Sunday, March 31, 2013

Week 13- Healthy Home Revolution Review and Favorites

First, let me say a very Happy Easter to anyone celebrating!!!  Today, like many holidays, is a day that we gather as families, big or small, and celebrate traditions over food, drink, and laughter.   Food is a social event and holiday meals are the ultimate example of this.  Enjoy your gatherings and make many happy memories today!

Healthy Home Revolution Update and Review:
Thank you to everyone who has supported me, re-pinned my recipes on Pinterest, and commented on Facebook.   I've lost 15 pounds and even fit into the jeans I wore when I first met my husband, my pre-kids days.  Awesome!!!  The best part is that I don't feel I've deprived my body of anything.  In fact, I feel quite the opposite.  I've been slamming fruits and veggies, mostly veggies, into my body daily.  Combine that with lean meats, high fiber whole grains, low fat dairy and the occasional treat (like our Friday pizza nights), my body is strong and healthy.  I still eat my favorite "splurge" foods every now and then, but I'm intentional about what I put into my body.  And exercise has become part of my daily routine.  I no longer ask myself whether I am going to workout or not; instead, I ask myself when my workout will fit in to my schedule that day.  It requires some planning, but it is all worth it.  Exercise has become such a large part of my daily routine that my toddler asks if we can exercise together when I pick him up from school.  He knows how to do specific exercises that I didn't know how to do at 30 years old. 

So in celebration of completing 12 weeks of life-style changes, I just wanted to share some of my favorites.  The Healthy Home Revolution has transformed what I cook for my family and how I look at exercise.  I hope that it has done or can do the same for you.

My favorite recipes from these past 12 weeks:
Although I don't cook 7 days a week, I have not repeated a recipe on the days that I have cooked dinner.  Most of the recipes I would make on a regular basis, but some really stand out as being AMAZING!  It was REALLY HARD to narrow it down to my top 5, so here are my top 7, in no particular order:

1) Italian Baked Chicken

2) Pork Carnitas
3)  Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki
4)  Chicken & Spinach Enchurittos

5)  BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

6)  Lemon-Onion Chicken with Spinach

7)  Black Bean, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

My favorite new snack:
When I want something quick, fresh, healthy & delicious I make this super simple tomato and avocado salad.  I take about 1 cup of tomatoes (what ever you have - these Campari tomatoes were on sale at Trader Joe's), 1/2 avocado sliced, and salt & pepper to taste.  It's that easy!  And I just love it.

My favorite workouts:
 Here is a link to a previous post that contains my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE at-home workouts.  Enjoy!

And now for this week's menu plan.  I'm making some new things, and some recipes that I have previously posted.  As always, I'll post recipes as the week progresses.

Happy Cooking!

Week 13: March 31, 2013

Sunday-  Easter Dinner: ham, mustard sauce, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and asparagus

Monday- Meatless Monday: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells, Caesar salad

Tuesday- leftovers

Wednesday- Garlic and Citrus Roasted chicken, brussel sprouts, and baked sweet potatoes (I've made this one before, but it's another favorite!!!)

Thursday - Crockpot Lentil and Ham Soup (this was one of my first recipes I ever posted!)

Friday- pizza and movie night

Saturday- date night

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Homemade Sloppy Joes and Not-so-sloppy Joe Empanadas

Sloppy Joes were a favorite of mine from childhood. I wanted to recreate them without the store bought mix or canned sauce, all homemade. This recipe was simple, fun, and delicious. My toddler helped me each step or the way and loved them! Getting him involved in the cooking process makes him excited to try something new, something HE made. Plus the recipe makes enough for two dinners!!! It makes enough meat filling for 8 biscuit empanadas AND 4 sandwiches. So yummy! For now on, I will never make them any other way.

Happy Cooking!
Sloppy Joe Filling
based on Rachel Ray's recipe
1 T olive oil
1.5 lbs of very lean ground beef, I used 96% lean
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 T Montreal steak seasoning
2 T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T tomato paste
1 - 15oz can tomato sauce

In a small bowl, mix the Montreal seasoning and brown sugar. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the beef and the olive oil, beginning to break in up. Add the seasoning mixture and stir to combine.
Easy enough that a 3 year old can do it!

Continue to cook until meat has browned. Add the onion and red pepper to the beef along with the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.

I just chopped enough red pepper so I had equal parts onion and pepper.  I actually had some red pepper leftover.
Add the tomato paste and tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serve on top of your favorite sandwich rolls and with some family favorite vegetables. Or make the yummy Not-so-sloppy Joe Empanadas, recipe below.

Not-so-sloppy Joe Empanadas
inspired by
1/2 recipe of sloppy Joe filling
1 pkg of biscuits (8 biscuits)
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheese

Here's a picture of the kind of biscuits I used - no hydrogenated oils or artificial preservatives.  Better for you than other refrigerated brands.
Take each biscuit and push it out into a thinner circle like you would a pizza crust, about 4-6 inch in diameter. This is sooooo much fun for kids to do! We even made up a song to sing about pressing out our dough. Ha!

Place between 1/4-1/3 cup of sloppy Joe filling, depending on the size of your circle. You want to be able to seal the dough without the filling in the way. Sprinkle 1 T of shredded cheese on top and fold, pinching the edges together. Continue this process with all 8 biscuits.

Place the empanadas on a greased cookie sheet, (I used cooking spray). Bake at 375 for 13-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite veggies. Tonight, it was sauteed green beans, carrot sticks, and green salad. Yummy!

Green beans sauteed in 1 T olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little fresh lemon juice.  Add garlic or slivered almonds - be creative and make them to your own taste!
Carrot sticks - a kid favorite and full of vitamin A!
And a green salad for me- I think I have a green salad at almost every single lunch and dinner every week. 
One recipe and TWO meals!!!  Doesn't get any easier!  Enjoy!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan

My husband loves chicken parm and I love anything with red sauce.  I came across this section in the March issue of Food Network's magazine that compared light versions to rich versions of our cheesy Italian favorites.  Their recipe for skillet chicken parmesan inspired me to try it this week.  It had only 330 calories as compared to about 800 in the classic version.  Crazy!  I changed a few things to make it quicker and easier for the weeknight, being careful not to add any fat.  It was so incredibly delicious!  The fresh basil made a high difference.  I served the chicken parm with a side of angel hair pasta, roasted broccoli, and sauteed swiss chard.  Everyone loved it and the kids and I ate all the leftovers for lunch today.  This is a recipe I would put in my monthly rotation.  I hope you enjoy it!

And now for a moment of venting:
Today is one of those days where my patience wore off an hour ago and I'm now practicing deep breathing in an attempt to keep my cool as each new trying situation smacks me across the face. Whew! It felt good to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Happy Cooking!

Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan
 recipe inspired by
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 T olive oil, plus 2 T for sauteing the chicken in batches
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally and pounded to even thickness
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
1 jar of your favorite homemade (recipe below) or jarred marinara sauce (I used a jar of Rao's Marinara, a really high quality sauce that was on clearance at my local grocery store)
1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

In a small bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs, 1 T olive oil, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese.  Stir until well combined and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and preheat your broiler.  After you have prepared the chicken breasts (as described above and pictured below - I cut mine into smaller pieces for faster cooking time), sprinkle them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. 

Saute the chicken in batches, using only 1 T of olive oil or less per batch.  Cook them about 3 min per side or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees (you can always use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat just to be on the safe side).

Take a medium sized baking dish or 9x13 inch pan and spray it with cooking spray.  Place the cooked chicken in the baking pan.  Once you have cooked all the chicken, pour the marinara sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer.  My pan was really hot and the sauce splattered everywhere.  I had to immediately cover it with a lid to prevent a huge mess.  Don't ever say I didn't warn you. ;)  Now its time to layer the flavors. 

Pour about 1/2 - 2/3 of the jarred sauce (or about 2-3 cups of homemade) over the chicken.
Now sprinkle 3/4 of the breadcrumb mixture over the sauce.

Top with the cheese, making sure to get an even layer.  You will be shocked at how far 1/2 cup of cheese can go!
And finally, the last bit of breadcrumb mixture goes on the top.  Place in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Just keep a close eye on it so that it doesn't burn.

And this is the beautiful and delicious final product!  So yummy!!!  You can smell the fresh basil and we couldn't wait to dig in!  Enjoy!!!
The other sides I served with the meal, something to please everyone: the carb lover, my kids, and the healthy veggies.  I always try to make half my meal vegetables!

The cooked angel hair tossed with the rest of the jarred sauce.
Roasted broccoli:  broccoli tossed with 1 T olive oil, salt, garlic, and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Roasted at 400 for 25 minutes.
Sauteed Swiss Chard:  1 tsp olive oil, chard, garlic, salt to taste.  Toss over medium-high heat until wilted.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

This cauliflower is amazing!  And it doesn't get any easier than this.  You don't even need the parmesan, its just so good right out of the oven!!!  This is a unique way to prepare an underutilized vegetable.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
This recipe was inspired by the recipe below, although I left off the capers and modified it slightly.  I have also made this recipe with no parmesan cheese and it's equally delicious.

the juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 T olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, which ever you have on hand is fine

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Toss the cauliflower in the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. 
Spread out evenly and cook at 450 for about 30 minutes, or until tender and golden brown, turning half way through.
Toss the cauliflower with the parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  So yummy!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lemon Onion Chicken with Spinach

I saw this recipe in a Food Network Magazine that my mother brought for me (she always gives me her old issues) and I knew right away that I needed to make this.  I love chicken french and chicken picatta and this is a definite relative of both of those recipes.  It's quick and simple, plus absolutely delicious!!!  The kids loved it too!  I served it with lemon parmesan roasted cauliflower and farro (my baby's new favorite grain). 

Happy Cooking!

Lemon Onion Chicken with Spinach
my version was based on with a few minor changes. 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally and pound if necessary so that they cook evenly (you can also just purchase 4 chicken breast cutlets, but they cost more)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 T olive oil, plus 1 tsp
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I didn't have chicken broth, so I used beef broth)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 9-ounce bag spinach

Season the chicken with the dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  In a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Put the flour in a shallow dish. Working in batches, dredge the chicken in the flour and add to the pan.   
Saute until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Transfer to a plate and tent with aluminum foil.
In the same sauce pan, add the red onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  Turn the heat to high and deglaze the pan with the broth, wine, and lemon juice, scraping up the brown bits in the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid starts to reduce, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a separate large skillet over medium-high heat.   Add the spinach and toss until cooked.  Season with salt to taste.  
Arrange the chicken on a platter, top with the chicken and the delicious lemon onion sauce.

Serve with your favorite sides, veggies only if you are eating a lower carbohydrate diet.  And if you haven't tried farro yet, I highly recommend it!  Enjoy!!!