Monday, June 25, 2012

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Portabella mushrooms give this casserole a different and rich flavor. Finely chopped veggies are not as noticable for picky eaters. Veggie broth and seasoning help disguise the brown rice. Sometimes a casserole dish can help get your family to eat whole grains and veggies without knowing it. Enjoy  :)

2 cups all natural chicken broth (read label, some contain MSG)
1 cup rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
Extra virgin olive oil for cooking
1 onion chopped, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 whole red bellpepper, finely chopped
2 chopped portabella mushrooms- 1 inch cubes
2 tsp basil, 2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp garlic
2 cups spinach, chopped finely
1 tomato diced into small pieces
1 cup cheese ( I used half munster and half parmesan)
2 eggs lightly beaten
Extra cheese for topping *optional

Preaheat oven to 325.
 Heat broth, add rice and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil. (optional- add 1 tbsp butter). Reduce heat and simmer covered until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Approx 20-25 minutes.
While rice is cooking, Saute diced chicken in large skillet on medium high heat in oil, season with half of basil and oregano, salt, pepper and 1 tsp garlic. Remove chicken and set aside in a large bowl.
Add a little more oil and saute onion, bell pepper and celery until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp garlic, cook until just tender. Add the rest of basil and oregano. Add mixture and cooked rice to bowl with chicken.
Mix tomato, cheese, eggs and spinach in a separate bowl. Add this to chicken, vegetables and rice mixture. Now, you should have all ingredients blended in one bowl.
Pour mixture evenly in a greased 9 by 13 baking dish. Bake in oven for 35 - 40 minutes until cooked and lightly golden bown. You can add cheese and put the entire dish back in oven at 450 degrees for about 5-10 minutes to brown if you are ready to eat now.
If you have more time and are not eating tonight, remove and let cool completely (about 1 hour).  This will allow the casserole to set. Once cool, slice into pieces, top each piece with cheese and put slices in oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes when ready to eat. The slices will be more composed, not falling apart and the top will be nice and browned.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Veggie and Shrimp Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Here's a yummy and healthy dinner idea that gives some variety to your usual routine. Its packed with veggies and is made with goat cheese which has more health benefits than some other cows milk cheeses. Goat cheese is lower in calories and fat, a good source of protein, easier to digest and contains probiotics! It also makes this dish creamy and gives it a smooth flavor. No reason to feel guilty with this meal. You can also leave out the shrimp for a vegetarian alternative. Also, the veggies are sautéed before hand so that once everything is prepped, the oven time is very short.


15-20 ounces shrimp, peeled
portabella mushroom caps, 10 medium size or 8 large size
1 onion chopped
1 bellpepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery

2 zucchini chopped
2 squash chopped
1 eggplant chopped
salt and white pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oil for cooking. (olive oil or other)
2 tsp paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp chopped garlic
5-6 ounces goat cheese
*Healthier Option- Instead of 6 ounces of goat cheese, do 3 ounces cheese and about 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or plain yogurt
Optional- parmesan cheese to top

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare all ingredients: chop vegetables and peel shrimp. Take portabella mushroom caps and scrape out gills and the core in the center with a spoon (Makes sort of a bowl to fill up later). Brush the outside of the caps with olive oil to help them cook. 
  • Saute onions and celery in 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet on medium high heat until tender. Add  bell peppers, squash, eggplant and zucchini and saute as well until tender, adding oil if necessary. Add in garlic. Season veggies while cooking with salt, paprika and pepper. Put in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 
  • Saute shrimp on medium high heat until pink and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice. Remove from heat once cooked and chop in halves. Add to cooked veggies. 
  • Next, add in goat cheese (and yogurt) to the shrimp and veggie mixture. Carefully toss to mix. Fill up the portabella mushroom caps by spooning in the shrimp and veggie mixture. Top with shredded parmesan cheese for extra flavor if you would like. Line the finished mushrooms up along a baking tray and place in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown on the top. 

  • Here's what they should look like right before going into the oven. I just put 2 mushrooms on the pan since that is all we are eating tonight. The rest are in the fridge. I will heat them in the oven when we are ready to eat them. Since the center mixture is cooked, you can wait for a couple of days to put them into the oven until you are ready to eat them. (Or freeze them). 
  • Also, if you have some of the mix left over, you can stuff some potatoes with it. I baked potatoes in the oven, cut them in half and scooped out the center. Added that to the mix and then stuffed the potato skins. Top with cheese and put them back into the oven for 10 minutes. New twist on twice baked potatoes!


Looks like my husband approves... yum!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken Fajitas

It's Fajita night!! Here's a yummy fajita recipe that can be enjoyed over rice or traditionally in tortillas of your choice with your favorite toppings. Marinade included in the recipe.

Fajita Marinade:
1 cup cold water
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano
4 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
14 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
1 1/2 to 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch strips

Add lemon juice to cold water followed by other ingredients while whisking in between. Finally, slowly whisk in olive oil. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes in fridge, covered. When ready to use, take chicken out of marinade with tongs and remove excess water by damping with paper towels.

Fajita ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3 chopped and seeded bell peppers, color of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinated chicken
1-2 tsp mexican seasoning (or use a blend of chili powder, cumin and paprika)

Heat pan to medium high heat. Add oil and marinated chicken. Season with salt, pepper and mexican seasoning. Use lid to drain excess water if necessary in order to brown chicken. Remove chicken once fully cooked and set aside. Add oil and onions, cook until tender and lightly browned. Add peppers and cook until just tender; season with salt and pepper. Add chicken back to skillet. Serve with tortillas, fajita style or over brown rice as a fajita bowl like picture below. We also use greek yogurt to top with instead of sour cream. For gluten free, use corn tortillas. Enjoy  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cilantro Lentils with Red Potatoes

Cilantro Lentils with Red Potatoes
Estimated cooking time:45 minutes to 1 hour

Green lentils- 16-ounce bag
Red potatoes- 4-5 medium
2 Small red bell peppers- chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrots
Juice of ½ lemon, plus 2 tsp lemon juice reserved
Seasoning- pepper and salt to taste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
½ cup coconut milk
2 tsp lime juice
Cilantro- ½ bunch, fresh and chopped

Soak lentils for about 5 minutes and rinse well. Put lentils in a pot and cover with water about 1 inch over lentils. Bring to boil and then turn down to medium heat. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add lemon juice.
 Cut potatoes into cubes and sauté in a skillet over medium-high heat  in butter and oil until tender. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Add to lentils.  Add bell peppers and chopped carrots to skillet, sauté until tender. Season with salt and lightly with pepper. Add peppers to lentils. Pour coconut milk into skillet while hot to deglaze and add to lentils. Turn down to low heat and continue cooking  until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. (depends on how fresh the lentils are, etc.)  Add fresh chopped cilantro, reserved lemon and lime juice when done and mix well. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shepherd's Pie (Gluten Free)

Here's a recipe that really feels like an American favorite! And who doesn't love meat and potatoes? This is comfort food to me. It's hearty, healthy and yummy! I'm happy to share this one with you. **This recipe is also gluten free.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups frozen seasoning blend veggies
*these are awesome to cook with! Find them in the frozen veggie section. They are already cut up onions, celery, bell peppers, etc. Much easier than cutting up onions and adds great flavor without added preservatives or other ingredients. No salt even! Just veggies. Worry free addition  :)

1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen sliced carrots
1-3 tbsp butter or other oil for sauteing
3-5 pounds red potatoes rinsed and cut into cubes. cut off any sprouts, peel if desired
2 tbsp butter for potatoes
1 cup milk ( I used coconut milk which gave a nice flavor and bc my fiance is lactose intolerant)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable broth (you may use beef broth as well.)
1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
Seasoning to taste- salt & pepper, oregano, basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to add to top. (or whatever cheese you prefer)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cover potatoes with water in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Add about a 1/2 tsp salt. Turn to medium heat and cook until tender. About 15- 20 minutes. Drain in a strainer once tender.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, crumble ground beef and put in a large preheated skillet on medium high heat. Season with salt & pepper, basil and oregano. Add garlic. Continue cooking until fully cooked. 
  4. Heat milk and 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan on medium heat until steaming and warm. Mash up potatoes well with a potato masher or whisk in a bowl (while they are still warm). Add milk and butter to potatoes. Add 1 tsp salt and baking powder. Mix well until smooth.
  5. Remove beef from skillet and set aside. Add seasoning blend veggies in skillet with oil on medium high heat and saute for a few minutes until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add in carrots and continue cooking until tender about 5 -7 minutes. Add more oil if they start to stick. Season carrots as well. Add peas in and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  6.  (Note- I always lightly season each layer to given a nice, flavor throughout. This way, you are building flavors and you don't end up with a bland dish. Don't over do the seasonings, just sprinkle lightly. Taste to make sure it is enough.)
  7. When all vegetables are tender, add beef back to skillet along with broth. Stir together and put the lid on for about 5 minutes to simmer, making sure everything is cooked throughout.
  8. Spread beef and vegetable mixture along the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. Carefully spread the potato mixture evenly along the top. There should be plenty of potatoes to give a nice layer on top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove right before done and add some shredded cheese, put back into oven to melt for about 2 minutes only. Mine looked like this in the end after cheese:


Friday, June 8, 2012

Healthy Tuna Salad

Here's is a healthier version of tuna salad for your next tuna sandwich! Instead of mayo, I use plain greek yogurt and olive oil to give a similar taste with much less calories. For this recipe, I used 2  3-ounce cans of albacore tuna in water. I find it has a fresher, lighter taste. 

6 ounces tuna
3 tbsp 0% fat plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chopped garlic (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice
Option- 1 boiled and chopped egg

Combine all ingredients and mix. Chopped tomato and / or chopped avocado are great additions to this recipe. Serve with fresh bread or toast. Enjoy!
***0% greek yogurt has about 8 calories per tablespoon compared to regular mayo which has 100 calories per tablespoon. By also adding the olive oil, you get a similar taste to mayo with only adding 40 calories per teaspoon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coconut Apple Crisp (Gluten Free)

We LOVED this apple crisp! It reminds me of apple pie but with a taste of coconut. I found it very easy to make and received only positive comments from family who tasted this yummy dessert. Plus, it's gluten free! Check the bottom of this recipe for information regarding substitutions (if you must)!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
About 8 servings

4 medium apples peeled, cored & diced
1 ½ cups coconut flakes
6 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or 2 tbsp white sugar and 4 tbsp brown sugar)

1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
½ cup coconut flour

4 tsp honey warmed
6 tbsp butter melted
3 tsp lemon juice

*Optional/Recommended- So Delicious coconut milk ice cream

Preheat Oven to 350°F.
Place apples evenly in an 11X7 baking dish coated with oil or butter.
**When thinly and evenly spread, this dessert achieves a nice crunchy top.
In a medium size bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Next, mix together liquid ingredients in a small, separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until mixture resembles course meal. Top apples with mixture creating a thin layer on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy on top. Serve with ice cream.

Substitutions: I have tried this recipe with other types of flours. You can substitute coconut flour for regular or whole wheat pastry flour if you are not concerned with having a gluten free recipe. (no need to change amounts. Use 1/2 cup of any flour you like). Oats may also be used in place of coconut flakes. But, if you have access to these ingredients, I suggest trying it this way!! We really loved the flavor and consistency. Good luck!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken and Bell Pepper Roll Ups

These chicken roll ups are a great way to change up your regular taco routine! They are very easy to make and also a great way to get more vegetables in your diet. 

Chicken and Bell Pepper Roll ups
Estimated cooking time:15 minutes
Makes about 4 servings

1 yellow, 1 red and 1 orange bell pepper, rough chopped
1 cup spinach, freshly & finely chopped 
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, rough chopped
2 lbs chicken- cut into 1 inch small cubes or small strips
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
½ tsp garlic, chopped
Seasoning- salt and pepper

Dice all veggies separately and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown on medium-high in large skillet in 2 tbsp  olive oil or coconut oil. Remove chicken and set aside. Add bell peppers to skillet and cook on medium high for a few minutes until tender. Make sure to leave space between vegetables when sauteing to make sure moisture can evaporate and this will aid in browning your vegetables. 

Add sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to skillet with bell peppers. Add chicken back to mixture and make sure chicken is fully cooked.  Remove from heat and add fresh chopped spinach to mixture. Mix well. Put a few tablespoons of the finished product in a heated corn tortilla and top with Greek yogurt (healthier choice than sour cream) or cheese if you like. Enjoy!