Posted in Eats

Salsa Shredded Chicken Meals

  1. Chicken Bacon Taquitos
  2. Verde Chicken White Bean Soup
  3. Zesty Chicken Spaghetti
  4. BLT with Avocado – Throw Together Meal
  5. Sweet Potato Hash – Busy Night Meal

Grocery List

  • 3# Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs and/or Breasts (I prefer thighs)
  • 2# Bacon
  • 8 large eggs- additional if you want a fried egg on your B.L.T.
  • 16 oz spinach
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 head of romaine lettuce or precut bag of romaine
  • 1 head garlic or try paste, jarred minced, or frozen cubes
  • 1 head of cauliflower or precut fresh or frozen
  • 32 oz precut sweet potatoes, frozen or fresh -or- 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Muenster Cheese, sliced
  • 1 oz Parmesan Cheese, fresh or from the shaker
  • 2 c frozen corn or 28 oz hominy
  • 2 c frozen lima beans or canned
  • 1# dry white beans of choice -or- 4 cans of white beans
  • 28 oz whole or diced tomatoes (use one can of tomatoes with green chiles for a kick)
  • Cauliflower or Frozen vegetable blend (to be added to white beans)
  • 5c frozen onion and bell pepper blend -or- 3 onions and 3 bell peppers
  • Caesar Salad dressing
  • 16 oz Salsa of choice- check ingredients for added sugar or preservatives
  • 16 oz Salsa Verde- look for salsa without added sugar or preservatives
  • Diced Green Chiles, optional for shredded chicken
  • 1T taco seasoning
  • 2.5 c chicken broth or Better Than Bouillon
  • 16 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 loaf rustic multigrain bread
  • 1 loaf of bread- your choice for B.L.T.
  • Mayonnaise- try recipe for homemade below
  • 1 c chopped mix of olives, jalapenos, jarred roasted red bell peppers, green onion, parsley
  • Optional for Chicken Bacon Taquitos: Diced jalapenos, 1 oz Ranch dressing mix, salsa, sour cream, toppings for white beans- choice of taco seasoning, taco sauce, pico de gallo, hot sauce, diced onion/tomatoes
  • Optional for Chicken Spaghetti: Croutons, or sub a Caesar Salad Kit for the Romaine, Caesar dressing, and parmesan cheese.
  • Optional for Sweet Potato Hash: Raisin bread, Cinnamon toast, or English muffins and sausage links or patties; -or- frozen biscuits and gravy mix

Prep Work

  • Dump all chicken into a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or stockpot. Add the 16oz jar of salsa + diced green chiles (if using) + 1c water. Slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low. Instant Pot for 7 minutes on high, natural release. Stovetop simmer for 10-12 minutes. Shred chicken in pot and store with liquids in 3 equal containers. You can also shred using your mixer with the paddle attachment. I think I’m going to steal my husband’s claws for pulled pork next time. Rotisserie chickens or packaged pulled chicken (I buy it from Costco) is also an option, if you want to skip this step entirely.
  • Put white beans and 2c broth in Instant Pot. You can add 2 sage leaves and some no salt seasoning. Cook large white beans on high for 16 minutes and small white beans on high for 12 minutes. Natural release. Divide in half and store in fridge or freezer.
  • Optional:
    • Red onion- dice 1/2 onion and slice 1/2
    • Dice onions and bell peppers. Mix well and store in fridge.
    • Shred cheese. We prefer shredding our own. My husband uses an attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer. We keep it in a gallon bag in the freezer.
    • Cook bacon. I do this in my air fryer. You can also put it on cooling rack placed inside a sheet pan and cook at 400° until crisp. Undercook it slightly if you will be reheating in strips. Crumble when cooled before storing.
    • Make homemade mayonnaise. See recipe below. It sounds intimidating, but it’s easy and well worth it!
    • Spinach- Always freeze spinach before it goes bad. Use in recipes like the Chicken Bacon Taquitos and Chicken Spaghetti. You can also use Power Greens: Kale, Swiss Chard, and Spinach. Smash into bits after it freezes, if you’ve got picky eaters.
    • Cauliflower- If using a head of cauliflower, cut it into small florets. Do not throw away the stalk! Slice it up and add it to the florets.

