Easy

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.

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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.

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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.

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TACO BOWLS

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SHRIMP SCAMPI OVER ZOODLES

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

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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……..

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Spiralized Zucchini & Carrots w/Pan Fried Salmon

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

BEANIE & MITTENS .. the crochet story.

When I was in nursing school one of my classmates would crochet in the evening.I believe her name was Cindy. She was very serious about everything and also very intelligent. I asked one evening after watching her, “would you teach me how to do that”. She did and probably got a few grey hairs but I finally got it.

I am one of those people who loves to craft as well as cook. There is such a sense of accomplishment when a project is finished. Recently, I made a crocheted hat and mittens for my friend’s birthday. The weather has been a bit bitter here and she has refused to come out of the house until the temperatures are above 40 degrees. Seemed like a perfect gift to me.

Well, true to Maryland style weather, the temperatures have gone from 9 degrees to the 50’s and I am still holding onto her gift. I haven’t seen her come out of hibernation yet!  I’m sure she has; I just haven’t seen her head emerge to gift her. I know, in true Maryland style, we will have more cold weather before winter is over. Hopefully she will get to use them.

I hadn’t crocheted for a while so it took me a few attempts to get my crochet on.  All in all the project went well and I have the goods to prove it. I used a pattern from http://www.leftinknots.com for the mittens. The hat is done in a simple double crochet with the edges and the top of the hat joined at the seams. I purchased a fur like pom-pom from a seller on Etsy. It looks real doesn’t it?

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Do you like to crochet? I would love some good patterns or ideas since I’m on the chain gang kick again. I would love to hear from you and hope you enjoy the patterns.

Had to post a pic of the birthday girl! I finally got her gift to her. She loves it!!!!

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Mittens: http://www.leftinknots.com    The Perfect Fit Mitten

Hat: 5.0 Hook, Worsted Weight Yarn

  1. Chain 46, add 2 chains to turn, (total 48), Leave a long tail for sewing the seam.
  2. Double crochet, starting in the second chain from the hook, crocheting in the back loop only which will create the rib. Continue to the end of the chain, turn, chain one and continue again across the piece in double crochet.
  3. Continue in that pattern until the piece fits securely but not too snuggly around the head, usually 22 inches. (the ribbing should be going in an up and down pattern.
  4. Sew the back seam together with the long tail and continue to the top. Going. in and out of every other stitch at the top, then pull tightly and bring to the inside to secure with a knot. (this will close the top of the hat)
  5. You can make a pom-pom or purchase one as I did. and secure it through the top of the hat.
  6. Roll up the brim. You can also purchase buttons for decoration or it can be left without them. A pretty rhinestone pin would also have been cute.

Until next time,

Ciao xoxo

I’m Back…..Air Fried Bagels

I promised myself I was going to write at least twice a week. So far I haven’t been great about it but today prompted me to remember my committment to myself. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year.

I don’t make resolutions because I feel like we should be the best we can be every day. Let’s face it, nobody is perfect! I am striving to be happier and healthier this year. I think that’s a great start.

So on that note…..I am following the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program along with the hubster. I have always loved Weight Watchers because I don’t have to buy special foods. I don’t have to cook something different for guests. I can still go out on occasion and I can still have a cocktail or dessert if I want to. While my daily points have decreased, the number of zero point foods has increased. It’s a learning curve, but we are getting there.

Recently posted was a WW recipe for air fried bagels. They can also be baked. I just happen to own a Cooks Essential air fryer and love it. Really, “everything topped” air fried bagels. I had to give it a whirl. It makes 4 nice sized bagels at 3 points.

So here’s the before air fried pic’s…..

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and here’s the after…..

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Can I just tell you………YUM. They really were excellent. I will make these over and over again. They were very simple to do. I will, in the future, make them into a thinner rope before shaping them into a bagel. Mine seemed to be a tad doughy. Taste wise, hands down, a great bagel. If you could only see the many possibilities rolling through my brain………..it’s exhausting.

So without further ado, I will post the recipe. Give it a try! Oven or air fried, it was well worth giving it a test run.

WEIGHT WATCHERS OVEN OR AIR FRIED BAGELS

3 FS POINTS PER SERVING

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (make sure it’s not expired)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C non-fat Greek yogurt (do not use regular yogurt, it will be too sticky)
  • 1 beaten egg, or egg white
  • Toppings of choice (you can purchase “Everything Topping” from King Arthur Flour) or use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic or onion flakes or make your own everything topping.

DIRECTIONS:

OVEN METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Place parchment or silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment spray with oil to avoid sticking.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the yogurt and mix with a fork until well combined. It will look like small crumbles.
  3. Lightly dust flour on a work surface and remove dough from the bowl, knead the dough a few times until dough is tacky, but not sticky, about 20 turns. (It should not leave dough on your hand when you pull away).
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into a 3/4 inch thick rope and join the ends to form a bagel.
  5. Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice. Bake for 22 minutes in 350F oven then increase to 550F for 4 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

AIR FRYER METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat the air fryer  325F and set for 11-12 minutes.
  2. Repeat steps 2-4 as above for the oven method.
  3. Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice.
  4. Transfer in batches without overcrowding and bake 12 minutes, or until golden. No turning needed. You can check them at 10 minutes for color.
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

KALE SALAD WITH CREAMY GARLIC DRESSING

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Well….the cruise is upon is. I am trying to use everything in the fridge that is perishable. This one was inspired by a party we were recently invited to. A local restaurant catered the event. I fell in love with their Kale Caesar. My daughter has had it before and raved about it. Now I know why!

I used the same salad ingredients but came up with my own dressing. Fresh kale, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, black beans, candied pecans, and grated parmesan cheese. My husband used an adjective that I can not repeat…..LOL; followed by the word “great”! After he had two helpings I was convinced blogging it would be a great idea.

Kale has gained popularity over the past few years in restaurants and particularly as salads. I have loved kale since I was a child. I still love the cooked version and we have it in our house quite a bit.

It looks like a lot of ingredients and instructions, but it is well worth it. Make the candied pecans ahead of time. Make the dressing ahead of time. The hardest part is not eating too much. Seriously, it is very simple to make.

I have included instructions for the candied pecans, creamy garlic dressing, and the salad ingredients. Kale is at it’s best this time of year and very easy to find. I hope you give it a try.

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Kale Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 8-10 C of kale, washed well, and chopped into ribbons
  • 1 C of grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 C of fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 C freshly grated Parmigiano / Reggiano cheese

Dressing

  • 1/4 C sour cream (I use light)
  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper

Candied Pecans

  • 1 C pecan halves
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 T packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

For the pecans:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and set aside near by.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the pecans and toast until just fragrant and hot.
  3. Quickly pour the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss to coat, cook for about 15-20 seconds. Do not walk away, they will burn very quickly if not watched.
  4. Pour onto a parchment or waxed sheet lined pan and allow to cool. They will harden as they cool down.
  5. Once cooled break apart if needed. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for later use. * You may want to make a double batch. They will disappear quickly.)

For the dressing:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients and with an immersion blender mix and slowly add the olive oil. You can also use a blender for this step.
  2. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Set aside while putting the salad together.

For the salad:

  1. Put the kale into a large bowl and massage with your hands to help break it down. Immediately add half of the dressing to help soften it and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While that is sitting cook the corn kernels with a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat until the sugars produce a nice charred look. Place on top of the salad.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, and cheese, and pecans. (I used a full cup of pecans)
  4. Add the rest of the dressing and toss all together until everything is coated.
  5. Garnish with additional shaved cheese if desired.

Nothing left to do but eat and enjoy.

See you after the cruise. Hopefully I will come home with some new taste sensations or at least some great stories.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

Halloween is here and all the goblins and ghouls will be out tonight. My handsome grandson is going as Indiana Jones. Bullwhip and all! Shame we couldn’t find a monkey to perch on his shoulder.

As soon as October is over I start getting ready for Thanksgiving. I happened to run across this recipe, posted by “12 Tomatoes”. When I read the ingredients I knew I had to try it. My husbands exact comment was “why bother cooking a turkey, this is fantastic.” I could not agree more.

The only thing I changed was some of the seasonings. I have some leftover and I have a vision. I don’t know what you do with turkey after Thanksgiving. As for us it’s turkey sandwiches with the works. I am going to do the same with this meatloaf. A nice slab of meatloaf, topped with cranberry sauce, between two great slices of bread and maybe a little mayo. Can you taste it??

Please forgive the photo. I really wanted to take a picture of it with sides. Sorry folks, it didn’t make it. I served it with cauliflower puree and a baked sweet potato. Seriously, it smelled like Thanksgiving in here.

Thank you “12 Tomatoes”. This one is a keeper. I will be making this over and over again. I guarantee if you try this one, you too will make it again and again.

TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

SERVES: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of ground turkey
  • 1 (6oz) box Stove-Top herb seasoned stuffing
  • 1 C jarred Turkey Gravy
  • 1/2 C carrots, diced
  • 1/2 C onion, diced
  • 1/2 C celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 t ground sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T milk
  • Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet, saute’ the carrot, onion, and celery til softened.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until just fragrant.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, stir in 3 T of gravy, cooking for 2 minutes more, remove from heat and let it cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, stuffing mix, eggs, and milk. Fold in the cooled vegetable mixture, add the poultry seasoning and sage, and season all with a more salt and pepper. (Using a large serving fork to mix this with keeps it from becoming to dense and compressed)
  5. Turn the mixture out into your greased pan, shape so the sides are uniform and it appears to be in loaf form.
  6. Top with the remaining C of gravy.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Serve hot topped with additional gravy if desired.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

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