Thursday, March 27, 2014

Instead of Ordering Chinese...

So, last yesterday I made this lovely gluten-free gem...

If you enjoy Asian dishes, this looks pretty good right? And believe me you, it was pretty good and easy to throw together. I cooked the entire dish in my Crock Pot, with the exception of the kelp noodles as there was really no need to cook the kelp noodles. I only needed to rinse those low-cal friends. The Bear and I were very excited to eat this meal. Yes, even the Bear enjoys kelp noodles. The meal was tasty. It passed the taste test. The only problem, it tasted a lot like any other Asian dish I've made on with asparagus. Whether cooked in a slow cooker or stir-fried, I can't quite put my finger on it. A lot of my Asian recipes taste the same. I am no master of Asian cooking. I think I've got Thai food somewhat down. When I get to make a recipe repeat that is. For example my Grilled Chicken Thai Salad is always a hit. I've also not received any complaints on my Very Veggie Pad Thai or for those of you who might have joined the kelp noodle bandwagon my Speedy Chicken Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles. However, when it comes to Chinese food, things seem to taste a little too similar for my tastebuds. Since this recipe is all to familiar to my pallet, I will suggest some other recipes that might be a little more tantalizing to your tongue. For anything that calls for broccoli, you can sub and/or add asparagus. Here are some suggestions...

I hope you take some time and check out these recipes. They are some of my favorites! I am too afraid to post a crappy recipe, but want to stay in touch. Enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cheesy Bacon, Kale, & Artichoke Quesadillas

I'm not sure who designed this, but I absolutely love it! I could hardly watch ISU play yesterday afternoon. It was one of those games where the Bear and I were on the edge of our seats the entire game. We were both pretty nervous after Georges Niang suffered yet another injury this season during Friday night's game against North Carolina Central. Last week Niang suffered a blow to his eyebrow during the Big 12 tournament game against KU. He had to get five stitches. Hence the band aid on Cy. Now he's out for the remainder of the season with a broken foot. After breaking his foot however, he managed to continue playing for a little while and scored 5 more points. The Bear thought the team was doomed. Quite the opposite happened yesterday and they rallied on! We hope they can keep the magic going, Hilton magic that is;). Let's go Cyclones!!

I know not all of you are Iowa State fans, but maybe you are quesadilla fans. I truly missed quesadillas after going gluten free. I tried making them with corn tortillas, but it just wasn't the same. I am happy to say that after trying Udi's gluten-free tortillas, one of my favorite Mexican indulgences is back on the menu.

This recipe is packed with some amazing ingredients! Layered with a bacon, fat-free mozzarella cheese, and a garlicky sauteed kale and artichoke mixture, these quesadillas are deliciously sneaky way to add some super veggies into your meal. You could easily make this dish vegetarian by omitting the bacon. Not gluten free? No problem! You could also use whole wheat or regular flour tortillas. My belly just prefers I keep mine gluten free.

Cheesy Bacon, Kale, and Artichoke Quesadillas

Nonstick cooking spray
4 cups kale, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
8 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
4 plain tortillas (I used Udi's gluten-free tortillas)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the kale, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat. Place in a dish and set aside. When the skillet is cool enough to handle, rinse with warm water and wipe clean. Heat the skillet once again over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the skillet. On one half of the tortilla, layer 1/4 of the kale mixture, 1/4 of the crumbled bacon, and 1/4 cup cheese. Fold the half without any toppings over the topping side. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla begins to turn lightly brown. Using a large spatula, flip the to the other side. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and repeat with the remaining tortillas. Cut into triangles before serving.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thinking Spring Menu Post

