March 23, 2015

Meatless Monday: Crock-Pot South Indian Lentil Stew

Meatless Monday: Crock-Pot South Indian Lentil Stew
Happy Monday! Is everyone ready for the start of a new week? Sometimes I feel like I'll never be able to get out of bed on a Monday without tugging my eyes open. Does it ever get easier?! 

I've been trying to follow Meatless Monday for over a year now and I've been really successful. It's alot of fun to look for new recipes to try out and to plan out a meatless day! I was a vegetarian full time back in high school so it feels good to take one day off a week and give my body a little meat break. I especially like when I can find recipes that I can make ahead of time! I made this South Indian lentil stew on a Sunday then packed it into individual portion sizes so it's easy for me to grab and reheat for a quick dinner on a stressful Monday!

The original recipe doesn't call for any goat cheese but its tanginess is suuuuch a perfect addition to the flavorful, spiced stew. It's suggested to serve this over rice but I just ate it straight from a bowl and it was great! 

Crock-Pot South Indian Lentil Stew
Recipe modified slightly from Weight Watchers
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 cup | PointsPlus: 6 (will increase to 8pp with goat cheese)
  • 2 cups dry lentils
    • I used green since that was what I had on hand
  • 15-oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 10-oz. chopped frozen spinach
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger root, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
    • I used parsley since I didn't have cilantro, either works!
  • 2-oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Combine all the ingredients except lemon juice and cilantro in a slow cooker. Cook until lentils are soft, about 6 hours on low
  • Stir in lemon juice and cilantro
  • Top with goat cheese (optional) and additional cilantro
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March 16, 2015

Crock-Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Skinny corned beef and cabbage

Happy almost St. Patrick's Day! This is honestly one of my most favorite holidays of the year. I love the food so much and it just reminds me of being at home and celebrating with my family. Every year, my mom has a girls' luncheon during the day where she serves shepherd's pie and it is incredible. Then she follows it with this insane key lime cheesecake that I always lusted after but couldn't eat because it has a nut crust. Eventually, I figured out how to cut around the crust so I could dive into the luscious green layers (I'm salivating while typing this). Once the girls' party was over, all the kids came to the house for the classic - corned beef and cabbage. It cooks away all day on the stove and falls apart once you dig in. My mom makes another kind of baked cabbage that is covered in butter, salt, and pepper and bakes off in the oven until it's super crispy and amazingly delicious (salivating again, here). 

When I started Weight Watchers in January 2014, I was worried I wouldn't be able to enjoy one of my all time favorite dinners without feeling guilty but luckily, I found Skinnytaste's slow cooker recipe so not only did I know I would be within my daily points value, I could make it ahead of time and all the corned beefy goodness would be waiting for me when I got home from work! I like to slather my corned beef in mustard and horseradish so don't forget to add those to the shopping list if you're like I am :)
Crock-Pot corned beef and cabbage
Crock-Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
Recipe from Skinnytaste
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 3-oz. beef plus veggies | PointsPlus: 8
  • 2 lbs lean corned beef, all visible fat trimmed
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut into wedges
  • In a 5 quart Crock-Pot, place corned beef, carrots, parsnips, pearl onions, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, and water. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Add cabbage, cook on high 1 hour more. Remove meat, slice, and serve! Top with mustard and horseradish, if desired.
    • You can also make some mashed potatoes, too because they go together like peas in a pod. Just adjust the PointsPlus value accordingly!
    • Pair this tasty dish with a nice dry, Irish stout to drink!
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March 13, 2015

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ chicken pizza

Pizza, pizza, pizza Fridayyyy! Best day of the weeeeek! I could eat pizza each and every day but I try to keep it together and limit myself to just one day a week so that I don't turn into one (a pizza). Now, I'm a sauce fan - I like alot of it and if a pizza doesn't have enough, I get sad. Initially, I was worried about the lack of sauce in this recipe from Emily Bites, but once I started slathering on the BBQ sauce, I knew I would be satisfied. 

