Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brown Rice with Black Beans & Salsa

If you follow my blog at all, you may know that I've been trying to incorporate some "meatless meals" 1-2 nights a week. This is one that I love! It's packed with protein, iron, folate, fiber, vitamin B, antioxidants and the "good fat" that avocados provide. I also love how it looks so festive! I know they say don't judge a book by its cover, but that rule doesn't apply here. This one tastes just as good as it looks!
  • 1 can black beans or approx. 1 cup of dried black beans
    (NOTE: Be careful when buying black beans. Not all are treated equal! If you are going to use canned, make sure to check the ingredients and nutrition label. Look for no added salt and as little ingredients as possible. I like
    Eden's Organic Black Beans. I've also tried using dry, but they require a bit of planning as they need to be soaked in water overnight.)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2-3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh salsa
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prepare 1/2 cup brown rice, as directed on package.
  2. Halfway through rice being cooked (approx. 15 minutes after starting rice), heat pan with 1 tsp. canola oil over medium heat.
  3. Add black beans, 1 tsp. paprika and 1 tsp. cumin to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add tomatoes, corn, salsa, cilantro, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, salt and pepper to bowl and mix together.
  5. Add to pan with black beans and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. When rice is done, combine with black bean/tomato mixture and heat on low for 1-2 minutes or until ready to serve.
  7. Top with avocado slices and savor every bite!

Almond Crusted Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries & Asparagus

Is there anything better than a 30 minute, 5(ish) ingredient, delicious meal?!? Nope. I didn't think so. I threw this meal together a few weeks ago when I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. You'd be amazed what you can come up with if you just look in your pantry. :)  

Try it for yourself!! I promise you'll be glad you did.

  • 2 organic boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2-3/4 cups whole, raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 bundle asparagus
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Supplemental Ingredients: cornstarch, garlic powder, salt/pepper, olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in halves (vertically) so they are a bit thinner, similar to cutlets (this will cut cooking time). Set aside in a glass 9"x13" pan.
  3. Toss the raw almonds in a food processor and pulse a few times until almonds are chopped up (some bigger chunks are OK).
  4. Brush both sides of chicken breasts with Dijon mustard and coat both sides with sliced almonds.
  5. Slice sweet potato into "fries" and toss with 2 tablespoons of corn starch until all fries are coated. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
  6. Spread asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place Chicken, sweet potato fries and asparagus in oven for 20 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through).

And if you want to make this meal even easier, skip the sweet potato fries and just slice the sweet potato in 1/4"-1/2" rounds and bake. Sweet potatoes have such a great, natural taste to begin with - really, no additional seasoning is needed. My husband and I both loved this meal and the leftovers are great to take for lunch over a salad as well! (See my "What's For Lunch" post here

Seriously. easiest. meal. EVER!

What's for Lunch?

I've been on a huge mission lately to find some lunch ideas! There is a cafeteria in my office building so it makes it way too convenient to pass on the lunch packing and just grab something from the cafe every day. Unfortunately, this behavior is not the best for the wallet or the waistline. In an effort to do something about my bad habbit, I've been searching the internet for some lunch inspration! I found these AWESOME 3-compartment Bento lunch box containers:

Purchase here at Amazon

And this really cool lunch box (don't make fun.):

Purchase here at Amazon

Now I just needed some meal ideas.....  check out a sample of my most recent lunch ensembles:


Leftover Almond Crusted Chicken over a baby spinach salad
with wheat thins and hummus

Tuna Salad sandwich with cucumbers and red grapes
(I don't like my bread to get soggy, so I assembled the sandwich right before I ate)

Leftover Turkey Florentine Meatballs with carrots and red grapes
BBQ Chicken Salad with creamy greek yogurt dressing and strawberries
Leftover Brown Rice, Black Beans & Salsa with carrots and strawberries
Leftover BBQ Chicken Calzone with carrots and red grapes

Turkey Sandwich with veggies & hummus
Leftover Sweet Potato Stir Fry with pretzels and red grapes

Turkey Florentine Meatballs

When I moved into my first apartment right after college, my mom gave me this recipe binder cookbook. She filled it with a bunch of her recipes that she knew I loved and she also left room for me to add recipes of my own as I started to learn and appreciate the art of cooking. At the time, the extent of my cooking skills were pretty limited to boxed macaroni and cheese, pasta with jarred tomato sauce and stove-top grilled chicken. However, as I've grown in the kitchen, this has become one of my most prized posessions and one of the many, many things I appreciate so much about my mother. She was so thoughtful like this. I know she would be happy that I've started to find as much joy in cooking as she always did.
One of the recipes my mom included in the book was Turkey Florentine Meatballs. (I believe she got this from watching Rachael Ray on the Food Network, but I still like to consider it one of her own!) Raising 3 kids who were involved in a million activities, she loved finding recipes she could prepare ahead of time, freeze, and use as a go-to when she was short on time, but still wanted to feed us a homecooked meal. This is exactly one of those recipes. Try it and let me know what you think!

  • 1-1.5 lbs. ground turkey breast (1 package)
  • 1 box frozen spinach
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmigian cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Defrost spinach and squeeze out liquid.
  3. Place turkey in bowl, make well in middle.
  4. Add spinach, onion (except 3 tbsp. and set aside), garlic, egg, milk, bread crumbs, grated parmigian cheese, and salt/pepper. Mix well.
  5. Form into approx. 1" meatballs, place on cookie sheet and drizzle with EVOO.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes in 400 degree heated oven.

I served with pasta and tomato sauce, but my mom (and Rachael Ray) suggest serving with a cream sauce as follows...

Cream Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. onion, chopped
  • 1 cup organic chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 package (10 oz.) of provolone or italian blend cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add EVOO, butter, onion, and whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add milk and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add shredded provolone/italian blend cheese.
  5. Garnish meatballs with sauce and parsley.