Category Archives: Main meal recipes

Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten-free!)

HAPPY HUMP DAY!  Man, for being such a busy week, I feel like we are moving at a glacial pace.  I’ll admit, I’ve been sneaking home from lab early this week to beat the cold (it has been 50 degrees in our building due to heating issues), but it has made for more time for recipe creations and pictures–which brings me to today’s recipe, Quinoa Pizza Bites!

Quinoapizzabites thumb Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten free!)

I’ve been making these for quite some time now, but am just getting around to blogging about them.  They are great for so many reasons.  Pizza is one of my most frequent cravings—but I do not want to splurge on that many calories that often!  These pizza bites satisfy my craving, are gluten free, AND can be adapted for a vegetarian diets…heck, with the base of quinoa, egg, and cheese, you could come up with a lot of creative combinations! 

The other thing I love about these pizza bites is that they store well in the fridge and are great for grab-and-go lunches.  Other than cooking the quinoa, these are super quick to whip up and they pack a lot of protein thanks to the quinoa as the “crust”!

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella shredded cheese

1/3 cup chopped  tomato (I used roma)

1/3 cup chopped onion (yellow or white, I’ve tried both)

1/2 cup cooked ground beef or turkey (can substitute mushrooms for the vegetarian folk!)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. pepper

1 beaten egg

Pizza sauce for dipping

Directions:

Prepare quinoa according to directions on package preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, adding the egg last.  Mix thoroughly, as the egg is what holds the bites together! Press a heaping spoonful (about 2 tbsp) into a greased muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes.  This recipe usually makes 9-10 bites.

photo2 thumb2 Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten free!)

quinoapizzabites2 thumb Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten free!)

Helpful Hints:

**Sometimes, I add in one egg + one egg white if I feel my mixture isn’t sticking together before I put them in the muffin pan.

**I despise mushrooms, but my friends who are vegetarians RAVED about these when I made a batch with mushrooms instead of beef.  Veggie lovers, I think you could come up with some AWESOME combos!

And lastly, I’ll leave you with this embarrassing picture I took after I was trying to be creative with the pizza sauce. Pizza sauce does not drizzle as pretty as glaze! icon smile Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten free!)

quinoapizzacups3 thumb Quinoa Pizza Bites (gluten free!)

#fail

Now you tell me…what would you put in YOUR pizza bites? And have you ever taken a food photography course?

The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

parmchicken thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

I’m just going to come right out and say it (don’t mind me repeating the title), that this chicken is the BEST chicken I have ever eaten.  I make it at least once a week.  It is simple to prepare and soooo incredibly flavorful!  I would have never thought to put mayonnaise and cheese together as a topping for chicken, but after trying it, I cannot stop craving it!

The recipe is almost too easy for how delicious it is!  Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Ingredients for Easy Cheesy Chicken (2 servings):

2 chicken breasts (or one large one split in half)

3 tbsp. light mayonnaise

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

2 heaping tbsp. fiber one crumbs (ground up fiber one, easily done in food processor)

Directions:

Take one large chicken breast and split in half (or use two smaller ones)

img 4607 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

img 4609 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Place chicken in a baking dish.  I like to put foil on the bottom of mine because it gets messy during baking!

img 4603 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Next, whip up the cheesy topping. Combine mayo, parmesan cheese, and spices.

img 4604 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Spread over chicken.

img 4605 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Top with fiber one crumbs.  You can also use bread crumbs, but I think fiber one is a healthier option, and it tastes very similar to bread crumbs with chicken.

img 4606 thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered at 350 degrees.

chickenoven thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

parmhickenclose thumb The easiest, cheesiest, most delicious chicken recipe EVER

Crockpot Chicken Chili

First things first.  It’s beginning to look a lot little like Christmas!emilyschristmas thumb Crockpot Chicken Chili

Yep, that’s how last Saturday night was spent for my roommate and I…homemade chili and cornbread, putting up our Christmas tree (straight up 1950’s metallic from my grandma’s basement), movies on demand…all in our sweats.  It was glorious.

