Sunday dinner

After too many barbeques and too eating out lately, I declared that we would eat all of our meals at home on Sunday. It is always healthier to eat at home.

For breakfast we had eggs, toasted flax bread and watermelon.

For lunch we cleaned out the fridge and had carrot sticks, left over bahn mi fixings, quinoa with vegetables and split a leftover piece of restaurant pizza.

For dinner, I made a big pizza with lots of vegetables as toppings. I can almost always justify eating pizza if I make it myself and load it up with veggies. It had sautéed asparagus, eggplant, onion, zucchini, mushrooms and big slices of tomato. The best part of a big pizza? Leftovers that I can send with Brian and maybe save a few slices for myself to nibble on throughout the week. And extra sautéed vegetables for a quick and easy side all week.

I used the Easiest no-rise pizza dough recipe for the crust. Store bought pizza sauce. Lots of veggies then topped it with a little part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake and enjoy!

Bake and enjoy!

Breakfast burrito

I’m not sure that this post is really post-worthy. In fact, I’m sure many of mine are of questionable post-worthiness. But this breakfast was delicious!

I am not sure if it was extra delicious because I had just finished a 5 mile run or if it was because it involved eggs. I love eggs.

Or avocado. I love avocado.

Or hot sauce. I love hot sauce.

I made two eggs over medium, topped with a half of an avocado(yes, I know that is a lot of avocado) and hot sauce. I had one brown rice tortilla left. So after the eggs came out of the pan, I threw that in there and let it brown a little on each side and threw a slice of organic white cheddar from grass-fed cows on there. I usually try to avoid dairy, but will make exceptions from time to time when it involves grass-fed cattle.

Oh and a nice cup of coffee with coconut milk creamer. Mmmm. My favorite!

Let’s have another look at those eggs, avocado and hot sauce.

Maybe it’s just the endorphins from the run, but this makes me really happy.

Secretly healthy mac and cheese

What is the secret to this mac and cheese that makes it oh-so-creamy and much healthier for you than regular mac and cheese? Pumpkin. Yes, that’s right. This mac and cheese has pumpkin in it. You can’t even taste it, except for how creamy it makes the dish taste.

Adapted from That’s so Michelle:

Ingredients(serves 4):

  • 8 oz of pasta, I used elbow
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, slices or shredded, or any combination of cheeses
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • fresh cracked pepper

Cook pasta as directed.

As your pasta is cooking, melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the milk.

When your milk and butter comes to a boil, add your cheese slowly, stirring constantly. A think cheese sauce will form.

When all your cheese has been added and a thick sauce has formed, add in the pumpkin.

Whisk until combined.

Drain pasta and pour into cheese sauce. Mix to combine.

Add freshly cracked pepper and serve piping hot, topped with a little Parmesan cheese, optional.

No one will ever know that there is pumpkin in the mac and cheese unless you tell them. Brian was absolutely clueless until I told him what he was eating was much healthier than regular mac and cheese.

Brown sugar pecan baked brie bites

These are a tasty and flavorful appetizer that are super easy to make and impressive enough to serve at parties. I made them as an app for Brian and I to snack on while I cooked our Christmas dinner for two.

Ingredients:

  • brie
  • chopped pecans
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • mini phyllo tarts

Preheat oven to 350.

Place mini phyllo tarts(found in freezer section) in mini cupcake pan. You could also cut down phyllo shells, crescents or frozen pastry puff and use those too. Cut a cube or slice of brie and place in the bottom of tart. Top with a few chopped pecans.

Put a pinch of brown sugar on top of the pecans.

Squeeze a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup on top of the brown sugar.

Bake in the oven 15-20 minutes or until brie is melty.

Serve warm. These are a taste sensation. The crispy shell, oozy cheese, sweet honey and wonderful nuttiness. A sure hit at your next party.

Deep dish skillet pizza

Pinterest has been added to my list of addictions. More places to get recipes and ideas? I die.

Everybody Like Sandwiches is on my list of regularly read food blogs, but I happened to run across this recipe from them on Pinterest. Since I got a new porcelain enameled cast iron skillet, braiser and grill pan for Christmas, I thought I should put one of them to use.

Start by pre-heating the oven to 500F.

Make your favorite crust. I did a variation that combined the crust that Everybody Likes Sandwiches used in their post and my easiest no-rise pizza dough. Once you have your crust ready for the pan, oil the inside of the skillet. Using oiled fingers, press crust into pan and about one inch up the side of the pan.

Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese on top of the crust.

Spread a layer of pizza sauce over the cheese.

Place toppings on top of the sauce. I recommend pepperoni and jalapeno.

Top with more cheese.

Place skillet in the oven. Bake at 500F for 12 minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 400F and cook for an additional 8 minutes or until crust is light brown on the edges.

Let cool 5 minutes before cutting.

This pizza is out of this world delicious. It’s the closest thing to pizzeria made pizza I have made.

MEGA NACHO: a meal

What’s better than nachos? MEGA NACHOS!

That’s what I had for dinner tonight. I made tacos for dinner last night and had some seasoned chicken meat left over and didn’t want tacos again.

Problem: I wanted nachos, but they aren’t very healthy And I didn’t want to negate all the time I’ve been spending in the gym.

