back to any other dressing!

I decided to give the step by step photos a try. So let’s see how it goes OK?
The cast of characters
Add your low fat mayo
Then that tangy Greek yogurt
Now all of those fab herbs. Kevin says it looks like I mowed the yard *eyeroll*
Some minced garlic
It can’t be buttermilk ranch without the buttermilk right? Low fat of course.

OK in our house we have to add the Sriracha. A little bit just gives it a tang so don’t be afraid, give it a shot!!
And of course some good ol’ kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
You can throw it in a food processor, blender, or one of these handy dandy attachments that come with an immersion blender. Have I mentioned how much I love this gadget?!
Then you end up with a fabulous dressing for salads and veggies. I leave mine rather thick, like a dip. Then it can be mixed with some more buttermilk or even milk to thin it out for salads.
Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way
  • 1 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced ( a good handful)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Dash hot sauce (Recommended Sriracha)
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk 

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients and pulse until thoroughly blended. Adjust seasoning as needed. Pour into an airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. 

Thin with more buttermilk if needed.

ENJOY!!!

Chicken, Spinach, and Noodle Casserole

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Last night was a great night. Spur of the moment my kiddos (my son and his girlfriend) decided to pop by. It was happy for one because we needed his help moving my china hutch. But mostly because ever since we all got our own places I miss the crap out of them! It is funny, we all knew that we needed to move on and get places of our own. But dang it is so had to be away from them, at least for me.
It is funny, I spent a lot of the day on Monday unpacking boxes and putting things away in my dining room. We are having about 15 people here for Thanksgiving so I figured it might be a good idea to finally unpack the boxes that have been sitting there for a couple of months. Once I had the boxes unpacked and all of my china and crystal on my dining room table I started to look around at the room and decided I wanted to change how it was arranged. 
Now it was no surprise to my son, or would it be to anyone that has known me for a long time, but Kevin was kind of hit out of the blue with it. I move furniture all of the time. I have to get a “feel” for the room, and until it feels right I am constantly rearranging. He tried arguing with me about the need to move the hutch, but he eventually backed down. My son could have saved him the time, you will never convince me it doesn’t need to be moved if I think it does!

But due to my dining room table be covered with dishes and such, and the days getting so short that it is pitch dark by 5:30 PM here. I am having a heck of a time getting any pictures of my food. Kevin even went to Home Depot last night to pick up some under the counter lights just to help me in the kitchen. As you can see by the pictures, the lights help for cooking, but not so much for picture taking. Oh well, I will figure something out.
Now on to the dish. I found this recipe on the internet quite some time ago. I loved it because I love spinach and chicken and, well who doesn’t love a good casserole? They can be great comfort food and remind me of growing up because my Mom was the casserole Queen. But in those days it was the canned condensed soups that were used as the base. This one didn’t use the soup, but it called for whole milk and sour cream and tons of butter. I knew I could make is so much healthier!
The kids and Kevin loved it. I of course am always harder on myself than anyone else. I loved it but felt it didn’t have that “Wow” factor. Kevin pointed out to me that every dish doesn’t have to blow you off your seat, and my son said that he loved it because it was warm and creamy, it was just plain comfort food. We all agreed that if you like a bit of zing you could add some crushed red pepper to it. But it was a great meal for a cold Washington night. We sat in the living room, with the fireplace going, and enjoyed some nice comfort food together. That can never be wrong!!
Chicken, Spinach, and Noodle Casserole
Adapted from a recipe found on Real Simple
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces egg noodles (I used No Yolk noodles)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken (I used the whole rotisserie chicken)
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Butter flavored cooking spray

Heat oven to 400° F. 

In a large pot boil water for noodles, salt the water before adding the noodles and cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain and return them to the pot.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes (do not let the mixture darken). Add the white wine and whisk for a minute to cook off the alcohol, then slowly add the chicken stock, whisking as you go. 

Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the yogurt and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the sauce, chicken, and spinach to the noodles and toss to combine. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch or some other 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and spray the top with butter spray to dampen the crumbs.

Bake until the bread crumbs are golden and the filling is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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ENJOY!!!