And this chili?  chilifinal thumb Crockpot Chicken Chili

AHHHHMAAAAZZZZIINNNNNNNG.  Seriously, I know I’ve said it about a lot of recipes I’ve been posting recently, but it is SO easy and delicious.  Thick, hearty, and the right amount of spice… just how I like my chili!  I also like using chicken instead of beef for a more lean option.  I adapted this recipe from skinnytaste to make it taste more like my mom’s and am so pleased with how it turned out.  I definitely am adding this to my regular rotation of crock-pot soups that I go to during the winter months!

Ingredients for crock-pot chicken chili:

1 can tomato sauce

1 can black beans

1 can chili beans in medium sauce

1 can diced tomatoes (with chilies, if you like)

1 can corn

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 packet taco seasoning

2-3 chicken breasts, raw, fat trimmed

Optional toppers:

reduced fat shredded cheese

reduced fat sour cream

corn bread (my faveeeeee!)

avocado

tortilla chips

Directions:

In a large crockpot, combine all ingredients except chicken and mix well.  Place chicken in crockpot on top of other ingredients.  Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.  Remove chicken when done and shred.  Place back into crockpot and mix well.  Top with your favorite ingredients. Simple as that!!

 chiliincrockpot thumb Crockpot Chicken Chili 

Whole-wheat cornbread and honey…DELICIOUS.  Tortilla chips make good chili toppers too!

img 4169 thumb Crockpot Chicken Chili

chiliclose thumb Crockpot Chicken Chili

I love my crockpot.  You should love your crockpot. End of story.

Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

casserole1 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

You know those people who can’t ever have their food touching?  I’m the opposite.  Like, totally opposite.  I usually combine most things I’m eating on my plate, making my own little jumble.  It’s the only way…and maybe the reason why I LOVE a good casserole.  Seriously, combine a bunch of ingredients and bake it off in the oven?  Sign me up.  This casserole is one of my all time faves and I make it all the time!   It is easy to prepare and is so fast—perfect for the days I get home from lab late.  It also makes enough for leftovers and reheats well!

Ingredients:

6-8 corn tortillas, torn up

1 8 oz can. corn

1 8 oz. can reduced sodium black beans

3 roma tomatoes, diced

2 cups shredded chicken (or chicken cut into 1/2 inch pieces)

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/2  cup salsa

3/4 cup reduced fat Mexican or cheddar cheese

Directions:

Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom of baking dish with half the tortillas.

casserole5 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Combine all other items except cheese and mix well.  This is the “enchilada” filling!

img 3937 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Spread half of the enchilada filling into baking dish over the tortillas.

casserole4 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Sprinkle half the cheese onto the enchilada layer.

 casserole3 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Repeat!  I like to add an extra layer of salsa onto the top of mine, but it’s up to you!

 casserole2 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 or until bubbly!

 casserole6 thumb Quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole

So good. Chicken, cheese, and salsa…how can you go wrong?

Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

chixtenders thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers 

When my sister and I were kids and we’d go out to eat with our family, I can’t really remember if I had any certain pattern or tendencies to what I ordered.  My sister on the other hand, had one order and one order only.  For as long as I can remember, as long as the restaurant had her one thing on the kids menu, she was set.  Anyone have a guess to what it was?

Chicken tenders.  Rain or shine, night or day, that girl loved her restaurant chicken tenders. 

It wasn’t until we were older that our mom found the best recipe for homemade chicken tenders and it became a weekly regular for dinner.  Making them yourself may seem like a lot more work than buying the premade frozen kind, but it is totally painless and as a bonus, you actually KNOW what’s going into your chicken tenders!  WOOOOO!  Seriously, this is a super quick and easy recipe, it’s approved by all ages, and you  get to eat them with ketchup (i LOVE ketchup).  WIN.