I think you can definitely make this even easier by using leftover rotisserie chicken or even omitting it all together and making it meatless for Lent or for dietary preference. BBQ sauce and cheese, what's not to love? As always, I like my pizza with extra salt, pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauce on top. YAS, PIZZA! PS: If you like comfort food and you haven't checked out Emily Bites yet, get on it. She makes some of the most hearty, delicious recipes that are all lightened up so you don't feel guilty.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Recipe from Emily Bites
Yield: 6 slices, PointsPlus: 5 per slice
  • 12'' whole wheat thing pizza crust (I used Boboli)
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet n' Spicy)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, chicken breast
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped, white and green parts
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 450f
  • Spread BBQ sauce evenly around the pizza crust, leaving a bit of room around the edge. Spread the chicken and scallions around evenly and then sprinkle the cheese on top
  • Place pizza on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until desired crispiness
    • In my case, this means 15 minutes - I like it extra crispy!
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March 9, 2015

Meatless Monday: Falafel Pitas

Healthy falafel pitas prefect for Meatless Monday
There's something about covering my food in a delicious sauce that makes me start drooling instantaneously. As I've said before on this blog, I'm a condiment kinda gal so when I found this recipe and saw it involved a creamy cucumber-yogurt dressing, I knew I had to make it. The fact that it also had flavorful falafels which were lightened up and pan seared instead of fried was just another reason to make these pitas. It has become a staple in my Meatless Monday repertoire and it definitely will for you, too! Plus, this recipe makes enough dressing that you can use the extra for dipping veggies, salads, or a nice piece of salmon!

Falafel Pitas
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 pita half, 1 falafel, 2 tbsp cucumber dressing | PointsPlus: 7
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 (15 1/2-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1-oz. breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 whole wheat pitas, split
    • I use Joseph's flax & oat because they're delicious, large, and low in points!
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Sliced tomato (or baby tomatoes)
  • Combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Divide mixture into four patties
  • Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties on each side for about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Place patties on a paper towel to drain
  • Combine yogurt, cucumber, red onion, and lemon juice in a bowl to make cucumber-yogurt dressing
  • Stuff each pita half with arugula, sliced tomato, 1 patty, and 2 tablespoons of the cucumber-yogurt dressing

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March 4, 2015

Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches

Make French dip sandwiches easily in the slow cooker!
I love condiments. I work for a restaurant called Saus, which translates to "sauce" in Dutch, so you can imagine I like dips, spread, and shmears. The more condiments, the better. I like to dip anything and everything. The funny thing is, I rarely if ever order a French dip sandwich, despite one of its defining features being that you DIP it into its own juice. Hello! That is a GENIUS concept! Why did it take me so long to make these tasty, flavor filled sandwiches myself? Cause I'm an idiot apparently.

Once again, I turned to Gina from Skinnytaste for a way to satisfy my need to dip but still keep it healthy and PointsPlus friendly. Enter her slow cooker French dip sandwiches (well, technically enter Recipe Girl's because Gina adapted this recipe from her). They're toasty, crunchy, cheesy, and SAUCY. Plus you barely  have to do anything to make these sandwiches come together. I like any meal that starts in a Crock-Pot and ends with extra sauce for dipping.

Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Recipe adapted very slightly from Skinnytaste
Serves: 8 | Serving Size: 1 sandwich | PointsPlus: 8
  • Beef
    • 3 lb lean beef round roast, trimmed
    • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
    • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
    • 29-oz. low-sodium beef broth
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 10 whole peppercorns
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • Caramelized onions
    • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Peppers
    • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced into strips
    • 1 orange red bell pepper, cored seeded, and sliced into strips
      • *You can really use whatever kind of peppers you like. Dan the man does not like green so we swapped it for an orange pepper
  • Sandwich
    • Sargento reduced fat provolone slices
    • Whole wheat baguette, cut into 2-oz. pieces
Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
In a small bowl, mix garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the sides of the roast then place it in your slow cooker (I have a 5 quart Crock-Pot).
Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches healthy and easy to make!
Pour the broth into the slow cooker until it covers the meat. Add the Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low until the meat pulls apart, about 9 hours.
Easily make French Dip Sandwiches in your slow cooker!
Around an hour before the meat is done, start caramelizing the onions and peppers. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper, cooking until golden for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl then add the peppers and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the peppers to the bowl with the onions. 

