Friday, November 3, 2017

BBQ Chicken Jalapeno Pizza

In my mission to create a delicious pizza (which the entire family loves) and also keep it low-sodium and *heart healthy, here's what I came up with today. It was a big hit, and one I'll certainly be making again. It looks a bit involved, but it really isn't. There's just a lot of stuff going on in this pizza and it's totally worth it!

BBQ CHICKEN JALAPENO PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

2 multi-grain or whole wheat thin pizza crusts
1/2 cup (divided) low sodium pizza sauce
1 cup low sodium BBQ sauce (divided)
1 lb. extra lean ground chicken, crumbled and browned
1/2 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet green pepper, chopped
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup hot banana pepper rings
1/2 cup (each), low-fat cheddar, shredded, low-fat mozzarella, shredded and low-fat asiago, shredded (all divided - each pizza gets 1/4 cup of each type of cheese)
Garlic powder

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 450 (or whatever your pizza crust directions indicate). In a medium sized frying pan, brown the chicken and add 1/4 c. BBQ sauce. Let simmer in the sauce for 10-15 minutes then remove from burner and set aside. Meanwhile, chop your peppers and onion and toss into a medium sized bowl.  Toss several times to make sure they're blended well.  Line two pizza pans with parchment paper and place your crusts on top. Line each crust with 1/4 cup each of pizza sauce and BBQ sauce.  Apply the sauce in a spiral fashion, from the center of the crust and working your way out then spread with a spatula to assure an even coating all the way around. Layer on each crust, half the chicken and half the veggies (or use less if you prefer a thinner pizza - save some of the meat and veggies in air tight containers and use in another recipe).  Over the meat and veggies, sprinkle the cheddar, mozzarella and asiago. Finally, give each pizza a generous shake of garlic powder.  Bake for 10 minutes, then enjoy!

*In our house, "heart healthy" means low sodium, low or zero trans fat, low calorie and low or zero cholesterol. I aim for all categories in any given recipe.  I don't always get there with every single category but I get pretty close and that's the important part of transitioning from a junk way of eating to a clean and healthy way!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over)

At the local farmer's market this past weekend we picked up a couple of small eggplants, determined to try it. Never having purchased, prepared or even tasted it before, I was pretty excited about it. After watching countless youtube videos on prep, and reading loads of recipes I came up with my own and it was a huge hit with the whole family. We'll definitely be having this again, and often.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small eggplants
salt
1 1/2 c. whole wheat panko
1 1/4 c. grated low-fat grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
3/4 c. flour
2 eggs
1 ball low-fat or light mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 jar low sodium pasta sauce (I used PC Blue Menu Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce)

METHOD:

Rinse the eggplants and cut off the stem ends and discard. Slice the rest of the eggplant about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place on a wire rack on a baking sheet and salt each slice, then turn over and salt the other side. Let sit for 2 hours. After the time is up, rinse well then give each piece an extra squeeze.

BAKED EGGPLANT ROUNDS 
Pre-heat your oven to 425. Rinse and dry your baking sheet and line with parchment paper and give it a good spray of cooking spray. Set aside. Set up your breading station by setting bowls of flour, 2 eggs slightly whisked, and panko and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese - in that order. Dip each round of eggplant into the flour, dredge through the egg, then press into the panko on both sides to fully coat.  Place on the baking sheet and repeat with all the rounds. Spray the top of each round with another spritz of cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over half way.  When done, remove and let cool 15 minutes or so, until they're cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temp to 350.

In a 9x13 baking dish, place about 1/2 cup pasta sauce to cover the bottom then layer eggplant rounds, mozzarella rounds and sprinkle with half the Parmesan.  Cover each round with a spoonful of pasta sauce and repeat for the second layer.  Bake for 35 minutes and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

This is definitely a time-intensive recipe, but if you have the time, it's definitely worth trying for a delicious, low-fat, low sodium family dinner.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened...

on the way to the kitchen today.

