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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sweet Veggie Chili

Sweet Veggie Chili

So I typically make Chili on the spicy side, but this time I was focusing on the kids, so I made it a bit sweeter than usual.  This is an easy compromise because it doesn't take much to kick up the heat for interested adults - just top it off with your fav hot sauce or some Red Pepper Flake.   This is a great meal for a cold snowy day!  I topped mine with Cilantro, as pictured above, but if you are going to be shoveling out your driveway later, why not add some grated Cheddar up on top!?  Yum. 

I always start my Chili the same way:  heat 1 Tbsp Canola Oil in Dutch Oven, throw in 1 chopped Sweet Onion, 4 cloves fresh chopped Garlic, and 1 Tbsp Cumin.  

Then to make this version a Sweet Veggie Chili I added:

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 cup Marinara (I always use Trader Joe's Organic, No Salt Added Marinara)
1/2 cup water
4 oz can Green Chili Peppers
1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Zucchini, chopped
1 cup Black Beans
1 large can Pinto Beans (Drained/ Rinsed)

Mix everything (adding more water if extra liquid is needed), bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.   Serve, or let sit in the fridge overnight to create a deeper richer flavor.  Top with Cilantro or your fav Chili toppings!

Side Note: Did you know that the plural of Chili is Chilies?  That looks weird to me; I want to call them Chilis.  But apparently that is wrong!  Live and learn.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Steak Tacos

Steak Tacos

Last night was Steak Tacos!!  I rarely buy Steak, as we don't eat much red meat in general, but every time I get one I envision making some fancy dancy restaurant Steak meal.   This time was no exception, however, when dinner time rolled around we started craving Tacos and so that is what we had instead.  And yum!! 

I always think cooking Steak is going to be a big deal, but each time I make it I am reminded that it's really fairly easy.  I simply marinated it in Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette for about 6 hours, turning it every couple hours, for full coverage.  I took it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking time, to let it get up to room temperature and then just got my Cast Iron Pan sizzling hot and on it went - five minutes each side and then let it rest on the cutting board for 15 minutes or so before slicing it up (against the grain of course!)

When it comes to toppings there are so many choices, but I went simple with mine (my husband had basically all our condiments out on the counter giving each of his tacos a different deluxe treatment!)  But for mine, I toasted three small corn tortillas over the gas stove and filled them up with Steak, Avocado, Cilantro, Scallions and fresh squeezed Lime Juice.  Delish.  The Lime juice was really the key to the zippy flavor and it quickly mixes with the Avocado to make a yummy creamy zippy sauce to complement the Steak and toasted Tortillas.

I love Cheese, all kinds, and it's hard to imagine having Tacos or Nachos without it, but I figured I'd save myself the extra saturated fat, calories and sodium by skipping it and guess what?  I loved them just the way they were - the Avocado provided lots of the good creaminess that we all love about Cheese.  Yup they went down the hatch pretty fast.  I would do it all over again the exact same way! 

You may be wondering if there is a big difference between Corn & Flour Tortillas....short answer is YES!  Though Flour ones are yummy, they pack way more calories, sodium, sugar and fat - yes it is all true.  Corn Tortillas are my go-to pick every time, not only am I getting less of the 'bad' stuff, but I'm also getting more Fiber and Magnegsium, which is good for strong muscles.  Incidentally, they are also delicious, especially when you can char them a little on your stove or broiler!  Here is a great visual showing the differences:  Health Food Face off: Corn or Flour Tortillas!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Broccoli Rabe with Eggs & Goat Cheese

Broccoli Rabe with Eggs & Goat Cheese

I love Vegetables!  This wasn't always the case of course, the love came after lots of research and trial and error and learning how to cook them in a way that would bring out their best flavors and textures.  Then the love part happened.  So yes I love Veggies, but Broccoli Rabe, well that is at a whole other level for me.  It doesn't feel appropriate to say I'm in love with it, but I long for it, miss it when it's gone and savor every second when I have it (shhhh, don't tell my husband - ha!)   My kids actually giggle at the sounds I make when I eat it, which I imagine mirrors Bill Murray's dinner scene from What About Bob to some extent.  A food that is delicious, healthy and makes you laugh?  It can't be beat!

If you aren't yet convinced, check out the Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe!

Broccoli Rabe sautéed in Olive Oil & Garlic

I always have it the same way - boiled in just a little bit of water until softened, then sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with loads of fresh grated Garlic and Red Pepper Flake - and it is always amazing.  Full warning here for newbies - this is a strong flavor, but it's not to be missed - you gotta try it!!  Ok, this is how I did it...

Broccoli Rabe with Eggs & Goat Cheese

So I made the Broccoli Rabe last night (as described above), so it was in the fridge ready to go!  I heaped 1.5 cups of it onto my plate (that equals 3 servings of veggies!) and topped with 2 Large Scrambled Eggs.  I crumbled 1-2 Tbsp of Goat Cheese on top, and drizzled all of it with 1 tsp of hot sauce.  Yum Yum Yum.  Insert my son's giggles here :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buffalo Chicken & Goat Cheese Spaghetti

Buffalo Chicken & Goat Cheese Spaghetti

Experimentation Day here!   

Typically this happens when one of two things is going on:  either I have an overly full fridge OR I happen to have a couple things I love and want to put them together in a dish to try something new; today both were true.  Buffalo Chicken & Goat Cheese.  I crazy love both, and I am a huge fan of mixing something creamy with something spicy, so I just went for it!  Spaghetti (Squash) tossed in Goat Cheese sauce and topped with Buffalo Chicken.  BAM!  I just ate this for lunch and seriously, it was AWESOME!  Already texted the hubby a pic to make him just a little bit jealous :)

This was a fast put together for me because I cooked the Spaghetti Squash last night and it was ready to go!  Meanwhile I had some cooked Chicken, leftover from the night before,  as well as a large Pyrex full of shredded Carrots just waiting in the fridge for me.   I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having all sorts of foods already prepped, cooked, and ready to go in the fridge for when meal time rolls around - it is so much easier to put together a healthy meal quickly when all you have to do is throw some stuff together!

So here is how it all came together...

Buffalo Chicken & Goat Cheese Spaghetti

Amy's Buffalo Chicken & Goat Cheese Spaghetti Recipe:

To prepare Buffalo Chicken, simply chop 2 precooked Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs into bite size pieces and mix with 1 cup shredded Carrots.  In a sauce pan heat up 1 Tbsp Butter.  Once melted add 1/4 cup of your fav hot sauce and 1 Tbsp of water.  Once well heated and mixed, toss in bowl with Chicken and Carrots.

To prepare the Goat Cheese sauce, add 2 heaping Tbsp of Goat Cheese to a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, and 1 heaping Tbsp of Plain Yogurt.  Mix together then heat in microwave for about 20 seconds, or until its all melty and saucey.

Get ready to eat:  Take 1 cup of the cooked and shredded Spaghetti Squash and add it to the Goat Cheese Sauce, stirring until thoroughly combined.  Pour this onto a plate and create a 'nest' being sure to leave a little whole in the center.   Then take 1 cup of the Buffalo Chicken mixture and put in the center of the nest.  Chop some sprigs of Cilantro to throw on top.  Sit.  Eat.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chicken Pizza

By now you are wondering if all I eat is curries.  The short answer is basically, well yes, I eat them a lot this time of year.  As much as I love salads, I cannot bring myself to eat them when it is cold outside.  I try to keep my drinks and meals all hot during the winter to keep myself warm.  So yes, Curries are hot meals that also provide the spiciness I love, and I can load them up with tons of Veggies and any one of a long list of Proteins.   With options of Red, Yellow, and Green Thai curries, in addition to all the Indian curries that exist, there are endless options and basically just yes, I eat a lot of them!   Also I am totally seduced by one pot meals, which cuts down on the clean up. 

That being said, I do eat other things, like last night's Chicken Pizza!  No, not your regular delicious pizza dough topped with Chicken, but oh how I love Buffalo Chicken Pizza - YUM.  No, this was not that.  This was another meal where I chose to focus on Veggies and Protein and Good Fats, (and eliminate the dough and extra carbs, salt and calories) as I typically do when I need to reduce some bloat and/ or extra pounds that the holiday gifted me.  But it was yummy!  And not really that hard to put together - I'm gonna try to do this one more often because it really had lots of the Pizza flavors that I love (is there anyone who doesn't love pizza?) in a guilt free dish.   And it was warm and it filled me up = another happy meal for Amy.

I did not think this up on my own, I was inspired by a recipe in Shape magazine this month.  Theirs seemed to provide less overall food, so I just adapted it to fit my appetite :)  Here is how I did it:

Amy's Chicken Pizza Recipe:

Place 4 large boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs on a baking sheet, spray or brush with Canola oil and season with a little salt.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so, until the internal temp reaches a safe 165 degrees.  

I made this for myself alone, so the rest of the recipe is for 1 serving.  I'm saving the rest of the Chicken Thighs to throw into other dishes today and tomorrow!

Slice and chop 1 Chicken Thigh into bite sized pieces.

Place in Cast Iron Skillet, surrounded by 1 zucchini, thinly sliced (I used my Mandoline - easy peasy!) 

Cover with Organic No Salt Added Marinara Sauce - this is healthy, so I don't measure it - I just use however much looks good to me! 

Sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on top.

Place 10 slices of Turkey Pepperoni on top of Chicken. 

I'm always talking up how great, low fat and low calorie Turkey Pepperoni is - a little goes a long way!  I didn't even use a full serving, simply to save myself the extra Sodium.  Check out the stats here:

Ok, then place 1 slice of Provolone Cheese on top.

Cover and heat on stove for 5 minutes, or until heated through.  Drizzle 1-2 tsp of Olive oil on tops of Zucchini and throw Cast Iron Skillet into Broiler on High for a few minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Transfer to plate.

Add additional sprinkle of Parmesan, if desired.

Sit down to dinner with a fork and knife and enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Roasted Eggplant Thai Red Curry

Happy New Year!  So 2015 is off and running and I think I'm ready to accept that the holidays are over, which means it is time for me to return to 'normal life' and 'normal eating'.  I got a little too comfortable enjoying a brownie here, some cheesecake there and a couple late night hoagies - what?  Yes.  And by the way, YUM!

So when I went to put on my fav jeans last week, fresh out of the laundry, for my girls night out - OUCH - yup, too tight!   I had to change.  So here I am again, trying to get back on track with healthier eating to get back into my jeans - my weekly weight reality check.

Roasted Eggplant was my inspiration.  I actually love it in any carnation - in fact I can eat it plain off the roasting pan, but ultimately it ended up in a Red Thai curry last night, with Zucchini, Onions and Mushrooms, giving the dish a great umami quality - leaving me feeling full, satisfied, and happy!

What is umami?  I'm going to let Real Simple field that question HERE, but suffice to say it can lend a savory hearty satisfying meaty yumminess to any vegetarian meal.

Here is how I did it:

Roasted Eggplant Red Thai Curry Recipe:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Chop 1 large Eggplant into big bite sized pieces and place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp. Olive Oil.  Roast for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp. Canola oil in large Dutch Oven and sauté 1/2 chopped Sweet Onion and 3 -4 cloves chopped Garlic until soft and fragrant.  Add:   Roasted, Eggplant - 2 Zucchini, chopped into large bite sized chunks - 1 package Mushrooms, halved - 1 Red Pepper, sliced.

In a separate bowl mix 1 can of Light Coconut Milk, 3 heaping tbsp. Red Thai Curry paste, 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar and juice from 1/2 Lime.    Pour mixture into pot with Veggies, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve in bowl topped with fresh chopped Cilantro (whoops, we were out of it last night!) or a squeeze of fresh Lime juice.

This can be eaten with cooked Chicken, Shrimp, Tofu or even Beef - but it is delicious as is, and the flavor continues to develop so that it is even yummier the next day for lunch!