Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 28 - Mini Burritos

Mini Turkey and Black Bean Burritos, red plum, dried green beans.

You know those delicious peppers from yesterday?  Well, when I cooked them two nights ago, I actually doubled the filling and used the leftovers for burritos last night (and today for lunch).  I liked it just as much as the peppers from last night!  The only alteration I would make is maybe adding some extra salsa and sour cream...but they were delicious even without those.  Added a red plum and some dried green beans, and this was a good meal.

The burritos packed a ton of protein, so this is a great meal if you need to eat quickly and stay full for a while.  You could also use regular burrito sized (10 inch) tortillas for a larger burrito - I just used fajita tortillas because that's what I had on hand, and everything is cuter when it's mini.  Seriously.  For instance...

See how tiny and cute he is?!  And he's next to soup, so he obviously loves being a mini-fluffy-chef.

I rest my case.

Anyway, burrito time.  Remember, the way I organized this was to double the recipe for the filling (what gets cooked in the skillet, minus the cheese), using half for the Roasted Stuffed Peppers and the other half for burritos the next day.  The recipe below, however, is just for the burritos.  Only.  Smaller quantities, equal deliciousness!

Mini Burritos

1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup red tomato salsa
1/4 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
8 6-inch (fajita size) flour tortillas

Brown turkey in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook until onions are translucent.  Stir in the following 5 ingredients, through corn, and cook until heated through.  Gently fold in cheese until just melted.  Remove from heat and divide evenly between tortillas, rolling them up as you go along.  Serve or refrigerate immediately.  Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 27 - Roasted Stuffed Peppers

Roasted Bell Pepper with arugula,  cucumber slices, mini rice cakes.
Last night was a listen-to-Billie-Holiday-and-get-creative-in-the-kitchen kind of night. So I tried out a new recipe for Southwestern Stuffed Peppers from Simply Love  Food blog.

It was delicious.  So delicious.  I served it last night with roasted potatoes with hot peppers and an arugula salad. Had one leftover for lunch today which I had with more arugula, cucumber slices, and mini rice cakes.

I made the pepper fairly true to the original recipe, with a few changes.  I also cut the recipe in half, as below, but doubled the filling which I will use for dinner tonight!  Burritos may be on the lunch menu tomorrow!

Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

2-3 bell peppers,any color
olive oil, to taste
1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup red tomato salsa
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Cut peppers in half, removing seeds.  Place open side up in a baking dish, drizzling lightly with olive oil.  Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, brown turkey in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook until onions are translucent.  Stir in remaining ingredients, saving cheese, and cook until heated through.

Twice as much as the recipe calls for, but you get the picture.  The beautiful, delicious picture.
Once peppers are crispy-tender, remove from oven.  Gently spoon in turkey filling, sprinkling the tops of each with cheese.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Serve hot.

Sizzling goodness.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 26 - Chicken Gyro!

Chicken gyro,  watermelon, pistachios.

Last night, I went out for Greek food.  We went to a new place and found my new favorite guilty pleasure: fried portobello mushrooms with marinara and feta dipping sauce.   It was so bad for me.  It was so tasty.

How did I not think of combining marinara and feta myself?
Needless to say, I got the vegetable plate for my entree.

Anyway, it inspired me to try to make a chicken gyro for lunch.  I was honestly a little shocked at how good it is.  I've made pretty good tzatziki sauce for a while now, just never mastered the gyro.  All I did was made up some fresh tzatziki, heat up a wheat pita, add some tomato, mixed greens, red onion, feta cheese, and chicken grilled with Greek spices.  It was soooo good.  Added some watermelon and pistachios, and it was a pretty great lunch.

Throwing together gyros and other Greek wraps is pretty easy, as long as your components are good.  Here's my recipe for tzatziki sauce.


1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon dried dill
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel the cucumber and cut in half, longways (is that a word?  Guess it is now).  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon; discard seeds.  Chop roughly and pulse in a food processor until finely diced or pureed - the smoother your cucumber, the smoother your sauce will be.  Spoon the cucumber into a sieve and press until most of the liquid is removed.  In a small bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, and remaining ingredients.   Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to mingle.

Don't know what to do with your leftover cucumber juice?  Add it to a gallon of water and keep in the fridge for a super refreshing drink! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 25 - Trader Joe's Mandarin Chicken

Mandarin Orange Chicken on jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, orange  slices.

