Monday, July 30, 2012

Parmesan–Herb Crusted Tilapia

A little crispy, a lot tasty!
Cover just about anything in parmesan cheese and chances are I’d eat it. Even fish, which is a big deal for this gal since most seafood makes me gag. But this dish is far from gag-inducing. In fact, when I spied my inspiration for this recipe on  Pinterest, it made my mouth water.

That particular recipe called for crackers, flour, and egg. I didn’t want to use any of those, so I fished around (pun intended) and came up with kind of a Frankenstein. It’s basically pieces and parts of several recipes that I thought sounded good.

Feel free to adjust the spices based on what you have on hand or whatever you think sounds good. Want spicy? Add a little cayenne. Don’t like oregano? Leave it out. You get the picture.


3-4 boneless, skinless tilapia fillets (or other white fish)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan &  Romano cheese (I used the Trader Joe’s one in the green canister)
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried basil
½-1 teaspoon black pepper
¼-½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry tilapia fillets. In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Pour parmesan-herb mixture into a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, stir together olive oil and lemon juice. Coat each tilapia fillet in olive oil/lemon juice and then roll them in the parmesan-herb mixture until they are covered completely.

Set the fillets aside to “rest” for about 5 minutes to let the coating set. (I did this on a wire baking rack.)
Line a baking sheet with tin foil, spritz with olive oil spray, and place fillets on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden and a little crispy.

Don’t like fish? I think this coating would be DELICIOUS on chicken as well. You’d just need to increase the oven temp to 400 and bake for 20-25 minutes until the internal temp reached 165.

Before making this dish, one of the only other fish recipes I liked was
Tomato Basil Tilapia. (Go figure, that one uses parmesan cheese too!) But—dare I say it?—I may like this just as much. It’s full of yummy flavors and it’s easy to make. The husband gave it high marks as well.

I served the tilapia with a fresh spinach, tomato, and bell pepper salad and one of my latest Trader Joe’s obsessions, their Harvest Grains Blend. It’s a combo of Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa and it is awesome prepared in chicken broth and flavored with a little no-salt seasoning.

We didn’t have any leftovers so I didn’t get to test this one on the toddler. But, it was so good that I’ll be making it again soon. Next time, I’ll be sure to cook up a little extra to see if the real boss of the kitchen approves.

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garlicky Avocado Bruschetta

Pretty sure "bruschetta" is Italian for AWESOME.
In Italy, bruschetta (brew.sket.a) is roasted bread rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Here in America, we’ve butchered the pronunciation a bit (brew.shet.a, anyone?) but managed to add a few yummy ingredients—fresh tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar—to make it even more awesome.

I’m always tempted to order this delicious appetizer when I see it on a restaurant menu. But for some strange reason, I had been hesitant to try making it at home. I don’t know why…it turns out, it’s SUPER easy. I found this yummy basic bruschetta recipe online and then added garlic and avocado to change it up a little.
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or torn)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 medium avocado, chopped
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, minced garlic (I used a garlic press), balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add as much freshly ground pepper as you like (I did about 12 “twists” of the pepper grinder) and a little salt (I did about 3 or 4 “twists” on this one). Stir well. Add avocado and stir gently to combine. (Over mixing will make the avocado mushy.) Taste and add more pepper or salt if needed.
You can serve this right away or cover and refrigerate to let the flavors mingle. Mine chilled in the fridge for about an hour and a half before it was served and it turned out perfect.
Serving Suggestions:
I served this with fresh-baked baguette slices, but it can be eaten several different ways . In the original recipe, the author used it as a topping on Melba toast. To cut carbs, you could swap the Melba toast for whole wheat crackers like Ak-Mak. And the next time I make this, I’m going to toss it with a little whole wheat angel-hair pasta and serve it as a main dish. YUM!!!
I made Garlicky Avocado Bruschetta for a little girl’s get-together the other night and it turned out spectacular. It received rave reviews and we practically had to restrain ourselves from licking the bowl. Yeah, it was that good.
If you’re looking for a simple appetizer that is sure to impress at your next family dinner or gathering, this is the recipe for you. It’s fast, easy, and Molto delizioso!!!

