Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top 5 Side-Dishes for Your Memorial Day Barbeque

The most important thing about this American holiday is to give thanks and remember all of those who have served or are currently serving our country.  I am grateful every single day for my rights as an American citizen.  I also want to thank the families of those who are serving our country.  They sacrifice so much and deserve the praise and recognition too.  While I will be enjoying this wonderful three day weekend with family and friends, I will also be observing the reason why we are able to do this and that is because of the men and women who have given up their lives for my family's freedom.  No thank you could ever be enough, but I thank each and everyone who has served our country.  With that said, the second most important thing about this holiday is it the official kick off to summer and that usually means barbeques and cook-outs galore.  If you are lucky enough to attend or host a party, here are my top ideas for side-dishes that go amazingly well with burgers, ribs, hotdogs are chicken.  Happy Memorial Day!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicken Avocado Soup

Now that summer is around the corner it obviously means it is soup season, right?  Kidding, but seriously, even if it is 100 degrees outside, I would still crave this soup.  It is so delicious and healthy and can be completely low-carb or paleo, if that is your diet.  When I saw my good friend and fellow blogger Kelly over at post this recipe I new immediately I had to try it out.  A lot of actual chefs (not me) will tell you that making a good soup is quite difficult.  It is hard to get enough flavor out of the ingredients when using that much liquid, so when I made this recipe I was pleasantly surprised how delicious it really was.  The key is using actual salsa in the soup as an ingredient and not just a topping.  This is a fast way to infuse all of the flavors needed to make this soup so good while creating amazing spice and texture.  The star of this show is the avocado because there is something just so delightful about warm, creamy avocado in a spicy soup.  And being able to pile on all the fantastic Mexican style topping make for a filling and satisfying meal.  This recipe has become a family favorite in our house in such a short time, I had to share it with you.

This is what you need:

1-1 1/2 lbs of chicken thighs
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups water
1 container of Salsa (Pico de Gallo is my favorite to use in this)
1 can of Diced Tomatoes
3 Avocados - diced
1 Onion - chopped
1 Jalapeno - diced (optional)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 Limes - juice
1 tbsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2-1 tsp Salt
1/2-1 tsp Pepper
1 bunch of Cilantro

Optional Toppings
Sour Cream
More avocado
More Cilantro
Tortilla Chips (sooooo good if you are not going low-carb)
Hot Sauce

This is what you do:
Pour the chicken broth and water to a large pot or dutch oven.  Chop the onion, garlic and jalapeno and add to the pot.  Heat over high heat and once boiling, add the chicken thighs, can of tomatoes, salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Poach the chicken right in the soup for about 15 minutes, remove and shred with forks or a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Lower the heat to low and put the shredded chicken right back to the pot and add the juice of 1-2 limes.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to an hour.  Taste and add any additional seasonings.  Chop the avocados up into bite size pieces and set aside.  Right before serving, add a handful of roughly chopped cilantro to the pot.  Ladle the soup into big bowls and add 1/4-1/2 avocado into each bowl.  Top with cheese and crushed tortilla chips and whatever else you like if desired.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about an hour
Total Time: 75-90 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Monday, May 11, 2015

Banana and Chia Seed Overnight Oats

I am probably not alone when I say breakfast doesn't always happen for me.  I am not one that wakes up starving and tend to be pretty busy in the morning with my 5 and 2 year old daughters needing my attention. And since coffee is always my first priority, breakfast for me might not to happen.  That is until I discovered the joy that is Overnight Oats.  Basically it is cold oatmeal, soaked in milk or yogurt (or a combo of both) overnight, the oats expand and get soft and a little chewy.  It can be topped with just about anything from fruit to honey to a nut-butter to dark chocolate chips.  And it is good, like really, really good.  It is so easy to make and perfect to grab in the morning as you run out the door to work or juggle getting the kids and yourself fed.  I do try to stick to a low-carb diet, and even though oats are not low-carb, they are gluten-free and packed with fiber that slows digestion down, which in turn keeps you fuller longer.  The chia seeds add more fiber and Omega-3's and the banana naturally sweetens it up while adding vitamins and minerals.  If I am doing a particularly hard workout in the morning, or know that I have a really busy day, I will fill up on overnight oats in the morning.  Make this tonight and eat it tomorrow for breakfast.  You will not be sorry you did!

This is what you need:

1/2 cup Oats (any kind will do, even instant oats)
1/2 cup Milk (you can do 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup yogurt if you want it really creamy and thick)
1/2-1 whole Banana - sliced
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 tsp Honey
Pinch of Salt

Optional Toppings:
Any sliced fruit
Peanut butter or Nut butter
Coconut Flakes
Dark Chocolate Chips

This is what you do:
Mix all ingredients in Tupperware or bowl or mason jar.  Let sit at least 3-4 hours, but overnight is best.  When ready to eat, mix again and enjoy as is or top with any of the items listed above.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 3-4 hours to overnight
Serves: 1-2

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Greek Turkey Meatloaf

I didn't eat a ton of meatloaf growing up, but I always liked it when my mom would make it.  Seasoned ground meat with ketchup?  Sure, why not?  As an adult, I am not a meatloaf super-fan or anything, but it certainly has it's place at the dinner table and makes for an easy and healthy dinner that most kids and adults will eat.  Between you and me, the term "meatloaf" doesn't really get my hunger pangs going, but it is the perfect description so I guess we are stuck with it.  My dislike for the name has not stopped me from coming up with different varieties of it.  And I have to say, this one is probably my favorite.  I am obsessed with all Greek food and love the salty bite of the feta cheese and kalamata olives, the sweetness of the roasted red peppers and mint and the freshness that the spinach and parsley give that really make this dish a delight.  I like to use turkey with this recipe because it is so mild and really takes on the flavors well, plus it is lower in fat than beef.  The next time you have some ground turkey and feel like using your hands as kitchen tools, give this recipe a try.

This is what you need:

1-1.5 lbs of Ground Turkey (mine was 1.4 lbs)
1/2 cup of Feta Cheese
1/4 cup Sliced Kalamata Olives (or any olives you have)
1/4 cup diced Roasted Red Peppers
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 Onion- diced 
2 cloves of Garlic- minced
1 cup Spinach Leaves
1 Egg
1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley -chopped
1 tbsp Mint - chopped
3 tbsp Olive Oil - divided
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Cooking Spray

Optional Toppings:
Tzatziki Sauce

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Dice the 1/2 onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic and heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent and add 1 cup of spinach to pan and cook until wilted.  Remove from pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, place all of the other ingredients together and add the spinach mixture.  Use hands to mix everything together and get all the ingredients evenly distributed.  Place mixture on the baking sheet and use hands to form it into a brick about 2-3 inches tall and around 8 inches long.  Cook for 45 minutes or until the the internal temperature is 165 degrees.  Let rest for about 5 minutes, slice and serve!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time 45-50 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
Serves: 4

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I think at this point it is pretty obvious, I am huge fan of roasting vegetables.  I really do think it is the absolute best way to prepare most veggies because it is so easy to do and enhances the flavor and texture of almost anything.  So obviously, cauliflower is no different, although I will eat it in almost any shape or form, (see my Crispy Cauliflower Rice).  Roasting makes it crispy in some areas, and soft in others and it takes on any flavors it is cooked with.  My favorite way is to season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese and toss it all with olive oil.  And that is it, throw it on roasting pan and you have a fabulous side dish that pairs wonderfully with chicken, steak or fish.  Next time you pick up a cauliflower, try preparing it this way, I know you won't be disappointed.

This is what you need:

1 Medium Cauliflower
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 tbsp of Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

This is what you do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cut the cauliflower up into florets, about an inch to two inches big.  Toss with the olive oil, Parmesan, salt, pepper and garlic powder and spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Careful not to over crowd, because the cauliflower will steam and not roast if there is too many.  Roast for 15 minutes, remove and toss on the sheet.  Roast for another 10 minutes or so, until desired crispiness is achieved.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 4-6