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

 

 

Taco Lasagna

Yes you read that right, I said Taco Lasagna. I enjoy trying to come up with new ways to present different dishes. This time I thought it would be good to make something with that Tex Mex flavor but be presented in an all in one meal like lasagna, so I combined the ingredients for tacos and came up with a fun way to put it together to mimic the looks of lasagna. Here is what you need.

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Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef

18 small corn tortillas

4 fresh jalapenos (seeded and diced)

1 medium white onion (diced)

1 10 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes and green chilies

8 ounces of sharp shredded cheddar

10 ounces of part skim queso fresco (crumbled into small pieces)

1 can of low fat refried beans

8 ounces of sour cream (I used low fat)

1/2 cup Fresh cilantro (finely chopped)

1/2 cup Green onion (finely chopped)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 cup of chili powder

2 tablespoons of black pepper

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

Prep and cooking

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and jalapeno until the onion starts to turn clear. Then add the garlic and ground beef. Once the beef is browned add in the can of Rotel and the spices and stir together. Now add the can of refried beans and stir all together. This will make a nice thick mixture that you will use as filling for the lasagna. Set that aside and get ready to start assembling.

Now it is time to assemble the lasagna. In a large (5 quart) baking dish thoroughly coat the bottom and sides with a non stick cooking spray. Now lay out 6 corn tortillas to cover the bottom. Spread out a layer of the meat mixture about 1/2 inch thick on top of the tortillas (you will use about half of the meat) Now add a thin coating of sour cream and then cover that with about half of the queso fresco.  Add another layer of six tortillas and repeat the layering process. After the second layer is done add the last six tortillas and then cover with any left over queso and sour cream. For the final step you will want to cover the top with the shredded cheddar and then add the diced onion and cilantro to finish it off.

Stick this in a preheated to 350 degree oven uncovered for about an hour (or until the cheese on top starts to brown slightly. All that is left to do is let t cool a bit and then cut it into nice square servings just like lasagna. It is great by itself or covered with a little salsa.

I hope you like this one. It is a fun way to put a twist on something the whole family should 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

Turkey Taco Salad

I have always laughed when people tell me that they are trying to eat healthier and are going to just get a taco salad. I have never met a taco salad that was actually healthy. It is in fact one of the least healthy menu items that you can get from a restaurant or fast food place.  Filled with refried beans, taco meat, tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and usually ranch dressing, these “salads” will do nothing for your waistline except stretch it.  With that being said I actually love them and think that they taste great and are almost like eating a giant taco in a bowl. It doesn’t get any better than that. I love bad food and things that are not good for you but I also enjoy trying to make things that are bad for you a little healthier. I see it as a challenge to see how much of the bad stuff I can cut while still keeping it delicious. So with that in mind I set out to bring the taco salad to my table in a healthier version. Here is how I did it.

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Ingredients

Lean Ground turkey (1 lb)

Fresh Romaine lettuce

Kraft Free shredded Cheddar

Local fresh salsa (any brand will do)

Marie’s yogurt ranch dressing

Chili powder

Granulated garlic

Black Pepper

Salt

Cooking

The only thing that needs to be cooked here is the taco meat, which can be cooked ahead of time to just reheat when needed.

In a medium sized pan, brown the ground turkey over medium high heat and break it up into small pieces as it cooks. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Since lean ground turkey does not produce much in the way of fat you will need to add in about 1/4 cup of water and stir it all around to get a little extra moisture. Now reduce to low heat and let it simmer while you get the salad part ready.

Cut up the Romaine lettuce into small pieces and put a large handful into a salad bowl.  Top with half cup to a cup of your turkey taco meat depending on how big of a meal you are in the mood for. Then add about a 1/4 cup of salad dressing, a couple big spoonfuls of salsa and then sprinkle on some of the fat free cheese. Now I know you are thinking that I forgot the chips but I did not. I chose not to use any type of tortilla chips to cut out a few of the calories and to be honest I did not miss them at all. This made a very tasty and healthier alternative to something bad that I really enjoy. I will without a doubt be adding this one to my rotation at home.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,

James

Fish Tacos

If you live on either coast and like seafood then you have probably at least once tried a fish taco. They have even started popping up in some of the larger chain restaurants over the last few years and seem to be growing in popularity all over. For the most part every one is prepared the same way with only a few subtle changes made. Some may be fried fillets of fish while others are grilled and almost all have some sort of slaw and a creamy sauce on top and are served on either a corn or flour tortilla. While I enjoy these very much I also like to come up with new ideas and new ways to to look at classic food items, so I set forth and came up with my own unique take on the fish taco. Here is what you need.

 

Ingredients

Two or three large tilapia fillets

1 medium white onion (chopped into medium sized pieces)

2 large jalapeno peppers (seeded and chopped into medium size pieces)

1 large poblano pepper (seeded and chopped into medium size pieces)

1 clove garlic (finely chopped)

1 lime

½ tablespoon course sea salt

½ tablespoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chilli powder

olive oil

½ cup Cilantro (finely chopped)

Corn or flour tortillas

 

In a large non stick skillet heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat and add onions, garlic and peppers. You will want to cook the onions, garlic and peppers until they start to caramelize. The secret is to get them just to the point of getting the dark crisp edges and then reduce the heat to medium. With a spatula move them to the edges of the pan and add two more tablespoons of olive oil. Now place the tilapia fillets in the pan and let them seer on one side for several minutes. Salt and pepper the filets as they cook. When the fillets have turned white a little over half way through turn them over and repeat on the other side. Salt and pepper the other side. If a filet starts to fall apart do not worry as you will be breaking them up in a few minutes anyway. Once you have seared both sides use your spatula and start breaking up the filets into smaller pieces and mix with the peppers and onions. Now add the cilantro and chili powder and mix throughout the pan. Once everything has started taking on the color of the chili powder remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the lime juice. Give the mixture one final stir to get the lime flavor spread around.

 

If you are using flour tortillas you will want to take a hand full and heat them in the microwave for about 20 seconds before serving. If you are using corn tortillas you can heat another skillet and heat the corn tortillas in a single layer (both sides until they start to loosen up).

 

Now you are ready to assemble. Just take a big scoop of your taco mixture and place it in the center of the tortilla and fold it over. You can add some fat free cheddar or some pico or salsa if you like but to be honest it doesn’t need it. Every now and then I will add a few dashes of hot sauce such as Cholula or Tapatio to spice it up but these tacos really stand on their own.

 

As always,

Thanks for reading

JMW