Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spicy Honey Chicken

hot sauce of choice
Chicken breasts or tenders
Teriyaki marinade (or soy sauce, ginger powder, and garlic powder)
Honey (always try for local)

1. Place the chicken in a baking pan and preheat oven to 425.
2. Spread a little honey in the top of each piece of chicken.
3. Add marinade to the pan (just enough to come partway up the side of the chicken, but not covering it)
4. Splash a little (or a lot!) of hot sauce on the tops of the chicken.
5. Bake until the tops look golden. Remove from oven and drain most of the sauce from the pan.
6. Flip the chicken over and return to oven for about 10 minutes, or until that side is golden.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mac &Cheese

While I don't suggest eating this every night (or even every week) if you are health conscious, this is a healthier way to make a traditional favorite. You can also cook up some chicken breasts and add them into the completed mixture for some complete proteins.
brown rice noodles
12 oz fat free American cheese
Frozen peas, broccoli, and spinach
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
2 tbls cornstarch

1. Over low heat, whisk the cornstarch and milk together until smooth. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Add the cheese and yogurt and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted. (you can add some garlic at this point for additional flavor)
3. Add the vegetables and stir until the mixture is heated through.
4. Remove from heat and add the drained pasta to the mixture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy Spaghetti

This recipe makes a quick dinner that is full of healthy things-- just remember portion control! If you have the time to make your own sauce, even better. Most of the time, I wind up with a jarred sauce because I just don't have the time. You can still choose a healthier one.
Spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 package ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
Italian seasoning
Poultry seasoning
1 can olives (sliced or whole)
1/2 package noodles (try quinoa or brown rice noodles)

1. Brown the turkey in a large skillet.
2. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, olives, and seasonings to taste.
3. Once the vegetables are cooked through, add the sauce (you can rinse the jar with a little red wine and add it to the mixture).
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, boil the noodles according to the package directions.
6. Serve with the noodles beneath the meat mixture. If you desire, grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole

My husband gets full credit for this delicious and healthy meal. He took over making dinner tonight because I didn't feel well and created this out if what we had in the kitchen.

2 sweet potatoes
1 bag of frozen vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup
7 chicken tenders

1. Wash and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Steam until soft.
2. Meanwhile, broil the chicken tenders with garlic seasoning.
3. Cook the vegetables in the microwave and transfer to an oven safe dish.
4. Add the sweet potatoes and soup to the vegetables.
5. Cut the chicken into bite- sized pieces and add to the mixture.
6. Mix thoroughly and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Optional: You can make this a bit more like a shepherds pie by adding a biscuit topping before baking.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mexican Taco/Burrito Meat

Tonight I fell back on an easy favorite of mine: Mexican food. This isn't so much of a specific recipe as it is general things that I have done. This is a healthy meal if made correctly.

The Meat
1. Brown lean ground turkey in a large skillet (I prefer 93/7 or 99). Drain fat off of the meat (with 99 you'll think there isn't anything there, but try drainingt anyways. You might be surprised).
2. Add chopped onion, mushroom, and a little dribble of salsa to taste (tonight I added a can of low sodium black beans to the meat, though I normally add them straight to the burrito/taco/salad).
3. Sprinkle in cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. I like to add a lot of garlic powder because garlic is pretty good for you. Well, and I just really like garlic. These seasonings should be added to taste, meaning however much you prefer. DO NOT add salt as your body really doesn't need any more sodium than it gets through your food as it is.
4. Keep on medium heat until everything is thoroughly mixed and hot.

Putting it together
Some nights I like a burrito, some nights I like a quesadilla, and some nights I even like a salad. Whatever your preference is, keep your additions healthy. Here are mine:
1. Low sodium canned corn or defrosted frozen corn (frozen is healthier). Only one spoonful.
2. A 1/4 of an avocado. Avocados have vitamins and healthy fats and are a good addition to your diet.
3. Light or fat-free sour cream (do not use original sour cream as there are lots of calories and fat).
4. Black beans (if you did not add them into the meat) or black refried beans. Black refried beans have better nutritional facts than regular refried. I like to use vegetarian, as well, because the original style has pork fat added. You can also use dried black beans instead of canned which will remove the sodium aspect as well as remove any potential BPA absorption from the can.
5. 2% shredded Mexican Cheese blend. You can shred your own, but I like to buy it in pre-shredded bags because it's easier and quicker.
6. Salsa or fresh tomatoes. If you choose salsa, make sure to review the nutrition facts on the jar prior to buying. Fresh tomatoes are a healthier option.
7. Black olives.

I always use La Tortilla Factory hand-made white corn tortillas. They are a bit smaller than flour or whole wheat tortillas which means that I put less on/in them. I find that the bigger the tortilla, the more I stuff it full of tasty things, but I also tend to eat beyond my "full" point.

