Thursday, March 6, 2014

Italian Pot Roast

The mission: cook dinner only with what you have on hand.  No special trips to the grocery store.  Only what is in your pantry, fridge or freezer.  Sound doable?
Now I’m one of those people that plans ahead before I go to the grocery store.  I know what I am cooking for dinner for the most part.  But I do end up with days with nothing planned, and I have to shake the freezer to see what falls out.  “Shaking the freezer” is big in my family.  Growing up, I can remember asking my mom what was for dinner.  She would say, “go shake the freezer and see what falls out.”  Usually we couldn’t even tell what it was until it defrosted....
So my challenge today was to cook dinner with nothing planned, only what I had on hand.  I found a chuck roast in the back of the freezer, a can of crushed tomatoes, some red wine, a box of rigatoni and some chive cream cheese.  No problem....Italian Pot Roast!  I figured I could throw the chuck roast in the slow cooker with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, garlic, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, and a couple of bay leaves.  At the end, I knew I could melt in the cream cheese for a creamy and rich sauce.  The beef would get shredded and returned to the sauce, and the whole thing would be served with the rigatoni.
I knew it sounded good, but oh man, I had no idea how amazing it would be.  The beef was tender and moist, and the sauce was decadent perfection.  I’ll walk you through how I made it.
I started by browning my chuck roast in a little bit of olive oil.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to brown meat before you put in into a slow cooker.  Meat can get mushy and really unappetizing if you skip this step.
And keep in mind, this recipe would be fantastic with pork or chicken.  You’ll have to shake your freezer to see what falls out.
Once the meat is browned, I nestle it in the bottom of my slow cooker and then I top with with all of the ingredients I mentioned above, crushed tomatoes (or marinara sauce-use what you’ve got!), tomato paste for a deep rich flavor, red wine, garlic, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano and a couple of bay leaves.
I have a pretty well stocked spice cabinet, but if you don’t...you probably have Italian seasoning on hand.  That will work too.  I also usually have tomato paste in my pantry, or some in the freezer.  Next time you make a recipe that calls for a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, save the rest in the freezer.  It freezes beautifully.
I let this cook all day, and after about eight hours, you will have the most tender, falling apart beef.  I shred the beef with two forks and then return it to the pot.  I also stir in the cream cheese which will quickly melt into the sauce.  

Like I said, I served this over rigatoni, but it would be fantastic over rice, potatoes or even on a sandwich.  Again, it depends on what you have in your pantry.
Next time you can’t figure out what to cook, or you think you don’t have anything on hand...shake your freezer, or fridge, or pantry!  Get creative.  You might end up with a winner!

Italian Pot Roast

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Meat, such as a rump roast, chuck roast, pork loin (3-4 pounds), 4 large pork chops, or 4 large chicken breasts

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, or 1 24 ounce jar spaghetti sauce

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 cup red wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons crushed oregano (dried)

2 teaspoons crushed basil leaves (dried)

2 bay leaves

4 ounces chive cream cheese

Preheat large pot.  Add 3 tablespoons oil.  Brown meat on all sides over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes per side.  If using chicken, skip this step.

Add remaining ingredients, except for cream cheese, to slow cooker.  Add browned meat.  Set slow cooker to cook for 8 hours on low.

After 8 hours, remove meat to rest for 10 minutes.   Remove bay leaves and discard.  Skim fat off the sauce and add cream cheese.  Stir until melted.

Shred meat and return to slow cooker to heat through.

Serve over pasta, rice or potatoes.

Serves about 4-6

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Celebrate Mardi Gras with Etouffee

According to the good people at Wikipedia....”Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.”

Tuesday, March 4th is Fat Tuesday….the biggest day during Mardi Gras.  I think it’s as good of a reason as any to celebrate.  Why not?  At least you can get some good food out of it, and Cajun/Creole cuisine is some of the best in the world.  Today I am going to show you a dinner that you can make, pretty easily, to eat this Tuesday.  

Today, I am making Chicken Étouffée….or rather, my version of it.  Étouffée just means that whatever you are cooking, whether it is chicken, shrimp, crawfish, etc. is smothered in gravy.  The gravy is made of a roux.  I think we have discussed this before, but in case you mentally blocked it….a roux is a mixture of fat and flour that is cooked together.  This mixture will thicken a sauce, and give it a nutty flavor.  I have a cool trick for making a roux that I will show you in a bit.  My other cool trick is that I cook my étouffée in my slow cooker.  Hello easy!


