Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake

I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys today.  This recipe is the first (of many) that I’ve made from one of my new favorite bloggers, Emily Bites!

She is ah-mazing.  Emily writes about lightened up fun comfort food, often with a twist on the original.  She is so super creative and I love that she lists the Weight Watchers point values on each recipe- one less step for me!

This recipe is Continue reading

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

stuffedpeppers

As it turns out, getting a new job, getting married, planning and going on an 18 day honeymoon in Hawaii all while trying to maintain a social life is JUST ENOUGH to prohibit me from blogging like I used to!  Sheesh!  Imagine that.

I’m more than happy to be back to share the first of many awesome recipes I’ve been busy with in my kitchen for you today.  This recipe is my first attempt at Stuffed Peppers- something Dave and I first tried on our trip to Israel  and that I have promised to make for him since.  It’s only taken 3.5 years.  No big deal.

I will be the first to admit that bell peppers are not my favorite ingredient.  I know they’re so basic and in everything, I just am not their biggest fan, so I guess I wasn’t super excited to try these out.  I think it was my trust in one of my favorite bloggers, Nikki from Chef in Training that gave me the courage to try this new recipe out (she’s fabulous, check out her blog!).  Her recipe for Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers caught my attention, especially because I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  Score!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Recipe slighly adapted from: Chef in Training

Ingredients:

6 Red Bell Peppers  

1lb Ground Turkey, lean

2 Zucchinis, chopped small

1 – 15oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus a little extra for topping)

10oz can Enchilada Sauce

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Salt & 1 teaspoon Pepper

Fat Free Sour Cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cut just the tops off the bell peppers and hollow out the insides.  Place in a large baking pan or pyrex dish and set aside.  

2.   In a large skillet, brown and chop ground turkey and the zucchini until cooked through and juices run clear and the zucchini is starting to soften.  

3.  Place turkey/zucc mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the black beans, corn, cheese, enchilada sauce, cumin and salt and stir until everything is combined.  

4.  Stuff each bell pepper to the top.  Cover the pan with foil.

5.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Remove pan and foil and sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.  ENJOY!

 

Peppers ready to be stuffed

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The original recipe calls for a little more ground turkey, which I didn’t have handy, so I used the chopped zucchini, which worked just fabulously.  You could really use whatever vegetables you wanted!  If you chop them into nice, small pieces, it will work perfectly.

My new job requires me to work one “late day” each week, so this stuffed pepper recipe was perfect for that type of day.  I did all the cooking in the morning, which didn’t take long… then I stuffed the peppers and prepared them in the dish and stuck them in the fridge.  When I left work for my 45 min commute home, Dave popped them in the oven and dinner was ready when I got home!  It was perfect.

We ate the peppers for lunches the rest of the week- they are absolutely delicious.  The enchilada sauce makes the dish so flavorful and spicy, and I just love hot lunches in the wintertime.  I can’t wait to try new versions of this!  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of me finally liking bell peppers?

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Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

I am seriously SO over all of this snow!  We have now had the third snowiest winter of all time in Philadelphia… ew ew ew ew ew!!  All last week while stuck inside because of the terrible weather, all I could think about was soup.  I was looking at recipes of soup that I’ve made before and ones that I’ve saved for a rainy day.  I didn’t even care what kind… I just really wanted soup.

And honestly, what better soup to make on a snowy day than one that cooks in a crockpot and makes your house smell all sorts of delicious?!  I decided to spend some time on Sunday making a new chili recipe with Dave.  We like to experiment and try new things, so this time around, we made a lamb chili.  It was so delish!  Stay tuned because I’ll be posting about that recipe soon 🙂

We decided to make this amazing cornbread to go along with the chili, which was a fabulous idea because it was so freakin’ easy and so yummy!

I have actually always wanted to try a baking recipe in my cast iron skillet, so this was the perfect opportunity.

This recipe is from the super popular blogger, Michelle, from Brown Eyed Baker.  This is the first recipe I’ve made from her site, and I am so excited to try others… this one was great!  Check out her blog and instagram… she has two adorable Golden Retrievers and posts so many pictures of them, I just love it!

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients:

1¼ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
1½ teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1¾ cups Reduced Fat Buttermilk
1 large Egg
1/2 can Creamed Corn

4 Tablespoons Butter, cut into 4 pieces

Chives

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.  Measure your buttermilk in a large measuring cup, then add the egg and stir.  Add the buttermilk mixture and the creamed corn to the dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula until the mixtures are completely combined.  Chop or snip some chives into the batter as well if you’d like.

2.  Put the four pieces of butter in a cast iron skillet (10-12 inches) and then place the pan in the preheated oven until the butter is melted (about 3 minutes).  Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the pan so the butter coats the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan.  Add the batter to the skillet and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.  

