Quick Pork Chop Chili

I had some boneless pork chops to use up this week after a BOGO sale at the store last week. I decided to make a dry chili and serve it like fajitas or tacos. If you want a more traditional chili, add canned tomatoes and water to make more sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Boneless Pork Chops
  • ½ White or Yellow Onion
  • ½ Green Pepper
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 8 oz. Chicken Broth
  • 14.5 Oz. Can Cannellini Beans
  • 4 Oz. Can Diced Green Chilies
  • Chili Spices (I used Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cumin, and Black Pepper)

Steps:

Chop onions and green peppers and set aside. Slice pork chops thinly and then cut again crosswise to make small pieces.

Heat olive oil in large deep skillet or dutch oven to medium high. Add onions and green peppers and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add pork and continue to stir and cook until no longer pink.

Add all spices and stir to coat.

Rinse beans well to remove as much sodium as possible. Add broth, beans and chilies to pan and heat until bubbly. At this point, I turned to low without the lid and continued to simmer for about 20 minutes until all the liquid was evaporated. If you want a more traditional saucy chili, add some water and a can of tomatoes and keep the lid on to keep the liquid in.

Serve with your favorite mexican toppings like tortillas, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, green onions and tomatoes.

Cooking the spices dry for a minute before adding the wet ingredients makes the flavor pop out more
I simmered this until all the liquid was gone and then served with toppings like taco night

Nutrition Facts: (¼ of chili with no toppings)

  • Calories: 275
  • Protein: 33
  • Fat: 9
  • Carbs: 17

Chicken Quinoa Bake with Orange Jicama Salad

I was on a mission this week not to eat any processed foods, added sugar or dairy so my meal plan included a lot of white meat and veggies. The kids are a bit tired of chicken now, so the hubby is planning to take us to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar for dinner. I can get a chicken burger without cheese or a bun and a really delicious pick your own ingredients salad on the side. The kids can get good old american cheese burgers and fries and the hubby can get something interesting like spicy jalapenos or crazy big bacon. It’s nice we can all get something we like at the same place and it’s a real treat since we don’t go out to eat very often.

For this recipe I really just wanted a way to make quinoa and chicken in the same pan in the oven without using a cream based soup. Most of the recipes I found online all had Cream of Mushroom or some sort of variation of that nature.

So I just winged and it turned out pretty good. My family really likes garlic and that was the main flavor here. If there are other flavors you like better, definitely throw them in. Chicken and Quinoa alone are both pretty bland and neither soak up flavor very well.

The salad featured my two favorite in season ingredients right now, jicama and oranges. It was my favorite salad of the week. I made 4 separate salads this night instead of a big bowl buffet style. One of my daughters doesn’t like avocado so it was easier to make sure everyone got what they wanted. It actually turned out to be way too much food for one dinner so I had quite a bit of salad and chicken leftovers for lunch the next day and a container of quinoa for later use.

Ingredients:

Chicken Quinoa Bake:

  • 1 t. Olive Oil
  • 1 C. Quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 14.5 oz. Can Chicken Broth
  • 4 Thin-Cut Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Cloves Garlic minced
  • Black Pepper

Orange Jicama Salad:

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • ¼ Jicama
  • 2 Cara Cara Oranges
  • 2 Green Onions
  • ½ Avocado

Steps:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Pour olive oil into 13 x 9 glass baking pan and rub to cover bottom and sides. Add rinsed quinoa and chicken broth and shake or stir until fairly evenly distributed. Place chicken breast on top trying not to overlap too much. Sprinkle with minced garlic and black pepper to taste.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove foil, stir quinoa underneath chicken and take the temperature of the biggest piece of chicken. (Mine were about 137 at this stage and quinoa had not opened yet). Replace foil and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes. Chicken should be a minimum of 165 degrees in the center of the thickest part and quinoa should be open. (They will seem slightly larger than when you started and their little curly tails will be sticking out.)

While the chicken and quinoa are still in the oven, make the salads.

Chop lettuce and arrange in bottom of the bowls. Peel 2 oranges using a knife and cut into small pieces. Chop jicama into small squares and chop green onions. Slice ½ an avocado in the peel two ways and then scoop. Arrange all veggies on top of the lettuce. Return to refrigerator and then serve with dinner. We used lemon or lime juice and avocado spray for dressing, but any vinaigrette would also work.

