Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Advertisements

Bone Broth Miso Chicken Noodle Soup

I’m always looking for healthy things to add to our meal repertoire. It seems like there are so many buzzworthy and trendy things out there, it’s hard to keep track of what is really good for you and what’s just the next thing that people will move on from in a month or two.

To me, Bone Broth seemed like one of those things. I mean, how is it healthy? What makes it good for me? Like I usually do, I dove into my own research and from what I can find, this stuff appears to be legit. It is made using the bones of the chicken (or beef for beef bone broth). The collagen from the bones seeps into the broth and provides So. Many. Nutrients.  It helps protect your joints, it is good for overall gut health, it helps maintain healthy skin and nails, it supports the immune system, helps with detoxing the body, it boosts your metabolism and aids in digestion.  It is really easy to make your own, but it is time consuming. I used store-bought from Sprouts.  They say drinking a cup a day you will really notice the benefits. I haven’t done that yet, but the flavor of the broth I used was so delish, I could probably give it a try.

Miso is another thing I am pretty new to. I know it isn’t a food trend like Bone Broth, but I just tried miso soup for the first time about a month ago and it was SOOOOO GOOOOOOODDD! I’ve been seriously missing out. When I was looking into bettering my gut health, miso was one of the options that came up as a probiotic. It also helps aid digestion, is good for blood pressure, and is a good source of nutrients like vitamin K and folic acid.

So now that I have these two new gut health superheroes at my culinary disposal, I thought, why not combine them? I bought some soba noodles awhile back (their own health benefits including being fat free, gluten free, high in manganese, vitamins, protein, and fiber) and thought I’d add those to the mix as well. Make my own version of chicken noodle soup!

I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out, but it was yummy. The hubs had two servings!   If anyone else has any yummy ways to use miso or bone broth, just let me know!

Bone Broth Miso Chicken Noodle Soup

8 cups Chicken Bone Broth

1 pound chicken thighs

¼ cup white miso (you can use any miso you like)

1 ½ cups baby carrots, chopped (it was about a cup and half after I chopped each on into thirds)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme

A splash each of soy sauce (can use aminos) and rice wine vinegar

A good sized handful of baby spinach, torn

¼ to 1/3 of the package of soba noodles, broken

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped green onions, white and light green parts, for garnish

In a heavy soup pot, bring the bone broth to a boil. Add the chicken thighs and poach for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and add the miso, stirring until it is combined into the broth.

Add the garlic powder, thyme, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, spinach, and carrots.  Keep a medium boil until the carrots are just about soft.

Check the package directions on your soba noodles to see how long they need to cook. Mine were about 7 minutes, so I added the noodles and cooked them until they were almost done. Then I added the chicken back to the pot and mixed it all together and continued cooking until the noodles were done. Taste the broth to see if you want to add any salt or pepper. With the miso and the soy being salty-ish on their own, you may not need to add anything.

Serve the soup with a sprinkling of chopped green onions and enjoy!

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

I am often day dreaming about recipes. I know, it may seem weird, but I truly do think of a couple ingredients and just imagine what I can do with them. I start out pretty general and then play around with ingredients in my head until I think I may be on to something. It doesn’t always work out, but often it does and when that happens, I am quite pleased with myself.

This dish came out of a craving I was having for shrimp. Who doesn’t like shrimp, right? I also LOVE Louisiana-style cuisine. Unfortunately, it isn’t usally the healthiest, so I either avoid it, just give in and go for gold, or, like in this case, rely on simple seasoning to give a healthy dish some Cajun flair.

This meal came together in a flash and the hubby went back for seconds. That makes it a total winner in my book.  The potato/sausage mixture makes a lot, so you can have leftovers, which are super delish the next day with sunny-side up egg on top.

You can adjust the seasonings based on your preference/tolerance for spice.

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

 

Olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4-5 mini sweet peppers, diced (mix of red, yellow, and orange). You can also just use 1 red bell pepper, diced.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 pound smoked turkey sausage (i.e. Hilshire Farms)

Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere brand)

Shrimp, factor in about 5 medium-sized shrimp per person

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Saute the sausage until it starts to brown. Remove from the skillet. Add a little more olive oil if you need it and saute the onions, peppers, and potatoes until the potatoes are almost softened. Add the garlic at this point so you don’t burn it. Add the sausage back in and sprinkle some Cajun seasoning. However much you want. Let this cook until the sausage and potatoes are browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium heat, add a little more olive oil. Sprinkle more seasoning on some peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until done, just a few minutes on each side is usually all you need.  I cook the shrimp separately because you will have leftovers of the potatoes and the shrimp doesn’t reheat well. You can always make more shrimp if you want later.

Once it’s all done, just serve up the potato/sausage mixture and top with about 5 shrimp per person.

Red Lentil Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Veggies

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love a good quick weekday meal.  This one came together in about 10 minutes and I got all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s! And it is super healthy!  Winning all over the place!

Alternative pastas are having a major moment right now, but keep in mind they are not all created equally. Not all are as good as others. Studies* show this is one of the legit ones.

*Studies conducted by me.

1 bag of red lentil pasta

1 jar traditional marinara sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)

1 package garlic and herb chicken sausage, sliced into coins

½ 12oz bag baby spinach

¼ to ½ bag frozen asparagus spears, thawed, cut into fourths

Grated parmesan cheese

While a pot of water is coming to a boil, slice the sausage and cut the asparagus.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil, sauté the sausage until golden brown and warmed through. Add the asparagus and cook until softened and warm. Add the spinach and cook until wilted (won’t take too long).

Drain the pasta and add back to the pot. Add the veggie/sausage mix to the cooked pasta. Add the jar of marinara sauce. Use as much or as little as you’d like.  Mix altogether and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

If you’ve read any of my recipe posts before, you’ll know how much I like a quick and easy recipe. Like most families, our weeknights tend to get a bit chaotic, so anything that doesn’t take too much time but is still super tasty and can be considered healthy will always be a winner in my book.

When I was meal planning and grocery list writing for this week I was very unmotivated. Normally I have some ideas of things I want to make during the week, but not this time. This time, I was drawing a blank. I was looking at food images to try to get my creative juices flowing when I came across stuffed peppers. Perfect. Done. Put them on the list. I moved on through the rest of the week’s meals and hit up Trader Joe’s.

Often after grocery shopping and putting away the food, I don’t want to cook dinner. It is just a testament to how simple these are to make that I didn’t mind making dinner after I put the groceries away!

Stuffed peppers are pretty easy and can be totally customizable to whatever flavors you want. I went with a southwestern flavor profile for these and they were very good.

When buying your bell peppers, try to get the ones with four nodes on the bottom. The ones with three are fine, but four makes them a bit easier to stand up in the baking dish. Also, try to get round, fat ones. The longer skinny ones won’t work quite as well.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

serves 6-8, depending on the size of your peppers

 

6-8 bell peppers, any color (*see above for tips on buying)

1 pound ground turkey

½ yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ package taco seasoning (or the equivalent of homemade)

1 4oz can diced green chiles

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese *optional

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup or so shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375.

In a skillet over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the turkey with the onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through and the onions and garlic are softened. Next, add the taco seasoning, green chiles, tomato paste, and corn. Stir.

If adding the cream cheese, do it now.  It is optional, but it does take the filling up a notch. It also makes it a bit creamy and less likely to dry out in the oven. It won’t seem like enough at first, but trust me. Keep stirring it in and it will cover the whole pan.

Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and take out the seeds and core. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  Stand up in a shallow baking dish.

Time to assemble: In the bottom quarter of each pepper, spoon in some rice. Sprinkle with a little cheese, then top with the meat filling. Pack it in and let it go over the top. Don’t be shy with the filling!  Sprinkle more cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty.

Basic Frittata

I go to work really early during the week, so family breakfasts aren’t really a thing most of the time. I get up, get dressed, make whatever lunches need to be made, have some coffee, and head to the office. Everyone else is still asleep.

Weekday breakfasts tend to be oatmeal or cereal or toast. Something along those lines. That’s why I try to up my game on the weekends. I like breakfast burritos or French toast. Waffles and pancakes. Even just good ol’ bacon and eggs is nice for my family to sit down and have breakfast together. One breakfast I really like to make is a frittata.  I know, it sounds so fancy, but it is actually really quick and easy to make. You can pretty much put whatever you want in it: veggies, meat, potatoes, herbs & spices. I’ve even seen pasta in a frittata.

Frittatas are an Italian dish and the word means “fried.” It was just a meant as a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, but has since come to be known for this dish in particular, which is sort of a cross between a crustless quiche and an open-faced omelette.

I made mine with some leftover cooked sweet potatoes, some veggie odds and ends, and goat cheese. Next time, I’ll use a whole new rotation of meat, veggies, and cheese.  That’s what’s so great about a frittata; it is so customizable. It’s also a great way to use up veggies so they don’t go to waste.

Here’s the basic “recipe” for a frittata, you just substitute whatever you want and use however much you want:

In a cast iron skillet (or any skillet that is oven-proof), add a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat. Add your veggies. I used about a cup of chopped broccoli florets, a whole chopped zucchini, and a tablespoon or two of minced garlic. Once those were softened, I added my potatoes.** If you were adding herbs, you would do so at this stage as well.

**My potatoes were already cooked since they were leftovers. They also already had onions and peppers in them. If your veggies aren’t cooked yet, make sure to add them sooner.**

***Also, if you are adding meat that needs to be cooked, like bacon or sausage, make sure you do that first***

OK, back to the frittata: Once the veggies were ready, I sprinkled them with salt and pepper to taste and I topped them with goat cheese.

In a bowl, I whisked together 8 eggs and a large splash of milk.  Pour the eggs over the veggies and cheese.

Let it sit on the stove top for a minute or two then transfer to a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Serve in wedges like a pie.

This is a great option for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner and a great way to use up just about anything you have in the fridge.

Minestrone Soup

I’ve been a bit in a slump lately. At least when it comes to blogging recipes. I’ve been making food I’ve already done on here or making other people’s recipe or even just making stuff that I ultimately deem “not blog-worthy.” (That parmesan French toast was pretty delish, though!)

I blame it on end-of-the-year laziness. I seriously get so lazy after Thanksgiving. I think I only worked out 2 times in the entire month of December. I barely do any housecleaning and the laundry starts when we are all on our last pairs of underwear. Well, it’s January now and a new year has started. I have a list of things I want to start doing. Work has been absolutely CRAZYPANTS but it should calm down in the next few days and my head will stop spinning and perhaps I can actually start accomplishing things.

First up, this soup. It’s been raining like crazy here in SoCal the past couple days. Now, I happen to enjoy the rain. I don’t like going out in it, but I do love being warm and cozy and listening to it pitter patter outside my window. I always like to think Fall weather is soup weather, but in SoCal that is not at all the case. It’s usually pretty warm until mid-December to January when it starts to get a little chilly.

Minestrone soup is a thick Italian soup made of a flavored broth and veggies with optional beans and pasta added in. There is no set recipe for minestrone since you can use whatever veggies are in season. This soup dates back to the Roman Empire, but the basic premise remains today.

This soup really hit the spot and was so easy to make. It hit my trifecta of easy, healthy, and delicious!  If I weren’t in the beginning of a Biggest Loser Challenge, I would have served this with a side of bread as well.

30-Minute Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 16 oz bag frozen veggie medley (green beans, corn, peas, carrots. You can really use whatever veggies you want.)

Parmesan rind (optional)

1 28-oz can low-sodium crushed tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

12 oz box of shell pasta (or other small pasta of your choice) *I used Banza chickpea pasta and it was DELISH! You can’t even tell the difference and it punches up the protein of an otherwise-vegetarian dish.

Add olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the frozen veggies, basil, oregano, some salt and some pepper. I had a leftover rind from some parmesan, so I added this as well. You don’t have to.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until veggies start to soften.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and pasta and cook about 10 minutes (or per package directions for the pasta). Remove the parm rind if you used one and taste the soup for seasoning. I ended up adding more salt, pepper, and basil, but make it how you like it.