Category Archives: olives

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
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!!

Chicken Kabobs with Greek Salad

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I have gone through a bit of obsession with Greek food lately. I don’t know if anyone else does it but I will get hooked on a certain type of food (Greek, Italian, Mexican, fish and seafood, veggies, etc.) and want it just about everyday. Not the same food, but the flavors. It kind of drives my family a little batty at time. OH well, I do the cooking so I guess what I decide goes right? Although I do try to give you all a variety of recipes during the week. I don’t to make you just as crazy as my family!
I did a Greek Burger back for #SundaySupper’s Father’s Day post and it was soooo good. I think that was when my little mind started cranking out ideas for recipes. Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with recipes flying through your head to the point that you just have to get up and start writing them down? Oh, maybe that is just my weird thing, but I seriously get some of my best ideas in the middle of the night! Last night I had to fight the urge to get up and start canning dilled green beans! Wacko!!

My friends, this was a meal that made them stop complaining though. My son isn’t a huge feta fan (strange but true) so I wondered if he would like this, but he did. Kevin’s son eats anything I make as fast as I put it in front of him, which I haven’t quite decided if it is a testament to how good my food is or just being a 20 year old boy that is happy someone else is cooking for him and he doesn’t have to eat McDonald’s every night. I have decided to believe the first idea.
This is a great summertime meal. Sitting outside by the grill enjoying the tangy kabobs along with the salad? So good! You could also make these kabobs with some rice pilaf. Toss a little bit of feta in after the pilaf is cooked along with some lemon, mmmmmm heaven!!

Chicken Kabobs with Greek Salad
For the Kabobs:
8-ounces of plain yogurt (not Greek style, you want it saucier)
1/3 ocup of feta cheese, crumbled well
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon of dried Mediterranean oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2  lemon, zested and juiced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
4 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges (or a container of cherry tomatoes)
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
For the Salad:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Mediterranean oregano
1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 kalamata olives
3/4 cup feta cheese
In a large shallow baking dish, combine the yogurt, feta, sun dried tomatoes, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine well and add the chicken, turning to make sure it is completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight.
Remove chicken from the marinade and thread onto skewers, alternating with the onion and tomato wedges. Discard leftover marinade. Grill over medium high heat, turning to assure all sides are cooked, until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. 
While chicken is cooking whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red wine vinegar, and dried oregano in a small bowl. Place the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta in a large salad bowl. Toss with salad dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.
Pile some salad on a plate and top with kabobs.
ENJOY!!!

Food Star Friday – Guy Fieri’s Halibut Veracruz

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Happy Food Star Friday all! I always get excited this time of the week. Not only is it FRIDAY, but I get to share the yummy recipes I have made from our favorite food stars. So many of us watch Food Network so much these folks seem like family to us. I really enjoy creating a little piece of them in my kitchen to share with you all.

So far the recipes for Food Star Friday have been a hit and this week was no different than the others. When I read over this recipe I was not too sure about some of the ingredients, mainly the olives. Now don’t get me wrong, I love olives, especially in a nice cold martini, but with fish? I just couldn’t imagine the flavor. But it was halibut and that is my hands down favorite fish (salmon runs a close second). So I was game.

Kevin was in the kitchen with  me. He didn’t prep the food for me but I think he was hovering to  make sure I didn’t chop a finger off given my track record for the last week. My knife and I were in the midst of a very strained relationship. I am proud to say I made it through the process with everything intact! So the relationship is mending.

I pride myself on the fact that I am pretty good when it comes to cooking fish, but I  had never baked fish. This recipe calls for a quick sear of one side of the fish and then flip it and put the whole thing in the oven. I was so worried it would come out over cooked since it wasn’t cooking right before my eyes giving me the opportunity to see exactly when the fish was fully cooked. But I put my faith in Guy and his abilities and did exactly as the recipe called for. Perfection!

Now I pull this lovely fish out of the oven and just as quickly as my excitement grew over the beauty of the cooked halibut, it turned to nervousness about how the whole dish would be received by Kevin. Since it was just the two of us for dinner, his opinion would hold quite a lot of weight in the review department. I carefully plated the fish, with some direction from Kevin about how he thought it would look best for the camera. He really is so very helpful.

Once everything was plated I stood back and before I could get a word out Kevin said, “WOW that looks awesome”! He was right, it really did. I do so need to get a good camera so  my pictures show how wonderful the food really looks, but for now one this will have to suffice.

I am very happy to report that not only did the olives taste good in this recipe…….the whole thing was FANTASTIC! It is on our “keeper” list and will be enjoyed many more times in my household!

Halibut Veracruz

3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups diced tomato
1 medium jalapeno, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
4 (8-ounce) halibut fillets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup Spanish olives, cut into thin rounds, plus 2 tablespoons olive juice from the bottle
2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until medium colored, about 3 minutes. Add tomato, jalapeno, and white wine. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3, about 5 to 7 minutes. While sauce is reducing, heat butter in a separate skillet over medium heat (I did medium-high heat). Season fish with kosher salt. When the butter is melted, add the halibut to the pan. Cook 2 minutes, then flip over and transfer pan to the preheated oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove salt from heat when reduced, stir in olives and olive juice. 
To serve divide sauce equally among 4 plates. Place halibut (1st caramelized side up) in the center of each plate, on top of the sauce. (I did it upside down). Place avocado slices on top of fish, sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro as  garnish.