Turkey Tacos

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So my son really wanted homemade meatballs for dinner one night last week and there was just no time. I was debating on whether to post this because it is kind of a no-brainer. But I thought you would appreciate the healthy spin on it!  This is kind of a new thing for us and luckily both kids love them. In a pinch, while still getting a healthy meal on the table, this is what I do.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of lean ground turkey – at least the 93% lean (usually about 20 oz. in package)
  • Lawry’s Taco seasoning packet 1 oz. (I have been searching for taco seasoning that does NOT have MSG) These do not! But for those with allergens, it does contain milk & wheat. Found in the ethnic foods isle (where the Mexican, Asian and Italian foods are)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 12 taco shells – look at the ingredients at the regular brands. You would be amazed that almost all of them contain hydrogenated oils. I go with the organic isle here. Garden of Eatin’ is the brand and they are yummy. Mix up the colors and do some yellow and some blue. My kids get a kick out of it.
  • 1 8oz. 2% reduced fat cheddar, shredded  (mild or sharp depending on your preference)
  • Lite sour cream or greek yogurt (again, your preference – yogurt is healthier!)
  • Shredded romaine lettuce and or baby spinach (more nutritionally sound than iceburg!)
  • Serve with brown rice and black beans.

In a large non-stick skillet, cook the turkey meat on medium until the pink is all gone. You can drain the fat. Add the Lawry’s seasoning packet along with 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, warm up your taco shells in the oven around 300 for 5-7 minutes. Spoon the taco meat into the shells and put on your favorite toppings. ENJOY!!!

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Use That Leftover Chicken For “Chicken Tortellini Soup”

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Well, it is officially soup season! And this one doesn’t get any easier!

Look at “Whole Roasted Chicken” recipe to use leftover chicken and pan drippings.

Now on to soup making day!

Additional Ingredients:

  • 3 @ 32 ounce containers of chicken broth (2 should have been used already from night before) – low sodium (I use organic (Nature’s Promise) check those ingredients for MSG & hydrogenated oils, you would be suprised! (the 3rd is for back-up in case you need more liquid in your soup)
  • 1 can of cannelini beans
  • 1/2 package of frozen peas
  • 1/2 package of baby spinach
  • 1 16-20 oz. package of refrigerated tortellini (found with refrigerated pastas) I use tri-color version
  • Small can of tomato sauce (your preference, gives nice flavor to soup)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Fresh baked crusty Italian bread!

Now your soup pot would have been refrigerated from the night before. There will be a good layer of fat on top of the soup. Carefully skim the fat layer off with a large spoon. It separates super easy and just throw out in trash. Set soup pot on stove top and warm on medium heat. Once warmed, add the can of beans (all liquid too). Next add the peas and let cook for about 5 minutes and then add the tomato sauce if you would like that extra flavor or leave as a plain broth base. You can have the soup at a slow boil when you add the tortellini. They cook up quick so go by the package directions with them and try not to overcook. Add more broth if it’s too thick. At the end, add the baby spinach. You can also do a taste test for adding salt/pepper at this time. The spinach will instantly wilt and be ready. Serve in soup bowls and add some freshly grated romano or parmesan cheese.

This meal goes great with some fresh baked bread. I make my own (will post recipe at some point) with Italian butter. Small plate drizzled with 2-3 TBSP EVOO, garlic powder, basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and grated cheese. So yummy! Can dunk bread into soup too! Salad goes perfectly with this too!

Whole Roasted Chicken

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I always had a fear of making a whole chicken – just looked like it was involved and intimidated me. Well, this is probably one of the most simplistic meals you can ever make! Plus it’s great for stretching out over a few meals and transitioning into new meals! A real time-saver! I will show you how I take my chicken and the next night have a fantastic and healthy soup – Italian style!

Ingredients

  • A whole roaster chicken – I used an 8 lb. for this recipe
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 long carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 16 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP dried rosemary
  • 1-2 Tsp. garlic powder (depends on how much you like garlic)
  • 1 Tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Dried Parsley (or fresh if you have it) couple shakes to give chicken some green color

Preheat oven to 350. In a roasting pan, place all the chopped vegetables (celery, carrots and onion) on the bottom of the pan.Remove the chicken from package. Be sure to remove the insides. I bought a Giant brand chicken – which came out delicious but the insides were not tucked into a nice little bag – had to get my hand in there and pull out – Perdue comes packaged in a nice little bag – easy for removal. I went with the sale….

Rinse the inside and outside of the chicken thoroughly with cold running water. Place chicken on rack (make sure the plastic circle timer (popper) is on top)  in roasting pan  – I use a 9 x 13 stoneware pan and put a rack in there. Works great! You don’t have to go out and buy a roasting pan. Dump in the chicken broth. Then drizzle the EVOO on top of the chicken – coating the top and sides well (this is my secret ingredient to make the chicken moist). Next cover with salt & pepper to taste. Evenly distribute the remaining dry herbs (rosemary, garlic powder, thyme and parsley). Tie up the ends of the drumsticks together so that the opening is now closed. I use pins to close it up or you can use string.

Depending on the chicken weight, it should take about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. I set my oven timer about 15 minutes sooner than what the directions call for on the packaging. I like the meat to be moist, not dry! So as soon as the timer pops up, shut the oven and let the chicken sit in there for another 5-10 minutes – no longer! Then remove and let sit out for at least 10 minutes on the counter before slicing. It will retain it’s juices more this way.

IMPORTANT: Save all drippings, veggies in roasting pan and of course remaining meat on chicken. Do not discard – we are using this for the soup on the next post! Page down on how to start STEP 1 for soup. So easy!

Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or whatever your preference. I made this with brown rice, broccoli and I actually had some stovetop stuffing so I finished that off. And of course I had a salad with this meal! Enjoy! So easy. Now look at my next soup recipe so you can make easy peasy, chicken tortellini soup!

Step 1 for Soup: After eating your chicken from the night before, set aside a large soup pot. Dump in everything remaining in the bottom of the roasting pan (all liquids and veggies) into the pot. Don’t worry about the fat. Just be sure to not get any bones in there. Shred all of the remaining meat off the chicken, be sure to get both dark and light meat. Put it all in the soup pot. You will be surprised how much you get off that guy! Now add the 2 containers (32 oz. each) of chicken broth. Put a lid on the pot and refrigerate over night. See soup recipe next.

Slow-cooked, Pulled Chicken Sandwiches – Crock Pot Tuesday

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So I have made this exact recipe but with pork. The sauce comes out soooo good! This is my healthier take on it.

Chicken Prep Time: Approximately 15 minutes

  • 3.5 – 4 lbs. skinless/boneless chicken breast, fat trimmed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (smidge more for sweeter)
  • 1 @ 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP Paprika (or 2 TBSP sweet paprika) – I didn’t have sweet paprika – couldn’t find it in the store, so improvised, again.
  • 2 TBSP Worchestershire Sauce – have an issue with pronouncing this…
  • 2 TBSP mustard – I did yellow and spicy
  • 2 TBSP A-1 Steak Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • I also added a few shakes of garlic powder (I love garlic)

In your crock pot, pour in all ingredients from onion through pepper or garlic powder depending on your preference. Mix with a wire whisk. Trim fat from chicken breasts. Place the chicken in the pot getting each piece good and saucy. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours. Remove chicken and shred apart with a fork. Place in large serving bowl and re-add sauce from pot as you would like. Enjoy on a crusty roll with 2 slices of sharp picante provolone cheese and prepared broccoli rabe. Serve with a salad! YUMMY!! And leftovers are such a wonderful thing! Portion and freeze the rest for another night you don’t have time to prepare dinner. You will thank yourself. It is so good even after you freeze it!

  • Sandwich Rolls – use whole wheat crusty to get the whole grain
  • Picante Sharp Provolone cheese slices
  • Broccoli Rabe

Easy Broccoli Rabe

This is an awesome vegetable for you, packed with many good nutrients! It definitely has a bitter taste and would be more of an aquired taste to many. But I love it!

  • 1 bunch, Broccoli Rabe (also called Rapini in produce department near Kale)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSPExtra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Organic Chicken Broth (I use Nature’s Promise, best price and no hydrogenated oils or MSG – look at those cans, they are usually filled with it! Boullioun cubes are too.)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse the broccoli rabe with cold water. Trim the ends off and cut the thick ends with kitchen shears, actually splitting the stem in half working your way up to the top – this helps cook those thicker pieces so they are not chewy. You can either leave the pieces long or cut into small pieces. I like them longer – easier to situate on the sandwich. Place the broccoli in a medium pot filling the bottom with water about 2 inches high. Blanch the broccoli until you can get a fork through it pretty easily and you can tell it won’t be chewy – just be careful to not overcook. Keep a close eye on it because it can cook within 5-7 minutes. Drain the water out and add the minced garlic, EVOO, S& P, and broth. Let simmer on super low for about 20-30 minutes.

Our house smells awesome! Enjoy Crock Pot Tuesday!!!

Steak, London Broil – Monday

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An oldie but goodie! Here is a super simple recipe:

Preheat oven to Broil.

  • 1.5 – 2 lb. London Broil Steak (on sale at Giant this week, Buy One Get One Free)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Cooking Spray
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Dried Thyme, Dried Rosemary, Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Garlic Powder

Tenderize both sides of the steak. Lay on a foil lined baking sheet covered with a few shots of cooking spray. Drizzle EVOO on the steak (a few drizzles around does the trick) and lightly cover the steak with the remaining dry indredients. Flip it over and do the same to the other side. Broil for approximately 20 – 30 minutes until your preferred done temperature. We go for less pink here so that is what is recommended. Once you remove the steak from the oven, be sure to let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting it. This will help retain the tender and moistness.

Top with sauteed mushrooms. Serve with mashed potatoes and broccoli (we have the frozen florets – boil in water for a few minutes (until the fork gets through the stem easily – don’t over cook!) top with a little smart balance and a shake of sea salt). Frozen veggies are not only fast to prepare but packed with vitamins and nutrients. All of those good healthy nutrients are retained in the freezing process. So in most cases (unless buying from a local market that grows their own) you are gaining more nutrition from frozen as opposed to fresh in the grocery store.

Quick Sauteed Mushrooms

  • 1 8 oz. pack already sliced mushrooms (usually same price as buying them whole)
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Smart Balance Butter
  • Sea salt, pepper and garlic powder – all according to tasteC

Cook all together in a saute’ pan on medium heat. Cook until onions are soft and translucent and mushrooms are soft as well. Top over your steak! And a few parsley sprigs to dress it up.

Enjoy!

Sneak Peak Planning For This Week, Week of 10/24

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What a weekend! So busy and couldn’t get on here yesteday to post my week’s menu. I will be posting it later today but must get to Giant first. Here is a sneak peak…

London Broil – They are BOGO at Giant – stick one in the freezer for a later date

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (Crock Pot Tuesday) on whole wheat buns, sharp picante provolone cheese and maybe some yummy broccoli rabe – Value pack of chicken breast is on sale for $2.99 lb (usually comes in 4-5 lb.) but you can cook the entire pack in the crock pot, portion it out and freeze for a later date!

Pork Chops (may have to check in with my mom on a good recipe) Boneless, center cut pork chops on sale $2.99 lb.

Whole roasted chicken – Giant brand on sale for $1.29 lb this week – I have the most simple recipe ever for this! I was always intimidated to roast a chicken and couldn’t believe how long I waited to do this…

Chicken tortellini soup – Yes, we eat alot of chicken in this house and I find it’s pretty common with most families. This is a healthy and easy soup! I got the idea from Rachel Ray – just made some changes (to  make it more simple)

Some other items on sale worth noting at Giant:

Green’s Ice Cream – 3 for $6 – that is a deal! And my total weakness! I walk to eat my ice cream.

Giant Whipped Cream 2 for $3 – a must have with the ice cream!

Barilla Pasta $1

Atlantic Salmon $6.99 lb. ( have  a great and simple recipe but will  most likely make next week)

Giant Whole Pork Shoulder $1.49 lb.

English Muffins 2 for $4

Giant cooking spray $2

Avocadoes $1

Maxwell House coffee 3 for $8

Giant shredded or block cheese (8 oz.) 3 for $5 (stock and freeze at this price – they have gone up to $2.49 now, used to be $1.99)

Keep an eye out for my post later today. Have an awesome Monday!!!

“Better Than You Know What” Peanut Butter Brownies

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Ok, so I don’t claim to do everything from scratch – even though alot of people think I do. But these brownies are so yummy! Your friends and family will be thanking you. I can guarantee it! I love the really rich, super moist type of brownie and this is exactly that.

* Also, this is a great throw together quick dessert to bring over to someone’s house that will be a huge hit!

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix with fudge packet included (or any brand with the extra fudge pack will do)
  • 1 egg (this is according to above brand’s recipe)
  • 1/4 cup water (this is according to above brand’s recipe)
  • 1/4 cup oil – I do go over this amount with a longer pour – makes them moist! (this is according to above brand’s recipe)
  • Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel sauce (found right near the chocolate syrup or with ice cream toppings
  • White chocolate chips and dark chocolate (or semi-sweet) chips
  • Cooking spray

I really think the pan I use has a lot to do with how these brownies come out. If you have a stoneware 9×9 pan, use it! I got one from Pampered Chef over 10 years ago and swear by it!

Coat the 9×9 pan with cooking spray. Then mix the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl according to box ingredients (don’t forget the fudge packet). I add a couple squeezes of chocolate syrup too. Throw in a few handfuls of dark or semi-sweet chips. Pour mixture into greased pan. Then with a teaspoon make small dollops of peanut butter resting right on top of the batter. As much or as little as you want. Take a peak at the pic to get an idea. Then drizzle the caramel sauce horizontally and vertically. Lastly sprinkle the top with white chocolate chips. Bake according to directions on box but may take longer or short depending on your oven. I always set my timer for 5-7 minutes before what they call for. The key to these brownies is to NOT overbake them. Put a toothpick in and you want some brownie morsels sticking to it. You don’t want to get to the point of the toothpick being perfectly clean because then they get dried out. I read that this is the key to making great, moist brownies.

So I do like to indulge and take a square, warm it up in the microwave for about 12-15 seconds and even add some hot fudge on top. Then scoop on the vanilla or peanut butter swirl ice cream on top. Oh my word!! So ridiculous! Enjoy!

I also have a “from scratch” recipe that I will post at a later date. Need to experiment with that more first…