Ingredients for Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

2 chicken breasts, fat trimmed

3 cups corn flakes

1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg + 2 egg whites or 1/2 cup egg beaters

2 tbsp. low-fat milk

1/2 cup flour

dash of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut up chicken breasts into 1/2-1 inch strips

img 3867 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

 img 3868 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Crush cornflakes.  I throw mine in a big ziploc and crush them using my hands.  Mix in cheese.

img 3862 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Mix eggs and milk in small bowl. Mix flour and pepper on a plate and set aside..  I also poured the cornflake mixture onto a plate.  Place all three close together for an easy “breading station”

img 3863 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

It’s breadin’ time! Roll chicken strips in flour.

img 3869 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

img 3870 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Dip in egg wash.

img 3871 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Press and roll in cornflakes.

img 3872 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Grease with cooking spray and place breaded chicken on the foil

img 3873 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

 img 3875 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 7-10 more minutes or until crispy golden brown.

chixstrips thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers 

chix3 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Yummy!

img 3893 thumb Cheesy Chicken Crunchers

Enjoy! Happy Tuesday!

Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

zuchhh thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Hi hi hi!  Everyone enjoying the weekend?  It has been beautiful here.  I’ll make this short and sweet today, because the Packers are on!  Last week at the farmers market, I bought the biggest zucchini i have EVER seen.

zuchbyitself thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

The best part was that it was only $1 at the farmers market!  I mean, look at it compared to that banana….wahhh!

Anyways, as fate would have it, Gina over at skinnytaste had just posted about zucchini lasagna.  I’d always been curious, so I tried it out.  Annnnnd…..

DELICIOUS.  I’d say it is the best recipe I’ve attempted since I started this blog.  Seriously.  I don’t think I’ll ever make normal noodle lasagna ever again (and I even LOVED the normal kind my mom would make).  Using sliced zucchini in place of the noodles makes this dish gluten free and cuts out calories from your traditional lasagna.  One cup of traditional cooked lasagna is approx 300 calories, where as one cup cooked zucchini is roughly 40 calories*  And in reality, it tastes JUST as good, if not better!!

*Calories and serving calculated using supertracker from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html

I highly highly highly recommend this dish. It make take a little more time to slice and grill the zucchini, but I think it is worth it.  I halved the original recipe to make a smaller amount, but it would still easily feed 3-4 people!

Also, I’d recommend getting a mandolin to use as a slicer.   I bought a cheap one and although it was still pretty hard to slice because my zucchini was GIGANTIC, i would have never been able to do it with just a knife. If you have a smaller zucchini, it should slice easier with a mandolin!  I would still advise that when buying a mandolin, you get what you pay for.

Ingredients for Zucchini Lasagna:

1/2 lb. lean ground beef (I used 90/10)

2 medium or one extra large zucchini , thinly sliced

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 beefsteak tomato, diced

2-3 leaves basil, finely chopped

1 1/2 + 1/4 cup tomato sauce/spaghetti sauce of your choice

1/2 package of low-fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup egg beaters

1/2 + 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Brown meat over medium heat.  While browning, slice zucchini lengthwise. With my cheap-o mandolin, it was still pretty hard to slice the zucchini because my zucchini was GIGANTIC.

img 3749 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

img 3750 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Using a George Foreman grill (or grill pan if you have one) grill zucchini for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

img 3752 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

img 3753 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Dice onions and mince garlic, sauté in olive oil for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat.

img 3758 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Dice tomatoes.  Combine meat, onions and garlic, tomatoes. 1 1/2 cup sauce, and basil in a large mixing bowl.

img 3759 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Mix ricotta, egg beaters, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese in a small mixing bowl.  You are now ready to start layering!

img 3760 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8×8 dish.

img 3761 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Layer on zucchini slices.  I used the ugliest ones for the bottom!

img 3762 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Spread a layer of ricotta mixture onto zucchini.  Top with 1/3 of mozzarella cheese mixture.

img 3763 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Next, spread half of the meat sauce mixture

img 3764 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Repeat with another layer of zucchini, ricotta, and sauce!  Add an extra zucchini and cheese layer on top so you end up with 3 total zucchini, 3 ricotta/cheese layers, and 2 meat sauce layers.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

img 3769 thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

zuchilasagna thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

zuchlayerscloseup thumb Zucchini Lasagna…the best I’ve ever had!