#1 Chicken Bacon Taquito Meal

  • 1/3 of the shredded chicken
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 8 oz crumbled bacon
  • 1/c red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Spray oil- look for one with oil listed as the only ingredient
  • 1/2 pot of white beans -or- 2 cans of white beans (28 oz total)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower florets or frozen
  • Optional: Diced jalapenos, 1 oz Ranch dressing mix, salsa, sour cream, toppings for white beans- taco seasoning, taco sauce, pico de gallo, hot sauce, diced onion/tomatoes
    • Sauté onion until translucent . Add garlic and jalapenos, if using. Stir in spinach and 1/3 shredded chicken. Heat through until liquid evaporates and spinach wilts.
    • Remove from heat and add cream cheese + ranch dressing powder, if using. Stir until cream cheese melts.
    • Add shredded cheese and bacon crumbles.
    • Spray cooling rack placed inside of a sheet pan or air fryer tray with oil. Preheat oven to 425°.
    • Heat skillet on medium and lightly spray both sides of a tortilla with oil. Place in hot skillet and flip until the tortilla begins to bubble. You should see the oil sizzle and the tortilla will turn a golden brown.
    • Put 2 heaping spoonfuls of chicken mixture into center of tortilla and roll tightly. Place seam down. Repeat until no more filling remains.
    • Spray each taquito completely. It will only crisp if it is covered in oil, so be thorough.
    • Bake for 15 minutes in oven or 8 minutes in air fryer on 400°. Flip halfway through. Meanwhile, reheat white beans. Add cauliflower or vegetable blend and 1/4c water- you could cook separately but why, if you can just add it to the beans. Drizzle in some taco sauce or a scoop of pico de gallo or a dusting of taco seasoning.
    • Serve with salsa and sour cream for dipping. Top white beans with hot sauce and diced onion and/or tomatoes.

You can see the taquitos, from right to left, cracking less. That is because I left them in the skillet for progressively longer periods of time. The taquito on the left is smoothest because the tortilla was the most pliable after being in the heat for the longest- until bubbles began to form and the oil sizzled.

#2 Verde Chicken & Bean Soup Meal

  • 1c frozen onion and bell pepper blend
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz salsa verde
  • 2 c corn or 28 oz hominy
  • 1/2 pot of white beans -or- 2 cans of white beans (28 oz total)
  • 1 lime
  • 2 1/2c chicken broth
  • 1/3 of the shredded chicken
  • Loaf of rustic multigrain bread
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise- try homemade recipe below
  • 1 c chopped mix of olives, jalapenos, jarred roasted red bell peppers, green onion, parsley
  • 8 oz muenster cheese, slices
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
    • Sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and stir well.
    • Add salsa verde, corn or hominy, white beans, broth, and chicken.
    • Simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°, slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Toast until golden brown.
    • Mix together mayo and chopped olive mix. Layer mayo olive mix onto toasted bread. Top with slices of cheese. Return to oven until cheese begins to bubble.
    • Serve soup with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and avocado.
      • Tip for cilantro: Don’t bother removing all the leaves. Cut off the bottom couple inches of the stems but chop up the rest with the leaves. You can also freeze the bunch of cilantro with bottom of the stems removed then smash to crush. I love cilantro and prefer it fresh but will freeze unused amount for later use.

#3 Zesty Chicken Spaghetti Meal

  • 2 c onion and pepper blend
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced or minced as your family prefers
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 1 T taco seasoning
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 16 oz spaghetti (I only use 8 oz for my small family)
  • 28 oz tomatoes, whole or diced
  • 1/3 of the shredded chicken
  • Cauliflower ,1/2 head or bag of frozen
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Caesar Dressing
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons or leftover olive cheese bread, cubed and toasted
    • Sauté onions and peppers until translucent. Add garlic, mushrooms, spinach, and taco seasoning. Cook until spinach wilts.
    • Mix in cauliflower and shredded chicken.
      • Stovetop- Cook noodles according to package al dente directions. Add noodles and tomatoes. Turn heat to low/medium.
      • Instant Pot- Spread tomatoes over noodles. Cook in Instant Pot on High pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release pressure.
    • Stir in cream cheese until melted. Top with cheddar cheese. Cover until cheese melts.
    • Caesar Salad: Toss Romaine lettuce in Caesar dressing. Top with Parmesan cheese and croutons. Add fresh ground pepper according to taste.