Not too many ingredients and one pan makes for a quick weeknight dinner
These are thin-cut chicken, regular whole breasts would probably take too long to cook compared to the quinoa
More quinoa than one family of 4 can eat!
I want to eat this salad again….

Nutrition Facts: (1 Piece of Chicken, ½ C. Cooked Quinoa, 1 Salad no dressing)

  • Calories: 417
  • Protein: 34.9
  • Fat: 13.8
  • Carbs: 37.7

Cheeseburger and French Fry Casserole with Big Mac Salad

This recipe was born because I had some leftover Naked Baked Potatoes and some ground turkey and was trying to think of something the kids would enjoy for dinner. The two youngest have recently started liking Big Macs from McDonalds, but obviously it’s not healthy to have one very often. If I had to do it over again, I would use twice as much ground turkey and half as much canned tomatoes so the burger mixture was a little more dry and ketchupy flavored. The kids really enjoyed it anyway.

Ingredients:

Casserole:

  • 1-2 lbs. Ground Turkey
  • 4-6 Slices American or Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ White Onion Minced
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • ½ C. Ketchup
  • 2 T. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 t. Garlic Salt
  • ½ t. Pepper
  • 1 t. Dry Mustard
  • 1 ½ Cooked Potatoes Sliced in Stick Shapes

Salad:

  • ½ Iceburg Lettuce Chopped
  • 1 Small Tomato Chopped
  • ¼ Diced Red Onion
  • 2 Small Dill Pickles Chopped (or 2 T. Pickle Relish)
  • ¼ C. Mayonnaise
  • ¼ C. Ketchup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Saute the minced onion in a little oil or butter on medium heat until translucent but not brown. Add ground turkey and use a wooden spoon to stir and break up the larger pieces until brown. (If you use a lean ground turkey there is no need to drain it, if you used ground beef you may need to drain off excess fat at this stage).

Add the remaining casserole ingredients except the cheese and potatoes and stir until heated through.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add ½ the meat mixture to the bottom of the dish. Top with cheese slices until covered in a single layer. Add remaining ½ of meat mixture to the dish. Place the chopped potatoes on top of the casserole.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until the center is at least 165 degrees and potatoes are slightly crisp. You can broil for the last 2 minutes for extra crispy potatoes if desired.

While the casserole bakes, chop the veggies and pickles into small pieces for the salad and mix together with the mayo/ketchup and salt and pepper. I also added a very small dash of Worcestershire sauce to thin the dressing a bit.

I added a bit of prepared mustard to serve.

Chop the onions really small so they’re more like fast food onions
Add these after the meat is browned
Kind of like a Big Mac with Fries except WAY fewer calories even with potatoes, mayo and ketchup in it

Nutrition Facts: (⅙ of all ingredients made with 1 lb. Turkey and 4 slices Cheddar Cheese)

  • Calories: 312
  • Protein: 20
  • Fat: 22
  • Carbs: 25

Naked Baked Potatoes

I had some potatoes in the cupboard that had been there a bit too long. The skin was a bit wrinkly and they’d started to sprout eyes. I wasn’t in the mood for making something complicated like mashed potatoes or scalloped, so I decided to see if you could bake a naked potato. They turned out really well. My husband loved the crispy edges where the butter pooled at the bottom after baking and I had some leftover for another recipe later in the week.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Potatoes
  • 4 T. Butter
  • Coarse Sea Salt

Steps:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and peel potatoes being careful to remove any ugly spots. Place each potato on a square of foil and add a pat of butter. Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Wrap each potato being careful to see that all 4 edges come at least halfway up the side of the potato to ensure the butter doesn’t leak out while baking.

Bake on a baking sheet for at least an hour or until the potatoes can be easily poked almost to the center with a fork.

Allow to cool for several minutes and then serve with your favorite baked potato toppings. You might try some combination of cheese, bacon bits, green onions or chives, butter, sour cream and salt and pepper.

Make sure to close the foil only at the top so the butter doesn’t leak out while it cooks

Nutrition Facts: (1 Potato and 1 T. Butter)

  • Calories: 392
  • Protein: 8
  • Fat: 11
  • Carbs: 67

Sheet Pan Pork Chops, Apples and Veggies

I haven’t posted anything lately because the hubby and I were in Belize! It’s an amazing place, if you haven’t tried it, you totally should. The people are friendly, the prices are cheap and the ocean. What more could you ask for?

This recipe is an easy weeknight dinner that only uses one bowl and one sheet pan for dishes which makes for easy clean up. I ended up using frozen Brussels Sprouts because I was out of fresh greens toward the end of the week. They were not quite as delicious as fresh ones would have been, but WAY better than steamed per the package directions.

This recipe could work with pretty much any vegetables or apples you have around. Frozen obviously need longer to roast and depending on how big or small you chop the pieces and the thickness of the pork chops, you may need less time or longer in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package Frozen Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 3 Small Gala Apples
  • 4 Boneless Pork Chops
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • Spice Rub
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cinnamon

Steps:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray the Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Oil (or any other high heat oil). Sprinkle with salt. Roast on a sheet pan covered with foil for 10-15 minutes until warm enough in the center to slice.

In the meantime, chop apples and onions or other veggies into bite size pieces. You can either peel the apples or leave the skin on.

Remove pork chops from package into a shallow bowl or plate. Add olive oil and rub and then rub with your favorite spice rub. I used an Omaha Steaks rub for this recipe and it turned out delicious. If you don’t have a rub pre-mixed you can make one with some paprika, onion powder or flakes and garlic powder, chili powder or other flavors you like.

Remove sprouts from oven, slice each one in half and return to sheet pan. Move them to one side of the pan and spray the cut side with oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt and some pepper.

Add the pork chops down the center of the sheet pan. Place the apples and any other quick cooking veggies on the empty side. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon.

Bake until pork chops are at least 145 degrees in the thickest chop center and veggies are done.

You can broil at the end for 2 minutes if you want some extra crispiness on the sprouts.

Before I sprinkled cinnamon on the apples. It’s not required, but really makes a delicious contrast with the other flavors.

Nutrition Facts: (1 Chop and ¼ of veggies/apples)

  • Calories: 300
  • Protein: 30
  • Fat: 11
  • Carbs: 23

Pizzacotti

This is not a low calorie dinner, but it does have a lot of Protein (and Fat and Carbs). Last week we had Parmesan Chicken one night and make your own pizza on Saturday so we had leftover sauces and mozzarella. This week I decided to use up the leftovers on a cross between stuffed manicotti and pizza. You can just use regular pasta sauce and omit the pepperoni or use another type of meat you have on hand. Ground turkey or Italian sausage would both be good here. You can also substitute ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese if you like that texture better.

This recipe took a while to bake and my family was so hungry and the casserole so delicious that I didn’t manage to get a picture of the finished product before we scarfed the whole thing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Manicotti Pasta
  • 24 oz. Pasta Sauce or Mix of Pasta and Pizza Sauce
  • 1 Large Container of Cottage Cheese
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella divided
  • 1 Egg
  • Garlic Salt
  • Dried Parsley or Dried Basil
  • 1 Cup Mini Pepperoni

Steps:

Boil the Manicotti shells according to package directions and place on a foil to cool.

Mix the cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1 and 1/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese, garlic salt and dried herbs to a bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Scoop into a large ziplock bag and place in the fridge until shells are ready.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Mix the sauces together in one jar if using pasta and pizza sauce. Spread ½ the sauce with a spoon into the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan. Cut the end of the ziplock bag and use it like a pastry bag to fill each of the manicotti shells and place them gently into the sauce. It’s OK if they’re a little messy. Spread the remaining sauce over the tops of the shells. Sprinkle with mini pepperoni. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top.

Bake in the 375 degree oven for about an hour. Use a thermometer to ensure center is at least 165. Remove the foil in the last 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a green veg or salad and a crusty piece of bread.

Nutrition Facts (Three filled shells):

  • Calories: 711
  • Protein: 47
  • Fat: 48
  • Carbs: 62


Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage and Veggies

This recipe is super fast to throw together, tasty and easy to clean up. You can change the veggies for anything in season. Using Chicken Sausage saves on some fat and calories. I sadly only had a few Broccoli florets so we had to divide them up between us and didn’t get as many green nutrients this night. Try to eat more green veggies if you have them.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pack of Chicken Sausage Links any flavor (I used Simple Truth Apple Maple)
  • 1 small bag Red Potatoes
  • ½ small bag Baby Carrots
  • 1 C. or more Broccoli Florets
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parsley, Poultry Seasoning or other dried green herbs you like

Some Other Veggie Ideas:

  • Any kind of potato
  • Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Onion
  • Parsnips
  • Butternut Squash

Steps:

Preheat oven to 375.

Spray a foil lined baking sheet with non-stick spray (I use Avocado Oil). Chop Potatoes and other veggies into bite sized pieces. Slice Sausage Links into circles and keep in refridgerator until later.

Add longer cooking vegetables like potatoes and carrots to half the pan. Spray with avocado oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, add some green herbs and stir.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Stir the vegetables that are on the tray. Add the shorter cooking vegetables like Broccoli or Zucchini, spray with avocado oil, add spices and stir. Add the Chicken Sausage.

Bake for 15-20 minutes more until everything is slightly browned and cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (for 1 Sausage Link, 1 C. Potatoes, 1 C. Broccoli and Carrots):

  • Calories: 418
  • Protein: 19
  • Fat: 9
  • Carbs: 66

Instant Pot Ground Turkey Chili

This is another easy class night dinner that can simmer away for several hours while you’re busy. It’s a versatile recipe that you can swap out pretty much any of the ingredients depending on what you have in your fridge and pantry. Mine turned out a little watery, so next time I’ll use only half a can of water and it was pretty bland. If I’d had a white or yellow onion or fresh garlic around, I definitely would have thrown some in. And though I intentionally make it not spicy for the kids and add in hot sauce later to my own bowl, this one could have used some chili flakes or just a pinch of cayenne for better flavor. If you don’t have an instant pot, brown the turkey in a skillet and use a crock pot instead. Or if you are going to be home the whole time, you can also use a dutch oven.

Ingredients I Added:

  • 1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Water
  • 1 Can Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed Well)
  • 1 Orange Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Flakes
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin

Other Ingredient Ideas:

  • Jalapenos
  • Green Chiles
  • White or Yellow Onions
  • Minced Garlic
  • Pinto Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Flavored Tomatoes
  • Red or Green Bell Peppers
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Hot Sauce
  • Chili Flakes
  • Cayenne Pepper

Steps:

Raid your pantry and fridge for all the chili ingredients you can find.

Turn the instant pot on the “Brown” setting, spray with non-stick spray and brown the ground turkey. If you use beef or anything with fat, you will add calories and need to drain after browning, but it’s not necessary with lean turkey.

Chop any veggies you’ll be adding while the meat browns. Add any veggies like onions, garlic or peppers and continue browning for a few more minutes. Add all the spices you like and stir.

Add the canned items, including some water (I used a whole can after adding the tomatoes, but would only use half next time). Stir. Close the instant pot lid, but do not pressurize. Turn the setting to crock pot low and add enough time until you return from class or being busy. I needed about 3 hours, but set mine to 3.5 just in case. Serve with any chili toppings you like. We did taco night ingredients.

Nutrition Facts: (1 Serving of this recipe split 4 ways without any toppings added)

  • Calories: 332
  • Protein: 30
  • Fat: 16
  • Carbs: 32

Oven Baked Italian Chicken or Fish

This recipe was inspired by Parmesan chicken. My middle daughter loves Parmesan chicken, but I don’t always want to eat mozzarella cheese when I’m watching my nutrition. So this night I made some chicken with cheese and some fish without any cheeses. Double bonus for getting some healthy nutrients from the fish and making my non-fish eating family happy without adding much extra work. I didn’t take many pictures of this meal, but did end up serving it with roasted cauliflower and mini penne pasta. I had leftover fish and cauliflower to eat for lunch later in the week.