I start the recipe by browning big bone-in chicken breasts.  They are usually called “split breasts” at the grocery store.  I liberally season the breasts with cajun (or creole) seasoning, then brown each side in oil on the stove top.  This will help give the chicken a really good flavor.  I always brown meat before it goes into the slow cooker.  This keeps it from getting mushy.


Next, I make my roux.  I melt some butter and oil in a large, over-proof skillet.  Once the butter is melted, I whisk in some flour.  Once the mixture is smooth, I pop the pan in the oven to cook for about twenty minutes.  I don’t touch it all during this time.  The roux will come out dark brown.  It will give the étouffée a wonderful nutty flavor that seriously can’t be matched.


Once the chicken was browned and the roux baked, I tossed the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaves, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and concentrated chicken stock into the slow cooker.


I chose concentrated chicken broth because I want the broth flavor, but I don’t want this to get to soupy as it cooks all day in the slow cooker.  The concentrated broth gives all the flavor in a convenient little blob.


I also added the crushed tomatoes and chicken to the pot.  Then, I poured in the beer and roux.  I popped the lid and let this go for about 4 and ½ hours on low.  Your house will smell amazing!


Before serving, I take chicken out of the slow cooker.  Once it cools enough to touch it,  I remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken.  Then, I add it back into the slow cooker to let the flavors all meld back together.


I served my étouffée over rice, which is pretty typical.  This chicken ends up so moist, and almost has a nutty flavor from the roux.  The sauce is thick and delicious too.  I served mine with bread to sop up the extra sauce.  I also licked the plate but you don’t have to do that.


FYI-You can season this up with as much hot sauce as you like.  I am feeding children so I kept it mild.  And yes, I am pretending that is for the benefit of the kids, not myself who is a wuss with spice.


So yea, this takes a few steps, but none of them are hard.  And it is so worth it…..especially if you want to celebrate Mardi Gras like a New Orleanian.  New Orleaner?  New Orleanite?  Whatever.  Party like you are from Louisiana.


Chicken Étouffée


4 Tablespoons butter


4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided


½ cup flour


2 Chicken “Half Breasts” with skin and bones


2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (Tony Cachere’s)


1 teaspoon salt


½ teaspoon black pepper


1 small onion, chopped


1 bell pepper, chopped


¾ cup celery, chopped


2 cloves garlic, minced


1 pouch concentrated chicken stock (Knorr’s)


3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


Hot sauce to taste


12 ounces beer


1 cup crushed tomatoes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In an oven proof pan, melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil.  Whisk in flour.  Stir until smooth.  Place pan in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Roux will be the color of peanut butter.  Set aside.


In a large pot, heat remaining oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with creole seasoning, salt and pepper.  Brown chicken on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.


Place chicken in slow cooker with remaining ingredients.  Add roux and stir.  Cook on low heat for about 4 to 6 hours.


Remove chicken from pot.  Remove skin and bones and shred chicken.  Return shredded chicken to slow cooker.


Serve over rice.


Serves 4 to 6 people. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY Mayonnaise...With Yummy Mix-Ins!

Eighty percent of Americans like mayonnaise.  I’m kidding.  I totally made up that number.  I have no idea how many people like mayo.  I do, however, know that mayonnaise is very polarizing.  It really isn’t a food that people think is just Ok.  People either love it or hate it….like cilantro.  I am one of those people that love it.  On anything.  Mayonnaise is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Did you know that it is really easy to make your own mayo?  You can make it with stuff you might already have in your fridge and pantry.  It is kind of a cool thing to make, especially if you have kids.  It is almost like a science experiment.  You start with eggs (pasteurized and we will get to that in a bit), add an acid such as vinegar and oil….and blend.  Those three things blended all together give you mayo.  How simple is that?

Normally, mayonnaise made at home would be made with raw egg yolks.  I have done this before, and the end result is a rich, thick mayo unlike what you get at the grocery store.  The problem is the raw eggs.  That freaks me out.  I have avoided raw eggs by making my mayo with pasteurized egg product (Egg Beaters).

When I make mayo, I use my super powered blender.  You can also use a food processor.  You can use whatever will blend, as long as it has a hole at the top, in the lid, so you can stream oil in the top. 

