Zucchini and Yellow Squash Parmesan Crisps

Zucchini and Squash CrispsDo you ever crave fried foods? Or am I the only one who will admit it? Well, I crave fried foods, but I don’t necessarily give in to my cravings. I find other ways to satiate the craving. Instead of battered and deep fried vegetables, how about something a little lighter and just as tasty?  Great taste, less guilt.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees . Meanwhile, coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cut zucchini and squash into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
  3. Put zucchini and squash rounds into a large bowl and add olive oil. Toss to cover all the rounds.
  4. In a smaller bowl, add Parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper. Stir to mix well.
  5. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture. Be sure to evenly coat on both sides by pressing the coating on to stick.
  6. Place dipped rounds onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Bake zucchini and squash rounds for 25-30 minutes, until rounds are browned and crisp.
  8. Serve immediately. I like to serve with a low fat zesty ranch dressing.

Zucchini Crisps

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Turkey Chili

Turkey ChiliAm I the only one that makes casseroles, chili, soups and stews all year round? Sure, they warm your belly in the winter months, but why shouldn’t you make your belly happy all year long? This chili came from my mandatory weeks of softer foods diet. I mean don’t get me wrong, eating ice cream without feeling guilty was fun for a day. But I started wanting something tasty and filling and maybe even a little healthier. Bonus is this is a one pot dish. Less to clean up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (Yes, you read that correctly)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked brown or white rice (optional)
  • 1 cup water

SUGGESTED TOPPINGS:

  • cilantro or green onions, diced
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Over medium high heat, add olive oil to large pot. Cook turkey and onions until turkey is done and onions are tender. Drain any excess oil or liquid.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order of list (red onions, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes… and finally, water.)
  3. Stir to mix well. When chili comes to a boil, lower heat to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. When ready to serve, top with cheese, sour cream and green onions or whatever you like to top your chili with.

Turkey Chili Pot

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole PlatedI must admit it is hard to make (somewhat) vegetarian meals with a meat and potatoes loving son in my house. And I’m pretty sure I cannot give up chicken. But in my efforts to try to eat healthier, I decided to give quinoa a try. Yes, I know I am late to the quinoa party and there is probably some other grain that is more popular now.

This casserole came out pretty tasty and I didn’t miss having any meat in it, well not too much. And I know, it’s not truly a vegetarian dish since I used cheese in it. But will you give me a pass on this? This would make a great Meatless Monday meal for those of you that participate in that.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used defrosted frozen ones, but you can use canned or fresh)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced black olives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
  • 1 avocado, diced for garnish
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
  2. Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water according to package directions. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, onion, bell pepper, 2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, black beans, sliced olives, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, can of Ro*Tel, and 1/2 cup of both cheeses. Reserve the other 1/2 cup of cheeses for top.
  4. Add quinoa mixture to prepared baking dish. Smooth out into even an even layer.
  5. Add enchilada sauce to cover the quinoa mixture.
  6. Add the other half cup of cheddar and mozzarella cheese to the top of casserole.
  7. Cover casserole with foil. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Uncover casserole and garnish with avocado, reserved cilantro and tomatoes.

 

Don’t let the cheesy goodness fool you. There’s healthy stuff hidden under the cheese layer!

Quinoa Fiesta Casserole

 

 

Tender Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

BBQ Ribs PlatedOnce again, I have failed to go exchange my empty propane tank. So using the grill is out of the question. That’s all right. My oven works fine. I decided to add a simple spice rub to my ribs. I normally just salt and pepper them and let the barbecue sauce do all the flavoring.  But I wanted to change things up and give it a try. Plus, since I am taking a short cut and using store bought barbecue sauce, I wanted to do a little extra something. And the ribs came out surprisingly good. My son, who normally loves his ribs slathered in thick, sticky barbecue sauce suggested next time I leave some of them with just the dry rub and no sauce. What the what?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs, about 4 1/2 pounds
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups your favorite barbecue sauce

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. If your store/butcher doesn’t already do so, you will need to peel off the membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder and black pepper.
  4. Cover the ribs with this rub on all sides. At this point, I like to cut my rib racks into sections of 3-4 ribs. You can leave whole and cut when finished. I just hate burning my fingers when cutting ribs. But that’s my issue. You are probably not prone to burn yourself when cooking like me.
  5. Place ribs on two layers of foil. (or one layer of heavy duty foil) BBQ Ribs prep 1
  6. Place another two layers of foil (or one layer of heavy duty foil) on top of the ribs.
  7. Roll and crimp edges up tightly. Be sure edges are facing up to seal.
  8. Place packaged ribs on baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is shrinking away from the ends of the bones.
  10. Remove from oven.
  11. Turn oven to broiler setting.
  12. At this time, if you haven’t already done so, cut your racks into 3-4 rib portions.BBQ Ribs prep 2
  13. Arrange on pan, bony side down. Brush on barbecue sauce generously.
  14. Broil for 1-2 minutes until sauce is caramelized and bubbly.BBQ Ribs prep 3
  15. If you prefer, turn ribs over and repeat with sauce on bony side. I don’t bother since it is all bone. Plus when I tried, the meat fell off the bone.
  16. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy! Don’t forget the extra napkins. BBQ Ribs