Tag Archives: quick and easy

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

5 Jan

Stuffed shells are so easy and super fun to make! I recently made a more traditional version of this dish with a group of children and they had a blast mixing and filing the shells. Not to mention, they ate every bite… spinach included! If you want to get your kids to eat their veggies, get them in kitchen. It truly makes a difference.

I liked this recipe because I love vegetable lasagna but I can’t afford the time it takes to make and bake in the oven. As you know if you follow my blog, when it’s dinner time, I’m hungry, and it better not take me long to make anything or else I’m out, down for the count, and wasting precious calories on anything I can get my hands on from the pantry. (aka: Wheat Thins and peanut butter)

Stuffing jumbo pasta shells with lasagna ingredients not only cuts down on time but it also helps you with portion control. Sneaking an extra bite of lasagna is easy but grabbing another shell can make you think twice!

Also, I added chicken for the hubs. He’s a meat-a-holic. Not really… he can enjoy a good hearty… key word hearty… vegetarian meal every once in a while but he’d simply rather not. I can’t really blame him but you wouldn’t have to use chicken if you didn’t want to.

Enjoy!

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Time: 45 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 4, 3 shells each

1 chicken boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped into bite sized cubes
15 jumbo pasta shells, in case a few break
1 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1/3 c. carrots, sliced thin
1/3 c. frozen corn
1/3 c. frozen bell peppers
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1 egg
1 c. spaghetti sauce
1/4 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded

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15 Minute Dinner… Smoked Sausage and Vegetable Stew Over Brown Rice

13 Dec

15 minute dinner ideas are must to keep sane during the holiday season. Smoked sausage, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies, and minute rice help make this flavorful dish quick and easy to throw together on a busy night.

You can make it as mild or as spicy as you’d like… We like it HOT around our house!

Smoked Sausage and Vegetable Stew Over Brown Rice

Servings: 2-4
Level: Easy
Time: 15 minutes

1 tsp. canola oil
1/3 c. corn, frozen
1/3 c. bell peppers and onions, frozen
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sweet and spicy jalapeños, diced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper, optional
1/2 c. smoked sausage, cut into slices, then halved
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
brown rice, cooked

In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add corn, peppers and onions, and garlic. Sauté  until thawed. Add remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato juice thickens to desired thickness.

Serve over brown rice. Yum!

Tips
– Use instant brown rice!
– Make extra rice or add another can of tomatoes to make the dish go further.

South of the Border Burgers

20 Oct

We love tacos and burritos at our house! But, alas, I was completely out of tortillas when the craving hit us. I don’t know about you but around here, when a craving hits, there’s no getting rid of it… So the South of the Border Burger was born, as most things are, out of necessity. And now this burger will surely be a weeknight  staple! I hope you like it.


South of the Border Burgers

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2
Level: Easy

2 servings of ground beef (I always pre-portion my meat once I buy it…)
1 tbsp. low sodium taco seasoning
2 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 tbsp. salsa
1 tbsp. sour cream
2 slices cheddar cheese
freshly sliced purple onions, optional
lettuce

Mix ground beef and taco seasoning. Form into 2 patties. Either outside on the grill or inside in a grill pan, grill burgers until no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes on each side.

Spread salsa on one side of hamburger buns and spread sour cream on the other side. Top buns with burgers, cheddar cheese,  onions, and lettuce. Yum!

10 Healthy Back to School Quick Breakfast Ideas

11 Aug

Parents and teachers of school-aged children know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. HOWEVER, the time between the buzzing alarm clock and the honking school bus goes by at the speed of light! With Science Fair Projects, tests, trying on 10 outfits, and the inevitable bad hair days and fake belly aches, breakfast is the last thing you’re worried about in the morning. As long as you can shove something down the throats of your little ones and grab a granola bar for yourself on the way out the door, your good, right? Unfortunately, you’re not good. Not all breakfasts are created equal. You need a balance of good, healthy carbs with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains.

Evidence suggests after fasting all night, a developing body (and brain) needs a fresh supply of glucose — or blood sugar. That’s the brain’s basic fuel. (And on a side note… since we’re talking about the brain: The brain does it’s “memorizing” at night. In order to truly memorize something, you need a good night’s sleep after learning. So don’t cram for a test in the a.m. or pull an all-nighter!)

Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, told Allison Aubrey, an NPR reporter, in a 2006 interview,  “Without glucose, our brain simply doesn’t operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don’t remember things as well.”

Ok, ok… I will now step off my soap box. But seriously, as a teacher, I beg of you…

Here are some great breakfast ideas. Hopefully you can take one or two and incorporate them into your morning routine.

1. Breakfast Sandwich – Whole wheat toast, eggs, maybe a slice of ham… yum!

2. Fruit Smoothie – Delish with a slice of whole wheat toast and a schmear of peanut butter.

3. Oatmeal – Plain quick oats are my fav. They are cooked in 1 minute and you can add your choice of toppings. Try any of these or even a combo of a few: honey, sliced fruit, chopped dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, or prunes, a little brown sugar, a small spoonful of jam.

4. Plain Yogurt with Fresh Fruit and Honey – This is my new obsession. Top a bowl of tangy and tart non-fat plain yogurt (you could even try Greek) with fresh fruit slices, like blueberries and strawberries, with a drizzle of sweet honey. Served with a slice of whole wheat toast or 1/2 of a whole wheat English muffin and you’re in business!

5. Quinoa Pancakes – These can be made ahead of time and served 1000 different ways. I like to use the pancakes as I would bread and make either a breakfast sandwich out of them or spread them with peanut butter and top with banana slices. (Wouldn’t Elvis love that?)

6. Whole Wheat (and super easy) French Toast – Use sugar free syrup or none at all. You can top this with slices strawberries for added sweetness if you wanted to go sans syrup.

7. Whole Wheat Waffles as a base for just about anything – Toast up a whole wheat waffle and top it with whatever your heart desires: peanut or almond butter, scrambles eggs and tomato slices, a sunny side up egg with a slice of low fat cheese, etc.

8. Cottage or Ricotta Cheese Breakfast Burritos – Grab a whole wheat tortilla and fill it up with low fat cottage or ricotta cheese, a little bit of jam, fruit slices, and maybe a few chopped nuts. Think breakfast version of my Berry Turkey Wrap.

9. Breakfast Trail Mix – This is the ultimate “eat in the car” breakfast recipe. In a bowl, mix together basically whatever you have on hand! I like to use: unsalted peanuts, unsalted almonds, raisins, dried apple or apricot slices, bran cereal flakes, and whole grain oats cereal.

10. Made Your Way Omelets – Eggs are great for you in the morning! Served with a glass of milk, and you’re good to go! Omelets can be made with 1000 different ingredients (especially leftover ingredients from dinner the night before) so get creative. A few of my favorites: low fat cheese, bell peppers and onions, spinach and tomatoes, leftover stir fry veggies, leftover sliced turkey.

I hope you enjoy! If you have a breakfast idea, please leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

For more information on what Bravender has to say about the importance of breakfast, see NPR.

Flat Out Pizza

21 Jul

No time? No problem! Flat Outs can be used for just about everything…from Berry Turkey Wraps to Pizza! As you probably already know, I love pizza. Any topping, any type.

I made these pizzas from start to finish in a little under 10 minutes and I used the toaster oven so I didn’t have to heat up the house with my oven. Perfect for a busy summer night!

Flat Out Pizza

Servings: 1
Time: 10 minutes
Level: Easy

1 piece of Flat Out bread
pizza sauce
fresh spinach leaves
peppers and onions, frozen
pepperoni
jalapeños
cheese, shredded
crushed red pepper

Top Flat Out with pizza sauce and layer, beginning with spinach, the remaining ingredients.

Toast in the toaster oven, or broil in the regular oven, until cheese is melted. Yum!

Tips
– Add any ingredients you want. Pizzas are a place to play around!

Berry Turkey Wraps

16 Jul

This recipe came to me while I was eating breakfast. Once of my favorite quick breakfasts is cream cheese and strawberry jam smeared on a Wasa cracker. Peanut butter and jam is also delicious but cream cheese always tastes like a treat! while I was eating, I had a thought. Jam is really yummy but wouldn’t real strawberry slices be even better? That got my brain on a roll and here we are… Berry Turkey Wraps.

The hubs loved them. He had just come in from mountain biking and was so excited to see a big cold wrap filled with delicious strawberries. I doubled up on his portion of turkey and all was well!

Berry Turkey Wrap

Time: 5 min.
Servings: 2
Level: Easy

2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. pecans, chopped finely
4 strawberries, sliced
Deli turkey
2 slices Gouda or Swiss cheese
lettuce
red onion slices, optional
2 flour tortillas or Flat Outs

Mix cream cheese and pecans together. Spread onto tortilla or Flat Out. Top with strawberries, turkey, cheese, and lettuce.

Wrap everything up.

Yum!

Grilled Corn with French Onion “Butter”

12 Jul

Grilled corn on the cob is probably my favorite summertime veggie. When the husks burn on the outside of the corn, the kernels practically get a steam bath and become infused with a wonderful smoky flavor. When I grill corn on the cob, I make sure to grill a lot of it! Leftovers can be reinvented into so many delicious dishes… the options are truly endless.

You can cut off the perfectly charred kernels to throw into a salad, use them to make a cold corn soup, (whew… recipe for another day, pure deliciousness!) make a salsa or dip, or even just reheat them with a little salt and butter for an easy side dish on a busy night.

Grilling corn is super easy. There are a lot of theories on how to grill the perfect ear of corn but this one seems to work best for me. Sorry there aren’t any pictures…

First, with kitchen scissors, I trim the silk fibers that are poking out of the top of the ear. Then, I peel off the first entire layer of the husk. After that, I throw the ears on to the grill, set at medium-high heat, for 25-30 minutes, turning every once in a while. Once they come off of the grill, totally black and super messy, I peel back the husk and take off the silk fibers. I guess that’s called shucking?! Ahhhhh-mazing!

Nothing can beat an ear of grilled corn slathered in melted butter and dusted with salt. But for the sake of not boring my family with the same ole’ side dish, just because I love it so much, I started doing some experimenting.

Normally I don’t have French onion dip in the fridge. Chip dip is just something I never buy. I’d rather use Greek yogurt and sour cream to make my own. I like controlling my own flavors and nutritional content when it comes to things like that. But, alas, the 4th of July left us with a tub and I figured I could use it. What was born was truly delicious and I hope you enjoy it.

Grilled Corn with French Onion “Butter”

Servings: 2
Time: 2 minutes
Level: Easy

2 ears of corn, grilled and shucked
2 tbsp. French onion dip (I used Dean’s brand)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more…)
1/2 tsp. lime or lemon juice

Mix dip, cayenne, and juice together. Spread over all sides of the corn. Yum!

Tips
– I bet you could use any dip flavor… dill, ranch, etc.

Carolina Salad

11 Jul

Ooh, the Carolina. My husband requests this salad at least once every two weeks, especially in the hot hot summer. Did you know that it hit over 100° today? Ridiculous. Factor in the sticky humidity that constantly blankets us and you’ve got yourself a sweat box. Good skin? Yes, the dewiest, most gorgeous skin.  But an enjoyable afternoon spent reading outside? I don’t think so.

Hot weather welcomes dinner salads and this one is legit. I made Pretzel and Pecan Encrusted Tilapia not too long ago and I made extra breading for a night just like tonight! The breading saves beautifully in an airtight container. For the recipe, click here.

