Category Archives: Recipe

Almond “Breaded” Chicken Tenders

Have you ever had a craving for some good ol’ fashioned chicken strips?? I did the other night, and after scouting out a few recipes I found one that I liked, jazzed it up a bit, and went to town making a healthy version of chicken strips.

Almond “Breaded” Chicken Tenders

Adapted from EatingWell 

  • 1 lb of chicken tenders (or chicken breast, sliced into smaller strips)
  • ¼ cup almost slivers
  • ¼ cup rough chopped roasted almonds
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup Panko crumbs
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Cooking spray



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (this helps with cleanup, I would NOT skip this!). Coat a wire rack with cooking spray and place it on top of the foil-covered baking sheet.

2. Place almonds, flour, Panko crumbs, and spices in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the seasonings are well distributed. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

3. Whisk eggs in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders a few at a time and make sure they are each coated in the egg mixture. Transfer tenders one-by-one to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture after you are done…yuck).

  1. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

These are not fried chicken strips by any means, but they are tasty and an excellent healthy substitute for when the craving hits ya :)

Enjoy!

-Melissa

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WIAW: A Grown Up Kids Meal

Hooray for another WIAW post! I’m just thankful that I remember to take pictures of all of my meals once a week. That is a miracle, my friends.

I decided to spice things up about on the breakfast routine. Usually I enjoy my own version of the McMuffin, but lately I’ve been craving sweet potatoes, so I concocted my own sweet potato hash to accompany my eggs in the morning (recipe coming soon!). It…was…awesome.

I mixed up the hash with one egg and 1/2 cup of egg whites and a touch of cheddar cheese. Yum. Then, it was off to work where I got hungry at the usual 9:45. I snacked on a ThinkThin bar, which is full of protein and tastes delicious. I needed the extra protein to prep for my heavy leg workout that evening. ThinkThin bars are fairly yummy, especially the Creamy Peanut Butter flavor. They contain sugar alcohols, which can upset some stomachs, but for a quick snack they’re perfect.Lunchtime rolled around, and I found myself staring at a protein-less fridge when I came home. Luckily, I had tons of veggies from my Sunday Night Prep, so I mixed those up with a small breakfast sausage (that was supposed to be for my husband…oops…what’s mine is yours, right?), some avocado, and half of a whole-grain English muffin. This turned out to be one of my favorite lunches. The avocado made everything so creamy, and the veggies were super tasty.

My afternoon snack was a fairly big one for me. I knew that I needed to seriously fuel up for my workout, so I went down to the kitchen at work and toasted up the other half of the whole-grain English muffin from lunch, topped it with 1 TBS of Peanut Butter, a banana, and cinnamon. It was delicious, and really helped me get over my afternoon slump.

After my heavy leg workout, I came home and was REALLY in a nostalgic mood. I just had to have chicken fingers and mac’n’cheese. HAD TO. So, I whipped up my own healthy version of chicken fingers, paired it with some Annie’s and green beans and called it a day.

This was definitely a “grown up kids meal” and I loved it. Sometimes you just need a little comfort food :)

What did YOU eat today? Anything that brought back some memories?

Talk to you soon!
-Melissa

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Crockpot Chicken Taco Stew

Some of my favorite meals come from crock pots (despite how not-so-easy they can be sometimes :)). They’re fix-it-and-forget-it and they make a TON of meals, so I’m good to go for quite a few lunches and dinners. This week, my husband Preston requested that I make my Chicken Taco Stew, since he was craving something healthy and warm. So, I thought I’d share it with all of you!

Crockpot Chicken Taco Stew
Adapted from Skinny Taste

You will need:

  • 1 white onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 16-oz can black beans (drained slightly)
  • 1 16-oz can pinto beans (drained slightly)
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 12 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 3 bell peppers (I used green, red, and yellow) chopped coarsely
  • 2 14.5-oz cans Rotel tomatoes w/ chilies
  • Several tbs (3-4) of homemade taco seasoning
  • 24 oz of chicken tenders (I feel better using tenders as opposed to breasts…then I know they’ve cooked thoroughly :))
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional!)

What you do:

Throw beans, onion, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.

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Chicken, taken out of the slow cooker to be shredded

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Post-shred process! Just take some forks to it and get to work.

Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro. Stir it all up and enjoy!!

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I like to eat mine just as it is, in a big ol’ bowl with some fresh avocado on top of it. I’ll even stir in some plain Greek yogurt sometimes to give it a more creamy texture. Other options would be to bake up your own tortilla chips to serve with it, or top yummy brown rice with the mixture. The possibilities are endless!

What are some of your favorite recipes from the crockpot?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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DIY Taco Seasoning

JUST SAY NO!!

…to packaged seasonings, that is!

