Tag Archives: easy meals

Quinoa Salad

It’s the end of July – when did that happen?! I love summer – aside from the great weather, there is always something going on. Lately it’s been weddings, but when we’re not celebrating nuptials with our friends, there are boat rides, beach trips, and barbeques to keep us occupied. Therein lies the rub: with so many things going on, it can be hard to find time to reset. We pretty much put aside most projects at the house, and I also find that I cook a lot less. It makes me sad that I’m less adventurous in the kitchen during the warmer months, but it also forces me to find easy and light dishes that will keep me going through the summer madness.

After pinning about 3,000,000 recipes for a quinoa salad on Pinterest, I ended up making one up using the fresh vegetables I picked up at the market and what I had in the pantry. You could put most vegetables in here and it would be good, no matter what. I threw together a lime-cumin dressing, similar to the one I made for the corn and black bean salad, and it was all pretty painless.

Quinoa salad with summery vegetables

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. of lime juice
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chopped vegetables, cilantro, and quinoa in a large bowl. Mix well.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well, using salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour dressing over salad, mix well, and serve.

If serving this as a side, it makes quite a bit – the leftovers stayed really well in the fridge. Happy summer!

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Chicken Rolls with Asparagus and Mozzarella

The other day I walked into Fairway and right in front of me were these petite asparagus spears – they looked perfect for the chicken rolls that were dancing around in my head and with that, an impromptu recipe was born.  After picking up some thin chicken cutlets, I was ready to cook – I had everything else at home, making this an easy weeknight recipe that takes little thought, effort, or preparation.

CHICKEN ROLLS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MOZZARELLA

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin and evenly
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning meat
  • whole wheat bread crumbs

    Chicken rolls w/ asparagus and mozzarella!

Directions

  1. Sautee asparagus in olive oil until bright green. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Pat chicken dry and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay out chicken breast, arrange asparagus on top, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  6. Roll chicken around asparagus and cheese; place seam down in baking dish.
  7. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
  8. Sprinkle whole wheat bread crumbs on top of chicken.
  9. Cook for approximately 25-30 mins* or until chicken registers 160/165 degrees with a meat thermometer.

That’s it – veggies plus protein in one fell swoop and a nice way to switch up chicken and vegetables! I suggest serving this with brown rice or cous-cous as a side to round out a nicely balanced meal that makes for a yummy, crowd-pleasing dinner and great leftovers.

This is also a solid base recipe – you could switch out asparagus for mushrooms or another veggie, use a different type of cheese, or even make mini flank steak roll-ups using the same concepts. Happy eating!

*October 31, 2012 update: It might take a little longer than 10 minutes to cook your chicken depending on the strength of your oven, size of cutlets, etc. Never consume raw or undercooked meat – always rely on a good meat thermometer to let you know when food is done!

*November 11, 2013 update: OK, OK, I have heard you all loud and clear – I changed the cooking time from 10 mins – I must have a magical oven or be totally inept at keeping time. Originally, I only cooked these for about 10 mins but the cutlets I used were really, really, really thin. So don’t eat raw meat, cook it long enough, and plan ahead accordingly.

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Clean Eating Baked Ravioli

I always look forward to finding the latest issue of Clean Eating magazine in the mailbox, and March 2012’s issue did not disappoint! I was immediately drawn to Julie O’Hara’s “Classics, Only Cleaner” column featuring her “not-so” fried ravioli. Any cleaned-up bar food favorite is sure to be a hit with me and I couldn’t wait to try this one out. 

I picked up the ravioli at Fairway and made these on a Friday after work. They only took about half an hour to make, from start to finish, which makes this recipe even more delightful. The final result was a deliciously cheesy, crispy bite-sized appetizer that hit the spot at a fraction of the calories of its fried counterpart. They could even be a stand-in for mozzarella sticks when the craving strikes!

I’ve included the recipe for the ravioli from the magazine below (but I ended up using pre-made marinara sauce to save some time and keep things simple). Enjoy!

Clean baked ravioli

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp seal salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. plus ¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ cup fine whole-wheat bread crumbs*
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 oz)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Dash ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 9-oz package bite-sized whole wheat cheese ravioli
  • Marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine egg whites and 1/8 tsp. each salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.
  3. In a separate shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. thyme and cayenne.
  4. Dip ravioli into egg mixture and then bread mixture, shaking off excess.
  5. Transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Repeat with remaining ravioli, adding to sheet in a single layer.
  7. Bake, turning once, until lightly browned (or 12-16 minutes).
  8. Serve with marinara sauce.

*Fine whole-wheat bread crumbs do work best, but I didn’t have any so I took regular whole-wheat bread crumbs and ground them a bit with the pestle & mortar.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Stew

In addition for my delirious obsession with chicken wings, I also have a thing for Mexican food. Unfortunately, as with wings, some of my favorite dishes are also the least healthy: fried and smothered with cheese. During my quest to find healthy takes on Mexican food, I stumbled upon this chicken taco stew. It’s flavorful and full of protein. Plus, the recipe below makes about 12 servings – more than enough to save some leftovers and freeze lunch-sized portions for busy weeks.

And, maybe the best part: this crowd-pleasing recipe is so foolproof that I made it while I was sleeping. I put everything in the slow cooker before I went to bed, and when I woke up it was done. What a dream for this busy life! 

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Stew

Chicken taco stew - ready to eat!

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans, rinsed
1 16-oz can kidney beans, rinsed
1 16-oz can corn, drained
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 1.25-oz packet taco seasoning (or make your own)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Greek yogurt

I love all the colors!

Directions

  1. Mix the beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning in slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken on top of mixture and cover.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours*).
  4. Remove chicken 30 minutes before serving and shred.
  5. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips (I highly recommend the Food Should Taste Good sweet potato tortillas) or brown rice; top with Greek yogurt.

*I usually cook the stew for 7-8 hours on low; I’ve tried the shorter cooking time and it’s just not the same.

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