Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mediterranean Baked Chicken

Life has been crazy busy, not just with the usual hustle and bustle, but with a young toddler girl who has been unusually challenging these last few weeks.  She is honestly the cutest thing with the biggest personality (not that I'm biased or anything), but her larger than life personality can also make her very determined and stubborn.  So needless to say, the tantrums have hit us hard and not just that...sleep is a commodity again.   That being said, I have found some great tasting recipes that are simple enough to make while dealing with this toddler and her older brother.  I just haven't had the time to write about them...until now (thank you to my mom and dad for visiting and motivating me to catch up!).

This recipe was quick, easy, and delicious!  Most of the magic happens in the oven while the chicken bakes away in its delicious sauce.  Plus this is made with boneless and skinless chicken thighs, so its very low-fat but full of the flavor of a slow-roasted whole chicken.  The kids scarfed it down and so did my husband and I.  I also was able to make it for my parents who loved it just as much.  I served mine over farro (high fiber, high protein grain to soak up the sauce), sauteed spinach, and roasted broccoli.  This is one I would definitely add to the weekly menu rotation!  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!
Mediterranean Baked Chicken
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (fat free, low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup flour, optional corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ cup pitted green olives

  • Read more at http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-lemon-chicken/#QzAbjpJwXFekvHRs.99
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (fat free, low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup flour, optional corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ cup pitted green olives

  • Read more at http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-lemon-chicken/#QzAbjpJwXFekvHRs.99
    3 lbs of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 10-12 thighs)
    2 T olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 cup of dry, white wine
    1 cup of chicken stock
    juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2-3 T)
    1 lemon, sliced
    1/2-3/4 cup of black and green pitted olives, to taste (I used the seasoned Greek olives I buy from BJs)
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (fat free, low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup flour, optional corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ cup pitted green olives

  • Read more at http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-lemon-chicken/#6HOjXO4DfuVjE9Ex.99

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Using an oven-safe dutch oven or large pot, brown the chicken thighs in the olive oil in batches, just searing them on each side (about 3-5 minutes per side).  (At this point, the chicken will still be raw so please be careful when handling).  Place the seared chicken on a plate until all chicken is browned on each side.   Set chicken aside to build the sauce. 

    Add the garlic to the hot pan (no chicken in the pan at this point) and allow it to saute for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn.  Then deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping all the chicken bits off the bottom of the pan.  Then add the chicken stock and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Add back the chicken and cover with the olives and lemon slices.  This picture is below (I totally forgot to take any pictures up to this point - sorry!!!).
    Bake the chicken covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.
    Serve immediately and enjoy!  Did I mention how much we loved this???

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

    Can it get any easier?!?!  Heck no!  You guys are gonna LOVE this sauce.  It is so flavorful that I might venture to say it is some of the best homemade marinara I ever made!  I know...that's a bold statement, but this was dynamite!  And I can't stress just how simple it really was.  So next time you have some tomatoes that are turning, or they go on sale at your local grocery store or farmers market, load up and get roasting!  You will not be disappointed - so yummy!

    Happy Cooking!


    Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
    original recipe created by Sarah on the fly
    3 cups of roughly chopped tomatoes (any kind - cherry, roma, beefsteak)
    1 small onion, roughly chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    2-3 T olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Using a non-stick baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, onions, and garlic together with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet. 

    Just the before picture from another angle...

    Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  At this point, mix up your tomatoes and push the roasted sauce together on one side of the baking sheet.  If you would like to add any other vegetable to your pasta dish, add it now and cook an additional 10-30 minutes.  In this case, I used asparagus and roasted another 15 minutes.

    Add your favorite pasta, fresh, boxed, or frozen.  I used a refrigerated portabella mushroom ravioli (only takes 4 min to cook, after you bring the water to a boil of course).  I also added a whole lot of fresh basil, roughly chopped.  Yummy!!! 

    The entire house smelled AMAZING and it tasted just as good as it smelled.  Enjoy!

    Apple Cinnamon Muffins

    Looking for a healthy muffin recipe that exemplifies fall flavors???  Check out this recipe that combines that favorite flavor combination of apples and cinnamon and turns them into a delicious muffin.  I love baking with my kids - they love to measure, mix, and taste their creations.  So why not bake something that will satisfy their sweet tooth while being healthy enough to eat anytime of day?  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family did.  (And I apologize for some of the blurry photos).  I haven't seen my little one so excited about a muffin in a while.  Enjoy!

