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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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

BBQ Country Style Ribs

When setting out to grill or BBQ there is always the question of what to cook and how to do it. Do you want to slow cook on low heat? Do you want something quick and easy? Do you sauce first or after  or even at all? Depending on what part of the country you are from will also greatly determine if you choose to cook pork or beef. Since I grew up on the east coast I tend to lead more toward pork BBQ which goes against everything you hear out in Texas where I live now. Everyone has their own way of doing things on the grill and I am no different, I just happen to think mine tastes a little better than most. I have spent a lot of time over the years developing a specific taste to my BBQ. I have taken tips from the way my Dad does his BBQ as well as taking things from several other places I have tried over the years and have come up with my own unique flavor that is not to sweet, not to spicy and doesn’t have that over powering vinegar taste to it either. My BBQ has just the right amount of all of that. Its kind of like an amalgam of all of the best tastes around the US.

I was doing some grocery shopping over the weekend and came across a great deal on country style boneless pork ribs and knew exactly what I was going to do with them as soon as I saw them.  Boneless country style ribs are a great thing to BBQ. They don’t take that long to cook and just have a great flavor. They have a great meat to fat ratio which is important when grilling. You want something that has a little fat in it to keep from drying out when cooking. But enough about that. Lets get down to cooking these bad boys up.

You can use off the shelf sauces for this but I tend to use my own homemade sauces.

What you need:

1 large pack of boneless country style pork ribs

1 bottle of mustard based BBQ sauce (you want a really tangy sauce for this one)

(My mustard sauce consists of the right amount of yellow mustard, white vinegar, sugar, black pepper and margarine)

1 bottle of tomato based BBQ sauce (you can use your favorite but a good sweet and spicy one is the best to counter the tang of the mustard sauce)

Salt

Black pepper

Prep and cooking

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Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry. Then salt and pepper them all around. Place them in a large bowl and cover with the mustard sauce. Let them marinate for at least two hrs.

Whether you use gas or charcoal is up to you. Either way you will need medium to medium high heat. Something that will give a good sear to the outside while not drying them out when cooking. I know a lot of people complain if they see even a hint of black on their meat but to me it just doesn’t taste right unless you get a little char on the outside. That’s what BBQ is and why people like “burnt end sandwiches” so much (if you’ve never had a burn end sandwich, stop reading and go find one now). It tastes good so trust me. You want to cook these covered for about 7 to 9 minutes on either side depending on how thick they are. Then remove the lid and turn the heat up just a little. With a BBQ brush you now want to coat the ribs with the more traditional BBQ Sauce. You always want to wait until the end to put on most tomato (and brown sugar) based sauces due to them burning easier. Turn the ribs over a couple of times with that sauce on them until it starts to thicken up and get darker. It will create a nice messy,gooey coating that screams BBQ.

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Now they are ready to go. Pull them off the grill and let them cool for a few minutes. You are now ready to enjoy some of the best BBQ you have ever tasted. I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Let’s Talk Burgers

Let’s face it, everyone loves burgers and have come up with many many ways to make them and even make them with a lot of different types of meat including Buffalo, Elk, Turkey, Chicken, Bison and of course good ole beef.  Even if you are a vegetarian you still try and find a way to make something like tofu into a burger. Why do you think that is? Well it’s because burgers are great, plain and simple. For most of us you have a big patty of meat tucked neatly (or not so neatly) between to halves of a bun and piled high with all of your favorite toppings and condiments. You can add just about anything to a burger to change it up and give it a different taste. I have been known to add many different things to mine over the years such as bacon, avocado, and yes even a fried egg. Burgers are versatile and delicious. If people didn’t love burgers they wouldn’t be sold in mass quantities just about everywhere you go.

That brings me to this past weekend. I wanted to make burgers at home and also wanted to come up with something for you fine folks to try out that is a little different than your normal burger. So I started searching the fridge and wracking my brain to come up with something that turned out to be one of the best burgers I have ever made.

I now give you the salsa burger.

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Ingredients

2 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 cup salsa fresca (finely chopped)

Tip: I used salsa fresca in this because it has a unique mix of ingredients and is usually more finely chopped than regular salsa. Ingredients usually include tomato, cilantro, lime, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar and chile pepper. This mix of flavors gives the meat a great taste.

chili powder

black pepper

salt

Sliced Colby jack cheese

Onion Rolls (cut in half to make a bun)

And whatever your favorite toppings may be. I used Lettuce, tomato, dill pickle slices, onion and Mayo

Prep

Put the ground beef into a mixing bowl and then add the salsa. Using both hands get in there and really mix it all together until everything is nicely blended. Now pat out your patties. I like to do nice thin patties with about 4 or 5 ounces of meat each.  Make sure to flatten them out good because they will shrink a little when cooking. Once you have the patties all made and laid out on a plate you want to salt and pepper them and also sprinkle a little chili powder across the top. Let those sit so they get close to room temp. Meat always cooks better and more evenly throughout if it is room temp and not cold straight out of the fridge.

