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Archive for the ‘Healthy’ Category

If you’ve been reading for a while then you might be familiar with my tendency to create a recipe including things like feta, spinach, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives and call it Greek. Case in point – Greek Pasta, Greek Chicken Breasts and Greek Inspired Flounder. Actually, there are 11 recipes in my “Greek” category…right up there with the 12 in the “Italian” category. We just love foods with Mediterranean flavors!

Brandon and I were enjoying happy hour at our local brewery last night and brainstorming ideas for dinner. I remembered seeing feta and spinach turkey burgers on Jenna’s blog this week and I mentioned making an amped-up version of those. Brandon is always up for a good burger so he happily went along with the plan.

We prefer ground chicken over turkey so we started with that as our base. I pretty much went through the fridge and pantry and added in anything that I thought went with my Greek chicken burger theme. We ended up mixing in sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach, feta, parsley and oregano. I made a spin on tzatziki sauce to accompany the burgers.

These “on the fly” burgers totally ended up exceeding our expectations. After all the mix-ins, this was definitely not your average boring chicken burger. They were so easy to make and full of flavor.  I cooked them inside in a skillet but I’m sure they would be great grilled too.

One Year Ago: Mini Quiche (and dinner at Top Chef Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant!)
Two Years Ago: Lady Strawberry Cake

Greek Chicken Burgers
(Recipe inspired by Eat, Live, Run)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BURGERS
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 -2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients and mix together (it’s easiest to use your hands here). Form into four patties. The mixture will feel pretty wet and like it’s going to fall apart but it will firm as it cooks.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and burgers. Cook about 6-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads at least 160 degrees in the thickest part of the burger.

Serve on toasted, buttered buns with sauce, lettuce and tomato. Top with extra feta if desired.

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Meal planning can sometimes be tricky in our house due to my desire to reduce the amount of meat (including seafood) that I eat and my husband’s wish to have meat with most of our meals. Luckily, we’ve come to a compromise where I tend to avoid meat at breakfast and lunch and only have it with dinner two to three times per week. While Brandon still loves bacon breakfasts, turkey sandwiches at lunch and a steak for dinner, he is very willing to also have a couple of meatless dinners every week.

I find that it’s fun to experiment with ethnic dishes for our meatless mains. It seems like there are endless options ranging from curries to stir fries to pastas and much, much more. I recently got the idea in my head to make sesame ginger maple tofu and was pleased to discover a similar recipe on Eating Well. I loved that the sauce also included tahini.

This dish was so easy! Everything is roasted together in the oven with the sauce being drizzled over the tofu and vegetables towards the end of cooking. I served it over soba noodles.

I made a few alterations to the recipe by adding fresh ginger, doubling the sauce and including carrots and green pepper with the veggies. The sauce was so flavorful and really soaked into the tofu and veggie mixture. I think that you could substitute a variety of vegetables in this depending on your preferences and what you have on hand. Also, I think that this sauce would be great with shrimp.

The leftovers were just as good the next day. I served them over a bed of spinach with brown rice and a generous squirt of Siracha.

This is a healthy and delicious vegetarian dish that should be added to your meatless main rotation!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Cream Pie
Two Years Ago: Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sesame Ginger Maple Tofu
(Recipe adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients:

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, sliced
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
2-3 carrots, cut into one inch slices
1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tofu and veggies on a baking sheet and toss with oils, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Drizzle all over with the sesame ginger maple sauce and continue roasting for another five minutes. Serve over soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

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In general, I don’t love soup for dinner. I usually find myself wanting more and struggling with what to pair it with to make it a meal. Don’t get me wrong though, I love heartier things like chili and chicken and dumplings so I was pleased to find that this Chicken Tortilla Soup was more similar to chili than soup. It was filling, comforting and relatively healthy!

My favorite part about the soup was how easy it was to put together. I had to work late last night and didn’t get home until 8 p.m. I quickly diced, chopped, sauteed and dumped and the soup was cooking away in just 15 minutes. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes before serving it but this is flexible. You could easily leave this to simmer for longer if you want to develop the flavors even more.

This recipe is a great use of leftover chicken and most of the ingredients are pantry friendly. It also freezes nicely and the leftovers taste even better!

One Year Ago: Pear and Cranberry Cake
Two Years Ago: Sushi

Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Recipe adapted from All Recipes)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (10-ounce) can of corn or 2 ears, cut off the cobb
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, tortilla chips, diced avocado

Directions:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno and sautee for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and green chilies and cook for another minute or two. Add chili powder and oregano and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, water, chicken stock, black beans, corn and chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toppings.

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I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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One of my favorite mostly vegetarian blogs is Branny Boils Over. When I saw her blog and rave about chana masala, I knew it was something that I must try. For some reason the stars just didn’t align on this one and it took me months to finally get around to cooking it. I ended up making the chana masala on a really random night – Brandon was out of town and I had a terrible cold. But for some reason Indian food sounded like something that would warm my soul and make me feel better.

This is the perfect vegetarian dish – tons of flavor and protein and very satisfying. I served the chana masala over brown rice with naan on the side for scooping. I fed Brandon leftovers when he got back in town and even he was impressed. This dish has been added to the ever expanding list of vegetarian favorites in our house. I’ve really been cutting back on my meat consumption over the last couple years (I probably only eat meat/seafood 2-3 times per week and never for breakfast or lunch) and meals like this make it so easy to forget the meat.

One Year Ago: Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Cream Cheese Dip

Chana Masala
(Recipe adapted from Branny Boils Over and Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (juices included)
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a 1-2 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Serve over rice or with naan (or both!).

Yield: 4-6 servings

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I am loving peach season this year. The South Carolina peaches that we are getting in Charlotte seem extra sweet and have the perfect texture. As a result, there has been an endless supply of peaches in our house. I just can’t stop buying them because I know the season will be over soon.

I made a peach cobbler a few weeks ago and have been eating peaches plain, with yogurt and in my oatmeal. I was thinking of new ways to serve the peaches and remembered that I’ve been wanting to try them grilled. I added them to the dinner menu one night when we were planning on grilling pork tenderloin. My original plan was to serve them alongside the pork but Brandon convinced me to have them for dessert topped with ice cream instead. I have a really hard time saying no to the idea of topping anything with ice cream! ;)

We really enjoyed the grilled peaches. The brown sugar and cinnamon caramelize on the peaches and they get a very slight smoke flavor. This recipe would be a perfect side item or dessert.I will definitely be asking Brandon to throw some peaches on the grill again before peach season ends!

One Year Ago: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Grilled Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Glazed Peaches
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 peaches
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat grill to medium. Cut peaches in half, twist to separate and remove the pit. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Brush peach halves with vegetable oil and grill (cut sides down) for 3-4 minutes with the lid down. Flip peaches over so that cut side is exposed and sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Grill for another 3-4 minutes, lid down, until brown sugar mixture has caramelized.

Serve as is or top with ice cream and sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Yield: 2 servings

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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