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Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

I’m Indy bound today!! Super Bowl city, here we come!Obviously the Colts aren’t in it this year after their 2-14 season, but I’m still excited to see the city all jazzed up. And, there are going to be celebrities there! I’ll be sure to let you know if I see anyone famous!

You might remember back in November I went to the holiday mart in Indianapolis and picked up a few bags of soup mixes to aid in my recovery from hip surgery. Well, we had a couple of bags leftover, so I made one on Sunday to have for the week.

Oh. My. Goodness.¬†This really is one of the best soups I’ve had. Cherchie’s does it right.

And, it feels healthier since it’s not filled with sodium and preservatives like a lot of canned soups.

All you do is brown lean ground turkey and add it to the pot of ingredients.

So easy.

Mmm…have a bite!

It’s going to be in the high 40’s in Chicago this week and in the 50’s when we go home to Indianapolis this weekend. Crazy!

What are you doing to enjoy this warm weather??? Leave a comment!

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I don’t know about you, but last week seemed to last forever. I’m hoping this week speeds on by because I’m headed to Indianapolis on Thursday for all of the Super Bowl festivities. I can’t wait to see the city all dressed up for the big event!

A quick update on my hip: it’s getting better each week. Last week was a big one in physical therapy. I started doing walking and side lunges, really focusing on building up the strength and flexibility in my legs. There’s some core work as well, like a 2 minute plank and alternating side planks for 45 seconds each, repeated three times. I am dying after those! And, I’m still waiting for my six-pack to show up…I’ll be sure to let you know when that happens ūüėČ

Swimming has been a big relief since I actually am able to get my heart rate up. I’ve been swimming three times a week for about 45-50 minutes. For most of the workout, I am alternating between fast and recovery laps…so basically a swimming interval workout.

Before I get to the recipe for this post, if you haven’t taken my poll yet, please do! It will only take you 30 seconds to complete, and I would really appreciate it!

Now, to the good stuff.

This is one of my go-to recipes. I’ve been making it since college! If you’ve noticed, I prefer recipes with few ingredients and that are easy. Here’s another one for you, courtesy of Rachael Ray.

Bake chicken.

Cook pasta.

Cook tomatoes, onion and garlic.

Chop basil.

Open bag of arugula.

Mix everything together.

Top with cheese.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. And, it makes enough to feed an army, so you’ll have leftovers for the week!

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

Whole wheat penne

2 or 3 cloves garlic

1 large red onion

2 pints grape tomatoes

Fresh basil, chopped

3 cups arugula or spinach

1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Instructions

Fill a large pasta pot with water and place it over high heat. Once the water comes up to a boil, salt it and drop in the pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve a mugful of starchy cooking water, then drain and reserve.

While the water is coming up to a boil, place a large skillet over high heat with 3 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. Season the chicken pieces with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper then add it to the preheated skillet. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 4 minutes per side. (Or, bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then chop up and add in at the end.)

Once the chicken is brown, add the onions to the pan, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook a couple of minutes more then add the tomatoes and cover the pan with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes burst open and begin to release their juices, about 6-7 minutes (if they haven’t started to burst open by that time, mash them lightly with a potato masher or wooden spoon). Season the mixture with salt and pepper. 

Add the drained pasta and reserved starchy cooking water to the skillet with the chicken and tomatoes, and toss over the heat until combined, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil, arugula, and cheese.

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The weather in Chicago is crazy. Last winter we had feet upon feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

This winter, we’ve only had two “snow storms” of about 6-8 inches.

And, we had a thunderstorm. In January.

Ice and snow was melting right outside our bedroom window, making a constant “drip,” “drip,” drip.”

I couldn’t sleep. Not even with the fan on. So, into the guest room we went. An annoying way to start the week, but not the end of the world. Just enough of a change to make me hit the “Dismiss” button on my phone when the alarm went off at 6 a.m.

Oh well.

On to something more enjoyable.

Food.

I don’t enjoy cooking when there are too many steps. It’s just not fun to me.

Luckily, coconut chicken is one of those things that does not take a lot of time to make and does not require a ton of ingredients. That’s my kind of cooking.

Plus, this recipe involves dipping and coating the chicken into what will turn into a delicious flakey crust.

And on a bed of lettuce with lots of veggies and homemade honey mustard dressing, you can’t go wrong. You just can’t. Such a great way to dress up chicken and make it more exciting!

Enjoy!

Recipe from Skinnytaste

Ingredients 

For the chicken:

  • chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp crushed cornflake crumbs or other crunchy cereal
  • 1/3 cup egg substitute or egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • olive oil spray
For the salad:
  • Mixed baby greens
  • Shredded carrots
  • Sliced red pepper
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced cucumber
For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (balsamic would work too)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine coconut flakes, panko, cornflake crumbs and salt in a bowl. Put egg whites or egg beaters in another bowl.

Lightly season chicken with salt. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture. Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for easy cleanup. Lightly spray with olive oil spray and bake for 30 minutes turning halfway, or until chicken is cooked through.

