Lettuce (or Tortilla) Hawaiian Chicken Tacos, with Mango, Avocado, Cheese, Tomato and Lettuce

Lettuce (or Tortilla) Hawaiian Chicken Tacos, with Mango, Avocado, Cheese, Tomato and Lettuce

No matter how much you try to plan, things get crazier at the end of the week, which is one reason I love menus like tonight’s. Because I already cooked this chicken earlier in the week, the only “work” to do is warming things up. There is nothing to cook!

I also like this meal because it is so fresh.  The mango, avocado, tomato and lettuce are welcome flavors and textures during the winter months when I tend to cook more of my meals and make more soups.  And tonight, for maximum freshness and minimum carbs, I experimented with using lettuce instead of tortillas.

My kids also like this meal. And while they really like the taste, I know they are big fans of this meal because, well… they like to eat with their hands.  Yes, I admit it.  As much as I encourage, teach, and yes, nag them about using silverware, they really prefer to eat without their fork and spoon…  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

I decided to eat early as my son had a late practice and my husband was coming home too late to eat with the kids.  My plan was to eat at 5:15.  At 5:00 I pulled everything out of the refrigerator – the chicken, cheese, lettuce, mango, radish, the remaining black beans, salsa, Braggs Hawaiian Dressing and Marinade, and tortillas.  I also grabbed the avocado and tomato from the counter.  If you haven’t already diced the pepper, tomato, mango, radish, or chicken, and if the cheese is not already grated, allow an extra 15 minutes.

After warming the chicken on a griddle on the stove, I began warming the tortillas, 2 at a time.  Once the tortillas were hot on the first side, I flipped them, added grated cheese and turned down the heat.  As the cheese began to melt, I added chicken, and the rest of the toppings. You can fold them in half like a taco or roll them into a “burrito”. As finger food is a favorite and burritos are neater, I rolled mine into a burrito and placed them on the side of the griddle. You can also use corn tortillas (which are smaller) and fold in half for tacos.

Preparing Hawaiian Chicken Tacos (or Burrito)

I took some larger leafs of lettuce, (I used butter lettuce but you can use romaine or any other lettuce that can hold taco ingredients.  I added the warmed chicken, cheese, and the rest of the toppings and served.  We sat down at 5:15!

Hawaiian Chicken Tacos (Burrito) with Mango, Avocado and Black Beans

The Verdict

This is a favorite! Everyone really liked the tacos.  Ratings of 9 and 10 across the board.  The kids had the burritos and my husband and I had the low carb, lettuce tacos.  I would definitely make this again – it is a great reinvention of chicken made earlier in the week.  The mangos really make this dish, so don’t leave them out.  If you can’t find mangos, use pineapple or kiwi.

Lettuce Hawaiian Chicken Tacos (or Burrito) with Mango, Avocado, Tomato and Black Beans

Recipe: Lettuce (or Tortilla) Hawaiian Chicken Tacos, with Mango, Avocado, Cheese, Tomato and Lettuce

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids; with extra chicken for another dinner or 4 lunches

Ingredients

1 Avocado

1 Tomato

1 Mango

Remaining ½ can of Black Beans

Whole Wheat Tortillas, corn tortillas and/or big leaves of lettuce – boston leaf lettuce, romaine, other good “sandwich” lettuce

Cheddar Cheese –  derived from cow or goat or soy

1 radish (optional)

1.5 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – use the left over from the Hawaiian Chicken

Salsa

Bragg Hawaiian Fat Free Dressing and Marinade

Instructions

  1. Slice and Dice Avocado, Tomato, and Mango.
  2. Dice chicken and warm on skillet over medium heat.  Set chicken aside.
  3. Heat Tortilla(s) on a skillet over medium heat.
  4. When tortilla starts to bubble ( is heated through), flip tortilla, sprinkle cheese on the hot side, and turn off heat.
  5. As cheese begins to melt, sprinkle chicken, avocado, tomato, mango, radish (if including) and black beans.
  6. If using flour tortillas, roll into a “burrito”: fold the bottom 1/8 of the tortilla on top of the chicken and other stuffings.  Fold in the sides  of the burrito and roll the tortilla into a log.
  7. Set on the side of the grill and make one for each person.
  8. If using corn tortillas, serve as a taco
  9. If using lettuce (and I used tortillas for the kids and lettuce for me):
    1. Warm chicken and beans.
    2. Sprinkle cheese in lettuce cup
    3. Add chicken and beans
    4. Top with avocado, tomato and mango, salsa, and Hawaiian dressing.

10. Serve – with carbs or without!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

1.  Make tacos as the second chicken meal of the week.  Prepare all chicken at the beginning of the week, storing leftovers in the refrigerator for later use.

2. Cut Mango, pepper, tomato, radish, and chicken ahead of time.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Meatloaf w/ Ground Chicken and Beans, Broccoli, Tomato

This recipe serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids for 2 meals. Meatloaf sandwiches, are in you future! YUM!)

Growing up, meatloaf was a regular part of our dinner rotation.  It was comfort food that only got better when the leftovers reappeared in a meatloaf sandwich.  I have reinvented “Mom’s meatloaf”, lightening up on the amount of beef used and replacing it with ground chicken, and a garlic-bean paste. If you don’t eat beef, replace the beef with ground turkey or more ground chicken.  If you don’t like garlic, use more onion or add shallots for more flavor.  This recipe is quite forgiving so you can improvise based on your preferences and what you have in the fridge and pantry – chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, bread crumbs, etc.  Or you can keep it just the way it is – simple and tasty!

Yesterday, I had made the bean paste that required for the meatloaf.  You don’t have to make it ahead of time, but I had a minute and “crossing things off my list” always makes me feel good.

I believe things happen for a reason, and I was pleasantly surprised when my son commented on how good things smelled in the kitchen. On a whim, I warmed up some of the garlic-bean paste and spread it on some teriyaki rice crackers for his afterschool snack.  He LOVED it and asked for more! A healthy and delicious snack!  (Keep that idea in your bag of tricks!)

Dinner prep was easy tonight.  I pre-heated the oven to 350 and quickly put the beef, chicken, and garlic-bean paste together and formed a loaf.  (My son had some more of the garlic-bean paste on crackers today just before I put it in the meatloaf mixture…) I put it in a lightly sprayed loaf pan, topped it with tomato paste, and popped it in the oven.  I cut a tomato and portioned it across the plates.   My broccoli was already cooked from the night before so I just had to warm it up just before I took the meat loaf out of the oven.

Meatloaf with Ground Chicken in Loaf Pan

As the meatloaf cooked, I drove a quick carpool and worked with my daughter on a project she is doing for school.  The aroma filled the house and everyone was asking when dinner would be ready.  My daughter was only too happy to set the table and we sat down to eat!

The Verdict

Two thumbs up!  My daughter, the ever-critical judge, gave the meatloaf a 10!  My son gave it a 9, and my husband a 10.  I thought it was delicious and began dreaming of the meatloaf sandwiches that were in my future!

Ingredients

1 15 oz. can or other shelf stable container of White Beans

½ of a 15 oz. can or other shelf stable container of Black Beans

5 Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed – include the garlic membranes if pressing

1 lb. Ground Chicken*

1 lb. Ground Beef*

1 small onion, diced – or purchase pre-chopped onion

5 oz. of tomato paste (buy smallest can and use it all)

Olive or canola oil spray

1 Bunch Broccoli**

1 t Salt

1 T Basil

1 T Oregano

1 T Minced Onion

1 Tomato

*You can substitute turkey or pork for chicken and beef – be sure to modify your shopping list accordingly.

**If you made all the broccoli yesterday, you have saved yourself some time. Just warm it up for today!

Instructions

Ahead of Time:

Mash white and black beans with 5 cloves of minced or pressed garlic (throw in garlic membranes if pressing).  Store in fridge until ready to use.

Side Bar:  Snack opportunity!  Warm a small portion of bean and garlic mixture and spread on rice cracker or other cracker.  My son loves this as a snack on teriyaki rice crackers!

Pre-heat oven to 350

  1. Lightly spray loaf pan with olive or canola oil.
  2. Mix bean-garlic mixture, ground chicken, ground beef and diced onion in a bowl.
  3. Form mixture into a meatloaf shape and put in loaf pan.
  4. Top with tomato paste.
  5. Pop in oven for 1 – 1.25 hours, until meatloaf starts to pull away from pan.  (Like in baking)
  6. Wash and slice tomato, portioning across 4 plates.
  7. Wash broccoli and cut into small florets.*
  8. Sprinkle with 1 t Salt, 1 T Basil, 1 T Oregano, 1 T Minced Onion.
  9. Catch up on the mail, help kids with homework, drive a carpool, call your mother – you can relax for a while!

10. Place broccoli in oven for about the last 5 minutes of the meatloaf’s bake time, stirring broccoli around just before you take the meatloaf out.

11. When meatloaf starts to pull from the sides of the pan, remove from oven – let rest for 5-10 minutes.

12. Remove broccoli from oven after about 10 minutes, when broccoli stems can be easily pierced with a fork.

  1. 13.  Portion meatloaf and broccoli and serve!

14. This is not the way your mother made meatloaf, but it is really delicious!

Pre-Prep Opportunities

  1. Put the meatloaf together ahead of time, place in loaf pan and store in fridge until ready to use.   All that is left to do is pop it in the oven.  Because it will be cold, you might consider putting the meatloaf in the oven earlier – during preheating.
  2. Wash and cut the broccoli up to two days before.

*If you made the broccoli in yesterday’s meal, skip broccoli preparation steps.   You just have to warm it up!

Hawaiian Chicken, Broccoli and Rice

Hawaiian Chicken, Broccoli, Rice and Tomato

Chicken again?  We eat a lot of chicken and it is easy to fall into the rut of serving the same thing. As I try to avoid the “rut”, I am always on the lookout for toppings, dressings, and marinades that are… tasty, low calorie, low fat, low sugar, and low sodium.  Yes, I strive to have it all. You might liken my search to looking for a buried treasure, but I have actually found a few options that meet all these criteria.

Tonight’s chicken uses Braggs Hawaiian Dressing and Marinade.  It has mango, pineapple, apple juice, lime juice, ginger, passion fruit juice and noni juice, which gives it a real tropical flavor. It also has stevia extract which is a sweetener that is not processed through the liver so it is not insulin producing.  Per every 2 Tablespoon serving, it has 20 calories (much less than low fat salad dressings), 0 calories from fat, only 4 g of sugar, and 0 mg of sodium!  For those with dietary restrictions, it is dairy free, egg free, and gluten free!

With meetings most of the day and a dinner meeting out, I scrambled to pull dinner together for the kids.  Luckily, I was able to get some help from my son who got the rice going in the rice cooker before I got home.

Once I got home at 5:30, I pre-heated the grill to high, washed the chicken and marinated it in 1 Cup of Braggs Hawaiian Dressing and Marinade.  Then I cut the broccoli, placed it on the roasting pan, and sprinkled, basil, oregano, salt and minced onion on top. Lastly, I sliced a tomato.

As my husband arrived home to pick me up and the babysitter walked in the door, I asked the babysitter to put the chicken on the grill and roast the broccoli. I also asked that she take a picture of the final product…

The Verdict

This is a keeper!  I don’t know the details, but everyone really like the meal. My son and daughter rated it a 9.  After having it for lunch the next day, I think that the chicken could have stayed in the marinade longer (pre-prep opportunity), but adding more dressing on top of the chicken once it is on the plate  is a great fix.

In my search to keep chicken meals, fresh, can you help me out?  Do you have any suggestions???

Ingredients

1 Cup White Rice (If you can make ahead, change to brown rice as it is healthier but takes longer to cook)

2 Cups Water

3.0 lbs. of Chicken (You will be cooking all the chicken for the week.  If you are cooking this stand alone, use 1.5 lbs. of chicken.)

Braggs Hawaiian Dressing and Marinade

1 Bunch Broccoli*

1 t salt*

1 T Basil*

1 T Oregano*

1 T Minced Onion*

1 Tomato

*Make a double batch so that the broccoli is cooked for the week. You just have to warm up!

Instructions

Pre-heat Grill to High or Oven to 350

  1. Measure 1 Cup rice and 2 Cups Water in a rice cooker and turn on. Or prepare using your preferred method.
  2. Wash Chicken and mix with Hawaiian Dressing. Set aside.
  3. Wash Broccoli and cut into small florets.
  4. Place on lightly sprayed roasting pan and sprinkle salt, basil, oregano, and minced onion.
  5. Place Chicken on grill and turn heat down to medium, or place in oven.
  6. Place broccoli in oven.
  7. Slice tomato and divide across plates.
  8. Check on broccoli and chicken.  Stir broccoli and if chicken is on grill turn it over.
  9. Broccoli should be done in 8 -9 minutes.  Oven chicken should take about 15-20 minutes and grilled chicken 12-15 minutes, (flipping chicken halfway through.)

10. Portion plates with chicken, rice, broccoli, and tomato.

11. Drizzle some extra Hawaiian Dressing on the chicken.

12. Serve and enjoy!

Pre-Prep Opportunities
1.  Make rice a day ahead or earlier in the day that you will be serving it.  Use brown rice since it will have more time to cook.

2.  Wash chicken a day or two ahead, mix with marinade, and store in fridge.

3.  Wash and cut the broccoli a day or two ahead and store in the fridge.

Seasoned Tilapia, with Onions and Red Peppers, Green Beans, Fresh Avocado, and a Side Salad

Besides it’s delicious, light, mild flavor and flaky texture there are more reasons to cook tilapia today with a knowing smile on your face. 1. 30-minutes or less: tilapia is fast and easy to prepare; 2. Tilapia is good for you!  A high protein fish that is low in carbohydrates, it is low in sodium and is also low in mercury, due to it’s short life span and vegetarian diet.  Tilapia is also low in fat with the USDA reporting 2 g of fat per 3.5 oz!  Bring on dinner tonight!

Meal Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350 or turn grill to high

I began meal preparation at 6:45, and while many times my late meal preparations are due to a frantic schedule, today I was timing my preparation to sync when my kids would arrive home from their activities, which was about 7:15.

First I cut the onions and red bell peppers.  You can use any color bell pepper, but I use red bell peppers when I can as red vegetables are “heart healthy” vegetables.  If you can find pre-sliced / diced veggies, always feel free to buy and use them.  I sliced them myself and cut them into thin strips.

Preparing Tilapia

Next I rinsed the tilapia and placed it on foil on a baking sheet.  Lightly spraying the tilapia with canola oil spray, sprinkling 2 t of the Magic Seafood seasoning, and topping with the onion and bell pepper strips, the tilapia was ready for the grill or the oven.  If you are putting the fish on the grill, be sure to turn the heat down to medium low.  Fish will cook for about 7-9 minutes.

If you are putting the fish in the oven, you may want to cover with foil to keep the fish moist. Fish will cook for about 15 minutes.

While the tilapia is cooking, portion enough green beans for the family into a microwave safe bowl.  Consider ½ cup for each child and ¾ -1 cup for each adult. Cook beans in microwave for 2 ½ minutes.

While they are cooking, check the tilapia.  The tilapia will begin to crack and will spring back to the touch when cooked through.

Continue cooking beans in microwave for short time periods (actual time will vary depending on your microwave) and portion salad, tomato and avocado on each plate. I make a traditional looking salad for my husband and I and separate the salad ingredients for my kids.

Kids Portion

Once the fish was cooked, I portioned the fish and green beans on each plate and served.

The Verdict.

A 10 rating from everyone!  My family loves the flavors and green bean is a vegetable that everyone will eat.  I love the taste as well but as a mom, I really love the fact that this delicious meal is also very nutritious.  It’s a tried and true recipe that I can count on and a dinner to add to your rotation!

Tilapia - Adult Portion

Ingredients
1 Large Onion

2 Red Bell Peppers

1.5 lbs. Tilapia

2 t Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends Seafood Magic

Green Beans, Fresh or Frozen

Greens for Salad

1 Tomato

1 Avocado

Low Fat Dressing – I use no oil balsamic or a low-fat balsamic vinaigrette

 

Instructions

Pre-heat Grill to high or oven to 350

  1. Cut onion and bell pepper into strips.  (If you can buy pre-chopped, go for it.)
  2. Rinse tilapia and place on foil on top of a baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle Seafood Magic seasoning on tilapia and top with onions and red bell pepper.
  4. Place on grill and turn heat down to low, or place in oven.
  5. Place enough green beans for your family in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2 ½ minutes.  Check and heat for another 2 ½ minutes.  Repeat until beans are done. (Based on how quickly your microwave cooks, adjust the time intervals as necessary.)
  6. In the meantime check tilapia after 4-5 minutes.
  7. Portion greens on plates and top with tomato and avocado and a light sprinkling of dressing.  For my kids, I put a few leaves of lettuce, and separate the tomato and avocado on the plate.  I also sprinkle a bit of salt on the avocado.
  8. Pull tilapia when the top of the fish begins to crack and the fish springs back to the touch (like in baking).
  9. Serve and see if this isn’t one of the easiest dinner recipes out there!

 

Pre-Prep Opportunity

1.  Cut onions and bell pepper up to a day ahead of time.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Mediterranean Quinoa with Shrimp and Vegetables

Dec 5 Dinner Blog

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I was unable to shop on Sunday for the week.  I was away and didn’t even get a chance to prepare a menu and master shopping list.  Usually a recipe for disaster.

But my sister saved me.  As we were talking, she mentioned this couscous dish that she loves and reinvents throughout the week.  My curiosity was piqued!  As I pushed the cart through the grocery store, she walked me through the recipe and I gathered all the ingredients.  I could feel the stress of not having a shopping list in hand melt away.

This is a very easy recipe that can be put together quickly and tweaked throughout the week to keep it fresh.

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Mediterranean Quinoa with Shrimp and Vegetables

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids for 2 Meals with enough for about 2 lunches

Rating:  10 all around!

3 C Quinoa

1/4 C Olive oil

Juice of one lemon and zest from 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

1 Cucumber, diced in small cubes

Feta Cheese

12 Pitted Olives

1 Onion, diced

1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes

3/4 C Black Beans from can or other shelf stable container

1.5 lbs Peeled, deveined Shrimp

1.75 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, baked, grilled, or somehow cooked and diced. (for the second meal)

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Instructions

1.  Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.

2.  Juice lemon, zest 1/2 of a lemon and mix in small bowl with olive oil.  Set aside.

3. Dice cucumber, olives, and onion. Slice cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Set aside.

4.  Saute onion until soft and clear.  Set aside. Cook shrimp in same skillet with a bit of olive oil.  If you have any other vegetables you want to finish up, feel free to add.  I added some left over diced bell pepper.

5. Once shrimp turns pink (3-4 minutes), it is time to put dinner together.  Mix lemon-olive oil mixture into quinoa.  Add cucumber, feta, olives, cherry tomatoes and black beans.  Mix well.  Then add shrimp and serve! (If this is the second meal, add the chicken and serve!)

6.  Easy and delicious!  But the best part is that you can reinvent the meal two days later with chicken!  You could even add other vegetables such as squash or broccoli to give it a different taste!

Ratings

Everyone rated this dish a 10!  Now that’s a winner!

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FINAL Nov 28-De…

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FINAL Nov 28-Dec 1 Menu and Master Shopping List

This week worked out well.  I have made a few changes that will make it easier and tastier.   First, I recommend cooking the chicken in the oven rather than the slow cooker.  I think it lost some of its flavor in the slow cooker.  Second, I eliminated the Pastel de Papa.  I had plenty of food without it.  Third, I modified the Orzo with Peas, Saffron and chicken which added a more savory, paella flavor.  Make sure you use the “New and Improved” version.

People have tried some of the recipes and like them, but I really need people to try a menu, shop it and prepare it.  Based on my own experience, getting organized for the week is key, but it takes time that a lot of people don’t have.  I am willing to do the organizing for you.  Try it and see if it doesn’t make meal prep less stressful.  Write to me on this blog!

Final Week’s Menu

Monday:            Orange Garlic Chicken (From Fix it and Forget it), Brown Rice, and Green Beans.

Tuesday:            . New and Improved Orzo with Peas, Saffron and Leftover Orange Garlic Chicken (Modified from “Vegetarian Entertaining”).Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup (from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest), and Oatmeal Muffins.

Wednesday:            . Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup (from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest), and Oatmeal Muffins.

Thursday:            New and Improved Orzo with Peas, Saffron and Leftover Orange Garlic Chicken (Modified from “Vegetarian Entertaining”).

 

Shopping List

For 2 Adults and 2 Children

Entrees

3.0 + lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Veggies

1/2 C Minced onion

1 Medium carrot

1 Medium stalk celery

1/4 lb. Chopped mushrooms

2 Bell peppers – different colors if not too expensive

4 shallots

 

Fruit – Enough for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

1 Pineapple

8 Kiwi

8 Apples

5 Pears

 

Dry Goods

1/2 C Raw Barley

4 C Tomatoes, canned or in shelf stable container

1 T Saffron Threads

4 C Vegetable broth

1 1/2 lbs. Orzo

Brown rice

Muffin mix

Salt

Pepper

1 Bay leaf

6 T Dry White Wine

1.5 t Dried Dill Weed

1 t Tamari sauce

2 T Olive oil

1.5 t Dried Thyme

2 T Balsamic vinegar

1/3 C Dry White Wine

 

Dairy

1 T Butter

Parmesean or manchenga cheese

 

Frozen

1 C Orange Juice Concentrate

1 C Frozen Peas

Frozen green beans

 

Recipes

 

Orange Garlic Chicken

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids with a bit of leftovers for lunch

Source:  Modified from Fix-It and Forget It, 5 Ingredient Favorites

Ingredients

1.75 lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 ½ t dried thyme

6 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1 C Orange Juice Concentrate

1 T Balsamic Vinegar

1 C Brown rice

Green Vegetable and or side salad

 

Instructions

  1. Measure and put all ingredients, except chicken, in a container large enough to store all the chicken and mix well.
  2. Add chicken, and cover w marinade
  3. Marinate in refrigerator for atleas 2 hours, but up to 24.
  4. Place on a roasting pan, lightly sprayed with olive or canola oil, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until meat springs back to the touch.
  5. If making ahead also get rice cooker of brown rice cooking.
  6. When ready, serve chicken over brown rice with a green vegetable on the side.

 

 

Orzo with Chicken, Peas with Saffron and Smoked Paprika

Serves 6-8 ( 2 Adults and 2 Kids for two meals)

Adapted from “Vegetarian Entertaining”

Ingredients

1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast, baked or grilled (hopefully this is leftover chicken that you cooked earlier in the week.)

2 T Olive oil

4 Shallots, minced

2 Bell Peppers chopped

3 C Canned Tomatoes or tomatoes in a non-can, shelf-stable container

1 T Saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C warm water

1 t Smoked Paprika

1/3 C Dry White wine

3/4 lb. Orzo

2 C Frozen Peas

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Grated parmesan or manchenga cheese

Optional Additions

1/2 – 1 lb. Shrimp

1/2 – 1 lb. Chorizo (spicy or mild), cooked

Instructions

1.            Prepare the Orzo per package directions. When tender, set aside.

2.            In a large sauce pan, Sauté shallots in olive oil until soft.

3.            Add bell peppers and blend.

4.            Stir in tomatoes, saffron with soaking water, and White wine.

5.            Simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 min.  Be careful not to burn the mixture.

6.            Dice chicken.

7.            Cook peas in microwave for 1 1/2-  2 minutes.

8.            Once liquid is mostly evaporated from tomato mixture, add peas, and chicken and any optional ingredients. Chorizo should be cooked before you add it to the pot.  Shrimp will cook in 3-4 minutes in the mixture. The shrimp will turn pink when it is cooked.

9.            Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

10.            Don’t be surprised if you start thinking about paella and a trip to Spain…  Really!

 

Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3/4 C Raw pearl barley

1.5 C Water

1 T Butter

1 Onion chopped

1 t Salt

1 Bay leaf

3 Large carrots, chopped

1/2 Bunch celery, chopped

8 C Vegetable Stock or water (I buy 32 oz of regular vegetable stock and 32 oz of low sodium vegetable stock in shelf-stable containers)

1/2 lb. Mushrooms, chopped (I chop them so they are unrecognizable)

6 T Dry White Wine

1.5 t (2-3 T fresh) Dill Weed

1/4 t Fresh black pepper

1.5 t Tamari Sauce

 

Instructions

1.      Place barley and 1 Cup water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until barley is tender. Set aside.  (You could do this even 2 days before and keep in fridge)

2.      In a soup pot, saute onion, salt and bay leaf in butter until onion is soft and clear.  Add carrots and celery cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients including barley.

3.      Cover soup and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

4.      Try not to eat it right away as it is even better the second day!

5.      Serve with whole grain bread or healthy muffins; Top soup w toasted sunflower seeds, chopped parsley, or parmesean/manchenga cheese.

11-29-11 Dinner…

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11-29-11 Dinner Blog

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It’s a 10!

Getting Way Ahead of Schedule

I made tonight’s soup earlier in the day.  I had about an hour and decided to get all the prep done for as much of the week as possible.  This is something I could have done ahead of time on Sunday or even Monday evening.  Getting things done ahead of schedule always feels good, considering that I feel I am forever catching up and running behind…

Pre-Prep for Tonight’s Dinner

I made Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup, in keeping with my goal of making one vegetarian dish a week. It is not a slow cooker recipe so it is probably a good one to make ahead of time when you can leave it on the stove and busy yourself with something else.  I, for instance, prepared other meals. Starting with what we were eating tonight, I first prepared the barley.  It’s a 1:2 barley water ratio.  I put in ¾ of a cup of barley and 1 ½ cups of water and brought it to a boil.  Then I turned down the heat to simmer and cooked for about 30 minutes.

While this was cooking, I also boiled water for Wednesday’s Orzo dinner and made the orzo. Continuing to multi-task, I prepared the rest of the soup.

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I sautéed the onions, salt and bay leaf.  Then added the carrots and celery. Unfortunately my grocery store was out of the pre-chopped carrot/celery/onion containers – major bummer – so I had to cut everything up.  I highly recommend that if you don’t need “chopping therapy” – and looking at the glass as half full, something good has got to come from chopping vegetables– buy them pre-chopped.  It saves a lot of time!

Finally, I added the vegetable stock, mushrooms, white wine, dill weed, pepper, and tamari sauce and let the mixture simmer for 1 ½ hours.  When the barley was tender I added it to the soup pot. Pre-Prep for Wednesday and Thursday’s Dinner While waiting for the barley to finish, I prepared the tomato-saffron topping for the orzo.  At this point I was drowning in food and felt that I had plenty for the rest of the week.  I wasn’t sure that I needed Wednesday’s Pastel de Papa dish, a ground beef and potato casserole, but I figured that I would make it anyway and if I ended up not needing it, I would freeze it for another week.

While I waited for the potatoes to boil, I quickly made the oatmeal muffins for tonight’s dinner.  Yes, I used a box.  Yes, I am proud of that.  Yes, they are delicious! There are lots of great box mixes out there.  I happen to like Dr. Oetker’s brand, and they are easy to adapt to the vegan requirements I must follow due to my daughter’s allergies.  I use flaxseed meal and water (3:1 ratio) for the egg, and rice milk or coconut milk for regular milk.  Just to be more healthy and less caloric, instead of using oil, I substitute equal amounts of applesauce.

That was another half hour of my time, but now tonight’s dinner is completely ready and I know that the Pastel de Papa will come in handy (twice!) as I made 2 8×8 casseroles.  So all I need to do is pop one in the oven, make a side salad, and sit down to eat!  …I can’t wait to write that blog entry!!!

The Verdict For Dilled-Vegetable-Barley Soup

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It’s a 10 all around!  Everyone, including our special friend who joined us for dinner gave the meal a resounding 10.  The soup, the muffins, everything!  I served the soup with some grated manchenga cheese but you could also add toasted sunflower seeds or parsley.  Everyone had a second portion of soup, including my son, who “detests” mushrooms (which is why I chopped them up really well).  This is a thick soup, almost stew-like.  In “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” cookbook, the source of this recipe, author Mollie Katzen writes that some people might prefer to approach this barley soup with a knife and fork!  A vegetarian dish, this is a very hearty, healthy, easy, delicious and satisfying soup!

This is one you really must try!!!!!

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The Recipe Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup

Source: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3/4 C Raw pearl barley

1.5 C Water

1 T Butter

1 Onion chopped

1 t Salt

1 Bay leaf

3 Large carrots, chopped

1/2 Bunch celery, chopped

8 C Vegetable Stock or water (I buy 32 oz of regular vegetable stock and 32 oz of low sodium vegetable stock in shelf-stable containers)

1/2 lb. Mushrooms, chopped (I chop them so they are unrecognizable)

6 T Dry White Wine

1.5 t (2-3 T fresh) Dill Weed

1/4 t Fresh black pepper

1.5 t Tamari Sauce

Instructions

1.  Place barley and 1 Cup water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until barley is tender. Set aside.  (You could do this even 2 days before and keep in fridge)

2.  In a soup pot, saute onion, salt and bay leaf in butter until onion is soft and clear.  Add carrots and celery cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients including barley.

3.  Cover soup and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

4.  Try not to eat it right away as it is even better the second day!

5.  Serve with whole grain bread or healthy muffins. Top w toasted sunflower seeds, chopped parsley, or parmesean/manchenga cheese.

New and Improved Orzo, Chicken, Peas and Saffron

12-1-11 Dinner Blog

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Serving the leftovers was the way to go. Making a 3rd dish was just too much work and there was plenty of the orzo dish to go around.  I rarely serve the exact same thing twice in a row, but I am doing it today.  Will the ratings go down?  I expect a less than enthusiastic response from my daughter.
Improving My Odds
While last night’s dinner was good, I kept comparing it to the paella that I make.  So this afternoon, I took a look at the recipe and noticed that my paella includes smoked paprika.  Based on the amount of the orzo dish I had left, I added 1/2 t, mixed it in, and returned it to the refrigerator.  Time will tell…
Dinner in Minutes
Time to get dinner on.  Instead of sliced apples as I originally thought, I remembered I had cut up pineapple in the refrigerator.  I made a small spinach salad for my husband and I, topped with pineapple and pomegranate seeds, and served just the pineapple and pomegranate seeds to the kids – a small consolation for the instant replay meal…
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Then I warmed the Orzo Mixture (with smoked paprika) in a soup pot and served!
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The Verdict
New and Improved!  While yesterday’s dish was really good, this was fantastic!  My son and husband (who came home late, hence the empty dish above), increased their rating to 9.5.  My son, suggesting that adding shrimp would send this dish off the charts, contemplated rating tonight’s dinner a 10…  (You could also add a spicy chorizo… YUM!) My daughter, not surprisingly, thought the dinner was good but did not change her rating from yesterday.  As she said, “8.5 is a good rating, Mom.”  She doesn’t hand out 9’s and 10’s easily…  In my opinion, I agree that the meal was even better than yesterday.  I think the smoked paprika really helped blend the flavors and I will adapt the recipe accordingly.

The Recipe

Orzo with Chicken, Peas with Saffron and Smoked Paprika

Serves 6-8 ( 2 Adults and 2 Kids with leftovers for 2-3 more meals)

Adapted from “Vegetarian Entertaining”

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Ingredients

1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast, baked or grilled (hopefully this is leftover chicken that you cooked earlier in the week.)

2 T Olive oil

4 Shallots, minced

2 Bell Peppers chopped

3 C Canned Tomatoes or tomatoes in a non-can, shelf-stable container

1 T Saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C warm water

1 t Smoked Paprika

1/3 C Dry White wine

3/4 lb. Orzo

2 C Frozen Peas

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Grated parmesan or manchenga cheese

Optional Additions

1/2 – 1 lb. Shrimp

1/2 – 1 lb. Chorizo (spicy or mild), cooked

Instructions

1. Prepare the Orzo per package directions. When tender, set aside.

2.  In a large sauce pan, Sauté shallots in olive oil until soft.

3. Add bell peppers and blend.

4. Stir in tomatoes, saffron with soaking water, and White wine.

5. Simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 min.  Be careful not to burn the mixture.

6. Dice chicken.

7. Cook peas in microwave for 1 1/2 –  2 minutes.

8. Once liquid is mostly evaporated from tomato mixture, add peas, and chicken and any optional ingredients. Chorizo should be cooked before you add it to the pot.  Shrimp will cook in 3-4 minutes in the mixture. The shrimp will turn pink when it is cooked.

9. Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

10. Don’t be surprised if you start thinking about paella and a trip to Spain…  Really!

New and Improved Orzo, Chicken, Peas and Saffron

12-1-11 Dinner Blog

 Image
Serving the leftovers was the way to go. Making a 3rd dish was just too much work and there was plenty of the orzo dish to go around.  I rarely serve the exact same thing twice in a row, but I am doing it today.  Will the ratings go down?  I expect a less than enthusiastic response from my daughter.
Improving My Odds
While last night’s dinner was good, I kept comparing it to the paella that I make.  So this afternoon, I took a look at the recipe and noticed that my paella includes smoked paprika.  Based on the amount of the orzo dish I had left, I added 1/2 t, mixed it in, and returned it to the refrigerator.  Time will tell…
Dinner in Minutes
Time to get dinner on.  Instead of sliced apples as I originally thought, I remembered I had cut up pineapple in the refrigerator.  I made a small spinach salad for my husband and I, topped with pineapple and pomegranate seeds, and served just the pineapple and pomegranate seeds to the kids – a small consolation for the instant replay meal…
 Image
Then I warmed the Orzo Mixture (with smoked paprika) in a soup pot and served!
 Image
The Verdict
New and Improved!  While yesterday’s dish was really good, this was fantastic!  My son and husband (who came home late, hence the empty dish above), increased their rating to 9.5.  My son, suggesting that adding shrimp would send this dish off the charts, contemplated rating tonight’s dinner a 10…  (You could also add a spicy chorizo… YUM!) My daughter, not surprisingly, thought the dinner was good but did not change her rating from yesterday.  As she said, “8.5 is a good rating, Mom.”  She doesn’t hand out 9’s and 10’s easily…  In my opinion, I agree that the meal was even better than yesterday.  I think the smoked paprika really helped blend the flavors and I will adapt the recipe accordingly.

