Monday, April 30, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 12 Spaghetti with Salad and Rolls

Welcome to the twelfth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 12:  Spaghetti with Salad and Bread


Ingredients:
1/2 package whole wheat thin spaghetti
4 T. shredded parmesan cheese

4 c. lettuce
1/2 yellow pepper
12 grape tomatoes
4 T. salad dressing

4 Alexia French Rolls
2 T. canola butter

We had these with lasagna during week 1.  If you restrained yourself, you may have extra ones in the freezer to use tonight!


Directions:
1.  I had left over sauce in the freezer from when we made pizza, so I just warmed it in a pot on low.  If you don't have any left over sauce, go ahead and make it now.  It will only take about 5-10 minutes longer than cooking the spaghetti unless you have that awesome Kelly Ripa advertised stove that boils water in 90 seconds.

2.  Prepare spaghetti according to package directions.

3.   Meanwhile, chop the salad vegetables, set the table, fold a load of laundry, whatever:)  Oh, and stick the frozen rolls in the oven for a whopping 8-10 minutes (I love how quick and easy these are!), about the time you add the spaghetti to the boiling water.

4.  Serve sauce over spaghetti topped with parmesan cheese.  Pair it with a small side salad and roll with butter.  I forgot to get rolls at the store this week, so we made do with "Matt's bread" (white Wonder Bread) toasted with butter and garlic salt in the oven.  He was thrilled:)

Serves four.  Calories per serving: 517.

Enjoy!

*Bonus Breakfast Recipe*
So Satisfying Egg Toast with Cheddar



Ingredients:
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 egg
3 T. egg whites
To taste, salt and pepper
1 oz. slice sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Spray oil in pan and fry egg and whites over low heat until done to your liking.

2.  Meanwhile, toast bread.

3.  Layer toast, followed by egg, salt and pepper, then cheese.  Heat in the microwave a few seconds til melted.

Enjoy!

Serves one.  Calories:  300.

15 in 3: Dinner 11 Sloppy Joes with Sugar Snap Peas & Corn + Bonus

Welcome to the eleventh installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 11:  Sloppy Joes with Sugar Snap Peas & Corn

This is definitely one of our favorite family recipes!!  We always have it the first week in a new house, along with tacos and a few other familiar dishes.  Like the lasagna, I make it my Mom's way.  Her recipe doesn't include actual measurements, and I've never measured for this recipe either.  For you though, I broke out the measuring cups and spoons to make sure the taste would turn out just right.


Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 whole wheat hamburger buns (I used Rudi's Organic - 160 calories each.)

6 t. brown sugar
1 t. mustard
1/2 c. ketchup 
1/4 c. water 

2 c. fresh sugar snap peas
1 1/3 c. frozen baby gold and white corn
1 T. butter
To taste, salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Brown the ground beef, breaking it apart as you go so it becomes crumbled.  Drain if necessary.  Add brown sugar, mustard, ketchup and water; mix well over medium low heat.  Stir occasionally while it simmers and thickens.  

(I am sorry to say I am blanking on remembering exactly how much ketchup I used!  I waited too long to get this posted.  If 1/2 c. doesn't look right, then I know I didn't add more than another 1/4 c.  Stir the sauce and let it simmer and thicken before deciding to add more.  Also, the water is not original to the recipe, but by adding it I get the same consistency while using less ketchup.)

2.  Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toast buns about five minutes or to your liking.

3.  Meanwhile, in small skillet over medium heat cook the butter, sugar snap peas, and corn.  Stir often to prevent burning.

This meal serves four.  Calories per serving: 530.

Seeing that this Sloppy Joe dinner is only 530 calories per person really drives home the importance of portion control.  Sloppy Joes always seems like it's on the "bad food" list.  This recipe, however, was not only filling and delicious, but also packed with good-for-you nutrients.

*Bonus Breakfast Recipe*
Oatmeal with Apples, Pecans & Maple Syrup


Ingredients:
1/4 c. dry oats
1/4-1/2 c. water
1/2 medium apple, diced
2 T. pecans, chopped
1 T. real maple syrup

Directions:
1.  Cover oats with water.  Microwave about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until cooked and water is absorbed.  Stir.

2.  Add apple, pecans, and syrup.  Stir.

Serves one.  Calories per serving: 265.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 10 Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli & Carrots

Welcome to the tenth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 10:  Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli & Carrots



Ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
4 carrots
To taste, garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

1/2 14.5 oz. package uncooked penne (or preferred) pasta

2 T. butter
1/8 c. flour
1/4 t. garlic salt
1 c. skim milk
2 T. half and half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. dried parsley (basil or italian seasoning also work great)
1/6 c. shredded parmesan cheese (I think grated would works as well)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally, then slice vertically into 1/2 inch wide pieces.  Cover the bottom of a glass 9x13 baking dish with the chicken.  Sprinkle a little of each seasoning over the top, then stir.  Add frozen broccoli.  Trim off ends of carrots, then peel, quarter and julienne them.  Add to baking pan.  Repeat seasonings.  Bake uncovered in oven for 30 minutes or until chicken juices run clearly.

2.  Prepare pasta according to package directions. 

3.  While chicken, vegetables, and pasta are cooking, prepare the alfredo sauce.  This is the original recipe.  The original serves eight.  I halved it to serve four, and also replaced the 2 c. half and half with skim milk and just a bit of half and half.  *Thank you, Beth, for the healthy suggestion.*

     a) Melt butter in small saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk in flour and garlic salt until smooth.
     b) Slowly beat in milk and half and half until completely incorporated.
     c) Stir in garlic, parsley, and parmesan cheese.
     d) Whisk continually as sauce simmers.  Stir until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.


We have always used fettuccine and put the sauce on top until this time when we decided to use penne and mix everything together before serving.  We really liked it this way:)

Serves four.  Calories: 555.

Enjoy!

Joy Before You Debut


Spring is the time for beautiful new beginnings!  On this gorgeous spring day -my Mother's birthday- I dedicate, this, my newest article to you, Mom.  Thank you for being a fantastic mom, my Mom.  Thank you for loving me, hoping for me, believing in me, supporting me.  In celebration of your birthday today, I announce the beginning of Joy Before You.  I hope it can offer for teachers, parents, and caregivers the encouragement you offer me always.  
I love you!

Image by Enwikipedia.org

Today
Read:  The Wonderful Happens written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Coco Dowley

There are many wonderful things in our world.  Ask the children, "What do you think is wonderful?"

Tell the children we are going to learn about something wonderful this week.

{Ahead of time, fill a box with a few items characteristic of spring time.  Ideas are a feather, a flower, a packet of seeds, a small rabbit figurine.}

Holding the box higher than the child's height but within reach, allow each child to "blindly" choose an item from the box.  Encourage them to identify the item.  This item has to do with the something wonderful we are going to learn about.  Can they guess what it is?  This method engages inductive reasoning, which gives children practice drawing conclusions in new ways.

Help children as necessary to come to the conclusion that the lessons this week will be about spring.  Get excited with them about all this beautiful new season offers us.  Use the objects from the box to open their minds to an understanding of the spring season.

Dramatic Play:  Do you spring clean at your home or in your classroom?  Many people "spring clean" to make a fresh start by cleaning, organizing, rearranging, and letting in the fresh spring air.  Allowing and encouraging children to participate (both in the home/classroom and in the home play center, if you have one) shows them that they can make an impact on the places where they spend time.  It also encourages them to appreciate the value of work and a clean space to play.

-Of course you should never give young children actual cleaning products.  They will, however, be thrilled to help with a baby wipe, a rag, and/or maybe even a small spray bottle filled with water.

-Children can also help sort items that need to be organized or given away.  They can help find matches for items with a missing piece, as well.

-This is a great time to help children learn life skills such as sweeping, dusting, wiping, taking care of our things, and so forth.  Enjoy the extra hands!

Tomorrow
Read:  How Mama Brought the Spring written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Holly Berry

This story is fairly long for young children.  Reading it will probably be enough for one sitting.  Throughout the day, however, you can ask children about the book:

-How does Mama make spring come?
-Can making blintzes really make spring come?
-What did making blintzes do for the family?

This is a great story.  Look for extension projects from this book in the Cooking, Culture, Art, and Faith labels.

Next Time
Read:  Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

This is a fun read with great pictures.  The extension projects from How Mama Brought the Spring are real and valid and can be empowering, but they are also heavy on the heart.  Let this book cheer your heart that you and your child are loved.  Abide in that love, and always seek ways to share it with the world.  A little goes a long way!

Image by Bunny-rabbits.com

Movement:  Re-read the story and encourage children to act out the scenes they see and hear.  Surely, they can hop!  Can they also be tall?  Can they be still like a rock?  Can they flutter through the air?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 9 Man Salad with Steak

Welcome to the ninth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 9:  Man Salad with Steak

I first found a recipe similar to this one in Men's Health Magazine.  I think it was called Muscle Salad.  These days I basically make his and hers versions of salad.  This is his, and last week's Summer Salad with Chicken is hers.


The grocery store was completely out of spinach, so there's none in ours, but I've included it in the recipe the way I normally would make it.

Ingredients:
4 oz. steak
1/4 T. butter
To taste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, pepper

1 1/2 c. chopper romaine or iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 c. spinach

1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 oz. cheddar or Colby cheese
1/2 c. sugar snap peas, chopped
6 grape tomatoes, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1/8 yellow pepper, chopped
1 T. ground flax seed

1 T. salad dressing (I used poppyseed and Husband doused his in ranch.  The calorie total is for 1 T. though:)

Directions:
1)  Melt butter in large skillet.  (Again, obviously, if you have a grill - use it!  You can probably skip the butter, too.)  Add steak and season to taste.  Cook, flipping sides as needed to prevent burning, until it is at your desired doneness.  Mine took 15-20 minutes, but I was preparing four steaks at once.  Slice steak.

2)  You know what to do from here!


This recipe serves one.  Calories: 611.  If you're looking for fewer calories, omit the egg and/or cheese to shed 70 or 110 calories, respectively.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 8 Homemade Pizza and Fresh Pineapple

Welcome to the eighth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 8:  Homemade Pizza and Fresh Pineapple

Pictured is the thick crust pizza.  I was so quick to enjoy my pizza last night that I forgot to take a picture!

I have posted this recipe before.  You can find the recipes for the sauce, the crust, and the pizza here

After the pork loin fiasco, this homemade pizza is a little piece of heaven.  I actually like this pizza better than take-out, although maybe I've always liked homemade pizza better than take-out.  What I don't like is that it takes longer to make homemade pizza!  

Time Saving Measures:
1)  The sauce recipe makes enough for 8 servings, so I always freeze half of it.  If you made the sauce last week for lasagna, you can use the other half tonight for pizza!  

I know this doesn't work for everyone's family size, but I'm so glad it works for us right now.  It's so easy to make a four serving meal, 2 for dinner and 2 for the next day's lunch.

2)  You don't have to roll out the pizza dough.  I always did this back in the U.S. when I had both a round pizza stone and a rolling pin, but here I just spray the pan with oil and use my hands to make the dough evenly cover the bottom of the pan.  It works just as well and I don't have to mess with more flour and a rolling pin.

3)  I trial-and-errored my way through learning how to get dough to rise.  Turn the oven on up to 400 degrees F for a couple of minutes, then turn it off.  Put a bowl or large glass of steaming hot water in the oven, followed by the bowl of dough, and close the door.  You should have nicely risen dough in 20-30 minutes.

Waist Saving Measure:
The original pizza recipe, when cut into eight slices, is 310 calories per slice.  I usually have two slices, so this gets a little high on calories, especially if you have anything on the side with your pizza.  

Last night, I tried this recipe with a thinner crust (half of the crust recipe).  It turned out great, and wasn't too thin.  This method, when cut into eight slices, is 234 calories per slice.  I was so hungry from walking four miles (to and from the base) and doing Zumba yesterday that I ate three slices, and enjoyed my pineapple while the pizza was baking!!

Two slices of thinner crust pizza + one cup of fresh pineapple chunks = 550 calories.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 7 Caribbean Jerk Pork Loin with Carrots and Wild Rice

Welcome to the seventh installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 7:  Caribbean Jerk Pork Loin with Glazed Carrots and Wild Rice


I would like to tell you this recipe was a huge success.  But that would be a lie.

I have made variations of this recipe many, many times and they have been divine.  This time, however, I wanted to try making homemade caribbean jerk seasoning.  I used this recipe, which (according to the taste buds in this household) was a big mistake.  


Sure, it looks good, but looks were the only good thing about it.  


Even the carrots (normally deliciously maple-sweet and buttery) were gross.  I added some cornstarch in water to thicken the carrot glaze, which made them taste like bad chinese food.  Not my finest idea.

I used Ready Rice because I liked the plain brown rice, but the wild rice had a strange taste that just didn't work for me...kind of dirty.  Is that how wild rice is supposed to taste?  (Husband said the rice was the best part, so maybe you'll like it or maybe the rest of the dinner was that bad!)

The nutty spices in the jerk seasoning were overwhelming, and the aroma filled my mouth in a way that made me want to gag.

This was not how this perennial favorite recipe was supposed to go.  In fact, if I had any idea it would have turned into such a disaster, I would have made it the old faithful way.


This is precisely how much I actually ate because I "wasn't very hungry".  Husband ate more, see above plate picture.  I don't think he had any idea what was coming.  The next day we were both supposed to be eating these leftovers for lunch.  Neither one of us could could stomach it.  It was really that bad!

There is a lesson in this!

1)  There is usually a way to salvage some of the food and turn it into something else.  In this case, I trimmed off the parts of the pork with the jerk rub on them.  Then I sliced the pork and used it to make barbecue pork and provolone grilled sandwiches for dinner the following night.  

2)  I have ideas of how to make this recipe better next time.  I ended up using the entire recipe of jerk seasoning because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Next time I would try using 1/4-1/2 of the recipe and combine it with 1 T. olive oil and 1 c. water to make a marinade.  Oh, and I would add brown sugar to the marinade, probably 2-4 tablespoons of it because I think the original is really missing some sweetness.  Adding 4 T. of brown sugar would increase the calories per serving by 45, which is completely worth it to me!

I would also cook the carrots separately because they didn't have much flavor the way I roasted them in with the pork.  Although, perhaps with a better marinade they would turn out okay.  

3)  You can try it the old faithful way that I know will be amazing!  See below to prepare this recipe the old faithful way.  The main difference with this method is the marinade does not contain all natural ingredients.  I will keep playing with a way to make a good-tasting homemade version, and let you know when I do!  I welcome your suggestions!!

Ingredients:
1 pork loin (usually about 20-24 oz.)

4 c. raw baby carrots
4 T. real maple syrup
1 T. butter

1 c. uncooked brown rice (or whatever your package says will become 2 c. cooked rice)

Directions:
1.  In the old faithful version of this recipe, we have always cooked the pork loin on the grill.  Combine the pork and marinade in a large zip lock bag or a casserole dish with a lid.  Allow to marinate 30 minutes or overnight according to your convenience.  Grill the pork over a low heat for about one hour or until juices are clear.

2.  Measure water for rice into pot and bring to a boil.  Add rice and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, slice baby carrots into quarters lengthwise.  Add carrots and butter to skillet.  Cook on medium low until fork-tender.  Add real maple syrup and sauté until combined.

The Lawry's marinade is high in calories, but most of it ends up in the trash not on your plate.  As such, I'm going to estimate you actually eat about 1 tablespoon of marinade (25 calories) per 1 ounce of pork.

Recipe serves 4.  Calories per meal:  547.  Not bad!

Enjoy!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 6 Blackened Chicken with Cheesy Orzo and Steamed Broccoli

Welcome to the sixth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 6:  Blackened Chicken with Cheesy Orzo and Steamed Broccoli


I've used blackening seasoning on fish before, but have never put it on chicken.  It was delicious!  It would be awesome grilled!

I prefer to make my own blackening seasoning.  Most of the store bought stuff is loaded with salt.  This recipe has become one of my favorites.  The herbs and spices required are pretty basic.  You probably have these things in your cupboard already.  It turns out great every time!  It is not very hot-spicy, but can be made so if you choose.  If you're unsure, start with a little bit of cayenne pepper, mix, and wet the tip of your finger to taste it.  You can always add more cayenne, but you can never add less!

Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken breast (I cut breasts horizontally.  The thinner pieces cook more quickly and evenly.)
1 T. olive oil

4 oz. uncooked orzo pasta
2 oz. colby jack cheese
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 T. shredded parmesan cheese
1-2 T. ground flax seed
To taste, pepper

12 oz. bag frozen broccoli florets
1 T. butter
To taste, salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Heat a pot of water until boiling.  Add orzo, stir occasionally and cook until al dente.  Drain and return to the pot.  With heat off, stir in cheeses, flax seed, and pepper.  If too thick, add a touch of milk and stir until creamy.  

2.  Meanwhile, season chicken breasts, gently rub seasoning into meat, then flip sides and repeat.  Put olive oil in a skillet on medium or medium low heat.  Add chicken, and cook each side for 6-8 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  When chicken is just barely done, turn off heat and cover for 5 minutes or until orzo and broccoli are ready.

3.  Put broccoli and butter in microwave safe bowl and steam until hot (about 5 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper, then stir until thoroughly combined.

This meal is quick and easy.  It is even simpler if you keep the blackening seasoning prepared on hand.

Serves 4.  Calories in each: 490.

Enjoy!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 5 Buffalo Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mustard Sauce

Welcome to the fifth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!


Dinner 5:  Buffalo Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mustard Sauce


As I write this, spiced banana bread is baking in the oven and the aroma is filling the house.  That is much better than the poo smell outside, so -for now- I am still loving the wide open windows and spring time breezes.  It is going to be hard not to eat more than a taste of the banana bread, as it is meant for a church breakfast on Sunday!

Onward to today's recipe.  Dinner number five!  This has been fun sharing all these recipes.  I'm glad so many of you are enjoying them as well.  Good food is such a delight!

Ingredients:
4/7 bag Alexia Sweet Potato Waffle Fries (The bag contains seven servings.  I calculated one serving into the calories per serving of this meal.)

1 lb. ground buffalo
To taste, salt and pepper, worcestershire sauce
1 T. olive oil

4 Rudi's Organic Wheat Buns
4 slices low fat swiss cheese
Shredded or leaf lettuce

2 T. mustard
2 T. honey
To taste, pepper

Directions:
1.  Prepare sweet potato fries according to package directions.  Sweet potato fries are also super easy to make yourself.  Just julienne, season, and bake.  I recommend lining your baking sheet with parchment paper.  Stir once or twice while they bake.

2.  Ideally you would grill your burgers, but again we are currently without a grill.  They were okay pan-fried, but obviously not as good as grilled.  Heat oil in skillet on medium low.  Shape ground buffalo into four patties.  Place patties in oil.  Season patties with salt, pepper, and a generous drizzle of worcestershire sauce.  Depending on preferred doneness, cook patties for 5-8 minutes on each side.  (Top with cheese after you flip the burgers.)  Then, turn off heat and cover for an additional 5-8 minutes.  Let rest on paper towel lined plate to absorb grease if necessary.  

3.  In a small bowl, mix mustard, honey and a bit of pepper.  

4.  When sweet potato fries are almost finished, lay buns on oven rack and cook until they are warm and slightly toasted.

5.  Transfer buns, burgers, and fries to plates.  Top burgers with lettuce and honey mustard.  Use honey mustard as a dip for the sweet potato fries as well.

Enjoy!

This recipe serves 4.  Calories: 570 each.  Not bad for a burger and fries:)

*Bonus Snack Recipe*
Red Ants on a Log


Ingredients:
Celery sticks
1 T. dried cranberries
1 T. natural peanut butter

Directions:
1.  Spread a thin layer of peanut butter onto each celery stick.

2.  Top with "red ant" cranberries!

Serves one.  Calories: 136.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 4 Summer Salad with Chicken

Welcome to the fourth installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 4:  Summer Salad with Chicken

This is my favorite way to eat salad:  a mix of greens, lots of veggies and toppings, with poppyseed dressing.  It has all the benefits of a salad while satisfying my craving for sweetness.
Ingredients:
2 cups spinach, loosely packed
2 cups lettuce, loosely packed
10 grape tomatoes, chopped
2 T. nuts, chopped
2 T. dried cranberries
1/8 bell pepper, chopped
4 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast
1 T. poppyseed dressing

Directions:
1.  Um, this is a bit of a no brainer:  You see, you put the lettuce and spinach all over your plate.  Then you put everything else on top.  Wait for it, ... the dressing goes on last.  Enjoy!

Tip 1:  Instead of pouring or even drizzling your dressing, try dropping little dabs of it all over your salad.  Leave space between the dabs for heaven's sake!  There's so much goodness on this salad, that you don't need or want to cover up the flavor.

Tip 2:  This is related to Tip 1.  I'm no expert or anything here when it comes to dressing, but I do know myself and others often add way more of it than necessary.  It's the good part, right?  It doesn't have to be the best part.  As someone who was there during the original "ranch river" I have figured out one great way to eat less dressing.  Eat "down" your salad instead of across it.  If you eat top to bottom in a small area of your plate before moving on, everything gets its fair share of dressing, and you don't end up with a heap of naked lettuce at the end of your meal.  Ew, naked lettuce!

Side note:  Most people have a grill, but we're not most people...well, not yet.  Hopefully sometime this summer we'll get a small little charcoal grill.  For now, though, I just pan-fried the chicken breast with a bit of salt, pepper, olive oil, and my trusty Mrs. Dash Chicken Grilling Blend.  

Calorie total:  480!  This salad was sooooo good, too!


Husband has been coming home at midnight all week.  Yep, I have yet to enjoy a single one of these 15 in 3 dinners with any company besides the dog staring up at me.  Maybe I'll see him again next week?  A girl can dream:)

Anyhow, there was no way I was going to expect my husband to eat a salad at midnight.  Even I would not, could not eat a salad at midnight...yuck.  Salads require daylight or at least twilight. 

Instead I made him what looked to be a delicious Grilled BBQ Chicken and Cheese Sandwich.  Prepare similarly to a regular grilled cheese sandwich, except layer the inside this way:  low fat provolone cheese, barbecue sauce, 4-6 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast, barbecue sauce, low fat provolone cheese.  

Calorie total:  720-820, yikes!  Sorry Love!  I guess I should have made you eat the salad?!

FYI:  Favorite "New" Snack

Craving something creamy?  Enjoy a spoonful of peanut butter with a glass of milk.  Now that is good!

One more dinner for the week to be debuted tomorrow.  You will not be disappointed!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 3 Lasagna

Welcome to the third installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 3:  Lasagna with Rolls and Butter


This is probably my favorite recipe passed on from my Mom.  I make my own sauce now, but other than that I still make this exactly the way she did.  It's relatively easy and wonderfully delicious.  I love that this is a recipe I know by heart.

The rolls are by a natural foods brand called Alexia that I highly recommend you become familiar with.  I think all of their products are in the frozen section (rolls, delicious combinations of vegetables, sweet potato fries, etc.).  Under normal circumstances both the rolls and the lasagna would be golden brown, but not in my Korean oven.

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef + 1 jar spaghetti sauce OR 1/2  recipe spaghetti sauce
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
16 oz. cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
To taste, italian seasoning, Garlic salt, shredded parmesan cheese

1 package Alexia French Rolls
4 T. butter

Directions:
1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook noodles in boiling water until al dente, then drain.  Meanwhile, cook and drain ground beef, then add sauce and heat on medium low until warm throughout, OR use sauce recipe as linked above.

2.  Spread 1/4 sauce mixture into bottom of 9x13 baking pan.  Layer three noodles in a row.  Top them evenly with 1/3 cottage cheese and 1/4 sauce mixture.  Repeat with two more layers.

3.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese followed by "to taste" seasonings and cheese on top of lasagna.  Bake 30-45 minutes depending on how long it takes your oven to warm the lasagna and make the top golden brown or not.

4.  Bake rolls according to package directions.  (You will love that these babies do not even need to thaw!  Take them right from the freezer to the pan and they're ready in less than 10 minutes!)

This recipe serves 8.  One serving is 431 calories, which includes one roll with 1/2 T. canola butter.  Add an extra 145 calories if you're like me and can't resist a second roll with melting butter on it.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 2 Burrito Bowls + Bonus

Welcome to the second installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 2:  Burrito Bowls


Ingredients:
1 recipe taco seasoning
1/2 c. water
16 oz. chicken breast, sliced

2 c. brown rice, cooked

1 can black beans, drained
4 grape tomatoes, diced
To taste, garlic salt, ground black pepper and oregano

1 avocado
To taste, garlic salt, ground black pepper, lime juice

4 c. lettuce, chopped

1 c. Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, diced


Directions:
1.  In large oven-proof pot with lid, add water and chicken; then cover with taco seasoning.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 1.5 to 2 hours.  (You can also do this in a crock pot, but I don't have one in Korea.)  

Note:  Depending on your chicken, you may need to skim off some fat with a slotted spoon sometime during the cooking process.  When done, chicken should shred easily, be very moist, and with just a bit of broth in the pot.

2.  When chicken is cooked through, shred using two forks.  Add a little more water if necessary.  Turn oven off and return pot with lid to oven.  

3.  Now is the time to dice tomatoes as well as cook rice if you have not already done so.  Using Ready Rice make this very easy.

4.  In small pot, add drained black beans.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, ground black pepper, and oregano to taste.  Top with grape tomatoes and stir.  Cook on medium low about 5 minutes or until warmed throughout.

5.  Meanwhile, prepare the guacamole.  Slice the avocado lengthwise around the pit.  Use a serving spoon to scoop the flesh out of each half peel.  I feel safest prying the pit out with a spoon.  I don't want to end up in the ER just so I can have my guacamole.  In a bowl, combine avocado, garlic salt, pepper and a small squirt of lime juice.  Mash with a fork.  Done!

6.  This recipe serves four.  Line up four bowls and layer each one like so:  rice, beans, chicken, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce.  Eat outside in the sunshine if at all possible.  Enjoy!        


 *Bonus Breakfast Recipe*
Avocado Egg Scramble a la The Corner Bakery

The Corner Bakery, if you've never been, is a cute breakfast/lunch cafe franchise.  We went with friends while visiting in Fort Worth a few years ago.  All of us loved this breakfast scramble (in addition to that amazing baked french toast!) and it donned our table multiple times over the course of the weekend.  Thank you, Corner Bakery, for the inspiration!


Ingredients:
2 eggs, scrambled
1/8 c. shredded low fat cheddar cheese
6 grape tomatoes, diced
1/4 avocado, diced
1 T. real bacon bits
Spray oil

Directions:
1.  Spray small skillet with oil and heat to low/medium low.  Add eggs.  

2.  When eggs are half-way set, add cheese, tomatoes, and bacon bits.  Stir frequently with rubber spatula, making sure all of the egg mixture is cooked.

3.  When eggs are done, add avocado.  Stir a few times to combine and give just a bit of warmth to the avocado.  Done!  Enjoy!


*This is just delicious and a fun rendition on traditional scrambled eggs!  Calorie total: 290

Monday, April 16, 2012

15 in 3: Dinner 1 Pan-fried whitefish with peas, parmesan, and whole wheat fettuccine + Bonus

Welcome to the first installment of 15 in 3!  This is the place I am sharing my 15 favorite dinners over the next 3 weeks.  Stay tuned for easy homemade dinner recipes containing lots of whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and straight forward recipes with everyday healthy ingredients.  Some posts will contain bonus breakfast and snack ideas.  Happy cooking!

Dinner 1:  Pan-fried Whitefish with Peas, Parmesan, and Whole Wheat Fettuccine  


Ingredients:
2 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, cooked (This is an easy way to use left over pasta)
4 oz. tilapia fillet
1 c. frozen peas (can substitute other vegetable such as broccoli, carrots, peppers)
1/2 T. butter (I used Challenge Butter Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil)
1 T. shredded parmesan cheese
To taste, Mrs. Dash Chicken Grilling Blends
Spray oil

Directions: 
1.  Spray small skillet with oil.  Heat to medium.  Add tilapia, sprinkle to taste with Mrs. Dash.  Flip and repeat.  Sear each side to golden brown perfection, then promptly reduce heat to low and cover with lid until done.

2.  Meanwhile, lightly steam peas in microwave.  Add fettuccine, peas, butter and parmesan to a medium skillet.  Cook with heat on medium low, stirring frequently, until heated throughout.

3.  Transfer fettuccine mixture to plate.  Top with fish.  Serves one.  Enjoy!

*This recipe was satisfying to me without being overly filling.  It comes in at just 466 calories!

*Bonus Breakfast Recipe*
Man Meets Vegetables and Likes It Sandwich


Ingredients:
2 eggs + 1 egg white, scrambled
1-1 oz.slice Tillamook colby cheese, torn to pieces
3/4 c. loose (not packed) baby spinach
5 grape tomatoes, diced
1/8 yellow pepper, diced
2 T. real bacon bits
To taste, ground black pepper and salt
1 T. butter
2 slices whole grain bread (I used Rudi's Organic Honey Wheat.  The large slices helped accommodate the contents of this sandwich!)
Spray Oil

Directions:
1.  Spray small skillet with oil and heat on medium low.  Add eggs and cook slightly.

2.  When eggs are half-way set, add cheese, spinach, tomatoes, yellow pepper, bacon bits pepper and salt.  Stir as needed to break up pieces and set the eggs without burning the cheese.

3.  Toast bread and spread 1/2 T. butter on each slice.

4.  Top one slice toast with egg mixture, followed by the second slice of toast.  Cut in half.  This thing is huge!  This is also a great bring-to-work breakfast.  Just wrap in aluminum foil and go.  It should still be warm and gooey by the time you get there or open it up on the drive:)  Serves one.  Enjoy!

*This recipe was amazing and I'm so proud that Husband enjoyed it not despite, but with the vegetables!  This is a big one though as far as calories: 625!  Even though the calorie count is high, this breakfast is ideal if you need sustained energy and won't get to eat again until the afternoon.  This would also be great for brunch or an easy dinner.  And, this is so much good-for-you food that you shouldn't worry too much about a big breakfast like this now and then.
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