Turkey and Black Bean Chili

While I technically got this recipe from Pinterest (original link here), I did notice it is similar to a previous recipe that I have posted here. But I am posting this other version anyway, because you can never have too many good chili recipes.

2 cans of black beans
1/2 chopped red onion
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 package frozen corn
3-4 chopped Roma tomatoes
1 Tlbs cumin
1 Tlbs chili powder
1.5 cups frozen dark turkey meat*
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tlbs grated sharp cheddar
1 Tlbs Greek yogurt
chopped cilantro

Throw everything except the cheese, yogurt, and cilantro in the crockpot and put it on low for 8-9 hours, stirring occasionally if you are home. Top with cheese, yogurt, and cilantro and serve.

*At Thanksgiving, I generally serve the white meat and freeze the dark meat to use in stews and so on, since no one in my family really likes the dark meat plain.

In the original recipe, she used a can of red beans instead of one of the black beans, used a package of taco seasoning instead of the spices (taco seasoning recipe here), and added chopped chili peppers, which I forgot to buy. She also used 2 uncooked chicken breasts instead of the turkey. If you do that, place the chicken on top of the chili while it is cooking, then take it out and shred it about an hour before serving.

Rating: 4/5
Why? This was all right but I think there was too much cumin and chili powder in it and I would probably cut those down if I make this again.


Tomato Basil Pizza

I had never had pizza other than pepperoni and olive (my mom's favorite) or Canadian bacon and pineapple (my dad's favorite) until I went to college. One of my roommates introduced me to tomato-basil pizza, or as it is sometimes called, margherita pizza.I have attempted to make this pizza in the past, but it has never really tasted right, so I haven't tried in a while. Then in one of the recent issues of  Clean Eating, there was a recipe, so I decided to give it another shot. And I am very glad I did.

1/2 recipe whole wheat pizza dough
4-5 Roma tomatoes
2 small cloves of garlic
1 tsp red wine vinegar
6-7 basil leaves
tiny pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup mozzarella
15-20 basil leaves

Roughly chop the tomatoes into 1/4" chunks. Mince the garlic, then roll the 6-7 basil leaves into a roll together lengthwise, and slice them into narrow strips crosswise. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, basil, salt, and black pepper into a saucepan, then heat over medium-low heat. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are broken down and smell great. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450, and roll out the pizza dough to the size you want (mine was about 14" across). Put it on the pan or pizza stone (hint, hint...I would love one of those for Christmas....). Spread the sauce onto the dough as thick as you would like. Sprinkle half the cheese on top, then tear the remaining basil leaves in half, spread them on top of the cheese, then sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top of the basil. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or so until the cheese is slightly browned.

This isn't exactly like the pizza my college roommate had, she prefers white (non-tomato sauce) pizza and I prefer it this way, with a chunky tomato sauce instead of tomato slices.  In the original recipe, it called for a 12 oz can of strained tomatoes, but I didn't know what those were so I went with my own gut on this and used fresh tomatoes instead. I also love basil, so I doubled the basil in both the sauce and the pizza.

This was really good and very easy, it took me about 40 minutes to put together, including the 30 minutes to simmer the sauce.

Rating? 5/5
Why? This was really easy to make and tastes great, as well as being pretty healthy. I like that there are limited ingredients and that it is heavy on the basil


Southwest Meatballs and Salsa Bowl

I have not been feeling well for a week or so, and this recipe was surprisingly easy.

1/2 pkg of ground turkey (about 1/2 lb)
1 egg white
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1.5 cups frozen corn
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped finely
3-4 chopped Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tlbs fresh lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
sliced green onions
sliced olives
low-fat Greek yogurt

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, egg white, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well using your hands. Shape into small balls about the size of ping-pong balls. Spray a non-stick pan with EVOO, and heat it up over medium to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, drop the meatballs in. Cook 3-5 minutes, turning frequently to brown all sides. Adjust heat to medium, then add corn, black beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, red pepper, lime juice, and cumin. Mix well, then partially cover and cook another 5-6 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Stir in cilantro. Serve, then top with green onions, olives, and Greek yogurt.

This was really good and easy to make. I have never really made meatballs before, and wasn't sure if it would work or not, but it was pretty easy. It would be really helpful to have tongs to easily turn the meatballs, I had to use a spoon and it didn't work incredibly well. I liked that this was almost all vegetables, except the meatballs and would be easy to do as a vegetarian dish with seared tofu instead. In the original recipe, there were no red peppers, olives, green onions, or Greek yogurt, but I had them sitting in my fridge and wanted to use them up, and I like those flavors combined. In addition, they used a full pound of turkey and had larger meatballs, but I was concerned they wouldn't cook all the way through and I like smaller meatballs, so I changed it.

Rating? 5/5
Why? Seriously, this was really savory. I love these flavors together and I liked that it was packed with vegetables but still tasted like a protein dish.


Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I tried this for the first time last summer and while I do love traditional lasagna, this one immediately became my MORE favorite one. I love that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand and it is really filling, but quite healthy. I am giving you the ingredients I used this time, but there is a lot of variation possible.

2 small eggplants, sliced into 1/4" slices
2 red peppers, cut into 1" squares
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup sliced carrots
3 heads of baby bok choy, whites and greens separated, whites cut into 1" squares
2 Tlbs olive oil
black pepper
3 roma tomatoes, sliced
1.5 cup frozen corn
10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
grated mozzarella cheese
grated cheddar cheese
small container of low-fat ricotta cheese
6 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can chopped tomatoes

Put the eggplant, peppers, carrots, bok choy whites, garlic, olive oil and black pepper into a ziploc bag and shake until the oil coats everything. Pour them onto a cookie sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring thoroughly every 10 minutes. To make the tomato sauce, put the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and chopped tomatoes in a pot with parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer over low for a while. In another pot, boil the noodles until done, then drain and set aside. Spray olive oil into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Using a spatula, spread ricotta cheese on a noodle, then lay in the bottom of the pan. Repeat with two other noodles until the bottom of the pan has one layer. Ladle half of the sauce mixture over the noodles. Scoop half the roasted vegetables on top of the sauce. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes on top of the veggies, then sprinkle half the corn on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle half the chopped basil over the corn, then sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella on top of that. Repeat the entire layer process again, only adding cheddar as well as mozzarella on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.

I originally tried this recipe when looking for ways to use eggplant, which I dislike the smell of. I got the idea for the roasted vegetables from allrecipes.com, but the rest of it is my own. I like the fact that it is full of vegetables and still tastes like lasagna. The original version has other roasted vegetables, like mushrooms, but I used what I had in the fridge. I have never used bok choy in it before, but it turned out ok, although I don't know if I would use it again. I used the bok choy leaves in it as well this time, but I disliked it, so left it out of the recipe above. I have used black beans and loved them as well. Another thing I like is that this is easy to freeze in small portions for lunch.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? I prefer to make my own tomato sauce, but I didn't have enough patience to simmer it down to a thick sauce, so the lasagna was a little runnier than I like. Also, I didn't like the bok choy. Normally, this would be a 5/5.


Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

Recently, a friend of mine got me hooked on Pinterest, and poof...there went several hours. One of the things I pinned recently was a recipe that looked delicious and consisted of ingredients I already had in my fridge. Those are the best kinds of recipes, in my opinion. I didn't change much, and I found the original recipe here.

1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded
1 cup cooked rice
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 chopped green onions
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 Tlbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
shredded Monterey Jack
shredded cheddar
white corn tortillas

Mix the rice, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder together (Alternatively, cook the rice with the spices). Stir in the remainder of the ingredients, except the cheese. Warm up a cast iron skillet over medium or medium low heat. Spray one of the tortillas with olive oil and put it oil side down in the pan. Sprinkle some of the Monterey Jack on the tortilla (not too much or it will melt out the sides). Spoon the rice/chicken mixture on the tortilla out to about 1/2 an inch from the edges all the way around. Then sprinkle a small amount of cheddar on top, and put the other tortilla on top. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, until it is toasted, then spray the top tortilla with olive oil, flip the entire thing over and toast the other side. Cut and serve.

A note here...In the original recipe, she rolled a larger tortilla into a burrito style shape and toasted it closed. When I did that, everything fell out. And then I ran out of whole wheat tortillas, which is what I usually use. However, I had some white corn tortillas left over from the green enchiladas last week, so I used those instead and it turned out pretty good. To flip them without spilling out all the ingredients, I lifted the quesadilla off the pan and onto a small plate, then flipped another small plate over and put it on top, then flipped the entire thing, took the top plate off, and used the spatula to put the whole thing back on the pan. No mess. In the original recipe, she used garlic salt and a fresh lime, but I didn't have either one of those. I think I would add corn next time, just because I like it, but this is pretty good as is. This recipe makes a fairly large amount, about 3 cups of mixture total, but it would be really easy to cut it down. In the original recipe, she said she served 6 people.

Rating 5/5
Why? This is super easy to make, and I almost always have all of these ingredients on hand. I like that it will make a relatively large amount that will sit in the fridge for several days and I can use when I want a quick snack.


Green Enchiladas

My friend's mom came up with this recipe, and Kathleen introduced it to us in college. It is now something that we make every time we get together. This is a somewhat healthier variation on the original. This picture is pretty bad, but it will do. It's hard to photograph these.

** NOTE: all amounts are approximate. Each time I make this it turns out slightly differently, so I add a little of this or that to make it the right consistency or flavor.
2-3 chicken breasts
4-5 cups shredded cheese (Mexican or fiesta mix)
16 oz Greek yogurt (2ish cups), divided
1/8-1/4 cup chicken broth
5-6 jalapenos (or more)
1-2 poblano peppers (sometimes called ancho)
3-4 Tlbs flour
1 tsp salt
white corn tortillas (smallest package has about 25-30)

First, boil or bake the chicken. You could season it if you want, I don't. Let it cool, then shred it and put it in the fridge until you are ready for it. Prep the peppers by cutting the tops off and if you want to, removing the seeds and membranes. In a food processor or blender, put 1 cup or so of the Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup of chicken broth, and all the peppers. Process until smooth. It should be quite green due to the peppers. Pour the pepper mixture into a cast iron frying pan, and turn it onto medium or medium low. As it is heating, add the rest of the Greek yogurt and the salt and whisk until smooth. Sprinkle the flour in, a tablespoon full at a time, until the sauce is just a little thick (so it will stick to the tortillas). Continue to whisk the flour through until it is smooth each time before you add more. If it gets too thick, add chicken broth a tablespoon at a time. When the mixture feels right, turn the burner to low, and let it simmer for a while (15-20 minutes, or until you are ready for the next step).

The tortillas need to be slightly softened before using, so unless you made your own fresh ones, you need to put them in the microwave between damp cloths and microwave 30-40 seconds. Also spray a 9x13 pan with olive oil and set up a construction line with the green sauce next to the pan, and the chicken and cheese close by. Take a tortilla, dip it in the sauce, then flip it over to get both sides with the sauce. Lay it in the 9x13 pan, then put a SMALL amount of shredded chicken down the center, then top with a slightly larger amount of cheese. Roll the tortilla, then shove it to one end of the pan. Repeat the process, shoving the enchiladas close together until the pan is full. If your sauce appears to be running low, add a little more chicken broth and Greek yogurt to the cast iron pan while you still have enough green sauce to mix. When your 9x13 pan is full, pour any remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas, then top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is totally melted and the edges are starting to crisp. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving or it will be a hot mess.

This is a dish that is easier to construct with someone helping you with the assembly line portion. It is so good, and is very easy to make all kinds of variations - more jalapenos for more heat, beans instead of chicken for vegetarian, fewer jalapenos for less heat. As far as the cheese goes, you can buy the fiesta mix, or I mixed monterey jack, cheddar, and mozzarella together myself. I have also made quite a lot of changes from the original recipe in the interests of making it healthier. However, the original recipe called for:
* the tortillas to be quick fried (dipped in hot oil for 5-10 seconds, then drained on a paper towel). I chose not to do this because I was trying to make them healthier, but if you do this, you will not need to soften the tortillas in the microwave and you shouldn't have any problems with them tearing when you roll them.
* 2-3 cans of cream of chicken soup instead of the Greek yogurt. Again, I was trying to make them healthier and Campbell's has a ridiculous amount of salt in their soup. If you use this, leave out the salt and the flour, and you won't need as much chicken broth.

One final note. These get hotter the longer they are refrigerated and are really good as leftovers.

Rating? 4/5
Why? The original, full-fat, unhealthy version is really amazing, so it is hard to make it healthier and still as tasty. But this comes pretty close...close enough for me, anyway. I think the jalapenos I used were WEAK because it was not hot at all, so that's why in this recipe it is pretty important to taste as you go. I put in 6 jalapenos and should have doubled it, and I am not a person who loves ridiculously spicy/hot food.


Asian Lettuce Wraps

So....it's been a while. The end of the school year was rough, then I went on vacation, and I really haven't been cooking much at all, and when I do I've been making things I am comfortable with. Which brings me to these wraps. I have made these before, but it has been a couple of years at least, and I've been craving them for a while. I apologize for the crappy picture.
Bibb lettuce
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced or cubed
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tlbs soy sauce (I used tamari)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tlbs rice vinegar
1 tsp Thai chili pepper sauce
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
4-5 green onions, chopped
2 tsp dark sesame oil

Brown the chicken in a pan until it is about half cooked. Then add the onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin, vinegar, and chili sauce and cook for another few minutes until it is almost done. Add the water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil and cook 1-2 minutes more. Take it off the burner, and wash and dry the Bibb lettuce leaves. Using a spoon, put a small amount of the chicken mixture in a leaf and wrap it up to eat.

