Vegetable Enchiladas

  • 1 whole Zucchini, Quartered ($.50)
  • 2 whole Yellow Squash, Quartered Lengthwise ($.75)
  • 9 whole white mushrooms, Halved ($1.00)
  • 1 large Red Onion, (thick slices) ($.75)
  • Salt And Pepper
  • Olive Oil spray
  • 3 cups Enchilada Sauce (canned is fine) ($3)
  • 12 Corn Tortillas ($3)
  • Vegetable Oil, For Frying
  • 5 cups Grated Monterey Jack Cheese ($4)
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced ($1)
  • 3 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced ($1.50)
  • Handful of Chopped Cilantro ($1)

Total: $16.50

Everyone knows that I LOVE Mexican food. I really could eat it everyday but unless you’re just eating salsa with a spoon, it’s hard to find health recipes out there. I recently started going meatless when I go to Mexican restaurants and its really not that bad! I am not a vegetarian by any means but I do find that using vegetables in place of meat packs the same amount of flavor and will definitely cure your craving. Added bonus: its much easier on your waistline….and wallet too if you’re cooking at home.

One of my favorite meatless Mexican dishes is in LA at a vegan restaurant called Gracias Madre in West Hollywood. If you’re ever out there you must try it! Below are a few pics one of my great meals there:

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Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray evoo on a grill pan. Sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper and lightly grill the vegetables. Cook until you see nice grill marks and the vegetables are slightly (but not overly) tender Remove from the grill and cut the vegetables into a large dice. Mix together and set aside. NOTE: You can also grill your veggies on a outdoor grill!

Heat the enchilada sauce in a separate pant until warm.

OPTIONAL: will add some more calories but the result will be more authentic. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat. Using tongs, cook tortillas one at a time for only ten seconds per side *don’t allow to crisp* Place on paper towels to drain

Using tongs, dunk one tortilla in the enchilada sauce. Lay it on a plate and spoon one or two tablespoons of the vegetable mix in a line down the middle. Top with some cheese and green onion. Roll the tortilla, then place it seam side down in a ceramic or glass 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately with diced tomatoes and cilantro for garnish

Kickin’ Chicken Pasta

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This pasta really is the total package: Hearty, spicy, full of cheese, and bursting with carbs! All the qualities I look for in a friend.

That made no sense.

Anyway, you really will love this pasta, as you get a bunch of spicy deliciousness without a whole lot of effort. Actually all the kick from this dish comes from the blackening seasoning that you’ll use on the chicken.

Full disclaimer: this isn’t the best pre-bikini recipe so make this on your “cheat day”. ‘There’s nothing good about it, except for how good it is. It’s evil, ridiculous, and an affront to good sense…but look at the bright side: I did you a favor in lightening up a bit by adding half & half. If you’re feeling extra decadent use 3 cups of heavy cream and omit the half & half — up to you! You could probably add a few more veggies such as asparagus or frozen peas, or even a sprinkle of parsley, but this recipe can stand on its own.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • Four chicken breasts, slightly pounded (I prefer organic and air chilled) $9.00
  • 1/4 C Blackening spice ($1.00)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil ($.10)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic ($.10)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine ($.75)
  • 2 cups heavy cream ($2.00)
  • 1 cup half and half ($.75)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 1 pound fettuccine ($2.00)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan ($1.50)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, for garnish ($.25)

Total: $18.95

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over high heat Dredge the chicken breasts in the Blackening Spice Rub. Place in the cast-iron skillet. Blacken both sides of the chicken, 3 min per side
  3. Transfer the cast iron skillet to oven and bake 10 minutes
  4. While chicken bakes, In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and lightly brown it, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine. Pour in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. After cooling, slice it on the bias
  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chicken slices.
  7. Cook the fettuccine al dente, about 10 minutes or until al dente, Drain.
  8. When the cream sauce is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the sea salt, pepper and pasta.
  9. Fold in pasta and garnish with extra cheese and sliced green onions

Spicy Skinny Chili

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It is getting cold and windy and shivery and frigid in DC, and to psychologically withstand such things, I had to make a big pot of something warm and comforting today. It’s also Sunday. Ahhh Sundays. It’s the one day where its perfectly acceptable to watch a marathon of Netflix and just relax in your PJs all day long. Sundays also = football. So, cold weather + Sunday + Football = CHILI. Yum. I love chili. Not only because of that familiar taste but because there are so many different variations and methods for cooking it. You can really get creative. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick so for this recipe I’m going with ground turkey. To make up for not using ground beef (which has more flavor in my opinion), I decided to kick up the heat.

Just like your standard beef chili, there are as many incarnations as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. I know that everyone has an opinion on chili, especially people from Texas, and some will even claim that your chili isn’t chili if you add or omit certain things. If you really want a laugh check out some of the comments on chili recipes on sites like Epicurious. “No TEXAN would ever call this chili!” and “This recipe is blasphemous!” Then again, if you are from Texas you’ve likely got a recipe you were making since you were old enough to stand at a stove and don’t need my chili recipe, so there.

2 lbs 7% fat ground turkey ($5)
1 yellow onion, chopped finely ($.75)
5 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
3 Tbsp tomato paste ($.50)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce ($.05)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1)
1 red bell pepper, chopped ($1.50)
2 jalapenos, chopped and de-seeded ($.75)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 packet Stevia or Splenda
3 Tbsp chili powder ($1)
2 tsp. oregano ($.20)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper ($.05)
Total: $13.05

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add bell pepper and jalapeños.
2. Add ground turkey and browned. Once cooked, poor off excess fat.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, spices, stevia and beans. Stir together and turn heat on low.
3. Mix tomato paste and water until combined and then pour in chili pot.
4. Let simmer on low for 60-90 minutes. Add more tomato paste/ water mixture if you want it less thick.
5. Serve with your favorite toppings– I like chopped green onions sour cream or cheese

*I cooked my chili in a dutch oven but you can easily do this in a crock pot and get the same result*

Katie’s Couscous

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Sorry for the long hiatus. Without getting into it, let’s just say life was hectic and exhausting for a few months. I’m back to normal now and have my head on straight (I think). I have a drawer full of recipes saved up so I’m going to make a commitment to post every couple days…I promise!

Today’s topic is couscous. I know you were expecting more from me after being inactive for so long but I assure you this recipe will not disappoint. It’s one of those dishes that you will find yourself snacking on for an entire week. The recipe makes enough for like 20 servings and it will stay fresh for up to 8 days if you keep it in an air tight container.

It’s sort of funny how this recipe came about. After living in Arlington, Virginia for three years I became absolutely obsessed with the Whole Foods there. I know what you’re thinking…she developed a strong personal attachment to a store that sells overpriced food? Weird. Well anyway it is MY store. MY stomping grounds…nobody mess with it! After being a DC resident for 2 months I was going crazy and I needed my Arlington Whole Foods fix so I made the 30 minute journey across the bridge. Upon arrival I discovered a sale on couscous AND couscous samples among other things. Inspiration! A recipe is born.

Just real quick on Arlington. It hasn’t even been that long but going back there now is like a confetti hitting a fan for me. I know it’s only what, a mile from DC, but it’s serious time travel whenever I pass through. Driving down Wilson Blvd, the Asian lady named Kim that has done my nails at least 50 times, the coffee at Northside Social. What about that mile long escalator at the Rosslyn metro stop that feels like it’s taking you to the pits of hell? Hah! And finally, the world’s worst shopping mall in Ballston…I love and hate that place at the same time. There are only two redeeming qualities for that establishment: The Chick-Fil-A and the ladies that do fantastic kiosk eyebrow threading for eight dollars. If it wasn’t for that– dynamite.

As corny as it sounds my three years there were really defining points in my life that I will never forget. A series of ups and downs, successes, failures and lessons learned. I refuse to wear anything but rose colored glasses when going back though. Whether its positive or negative I feel like things are always best the way I remember them. I find this sometimes comes in handy when I’m in a pissy mood, or you know, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner.

Now enough of me blabbing…ADD was kicking in. For those of you who are not familiar couscous, it is a popular staple in North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. If you know me or follow this blog you should be aware of my quinoa obsession. While similar in taste and texture, I’m sorry to report that it’s not as healthy. Couscous is not a whole grain, in fact, its closer to a pasta than anything else…it’s basically formed from semolina flour. In practically any dish that you see couscous, a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley could be easily replaced for added nutrients and fiber. But it’s almost winter and I just can’t be so earnest every night. I was missing my couscous when I tinkered with this recipe. You cannot deprive a girl of her carbs! I did however make sure to include some healthy-ish ingredients in this recipe. You can serve as a side salad or eat on its own. I hope you enjoy!

Even dogs love couscous

Even dogs love couscous

Ingredients

1 box of cooked couscous (according to package directions) ($3.00)
1 1/2 cups frozen, cooked edamame ($2.00)
3/4 cup canned, drained corn ($.75)
1 can garbanzo beans ($1.00)
2 green onions, chopped fine ($.25)
1/4 cup dried cranberries ($.50)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese ($.75)
1/4 cup pine nuts ($1.00)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar ($.20)
2 tablespoons honey ($.25)
Juice of 1 lemon ($.75)
1/4 cup olive oil (.50)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Total: $10.95

Directions:

Cook couscous according to package directions. Fluff and let cool for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl add cooled couscous, edamame, corn, garbanzo beans, green onions, cranberries, feta and pine nuts.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, lemon, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly. Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.

Busy Girl Breakfast

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Breakfast has never been my forte. It’s embarrassing to admit but I have never really mastered the perfect scrambled eggs. Even bacon is never as good as my mom makes it, and my omelets
end up looking like a pile of ingredients all mixed togerher.  Maybe it’s a skill I should try and work on, but to be honest I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. I go through phases where I can’t walk out the door unless I have a big bowl of cereal, a smoothie, or a bagel. At the moment I get by on coffee for breakfast… by the time 11 am rolls by I am absolutely ravenous– a ticking time bomb.  

Now, there are some occasions when whipping up a large breakfast is an absolute must. Maybe you’re having company for the weekend or maybe you’re just feeling an extra breakfast-y sort of morning. The perfect solution is a breakfast casserole. I know what you’re thinking. Casseroles seems so Brady Bunch and passé don’t they? I think it’s just the name– CASSEROLE. Sounds gross…I bet you if someone changed the name they would become en vogue again.  

Anyway, this dish is disturbingly easy to make. Seriously anyone can do it. The best part is it can be made up to 24 hours in advance, allowing you to get plenty of stress-free beauty rest. Guests will literally think you slaved all morning in the kitchen, especially with the unexpected flavor from the onion rolls and chives. You can sashay into the kitchen one hour before guests arrive, and while it cooks work on more important things…like making Bloody Mary’s and mimosas.     

Ingredients

  • 6 Onion Rolls ($4)
  • 1 C Cheddar cheese, grated ($2)
  • 8 oz cream cheese ($1.50)
  • 1 1/2 stick butter ($1.50)
  • 10 eggs ($3)
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped ($.25)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 

Total: $12.25

Instructions

Butter a 9×13 dish

Tear onion rolls, place in bottom of dish. Top with cheddar then dot with cream cheese

Cut butter and place pats all over top of dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.   

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Remove foil, increase temp to 350 and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve!

Quinoa Fried Rice

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It’s not my best quality, but I have a hard time talking about quinoa with a straight face. Sure, I have been eating it for over five years, but when an ingredient is everywhere, when it is treated as if it were the answer to all food questions — like what is a low carb alternative to rice —  I can’t help but want to rebel against it. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN- WA), the ancient not-quite-a-grain cultivated by the Incas, took a seat at the cool kid’s table after virtual obscurity in the States. Vegetarians and foodies alike rave about its high-protein content and versatility in the kitchen.