3.  Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool slightly then cover the pan with a cutting board and flip, removing the cornbread.  Slice and serve warm.

Recipe Adapted from:  Brown Eyed Baker

Ready to go in the oven...

Ready to go in the oven…

all done :)

all done 🙂

I sliced mine like a pie :)

I sliced mine like a pie 🙂

 

I was literally in shock when this recipe turned out right.  I’m not very good at baking (I rarely follow instructions the right way) and could not believe how perfect this cornbread came out of the skillet!  What a relief.

The only change I would make to this recipe for next time would be to add either a little bit more sugar or kosher salt… or even jalapeños!  The good thing about cornbread is that the opportunities are endless… you can add whatever you’d like.  This cornbread was so delicious and was the perfect accompaniment to our lamb chili!

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cornbread

 

Corn & Bean Salad

One of Dave’s favorite recipes and certainly the most requested by him is a Corn & Bean Salad that one of my co-workers, Valerie, shared with me a few years ago.  Val likes to make this salad in the summer but Dave and I can never seem to hold out all winter!
The most fun thing about this salad is that you can do a lot of different add-ins or spices to change things up!

Corn & Bean Salad

 Ingredients:
1 can No Salt Added Whole Kernel Corn, drained
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained & rinsed
1 large Jalapeno, seeded & diced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Mayo (reduced fat)
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Seasonings: Garlic Powder, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
 Directions:
Combine all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir and season to taste. Let sit for an hour or overnight & the flavors will intensify. 
 
Here are some ways I’ve spiced this recipe up in the past:
Add: Rotel, Diced Water Chesnuts, Chopped Celery, Chopped Onion
Switch Beans:  Black Beans, Small Red Beans, White Beans
Change flavors with different spices:  More Cayenne, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Dill, Cilantro
… the options are endless!
 
If you divide the salad up into four separate tupperwares, each serving of this yummy side salad will only cost you about 160 calories!  I definitely recommend splitting it up or you might eat it all in one sitting!
I always think it's so pretty :)

I always think it’s so pretty 🙂

YUM!  This would be awesome in a taco... but we just eat it on it's own as a side!

YUM! This would be awesome in a taco… but we just eat it on it’s own as a side!

 
Corn & Bean Salad Nutrition
Makes Four Servings:
163 Calories
3 grams Fat
8 grams Protein
10 grams Fiber
30 grams Carbs 
(4 Points Plus per Serving)

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ABC Salsa (Avocado, Bean, & Corn)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe.  Where have I been?

Besides spending the last two weekends at “the shore”, I have started up a new diet.  I re-joined weight watchers, and also saw a dietitian (John) who filled in a lot of the blanks that Weight Watchers leaves out.

The basic jist of my new “lifestyle” diet.

1.  Weight Watchers:  I’m using the new point system that is a definite upgrade from when I did it two years ago.  It now uses CARBS & FAT = more points and FIBER & PROTEIN = less points.  I get to eat what I want but have to be aware of serving size.  They also allow you to have almost 2 full days extra allowance for days you need some extra points or “splurging” days.  You also gain extra points for workouts.

2.  Tracking on WW:  Since I already have the knowledge of what I should and shouldn’t be eating… the most important part of this all for me is the tracking.  Being held accountable absolutely makes me eat better and be aware of everything going in my mouth.  The new program for WW has an unbelievable Iphone/Ipad app that has made this all a breeze.  You can even scan things right into your phone and their nutrition, point value, and serving size come right up.  Cool.

3.  Upgrade my eating schedule:  The biggest problem John had with my current diet (besides my eating Fiber One “candy bars” he called them) is my eating schedule.

What I was doing:  9am Coffee , 11am Breakfast , 2pm Lunch , 3pm Snack , (workout) , 8:30pm Dinner

What he wants me to do:  8am Breakfast , 10am Snack , 12pm Lunch , 2-3pm Snack , (workout) , 6-6:30pm Snack , 8pm Dinner

He says that my body won’t burn calories until I have actual food in my body… not coffee.  So I had been wasting 2-3 hours every day of time not burning calories.  

4.  Snacks are not Snack-Food:  John’s thoughts on snacks are that they should consist of a protein and a fiber.  He wants me to start thinking of “Snack” as a time to eat, not a type of food.  I’ve been eating fat free Greek Yogurt w/ Allfruit spread or Fig Butter, Cottage Cheese w/ blueberries, Cucumber and Carrots w/ Laughing Cow or String Cheese… etc.

So far, I’m loving the combination of the two!  The weight watchers gives me direction when I want to eat and the motivation to keep track while John is helping me out with what’s really healthy and how to help my body make the changes I want to see.  From now on, I’ll try to remember to include the WW Point Values on all of my recipes!