When the meat is done, remove it from the slow cooker and shred it with a fork. Strain the broth through a chinoise or fine sieve and pour 1/4 cup into a small bowl for dipping. (I have these perfect plates/bowls that have an indent in the center and a large outer area)

Preheat the broiler on your oven. Split the bread open and top with 2 ounces of beef, then with a layer of onions, peppers, and one slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese melts. *BE CAREFUL! I burnt my bread by accident, whoops!
Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Place the sandwich on a plate with the bowl of broth and DIP AWAY!
Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches

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March 3, 2015

Apple Braised Chicken Thighs

This recipe was a surprise winner! (winner winner, chicken dinner) Alot of people are turned off by chicken thighs but when cooked properly, like they are in this dish, they can be incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful. The original recipe didn't call for Brussels sprouts but I can't resist them so they're making an appearance here :) Finishing the chicken on top of the apples and veggies adds in extra tastiness because all the juicy goodness from the chicken gets soaked into mixture. 

Apple Braised Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts and Red Onion
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, Serving Size: 2 thighs, 2/3 cup apple mixture, PointsPlus: 6
  • 3 large apples of your choice (I used Gala)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 chicken thighs (2lbs), skinned
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  • Preheat the oven to 475f
  • Combine first 7 ingredients and season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Place in the oven to cook while searing the chicken thighs
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Sear the chicken thighs on both sides until browned and remove skillet from heat
  • Remove the apple mixture from the oven and place the chicken thighs onto the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is done and the apples are tender
  • Divide the chicken thighs and apple mixture among bowls and garnish with fresh parsley
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March 2, 2015

March Goals and Meatless Monday: Tortellini & Veggie Soup

Hard Parade: Goals for March
It feels like we were just ringing in the new year yesterday! It becomes increasingly unbelievable  how quickly the months go by and now it's March and time for a fresh set of goals.

1. Set a budget for groceries and STICK TO IT. Eating healthy is expensive and worth it but it doesn't need to be as expensive. 
2. Consistently post to this blog! I make great meals almost every day of the week, there's no reason to not share them, despite the small amount of readership this thing gets.
3. Try to cut back on processed foods. I don't overindulge in these types of foods but I am prone to picking up 'sugar free' pudding...
4. Increase my mile pace to under 10 minutes. I am thiiiiiis close to breaking the sub-10 minute mile and I know with a little extra push, I can do it!

Okay, enough about my goals for the month - let's get to this tortellini and vegetable soup! This warming soup took me about 15 minutes to make so it's perfect for a hectic weekday meal or if you just don't feel like slaving over a hot stove (though I don't mind that lately since it's absolutely FRIGID and snowing all the time these days). Use frozen or fresh tortellini, whatever's available!
Meatless Monday: Tortellini & Veggie Soup
Tortellini & Vegetable Soup
Recipe adapted from Eating Well
Serves: 4, Serving size: 2 cups, PointsPlus: 9
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-oz. vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 9-oz. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups zucchini, diced
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
  • Add cauliflower, corn, crushed toamtoes, broth, water, and dried basil and bring to a rolling boil. Add tortellini and cook for a few minutes less than the package directions
  • Add zucchini and return to a boil. Cook until the zucchini is crisp-tender
  • Serve with crusty bread, if desired, and top with grated Parmesan cheese and hot sauce!
    • *This will increase the PointsPlus value
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