Thursday, October 19, 2017

Convenience Foods

A couple of weeks ago, on one of my dinner posts, I mentioned my weight loss. Several people asked how I was doing it. I am doing it the old fashioned way--eating healthy and walking when I can.

One of the things that make a huge difference for me is making sure that I have food ready to go and divided into portion sized servings. I use this nice big deli drawer in my fridge to keep things in and they are ready to grab and go. They are pre-measured and portioned out the way I want them to be, and easy to log on the FitBit app.
I have to make myself do this as soon as I get home from the grocery store. If I don't, then it ends up not getting done and then when I need convenience food, I don't always make the best choices. I try and keep a large variety off foods in there (yes I know there are lots of types of cheese!!) There is a mix of fruits and veggies that I cut up and store bought packages--I love those apple and caramel packs when I am craving something sweet. I like to have a large choice of foods to choose from and this allows me to see what is available without me forgetting about what I have and wasting food.
There is also a bowl of nuts, seeds, crackers and other nonrefrigerated snacks too.
This is a huge help for me and keeps me scales moving to the lower numbers!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mushroom Rigitoni

We have gotten to the point that we eat meatless dinners about every other night. One of us would prefer that we do it even more often and more vegan, but I can't stand the thought of no cheese! This is a recipe I have been making for a while and we both really like it. I always make it meatless, but you could add some cooked Italian Sausage if you wanted.

Mushroom Rigatoni
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots 
4-5 minced garlic cloves
1 lb mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28 0z) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni, cooked according to package directions 
Parmesan cheese

Heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and mushrooms, cooking 3-4 minutes, until veggies have softened and released their juices. Add wine and cook until evaporated 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes. Stir in cream, simmer uncovered 2 minutes. Miz cooked pasta and sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Orange Chicken

Eating out has been a hard habit to break. Well, more accurately take-out and delivery have been the hardest to break! As I have gotten more serious about my health and weight loss, two of the things I miss most are pizza delivery and Chinese delivery. I got into that mindset of needing a weekly break from cooking and ordering take-out was my break. For the past two weeks I have had a serious craving for Chinese food--most of my favorites are deep fried and drowning in delicious sauces!

Chinese just isn't in the budget right now--money or calorie wise. I had found a recipe a while back for a healthier version of orange chicken, but it left a lot to be desired in the flavor department. Since this was one of the dishes that I was craving the most I decided to tweak the recipe a lot, and I was happy with this version. It isn't deep fried with a nice crunch crust, but it did calm the urge to call for delivery!!

Orange Chicken
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
orange chicken sauce
toppings: orange pieces, green onions, sesame seeds, orange zest


3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. white pepper
zest of one orange
1 orange, cut into small sections
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and nearly cooked through.
Pour in the orange chicken sauce, and stir to combine. Let the sauce come to a boil, then boil for an additional 3-5 minutes until thickened. During the last minute of cooking add the orange sections. Remove from heat and serve immediately over quinoa or rice. Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, orange pieces and additional orange zest.

Whisk all ingredients together until combined. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Avocado Egg Rolls

This was another one of those recipies that I found online and decided to give a try, even though I had never eaten an advocado egg roll before. I love avocados and egg rolls though so I thought that we would probably like them. They are a bit labor intensive so I don't make them too often, but worth it every once in a while.

Avocado Egg Rolls

For the eggrolls:
1 large avocado, chopped into bite sized pieces (not too small, else you might end up mashing them when you mix it with the tomatoes and onions)
2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes (bottled in oil)
1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
pinch salt
3 egg roll wrappers
water, or beaten egg for brushing
vegetable oil for frying

For the dipping sauce: 
¼ cup cashews
⅔ cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
4 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp tamarind pulp (can be found in Asian stores)
½ cup honey
pinch ground saffron (it's ok to leave it out if you have too much trouble finding it)
¼ cup olive oil
For the dipping sauce (make 30 minutes ahead of serving time)
Combine the cashews, cilantro, garlic, green onions, sugar, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor or blender and blend till mixture is well blended and paste like.
Combine the vinegars, honey, tamarind and saffron in a small microwaveable bowl and heat for a minute in the microwave, then stir till the tamarind pulp is completely dissolved.
Pour tamarind mixture into the blender and blend till well mixed.
Pour blended sauce into serving bowl and add oil. Stir by hand to combine. Refrigerate sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving.
For the egg rolls:
Combine the avocado, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and salt. Do not smash the avocados.
Prepare egg rolls by spooning ⅓ of the filling into egg roll wrapper and roll it up as shown in the photograph above, brushing the corners and edges of the wrapper with the water or beaten egg. Keep them covered with a wet paper towel while you make the rest.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or thick bottomed pan, over medium high heat.
When the oil is hot enough, fry the egg rolls for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
When slightly cooler, slice each roll diagonally and serve with the dipping sauce.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eggs in Purgatory

This recipe has been on my "to try" list for a while now and since we are eating more meatless meals, I decided it was time to give it a try. When I am exercising I often watch The Chew, it is one of my favorite shows. I am not sure how smart it is to watch a cooking show while I'm exercising though. I have gotten a lot of new recipies from that show; some healthy, some not so healthy.