It started with looking for expert advice on eggplant (how to choose and cook) and then got sidetracked with a fabulous *sounding* recipe for roasted Brussels Sprouts, and was completely blown out of the water by a recipe for Avocado Double Chocolate Brownies. Wait. What?

After hubby suffered his heart attack 8 weeks ago, we've been determined to eat clean, eat healthy and incorporate foods into our regular diet that we've just neglected over the years either because we thought we didn't like them, or just because we really had no interest in them. After a trip to the local farmer's market this weekend and picking up some eggplant and brussels sprouts, we were determined to find tried and true recipes for both. I'm pretty sure I've hit the Mother Lode with Dani Spies site cleananddelicious.com

While we're no experts by any stretch of the imagination, we're not completely ignorant either, when it comes to clean and healthy eating since we jumped on that bandwagon a few years ago - and both lost a ton of weight between us. There is much truth to the saying "great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym". We just did what a lot of folks do - started out great, and then fell off the wagon for a million reasons.

Well, now we're back on the wagon for life (for much different reasons), and this is one fantastic site for sure.   Tonight's dinner was Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over!),  Roasted Brussels Sprouts and dessert was the ridiculously delish Avocado Double Chocolate Brownies.

I forgot to snap a pic of the finished Eggplant Parm but here's the eggplant before it was smothered in low-sodium pasta sauce and sliced "light"  mozza.  The eggplant looked so good and smelled so good, covered in whole wheat panko and shredded parm. I wondered why I was even considering smothering it in sauce and cheese and covering up the crispy goodness.  While it did turn out quite wonderful, the next time I make it I am most certainly serving the eggplant on it's own, with a dipping sauce. Probably with an olive oil/garlic/parm tossed pasta on the side. (Just a side note, the eggplant parm recipe didn't come from the Clean and Delicious site - I created it myself after watching loads of videos on how to prepare eggplant and reading loads of recipes).

For the Brussels Sprouts, follow this recipe exactly.  Literally, do that. I forgot to snap a pic of mine, but they actually looked identical to the pic in this recipe. And they tasted ridiculously wonderful. Hubby and I both called them "veggie candy". Yes, they were that good. Everyone at the table loved them, including the teenage boy who avoids vegetables like the plague.

Lastly, this was dessert. I wasn't even looking for a dessert but it sort of jumped off the page and latched onto my face like Alien. You know? Right? Stuff happens.

The recipe for this fantastic looking and tasting dish is here, and you need to make it today. You really do. Especially if you have avocados sitting around that needed to be used *yesterday* like I did. I bought them a few days ago but we've been doing some Italian cuisine so they just didn't blend in well. This was a really good use for them.

I'll be posting my Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over!) recipe soon, so be on the lookout for that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Roasted Veggie Soup

Today's kitchen challenge was a recipe I came across that just looked rather boring and bland, so I decided to kick things up a bit. I'm sure glad I did! I had some beets that needed attention right away and because almost no one in my family besides me likes beets, I needed a way to incorporate them without anyone going "eww, beets?". It almost worked. The literal PINK soup gave it away but the taste was a hit with everyone, and that made me very happy.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium sized baking potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
2 c. diced, peeled beets (about 6 medium sized beets)
2 carrots sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic
4 T. olive oil
2 t. Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. NoSalt
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 c. no salt added or reduced sodium chicken stock
2 c. half & half cream

Prepare all your veggies (except the celery) and set aside in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl wish together oil and all the seasonings. Pour over veggie mixture and toss to make sure all veggies are coated evenly. Pour veggies onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 for 1 hour. Turn after 30 minutes for even roasting.

Place the chicken stock and celery in a large pot and once the veggies are done in the oven, toss them in and bring to a quick boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour, until veggies are very tender. You can mash with a potato masher, or blend in a blender or use an immersion blender (I find my immersion blender works best) to chop the veggies into a rich, creamy texture.  Add the half and half and whisk well to heat through.

Serve topped with whole wheat seasoned croutons and a green salad.