Busy As A Bee

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I can finally breathe. I feel like this has been the longest week ever. Which I know is not true because once upon a time I was in college. And I never had time in college. I haven’t blogged in over a week. And I’ve been making food. So I feel like I’ve been letting my few readers down. My sincerest apologies to anyone who actually reads this gig. I’ve been putting in a lot of extra hours at work and babysitting on the side to help pay my loans. The real world is definitely winning lately.

I’ve been doing pretty well on the whole eating thing. Since November I’ve lost about twenty pounds and I’m not even really trying very hard. I’ve just been eating mainly organic foods to be honest with you. I never thought I’d be someone to focus this much on the right things to buy and cook but it makes me feel ten times better. I feel healthier, even if I wasn’t losing any weight at all. I wake up and I notice I feel more refreshed. I’m still insanely tired but that would be due to my 6 hours of sleep. I need to work on that too but I can’t seem to sacrifice my time after work! Anyway, what this post is basically about is this: if you are looking for a change in your life or want to feel better about yourself, start eating this stuff. You don’t even have to use my recipes, I could care less. Eat your vegetables, eat your protein, eat your fruit. I promise you, you WILL notice the difference.

Here’s a recap on the last week of cooking. Everything I made was amazing. Happy week to you all! Enjoy the food!

 

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Last Wednesday was Luke’s birthday! The big 2-5. It was already decided that we weren’t going to do much the day of because it was a week night. We sound really really old, right? I got us tickets for a Blues game (there is an extremely embarrassing story that goes with this, but I’m literally too ashamed to tell) and made some paninis! I made the chicken ahead of time to make this a really quick and easy dish. I took the time to make some tomato soup to go with it, creating the perfect duo for a chilly evening. The soup is incredibly healthy with only 76 calories per serving. I plan on making both of these again soon!

Image

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Southwestern Chicken Panini

adapted from Heat Oven to 350

makes 6 sandwiches (I saved the leftover chicken and made a second meal!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 12 1/2 inch slices Italian bread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, water and tomato sauce, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and stir in lime juice.
  2. Preheat panini press or cast iron skillet (or George Foreman!). Brush one side of 6 bread slices with olive oil. Turn over; place about 1/2 cup filling on each. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, 2 tsp chopped cilantro and bread slices; brush top slice of bread with oil.
  3. Place sandwich(es) in panini press and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bread is golden and cheese is melted. If using a skillet, toast both sides until golden. Serve.
Image

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Skinny Tomato Soup

slightly adapted from Women’s Health Magazine

yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/4 c almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan. Cook onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, sugar, rosemary, bay leaf, tomatoes, and 2 cups water. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove bay leaf. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup in the saucepan, or transfer soup to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. (If you’re using a standard blender, allow the mixture to cool first; hot liquid may cause the blender to squirt out contents. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.)
  3. Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds to warm, and then stir it into the pureed soup along with yogurt. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

 

 

 

Thursday night I made shrimp scampi. I have had versions of this before over pasta but I wanted to cut out the carbs. I’m trying really hard to not eat as many of those little suckers. This would be really good in the summer when the weather is warm and you’re looking for a refreshing dish. It was also really easy to throw together. If you’re not a carb counter, please pour this over some angel hair or spaghetti. Or get a big hunk of bread to soak up all the extra sauce.

Image

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Shrimp Scampi (served with zucchini) 

adapted from Weight Watchers

yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium, shrimp
  • peeled and deveined
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 lemon slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Sauté the shrimp until just pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep hot.
  3. In the skillet, combine broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Boil uncovered until sauce is reduced by half; spoon over shrimp.
  4. Serve garnished with lemon slices and sprinkled with the remaining tbsp of parsley.
  5. If making zucchini, simply cut to your liking and toss with some of the juice from the shrimp in a skillet over medium-high heat till tender.

 

 

 

I am here to tell you about spaghetti squash. I have been wanting to make squash as a substitute for pasta for awhile now. I keep hearing how wonderful it is and have officially accumulated enough recipes to try it out. I knew it was going to be tough to get Luke on board so my first attempt was with an alfredo sauce, one of his favorites. He was willing to cooperate with my health kick so I researched how to cook this bad boy.

After reading a hundred ways to make spaghetti squash, I settled with placing it in the oven whole for an hour at 350 degrees. I made sure to stab some slits into it with my knife to prevent an explosion (that was the number one disclaimer I read about while Google searching). I was relatively satisfied. The taste was good, I could barely tell the difference. But the texture was a little more crunchy than I expected. I went back and read some more Google stuff (cause that’s how I learn everything) and realized I had made it correctly. It is supposed to be a little bit crunchier than regular pasta, however, there are different ways to try and make it as similar as possible. Next time I want to see if I can make it a little more soft. Other than that, this was great and I already have another squash recipe for next week!

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

 

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

slightly adapted from Food Doodles

yields 2 servings (or 4 as a side)

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp low fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus a little extra for topping)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste (for topping)

DIRECTIONS

  1. First prep the spaghetti squash. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Keep the spaghetti squash whole. Poke a few holes deep into the squash with a large knife. Place in the oven whole. Bake for 60 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing in half with a large serrated knife like a bread knife. Scoop out the seedy inside leaving the spaghetti strands. Once cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center. (If you have a different way you prefer to cook spaghetti squash, simply cook accordingly. I plan on trying a few different methods!)
  2. For the sauce, melt the butter in a small pot. Once hot add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk into the butter. Cook for another minute while stirring. Add the cream cheese, warm it up and stir it in to the butter mixture.
  3. Add the milk and whisk well. Bring up to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat. Add the freshly grated cheese and salt and stir until melted, just a minute or two. Pour half the sauce into each spaghetti squash half (or less if using a smaller squash). Gently stir to combine. Top with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan and red pepper flakes and place under the broiler of your oven for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.

 

 

I love pizza. I know I already told you all this when I made a chicken, spinach and feta naan pizza. I really want to make my own dough. I’ve done it before and it has turned out great but now I want to try whole wheat dough. I came across this pizza with a recipe attached so I went out and bought some yeast and thought I’d give it a try. However, by the time the weekend actually rolled around, I was in no mood to make some pizza dough. In fact, I didn’t have the time to do so. SO I ended up running to the store really fast and just picking up a whole wheat thin crust pre-made pizza dough and threw all the toppings on top. This pizza was good. Like, real good. I would have eaten the whole thing myself if I wasn’t sharing it with three other people. All that was left were a few crumbs and some burnt cheese that fell on the stone. Always a good sign :)

If I had made the dough like I planned, this pizza would have literally been perfect. But with the thin crust and a lot of toppings, it ended up being a thicker pizza. Hopefully next time I can make the dough myself and enjoy it they way it was meant, but for now this will have to do. I’m including the dough recipe in case any of you want to make this and do it the right way! (Trust me, if you take the lazy route you will not be disappointed.)

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Pesto Veggie Pizza

adapted from Oven to 350

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
  • 3/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the Parmesan cheese, oil, sugar, basil, salt, all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll dough into a 16 inch x 12 inch rectangle. Transfer to a greased baking sheet: build up edges slightly. Prink dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add spinach; cover and boil for 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Drain and place in a food processor. Add pesto; cover and process until blended.
  5. Spread over pizza crust. Top with broccoli, green pepper, green onions, garlic, chicken and mozzarella. Bake 10-12 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

 

 

 

Luke usually doesn’t request food when I’m planning ahead. He kind of just goes with the flow and lets me do whatever I want. Which is nice because I enjoy having free range and experimenting with different ideas. But it’d be nice to have his input. He always tells me his opinion on whatever I make (at least I think he’s telling the truth) but I recently told him he needs to step up his game and start helping me think of recipes! We have since started shopping together on Sundays (cute, right?) and he helps me pick out meals for dinner. Last week he spotted some chicken nuggets on my Pinterest page. “Wait, scroll back up. That, there. I want those.” Done. See how easy that was? The nuggets were slathered in buffalo sauce and rolled in crunchy breading then baked in the oven. And they’re healthy for you. So what’s not to like about these little guys? We had a friend over that night who brought some macaroni and potato salad to go with the nuggets. I’m totally making spicy sweet potato fries with these, and soon. Yeah, I already have plans in my head.

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Baked Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

slightly adapted from Oven to 350

yields 4 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) (1/8 tsp is mildly spicy; use more if you want your nuggets to have a little more kick.)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat ranch dressing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, place cereal; crush with rolling pin. Add flour, sugar, paprika, seasoned salt and red pepper; mix well.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and placing a cooling rack on it.
  3. In small bowl, stir together oil and pepper sauce. Coat chicken pieces with oil mixture.
  4. Shake about 6 chicken pieces at a time in bag of cereal mixture until coated. Shake off any extra mixture. Place chicken pieces in single layer on the cooling rack set in the lined baking sheet. Spray with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Bake about 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. (If coating looks dry, remove chicken, turn, and spray with more vegetable oil spray halfway through baking.) Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together greek yogurt and dressing. Serve sauce with chicken.

 

 

FINALLY, the last meal I made this week: turkey meatballs! Again, this is something I had done in the past and really enjoyed so I wanted to try some different styles out. I wasn’t upset with these results, however, I know I can make them taste even better. Look out for a re-do on this very soon. I threw mine with some spaghetti, but you could use spaghetti squash and cut out the carbs or eat them solo with a salad. Have an excellent week my readers and keep cooking!

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Turkey Meatballs

slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

yields 4-6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey (lean but not *extra* lean)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Puree your tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour into a large dutch oven or heavy saucepot and bring to a simmer with the oregano, garlic and a half teaspoon of the salt. Let simmer for about twenty minutes to thicken.
  2. Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, a teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, minced shallot and the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix well with your hands and form small balls.
  4. Bake the meatballs at 375 for twenty minutes. Once done, drop into tomato sauce and serve plain or with pasta!

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