Sunday, August 18, 2013

LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos

These fresh, flavorful and healthy tacos are a unique spin on this traditional Mexican fare. It's also a great meat and dairy-free option. This recipe comes from Chloe's Kitchen and I can't recommend it enough! Top these yummy tacos with chopped tomatoes, sliced onion, shredded lettuce, diced avocado and (regular or dairy-free) sour cream!

LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos
Recipe from Chloe's Kitchen
Serves 6

Tomato Rice:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown or white rice
1 cup vegetable broth

Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp agave, (or sub sugar to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Taco Filling:
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I like baby bellas, but crimini are also recommended)
1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 package 8-inch tortillas

To make the Tomato Rice:
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and salt. Saute onions until soft. Add the tomato, rice and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, 15 minutes.

To make the Chimichurri Sauce:
Blend the cilantro, parsley, oil, lime juice, garlic, agave, cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor until combined and the herbs are finely chopped.

To make the Taco Filling:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms until they have released their juices. Add the black beans and half of the Chimichurri Sauce and cook until heated through. Reserve the remaining half of the Chimichurri Sauce to spoon onto individual portions.

To Serve:
Fill each tortilla with Tomato Rice, Taco Filling, extra Chimichurri Sauce, desired additional toppings, and a dollop of Sour Cream. Fold over and serve.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toast with Avocado and Olive Oil

I just have to say that this recipe has been my breakfast for the past two weeks. I am obsessed with it. It is SO simple, healthy and delicious! This tastes the best with good quality or homemade bread, but you could really use anything. (I like a garlic "green monster" bread that I've been making... look out for that recipe soon!)
If you're looking to give your morning toast a kick in the pants, this is the recipe for you!

Toast with Avocado and Olive Oil
Recipe makes 1 serving

1 thick slice good quality bread, toasted
1/4 Hass avocado, sliced
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I like to use my Misto to control calories)
Sprinkle of sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flake to taste

Fan fresh slices of avocado on a slice of toast. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Yummmm! This meal was a departure for my family this week! A plateful of noodles with a creamy, flavorful sauce studded with sauteed vegetables and Cajun-spiced chicken was perfect for us as I finally move past this Mexican kick I've been on! The portion sizes are generous, the flavors are warm and comforting, and this meal would be perfect for any weeknight or even saved for your Mardi Gras menu! The whole family will love this... Even my two-year old finished his entire serving! That's what I call a win.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Recipe makes 5 servings (1 and 1/2 cup servings)
Recipe slightly adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 8

8 oz uncooked whole grain linguine noodles
1 lb lean chicken breasts, cut into thin bite-size strips
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Cajun seasoning, or to taste (depending on the heat of your brand)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
8 oz fresh mushrooms (baby bellas are my favorite), sliced
2 large roma tomatoes, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 scallions, sliced
1 cup fat-free chicken broth or stock
1/3 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp flour
2 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
Fresh pepper/salt

Start a large pot of salted water boiling on your stovetop. Boil your noodles until al dente, then drain and reserve. While the water is boiling/noodles cooking, prepare the rest of the meal.

Prep your vegetables.

Using a small blender (like for single-serving smoothies), make a slurry by combining the milk, flour and cream cheese. Blend well. Reserve.

Season your chicken breast strips with garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and salt. Heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, give it a coat of cooking spray and add your seasoned chicken strips. Allow to brown on one side until golden, then flip the pieces over and finish cooking. Total time will be 4-5 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the skillet and reserve on a plate.

In the same (now empty) skillet, add your olive oil. Once hot, add bell peppers and red onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until nicely colored. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Saute for an additional few minutes, allowing them to cook down. Finally, add in the garlic, stirring it into the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and a little extra Cajun seasoning if you're up for it! Slowly pour in your blended slurry, stirring it until the sauce thickens up slightly. Add your cooked chicken and cooked noodles back to the skillet and toss together. Add in the fresh scallions and serve hot!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Farro and Broccoli Gratin

With our recent frigid temperatures in the Midwest, something warm and comforting is always the best option when meal planning. I love casseroles, especially when they're comprised of whole and hearty grains, nutty and intensely flavored cheese, and fresh vegetables. This is comfort food with a healthy twist.

If you like fontina cheese, this meal is for you! It's rich flavor is the shining star in this gratin! Also, farro can be tricky to find. Check the bulk sections in your local health food store.

Farro and Broccoli Gratin
Recipe makes 6 servings
Recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 10

4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 onion, minced
1 and 1/2 cup farro
2 cups vegetable broth
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated, if possible), about 2 oz
1 large bunch broccoli, trimmed and floret cut up
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 (15-oz) can navy beans, rinsed
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese (about 3 oz)

Over medium heat, warm 1 tsp olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the farro and allow to toast lightly for about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and water and bring to a simmer. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring often. The farro will become tender and the liquid will become a thick, creamy sauce after about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a small handful of salt. Add the broccoli and allow to cook for about 2 minutes. Once it is tender and bright green, drain immediately. Wipe the pot dry and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat. After about 2 minutes, stir in the drained broccoli and cook until hot and coated in the oil, a couple minutes. Off the heat, stir in the beans and cooked farro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat your oven broiler with a rack placed 6 inches from the top. Pour the casserole mixture into a heat-safe casserole dish and sprinkle with the fontina cheese. Broil lightly until browned and hot, just a few minutes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thai Chickpea Burgers with Sweet 'n' Spicy Sauce

I understand that "veggie burgers" are sort of a sensitive topic for many people. Yes, I get it. You cannot actually compare a veggie burger with an actual meat burger. The texture is almost always way off, you miss that juicy, beefy flavor, and there's something about it that just doesn't scream "all-American comfort food" like a good hamburger does. However, as Joel and I have tried to change our diet in small ways over the past few months, I have found a little arsenal of really satisfying "non-meat" burgers that still deliver a lot of flavor without trying too hard to mimic a real burger. (I can be okay with that, you know - be your own thing, veggie burger!) It's recipes like these that offer a nice departure from your standard double patty with cheese. (However, I do still love those! Moderation, people!)

This burger consists of chickpeas, vegetables, and lots of herbs and savory seasoning. It's paired with a homemade sweet and spicy thick ketchup, and I have to say... throw some buttery slices of avocado on that bun, and this is a near perfect burger. I lightened it up some by reducing the agave and olive oil and subbing for a light bun, but we loved this. The patty is incredibly delicate... The first ones I shaped were too thin and fell apart in the skillet. I made them thicker the second time which definitely helped, but I still had to take care while flipping and transferring to buns. Who cares, though! Even in pieces, I loved this burger! :)

Thai Chickpea Burgers with Sweet 'n' Spicy Sauce
Serves 6 single-patty burgers, 3 double-patty burgers (I highly recommend a double-patty!)
Recipe adapted from Chloe's Kitchen

Chickpea Patties: (double if you are serving more than 3)
1- 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 small jalapeƱo or green chili, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 Tbsp canola oil, to pan-fry patties

Sweet 'n' Spicy Sauce: (this makes a ton; no need to double!)
1- 6oz can tomato paste
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp white wine vinegar or apple-cider vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1/4 tsp sea salt

Hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Sliced avocado

To make the Chickpea Patties:
Place all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor and pulse until just combined, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides. Using the palms of your hands, form the mixture into 6 burger patties.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat some of your oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, carefully add the patties in batches, making sure they don't overcrowd. Add a little more oil with each batch. Allow patties to cook about 4-6 minutes on each side. Once the patties are nicely browned and holding their shape a little better, remove from the heat.

To make the Sweet 'n' Spicy Sauce":
In a blender or Magic Bullet, puree all the ingredients together. It should be a nice thick ketchup consistency, but add a tiny bit more water to loosen if needed. Adjust the salt to taste.

To serve:
Layer the Chickpea patties, Sweet 'n' Spicy Sauce, sliced avocados, and some leafy lettuce or fresh cilantro (if desired) on toasted buns.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moo Shu Vegetables with Homemade Chinese Pancakes

I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the most delicious meal I've made in a long time! You will feel nothing but happiness as you eat this dish - no greasy guilt whatsoever. Prepared with low-calorie and fresh ingredients and packed with lots of flavor, this is sure to top your list of homemade Asian cuisine. This meal does take some time to make, so plan accordingly, but it is SO worth it. Thank goodness for leftovers!

