Ballin’ on a Budget

This post isn’t so much about sharing a specific recipe nor does only it pertain to those who have tight finances. This is more about encouraging people to utilize those leftovers or things in the pantry that are waiting to get thrown away. You don’t have to be a grand master chef, and you don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients. The ingredients can be simple, and the meal can be quick and easy, but still be delicious! This way, we can stop from wasting so much of our food! You know how sometimes a recipe only calls for half the bag of pasta and the other half of the pasta sits around in the cupboards? For dinner tonight I boiled up some extra pasta I had. I threw in some frozen peas, chopped green onions, minced garlic and chopped, cooked pork. All these ingredients were leftovers, just sitting in my fridge on the brink of being tossed out. I tossed it all in some soy sauce, sesame seed oil and a little bit of rice vinegar. I must say I was quite pleased with the results!
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Quick note** Add any combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar and/or sesame seed oil to a meat or pasta dish and you have the makings for a great and tasty asian inspired recipe. These flavors together never fail-
especially if you add in some fresh garlic!!

Anyway I hope this may have inspired you to jazz up some of the leftovers you have sitting around in your fridge or pantry. Sometimes I don’t even eat leftovers because I’m just tired of having the same thing again and again, so this was a nice way to switch things up on my taste buds, while also being less wasteful! Happy cooking everybody!

Easy Pork Chops with Mac n Cheese

Yes this is a healthy dish BUT this recipe is only healthy if you keep the Mac N Cheese to a minimum people! We are talking 1.5 cups (no bigger than your fist). For greens, you can use brussel sprouts, green beans, whatever you like! I used green beans. The pork chops were amazingly easy to cook, tender and perfectly seasoned! I don’t eat pork chops often but they are a very good, lean meat to eat! So here it is!

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EASY PORK CHOPS WITH MAC N CHEESE

Ingredients:

For the pork:

6 thin-cut boneless pork chops (have the butcher cut them into 3/4”-1” in portions)
1 tsp. Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp.garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 lemon
optional: port wine

To round out the meal:

Annie’s organic white cheddar Mac and cheese, prepared according to the box, or roasted potatoes if you have more time.

Your preferred veggies — green beans, brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, etc.

Instructions:
The night before you plan to eat the pork, take it out of the freezer and place in the fridge. To cook, first drizzle the chops with extra virgin olive oil and season with the cavender’s, lemon pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of those seasonings. Simple kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper work too.

Heat canola oil or olive oil in a saute pan until very hot, then cook the meat for about 2-3 minutes per side. Squeeze on a little fresh lemon juice just before removing from pan. If you have some port, you can add it after the meat is out of the pan, then scrape up the brown bits, simmer the port for a minute or two, then use as a sauce for the pork.

If you’ve got green beans or carrots, steam them in a steamer basket and season with salt and pepper.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Everyone right now is cooking up delicious creations with Asparagus. Well, here’s another! This recipe is meant to be vegetarian friendly, but I added some diced chicken to it to make it more to my liking. I also used whole wheat penne pasta! I just love love love the combination of Asparagus with Balsamic. Bon appetite my friends!

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PENNE WITH ROASTED ASPARAGUS AND BALSAMIC BUTTER

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pound asparagus
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 2 teaspoons salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  5. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  6. 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  7. 1 pound penne
  8. 1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
  9. 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.

 

P.F Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

I’ve been MIA lately because I took a trip out of state to go see my friends and family back in WA. While it was a lovely time, I came home and was a little distraught by the change in the scale number. So here I am back to cooking and not eating out every night!

This is a recipe that I just had a craving for so I made them for dinner tonight. I’ve made it before and even my husband liked them, which is an accomplishment considering it’s food wrapped in lettuce! He even took some leftovers to work and let his friend try some who also said it was delicious. 