Despite my yearning for a food rebellion, I can’t help admit that quinoa really is quite fabulous. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, “blank canvas food” is the best. Sure, on its own it bland and boring, but with the proper technique and ingredients you can transform it into something beyond great. I’m obsessed with my sweet and sour chicken. It’s one of those recipes that tastes like cheat food but is deceivingly healthy and low-carb. This recipe is the perfect partner in crime. 1 serving of both will only cost you about 450 cals. #winning

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa ($2.50)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ small onion, chopped ($.50)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped ($.20)
  • 3 scallions, chopped ($.10)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced ($.20)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced ($.20)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil ($.10)
  • 2 eggs ($.75)
  • ½ cup frozen peas ($.50)
  • Sauce:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce ($.25)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce ($.20)
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil ($.20)

Total: $5.90

  1. Bring quinoa and water in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer
  2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for five minutes or so. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Add in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through, add remaining scallion and serve.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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If you don’t like peanut because due to allergies or a mental illness then this recipe isn’t for you, man. It’s chock full of peanut buttery goodness and the perfect amount of milk chocolate– simply divine.

When you think of perfect food combinations, what comes to mind? Peas and carrots, meat and potatoes, wine and cheese . All of these are significant flavor profiles that we understand, growing up here in America. But what about the best combination of all —chocolate and peanut butter? Not only is this the best of flavor concoction known to man, but it’s the mix I never stray from at Pinkberry.

I really don’t buy the whole romantic idea of chocolate finding peanut butter by a chance, clumsy collision between a dude with a chocolate bar and a lady sashaying with a spoon and a jar of Jif. That was just a cheesy commercial! In fact, most accounts of history award the founding of this famous combination to Harry Reese, who began working for Milton Hershey’s Pennsylvania chocolate factory in 1917. Talk about a flavor fusion that endured! Mr. Harry Reese invented the peanut butter cup, the one and only REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

I was a bit weary of mixing peanut butter and cream cheese, the core ingredient of cheesecake. If you’re anything like me, the thought of cream cheese and peanut butter intentionally mixed probably gives you a bit of pause… I don’t know cheese plus sweetened peanuts? That can’t be right! Well, I was wrong. They are a perfect match. The tangy/saltiness of the cream cheese help the peanut butter hit all the right notes.

Oh, and just a random site note– don’t you hate it when recipes don’t call out brand names? For goodness sakes a “chocolate sandwich cookie” is an OREO. A ” chocolate peanut butter candy” is a REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • ·         1 cup crushed Oreos ($1.25)
  • ·         2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted ($.10)

Cheesecake:

  • ·         2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened ($2.50)
  • ·         1/2 cup creamy peanut butter ($1.00)
  • ·         1 tbsp all-purpose flour ($.03)
  • ·         1/4 cup half & half ($.20)
  • ·         2 eggs ($.40)
  • ·         2/3 cup sugar ($.10)
  • ·         1 tsp vanilla extract ($.05)

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

  • ·         1 cup chocolate chips ($1.00)
  • ·         1/2 cup heavy cream ($1.00)
  • ·         1 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped ($2.00)

Total: $8.28

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the Oreos and melted butter with a spoon. Place muffin liners into each cup and add about 1-2 teaspoons of the crumbled graham crackers to the bottom of each cup. Bake for 5 minutes.
  2. While the crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake batter. In a bowl combine the 2 packages of softened cream cheese with the peanut butter and sugar. Mix well. Add the flour, half & half, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Finally, add the eggs and stir until incorporated.
  3. After the Oreo crusts have been removed from the oven, lower the temperature to 350. Spoon the cheesecake batter into the muffin tin. Fill the cups almost to the top. Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. To test, gently shake the pan. The center should barely jiggle when done.
  4. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecakes to slowly cool (this will help prevent the cheesecakes from cracking). Open the oven door a few inches to allow the heat to escape. Once the cheesecakes are near room temperature, place them into the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.
  5. Once the cheesecakes are cool, prepare the ganache. Add water to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Place a heatproof glass bowl over the pot and add the chocolate and heavy cream. Slowly stir with a spoon until the chocolate has melted, careful not to incorporate too much air. Once melted, remove from heat.
  6. Spoon 1 tsp of chocolate ganache over the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups.