TACO BOWL….NOT “BELL”

We love Mexican food! Tacos, refried beans, fajitas, taquitos, are among some of the few that come to mind. I am sure you are all familiar with that famous fast food place. It ends with “bell”, not bowl. I admit, we do go there on occasion to get our fix.

This is my take on a healthier version of tacos. As stated above, they are taco bowls. My husband who is quick with word play came up with the title; “Taco Bowl not Bell”. He loves when I make this. On occasion he will remind me, “we haven’t had taco bowls in a while”. They remind me of a taco sundae……haha!

I am always disappointed when I get the fast food stuff. There is minimal filling and very little flavor. If I am going to eat Mexican I want major flavor and a nice portion. I don’t need added calories and fats though.

One of the ways I keep this healthy is using low-fat, ground, turkey. I also found a taco shell that is fantastic for Weight Watcher followers.  They are only 1 point per taco shell. Not bad! Of course vegies are the biggest part of this recipe. Load them into your bowl and you have a high fiber, high protein, filling meal. I do add a small amount of 2% grated Mexican cheese, and some light sour cream.

A5A0DF8C-1571-4C39-A726-D3278AAA2334.jpeg

The taco bowls are made in the oven. I have tortilla bowl forms that I bought on line. An upside down muffin tin will also work. (See photos). Either way is fine as long as you end up with a taco bowl. These can also be made in the air fryer if desired. I usually make 4 bowls at a time. The air fryer would make this time-consuming for me. However, air frying would be great if you’re making one bowl for a single serving. It would also be great to re-heat and crisp up left over taco bowls.

0B0F4487-C2AD-4E5F-8D1E-AF8DCAFA1F2C.jpeg

9B836AE5-FCE4-48BE-B946-E7392D14E2C2.jpeg

The fillings that I have listed are merely a suggestion. You can use whatever you like, in any combination. I like to prep all the fillings and put them in separate bowls like a buffet. Everybody gets to make their own creation, to their particular taste. Tacos can be a very personal thing in my opinion!

For those of you that are non meat eaters you can omit the turkey. Just used refried beans as a protein. In fact, you can purchase them already prepared. They come in a can and all you have to do is re-heat them. How easy is that????

I keep wondering if anybody out there is trying any of my ideas. I hope so! I am always happy to hear from you and see your photos. I hope you have fun with this one.

A156C178-CF16-4796-AD8F-BF10E833C4F6

TACO BOWLS

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • Soft tortillas of choice
  • Cooking spray (I use olive oil spray)
  • 1 lb of ground, 97% lean turkey
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane (can be chopped and minced with a knife)
  • 1  (4oz) can of chopped green chiles
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp dark chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 C of chicken or turkey broth
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Condiments: chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, chopped bell peppers, sliced olives, diced avocado, black bean and corn salsa, 2% Mexican cheese blend, light sour cream, taco sauce (you pick the heat)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray and place in tortilla forms or use the bottom side of a muffin tin (see above photo).
  3. Bake in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until browned and crisp. (Watch carefully so they don’t burn) Remove and let cool on a rack while preparing your condiments.
  4. Place all of your chosen condiments in bowls and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, spray the skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and cook until softened, grate the garlic directly on top of the onions and mix quickly so it doesn’t burn, add the chopped green chiles.
  6. Immediately add the ground turkey and cook, breaking it up until it browns and is no longer pink.
  7. Add the taco seasoning packet, chili powder, and the cumin, stir to mix. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed, approximately 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and place in a serving bowl.
  9. Bring all the ingredients and the taco bowls to the table. I like to use large individual salad bowls to put the taco shells in. This allows you to cut the taco bowls and keep all the goodies from falling all over the place.
  10. Then let the creating and eating begin. OLE’

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Advertisements

SHRIMP SCAMPI OVER ZOODLES

I promise I won’t zoodle you to death. This one was too good not to post though. It’s like a new toy at the moment. I am truly fascinated with my new spiralizer by Kitchen Aid.

9F1F1305-167C-45D8-953F-8E0E998901E2

I love shrimp scampi. What I don’t like about it is all the butter and oil dripping from it. This is a healthy alternative. It is also made in one pan so clean up is a breeze.

I will suggest that you gather and prepare all of your ingredients prior to cooking this. It goes really fast. You will be throwing everything into the pan in  a matter of minutes.

039B6A35-E9FF-4409-ADB2-C41270812351

My zucchini were approximately  (*9-10 inches) in length. I washed them, left the skin on, cut off the ends, and spiralized them.

You can use fresh or frozen shrimp that have been thawed. Mine was frozen because that is what I had on hand. Either, will work well.

