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.

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!

 

Cherry Scones

I am a huge scone fan. I especially love scones with cherries and lemon zest. And it goes without saying a scone is best paired with a hot cup of tea.

I started with this Martha Stewart recipe. Then adapted it slightly by adding almond extract and using milk instead of heavy cream. The scones are not overly sweet since the recipe calls for only 2 1/2 T of sugar, but the cherries give them the perfect bite of tart and sweet. I think a cranberry/orange zest variation is next on my list.

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dough

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Cherry Scones

Ingredients:

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/2 T sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 t salt
6 T salted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 c dried cherries
1 t grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 t almond extract
5 T milk, plus more for brushing on scones

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add butter. With a fork, pastry cutter or your hands, work in the butter until pea sized clumps form.
3. Stir in the cherries and the lemon zest.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk and almond extract together.
5. Add the liquids to the flour mixture. Slowly stir with a fork until it just comes together. If it seems dry, add more milk, but dough should not be sticky.
6. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into a 6 inch circle. Cut dough into 8 equal wedges.
7. Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Brush them with milk and sprinkle them with sugar.
8. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet and transfer to wire rack or counter to cool completely.

Makes 8 scones.