Category Archives: Healthy Meals

Skinny Tortilla Soup…A Hominy Story

1 cup is less than 2 Weight Watcher points but you don't need to be watching your calories to appreciate a yummy bowl...or two!

1 cup is 2 Weight Watcher points but you don’t need to be watching your calories to appreciate a yummy bowl…or two!

I’m a soup girl. I could devote an entire blog to my soup creations. I could eat a bowl of any soup any time of day. There is something comforting to me while I have a large pot steaming away all day while I go about other chores, visiting the pot to add an ingredient, give it a stir or to simply taste its progress.

Though a mystery to my Mom, as I was not a fan as a child. I would turn my nose up to anything considered a soup or stew opting for a PB&J instead. I’d pout, make terrible faces and whine until she would cave and excuse me from my bowl.

Despite that I deserve paybacks from my own children, to my pleasure, they too, share my (Now as an adult) love for bowls of anything soupy.

This recipe really got its inspiration from a blog called http://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/youll-love-our-heavenly-chicken-tortilla-soup/ I of course added my own twist, but truly, this was the base recipe I used for my own

First, before I continue onto my recipe, let’s get a little lesson on Hominy. These corny nuggets are what really make this the BEST Tortilla Soup ever!

Why Hello, Hominy, welcome to my kitchen.

Why Hello, Hominy, welcome to my kitchen.

According to Wikipedia, Hominy consists of dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization….okay, lesson over…just know this stuff is really cool…indians used it too…so it must be magic!

Here it is, the healthy, yummy, lick your bowl clean recipe:

Ingredients for Skinny Tortilla Soup

1 large or 2 small chopped onions

2 stalks celery sliced

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 corn tortillas chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon quality cumin (more to taste)

1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder (regular is fine too)

1/2 teaspoon smoked spicy paprika (offers a really nice smokey spicy flavor, I found mine at Penzy’s)

3 TBS tomato past (save the rest of the can in a ziplock baggie in your freezer for later use)

1 15oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes juice and all

1 Can green chilis, drained

1 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Yellow hominy drained and rinsed

2 cups of cooked lean chicken

Juice and zest of 1 lime plus more for garnish

In a large stockpot sweat your onions and celery in a bit of EVOO for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and chopped corn tortillas. Sweat for another couple of minutes. Add spices, tomato paste, broth, tomatoes, beans, chilis and bring to a slow bubble. Turn back heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add hominy, and chicken. Simmer for another 10 minutes taste and adjust seasonings. I believe I ended up adding more chili powder and cumin. Just before serving, add the zest 1/2 lime into soup and juice of whole lime.

Garnish with cilantro, baked corn tortilla strips and a wedge of lime

Baked Corn Tortilla Strips

Simply cut 2 corn tortillas into strips, spray sheet pan with cooking spray, lightly spray tops of tortillas and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees until edges begin turning golden, about 10 minutes or less.

Rice Cooker Fiesta Mexican Rice

  

Recently, I added a rice cooker to my collection of useful kitchen appliances. I didn’t spend much, in fact, this little guy was under $20.00. Not sure if It would end up in the appliance graveyard or a much appreciated purchase, I was reluctant to leave us eating hotdogs and pasta for the week so, I bought the second cheapest model.

To my great surprise, I am in love with my rice cooker! Like a crock pot, this is a busy mom’s dream! Fill it and forget about it. Perfect rice in about 30 minutes. 

Unfortunately, I have not found many rice cooker recipes that impress me. So, today, after spending too much time browsing the internet for a tasty Mexican Rice recipe to serve for a Fiesta night, I made my own.

Slice a lime and crack open a Corona, this recipe deserves a toast!

Note: Recipes Yields about 6 cups cooked.

All the goodies for our recipe

 

Ingredients

1 Cup white uncooked rice
EVOO
1 med onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
1 Can (about 15 oz) of diced tomatoes (I used fired roasted)
1 small can of diced green chilies
1 Can of beans (about 15 oz) drained and rinsed (pinto or black beans are perfect)
1 Cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian recipe)
1 Cup of corn (I used a leftover ear of grilled corn removed from cob, adds great flavor, but frozen would be fine)
2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp of Smoked Hot Paprika (if you do not have, substitute with cayenne)
1/2 tsp dried Oregano

Directions:

In a frying pan, brown rice in EVOO to make it toasty. This is what adds the nutty flavor to traditional Mexican rice. Add onions and garlic, stirring often until onions are beginning to turn translucent.

Your rice should turn golden brown, and the onions should become translucent

 

 Lightly spray inner part of rice cooker with cooking spray and add rice/onion mixture. Combine remaining ingredients, set cooker to cook.

Add all ingredients into Rice Cooker....Whoa, careful, this baby sure is full!

 

 

 When cooker turns to warm setting, give a stir and return cover. Let stand for another 10 minutes.

Look at that fluffy spicy goodness...Ole I say

 

Serve with fresh cilantro and sour cream or shredded cheese if desired.

Steak Fajitas fit for a Fiesta!

Need a little Fiesta in your life, but don’t want the sombrero around your waist? You’ve found the right place! This recipe has all of the party favors, but didn’t invite the unwanted fat.

Recipe makes 8 fajitas

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb lean beef trimmed of any visible fat and sliced thin with a sharp knife. I used 2 top round steaks.
1 package whole wheat tortillas
2 Sweet peppers sliced thin (green, red, yellow…whatever you desire)
2-3 onions cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin

Optional Topping ingredients
Salsa of choice ( I also included salsa verde)
Fat free sour cream
Reduced fat shredded cheese
Jalapeno slices
Avocado diced
Cilantro
Additional lime

Marinade ingredients:
2 cloves garlic minced
1 lime, zest and juice
1 TBS cumin
1/2 TBS Mexican chilli powder (regular chili powder is fine)
1 tsp Adobo brand seasoning salt ( I used the variety with cumin)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBS vegetable oil
3 TBS water
(Optional, add about a TBS of the juice from the jalapeno peppers for extra kick)

Combine marinade, pour over sliced beef in a large plastic bag and let marinate at least 1 hour. Be sure to remove bag of marinated meat to counter at least 20 minutes before cooking to take the chill off.

In a large, heavy non-stick frying pan, spray with cooking spray and saute peppers and onion until just beginning to soften. Remove from pan. Spray pan again and add beef cooking at high temperature just until no longer pink, add peppers and onions just until warm. Scoop 1/2 cup mixture into warmed tortillas, top with desired ingredients and serve with your favorite Margarita! Dress with additional lime and cilantro. It’s Fiesta time!

Italian Minestrone Soup

2 cups of hearty soup is only 188 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 9.7 grams protein and 9.4 grams fiber

The New Year is well on its way and many of us are paying attention to our diets after indulging in so many holiday goodies. This Italian Minestrone Soup recipe is so hearty and satisfying, you don’t even realize you are eating a big bowl of Healthy Goodness! A generous 2-cups of steamy heaven is only 188 calories, 1.7grams of fat, and packs in 9.7 grams of protein and 9.4 grams fiber….

But how does it taste you ask? It’s an Italian festival in your mouth! Tomato, garlic, Italian seasoning, hearty whole grain pasta and savory vegetables satisfy all of your cravings. With these numbers, one can even afford to grate some quality parmesan cheese over the top!

Use a large stock pot as this recipe makes at least 8, 2 cup servings

Ingredients:
Cooking spray (I used Olive Oil flavor)
1 Cup diced onion
1 1/2 cup sliced celery (about 3 large stalks)
1 1/2 cup Carrots sliced (I used frozen, straight from the Freezer)
1 Tbs diced garlic (I like the jarred as it’s much easier)
1 – 15 oz can low sodium or no salt added diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable to make this vegetarian)
1 6-oz can no salt added tomato paste
1-2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (to taste)
1 1/2 cup sliced fresh zucchini
1 1/2 cup frozen green beans (no need to defrost)
2 cups loose leaf frozen spinach. The 10-oz frozen block may be used but it will need to be defrosted and drained of juices.
1 cup uncooked whole wheat shell pasta
Sea Salt to taste if desired.

Garnish with quality parmesan cheese freshly grated (this does change nutrition information)

Spray cooking spray on the bottom of stock pot. Preheat on med-high heat, add onions and celery. Let them sweat, turn down heat if needed to prevent browning, about 3 minutes, add frozen sliced carrots (or fresh). Stirring often, allow vegetables to become slightly tender. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, juice and all, chick peas, broth, tomato paste and italian seasoning. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean and slice zucchini. Add zucchini, green beans (no need to defrost), spinach and pasta. Soup is done when pasta is done. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread if desired.

This recipe makes a lot, put into individual serving dishes and freeze. Perfect to take to work for a healthy lunch or take out and defrost in the refrigerator the night before to accompany your dinner

Ham and Cheese Pockets

Ham, sharp cheddar cheese, spicy brown mustard and refrigerated biscuits are a tasty dinner sure to please the family and help you use up the leftovers.

As the holidays have come to an end, I find that there are many tasty ingredients in my refrigerator worthy of being showcased. With a bit of help from store-bought biscuits, an impressive and easy meal was made. Once you’ve tried these, the filling options are endless! I simply served these pockets with a side salad for a complete and nutritious meal.

Yields 8 Pockets

Ingredients:

1 Package of large refrigerator biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands biscuits)
2 cups diced ham
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, sliced or shredded
Spicy Brown Mustard
1 egg
water
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, make your egg wash by whisking 1 egg and a splash of water to thin, set aside. Lightly flour surface. Roll a refrigerated biscuit to a 6 inch circle. Smear a thin layer of mustard in the center. Place 1/4 cup diced ham and 1 oz cheese just off from the center. Dampen bottom edge of biscuit with either water or I used the egg wash as it was next to me. Fold in half gently so not to tear dough. Gently seal with a fork. With a sharp knife, make 2-3 slits in the top. Lightly brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the dough is a golden brown. Let cool slightly and serve.

These are so easy and will disappear just as quickly as they were made. I did, make a few with ham, diced green apples, cheese and Dijon mustard. These were the kids favorite! Other ideas for filling would be pizza sauce, fixings and mozzarella cheese. Or, as a friend of mine suggested, use pie filling, and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar for dessert.

Broiled Mahi Mahi with Orange Marmalade Glaze – No toast here

Broiled Mahi Mahi with Orange Marmalade Glaze with Grilled Pineapple BBQ Shrimp Kebobs over rice.

Orange Marmalade isn’t just for toast! In fact, next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a jar and you have an amazing base for many different sauces. Sweet and tangy, marmalade can be used for glazing ham, chicken, pork loin, and in this case, fish.

I used Mahi Mahi as It was a great price at my grocery store, but this would be great on salmon, tuna or cod. Simple to make, but so delicious and healthy. Make it a real “surf and surf” by making Pineapple BBQ Shrimp Kebobs. Serve fish and shrimp over rice and add some steamed vegetables for a meal you can feel good about serving to your family.

Recipe yields 4 4oz servings

Ingredients:

4 4oz filets of firm fish, thawed if bought frozen (Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Steelhead, or Cod)

Ingredients for glaze:
1/2 cup Orange Marmalade
4 TBS Soy sauce
3 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
1 TBS red pepper flakes (omit if serving to young children)

Prepare glaze by combining ingredients into a small sauce pan, whisk until well mixed. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring often so not to burn. When mixture thickens, remove from stove and prepare fish for broiling.

Preheat broiler. Cover sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Coat fish generously with Marmalade glaze and place in oven 6-8 inches from heat source. Broil 5-7 minutes (depending on thickness of fish) watch carefully so not to burn. Fish is done when it flakes easily. Do not overcook fish. Serve over rice with a steamed vegetable.

Coconut Curry Halibut with Mango Chutney

Coconut Curry Halibut, Mango Chutney and Pineapple Stir Fry

Got your attention! This dish sure got mine! It all started with a conversation with my mom as she was considering adding coconut to her fish that evening. At first, I dismissed her idea, then I realized if Coconut shrimp was so good, why not use it to make a delicious fish dish? Why not indeed!

As the idea’s formed, I began my research on the web, looking at hundreds of recipes. I alternated between my cupboards to see what ingredients I already had and taking notes in my book. A few hours later, I had a plan for an exciting dinner and a grocery list.

I’ve never made chutney before, and not even sure if I’ve ever tried it. However, a spicy and sweet Mango Chutney to compliment the Coconut Curry Halibut was beginning to make sense. I made the chutney first as it takes at least 30 minutes to cook down, and I knew the fish would be a quick cook. I made Pineapple Stir Fry to complete this healthy and exotic meal that was pleasing to the eye and the taste buds.

Recipe yields approximately 3 cups cooked

Ingredients for Chutney
1 TBS EVOO (or other mild oil)
2 TBS fresh ginger diced
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and diced
1 medium red onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ripe but still firm Mangos, peeled and roughly chopped (about 2 cups total)
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup each of Orange juice and pineapple juice equaling 1 cup (or just orange or pineapple to total 1 cup liquid)
2 TBS Curry powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt

In a medium sauce pan, heat EVOO on med high heat. Add ginger stirring frequently to flavor the oil. After about 1 minute, add jalapeno and saute 1 minute more. Add onion and sweat until it becomes tender. Add Mangos. In a small bowl, combine Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 cup of juice, sugar, salt and curry powder. Add to Mango mixture, bring to a low boil for about 30-45 minutes stirring frequently. When mixture begins to thicken, mash with a potato masher a few times still leaving chutney chunky. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve with Coconut Curry fish.

Ingredients for fish:
4 Halibut filets or other fish of choice (about 4-5 oz each)
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup flour
2 TBS Curry powder
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp each fresh ground salt and pepper
2 egg whites plus a splash of water mixed

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse and dry fish. Set up your coating station, 2 plates and 1 shallow bowl. On one plate combine flour, Curry, Ginger salt and pepper. In the shallow bowl, mix 2 egg whites and enough water to thin eggs a little. On the 2nd plate, place the coconut. First coat fillet with flour mixture, then egg mixture, and finally pressing gently both sides with the coconut. Repeat with remaining fillets. Place coated fillets on a baking sheet and bake about 17 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Serve with Mango Chutney.

Pineapple Stir Fry

Pineapple, jalapeno, cashews and currants make for an exciting Vegan meal or side dish. I served this when I was looking for something to compliment my Coconut Curry Halibut and Mango Chutney, what a compliment it was! This recipe is amazingly healthy, low in fat and cholesterol, full of sweet and savory flavors with a touch of heat from the jalapeno. There are quite a few Pineapple Stir Fry recipes out there, this is my own combination of flavors that work perfectly with the Coconut Curry Talibut and Mango Chutney, or simply by itself – I can attest to this as I am enjoying a bowl of it for breakfast while I write my blog!

Yields: About 5-6 cups, serving portions vary if using as a side dish or a meal. Leftovers reheat extremely well and are fantastic for lunch (or breakfast) the next day.

Ingredients
4 Cups cooked Jasmine rice (preferably made 2-3 days ahead of time, but see note at end for a tip if making the rice that day.
1 TBS high heat cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and finely diced (optional, omit if you do not want the heat)
1 cup red sweet pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 green onions sliced on the bias, reserving the tender green ends to add at the end of dish.
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 large carrot shredded
1 can (about 20 oz) pineapple tidbits drained, reserving juice
1 cup cashews (unsalted or I did use ones with sea salt with great results)
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
Sauce:
2 TBS low sodium Soy Sauce
3 TBS reserved pineapple juice
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Gather all ingredients and have ready to add to wok, as cooking time is very quick. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, pineapple juice and curry powder, set aside.

Heat wok and oil until very hot. Add jalapeno fry for about 30 seconds while constantly stirring careful not to burn. Add sweet red peppers and fry for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, add scallions (the white part) peas and carrots. After a minute, begin to add pineapple, cashews and currants. Keep mixture moving until hot. Add rice and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce, mix, remove from heat toss in the green ends of the onions and serve.

Tip: If you do not have leftover rice to use that has been refrigerated for 2-3 days, make rice as directed and spread on a large baking sheet and place in freezer. This will help it to cool and remove some of the moisture. I find that after 15 minutes or so, I will mix the rice around and break it up with my hands and return to freezer for another 15 minutes. Remove before beginning to make recipe and allow to reach room temperature. I’ve used this method a few times now and it works well.

Ma’s Garden

Delivery from Ma's garden, including her fresh picked garlic, basil, thyme, parsley,sage, savory and rosemary. The flowers were nice too!

Goodies from Ma's Garden and the farmer's market

Ma's Garden

Doesn't get any better than this!

My Ma can grow! She can grow everything and anything that Michigan will allow. She taunts me with amazing and homegrown produce…feeding my creative taste buds. She delivers ingredients that would make an experienced chef drool. I am now finding myself challenged to utilize the amazing ingredients she has gifted me so casually! My Super-Gardener has my attention and admiration! In the picture, from upper left to right: Dill, Sweet Basil, Oh so Wonderful Radish, a bowl of Michigan Blend Greens (and a bit o’ radish),
Sweet Basil, Cilantro (I love you mom, as I know how you grew it just for me!), More Michigan Blend Greens, Rosemary, Thyme and Savory…Where does one begin? Fish, Potatoes, poultry, beef, salads, marinades…Know…I have taken a moment to taste each herb and vegetable alone…my tounge danced and my brain raced! Can I cook fast enough to give these perfect ingredients the respect they deserve? Organic labels, watch out! You cannot begin to touch Ma’s Garden!

Easy Vegtable Fried Rice

Not too long ago, I found an electric wok, hardly ever used and great quality at my local 2nd hand store. The price was a steal for the brand and condition. I did not want to become like my wok’s previous owner and neglect to appreciate it’s culinary genius. As I already had some beautiful red, green and yellow sweet peppers cut up in the refrigerator and carrot sticks from lasts nights vegetable tray, I was focused on making sure they would be the star in tonight’s dinner as produce like this should not be forgotten and let to turn into a science project. I had planned to use leftover chicken I had also grilled for last nights dinner (made extra, or so I thought), but my boys had already used it to make more Balsamic Chicken Wraps. So vegetarian we go! No disappointment to me, or my boys.

I had to do some research online, as using a wok of any sort is very new to me. I learned quickly that one must have all of their ingredients ready to add as the cooking process happens quickly. I also learned that fried rice is best with leftover rice about 2-3 days old. Shucks…I hadn’t planned for that! Luckily, I found a site that gave a tip if you didn’t have leftover rice and were making it fresh. After rice is cooked, spread on a large cookie sheet and put into freezer for about 30 minutes. It not only cools the rice, but helps it dry out. I have found out that the dryer you rice is the better for this dish. I did, however, find that after 15 minutes, I mixed and re-spread the rice as the corners were freezing and the middle still hadn’t lost its moisture.

So, rice is working, giving me plenty of time to re-consult the internet and to prep my veggies. On 1 plate I have sliced red, yellow and green sweet peppers. This was easy as they were already sliced and cleaned, I just made the slices a bit thinner and shorter for the recipe. I julienned the already made carrot sticks. Then, I happened to have a fresh pint of mushrooms, I removed 2 big ones, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced about 1/4 inch or so. Onion was next, I have fresh red onions from Ma’s Garden that had to be involved (many recipes call for scallions, but I used what I had with no regrets). Peeled, cleaned and halved. The red onion was sliced thinly and also put on the plate of veggies.

Next, I got out a small bowl and added 2 eggs. A dash of pepper and salt was added before I mixed with a fork. This too, was set on the table next to my wok.

I pull out the bottle of soy sauce and get my wooden utensils ( one with a flat edge and one is a spoon, no recipe secret, just what I have that will not scratch the wok)

Oil….Well, I did wonder why in my research Olive Oil was not mentioned…but peanut, sesame, and vegetable oil were always mentioned. OK, I’d rather use my vegetable oil instead of my expensive alternatives. You only use a couple of TBS anyways….

Now, I check my table to be sure all the ingredients are in place. So, now, I begin to cook!

Recipe yields about 4-6 servings or 6 cups total prepared Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1/2cup each of Yellow, Green, and Red sweet pepper sliced about 2″/ 1/4″ (substitute with what is available)
1/3 cup frozen peas (set in a small bowl and let defrost a bit)
1 whole large carrot juilenned into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
2 large white mushrooms sliced (about 1/3 cup)
4 Cups cooked and cooled rice
2 eggs lightly mixed and seasoned with salt and pepper
Soy Sauce (about 2 TBS to taste)
2-3 TBS high temperature oil (vegetable oil works fine)

Heat electric wok to highest setting, add about 1 1/2 TBS oil. When just beginning to smoke slightly, add carrots, stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add peppers, cook about a minute more stirring constantly. Add Mushrooms, cook another minute and remove vegetables to a bowl.

Add more oil if needed, pour in eggs, softly folding. Remove when done but still moist…make sure they are chopped up into small pieces.

Add remaining oil if needed, then the rice and onions. Let sit for 2 minutes or so, breaking up any clumps. Toss and keep frying to get rice a bit crispy. This may take 6-8 minutes with occasional tossing. Add bowl of vegetables and eggs. Add Soy sauce around the pan, about 2 TBS. Toss until all is hot, remove to serving dish and serve immediately. Leftovers are wonderful for lunch the next day.