BLACK BEAN-BACON-CHIPOTLE SOUP

Who doesn’t like black beans? Who doesn’t like bacon? Who doesn’t like those hot little chipotle peppers? Okay, some people don’t, but I believe most do. Combine the two in a relatively light soup and top with a dollop of sour cream. Total yum!

Black Bean-Bacon Soup

8 slices bacon, chopped

2 medium-sized red onions, chopped

2 cups thinly-sliced carrots (I used peeled baby carrots)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2-15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1-8 oz can tomato sauce

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped

2 tsp dried oregano

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

sea salt

ground black pepper

Optional toppings: chopped parsley, sour cream

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly crisp

2) Reduce heat to medium and add onion, carrot, and red bell pepper to soup pot; cook 5 minutes, stirring often; add chicken broth, black beans, tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, oregano, cumin, and thyme; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with or without optional toppings

Servings: 4-6

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CREPES CANNELLONI

You can buy pre-made crepes for this recipe, but I recommend going the extra mile and making your own. It’s pretty easy and they’re much tastier. I wish I could say this dish rated all “thumbs up” because it certainly deserves it, but Senior is not big on meatless “Olive Garden” type food. So, Senior aside, it was YUMazing!

Cannelloni Crepes2Cannelloni Crepes

7 eggs, divided

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp sea salt

1-1/4 tsp baking powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

Olive oil spray

1-16 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese

12 oz part-skim grated mozzarella cheese

1-1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1-24 oz jar marinara sauce (I used Barilla’s Spicy Marinara)

1) Place 3 eggs (reserving 4), milk, water, sea salt, baking powder, and flour in blender; blend until well combined, 30-60 seconds

2) Heat large skillet over medium-high heat; lightly spray with olive oil spray and slowly pour in enough batter, swirling it to spread, to make 7-8″ diameter crepes; cook about 45-60 seconds until lightly golden, flip, and cook additional 15 seconds; transfer to plate (you should end up with 12-15 crepes and will have to respray with olive oil a few times); cover with aluminum foil to keep warm

3) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly oil 9×13″ baking dish

4) In large mixing bowl, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese (reserving 1/4 cup), 4 reserved eggs, 1/2 cup parsley (reserving 1 tbsp), sea salt, and ground black pepper

5) Spread 3/4 cup marinara sauce (reserving remainder for topping)

6) Lay out crepes on kitchen counter and spread cheese mixture down center of each, dividing evenly between crepes; roll up crepes and place seam side down in baking dish; pour remaining marinara sauce over crepes and bake in oven 30 minutes; sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over top and cook additional 5 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with 1 tbsp reserved parsley; serve

Servings: 4-6

CHICKEN-ROASTED RED PEPPER ENCHILADAS

Obviously enchiladas are a family favorite since I make them a couple times a month. They’re all good–really can’t go wrong with enchiladas–but the roasted red pepper makes these stand out beautifully. Easy to make and too good not to eat down to the last serving.

Chicken-Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas

3 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1-1/2 cups chopped roasted red pepper (I used jarred)

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 cup (4 oz) reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

9 small corn tortillas

1 tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 cups chopped onion, divided

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup salsa verde

3 tbsp chopped jalapeno pepper, divided (yes, the picture shows minced but that’s because I let Junior Too have at it)

3/4 cup grated triple cheese (white, sharp, and mild cheddar mix)

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees; lightly oil a 13×9″ baking dish

2) To medium-sized mixing bowl, add: chicken, roasted red pepper, corn, cream cheese, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix well and set aside

3) Heat large skillet over medium-high heat; cook tortillas 30 seconds each side (2 at a time if your skillet is large enough); cut into quarters and set aside

4) To same skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and onions; cook 7 minutes, stirring often, until softened and transfer half the onions to the chicken mixture and mix well

5) Return skillet with remaining onions to stove top and heat over medium; add chicken broth, salsa verde, and half the jalapenos; cook 10 minutes, stirring salsa mixture occasionally; remove from heat

6) Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture over bottom of baking dish; layer half the tortilla quarters over salsa, followed by half the chicken mixture, the remaining tortilla quarters, and the remaining chicken mixture; bake in oven 15 minutes; scatter cheese and remaining jalapeños over top and cook additional 3 minutes until cheese melts; serve it up!

Servings: 6

STRAWBERRY-FETA-PINE NUT SALAD

We’re definitely moving toward cold weather food here in Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean we have to abstain from the occasional cool, crispy salad (served alongside a bowl of soup). Though chill rain was falling outside, this Strawberry-Feta-Pine Nut Salad hit the spot and my guys left the table full and happy. Give it a try!

Strawberry-Feta-Pine Nut Salad

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups quartered strawberries, stems removed

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin

4 oz block feta cheese, cut into triangles (about 1/4″ thick)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 green onions, sliced thin

2 tbsp pine nuts

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Dressing (Ken’s Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette is a good choice)

1) Divide romaine lettuce between four plates; top with strawberries, apple, feta cheese, pecans, green onions, pine nuts, and parsley; serve with dressing of your choice (Now wasn’t that easy?)

Servings: 4

EASY CHICKEN POSOLE

I adore hominy–hot or cold–and this soup combines those lovely morsels with chicken, tomatillo salsa, avocado, and radish. It’s on the spicy side, so you’ll need a large glass of water at hand, but don’t let that stop you. Super yum!

Easy Chicken Posole

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium-sized white onion, diced

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

5 cups chicken broth

1-1/2 cups tomatillo salsa (I used Frontera brand)

2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1-15 oz can white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4 radishes, sliced thin

1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced thin

1) To large soup pot, add olive oil and heat over medium-high; add onion, oregano, cumin, and chili powder and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until onions soften

2) Stir in chicken broth and tomatillo salsa and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and add chicken, hominy, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper; cook 10 minutes and remove from heat

3) Ladle soup into bowls and top with sliced radishes and avocado; serve

Servings: 4 dinner-sized; 8 sides

SCRAMBLED EGG FAJITAS

Love, love these Scrambled Egg Fajitas. Though I made them for dinner, I’ll definitely be serving them for breakfast in the future. Not only are they easy and fairly quick to assemble, but talk about yum (and clean plates)!

Egg Fajitas

Olive oil spray

8 corn tortillas

1 tbsp olive oil

5 green onions, chopped

2 tbsp diced jalapenos

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced thin

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees

2) Lightly spray both sides of each corn tortilla with spray olive oil; cook tortillas in large skillet over medium-high heat, about 30 seconds each side; stack on oven-safe plate, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven to keep warm

3) To same skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium-high; add green onions, jalapenos, sea salt and, stirring often, cook 3 minutes; reduce heat to medium and stir in cilantro

4) Pour beaten egg into skillet and cook, stirring often, until eggs are nearly set; stir in tomatoes and cook until eggs are set, about 1 minute; remove from heat and serve with warm corn tortillas and sliced avocado; enjoy!

Servings: 4

SALMON WITH CUCUMBER SALAD

Though, in my opinion, salmon isn’t the tastiest fish, it certainly is among the prettiest to land on a plate. However, add a refreshing cucumber salad and a yogurt-based sauce and you will have some happy eaters. This recipe is an adaptation of  Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook’s “Grilled Salmon with Herbed Cucumber Salad.” Yummer!

Salmon with Cucumber Salad

6 oz plain fat-free yogurt

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

3 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided

sea salt

ground black pepper

1 large cucumber, sliced thin (I used a potato peeler)

1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tsp minced shallot

4 salmon fillets (about 5 oz each)

1) In small bowl mix: yogurt, 1 tbsp olive oil (reserving 2 tbsp), 2 tsp lemon juice (reserving 1 tsp), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp pepper; refrigerate

2) To medium-sized bowl, add cucumber, parsley, shallot, 1 tbsp reserved olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp), 1 tsp reserved lemon juice, 1/8 tsp sea salt, and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper;  toss to mix and refrigerate

3) Rub 1 tbsp reserved olive oil over both sides of salmon fillets and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper; add fillets to large skillet over medium-high heat and cook each side 4-5 minutes until done in center; transfer fillets to plates, top with cucumber salad, and add a dollop of yogurt sauce; serve

Servings: 4