I.LOVE.PASTA. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pasta (or maybe pizza… close tie). I am especially loving pasta these days since I’m not forcing myself to restrict it anymore! (I’m planning a summation post on my Intuitive Eating challenge later this week with many more details) I used to think pasta was “bad” so when I did “let myself have it” I always completely gorged myself on it. My mind was in that deprivation place of not knowing when I would ever be allowed to have it again. So when I was confronted with pasta… I ate ALL the pasta. Now that I know I can have pasta absolutely any time I want to have pasta, I eat a single serving in a bowl and walk away from the table completely satisfied (ok, ok, maybe one or two more bites as I pack away the leftovers).
Recently, I’ve been finding myself really favoring simple meals. We’re busy during the week so I have less time to cook elaborate dinners. This recipe requires 5 simple ingredients and hits 3 macro nutrients all in one dish (protein, carbs, and vegetables). Here’s what you’ll need (recipe / instructions at the bottom): You could substitute any kind of pasta (I chose brown rice fuscilli – but please remember I am NOT gluten free. I just like this kind a lot), meat (I used ground turkey but beef or chicken would be fine), vegetables (I ❤ brussels sprouts. End of story) and tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic is delicious and $1.95 – CHA CHING). The secret here is the ricotta (which in my world is pronounced with a G). Mixing it with tomato sauce gives you a slightly “creamy” sauce without a super heavy alfredo. mmmmm…mmm…. good.
The other best part of this meal is that you can make the entire thing in the time it takes to boil the water / cook the pasta. I also was able to prep chicken noodle soup in the crock pot during this time.
Mike is an excellent kitchen helper. I cut these brussels into quarters because they were really big.
Fig kept a watchful eye on the whole process, but he doesn’t like vegetables (BLEH green stuff!)
After the meat was cooked, I moved it to a bowl and drained MOST of the fat. I left some (about 1 tbsp) in the pan to sautee the brussels.
For the sauce simply add your sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese for a smooth and creamy finish.
Serve with a little extra ricotta if you like (I love cheese… so yes please) and any garnish you like! I used oregano and crushed red pepper.
For being so quick and simple, this meal was a HUGE hit. Mike loved it.
And so did Little Mac…
One of the things I am loving the most about working through the 21 Intuitive Eating Challenge is rediscovering foods that I had made “off limits” for so long. One of those things? Caesar salad. I NEVER ate it for years because of the dressing, cheese, and croutons. Since I’m working on throwing out all my food rules and eating what I truly crave, I had my first chicken caesar wrap in years last week at work. It was… delicious. Sunday evening, I wanted to cook something warm and homey for dinner. I had a bunch of crap in my refrigerator and no plan. Intuitive eating perfection right there!
Recalling my extremely positive experience with my chicken caesar wrap, I decided to draw on that. I didn’t have lettuce so traditional salad or wraps were out. But I did have a nice amount of other delicious green veggies… so warm chicken caesar sandwiches were born!
Here’s everything you’ll need (but the recipe with ingredient list is also below!)
I’ve recently started using Trader Joe’s Olive Oil cooking spray and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s not the BEST for non-stick properties (eggs particularly stick a little bit, but not terrible). I lightly coated my pan and browned a pack of chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are completely delicious btw. Much more flavorful than breasts so a great addition in simple dishes.
While my chicken was cooking, I prepped the other pieces. I was getting hungry so trying to be as efficient as possible. I went with zucchini, green pepper, yellow onion, and leeks. I recently discovered leeks and I’ve been using them a lot. They are amazingly fragrant and a nice complement to onions. And of course hearty wheat bread, which we toasted as a sandwich base.
I removed the chicken from the pan and threw the onions and leeks in first to “sweat down”. I heard that phrase on a cooking show once and I think it’s very accurate.
For the sauce, I decided to mix a vinaigrette caeser dressing with a dollop of tahini sauce to add some creaminess. They ended up blending together wonderfully!
And VOILA! served hot and topped with Parmesan cheese (because I don’t think many meals are complete without cheese!)
Here’s my recipe in case you need it!
I love cooking and overall find it to be the most economical way to eat during the week. I really enjoy undertaking a new recipe, trying a new skill, or spending time experimenting on my own. However, cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day is super daunting and tiring. Therefore, I enjoy an easy short cut just as much as the next person.