#4 Throw Together Meal: B.L.T. with Avocado

  • 2 Large Tomatoes, sliced
  • Loaf of bread
  • Mayonnaise- try homemade recipe below!
  • 1# bacon, reheated
  • Optional: Avocado, sliced red onion, fried eggs
    • Prepare a cutting board or serving platter. Lay out sliced tomato, lettuce leaves, avocado (sliced or mashed), red onion slices, fried eggs, bacon, toasted bread, and plenty of mayo.
    • Let everyone dig in and build their own B.L.T.
    • Serve on leftover night with additional Chicken Spaghetti, Verde Chicken & Bean Soup, and Chicken Bacon Taquitos.

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • Chill 1 c light olive oil or avocado oil (my preference) in the fridge. I just put the whole jar in the fridge.
  • Crack one large egg in a mason jar or glass that snuggly fits the immersion blender. Use the measured cup that came with your immersion blender, if you can find it.
  • Add 2 t lemon juice, 1 t vinegar, small squirt of Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt.
  • Gently pour in 1 c chilled oil. Allow ingredients to settle for a couple minutes. Be careful to ensure the egg remains intact.
  • Place immersion blender straight to the bottom of the container. Turn on High and keep the blender pressed to the bottom until you begin to see thick white mayonnaise form.
  • Slowly move the immersion blender upward to incorporate the remainder of the oil.
  • Refrigerate and store up to one week.

#5 Busy Night Meal: Sweet Potato Hash

  • 2 c onion and pepper frozen blend -or- 1 onion + 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 32 oz precut sweet potatoes, fresh or frozen -or- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 c lima beans, canned (drained and rinsed) or frozen
  • 8 eggs, scrambled or fried
  • Optional: Raisin bread, Cinnamon toast, or English muffins and sausage links or patties; -or- frozen biscuits and gravy mix
    • Heat large skillet on medium-high heat. Coat with oil.
    • Spread diced potatoes evenly and season according to taste. I use garlic powder, smoked paprika, tumeric, salt, and pepper. Do not disturb for 5 minutes.
    • Flip and let cook for 5 minutes.
    • Add onion and bell pepper. Add lima beans, if using frozen. Drizzle with additional oil, if needed. Stirring occasionally, cook until onion is translucent.
    • Add lima beans, if using canned. Heat through.
    • Serve with eggs cooked to your liking and bread/toast, sausage, or biscuits and gravy.
Lima bean and sweet potato hash with eggs


  • Roll extra Sweet Potato Hash and eggs in tortillas and wrap in foil. Save for a snack at work or grab-and-go breakfast. Can be frozen for later! You could also prepare this meal early in the week and double the recipe. Make burritos or turn into a casserole and eat throughout the week.
  • Sweet Potato Hash is a great meal to always have on hand. Make sure to keep the ingredients in the freezer and on hand for a quick fix weeknight meal or weekend brunch.
  • Make a double batch of Chicken Bacon Taquitos and freeze. If you don’t have much chicken mixture left, add a can of corn + a drained and rinsed can of black or pinto beans.
  • Freeze half of the olive cheese bread or make a double loaf to freeze the extra.
  • Corn tortillas freeze well. Separate by the dozen with plastic wrap or foil and seal in a zip top bag.
Posted in Eats

Ground Meat Weekly Meals

  1. Beef and Bean Quesadillas
  2. Shepherd’s Pie
  3. Chili Mac
  4. Stir Fry Noodles – Throw Together Meal
  5. Naan Pizzas – Busy Night Meal

