Skinny Nachos

Other than cheeseburgers, I’m pretty obsessed with nachos. I mean, how can you beat a plate of really good nachos? The chips, the melted cheese, the chicken (or other meat), sour cream and guacamole. Beans? Yes please. It’s got it all.

My absolute favorite nachos are from Yardhouse. I could eat them at least once a week. I tell everyone about these nachos. Unfortunately, they clock in at a whopping 2,460 calories.  

Yes, I know you are supposed to share them, but even when it’s just my husband and I, that’s still 1230 calories each. Also, I’m not a huge fan of sharing food. I like my food to be my food. You can have some when I’m done. Plus, it messes up the check at the end of the night.


Anyway, I had to come up with something to get my nacho fix. The other day I was looking in my fridge planning lunch. The kids had their turkey and cheese sandwiches and I was *thisclose* to making that for the hubby and myself as well. Then I saw we had leftover turkey taco meat and the lightbulb went off.
SKINNY(ISH) NACHOS!!! They were delish. There’s not a real recipe here because that’s the beauty of nachos: Freedom. Make as much as you want, put whatever toppings you want. Just keep in mind that the ingredients I use are why I can call them skinny. Make all the substitutions you want, but be wary of whether or not you start to lose the “skinny” in the title.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out a layer of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I used the Trader Joe’s brand that includes quinoa, chia seeds, and sprouted amaranth). 


Top that with a layer of taco meat. I used leftover turkey taco meat, you can really use any taco/tex-mex flavored meat you like here. Top that with a layer of cheese (I used low fat three cheese blend from Trader Joe’s). 


If you wanted to add beans, you can do that at this point as well.

Bake the chips/cheese/meat mixture at 375 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through.

Top with whatever you want to top it with. I cut up some cherry tomatoes and added a heaping scoop of guacamole. I also used plain nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Leeks, Pancetta, and Asparagus

So it seems like the culinary world’s IT GIRL, Cauliflower, is still going strong. Mashed “Potatoes”, Buffalo “Wings”, “Fried Rice”… these little florets can do anything and do it deliciously well. Last night for dinner, I put it to the test and made pizza.
 

That’s right, I said I made PIZZA! With CAULIFLOWER. And you know what? It was freaking FANTASTIC!

OK, no more yelling… just on to the recipe. Which you all should try ASAP. A little birdie hinted to me that you can buy cauliflower pizza crust, but it was really so easy to make and it made my house smell yummy, so I say just do it yourself.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 For the crust:

1 bag frozen cauliflower rice, thawed (I used the one from Trader Joe’s. It’s about 12oz)

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella

½ teaspoon garlic powder (eyeball)

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend (eyeball)

Pinch of salt and pepper

Toppings: *These are all optional. You can do whatever sort of topping your heart desires*

2 tablespoons garlic spread


½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 sauteed leek

diced pancetta (4 oz)

about 5 or 6 asparagus spears, steamed just enough to make them soft

Take the defrosted cauliflower rice and put it in a blender or food processor for a few pulses to make it even smaller. Add the cauliflower to a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until softened slightly. Put it all in a towel (I used a few paper towels but you can use a dish towel) and wring out as much water as you can from the cauliflower. You’re basically left with cauliflower pulp.

Mix the cauliflower pulp with 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 teaspoon or so garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon or so Italian seasonings and a pinch of salt. 

 

Mix together and spread out into a 10″ circle on a parchment lined baking sheet. It should be the equivalent thickness of an average thin crust pizza. Not cracker thin, though. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.


The crust will still be soft but golden brown.


After you add your toppings, bake for another 10 minutes.


I used a light layer of garlic spread from Trader Joe’s, more mozzarella, some crisped up pancetta and sautéed leeks and some parboiled asparagus. But you can use whatever you want.

Refrigerator Clean-out Turkey Patties   

You know those days where you come home and you are completely worn out? I mean, more than just the usual end-of-the-day tired. I’m talking exhausted, can barely keep your eyes open, WIPED OUT. That was me yesterday. My lovely 3-year-old isn’t much of a sharer, but last week she decided to share her strep throat with me.
 

You guys, I thought it was going to end me.

I had strep when I was in middle school. I remember it being an inconvenience. I remember going about my business of being 13 like it wasn’t that big of a deal. I remember going to the movies, for crying out loud. Nope, not this time. I guess as an adult, strep is a totally different ball game. It laid me out. I was sidelined for a week. I couldn’t do anything. I was *thisclose* to calling an attorney to get my affairs in order. And maybe a priest to read me my last rites. Bottom line: It was awful. So moms, if your child has strep throat, do yourself a favor and go get a hotel room to yourself until it clears up. I only address this to moms, because husbands are apparently made out of steel and seem to somehow resist the death disease.

Anyway, back to the food, which is why you’re actually here. My first day back to regular life went fine, but I was so worn out at the end of the day, I could just cry. And I was starving. But in that state, who has time for a recipe and all that measuring of ingredients nonsense? Not me, that’s who. Instead, I decided to raid my fridge and see what I could throw together. Hence why these are now called “Refrigerator Clean-Out” because that is literally what I did. So creative, I know.

Here’s the scoop:

Finely dice a half a red bell pepper, half a zucchini, and half a leek. Saute over medium heat with some olive oil and salt and pepper, until softened. Just before the mixture is done, add in some minced garlic and cook until done.

Let the veggie mixture cool slightly and add it to a pound of ground turkey. If you are impatient like me and add it right away, your turkey meat will be really sticky. It will still work, but you will just be making it more difficult for yourself. 


Once the veggies are mixed into the turkey, form into patties. Add a little olive oil to a skillet and cook the patties over medium heat for about 7 minutes per side (depending on how big they are). When I flipped the patties, I added a slice of cheese and let it do its melty, gooey, magical cheese thing while the patties continued cooking.

 

I served these with some brown rice and roasted rainbow carrots. (Fun fact: Carrots used to always be “rainbow” carrots, leaning mostly toward purple. Back in the 17th century, the Dutch carrot farmers created orange carrots through selection and hybridization (the Dutch sure love their orange color!). Those carrots were spread throughout the world through immigration and became the carrots known more commonly. The “rainbow” carrots we see are actually the carrots going back to their original roots… pun intended).    

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just wanted to share an alternative to this White Chocolate Cranberry cookie. Just follow the recipe the same way, but substitute chopped up dried cherries for the cranberries and semisweet chocolate chunks for the white chocolate. It makes for a really yummy flavor combination!

Food on the Table

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they…

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Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadillas

Oh my goodness! You guys!! I’ve been so busy. I mean, it’s a good thing to stay productive, but it means I neglect my blog and that makes me sad because creating recipes and meals makes me so happy. And I love sharing my foodie love with all my tens of readers :0)

In the spirit of my busy-ness, I will be sharing some “non-recipes” with you. These are some meals that I’ve thrown together out of necessity but actually turned out really good. They are very versatile so you can you change ingredients, do more or less of some flavors, whatever you like.

Sometimes we don’t have time to sit and measure and read through a recipe. Just get into the pantry and start throwing things together and see what happens. What’s the worst that can come of it? You have to call the pizza guy? Still a winner dinner in my book! We all have lives and things to do and, like the name of my blog says, at the end of the day, we are all just trying to put food on the table.

My first non-recipe recipe is for Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadillas. These are great for when you have veggies that you need to use up. Or when you just want something comforting but still has some nutritional value.

Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used half each of a red, orange, yellow, and green)

Zucchini, cut into strips

Garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Cooked, shredded chicken

Lowfat Mexican cheese blend

Ezekiel Tortillas (unless you like these, use something else. I was not a fan.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out your cut up veggies in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them around so they are all coated. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until soft and fragrant.

Lay out one tortilla. I used Ezekiel brand and I did not really care for them. They have a weird texture and not much flavor. I would just use a regular whole wheat tortilla or a regular tortilla.

Anyway, lay out one tortilla and sprinkle with some cheese. Put a layer of veggies and some chicken. Sprinkle with more cheese on top and add the second tortilla.


Cook the quesadilla in some melted butter in a skillet for just a few minutes per side. You just want the cheese melted and the outside a nice golden brown.

Serve with some avocado and plain Greek Yogurt (I swear you won’t go back to sour cream once you try this much healthier alternative!)

Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

I know the beginning of the year is usually when the healthy resolutions begin. Gym memberships, healthy eating. Well, we are only a couple days away from the new year, so why not get a little head start on the eating part? 

When my son asked me to make muffins for breakfast, I checked out what I had in the cupboards and fridge and threw this batter together. The result was a golden brown, moist and airy muffin, with lots of banana flavor, not too sweet, and packed with protein from the Greek yogurt.

Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

2 bananas, mashed

2 eggs

1 cup plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking sofa

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

In a bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.


Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. Fold in the walnuts.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin pan. I used coconut oil spray. I also used an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly. I got a dozen good sized muffins this way. 

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


Enjoy warm with a nice cup of coffee. 


Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies (Poland/Eastern Europe/Sweden)

I had plans to bake this weekend. Big plans! But as usual, other commitments got in the way and I got off to a late start. Tomorrow will be a baking extravaganza, but for today, I got started with my Rocky Road Fudge and these thumbprint cookies. 

Thumbprint cookies may not necessarily be strictly part of a holiday culture, but they don make great holiday cookies because they are so pretty to look at and the flavor combinations can vary greatly. 

There is some dispute about where these cookies actually come from. Some say they originate from Poland, some say they were the creation of Eastern European Jews. Others still say they are a variation of the Swedish cookie Hallongrotta which translates to “raspberry cave” because of the placement of the jam.

Thumbprint cookies are named because you form the dough and use your thumb to create a divot where the filling goes. Fillings are usually jam but can really be anything.

For this particular recipe, I took the easy way out. I don’t know about you, but my schedule tends to get packed around this time of year and making multiple batches of cookies and treats makes me want to take some shortcuts here and there. That’s why these are so perfect.

I simply made a variation on cake mix cookies

I used 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Mix together until combined. 

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use your thumb to lightly press the balls down. Since these aren’t normal thumbprint cookies, the indent won’t actually stay, but the slight flattening is what you want anyway.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

While they are still warm, press in a peppermint Kiss. They will start to melt, but leave them alone and as they cool, the Kisses will solidify again.

This is a fun job for the kiddos.

I made 2 dozen cookies in about 30 minutes this way and they taste delicious so no one will know that you took a shortcut. But even if they did, no one would care.

They would just ask for more!