The first time I made my own taco seasoning, I was actually annoyed with myself. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? The ingredients make plenty, it’s way cheaper than buying taco seasoning in the package, and it cuts WAY down on the sodium in your dishes. Win, win…win (subtle reference from The Office, anyone?).

Helpful hint, buy the below ingredients in bulk at your local Whole Foods, Central Market, or Trader Joes (or maybe you’re super lucky, and your neighborhood Kroger or Publix carries bulk spices as well!). It saves money since you aren’t paying for a brand or packaging, plus it’s easier to control how much you’re buying.

Anywho, without further ado, please read the below recipe, create, and repeat.

DIY Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs sea salt

Put ingredients into a cute mason jar and shake, shake, shake! I say mason jars (or any jar, for that matter) because the seasoning can seep into plastic containers and stain them, plus I feel like glass jars just hold the freshness better. So trust me, glass jars :) Plus, they’re cute!

***FYI: 3-4 heaping tablespoons of this will equal your average packet of taco seasoning!***

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*Just a note, the ingredients above make MUCH more than what is pictured in my jar. I just use it ALL of the time!

These make great little gifts/stocking stuffers/etc. I poured some of the seasoning into tiny jars for my mom, sister in law, and mother in law, and they loved them!

So, as I said before…just say no! And make your own seasoning today…like, now!

Smile

What are some of your favorite DIY seasonings or spice mixes?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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Crockpots & Tuesday Mornings

My Tuesday morning was entirely too eventful for my liking.

I had the bright idea last night, since crock pots are so easy, that I would just throw stuff in it this morning to make Chicken Taco Chili (recipe later!) and it wouldn’t take me more than, say, 5 minutes.

Ha.

Things always work out so well in my head. Alas, upon waking this morning I realized that I hadn’t chopped ANY of the veggies, and that opening 6 cans with my handheld can opener was going to take more than 5 minutes on its own. Sheesh. So, after chopping peppers and onions and painfully cranking open multiple cans of beans and tomatoes, I finally got everything dumped into the pot in around 15 minutes or so. Then, as I’m taking the chicken out of its bag to throw on top of my veggie/bean/tomato mess, the juice (ick) goes EVERYWHERE. Literally,everywhere. Being the germaphobe (bacteria-phobe?!?) that I am, I spent at least 15 more minutes scrubbing down my counters, hands, and hands again until I was positive there wasn’t e-coli raging throughout my kitchen.

I’m fairly certain there is, which is why I will probably clean it AGAIN tonight.

Needless to say, my crock pot adventure took MUCH longer than expected. But I still made time for my favorite breakfast ever; a whole wheat English muffin topped with cheddar, 1 egg, and plenty of egg whites. Yum.

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After a late arrival to work, I tackled my inbox and assignments until lunchtime rolled around. I live super close to my office (about a 6 minute drive), so I was able to run home today and whip up a yummy lunch of Annie’s mac ‘n cheese, Al Fresco Chicken Sausage, and TONS of veggies from my prep night!

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This may be my new favorite lunch :)

The rest of my day will include finishing up at the office, watching The Bachelorette on my DVR (since my husband will be out and I won’t have to hear him complain), then hitting up a NEW GYM to get my leg workout on! I’m always so anxious to try a new gym…it’s intimidating to me, and I can’t really figure out why. Luckily Preston will be going with me, so hopefully it’ll be less “scary”.

How is your Tuesday going? Does trying out a new gym make you anxious as well, or do you love it?

Talk to you soon!
-Melissa

 

 

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Sunday Night Prep

I’m an odd bird (in more ways than one), but sometimes I actually crave the consistency and routine of the workweek. It is so nice to know what your schedule is going to be (food/exercise-wise, not necessarily while AT work!). So since I can easily plan what and when I’m going to eat during the week, I try to use Sunday nights as my “prep night”. This is usually only for lunches, as dinners are usually prepared by both my husband and I (yes, he’s amazing and helps me cook!) and we can’t ever decide what we want until that day!

My typical lunches while at work consist of one of the following meals:

…I think you’re seeing the trend here. Basically a protein, a whole grain (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), and veggies. Since I try to bring my lunch 4 out of the 5 workdays (or 3 out of 4 if it’s my Friday off), it’s easier to prep my food all in one night, divide it up into containers, and then just grab and go in the mornings!

Sunday mornings I’ll run to the grocery store and grab the essentials for the week, then come straight home and spend maybe 30 minutes or so on my prepping. That’s IT!

First, I dice up all of my veggies into chunks. My go-to veggies include squash (duh!), zucchini, bell peppers (of ALL colors!), onions, snap peas, carrots, and occasionally broccoli and broccoli slaw. I then throw them in my HUGE wok (thanks, wedding registry!) and sauté away! I try to use as little olive oil as possible, but some is necessary to get a good sear on them! A lot of times I’ll add a little low-sodium soy sauce to give it some flavor (actually, I do this MOST of the time!) The result is a LOT of veggies!

