Instant Pot Tropical Chicken & Rice

I know I’ve sung the praises of my Instant Pot before, but here I go again! I really think there is a learning curve with this gadget and I think I may be on the verge of really figuring it out. It is so perfect for busy day meals or days when I forgot to take meat out of the freezer. For me, those days are usually one in the same! I’m terrible at meal planning. 
 

That’s actually not true. I’m great at meal planning. What I’m bad at is meal follow through.

Anyway, this was a super easy and quick recipe that I will definitely be making again. I use the term recipe lightly.

Throw two chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. Top with one 12oz jar of Trader Joe’s Island Salsa (or any other tropical salsa you may find). Fill the jar up a little more than halfway with water and pour that into the Instant Pot with the salsa and the chicken.

 

Make sure the vent is closed and select manual and set the timer to 20 minutes if the chicken is frozen and 7 minutes if it is thawed.

When it’s done, shred the chicken but leave it in the juice that generates so it can soak up the flavors.

I topped mine with a mango sauce found in this recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/honey-lime-chicken-with-mango-sauce-52430181

Serve with brown rice and broccoli or any other veggie you like.

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. 



Chicken Fajita Bowls with Mexican Cauliflower Rice

So I’m pretty active on Instagram. I’m not the best at taking pictures of my food, so I really love scrolling through people’s Instagram feeds with beautiful food pictures. I try. I like to think I’m getting better at it, but still. Taking lovely food shots is not my forte.
 

One of my favorite types of pictures are when people do food bowls. I don’t know if this is a new trend or if it just photographs well, but they are so beautiful. The food is organized so cleanly and is usually very colorful. I can’t get enough of them!

All that was said to introduce this Chicken Fajita bowl I recently made. I’ve made similar things before and I swear I posted them on here, but I guess not. Which just means I need to make them again so I can post them again and practice taking better pictures of them! See, it all works out.

This is a super easy weeknight meal that is totally family friendly and can be customized to your tastes.

Chicken Fajita Bowl

Makes enough for 2-4 bowls, depending on how much you put in them

 

Mexican Cauliflower Rice:

– 2 tablespoons Olive oil

– ½ onion diced small

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 bag riced cauliflower (I used the 12 oz bag from Trader Joe’s)

– 1 ½ tablespoons (or so) of tomato paste

– ½ tablespoon each garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder

– Salt to taste     

Bowls:

Mexican cauliflower rice (you can use regular rice or Mexican rice if you want)

Shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

½ purple onion, sliced

½ each red, orange, and green bell pepper, sliced

Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Plain non-fat greek yogurt for topping

Guacamole or avocado slices for topping

Place the onion and bell pepper slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Mexican cauliflower rice:

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute until just starting to soften. Then add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 7 minutes until cooked through. Add the seasonings and tomato paste and stir together until well mixed.

 


Once the rice and veggies are ready (either the cauliflower rice or whatever rice you want to use), you can assemble your bowls.

 

You can be fancy and do layers and sections and organize the whole thing by color or whatever. Or, if you are not planning on taking a photo and you couldn’t care less what your bowl looks like before you eat it because you are just going to mix it all up anyway, you can just throw everything together and have at it.

As long as it tastes good, who care? You do you, love.

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad

I was not going to post about this. It was supposed to be an afterthought to the amazing ribs my husband and I were smoking all day. We just needed a quick side dish. No big deal. 

It was a big deal. It turned out so good I just had to make a post about it! This salad will no doubt become my go-to summer side dish. It can be served cold or at room temp. Also, since it isn’t a mayonnaise-based salad, it lends itself really well to BBQ buffets because it can sit out for longer periods of time.

And the best part? It is SO EASY! 

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad 

1 bag frozen corn

2 Poblano peppers 

1 medium avocado 

Handful of cherry tomatoes 

1 lime

3 T olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn according to package directions, usually in the microwave. You can use fresh corn too if you want, just grill them and cut it off the cob. I just find the frozen much easier and the taste is still great.

After the corn is cooked, add it to a dry skillet over high heat. The goal here is to just char it up a little bit. Set aside to cool. I put it in the fridge to bring the temperature down to warm/room temp. I prepped the rest of the salad in the meantime.

Put the Poblanos over the flame on your stove, turning until charred on all sides.


When done, put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. 


Remove from the bag and the skin will just wipe off with a paper towel. Open up the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Dice the pepper.

In a bowl, add diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced pepper, and cooled corn.

In a small bowl, mix your dressing which is just the zest and juice of 1 lime, olive oil, a dash of pepper and 1t salt. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the veggies. Careful toss the veggies to coat. Add a little more salt if necessary.


That’s it! So easy and so much flavor! It was the perfect side!

Grilled Spinach Pesto Chicken

I’ve recently discovered that my entire family loves pesto. My husband has always liked it. I’m a bit late to the pesto game, only discovering how good it was a few years ago. My super picky 7-year-old just started liking it, and my almost 4-year-old has always liked it. Well, she used to love it, then she stopped loving most things. Now we are trying to get her back into her “eat anything” mode. 
 

One time, I made her pasta with pesto and I told her to just try it. She took a bite and I said, “See, that’s not bad at all!” She agreed with me and now she often requests that I make her “the pasta that’s not bad at all” :0)

What I love so much about this pesto is that it is mostly spinach. I also use walnuts (you can use any nut), which adds another layer of nutrition. I’ve made it before, but I’ll post the recipe again.

Spinach Pesto

In a blender, add the following (all eyeballed):

½ bag of prewashed baby spinach (about 3 oz or so)

1 big bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of walnuts

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Hefty pinch of salt & a sprinkling of pepper

Olive oil

Put everything in the blender. Start with about ½ cup olive oil and then you can add more as needed based on the consistency you want. 

 

Let the blender do its thing and ta-da! Pesto! Isn’t that green color gorgeous?!


You can use this in so many ways. For this meal, I cut two chicken breasts in half lengthwise to get four thinner pieces. Then I coated each piece in some of the pesto and let it marinade for about 20 minutes. You can do this longer, even overnight. You could also do this in a freezer bag and freeze the whole kit-n-caboodle. Then you’ll have premade pesto chicken ready whenever you want it.

 

When I was ready, I just grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes per side over medium-high heat.   

 

Serve with more pesto on top.

If I had mozzarella on hand, I think this would be delish with a couple tomato slices on top of the chicken, then place some sliced mozzarella and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts. Maybe even add a drizzle of balsamic glaze! Oh my mouth is watering already…

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).