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Recipe:

  • 3 4 oz. chicken breasts
  • Avocado Oil Spray
  • ½ C. Garlic or Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ C. Parmesan Cheese (chopped fine)
  • 1 ½ C. Jar pasta sauce (I used Classico Fire Roasted Garlic)
  • ¾ C. Shredded Mozzarella
  • Salt or Garlic Salt
  • Pepper

For the Fish Recipe:

  • 3 5 oz. Orange Roughy or other white fish fillets, still partially frozen
  • Avocado Oil Spray
  • ½ C. Garlic or Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
  • Salt or Garlic Salt
  • Pepper

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Sprinkle salt or garlic salt and pepper on all the chicken and fish fillets.

Finely chop the parmesan cheese if needed. Add parmesan cheese and ½ C. Breadcrumbs to one shallow bowl, add ½ C. Breadcrumbs to another shallow bowl. Spray the chicken and fish fillets with avocado oil. Dip each chicken into the crumbs with cheese and flip and spray the other side with avocado oil. Flip and pat until well coated. Do the same with the fish in the crumbs without cheese and be sure to wash hands in between so as not to cross contaminate.

Place the chicken and fish fillets on a sheet pan covered with foil. You can make a fold in the foil to make a barrier in between the chicken and fish, although it’s not really necessary. I was afraid my fish juice might get over on the chicken side, but the juices didn’t stray too far.

Bake 15 minutes. Flip each of the pieces carefully and bake about another 15 minutes. If your fish was fully thawed or very thin pieces, you may need to remove them earlier than the chicken pieces. Use a thermometer to see if the chicken is at least 165 degrees and test the fish with a fork for flakiness.

Add ½ C pasta sauce and ¼ C. mozzarella cheese to each piece of chicken. Broil under oven broiler until cheese is melty and slightly browned. (You can either leave the fish if it’s still on the pan to get it a little crispier, or turn the pan to only broil the chicken side if the fish is crispy enough already)

Nutrition Facts Chicken (including pasta sauce and mozzarella):

  • Calories: 387
  • Protein: 39
  • Fat: 13.3
  • Carbs: 22.7

Nutrition Facts Fish:

  • Calories: 188
  • Protein: 25.8
  • Fat: 2
  • Carbs: 14.6

Hard Boiled Egg Snacks 2 Ways

It’s important to eat enough protein. Sometimes it’s difficult to get enough protein in the day without also eating a lot of fat too. We could just go around eating bacon all day, but it wouldn’t be good for digestion or heart health. I sometimes make a batch of hard boiled eggs on Sundays and then use them for higher protein snacks throughout the week. I like to come up with different ways of eating them cause plain old hard boiled eggs are pretty boring.

First up is an easy lower fat take on Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 2 T. 0% Fage Yogurt (or other low fat Greek style yogurt)
  • 1 t. Dijon Mustard
  • 1-2 t. Pickle Juice or Red Wine Vinegar
  • Spices to taste (I like garlic, onion and celery powder, salt and pepper)

Steps:

Peel the eggs. Cut them in half carefully and place the yolks in a small ziplock bag (or in a bowl if you want to be more green and have time to wash dishes later). Add the remaining ingredients to the bag/bowl. Start with 1 t. of pickle juice or vinegar and add more if the consistency of the mixture is too dry after the next step. Squish the ingredients together until well blended. Cut the corner of the bag and use it like a pastry bag to fill the egg whites, or use a spoon to fill the eggs if you used a bowl.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 151
  • Protein: 14
  • Fat: 9.5
  • Carbs: 1.3
Non-Fat Greek Yogurt stands in for the traditional mayonnaise without adding extra fat
The ziplock bag doubles as a way to mix the ingredients and pipe the filling into the egg halves. If you are making eggs for more than one person this also works using a larger ziplock.
This day I could have used another teaspoon of pickle juice as these turned out just a tad on the dry side

The second recipe is one I like to have for breakfast when I’m not feeling like My Favorite Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Wheat Hamburger Bun (or English muffin or Thin Type Sandwich Rounds)
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Mustard
  • Mild Pepper Rings or Pepperoncini
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps:

Toast the bun/bread in the toaster. Slice the egg using an egg slicer or carefully using a sharp knife. Place the egg slices on the toast (eat the ones that don’t fit), add mustard, peppers and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fruit or veggies for more nutritional value.

Nutrition Facts (not including fruit):

  • Calories: 280
  • Protein: 20
  • Fat: 12
  • Carbs: 23
Mustard and pepper rings add flavor without adding calories