The Recipe

Orzo with Chicken, Peas with Saffron and Smoked Paprika

Serves 6-8 ( 2 Adults and 2 Kids with leftovers for 2-3 more meals)

Adapted from “Vegetarian Entertaining”

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Ingredients

1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast, baked or grilled (hopefully this is leftover chicken that you cooked earlier in the week.)

2 T Olive oil

4 Shallots, minced

2 Bell Peppers chopped

3 C Canned Tomatoes or tomatoes in a non-can, shelf-stable container

1 T Saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C warm water

1 t Smoked Paprika

1/3 C Dry White wine

3/4 lb. Orzo

2 C Frozen Peas

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Grated parmesan or manchenga cheese

Optional Additions

1/2 – 1 lb. Shrimp

1/2 – 1 lb. Chorizo (spicy or mild), cooked

Instructions

1. Prepare the Orzo per package directions. When tender, set aside.

2.  In a large sauce pan, Sauté shallots in olive oil until soft.

3. Add bell peppers and blend.

4. Stir in tomatoes, saffron with soaking water, and White wine.

5. Simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 min.  Be careful not to burn the mixture.

6. Dice chicken.

7. Cook peas in microwave for 1 1/2-  2 minutes.

8. Once liquid is mostly evaporated from tomato mixture, add peas, and chicken and any optional ingredients. Chorizo should be cooked.  Shrimp will cook in 3-4 minutes in the mixture. The shrimp will turn pink when it is cooked.

9. Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

10. Don’t be surprised if you start thinking about paella and a trip to Spain…  Really!

Orzo with Chicken, Peas and Saffron and a Side Salad

 11-30-11 Dinner Blog

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Tonight’s meal preparation was a bit crazy.  My daughter was supposed to have a soccer playoff game at 6:30.  I was planning to eat early and then go to the game.  However, as is the case with schedules, things change and the game was moved up 1/2 hour, and I decided we should eat after the game.

 

Yesterday I made the Orzo and the tomato mixture and stored both in the refrigerator.  Earlier in the afternoon, I made the salad.  This was a great stroke of luck because my daughter’s game started late, went to two overtones and was eventually settled in penalty kicks.  (In case you are in suspense, we lost.) But instead of getting home at 7, we got home at 8!

 

Luckily dinner was prepared.  I just had to put it together.  I put the Orzo and tomato mixture in a soup pot with about 3/4 C of water.  As that heated, I cut the chicken and cooked the frozen peas in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Then I mixed everything together and we sat down to eat – somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes!

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The Verdict

Everyone recognised the saffron taste – I use it in the paella I make. This brought up fun stories of when we made paella as well as requests to make more paella soon.  My son and husband rated the meal a 9 and 9.5 respectively.  My daughter liked it but was a bit less enthusiastic and gave it an 8.5, although she loves paella.  I think she may have been missing the shrimp and mussels which you easily could add…  Additionally, it was not an immediate slam dunk because it needed salt.  Not sure if I added it in when I made the tomato mixture yesterday – yesterday’s meal prep was a bit of a whirlwind – but I ended up adding salt to the dish after we had all tasted it.  That really made a huge difference, which makes me think I did not put it in originally.

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I also served a side salad with the seeds from ½ of a pomegranate, which everyone loved.  I also added leftover mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and bell peppers to the adult salads.  I sprinkled the no-oil balsamic vinaigrette and it was a most delicious salad!!

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So my next dilemma: do I make the Pastel de Papa tonight or use up what I have? I have enough of tonight’s dinner and I have a bit of lentil soup frozen in the freezer from when I made it in October…

 

…I think I will save the Pastel de Papa for next week and finish off what I have.  The lentil soup will help keep the meal “new”.  I will serve a side salad to the adults and apple slices to the kids.

 

 

 

The Recipe

Orzo with Chicken, Peas and Saffron

Serves 6-8 ( 2 Adults and 2 Kids with leftovers for 2-3 more meals)

Adapted from “Vegetarian Entertaining”

 

Ingredients

1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast, baked or grilled (hopefully this is leftover chicken that you cooked earlier in the week.)

2 T Olive oil

4 Shallots, minced

2 Bell Peppers chopped

3 C Canned Tomatoes or tomatoes in a non-can, shelf-stable container

1 T Saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C warm water

1 t Smoked Paprika

1/3 C Dry White wine

3/4 lb. Orzo

2 C Frozen Peas

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Grated parmesan or manchenga cheese

 

Instructions

1. Prepare the Orzo per package directions. When tender, set aside.

2.  In a large sauce pan, Sauté shallots in olive oil until soft.

3. Add bell peppers and blend.

4. Stir in tomatoes, paprika, saffron with soaking water, and White wine.

5. Simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 min.  Be careful not to burn the mixture.

6. Dice chicken.

7. Cook peas in microwave for 1 1/2-  2 minutes.

8. Once liquid is mostly evaporated from tomato mixture, add peas, and chicken.

9. Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

10. Don’t be surprised if you start thinking about paella and a trip to Spain…