Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Taco Soup

Tacos are so hot right now.

If you’re a taco, you’re hash-tagged every Tuesday, you’re the go-to for weeknight cooking, you are a pantry staple, and you’re devoured within seconds of being served.

If you’re a taco, you’re trending + extremely popular + accessorize well with others. You may even be on a cool t-shirt.

Basically, Tacos are the new black.

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So what’s taco soup?

Tonight, Carter decided to re-name this soup to Chicken Taco rather than Chicken Tortilla because, “Mamma, this is just like a taco in my soup bowl.” And he’s right! We poured a little soup in the bowl, topped with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and avocado. Essentially, a taco!

I took a few recipes and mashed them together to create this one. I’m sure you’ll have everything in your pantry already – and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal…..

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • lots of fresh ground pepper

Garnish

  • cheese
  • avocado
  • chips (Tostitos are nut-free. Trader Joe’s are NOT nut-free)
  • tortilla slices
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • lime slices
  • sour cream if it’s too spicy for your liking

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven over medium-hi heat, add your onion, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock, black beans, corn, tomato, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While it’s simmering, prepare your chicken. I like to cut the chicken into small cubes, about the same size as the rest of the ingredients in the soup. It’s easier to eat that way πŸ™‚
  4. Cube the chicken and add it to the soup.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and let it thicken.
  6. Sample your soup and adjust the seasonings as needed. Usually, you’ll need more salt, especially if you use unsalted chicken stock, like I do πŸ™‚
  7. Serve with desired garnishes.

The yield on this is about 8. To change it up for left over night, try serving this over jasmine rice, couscous or quinoa. You could also omit some liquid and serve in bibb lettuce wraps for a super healthy crunchy taco.

I love this soup. It’s super hearty, healthy and comes together very quick. It’s a good way to clean out your fridge. Weekly, we have sliced bell pepper in snack size bags, and I did have some left over this week that I threw in here, so no waste! Our fridge is pretty empty now and it’s time to start planning what we’ll be eating for next week πŸ™‚ I hope you are enjoying this weekend with the ones you love the most πŸ™‚

 

 

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Weeknight Dinners

Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa

There’s that word again. Quinoa. Keen-wah.

What is this stuff?

Well, quinoa is considered to be a whole grain but it is a seed that can be prepared like rice or barley. Quinoa is cool because it’s flexible and can be used in many different recipes and the flavor is neutral so it goes with lots of cool things. Just like the color black. I love black. When in doubt wear black. With more black.

Kids love quinoa, I call it pasta balls because it’s basically the same thing. If you make quinoa with a flavored liquid, like vegetable stock or chicken stock opposed to just water, you’ll enjoy it so much more.

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This week we wrapped up the Cara Clark Nutrition 10 Day Challenge and quinoa was a big part of our meals. So we made a giant batch and used it every other day with recipes.

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Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa was easy and very filling. Here’s the recipe from Cara Clark. If you haven’t checked her out yet, you should! She’s the best when it comes to making easy healthy meals and staying active while managing small people and work! She’s amazing and honest and I love that about her.

Ingredients:

  • Β 2 sweet potatoes, rinsed, peeled and cut into french fry strips (yum)
  • 1 red onion, cut into slices / half moon shapes
  • 1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed and woody ends trimmed by breaking
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 cup of quinoa, prepare according to package

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and line 3 baking sheets with foil.
  2. Once all of your veggies are rinsed and chopped, place them on the lined baking sheets. I noticed with this recipe that I had a TON of vegetables. The thing about roasting is that your veggies need room to roast. If they are crowded on the pan, they will only steam and wilt.
  3. Swirl your olive oil across the baking sheets a few times and sprinkle with salt and pepper. use your hands to toss + coat the veggies. This is so they do not stick to the pan and crisp up.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and check on them. Flip them around making sure they aren’t burning.
  5. Bake for 15 more minutes or until your level of doneness.
  6. Make your quinoa according to package directions.

