I’m Feeling Healthy

Healthy Creamy Spinach Soup

healthy-creamy-spinach-soup

I really love my weekends. I’m sure you’re thinking duh, everyone does! But I reeeeeally indulge on my weekends. I eat great food, drink (lots of) great drinks, and there’s usually a few DQ blizzards or donut ice cream sandwiches sprinkled in there too. I love it. I love food. I love wine. But when Monday rolls around, I need to reverse some of the damage I’ve done over the past 72 hours. And actually, I like that too. I like eating healthy, fresh, and relatively light during the week.  And last year, right after we had the boys, my mother in law brought over a couple containers of spinach soup for me to freeze and eat when I had a free hand. I kept it in there for quite a while because I never thought I was ‘craving’ spinach soup…but when I finally tried it I was blown away by how delicious and satisfying it was. I asked her for the recipe, but because she didn’t have exact measurements this is only loosely based on hers. I wanted to keep mine relatively clean and light, But you could add more cream, more butter, more corn starch to thicken. Or you could add less milk and less butter if you wanted it even cleaner. I also did a high spinach to liquid ratio, because I wanted it to pack a strong spinach punch. But you could add up to 2 more cups of liquid to dilute a little more. Basically, this is a very easy soup to make and you can freeze the leftovers for a rainy day.

Recipe

  • 16 oz spinach, stems mostly removed
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups full sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/3 cup water (optional)
  • Topping ideas: parmesan, croutons, feta, sour cream, store bought stuffing

Heat a little olive oil in a large soup pot, and toss in the onions and celery.  Cook for several minutes, then add in the butter to melt.  When onions are cooked, throw in the spinach and 1/2 cup water. Stir, then cover and cook until wilted (only about 5 min). Side note- removing the stems from the spinach isn’t nearly as annoying or time consuming as I thought it would be. Just tear as many off as you get to, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. You could also use a package of frozen spinach instead. When spinach is wilted and tender, transfer everything to a food processor and puree. Pour it back into the soup pot, then add in the chicken broth, whole milk, kosher salt, pepper, and thyme (if using). Stir to combine and allow to heat.  For a thicker soup, whisk together 3 tablespoons of corn starch with about 1/3 cup water. Add it to the soup and bring to a low simmer to thicken. Serve plain, or top with cheese, croutons, or sour cream.

apple-and-smoked-gouda-stuffed-chicken

You guys, it’s 96 degrees in Dallas today.  I feel like I’ve been patiently waiting for fall, trying to see the positives of a never ending sweltering summer, and I just can’t do it anymore. I might lose my %$^&. I just literally drove my kids to and from a doctor’s appointment, and I’m so hot I might need to take another shower. I wish there was someone I could call and complain to, and maybe ask for my money back. I did not sign up for this.

The only silver lining is that we can continue using the man-made Braley waterpark in the backyard (which includes this fun little thing), and if the heat keeps up I could probably start charging neighbors for admission.

Since it’s too hot to cook any stews, I’m keeping things quick and simple in the kitchen. This dinner was delicious, fun, pretty, healthy, easy, and fast. What else could you ask for?

Recipe

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (2 full breasts), butterflied
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple (or two small), cut into thin slices
  • 4 slices smoked Gouda (looooove Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Pan sauce (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt

Season the butterflied chicken with salt and pepper. I bought 4 chicken breasts and butterflied them myself (it’s pretty easy using a sharp knife, lay the breast half down flat and cut parallel to your surface until about 1/2 in from the edge), but you can easily have the butcher do this for you. Preheat the oven to 350 and heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the sliced apple to the skillet and saute for only about 2 minutes, to soften them up a bit. Transfer to a bowl.

With the butterflied chicken breasts lying open, add one thick slice of gouda (I like the pre-cut round variation from Trader Joe’s), followed by 1/4 of the apple slices. The gouda I centered in the middle of the butterfly, but the apple slices I placed on one side to prevent them from breaking.  Fold one half of the chicken over the other, and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Brown each of the chicken breasts 2 minutes per side, transferring/moving the toothpick when you flip. This is actually fairly easy to do after the first side cooks, because the chicken stays folded over. When done browning, transfer to a baking dish.  Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, make the pan sauce if desired.  Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, then pour in the apple juice and add the butter and a pinch of salt. Let the sauce reduce on low while the chicken cooks. Pour a spoonful or two over each breast before serving.

Chicken Paillard (ish)

chicken-paillard-ish

Chicken paillard is one thing I see on a menu and always just keep on scrollin’.  In most circumstances, I don’t really want a pounded-thin breast of chicken atop ‘lightly dressed’ greens when I’m out to dinner. Lightly dressed? I LOVE RANCH. The full fat kind.

But recently, I’ve been trying to cook more simply during the week. Simple stuff. Relatively healthy. Not 7 million sides. And I opened my eyes and heart to chicken paillard and you know what? It’s just lovely. I breaded mine, but you could easily skip that step. I’m just trying to make sure I hang on to those last 4 pounds of baby weight.

