Working on a Re-Boot

So, to say I got off to a lazy start for 2017 is somewhat of an understatement. I have fallen off the wagon across the board (with eating right, working out, reading, staying organized, you name it). However, an upcoming move is forcing me to at least get myself organized. Getting myself back onto a workout schedule is proving more difficult but two upcoming 5Ks will mean at least have something to hold me accountable. Eating right is hit or miss at the moment and I was hoping for good things this weekend because I was finally going to try out my new spiralizer. Bonus, the recipe was delicious. Not so cool is it only made two servings and it was a lot of work for those two servings.

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See? Veggie City and so good just…not enough for the week.

Once I figured out how the spiralizer worked (and only destroyed a half of a zucchini to get there), it was a lot of fun but not particularly easy to get even enough for two portions. Another downfall for this was the amount of dishes generated and major con, the spiralizer and its various parts are not dishwasher friendly. And I really loathe washing dishes by hand.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, these portions are huge and filling but now I’m stuck trying to figure out dinner for the rest of the week. If a recipe can’t get me to at least Thursday, it’s not doing it’s job in my opinion (and usually means my eating habits go off the rails for the rest of the week because I never feel like cooking after work). So, fix for the future: make a double batch of this next time. Because it IS delish! So many tasty vegetables and I think I mentioned the portion is huge and so filling. I didn’t feel hungry five seconds after eating (which has been happening a lot lately with recipes I’ve been trying). It may not look like anything but a mess but I recommend this. I am a fan of the zucchini noodles; now just to figure out how to make enough to last a week.

Z’paghetti Primavera [Clever name; it’s one of HG’s recipes]

Prep: 15 minutes [I don’t know what planet they are from; there is a lot of chopping involved with this one; I was at least 45 minutes in prep and that is not including figuring out how to use my spiralizer…]

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb. zucchini
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion (1 medium sized yellow onion)
3/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper (1 large; I used green but yellow might be good here for some color contrasts in the final product)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I quartered grape tomatoes)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Using a spiral vegetable slicer, cut zucchini into spaghetti-like noodles.
  2. Bring an extra-large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir zucchini until hot and slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer zucchini to a strainer, and thoroughly drain excess liquid.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Re-spray, and bring to medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until veggies are tender and water has evaporated.
  5. Add drained zucchini and all remaining ingredients except Parm. Cook and stir until entire dish is hot and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Serve topped with remaining 2 tbsp. cheese.

BBQ Chicken without a Grill

I am still grill-less. I even still have the money my parents gave me to buy one. My backyard is apparently the host of a constant mosquito convention so I do not spend any time out on my patio so getting a grill was never really a viable option. Fingers crossed for the next place maybe. In any case, sometimes you just really want some tasty BBQ chicken. So, when I had a recent craving for it, I turned to my go-to site for recipes. Hungry Girl did not let me down. This was tasty and quite filling with lots of tasty BBQ goodness. I also love a good foil packet recipe and a recipe that is a single serving all on its own.

Ingredients
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small-medium yellow onion, chopped
5 ounces raw boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded a bit to thin it out
Dash each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce with 45 calories or less per 2-tablespoon serving (I used the Publix Original)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet, and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Place veggies on the center of the foil. Top with chicken, and sprinkle with seasonings. Drizzle with sauce.
  3. Cover with another large piece of foil. Fold together and seal all four edges of the foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies have softened.
  5. Cut packet to release steam before opening entirely.

A new spaghetti sauce

Some weeks just require something quick, easy and tasty. Those are generally the weeks I make spaghetti. I am always hunting for new sauces to try; ones from scratch and ones, like the one I’m about to share, that use a jarred sauce as its base. This trial, two weeks ago now, was good but I actually think I would leave out the meat next time (shocker for me; I do love meat) and add in more vegetables. I’m thinking some mushrooms and fresh tomatoes would make this sing. I’ll let you know how it goes next time I try it!

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Added bonus: big portions!

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce
Originally from Budget Bytes

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
½ lb. lean ground beef (I used ground sirloin as that was the leanest I could find)
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (about ½ lb.)
2 carrots
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional – I was out but I think this would make the sauce zing a bit more so I’ll try it next time!)
24 oz. jar pasta sauce (I used Prego Classic)
12 oz. whole wheat thin spaghetti

Directions

  1. Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large skillet. Brown the ground sirloin over medium heat until cooked through.
  2. While the beef is browning, finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Once the beef has cooked through, add the onion and garlic to the skillet and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and transparent.
  3. While the onion and garlic are sautéing, shred the zucchini and carrots using a large-holed cheese grater [Note: I like my spaghetti sauce chunky so I diced these rather than shred.]. You should have about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of each once prepared.
  4. Add the zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, some freshly cracked pepper, salt, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender (about 7-10 minutes).
  5. Add the pasta sauce and heat through. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce. [Note: I missed this final instruction and so added the whole jar to the mixture and then heated through. I’m not sure if there is a big difference but I did find that much sauce in the mixture made it a trifle runny so I would divide it out next time to see if that would help.]

Comfort Food

I am on a comfort food streak. It’s coinciding nicely with a cold and stormy spell we’re enjoying at the moment so I’m content to ride it out. It is also a symptom of what Publix has had on sale and what recipes are next on my list to try. So, overall it’s a win-win.

Up on the docket this week was Sage Chicken and Potatoes. This recipe was easy, quick, and involved only one pan to cook it in so less dishes! YAY! The sage and Worchester sauce gives the gravy a nice little kick so it’s not just a standard meat and potatoes dish. I also had it a few nights with sweet corn as a side. I think also in the future I would toss some roughly chopped onions in with the potatoes and carrots to give it a bit more..something. I also just love onions and will put them in pretty much anything.

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Originally from the Betty Crocker Win at Weight Loss Cookbook

Sage Chicken and Potatoes
Makes 4 servings (310 calories/serving)

Ingredients
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (3 cups)
1 1/2 cups baby-cut carrots
1 jar (12 oz.) home-style chicken gravy
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp garlic-pepper seasoning

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken, potatoes and carrots in baking dish.
  2. In small bowl, mix gravy, Worcestershire sauce, sage and garlic-pepper seasoning; pour over chicken and vegetables.
  3. Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray. Cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down.
  4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

My first stir-fry (with steak too!)

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Well, I destroyed my kitchen and have decided in the future I will a) just buy the vegetable stir-fry kit and b) just buy the fresh ginger already grated and peeled at Public next time too. I fear peeling and then grating fresh ginger was not a success for me…But, it’s super tasty and delicious! I got this recipe out of a book (Good Housekeeping Light & Healthy Cooking, pg. 188) a while back because it was one of the easier sounding stir-fry recipes I’d seen and this was about as basic as it gets and fairly healthy. I tweaked the recipe here and there (I’ll be honest mostly out of laziness [so. much. chopping] and/or being thwarted by ginger root) but for the most part, I did OK and it was worth the clean-up!

I served it over brown rice per the instructions and it’s delicious. The servings are also huge which is a major bonus in my book! Enjoy!

Stir-Fried Steak and Vegetables
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 beef top round steak (1 pound) [Note: I actually just got a pound of whatever steak was on sale at Publix this week and it worked just fine!]
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
1 medium yellow onion
1 medium red pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 pkg (8 oz.) sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cups broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 oz. snow peas, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 Tbsp grated, peeled fresh ginger
3/4 cups water
1 pouch (8 1/2 oz.) precooked brown rice, heated as directed

Directions

1. With knife blade held in slated position, almost parallel to cutting surface, cut steak crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices [Tip: put steak into freezer 15 minutes before cutting so that it’s firm to slice but will “thaw” by time you’re ready to cook].
2. In medium bowl, toss steak slices with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 crashed garlic clove. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut onion in half then cut crosswise into thin slices. Cut red pepper into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.
4. In deep nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add half the beef and stir frequently (stir-fry) just until beef is no longer pink (30-45 seconds). Transfer beef to plate. Without adding additional oil to skillet, repeat with remaining beef.
5. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 tsp oil until hot. Add mushrooms and onion; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned, 3-4 minutes.
6. Add broccoli, carrots, snow peas, red pepper, ginger, water and remaining soy sauce and garlic to skillet. Stir-fry until vegetables are tender-crisp, 5-6 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in beef with its juices.
7. Serve over rice.

Mom’s Beef Stew

There are some smells that will automatically take you back to childhood. Comfy nights after school when you’ve made it through the snow and wind to change into comfy pajama pants and watch a cheesy Christmas movie in the family room on a blissful night when everyone else is out (Mondays could give me this delicious alone time in high school). The smell of my mom’s beef stew always takes me back to nights like that. Also, good family times too. There is nothing like opening your apartment door and smelling home and this stew never fails me there.

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Leftovers on Monday; still looks delicious!

This recipe can be made in a crock pot or in a dutch oven. I had planned to try the oven for the first time this week but remembered I had to be out of my apartment for two hours on Sunday morning volunteering so the crock pot it was. That turned out to be a very good thing as later on Sunday, Tallahassee got hit by wicked thunderstorms that took out power all over the city (some only just got it back Tuesday afternoon/evening). If I’d been using my stove, the stew would not have been done yet and that would have been tragic. Luckily, it was pretty much finished in the crock pot and my biscuits were just done enough to eat when the power went out on me. I also managed to save all the leftovers in a cooler until the power was back on 4 hours later and the fridge could handle them. Win-win all around! Also a win, following the storm, we went back to much more seasonal weather around here so the stew (which makes for awesome, and lots of, leftovers) has been fabulous to come home to every night this week.

[Note: this is one of those recipes that Mom could really only give me the ingredients and cooking instructions, not how much of most things to put in. I have a smallish Crock Pot and these amounts for the ingredients fit perfectly (i.e. just barely and if I shove the top down hard). A more normal sized crock pot or a dutch oven would take more ingredients]

Mom’s Beef Stew
Serves: 6-7

Ingredients:
1.5 -2 lbs. Russet potatoes, skinned and cut into large pieces
1 lb. Carrots, skinned and cut into large pieces
1 med. Yellow Onion
1 lb. stew beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions

  1. Chop and add all the vegetables to the crock pot
  2. Add meat over the vegetables
  3. Empty the soup cans over the meat. Do not mix!
  4. Place the Crock Pot on high for the first hour and then on low for the rest of the cooking time. Should take 7-8 hours of cooking for stew to be ready. [In the oven, Mom says she cooks it 8-9 hours at 200F]
  5. Serve over Bisquick Biscuits (follow recipe on Bisquick box, will take 9-10 minutes to bake)

First Recipe of 2017

I am slowly working my way into 2017. For some reason, my brain is having a hard time leaving vacation mode and returning to adulting mode. I’ll get there; it just slow going.

However, one place I needed to get back on track was cooking. I think because I felt blah most of the end of 2017 between sinus infections and traveling and just plain ennui with the year, I got away from cooking healthy meals. My scale is now reflecting that and that is not good. So, back to meal planning I go! I started with a recipe I saved forever ago from one of my favorite go-to healthy recipe sites, Hungry Girl.

I should also note Tallahassee is having its winter this week so this recipe was the perfect sort of winter treat. The cheese in the apple-onion mixture makes the filling actually stay put in the rolled chicken and cook up nice and juicy. I will admit mine did not roll as nicely as the picture on the website but my food never looks that good. As long as it tastes good, I am happy! I also doubled the recipe to make enough leftovers for dinner the next three nights. I paired it with a side of vegetables and found it a very filling meal and perfect for chillier weather!

Stuffed Apple-Onion Chicken

Ingredients:

1/3 cup finely chopped Fuji apple
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese
Two 5-oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder [Note: I thought I had this in my spice rack and found I did not…I like the taste of what I made so leaving this out does not take away from the dish]

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray. [Note: As I doubled the recipe, I used a 7″ x 11″ baking pan]
  2. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Add apple, onion, and garlic. Cook and stir until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer apple mixture to a medium bowl. Add cheese wedge, breaking it into pieces, and stir until it has melted and coated the apple mixture.
  4. Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  5. Evenly divide onion-apple mixture between the centers of the chicken cutlets. Roll up each chicken cutlet over the mixture. If needed, secure with toothpicks. Place in the baking pan.
  6. Cover pan with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. [Note: Mine took about 20-25 minutes to cook through but I am pretty sure I didn’t pound them flat enough and I doubled the recipe so that is probably why…]