Chill Out With These Enchiladas

I never get tired of Mexican food. There are so many unique dishes with different flavor profiles making the options endless. If you told me that I could make an awesome Mexican dinner in less than 30 minutes, I would say ‘sign me up.’ Cooking Light told me that with their Chicken Verde Enchiladas, which are made in under 30 minutes, and I did not hesitate one second to rip out the recipe out and buy the ingredients.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 3/4 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

First, place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat broiler to high. Then, combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato, sour cream, and avocado. Next, stack the tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels. Microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds. Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top with cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  For the finishing touch, sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

I could not even let these cool down before digging in. I was hooked. I loved the fresh avocado within the enchiladas–it brought down the spice of the jalapeno and gave the dish a cooling element. The crispy broiled cheese added a gooey as well as a crunch component. Hands down, I would make this recipe again–I’m so excited that I have leftovers for the week. Test it out–I’d love to hear your thoughts/feedback. But until next time, keep eating!

Simple Summer Chicken

I’m excited to share I found another summer dish I can’t get enough of: Greek-Style Chicken Breasts from Cooking Light’s May issue. It brings together all of the wonderful Mediterranean flavors while being light and refreshing, perfect as the weather gets warmer.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 4 (6oz.) skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 3/4 c. vertically sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 oz. chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan, cooking for 6 minutes on each side. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Then add onion and garlic, saute for 4 minutes, then add the olives and tomato. Cook everything for 3 minutes or until the tomato begins to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley oregano and lemon juice. Lastly, top the chicken with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with feta.

Cooking Light serves this dish with herbed gold potatoes but I also found this dish pairs exceptionally well with pasta or quinoa. Adding a grain definitely rounds out the dish–I highly recommend it! The only thing that could make this dish better would be to have a deck or patio I could eat it outside on 🙂 Test this chicken out–it’s quick and absolutely delicious–you won’t be disappointed (I’m ashamed to admit I ate almost the entire pot, it’s THAT good). But until next time, keep eating!

Easy ‘A’ rtichokes

Artichokes are the perfect go-to food. They taste amazing, they’re easy to make, and they have multiple health benefits. Normally, I would steam them but this time, and of course in keeping with the springtime theme, I wanted to try something new.
For this recipe you’ll need:
  • 6 c. water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 18 baby artichokes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 425. Combine water and 3 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl. Cut off top 1/2 inch of artichokes, then cut the stems to within 1 inch of base. Peel the stems and remove tough outer leaves so the tender cores are left. Halve and add to water. Next, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add half of the artichoke mixture to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the rest of the artichoke mixture. Return everything to the pan, add lemon slices and rosemary, and bake for 20 minutes. Once done, remove rosemary and blackened lemon rinds, and enjoy!

They are SO good. So there you have it–a fool-proof side perfect for the warm weather. Can’t go wrong with that in my book. I paired mine with a tender, juicy flank steak and crispy polenta, but you can have it practically with anything you want. Test it out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Asparagus With Lots of ‘A’ Game

Words cannot describe how excited I am that the weather is finally getting nicer and warmer. Today I thought what better way to ring in spring than with a shaved asparagus salad with Manchego and almonds. I’ve never had shaved asparagus before and I have to say I would make it again (a little time consuming but completely worth it.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. walnut oil (if you don’t have this you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved (about 1/4 c.)

My favorite part (aside from the eating the salad part) was making the salad. First combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and stir using a whisk. Using a sharp peeler, thinly peel asparagus to equal 3 c. of ribbons. Add asparagus and parsley to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Next, combine 8 cups water and white vinegar in a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Break each egg into a custard cup and pour gently into pan. Cook for three minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove the eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Finally, serve, asparagus on plate first, then almonds, next the egg and finally top with cheese.

I unfortunately was under a time crunch and being that I have never poached an egg before I simply fried mine (it still tasted delicious!) but that’s my goal for the weekend. Poach. an. egg. Wish me luck! Definitely try this salad, you won’t regret it! But until next time, keep eating!

‘Just Beet It’ Rice Bowl

If you’re looking for a awesome healthy dinner, I must say Cooking Light‘s Brown Rice bowl (paired with five different toppings of your choice) is perfect.
 
ImageFor tonight I choose the ‘Just Beet It’ topping. Simply start with 3/4 c. brown rice (you can use quick precooked rice or make a pot of it, it just depends on how much time you have). Then you’ll need:
  • 2/3 c. thinly sliced and halved roasted beets
  • 2 tsp. walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp. dry-roasted, salted pistachios
  • 1/2 baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp. thinly sliced shallot
  • 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

Once the rice is done, combine the flavors and there you have it. An insanely quick, healthy, and delicious meal.

If beets aren’t your thing, opt for the ‘Steak and Greens’ or the ‘Balsamic Cranberry Pork.’ You can even make up your own rice bowl and add the toppings of your choice. I’d love to hear other creative topping ideas! But until next time, keep eating!

 

A Night of the Sides

I’m always on the hunt for a delicious side dish. I would argue that a good side dish can make a meal. And this is side dish is a showstopper. Tomato and feta Asparagus from Cooking Light. Now it may sound simple but boy does it pack a punch.
ImageWhat you’ll need:
  • 1 lb. trimmed asparagus
  • 1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz. crumbled goat cheese (I substituted in feta)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes and olive oil on a pan and toss. Bake for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add the asparagus and bake for 9 minutes. Once done, top with balsamic, salt, pepper, and feta. Voila! Simple and delicious. The tomatoes and asparagus get a nice char on them from the oven, almost giving them the flavor as if they were cooked on the grill. There’s something about the tomato, feta, and asparagus combo that never gets old. Throw in some balsamic and BAM there you have it–a side dish that can easily win the hearts of anyone who tries it.

