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Beef and Spinach Enchiladas

Do you have recipe pet peeves? If you do, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I have a few. I don’t love when something is listed in a smaller unit of measurement than necessary (don’t say 4 tablespoons, say ¼ cup, for example). I prefer when something says the whole amount need in the ingredients list rather than list it 3 times (say 1 teaspoon of salt, divided). But those are mostly my preferences.

I do have conflicting pet peeves, actually. I hate when recipes call for an amount of cooked meat, like chicken. I rarely have precooked chicken just sitting around. And without the steps in the recipe, sometimes I find myself half way in and realize I need to cook the darn chicken. BUT another pet peeve is to have a million steps to make something that is just one part of a larger whole that also has a million steps.

Unfortunately, this recipe hits those pet peeves. There is no way around it. Enchiladas need cooked meat. BUT, the good news is this recipe for meat is super easy and delicious AND makes more than you need for the enchiladas (or easily does) so you could have sandwiches, meat on salad, etc for awhile afterwards. So forgive me for doing what I actually hate myself. The end result of these is pretty darn delicious! And please pardon the photo. I tried several times and couldn’t get an appealing shot of enchiladas. While tasty, they aren’t photogenic.

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas (Serves 6-8)

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas

3-4 lb boneless chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 teaspoon canola oil
½ onion, chopped
9 ounces fresh spinach
2 tablespoons water
½ cup low fat sour cream
16 corn tortillas or 8 large flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
2. Combine salt through cumin. Rub on all sides of chuck roast. Place in a shallow baking pan. Cover with onions, broth, and tomatoes. Cover pan with a lid or with foil.
3. Bake for 3-4 hours, or until meat is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
4. Remove meat and shred. Pour juice/tomato mixture from pan into a saucepan. Heat over medium heat to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Puree. Add ½ cup sour cream. Set aside.
5. Heat a large nonstick skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and water. Cover with a lid. Cook 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted, stirring as needed. Remove from heat. Add shredded beef to spinach mixture.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Fill tortillas with beef mixture and cheese, placing in pan seamside down. Reserve ¼ cup cheese for topping. Pour remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted.

Recipe notes: I use my Traeger to cook the meat at 275. If you have a meat thermometer, you want the meat at about 195 degrees F. My meat was quite frozen the last time I made this, and it only took 3 hours to get there. So I recommend watching it. I’ve cooked thawed meat for over 3 hours to get it tender as well. Also, it seems like a lot of sauce. I’ve put all of it and not put all of it. More sauce is always better.

Nutritional information: (amount per serving)

Calories: 453
Protein: 44 gm
Fat: 18 gm
Saturated fat: 8 gm
Cholesterol: 131 mg
Carbohydrates: 32 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 623 mg

Source: adapted from Traeger and various sources online

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Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

So this makes the third recipe in a row that requires a pressure cooker. But I feel like almost everyone has an Instant Pot at this point (or is getting one for Christmas). I actually don’t, but I do own a stove top pressure cooker.

The awesome part of pressure cookers is how quickly things come together. I love using mine to make brown rice in about 30 minutes, much faster than the hour suggested on the package.

Meat dishes are a little trickier since you can’t know if it is “done” without opening it. But the chicken pieces in this dish cook quickly so that isn’t a concern.

This dish is as good as take out. And can be made very quickly, if you are in a rush (which who isn’t this time of year?). Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken (Serves 6)

Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
½ tablespoon canola oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup ketchup
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
2 green onions, chopped
4 cups cooked brown rice

1. Preheat pressure cooker. When hot, add the oil, onion, garlic, and chicken to the pot. Sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens.

2. Stir in the soy sauce, ketchup, and red pepper flakes. Lock the lid in place. Once the cooker comes to pressure, cook for 3 minutes.

3. When the cook time ends, a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Add the sesame oil and honey to the pot and stir to combine.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add to the pot. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the green onions. Serve over rice

Recipe Notes: I really like to serve this with a cooked bag of stir fry vegetables as well. Really rounds out the meal.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 531
Protein: 47 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 132 mg
Carbohydrates: 66 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 945 mg

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod

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THE Potato Soup

Earlier this year, I decided to try using my pressure cooker for more than rice. I have a stove top model, but I found it isn’t too hard to adjust most Instant Pot recipes (which are EVERYWHERE online) to work in my cooker. On a whim one night, I decided to try a potato soup recipe to use up some potatoes I had left over from a different recipe.

OH MY GOODNESS. I was not prepared for my family’s lives to be changed. My oldest daughter has dubbed this “her” soup and is upset anytime I make any other type of soup. We even went to a restaurant and she ordered potato soup there. Partway through, she turned to me and said, “I still like yours better, Mom.” I don’t know how else to sell it to you. This is good. You should make it. But beware that it may become a frequent find at your dinner table.

THE Potato Soup (serves 6-8)

THE Potato Soup

½ tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces lowfat cream cheese
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
1 large can shredded chicken
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Add onions and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, 1 cup broth and pepper.

2. Secure lid. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release pressure.

3. While cooking, combine cream cheese, flour, milk, and 2 cups broth in blender until smooth.

4. Once pressure is released, remove lid. Add cream cheese mixture. Cook over medium heat until soup simmers and thickens a little. Stir frequently.

5. Add chicken and corn until heated through. Stir in cheese just until melted. Remove from heat and serve.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 383
Protein: 20 gm
Fat: 15 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 385 mg

Recipe notes: You could use any variety of potato you liked. I did make this one with unpeeled red potatoes. While the adults in our house liked it, the kids found the variation unacceptable. I’ve also added chopped carrots with the onions and garlic for an extra vegetable punch. You can skip the chicken or use some leftover shredded chicken if you have it around. I just like using the canned chicken from Costco. Then pretty much everything except the potatoes is something I always have around.

Source: lightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Lentil Chili

It’s fall and starting to feel like winter. That means fall festivals, football, and the beginning of holiday/family gatherings. I have lived in a lot of places around the country. No matter where I go, this time of year is ALWAYS the time for chili cook-offs. I admit I’m not usually craving a big bowl of chili. I prefer chili as part of a meal – on a baked potato, on Fritos, as part of a taco salad, etc.

This chili is different though. The flavors in this are spot on, and it is quick and easy to make (especially if you have a pressure cooker). It seems a little strange to have chili with lentils instead of beans. But everyone will love it. Even my little kids ate it!

Lentil Chili (Serves 8)

1 pound 93/7 ground turkey
½ large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups brown lentils
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Pressure Cooker
1. In pressure cooker, sauté the ground turkey with onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is brown and vegetables soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth, lentils, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and pepper. Close pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release to open. Serve with ¼ cup shredded cheese per serving.

Stove top
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the ground turkey (if using) with onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is brown and vegetables soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, broth, lentils, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil Reduce heat, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve with ¼ cup shredded cheese per serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 378
Protein: 29 gm
Fat: 16 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 70 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 gm
Fiber: 6 gm
Sodium: 322 mg

Source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Eiffel Tower Salad

Earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Paris. I went for a few days back in college, so it wasn’t my first trip. But it was fun to go with adults and not with a college mind set. Art and museums and culture were very exciting, but delicious FOOD was high on my priority list. And Paris delivered (of course).

This salad blew my mind away. I got it at a little restaurant right next to the Eiffel Tower. Everything about it was just amazing. This is my best recollection of it. Enjoy!

