Recipe // Updated Taco Salad

Do you remember that taco salad from childhood? You know, the one with Catalina salad dressing? Taco meat, cheese, tortilla chips, ice burg lettuce. Mm, mm. I especially remember it at volleyball tournaments in high school. I still make it from time to time, but with some upgrades to kick it up a notch. I also ditch the Catalina salad dressing (it surprisingly has a lot of fat and calories in it). It’s a pretty easy recipe and makes excellent leftovers. (It’s great for work lunches!)


Ingredients:

1 Ib ground turkey (94% or 99% fat free)
2 Tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, if you like heat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup water
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 small avocado, sliced
2 heads of romaine, chopped
Tortilla chips
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro
Taco sauce or salsa

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Once cooked through (no more pink pieces), drain any fat. Add the spices and water. Heat through for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use the taco meat hot or cold in the salad. If using later, remove from heat and let it cool before putting it in a container. Cover before putting in the fridge.

To assemble, I use a big handful of the chopped romain lettuce, about 6-8 tortilla chips (crushed with my hands), 1/2 cup taco meat, tablespoon of shredded cheese, and top with diced tomatoes, 1/4 of the diced avocado and cilantro to taste. I love to use a drizzle of taco sauce as the “dressing” for an extra kick. Salsa works great, too.

To pack for lunch or to store leftovers, keep all parts of the salad separate until you are ready to eat. This keeps the lettuce and chips from getting soggy.

The tomatoes, cilantro, tortilla chips, etc., are all suggestions. This is what I like to use. Adapt to what you like on your tacos. Black beans or corn would be awesome in this recipe. (Now that I think about it, I’m going try them next time!). You can stick to the Catalina dressing if you like the added sweetness. I sometimes add green onions if I have them on hand. The combinations are endless!

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Simple Week Night Dinners // 05

Chicken & Sweet Potato Mex Bowls

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This recipe comes together fast and is fulfilling with two proteins (chicken and black beans). I love creating “bowls” for dinner. You can use whatever you have in your fridge and pantry. I usually end up with a lot of different layers and texture. The key is to include some sort of fresh herb to keep it balanced. Here we use cilantro.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 skinless boneless chicken breast, sliced thin
2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
16 oz can black beans, rinsed
1 lime, halved
Green Giant® Riced Cauliflower, prepared
Fresh cilantro
Lime
Hot sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the sweet potatoes. Sautée until soft and golden brown (this will take about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, season all sides of the sliced chicken breast with the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, add the seasoned chicken to the skillet. Sautée chicken for about 5 minutes, flipping frequently. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the black beans and juice from half of the lime. Cook for a couple of more minutes, just until the black beans are heated through. If the mixture seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

To serve: In a bowl, add 1 cup of the prepared Green Giant® Riced Cauliflower and a scoop of the sweet potato and chicken mixture. Top with fresh cilantro, lime juice and hot sauce, as desired.

This recipe makes two generous servings. Note, the Green Giant® Riced Cauliflower has four servings and each serving is a cup.

Simple Week Night Dinners // 04

Garlic Tomato Sauce and Turkey Meatballs Over Zoodles

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2 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
12 frozen turkey meatballs* (this is my secret to making this an easy week night meal)
2 large zucchini (or 4 small zucchini), spiralized**
Parm for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic. Sautée until fragrant (30 seconds to one minute). Add the crusted tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil, sugar and water. If you think the sauce is too thick, add more water (1/4 cup at a time) until you get a better consistency. Stir to combine. Add the frozen meatballs and cover with sauce. Bring sauce up to a boil and turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve sauce and meatballs over zoodles. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired.

*My frozen meatball serving size was 3. I gauged this recipe to have about 4 servings.
**If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons. I have a little hand held sprializer. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done – you can buy it here.

Indian Turkey Meatballs and Yellow Curry Sauce

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I made the most insane dinner on Saturday night. I’ve been experimenting with making different Thai and Indian dishes this past month. But after two failed attempts at tom kha gai and some so-so curry dishes, I finally nailed one. So spicy, so flavorful and so delicious. I had ground turkey I needed to use, but I was craving something with curry – so Indian turkey meatballs were born. I made a yellow curry sauce to simmer the meatballs in and served everything over rice.

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IMG_3274My meatballs always turn out as triangles – what’s the secret to making them round?!

Ingredients for the Indian meatballs:

1 large egg
1 t yellow curry powder
1 t cumin
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh cilantro
Dash of salt and pepper
1 Lb. lean ground turkey
1 T olive oil or coconut oil

Add the first six ingredients to a large bowl. Mix together well with a fork. Add the ground turkey to the egg and spice mixture. Thoroughly mix together with your hands. Form meat into 1.5 inch balls. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides for a few minutes (they do not need to be cooked through because you’ll add them to the sauce to simmer later). Remove meatballs from skillet and set them aside.

Ingredients for Yellow Curry Sauce:

1 T olive oil or coconut oil
Half of a medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t yellow curry powder
1 t garam masala
1 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of lite coconut milk
1 t salt
dash of pepper
Fresh cilantro for serving

In the same skillet you browned the meatballs in, add the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee until soft. Add the garlic, curry powder and garam marsala. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce uncovered for 30 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Serve over rice with fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Smoothies

I know smoothies are nothing new, but I’ve been completely obsessed and have been diligently making one every morning before work. I wanted to share some of my favorite combos.

Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie
1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 small banana
1 large handful of fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
A few frozen mango chunks (makes it smooth and creamy)
Water, if needed to thin smoothie

Carrot, Pineapple and Tangerine Smoothie
1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 small banana
1/2 cup shredded carrots, packed (I just buy the pre-shredded salad carrots)
2 small tangerines, peeled
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
Water, if needed to thin smoothie

Strawberry and Tangerine Smoothie
1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 small banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 small tangerines, peeled
Water, if needed to thin smoothie

To make each smoothie, add the ingredients listed to a blender (add the yogurt and banana first). Blend until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of water while blending if the mixture is too thick. I usually add protein powder to my smoothies as well. My favorite is the women’s protein powder from Trader Joe’s.

Recipe Review: Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle

This dish is amazing and everyone needs to try it. 10 out of 10. End of story.

It’s an “eat standing up in your kitchen” type of recipe. It’s that good.

It’s simple, balanced and perfectly savory. The fresh thyme is the best part. Before making this recipe, I had never cooked leeks or pancetta. Gasp! But this will be on repeat.

Still not convinced? Check out the recipe here:
Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle
Recipe from Blogging Over Thyme

Leek and Pancetta

Recipe: Berry and Spinach Smoothie Bowl

Who would want to drink a plain old smoothie through a straw when you can put it in a bowl, top it with your favorite fruits and nuts, and eat with a spoon? Any excuse to pile on the toppings is good enough for me. Enter: the smoothie bowl.

Smoothie bowls are the latest rage. The first time I heard of smoothie bowls, and laid eyes on them, was in California a couple of years ago in the form of açaí bowls. Now açaí is not easy to come by in Michigan (though I have heard you can buy frozen açaí pulp at Trader Joes), so I used my favorite smoothie recipe as the base for my smoothie bowl.

Berry Spinach Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (coconut milk works great, too)
1 small banana
1 large handful fresh spinach
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (my mix had raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)
Toppings such as unsweetened coconut, banana slices, berries, granola, almonds, flax seed

Directions:

Add the first four ingredients (in order listed) to a blender. Blend on smoothie setting for at least 2 minutes until all of the spinach is incorporated and there are no chunks. Pour the smoothie in a bowl. Add toppings of your choice. For the one pictured above, I used slivered almonds, unsweetened coconut, banana slices and homemade granola.

Smoothie bowls are a great breakfast alternative. They are packed with nutrients and this one gets you a serving of leafy greens. The possibilities are endless. Use whatever you have on hand or your favorite smoothie recipe. You could also add protein powder to the smoothie for an extra boost.

What’s your favorite smoothie?

Recipe: Quinoa, Spinach and White Bean Hash with Poached Eggs

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Today I’m bringing you a meatless Monday recipe. This one came from my latest obsession: poached eggs. I wanted to create a quinoa dish to top with a poached egg. I created a quinoa “hash” of sauteed red onions, white beans  and spinach. The creamy poached egg was the perfect balance to the hash. It’s an easy, filling meal packed with protein.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup prepared quinoa
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1 cup canned white beans, rinsed
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 ripe avocado for serving

Directions:

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced red onion and cook for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the white beans and heat through. Add the spinach, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until spinach wilts – this should take just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Add the quinoa and stir. Cover and set aside. In a medium saucepan add a couple of inches of water and the white vinegar. Bring the water to a simmer (not a boil or it will tear the eggs). Crack one egg into a small dish. Swirl the simmering water in the saucepan to create a whirpool and carefully add the egg in the center of the water. Cook for three minutes for a runny yoke. Remove the egg and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the second egg. Divide the quinoa hash onto two plates and top each with a poached egg. Serve with avocado. Serves two.

Since I’m cooking just for myself, I only prepared one poached egg. I stored the second serving of hash in a Ziploc bag.

 

Recipe: Cherry Almond Granola

I’ve wanted to make a homemade granola for awhile and finally took the plunge. I have been collecting a lot of recipes on Pinterest. Some of my favorites include coconut oil granola, vanilla almond granola and a simple granola recipe. I liked the idea of using coconut oil, and honey rather than sugar. I decided to use all of the above recipes as guides, but created my own recipe based on the flavors I wanted and what I had on hand (I have a huge Ziploc bag of Michigan dried cherries that were meant to be in granola).

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Cherry Almond Granola

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, divided*
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (one with edges works best for this recipe). Place 1/2 cup of almonds in a food processor and grind them to a fine powder. Add the ground almond to a large mixing bowl. Chop the other 1/2 cup of almonds in the food processor, then add to the mixing bowl along with the rolled oats and salt. Toss dry ingredients together.

Put the honey and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds, just until the coconut oil begins to melt. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir until the coconut oil is completely melted.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. Toss until moistened. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Add the dried cherries for the last 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, but do not stir – this will help clusters to form.

Recipe makes about 5 cups of granola. Store in air tight container or Ziploc bag.

I plan to eat my granola with 0% Fage or with milk for breakfast.

*Rather than using several types of nuts, I decided to stick with almonds. Again, it’s what I had on hand! I decided to prep the almonds two different ways – ground and chopped – to gain more texture in the granola. Feel free to use any combination of nuts equaling 1 cup.

Simple Week Night Dinners // 03

Tomato and Spinach Pappardelle

Tomato and Spinach Pappardelle

8 oz. pappardelle
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz canned tomato paste
1 c water
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1 cup fresh spinach, packed
4 oz fresh mozzarella
freshly ground pepper for serving

1. Prepare pappardelle according to package.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tomatoes should begin to burst.

3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to tomatoes and saute for another minute.

4. Add tomato paste, water, basil, sugar and salt. Stir until well combined.

5. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Add the spinach and let wilt in sauce for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat.

7. Add prepared pappardelle to sauce and toss to coat.

8. Evenly plate 4 servings. Top each serving with a slice of fresh mozzarella and freshly ground pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Enjoy!