    Happy Baking!

    Apple Cinnamon Muffins
    recipe adapted from  http://thechiclife.com/2012/09/healthy-cinnamon-apple-muffins-recipe.html 
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
    1/4 cup ground flaxseed
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup canola oil
    2 eggs
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 large apple, peeled, cored and shredded, about 1 1/2 cups
    non-stick spray or muffin liners

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk until well combined.  
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil.  Then  add one egg at a time.

    Then continue to add the remaining liquids, the buttermilk and vanilla, until well combined.

    Then add the liquids to the dry ingredients, folding them together just until about almost combined.

    Add the shredded apple and continue to fold until the flour streaks disappear.  Do not over mix - you will get a tough muffin.

    Your muffin batter should look something like this (sorry for the blurry photo!!!).

    Scoop the batter into a well greased muffin tin (use cooking spray or liners).  I use an ice-cream scoop to make the muffins uniform in size. 
    Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

    Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!!!

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    Week 43 - meal planning 101

    Ever since I started the Healthy Home Revolution (January 2013), I have been posting my weekly meal plan in hopes of helping some of you out there.  I know friends who hate to cook let alone the duty of having to decide what to make for dinner.  I wanted to help by providing lots of ideas.  So far this year, I have posted over 200 times and I venture to guess that at least 140 of those posts are recipes.  Please use this site as a resource.  I only post the recipes that come out good - I do not post things we didn't like.   Want to know how I plan my meals???

    Deciding what to have for dinner doesn't have to be intimidating or difficult. Give yourself some guidelines to help you streamline the process and make your week, and dinner time, simpler and less stressful.

    Here are my tips for taking the guesswork out of dinner time:

    1) Give yourself meal themes!  Themes will help you narrow down the choices and it will be easier to select a recipe for each night of the week.  For example,  make Mondays a meatless night and then plug in a vegetarian recipe each week, your favorites or new ones to try out.  Other themes could be crockpot night, soups & sandwiches (one or the other, sometimes both), pasta night, international night, and/or pizza night. For a while, we were having a Mexican night and an Italian night because those were our favorite types of foods and both very versatile.   Pick themes you know your family will enjoy. 

    2) Plan ahead!  Make your weekly menu ahead of time, creating a coordinating grocery list for anything you might need for the chosen recipes and other daily needs for breakfasts/lunch/snacks/etc. This means only one trip to the grocery store and saving yourself time.

    3) Get your kids involved!!! Have them help you out as much as possible. They will be more likely to eat it if they make it. It especially helps with something new to them. It also gives you some quality time together.

    4) Run it by your partner!  If you take turns cooking, get him/her involved in selecting recipes too.  In my house, I do all the cooking (because I LOVE TO!) and I am blessed with a husband who will eat almost anything.   In fact, he told me to go ahead and plan whatever I want and he will eat it.   So most of the time, he doesn't know what's for dinner until the day of.  If you have a pickier spouse/partner, then make some basic rules for how cooking and meal planning happen in your home (how involved he/she wants to be).  No one wants to spend the time planning and executing a great meal only to have someone complain about it.

     I hope these tips help you get organized at dinner time.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if there are things you would like to see in the future.

    Below you will find my weekly meal plan for this week.  I'm experimenting with various meal themes myself, some new to me.  Also, I would like to mention that I truly am so sorry that I haven't been posting recipes over these last couple of weeks.  Between fall festivities, a fiesty toddler who doesn't like to sleep, and the first fall cold that swept through our home, I'm lucky we are all in one piece.  Sometimes its just about survival folks - not about how I made my delicious Mediterranean Chicken (which will be posted later this week - my parents are in town to help with the kids, so I'm hoping to catch up on recipe posts). 

    Have a fabulous week and Happy Halloween!

    Week 43 - October 26, 2013

    Sunday - leftovers

    Monday -  (Meatless Monday) Roasted Fall Vegetables with Arugula and Lentils

    Tuesday - (International Night) Beef and Broccoli with Vegetable Fried Rice

    Wednesday - (Chicken Creation)  Baked Artichoke Chicken with whole wheat couscous and salad

    Thursday - (Soup & Salad) Kielbasa, Kale, and Potato Soup

    Friday - (family movie night)  Mini Pizza Bagels

    Saturday - (Chef's Choice) Beer Braised Short Ribs with Glazed Carrots, Celery Root Puree, Sauteed Greens

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Week 42 - living in the moment

    My husband and I were lucky enough to see Mandy Patinkin in concert last night (currently stars as Saul in Homeland on Showtime). At one point in the show, he commented on how young people get so caught up in taking pictures with their phones, or updated their Facebook statuses, that they forget to live in the moment. As he put it, "living through the phone", is something I am guilty of myself.

    Having the world at your finger tips, literally, is addicting. The Internet, social media, Pinterest, online newspapers and magazines - you could spend your day on your phone or "plugged in" in some way. So I'm going to make a pledge to myself for the week - only using my phone when absolutely necessary and restricting FB to once a day. It's a little social experiment of my own. We could probably all use some time that is totally unplugged.

    Below you will find this weeks meal plan. It's another busy one, so not much time for new recipes, but hopefully I will be able to carve out some time to post the 6 recipes I have waiting to share with you all.

    Happy cooking!!!

    Week 42 - October 20, 2013

    Sunday: dinner at a friend's house

    Monday: quinoa tabbouleh salad, falafel lettuce wraps

    Tuesday: crockpot lemon chicken, farro, sautéed spinach

    Wednesday: book club dinner out (make the kids baked pizza pasta)

    Thursday: leftovers (I teach 5-6pm)

    Friday: pizza night

    Saturday: visiting with family

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Week 41 - survival

    I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!!!   We enjoyed ours and filled the beautiful fall days with trips to the pumpkin patch, collecting leaves, making apple cinnamon muffins from the apples we picked at the apple orchard, and spending time with friends and family.  Fall is probably my favorite season and it is slowly becoming my kids' favorite too!

    Not the over-share, but lately I've been feeling very tired and overwhelmed.  I haven't been sleeping well and the baby girl (now a toddler really) is SUCH a handful.  I can't take my eyes off her!  She's into everything and it's very difficult to get things done unless she's sleeping.  And there lies the rub...she hates to sleep.  So I'm giving myself a little break from planning elaborate meals (not that I have recently anyway due to this very fact).  

    I'm keeping things simple again.  Of course I didn't want to keep any followers hanging, so below you will find the bare-minimum plans of mine.  I wish you all a wonderful week!

    Happy Cooking!

    Week 41 - October 13, 2013

    Sunday:  take-out of some sort for football games

    Monday:  dairy-free creamy vegetable soup with wild rice (the recipe I failed to make last week)

    Tuesday:  ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches with fruit and simple green salad

    Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs, caesar salad

    Thursday: leftovers (teaching class)

    Friday:  pizza night - homemade pizza bagels

     Saturday:  crockpot pork carnitas tacos

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Vegetable, Beef, and Bean Chili

     When I think of fall and football season, I think of chili!  This has all the flavorings of a classic chili but with the added nutrition of fresh veggies and veggie juice that no one will even detect!  Its the perfect way to get your kids (or husband in my case) to eat more veggies.  Again, I was able to hide some zucchini (hated by both my husband and kids) into this recipe with no one the wiser.  Score!!!  Plus it tastes great!  Perfect for a party or gathering, or you can just make it for a week night meal like I did and use some of the leftovers for a chili-cheese dip or some nachos on game day.  Yummy!!!  This is definitely a keeper and I'm confident that this will be my go-to chili recipe for now on.  Enjoy!

    Happy Cooking!

    Vegetable, Beef, and Bean Chili
    original recipe by Sarah
    1 cup each diced onion and diced green pepper
    1 cup each shredded carrot and shredded zucchini
    1 - 28oz diced tomatoes in juice
    1 - 6oz can tomato paste
    2 1/2 cups of low sodium vegetable juice (I used low-sodium V8)
    1 can each low sodium black beans and kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 pkg of trader Joe's taco seasoning (yes, taco seasoning - it's essentially the same seasonings as chili seasoning.  This pack has enough for 2 taco recipes with none of the weird ingredients of other packaged seasonings)
    salt to taste
    Toppings such as crushed taco chips, shredded reduced fat cheese, light sour cream, diced avocado, scallions and/or sliced black olives

    First, gather all of your ingredients together and get chopping.  This thing comes together quickly.

    While you chop and shred, brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat. 
    Be sure to break it up as it cooks.  Once it is cooked through, pour the beef onto a plate lined with paper towels to allow any access grease to drain away.
    Set the beef aside and start to cook the veggies.  Add 1 T of olive oil to the pan, over medium heat, and add the onions and peppers.   Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

    Now add the shredded carrots and zucchini and continue to cook until the carrots are soft. 
    This is what the veggies look like when they are done:
    Now its time to add our other ingredients!  Add the beef back in along with the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable juice, taco seasoning, black beans, and kidney beans.  Stir until well combined.  Place a lid on top and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    And that's it!   Your chili is ready to go!  You can allow it to continue to cook for up to an additional 30 minutes, but not necessary.  It's deliciously thick, chock full of vitamins and minerals, and a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

    We ate about half the pot for dinner alone!  I told the kids it was taco soup, since they love tacos but are skeptical of new things.  Plus they loved being able to eat their soup with chips and "sprinkle cheese" (their name for shredded cheese, since they sprinkle it on). 
    Serve yours with your favorite toppings and enjoy!!!

    One Pot Italian Wedding Soup

    Yummy!  This is one of the best soups I have ever made...seriously!  I love chicken vegetable soup and I love meatballs, so this is like combining everything that is great about them both.  The kids LOVE it because of the mini meatballs, plus you are sneaking extra veggies into their diet.  Normally, my toddler wouldn't be caught dead eating onions, tomatoes, celery, or spinach; however, if I put them in a soup he seems to scarf them right down - no questions asked.  Weird, right?  My husband  really enjoyed this recipe too.  And since the meatballs cook right in the broth, it makes for such a great one pot meal!  Add a salad or some crusty bread if you want, but I felt no need.  Incredibly delicious and easy enough to make during the week!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

    Happy Cooking!

    1-Pot Italian Wedding Soup
    recipe is an original recipe based on these two internet finds:
     For the soup:
    2 T olive oil
    1 cup each of chopped onion, celery, carrot
    2 - 32oz containers of chicken broth or stock
    1 - 15 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
    1 - 10oz bag of baby spinach
    1 cup of uncooked orzo pasta
    salt & pepper to taste

    For the meatballs:
    1 lb of ground turkey (93% lean or leaner)
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 large egg, beaten
    1/2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
    1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (and some more for serving if so desired)
    1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
    salt & pepper to taste

     Chop your veggies while waiting for a large pan to heat over medium heat.
    Add the olive oil and veggies.  Season with salt to taste (optional) and stir.  Cook for 10-15 min or until soft.
    Here's a picture of the veggies when they are cooked enough to move on:

    Now add the can of diced tomatoes and all the juices, along with both containers of broth.  Stir and allow the liquid to come to a slow boil over medium or medium high heat.

    Now it's time to make the meatballs.  They will cook in the soup broth, so all we have to do now is mix them up and get them ready to add once the soup had come to a boil.

    Mix together all of the meatball ingredients EXCEPT for the turkey itself.  This way you ensure that all the seasonings, breadcrumbs, and eggs are evenly distributed before you add the meat.  (It also helps to ensure a more tender meatball since you won't have to mix it as much once you add the meat).
    Add the turkey and mix just until combined - do not overmix (for same reasons I already stated). 

    Using a tablespoon, form mini-meatballs for the soup and place them on wax paper until ready to cook.  I ended up with about 35 mini-meatballs. You can see the size of them compared to my spoon (that's just your run-of-the-mill soup spoon).

    Once the soup has come to a small rolling boil, as pictured below...

    add the meatballs and allow them to cook in the broth.  This will also flavor the soup more.   When you first add them, they will sink to the bottom of your pot.  Over time (about 15-20 min), they will rise to the surface and begin to float.  This means they are cooked through (much like ravioli). 

    Add your baby spinach and continue to cook until wilted.

    Once the spinach has wilted you can add the uncooked pasta directly to the pot. 
    Continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender.  The soup is now ready to serve!

    I turned off the heat and allowed it to cook off for about 20-30 minutes before eating, but it is so incredibly delicious!

    Here's a picture of my son's bowl of soup that he scarfed right up! 
    I prefer a little bit of grated parmesan cheese on top of mine, but that is totally optional.  Enjoy!!!