Greek Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Monday is the perfect day for a slow cooker meal. Who wants to cook after a manic Monday at the office?! No one. Which makes this recipe for Greek chicken perfect. Another plus? It makes enough for brown bag lunches to bring to work. Add the chicken to the a salad or wrap it in a pita – perfect for a lunchtime break.

In this recipe, frozen chicken simmers all day in oregano, lemon, onions and peppers. When you are ready to eat simply top a bowl of quinoa with the chicken mixture,sautéed zucchini and tzatziki. Quick, easy and delicious. Perfect for a manic Monday.

greek chicken quinoa bowls

Ingredients:
Slow cooker chicken:
3 chicken breasts
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Tzatziki sauce:
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated cucumber
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste

Extras:
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 zucchini, cubed

Place chicken in slow cooker. Mix together onion, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over chicken and cook on low for 7 hours.

greek chicken quinoa bowls

Combine all ingredients for the tzatziki sauce and set aside. The longer the sauce sits the better the flavor gets!

greek chicken quinoa bowls

When you are ready to eat, begin to cook the quinoa per the package directions. Sauté the zucchini until tender. Now you are ready to build the bowl!

Begin building your bowl by topping some quinoa with sautéed zucchini and the chicken and onions from the slow cooker. Top with tzatziki.

greek chicken quinoa bowls

Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers

My husband loves burgers but I am not always up for a heavy red meat patty so we compromise with black bean burgers. It is a healthy option that I can throw on a bed of spinach with avocado and he can enjoy between two pieces of bread (with cheese, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions).

And on the plus side its a quick meal – which is perfect for this weekend. Max is teething and refuses to sit calmly for more than ten minutes, which makes cooking (or anything) difficult.

black bean burgers

IMG_4909

My teething monster

Ingredients:
15 ounce can black beans
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
Avocado, sliced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Begin by smashing black beans into a rough paste. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. You may want to add a bit more bread crumbs depending on how wet the mixture turns out. Form into four patties.

black bean burgers

Heat oil or cooking spray in a pan over medium heat. Cook patties until warmed through, about three minutes per side depending on thickness.

Top patties with cheese and broil until melted. Add sliced avocado.

black bean burgers

Enjoy!

Chipotle Turkey Chili

Another cold gray day in Pittsburgh and another batch of turkey chili. The weather has been downright disgusting lately – cold, snow, ice and rain.  The kind of weather than makes you just want to stay in bed and since adults don’t get snow days I had to go into work. The spicy yet smokey chipotle was the perfect cure for a snowy day and added something extra to the simple turkey chili.

*Note – This recipe calls for chipotle in adobo, which is rather spicy. You can reduce the amount of omit it all together – your call!

IMG_4866

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon oregano
salt & pepper to taste
15 oz  can black beans
15 oz can kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup green onion, diced

Begin by browning your turkey in a large dutch oven. Add onion, green pepper, chipotle and garlic. Stir until softened – about 5 minutes.

turkey chili

Then add all remaining ingredients, except the cilantro and green onion. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened to your liking.

turkey chili

Top with cilantro and/or green onion.

turkey chili

Enjoy!

 

Money Saving Tips

Everyone has their own money saving tips when it comes to cooking. Take a quick look on Pinterest and you will find pin after pin of information on cooking in bulk, freezer cooking, coupon tips, etc.  Most of these are great tips if that is your style of cooking. However, for someone who loves to cook something different every night – these don’t always work.

So of course, I have  a few of my own that fit my style and love of cooking.

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Prep!
This step is key. Saturday morning I sit down with our local grocery store circulars and check out what’s on sale. Based on the sales, I create a menu of dinners and lunches for the week.

Dry beans
I noticed week after week I was always buying cans of beans – and the price quickly added up. So I made the move to using only dried beans. Unfortunately, this takes a bit more forethought and the slow cooker. But the cost savings is enough for me to think ahead and throw them in the slow cooker with some water the night before.  Here is an easy how to for prepping the beans from the kitchn. 