Grocery List

  • 3 # Ground Meat (create your own mix with beef, chicken, turkey, chopped mushrooms, shredded zucchini)
  • 4c Onion and Bell Pepper Mix: fresh pre-cut or frozen or 3 onions + 2 red peppers
  • 1 Avocado
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • Fresh vegetables to dip in ranch- cucumbers and carrot + celery sticks or bag of assorted vegetables
  • 1 head of garlic or try paste tubes, jarred minced, or frozen cubes
  • Brussel Sprouts, fresh or frozen
  • Southwest-style Salad Kit
  • 16 oz kale or power green blend with kale, spinach, and swiss chard
  • Bag of coleslaw or broccoli slaw mix
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes or tomatoes with chiles
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste, can or look for the tube
  • Marinara sauce or pizza sauce
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can kidney, white, or trio of beans
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • Asian noodle of choice- chow mein, lo mein, udon, spaghetti or fettucine
  • Tortillas (Xtreme Wellness tortillas)
  • Naan Bread
  • 8 oz Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 16 oz Pizza cheese, shredded
  • Instant rice mix or quinoa blend- look in the frozen section
  • Taco Seasoning packet (or make your own salt-free)
  • Chili powder
  • Stir Fry Seasoning packet or bottle of sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes- Frozen, pouch, deli, or homemade (look for cauliflower or sweet potato)
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Lima Beans
  • Cauliflower. frozen or fresh
  • Frozen Stir Fry or Asian Blend veggies
  • Optional for Busy Night: Frozen fish fillets, fish sticks, or chicken nuggets and egg rolls or wontons; chili garlic sauce or sriracha
  • Optional for Quesadillas: Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt, salsa
  • Optional for Pizza Night: Toppings of choice

Prep Work

  • Sauté mushrooms, onion and bell pepper blend- 3c of mix or 2 onions + 1 bell pepper
  • Add 3# ground meat/veggie mix and cook through. Add kale or power greens, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until stems are tender.
    • Instant Pot: Cook on high for 7 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes.
  • Separate into 3 equal amounts and store 2 of them in the fridge or freezer.
  • Optional:
    • Mashed Potatoes: Try using half cauliflower or half sweet potatoes (cubed sweet potatoes can be found in the freezer section or pre-cut in the produce department) If using flaked mashed potatoes, throw in cauliflower or sweet potatoes when bringing water to a boil. Simmer until fork tender and mash. Then add flakes, butter, and milk. Off heat, add one beaten egg. Store in a ziptop bag.
    • Extra Mushrooms: Slice or mince as your family prefers. I use a Cuisinart Slap Chopper. Can be frozen in portioned bags for later use.
    • Extra Kale or Power greens: Stick the whole bag straight into the freezer. When frozen, smash into tiny pieces. This can be added to anything! You can also shove a couple handfuls into ziptop bags, squeeze all of the air out, and place in the freezer.
    • Onion and Bell Pepper blend: If using fresh, dice up and mix well.
    • Tomato Paste: If using canned, drop tablespoons of paste into plastic wrap in a row. Roll up the row of paste and twist between each drop. Put in a ziptop bag and save in the freezer.

#1 Beef & Bean Quesadilla Meal

  • 1/3 cooked ground meat mixture
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes or tomatoes and chiles
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 1 T taco seasoning (or half a packet)
  • 8 oz shredded cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Avocado, sliced or diced
  • Salsa and sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Southwest-style Salad Kit, prepared as directed
    • Add garlic, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and beans to ground meat mixture. Stir well and simmer covered for at least 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid evaporates.
    • Cover tortilla with shredded cheese and spread mixture over half the tortilla. Fold and bake (do this for making several at once) or heat in a skillet.
    • Serve quesadillas with avocado, salsa, and sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Spanish Rice

  • Rice blend
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 c corn kernels
  • 1T taco seasoning (or half a packet)
  • 1/4 c onion and bell pepper blend
    • Combine all ingredients (plus 1/2 c water per bag, if using Boil in Bag rice). Simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Fluff and serve with quesadillas and salad.

#2 Shepherd’s Pie Meal

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c mixed vegetables
  • 1/3 prepared meat mixture
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 c beef broth
  • 1 c lima beans
  • 2t thyme
  • 2t Worcestershire sauce
  • Mashed potatoes, see notes above under “Prep Work: Optional”
    • Preheat oven to 400°.
      • Cut Brussel sprouts in half and toss in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes or until lightly charred.
    • Sauté garlic and tomato paste until tomato paste darkens.
    • Add mixed vegetables, lima beans, and meat mixture. Stir well. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir until flour turns golden.
    • Add broth while scraping the bits off the bottom of the skillet.
    • Add thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer until gravy thickens.
    • Cut corner off ziptop bag of mashed potatoes and cover evenly.
    • Broil for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown.

#3 Chili Mac Meal

  • 1/4 c Chili Powder
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c onion and bell pepper mix
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1T soy sauce or liquid amino acids
  • 14 oz can kidney, white, or trio of beans
  • 3 c water or beef broth
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • Cauliflower, frozen or fresh
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Sauté onion and pepper blend in oil on medium heat in a Dutch oven until onions are translucent. Add garlic and chili powder. Stir well until chili powder is fragrant.
    • Add soy sauce, beans, and broth to the pot. Stir to combine well scraping the bits off the bottom of the pot.
    • Add tomatoes, macaroni and stir into mix. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove lid to allow liquid to evaporate, as needed.
      • Instant Pot: Do not add tomatoes to filling mix. Pour pasta over mix evenly. Press into broth. Cover with tomatoes. High pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release.
    • Sprinkle cheese over chili mac and broil until cheese bubbles. Or just put the lid back on the pot until melted, if you don’t want to turn the oven on!

#4 Throw Together Meal: Stir Fry Noodles

  • Asian noodles of choice, cooked according to package directions
  • Coleslaw mix
  • Asian veggie or stir fry mix
  • Stir Fry seasoning or sauce mix
  • Soy Sauce or liquid amino acids
    • Sauté coleslaw mix and Asian veggie blend on medium-high heat until cooked crisp.
    • Add seasoning or sauce and noodles.

If using fish fillets, fish sticks, or chicken nuggets, cook according to package directions. Cook egg rolls and/or wontons too. Serve with soy sauce or liquid amino acids. Try some chili garlic sauce or Sriracha, if you like spice!

#5 Busy Night Meal: Individual Pizzas

  • Naan Bread
  • Marinara or pizza sauce
  • 16 oz Pizza cheese, shredded
  • Toppings
  • Fresh vegetables and ranch
    • Preheat oven for 350°. Toast Naan breads for 5 minutes or until crispy.
    • Flip Naan breads, so crispy side is face down. Top with marinara and cheese. Let everyone top their own pizza. I don’t give mine access to the cheese because they get out of control but let your crew control their cheese, if you dare.
    • Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble.
    • Serve with vegetables and ranch dip.


  • Divide Shepherd’s Pie, Chili Mac, and Asian noodles in half. Freeze for dinner later. Or separate into individual servings and freeze for lunches.
  • Prepare remaining Beef + Bean quesadillas and Naan pizzas. Par-cook then freeze with foil to separate.
  • Breakfast: Use excess onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, greens, and pizza toppings for frittata or 2-minute microwave mug omelets. -OR- Roll this into meal prep for next week. Make a scramble or casserole with extra meat + veggies for breakfast burritos.
Posted in Eats

Veggie Stuffed Shells

We were feeling silly and ran to grab some chips and dip for Girl’s Movie Night. T.J. works swing shifts and we take full advantage our free reign over the remote! A box of jumbo shells caught Annabeth’s eye and I was buzzing from some cookies we shared earlier, so I bought them. I looked up a couple recipes on Pinterest but decided to create my own version loaded with the vegetables I had on hand.

Boil a box of jumbo shells to al dente or a couple minutes less than directed.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • Healthy drizzle of olive oil

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent.

My new trick to keep mushrooms on hand for sneaking into nearly all dishes. I think at this point, I’m not really tricking anyone plus Annabeth loves mushrooms.

I mince bella mushrooms finely then smooth them in a gallon zip top bag and fold into quarters. I put the folded bag of mushrooms into the freezer. When I pull it out, I flatten the bag out so it breaks into 4 squares of mushroom.

  • 1 1/2 c frozen spinach
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 c mushrooms, minced

Add spinach, garlic, bell pepper, and mushroom to the skillet. Stir well and cook until moisture is evaporated. Take off burner to cool.

  • 16 oz ricotta
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2c mozzarella, shredded
  • 1T parsley, minced

Mix ricotta, eggs, mozzarella, and parsley well.

Add spinach mixture to the bowl of ricotta and cheese. Stir well.

  • 8oz can tomato sauce

Spread tomato sauce on bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan. I mixed in some garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the can of tomato sauce first. Drizzle with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350°

Stuff each shell, then place in the prepared pan like you’re playing a game of Tetris trying to keep the opening facing up. Make sure not to over stuff them like I did. Otherwise, you have to go back and steal stuffing from the extra plump ones for the remaining empty ones.

  • 24 oz marinara sauce

Pour marinara sauce over shells evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles.

Sprinkle with some fresh basil and grated Pecorino Romano.

You will notice that I do not add salt, except to the boiling water for the noodles. I find that there is enough salt in the ricotta and marinara. I figure that you can add salt to taste after you take your first bite. There is so much salt in foods already, it’s better to not make a habit of adding extra unless you know you truly need it. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes or fresh ground black pepper instead.

Serve with some steamed broccoli or cauliflower and a nice salad. Annabeth made one for us all by herself! She has a special set of knives that are safe for kiddos. She cut up cucumber, red bell pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, and squeezed on some Ranch dressing. I forgot to take a picture of her creation though. Oops. Her salad was the perfect compliment to a heavier main dish. Never miss a chance to let your little ones help in the kitchen. They will surprise you!

Posted in Eats

Crispy Chicken with Quinoa & Greens

T.J.’s Dad has been in a tough spot recovering from back surgery in November. Then he suffered a heart attack and had a stent placed last month. Needless to say, the doctor ordered a complete diet overhaul. We decided to hop on board and start following the Mediterranean style of eating that my doctor recommended for me. I sifted through some cookbooks on Amazon and settled on The Mediterranean Prescription by Angelo Acquista, M.D. It’s more book than cook but there are several recipes in the last section. In the 2 weeks we’ve been shifting to the plan, we are surprised by the effects. I have spoken to my inner old lady and she craves oatmeal in the morning. If I skip breakfast, specifically oatmeal, I will not be able to resist munching after Annabeth goes to sleep. One night I ate chips and guacamole plus 9 pizza rolls!

I threw together this recipe and it reminds me of the Campbell’s Soup chicken and rice my Mom used to make. I loved that stuff. She would reassure us that she didn’t use mushrooms and pick out the large chunks to hide her lie. Now I’m over here mincing mushrooms and stashing them in the freezer to add to everything! Same goes for Power Greens, I buy a Costco bag and throw it in the freezer just before it starts to turn bad. Once frozen, you can use your fist to smash them into tiny bits and sneak into nearly any dish. I use fresh versions for this meal but the leftovers will find their way to the freezer in a few days.

  • 5 oz Power Greens or Spinach or Kale

Heat skillet to medium. When hot, drizzle lightly with oil and add greens. Stir for a few minutes until wilted. Remove and set aside in a strainer. Prep:

  • 1 large shallot or small onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, bone in skin optional

Marinate or season chicken thighs as desired. Heat skillet to medium. When hot, drizzle with oil and brown on both sides. This takes about 7 minutes per side. Do not flip until chicken lifts easily from pan. Remove and set aside.

I prefer avocado oil for this step. It has a high smoke point, usually between 460° and 500°. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a low smoke point, so do not use it here.

While your chicken browns, go pick some fresh herbs and get them ready to be added to the vegetables. I have thyme flourishing right now, so that’s what I added but I would have liked some rosemary too. He’s just too small right now.

Add a couple teaspoons of oil to the pan the chicken was in and saute the onion or shallot for a few minutes until translucent. Add a tiny bit of water if needed to keep from browning. Add garlic and herbs, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift chicken bits.

  • 8 baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced or demolished
  • 8 oz jarred roasted red bell pepper, rinsed and drained
  • 1c quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2c chicken broth or Better Than Bouillon

Add mushrooms, bell pepper, quinoa, and broth to the skillet. Stir until mixed well. You could also add some black pepper, smoked paprika, or even tumeric here.

Pour quinoa mixture into an oven safe pan and arrange chicken thighs on top, smashing them down until they’re submerged.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until the quinoa has unraveled.

I tried to bake this in my air fryer and I will use my oven next time. The quinoa was not done in the middle of the dish, so I removed the chicken, added a little half & half and put it back in to finish cooking.

Here’s where I messed up. I didn’t take a picture of it plated. Oops. I was frazzled because we were eating later than intended and already tearing into the chicken while the quinoa finished cooking. I did sprinkle some Pecorino Romano and red pepper flakes on the quinoa just before serving. I also do not add salt to most of my foods until served. We are not big on salt and most of the time we end up adding a tiny bit, if any salt.

I cut some small tomatoes in half, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I served these as our side.

Dessert has been pears, apples, strawberries, or mango lately. I sneak a piece of dark chocolate every once in a while.