Eiffel Tower Salad (Serves 1)

Eiffel Tower Salad

2 cups spinach or mixed greens
⅓ cup chopped tomatoes
1 inch of cucumber, sliced thin
½ cup cooked and chilled green beans (see note)
1 ounce blue cheese
1 hardboiled egg, sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons light honey mustard dressing

1. Layer ingredients, top with dressing. Serve immediately.

Note on green beans: While you could use canned green beans, they are among my absolute least favorite foods in the whole world. To be delicious and authentic, you want fresh green beans. Cook these for 2-3 minutes (just until they turn bright green) in boiling water. Then remove and put in ice water to stop the cooking. Chill until ready to use. You want the green beans cold.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 293
Protein: 16 gm
Fat: 17 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 207 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 694 mg

Source: my memory from a restaurant in France

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Fig, Pig, and a Goat Pizza

I’ve been reading a lot about decision fatigue, particularly related to meal planning. Do you struggle with meal planning? I’ll admit it is not my 100% percent favorite activity. I do try to follow a few rules that make it easier.

1) We always eat leftovers on Monday.
2) We always eat breakfast for dinner on Tuesday.

Boom! 2 out of seven days are done and I didn’t even have to think about it. Usually. Breakfast for dinner at our house is usually clear out random ingredients in the fridge into a hash or omelets. Or just pancakes. Because my kids like it, and one night a week with no arguing over dinner is AMAZING.

Beyond those hard rules, things are more nebulous.

3) Mix up the proteins (not eat chicken 3 times).
4) Mix up the ethnicity (no tacos, burritos, and quesadillas in one week).
5) Weekend food on Fridays and/or Saturdays.

That last one may seem strange. But I went on an awful streak of planning big elaborate meals on Saturday night. The last thing I want to do on Saturday night is cook. But if I’ve planned pizza or burgers, I much less inclined to want to go out (since that is what I’d likely go get).

This pizza has been a HUGE hit for the adults in our house. The kids, I’ll be honest, stick to cheese or pepperoni. But I’m 100% ok with that. This sounds a little odd, but trust me. It’s delicious and simple. Perfect for this upcoming weekend. Enjoy!

Fig, Pig, and a Goat Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry for no picture this time. We ate it too quickly)

1 pizza dough (I use half of this recipe)
¼ cup jar fig jam/preserves
6-8 thin slices of prosciutto
4 ounces goat cheese
4 cups arugula
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Prepare pizza dough according to directions, including parbaking for 7 minutes.
2. Spread jam evenly over pizza. Crumble goat cheese over the top. Drape prosciutto slices around the top.
3. Bake until done, about 8-10 more minutes.
4. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Lightly dress arugula with dressing. Serve on top of pizza slices or on the side. (avoid lots of dressing getting on the pizza).

Recipe notes: I’ve used a couple different brands of fig jam. My new favorite has been a balsamic fig paste. If your jam is very chunky, you can cut up the figs to spread them out. I’m too lazy. In searching online, there is a lot of division over putting the prosciutto on before or after baking. We honestly didn’t taste much difference. If you have a preference, follow your heart on that.

Source: adapted from several sites online

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Salsa and Egg Avocado Toast

What is your opinion on hard-boiled eggs? Growing up, I never cared for them much. In college, I rediscovered them somehow and was hooked. My husband won’t touch them. My kids were mildly interested when we were dyeing our Easter eggs, but quickly lost interest.

If you are in the positive camp but are looking for some more “creative” ideas, look no further. I love this avocado toast. It is great for a quick breakfast or lunch. Go peel some colorful eggs and enjoy!

Salsa and Egg Avocado Toast (Serves 1*)

Salsa and Egg Avocado Toast

2 slices whole wheat bread
1 avocado, smashed
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 ounce cheddar cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons salsa

1. Toast bread to desired degree of doneness.
2. Spread avocado over toast. Top with egg, cheese, and salsa.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 755
Protein: 32 gm
Fat: 52 gm
Saturated Fat: 13 gm
Cholesterol: 401 gm
Carbohydrates: 47 gm
Fiber: 18 gm
Sodium: 861 mg

Recipe Notes: This makes a BIG serving. I would likely recommend starting with just one toast. But I HATE recipes that use up half of something (like an avocado) that doesn’t save particularly well. And the size of cheese is really easy to use up pre-sliced sandwich cheese. So I know the nutrition looks a bit crazy – mostly due to the avocado. Just take a deep breath and remember avocados have healthy fats.

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