Moo Shu Vegetables with Homemade Chinese Pancakes
Recipe makes 6 servings
Recipe barely adapted from Chloe's Kitchen

1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed*
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp canola oil, divided
3 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 large cloves garlic, minced
7 oz cole slaw mix or shredded cabbage (or broccoli slaw)
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup vegetable broth
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Chinese Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
Sesame oil, for brushing

To make the vegetables:
Press your tofu following the instructions given below*, and cut it into thin rectangles. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the tofu slices. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp soy sauce and allow to sit for a few minutes. Don't touch them as much as possible, as they're very delicate before they get some color. Allow the bottom layer to brown slightly, then gently flip using a large spatula. Allow all sides of tofu to cook until brown, flipping occasionally. This will take some time - about 15-20 minutes until you obtain the nice brown color you want. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the pan and crank the heat to medium-high. Add the onions and mushrooms, and saute until softened. I like to add about 1 Tbsp of water to the pan to help things along. Season with salt, add the ginger and garlic, and allow to cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add the cole slaw mix, carrots, veggie broth, and remaining 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Allow to cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates. Add the browned tofu slices and scallions and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove from heat.

The make the sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin and soy sauce until combined.

The make the Chinese Pancakes:
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Pour in the boiling water, and stir with a wooden spoon until it combines into a sticky dough. When it's cool enough, use your hands and knead it for a couple minutes, adding additional flour if necessary. Allow to sit on your counter covered with a towel for about 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 16-inch log and cut into 16 1-inch pieces. Flatten each piece with the palm of your hand and roll it into a thin 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. It should be about as thin as a tortilla.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush each side of your pancakes with sesame oil, and cook one at a time in the skillet. Once the pancake begins to bubble and brown on the bottom side, flip it over with a spatula and finish cooking on the other side. Remove from the heat and stack your cooked pancakes to keep warm.

To serve:
Serve Chinese pancakes, vegetables, and sauce in separate bowls. Assemble at the table and enjoy!

*Pressing tofu:
Tofu retains a lot of water, and you can really improve its flavor and texture in your dishes if you get rid of as much water as possible before you cook with it. It really helps the tofu to take on more of the flavor you're seasoning your dish with. Here's how to do it:

Slice the tofu in half, then into quarters, lengthwise. Using lots of paper towels or clean kitchen towels, wrap each piece up and then place a heavy object on top. (I like to use a pan filled with a couple soup cans from the pantry.) Allow to sit for about 20 minutes, and unwrap. Your towels should be soaked with the excess water and your tofu ready to go!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
Recipe makes a generous 2 cups
Recipe barely adapted from Budget Bytes

Okay, did you know that you can make your own enchilada sauce from scratch?! I'm sure you're thinking it's totally not worth it because a can at the store runs a little over a buck, but I am telling you... this is WAY BETTER and also way less expensive. I LOVE this stuff. I've made it about three times already, and each time I am always amazed at how tasty and addictive it is. I'm telling you, it's a cinch to make and totally worth every minute. I whipped up my latest batch today for an enchilada pasta I made for a a sick friend with hungry kids. It totally took this simple dish over the top! Put this on your list! And don't be ashamed if you eat it by the spoonful from the pot.........

2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 cups water
3 oz. tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
up to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit or just use a teeny tiny sprinkle if you're cooking for kids, more if you like the heat)
3/4 tsp salt

In a medium pot, heat the oil, flour and chili powder over medium heat. Continually whisk as it comes up to a bubble. Once it starts bubbling, keep whisking for one minute.

After the minute is up, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne until smooth. Allow to come to a simmer; it will start to thicken slightly.

Now it's time for the salt. Start with about 1/2 tsp salt, and adjust from there. I found 3/4 tsp was just right. Remove from the heat and decide immediately how to use this liquid deliciousness!