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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Breakfast for dinner

I am not a morning person at all. Not even the tiniest piece of me likes early mornings. I do however, lover breakfast foods. Me getting up early enough to make breakfast before I leave to go some where almost never happens. I still want those breakfast foods so once a month or so, I like to make breakfast for dinner.

I grew up with a Dad that worked swing shift and if he had worked all night and slept all day, he wanted to eat breakfast. Mom had several breakfast meals she would rotate through and we would have breakfast the week he was on midnights each month.  I love to cook, and I am told I am good at it, but my Mom makes the best biscuits!! Hands down she wins that contest. I actually like her gravy a little better than my own too!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tuscan Soup

It doesn't matter that it was almost 80 degrees today; we love soup and eat it all year long. This is a favorite of ours. It is similiar to the Zuppa Tuscana from Olive Garden, but there are enough differences to keep making both! The original recipe called for spinach or kale, I use spinach in this one since the other recipe uses kale.

Tuscan Soup

1 lb mild Italian sausage
6 cups chicken broth
12 oz evaporated or condensed milk 
1 cup half and half
8 red potatoes, diced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1//2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp margarom
1/4 tsp thyme
Salt or garlic salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1-2 cups torn spinach

Cook the sausage in the same large stew pot you'll use to cook the soup, drain excess fat and return sausage to pot.

Add the chicken broth and evaporated milk and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat so soup simmers. Add potatoes, onions, seasoning, salt and pepper.

The soup is done when the potatoes are cooked through, about 20-30 minutes. If using spinach or kale, add during the last few minutes of cooking.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fettuccine Alfredo

We love pasta! In fact, I think I could eat pasta at most meals and be a happy girl. I haven't made an alfredo sauce in a while so I decided tonight was the night. I didn't make the pasta though, I relied on a box to get dinner on the table quicker. I did make the sauce and that is the most important part. I started by grilling some chicken, seasoned with some roasted garlic and then sauteed some mushrooms and spinach. While the pasta cooked, I started my sauce and then combined everything as I plated it.

Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and serve

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

We do love soup at my house! I try and plan soup at least once a week or so. We have many soups that we love, but this one is at the top of the list, especially for my husband!

Baked Potato Soup
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
bacon crumbles

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Top with additional cheese, sour cream, green onions and bacon crumbles if desired.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Reubens for Dinner

When making my meal plan for the week, I try and take my schedule into consideration. It is easier to stick with a meal plan when I do that. On days that I have a lot going on I make sure that I have simple meals planned. Tonight, we had Reuben Sandwiches. If we have sandwiches for dinner I prefer them to be hot sandwiches and this is one of our favorites. Homemade Thousand Island  dressing makes this even better!

Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon white onion, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Throughly mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

4 cups water
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
1 (5 3/4-ounce) package pad thai noodles (wide rice stick noodles)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 small hot red chiles, seeded and chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
lime wedges
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add spinach and peas to pan; cook for 30 seconds. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Add noodles to pan; cook 3 minutes. Drain; add noodles to spinach mixture in bowl.
Heat canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken, onions, sugar, and fish sauce to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Pour chicken mixture over noodle mixture in bowl. Stir in cilantro and chiles. Serve with lime wedges.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chicken Scampi

We love pasta here and my house! This dish is a favorite of mine, I love the lemon and garlic combo that this recipe has. If I had garlic bread it would have been a perfect meal!

Chicken Scampi

2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks or left whole

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped scallions or onions
2 tablespoons parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
Linguini cooked according to package directions
freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

In a large skillet, add butter and oil over medium heat
Add scallions or onions, garlic,and pepper
Sauté for a few minutes until onions start to get soft
Add chicken, lemon juice, and parsley
Sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink
Add parmesan cheese to the linguini and mix well
Serve the chicken over the linguini and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Enchilada Soup

This is one of those super easy soups to throw together on a busy night. It is delicious and can be made in a matter of minutes with ingredients that I usually have on hand most of the time.

When I take food to someone in need, I try to give things that can be readily made into meals. Since all the ingredients are canned, this is an easy one to give. Tuck in a small recipe card and you are good to go!

Enchilada Soup

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, OR a can of Rotel
1 (15 oz) can sweet corn, drained
1 (12.5 oz) can chicken breast, drained
1 (10 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
1 (1 oz) packet taco seasoning

Optional toppings:
chopped cilantro
shredded cheese
sour cream
jalapeño slices
tortilla chips

Mix all ingredients together and simmer until heated through.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chicken Teriyaki over Rice

It has been a while since I have posted here, but I've missed it, so I am back! 

Tonight for dinner we had Chicken Teriyaki served over rice. When we started trying to eat healthier a couple of years ago, we decided to stop eating out so much. One of the first things that I did was to start looking for recipes that were similar to foods that we like to eat when we do go out. Some of the recipes found were okay, but needed to be tweaked here and there to meet the taste that we preferred. I do still enjoy the occasional Chinese delivery, but now if we are craving something specific I am more likely to prepare it at home rather than having it delivered. 

For this dish, I took a couple of chicken breasts and cubed them. The pieces were then cooked until browned and then I poured the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and let it simmer for a few minutes and then added the cornstarch/water combination. Chicken and sauce simmered until it was just thickened and then served over rice. Some sesame seeds were sprinkled over the top before serving.

Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion,
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh, minced Ginger

1/4 Cup Cold Water
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch