Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crock Pot Mexican Lasagna

This was delicious! It is certainly a meal that gets better with time too. Left overs the next day were fabulous! I tweaked this recipe quite a bit to fit our own tastes and amp up the nutrition factor. I will warn you, this requires a little more work then most crock pot recipes. So, here goes!

12 corn tortillas
4 cups of thick and chunky "salsa" (I'll explain the quotations later)
2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 egg
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 can of black beans drained
2 cups of Mexican cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Alright, here we go! So, start by heating 1 tsp of your oil in a pan and toss in the onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add your turkey and cook until browned. Drain, return to pan and add cumin, chili powder and salt. Set aside to cool. Heat the other tsp of oil and when hot add carrot and celery to saute until soft. Add to the turkey mixture to cool.

In a separate bowl, add sour cream and egg and whisk together. Stir in cilantro, beans and corn. Add turkey/vegetable mixture once it has cooled.

Now, I say "salsa" because I thought 4 cups of straight salsa would be too much spice for my family. What I did to lower the heat level was grab a can of diced tomatoes (undrained) and measure that out plus salsa to equal 4 cups. Make sense? Basically the can of tomatoes was about 1.5 cups so I added 2.5 cups of salsa and mixed it all together. Feel free to make life easier and add some "heat" by using straight salsa.

Alright, now that the salsa has been explained, here we go! If you are using a round crock pot, you will get three layers. If you are using an oval crock pot that has a larger diameter then that of a round one, you will have to adjust these measurements as you will probably only get 2 layers.

Spray your crock pot with non-stick spray. Add a cup of salsa to the bottom. Layer with 3 tortillas. It will be necessary to cut them to be sure there is a full layer. It's okay to overlap but you don't want empty space. Now spread 1/3 of your turkey and veggie mixture over the tortillas. Layer with 1/2 cup of cheese and one more cup of salsa. Repeat these layers 2 more times. On the last layer, do not spread salsa on the cheese. Rather lay the rest of your tortillas on top and then spread the last cup of salsa and the last 1/2 cup of cheese.

Now, cook on low for 3-4 hours. You do not want to cook this on high as it will simply burn the edges. I say 3-4 hours because crock pots will vary. You want your tortillas to be to the point of falling apart, kind of mush, not just 'soft". Trust me, I tried it with them just soft and it was NOT the same!

A always, PLEASE let me know if you try this recipe! I love to hear how other enjoyed it too!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas

Looking for a healthy snack? RIGHT HERE! Crunchy, salty, packed with protein... YUMMY! My 4 year old ate nearly half of a batch in one sitting! I am going to give you fair warning that these do not keep well. Roasting makes them nice and crunchy but they go soft quickly if you store them. Not to worry, they'll be gone in an hour :) And for goodness sake, they taste like corn nuts! Who doesn't like corn nuts???

So, after trying these a few ways and following a couple of different recipes, I messed around until I came up with the "perfect" method to roasting without burning or having them not thoroughly crispy. Here goes:

2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
olive oil
seasonings (we'll discuss this in a minute)

Preheat oven to 400. Cover your cookie sheet in aluminum foil (I do this for everything and can't even recall the last time I washed a cookie sheet! I just throw away the foil, wipe down with a clean towel and put away). Anyways, you need to drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Blot  a little bit with a paper towel (don't worry about getting all of the water, roasting will take care of that). Put the beans on your pan and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and give them a good stir. Put them back in for 15-20 more minutes (you want them golden brown but not burnt). Take them out (again) and drizzle with a SMALL amount of olive oil and your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat and then pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes. VOILA! Let cool a smidge and enjoy!

Alright, back to the seasonings. There are all sorts of combinations I have seen for roasted chickpeas. From salty and sweet to spicy. My preferenace is a good dose of garlic salt and nothing else. You could try some salt and a sprinkle of cumin and cayenne pepper. Or maybe a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon? Feel free to google roasted chickpeas and see what sort of flavor combinations you come up with. However, I don't recommend straying from this cooking method. Trust me, I've already done the trail and error for you! Enjoy!!!

Summer Veggie and Chicken Manicotti

I have to start by appologizing for being MIA in the blog world lately. Honestly, i've been too lazy to blog my food but have been cooking up some fabulous dishes. So, if and when I get around to it, I'll post what I remembered to photograph. Before I play catch-up though, I HAD to share tonight's meal. WHy might you ask? Well because this meal had my 4 year old eating the same amount I did! No really, my picky 20 month old ate two full manicotti while my 4 year old ate 3! That is A LOT of food! Not to mention, this is a GOOD food, stuffed with veggies and lean meat, YUM!

1 package of UNCOOKED manacotti (about 14 noodles)
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1 medium zuchinni
2 medium/small yellow summer squash
1/3 of a yellow or sweet onion
tablespoon of pre-minced garlic (If you are gonna use fresh stuff only use about 2 cloves)
fresh herbs (optional, I used about a TBSP of chopped basil and TBSP of chopped parsley)
1.5 cups of grape tomatos cut into 4ths
1 can of spaghetti sauce (I went with a cheap can of Hunt's sauce because that stuff is a little more watery, aiding in the cooking of the manicotti)
3/4 cup of water
1 pkg of shredded mozzarella (2 cups)

Alright, here we go. Preheat oven to 350. Dice all veggies and onion pretty small (dime size). Heat up a little oil in a large pan and saute your onion until translucent, add zuchinni and squash and keep cooking until nearly done, at this point  add your tomato and fresh herbs. Cook for about  more minutes and set aside.

Now, cut up your raw chicken into small pieces (about nickel sized). Season to taste (I used garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and salt). Cook this up but DO NOT overcook as it will be spending an hour in the oven anyways. Mix this with your veggies.

Mix your sauce and water. Pour about 1/2-3/4 cup of this sauce mix in the bottom of a 9x13 glass dish. Now, take those uncooked manicotti shells and stuff them with the veggie/chicken mixture. Using your fingers works best. The nice part? Using uncooked shells makes them so easy to stuff! Be sure to pack that stuff in there good and tight. Lay the manicotti in the glass pan. Pour any left over mix (including that juices and what-not in the bottom) over your stuffed manicotti. Pour the rest of your sauce over everything making sure to cover all exposed noodle!

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with cheese and put back in oven, uncovered for another 5 minutes.

Please excuse the terrible picture, it was an after thought :) ENJOY!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

This was delicious! If a dish involves wine... I'm in! I don't know what it is about meals with that subtle wine flavor but they remind me of my grandma's cooking. This particular recipe is also very easy to adjust to your family's taste (no mushrooms, less onion or even to add veggies like peppers or zuchinni).

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you could always add more if you needed)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion sliced into thin wedges
3 garlic cloves, chopped (or just the chopped stuff in the jar works)
2 large tomatos, diced (keep the juice with it)
6+ mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 small can of tomato paste
1/2 cup of white wine (I used a sweet white wine that has been opened for a bit)
salt and pepper

Heat your oil over medium to medium high heat. Saute your onion until translucent. Remove from pan or push to the side and put your chicken breasts in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown both sides. Add the garlic to pan and cook a couple minutes longer.

Add the wine and simmer until reduced by 1/3-1/2. Now add the tomato paste along with about 1/3 cup of water and mix gently in the pan. Toss in the tomatoes and mushrooms and return the onion to the pan if you removed it. You should have nearly enough "sauce" in the pan to mostly cover the chicken. If not, add a little more water.

Turn heat to low and simmer with the lid on (open just a little to release some extra steam). Simmer for about 35-40 minutes. Turn pieces over during cooking and basta with the sauce.

Now, I enjoyed my chicken served with brown rice that I topped with the "sauce" from my chicken along with a healthy side of lima beans! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blackened Chicken with Lime and Cilantro Quinoa

This was so yummy. It was light, refreshing, tangy, and different from the norm around here. Best of all, it was healthy! This was a lean meal, packed with protein! I got the recipe from Sarcastic Cooking and of course, made a few modifications. Keep in mind this meal has some ingredients that you may not have tried yet, but don't let that scare you off! If you haven't tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) before, this is a great starter recipe!

2-3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
½ Teaspoon of Paprika
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Peppe
r¼ Teaspoon of chili powder (or you could opt for a spicer version and use cayenne pepper)
¼ Teaspoon of Onion Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock (I used bouillon because it's what I had on hand)
1 Cup of Quinoa
Juice and Zest from Two Limes
A Dash of Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons of Cilantro, chopped
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 acocado
2 TBSP plain greek yogurt
sprinkle of garlic powder

To start, bring to a boil your quinoa and chicken stock (keep in mind, if you buy your quinoa in the bulk section you want to rinse it very well to keep it from tasting bitter. Once brought to a boil, simmer, covered, for 15 minutes on low until all water is absorbed (it might need a little longer, mine took about 20 mintues).

Mix your seasonings together to coat the chicken with. Rub this mixture into your chicken. Heat 1-2 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add your chicken and cook about 7 minutes on each side until nice and black and cooked thoroughly (this would also be awesome cooked on the BBQ). Let rest for about 5 mintues before slicing.>

Prepare your avocado sauce by combining those ingredients and either mixing them well by hand or tossing in your mini food processor (like my magic bullet).You might need to add some water to reach your desired consistency.

Saute your pepper and when it's nearly done add your can of corn and black beans to the pan and heat them up. Add this mix to the cooked quinoa. Add your lime juice )use more or less to taste) and your cilantro (I used more of course, cilantro is a bit of an obsession of mine).

So, serve up your dish with the avacado sauce as a "dip"... and ENJOY!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

This is another yummy treat! I love new ways to flavor my veggies that don't mess wtih their original taste too much and don't add too many calories or other icky stuff :)

1 bunch of aspargus, ends trimmed
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
olive oil
chopped garlic

Alright, if you didn't already know this, the best way to trim your aspargus ends are to snap off the bottom inch or two. DON'T cut it, this can mean you're not getting all of the tough part off. If it doesn't snap easily as you bend it, try bending a little further up.

Okay... so trim and rinse your asparagus and put it in a 9x13 glass dish. Preheat the oven to 450. In a small bowl, mix your other ingredients. I didn't measure... I just eye-balled it. Here's what I can tell you, you want equal parts oil and vinegar but less lemon juice then vinegar. You only want enough to lightly coat your aspargus. Add as much garlic as your heart desires... or your tastebuds! Whichever works really. So, mix this as well as you can and drizzle over asparagus in pan. Use a spatula to toss well and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing it again half way through.

I am thinking this would work really well with green beans too. Also, if you desired, after stirring half way through you could sprinkle some bread crumbs on top, finish baking then broil for a minute or so til they're brown and crisp on top!

Balsamic Chicken in the Crock Pot

This is by far one of my new favorite recipes! It has a tremendous amount of flavor and texture as well as a great color that makes it wonderful for dishing up for guests! On a side note, don't let the balsamic vinegar scare you off. It does have a slightly ominous name and the term "vinegar" doesn't sound appetizing to most but this is another "trust me" moment! The vinegar taste cooks off and leaves the hearty, sweet flavor that balsamic vinegar has over other varieties of vinegar! Did I mention it's also a light dish... ya buddy!

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
olive oil
2 cans of italian style diced tomatos undrained
1 onion sliced very thinly (not chopped!)
5-6 garlic cloves (If they're extra large, be sure to cut them in half)
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
a sprinkle of italian seasonings

Alright, drizzle your crock pot with olive oil. Place trimmed chicken inside. Top with onion and garlic. Sprinkle seasonings. Cover with vinegar and then pour your cans of tomatos on top! Cook on low for 5-6 hours but NO LONGER! THis has a very thin sauce so your chicken will dry up quickly if left to cook much longer!

*side note* I have started to lightly sauté the onions before putting them in the crock pot.  It adds more flavor and ensures they are soft at serving time

This meal is great served with some of the tomato and onion on top of the chicken as well as a heaping scoop of the sauce and veggies served over some angel hair pasta with a sprinkle of fresh grated parm! Any green veggies pairs well but I really recommend you try the roasted balsamic asparagus I have on here!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cauliflower Pasta

I made this dish last night and I am amazed by the simplicity of it! I am also now obsessed with roasted veggies and pasta, they come together for sucha wonderful, light pasta dish. I wish initially a little worried about not having a "sauce" but the flavor from the roasted veggies is delicious! You can always swap out the veggies in this recipe with some of your own. Also, I made some changes to the original Marth Stewart recipe and I'm posting this recdipe as I made it. However, after I making it, I found some mkore adjustments that should be made, I'll add those at the end :)

1 large head of cauliflower (cut into florets with very little stem attached)

1 small red onion cut into wedges

5-7 whole garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

2 TBSP olive oil (plus 1 more additional TBSP)

salt and pepper to taste

lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped fresh grated parm 1/4-1/2 cup

bread crumbs

12 oz pasta

Preheat oven to 475, be sure you have a rack on the bottom or 2nd to bottom position. Toss your fresh veggies with 2 TBSP of olive oil and salt and pepper. I also just bought some greek seasoning and used some of that as well (yummy). Add some lemon juice too. Put these on a baking sheet and bake at 475 for 20 minutes, stirring once.

Boil some water and cook your pasta. I chose to try out some gluten free brown rice macaroni noodles and I was amazed by them! They are a healthier option then regular ol' noodles and personlly, I'm not a fan of whole wheat. I also think 12 oz was too much, I'd try more like 8 oz or double the veggies. Be sure to reserve 1/2 cup of water when you drain the noodles.

Okay, so now, toss your pasta with veggies, fresh parm, (I also added some more greek seasoning), 1 TBSP of olive oil, a little lemon juice and reserved water (you might not need all of the water, just enough to coat everything). Sprinkle each serving with some breadcrumbs and additonal parm.

I paired this with some Nearly Naked Chicken breasts but it could be served as a main course as well. Enjoy! (Sorry for the stolen picture, I just had to share this recipe and didn't have one of my own)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup for the Crock Pot

This my friends, is comfort food at it's very finest! It is rich, creamy, cheesey and oh so tasty! This is not in any way, shape or form healthy... you've been warned :) I found this recipe online at numerous websites and adjusted it to suit my tastes.
8 medium potatoes, peeled half way and diced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 small onion chopped
4 stalks of celery sliced
3 tsps chopped garlic
1/4 cup butter
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of pepper
sprinkle of parsley
1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of half and half (I used the fat free kind)
1 cup sour cream
8 slices of bacon, browned and crumbled
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
3 TBSP chives
more cheese and croutons to garnish

Start by sauteing your onion and celery for a few minutes in some butter to soften it a bit.
This is what I mean by half peeled potatoes. Most potato soups call for peeled potatoes but I prefer to retain some of the nutrients.

Into your crock pot goes the broth, potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, butter, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook this for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Half an hour before it's done, add your chives, cream, cheese and sour cream.During this last half hour, fry up your bacon (I attempted turkey bacon.... ick). I chose to stir my bacon in but you could use it, along with some extra cheese and croutons to garnish. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creamy Italian Chicken

There is nothing better then a super easy and equally yummy crock pot recipe! This one is a new favorite. The sauce is a must-have served over rice!

1 can cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat free stuff)
1 pckg dry italian dressing mix
1 8 oz pckg of cream cheese (I like the 1/3 less fat kind)
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Trim chicken, place in crock pot. In a seperate bowl mix soup and dressing mix and pour over chicken. Now, slice your cream cheese, place on top of soup and cook on low for 6 hours! About an hour before it's done, reach in there and stir that cream cheese into the sauce. Serve the chicken with a little sauce on top, use remaining sauce on top of some yummy brown rice and serve up with some green beans!

Salami and Pesto Pasta

This is a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, I cannot find my actual recipe so I am guesstimating the amounts of ingredients :)

Your choice of fun pasta (about 3/4 of a 16oz box), cooked and drained

4-6 oz of salami, cubed

two roma tomatos, diced

1.5 cups fresh spinach, chopped

5 oz or so of white cheese (provolone, monterey jack, etc) cubed

a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 envelopes (give or take) of pesto sauce, prepared accoording to package

Toss all ingredients with the pasto sauce and serve! I like it best with cold ingredients and warm sauce on top!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


These croutons are quick to throw together and delicious topping a salad or soup! THey are much healthier then the version at the store because you can use whatever kind of bread you would like!

3 TBSP oil (I used olive oil here)
Seasonings (for me I used garlic, onion, and salt)
6-8 slices of bread cubed

Mix the oil and seasonings and then drizzle over bread. Toss bread and bake at 300 for 15 minutes, stir and cook another 15 minutes or until nice and golden brown!

Zesty Butternut Squash

This is a super delicious, filling, nutritious dish and a favorite in our house!

1 medium butternut squash
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

You need to seed, dice and skin your squash.

Steam for about 15 minutes or until nice and soft. Add the salsa.

In a small greased casserole dish put half of the sqaush mixture in and then top with half of the cheese. Add the rest of the squash mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake, covered, for about 20 minutes at 350. Enjoy!

White Enchiladas

This recipe is my fabulous step mom's and was a favorite growing up! It's a twist on the traditional enchilada. While it can be time consuming, you can save time by simply layering the ingredients like a lasagna rather then rolling it all individually. I am not going to give an amount of ingredients because it can vary gretaly depending on the number and size of pans you want to make. I have not tried it but I imagine these would freeze pretty well.

corn tortillas
cream of celery soup
shredded cheese (Iused cheddar here but any mix of cheddar, pepperjack, or monterey would go over well)
canned, diced chilis
chopped olives
sour cream to garnish

Start by "frying" your tortillas. You do NOT want them crispy, simply soft. Do one side, then the other with a max of 15 seconds cooking time.

Lay the tortillas out on papertowels to drain the excess oil and cool down, trut me, you don't want to handle hot tortillas!

Shred your chicken! Boiling and shredding is the method I normally use. This however, was half of a roasted chicken.

You will want to add milk to your cream of celery soup to make it the consistency of ranch dressing (or something similar).

Now, dip your tortillas (both sides) in the soup, fill with your toppings and roll and place ina greased pan. When you're finished, top with extra soup and cheese and any left over filling stuff and bake for about 45 minutes at 350.