I don’t like big chunks of garlic in my sauces. I started using a microplane to grate it. I find it requires little to no cooking time. It will appear to melt right into your sauce. Just be careful not to burn it. As soon as you smell it, add your other ingredients. You could use a food processor or a knife. Any method would be fine. It all depends on how you like your garlic! You just don’t want it burned!!!

This really pairs well with a bottle of white wine. A loaf of crusty French bread is good for dipping in the sauce.

3A482D53-EC95-4E1D-BFC7-33F9C3B57B27

SHRIMP SCAMPI OVER ZOODLES

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp of finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane
  • 1 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C of chicken stock
  • 1/4 C of good white wine
  • Zest of one lemon and it’s juice
  • Zucchini noodles from 4 zucchini (*see note above)
  • 6-7 Basil leaves, julienned
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano/Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Assemble and prepare all of your ingredients.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onion and cook until softened.
  4. Add the garlic, shrimp, red pepper flakes, and salt and black pepper to taste. Saute until the shrimp are just starting to turn pink but still translucent.
  5. Add the chicken broth, white wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the shrimp are pink, and opaque.
  6. Stir in the zucchini noodles and toss with the shrimp and sauce until everything is well coated with the sauce.
  7. Cook until the noodles are al-dente (slight crunch). DO NOT OVER COOK them or they will be too soft and no longer the consistency of a noodle.
  8. Remove from the heat and taste for seasonings. Sprinkle the basil and the grated cheese on top and serve.

Manga!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

SPIRALIZED ZUCCHINI & CARROTS WITH PAN FRIED SALMON

Well slap yo Momma, hush my mouth, and call this one a new favorite. My husband said “make sure you write this one down”. I of course am doing that right now.

I just purchased the spiralizer attachment for my Kitchen Aide. Of course my friends at QVC had a special so what’s a girl to do? I love QVC! If I purchase something and it doesn’t meet up to my standards, back it goes. I will admit, I have sent some things back but not many. It’s a great company and they stand behind their products. This one is definitely a keeper. It was very easy to use and clean up was quick.

http://www.qvc.com/KitchenAid-Spiralizer-Attachment-with-Peel%2C-Core-%26-Slice.product.K43772.html?Slice_20180202_DesktopMobile_CA=&cm_cat=AD&cm_ite=KIT_SKNNBR_K43772_ai%3AKITCHENAID_SPIRALIZER&cm_pla=KAK_20180201_id%3AKITCHENAID_SPIRALIZER&cm_ven=FB&cvosrc=social+network+paid.adparlor.QVC_CLEARANCE-KitchenAidSpiralizerAttachmentwithPeel%2CCore&TZ=EST

9F1F1305-167C-45D8-953F-8E0E998901E2.jpeg

I spiralized some carrots, and zucchini. With the addition of some tomatoes, garlic, onion, and white wine a wonderful zoodle dish was created. Topped with pan-fried Salmon filets, dinner was born.

This dish was very flavorful with great texture. A glass of Chardonnay was just the ticket to round out the flavors. I am really excited because there is one portion left. So, we shall see who gets to it first tomorrow! All is fair in love and leftovers…..if ya know what I mean. Here is the recipe……..

737AE924-DBA0-4D9A-AAEF-9BC7E81BF75D

Spiralized Zucchini & Carrots w/Pan Fried Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 zucchini  (or enough to make about 4 cups of spiralized noodles) skin on, ends cut off, cut in half, spiralized, set aside
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and ends cut off, cut in half, spiralized, set aside
  • 1/4 C chopped sweet onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I use a microplane)
  • 1 (15 oz) can of fire roasted, diced, tomatoes with their juice (I used Hunts)
  • 1 Tbsp of dark agave
  • 1/4 C of good white wine
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Salmon filets, seasoned with lots of salt and pepper, bring to room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Chili Powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter  til melted.
  2. Add the carrots and onion and cook until just softened.
  3. Grate the garlic into the pan with a microplane and add the tomatoes, cook until the garlic is fragrant, just a few minutes.
  4. Add the Agave and the white wine and stir to combine.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper and add the crushed red pepper if using.
  6. Add the zucchini noodles and toss, cook for about 10-15 minutes, you want to keep the zucchini al-dente. It does not take them long to cook, they are best when left with a slight crunch.
  7. When cooked removed the pan from the heat and place it on a burner to keep warm while your fish cooks. (Literally minutes)
  8. In another pan over medium high heat, add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  9. Take the seasoned filets, place skin side down and cook for 3 minutes and turn over and cook for an additional 3 minutes. (You can cook them more or less, it depends on how you like your fish cooked.)
  10. Take your cooked filets and place them on top of your zucchini mixture.
  11. Dust with chili powder.
  12. Bring your goodies to the table and serve from the pan.