Now that summer is coming…this is a light, refreshing and healthy meal to try. On top of it all, it was easy to make! So now the real question…does it really taste like P.F Chang’s Lettuce Wraps? Not really. In my opinion at least. But is it still delicious?? Heck yes! It is even a lot more healthy and light…definitely not as salty too. I also used lettuce leaves which is a lot healthier than the iceberg lettuce because it has more nutrients. This is definitely a recipe I make time and time again! Enjoy!

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P.F CHANG’S LETTUCE WRAPS

Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken breast
1/2 onion, minced
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1″ knob ginger, peeled & minced
2-1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon water
1/2 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or more if you like it hotter)
dash of pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry

Instructions:

1. Heat a large, non-stick skillet on high. Add chicken, onion, salt & pepper, then cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat. Add garlic and ginger then continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink.

2. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil, peanut butter, water, honey, chili garlic sauce and pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add into the skillet and stir to combine.

3 Add green onions and water chestnuts into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through. 

4. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and serve with cold lettuce leaves.

Chicken Enchiladas

I’m not a huge enchilada fan but the picture looked delicious so I decided to try it. They were pretty good! There was a lot of work and dishes involved but it was definitely a meal that one must have seconds of! If you can’t handle spice, maybe cut down on the chili powder and really make sure you leave no Jalapeño seeds. I left some of the seeds because I like the kick.

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CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 3 medim cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
  • 1 cup extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • salt and ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in a large saucepan. cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through (thickest part reaches 160 degrees), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and set aside. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onin mixture, and add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheese, and the cilantro. Toss to combine.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tortillas start to brown slightly (skip this step if you don’t like the crunch).

Reduce heat to 400. Remove enchiladas and pour sauce evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, additional cilantro, etc.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta

You know how I love pasta! This particular recipe makes a lot so it’s a perfect dish to share. Serve with salad and/or some garlic bread and you have a complete meal. Happy cooking!

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CHICKEN PARMESAN PASTA

Ingredients:
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
1 – 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz pasta (I used shells)
2 oz (about 1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 oz (about 1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses. Set an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, the water, 1 cup of the chicken broth, and the pasta to the pan, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover the pan and continue simmering (you may need to reduce the heat slightly) until the pasta is tender, about 16-18 minutes. Stir the pasta frequently as it cooks.

Once tender, remove the cover and stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the pepper, and the chicken. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. If the mixture seems dry, mix in as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth as needed to loosen it up (I didn’t add any of it). {Note: if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the mixture to a baking dish at this point.} Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and bubbles around the edges. Garnish with the basil then serve.

Blackened Chicken and Cilantro Lime Quinoa with Avocado Cream Sauce

There are three things I love about this recipe. It’s healthy, it is easy/quick to make, and it is delicious!! Something about the combination of lime, cilantro and avocado with the perfectly seasoned chicken gave it so much dimension and flavor. You have to have all elements in every bite because they absolutely compliment each other! This is also coming from a person who is not a huge cilantro fan. Give it a try!! It even has a little bit of kick, which I love. Remember if you don’t like any spiciness at all, just cut down (or cut out) the cayenne pepper because that’s where all the heat comes from. So here it is!

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BLACKENED CHICKEN AND CILANTRO QUINOA WITH AVOCADO CREAM SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • ½ Teaspoon of Paprika
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Onion Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup of Quinoa
  • Juice and Zest from One Lime
  • A Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the dry seasonings in a small bowl. Mix them together and then season both sides of each chicken breast.
  2. Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan or skillet. Heat the olive oil for a minute over medium/high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook for seven minutes on each side with the lid on.
  3. Add the chicken stock and quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes with the lid on, until all the stock has been absorbed.
  4. After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for seven minutes before slicing them.
  5. Add the warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.
  6. Serve the sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If you find the blackened seasoning too spicy, you can add a quick and easy avocado cream sauce to cool it down.
  7. Just place the flesh from an avocado along with two tablespoons of Greek yogurt in a food processor and puree until smooth.