These are SO good, but be aware that the Bibb lettuce MAKES this dish. I have tried to use other types of lettuce, such as romaine and red lettuce, but for some reason the Bibb lettuce goes with this perfectly. I can go through an entire head of lettuce eating this dish. I also put in more like a tablespoon of chili sauce, but it is really hot when you do that. The first couple of times I made this, I had a hard time finding Bibb lettuce, but it is now at my local Safeway as well as the fruit stand I go to during the summer. Also, FYI, this is really ridiculously messy to eat, which should be an indication of how awesome it tastes.

Rating: 5/5
Why? This is pretty easy to make, especially if you prep everything first, and comes together really fast. It is also relatively healthy and I love the texture of the lettuce as a wrap. It also refrigerates well if you have leftovers, and is a good way to get kids to eat lettuce.


Chicken Carbonara

This is suprisingly easy to make, and has some surprising (for me) ingredients. The original recipe is from Clean Eating, but I have modified it.

1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 cloves minced garlic
2-3 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a medium skillet, cook the chicken and minced garlic until it's finished, then set it aside in a covered bowl...it needs to stay warm. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water and steam the carrots and broccoli until the color gets bright, but they are still crunchy. When the pasta is almost done, add the peas and peppers for the last couple of minutes. While you are waiting, add the egg, parmesan and black pepper to the bowl with the chicken and stir to combine. Add the steamed vegetables, drain the pasta, and add the pasta as well. Toss everything well and serve immediately.

I had no idea that the magic ingredient in Carbonara was raw egg, although the heat of the cooked vegetable and chicken cooks the egg enough to be safe. The original recipe called for a package of frozen mixed vegetables, but those always have way too many mushrooms and not nearly enough peppers, so I make my own vegetable mix, and add more than the recipe calls for. It also called for 1/4 cup of the pasta water to be added to the mix, but I forgot to do it. When I have made this prevously and remembered the water, it makes it just slightly more creamy.

This comes together incredibly fast, so I recommend making sure everything is cut and measured ahead of time. It is important that the chicken and vegetables are hot when you add the egg, so cover them until you are ready to add it. Also, this does not microwave well as leftovers, so try to make it work for the number of people you are feeding. I haven't managed to make it work for one person yet, so I deal with slightly scrambled eggs mixed in with my leftovers.

Rating - 4/5
Why? I can't make a one serving portion. But it's easy to make and tastes delicious.


Cod Manicotti Wraps

This was on the front cover of the latest Clean Eating magazine and it looked so good I knew I would be making it. The problem was finding whole wheat lasagna noodles, I ended up going to three stores before finding some. This is messy to make but is really good, so it's worth it.

olive oil
3-4 green onions
8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 carrot, peeled and grated
8-10 oz cod*
4 oz neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp chopped dill
1/8 tsp salt
2 oz shredded mozz

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9x9 cooking pan with olive oil and set it aside. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of water. While they are cooking, rinse the onions, then slice them LENGTHWISE, to make long strands. Make sure you have at least 8 long strands. During the last 90 seconds of cooking, add the onion strands. Take the noodles and onions off the burner, drain, and set aside to cool. Cover the pot with a lid to keep the noodles pliable. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat, mist with olive oil, then cook the fish until opaque and flaky. Set it aside to cool slightly. In a medium saucepan, mix the neufchatel cheese, skim milk and dill. Heat over low heat, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Add half of the mozz, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and bechamel is smooth. Take it off the burner and set aside half of the cheese mixture. Shred the fish with a fork, then add the fish and the carrots to the remaining cheese mixture and mix together. Take one of the lasagna noodles, put about 2 Tlbs of the fish bechamel sauce mixture on one end, and roll it up gently. Tie one of the green onions around it to keep it closed. Continue doing this until all the mixture and noodles are used. As you wrap them, place them in the 9x9 pan close together. Pour the remaining bechamel sauce over the top, and add the rest of the mozz. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

*I use cod because I like it and it is one of the few white fishes I can find that is caught wild. The magazine recommends tilapia, but ever since I saw 40 tilapia jammed in a tank at a local store, I can't bring myself to buy farmed fish.

This was a bit of a process to make, but really didn't take that long to put together. In the future, I will probably not use the green onions as I really didn't care for the texture when they were cooked. You could probably use a toothpick or something to keep it together, although they were close enough together in the pan that you really wouldn't need it.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? Although it is messy to assemble, it is really good and very filling.


Shrimp Amatriciana

To say I've recently fallen off the healthy eating train would be the equivalent of saying that teenagers are occasionally obnoxious - a shocking understatement. This recipe is the perfect step to get back on the train. According to tradition, it is an ancient Roman recipe created by poor shepherds, and has only 4 ingredients, although this history is hotly debated. Wherever it came from, it is incredibly simple and extremely delicious. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com, but I changed several ingredients.

2 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can stewed tomatoes
10 medium shrimp, roughly chopped
2-3 oz pasta
3 leaves chopped basil
grated Parmesan

Spray a skillet or flat saucepan with olive oil. Saute the onions and bacon together for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for about a minute, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then add the shrimp. Simmer for 7-8 minutes. While it is simmering, cook the pasta. Drain, then top the pasta with the tomato mixture, then garnish with the basil and Parmesan.

In the original recipe, there was no shrimp, less red pepper, and the basil was mixed in with the tomato sauce. I felt the need for more protein, so I added the shrimp, and I forgot to add the basil until the dish was already plated, so I just tossed it on top. The original recipe also called for the bacon to be raw, cooked in the pan, and use the grease to cook the onions. I cook an entire package of turkey bacon at a time and keep it in the freezer and I also shred and freeze Parmesan, so I changed that part of the recipe as well.

Rating: 5/5
Why? This was filling, delicious, nutritious, easy and tasty. A complete winner!!


Lime Tortilla Soup

Normally, I prefer thick, chowder-like soups, but something about this one really appealed to me when I saw it in Clean Eating last month, and the fact that it came together quickly was a big selling point. It was totally worth it! This soup is completely delightful and super easy! I did change the recipe slightly as I was out of some ingredients and didn't realize it until I was in the middle of prep.

2 Tlbs olive oil (divided)
1 chicken breast, in 1/2" cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tsp cumin
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 shallot, finely minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 10" whole wheat tortilla
1 lime, quartered
low-fat Greek yogurt for garnish

Heat 1tlbs oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the chicken, jalapeno, cumin and green pepper, and cook 2-3 minutes, until chicken is done. Add the chicken broth, water, shallot and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. When mixture is at a hard boil, remove it from the heat and add the tomato, cilantro, and remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover the soup and let it sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors blend. While the soup is resting, mist a non-stick pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortilla into narrow strips (1/8" wide) and then each strip into 2" lengths. When the pan is hot, toss the tortilla strips in and toast them, turning constantly to prevent burning. When they are crispy, remove them from the heat. Put soup into a bowl, then add a dollop of Greek yogurt and garnish with tortilla strips and squeeze a quarter of a lime into the soup.

This soup is so delicious, I will definitely be making this again. The original recipe called for scallions in place of the shallot and 3 cups of chicken broth instead of a chicken broth/water mixture. It also called for baby spinach and a corn tortilla instead of whole wheat.

Rating: 5/5
Why? So good....perfect flavors, light and filling.


Saffron Rotini

I have to admit, there is a lot of new ingredients for me in this recipe, but I wanted to be brave. In addition, someone gave me some saffron, which was nice, and I had some goat cheese left over from a different recipe that I wanted to use, so it worked out well. I am not normally a fan of cooked carrots (although I love them raw) but I have been trying to eat them occasionally. The original recipe is from Clean Eating.

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp arrowroot
1/4 tsp crushed saffron threads
1/2 Tlbs olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 oz whole wheat rotini
1 cup peas
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 Tlbs chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put the chicken broth, arrowroot and saffron together in a small bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Shake it up and let it sit until you are ready, but shake it up again before using it. In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Shake, then add the chicken broth mixture and turn the pan up to high(ish). Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring often, and it will also thicken slightly. Take it off the burner, cover the pan and let the mixture sit for ten minutes or so. While you are letting the sauce rest, boil water and then add the noodles and the carrots. Add the peas with just a couple of minutes left to cook and when the noodles are done, drain everything. Toss the sauce and the goat cheese in with the pasta. Garnish with parsley before serving.

I like goat cheese but am still getting used to the stronger flavor. Also, this didn't look quite like the picture, the cheese in the picture remained crumbly, whereas when I mixed the cheese in tonight it melted. This was also good, but changed the texture. It was easy and came together quickly, which is always a positive.

Rating: 4/5
Why? goat cheese is a strong flavor and I am not sure how I feel about it yet.


Honey Mustard Chicken

It's been a long week so I am loving the easy, filling recipes. I love chicken, and this was really good. I made simple mashed potatoes and green beans to go along with it. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com

2 chicken breasts
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup dijon mustard
3 leaves chopped basil
1/8 tsp paprika
a pinch of parsley

Trim the chicken breasts and get them ready to bake. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small ziploc bag and put the chicken in as well. Squish out as much of the air as possible, then seal it and mush the bag with your hands until all the ingredients are mixed and the chicken is thoroughly covered. Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 350. Create a "pan" using a piece of tinfoil that is just big enough to lay the chicken flat in the bottom. Put the chicken in the pan and pour all the marinade over the top and bake for 30 minutes.

This is pretty good. I would make a couple of suggestions...go easy on the honey and heavy on the mustard. Use fresh basil and parsley if you can, and I think adding a bit of fresh ground pepper would make it even better.

Rating: 4/5
Why? It was just a little bit sweet, and I like my chicken to have a little more bite to it. I will add pepper next time, but will definitely be using this recipe again as it is very easy.


Beef Stroganoff

You may have noticed that I do not cook any proteins other than chicken and fish. I grew up eating beef more than any other meat, but in college mostly stopped eating beef, and other than the occasional hamburger, I haven't returned to the Land of Beef. However, this recipe in Clean Eating for beef stroganoff reminded me of some things I used to like about it, so I decided to give it a shot.

1.5 cups whole wheat egg noodles
4.5 tsp evoo (divided)
2 Tlbs whole wheat flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup Greek yogurt at room temp
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp low-sodium Tamari soy sauce
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp parsley
4 oz filet mignon, cut into chunks
1 shallot, chopped

I prepped everything ahead of time for this recipe because it comes together really fast. Cook noodles according to directions. While they are cooking, prepare the rest of the dish. In a pan, heat 3 tsp of oil over medium heat. When it is warm, stir in the flour, whisking constantly. After a minute or so, slowly pour in the broth, while continuing to whisk. Bring the broth/flour mixture to a simmer, then turn it down to low, still whisking until it thickens. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the Greek yogurt, mustard, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and parsley. Then cover it and set it aside. In a non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 1.5 tsp of oilve oil over medium heat. When it is hot, toss in the shallot,  and let it saute for a couple of minutes. Then toss in the beef and let it cook. When the beef is done, put it in the sauce, then pour it over the noodles.

The sauce is completely amazing. I love the sauce. However, the beef was extremely tough. I totally failed on that front. I did notice when I read the recipe again that I was supposed to cut it into strips instead of chunks, so maybe that would help. Also, I have no idea how to pick out beef, so that could have been the problem as well. Or possibly it would have helped to cook it low and slow. I honestly don't know. I will try this again because the sauce is delightful.

Other changes - the original recipe called for beef broth but they didn't have low-sodium beef broth at the grocery store so I used chicken instead. I also didn't include the mushrooms because I hate them, and I cut the salt in half.

Rating: 4/5
Why? The AMAZING sauce mostly made up for the tough beef, and I only have myself to blame for the beef, so I gave it a higher score. It is good enough to try again.


Asian Pasta Vegetable Salad

Alternative title: In Which I Learn My Lesson About Tight-Fitting Lids.

I love crunchy food, or food with lots of texture. I also love Asian food, bell peppers, and pasta, so basically this is the perfect recipe. I used this recipe from allrecipes.com as a place to start, but did make several changes based on the comments attached to the recipe. This is an excellent recipe to make and leave in the fridge for a super easy lunch.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup low-sodium tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp black sesame oil
3 Tlbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup sesame seeds

4 cups of whole wheat spirals
1-2 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 small carrot, julienned
3/4 cup green peas
2 Tlbs sliced green onions
1/4 cup cilantro

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a bowl with a TIGHT-FITTING LID. This is important. Very important. Then mix all the salad dressing ingredients together in a jar or something else with a tight-fitting lid. Again, quite important. Shake the salad dressing thoroughly until it is all mixed together very well, then pour the dressing over the salad. Seal the bowl and shake it well to coat the salad thorougly and mix all the ingredients. You can eat it warm, but it is pretty awesome cold.

In case you haven't gathered, it is very important to have a container with a tight-fitting lid. I know this, since mine was not, and when I shook the bowl, I decorated my kitchen with a large collection of spots. The oil-base of the dressing will get everywhere if you aren't careful. Other changes...the original recipe recommended using pasta bows, but I couldn't find a whole-wheat pasta version of this so I used spirals instead. You do need a pasta that will hold the dressing. One reviewer recommended adding water chestnuts, and I meant to do that, but forgot, so I would like to try that next time. Also, I seasoned the chicken slightly with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper before I baked and shredded it.

Rating 4.5/5
Why? It is a little oily, I want to cut down on the dressing-pasta ratio next time. Also there are a LOT of sesame seeds in this. But it is super easy to make and quite delicious as a left-over.


Potato Pancakes

My cousin's wife and I have a standing date for Sunday night when Worst Cooks in America is on the Food Network. She lives in Portland and I live in Seattle, but we send about 50 texts throughout the show commenting on everything from shoes to contestant idiocy. Last week the contestants had to make potato pancakes and I immediately knew I was going to try and make them this weekend.

3 medium sized potatoes (I used russets)
1 egg
1/2 Tlbs Greek yogurt
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour

crumbled turkey bacon
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Peel and chunk the potatoes and put them in a food processor. Pulse them just until roughly chopped. Add the egg and Greek yogurt, then pulse again until smoother, but there will still be small chunks of potatoes. It is really important not to puree the potatoes into mush. Add the flour, and pulse just until blended. The consistency should be similar to oatmeal. On a well-oiled hot griddle (I used a heated, oiled cast iron frying pan heated on medium because that's what I had but it would definitely work better on a griddle), drop small spoonfuls of potato blend. Mine were about 2 inches across. When they appear slightly dry on the edge, carefully flip them over. Mine were slightly inclined to stick, so I had to make sure they were completely loosened before trying to flip. When both sides are done, let them drain on a paper towel to get rid of some of the oil.

While you are making the pancakes, mix the Greek yogurt, basil and garlic powder in a bowl. Top the pancakes with a thin layer of the yogurt, then top with the crumbled bacon before eating.

These were quite exceedingly delicious. I forgot to put the salt and pepper in, so mine were just a touch bland, but the topping added some zest so I managed to eat more than my fair share. I also put too much oil in the pan so the first couple were a little greasy, but nonetheless, still delicious. I have some left over so I am going to try and freeze them, and I will be interested to see how these come out. In the Worst Cooks episode, they used these as a basis for hors d'oeuvres, so that is why I chose to top them with something salty rather than sweet, but they would also be good with a sweet topping.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? Relatively easy to make, other than having to peel the potatoes.


Chinese Chicken Salad

I have been rather remiss and very lazy in the cooking arena lately, but I recently got my ducks in a row and figured out how to meal plan in a way that works for me, so hopefully the blogging will be less sporadic. One of the recipes I tried this week was this salad. I love loaded salads, but you have to be careful about the toppings. This salad has a lot of toppings, but they are all good for me, which is the best way to go! I based this off an allrecipes.com recipe but did change it a bit.

1.5 Tlbs hoisin sauce
1 Tlbs peanut butter
1 tsp loose brown sugar
1/2 tso hot chili paste
1/2 tsp ginger
1.5 Tlbs rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tlbs sesame oil

1/4 cup shredded chicken
2 wonton wrappers
2 cups shredded romaine
1/8 cup grated carrot
1/8 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped red bell peppers
2 Tlbs chopped cilantro

Heat the oven to 350 and spray a pan with olive oil. Lay the wonton wrappers on the sheet and use a pizza cutter or knife to cut them into narrow strips. Bake for 3-4 minutes, checking often to prevent burning. Take them out and let them cool. While they are baking, whisk together the dressing ingredients. On a plate, layer the salad to your liking, add the dressing, and toss the baked wonton wrappers on top. Alternatively (and this is what I do when I bring a salad to school), put all the ingredients except the wonton wrappers into a plastic ziploc bag or bowl with a tight fitting lid and toss to coat everything evenly.

Rating: 5/5
Why? Like I said, I love loaded salads and this one has lots to love. The dressing has a kick to it and is one of the first dressings I have made myself that I really like.


Quinoa Tomato Mix

I have to confess that I really don't know what to call this. It was one of those nights when I made dinner by throwing a bunch of stuff in the crockpot and crossing my fingers. It's not really a stew, but it's not a casserole either, so I am just going to call it a mix. I generally follow a recipe but tonight I just made this completely by smell - as in I took things out of the fridge, smelled them, and if it smelled like what I wanted dinner to taste like, I threw it in. This, as close as I can remember, is what I put together

By the way, this is a particularly bad picture, but on the other hand, while it tasted really good, I think that red quinoa never LOOKS that good and my camera resents photographing red things.

3/4 cup red quinoa
1/4 cup white quinoa
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips
3 cups water
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup mirin (rice cooking wine)
1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/4 sweet onion, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of thyme (I think)

Throw everything into a slow-cooker and cook until it is the consistency that you want. I put mine on high for an hour, then turned it down to low for about 3-4 hours. I am not totally sure about the spices, I added them after the first hour when I tasted it and decided that it needed something.

I am not kidding when I say that I smelled ingredients to see what I wanted to add. It's what works for me. Either the mirin (which I have never used before) or the hoisin sauce gave this just a slight hint of sweetness that I liked but did cut down just a smidge with the spices. I used the mix of quinoa because I wanted to finish up the red quinoa and I used water instead of broth because I didn't have any broth. I used the sun-dried tomatoes because I had them and wanted to use them up. I know that quinoa has a lot of protein on its own, so I didn't need to add the chicken, but I just like this kind of thing better when it has some kind of meat in it, so I added it. I also wanted to see what would happen if I added raw meat instead of cooked and I think it worked well with the water. I think it would have been too salty for my taste had I used the broth instead.

Rating: 4/5
Why? There is something about these sun-dried tomatoes that I didn't particularly care for, I'm not sure why. I did like this dish overall, it was quite filling, and the perfect thing to eat after my first zumba class in over 2 months. In addition, it is quite easy, and I am a BIG fan of that.


Pizza Pita

I have a pretty serious weakness for pizza. I love everything about it - the crispiness, the saltiness, the cheese - everything. But frozen or restaurant pizza generally is really greasy, has slimy vegetables, too much cheese, and it is almost impossible to find one with a whole-wheat crust. I have posted a pizza recipe on here before, but it requires some forethought to make the dough. This one is made on a whole-wheat pita and it was so easy I will definitely be making it again.

2 whole wheat pitas
grated cheddar cheese
grated mozzarella cheese
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup corn
1/8 cup pizza sauce

Preheat the oven to 400. Put the two pitas on a baking sheet. Spread the pizza sauce on the pitas as thick or thin as you like. Layer the red pepper, black beans, and corn, then split the cheddar and mozzarella between the two pitas. Bake on 400 for 11 minutes, or more if you prefer it to be more crispy.

This took me 15 minutes from start to finish, including slicing the red peppers. I love how fast this comes together! I just threw on some ingredients I had in the fridge so it would be very easy to modify.

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? I wish I had baked it another minute or so (I adjusted the recipe above) as the center could have been a little crispier. I love that I didn't have to make the dough.


Szechuan Chicken Stirfry

I love stirfry, and the more vegetables there are, the better I like it. I have discovered that I like spicy Asian food better than sweet, and this is pretty spicy. Even better, it's fast. From prep to plate, I spent half an hour making this dish.

1 chicken breast, cubed or sliced thinly
1 tsp black sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 medium cloves of minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp low-sodium tamari soy sauce
2 tsp water
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
2 tsp sesame seeds
chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the chicken in a non-stick pan just until cooked through. Set it aside. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic, broccoli, red pepper, and green onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green. Add the chicken, red pepper and ginger and let it cook for another minute, then add the tamari soy sauce and the water and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add water 1 tsp at a time if necessary. Serve over brown rice and top with sesame seeds and cilantro.

This recipe originally called for mushrooms (which I hate), regular sesame oil (which I didn't have), black sesame seeds (which I couldn't find) and soba noodles (which I didn't feel like stopping to get tonight) instead of rice. It also called for szechuan pepper, but suggested substituting lemon pepper instead. I meant to do this but totally forgot, so I will definitely add that in next time. Without it, I think this is really good stirfry, but with it, I think it would have that little something awesome.

This recipe was quick and easy, which I like. I try to do as much prep work as possible when I get home from the grocery store - chopping carrots and broccoli, washing all the fruit, etc - as I have found I am MUCH more likely to use it when it is already prepared and very unlikely to use it at all if I don't do it immediately after getting home from the store. Having all the broccoli and green onions chopped cut down on the prep time, but it still went quickly.

Rating: 4/5
Why? I really wish I would have remembered to put in the lemon pepper. This was decent stirfry, but I think it was missing something that would have really made this awesome. I love that this recipe was quite spicy and it would be easier to make it more spicy by adding more dried red pepper.