Prepare salad and add chicken. Serve with honey mustard dressing.

What do you think of this crazy winter weather?

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Totally Tortellini Soup

I’m usually not a huge soup fan…except for when I’m sick. Then I like it. But recently, John and I have fallen into a Sunday Soup routine. It’s a great meal to make at the beginning of the week because there are usually leftovers. And I love leftovers. Leftovers weren’t high on my list growing up either, but now that I’m the primary cook in the house, I love them.

Getting back on topic, soup. I recently made this soup, and it exceeded my expectations! Definitely more filling than other soups because of the tortellini.

I know. So good! This soup was pretty dense, so I also added some Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato Soup on top to add some more liquid to it.

If you make it, let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Also, I’m having my first giveaway on the blog tomorrow, so be sure to come back and enter to win!

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
9 oz package of whole wheat cheese tortellini (or any other type of tortellini you like)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
9 oz bag of baby spinach, chopped (I was out of spinach, but will include this next time!)
1 bag frozen corn
shredded cheese for garnish

Instructions:

In soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to boil.  Add the spices, corn, and tortellini and cook to package instructions (mine took 7 minutes).  Finally, add the chopped spinach and serve immediately.  
Garnish with shredded cheese.  Makes about 5 servings. 

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I’ve been MIA on the blog due to surgery. What have you been up to?!?

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Happy Thanksgiving week! We hosted our first Thanksgiving with my family last weekend. I don’t have my Thanksgiving post ready quite yet, it’ll probably go up sometime next week. But, overall it was a successful event!

Who watched the finale of Dancing with the Stars last night? I really only watched a few episodes this season, but I sat through the entire finale last night…2 hours…really ABC?! Seems a bit long. Anyway, I’m glad J.R. Martinez won. I saw a headline yesterday that read, “Reality star vs. War hero,” and when you put it like that, it’s pretty clear who the winner should be.

Now, I’d like to share the absolute best and easiest recipe in the history of the world with you. I know it sounds like I’m getting carried away…because I am. But, it really is that good.

Promise.

Since my sister was in town for a wedding last weekend, she came a couple of days early to hang out with me. Hooray for half days and afternoon shopping ūüôā However, being gone all day doesn’t leave much time to cook dinner, as I’m sure you all know.

Enter the crock pot and two ingredients. TWO. Oh, and what we’re making? BBQ pulled pork. Yum.

I know what you’re thinking. “Root Beer? Who uses that stuff?” And I agree. I only use it in Root Beer Floats, which I have about once every decade. But, I’m telling you, this stuff keeps the pork so tender and moist in the crock pot.

So, pour in about 12 oz. of root beer into the crock pot with your pork tenderloin (or any cut of pork you like) and put just a bit of BBQ sauce on top.

I apologize for that gross looking picture. Moving on.

Set your crock pot on low for at least 6 hours. (I left mine on low for about 8, since I was at work). You’ll come home to a delicious smell and a pork tenderloin that looks like this.

Drain the Root Beer and shred the pork. Put it back in the crock pot with the rest of the bottle of BBQ sauce. Yes, that’s right. Dump a whole bottle of BBQ sauce in there and let it cook for another hour.

It’ll look like this, and you will want to devour it. At least I did.

Make a sandwich and a salad and you have got yourself a meal. Not a pretty little meal, but a hearty and filling meal. And, it’s actually fairly healthy, which is always a bonus…especially when it tastes oh, so good.

I didn’t think life could get any better after this meal. (I’ve really got to stop exaggerating…I just get so excited for easy and delicious recipes). But then John surprised us with cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop that were leftover from a work event. Yes!!!!!!!!!!

Cookies ‘n’ cream cupcake anyone? Holy moly, this was insanely good. And, I usually leave the “cake” part of a cupcake completely untouched, and I ate about half of this “cake” part. Crumbs is rising to the top of my cupcake list…and that’s saying something.

Recipe from Allrecipes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork tenderloin (or a different cut of pork if you prefer)

12 oz. Root Beer (or Diet Root Beer)

18 oz. bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

Whole wheat hamburger buns

Instructions:

Place pork tenderloin in crock pot with Root Beer. Top pork with a bit of BBQ sauce. Cook on low for at least 6 hours.

Drain Root Beer, shred pork and pour in remaining BBQ sauce.

Cook on low for another hour.

Serve on hamburger buns.

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What are your Thanksgiving plans? We are heading to Omaha tonight to celebrate Round 2 with John’s family.

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One of the most unique and most practical wedding gifts we received was a variety pack from Omaha Steaks. When I arrived home to a cooler packed with more than 30 food items, including steaks, burgers, fish, pork chops and loaded baked potatoes, I was a bit taken aback.

But seriously, how great it is to have 30 great meals in your freezer? And don’t you just love the slogan? It makes me happy to eat!

I’m a pretty basic cook (and I use the word “cook” lightly), so I decided to spice up our meals.

John was having steak and I was having fish. On top? Kristin’s caramelized onions…sort of. I’m not sure I got them quite right, but they definitely added some much needed flavor!

On the side? Fresh spinach with feta, tomato and Trader Joe’s Fat Free Balsamic dressing. This is my favorite balsamic dressing, so I definitely recommend trying it out if you have a Trader Joe’s near you!

Recipe

Ingredients

1 sweet onion, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil (plus more as the onions cook)

1-2 tsp of sugar 

Instructions

Add olive oil to pan and heat on medium heat.

Add chopped onions to pan.

Every 2-3 minutes, add a bit more olive oil and turn the heat down. You will have to stir the onions for about 30 minutes. If they look like they are going to burn, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and turn the heat down.

Obviously a few of my onions burned ūüė¶ But it was my first time making them, and I think I’ll get the hang of it. They definitely added some flavor and texture to an otherwise plain dinner.

Question:

What do you add to a plain dinner to add some flavor?

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The alarm went off at 6:03 this morning. John told me to sleep in. At first I thought it was a great idea and planned to go to Zumba tonight. But, my mind was already awake. I tried to go back to sleep for 10 minutes and just couldn’t. I hopped out of bed, threw on my workout clothes and went to the gym. Note: It was freezing and raining, and now I’m remembering why I struggle living in Chicago during the colder months, which typically take up a good 75% of the year.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to kick my own butt in the gym since I’ve realized I rarely do and completed Kristin’s 3-2-1 treadmill workout. If you haven’t seen her blog, check it out! It’s one of my favorites! I made a few speed changes (no shock there), so mine looked¬† like this, at 1% incline:

  • Minute 0-1, Speed 4.0
  • Minute 1-3, Speed 6.0
  • Minute 3-5, Speed 6.2
  • Minute 5-8, Speed 6.3
  • Minute 8-10, Speed 6.7
  • Minute 10-11, Speed 7.0
  • Repeat minutes 5-11 three more times
  • Minute 29-32, Speed 4.0
  • Minute 32-35, Speed 6.3
  • Total Distance: 3.5 miles

I loved this workout! I was pushing myself and definitely worked up a sweat. Oh, and about two minutes into my run I saw in the reflection that my shirt was on backwards again! Seriously, who does this?!? I just left it until I finished my run and turned it around before doing some abs ūüôā

Now, on to one of my most recent creations in the kitchen. Get ready to drool.

I cannot say enough about Gina’s recipe for Lightened Up Chicken Divan. To be honest, I don’t even know what chicken divan is…but it looks like a casserole and that was enough to send me running to the grocery for ingredients to make this bad boy.

Casseroles have such a bad wrap…and rightfully so. (Pause: I just looked up whether I should say bad rap or bad wrap. Turns out, it’s bad rap (with an “r”). A bad wrap (with a “w”) is just a sandwich wrap that’s not very good. But, I think “bad wrap” is more appropriate for a food and health blog, so I’m using it.) Most of them are loaded with fat, salt, cream, butter, flour, etc. And that’s what makes them so good! But I tell you, this has loads of flavor, is completely filling, could feed an army (okay, so it only lasted for two nights in our house…for two of us) and is healthy!

Hallelujah! Let’s eat!

To get started, season four chicken breasts and grill until just about cooked through. About five minutes on each side. Cut into bite size strips.

And now, let’s talk blanching. Raise your hand if you know what this means? Good for you, smartypants. I had heard of blanching but had never actually done it until now. Basically, you boil your vegetable (in this case, broccoli) for 2 or 3 minutes and then drench it in cold water to stop it from cooking. Check it out…my first blanch!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Now you’ll want to get started making the sauce. Oooh the sauce! Rich, cheesy, creamy…

Heat a medium skillet and add the oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and onions. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in the broth, milk and wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and load on the cheese (well, half of the cheese). Stir. Mmmmm. It’s perfect!

In a 9 x 13 pan, put the broccoli in the bottom. Cover with half of the sauce.

Then, add the chicken and add the remaining sauce. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on top. I’m giddy just typing this post!

Bake for 30 minutes and devour.

And, if you’re like me, your plate will look like this when you’re finished.

Mom, aren’t you proud of where my fork is? Four o’clock. I still have good manners ūüôā

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. John requested it for dinner again this week!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs broccoli (3 large heads) chopped
  • 24 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 18 oz cooked)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced (onions would work too)
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 oz dry sherry (white wine would work)
  • 6 oz shredded reduced-fat mozzarella (original recipe calls for swiss)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350¬į. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using a grill pan or Forman grill, saute chicken on medium-low heat on both sides until browned, and just about cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.

Heat a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the butter and oil until melted and then add garlic and shallots. Sprinkle the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, milk and sherry and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in half of the mozzarella cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the broccoli in a casserole dish and pour half of the sauce over the broccoli. Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan and top with breadcrumbs. Spray a little oil on top.

Bake 30 minutes, serve hot.

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Have you ever noticed you were wearing a piece of clothing the wrong way? What did you do about it? Leave it and make a fashion statement or change it?

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