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.

Instant Pot Turkey Meatloaf 

When it’s 90 degrees outside, one of the last things you want to do is turn on your oven to make dinner. That’s when I will either fire up the grill outside or pull out my Instant Pot. 

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about this wonderful kitchen gadget, so I won’t go on and on, except to again how much I love it. 

Recently I wanted meatloaf, but turning my oven on for over an hour did not sound appealing. I did a little searching and decided to try it out in my Instant Pot.

It turned out great! It was super moist, which is hard to achieve with turkey. My husband said it was probably the best meatloaf he’s ever had. And it cooked in half the usual time, which made me a happy woman! 

Turkey Meatloaf 

1 bell pepper, chopped (or 3-4 mini peppers) 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil 

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey 

1/2 tsp garlic powder 

1/2 tsp onion powder 

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs 

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

BBQ sauce if your choice 

In a skillet, sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic in some olive oil until soft. 

Add veggie mix to the ground turkey, garlic powder, onion powder, Parmesan, panko, and egg. Mix until well combined. 

If using an Instant Pot, add 1 cup of water and insert the grate. Form the mixture into a loaf on a piece of foil. Fold the edges up forming a bowl-like shape around the loaf. 


Place on the insert. Set timer to 20 minutes. Let natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release.


Move the meatloaf to an oven proof dish with the foil and pour BBQ sauce over the top. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes. 



Grilled Salmon Tacos

I love salmon. It is sooooo good for you. And I love tacos. I really love tacos. So when the idea to put them together came up in a clean eating challenge I was doing, I was 100% ON BOARD! And I was not at all disappointed.  

Salmon is really easy to prepare, but until recently, I’d been doing wrong, so wrong, for a long time. I always tried to get the skin off the back before I cooked it. It worked ok, I guess, but I always lost some meat to the cause and it was just a pain in the ass. So, the last time I made salmon, I just threw it right on the grill, skin and all. And you know what happened? I’m sure you do because I’m guessing I’m the only one who didn’t know this would happen. The skin just peeled right off when it was done cooking. Easy peasy. I felt like such an idiot for doing it the hard way this whole time. Well, never again, I tell you. NEVER again. Which is good because I make salmon a lot.

Grilled Salmon Tacos

1/3 cup olive oil

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon chili powder

¾ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

Dash of salt and pepper

1ish pounds salmon

Corn tortillas

Guacamole for serving

Cheese for serving

Coleslaw for serving

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and s&p. Rub on salmon and grill for about 5-7 minutes per side (depending on thickness). You can let this be a marinade if you want, but don’t let it sit too long or the citrus and the salt will start to “cook” the fish and that won’t be good.

When the salmon is done, remove it from the grill and take off the skin. I scrape off most of that grey stuff under the skin as well. I think it’s ok to eat, but since I don’t even know what it is, I take it off. Roughly chop up the salmon.

Serve in a warm corn tortilla with some guacamole and this AMAZING mango jicama slaw I found at Trader Joe’s. 


Or whatever other taco toppings you like.

 

That’s not all! I had lots of leftover salmon, so I reheated it and mixed it in with some brown rice and pesto with that slaw on the side. SO GOOD! I’m going to start making that as the main meal, not just leftovers!

One Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

When I’m in a hurry but still have to make dinner, it’s so easy to want to hit up the Chick-Fil-A drive thru. But my wallet and waistline thank me when I buckle down and hit up my pantry and fridge instead.
 

One pot meals are so great because, hello, if I don’t have time to make a big meal, then I definitely don’t have time to do dishes! This one is particularly great because it is LOADED with protein and fiber, which is excellent for weight loss and overall healthy eating.

You can make this with regular pasta and regular cream cheese, but keep in mind that it won’t be as healthy or as protein-packed.

This is another in my line-up of No Recipe Recipes.

1 box Banza Penne (chickpea pasta. I’ve mentioned it before. It is so great! I hardly ever go back to regular pasta!)

A couple spoonfuls of Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese (You can get Green Mountain Farms brand at Sprouts and Kroger/Ralphs has a store brand as well)

Cooked, shredded chicken

Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (this is the only one on the market that I can find that is zero calories)

Bleu cheese crumbles (optional)

Boil the pasta per package directions and drain.

While the pasta is hot, add the cream cheese and stir until melted and saucy. Add the chicken and mix in.


Add however much buffalo sauce you want based on your heat tolerance. Try a little at a time and taste to see what you like. Some people like it super hot and some just a little, so go with your preference.


If you are the type of person who likes moldy cheese, go ahead and add some bleu cheese crumbles to yours. I do not, thank you very much, so I left mine as is.

 

This was really yummy and satisfying. It only took about 10 minutes, and I only had to wash one pot!

 

Orange Cranberry Muffins 

When I was in college, I was a barista at a couple different coffeehouses. I was just surrounded by muffins of all kinds. I almost always ate a bagel for breakfast, but every once in awhile I really wanted a muffin. It was at this time that I discovered the wonderful flavor combination of orange and cranberry.

That was the inspiration for these muffins. When I was trying to think of a good way to repurpose the cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving leftovers, it hit me that they would be great in a muffin! So went to work creating this recipe.

These turned out really yummy. My hubby says they could use a bit more orange flavor, but they were also good as-is. If you also want more orange, I would suggest adding more zest and juice and a little less of the cranberry sauce. You will probably have to compensate for the extra liquid with a bit more flour though.

Orange Cranberry Muffins (makes a dozen muffins)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup orange juice 

Zest from one orange

1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Leftover cranberry sauce

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Create a little well, and add your eggs, milk, juice, butter, and zest. Mix well.

The batter should be thicker than a cake batter, but not cookie dough. 

Scoop in some leftover cranberry sauce. And fold it into the batter.

Finally, fill a sprayed or lined muffin tin with the batter. I’m a big fan of using the ice cream scoop to fill the cups. It’s usually the perfect amount.

Bake at 375 degrees 15-20 minutes.

Let the muffins cook a bit and drizzle with a glaze made from 1 cup powdered sugar and enough orange juice to make it the texture you want (some people like thicker or thinner glazes).

Serve and enjoy!!!

Shepherd’s Pie

I was going to start out by saying that even though it is really, REALLY tasty, Shepherd’s Pie is not a “pretty” dish. Whenever I make Shepherd’s Pie, it always turns into a big ol’ mess when I serve it up. It does not photograph well. It tastes great. It is complete meal all in itself (protein, veggie, carb). It is primo comfort food. But it isn’t winning any beauty contests here.

I was going to start off that way, until I did a Google Image search for Shepherd’s Pie and found some quite lovely photographs of this dish. I mean, in reality, those are probably styled and photographed by people who know what they are doing. I have a nice camera that I use occasionally, but for this blog, I tend to use my phone because it is easier. I guess that means I don’t always get the best pictures of some things. I think I do pretty well, though, on most posts. Right?

 

Anyway, back to the food… As I you saw in my last post, I made mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. I really wanted to try that to see how it would work before Thanksgiving, but then I was going to be stuck with a bunch of potatoes. That’s when I decided to make Shepherd’s Pie. It is always a favorite in our house, so I knew it would be a good use of the potatoes.

A little background: Shepherd’s Pie (sometimes known as Cottage Pie, when not made with lamb) is an Irish dish. It dates back to the 18th century and was a way for the poor to use up potatoes and leftover meat (usually beef or lamb) and stretch their food supply.

I usually make mine with ground beef, but in an effort to be healthier, I made this one with ground turkey. My husband said it was still really good, but it did taste a little different with the turkey. I used all the same ingredients otherwise and I didn’t really notice a difference. Bottom line: you can use whatever ground meat you want (or roasted. This would be good with Thanksgiving leftovers).

Shepherd’s Pie

1 pound ground turkey

½ onion, diced

1-2 cloves minced garlic

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

About a cup of frozen peas (eyeball it)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cups beef broth *I’ll explain this in the directions. Also, chicken broth is acceptable, but it will taste MUCH different)

2 pounds of potatoes, mashed

In a skillet, add a little bit of olive oil and brown your turkey. Remove the meat from the skillet.

 

Add a little more oil to the same skillet (if you think you need it) and saute your onions, garlic, and carrots until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add back in the turkey and the peas and cook until the peas thaw out mostly. 


Sprinkle the flour over all of it and stir to coat. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Then slowly add the beef broth until until the sauce forms. You don’t want it too soupy but you don’t want it too thick either. Find a happy medium so it’s like a gravy almost. That’s why I suggest slowly adding the broth until it is at a consistency you like.

Pour everything into a 9×13 baking dish in an even layer. Then top with your mashed potatoes. I made mine with a little butter, a little milk, and some parmesan cheese, but you can do whatever you normally do.

 

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

 

I know my pictures may not look as pretty as some of the others, but I can promise you this tastes really good!

Copycat Starbucks Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap 

Back in college, when I was a Starbucks barista, our RTE and bakery case had a nice selection of goodies. Over the years since my time with the ‘Bux, they have definitely expanded and improved their selection. Whether it’s a baked good to compliment your coffee or one of their sandwiches or protein boxes for lunch, they have upped their game significantly since I worked there.
I recently stopped by Starbucks on my way into work and noticed they offered a Thai Peanut Chicken wrap. It looked really good. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t grab one, but I was intrigued enough to decide to try to make it myself.

The other night, the hubby was out so I decided to do some kitchen experimenting. I only had the description on the package to go by, not a recipe, so I bought the ingredients I thought I’d need and went to town.

The result? Not bad at all! I want to play with the veggie part a bit because something seemed to be missing, but all in all it was really good! And fairly healthy too, so you can’t beat that. Fact: if you call it a wrap instead of a burrito, it’s healthier.

I made one for dinner and one for my lunch the next day at work. I wasn’t sure if the pre-made wrap would hold up, but it did. It was actually a bit better the next day. Maybe all the flavors hanging out all night in the fridge got all happy and even more delicious.

It seems like a lot of steps because you have to make all the components separately before you build the wrap, but it is actually really easy and comes together quickly.

Ginger Cream Cheese:

4 oz softened cream cheese (I used low fat)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Chili lime slaw:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½ teaspoons chili powder

Zest of ½ lime

Juice of whole lime

1 package shredded lettuce

Carrots, sliced thin

Handful of peanuts, chopped

Red bell pepper, sliced thin

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked chicken (grilled, poached, baked, roasted, a $5 one from the grocery store… doesn’t really matter)

This peanut sauce

Tortillas (Starbucks uses the red tortillas, which I think are sun dried tomato. I couldn’t find those, so I used the spinach ones)

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and ginger. If you like it more gingery, add more. If you don’t like ginger that much, add less. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, and lime juice. Whisk together.

Add the lettuce, carrots, bell pepper, and peanuts and toss with the dressing. Set aside.

Make your peanut sauce.

Chop up your cooked chicken into small pieces.

 Assemble:

Spread a layer of the ginger cream cheese on the tortilla.
Top with the chicken and pour some peanut sauce on top to blend in with the chicken. Or you could make life so much easier and put the chicken in a bowl with some of the peanut sauce so it’s already mixed together. Next time I will do that.

Top the chicken with the veggie mixture.

Wrap and enjoy. Serve with a little extra peanut sauce on the side.

Like I said, it was actually better the next day, so maybe even letting all the ingredients sit for a while before assembling would be good. If you try this and add something that makes it pop, I’d love to know what you did. It was really good, but I think it could have used a little something I can’t quite put my finger on.