Easy Chicken Fajitas – in one pan!

 

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What’s for dinner?  Ugh, that dreaded question.  Even this home cook wants to prepare an easy weeknight dinner that doesn’t keep me in the kitchen after I’m already exhausted from work, the gym, errands…..you know what I’m saying.  In this busy world of fitting way too much into a day we need an easy, one pan meal that cooks for a mere 25 minutes and comes out absolutely delish!!  And to make it even more fantastic, it’s Mexican!  So get out the sombreros and set Pandora to Mariachi music, you’ll have the time with this speedy dinner!  Ole!

Easy Chicken Fajitas - in one pan!
 
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These delicious and flavorful fajitas come together in a snap in just one pan!
Author:
Recipe type: main course, chicken
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1- 1½ pounds of chicken breasts - sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper - sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper - sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper - sliced thin
  • 1 yellow onion - sliced thin
  • 1 cup salsa ( I used an all natural salsa verde)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • corn, wheat or flour tortillas for serving
  • chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In large bowl combine chicken, veggies, salsa, oil and spices.
  3. Toss so that all ingredients are covered with the spices.
  4. Spread chicken mixture evenly onto a sheet pan (cookie sheet) lined with foil.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.
  6. Serve with tortillas and garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

 

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Try serving them in whole wheat or corn (my favorite) tortillas.  I love them with my easy refried beans and/or Mexican rice for a complete meal.  Or for a fresh twist pair them with my guacamole salsa.

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Kale Tabouli

kaletabouli1 Did you know that kale is such a nutritional rockstar that it has its own day?  Yep, October 7th is National Kale Day! Ok, it’s a bit crazy but hey, everything else seems to have its own “National Day” so why not kale? Kale is really amazing in the nutrition department boasting so many vitamins and antioxidants for your body that it just boggles the mind. Here’s my top 5 good for you facts about kale….

  1. It is only a mere 33 calories per cup.  You can chop it up and add it to your dishes for an almost calorie-free nutritional boost.
  2. It is loaded with antioxidants.  It contains a lot of beta carotene (Vitamin C) which is known to reduce oxidative damage in the body.  Oxidative damage is believed to lead to aging and many diseases including Cancer.
  3. Kale contains substances that bind bile acids to lower cholesterol levels. Steamed kale is particularly effective for this.
  4. It contains Vitamin K which is crucial for blood clotting.  This is good if you’re an accident-prone gal like myself (hello tree-trimming incident this Fall).  So, your cuts heal faster without as much blood loss.
  5. Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin.  People who have diets rich in these two nutrients have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common eye disorders as we age.

Kale is quite easy to add to your diet.  Try chopping it up small and adding it to your salads like the tabouli salad I’m sharing here.  It is also great in smoothies, its taste disappears and it adds tons of nutrition. chicken.kofta4

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Kale Tabouli
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian main course, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa or couscous - cook according to package directions
  • ½ of an English (seedless) cucumber - diced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes - diced
  • ½ of a red onion - diced
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf parsley - chopped (flat leaf parsley works also)
  • ½ bunch of kale, stems removed - chopped (see notes below on stem removal)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To de-stem the kale:
  2. Fold the kale leaf in half length-wise so that the stem runs along one side. Run your knife right next to the stem to remove it in one piece.
  3. Cook the quinoa or couscous according to package directions and place on a plate to cool.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. For the salad:
  7. Mix all the remaining ingredients into a bowl along with the cooled quinoa/couscous.
  8. Add the dressing and toss it with the salad to combine.
  9. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

So you go kale…..I’m polishing your crown as we speak.

Very Berry Bruschetta

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Once I tell someone that I’m a food blogger and that I love to cook I’m inevitably asked “so, what’s your signature dish?”  This is definitely a valid question and I love that people are interested enough to ask it but, truth be known, I really don’t feel like I have one.  I mean, am I an expert at just one dish?  Do I have one particular dish that I love to make and go to time after time?  Hmmmmm, not really.  It’s honestly a question I dread and have really contemplated just making something up!