There are 5 other different flavor profiles in the article that I can’t wait to try. Next up: Red pepper and Manchego (one of my favorite cheeses!). Asparagus is the perfect side to any main–chicken, fish, steak, you name it! Test some of the different combos out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Sesame-Carrot Salad

Found: the perfect side for any stir fry. Sesame-carrot salad from Cooking Light. 
 
ImageI must say I do cook my fair share of stir frys–it’s great excuse to use up every vegetable you have laying around (within reason of course). The other night, as I was cooking vegetables for my stir fry, I realized I wanted something more. Something new and different that I haven’t made before, while at the same time complimenting my all-time favorite stir fry accessory: Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce. It’s just a little bit of heaven in a bottle.
 
And this sesame-carrot salad was it. Combine 3 c. matchstick-cut carrots, 1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, 1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil, 1 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce’ and 1 tsp. ground pepper. Simply throw all these ingredients in a bowl and toss well to coat. Easy as pie and it provides a nice crunch alongside the stir fry. 
 
If you love a good stir fry as much as I do, try this out! But until next time, keep eating! 

This Dish is Hot Hot Hot!

It’s no secret how much I love my crock pot so naturally I’m on the lookout for any recipe that requires me to use it. My latest crock pot find: Spicy Chicken Cacciatore from Cooking Light
 
The thing I love about chicken is that it really doesn’t take long to cook once it’s in a crock pot (unlike pork or beef which can take hours). The hands-on time for this recipe is about 25 minutes, that’s music to my ears.
 
ImageFor this recipe you’ll need:
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 c. chopped onion
  • 2 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 dry red wine
  • 1/2 tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can unsalted, petite diced tomatoes. undrained
  • chopped parsley (for a garnish)

1. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken in it; shake to remove excess flour.

2. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat; add oil. Add chicken and cook until browned (about 4 min.). Once done, place chicken in your crock pot.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for about 4 min. Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 min.

4. Add the bell pepper mixture, tomato puree, and next 6 ingredients (through diced tomatoes) to the crock pot. Make sure you mix everything and cover all the chicken.

5. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 4 hours or until chicken is tender. Once done, serve over a grain of your choice (you’ll REALLY want to soak up all the extra sauce) and top with the parsley.

This is a dish worth trying whether you eat the chicken as is or on top of a grain such as polenta or pasta. The crushed red pepper gives the dish that spicy kick and after cooking in the incredible sauce, the chicken becomes deliciously tender. Test this out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

The Social Diet

I, for one, am guilty of stress eating, eating when I’m bored, honestly you name it. Plain and simple, I overeat. So when I saw that Cooking Light had a huge section on “How Cooking Light Staffers Lost 128 Pounds and Got Moving on the Social Diet,” I was like bingo that’s what I need.

As I was reading the article, I came across many kernels of wisdom but one in particularly really hit home. ‘Sleep.’ It’s the most important thing when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That is something I definitely don’t get enough of. I’ve noticed that when I’m tired I CRAVE sugar (there aren’t enough donuts in the world to satisfy my need). While I absolutely love the occasional indulgence, it starts to become a problem when it’s every day. (The social diet was starting to look really good right about now.)
The best way to get motivated is to enlist friends. Here are a few tips, I found most interesting and helpful, when it comes to building your own social diet:
  1. Find a group of motivated peers
  2. Establish your personal daily calorie limit and weight goals
  3. Let members be flexible with goals
  4. As a group, select a calorie-tracking app that allows every one to communicate and support each other
  5. Focus on overall nutrition (this step is so key!)

I’ve decided I’m going to give the social diet a try, and it’s all thanks to this story. If anyone has any tips or tricks of the trade when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I’d love to hear them! But until next time, keep eating (healthy and nutritious food!)

Don’t Be Shellfish, There is Enough For Everyone!

You can never go wrong with a classic shrimp scampi. And after a long work week, I wanted nothing more than a fast, quick and delicious meal. I DO try to cook as many meals as I can, but after work, I rush home to put on my sweatpants and order Seamless (delivery is the best thing ever invented).

This night I refused to do that. On the menu, Shrimp and Broccoli Scampi from Cooking Light.
ImageFor this recipe you’ll need:
  • 8 oz. uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 12 oz. broccoli
  • cooking spray
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 c. unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese
What you’ll need to do: Cook the pasta according to package and add the broccoli for the last 2 minutes. Drain. Then, heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray, add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Next, heat the pan over medium-low heat, add butter and oil. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. add stock, bring to a boil, and make sure to scrape the pan to loosen the browned bits. Combine 1 tbsp. water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the stock and cook for about a minute. Then, stir in shrimp, pasta mixture, parsley, rind, juice, and salt. cook for a minute and stir to cook. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

There you have it. An incredibly delicious meal for less than 20 minutes. Does it get much better than that? The best thing about this recipe is that it makes a ton, so you’ll have leftovers to take for lunch! If that’s not an incentive than I don’t know what is. Test this recipe out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!