Cooking

You can cook the burgers a couple of different ways. I usually go for the grill but I ran out of propane so this go round I went old school with the frying pan. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. You want it to be hot when they go in but not super hot or they will burn on the outside and be raw in the middle.

Drop your patties in a nice even layer in the pan and let them cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on one side. Then turn them over let them cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side depending on how rare or done you like your burgers. I prefer mine to be medium to medium well.

If you like cheese on your burger like I do you will want to place a slice on top of the burger with about 30 seconds left to cook. This will get it started  melting evenly across the top.

With the burgers now done and the pan still hot place your cut onion rolls (cut side down) in the pan for about 30 seconds to get a nice lite crunch on them. (or use regular buns if you aren’t feeling adventurous).

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Assembly

Now its time to assemble the burger. Place a patty on your bun and add whatever condiments you prefer and then pile it high with your favorite toppings. To recreate the one I made you will want to add mayo to both halves of the bun, place the patty on the bottom and add thin sliced white onion, fresh Romain lettuce, sliced dill pickle, and thin sliced Roma tomato. I highly recommend trying it this way first.  You are now ready to embark on a truly unique burger experience.

Enjoy and thanks for reading

JMW

Omelet Making 101

I know many people out there have attempted to make an omelet only to get egg stuck in a pan or burnt on one side or just have it fall apart completely but I am here to tell you that there is hope. It have taken me a while to come up with my technique for omelet making which is surprising because it was actually pretty simple once I figured it out. The most important thing to have to make a successful omelet at home is a small to medium non stick pan with a lid. There are many different types of omelets and many different ingredients to put in an omelet so I will not try and sway anyone one way or the other with what to add because we all like different things. Instead I will just walk you through the process of making an omelet using the ingredients I decided to use on this occasion. I also know that some people like to add the ingredients to the egg mixture and cook it all together. I’m sorry but this is not an omelet to me. This is just scrambled eggs with stuff in it. So I will be showing you how to do what I consider a real omelet.

 

Ingredients

 

1 small bell pepper

1 small white onion

1 roma tomato

2 tablespoons of minced pickled jalapenos

2 ounces goat cheese

salt

black pepper

2 to 3 eggs (depends on how hungry you are)

 

 

Prep. Dice up all the veggies (keeping the tomatoes separate from the onion and bell pepper).

Coat a non stick pan with a non stick spray and heat to medium heat.

Cook Onions and both kinds of peppers until they start to caramelize. You want the onions to turn clear and the edges to start to turn brown. This brings out the flavor in them. Once they start to turn brown add in the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes. You will see the tomatoes start to soften up and change color. Scoop them all in to a bowl and add the goat cheese. Stir it all together and set aside. Now rinse out the pan, spray with non stick spray and heat on medium heat with the lid on it.

In a mixing bowl beat or whisk the eggs until the yolks and the whites are blended together.

Now add the egg mixture to the heated pan and cover for about 20 seconds. Remove the lid and tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the uncooked egg starts to make a thin coat around the sides of the pan. Add a little salt and black pepper and replace the lid for another minute. Using the lid traps the heat and lets the top of the egg cook along with the bottom so there is no flipping involved. Now remove the lid and the egg should be solid on top and not move when you jiggle the pan. If the eggs still jiggle a bit put the lid back on for a few more seconds until they are ready. Now take your filling and scoop it out into a nice layer on one half of the egg. Using a spatula flip the other half of the egg over on top of the mixture closing your omelet. Replace the lid for another 10 to 15 seconds to let everything heat up.

Now you are ready to plate your omelet. Have a plate standing by and take the pan in one hand and a spatula in the other. Hold the pan over the plate as close you can and tilt it toward the plate. Use the spatula to guide the omelet to the plate and it should slide right out with no trouble. Now you are ready to eat. You can add a little salsa (or hot sauce as it is called here is SA).

You of course can use whatever filler you would like but I do urge you to give mine a try. I hope that this helps at least a few people in your future breakfast endeavors.

 

Thanks for Reading

JMW