I start by adding my pasteurized eggs and vinegar to the blender.  I usually use champagne vinegar, but you can use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon or even lime juice.  You just need an acid.  I blend the eggs and vinegar together with some salt to get the process going.  Then, I slowly stream in oil.  I like to use a combination of olive oil and vegetable oil.  I like the olive flavor, but I find using all olive oil produces too strong a flavor.

BTW-you could totally use coconut oil, grape seed oil or avocado oil!

This blends for a couple of minutes as the oil is streamed in.  The mixture comes together and thickens before your very eyes.  It is pretty much amazing.  Don’t let it get too far though…it will get a weird chunky texture if you do.

The end result is creamy, rich and delicious.  It is nothing like what you get in a jar at the grocery store.  The best part?  You can personalize your mayo and add whatever you want to it!  The possibilities are endless!


¾ cup chopped crisp bacon with ½ cup chopped chives for Bacon Chive Mayo

½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes and ¼ cup chopped basil for Sundried Tomato Basil Mayo

One packet dry Ranch dressing mix for Ranch Mayo

3 tablespoons BBQ dry rub for BBQ Mayo

2 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for Chipotle Mayo

1 or 2 tablespoons horseradish for Horseradish Mayo

4 ounces chopped green chilis and ¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese for Green Chili Cheddar Mayo (Pictured-My Favorite!)

Easy DIY Mayonnaise

¼ cup Pasteurized Egg Product

2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup olive oil

¾ cup vegetable oil

Add egg, vinegar and salt to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Slowly stream in oil while blending, should take about 1 minute.  Blend until thick and creamy.

Keep in tightly sealed container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 2 cups.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Soup

Hallelujah, the snow came back today.  So I made soup.  I’ve been waiting.  I was seriously getting ready to just start grilling burgers and making potato salad in anticipation of summer, but winter came back today, thankfully.

Did you know January was National Soup Month?  I didn’t until the end of the month.  I am usually a day late and a dollar short with things like that.  I have got to get some sort of food calendar.  Is that a thing?

Anyway, like I was saying, I made soup.  I am a fan of soup, as long as it is a somewhat creamy soup.  Broth based soups remind me of being sick.  The soup I am going to show you today is my Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Soup.  It is broth based, but don’t worry, I still find a way to make it creamy.  It is the perfect soup for a cold winter’s day.

Since 2014 is the year of the vegetable for me, I start this soup with a few of them.  Actually, I always have, but this fits right in with my New Year’s Resolution, so I’m bragging.  I soften onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a little bit of butter and oil.

Once the veggies are a little soft and sweaty (but not browned!), I add in some salt and pepper, a bay leaf, chopped artichoke hearts and chopped leftover chicken.  Then, I pour in some really good chicken stock.

I like to use artichoke hearts that are packed in water.  They are still salty, buttery and delicious, but they don’t have that oily heaviness that hearts packed in oil have.  I chop mine up a bit just to make them more bite sized, and to make sure they spread throughout the soup.

I like to use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken that I have bought at the grocery store.  If you don’t have leftover chicken, either baked, grilled or even sautéed, you can totally just grill a few breasts just for the soup.  I like to keep it easy, so I use leftover or store bought.

Are you wondering what I mean by good chicken stock?  I just mean that I look for a box that says “stock” as opposed to “broth”.  I think that stock has a richer flavor.

I let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on.  This gives all the veggies, especially the carrots, a chance to become tender.  It also lets all the flavors meld together.  Once the soup has simmered sufficiently, I add in some orzo.  I let the orzo boil in the soup for about nine minutes.

Finally, after the orzo is al dente in the soup, I add about four ounces of cream cheese.  See?  I told you I would make it creamy!  The cream cheese melts in and thickens the soup, but it also makes it creamy and just a bit tangy.  The flavor of the cream cheese is amazing with the chicken and artichoke hearts.  This isn’t any ordinary chicken soup!

This soup is best eaten right away as the orzo will soak up the broth in any leftovers.  But you know what you are left with?  Creamy chicken pasta….and that ain’t half bad…..

I garnish with crunchy bread sticks and scallions, but I’ll leave the garnishes up to you.  Happy belated National Soup Month!

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Soup

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

1 or 2 bay leaves

14 ounces artichoke heart quarters (water packed), chopped

12 ounces chicken breast, cooked and chopped

8 cups chicken stock

1 ½ cups orzo

4 ounces cream cheese

In a large stock pot, sauté carrots, onion, celery, garlic and butter and olive oil.  Cook vegetables over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, bay leaves, artichoke hearts, chicken and chicken stock.  Simmer soup over medium heat for 20 minutes, covered.