All that being said I do think that one of my favorite things to make, if not my most favorite is bruchettas or crostinis.  I have become quite known for them and I serve a different one at each gathering I host.  I don’t believe there’s a more versatile or popular appetizer.  It falls into my #1 guideline that an appetizer has to be a “finger food” and it is probably the most versatile and creative appetizer you can serve.  The ingredients are endless and you can fit those ingredients beautifully into any season or holiday.

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I made this berry bruschetta for a Fourth of July party and I have to say, it was a major hit!  So much so that I’ve been asked to make it regularly this summer.  It came to me because of the colors (red, white and blue) and the fresh in season ingredients (strawberries, blueberries and fresh mint).

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Very Berry Bruschetta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 French baguette loaf - sliced into rounds (approximately ½" thick)
  • 1 tub of honey nut flavored cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (or coconut sugar which is what I use)
  • 1 quart of strawberries - chopped
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • bunch of fresh mint - chopped
  • honey for drizzling
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the bread rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the bread rounds and sprinkle them with Kosher salt.
  4. Bake the bread rounds in the oven for approximately 6-7 minutes until slightly browned and a bit hardened.
  5. Let the bread cool slightly until cool enough to handle.
  6. Mix the berries and the sugar together in a medium bowl. Allow them to sit for a few minutes.
  7. Spread each bread round with the cream cheese.
  8. Spoon the berry mixture onto the bread rounds.
  9. Drizzle the honey over the tops of the bread rounds.
  10. Sprinkle the chopped mint over the tops of the bread rounds for garnish.

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Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing

 

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This chopped vegetable salad is crunchy, colorful and really delicious.  There is just something about Asian inspired flavors that remind me of Spring and eating light.  This Thai Peanut Dressing is creamy and has a bit of a bite to it with the chili sauce.

I have made this salad many times and sometimes I really spend a lot of time chopping all the veggies to the same size matchsticks and other times I just chop it all up different sizes.  It’s all in the presentation I guess but either way it tastes the same…..Yummy!  I tend to serve this salad with fish, the flavors work perfectly.

This dressing is also great over rice noodles with some bean sprouts and chopped snap peas or as a sauce for pasta with shredded chicken and green onions.

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Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 3 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into strips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • Note: I served mine over a bed of chopped kale, stems removed (optional)
  • Dressing
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup all natural creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until the dressing is smooth in texture.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat.
  4. To serve, pile a helping of salad onto a plate over the kale (if using) and garnish generously with more cilantro and peanuts. The salad gets better as it sits and will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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5 Small Lifestyle Changes For Better Health……With Lasting Results

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How are your New Year Resolutions going?  Are you still a regular at the gym?  Are you eating healthier?  Are you being more positive and getting your sleep?  If you’re like many, by February, those good intentions for improved health begin to fall by the wayside. Well, all is definitely not lost.  Drastic lifestyle changes may be tempting but can be tough to maintain after a few weeks.  A more realistic approach is to make a few small and easy to follow changes that are more likely to become a part of your daily routine.  These healthy habits add up to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.

1.  DRINK MORE WATER

Water is a necessity for almost every organ in your body to work at his prime level.  It’s also great for beautiful and healthy skin, hair and nails.  To meet the recommended 8 cups of water per day it’s important to track how much you are drinking during a regular day.  If you’re drinking less than 8 (I know I was), try scheduling times to get in the rest.  For example, a glass of water before your morning coffee or tea really kicks off your day and gets your digestion revved up.  Try carrying a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.  Often thirst is mistaken for hunger.  Therefore, drinking more water can actually decrease your appetite allowing you to consume less calories…..BONUS!

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Infusing your water with fruit and herbs makes a refreshing and visually appealing drink that’s easy to make in batches and keep on hand.  Make it by soaking the ingredients in a pitcher for 6 hours or overnight.  The longer you soak the ingredients, the stronger the flavor will be.  Cut the fruit into thin slices to expose more surface area to the water to help the flavors meld.  Squeeze the fruit and muddle the herbs to release even more of their flavor directly into the water.

