Creating a Healthier Casserole

Healthier Low Fat Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Hello everyone. It has been a while since I put up anything new. That crazy thing called real life does tend to get in the way. The good news is that I am back with a great tasty new recipe for you all to enjoy. When you hear the word casserole you do not immediately think of the word healthy and you usually don’t think of Mexican food either, which is why I set out to come up with a healthier alternative to a timeless classic. If you enjoy a good plate of chicken enchiladas but are looking for something healthier and a bit easier than rolling them all out yourself this will be a nice alternative for you.

What you need:

Large casserole dish

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts

1 medium sweet onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

1 large tomato (cut into 1/4 inch slices)

1 jalapeno (chopped)

1/4 cup of green onion (chopped)

2 cans of green chili enchilada sauce ( I used Hatch brand)

12 small corn tortillas

1 can of black beans (drained)

8 oz fat free cream cheese

2 tablespoons of olive oil

8 oz of Kraft 2% Mexican blend shredded cheese

8 oz of fat free shredded cheddar

Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin, Smoked Paprika

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Cooking

In a non stick pan heat the olive oil and saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno until the onions start to turn clear. Now place them in a bowl and stir in the fat free cream cheese until it is all mixed together. Now place the chicken in the pan and season the top side with a little of all of the spices above. You want a nice coating of the spices on the top of the chicken. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes (Medium high heat) then turn over and season the other side and cook for another 5 minutes. Set chicken to the side to rest for a few minutes. After it has rested for about 5 minutes cut all of the chicken into small chunks and set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

Line the casserole dish with aluminum foil and coat it with non stick spray or just coat it really good with non stick spray if you don’t have aluminum foil.  Now put a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish (about 1/4 of the can). Just enough to cover the bottom. Now place 6 corn tortillas on the bottom covering it completely (yes they can overlap if needed). Use another 1/4 of the enchilada sauce to cover those.  Now spoon on all of the onion, bell pepper and cream cheese mixture into a nice even layer over the tortillas. Once that is done make another layer using half of the shredded cheddar and half of Mexican blend.  Add the next layer using the tomato slices. You will want to make a nice even layer across the entire dish. Now add another 1/4 of the can of enchilada sauce on top.  Make the next layer using all of the chicken in a nice even layer and then add the rest of the black beans. Cover that with the last quarter of the can of enchilada sauce. Now use the last 6 tortillas to cover the top and then pour entire second can of sauce on top of them. Now make a layer using the rest of the cheeses and add the chopped green onion to the top of it and then add a few shakes of chili powder to the top.  It is now time to bake the casserole. Put this in a preheated to 350 degrees oven for 35 to 45 minutes. When the cheese is all melted and starting to brown up it is ready. Take it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

You have now just made a healthier version of enchilada casserole. All that is left to do is sit back and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grilling It Up 3 Ways

In an effort to keep on the healthier side of things I decided to do some grilling over this past weekend. When I grill I tend to go a little overboard and make enough food to last the week and still have enough to spread the love at work. Needless to say I am popular around grilling season. Well since I am cooking healthier now that means smaller portions and not as many leftovers. This time around I decided to do three different smaller items to give a little variety throughout the week and not a bunch of one thing left over.

I did Raspberry beef skirt steak, Lemon Cilantro Catfish and Greek grilled chicken.

These are all pretty simple but I will walk you through each one to make sure you can recreate them all easily.

 

Lets start with the Raspberry Skirt Steak.

Ingredients

1 small skirt steak (about 2 lbs)

1 bottle of raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing

salt

black pepper

Put the steak in a large Ziploc bag or bowl with a lid and cover it in raspberry vinaigrette dressing and let marinate for 3 to 4 hrs.

Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. It is important to get your meat dry before adding it to the grill. This helps with cooking and not sticking.

You want to have the grill heated on medium high heat. Just before adding the meat to the grill give it a couple of good shakes of salt and pepper on each side. Place the steak on the grill and leave it alone for 4 minutes. After that turn it over and let it cook for another 3 to 4 minutes depending on how well you like it to be done. And that is all there is to making a nice raspberry skirt steak. This is great served in a nice garden salad or even as fajitas. It’s really up to you.

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Next we have the Lemon Cilantro Catfish

Ingredients

Two catfish filets

Lemon juice (2 cups)

Fresh garlic (chopped 2 tablespoons)

Cilantro (chopped 1 tablespoon)

Chili Powder (half a cup)

Salt

Black Pepper

 

Mix all of the ingredients except the catfish in a large Ziploc bag or medium sized bowl with a lid and then place the catfish in making sure it is covered. Let that marinate for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove catfish from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Again, It is important to get your meat dry before adding it to the grill. This helps with cooking and not sticking.