I tend to make food from fresh ingredients.  Sometimes I will freeze those fresh ingredients myself, but then I know how long they've been in the freezer.  I don't often have frozen dinners.

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken is a definite exception.  The only Mandarin Chicken I've had better than this was in Chinatown in San Francisco, and this one goes from freezer to plate in about 15 minutes.  I love it.  Frozen precooked chicken and sauce cook for about 10 minutes in a skillet with a little sesame oil.  I often throw in broccoli or asparagus, and serve it over rice.

Mmmm...tasty goodness.

For lunch today I had last night's leftovers over jasmine rice, with steamed broccoli and cara cara oranges on the side.


Look  how beautiful!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 24 - Final Man Lunch...Return of the Sandwich

Chicken salad sandwich, cherries, and popcorn.
Alright, last day of lunches for Dad.  I could tell he wanted another sandwich, so I gave him a Waldorf Chicken Salad sandwich with romaine, cherries, and popcorn.  Popcorn and red cherries, by the way, are impossible to photograph well together in sunlight.

The chicken salad is from The Fresh Market, which my parents love.  My dad really loves this chicken salad - chicken, grapes, celery, poppyseeds, nuts - sounds good, but I don't personally like it.  He gives it both thumbs up, though, so he was happy!

Back to more of my lunches and recipes next week.  Hope some of you are getting a quick vacation before fall sets in, as well!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 23 - Man Salad

Man Salad with vinaigrette, mandarin oranges, triscuits.

Day 2 of lunches for dad.

I made him eat a salad.

Yeah, I know.  A salad.

He was less impressed, but he didn't complain!  He had fresh romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pecans, asparagus, and the other half of the roasted chicken from yesterday.  It's allll crammed in there.  Oh, and some raspberry vinagrette, which I think he sees as way girly.  Added some mandarin oranges and triscuits.

He ate it, he was full.  He would have rather had a sandwich. :)  I'll make chicken with cream sauce tonight and he'll be much happier! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 22 - Man Lunch

Roasted Chicken Sandwich, blueberries, crackers & cheese, Kashi granola bar.
I'm visiting my parents for a couple of days, so instead of documenting my own lunches, I'll show you the lunches I'm making for my dad to take to work.

I'm so nice.

Ok, that wasn't so nice.

Anyway, these are MAN LUNCHES.  If I made steak and mashed potatoes for my dad every night, he'd die happy.  Early, but happy.  So I'm trying to give him lunches that are light, healthy, and will still keep him full.

Today he had a sandwich of pumpernickel bread, dijon mustard, romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and roasted chicken.  I had to squoosh it down (technical term) for it to fit in the box, but there is seriously about half of a chicken on that sandwich.  I included some blueberries, wheat crackers, and light cheese spread.  Threw in a Diet Dr. Pepper and a Kashi bar in case he got snacky.

He claims to have loved it, and to have been too full to finish.

He's never too full to finish.

So if you have one of those people in you're life who's never too full, try this one! 

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 21 - Yukon Gold Potato Soup

Yukon Gold Potato Soup

 I know.  It's Sunday.  And no, I didn't take my lunch anywhere.  But this was one of those long, rainy Sunday afternoons with lots of paperwork involved, so I needed something pretty quick and comforting for lunch.

So I made a creamy, cheesy Yukon Gold Potato Soup.  In August.  I'm ok with it.

You might want to hold off until autumn for this soup, but it's a must try.  It's simple, quick, and slightly lower fat than most cream soups.

It's also an altered version of Cooking Light's Loaded Potato Soup.  Mine's a little less "light."  :)

Yukon Gold Potato Soup

1.5 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 bacon slices 
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups reduced fat milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch  
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

In a medium pot, place potatoes and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain and set aside.

In a large soup pot, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove and crumble bacon; set aside.  Drain bacon drippings, reserving about 2 teaspoons.  Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in the pot, adding onions and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat, or until tender.  Gently add in broth and milk.  Whisk in cornstarch and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of cheese.  Add in half of potatoes.  Blend with an immersion blender for a few seconds, until soup is well thickened.  Add in remaining potatoes and serve immediatley, topping with remaining cheese and bacon crumbles.

Just look at that cheesy goodness!

If you don't have an immersion blender, you can simply just roughly mash potatoes with a potato masher.  For a more pureed soup, try an upright blender or food processor.  The consistency is up to you! Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 20 - Spicing Things Up with Hotlanta Sauce

Chicken Tenders with honey mustard and Hotlanta Hot Sauce, dried green beans, black grapes.

Last night was one of those nights where I just threw some frozen chicken tenders in the oven.  It happens.

So I threw in a couple of extra for lunch today and included some TJ's dried green beans and black grapes.  Extremely enjoyable but not at all interesting.

The most interesting thing about this lunch is the orange silicone cup with honey mustard and a healthy dash of Hotlanta Hot Sauce.

Hotlanta Hot Sauce - pic from company website
I'm not a fan of hot sauces at all, but I really like this one.  It's made with peaches which gives it a rounded BBQ kind of flavor.  It's got a little kick, but it's not much hotter than bottled mild salsa.  It makes chicken tenders, seafood dip, sandwiches, and all sorts of other things super tasty!  I've never seen it for sale outside of the Atlanta area, but look around.  I recommend picking up a bottle when  you're in town.

Again, I'm receiving no financial benefit for telling you about this - if that ever happens (yeah, right) - I will say so explicitly.  It's just good stuff, and you should know about it. :) Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 19 - Crustless Mini Ham Quiches

Mini cheese and ham quiches, sugar snap peas, raspberries, crackers and cheese.
 Let's continue with cute things baked in muffin tins, shall we?

I made mini quiches last night.  They were to die for.  Really.  I thought they'd be ok, but they were delicious. Expect to see lots of these in the future!  I made four - had two for dinner and two for lunch.  They were divine hot, and still really good cold.  The only problem was that I forgot to grease the muffin tin.  Don't forget to do that...then they won't look as pretty.

See?  Not pretty, but yum.
 Also, these would make a great salad topper.  I made them crustless just for ease, but I missed the crumbly crunchiness of a crust.  I may experiment with crusts later, but for now I highly recommend including something like crackers with these, just to give you a little diversity in texture.

Remind me to write an ode on my love for Laughing Cow light spreadable cheese sometime soon.

Anyway...recipe time!

Crustless Ham & Cheddar Mini Quiches

4 Tablespoons diced ham
4 Tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
dash each of onion salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and dried parsley

Grease four cups of a standard sized muffin tin.  Place 1 Tablespoon each of ham and cheddar in the bottom of each of the four muffin cups.  In a small bowl, crack and whisk eggs together with spices.  Slowly pour in the cold cream, whisking well.  Pour evenly over the ham and cheese in the muffin cups.  The mixture will reach almost the top of the cup.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and fluffy.  These should rise quite and bit and will sink down to about half the size after cooling.  Let cool for 10 minutes before gently removing with a spoon. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 18 - Baked Eggs

Baked Eggs, Dijon Asparagus, Pumpernickel Flat Bread, Goat Chevre, Strawberries

If you've never tried baked eggs, you really should!  They're a fairly common dish in France, and they are extremely easy to prepare.  Traditionally they're cooked in ramekins with cream, but I've discovered that you can also bake them in muffin tins for more portable servings.  Culinary apostasy, I know, but it works. :)

You can't tell from the pictures, but these are taken straight out of the muffin tin.  If your muffin tin is non-stick, like mine, then it works well.  If not, I'd recommend baking them in silicone baking cups. Either way, the edges get all crispy and delicious!

The most difficult part is decided how long to cook them - average cooking time at 350F is 10-20 minutes.  Yes, I know that's a really big time difference for something as delicate as eggs.  Here's why:

10 minutes means the yolks will still be runny.  Delicious hot, but that makes even me nervous for transporting in a cooler over long periods of time.

15 minutes will give you yolks that are the consistency of medium boiled.  This is how I like them.

20 minutes will give you eggs with a hard boiled consistency, if you're really worried bacteria, etc.

There you have it.

I paired it with some leftover Dijon Asparagus, pumpernickel flat bread crackers, chevre, and strawberries.

Hint:  If you spread the chevre on the crackers and then top it off with a strawberry slice, your mouth will be very happy with you.  Trust me!

Of course, the chevre is also really nice on the eggs, too. :)

Muffin Tin Baked Eggs

2 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
cooking spray

Spray a non-stick muffin tin with cooking spray.  Break each egg into a separate muffin  compartment without breaking the yolks.  Sprinkle salt over eggs, as well as any other desired spices.  Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until whites are set and yolk is to your liking.  When eggs are done, gently run the tip of a knife around each egg, making sure it is seperated from the muffin tin.  Even more gently spoon the egg onto an appropriate serving dish.

These are fabulous hot.  They are...good...cold.  I might try them in a sandwich next time!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 17 - Party Leftovers

Roasted pork loin and apples, green pea risotto, steamed asparagus, and a clementine.

I had a wonderful dinner catching up with friends last night.  We drank, we ate, we sang, we checked out cute guys at the pool.  But best of all, I didn't have to do the cooking!  And I was sent home with leftovers!  What more could a girl ask for?

Naturally, I brought said leftovers for lunch today.  There was a delicious roasted pork loin with cinnamon apples, and some green pea risotto.  Now, when I try to reheat my own risotto, it is just not good at all.  My friend is clearly a better cook than I, though, because this risotto was fabulous the next day.  There was also some steamed asparagus, and I threw in a clementine from my fruit bowl.

It was too much.  It was so good.

So good, in fact, I think I might make some asparagus tonight.  Yummmm asparagus... Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 16 - Peanut Butter Bagel

Multigrain bagel with peanut butter and apples, almonds, sugar snap peas, and raspberries.

Last day of bagels!  Not going to lie, it's going to be a little while before I buy bagels again.  Not that long, though...bagels are delicious!

Today's lunch doesn't require much explanation.  Whole grain bagel with lowfat creamy peanut butter and green apple slices.  Smoked almonds, raspberries, and sugar snap peas.

The one thing I'll say about this lunch was that it was very sweet.  It would be great on a day you're suffering from a sweet tooth, which I was not.  Between sugary peanut butter, sweet peas, and fruit, I was craving the salty smokiness of those almonds.

But all in all, a good lunch.  Just no more sugar for me for the day. :) Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 15 - Bagel Pizza

Bagel Pizza, Cherries, Mixed Green Salad
If you consider yourself a foodie, then do NOT read this blog post!  It will make you so sad, and who wants to be sad?!

I made a bagel pizza today.  But I didn't shop for the ingredients...I scrounged around in my kitchen and said "Hey, I think these random items will make a pizza!"  Not going to was the kind of thing I'd make for a 3rd grader.

And. It. Was. Delicious.

So I have all these bagels, right?  I pulled out an asiago bagel and cut it in  half.  Then I had some tomato puree in the pantry for spaghetti later this week.  So I busted that open a little early and mixed it with herbs to make pizza sauce.  Then...remember the salami from yesterday?  Cut that up.  And then, the ultimate foodie heresy....I used string cheese instead of actual fancy mozzarella.  I know.  But I promise, it was goooood.

Doesn't it look delightful?

Then I added some mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette (bottled - more foodie failures, I know!) and cherries.  I did microwave the pizza at work because I just couldn't eat it cold...I think that was the right choice.

I'll tell you how I made it, but give you lots of options for whatever you may have lurking in your kitchen!

Back of the Pantry Bagel Pizza

1 half asiago bagel (or whatever flavor you like, or a mini pita!)
1 T tomato puree + 1/4 t Italian Seasoning (or 1 T pizza sauce, chopped tomatoes, or even spaghetti sauce - foodies, quit rolling your eyes!  I told you to stop reading already!)
1 slice genoa salami (or any other deli meat, or about 1 T chopped chicken, steak, pepperoni, sausage, veggies, whatever)
1 mozzarella cheese stick (or 1-2T shredded or sliced cheese)

Stir together the tomato puree and seasoning.  Spoon and spread sauce on top of the bagel half.  Tear salami into pieces and layer about half of it over the sauce.  Roughly chop the cheese and layer on top of salami.  Top off with remaining salami and maybe a dash of parsley.  Bake on a foil lined pan at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.  Eat or refrigerate immediately. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 14 - Bagel Sandwich

Asiago Bagel and Salami Sandwich, String Cheese, Green Apples, Crackers

Today's lunch is nothing terribly creative.  Green apples, salted crackers, and a low fat mozzarella cheese stick accompany a bagel sandwich.  The sandwich is made of one asiago cheese bagel, mixed greens, genoa salami, and spicy brown mustard.