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My favorites fruits include lemons, oranges, strawberries and pineapple.  For herbs I like mint, a pinch of basil, ginger and rosemary.  My favorite veggie infusion is definitely cucumber.

 

2.  EAT WHOLE GRAINS

Whole grains are actually the seeds of the grains.  Wheat, corn and oats are the usual suspects.  They provide fiber, are packed with energy-producing complex carbohydrates and several essential vitamins and minerals.  Refined grains, on the other hand, have been stripped of many nutrients through the milling process.  Also, the healthy outer shells of the seeds have been removed.  Easy changes like eating whole grain bread and pasta and brown rice instead of their white varieties really incorporate whole grains into your diet.  Plus they taste great, really hearty and satisfying.  Here are some of my most favorite whole grains:

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QUINOA (pronounced “keen-wa”).  It’s a versatile, gluten-free whole grain that’s great as a side dish or a main course.  Learn all about it here.

 

 

kale_farro_saladFARRO.  It’s another ancient grain, like quinoa, but it has a more rice-like texture.  It’s a nutritional powerhouse with a unique nutty flavor.  Farro was a mainstay in the diet of ancient Romans.  It is high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein.  It is easily digested making the nutrients easily absorbed into the body.  Try two of my favorite farro recipes here and here.

 

3.  EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

fruits.jpgOne great way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet is by making smoothies for quick energy-rich breakfasts and snacks.  Berries, bananas and citrus fruits are all great smoothie choices but for an extra nutritional boost try adding spinach, kale or cucumbers.  The fruit masks the flavors of the veggies.

If you avoid fruits and veggies because of the prep work they require, try making them more convenient by washing and cutting them up at the beginning of the week and storing them in bulk in airtight containers in the fridge.  veggies.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

4.  EAT HEALTHIER FATS

avocado.2Fat has always been thought of as bad, especially when you’re trying to get healthy.  However, fat is an important part of the diet when it comes from the right sources.  Saturated fats and trans fats are mainly found in cream, butter and processed oils.  They raise cholesterol levels and therefore can increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, come from vegetables and natural oils and are an important source of energy that can actually improve cholesterol levels.  Try replacing butter and fatty red meats with healthier alternatives such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and chicken.   Nuts.jpg

 

 

 

 

5.  EAT LEAN PROTEIN

canstockphoto4433902Lean protein is heart healthy and key for remaining satisfied and energized for long periods of time.  Since protein is vital for building muscle, this nutrient is highly effective when paired with exercise.  Fish, chicken and turkey are great protein choices.  White meat is generally a bit leaner than dark meat and removing the skin can help cut down on calories.  Baked, steamed, roasted and grilled are the healthiest cooking methods for your lean proteins.

There’s no better time than then the present to resolve to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.  Do you have a positive change that you’ve made to your overall health?  As always, I’d love to hear about it.  Here’s to a healthy and happy 2015……..

A Bountiful Late Harvest

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Well, the inevitable task of picking the remaining vegetables and removing the garden was upon me last weekend.  We had beautiful sunshine and near 70 degree temperatures which I thought might make the sad task a little more tolerable.  I was right, sort of.

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I picked over 100 grape tomatoes, at least half that many heirloom tomatoes and a few peppers.  Here’s the beautiful late harvest bounty…. stay tuned as I turned these into a really nice roasted tomato sauce.

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And, it’s a good thing I did all this last weekend because I woke up today to a rockin’ and rollin’ 26 degree start to the day……whatever!

Winter Squash, one of my favorite things about Fall

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Winter Squash is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect foods.  There many different types and all are so versatile.  They can be stuffed, used to make soups, casseroles, side dishes, desserts, and main courses.  Whether it be butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin, delicata, hubbard or kabocha they can all be roasted or baked and turned into delicious and visually stunning meals.  As far as the nutrition benefits, winter squash is one of the best plant sources for anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene that are good for boosting the immune system and warding off colds and flu.

Ok my fellow foodies, now is your chance to shine.  Please send me your favorite winter squash recipes.  I will be choosing my faves from your faves and then posting them, along with a picture of you making it if you so desire.  So get busy, I look forward to sharing this Fall classic with you!