Have a fabulous rest of the day!  Go Pack!

Thai night- squash curry and crab rangoons!

squashcurrypot thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

I love curry.  So much, that I literally crave it every day.  Before I came to graduate school and really branched out in food, I used to shudder at the word.  Sure, sometimes I would opt for sesame chicken at the local chinese buffet, but beyond that, I didn’t venture very far. It wasn’t until I actually started being interested in the food I was eating and hanging out with friends who liked going to new and different restaurants that I really started to love food.  I also was introduced to my good friend, Jiab, from Thailand!  She always brings in authentic food to work that she whips up at home and I am always mooching a sample. icon smile Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!  Her food is delicious, so last week, a few of us got together for “girls night” with wine and Jiab’s expertise teaching us how to make curry and crab rangoons!

I should also preface, that this is probably not the healthiest of recipes I have ever made or eaten.  We all deserve a little splurge now and then though, right? icon smile Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Ingredients:

1/2 asian squash, cut into bite size pieces

1 15 oz. can coconut milk

1 small can red curry paste

2 tbsp. peanut butter

1 tbsp. fish sauce

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 tbsp. sugar

Dried red chili peppers (to taste)

Rice (however much desired)

Directions:

Peel and cut up half an Asian squash…a giant pumpkin looking squash that is green on the outside.

img 3649 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Next, to a large pot, add one can of coconut milk, stir over medium high heat

img 3652 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Next, add peanut butter, red curry paste, and fish sauce, mixing well.

img 3653 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

curry thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Next, use the empty can from the coconut milk to add one can water to the mixture.  Add uncooked chicken and stir well, keeping heat at medium high so the chicken cooks through!

img 3665 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Dump all of the chopped squash in, keep stirring!  Add 1 tbsp. sugar and dried red chili pepper to taste (totally optional on the chili pepper, if you are a wuss like me).  Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Turn to low to keep warm if you are still preparing other items.

img 3670 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

img 3695 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Meanwhile, either on the stove or with a rice cooker, prepare rice as a side.

img 3696 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

For crab rangoons:

Combine  8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, 1/2 cup imitation crab, and 1/2 an onion in a food processor.  Process for about 30 seconds, until well mixed.

img 3651 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Lay out wonton wrappers (found at most grocery stores) on a baking sheet.  Place a about a tbsp. of cream cheese mixture in the middle and fold over to make a triangle, shown below.

img 3658 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Once folded, make sure there aren’t any air pockets.  Dip finger in water and moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper to ensure it is sealed!

img 3672 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Next, fry in peanut oil on stove on high heat or bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees.  We chose to fry ours that night, but I have also baked them (a MUCH healthier option!) and they still were crispy and fabulous!

img 3683 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

img 3693 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

The end creation.  SO YUMMY.  I heart my coworkers and Thai food.

img 3699 thumb Thai night  squash curry and crab rangoons!

Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine

 

finalchicken thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine

I’m here, I’m here! And I’ve finally had time to grocery shop, use my kitchen, and try some new recipes!   I have a love affair with spinach (making up for lost time I hated it as a kid), and was looking for a away to use up a bunch of extra I had last week.  These stuffed chicken breasts turned out great and took very little time to prep- perfect for you busy people!

 

Ingredients for Stuffed Chicken Florentine:

2 boneless chicken breasts, fat trimmed

2 cups fresh spinach

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 laughing cow light swiss cheese wedge

2 tablespoons marinade of choice (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a meat mallet or heavy can, flatten chicken breast to 1/2 –3/4 inch thick.