I do not cook special things for Annabeth. She eats what we eat. She does pick at some stuff but that’s mostly because she does not like mushy foods. We’ve just barely been able to convince her to eat mashed potatoes. I can’t complain. Salad is one of her favorite foods and she prefers her produce raw. I used to cook according to T.J.’s preferences but I saw how unhealthy that was, so I stopped. I made small switches, like whole grain pasta and chicken sausage a long time ago. Now he snacks on nuts and dried or fresh fruit. His breakfast is plain Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and topped with granola. He was less than thrilled when I started enforcing these habits but he has since complimented the changes. I think replacing some of the worst offenders one at a time primed him for the complete change. Now he grumbles after we go out to eat and offers to lend a hand when I’m struggling to get dinner prepared. Grabbing fast food is actually a threat these days. We don’t eat sugar much but we still enjoy a scoop of ice cream a couple times a month.

Posted in Eats

Colcannon Bake

I love our C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture). I know some of you are sick of hearing me talk about it, so I thought I’d start sharing some of the dishes inspired by our weekly boxes. Here are a few reasons why I am addicted to our local C.S.A.:

  • In-season produce picked fresh the day before pick up. This means each bite is vine ripened and coated in nothing other than a little dirt.
  • Supporting local farmers, the land they cultivate, the bees they nourish, and lessening dependence on foreign food
  • Flavor. Fruit and vegetables are not fresh when they ripen in a shipping container. Eating produce that soaks up every drop of sun and soil possible quickly turns into a taste you crave.
  • Experimenting with new recipes and foods we would otherwise pass up for our same old choices. I make it my goal in life to use up every bite of food in the box, which has led us to discover new favorites. And learning to plan for the occasional back-up replacement side when that grilled eggplant tastes like a sour bar of soap.

Colcannon Bake was a result of a random search for a recipe to use up potatoes and cabbage. Basically, it’s a smashed potato and fried cabbage casserole. I had my doubts but the combination of textures and savory flavor made my mouth happy. It does take one and a half hours to cook but that’s mostly while the potatoes boil and the bake time. If this is taken into account, it works well with a planned meal. You can use the open time to mix a salad and prepare your main dish.

Colcannon Bake Recipe

  • 5 medium red potatoes
  • 6T butter, sliced
  • 1/2c plain Greek yogurt, whole or low fat
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4c milk, not that skim garbage but whole/cream/nut is good
  • 1T avocado oil
  • 3c cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1t Better than Bouillon, chicken
  • 1/2c sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder + smoked paprika or dill + rosemary or Cajun seasoning

Put the potatoes in a pot and fill with water until covered at least an inch. Boil until they slide easily off a fork.

30-45 minutes

Meanwhile, prep ingredients:

Shred cabbage and cheese

Dice the onion

Measure milk and yogurt in same measuring cup. Add in egg and sliced butter. Set aside.

With pan on low heat, mash drained potatoes partially.

Move to a large bowl. Add the milk, yogurt, egg, and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Mash until desired smoothness. Lumpy is our preferred texture.

Preheat oven to 350 F

I’m all about less dirty dishes, so I reused the pot I boiled the potatoes in.

Add oil and onion to pan over medium heat. Cook until onions are translucent.

Add cabbage, bouillon, seasonings and fry until tender.

Combine cabbage and potatoes until evenly distributed but not mushy. Butter or spray a 9″x13″ pan with oil (preferably propellant free).

Bake for 40 minutes and the top is golden brown.

Top with cheese and return to oven until melted.

Serve with extra plain Greek yogurt, chives, or Parmesan cheese.

It turned out a little too dry for us, so I smothered extra plain Greek yogurt on top. I cut back on the milk and yogurt in the mashed potatoes to try and account for extra moisture from the cabbage. Turns out, the cabbage released it’s excess water while it was frying or evaporated in the oven. Make the mashed potatoes the way you like them. My cabbage was not soupy before I added it to the mashed potatoes- it was cooked through with a slight crunch and maintained this texture after baking.

We enjoyed this with smothered pork chops from my Instant Pot but I see it working well with meatloaf, oven-fried chicken, or grilled fish. I will also doctor this next time with diced red bell pepper, finely minced mushrooms, and/or shredded carrot. I love to sneak all sorts of vegetables into every single dish possible. Seriously. I have kale, spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini in the freezer just waiting to be hidden in my next meal.