With all of that being said, I’ve been busy food shopping for new foods and getting used to this new diet.  This past week, I went to the movies and I didn’t want to be hungry, so I made myself a nice little batch of this delicious salsa to much on before I left.  I ate it with Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Blue Corn Chips (which are so salty and delicious!).

ABC (Avocado, Bean, & Corn) Salsa

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Makes 4 Small Servings @ 4 WW Points Each
Ingredients:
1 Tomato, chopped
1/2 Avocado, cut into small squares
1/2 can Corn
1/2 can Black Beans
1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
Hot Sauce (a couple of shakes)
Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
Directions:  
1.  Simple… combine all ingredients and stir, adding the Avocado in last to avoid mashing all of the pieces.

This recipe is similar to my Cinco de Mayo Corn Salsa (I really like corn salsa, could you tell?!) but has the beans and a few less ingredients.  It is very easy to make but tastes very good!

Cinco de Mayo Corn Salsa

Ever since I started to eat tomatoes, I’ve had the urge to try to make fresh salsa.

For as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t even look at fresh salsa.  The chunks of raw tomato seriously disgusted me, and fresh salsa was just one thing I was missing out on for years and years.  With Cinco de Mayo quickly approaching and nothing to eat for dinner last night, Dave and I decided to give it a-go!

This recipe sounds like a lot of ingredients, but I promise it’s so easy and you probably have mostly everything already in your house.

Cinco de Mayo Corn Salsa

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
1 Can Whole Kernel Corn
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1 Jalapeno Pepper
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
1 Avocado
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1-2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
a few shakes of Green Tabasco Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt (or to taste) & Ground Pepper
a pinch Cayenne Pepper
Directions:
1.  Finely chop all veggies except the avocado.  Place in a bowl with the garlic, parsley, vinegar, lime juice, and Tabasco sauce.  Add the sugar, a little at a time and stir everything together.
2.  Add Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne.  Again, add everything a little at a time so you don’t overdo it.
3.  Pit and slice the avocado into small hunks, then add to the bowl.  You want to add this last so it holds its cubed shape.  If you stir it too much after this point, the avocado will mush up.  It will still be delish but it won’t be as pretty.
4.  Stir lightly and serve with tortilla chips!  I recommend UTZ Baked Tortilla chips or any Corn Tortilla.

Everything chopped!

all ready to eat 🙂

Results:  OMG!  Loved it.  Both Dave and I were impressed with our ability to throw this one together… together!  He was really helpful, besides just being a wonderful taste-tester…hehe.  This was the freshest “fresh” salsa ever (it was my first ever! lol) and had great bold flavors despite it not being very spicy.  You could remove or add more jalapeno, cayenne, or hot sauce to add or remove the spiciness.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Corn & Potato Soup

Now that I’ve already divulged the decadent dessert we made for my Dad’s Birthday last week, I’ll show you what we made for dinner.  I have been still in soup-mode after my boyfriend Dave had some dental problems recently.  This recipe should have been a chowder, but i chose to replace Half-and-Half with the Fat Free version, losing out on the thickness of a typical chowder.  Instead, we ended up with a “soupier” broth… creamy but definitely soupier than you’d expect from a chowder.

Corn & Potato Soup

Recipe adapted from:  Corn & Potato Chowder, Cooking Light 
Serves:  4 Dinner-Portions
Ingredients:
1 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Cup Green Onions, finely chopped and divided, separating 2 Tablespoons
3 Slices Bacon, cooked and chopped.  Reserve a few pieces for garnish.
2 Cups Frozen Corn Kernels
3 Cups Water
1 teaspoon Old Bay (or other seafood seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
Pinch Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 lb Baking Potatoes, skin-on, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Cup Fat-Free Half and Half
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Shredded Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese
Directions:
1.  Spray a large pot and warm over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and most of the green onions.  Saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
2.  Raise heat to high.  Add bacon, corn, water, Old Bay, Thyme, Red Pepper, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Check a potato to make sure they’re cooked (stick a fork in it… literally.  If it goes in easily they’re done!).  Lower heat to medium-low and stir in half-and-half, parsley, salt, and pepper.
3.  Let cook until you’re ready to serve or the soup boils down to your desired consistency.  I had mine cook about 15 minutes longer over med-low heat.
4.  Ladle into 4 bowls and garnish with green onions, cheddar cheese, and a few crumbles of bacon.

Results:  We all really enjoyed this soup- but I should make a few recommendations for you.  If you aren’t watching your weight, use full-fat half and half.  You’ll be happier with the consistency.  Also, this soup was a little too spicy, even for ME!  It had a kick that lasted long after you were done your spoonful.  Start with just the old bay, and taste it.  Add some cayenne later on if you feel like it needs it.  Otherwise, the soup was awesome and everyone was happy with it!

Nutrition:  One serving of this soup contains just under 300 calories and 7.5 grams of fat… pretty good for a creamy soup, right?