:::Extra protein:::

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We made some chicken breast tenders to add some protein to this dish. It was not my favorite, but here is what I whipped up at the last minute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Kim Crawford white wine

Directions:

  1. In a large fry pan over medium heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat your hot pan.
  2. While your pan is heating up, put the tenders in a bowl and coat with the oregano, garlic, onion powder, parsley and s+p.
  3. Add the chicken strips to the pan. Feel free to add more herbs as you see fit. I like to add stuff until it starts to smell good. I tend to use more herbs because you cant really mess those up. Garlic and onion, not so much, those can kill your food in a big hurry if you over use them.
  4. Cook on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes each side. You’ll see the pan start to get dirty, so this is where Kim comes in.
  5. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Kim Crawford to deglaze your pan and get all the crunchy bits off. This makes washing your pan so much easier when you’re done cooking.
  6. If you don’t have white wine, just use chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Just make sure your cooking liquid matches the color of your meat πŸ˜‰

The kids ate everything on their plates, and so did we. They did need some sauce though because no matter how hard I try to make decent chicken, it always turns out DRY. And mine was dry. So BBQ did the trick. Sweet Baby Rays is safe for nut allergies.

There you have it. Weeknight cooking. It was a lot easier than it looks. My advice would be to skip the chicken and use a store bought chicken strip like Dino Nuggets and focus on roasting some healthy veggies. Quinoa is a no-brainer, just make it.

Have a great week πŸ™‚

Weeknight Dinners

Roasted Root Vegetables + Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage

Are you in your back to school routines yet? Going crazy? Drinking too much coffee? I’ve got a time saver recipe for your weeknight eats that will have everyone clearing their plates….if they are OK with roasted vegetables. Which, if you haven’t roasted your veggies before, you SHOULD. They taste SO MUCH BETTER. This recipe is Kid approved!

20170906_170337.jpgIf you have random almost expired vegetables in your fridge, this is a good way to use them all up and make a fairly healthy meal at the same time. I love roasted root vegetable night. Usually I choose 3-4 different vegetables, one whole onion, and a sausage of some sort. The recipe below is one that I just made up tonight and we had clean plates all around. It’s very easy and fast, perfect for weeknight cooking.

Roasted Root Vegetables + Sweet Turkey Italian Sausage

  • 1/2 cauliflower cut into small pieces
  • 1 bag mini carrots
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and cut approx. same size as your carrots
    • parsnips are friends of the carrot – if you haven’t had them, you’re in for a real treat. They literally roast up to taste like sweet candy. Literal candy. Not lying. they are gobbled up every. single. time. Do it. Buy them + roast them.
  • 1 package / pound of sweet turkey Italian sausage, sliced into mini rounds
    • I chose Applegate turkey/chicken sausage in the cold case section, and they tasted amazing + they are NUT-FREE! You can find them at Whole Foods, and most other grocers organic/healthy eating sections.
    • Brats also work for this if you have them on hand, so do hot-dogs. Really, any type of sausage works. And it can be fresh/raw. It roasts for so long, it doesn’t matter.
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt + pepper
  • non-stick spray

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425*
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray
  3. Arrange your vegetables how you like them on the trays
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, check on your stuff, flip around and roast for approx 15-30 more minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.
  5. Tonight I left mine in for a full hour since I like it a tad crunchy.

I had a giant pot of spaghetti noddles left over from the other night, too. So we had that as a side. I warmed up the following:

  • Plain noodles
  • 1/4 cup of Kim Crawford
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil,
  • Salt, pepper,
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • a few grates of Parmesan.

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Rice also works as a side. Other things that you could roast include:

  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Brussel Sprouts (slice in half)
  • White onion
  • Mini potatoes
  • Red potatoes
  • Turnip
  • Kohlrabi

The key with roasting is you want to make sure the stuff is approximately the same size and density. For example, tonight I had bigger stuff on one tray and smaller stuff on another because I knew the cooking times would vary slightly on each of those. Just like cooking Dino Nuggets and Tater Tots, the Dino Nuggets always finish first, so different baking sheet.

The bummer part of roasting is that everything generally looks the same color. If you don’t care about plate presentation, this is not a big deal. I felt “off” with having a lot of brown/white stuff on my plate, so I added a green salad and red tomatoes. Made me feel a little better. Crazy lady, I know.

Have a great week – I’ve got a busy little Thursday and Friday at the kid’s schools and hopefully a fun weekend with a move and mini-golf! New recipes next week and I’ll post menu board inspo to Instagram, nutfreemomblog.

Cheers!

Weeknight Dinners

Build Your Own Tostada

Tostada night is a common one around here. We enjoy it because:

  1. It’s Mexican food, and Mexican tends to be easy for nut-allergies
  2. You get to make your own
  3. Beer pairs well
  4. Easy + fast

Tostadas are just like tacos, except they are giant, round, crunchy, corn tortillas that you eat like New York style pizza. Messy yet delicious.

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I like to have plenty of options, so for last night, we went with:

  • McCormick taco seasoned chicken
  • Spiced black beans
  • Shredded cabbage from the garden
  • Lime wedges
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes from garden
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • LaBanderita Tostadas

If you’re purchasing these tostadas, they can be found just about anywhere, even Target. To note, they come in a giant sleeve; I haven’t been able to find a smaller size. So, either plan on having tostadas a few times in a short period of time, have friends over, or find a good way to store these. I haven’t found a super good way to store em, so we had tostadas like 3 times in 2 weeks. The kids don’t mind and they also taste great with ground beef, beans or firm, pan fried tofu.

And since I’m a marketing-minded person, PRESENTATION!!! It’s half the battle to getting kids to eat. So make it look good, you’ll feel good about it too! Β I like using these Sur la Table prep bowlsΒ an extra dish or two to rinse out isn’t that big of a deal when it comes to making your serving station look pretty.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend – we will be enjoying one more time at the pool. Cheers and stay tuned for next weeks abbreviated menu board!

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Comfort Food for a Full Moon

When you work in healthcare, you know that a full moon is like Friday the 13th. The crazy come out of the woodwork. So what better to have for dinner, after a super long day, than a comforting meal of homemade meatloaf, sauteed parmesan zucchini and creamy mashed potatoes?! Nothing. There is nothing better. This is the kind of heavy meal that fills in all the cracks and does not need dessert to follow. Everyone cleared their plates, Carter had 3rds, and there are zero left overs. I have meat and potatoes kinds of kids.

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Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • Β 1 pound grass fed organic beef
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered garlic
  • 1 palm full of Mrs.Dash Italian seasoning
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered onion
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 shakes of worchestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 handful of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.
  2. Pam spray your loaf pan and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together, except beef.
  4. Once you have everything mixed up, add the beef and mix well with your hands.
  5. Once combined add it to the loaf pan and flatten out. Bake for 45 minutes, turn the oven up to 350 and cook for 15 more minutes, if you’d like a crunchy crust.
  6. Optional: Slice your loaf and lay in a 13 x 9 pan, drizzle ketchup over the slices and place under your boiler for 3 minutes. Who doesn’t love a crunchy crust on the edge of their meatloaf?

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Zucchini

Ingredients

  • three medium zucchini
  • evoo
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pan with high sides, add evoo and swirl to coat.
  2. Add the zucchini and sprinkle in remaining ingredients.
  3. Stir stir stir
  4. I like to keep the heat on medium-high
  5. keep stirring, about 10 minutes, zucchini should be soft
  6. Zucchini should start to stick to the pan, add the stock to deglaze the pan.
  7. Add more parmesan if desired

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Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Peel the two potatoes and quarter them
  3. Add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender
  4. Drain the water from the pot
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and mash with hand masher until light and fluffy.

Have a great Mother’s Day, MOMS!

Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

‘Twas the week before Spring Break!

…and we’ve totally got this! Most important news first: Did you catch last nights final episode of Big Little Lies?! Β I don’t want to give it away, but it was AMAZING! This series was by far my most favorite TV series to date. The entire cast did a wonderful job – the chemistry was remarkable. The final scene was very touching – a bond between girl friends and the support they give, just really hit home. Loved it.

I’m a day late on posting this weeks menu since we were very busy having FUN this past weekend. We had a sitter for Saturday to attend my little man’s Fundraising Gala. What a fun event! The silent auction was really well organized and the entire feel of the event was very relaxed and fun. The bar was amazing and the views were spectacular.

Last night was another big night (two in a row! WOOT WOOT!) – we had some friends over for BBQ dinner that the hubs made in his new sous vide. Β It turned out really well – and my good friend announced her engagement to her longtime boyfriend!!!! Β So so so happy for them. Just when I thought the “wedding season” of my life was winding down, (which I was kind of sad about, actually) they came through with this announcement. LOVE IT! Couldn’t be happier for this lovely couple πŸ™‚

This week is the week before spring break – and you know it will be busy. With the kids off of school for 10 days, there is a lot to get done before then and plan! If you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail!

Menu for this week looks like this:

Monday – Pork sandwiches + leftover beans and coleslaw from last night

Tuesday – Modern Table Meal with fresh mushrooms and broccoli (found this at Target in the Mac n Cheese aisle). It’s also Non-GMO and Gluten Free! Score!20170403_131312

Wednesday – Campbell’s Sauce Starter for oven roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables (probably carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers)

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Thursday – Chickpea curry (blogged about this recipe last week, can’t wait to have it again!) with nut-free naan and jasmine rice. The Naan is from Target as well located in the fresh bakery section.

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Friday – Edamame, Whole Foods Fish Sticks, Tater Tots (three sheet pans, no clean up).

Saturday – Large pot of soup + salad. I love Kitchen Basics since I can find it everywhere and also get no or low sodium. The control freak that I am, I like to be the one in control of how much salt is going into my soup.

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Sunday – Chicken Enchiladas + Spanish rice, carrot cake cupcakes for Chloe’s Easter play date with friends. I’ll post more about the cupcakes later, the accessories are from Sur La Table. although most stores are already sold out of Easter things, I guess I’m just not one to buy Easter things at Valentines Day. Our “buy it early” retail culture in America is exhausting.

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That’s all for now! I’m off to get my chores done and make round #2 of school pick-up! Have a great week! Stay tuned for sneak peeks of Easter prep!

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Chickpea Curry with Rice

Tonight’s meal is a no-brainer. Β Curried chickpeas and rice is fast, easy and packed full of flavor (and it’s NUT-FREE!). Β A friend of mine on facebook mentioned this recipe once and I have never forgotten about it!

Plus, it’s meatless Monday, so this recipe fits perfectly into the plan. I found this particular recipe from my new favorite Foodnetwork Foodie, Ree Drummond, she’s also known as Pioneer Woman. Kinda like her stuff right now.

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Today was our busy day (aren’t they all?!). We had:

  • morning school drop off at both schools
  • grocery shopping + unpacking + organizing
  • birthday + Easter meal prep + packaging
  • cleaning out the fridge
  • dish washer
  • cleaning out the van and backpacks
  • lunch for ME (a microwaved burrito that I inhaled in 10 minutes….these burritos are amaze!)
  • picking up little man from school
  • driving home again
  • putting him down for nap
  • binge eating dove mint chocolates (in my pantry because you’re supposed to hide when you eat naughty) to make my work-out “worth it” (I’m crazy, I know, right?!)
  • 30 minutes of cardio
  • packing little man up to get sister
  • picking up sister at her school
  • visiting her school’s scholastic book fair
  • packing up new books and school stuff
  • heading home for a potty break and snacks
  • packing up again
  • drive to little lady’s PT appointment
  • PT
  • packing the kids up again to go home + making more appointments
  • hitting rush hour traffic
  • driving home to make THIS DINNER!

I feel like a zombie right now. Luckily, I had the recipe saved to my desktop and all the ingredients and pans were already on the kitchen counter. Just mix all this stuff together and make some rice! So easy. Here it is. Sorry for the ramble…it is SUCH A MONDAY today!

For some color – I microwaved a bag of edamame and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. Kids love edamame.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice/jasmine rice
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (13.5oz) can of coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tbsp sriracha (the “rooster” as my dad calls it!)
  • nann bread
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions

Cook the basmati rice according to the package instructions.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are dark brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, honey and a squirt of sriracha. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Warm the naan in the microwave. Serve the curry over the rice with the warmed naan. Garnish with the cilantro.