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a recipe that I originally got from my older sister. It is another quick, easy, healthy meal. I like this soup because it tastes delicious and I can make it without hassle after a long day at work.

In a soup pot, brown some boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders on medium heat (the amount is up to you, but I normally use 6 tenders or 3 breasts). Once the chicken has browned, cut it up into bite-sized pieces and return them to the pot. Add some chopped red onion, sliced mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are beginning to brown (you may want to add a splash of low-sodium chicken broth at this stage to help keep everything from sticking). Add a can of low-sodium black beans, a can of low-sodium red kidney beans, a can of no salt added corn, a can of large black olives, and a can of Mexican style chopped or diced tomatoes. Add low-sodium chicken broth until your desired level of solids to liquids is achieved. Dash in your desired amount of cayenne pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Cook until all ingredients are heated through, 10-15 minutes. Serve with La Tortilla Factory hand-made white corn tortillas, toasted and a light sprinkling of 2% shredded Mexican-style cheese (I skip this when I pack it for work because the cheese sticks to the tupperware). When available, I add 1/4 of sliced avocado on top.

As a side note, my husband just saw me typing this up and said, "Mexican tortilla soup? Yummy!"

Crispy Parmesan Chicken

Tonight, I tried out a new recipe and was pleasantly rewarded. As originally written, this recipe calls for the turkey to be dipped in egg and was 329 calories per cutlet. Because I don't like dipping in egg, I took this step out. I also changed the ingredients from what were originally in the Redbook recipe.

1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Several dashes of Italian seasoning
4 turkey breast cutlets

1. Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning in a pie pan or other shallow dish with a wide opening.
2. If your cutlets aren't thin to begin with, pound them to about an 1/8 of an inch thick.
3. Press the breadcrumb mixture onto both sides of the cutlets.
4. Brown the cutlets (about 4 minutes on each side) over medium heat.
5. Transfer cutlets to a baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with remaining breadcrumb mix.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

I served this with a green salad and whole wheat noodles, both topped with fresh grated Parmesan.

Chicken Cacciatore in a Pan

For this dish, I suggest making the puttanesca sauce first and then moving onto the chicken and sides. I served this dish with homemade spinach-whole wheat pasta and mixed vegetables. Traditionally, a cacciatore is baked in the oven. This is just as tasty, but much quicker. You can buy a puttanesca sauce at the store, but if you make it you know exactly what is going into the sauce and I guarantee you'll save some calories.
Puttanesca Sauce
Lightly caramelize about 1/4 cup of chopped onion in a sauce pan with olive oil. Add 2-3 tomatoes, diced, (depending on the size), sliced green olives (I like pimento stuffed), 1-2 teaspoons of capers, garlic to taste, and 1-2 teaspoons of basil. On low, let the sauce stew together so that all of the different flavors come together.
In a skillet, brown your boneless, skinless chicken breasts of tenders. Make sure that the chicken is cooked thoroughly (about 6 minutes per side on medium-high heat). You now have the option to add the sauce to the skillet and mix everything together, or you can follow my lead and serve the sauce over the chicken. 

Balsamic Chicken with Figs

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 of a large red onion, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 large, fresh figs (quartered)
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Brown the chicken breast, about 6 minutes on each side over medium heat.
2. Remove the chicken from the pan and sautee the onion in the drippings until soft.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar, red wine, and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer until the liquid reduces by about half.
4. Add the chicken broth, figs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Honey-Teriyaki Chicken

The teriyaki sauce in this recipe is amazing. I have made plenty of other Asian inspired dishes with this sauce. It is also really easy to make.
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced (or a few shakes of garlic powder)
a few shakes of ground ginger
boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders

1. In a large bowl, mix the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
2. Coat the chicken in the mixture.
3. Bake at 475 degrees on a baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.

Eggplant Casserole

I was a little bit leery about this recipe when I first decided to try it out for a couple of reasons. I wasn't sure how the sweetness of the dried fruit would work with the tomato sauce. I also wasn't sure how my husband would like this as he doesn't like eggplant. However, the sweetness pairs really well with the other flavors in the dish and my husband liked it so much, he took the left-overs for lunch the next day!
1/3 cup dried berry mix or golden raisins
2 large Chinese eggplants
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup green olives
8 oz mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp basil
1 1/2 pound ground turkey

1. Steep the dried fruit in hot water for 15 minutes, until softened.
2. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant in half width-wise, trim the ends, and slice in 1/4 strips.
3. Grill the eggplant in batches for about 2 minutes per side, or until beginning to golden. Transfer to an 8x8 baking dish.
4. Heat oven to 450 degrees and brown the turkey.
5. While the turkey is browning, in a food processor, blend the olives, tomatoes, softened fruit, and cheese. Add to the eggplant.
6. Add the turkey to the eggplant and sauce. Mix together well.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is beginning to crisp.

Alternatively, you can use the eggplant like you would pasta noodles and make this a layered, lasagna-like casserole.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a healthier way to make a traditionally calorie rich, comfort-food dish. It still has all of the flavor that you grew up with, but is about half of the calories.
1 cup fat free half-and-half
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp wheat flour
4 chicken breasts
1 small bag frozen vegetables (I like the ones with whole baby carrots, green beans, peas, and corn)
1 tspn ground thyme
dough/ crust (I use the whole-wheat pizza dough recipe that you can find under "Lite Lunches")

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and brown the chicken. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2. In a large saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, chicken broth, and the flour. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture is thick.
3. Stir in the chicken, thyme, and vegetables. Cover to keep warm.
4. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 equal pieces.
5. Pour the mixture equally into 3 baking ramekins. Cover each with a piece of the dough and cut an "X" into the top of the dough to allow the pie to vent.
6. Bake until the crust is golden brown.

Pork Chops with Caraway Mustard

1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1. Cook the pork chops in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove to a plate and set to the side.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and caraway seeds.
3. Serve the caraway mustard on the side of the pork chops for dipping.

Potato and Chili Casserole

This is a hearty dish that is perfect after a hard workout or a long day.
1 1/2 pound lean, ground turkey
1 can diced, fire-roasted chilis
1 can Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1 can each, low-sodium black beans and red kidney beans
1/4 small red onioin
Cumin and garlic powder, to taste
3 large russet potatoes
1 small bag frozen broccoli
2% shredded Mexican-style cheese and fat-free sour cream for topping

1. Wrap the potatoes in foil and bake at 425 degrees until soft (about 45 minutes).
2. Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut into about 6 pieces, each, in a 8x13 baking dish.
3. Brown the turkey in a large skillet. Drain.
4. Add the chopped onion, chilis, cumin, and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender.
5. Add both beans and tomatoes. Mix thoroughly.
6. Pour the turkey chili over the potatoes and add the broccoli. Mix together and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the top is crispy.
7. Serve with a light sprinkling of cheese and a small amount of sour cream, if desired.

Grilled Chicken with Basil Pesto

This recipe is just browned chicken with a fresh pesto sauce. Compared to most pestos, I used marcona almonds instead of pine nuts because of allergies. This type of almond us more rich than a traditional almond, but still lends a nice nuttiness to the flavor of the pesto.
1. Brown chicken in a pan.
2. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of basil, 1/4 cup of water, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of marcona almonds in a food processor.
3. Spoon 1 teaspoon of pesto over the chicken to serve. Store remaining pesto in a sealed container for up to a week (also good over pasta or with roasted tomatoes).

Mustard Crusted Pork

For this dish, I used a honey mustard. Depending on the flavor that you're going for, you can use any type of mustard that you wish. The honey mustard gave it a slightly sweet taste while a dijon or spicy brown would give it a bit of a kick.
pork chops or sliced pork loins
honey mustard (or other mustard)
plain bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with foil.
2. Coat each piece of pork in a thin layer of mustard followed by bread crumbs.
3. Over medium heat, cook each piece of pork for about 3 minutes per side, or until beginning to golden.
4. Transfer pork to the baking pan and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Caesar-glazed Mahi Mahi

This dish would work with any white fish as well as with the mahi mahi. As my husband and I are a little tired of tilapia and I couldn't find flounder for a decent price, I chose to use mahi mahi and it was delicious!
2 1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp each, lemon juice and water
1 small garlic clove
2 fish filets, cut thick

1. Whisk mayonnaise, cheese, lemon juice, water, and garlic in a small bowl until thoroughly blended.
2. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and place in broiler for about 6 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to brown.
3. Remove fish from broiler and brush the tops liberally with the mayonnaise mixture making sure to get a little on the sides.
4. Return fish to the broiler for about 2 minutes until the glaze is golden and bubbling.

Greek Chicken Saute

chicken breasts or tenders
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I used sunburst tomatoes)
1 small, sweet onion or 1/4 cup red onion
1/2 cup water
2 tsp minced garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup feta cheese
                                                                                    3 tbs dill (optional for garnishing)
1. After seasoning with salt and pepper, broil or grill the chicken.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet,  heat the oil over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and saute until tender.
4. Add the tomatoes, garlic, lemon, and water and cook until the tomatoes begin to split.
5. Serve spooned over the chicken and topped with a light sprinkling of feta and dill.