Shared at The Lady 8 Home

Southern Style Salmon Patties 2.0

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If you are thinking along the same lines that Kevin did you are asking yourself why in the heck I named this dish Southern Style Salmon Patties 2.0. Well, the reason I named it that was because this is my “Upgraded” version of the Southern Style Salmon Patties I learned how to make when I lived in North Carolina. I learned how to cook those first Southern dishes from my ex Mother in Law. That woman is a seriously good cook, but what was so funny is that (and I found out later is quite the norm for many cooks in the south) she didn’t use measurements. It wasn’t a cup of this and a tablespoon of that. It was a bit of this and a pinch of that, etc. When she taught me how to make cornbread one of the instructions read “add enough to make it the thickness of pancake batter”. I was a bit confused at first and had a lot of trial and error. But eventually caught on and still consider those recipes some of my favorite ones

So I am in no way saying that the original way I was taught to make them is wrong. No way, those were some seriously good salmon patties! Those patties had a ton of crushed up Saltine crackers in them that, while they tasted fabulous, added a lot of calories and sodium. Plus they were fried in a lot of oil. I wanted lighten them up and let the salmon flavor to shine with a few other flavors in the supporting cast. So that is where this recipe comes from.
Of course if you want to eat them “Southern Style” you need to have beans and coleslaw and cornbread right? Well I did make the coleslaw lighter, but had to make pinto beans (although in the south we had shelly beans which are OMG sooooo good!!). Even though I have been subbing black beans for pinto beans in all of my recipes lately, you just need pinto beans for the right flavor in my mind. The cornbread was left out (sadly) as I was trying to lighten the menu. But trust me it will make appearances occasionally. There is no way I could forgo corn bread forever!!
I realize this picture is not as pretty as the others but I had to show you how to put it together if you have never eaten them this way. WOW that picture makes me seriously hungry. This is one of the meals I could eat every week and I never leave leftovers!!!

Southern Style Salmon Patties 2.0
3 6-ounce cans of boneless skinless pink salmon (I get mine at Costco in a 6 can bundle)
4 green onions, chopped (whites and greens)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (reserve about 1 tablespoon for garnish if desired)
Zest of a small lemon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Coleslaw (see recipe below)
15-ounce can of Pinto beans (I used Bush Beans)
Add salmon plus the juice to a large bowl and flake with fork. Mix in the green onion,parsley, lemon zest, and eggs. using your hands combine. Add your bread crumbs (may need more if the mix is not thick enough to form patties). salt and pepper to taste.
Spray a large flat bottomed skillet with Non stick olive oil spray, coating it well. Heat over medium to medium high heat (depends on your stove, I hate my electric ggrrrr). Form into 8 patties. Working in batches fry the patties on one side until golden brown, flip and repeat.
Spicy Coleslaw:
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix from produce area (green and purple cabbage and carrots)
  • 3/4 cup light or fat free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 to 1/2 onion, grated (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard (a palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt and pepper. Pour mayonnaise mixture over coleslaw mix and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.

Ladle a scoop of pinto beans onto a plate. Place 2 salmon patties on top of them and the top the patties with a scoop of coleslaw.

ENJOY!!!

Healthy Mexican Pizza

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I love taking my fast food favorites and lightening them up. It takes the guilt out of the equation for me while I can indulge in something that used I used to feel guilty eating. This is a knock off of Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza, something I used to eat all of the time, but the Taco bell version was so full of fat and calories it was insane!! So I gave it up and figured I would never be able to enjoy one again. Then I decided to start picking some of my old fast food favorites and challenging myself to “healthify” them. So not only I, but everyone else could enjoy them without feeling like we needed to eat them in a closet somewhere! I did that with my Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls and to everyone’s surprise here at home they were a huge hit. So when I announced I was again making a healthy version of a fast food fave I wasn’t met with much resistance.

I have become a big fan of black beans and they are one of the things that lighten this dish up and make it healthy. Trust me, you will not miss those fattening re-fried beans at all, which is a huge things for me to say because I used to be addicted to re-fried bean and cheese burritos!! I also use lean ground turkey in place of that greasy beef taco meat they use. Reduced fat cheese, baked tortillas instead of fried, and fresh veggies make this a fantastic tasty fast food at home dish. You can of course add low fat or fat free sour cream if you like as well.
Bye bye Taco Bell, hello healthy and tasty food!!
Healthy Mexican Pizza 
recipe is for 2 pizzas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Salt and pepper 
1 15-ounce can of black beans with jalapeno (Recommend Bush’s Beans)
4 soft taco size flour tortillas
1/2 cup chunky salsa (Recommend Pace Garden Pepper Salsa)
1 cup low fat cheddar or cheddar jack cheese, grated
4 green onions, chopped
1 vine ripened tomato, diced
Sliced black olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Heat olive oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Breaking the turkey up with a wooden spoon, cook until meat is no longer pink. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
In a sauce pot heat the black beans over medium heat. Using a potato masher or fork, mash half of the beans to make them thicker. Once warm remove from heat.
Spray the bottom of two shallow baking dishes or pie plates with non stick spray. Place a tortilla in each one. Top the tortillas with the beans and then the meat mixture. Place another tortilla on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the cheese, green onion, tomato, and black olives. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing pizza into pieces.
ENJOY!!

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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My son’s girlfriend brought over these huge zucchinis from her Mom and Dad’s garden. I love zucchini but these bad boys were big! I thought about frying them in slices and making some kind of spicy dipping sauce but I just hated to take those big beauties and fry them. Then I thought about the stuffed peppers I made and thought that the stuffing would work so well using the zucchini in place of the peppers. I mean the stuffing already has gated zucchini in it so I knew the flavors would be awesome. Plus it was taking a nice fresh veggie and keeping it on the healthy side. My stuffing uses turkey sausage and low fat cheese. 
When I ran the idea by the rest of my housemates everyone thought it sounded like a winner so that was enough for me, the decision was made. Then with Kevin’s father having to be placed in a nursing home, and us wanting to be there at mealtimes as much as possible so we can make sure he is eating, The ingredients just sat in my refrigerator. To be honest when I pulled them out last night was afraid that they wouldn’t be usable anymore and I would be making a trip to the store. But I wouldn’t be able to replace those big beautiful zucchinis. I crossed my fingers and pulled them out of the fridge. Yesssss they were fine, just like I first got them, thank you Lord!!! 

They came out better than I ever could have expected, they really did! I wish now I had made more. I just cooked the two large (extra large) zucchinis halved. So I had leftover stuffing. The original recipe was enough stuffing for 6 bell peppers so if you have 6 zucchinis it would be perfect. I also subbed yellow squash for the zucchini in my original recipe because I was already stuffing zucchini I wanted something else in the mix. 
Like I said, these came out so much better than I could have ever imagined. Kevin loves my stuffed peppers and he said he may just like these even more. Wow now I am in competition with myself! I love it!!
Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
6  large zucchinis
1 (28-ounce) can of Italian tomatoes
2 medium yellow squash, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat mozzarella for the topping
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, plus and extra cup for baking.
1 1/2 orzo (rice shaped pasta)
1 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage ( I used Jennie-O)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Pour the tomatoes in a large bowl and break apart using your fingers or potato masher. Add the squash, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Bring the 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook to package instructions. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables, reserving the chicken stock. Stir to combine the orzo and veggies and pour the chicken stock into a 3 quart baking dish.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of each zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh in each one. If zucchinis will not stand up use a knife to shave off a bit of the bottom to make it even. Set zucchinis into baking dish with all of the chicken stock. 

Mix 1 cup Pecorino Romano with the 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. Set asaide.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble and brown the turkey sausage until it is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and minced garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the orzo mixture and cook for about a minute to warm. Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into the zucchinis. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle each zucchini boat with the cheese parsley mix. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and allow the zucchinis to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!!

Food Star Friday – Shrimp Fra Diavolo

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Happy Friday my friends. I hope this week has been kind to you and that you are winding down and getting ready for this holiday weekend. You know Labor Day is a classic grilling day and right now there is much “debate” going on in my house about what and who will be grilling. There may be a compromise in sight though. I was thinking about trying a slow cooker rib recipe so if I do that and focus on side dishes the boys can argue without me over who gets to be master of the grill.
Anyway, when the dust from that debate settled I realized I had not planned a Food Star Friday meal. Dang it! So after browsing Food Network and The Cooking Channel I was still at a loss as to what I would make. That was when I got the idea to pose the question to my Facebook and Twitter followers. I asked people to give me the name of a food star and a protein. After several hours of responses the protein I would be using was quite clear – shrimp. OK I love shrimp so I was excited about that idea. But the food star was not as easy. I never really thought about how many food stars there are out there. Wow you all came up with some great people. It was a very close race but Giada was the winner. As soon as I realized she was the food star I knew exactly what I was going to make. I have watched the show that she makes this dish on several times and it always looked and sounded so good to me. Why I didn’t come up with this idea I don’t know, but I am sure glad that you all did it for me. It was fantastic!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

Food Star Friday – Unfried Chicken

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I have been a big fan of Paula Deen for a long time. Way back when, before I lost weight, I did cook a few of her meals. Once I lost the weight and started eating healthier I stopped cooking her meals but still loved to watch her. I love her personality, the way she loves her kids, her sense of humor, etc. Plus my Dad had a huge crush on her so it was fun to watch her shows with him. 
Once it came out that she had diabetes, and a lot of the public slammed her for her unhealthy cooking practices, I was so happy to see her son Bobby step up to the plate to help his Mom (and himself) lose weight and eat healthier. (Paula has lost 30 pounds) I mean, I used to live in the south and I love Southern food, but if you are from the south you know that there is a lot of fried food, and the gravy, oh my goodness I could have eaten gravy on just about everything. In fact I think I did for a while. So Bobby trying to “healthify” some of his Mom’s favorite dishes was wonderful for all of us that love southern food too!