Bring soup to rolling boil.  Add orzo and return to boil.  Continue cooking soup over medium heat for 9 minutes. 

Once orzo is cooked, add cream cheese and stir until melted.

Serves 8

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creamy Pesto Artichoke Dip!

By the time you read this, we will know who is going to the Super Bowl.  As I write this, we don’t.  It had better be the ‘Niners, or I will have one very unhappy husband.  I would like to see the ‘Niners go too, after all, I am a Bay Area girl at heart.  And it always nice to see Colin Kaepernick succeed, right?

You may be able to guess, I’m really not that into football.  I try, I really do.  But it is hard for me to sit through an entire game.  They are so long!  I coach my daughter’s cheer squad and the games they cheer for are about an hour.  That’s a game length I can get behind!  But alas, playoff football is here, and that means that I am forced to sit through an entire game. 

The only thing that can get me through an entire game?  Football food!  I love football food because it is usually appetizers, and you all know by now….apps are my favorite.  I really feel that a football game needs a hot cheesy dip.  Today, I am going to show you my hot cheesy dip that is perfect for the big game.

Everybody loves artichoke dip, right?  It’s a crowd pleaser.  My artichoke dip is creamy, cheesy and garlicky.  Sounds delish, hmmmmm?

I start with cream cheese, which is the perfect base to all cheesy hot dips.  And life in general I think.  Everything good starts with cream cheese.  You can quote me on that.

Anyway, I melt my cream cheese with mayo, jarred pesto, artichoke hearts, bacon and Fontina cheese.  I use jarred pesto for ease, but you can feel free to make your own, you over achiever, you.  I choose Fontina cheese because it is a great “melting” cheese.  You could totally use mozzarella or provolone too.

Once everything is melted together, I pour the mixture into a bread bowl and top it with parmesan cheese and more bacon before it gets popped under the broiler.  It comes out browned, bubbly and delicious.

The pesto in this gives the dip a garlicky goodness that can’t be matched.  And…look at all that green!  It’s beautiful!  The artichoke hearts almost melt into this dip giving it a salty goodness that is perfect with all the gooey cheese.

Perfect football food, right?  I serve my dip with sliced baguette that I have brushed with olive oil and toasted up in the oven.  You don’t have to be that fancy though….crackers and raw veggies also rock with this dip.  Give it a try!  And go ‘Niners!

Creamy Artichoke Pesto Dip

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

8 ounces pesto

1/3 cup mayonnaise

14 ounces artichoke hearts (in brine), chopped

6 ounces bacon (cooked and crumbled), divided

6 ounces Fontina, shredded

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 sourdough boule (round loaf)

Preheat broiler.

In a large saucepan, melt together cream cheese, mayo and pesto over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Once mixture is smooth, stir in shredded Fontina, artichoke hearts and bacon, leaving 2 tablespoons of bacon aside.  Heat through.

To prepare the bread, cut about 1 inch off the top of the loaf and discard the top or save for future use.  Scoop out the inside of the loaf leaving you with a “bowl”.  Discard the innards or freeze for future use.

Pour dip into bread bowl.  Top with parmesan cheese and remaining bacon.  Broil in broiler for about 4 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly.

Serve with crackers, bread slices, crudité, etc.

Makes about 4 cups.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creamy Cioppino Pasta

So my birthday was this week.  Am I the only one that makes myself dinner on my birthday?  I do this every year.  I like to make something that I like.  Something that is my favorite.  Not my kid’s or my husband’s….Mine.  Something that maybe they wouldn’t normally eat.  But I don’t clean up.  I’m not crazy.

This year, I decided to make pasta.  Why?  I love pasta.  I love everything about it.  It’s such delicious carb-y goodness.  I also knew I wanted seafood.  And not fish, but shellfish too.  So….I resurrected a recipe that I haven’t made in several years.  I am so happy that I did. 

I won’t keep you in the dark any longer.  I am going to give you my recipe for Creamy Cioppino Pasta.  Cioppino is a basically a fish stew.  It originated, supposedly, in San Francisco, which is near where I am from.  I like Cioppino as a stew, but adding pasta and cream takes it to a whole other level. It is pure decadent deliciousness.  And since this is me we are talking about….my version is pretty easy.

I start by sautéing an onion with some garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.  Cioppino typically is a bit spicy.  I am a wuss with spice, so I go easy on it.  You can always add more.

Once the onion has softened, I add in white wine.  Again, the wine is a prime component of Cioppino.  I let the wine reduce for a bit, and then I add a jar of marinara sauce.  Yep, that’s my shortcut.  Marinara is usually tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices that have simmered together for a long time.  If someone has already done that for me and put it in a jar…you bet I’ll use it. 

I let the sauce simmer for about ten minutes, and then I add my mussels.  If you haven’t cleaned mussels before, let me break it down for you.  First off, throw out any open ones.  They are dead and no good.  Soak the mussels in cold water to remove any sand or other nasty stuff.  Remove them from the cold water and give them a good scrub.  If they have a “beard” on the front, pull that off by pulling towards the hinged side of the mussel.  Easy stuff.  Don’t be intimidated by mussels.

The mussels cook in the sauce, with the lid on, for five minutes.  Then I add my fish, scallops, shrimp and crab.  I use canned crab because I don’t want to deal with a full crab carcass.  Yes, I know they are all over the stores right now, but that’s more work when I want to do.  This cooks for another five minutes, lid on. 

Finally, I stir in my cream and the sauce is done.  Quick note, if any mussels didn’t open, toss ‘em.  I serve my sauce over papparadelle pasta, which is big thick ribbons of pasta.  I also sprinkle basil over the top.  Make sure you have a lot of good bread ready for dipping in the sauce!

This pasta is rich, creamy and so amazing.  The seafood cooked in the marinara and wine can’t be beat.  This is the epitome of a special meal.  Do you have a birthday coming up?  Make this.

Creamy Cioppino Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup white wine

23 ounces marinara sauce

½ pound mussels, cleaned

½ pound scallops

1/3 pound raw shrimp, deveined & shell on

½ pound cod, chopped into bite sized pieces

6 ounce can lump crab meat

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup basil, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, salt and cayenne.  Sauté over medium heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Add wine.  Cook until reduced, about 3 minutes.  Add marinara.  Continue cooking, with lid on, over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add cleaned mussels and continue cooking, with lid on for 5 minutes.  Add scallops, shrimp, fish and crab meat and cook an additional 5 minutes with the lid on. 

Stir in heavy cream and heat through.

Serve over pasta and top with basil.

Serves 4-6




Thursday, January 9, 2014

Healthy 2014!

Happy 2014!  May your year be filled love, success and health.  I actually might be able to help you with the “health” part of it…..Part of healthy living, obviously, is healthy eating.  While I am a firm believer in “everything in moderation”, I still know that healthy eating, for myself and my family is key.

For me, 2014 is going to be the year of the vegetable.  And protein.  I can’t forget protein.  I think that these are the two things I skimp on the majority of the time.  My kids do too.  We tend to be pretty carb-centric.  I tend to stay away from veggies.  But no more!  No more, I say!

This year, I want to eat meals that contain more protein and more veggies, but I definitely don’t want to sacrifice taste.  And they have to be relatively easy.  We’re all busy, am I right?  Easy is a must. 

Today I have three recipes to show you, a breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And they are all easy and healthy.  These recipes have the perfect mix of protein, veggies and grains.  Plus, they are all delicious.

My Breakfast Frittata is the perfect start to the day for my family.  I’m up first, usually, so this is something easy for me to make when I get up.  The best part is that frittatas are delicious at room temperature, so my husband and kids can eat when they get to it.  And, this frittata uses up leftovers!

I start by adding precooked turkey sausage crumbles to an oven proof skillet.  This is a must as this cooks in the oven.  Plastic handles will melt!  I’ve learned that the hard way.  And the messy way.

I use Jimmy Dean Fully cooked turkey sausage crumbles.  They are super lean, and they cook quickly.  This frittata is the perfect way to use up leftover veggies, so I usually toss in chopped broccoli, mushrooms, tomato and green onions.  I also add leftover cooked quinoa for an extra protein kick. 

Have you tried quinoa yet?  I slowly got on board with it, but now I am fully on board.  It’s a super food.

Frittatas start on the stove top but finish in the oven.  It starts almost like scrambled eggs.  Once the eggs start to set, I sprinkle on cheese and then let that bad boy go in the oven for about ten minutes.

The resulting product is a crustless quiche essentially.  It slices easily and is super portable too.  It’s like an omelet that you can carry with you.  Yum!

What’s for lunch, you might ask?  How about grilled Chicken Gyros?  I marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a combination of plain non-fat yogurt, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and dried herbs.  I like to get that going the night before I want to eat it.  I let it marinate all night, then I grill the chicken in the morning.  It’s a perfect lunch to take to work!

The grilled chicken gets sliced thinly and served in whole wheat pitas with tomato, baby spinach and my homemade tzatziki sauce.  The chicken is tender and moist with so much flavor, and the tzatziki is creamy and delicious.  I think the tzatziki is my kid’s favorite.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, tzatziki sauce is a combination of plain yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic and lemon juice.  I add in some light sour cream so that my sauce isn’t super tangy.  It’s great on sandwiches, but it is also phenomenal as a dip.  My recipe gives you a bit extra for snacking.

These gyros are, again, a great combination of protein, veggies and grains.  And it is all super good for you!

As for dinner….this is a fun one…..Tilapia Roll-ups.  Yep, these are rolled up, pinwheel style, so my kids love them.

I start by making an edamame (lots of protein!) “hummus” out of boiled and shelled edamame, garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil.  I spread this on thin fillets of tilapia (or any other thin white fish) and then top that with diced tomato and green onion.  I roll the fish up, securing the rolls with toothpicks, and bake the fish in a bit of lemon and olive oil.  It is super easy, super fun and super good.

I serve my roll-ups with a side of rice, quinoa, couscous or barley and a vegetable.  This is a great way to get fish into my family, as they are usually fish haters.  The roll-ups are so cute that my kids want to eat them, and the edamame “hummus” is so delicious that my husband can’t help but eat them up.  Win/win, right?

We all know that eating healthy is so important, but it can be hard.  We’re all busy.  We’re all pressed for time.  And we all want to eat something that actually tastes good!  I think these recipes fit the bill.  They taste great, are easy, and they are all healthy.  That is a great start to 2014 in my book.

Breakfast Frittata

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups Fully Cooked Turkey Sausage, Jimmy Dean

½ cup mushrooms, chopped

½ cup broccoli, left-over chopped

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

¼ cup green onions, chopped

1 cup quinoa, leftover

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 cups Egg Beaters, or 8 eggs

½ cup Fontina cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add olive oil to an 8 inch oven proof skillet.  Add turkey sausage and cook over medium heat until browned, about 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms, broccoli, tomato, green onions, quinoa and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over medium heat until heated through.

If mixture looks dry, add additional olive oil so eggs will not stick.  Add Egg Beaters and let cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula.  Push cooked egg into the middle of the pan so edges can cook.  Once eggs have set on the bottom, sprinkle cheese over the top and transfer pan to oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until frittata is set in the middle.

Let cool before slicing.

Serves 4


Chicken “Gyros”

1 pound chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons dried chives

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

For serving:

Whole-wheat pitas

Sliced tomato

Baby spinach

Tzatziki Sauce (Recipe to follow)

Place chicken, yogurt, olive oil, parsley, chives, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and garlic in a re-sealable plastic bag.  Massage ingredients into chicken.  Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, no more than 8.

Pre-heat indoor grill or broiler.

For indoor grill:

Pace chicken on grill and close lid.  Grill for 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

For Broiler:

Place chicken on broiler pan.  Broil for about 12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Flip chicken halfway through cook time.

Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, and then slice thinly.  Serve with pitas, tomatoes, baby spinach and tzatziki sauce.

Serves 4.

Tzatziki Sauce

½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

½ cup light sour cream

1/3 cup cucumber, grated and squeezed dry

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup.


Tilapia Roll-ups

1 pound tilapia fillets

2 cups edamame, boiled and shelled

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

¼ cup pecans

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tomato, seeded and diced

¼ cup green onions, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add boiled and shelled edamame, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, pecans, and parmesan cheese to bowl of food processor.  Process mixture while slowly drizzling in about 1/3 cup olive oil.  Blend until you have a smooth paste.

Spread each tilapia fillet with about 1 to 2 tablespoons edamame mixture (depending on size).  Top evenly with tomato and green onion.  Roll fillet up into a pinwheel, securing with toothpicks.

Add remaining olive oil to an 8x8 baking dish.  Add rolls, standing the rolls up with about an inch between each.  Drizzle remaining lemon juice over the tops and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

Cover baking dish tightly with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Spoon lemon and olive oil “sauce” over fish roll-ups to serve.

Serves 4