Last week, I made my favorite ten minute tacos for dinner one evening. Afterwards, I had several cans and packages open that I hadn’t finished. I was suddenly struck with an idea. What if I could turn these leftovers from tacos into another meal?? Everything is pretty much all ready. In fact, I had this meal prepped and in the crock pot before Mike even finished the dishes from dinner (Yes, my man does the dishes and I love him for that). I put the full recipe at the bottom for your reference 🙂
You may want to adjust the green chilies and taco seasoning based on your heat preference. I like spicy but at the end of the day I thought this was even a little too hot for me. I might have scaled it back on the chilies and taco seasoning just a little bit.
I always keep a box of chicken or vegetable stock in my refrigerator. It comes in handy SO often. I used to buy the low sodium version but I found that it was so bland I just ended up adding salt. I’d rather cook with the salt then add it after. I think it tastes better. Very unscientific information courtesy of Christina… you’re welcome.
This provided several lunches for me and Mike throughout the week. Black bean soup is so hearty and filling, especially in this crappy weather we’ve been having!
Questions for you guys:
– Beans: love ’em or hate ’em? What’s your favorite one??? Personally, I love almost all beans except Red Kidney Beans. Those are really hit or miss for me. Consequently, I don’t love chili. I usually make white bean chili at home… which ROCKS.
– What recipes are you loving this week??
I didn’t have a recipe post for you guys last week and I used an old recipe this week, so I thought I would give you a look at what else I’ve been up to in the kitchen the last couple weeks. Julie over at Peanut Butter Fingers is doing a crock pot challenge and I decided to participate! Basically, I’m going to try 10 new crock pot recipes before the end of February, write up a summary post of all the recipes I tried, and link up with her on her site. I’m aiming for about 2 recipes per week so I don’t go on crock pot overload. However, last week we had a lot of social events or nights with easy dinners like pancakes / eggs, so I didn’t have much to show! Crock pot recipes are awesome but they’re kinda lame to highlight on the blog. Like, what am I going to show you? I opened a bunch of cans and packages, dumped them into a pot, turned it on, and went about my life until it was ready to eat. Not exactly a lot of skill involved in that. But I’ll give you a sneak peek prior to my big recap.
My first recipe was this gingered beef and vegetables recipe. It ended up being several days worth of lunches and it was GOOD. I almost always use chicken or vegetable stock when cooking but I need to stop overlooking beef stock. It is SO flavorful and delicious. This was a great “hearty” lunch to take me through after work social events like a concert and a basketball game.
Saturday was a great day to use the slow cooker for dinner. Sometimes I don’t like to use it during the week b/c all the recipes say to cook for 8 hours on low. It’s always more than 8 hours from when I leave the apt in the morning to when I return in the evening. Sometimes I don’t want to leave it sitting there on “warm” for 2 more hours! Since I was around on Saturday, it was such a nice treat to not have to think too hard about cooking dinner when the time came. I used this recipe for Pasta with Eggplant Sauce. I loved this sauce because it was so thick and hearty with vegetables. It made my portion of high-fiber mini penne look positively massive (see the picture below… YOWZA). I am a pasta eating champion and if left to my own devices could easily put down a ridiculous amount of pasta. By adding lots of vegetables / thickening agents to the sauce, it’s a great way to tame the pasta eating beast within!
And this Santa Fe Chicken is cooking in the crock pot for dinner AS WE SPEAK! Gonna be some goooooood eatins tonight. I love these kind of crock pot recipes, especially because I can throw the chicken breast in whole and shred it after it’s had 9.5 hours to cook with just a fork. So easy. And also delicious.
Anyways, as you can see the creativity I can employ with photographing crock pot meals is pretty minimal. So don’t worry, you won’t be seeing a crock pot recipe every week until the end of February. I’ll spice it up for you! But so far… the recipes have been amazing (even if they’re slightly boring to look at). I’m planning on making this Vegetable and Chick Pea curry later this week! Crock pot challenge FOR THE WIN!
Anybody have favorite crock pot recipes they want to share??? I’ve got a lot more meals to make before the end of February and I am taking any and all suggestions 🙂
This post is an old recipe post I’ve had in the arsenal for a couple of weeks but last night’s dinner inspired me to share it. We had enchiladas in case you were curious. Recently, I’ve been making a lot of soups for lunches (I put up one post about my Carrot Ginger Soup). I LOVE soup and something about the cool weather makes me totally crave it. However, I was starting to feel a little bit burnt out on soup. I knew it was time to switch things up. Mike could literally eat the exactly same thing every single day and be completely content with it. I have a much more fickle palette. So I turned to one of my other cool weather lunch favorites… a big casserole. Like soups, casseroles are easy to make a big batch all at once and eat over the course of a week for lunch. I was scanning the internet for healthy casserole recipes when this recipe caught my attention for “Chicken and Black Bean Chilaquiles“. I wasn’t actually familiar with chilaquiles, though the article refers to them as a “traditional Mexican breakfast favorite”. Sold.
