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

casserole

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

photo 2

 

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.

photo 1

 

 

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.

photo 3

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

 

 

I’m back with something sweet

Yes I know I have been away for far to long, but hopefully I have left you all with enough recipes to keep you cooking in my absence. I’m sure you were able to find something in all of that to keep you busy. In upcoming recipes you may notice that I am starting to lean more toward a healthier approach to cooking, but don’t mistake that for bland tasteless diet food. I am still going to be making tasty dishes with great ingredients. I am just shifting toward healthier ingredients with less fat and all that bad stuff for you. With that being said, I am back, and to kick off my return I am bringing you something simple yet delicious.

Today I am bringing you something that I don’t to that often. I am bringing you dessert. While I do love sweet stuff, I don’t eat a lot of desserts, but every now and then I do crave that little extra something after dinner and this time around it was ice cream and fried bananas. Now before you turn your nose up at this one keep reading. I promise you will be wanting to make this by the end.

photo 1

Fried Bananas and Ice Cream. (recipe for two people)

What you need:

4 ripe bananas

ground cinnamon

ground nutmeg

honey

Vanilla Ice Cream (Breyers Carb Smart)

This is a pretty simple and straight forward recipe but the end result is amazing.

photo 2

Spray a large non stick skillet with cooking spray and put over medium heat. You want a the pan nice and hot when you put the bananas in.

Now remove the peels from your bananas and throw them away and cut the bananas into 1/2 inch slices. When the pan is nice and hot place the banana slices in the pan leaving a little space between them. You will hear them start to sizzle. When you get all of the pieces in the pan drizzle honey back and forth over all the slices.  Don’t worry about it getting in the bottom of the pan. That is good and helps create the sauce. There really is no wrong way to do it, so don’t worry if you are using too much or too little.  Now sprinkle the ground cinnamon and nutmeg over the banana slices making sure to get a little bit of each on each piece of banana. You want a little more cinnamon than nutmeg.  Let them cook like that for about a minute and then turn each piece over and let them cook for another minute on that side. You will notice they are starting to turn a darker shade of yellow and soften up a bit. Remove the pan from heat and let stand while you get the ice cream ready.

This is the hard part, are you ready? Place one scoop of Vanilla ice cream in a bowl and then scoop the bananas on top.

Wait… That wasn’t so hard.

Now you are ready to enjoy.

photo 3

When making this you of course do not have to use carb smart ice cream. I just chose that to be a little more health conscious. If you are feeling creative you may also want to try using Agave nectar instead of honey for a little different take on it.

See, I told you it was an easy one. I bet you will be tweaking this to add your own flare on it in no time.

I will try and not wait so long between posts from now and and hope to have something new to add very soon.

As always, Thanks for reading,

JMW

Breakfast Sandwiches

Everyone that knows me knows that breakfast is my favorite meal. So much so that I have been known to have breakfast for lunch and even dinner on more than one occasion. While I love all types of breakfast foods and combinations of them, one of my favorite things is breakfast sandwiches. Yes the kind you get from fast food restaurants (I am a sucker for a sausage McMuffin). I don’t now why but they are a guilty pleasure of mine that I tend to enjoy way to much. Oh and its not just one kind either, I enjoy the breakfast sandwiches from several different fast food restaurants. It just depends on my mood as to which one I go to.  This however does create a bit of a problem when it comes to trying to eat right and drop a few pounds, which is something I am working toward right now. So I set out to create my own breakfast sandwich that I can make at home that cuts out a lot of the fat that you get from fast food places but still tastes great.

sand 2

Here is what I did

What you need:

(this makes two sandwiches)

Butterball Smoked turkey sausage (one link)

2 slices Kraft fat free cheese

4 slices Natures Own White/Wheat bread

2 eggs

1 teaspoon smart balance heart right buttery spread

Non stick cooking spray

Here’s how to make it:

Coat a non stick skillet with the cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of smart balance to the pan and let it melt while spreading it around with a spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Take your bread and separate into two stacks so that it looks like you have two sandwiches with nothing in them. Put them in the pan and toast them on either side (leaving the middle part un-toasted. This step is just like making a grilled cheese with no cheese in between the two slices. Now put them on a plate and separate the pieces so you have 4 pieces of bread toasted side down on the plate in a big square. Two slices for the bottom of the sandwich and two for the top.

Cut the sausage link in half and then cut both halves in half long ways down the middle. Spray a little more non stick spray in the pan and place the sausage cut side down and cook to your desired amount of done-ness. I like mine cooked pretty well but some people like it just warmed up a little. Turn them once and cook on the other side. Now place them on the bread (two pieces for each sandwich). Then place a slice of cheese on each sandwich so it will start to melt.

Reduce the heat in the pan to medium and crack two eggs in it. Cook on one side a couple of minutes until the white starts to firm up. Now add a little salt and black pepper for flavor and flip both eggs over. Once flipped over gently pop the yolk so it runs out and starts to cook. As much as I love a runny yolk it doesn’t work to well on a sandwich.  Let the eggs cook for another minute or so and then place on top of the sausage and cheese and add the other piece of toasted bread on top to finish off the sandwich.

That my friends is how to make a tasty low fat breakfast sandwich. There are several reasons for doing it this way. Using the smart balance to toast the bread adds a little extra flavor that reduces the need for topping it off with Jelly, Mayo, ketchup or whatever you like to put on your sandwiches that tends to add extra fat or unwanted calories. The other ingredients are to me the best tasting brands out there for fat free and low fat food of its kind. When combined they taste great and make a great sandwich. While this is not 100% health food it is a lower fat alternative to the high fat and processed versions of what you will find in a fast food restaurant.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading,

James

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.

photo

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