It was really tasty, but not so complicated that I really need to explain anything.  Just enjoy, as is.  And have a wonderful day! :) Pin It Now!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 13 - Bagel Mania

Whole grain bagel - with cream cheese, nova, and capers - strawberries, apples.
I made a foolish decision this week.  Delicious, but foolish.  I was running around doing errands yesterday morning and thought to myself "Self, let's go to our favorite bagel place and get a couple of bagels for breakfast this week!"  It was a great idea...until I left with half a dozen bagels.

In other words, I have a surplus of bagels this week.  But what could be more fun than a week of bagels different ways, right?  Right?

Let's hope I get pretty creative this week, or I may never want another bagel again.

For this week's first lunch, a classic.  Whole grain bagel with low fat whipped cream cheese, wild caught nova smoked salmon, and capers (yes, those are capers squeezed into that tiny little corner).  I could have just assembled all of it at once, but I was afraid the bagel would get soggy and sad.  I also have toaster access during the day, but if you don't then you might want to decide whether to toast at home or eat as is.  Added some strawberries and green apple slices as a side.

I was worried about how full I would be, so I added some almonds to my lunch cooler at the last minute.  I didn't end up really needing them, but I enjoyed them with my 2pm Diet Coke anyway.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 12 - Dijon Asparagus

Roasted Chicken, Dijon Asparagus, Herbed Rice, Black Grapes
I had some delightful - but unanticipated - dinner guests last night.  So, naturally, I had a kitchen scavenger hunt to see what kind of meal I could make.  I had some chicken drum sticks in the freezer, I always have rice on hand, and I had some fresh asparagus from the farmers' market.  Woohoo, a full meal!  I cooked up the rice with some chicken stock and herbs, and made a dijon marinade for the chicken and asparagus that's very similar to the orzo I made earlier in the week.  The marinade on the chicken was good.

The marinade on the asparagus was A-MAZING!

Seriously, you've gotta try this one.  I had leftovers for lunch today with some grapes thrown in, and it was just as good cold. 

Part of me wishes I had three times as much asparagus.  The irrational part of me, but still, SO GOOD.

Without further ado, the asparagus recipe!

Dijon Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon white pepper (black will be just fine if you don't have white pepper on hand)

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except asparagus.  Gently fold asparagus into mixture, being sure not to break stems.  Let sit 10-20 minutes.  Transfer asparagus onto a foil lined cookie sheet, pouring any extra marinade over the stems.  Arrange asparagus in one layer.  Bake at 425F for 5-10 minutes, or until desired tenderness.  Serve hot or cold. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 11 - Baked Pita Chips

Hummus and pita chips, broccoli, cherries.

This was probably the quickest lunch yet.  Raw broccoli, pineapple, cherries, pita chips, and an individual hummus cup.  I usually make my own hummus, but the individuals were on sale and this is a week where I happen to have more money than time.  Ergo, store bought.

I know what you're thinking.  "Dang, girl, don't you ever get tired of cherries?"  When they're ripe?  No.  Never.  They are delicious and I love them.  Here I stand, I can do no other.

But...I am getting tired of pita.  Unfortunately I seem to only find large quantities of it to buy, which means I have to eat it forever.  I do keep it in the fridge to help its shelf life stretch, but I was ready to shake things up.  So, I baked a couple of pitas into chips.  It's so simple I hesitate to write a "recipe," but it's been a while since I've shared one, so here goes.

Baked Pita Chips

1 whole wheat pita
Olive oil or butter flavored cooking spray
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Cut the pita into bite sized pieces.  I prefer wedges, but any shape you want is just fine.  If you're using pocket pita (pita that you can put things into rather than a simple flat bread), split your pita pieces on the fold.  Place in one layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Spray with cooking spray until thinly covered; sprinkle salt on top if desired.  Bake at 400F for 5-7 minutes.  Let cool completely before sealing in a container.  These will stay good and crisp for several days at room temperature in an air tight container.

Feel free to experiment with garlic salt, oregano, cayenne pepper, and any other spices.  And if you're not watching your diet, feel free to use white pita and/or butter. 

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