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This Artist’s Palette

 

colorful.plate1The title for this post came to me when I looked at my dinner plate one night last week.  It literally looked like an artist’s palette.  I think in many ways cooking is an art and I do feel like an artist creating a masterpiece on my canvas which is a plate.

This dinner was born from needing to use the produce that was in my refrigerator.  I roasted purple and green cabbage and sweet potato and sautéed some green and red bell pepper.  I finished it off with some fresh turkey sausage, casings removed, that I’d picked up at our local meat market on the way home.

The result, one of the most colorful pieces of “edible art” this cook has created!

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How many colors are on your plate?  Nutritionists have always urged us to eat as many different colored foods as possible in order to obtain all the healthy nutrients they  possess.  There are six colors here, do I hear seven?

Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted.tomato.pasta.3Fall is officially upon us and this week brought chilly temperatures along with having to turn on the furnace for the first time!  Ok, and my space heater I’ll be honest.  Cold weather is my nemesis, my arch enemy to be certain.  I’m truly just cold most of the time, even in the summer!  I mean, it’s a real problem.  And it’s not just cold, it’s a chilled down to my very core type feeling.  So I wear sweaters, keep coats and blankets in the car for those just in case moments and cook!  Because, being in a hot kitchen is definitely good when you’re chilly.

In the spirit of Fall I was in the mood for a comfort food meal.  And surely, when I think comfort food, I think pasta!!!  I’m still growing those grape tomatoes and I wanted a way to use a large number of them in one recipe.  Enter my preferred cooking method….roasting!  Roasting tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them and provides such a depth of flavor to the dishes you use them in.

grape.tomato.garlic.raw.2Start by slicing the grape tomatoes lengthwise and mincing the garlic.  Mix them with olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper and place them on a sheet pan.  I actually used a spicy harissa flavored olive oil.

They come out sweet and delicious.  You can use them over pasta, as a topping for bruschetta and stirred into rice or cous cous.  You could also just eat them right off the sheet pan, they’re that yummy!

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Roasted grape tomatoes
 
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Roasting the tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them. Try using a spicy flavored olive oil for added flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: roasted tomatoes and garlic
Cuisine: Vegetables, Vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pints of grape tomatoes (I used red and yellow) - cut in ½ lengthwise
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil - I used 1 Tbsp of a spicy harissa flavored olive oil and 1 Tbsp plain olive oil.
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle them with the olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the tomatoes with your hands until evenly coated with the oil.
  5. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and juice forms on the pan.

I used the roasted tomatoes over a whole grain thin spaghetti that I coated with basil pesto.  I sautéed some peppers, onions and mushrooms that I added to the pasta as well.  An easy vegetarian meal that’s the perfect comfort food for a chilly night!roasted.tomato.pasta.2

 

 

 

 

 

Oh summer, how I’ll miss you….

tomato.layered.salad.1I told you quite awhile ago that I’m working on new ways to use all these tomatoes I have in the garden.  While my tomatoes are still growing on the vine my ideas seem to be running short.  The creative juices just don’t seem to be flowing for me lately.

Truthfully, the ending of summer is really hitting me particularly hard this year.  Summer just felt so short and chilly this year.  I’m longing to taste a fresh juicy watermelon one more time, lie by the pool and tend to my flower pots.  In an attempt to embrace the Fall season I stopped to look at all the fall and Halloween décor at my local gift shop; typically one of my favorite things to do.  Even that just seemed to make me feel rather blue.

Alas, I will eventually embrace Fall and all of the wonderful flavors that go along with it.  Squashes, pumpkin anything, apples and pears and homemade chili will soon be gracing my kitchen and I must say, the thought of them does make me smile.

So, in the tomato spirit, this is a layered tomato salad that I’ve stuffed with a chicken pasta salad.  A pretty presentation I thought; it’s even wearing a little hat!

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This is a simple tomato tossed salad.  I love tomatoes in many ways but my favorite is still slicing or chopping a tomato and eating it on it’s own sprinkled with some Kosher salt or on top of a mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette.

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