Until next time,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Healthy(er) Tuna Casserole

Not your Granny's tuna casserole!

When you think of Mom’s or Granny’s tuna casserole, images of creamy, cheesy, fat-filled dishes completely devoid of veggies and covered in crumbled potato chips likely fill your head. And there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re looking to indulge a little once in a blue moon.
But unless you have the metabolism of a 10-year-old boy or you’re prepping for an eating contest by sucking down 10,000 calories a day, you’ll probably want to stick with this “healthy(er)” version. Rest assured, this recipe is almost as creamy and delicious as the one Grandma used to make—it’s just MUCH friendlier on the waistline.

Better still, it’s a hit with the little ones.  Being a Mommy to a picky two-and-a-half-year-old, I know that getting kids to eat healthy, balanced meals (especially ones you’d actually want to eat too) can be a challenge. That’s why this recipe is great. In addition to tasting good, it’s got protein, veggies, whole wheat pasta, and it cuts back on the fat a bit too.  

Healthy(er) Tuna Casserole
Serves 8-10
1 (13.5-16) ounce package whole wheat spiral pasta
3 cups mixed chopped veggies (I used frozen, organic, non-GMO corn, green beans, carrots, edamame, & peas)
2 (10.5-ounce) cans reduced-fat cream of celery condensed soup*
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 (7-ounce) cans albacore tuna packed in water, drained
1 (6-ounce) container French’s fried onions (divided use)
Freshly ground black pepper

*You can substitute any “cream of” soup i.e. mushroom, chicken.  


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, prepare pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain, rinse, and return noodles to large pot. If you’re using frozen veggies, thaw them a little by placing them in a colander and running them under warm water. Combine vegetables and cooked pasta.
In a medium bowl, combine condensed soup, milk, tuna (drain the water off first!), about 1 cup of French’s onions, and as much black pepper as you like. Use a fork to break up the larger pieces of tuna and stir well. Pour the mixture over the noodles and vegetables in the large pot and stir until all noodles are coated.

Transfer casserole into a 9x13 baking dish and top evenly with about 2 cups (the rest of the container) of French’s onions. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and onions on top begin to brown and crisp.

This is one of our favorite go-to meals. It’s easy to put together, you get all the major food groups in one dish, and, well, it just tastes good.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s very kid-friendly. Perhaps the best endorsement for this dish is the fact that not only did my 2.5-year-old gobble down two bowlfuls, our 10-month-old devoured it too!
Since the hubs and I like spicy food, we add a little Sriracha hot sauce (that’s the red stuff around the rim of the bowl in the picture). It’s just enough to give it a kick without masking the yummy flavors.

Now, I realize it’s summertime and casseroles that you bake in the oven might not be at the forefront of your mind. But file this one away for a rainy day…or whenever the urge to eat a little healthy comfort food strikes you.

Until next time,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Easy Enchilada Bake With Cilantro-Lime Fiesta Salad

All the yumminess of enchiladas--without all the work!
I haven’t made enchiladas in a long, long time. Mostly because the whole process of layering, rolling, dipping, etc. just sounds WAY too time consuming for this busy mama. So, when I saw this Beef Taco Bake recipe, it got my wheels spinning.

I made several swaps on this one. I traded the tomato soup for enchilada sauce, added green chilies, omitted the milk, cut back on the number of tortillas, used ground turkey instead of ground beef, and changed the type/amount of cheese. By the time I was done, I realized I needed to tweak the name of this dish to reflect the ingredients that were actually in it, hence the Easy Enchilada Bake.

The best part of this recipe is that you can use any cooked meat you like. Think shredded rotisserie chicken, ground beef, steak, etc. If you’re vegetarian, try kidney, pinto, or black beans, or a combination of your favorites. You can also add more chilies or a little diced bell pepper if you’re feeling adventurous. The possibilities are endless.
Bottom line: Even if you change it up a little to suit your preferences, this is still an easy and tasty dish.

Easy Enchilada Bake
Serves 4-6

1 pound lean ground turkey (or meat of your choice)
Pinch onion—or garlic—powder (optional)
2 cups mild enchilada sauce*
1 cup chunky salsa
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
2 slices jalapeño jack or regular jack cheese, torn into pieces (or about ¼ cup shredded)*
4 tortillas, torn into 1-inch pieces (I used small white corn tortillas)
½ cup shredded lite Mexican blend cheese (or reduced-fat cheddar if you prefer)

*I used spicy enchilada sauce and jalapeño jack and it turned out SUPER spicy. To turn down the heat, I suggest mild sauce and regular jack cheese. Especially if you are making this dish for kids.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown turkey meat in a skillet adding a pinch of onion or garlic powder (not salt) if desired. In a large bowl, combine cooked turkey (or other cooked meat of your choice), enchilada sauce, salsa, green chilies, jalapeño jack cheese pieces, and tortilla pieces. Stir well. Place this mixture in a 2.5 quart baking dish.  Cook uncovered for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cover the top with ½ cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Cilantro-Lime Greek Yogurt Dressing
Makes about 1 cup

Creamy salad dressings don’t usually have a place in a healthy diet—unless they are made with Greek yogurt! This Cilantro-Lime Greek Yogurt Dressing recipe is pretty close to the one I found on
Simple Food Healthy Life. I just adjusted a few of the measurements and added some freshly ground pepper.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 lime (juiced)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 small bunch of cilantro, rinsed
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Cilantro-Lime Fiesta Salad
Servings vary

Healthy, creamy, and oh-so-yummy!!!
I didn’t put an exact serving size on this salad because you can make as much (or as little) as you’d like, depending on how many people you’re feeding. Again, this recipe is great, because you can adjust the ingredients based on your personal preferences. Here’s what I like in mine.
Romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
Black beans
Avocado, pitted and cubed
Bell pepper (yellow, red, or orange), chopped
Tomato, chopped
Onion, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss with Cilantro-Lime Greek Yogurt Dressing.

Since this has been a rather long post, I’m just going to say that if you like all the yumminess of enchiladas—without all the work—this is the recipe for you. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Agave-Dijon Chicken

World's best chicken? You be the judge.
When I see the words “world’s best” anything, I’m instantly skeptical but also intrigued. So, as soon as I saw The World’s Best Chicken on Pinterest, I knew I would have to check it out.

The original recipe definitely looked tasty, but I like using agave in place of honey and I’ve been on an apple cider vinegar kick lately, so I made a few swaps. The cooking time/temp seemed a little long/high to me too, so I adjusted those a little. Here’s the modified recipe I came up with.
Agave-Dijon Chicken
Serves 2-3

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets (organic preferred)
Spritz extra-virgin olive oil spray
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup honey Dijon mustard
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Dash dried rosemary  (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse chicken breast fillets and pat dry. Spritz 8x8 glass baking dish with olive oil spray and place chicken breasts side by side. Season liberally with black pepper. In a small bowl, combine mustard, agave nectar, and apple cider vinegar.  Pour mustard mixture over chicken breasts making sure to coat them as well as you can to seal in moisture. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Plate chicken and add a dash of dried rosemary to make it “pretty.”

Serving Idea:
Use the excess cooking liquid to drizzle over brown rice or veggies if desired. (It is absolutely delicious with steamed broccoli.)


So, I’m sure you’re all dying to know if it really was “The World’s Best Chicken.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but in all fairness, I did stray from the original recipe a bit. Still, it was pretty darn good.

The first word out of the hubby’s mouth was “interesting,” which could have gone either way, but we both agreed there were a lot of different but intriguing flavors going on and the end result was really tasty. It reminded me a little of Unbelievably Simple Honey-Mustard Chicken, but this one’s a little healthier since you don’t use the butter, and the other spices give it a different kick.
I served this with steamed broccoli and Trader Joe’s Mushroom & Herb Risotto and it was a well-rounded, pretty healthy, and overall yummy meal.

The original recipe called for baking the chicken at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Mine was done—almost too done—after 30 minutes at 400. So, unless your oven cooks on the very cool side (or you are cooking monster chicken breasts), check it after baking for 25 minutes at 400.
Until next time,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake

The picture doesn't do it justice...but I didn't want to dig into it since it's for a party tonight.

Most of the recipes I post on this blog are made with fresh, non-processed ingredients that taste good and are good for you. This is not one of those recipes.