Wilt spinach in olive oil over medium high heat, adding garlic about 2-3 minutes in.  It should take about 8-10 minutes for spinach to wilt.

img 3628 thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine

Spread laughing cow cheese wedge evenly over the 2 chicken breasts.  Top with spinach.

chickenrollup thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine

Roll chicken and secure with toothpicks.  If desired, top with marinade.  I had leftover herb and garlic marinade that I wanted to use up and it was a nice flavor!  Place in a greased pan (I used a loaf pan) and cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more.

img 3632 thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine 

I also paired that with steamed broccoli and my new favorite side dish, Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend!  A better choice than my usual baked potato.  A half cup of this stuff is very filling!  Wierdly enough,  I also love using it with peanut sauce!

img 3634 thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine chickenfinal2 thumb Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Chicken Florentine

Enjoy that last little bit of this gorgeous weekend!

Easy Peasy Grilled Pizza

I love pizza.  But in the summertime, especially with this sweltering heat, who wants to turn their oven on?  Not me! 

So here’s the solution…why not grill your pizza?  I was skeptical at first, but now that I have tried it, I am hooked!  It is perfect for you pizza lovers out there who want to take advantage of summer grilling and don’t want your house to feel like a sauna from the oven.  Here’s what you do–

Grab a pizza dough (either homemade or pre-made), I chose Trader Joe’s herbed pizza crust. Lightly oil the pizza crust and stretch (or roll) across an  oiled pan.  Depending on how thick you like your crust, roll to desired thickness, and at least 1/4 inch.

20120725 193114 603 thumb Easy Peasy Grilled Pizza

Heat the grill to medium (about 350 degrees).  Spray lightly with cooking spray and carefully place dough on grill.  Close cover and let cook for about 7-8 minutes.  Using a spatula, check underside of crust.  If golden brown, flip crust, if not, let it cook for longer!

Our novice “flipped” crust on the left, with the others still on their original cooking side on the left.

20120725 193547 344 thumb Easy Peasy Grilled Pizza

After flipping the crust, add sauce, toppings, and cheese.  Close grill cover and let cook for 7-8 minutes (this time will need adjusting depending on how big your pizzas are, ours were the size of personal pizzas).  Check bottom of crust with a spatula for brown color and crusty texture. 

20120725 194459 365 thumb Easy Peasy Grilled Pizza 

Our finished pizzas.  Not too bad for a first time, eh? 

More tips for grilling pizza:

The thicker the crust, the longer the cooking time needed at a lower temperature.  Beware of a gooey middle even though the outside may look done for a thicker crust!

It might not hurt to check pizzas more frequently after toppings are added, to avoid a black burnt crust.

We used a gas grill for our pizza grilling escapades.

 

ENJOY!

Skinny Southwest Peppers

stuffedpeppers2 thumb Skinny Southwest Peppers 

Happy Wednesday!  For today, a twist on one of my favorite dinners…stuffed peppers!  I’ve been trying to clean up my eating this week with adding more veggies and lean protein, so this was perfect.  Enjoy!

Skinny Southwest Peppers Ingredients:

1/3 lb. lean ground turkey (I used 93/7)

2 large bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1/2 cup cannellini or black beans

1/2 cup salsa

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup reduced fat mexican or cheddar cheese

1 tbsp. EVOO

Directions (makes 4 servings):

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brown ground turkey over medium heat and set aside.  Cut peppers in half lengthwise, removing stems and seeds.  Sauté chopped onion over medium heat in EVOO for 3-4 minutes, then adding in corn and beans and sautéing for about 5 more minutes.  Stir in turkey, salsa, and tomato sauce to mixture.  Spoon mixture into peppers and place peppers into a baking dish filled with 1/2 inch water.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and top with cheese, and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

stuffedpeppers thumb Skinny Southwest Peppers

Let cool for at least 5 minutes…I topped mine with more salsa and a dab of sour cream.