Recipe

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterflied
  • 1 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • s&p
  • olive oil
  • 1 bag butter/bibb lettuce
  • sunflower seeds
  • This lemon vinaigrette

Start by coating each of the chicken breasts in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Coat a large nonstick pan with olive and heat to medium high.  Working in batches, cook the chicken breasts about 3 minutes per side.  While the chicken is cooking, toss the lettuce with some sunflower seeds and lemon vinaigrette (I like to ‘heavily dress’). Serve the chicken ‘atop’ these greens.

Greek Fajitas

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I absolutely love eating my dinner in a tortilla. I’ll eat anything in there. Anything at all. A few examples:

  1. tacos (duh)
  2. quesadillas (duh)
  3. BBQ chicken quesadilla (ok)
  4. peanut butter quesadilla (woah)
  5. Egg burrito (yep)
  6. and the best….Pizzadilla (wow! idea courtesy of my BIL circa 2005)

So we’ve decided to move our Greek chicken pitas out of the pita and into the fajita. A Greek version of our favorite Mexican dinner. My only regret is that we didn’t think of this sooner, and the only thing I’m lying about is that dollop of Tzatziki shown in that photo. I use like 75 dollops.

Recipe

Chicken Marinade

  • ~2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Greek vinaigrette (your favorite store bought)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (optional)

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 container plain yogurt (about 5 oz)
  • 1 container 2% Greek yogurt (~7 oz)
  • 1/2 cup seeded & chopped cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ~1 clove garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Fajitas

  • 2 small yellow/white onions (to caramelize)
  • Feta cheese (for topping)
  • 1/2 chopped cucumber (for topping)
  • 4-8 of your favorite tortillas

Mix the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 8.  Mix all tzatziki ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

To caramelize the onion, slice thin, combine into a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and touch of salt, and cook down for about 20 minutes.

Grill the chicken (about 5-6 min/side for thicker cuts, 3 min/side for cutlets); let stand for a few minutes and then slice pieces about 1/4 in thick.

Assemble fajitas on your tortillas with caramelized onion, chicken, and top with chopped cucumber and fresh feta. Serve with sauce.

 

 

 

my-favorite-healthy-egg-salad

I feel like one of the hardest parts of working full time is coming up with lunch solutions. Pack a lunch? Eat out every day? Skip it altogether? Tough answers to some tough questions. As a side note – I’ve always had a strange admiration for people who say ‘I forgot to eat lunch today.’  I mean. How? How did you forget? Weren’t you starving? Weren’t you counting down the hours/minutes/seconds until you got to eat something good? Isn’t lunch the highlight of an otherwise mundane day? I don’t get it, you guys, and I’m intrigued.

But the reason lunch is important during the week is two-fold: 1) obvious nutrition requirements and 2) it gives you something to look forward to. If I didn’t have lunch I might just simply quit my day after breakfast.

This egg salad is one of my ultimate go-to’s for lunch. It’s healthy, it’s easy to make, and you can make it in larger batches to have all week. You can put it on toast, you can put it on crackers, or you can just eat it with a fork like I do most days. It’s delicious.

Recipe (1)

  • 4 eggs (will be using 1 whole egg, and 3 egg whites)
  • 1 tablespoon light mayo
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickle
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickle juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ~1/8 teaspoon kosher/coarse salt, more to taste
  • pepper

Hard boil the eggs. I do mine by placing them in a pot and covering with water, bringing them to a boil, then turning off the heat and covering for 10 minutes. I then drain the water and replace with ice water. The ice bath for a minute or two ensures the yolks stay yellow.

Peel the eggs and slice one whole egg, and 3 egg whites into a bowl. Discard the remaining yolks. Mash the egg and egg whites with a fork. Mix in the mayo, pickle, pickle juice, mustard, S&P. Serve warm or refrigerate to cool down.

Zoodle Piccata

zoodle-piccata

More zoodles! We can’t stop!

It rained all weekend here, which was so nice. Seriously, it’s never super rainy here for several days in a row. Aside from it squashing our plans to go to the park yesterday, it was a great excuse to stay in all weekend and be lazy (I use the term “lazy” lightly these days, with two mobile babies). And eat sandwiches. I ate lots of sandwiches this weekend. PS- if you’ve never tried pepperoni on your turkey sandwich, I highly recommend.


Chicken Piccata has long been a favorite of mine, and I’ve made similar recipes here and a sour cream version here. Oh and more lemon butter here and a lemon dijon butter sauce here.  This is a very basic white wine lemon butter sauce, so easy and so quick. We loved it with the zoodles because they suck up every ounce of flavor in the sauce.


Recipe

  • 1 1/4 lb chicken cutlets (butterflied breasts, alternatively pound them thin)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tablespoon flour, divided
  • 1 1/4  teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup good white wine (such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 package  Veggie Noodle Co. Zoodles (or several zucchinis spiralized)
  • 2-4 tablespoons capers

Start by preparing the chicken. Make sure they are either cutlets or pounded thin. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl.   Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Coat each piece in flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large pan. Working in batches, cook the chicken – about 3 minutes per side (for thin chicken). Set aside. Add butter to the pan and melt. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Add in wine and lemon juice, whisking to remove lumps, and then let it reduce for about 10 minutes. Whisk in remining 1/4 teaspoon salt, Dijon mustard and capers and remove from heat. In another pan, cook the zoodles for 2-3 minutes.  Plate the zoodles, top with chicken and sauce.

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