From reading the recipe, It seems that chilaquiles are usually made with leftover chicken. I didn’t have leftover cooked chicken… but I had chicken! So I whipped out the George Foreman and grilled / diced up the chicken while prepping my other ingredients (including slicing this onion).
In a large bowl I combined the chicken / onion saute with a can of black beans (my FAV and kind of the selling point of this recipe for me. I used to hate black beans… now I can’t get enough of them! Weird.)
I only have one singular gripe about Trader Joe’s (because seriously I freaking love Trader Joe’s). They NEVER have corn tortillas when I go do my grocery shopping. My particular store only stocks one corn tortilla option and it is ALWAYS sold out. I was forced to substitute flour tortillas instead. The only real problem is that corn tortillas get a little crispy when you cook them. Flour tend to get more on the soggy side. Not horrible, but I would’ve preferred corn. Gotta work with what you’ve got though.
The sauce was a combination of salsa and chicken broth brought to a boil / simmer on the stove. The recipe says to use salsa de chile fresco but I couldn’t find that specifically. I used a roasted garlic salsa and it came out wonderfully.
While the sauce simmered, I got to work assembling / layering my casserole. As you can see below… I almost never cook without my laptop right there and recipe prominently displayed. It’s easy to put it up on the counter and every time I print out a paper recipe, I just get food all over it. I can never keep them because they get so gross. I decided to stop wasting paper and go electronic. This would be ever easier if I had an iPad I suppose… but again I’m not there yet.
The sauce was… boss.
After everything was assembled and topped with a delicious serving of shredded Mexican cheese… in the over it went. And it… was… awesome.
Mike actually said this was one of his all time recipe favorites. That is big 🙂 Catch ya later alligators.
So I actually made this recipe awhile ago but I’ve been hoarding it in my post bank. Yes, I am trying to create a post bank so I can post new stuff even when I get busy. You’d think this wouldn’t be so difficult but it’s hard to work ahead on your “fun activities” sometimes. Anyways, I digress. Remember my awesome weekend in Philly for Sarah’s birthday?? Well on Sunday night when I returned to DC, I was happy, tired, and definitely craving a healthy meal. I wanted something super easy and then I remembered a box of Annie Chun’s Maifun noodles that I took from Mike’s roommate. That makes it sound like I stole them, which I didn’t. He put all this food out on the counter with a note saying “Take whatever you want.” So I took almost everything. Anyways, Maifun. Here’s what I love about it… you don’t even have to actually cook it! If you’re using them in a stir fry you can just soak them in warm water for 5 – 7 minutes before adding them to your dish. I meannnnn, this is amazing.
Thank you Harris Teeter for providing the perfect blend of Asian vegetables to my stir-fry without me having to do any work at all.
Tofu for protein… yes please. I love tofu and thankfully so does Mike. I try to be mindful of my soy intake so I don’t eat it constantly, but when I do it is always delicious. Every time I make tofu Mike asks if we can have tofu more often. He ate several cubes cold off the cutting board. Hippie.
Finally… the sauce! I’ve made this sauce before in this post and it never steers you wrong. I needed to actually buy soy sauce because I haven’t been ordering take out much recently and I didn’t have any leftover packets!! Mike suggested I try tamari instead of soy sauce. Upon investigation, tamari is a gluten-free 100% soy soy sauce (that was redundant). The flavor is AMAZING compared with regular soy sauce. Love love loved it. It wasn’t even substantially more expensive than soy sauce too (maybe only 50 cents more for the bottle).
Everything does in the pan and stir that bad boy up!! In retrospect, I wish that I had mixed the peanut butter and tamari together ahead of putting it in the maifun. The noodles are SO thin that they kinda clumped together around the peanut butter. The PB didn’t spread throughout the dish like I hoped it would, and I made a HUGE mess trying to stir it up. Lesson learned for next time.
It was so good I forgot to snap a picture of it plated up on the table but trust me… it was delicious. I ate leftovers for like two days. Happy happy girl. Also, here’s a picture of Fig grooming himself during dinner. Fig, please, not at the table.