Bulk grains
Costco is great for this! I have a huge bag of quinoa, brown rice and pasta ready to go in the pantry at all times. I use these all the time and often make a batch of quinoa on Sunday evening to use throughout the week in my lunches since I try to avoid going out to lunch during the week.

Frozen veggies
I know, frozen vegetables get a bad rapt but they are actually healthier than fresh produce and a lot cheaper! But I admit, I only use frozen veggies in certain dishes. Pastas, soups, stir fries – they all get frozen veggies. However, if I want roasted broccoli or potatoes I need to use fresh.

Bulk onions and potatoes
This is obvious but it is so much cheaper to buy bags of onions and potatoes then purchase them individually as you need them. Both of these vegetables keep for a long time and can be kept in your pantry where it is dark and dry.

Things to freeze when they go on sale…
Citrus
Stock up on oranges, limes and lemons when they go on sale! These can be frozen whole and simply defrosted in the refrigerator when you need them. And if you just need some zest they can be zested while still frozen.

Avocados
I have a problem – when I crave guacamole I can never find a ripe avocado and they are always hard as rocks. So having a perfectly ripe avocado waiting in the freezer whenever a guac craving hits is perfect! To freeze, simply cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and pit and throw into a freezer bag.

Proteins
This is obvious, but I always stock up on chicken, pork chops and fish when they go on sale. They freeze beautifully and it is so easy to have them on hand. Just thaw in the fridge while you are at work and the protein is ready to go for dinner when you get home.

I hope these money saving tips help! Hubby and I are saving for new windows – all 26 to be exact – so every bit of savings help.

 

Roasted Tomato and Spinach Pie

I strongly believe the world is divided into two camps – those who loath spinach and those who love it. I am belong to the latter camp. The leafy green can be used in some many ways and in so many styles of cooking. I usually have a bag of fresh and a few packs of frozen on hand at all times. And this recipe for spinach pie is one of my favorite ways to use it!

spinach pie

Most of the ingredients are items you have on hand – so it makes for a perfect last minute, unplanned dinner. And of course you can mix up the ingredients based on what you have and your tastes. This spinach pie recipe works great with feta and any left over veggies you have on hand. Just be sure to keep the ratio consistent so it is not too dry or wet.

This particular version of the recipe calls for slow roasted cherry tomatoes and of course the tomatoes can be roasted in advance. I love to have roasted tomatoes on hand to throw into salads, eggs, pasta – really anything. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and they are addicting.

Ingredients:
10 oz frozen spinach
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 eggs, whisked
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powered
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9-inch pie dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Begin by roasting your cherry tomatoes. Simply toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper to roast for about 20 minutes. *This can of course be done in advance. 

While the tomatoes roast, thaw your spinach in the microwave and drain any excess liquid using a colander or cheese cloth.

Stir all ingredients, including the roasted tomatoes, together in a large bowl then pour mixture into prepared pie dish.

spinach pie

Bake for 30 minutes or until the middle is cooked through and no longer jiggling.

spinach pie

Slice up the spinach pie and enjoy!

spinach pie

 

Kielbasa Hash

My house is still mourning the Steelers not making the Super Bowl this year. However, we still  watched the game and since its Super Bowl Sunday I think good food is a necessity. This is where my kielbasa hash comes in.

Kielbasa is such as a classic football food – but instead of being served as a sandwich I sautéed it with potatoes, pepper and onions. A tailgating sandwich in a bowl!

Kielbasa Hash

Ingredients:
2 potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 link kielbasa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt & pepper, to taste
grated parmesan, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Begin by roasting the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until soft.

While the potatoes roast, sauté the onion and pepper in a large skillet. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning to the pan. Cook until fragrant. Add kielbasa and potatoes, cooking until the kielbasa is heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Kielbasa Hash

Serve topped with grated parmesan.

Kielbasa Hash

Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken Empanadas

Earlier this week I had every intention of posting a slow cooker balsamic chicken recipe… and then I got the flu. So the balsamic chicken sat in my fridge for two days begging to be made into something delicious. Balsamic chicken empanadas were the answer!

Empanadas sound difficult but are actually very easy and do not take that long! And to make it even easier, I use frozen pizza dough – either store bought or homemade (for homemade try the dough from my BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe). And though my son is not old enough to help – or even stand – I am guessing that kids will love to help stuff the empanadas and of course eat them!

Empanadas

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon oregano
pizza dough, brought to room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Before you leave for work, simply add the chicken, diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and herbs into a slow cooker. Cook on High for 4 hours. When done, shred the chicken.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Let the pizza dough come to room temperature. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a water glass – about 6 inches round – cut out rounds for the empanadas. Layout dough rounds on a baking sheet and spoon a bit of the chicken mixture. I drain some of the liquid from the mixture so the empanadas do not get soggy.

Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the edges of the dough rounds. Fold over the dough and crimp edges with your fingers, locking in the chicken. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the dough the is golden. Let rest for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

Empanadas

These are difficult to photograph but are still delicious!

 

Empanadas

Brownie Baking Fail

I was going to post a recipe for pretzel brownie bits. They should have been sweet and salty, chocolatey and fudgey but with a salty pretzel crunch.

But this happened…

baking fail

They batter somehow stayed liquid after 15 minutes, but bubbled up to burn on the pan. Baking fail, right here.

Hope you had better luck baking this weekend!

Pepperoni Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is one of my favorite dinners of all time. Who doesn’t love crispy chicken with gooey melted mozzarella? No one. And luckily for me it can easily be made healthy without loosing much flavor. So I can enjoy my favorite meal more often.

But the classic can get boring – so one way I like to mix it up is to add sliced pepperoni for a pizza spin on a classic chicken parmesan.

Pepperoni Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 egg
2/3 cup marinara sauce (depending on how much sauce you like)
1/3 cup sliced pepperoni (about ten slices)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet, lightly coat with non-stick spray. Set up your dredging station with one bowl of breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning mixed in, and another bowl with the beaten egg.

Begin by lightly pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness so they cook evenly. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper.

First dip the chicken in the egg then the breadcrumbs. Feel free to dip back into the egg and breadcrumbs for a thicker crust. Set on cooling rack. Repeat for all chicken breasts.

Bake chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken so keep an eye on it!

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and layer the sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella on top. Turn the broiler on and put the chicken back in the oven to melt the cheese. This should only take about two minutes.

Serve with a simple vegetable, we did roasted brussels sprouts.

Enjoy!

 

Pepperoni Chicken Parmesan

Pepperoni peaking out from under melted cheese? Yes please!

Cuban Panini with Cumin Roasted Potatoes and Apples

We literally just finished eating these and I needed to get this out – these Cuban panini were that GOOD. I have been craving a Cuban sandwich for a few weeks now and we haven’t had a chance to get one out – most of the Cuban restaurants near us aren’t too baby-friendly. So I finally broke down and just made my own and I am so glad I did. It all came together – the salty ham, the briny pickles, the sweet pork, the mustardy mustard. Amazing.

And the cumin dusted potatoes and apples were the perfect slightly sweet yet smokey compliment.

Oh and the pickles were homemade – I love this recipe by Tyler Florence. But since I don’t have all spice berries  I instead use a pinch of ground all spice.

Seriously, try these Cuban panini ASAP!

cuban panini

cuban panini

Ingredients:
4 slices bread
1 thick pork chop
1 handful of sliced deli ham
2 slices of swiss cheese
1/4 cup pickle slices
2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
butter
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 apple, cubed
1 tablespoon cumin
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss cubed potatoes and apples in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until tender.

While the potatoes and apples roast, begin the panini. Slice the pork chop into two thinner chops. Season with salt and pepper. Quickly cook on a grill pan or skillet, about two or three minutes per side. Set aside.

Begin assembling the sandwiches by buttering all pieces of bread and layering the pork, ham, pickles, cheese and mustard. Place assembled sandwiches on a grill pan or skillet. Cook the sandwiches on each side for about four minutes, until cheese is melted and bread toasted.

Serve with the roasted potatoes and apples.

cuban panini

Enjoy!