I paired the dish with a Blue Cheese, Spinach and Walnut salad and a homemade balsamic dressing.

Here is the link to the recipe. The only change I made was that I only used one of the jalapenos that the recipe listed. We don't like things that are too hot and the jalapenos that I bought were huge, so I decided that one would be enough!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

No Peek Chicken

This is one of those recipies that I kept seeing on Facebook and Pinterest that I finally decided to try. It was delicious!! Not quite sure why I waited so long to make it, but it is definitely a repeat recipe. I paired it with one of our favorite sides; creamed spinach.

No Peek Chicken

1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild rice soup mix
1 can of cream of mushroom soup 
1 can of cream of chicken soup***
2 soup cans of water 
Chicken Breasts or thighs

Combine rice mix, seasoning packet, soups and water in a 9 x 13 pan and mix well. Lay chicken on top of the rice mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for two and a half hours.

***The original recipe calls for 1 can cream of mushroom and 1 can cream of celery. I don't like celery so I used cream of chicken instead. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spaghetti Carbonara

Pasta meals are a favorite around my house! We are also trying to consume a little less meat so meals like this are perfect for us right now. The bacon is nice, but not overwhelming. 

Spaghetti Carbonara
3oz. bacon

2 cloves garlic
12oz. spaghetti
3 large eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan
Freshly cracked pepper
Salt to taste
Handful fresh parsley (optional)
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta and season with salt. 

While waiting for the water to boil, cut the bacon into small pieces. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until brown and crispy. Remove the cooked bacon from the skillet, then turn the heat down to low. Mince two cloves of garlic, add them to the warm skillet, and sauté for about one minute or until fragrant and softened, then turn off the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, ½ cup of the Parmesan, and a generous dose of freshly cracked pepper.
The water should be boiling at this point, so add the pasta, stir well, and continue to boil the pasta until al dente. Reserve one cup of the starchy pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet that was used to cook the bacon. Stir the warm water in the skillet and dissolve the browned bits from the surface of the skillet. Add the steaming hot drained pasta to the skillet and toss in the bacon liquid in the skillet.

Pour the egg and Parmesan mixture over the hot pasta and immediately begin to stir or toss the pasta.
Continue to stir the hot pasta in the egg mixture until a creamy sauce forms. Add the remaining Parmesan, a little more freshly cracked pepper, and the reserved bacon bits, and toss again. If the pasta becomes too thick or dry, add a splash more of the reserved pasta water.

Finally, taste the pasta and adjust the salt, Parmesan, or pepper if needed. Top with a pinch or two of roughly chopped parsley leaves.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sesame Chicken and Egg Rolls

I am always on the search for new recipies that help me not miss eating out.  I miss Chinese Food quite a bit. I've gone through lots of recipies, keeping some, tossing some, tweaking most of them and I have managed to recreate some of our favorites. Egg rolls are really simple to make, but it took me a while to get the rolling technique mastered. I think I am almost there!

To make my egg rolls, I buy a bag of the preshredded cole slaw mix. I take a pound of ground pork, season with garlic powder and powdered ginger and cook until done; drain and mix with the cabbage and carrot mix. Follow the directions on the egg roll packaging for assembling the egg rolls.

If you want to change them up a bit, you could make all veggie, use ground chicken or chopped shrimp. A bag of coleslow, a pound of meat and a pack of egg roll wrappers makes about 18-20 egg rolls. I freeze any extras and take them straight from the freezer to the fryer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

We really like Brussles Sprouts and I have several different ways that I cook them, but I think this is our favorite. Anything with bacon is better, right? 

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

4 strips thick-cut bacon

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, then roughly chop.
In same pan with bacon fat, melt butter over high heat. Add onions and Brussels Sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss bacon back into pan. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chicken Fajitas

We really enjoy eating Mexican food, and we have it once a week or so. I try to vary the type of dish that I serve though. Tonight we are having Chicken Fajitas with a side of black beans, corn and Rotel served over rice. Here is the recipe that I use for my Fajita seasoning mix. I usually double or triple the recipe so that I always have it on hand when I need it.

Fajita Seasoning

¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne (amount depends on how much heat you want)
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
Store in an airtight container or zip top bag until needed.