You want to have the grill heated on medium high heat. Just before adding the meat to the grill give it a couple of good shakes of salt and pepper on each side. Place the catfish on the grill and leave it alone for about 4 to 5 minutes. Now with fish it is best to not try and turn it over. Just let it cook on one side. If you try and flip it you will most likely end up with pieces breaking off and falling through the grates. Also with fish I like to close the lid and let it heat up in the grill to make sure it gets done. A good way to tell if it is done is to work your spatula a little ways between the separation in the filets and check and make sure it has turned white all the way through.

That is all there is to that one. This too is a very versatile meat that can be added to lots of different meals. You can ever have it for breakfast with a scrambled egg and a little Tabasco. Yes you read that right. Its wonderful.

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Last but not least we have the Greek Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

2 or three boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 bottle of Greek vinaigrette salad dressing

Fresh oregano (1 tablespoon finely chopped)

Salt

Black pepper

Greek seasoning

You will also need aluminum foil.

I saved this one for last because it is a little more involved to make.

Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag or medium sized bowl and cover with the Greek dressing and add in the oregano making sure to shake it up a little and get it all covered. Let that marinate for 3 to 4 hrs.

After it is done marinading you will want to place the chicken on aluminum foil and wrap completely. You DO NOT pat this one dry. Once you have wrapped in a cocoon of foil you are ready to put it on the grill. You will want to place it on the grill and close the lid. Let it cook for about 15 minutes and then turn the packet over. I like to do this so that it does not burn on one side. Let it cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point it is basically boiling in its own juices and becoming very tender. Now you will want to use your tongs and open the top of the foil and take each piece of chicken and place directly on the grill for a minute or two on each side just to get some good color and grill marks on it. While it is getting that nice color to it give it a few shakes of the Greek seasoning, salt and pepper.

Side note: Put a handful of cherry tomatoes in another cocoon of aluminum foil with a little garlic, feta cheese and some extra dressing and stick them on the back of the grill and just let them cook while the chicken is cooking. This will make a nice roasted tomato sauce to pour over the chicken when you serve it.

Once that is done you can cut it into strips and serve on a plate with the tomatoes I mentioned above or put it in a salad. This is probably one of the best chicken recipes I have come up with and one I know I will be revisiting in the future.

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There you have it folks. 3 Relatively easy and versatile recipes to cook on the grill. They all came out wonderful and I am sure you will enjoy them.

Thanks for reading.

JMW

 

 

One Pot Rosemary Chicken Dinner

In this day and age people seem to have less time to do things than ever, which makes simple one pot meals that can be set to cook with minimal involvement so that other things can be done at the same time have become a growing trend. While I like cooking and prepping and all of that there are times when I have a busy weekend doing things around the house and would like to be able to put together a simple yet delicious meal and still have time to do all of the little necessary things in life. The recipe I have come up with this week is just that, simple and delicious. I wanted to do something hearty yet somewhat healthy but also easy to put together and have lots of veggies to make a nice rounded meal. So with that in mind I came up with a one pot rosemary chicken meal.

Here is what you need.

1 large oven safe pot with a lid.

Ingredients:

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 medium sized sweet onion quartered (Vidalia if you can find them)

4 medium sized red potatoes quartered

2 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup of trimmed fresh green beans

about 2 tables spoons of chopped fresh rosemary

course sea salt (1 tablespoon)

ground black pepper (2 table spoons

3 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic

Chicken broth/stock (32 oz container should be enough)

Non stick cooking spray

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Cooking

Go ahead and pre heat your oven to 375.

For this one it is all about layering. First coat the pot with non stick cooking spray and then put the 4 chicken breasts in the bottom. Now add the potatoes, then the carrots, then the onion, then the garlic and lastly the green beans. Now you want to sprinkle about half of the salt and black pepper evenly across the top and then top it off with the rosemary.

Once you have everything in the pot go ahead and add some chicken stock until it fills about 3 quarters of the pot. Then put the lid on and place in the preheated oven. You will let this cook for roughly 5 hrs.

After 5 hrs take the pot out of the oven and with a long handled spoon give it a good stir. You will see that the chicken is nice a tender is breaking apart easily. Once it is good and stirred up go ahead and add the rest of the salt and pepper and add another half cup of chicken stock. Then put it back in the oven, uncovered this time and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. This will get a little bit of crunch added to the top for texture.

After 15 to 2o minutes pull it out of the oven and give it one more stir and place the lid back on the pot until you are ready to serve.

This is a nice meal that is sure to please the entire family while giving you time to work on other projects around the house. So serve it up, sit back and enjoy.

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Thanks for reading,

JMW

Brunswick Stew

Today we are going to talk about an old southern classic and family favorite of mine, Brunswick stew.  This is a nice hearty BBQ style stew that packs a lot of flavor into each bite. If you search for Brunswick stew online you are going to find many different recipes and and ways to prepare this stew and you will see that many of them are completely different in their approach to doing it. There are so many variations in fact that its hard to imagine most of them tasting how this stew should taste which is why I set out to see if I could do it justice. When I was coming up with this recipe taste was first and foremost on my mind. Brunswick stew has a unique flavor that has a hint of BBQ, a little smokiness, a little sweet taste and a great black pepper flavor. Traditionally this stew is mostly made with left over BBQ bits. If you have left over pork, brisket, chicken etc, they all get shredded up and tossed into a pot with a bunch of veggies and cooked into a stew. This is what gives this stew its unique BBQ taste. Surprisingly I did not have any left overs this time so I went in a little bit different direction but it still came out pretty amazing.

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Here is what you need.

Crock Pot

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia if you can find them) (diced)

2 Jalapenos (chopped with seeds)

1 small bag frozen Lima beans

1 small bag frozen corn

3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes (diced)

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons of liquid smoke

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of chili sauce (sriracha sauce)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 table spoons black pepper

1 cup sweet BBQ sauce ( I used Sweet Baby Rays)

Prep and cooking

Boil your chicken breasts in a pot of water until the are cooked through then set aside to cool a bit. Do not pour out the water as you will be using this as stock for your stew.

In your crock pot add the crushed tomatoes,onion, potatoes, jalapeno, corn and Lima beans. Now pour enough chicken stock over it to come to the top of the veggies (don’t completely cover them, this is stew not soup).

Now break apart the chicken, shredding it in to small pieces and add to the pot.

Now add everything else and stir it all together.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on high heat for about 5 hrs, then reduce to low and cook for another 2 hrs. If you are around you may want to give it a stir about half way through but if not its not a big deal.

I really hope that you all enjoy this stew. It is something that I grew up with and is an old southern tradition that just tastes great. Its unique flavor is something that you don’t taste every day. So scoop out a nice bowl full and grab a roll or piece of bread and enjoy a new experience. You wont be disappointed.

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Baked can still taste good

There’s a reason that all of the best things to eat are fried and not baked. That’s because fried food tastes really really good. If someone put out a plate of baked chicken and a plate of home made fried chicken most people are going to go for the fried first. The downside is that too much fried foods can be pretty bad for you and cause serious problems as you get older. This is where moderation comes in handy. You can enjoy good fried foods every now and then but in between those meals it is good to try something a little on the healthier side of the menu. Today’s recipe comes from that healthier side of things and may even be something you can substitute for the fried goodness that we all love so. Now when I hear someone say baked chicken I usually don’t immediately respond with joy and glee but I set out to find something that may change that attitude. I took the idea from one of my mothers old recipes and expanded on it a bit to come up with a newer updated version of it. Italian Parmesan Baked Chicken. (This would also be really good on fish).

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Here is what you need to bring it together.

Ingredients

1 pack thin sliced boneless skinless chicken breast

1 container of grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 box Hungry Jack potato flakes

1 pint low fat buttermilk

Granulated Garlic

Black Pepper

Kosher salt

Dried Oregano

Cooking Spray

Prep and cooking

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then coat it with non stick spray. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Now set out two bowls and pour the buttermilk in one. If you have never used buttermilk before keep in mind that it does have a sour smell to it but that does not mean is has gone bad. So don’t toss it out, it works great for cooking. In the other bowl you will mix up your breading: combine about 3 cups of potato flakes, 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic. Make sure to mix them together well.

Now it will be easier if you set up a little assembly line. start from right to left: Raw chicken, butter milk, breading, baking pan. Dip the chicken into the buttermilk and completely cover it, then dip into the breading and make sure it is completely covered, now place it on the baking sheet. Once you have all of the chicken coated and on the baking sheet place it into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook until the top starts to get brown (about 20 minutes for thin sliced chicken breast). You don’t want too much brown on top but enough to give it a nice color.

Tip: Keep in mind when handling chicken to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handing any other food or sampling anything else you are cooking.

This recipe turned out to be very tasty and a nice little update to something I ate as a kid. To change it up a bit you could also try a little rosemary instead of oregano.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Enchiladas Two Ways

I know that you may be thinking that since I live in San Antonio why would I possibly need to make enchiladas when I can go to any of the hundreds of restaurants in town and pick them up. The answer is simple. I like to come up with new ways to do things and see if I can make something just as good or better than I can get in a restaurant.

So this go round I decided that I was going to make enchiladas but I didn’t want to do just one kind, no… I had to go and make two different kinds. I decided on chicken and chorizo for one batch and bean and cheese for the other. They both came out wonderful but I think my favorites where the bean and cheese. This surprised me since I am an avid meat eater.

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So enough about that, here is how I did them.

Ingredients

boneless skinless thin sliced chicken breast (about 1 lb)

Mexican chorizo (4 oz)

1 large white onion (sliced thin)

1 large poblano pepper (sliced thin)

1 can Rosarita fat free refried beans (or your favorite brand).

24 pack of corn tortillas

1 cake of queso fresco cheese

1 bag of shredded colby jack cheese (3 cup bag should do)

2 to 3 cans of enchilada sauce (I used Hatch brand green enchilada sauce)

Chili powder

chopped or minced garlic (2 tablespoons)

Salt

Black pepper

1 jar of your favorite salsa

Cooking

Since I made two different kinds I will lay it out one at a time.

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Chicken and Chorizo

In a large frying pan cook the chorizo. You will notice that it is pretty greasy but that is fine as you will be cooking the other ingredients in it. Once the chorizo is done stir in half of the onion and peppers and simmer until the onion starts to turn clear. (the other half of the onion and peppers is for the bean and cheese). Now remove that from the pan and cook the chicken breast slices in the pan with the chorizo grease. Make sure to cook it through about 3 minutes on each side. Now remove that to cool a little and then chop it up into small pieces. Add the chicken and the onion, pepper, chorizo mixture back to the pan and add about a 1/4 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder and stir in the garlic. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat and then set it aside.

Beans

In a medium pan saute the onions and peppers until the onions start to turn clear and add in the beans. Mix together and cook until the beans are nice and soft then remove from heat.

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Tortillas

Split the bad of tortillas into two stacks of 12, one stack for each kind. Warm up a stack by wrapping a damp paper towel around them and heat them in the microwave for about 45 seconds. This will heat them up and make them easier to work with. If you don’t heat up corn tortillas first they will start to crumble when you try and roll them up. Now that they are heated you will want to set out a baking dish and spoon out about a quarter inch of enchilada sauce into the bottom. You will also need to put a couple of big spoonfuls onto a small plate for prepping the tortillas. You need to coat both sides of the tortilla in sauce. This helps them stick together when you roll them up and keeps them easy to work with. It is messy but necessary, so don’t skip this step.

Now take the cake of queso and put it in a bowl and chop it up with a fork. You will get a consistency similar to feta cheese when it is good and chopped.

The rest is now a matter of working as an assembly line.

For the Chicken: you will want to coat a tortilla and then spoon in some of the chicken mixture and then add a few sprinkles of the colby jack cheese and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For the bean and cheese: you will want to coat a tortilla, add a spoonful of beans across the bottom and sprinkle on a decent spoon of queso and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For both: It is a good idea to place each enchilada in the pan with the rolled seem down so they do not unroll on you. After you have your pan filled you will want to cover the top with your enchilada sauce and then cover that in a nice layer of colby jack cheese.

Now place them in a preheated oven (to 350 degrees) for about 20 minutes. You will know they are done when the cheese on top has completely melted and starts to brown slightly.

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When they are done put a couple on a plate and add your favorite salsa to the top and enjoy. I know this sounds like a lot of work but it is really worth it in the end. They turned out great and you don’t actually have to make both kinds. One is more than enough, I just like to share.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Buffalo Wings

Just in time for the Super Bowl I bring you my recipe for Buffalo Wings. There are many different ways to do wings with a multitude of flavors but for this go round I went with the more traditional Buffalo flavor, but of course I added my own special touch to it. Here is what I did.

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Ingredients

1 large pack of wing drumettes (about 30)
1 bottle of Texas Pete wing sauce
Granulated garlic
Black pepper
Salt
Chili powder
Butter (2 tablespoons)
Olive oil

Cooking

Sprinkle the wings with salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder and then heat about half an inch of olive oil in a large frying pan. Also preheat your oven to 350 degrees, you will need that later.
Now you want to cook your drumettes until they are brown all the way around. Do not worry about cooking them all the way through, at this time you just want to get them brown. While they are cooking melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave and then stir in the buffalo sauce. Also sprinkle in a dash of garlic and chili powder and stir it all together. Separate the sauce into two bowls and set them aside.
As the wings get brown set them out on a plate covered in several paper towels to absorb the oil.
Now toss the wings in one of the bowls of sauce and then lay them out on a baking pan. Go ahead and throw out any sauce that is left from that bowl since it has had chicken that has not been fully cooked in it.
Bake the wings for about 20 minutes until they are nice and crispy and then remove them from the oven and toss them in the other bowl of sauce until they are fully covered. They are now ready to go. You may want to get a little blue cheese to put on the side. I used Marie’s yogurt blue cheese and it complimented them perfectly.
All that’s left to do now is sit down, watch the game and enjoy your wings.

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Thanks for reading,
JMW