Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

 

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Guys, meatballs are kinda my thing.  As much as I love good old fashioned Italian-style meatballs in “gravy” (if you don’t call red sauce with meat gravy in Philly you just don’t belong here), the kind of meatballs I like to make are not what your Nonna might expect.  I’ve made meatballs that are stuffed with cheese, meatballs that taste like Chinese orange chicken, and most famously, my Raspberry Chipotle Meatballs– those bad boys won me a meatball contest at work last year.  Not kidding.  I even got a trophy!

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Photo Cred: Krissy Iaci 

There are so many different types and so much you can do with meatballs.  This recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by an appetizer dish from Rachael Ray.  Instead of serving them as an app, I updated the recipe a bit, added a serving of rice, and voila it was our dinner!

These Spanikopita chicken meatballs are so delish, and they are not bad for you at all!  They are jam packed with spinach and using ground chicken breast limits the fat in the meatballs too.  When I originally tried this recipe, I used real (whole fat) feta cheese, but I recommend if you’re trying to be “good” to use fat free or reduced fat feta.  The feta texture and flavor is still there, but won’t cost you as many calories (or points if you’re on Weight Watchers like me!).

Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from:  Rachael Ray 
Serves: 3 (18 meatballs total plus sauce)
WW Smart Points (with real feta): 7
WW Smart Points (with fat free feta):  3 (omg right)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (I use cheesecloth)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese *see note*
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, coriander
  • Salt

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Hanger Steak w/ Orange-Oregano Chimichurri

How is it already the middle of November?  I can’t handle it!  Totally over the darkness I now have to drive home with.  BOO!

In an effort to brighten up your week, I wanted to share this Chimichurri recipe with you.  It’s a citrusy, delicious way to top off your steak, chicken, or really anything!  We tried this recipe back when we did our first round of the Bon Appetit Cleanse and both Dave and I just loved it.  The sauce is easy to make too, give it a try soon 🙂

Also, I can’t type “Hanger” steak without thinking of being “Hangry”… hmmm…

tinafey

Hanger Steak w/ Orange-Oregano Chimichurri
(4) Servings
Recipe from:  Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

1½ lb. hanger steak, center membrane removed, cut into 4 pieces
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 tsp. vinegar (red wine, cider, or white wine)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided

Directions:

  1. Remove steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Combine garlic, oregano, and orange zest in a medium bowl; using the back of a spoon, crush with ¾ tsp. salt until fragrant. Mix in parsley, orange juice, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified; season chimichurri with salt and pepper.
  2. Season steaks all over with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet over mediumhigh heat. Add steaks and cook, turning once, until browned and medium-rare, 4–6 minutes per side. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve steaks with chimichurri.

So good!  Enjoy!  I served this steak with Sweet Potato wedges and a spinach salad.

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Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu

I feel like I’m living in an episode of Seinfeld or Friends.  You know… when something happens and then something else happens and then a third thing happens that somehow ties it all together.  I’m pretty sure some recent events are really just my subconscious is trying to tell me that I’m losing my mind.  Literally.

friends

I’ve always had this panic thing where I really think I lose my cell phone and once I start the panic mode, I find it under my leg in my seat in the car, in a fold in a blanket, or under the dog.  This happens like, literally all the time.  At least once or twice a day.

What’s going on with my recent misplacement of really important belongings isn’t this panic-mode.  It’s real.  I don’t know what’s going on (with the exception of me losing my mind)… but in the past two weeks I have somehow managed to misplace not one but TWO jackets, leave my car keys in my Mom’s car, and forget my purse in a restaurant.  WTF?!

Rather than just thinking I’m a moron, I’m going to take this as a sign that I need to take a step back and relax.  Take a minute and breathe and STOP LOSING ALL OF MY CRAP!

In an attempt to go back to my normal routine, I decided to make dinner last night.  It’s been rare since Dave and I got engaged… life has just been too crazy and busy to make fun dinners.  I was inspired by the surplus of Grape Tomatoes in the house and wanted to try to make my own tomato sauce.

This sauce is so good… I almost could not believe myself.  Don’t leave out the roasting of the veggies in this recipe… it gives the sauce such a rich flavor.  It’s very easy to do!

Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu

Ingredients:

1.5 pints Grape Tomatoes

1 Head Garlic

1 Poblano Pepper

8oz Lean Ground Beef

1 Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Large Sweet Onion

1 can Diced Tomatoes 

1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley (or 1T fresh)

Directions: 

1.  Roast the Veggies:  Preheat the oven to 400.  On a baking sheet COVERED with foil and prepared with cooking spray, spread the tomatoes.  Put the poblano on the sheet too.  Cut off the tip of the garlic exposing the tops of the cloves.  Wrap the garlic in a small piece of foil and pour a few drops of Olive Oil in and close.  Put the foiled garlic on the baking sheet too.  Either drizzle or spray the tomatoes and poblano with just a bit of Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt, and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Flip the poblano halfway through and remove if the skin becomes charred.

2.  Cook the meat:  While your veggies are roastin’, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.  If frozen, scrape into small pieces or chop if fresh.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Remove from pan.

3.  Cook the veggies:  Chop the pepper and onion and saute with cooking spray in the same pan the beef cooked in.  Cook for 5-10 minutes then set aside in the same bowl as the beef.  

4.  Make the sauce:  When the tomatoes are a little browned ontop and nice and soggy looking, remove them from the oven.  Unwrap the garlic and let cool.  Cut the poblano in half and scrape out the seeds.  Scrape off the skin too, if possible.  Chop half of the pepper and reserve the remaining half for another use.  Using the back of a spoon, press the bottom end of the garlic until the cloves slide out.  Place the chopped poblano, 1/2 of the garlic cloves, and all of the tomatoes in a blender with the rest of the seasonings, the can of diced tomatoes, and fresh basil.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

5.  Eat the Sauce!  Combine the tomato mixture from the blender with the beef, pepper, and onion.  Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm.  Serve over spaghetti and top with a little bit of fresh parm.  Enjoy!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Cookin' up the pepper and onion.

Cookin’ up the pepper and onion.

Sauce!

Sauce!

The sauce all ready to go

The sauce all ready to go

beautiful!

beautiful!

So delicious.

So delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

It’s Memorial Day Weekend!  Who’s ready for some fun in the sun?!  I am!

It’s a shame the weather forecast for the weekend is cold and rainy in Philly and at the shore. 😦

Regardless, I’m sure we’ll be gettin’ the grill going sometime this weekend.  Are ya with me?

This week, Dave and I tried out our very first homemade BBQ sauce.  I feel fancy but I should really know better.  It was super easy.  I promise.  I got the recipe from a really great blog called The Black Peppercorn.  He used the sauce for pulled pork which sounds so delish, but we just decided to use it as a dipping sauce and topping for some grilled chicken and veggies.  Here you go!

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Makes 1.5 Cups (approx)

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow mustard
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 tablespoons butter

 
Directions:
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan until smooth. Cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.  
  2. Store in a jar or squeeze bottle in the fridge.

Recipe from:  The Black Peppercorn

Try it out this weekend… yummy!

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My spoon was resting on this bowl and made a cute little heart!  :)

My spoon was resting on this bowl and made a cute little heart! 🙂

Maple & Soy Glazed Steak

Lately, I’ve been trying to change things up with our typical dinner routine.  I don’t think we’ve eaten the same dinner three times since we’ve moved into our new place in Philly.  I am having so much fun trying new recipes from my magazines, friends, and other bloggers.

I wanted to try a new recipe with steak, remembering that my Dietitian told me I could absolutely add certain cuts of red meat into my repertoire.  I found this recipe from Cooking Light and wanted to try it out with a leaner cut of beef.  I made this Flank Steak recipe with Top Round Steak and it turned out fabulously.  It was such a nice change to be able to eat some steak.  I would imagine as it gets warmer, I’d love to try this out on the grill… mmm!

Maple and Soy Glazed Steak

Ingredients:

1 lb Top Round Steak (or other lean cut), trimmed of any excess fat

3 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce

3 Tablespoons 100% Pure Maple Syrup

2 Tablespoons Mirin or Sake

1 teaspoon Grapeseed Oil (or other oil)

1 teaspoon Hot Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce

Black Pepper & Sea Salt

Green Onion for Garnish, optional

Directions:

1.  Salt and Pepper the steak.  Place the steak in a large ziplock bag with the rest of the ingredients, turning and sloshing around to mix.  Let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes up to a few hours.

2.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the steak on the heated skillet (reserving the marinade) and cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Flip and cook until it reaches desired degree of doneness.  I tried to take mine off when it reached medium-rare since it would cook a little longer once removed.

3.  Meanwhile, bring the marinade to a rolling boil in a separate pot.  Cook while the steak is cooking, then brush the steak with the remaining glaze during the steak’s last minute or so of cooking.

4.  Remove the steak and let rest for five minutes before cutting diagonally against the grain, into very thin slices.  Top with a sprinkle of green onion and serve.

Steak's ready to rock and roll!

Steak’s ready to rock and roll!

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I really enjoyed the combination of sweetness, saltiness, and even the bit of spiciness that this marinade brought to the steak.  We happened to buy the steak the same day I made my very favorite Shaved Asparagus Pizza & Cauliflower Pizza Crust, so this dinner was a HUGE hit!
Need more inspiration?  Check out these other yummy marinade recipes to try.
Sweet & Spicy Citrus

Sweet & Spicy Citrus

Wasabi Marinade

Wasabi Marinade

Emily's Chicken Marinade

Emily’s Chicken Marinade

 

 

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Emily’s Chicken Marinade

Something crazy happened this past weekend.  Dave and I went food shopping together.  OMG!

As you’d probably imagine, food shopping is one of my happy things to do… I love it!  Dave on the other hand loves to eat the food but hates to walk around a market with ME.  Walking up and down every aisle would probably make him have a nervous breakdown.

I have been telling him since we moved that I’ve gotten a lot better and he should come with me.  I tell him I make lists now, that I am faster, and don’t even go in the middle sometimes!!  It’s a constant back and forth that usually ends with me up and down every aisle on my own.

After spending our Sunday afternoon at the movies (we saw Olympus Has Fallen… SO MUCH FUN AND SOOOOO GOOD), it just made sense to both go.  Without Dave knowing and obviously to prove my newly found shopping skills, I set a timer.

Who doesn't love two hours of THIS with 1783972497 person body count?!?!

Who doesn’t love two hours of THIS with 1783972497 person body count?!?!

We completed our entire shop in just under 50 minutes… and I’m talking picking up to dropping off shopping cart.  Pretty impressive, right?!  I felt like I was on a gameshow.  Oye.

BAM!  Great shop.

BAM! Great shop.

Anyway, the recipe I am sharing with you today is such a great one!  It is a creation of my friend Emily or EMKA as I have called her for the past ten years.    I came to Emily for some post-work night dinner inspirations, the other day and this is the first I’ve tried.

It’s like, ridiculously easy… and amazing.

Emily’s Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Light Olive Oil

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Some Chopped Garlic (for you, I’ll say I used 5 cloves, smashed and sliced)

1.5 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard (I used Mild & Creamy Grey Poupon)

Fresh Rosemary (about 2-3 sprigs)

Black Pepper and Sea Salt

Directions:

Mix ingredients.  Pour over chicken and seal in either a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.  Let marinate overnight or while you are at work.  Bake in the oven at 350.  YUM**.

(**EMKA’s finishing note on the recipe is so true)

Finished product, yum!  Served with Roasted Asparagus and Locatelli and Crushed Pepper Orzo.  Delish.

Finished product, yum! Served with Roasted Asparagus and Locatelli and Crushed Pepper Orzo. Delish.

I sliced up a package of the really thick kind of chicken, slicing the breasts in half to make them thinner, then in half to make them smaller.  The recipe made enough for the entire package.

The chicken baked for probably about 10 minutes extra (UGH!  So frustrating!  Whoops!  Probably only needed 15 minutes), which would make for a completely dried out chicken normally… but the marinade made the meat so tender and juicy that it was still just perfect.  I couldn’t believe it!

Emily suggests making a little extra sauce to keep aside and to use for dipping.

So easy... just a few ingredients.

So easy… just a few ingredients.

This is what the chicken looked like after I shook it up and let it sit overnight and while I was at work.  I couldn't believe how creamy it got.... yummm

This is what the chicken looked like after I shook it up and let it sit overnight and while I was at work. I couldn’t believe how creamy it got…. yummm

OH, and check out this amazing purchase from the Italian Market… a bag of spinach bigger than Dave’s head for $7… omg!

SPINACH!!!!!!!!!  (and fresh garlic)

SPINACH!!!!!!!!! (and fresh garlic)

Leftovers

Healthier

Wasabi Marinade for Salmon

I kicked Salmon butt last night.  I finally figured out a great way to cook salmon… on my cast iron skillet.

Typically, I bake salmon in the oven or grill it in sauce and foil over on our BBQ… but this salmon was really something special.  I was able to get a nice brown crust on both sides of the salmon and most importantly keep an eye on the status of how well-done it was getting.  No more overcooked, dried out salmon in this house!!

Wasabi Marinade for Salmon

Makes enough marinade for 4 (6oz) Salmon Fillets

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce

1 teaspoon Wasabi Powder 

1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, grated

1/2 teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil 

Pinches of Crushed Red Pepper and Ground Black Pepper

4 (6oz) Fillets of Salmon (skin removed)

Directions:

1.  Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag and mix.  Place two salmon fillets at a time in the marinade bag for about five minutes, flipping the bag halfway through to coat.

2.  Prepare your cast iron skillet (or other heavy non-stick pan) over medium heat.  Make sure it is seasoned or pre-oiled.  The pan should start to sizzle a bit in the middle when it is hot.  Place the two salmon fillets towards the center of the skillet.  Cook both sides for 3-5 mintues, flipping very carefully, trying not to break the salmon fillet or have any stick to your pan.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes and remove from the pan when both the top and bottom of the salmon are light pink and the middle is just a tad bit darker.  (removing the salmon a little early will prevent it from drying out!)  Repeat with the other fillets.

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light Dec 2003

I was so excited to have zero sticking problems with my cast iron skillet!  It cooked the salmon perfectly.

I was so excited to have zero sticking problems with my cast iron skillet! It cooked the salmon perfectly.

Delicious!  Great combination.

Delicious! Great combination.

I made all four fillets so Dave and I could have a nice hearty lunch- salmon over a salad on our big workout day.

I made all four fillets so Dave and I could have a nice hearty lunch- salmon over a salad on our big workout day.

Yahoo!  What a great marinade.  The salmon picks up the flavor in the short five minutes it’s soaking it up.  It isn’t overly gingery, wasabi-ish (not spicy at all actually), or even too salty from using the low-sodium soy.  It’s just sorta… well… perfect!

Dave and I ate this for dinner alongside an entire bag of fresh green beans I sauteed up while the salmon was cooking.  It’s nice to be able to make a quick dinner sometimes so I can actually relax!

Take a minute to look at some of these other seafood recipes I have for ya!

Asian Marinated Sea Scallops

Asian Marinated Sea Scallops

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Sweet & Spicy Citrus Marinade for Tilapia

Sweet & Spicy Citrus Marinade for Tilapia

Seared Scallops and Shrimp over Creamy Linguine

Seared Scallops and Shrimp over Creamy Linguine