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Next comes the protein! 9 times out of 10, I can sucker my husband into grilling me chicken on the outdoor grill, but this time he was feeling a little under the weather, so I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at the store and he gladly ripped it to shreds for me Smile.

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Next, I boiled a pot of water and cooked up some quinoa (my grain of choice for the week). I usually do about 1.5 cups of dry quinoa to cover 4 meals.

Then…VOILA! All done! I pack it into 4 separate containers, pop them in the fridge, and enjoy the rest of my Sunday!

Some people find it hard to eat the same thing every day for lunch, but to me it helps me stay on track! It’s also nice to not to have to worry about what I’m going to bring. Also, I always leave at least one workday where I can go out with coworkers and eat lunch with them, so as not to be completely anti-social Smile.

A side note: the TONS of vegetables that I sauté are definitely not just used at lunch! Preston and I incorporate them into our dinners too. Check out these yummy veggie tostadas we whipped up for dinner tonight!

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Do you have a “Sunday night prep night” as well? What are some of your favorite bulk meals to whip up?

Until next time!

-Melissa

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Ole!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! After a successful morning boot camp session, I’m off to spend the day at the pool with friends, but I thought I’d leave you guys with some yummy treats to make today (or ANY day, in my opinion!)

Last night, hubs and I had our own “Quatro de Mayo” party to celebrate him landing a huge job at work. He’s been at his company almost a year and is already kicking butt and taking names…I couldn’t be more proud of him! After I got the good news, I went straight to Whole Foods to pick up items to make some of his favorite things: guacamole, homemade tortilla chips, and chicken pizza. I also grabbed a 6 pack of one of his favorite beers, Shock Top.

shock

Now, I am NOT a beer drinker. I’ve tried to be, trust me. Drinking beer is not only cheaper than most other alcohol options, it’s also available pretty much everywhere. Plus, girls who drink beer are super cool in my book. Sadly, despite the apparent perks, I just can’t bring myself to drink it. So I whipped up my own beverage in the form of a frozen Strawberry Daiquiri!


Simple Strawberry Daiquiri for One

3-4 oz of frozen strawberries

1 3/4 oz of Sweet & Sour Mix

1 1/2 oz (or 2, if you’re feeling it!) of rum

1/2 TBS of sugar (I used unsweetened strawberries, so I found that this added a slight touch of sweetness to the whole drink)

Handful of ice cubes

Directions: Throw it all into a blender, blend until smooth, then enjoy Smile

Following our drinks, I put together a quick appetizer of DIY Tortilla chips and guacamole (for two!). Guacamole recipes always come in such large quantities, but when you’re only making it for two, and leftover guac is nearly impossible to keep fresh, it’s nice to have a quick and easy recipe available to throw a small batch together.

Date Night Guacamole for Two



1 large avocado (I prefer Hass) halved, seeded, and peeled

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of chopped onion

1/2 of a lime, juiced

1 small Roma tomato

Scant 1/4 tsp salt

Optional: 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/8 tsp ground cumin, cilantro

Directions:  In a medium bowl, place the avocado pulp and the lime juice and mash together (I used a masher similar to what is used for potatoes). Add in salt, mash until blended. Fold in onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Taste it and season to your liking; I always add a little more lime and salt at the end.

Yum, guacamole is definitely one of my favorite foods. When it comes to what to eat with it, I always try to make my own tortilla chips. Packaged brands always tend to overdo it on salt, processing, etc., and can get pretty pricey for just two people. Plus, if you buy a whole bag for one occasion, then you’re stuck with that bag for a loooong time…and it will sit there, mocking you, until you eat the entire bag while sitting on the couch watching BravoTV reruns (not that this has happened to me before or anything). Try this easy, easy “recipe” for tortilla chips (if you can even call it a recipe, it’s so simple)!

DIY Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas (I prefer La Tortilla Factory yellow corn tortillas) – for this occasion I used 2

Olive oil (I used my Misto Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer…love this thing!)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tortillas into desired since/shape:

Spread them out on a baking sheet, and mist on both sides with olive oil (or Olive Oil cooking spray if you have that):

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes…it’s important to keep an eye on these to make sure that you don’t overcook them (i.e. burn them). Everyone’s oven is a little different! Mine came out looking like this:



Yummm, warm tortilla chips and fresh guacamole!!

I’ll save the Chicken Pizza recipe for a rainy day…or maybe just for tomorrow :)

Hope you all have a wonderful Cinco de Mayo, or even just a wonderful Saturday!

What are some of your favorite Mexican foods?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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