OMG! I seriously cannot believe that I haven’t blogged this yet. I mean, I kind of can. Mostly because whenever I make it we NEVER want to wait for me to snap photos of it before we eat. Lucky for you all, the hubby and the baby were outside when this came out of the oven so I hurried as fast as I could to snap some photos before we gobbled it up.
I’ve been making it for years. It’s a family favorite. It’s got all those classic Mexican flavors, but it’s oh-so-fun with the way it is layered and the layers definitely add some great texture. I adapted the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. That should already sell you on the deliciousness, but let me just give you a few highlights. Pretoasting the tortillas makes this dish a winner. When they’ve been crisped up, they not only taste great, but they provide the necessary structure for the stack. The toasted tortillas also help us to avoid that raw flavor and gummy texture that soggy tortillas can leave behind So, the toasted tortillas are definitely a huge highlight. Another huge highlight is the great amount of filling you find between layers. You will NOT feel short-changed here, folks. And, if I can, I must also highlight the mashed black beans. I simply love them!
So, what I’m saying here is that you should really make this because I’m pretty sure you’re going to find that it will become one of your family favorites too. It’s a winner, hands down!
Grilling season is in full swing and these kabobs were one of the very first things we threw on the grill this summer. They are so, so, SO good. The flavors are summery fresh and they all meld together incredibly well. We’re talking rosemary, garlic and lemon! Amazing! There’s plenty of each of these ingredients in the marinade, so there is no lack of flavor whatsoever.
And, if that isn’t convincing enough, the chicken is incredibly moist (so long as you don’t over cook). The base for the marinade is buttermilk and while it provides nice tang, it also makes that chicken nice and juicy!
We like to add bell peppers and red onion to our kabobs. There are various opinions on whether you should grill your veggies separate from your meat. The main argument for this is so that you can cook each to the level of doneness you prefer since they rarely get done at the exact same time. I am not picky with the level of doneness on my veggies (I find that they’re slightly still crisp once the chicken is done . . . and I love them like that anyways), so I combine my meat and veggies on the same skewer. Plus, I think it looks prettier. However, if you’re one that likes your veggies cooked to a perfect doneness (per your opinion), then put your meat and veggies on separate skewers.
You seriously gotta make these this summer. Probably more than once! Again, they are so, so, SO good!
I’ve said it before, but my hubby is not the biggest fan of traditional Spaghetti (thus this and this), but I am. We had a lengthy discussion about this and what it came down to was the sauce. He’s just not a fan of the bottled/canned sauces that are available to purchase on the grocery isle. So, I set out to make us a homemade sauce that would make all of our tummies smile. Here’s what did the trick!
The secret to most GREAT sauces is the opportunity to let them simmer for a nice amount of time. While this sauce takes only a few minutes to prepare, it does require a nice 45-minute simmer. So, plan ahead. The simmering is where all the magic happens, so don’t be messing with that step if you mess with anything.
I love the balance of textures found in the sauce. I used a combination of diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes and I think it yielded some fabulous texture.
The spice combination is pretty perfect too! If I wasn’t feeding a 2-year-old, I may have added a bit more crushed red pepper . . . but what I have in the recipe is definitely enough to give is a slight punch without really even noticing it’s there. And, you’ll find all your traditional Italian spices in there too.
I must note that I used no added sugars. Sugars are typically added to most spaghetti sauces. I was hoping that this sauce would taste well without it, and I am happy to report that it’s not even missed . . . not one bit!
You can easily use lean ground beef in the recipe. I chose to use ground turkey to save a little on calories and fat, but they can be interchangeable.
This recipe makes a lot of sauce. I like it that way because then I can freeze it and use it for later (without having to do any of the work). It freezes beautifully.
I like to serve this sauce on top of whole wheat noodles of any kind. It would also be delicious served over spaghetti squash. Seriously . . . I’m so glad to have this recipe because now we can have spaghetti a little more often with smiles all-around! Homemade is always better, isn’t it!?
Ham and cheese . . . one of those combinations that are just meant to go together on a sandwich. Here is a version that comes in with much less calories and fat than a typical grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich. I used a thick slice of lean ham, and then I used Sargento’s Ultra Thin sliced cheeses. You can play around with the cheese flavors, but I used my two favorites that I love with ham . . . Swiss and Sharp Cheddar.
I added Dijon mustard to my sandwich because I love the grown-up taste that it offers to the sandwich. You get a nice tang and I think it compliments the ham beautifully. That being said, it can totally be optional. If you’re not a mustard fan, or if you’re making sammies for little kiddos, feel free to leave it off.
I just grilled mine in a nonstick sauté pan with a lid on it (to trap in the heat so that the cheese would melt and the ham would warm through). There are a couple of other easy ways to grill/toast your sandwich and if I was going to make several sandwiches at once, I would probably use another method. You can quickly toast both sides of your sandwiches on the stovetop in a nonstick skillet and then put them on a baking tray, throw them in a 350-degree oven and let them warm through in there (about 5 minutes). Another option would be to use a toaster oven if you have one. And lastly, you can use a George Foreman grill or a panini grill to get the job done.
Any way you look this, the sandwiches come together in just a few minutes and they taste great, are nice and gooey, and you get the satisfaction of having a classic comfort food without all the extra calories and fat!
As promised . . . here’s a yummy and healthy idea of ways to use that delicious Whole Wheat Flatbread! These Gyros are sooooooo easy and they taste great. All you do is make the Quinoa Tabouli, whip up some Whole Wheat Flatbread, throw in some shredded chicken, and you’ve got yourself a delicious Gyro!
Like I’ve mentioned several times before, I love cooking up a big batch of shredded chicken in my slow cooker so I can assemble meals at the drop-of-a-hat. That’s what I had done here. I had made the Quinoa Tabouli the day before, I already had shredded chicken sitting in my fridge, so really all I had to do for dinner was make the flatbread.
These taste super fresh and they’re very filling. The only thing I think that would make these even better would be to add Tzatziki (you can make your own or buy it). If you can spare a few extra calories, add it in! It would take these from delicious to super delicious!
Chicken and Tabouli Gryos
1 Whole Wheat Flatbread
1/4 cup Quinoa Tabouli
3 ounces cooked and shredded chicken breast
To assemble place shredded chicken down the center of the flatbread. Evenly top with Quinoa Tabouli. If desired, top Tabouli with Tzatziki. You can either fold in the sides of the flatbread and roll it up. Or, you can fold it half like a taco. Enjoy!
Serves 1 (but can easily be multiplied).
Nutritional Information per Gyro
Ok. Ok. I know this is not the most glamorous looking dish. However, it is so darn easy, so darn healthy, and so darn good. I just have to share!
The balsamic vinegar yields a nice tang, while the pears balance that out with a hint of sweetness. You’ll also find that by cooking the chicken in the slow cooker you get some natural chicken broth that mixes with the balsamic vinegar and this gives the perfect low-calorie sauce. We ate this dish with Baked Brown Rice and the sauce poured over the top was deeeeeelish!
Oh, and the slow cooker does all the work? Awesome!
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken and Pears
Adapted from Laa Loosh
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 medium sized pears, cored and sliced thick
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and let cook for about 4-6 hours on low, or until chicken falls apart easily.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving – Approx. 4 oz.)
Fat: 1.1g (0.0g = Sat.)
Sugars: 8.6g (mostly from pears)
How about a pasta dish that is under 300 calories per serving? Yes, please!
We love, love, LOVE this pasta dish! When fresh asparagus hits the stores, this recipe immediately goes in our line-up! The asparagus adds that great freshness to the overall taste, while the balsamic butter coats everything with a sweet tanginess. And, fresh Parmesan? The perfect way to top it all off!
The funny thing about this recipe is that it screams spring-time . . . thanks to that asparagus. But, the balsamic butter also gives the recipe a bit of comfort. In the fall/winter months when asparagus isn’t at it’s best, just sub in some steamed broccoli and you’ve got a dish that you can add to your favorites year-round!
Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pasta with Balsamic Butter
Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
1 pound fresh asparagus spears
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
8 ounces whole wheat/grain penne pasta, dry
2 tablespoons light butter, cut into pieces (I used Smart Balance)
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 of the pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 5 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until melted.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until just done, 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the balsamic butter mixture. Toss to combine well. Add in the asparagus, chicken, Parmesan, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Fat: 7.3g (2.3g = Sat.)