Solution: A modified version, now known as the mega nacho.

I started with the base of a half of a hard taco shell. I spread a small layer of jalapeno hummus on it, because I’m addicted to it, it’s wonderfully spicy and it will work nicely as a moisture barrier for the shell. Then a layer of chicken, topped with salsa. I placed some cheese on the salsa and some jalapeno on top of the cheese. I microwaved that until heated through and the cheese was melted. Then I topped everything with a little Greek yogurt(it’s healthier than sour cream).

So amazingly delicious. It’s plenty to eat and much healthier than a giant plate of chips and accomplishes the same flavor. Healthified nachos…I’ll tip my sombrero to that!

Deconstructed chicken parmesan

I needed dinner in a pinch the other night.

I had one massive chicken breast that was plenty of meat to split between the two of us. I opened the pantry and some bread crumbs jumped out at me. So I decided to made a sort-of deconstructed chicken parmesan.

Preheat oven to 400F.

I cut the massive breast in two and marinated the chicken in Italian dressing for 30 minutes.  While that was marinating, I put about a half cup of seasoned bread crumbs, a pinch of black pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese in a bowl and mixed. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

I took the chicken out of the marinade and dipped each piece of chicken in the bread crumb mixture. cover the entire breast evenly in the mixture.

I gently placed the chicken in the  hot oil and cooked 3-4 minutes on each side or until crust is golden brown.

Transfer to a cooking sheet, spoon marinara over the top of each breast and top with more parmesan cheese.  

Place in oven for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Serve hot and possibly with fingerling potatoes.

Sweet and savory spaghetti squash

Leafing through the latest edition of Everyday with Rachael Ray, I saw a recipe for sweet and savory spaghetti squash. I’m a big fan of spaghetti squash. It’s a warm and filling comfort food that won’t weigh you down. It’s a great way of sneaking in vegetables instead of carbs, too.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray:

Preheat oven to 450F. Take one medium (2-3 pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and discard seeds.  In a large casserole or roasting pan, pour in 1 cup of water, vegetable broth or chicken broth. Place spaghetti squash in pan with cut side facing up towards you.

For sweet squash:

In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place ingredients into hollow center of spaghetti squash.

For savory squash:

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to taste. Place ingredients in hollow center of other squash half.

Cover entire dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Scrape strands in the shell.

Drizzle the sweet half with 1 teaspoon honey.

Sprinkle the savory half with another tablespoon grated parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning.

All melty and delicious:

Brian had the sweet half and I ate the savory. Mine was absolutely delicious(and much prettier). Brian like his as well, but I think my half was the winner. The sweet half kind of tasted like a cinnamon roll with a weird consistency(my opinion), but it must have been pretty good because Brian ate it all. The savory tasted like buttered noodles with seasoning and cheese. So easy and healthy. Will be making again, soon.

Use it up egg bake

I love eggs for breakfast. I would take eggs over pancakes or french toast for breakfast any day. So, it might seem kind of obvious that I love egg bakes. They are easy and inexpensive to make. And I can eat breakfast off of one egg bake for about a week. Yep, just cut it into pieces, put it in tupperware and reheat.

An egg bake is pretty much a larger, rectangular version of the crustless quiche. If you feel better starting your day saying that you are eating crustless quiche instead of an egg bake, you could probably say that without getting too many arguments. Po-tay-toes, pa-TA-toes.

Here’s the deal. We bought a ton of vegetables(a good thing, right?). Then my parents came into town and brought me 1/2 their gardens worth of vegetables(another good thing, right?). Well, this all happened to be within about 2 days of each other. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t eat all the vegetables before they were going to spoil.

So, I cut up a small onion, a green pepper, a container of mushrooms, minced some garlic, shook in some pepper, threw in a handful of cheddar and sliced up a few tomatoes all while my oven was preheating to 350F. Pretty genius to multitask like that, huh?

I mixed everything but the tomatoes with a small carton of egg substitute. Why I bought it, I have no idea, because we usually use real eggs, but it was also going to expire within the week.

Once combined, pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with sliced tomatoes.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle. The baking time can vary on this depending on the amount of vegetables you use. So, I set the timer for 20 minutes and check on it about every 5 minutes there after.

In conclusion: By spending about 45 minutes making an egg bake(or crustless quiche), you can use up vegetables that would otherwise spoil and wake up to breakfast already made for a week. Not a bad way to start the day. Not bad at all. So, what are you waiting for? Go make yourself some breakfast.

Taco meatballs

 

These are awesome! What’s better than a flavored ball of meat that oozes cheese in the middle? Not much.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • 2/3 package low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 green onion finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 block reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese.

Once mixed, take a tablespoon amount of meat and divide it in two. Place a cube of cheese in between the two pieces of meat and form around the cheese in a ball form. Try to fully conceal the meat inside for minimal cheese leakage when cook. The recipe called for an entire block of cheese. I used large cubes of cheese and still only used about 1/3 of the block of cheese and the balls were sufficiently cheesy.

Once formed into a ball, place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 7-10 minutes.

These would make excellent party appetizers, in a wrap, a taco meatball sub or on a salad…as I ate a few of them(with some of my mom’s homemade salsa).