Isn't hard to believe that it is the last week of March?! This month has really flown by! Since I took last week off due to traveling and spring break, I wanted to get one final March menu post ready for you all. I know everyone is thinking spring despite the cold temperatures throughout most of the country. When I think about spring foods I think about chicken, asparagus, and light recipes that bring outdoor grilling back into the picture. This week features all of these wonderful spring foods. Since it is still a bit chilly, I'm starting off the week with one of my favorite soups- Chicken Tortilla Soup. Cooked in the Crock Pot, this simple, flavorful recipe makes a bumper crop perfect for lunch throughout the week. Monday and Tuesday I have a new quesadilla recipe to share. Thanks to Udi's plain tortillas, cheesy quesadillas are reappearing in my life again. Oh how I've missed you! Welcome back! Midweek, chicken and asparagus will pare together in a quick stir fry. The perfect fast dinner for making in the middle of a busy week. Finally, in hopes the weather cooperates we hope to grill some chicken burgers inspired by Grameracy Tap in Des Moines, Iowa. I enjoyed this meal last Friday night before the Leprechaun Chase. I think it worked so, I hope to recreate this meal again to fuel up before for the Diva Dash next week:)! Here is the official plan:

Sunday 3/23            Chicken Tortilla Soup with Duree Family Cheesebread

Monday 3/24          Cheesy Bacon, Kale, and Artichoke Quesadillas with Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini

Tuesday 3/25          Leftovers

Wednesday 3/26     Chicken & Asparagus Stir Fry with Kelp Noodles

Thursday 3/27         Leftovers

Friday 3/28             Chicken Burgers with Cranberry-Jalapeno Mayo and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Here is approximately what you will need to make this all happen:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. lean ground chicken breast or already made chicken burgers
1 package center cut bacon
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch kale
1 bunch cilantro
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 zucchini
1 bulb garlic
2 yellow or white onions
1 red onion (optional for burger night)
1 package sliced mushrooms
2-4 sweet potatoes (depending on size)
1-2 avocados (depending on size)
1 15 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 4 cup boxes reduced sodium chicken broth (I like to use Hy-Vee or Costco brand)
1 package kelp noodles (if you cannot find kelp noodles, rice noodles will work too)
1 package gluten-free tortillas (I love Udi's)
1 package gluten-free ciabatta rolls
1 bag tortilla chips
1 bag frozen corn
1 8 oz. box 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 bag shredded fat-free or reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
Butter (I am in love with Land O Lakes light butter right now)

Pantry items you will need:

Nonstick cooking spray
Extra virgin olive oil
Soy Sauce (Hy-Vee's soy sauce is gluten free. I also love San-J Organic Tamari)
Ground ginger powder
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper

Enjoy your weekend! I look forward to posting throughout the week! Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Monterrey Chicken & Spring Break

I hate to admit when I feel relaxed because then life gets incredibly busy again. I've been feeling so incredibly relaxed. If you notice past posts, I kept talking about how crazy things were at school. I think we all deserve a break and a chance to unwind. I'm grateful I get this chance as a teacher during spring break. I just hope it doesn't make me too lazy;).

This spring break has been amazing! Friday I left directly from work to Des Moines for the big 10k race. I am very proud to say that I ran the entire time and finished!!! I ran slowly, but kept at it. There were so many people along the way cheering us on and telling us to push through. It was great! After the race, I met up with my Drake wolf pack crew to celebrate. A cider first at El Bait Shop the post race headquarters....

I know cider right?! There are water bottles on the table as well. I also recharged with a diet Red Bull before said cider to give me a little boost. It amazes me every time I am in Des Moines how much it has changed for the better. Downtown has a great vibe. So unlike the days we were all in college together. I love it! Next, we headed to Dos Rios for some nourishment.

Dos Rios is absolutely outstanding! They have so many gluten-free options and they make guacamole fresh at your table. If you love Mexican food and are in downtown Des Moines, I highly suggest you stop by. You will not regret it!

After all of the race day fun, I headed to my dad's. We watched the final Big 12 tournament game- Baylor versus my Iowa State Cyclones. It was the first game I was able to sit and watch a game in its entirety. Most of the time I struggle to sit through an entire basketball game. It was probably because I was so worn out, but I felt compelled to cheer the Cyclones on! In the words of Paul Rhoads, "I am so proud!" I hope they can keep it up!

Monday I finally made it home to the Bear. I was still sore until yesterday, but think I'll take advantage of the first day of spring with a little run today. I have plenty of excitement to work out as yesterday my orthodontist finally said my braces get to come off! Yes, in three weeks (April 9th) I will be braces free! I can't wait!

Now that I've got you all caught up on my very interesting life lately, how about some Monterrey Chicken?

I don't know what compelled me to come up with this recipe other than everything just sounded good. Here I've taken advantage of Penzy's buttermilk ranch dressing base as a seasoning for the chicken. I topped the chicken with sauteed peppers, onions, and fat free cheddar cheese. For a dose of healthy fats, I added avocado. If you are looking to pep up your chicken, this is a great recipe!

Monterrey Chicken

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon buttermilk ranch dressing mix
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup reduced sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
1 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix over both sides of your chicken. Add the chicken breast. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown and easily lifts away from the skillet. Turn, cook another 4-5 minutes or until browned on the other side. Using tongs, place chicken in the casserole dish. Set aside. Add the onions, peppers, and broth to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to bring up any brown bits. Remove from heat. Pour the onion and pepper mixture over the chicken. Place the casserole dish in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck inside one of the chicken pieces reads 165 degrees. Sprinkle the cheese over the onions and peppers. Bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and bubble. Remove from the oven. Top with avocado slices before serving.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Slow Cooker Pub Chicken

We are feeling spring today in Kansas City! I saw green grass sprouting for the first time since October. The sun has been shining for the last 2 days. The Big 12 tournament is taking place as we speak. I am a little superstitious about saying too many positive things about Iowa State as consistency is a bit of a problem. So, all I will say is it's a good day to be a Cyclone! Also, I experienced one of the best days in my teaching career even though I was not actually teaching. Today, the high school teacher of the year and I had the honor of hosting our district visit for other regional finalists. It went amazingly well thanks to teamwork and the help from the entire Turner community. We put a lot of hard work and planning into all of this and it truly paid off! Thank you to all of Turner USD 202 staff, administration, and community! We could not have done this without you!

Now, on to the meal that saved me this week thanks to my slow cooker. Like I said earlier in the week, it has been cray-cray! I originally read about this recipe on my fellow blogging friend's website nHerShoes. Bobbi McCormick had impressed her friends with a beer and chicken recipe that I was somewhat envious of, but knew I probably shouldn't enjoy since I don't drink a lot of regular beer due to the gluten. But then, I got a little creative. We were craving burgers on Sunday. I wanted to make things a little healthier. So, I asked the Bear what he loved about his favorite burger. He said he loved Swiss cheese, bacon, onions, and a cold beer on the side. The light bulb went off in my head and thus a gluten-free version of this dish was born.

All of the flavors of your favorite pub burger delivered to you in one healthy slow cooker recipe. I think that's about all I need to say.

Slow Cooker Pub Chicken
inspired by Bobbi McCormick

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup gluten-free beer (such as Omission)
1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices 2% Swiss cheese
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together the beer, chicken broth, mustard, dried onion, and salt. Pour over the chicken. Turn the chicken to coat. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Uncover and top with cheese and bacon. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and serve.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend! I look forward to posting all about the 10k and spring break shenanigans when I get home! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gluten-Free Tomato & Basil Flatbreads

This doesn't happen very much, but I've got a major case of the "Mondays." What's really throwing me off is that they still haven't gone away even with the beautiful weather and a good run. I think it's just the crummy sleep and time change that have thrown me off my good mood train. Hopefully I get some good rest tonight. Tomorrow will be better.

Enough whining for now. No one likes a whiny cry baby blog post! No way! How about an easy meal that I feel crazy even calling a recipe? This is making me smile!

I must say this photo makes this meal look pretty elegant. The idea for these tomato and basil flatbreads all came about over the weekend while I was enjoying Minskey's pizza. I noticed that they had changed up their regular gluten-free crust and managed to get it so crispy thin I don't think anyone would ever know there was no gluten in it. The spring weather also got me craving fresh basil. I can't wait to get my herbs started for the summer! So I thought, "How can I get a super thin crust and some of those summer time flavors into an easy weeknight pizza?" The answer, Udi's plain tortillas! Genius! This recipe is so easy your kids could help out in making this dinner. Doesn't that make Monday night a little less Mondayish?

Gluten-Free Tomato and Basil Flatbreads

Nonstick cooking spray
4 gluten-free plain tortillas such as Udi's (if you are not concerned with gluten, I'm sure regular flour tortillas would work too)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in onion and garlic
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you do not want to add any heat)
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven preheats, heat the tomatoes over medium-high heat in a small sauce pan for 10 minutes or until the liquid begins to thicken. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Remove from heat and set aside. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Depending on the size of your cookie sheets, you should be able to arrange two flat tortillas on each sheet. Top the tortillas with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges begin to crisp and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven. Top with the fresh basil before cutting and serving.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crazy Week Menu Post

While spring break is on the horizon, I still have to get through this week. I'm dealing with my latest kitchen accident (burn on right palm) which has thrown a bit of twist in things. We begin state assessments at school. Later in the week I'll be showcasing our district to other members in my Kansas Teacher of the Year cohort, and I'm running the 10k next weekend. What a frenzy! I love to keep busy, but I'm beginning to wonder what the heck I got myself into. Good thing all this training for the 10k has been keeping me pretty zen.

Like I've said before, when things get crazy I love to get organized. Well, until I burn my hand while trying to get organized;). This week I not only need recipes that come together in a snap, but I also need to be fueling my body for the race on Saturday. I've got breakfast all ready to go for the week. I'm alternating between a balance of proteins and carbs. On my higher protein days I've prepared my Veggie Scramble. On alternate days I eat more carbohydrates with my Apple-Goji Oats in a Jar. Lunch will be consisting of spinach salads topped with tomatoes, green onions, mushrooms, and chicken breast served with a side of gluten-free flax crackers and hummus. Of course all of this is all balanced out with snacking on lots of other fruits and veg. I hope to share all of those healthy, power packed meals with you in some future posts, but will stick to dinners this week. Tonight we will be celebrating the warm weather with my all time favorite Papa Chris Burgers. I've been eating pretty lean and clean and kind of feel like a need a little red meat. Tomorrow and Tuesday I've prepped a super, super simple sauce for some easy Gluten-Free Tomato and Basil Flatbreads. Nothing like pizza for a meatless Monday meal! Later in the week, I'm counting on my slow cooker to help me out with my Slow Cooker Pub Chicken. I'm stoked about this recipe and can't wait to see how it turns out! Here is the total rundown:

Sunday 3/9            Papa Chris Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries 

Monday 3/10         Gluten-Free Tomato-Basil Flatbreads with Salad

Tuesday 3/11         Leftovers

Wednesday 3/12   Slow Cooker Pub Chicken with Cauliflower Mashers & Broccoli

Thursday 3/13       Leftovers

A few of the items you will need to make this menu happen are...

1/2 lb. 85% lean ground beef
1/2 lb. 93% lean ground beef
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (if you choose for topping your salads or burgers)
2 sweet potatoes (I bake my own, however for convenience, you can purchase frozen sweet potato fries)
4 baby red potatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
1 package broccoli (already cut)
1 bag of your favorite salad blend
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in onion and garlic
1 container grated Parmesan cheese
1 package gluten-free hamburger buns
1 package gluten-free tortillas (such as Udi's)
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 8 oz. brick 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 carton almond milk
1 bag shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1 package sliced 2% Swiss cheese
Gluten-free beer such as Omission

Pantry items you will need include...

Nonstick cooking spray
Dijon mustard
Garlic powder
Dried minced onion
Seasoned salt (I use Penzy's 4-S blend)

I hope you all are enjoying the spring-like weather like we are in Kansas City! Have a great week!

Speedy Chicken Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles

How is your weekend going? We have been loving doing just weekend type things such as catching up on shows we DVR throughout the week, laundry, and getting ready for the upcoming week. The Bear is getting a crash test culinary experience after I burned my hand this morning on a hot skillet. I had just pulled some chicken out of the oven to top over my salads for lunch this week. I left the skillet on top of the stove so the chicken could cool down a little before I diced it. So, I cleared a little space on the counter, grabbed a fork out of the silverware drawer to help me pick up the chicken. I'm sort of ambidextrous in the kitchen. With the fork in my left hand, I grabbed the handle of the still very hot skillet with my right hand and burnt my right palm.

Fortunately, I've become well versed in how to treat burns since starting this blog. Last month was a good month with no burns, but after thinking about it I think I've suffered some sort of little burn in the kitchen at least once a month since the beginning of the school year. It usually happens when I become overly consumed in my weekly prep work. This one is defiantly the largest burn I've had in a while. I'm glad I was almost finished getting things ready as all the Bear had to do was cut the said chicken from the skillet that burned my hand and help me divvy it up among the salads. He will get some more practice on cutting potatoes and mixing the burgers for this evening's meal. I think I should probably just wear oven mittens all the time when I'm working in the kitchen. Do they make flexible silicone gloves? That would be perfect! 

Enough about my kitchen mishaps though. On to catching up on last week's recipe! I don't think oven mittens will be needed to get this meal ready. Have I told you about kelp noodles? I recently became very curious about these illusive noodles after reading about them on Tone it Up. They are a gluten-free alternative similar to rice noodles, but are extremely low in calories (only 6 per serving!), contain absolutely no fat, and only 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving. What!? You could practically eat the entire bag and still not even tally up the calories compared to regular noodles. Plus, you don't need to boil them. After a quick rinse of water through a colander, you can gently heat them directly into your sauce or toss them in a salad. AMAZING! I used Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles ordered from Amazon. 

To save even more time on this recipe, I used some leftover shredded chicken. It was the perfect mid-week meal to get us in the mood for spring. There are some unique ingredients in this recipe, but have no fear! My husband was very satisfied and actually has requested I make it again in the very near future. If you are looking to lighten up a bit, I highly suggest you try this recipe!

Speedy Chicken Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles

For the sauce:
1 14 oz. can light, unsweetened coconut milk
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons gluten-free, reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

For the pad Thai:
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
2 cups shredded broccoli or broccoli slaw
1 red bell pepper, finely sliced
1/4 cup carrot, finely cut
1 12 oz. package kelp noodles, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green onion, finely sliced

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the skillet heats, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Set aside. Spray skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add the chicken, shredded broccoli, red pepper, and carrots to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the chicken heats through and the vegetables begin to slightly soften. Add the kelp noodles. Give a stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the mixture. Stir until everything is coated. Cook and stir another 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to absorb into the noodles and bubbles. Remove from heat. Top with the green onions and serve.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Veggie Chili

Who does not love a warm bowl of chili on a cold winter day? Being there are probably over a million different variations- white chili, chili verde, turkey chili, chili with beans, chili without beans, to just name a few, it is hard not to find a recipe you might love. Everyone has their own way of making chili too. It is just what makes this dish special.

I've been playing around with quite a few recipes this winter. I haven't toyed with white or chicken chili just yet, but plan to soon. Most of the experimenting I've done has been using ground turkey and lean ground beef. Then, I thought maybe I should try a vegetarian version just for fun.

I think this simple veggie chili is the best thus far. I've now made this exact recipe twice. The first time, I made it just for my weekday lunches. Then, I thought if I've been enjoying it this much why not see if the Bear might like it too. It was a hit! There are no funky ingredients in this chili. Just some of your straight up chili making ingredients with a little sweet corn and love. What more do you need to share with your family than a healthy chili made with lots of love?

My Veggie Chili

Nonstick cooking spray
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced chili ready tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can chili beans in gravy, undrained
1 cup frozen sweet corn
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onion, green bell pepper, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and lower the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes so all of the flavors marry together. You could also continue cooking the soup in your slow cooker on low until you are ready to serve or plan on making this for a gathering. Top with any of your favorite chili toppers. Store leftovers in the freezer or fridge. It is even better the next day!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snow Again Menu Post

Well, it snowed again. Is this news for anyone living anywhere other than California this winter? Probably not. Fortunately, after the Bear and I shoveled the driveway I got the call that there is no school tomorrow. Snow day! Yippeee! I always love this news after shoveling snow.

While the weather forecast is showing signs of a slight warm-up throughout the week, my workouts will be indoors once again until I know the sidewalks are safe. I'm glad I forced myself out for some longer runs last week as the 10k is less than two weeks away. I must say I am in better running shape than I thought. I think all of the conditioning and activity has helped me with this. My longest run last week was 4 miles. I really think I can pull this off. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can said the Sara engine that could!

With it being so cold out right now, the menu for this week is intended to feed the comfort food side while at the same time remain lean and clean for training. I have a chicken roasting as we speak for this evening's meal with a side of roasted vegetables and cauliflower mashers. For meatless Monday, I plan to share my most favorite vegetarian chili recipe with you all that I've been eating for lunch quite a bit lately. Wednesday, I plan to use some of the leftover chicken in a speedy pad Thai recipe using a new noodle I came across and ordered off Amazon. Then for all of you partaking in Lent, I have a macadamia crusted salmon recipe I'll be experimenting with on Friday. It's a unique week of eats! Here is the rundown:

Monday 3/3            My Veggie Chili with Gluten-Free Quesadillas

Tuesday 3/4            Leftovers

Wednesday 3/5       Speedy Chicken Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles

Thursday 3/6           Leftovers

Friday 3/7               Macadamia Crusted Salmon with Grilled Veggies and Pineapple

1 whole chicken
2 salmon fillets
1 bag baby carrots
1 bag shredded broccoli (broccoli slaw)
1 bunch celery
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 bunch green onions
1 onion
1 bulb garlic
1 2-inch knob ginger root
1-2 limes
1 can pineapple rings packed in juice
1 small bag macadamia nuts
1 can light coconut milk
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can chili ready diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans
1 14.5 oz. can chili beans in chili gravy
1 package gluten-free tortillas (such as Udi's)
1 package kelp noodles (I ordered mine off Amazon if you cannot find them, use rice noodles)
1 package shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1 bag frozen corn

Pantry items you will need:

Nonstick cooking spray
Gluten-free low sodium soy sauce
Almond butter
Rice vinegar
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Dried oregano

I hope you all have a great week! Stay warm!

Gluten-Free Baked Chicken & Bean Burritos

I don't know about you, but back when I was in college my friends and I sort of had a thing for those enormous gas station burritos. It's a good thing we were able to walk from the bar to the nearest gas station no matter where I lived as I am not one to promote getting behind the wheel after a few too many libations. Walking also burned some of those calories we consumed from said libations and burritos.  Those burritos managed to prevent any hangover. Okay, well sometimes;)

Looking back, I really can't believe I even ate those things. Not to say they weren't tasty, but I probably would not put any of that crap in my body now. Back when I was becoming more health conscious, it was hard to come up with recipes that the Bear would eat. I too still had cravings for some of the things I used to indulge in, but knew eating some of those foods would not make me feel my best. So, I had to find healthy substitutes. Like these Baked Chicken and Bean Burritos.

I know this probably looks pretty fancy, but it's not. Sure I dressed this little guy up a bit for the picture. Otherwise you would not think it was so impressive. These burritos are SUPER simple to make. I always prep all of the ingredients and assemble the burritos a day or two in advance, store them in the fridge, and then bake them when I'm ready. You could even make these a freezer friendly dish. How did I make this huge serving healthier? I substituted flour tortillas for Udi's gluten-free tortillas. Instead of the chubby inducing full fat cheese, I simply swapped it out for shredded 2% cheddar. Top with your favorite salsa and a little light sour cream and you've got a simple husband approved meal.

Gluten-Free Baked Chicken and Bean Burritos
inspired by Weight Watchers

Nonstick cooking spray
1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 package of your favorite gluten-free taco seasoning
1 15 oz. can fat-free refried beans
1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese, divided
6 gluten-free tortillas
Salsa, light sour cream, and diced green onion for topping (optional)

Spray an 8-inch by 12-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Heat a medium sized nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground chicken. Stir to break apart and cook for 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the taco seasoning. Turn of the heat and combine the beans, green chiles, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Set aside. Heat tortillas according to package directions. I usually place mine on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 1 minute to make the tortillas more pliable. After your tortillas are heated, place 3/4 cup of the bean mixture onto the middle of the tortilla. Fold in the sides and roll to seal in the bean mixture. Place seam side down into the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. At this point you can cover and store the burritos until you are ready to bake and serve. When you are ready to bake and serve, uncover the dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the burritos and place in the oven. Set the oven at 375 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the burritos begin to turn lightly brown around the edges and the cheese is melted. Top with salsa, sour cream, and diced green onion if you choose.