One of my hands down favorite things that my ex-mother in law used to make was her fried chicken. Ohhh heaven on a plate! Sometimes it was eaten just about as fast as it came out of the oil! Trying to avoid burning your mouth was secondary to eating the chicken before anyone else could!
Well once I lost weight and started down my path of healthier eating I figured that fried chicken was a thing of the past that I could only dream of (along with that gravy!!). I had tried several oven baking methods for chicken and they just didn’t come close to the “real” thing. Until I found Bobby Deen’s show. If you haven’t seen it you really should check it out. It is on the Cooking Channel and is called “Not My Momma’s Meals”. He just did a lightened up version of his Mom’s Pimento Cheese Sandwiches and save about 500 calories with his version!! Holy crap!
Anyway, I watched the show and he made his unfried chicken. His Mom was very reluctant to try it (she tries everything he makes and gives her opinion of the old verses the new version) but once she did she was Mmmmming and Ooohhing so much she told Bobby she was going to call him back so she could finish her chicken! Well if Paula Deen is saying this version of unfried chicken is that good you know I am going to check it out. Boy am I glad I did!!! Everyone loved it, which surprised me because Kevin has always bragged about his fried chicken (although I have yet to taste it in 4 1/2 years)! I will be making this one again (and again) I can guarantee it!
Unfried Chicken
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of all visible fat (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paula Deen’s House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Sriracha and of course used more)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups cornflake crumbs 

PAULA DEEN’S HOUSE SEASONING RECIPE:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup black pepper



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large cast-iron skillet with nonstick spray over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle the chicken with the Paula Deen House Seasoning. Combine the buttermilk, hot sauce, egg whites and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl and toss the chicken to coat.
Pour the cornflake crumbs into another large bowl. Dip the chicken into the crumbs, pressing to adhere, and then place in the skillet and into the oven. Bake until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, 40 to 45 minutes.
Mix together the salt, garlic powder and pepper and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

SERVES: 8 (MAIN); Calories: 146; Total Fat: 3 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 18 grams; Total carbohydrates: 10 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 71 milligrams; Sodium: 197 milligrams

Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls

Standard

I have been trying to lighten things up a bit around here. With the warm weather we of course are wearing less clothing which makes it a bit obvious that the cool sweater weather we have around here 8 months a year has allowed us to hide a multitude of sins! So I am trying to “sneak” in healthier versions of foods we love without making it stand out too much. I mean I don’t want a flashing light above the dinner table saying “Healthy Food Here” it might just make everyone run and hide. Really though to me it is a bit of a challenge. I like to see their faces and hear what they think about the food before I tell them it is healthy. I just don’t want them to get it in their heads that they wont like it before they even try it. Why does healthy = tasteless or inedible to some people?

What started the whole idea for this meal was a commercial I saw on TV for a pan that you can bake tortilla shells in to make healthier taco salads. I liked it, but I hate to buy all of those “gadgets”. If I bought every one that peeked my interest I would need a whole storage for just my kitchen stuff!! So I of course turned to my trusty internet for ideas. I saw one that used upside down jumbo muffin tins, but the tortillas wouldn’t stay tucked in the right way, so back I went for more ideas. 
That’s when I found this fantastic idea at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. It is brilliant! I knew I had canning jars in my pantry so I was set and ready to go with it. I was so excited about this meal. I made Avocado Hot Sauce to substitute for guacamole and sour cream and a can of black beans with jalapeno already in my pantry!
You can see here how perfect the canning jars work for this process. I used the soft taco size flour tortillas so the bowls were small  I only ate one for dinner but the guys ate two plus I think Seth made a soft taco later. Hungry boy!
The jars are the pint jars by Ball but any oven safe glass or cup would work for this too. I think they came out so good, crispy without the guilt of frying them in oil!
Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls
6 soft taco sized flour tortilla shells
Olive oil
1 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can of black beans with jalapeno (I used Bush’s)
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded or chopped
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
Combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Place chicken tenders on a baking sheet an drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin mixture on both sides of each chicken tender. Reserve excess mixture. Bake tenders for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn oven up to 400 degrees
Meanwhile place jars upside down on a rimmed baking sheet and spray them with non-stick spray. Heat tortillas (I did 2 at a time) in the microwave for about 30 seconds, just enough to make them soft so you can form them over the jars. Using your fingers, rub a bit of olive oil on each tortilla, just enough so it will crisp up and to help keep it from sticking. Press the sides of the tortillas down gently to form the “bowls” around the jars.
Shred cooled chicken with two forks, set aside. Place the can of black beans in a small sauce pot and heat.
Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes depending on your oven. Just check them to make sure they crisp but don’t burn. Remove from heat and carefully remove each shell from the jars. 
Assemble each taco bowl by adding black beans, then the chicken, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, a sprinkling of cheese, and top with the Avocado Hot Sauce.
ENJOY!!