It is, however, a yummy and incredibly easy-to-make dessert that’s great for family get-togethers, potlucks, or, in my case, a recipe exchange party hosted by my new “Park Mommy” friends.

Last time I attended one of these parties I went all out and made Pacific Pulled Pork Carnitas. (I’ll share that recipe in another blog sometime soon.) It turned out great but—go figure—us gals tend to do more drinking wine and gabbing at these events than actual eating. To save some time and effort, tonight I’m bringing this easy dessert and a bottle of vino.

So, without further ado, here’s the not-necessarily-healthy-but-totally-tasty-recipe for Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake.  

Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake
1 (20-ounce) can of crushed pineapple in natural juices
1 (20-ounce) can of lite cherry pie filling
1 box of yellow cake mix
½ cup butter, thinly sliced (1 stick)
½ cup flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9 baking dish or pan. Spread pineapple with juice evenly into the cake pan. Add cherry pie filling and distribute evenly. Dump dry yellow cake mix evenly over pineapple-cherry mixture. Do not mix. Evenly distribute the thinly sliced pats of butter all over the top of the cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven, sprinkle with coconut flakes, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until coconut is lightly browned.
Well, the recipe exchange isn’t until tonight so I’ll post feedback in the “comments” section tomorrow. I can tell you though that while this dessert doesn’t have the fanciest, most dignified name; it’s always been a crowd pleaser when I’ve made it for friends and family in the past. Stay tuned!
Until next time,

7/13/12 Update:
Success! All the girls who tried it really enjoyed this dessert. The coconut on the top made it nice and crunchy and that ENTIRE stick of butter made it really rich and delicious. I handed out several copies of the recipe and hope this one gets passed along to friends and family alike.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

A lower-sodium, lower-sugar spin on this popular Japanese dish.
My good friend Lauren just moved down the street from us. I am super excited for three main reasons. 1) Our kids are similar ages and have been buddies since birth so we officially have built-in play dates from here to eternity. 2) She loves wine almost as much I do, so now our Mom’s Nights can be conducted in our own backyards without having to drive anywhere. 3) She follows like a zillion blogs and often finds fun food ideas and recipes, which she likes to share. Last week, she sent me a link for Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken.

She made it for dinner and said it was so good that she was afraid there wouldn’t be any left for her husband and toddler come dinnertime since she was picking at it all afternoon. That sounded like a pretty glowing endorsement, so I decided to take a look and see if I could make it a little healthier.

I decided to use Stevia in the Raw and agave nectar in place of sugar to eliminate some calories and carbs. And because Asian cuisine is notoriously salty, I opted for low-sodium soy sauce. Finally, since I was just cooking for me and the hubs, I cut the recipe by about a third and only used one pound of chicken instead of three. Here’s what I came up with:

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki
Serves 2

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about a pound), organic preferred
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
5 packets Stevia in the Raw (or other Stevia product)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

Place chicken thighs in Crock Pot. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, agave nectar, stevia, vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, and pepper and mix well. Pour the mixture over the chicken and cook on low for approximately 4 hours.  (At the 2-hour mark, I opened the lid and used a pair of tongs to turn over the chicken pieces to ensure even cooking. I also broke them up a little).

When chicken is done cooking, remove from the Crock Pot and set aside to keep warm.  Skim the fat from the cooking liquid and pour teriyaki sauce in a small-to-medium size saucepan. (I used a splatter lid as a strainer.) In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water and still well. Bring teriyaki sauce to a slow boil and slowly stir in cornstarch mixture until desired thickness is achieved, about 3-5 minutes.

Plate chicken and drizzle the teriyaki glaze over the chicken (and brown rice and broccoli if that’s what you are having as side dishes). Serve immediately.  

Cooking Tip:
To rid your hands of strong kitchen odors—think fish, garlic, onions—rub them on stainless steel. The easiest place to do this is usually the sink nozzle. (They also make stainless steel “Rub-Away” bars if you are too classy to wipe your hands all over your plumbing fixtures. I’m not highbrow, but I did receive one of those bars as a wedding gift so I usually use that.) I don’t know why it works, but it does.

The first thing to mention here is that the chicken thighs shrank a lot during cooking, so that whole pound didn’t yield a ton of meat in the end. If you are cooking for more than two people, you might want to increase the amount of thighs to 6-8 (1.5-2 pounds) and add a little more soy sauce and/or water so the meat doesn’t dry out and you have enough cooking liquid left to make the glaze.

That being said, I can totally see why Lauren was eating out of her Crock Pot. It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. The chicken was very tender and the teriyaki glaze was absolutely DELISH on the rice and broccoli. (This is saying a lot because I’m not a big broccoli fan and I actually cleaned my plate.) It even passed the “Toddler Test.” My two-year-old, who hates just about everything except yogurt and fruit snacks, was hovering around my plate asking for bites. Hallelujah!

Now, you may be wondering why everything I post on this blog turns out so awesome (at least according to me and the hubs.) Believe me, I’ve tried some recipes that left A LOT to be desired. And you won’t find those here. I’m only posting dishes that I like, that my family enjoys, and that turn out great. Maybe one of these days I’ll post some of my failures for a good laugh. But for now, my goal is to only pass along the cream of the crop.

Until next time,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blackened Fish Tacos With Spicy Citrus Slaw

Fresh, tangy flavor with a spicy kick!
I’m a big fan of grilling out. Mainly because I don’t know how to turn on our BBQ, which means that I’m not the one doing the cooking.

There are a lot of blackened fish recipes out there. This dry rub is a hybrid of several I’ve seen in the past few months. It can be adjusted to your taste or changed up a bit depending on what you have on your spice rack. I use equal parts of all spices, however, if spicy isn’t your thing, cut back on the cayenne a little.

I had to rely on the hubs to supply the cooking time/temperature etc. And I asked him about it a week after we tried this recipe. Point is, these are approximations. If anything sounds fishy (I couldn’t resist!), please adjust based on your likely superior barbecuing knowledge.  Safe cooking temp for fish is 140 degrees. You can tell it’s ready when it flakes easily and appears opaque.

Blackened Fish Tacos With Spicy Citrus Slaw

Serves 2-3

2-3 boneless, skinless white fish fillets (I used tilapia)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use 1/8 teaspoon for a little less heat)
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
4-6 small soft tortillas (I used white corn)
dollop of salsa (optional)

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry. Place fish on a large plate and drizzle with olive oil. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together all dry rub ingredients. Massage half the dry rub mix onto one side of the fillets, then flip over and use the remaining rub to coat the other side of the fish.

Preheat grill to high (around 400 degrees). If you have one, place fish in grilling basket. (These are GREAT because they keep fish and veggies from falling down into the grill. I found mine at HomeGoods and several online retailers sell them for under $20.) If not, you can slice a few lemons and place those on the grill under the fish, so the fish doesn’t stick. This method also gives the fish a nice citrus flavor.
Sear fish on high heat for about 2 minutes on each side. Reduce grill temperature down to medium-low (around 300 degrees) and cook fish for an additional 7-9 minutes.

If desired, warm the tortillas on the grill or in the microwave. Fill tortillas with a little Spicy Citrus Slaw and drizzle with Spicy Sauce (recipes below).  You can also add a dollop of salsa if you’re so inclined.
Alternative Cooking Method:
I’ve never made these in the oven just because they turn out so great on the grill, but if you don’t have access to a BBQ, you could preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place the seasoned fish in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake 15-20 minutes until fish flakes easily.

Spicy Citrus Slaw


1 (10-ounce) package of tri-colored slaw (broccoli, green & red cabbage, carrot)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 lime, juiced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/8 teaspoon for a little less heat)
½ teaspoon chili powder
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well. If desired, place in the refrigerator to chill before serving. (Note: You can make your own slaw by purchasing carrots, cabbage, and broccoli and shredding/julienning the veggies, but it can be time consuming and I’m all about making life easier.)

Spicy Sauce


2-3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
½-1 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce

Mix sour cream and Sriracha hot sauce together and drizzle over fish tacos. (Note: These measurements are completely flexible. More Sriracha for a spicier sauce, less for a creamier, mellower taste. You can even just use one or the other. Totally up to you!)

We had this for dinner last weekend when the in-laws were over. And we all love spicy food so these were a big hit. WARNING: Cayenne pepper really takes it up notch in the heat department so if you don’t like spicy foods—or if you are making this for the little ones—cut WAY back on the amount of cayenne you use.
We had refried beans on the side (with a little jalapeño jack cheese melted in) and put out the flames with my latest summertime obsession: Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand. It’s crisp and refreshing and a perfect complement to this muy caliente meal. Enjoy!
Until next time,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crock Pot Hawaiian BBQ Pork

You had me at BBQ sauce and pineapple...
Nothing says 4th of July like pork in the Crock Pot right? Okay, maybe not but I tried this the other night and just had to share.

Many of my cooking inspirations come from Pinterest
. It’s like one-stop shopping for great recipe ideas. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that site. But I digress. The other day, someone posted a Crock Pot recipe with only three ingredients: BBQ sauce, chicken, and a can of pineapple. They had me at BBQ sauce…and the pineapple was the icing on the cake.  Plus, who can pass up such a simple recipe with so few ingredients?

Well, I didn’t have any chicken on hand (Gasp! When does that ever happen?), but I did have a pork tenderloin that needed to be used. So I threw it in the Crock Pot, added a few veggies to the mix, and now here I am sharing this slightly-altered variation with you folks.
Crock Pot Hawaiian BBQ Pork
Serves 6-8
1.5-2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
½ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice (not heavy syrup)
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite BBQ sauce (I used the sale brand Sweet n’ Spicy)
Place tenderloin in Crock Pot. Layer veggies on top. Dump in canned pineapple with juice. Pour the entire bottle of BBQ sauce over the top. Cook on low 6-8 hours, until pork shreds easily with a fork.

Healthy “Swap”tion:
The obvious health swap here is to make this dish with chicken instead of pork. (Although clever marketing would have you believe that pork is the “other white meat,” that’s not the case…this little piggy is still considered red meat by the USDA.)  I would suggest keeping the amount of veggies and pineapple the same but using 2-3 boneless chicken breasts and maybe half the bottle of BBQ sauce. The chicken will also cook faster. Typically around 5-6 hours on low.

The Result:
How can these ingredients not yield something yummy? It smelled scrumptious in the house all day while this was simmering and it didn’t disappoint. We spooned it over a little brown rice and had a spinach/strawberry/glazed walnut/Mediterranean herb feta cheese salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing on the side. DELISH!

Hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July holiday.
Until next time,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Quinoa & Black Bean Fiesta Bowl

A light and tasty, meatless alternative to your typical burrito bowl.
We’ve already established that I believe most dishes benefit from the addition of avocado…and these Fiesta Bowls are no exception. The fresh-Mex combination of cilantro, lime juice, avocado, quinoa, and black beans is to-die-for-delish! Adapted from this Shiksa in the Kitchen post, the following recipe is perfect for Meatless Monday—or any day of the week!

Quinoa & Black Bean Fiesta Bowl
Serves 2-3

1 cup quinoa
½ cup cilantro, washed and stemmed
1 lime, juiced
2 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
1 large tomato, chopped
½ medium yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons pico de gallo
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Add cilantro and lime juice to a food processor and pulse a few times until cilantro is coarsely chopped. Scrape sides and dump cilantro lime mixture into prepared quinoa, mix well. In two (or three) serving bowls divide quinoa/lime mixture and begin layering the remaining ingredients on top. (Lettuce, beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and avocado.) Garnish each fiesta bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a little pico de gallo and serve immediately.
The best part about this recipe is that you can leave out or add ingredients based on your preferences or what you have in the fridge/cupboard. Don’t have bell peppers or don’t care for corn? Don’t add them. Want to really spice it up? Add some diced jalapeños. Not feeling Meatless Monday? Throw in a little cooked chicken breast. The options are endless!

The Result:
This was one of the first dishes I tested when we implemented Meatless Mondays in our household. The hubs—initially skeptical that this meal would not be satisfying sans the meat—was pleasantly surprised by the taste and fact that it filled him up. The secret?  The quinoa and black beans are packed with protein and all the fresh veggies provide tons of good-for-you fiber. This meal is perfect for hot summer nights or any time you are craving a healthy, light Mexican-esque dish.

Until next time,