Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{From my Kitchen}Easy and Healthier Dinner Ideas!!

This is Part 2 of my food ideas blogging. I hope you all enjoyed the post on breakfast food ideas.
As I mentioned, we typically just rotate fish, chicken and turkey along with lots of fresh fruits and veggies. It keeps things simple, but still allows our family to enjoy a lot of variety in our diet!

So, here are some of our recent favorite dinner time meals! 
{Remember, I don't cook from recipes typically, so please ask if you see something you want to make if my explanation is not detailed enough}.

 One of my new FAVORITE things!!! Baking my chicken in a bag. Have you seen these? I have always heard of them around Thanksgiving, but never tried using one. Then, we had a play date over to our good friends' new house and she prepared a chicken this way. I have been hooked ever since:)
And, the clean-up is a breeze!!!
 I also LOVE my Showtime Rotisserie!! I usually use it once a week or so and then use the chicken in different recipes all week! The only downfall is the cleanup, lol.
 But, look at how tender and juicy the chicken turns out:).
 This is a baked breaded tilapia I made. I simply put some egg substitute, light mayo, grated parmesan cheese and a little lemon juice in a bowl. Dipped the tilapia in it and then rolled it into a bowl of whole wheat Italian and Panko bread crumbs. I sprayed a cookie sheet with Canola spray and baked them in the oven at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. They are so, so good!

 This is a bit of a splurge to have pasta(this is spinach/cheese tortellini in a homemade light alfredo sauce) on the side, but I sometimes do that to off-set the "lightness" of having baked fish.
 My favorite summertime veggies---zucchini and caramelized red onions cooked in Coconut oil. Literally, our girls argue over who is getting the most zucchini--they LOVE it that much. My Mother-In-Law came over during dinner one Sunday and commented to her husband that she has never seen kids love vegetables (and "unusual foods") like ours do. I counted that as a compliment:-)
What----you haven't heard of Coconut Oil? Well, you are certainly missing out! It is the best thing ever! It is really healthy fat for you and it gives a wonderful flavor and aroma to your food! Just be sure to buy a quality brand. I usually just order mine on Amazon when they have a great deal on it!

Roasted Rosemary Potato Wedges

 We hardly ever eat white potatoes, so this was a treat! I had some Yukon Gold potatoes, cut them up, tossed them in extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary and baked them on a cookie sheet at 375 for 20-25 mins or so, tossing halfway through. They are so, so good!! {the trick to getting them crispy on the outside is to get the cookie sheet really hot before you put the raw potatoes on to cook them}.
 A very typical meal at our house. Rotisserie/baked chicken, baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli *plain*, and fresh fruit/strawberries. Em chooses the broccoli first because it is her favorite:)
 Another typical meal. Chicken and cheese quesadilla with steamed green beans, and fresh fruit.
 This one was a quick meal I had to throw together when I had a wedding appointment at 6pm. I try to not use processed or pre-packaged foods, but sometimes, I have to. I have mixed frozen veggies, some cut up cucumbers, fresh strawberries, frozen shrimp and plain whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
 Another "go-to" meal for me is cauliflower, broccoli, carrots with oranges and blackberries and grilled tilapia. I LOVE my grill pan. I use it all.the.time.
 Baked chicken leg, peas, carrots, blackberries and pineapples and apples with hearts cut in the middle:)
 Typical meal (you see a pattern yet?). Honeydew, strawberries, broccoli, rotisserie chicken and a plain baked sweet potato. We don't use a lot of condiments on our girls' food.
 They are great eaters and the LOVE Mommy's cooking!!

 We have "Taco Tuesday" in our house. We always use ground chicken or ground turkey for the meat.
Our girls LOVE cut up bell peppers! Here are some peas, cucumbers, rice with veggies, yellow bell peppers and roasted chicken.

THIS is our new FAVORITE recipe--the girls request it every week almost!
I call it Asian Chicken. It is similar to the "bourbon chicken" you see at a lot of Asian restaurants, I think. It is super easy to make. 

 In a plastic ziploc bag, pour in some orange juice, soy sauce, bottled teriyaki sauce, maybe 1/4 cup of brown sugar, some freshly grated ginger (maybe 1-2 tablespoons) or you can use ground if you don't have any, the juice of 1 lime and 2 cloves of fresh garlic chopped up.

 I always use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this----trust me, you will thank me later. It is so, so good. Just toss in the chicken, zip it up and marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
 I remove the chicken from the marinade and boil the marinade to make a sauce to dip the chicken in. I boil it to make sure it is cooked through and then add a little Wondra powder (it is a flour thickening agent) to make the sauce thicker.

Then, I just grill up the chicken in my grill pan with some Canola spray and a little Coconut oil
 Oooh, wee---this is so, so good!!
Serve it with some vegetable steamed brown rice and dinner is served!!

This is another one of our new favorite recipes. I don't make it often, as it is considered a "splurge" to put anything on top of our vegetables, lol. But, it is so, so good and so worth it!
I call it a "Broccoli/Cauliflower Bake". During our cooking lessons week in homeschool, Em found this recipe in a cookbook and we have been making it ever since!
 It is super easy to make. I just melt a little bit of butter (maybe not even 1/4 cup) and toss it in a bowl with some grated parmesan/romano cheese and organic whole wheat bread crumbs. I toss it around to see if it is "moist enough" and then add in some extra virgin olive oil just to get the right texture.

Then, I toss in the vegetables (I used frozen that I steamed quickly and dropped into cold water to shock them) and coat really well. Then, I lay it out on a baking sheet sprayed with Canola spray and toss some grated Parmesan, romano and asiago cheese blend I get at Trader Joe's. I honestly think this is what "makes" this dish, so don't skip this cheese!
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until it gets all carmely brown. Oh, I am getting hungry just thinking of this dish!!!

 Some of our other summertime faves---bbq chicken and cedar-planked salmon.

 Grilled ground chicken/turkey burgers in whole wheat pitas with grilled asparagus---so, so good!
 One of my other favorite things to do is make fresh chicken salad. Nothing says summer time to me better than fresh fruits and chicken salad!
I use my rotisserie chicken or some baked chicken and cut it up. Toss it in a bowl with some chopped red and/or green grapes, chopped pecans and small amounts of low-fat mayo, low-fat sour cream and spicy mustard.
 So, sooooo good!
 Here are the girls enjoying the chicken salad with grapefruit, yellow squash and fruit salad. They LOVE this meal:)

 A really, super-easy "Taco Tuesday" meal. Just toss in some chicken breasts into the crockpot with some fat-free chicken broth, sliced yellow or red onions and simmer with a packet of taco seasoning (any kind without MSG) and cook for 5-6 hours. Toss in some fresh cilantro the last few minutes, so, so good!!

Making fresh corn salad. 
Just boil some corn on the cob, cool it and cut it off of the cob. Toss it in a bowl with some fresh chopped tomatoes, red onions, chopped jalapeno (no seeds), fresh cilantro, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and a splash of seasoned rice vinegar. It is divine!! No fat, but totally delish!!

We also love the throw some tilapia and shrimp on the grill in the summer time!
 One of our other recent recipes---chicken and veggie kabobs!
I made a glaze to brush on them with some seasoned rice vinegar, soy sauce and OJ. I mixed in a little brown sugar and lime juice as well. Boiled it and added a little wondra powder to it.
This time, I just broiled them in the oven, but I am sure they would be great on the grill, too.
Everyone loved them!

Here are the grilled Jamaican jerk chicken wings I recently made. 
 You can find the incredible recipe here.

I very rarely make pasta dishes. Even when I try to make them healthier, they still are just not very good for you. But, sometimes, my husband requests something "meaty, cheesey and saucey" and so I get to cookin', LOL. 
Here are some lasagna roll-ups I made recently. I used whole wheat lasagna noodles, ground turkey, egg, spinach and ricotta and low-fat cottage cheeses.
Browned the turkey with some yellow onion and tossed in the spinach.
Put the filling into the lasagna noodles and rolled them up!

Poured the spaghetti sauce over top and topped with shredded italian cheeses.
Oh, my!!! That earned me extra gym time for sure:-)

And, this is what I typically eat;-). Salad, salad, and more salad. LOL.
I LOVE roasted corn. Just plain, right off the grill. No butter or anything. So, so good!
Making up my famous turkey burgers. I always make a fresh salsa to put in it. It keeps them moist and adds flavor without adding any salt, fat or preservatives. My secret seasoning--- ground coriander!!

Making up my ground turkey meatballs. I always put spinach and garlic in them. They are so, so good!
Simmering the meatballs in my homemade spaghetti sauce. I will share my 2 secrets for an amazing sauce----baking soda and basil. Who knew? LOL:)

And, because we love zucchini so much, I decided to toss it in with some cabbage. It was amazing!! I sauteed some turkey bacon, yellow onions, red bell peppers first and then added in the chopped up cabbage. Sauteed it and then added a touch of water to steam it a bit soft. Seasoned it up and it was so, so good!!!
I got this idea from a friend in California. She made lasagna using zucchini instead of noodles--you KNOW I was all over trying that one:)

I used a combination of homemade white sauce and homemade red spaghetti sauce. Oh, it was divine!!!

Well....now I am totally starving and must fight the urge to find something to eat:-) I hope you enjoyed seeing our favorite foods and got inspired to try some new things. I will leave you with a few of my favorite cooking hints:
  1. Do not cook with salt! If you have to use any, add it at the very end to only have to use a small amount but get a lot of taste.
  2. Do not mix cheese into your foods that you cook until the very end. It will allow you to use less cheese, but still get a very cheesey taste.
  3. Use the best ingredients you can afford to buy. It will make a difference in the way your food tastes.
  4. Try new things, but do not go out and spend a lot on one ingredient for a new recipe. See if you can substitute something you already have on-hand.
  5. Always try to use whole wheat instead of white flour when you can. 
  6. When you do use seasonings, cook the vegetables or meat a bit to soften them prior to seasoning it. (One exception to this is when making a roast in the crockpot---always pre-season and cook it in the skillet first to lock in the juice and flavors.)
  7. Don't be afraid to buy frozen vegetables. They are often cheaper than fresh and way better for you than canned.

1 comment:

Neb said...

Thanks Aria, there are few recipes I plan to try. I love the idea of lasagna roll ups!!


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