This is impressive enough to serve to guests. Don’t forget to add a good bottle of white wine. I hope you enjoy!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

CRAFTING WITH CHRIS

My friend Chris and I love to craft. We also like to drink the occasional glass of wine, talk about cooking, and just have a good laugh. We got together for a crafting, wine drinking, sushi eating, good old time!

07C97DA7-AF29-4622-A08B-B3ABD5640AEB

She called prior to our get together. “Hey do you want to make a wreath?”  I of course said sure.  She sent me a pic of what she had in mind. So, off to AC Moore I went in search of a wreath form and my ribbon. So many choices to make. Although we had the same picture and instruction, they could not have turned our more differently. Both lovely and pretty enough to hang. I think we did quite well!

This is the wreath Chris made…..

F9E6749F-7EFE-415D-A870-42D2D15E5D32

This is the one I made…..

D29F7218-2509-4958-A7D8-6A54FC3F7680.jpeg

Same project and concept, two different wreaths. There really is no right or wrong way. It depends on your taste and what you want yours to look like.

Mine consists of a wire wreath form and 10 different spools of ribbon. I will warn you, ribbon can be pretty expensive. Look for sales and coupons in your local craft stores. Some stores have bins of ribbon marked down from previous seasons. I used wired ribbon. You could also use deco mesh, also found in craft stores, or on-line.

This is the wreath form I used.

1AE68577-921C-444F-B5AE-C3760F9638DA

I cut my ribbon into 8 inch lengths.  I strongly encourage you to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat. It makes this part of the project go much faster.

D484631C-14DD-4E92-835F-A7FBBB667EE0.jpeg

Using the second row from the center I tied the ribbon, alternately, all around until it was the desired fullness. Then using only the sheer ribbon on the very outer ring I alternately tied those colors in. When it is the desired fullness, fluff it out and hang it. Pretty easy!!!

So my Valentine’s wreath is done. You could use this technique literally for any holiday. Maybe you would like to do one for St. Patricks day or Easter. This would also make a nice gift. You could color coordinate for a special room or a specific season. The possibilities are limitless.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentines day. If you decide to make one send me a picture. I would love to see your creation.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

PASTA E FAGIOLI, PUMPKIN DUMP CAKE AND SUPER BOWL

Barely home from Aruba; one of the best vacations we have had in years. Even though I ended up in convenient care on the Island…….ear infection, uggghhhh. Super Bowl Sunday is here!

Truthfully I was more interested in the commercials until the game got interesting. I don’t personally have anything against Brady. I just thought it would be nice to see someone else win. And win they did! In what was a white knuckle finish, Philadelphia reigns victorious. First super bowl win, ever, too! Congratulations, job well done.

We usually host a large party. Unfortunately just arriving home Saturday curtailed our number of guests. It was still fun and the food was amazing. Everybody brought a dish to pass. I love eating like that. It’s fun to share and taste and it doesn’t put all the burden on one person.

Our menu consisted of Skinny Taste Pasta E Fagioli. Hearty, excellent taste and healthy. We are definitely soup lovers in this household and this one hit a home run. I will definitely be making this one again. Thanks so much Robyne!

(Picture taken from Gina Homolka Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook)

05EFA867-759F-4E85-A9F5-CD0E3DA9D613

https://www.skinnytaste.com/pasta-fagioli-64-pts/

Buffalo dip and Sloppy Joes were part of our buffet. We also had a nice field green salad with strawberries, pignoli nuts, grilled chicken, goat cheese, and a lovely balsamic honey dressing. I am working on getting the recipe from my daughter for that one. As soon as I do I will post it for you.

I made a Pumpkin Dump Cake. It is so easy and serves a lot of people. It is also one that everybody seems to like. Add some whipped cream and you’re in heaven.

937F7F04-9C9B-4469-855F-B9B7BDA67E51

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I had tasted this before at a friend’s house for a luncheon get together. I fell in love with it and so did everyone there. I knew it was a keeper and one that I would use over and over.

Here’s the recipe. I think you will agree with me and keep it in your rotation of desserts too.

PUMPKIN DUMP CAKE

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • 29 oz can 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 can 12 oz 2% evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 C melted butter
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C chopped pecans (I used walnuts and it was very tasty)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  2. Beat well and pour into a greased 9×13 cake pan.
  3. Sprinkle cake mix over top, followed by chopped nuts of choice.
  4. Pour melted butter over the top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

These two recipes could become your new favorites too. Check out the cookbook Skinnytaste Fast and Slow. It is excellent: one I use all the time.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ATBB..thank you ARUBA!

