Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mexican Chicken Bites

I made this meal the other night when I was trying to figure out what to do with some left over black beans and yellow rice.  It was super easy to make and something really basic.  It's one of those things that can change depending on the spices you decide to use.

Mexican Chicken Bites:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil.

Cut the chicken into bite size cubes.  Season with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Toss to make sure that the seasonings are covering all parts of the chicken.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Once hot add the chicken and start to brown, add the onions and cook together.  Once the chicken has cooked through serve.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Corn Cakes

This is another recipe I found through Pinterest.  It came from Annie's Eats and it is delicious.  When I told Mr. T what we were having for dinner that night he kind of raised one eyebrow but went along with it.  Once he tried them he was sold and even asked me to make them again one night.

These were easy to make and delicious!  I served them with salsa this time but I think these would be fantastic with black beans as well.

Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Relish:
(adapted from Annie's Eats)

3 large ears of corn, shucked
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying


Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs and place in a large bowl.  Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in a food processor and pulse until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky.  Add the corn puree mixture back into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.  Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, garlic powder, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to mix well.  Add the eggs, milk, and olive oil.  Stir to combine.

Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan and heat until sizzling hot.  Scoop the batter into the skillet a heaping tablespoon at a time, cooking the cakes in batches of 4 or 5 so that they are not touching.  Fry 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Transfer the cooked cakes to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve topped with salsa and sour cream.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yogurt Smothered Chicken

My Aunt Becky makes a chicken dish for dinner that she and my mom love.  I decided to take some inspiration from her and make my own version.  She uses mayonnaise but I opted for Greek Yogurt (my new best friend).

I felt like this needed to cook a decent amount of time for what it was so make sure you check it before you dig in.  The yogurt gave the chicken a nice tangy flavor and the onions added some crunch to the meal.  Mr. T wasn't the biggest fan but I really enjoyed it.

Also, in case anyone was wondering, those purple things on the plate are actually roasted purple carrots.  They were really good.

Yogurt Smothered Chicken:
(Inspired from my Aunt Becky)

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on how many people you're serving)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup Greek yogurt
2/3 cup French's French Fried Onions
1 tablespoon garlic and her seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Brush each chicken breast with dijon mustard and season with salt, pepper, and the garlic seasoning.  Place in the pan you're going to use to bake in and cover the chicken with Greek yogurt.  Top with the onions and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until cooked through.  The onions should be a little golden.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spinach Cheese Enchiladas

It's Meatless Monday!  It is yet another week of Mexican food for us but at least this time it's not tacos.  I'm branching out a little bit.

I beefed up this recipe a little bit by adding some red bell pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and some extra salsa.  The brand we buy is zero points, so why not.  The filling of these enchiladas was very much ricotta (it was the texture).  It was almost like eating lasagna filling in a tortilla with salsa.

I like the idea of these but I want to figure out how to take away some of the ricotta cheese and make them with something else.  Mr. T and I both really enjoyed the flavor and it was nice to have something different for Meatless Monday.

Spinach Cheese Enchiladas:
(adapted from Weight Watchers, 7pp+)

Cooking spray
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to remove water  
1 red bell pepper, diced
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese  
1/2 cup(s) (shredded) reduced fat mozzarella cheese  
1 teaspoon dried oregano  
1 teaspoon onion powder  
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon table salt  
1/2 teaspoon black pepper  
8 fajita size whole wheat flour tortillas
2/3 cup(s) fat free salsa  
1/4 cup(s) shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 7 X 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Take the dry spinach and chop it.  Just enough to get rid of the stringiness that sometimes happens with frozen spinach.

Combine spinach, bell pepper, ricotta, mozzarella, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Spoon 2 tablespoons (roughly) of spinach mixture onto center of each tortilla.

Roll up tortillas and place side-by-side in prepared baking dish. Spoon salsa over tortillas and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of Mexican cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Smokehouse Downtown

We had our monthly dinner date the other night.  We've been on a roll with trying some new places and this month was no exception.  We decided to try out Smokehouse Downtown, a new-ish BBQ restaurant in an old club downtown.

I was going to take a picture of the building... but then I didn't.  I took a special of the specials board instead. 

I took my beverage order from the board and went with the Smokehouse Punch.  Mr. T got a beer from a local brewery, Swamp Head.

While we were waiting on our friends to get there our waiter gave us a little more information about the restaurant.  The are currently buying their produce from a local farm but have a green house on the roof of the restaurant.  The restaurant was hoping to be using their own tomatoes in about a month, which is awesome.

On to the food!  We ordered two appetizers, the quesadillas and the smoked pork and collard green spring rolls.  Both were really great and something different.

For my main meal I went with the beef brisket.  I decided it was a good idea to go with a standard so I could compare it to other places.  I chose the sweet potato fries and Gouda cheese grits.  The rest of our table went with ribs, pulled pork, and smoked chicken with sides that included smoked corn, collard greens, and white cheddar mac and cheese.

I went with the seasonal Blackberry BBQ sauce.  It was great.  The grits weren't the creamy grits that I usually make and Mr. T wasn't a fan, but I loved them.  The greens had a decent amount of vinegar in them which wasn't everyone's favorite but I think we're in the minority of the vinegar/greens group.

The service was beyond fantastic.  Our waiter took the time to really go into details about the restaurant, their farm to table view, and even took us on a tour to see their 14-foot smoker and rooftop greenhouse. 

If you're in Gainesville try this place out.  Great food, great drinks, and better service.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

I love jam.  I brought home a flat of strawberries last weekend and decided to make some jam with them since there was no way that my little household of 2 would be able to eat them all.

I found this recipe for a lower sugar jam online and decided to give it a try.  I liked the fact that it used a no sugar added juice as the sweetener instead of one of those sugar substitutes.  I think there is something odd about going through all the trouble to can fresh fruit and then dump a bunch of fake sugar on it... but I digress.

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam:
( Ball Canning Jars)

4 cups crushed strawberries
1 cup unsweetened white grape juice
3 tablespoons low or no-sugar needed pectin
6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Combine strawberries and juice in a 6- to 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Sirloin

This is another recipe that I found in my latest Clean Eating Magazine.  They have a lovely picture that some food stylist spent hours on I'm sure.  The picture did it's job though because I couldn't wait to make the recipe at home.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly (like I ever do) because I didn't want to buy things like safflower oil, which I would only ever use for this recipe.  I was a little disappointed with this.  The vinegar taste was a little overwhelming but I did like the way the steak came out.  I feel like a spoon of brown sugar would go a long way with this dish.

Balsamic Glazed Sirloin:
(adapted from Clean Eating Magazine, March 2012)
4 servings, 7 WW+

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onions
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed of any fat
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Ground black pepper to taste
1 carton sliced mushrooms

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder.  In a large pan add the sirloin and top with 2 tablespoons or the vinegar mixture, turning to coat.  Marinate for 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, fill a pot with 2 inches or water and insert a steamer basket.  Steam the potatoes  until tender, about 13 minutes.

Carefully remove the potatoes and dump out the water.  Transfer the potatoes back into the pot and beat with an electric mixer.  Add the milk, salt, brown sugar, and ground ginger.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Remove the sirloin from the marinade and add to the skillet.  Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, transfer to a cutting board, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add the remaining vinegar mixture and the mushrooms to the skillet, bring to a boil and let cook for 1-2 minutes until reduced, scraping and stirring with a wooden spoon constantly.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining salt and pepper.  Slice the sirloin against the grain.  Serve with the mashed potatoes and reduced vinegar sauce.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Two-Bean Burritos

I've been trying to think of new ideas for Meatless Monday.  I don't want to end up eating a bunch of random sides every week (which would probably be good too) so I've been trying to come up with some tasty vegetarian versions of meals my household loves.

Here is my version of bean burritos.  I thought they were really filling and delicious.  Tonight we ate them with some yellow rice but they would also be fantastic with a salad.

Two-Bean Burritos:

1 can reduced sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can reduced sodium black beans, drained of half the liquid
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 carrots, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

In a small bowl mash the pinto beans with a potato masher.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the carrots and let cook for a minute.  Add the onion and bell pepper.  Let cook for an additional minute.  Add the black and pinto beans and mix everything together.  Add the seasonings and mix to combine.

Let everything heat up and fill your choice of burrito or taco shells.  I added shredded cheese, greek yogurt, lettuce, and salsa to my burritos tonight.  Mr. T added hot sauce to his, because that's how he rolls.