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.

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Creamy Veggie Soup (without the cream!)

I think I’m really getting the hang of this soup thing, you guys! I love coming up with new combinations of veggies and flavors that complement each other to whirl up into delicious soups. I am also LOVING my Vitamix more and more. I can whip up these soups on the soup setting and the result is a creamy, velvety soup that doesn’t have any dairy in it at all. It’s so mind boggling; every time I take a bite, I can’t believe there’s no cream or dairy in the soup.

The only thing I need to start working on is making bigger batches. Just when I think there’s going to be enough, it only makes about 3 servings, maybe 4 depending on how much you eat in one bowl.

So far this little makeshift soup cleanse we’ve been on has been very successful. We are getting all our veggies in and we still feel full after a bowl of soup. And the hubby and I are both down to below our pre-vacation weight!

 

Creamy Veggie Soup (without the cream!)

½ red bell pepper, cut in half

½ orange bell pepper, cut in half

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

1 poblano pepper

1 cup frozen corn

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 cup vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the peppers and zucchini on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

When the veggies are done, place the bell peppers and zucchini in a blender. Put the poblano in a zip top bag and seal it. After about 5 minutes, remove the poblano and peel the skin off. It should just pull right off. Cut it in half (carefully because it will be hot), and remove the stem and scrap out the seeds. Add the pepper to the blender.

Add the rest of your ingredients to the blender and let her whirl until done.


Taste to see if you need to add more salt.


I had some avocado I needed to use up so I topped mine with avocado. I didn’t do it this time, but it would probably be yummy to add more corn pieces as well, to off-set the texture a little bit.

Corn and Yellow Pepper Soup

Here’s another souper easy (see what I did there? Funny, yeah?) soup recipe for you. I’ve got a couple more coming in the next week or so.  These are all experiments, so whenever they turn out as good as these last couple have, I get really happy. I even have one in the works using beets! I mean, seriously. BEETS! I’ve never even had a beet before. I also know that they are really messy. The recipe is inspired by the one-and-only Martha Stewart though, so hopefully that will help things!

Anyway, I am always up for more ways to get more vegetables into my family.

Corn and Yellow Pepper Soup

3 yellow bell peppers, cut into quarters
1/2 bag of frozen corn

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (or 1/2 bag of cauliflower florets) 
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 4oz can green chiles
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of cayenne *optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay out all your cut up peppers and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in a pan with some olive oil and a little salt until softened and fragrant. Set aside.

Also, steam your cauliflower florets until softened. This will help add a nice smooth, thick consistency to your soup.

In a blender, preferably a high powered one like a Ninja or a Vitamix, put in the onion/garlic mixture, the thyme, the bell peppers, the cauliflower, the corn, and the green chiles. Blend until smooth. I didn’t need any liquid to get a perfect velvety consistency, but if you do, add some vegetable broth as needed.


Taste for flavor. Add some cayenne if you want a touch of heat. Add more salt and pepper if you want. Whatever you want to do to make it taste like what you want it to taste like!

Chicken and Harvest Veggie Skillet 

This time of year always seems to get really hectic. With all the other things going on during the holiday season, easy dinners are high on my priority list. 

Another thing I’m looking for is healthy meals. I’m all about the Christmas treats and yummy special meals, so that makes it all the more important that we eat healthy as often as we can to try to stay on track.

This meal fits both those criteria. It honestly came out of necessity. I needed to clean out my fridge so I just sort of threw a bunch of ingredients in a skillet and crossed my fingers. I’m so glad it worked because this was delicious! My husband requested it immediately be added to our regular rotation!

Chicken & Harvest Veggie Skillet 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper

4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces

1 medium sweet potato, cubes

3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered 

1/2 diced Onion 

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Granny Smith Apples, cores and cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 cup chicken broth 

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a skillet, brown you chicken in some olive oil until just cooked through. Remove from the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the same skillet, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove to a lined plate.

To bacon grease, add the onion, garlic, sprouts, and sweet potato and cook until slightly softened.

Add the thyme, salt and pepperto taste, and apple and cook until softened and the rest of the veggies are slightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the broth evaporate. It will only take a few minutes.


In a small bowl, add the Dijon, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until smooth. Note: these are approximate measurements. I eyeballed it and forgot to keep track. 

Add the chicken and bacon back to the skillet. Toss the whole mixture with the Dijon vinaigrette.

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!

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

It never really occurred to me until a few years ago that food can be trendy. I figured food is food, right? But, alas, just as with overalls and midriff shirts, food also comes and goes with the times. 

Cauliflower “Fried Rice” is one of those current food trends. I can’t say for sure, but from my extensive research on the subject (meaning about 10 seconds doing a Google search), it would appear that cauliflower was the “It Girl” of the 2015 food world and that star-status has not yet faded out. 

As anyone who knows their way around Pinterest can tell you, there are about a trillion and one ways to use cauliflower to make it more flavorful and fun. Which is good, because on its own, it’s pretty gross (in my opinion). You can make pizza dough out of it, “tater” tots, mashed “potatoes”, alfredo sauce, and “fried rice” (like I’m going to show you). You can even cut it into steaks and grill it. I always viewed cauliflower as basically white broccoli, but it’s actually a lot more versatile. It is a really healthy substitute for carbs and starches. And when prepared correctly, really delicious. 

I tried making this “fried rice” a while back and it was not good. I don’t know what I did. I don’t remember what ingredients I added or didn’t add. I just know that I tried it and it was no bueno. I just figured I must not like cauliflower after all and I should just cut my losses. 

Fast forward to this week. Ever since my nutrisystem slim down success, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching clean and healthy eating. I feel like maybe I know a little more about the world of healthy eats now so I thought I’d give the “fried rice” another go. Besides, I really like the buffalo cauliflower so that sort of negated my theory about not liking cauliflower altogether. 

Like I said, I don’t remember what I did or didn’t do the last time, but this time I made sure to write it all down because it was SO FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS!! I made this twice this week. My hubby loved it. I made too much and ended up eating it as my main meal (which is fine with it being pretty much all veggies), but it would be a good side or entrée. I haven’t tried making a big batch to reheat later because I’m not sure it would reheat very well, but if any of you have any experience with that, please let me know. 

The best part? This is so easy to throw together. Trader Joe’s makes PRE-RICED cauliflower! Another reason Trader Joe’s is the greatest place on earth. They have it in the refrigerated section and the frozen section, so I just grabbed a few of the frozen bags and keep them on hand. There are a few other things I want to try with this riced cauliflower that hopefully I can sneak into the kids’ food.

This recipe is more a method than a hard and fast set of instructions. You can change up the veggies. You can add meat or seafood. It can be enough for a couple entrées on its own or four entrees with added chicken or shrimp (for example). Or it could be divided up even more as a sidedish. It’s entirely up to you and your tastes. The amounts are eyeballed, so again I say, use what you want and however much of it you want.

2 tablespoons oil

2 eggs, beaten

½ zucchini, diced

½ leek, diced

½ cup baby carrots, diced

½ cup frozen peas

1 to 1 ½ cups riced cauliflower (pretty much whatever looks good with the amount of vegetables you have in your pan)

½ tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

*Tip: Since this is basically a stir fry, it will cook fast over high heat. Make sure all your veggies are prepped and ready to go before you start.

In a skillet, put ½ tablespoon of your cooking oil. I used the garlic infused olive oil from Trader Joes, but you can use regular olive oil, or canola oil, or even coconut oil if you want. Add your eggs and scramble. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of your oil and the veggies. Start with what takes the longest to cook. I started with the carrots and then added the zucchini and leek. Sautee until soft.

Add your cauliflower and peas and cook until just about soft. Add the egg back in and then add the soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. Mix together and continue cooking until the cauliflower is nice and fluffy (like rice) and cooked through. You can taste it at this point and more of whatever you want.

This is a fun dish to play around with so try it with the flavors you like. Any tips? Pass them my way!

Thai Peanut Chicken Stir Fry 

So, here’s my thing about Thai food: it makes me nervous. For some reason, I never think I’m going to like it, but I always do. It’s weird, but it’s just one of those things.My first ever experience with Thai flavors was the Thai Chicken Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. I know that is in no way actual Thai food, hence why I referred to it as Thai Flavors. For some reason, my senior year AP Biology teacher got us CPK for the class. Maybe it was after the AP test? I don’t really remember, but what I do remember is my friend Joey ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza and let me have some. It was so yummy and to this day, that’s what I get whenever I go to CPK.

Fast forward many years later, when my friend Bon took my husband and me to a place called Wild Thai. That was the only time I’d ever had actual Thai food. He ordered us chicken penang curry (I think I spelled that right) and it was absolutely delicious. We went back a few times after that.

I don’t eat Thai or make it often (though I did a really delicious shrimp dish on this very blog), but I do love the flavor combinations. The sweet and spicy, salty and citrusy. Thai cuisine really does have a great flavor profile.

I found this recipe in my Vitamix cookbook. Have I not sung the praises of Vitamix enough? I love it almost as much as my slow cooker…

Anyway, it is very easy to throw together, is actually quite healthy, and can be altered to your liking. I used chicken, but you could probably use shrimp, and you could put all different kinds of veggies in it. You could probably put only veggies in it and it would be delicious as a vegetarian option as well.

I added more vegetables than the recipe calls for. Also, according to my husband, it could have used more spice, but he has an unnatural tolerance for spice. I thought it was perfect, but you could probably add more jalapeno or even hot sauce at the end if you want. I even had my kids give it a try and they liked it, so who’s going to say no to that?

The recipe also says to serve over rice, but I served it over those spinach noodles I made. To each his own.

Recipe from the Vitamix Cookbook

16 oz can coconut milk
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 cup cocktail peanuts
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small cubes
1 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
Any other veggies you want
cooked rice or pasta for serving

In a blender (I forgot to take pictures of the blender, but I’m sure you’ll get it just fine), add the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, jalapeno, and peanuts. Blend until smooth. (If using the Vitamix, set to Smoothie program and let finish).

Chop your veggies and chicken.

Put the vegetable oil in a hot skillet and add the chicken. When almost cooked through, add the veggies and saute until soft.

Add about a cup of sauce to the pan and let simmer to warm through.

Serve with rice or noodles. You can add more sauce and chopped peanuts to the top.


This is really, really good!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to heat up some leftovers!