Dinner salads are an excuse to clean out your produce drawer. Pretty much anything goes… and goes VERY well, so play around!!

Carolina Salad

Servings: 2
Time: 10 minutes
Level: Easy

1 chicken breast
1/3 – 1/2 c. pretzel and pecan breading
1 tbsp. coconut oil (canola or vegetable oil would also work… coconut is just better for you and pan fries wonderfully)
The following list is what I used in my salad tonight. You can use whatever you have!
lettuce
spinach leaves
radishes
carrots
purple onion
grapes (strawberries or nectarines work well, too)
broccoli
cashews
cheese, shredded
bacon, cooked and crumbled
croutons
salad dressing of your choice

Dry chicken breast and dice into bite sized pieces. In a shallow dish or plate, pour breading and press chicken pieces into the breading to coat.

In a pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Once melted and heated to temperature, add chicken and cook 1-2 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the middle.

Fill large bowls or deep plates with lettuce and other ingredients. Top with chicken. Yum!

Tips
– Make your own croutons… Slice a piece of bread into cubes, top with a little butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Yum!
– No egg bath is needed to coat the chicken. The breading will stick to the bare chicken and holds up nicely in the pan since it is fried for such a short period of time. Why add the calories if they aren’t really needed?

Simple Sabroso Salsa

7 Jul

Sabroso means tasty in Spanish… I’m not sure if I used it in the right context or not, but hey, I only have a minor in the language so I’m not expected to know, right?

This salsa is called Sabroso Salsa because it is simply that, a tasty sauce… especially the next day, once all of the flavors sit and have a chance to mingle with each other.

If you have any leftover grilled corn, use it! If not, no worries! Canned corn will do just fine.

I served this salsa with tortilla chips but it would also be delicious served on crackers or bite sized baguette slices topped a little avocado and cheese. Appetizers, anyone?

Don’t forget to check the tips section for 2 great ideas for using up leftovers!

Simple Sabroso Salsa

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: A lot! It made about 3 -4 cups of salsa.
Level: Easy

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel, drained
1 tbsp. jalapeños, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lime juice

Mix all ingredients together and let sit in the fridge until ready to serve. Yum!

Tips
– Play with the spices. You can add as little or as much of each as you’d like!
– I spooned leftover salsa over grilled chicken for dinner the next day. Yum!
– Another idea for leftovers!!!! I used the rest of the leftover salsa to make a simple pasta dish. I heated the salsa in the microwave and mixed it with cooked, drained pasta shell noodles and leftover shredded chicken. It was so yummy!!

What the French, Toast?

5 Jul

Breakfast is the BEST! You’ve always heard that you should start your day off right… but honestly, who has the time? Grabbing a bowl of cereal or snagging a granola bar out of the pantry on our way out the door probably happens way too often around here.

But after a WONDERFUL trip to see Alissa, my best friend, well, make that almost sister… in case you didn’t know, I now have an easy and super quick recipe for breakfast that will definitely be making a frequent appearance in my kitchen.

This French toast recipe takes about 5 minutes, at the most, to prepare and it bakes in the oven for 15 minutes. That is just enough time to go back, get dressed, and put on make-up. Can’t argue with that!

I’m not quite sure if the measurements are exactly like Alissa’s amazing recipe but the outcome was very similar. Yum!

Alissa’s Fabulous French Toast

Servings: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Easy

1 egg
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
4 slices whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 350°. In a shallow dish, whisk egg, egg whites, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla together. Dip bread in egg mixture until soaked.

Place bread on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning once.

Serve with butter and warmed syrup. Yum!

Tips
– You can use all egg whites to make it healthier.
– Try sugar free syrup or even flavored syrup for a twist!
– Top with toasted pecans for a nutty addition.
– Sprinkle more cinnamon on top of the bread before you bake it if you loooove cinnamon like I do!

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