One year ago, on January 27th, while sitting in Aruba I decided to start a blog. I’m not sure if I was inspired by Aruba or a lightning bolt…haha. I honestly wasn’t sure I could do this at all. I gave it one or two posts and figured the novelty would wear off. Instead, I found a sense of release and purpose.  So this particular blog is dedicated to ATBB and Aruba.

This has been an amazing vacation. My husband planned it 10 days prior to our arrival…..spur of the moment! I of course was thrilled; this is our favorite getaway. What’s not to love? Great weather, great food, the locals are friendly, helpful, and speak English. It’s called “One Happy Island” and for good reason.

34C4BB6B-7077-43A6-AC31-B152B3640C8E.gif

Aruba is a 19 mile long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea. It’s 15 miles from the coast of Venezuela. On a clear day the Venezuelan mainland is visible from the south-eastern coast. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles.

B54CD94E-BE07-4CA2-84F8-45080E506F35.gif

We met a couple on this trip from Connecticut; Chris and “Bah”. Feels like we have known them forever. We have shared stories about our families and friends, laughed a lot, and eaten some amazing meals. Suffice it to say, we have a lot in common. Food is definitely a love we all share. Hopefully I’ve talked Bah into starting her own blog. She, also from an Italian family, loves to cook and is willing to share her recipes. I can hardly wait!!! A friendship we hopefully will enjoy for years to come.

This trip we stayed close to the airport at the Renaissance Marina Resort, which is now owned by Marriott. It is within walking distance to some of Aruba’s best restaurants. This resort boasts its own private island with pink flamingos that will eat from your hand. A free boat ride escorts you to the island to spend the day lazing in the sun, or playing in the crystal blue water. If you prefer to be out of the sun, cabanas are available so you can just enjoy the island breezes. There is also a restaurant that has great local food, cocktails, and beer. If you prefer, you can stay at the resort and enjoy one of their three pools or a beach lagoon. Like to gamble? There are Casinos as well. Let us not forget the shoppers. Gucci, Prada, Cartier, Tommy Bahama, Nautica, Nike, and many jewelers, just to name a few.

4C6FE852-EFEB-4C62-AEFC-3F972DDB1683.jpeg

http://www.renaissancearubaresortandcasino.com/resort-accommodations/marina-hotel-en.html

1F76DFC4-AD0E-4183-8849-9BB4C82FDC86.jpeg

It’s only fair that I include some of the restaurants we really enjoyed. Keep in mind, we couldn’t go to all of them but the ones I am listing are well worth the trip. I strongly encourage you to make reservations. Fish is in abundance and fresh. Their meats and produce are flown in and treated with great respect. Dining is an experience here that you will truly enjoy. If you like to fish there are several places that will prepare your catch for you at a decent price. Here are some of our favorites.

http://www.bingoaruba.com/  (Best beef carppacio I have ever had. Also famous for their dutch drink Shroebbler)

http://www.yemanja-aruba.com/main/  (A wood fired grill, the stuffed portobello mushroom was to die for. Their toasted bread with olive tapenade was killer too.)

4F4A8A23-EAA1-4DB0-A998-C537AF3A3A31.jpeg

http://legaragebistro.com/  (French cuisine. We had a fantastic lunch there.)

http://www.solemarearuba.com/  (Italian at it’s best. We have been dining here for 24 years.)

http://www.thedutchpancakehouse.com/  (Always busy but what a great breakfast. The cruise ships dock at their back door.)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wacky-Wahoos/278125168880426  (Very difficult to get into. When you book your vacation book a reservation here and hope you get in.)

http://papiamentoaruba.com/  (Beautiful surroundings in an old farm-house. Great food and friendly atmosphere.)

https://www.google.com/search?q=Big+Mamas+aruba&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari  (On Baby Beach, get the fish sandwich, it’s amazing.)

http://www.madamejanette.info/joomla2/menu  (A bit more upscale, great for dinner, a nice treat for your and your special someone.)

http://casibaricafe.com/  (Biggest grouper sandwich I have ever seen and very tasty. It’s where the locals go.)

https://www.facebook.com/midudurestaurantaruba/https://www.facebook.com/midudurestaurantaruba/ (Another local hangout with the best view on the island of the island.)

https://www.casatuaaruba.com/casa-tua-renaissance-marketplace/  (Best pizza on the Island)

http://www.bugaloe.com/  (Fun, great seafood, dancing,  kareokee, entertainment.  Do not miss this one)

So, get your vacation on, come sit under a divi divi tree and relax. Come to Aruba! It is “One Happy Island”.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo