Favorite Breakfast Dishes: Savory Edition 2

Happy Friday Everyone!  Favorite Breakfast Dishes part 2 is here!  Perfect time for the weekend.  I’m so excited the weekend is here.  I feel like the week dragged more than normal. It’s been hot here in Chicago, like super hot.  Mid 90’s.  Which is about 40 degrees to hot for me! Just kidding.  I do prefer the cooler temperatures though. I’m looking forward to fall weather and even colder actually.  I want some cooler weather so I can make some soups and chili and just comfort food.  I definitely can’t do that with this hot weather.  Enough complaining about the weather, lets move on to some breakfast talk…..

It’s my 2nd edition of the savory breakfast dishes.  With the weekend upon us I wanted to get this out to everyone today so maybe you can try a new recipe this weekend.  I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I do.

1: Avocado and Tomato Toast

Ingredients:
1 English muffin, toasted
2 large tomato slices
1 medium avocado, ripe
Sprinkle: Salt

Directions: To assemble smash half avocado over each side of English muffin, top with sliced tomato and sprinkle with salt. Simple yet filling and so good. No butter or anything needed. If you haven’t had avocado toast and love avocado as much as I do, I’d give it a try.

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2: Eggs over Tators
Serving: Half  of eggs (2.5 eggs cooked) with Half serving of potatoes (about 3/4 cups uncooked)

Ingredients:
5 eggs
1T water or milk
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes or hash browns cooked (See recipe below)
2 links, sweet turkey sausage, removed from casing and cooked
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
3T crumbled feta cheese (any cheese will work)
Sprinkle: Salt and Pepper
Cooking spray, or 1/2 T of butter

Direction: Whisk eggs in a bowl with 1T of milk or water.  Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Once heated add in the butter or spray the pan.  Add the eggs and cook for 1 minutes scrambling.  Add in the shallots and spinach and mix well while it continues to cook.  After about 2-3 minutes add in the cooked sausage and mix well and cook another minute.  Add in the feta and incorporate well till feta starts to melt.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper and top over the cooked diced potatoes or hash browns.

Diced Potatoes:
2 cups diced potatoes (you can use fresh or buy the precut ones in the store with hash browns)
1T butter or oil
2t garlic powder
1t onion powder
Sprinkle: Salt and Pepper

Direction:  Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add in the butter or oil let heat for 30 seconds and then add in the potatoes (whichever you prefer) Cook until they are crunch and cooked through about 12-15 minutes.  Times will vary based on your preference of cook. I personally cook them slightly longer as I like them a little crispy. Note: The hash brown potatoes will cook quicker than the cubed potatoes.  This is great to partially make ahead.  I make extra turkey and potatoes and then the day I’m going to eat it I’ll do the eggs with the vegetables.  You can use any variations of veggies you’d like.

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3: Bun-less Egg Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 slices bacon, cooked
1/2 avocado
1 slice low fat cheese (optional)
Sprinkle: Salt and Pepper
Cooking Spray
2 Cooking rings or round cookie cutters

Directions:  Heat small sauté pan over medium heat.  Whisk the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add your cooking rings to the pan and spray with the cooking spray and pour the eggs evenly in both rings.  Or if you are using a cookie cutter let the eggs cook about 2-3 minutes in the pan and then use the cookie cutter to cut out the circles. Make sure to use a smaller pan so the egg “bun” is thicker and not super thin.  Cook the eggs and flip half way through.  I liked mine a little crispy so I cooked it longer.  Whatever you prefer.  To assemble place avocado, bacon and cheese on top one egg and top with the other egg to form a sandwich.  You can also make these in the oven with a larger muffin tin.  Bake in oven at 350° for 8-10 minutes.  Cooking times will vary.

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4: Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag shredded hash browns
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
Sprinkle: Salt and Pepper
Cooking spray

Directions: Preheat over to 400°.  In a bowl mix together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of cheese, hash browns and salt and pepper.  Spray a cookie cheese with cooking spray. Spread the hash brown mixture on the cookie sheet and form a crust. Make sure it’s not too thick or it will take longer to bake.  Bake the crust 20-25 minutes.  After that remove from oven and top with 1 cup cheese, and sprinkle cooked bacon.  In a separate bowl crack 4 eggs I remove some of the whites to make it less runny. Top the eggs over the crust and bake in oven for another 5-7 minutes until the whites are cooked and yolks are slightly cooked.  Remove from oven and cut and serve.

Note: You can make sunny side up eggs in a skillet and then top over each piece of the crust.  Baking the eggs right over the crust in the oven sometimes makes a mess.  The eggs slide all over the place.  I’ve done this method both way. For a hassle free pizza just cook on the skillet.  Do everything the same on the pizza minus topping with the eggs. When you take the pizza from the oven for the last time it should be the crust, topped with cheese and bacon. Then just plate with a piece of the crust and an egg sunny side up on the top.  You can also make individual portions as well. Mini pizza crusts topped with an egg. It definitely will WOW any breakfast guests.

 

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Spinach And Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Rolls

One of my favorite proteins that’s so versatile is chicken.  With that being said, I will share one of my favorite chicken recipes every Thursday with you all!  Chicken is one of the most popular proteins eaten.  It’s great because it’s high in protein and lower in fat depending on the cut of chicken you are using.

When I was in culinary school the instructor always commented about how most people felt chicken was one of the hardest proteins to prepare.  I know those awesome cooks out there are probably laughing at the comment, I definitely did too.  The reasoning why is that chicken can be very hard to cook perfectly. Most of the times people either overcook the chicken and it’s dry or under cooked the chicken and it’s pink.  It can be difficult to cook to perfection where it’s white but still glistening and tender and moist all at the same time.  It’s really trial and error, the more you cook chicken the better you’ll get at making it perfect.

Each week I’ll post one of my favorite chicken recipes I’ve made over the years. Some will be simple while others are a little more complex but all will be delicious! 🙂 Today we’ll start with my first one, Stuffed Spinach and Artichoke chicken breast.  I know that making a stuffed chicken breast can sometimes be intimidating.  It takes a few more steps and more patience than I was use to giving years ago.  I’ve since made stuffed chicken often and it’s gotten easier.  This recipe is pretty standard and not too difficult.  Why not give it a try! Feel free to send me an email or comment with questions.

Spinach And Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Ingredients:
6 thin chicken breasts
1 package frozen spinach- (thawed, excess liquid drained) or 1 1/2 fresh, cooked
10-12 artichoke hearts, chopped
4 cheese spread wedges (Garlic and Herb lite) or 4T of cream cheese
4T Romano cheese, grated
3T panko breadcrumbs ( I used Italian seasoned)
1/2T garlic powder
1/2T onion powder
Pinch: Salt and Pepper

Directions: Make sure you squeeze out any extra liquid from the spinach, you can do this with a towel or a paper towel. Add spinach, chopped artichokes, cheese spread wedges, Romano cheese, garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper.  Mix until creamy.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Take chicken breasts and pound out until thin.  You will want them to be pliable.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the spinach mixture over the chicken.  Leave some room along the edges of the chicken, this will make it easier to roll. Roll the chicken breasts up and added seam side up to baking dish. Sprinkle finished chicken rolls with the panko breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes until no longer pink.  This is why I have the chicken seam side up to be able to check easier if the chicken is done.  (Note: Cooking times will vary based on thickness and oven temps)

Note: You can substitute the cheese wedges for regular cream cheese.  You can also use other white cheeses like feta, mozzarella, Swiss, etc.  This will not give the mixture as creamy of a texture but will still come out fine.  You can also use fresh spinach.  The first time I ever made this I only had frozen spinach and I wanted to make right away, so I settled for that.  You can also omit the breadcrumb if you prefer, I just like the crunch texture.

Enjoy!

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Meal Prepping 101- Lunch

Meal Prepping 101

I’ve been cooking for so long now and preparing healthy foods that I get a lot of questions from family, friends and those on social media regarding my meal prepping. I’ve been doing it on and off for probably 2 years now. Honestly, it really is the best way to try and stay on track eating wise or to even just reduce the stress of figuring out your breakfast, lunch or dinners during the work week. In this post, I will give you some tips on how I meal prep and what foods I make for lunches. Keep in mind this can be altered to your preferences of food style (low carb, high protein, vegetarian etc) and likes and dislikes.

You can meal prep your lunches for just the work week or for the full week (including weekends.) I typically only do the meal prep lunches Monday through Friday.

The first thing I do when I’m meal prepping is make a list of what I want for the week. I usually pick 2 proteins, 2 carbohydrates and 2 vegetables and then I choose the cooking style. I try and keep the meal as balanced as possible. Sometimes I will omit the carbohydrate and double the vegetables.  Frozen vegetables can be an alternative to making them fresh just to cut down on time.  I don’t ever use canned vegetables for my meal prep, however if you choose to use canned make sure that you use the no salt option otherwise it’s loaded with sodium.

The possibilities for foods are endless, here’s just an example of some of the foods I use.

Protein:
Chicken
Shrimp
Pork
Ground turkey
Fish

Carbohydrate:
White or Brown Rice
Potato
Sweet Potato
Quinoa
Couscous
Beans

Vegetables:
Broccoli
Zucchini
Brussels Spouts
Peppers
Asparagus
Cauliflower
Butternut Squash
Cabbage
Mushrooms
Avocado
Tomatoes
Kale
Lettuce (Of any kind)

After I decided what I’m going to make I decide how I’m going to cook the foods. See below for 6 meal examples.

Example:

Meal 1: Marinated grilled chicken breasts, grilled peppers and onions and baked potato

Meal 2: Baked turkey meatballs, diced sweet potato and steamed broccoli.

Meal 3: Roasted pork tenderloin, Brussels sprouts, and roasted new potatoes

Meal 4: Sautéed shrimp, white rice and asparagus

Meal 5: Baked fish, couscous and a lettuce salad or tomato salad (Note: Cold items will need to be in a separate container)

Meal 6: Taco Salad Ground Turkey, Lettuce and toppings

I usually pick 2 meal ideas and prep that for the week. Keep in mind, you can interchange the cooking methods. Let’s say it’s Sunday and you are all ready to meal prep grilled chicken and it’s pouring rain with no end in sight, just throw the chicken in a crockpot or bake in the oven.  Just be ready to change it up if needed.

For me personally the food containers are so important I’ve bought several meal prep containers over the years. Just check out containers online there are tons of them.  I prefer the 3 opening containers the best, personally.

If your goal with meal prepping is healthy eating and not just convenience I’d suggest getting a scale and weighing your food or measuring out what you eat.  It’s very easy to just over fill an opening in a meal prep container.  All the pictures featured on this post I did just that. I measured out the couscous and weighed the sweet potatoes and the chicken and so on.

I do really enjoy meal prepping. It makes life so much easier.  It will take up some time on your Sunday depending on how complex you make your meals.  However, you won’t regret it.  The work days will come and you will love how easy it is go just grab your prepped meal and be on your way to work!  One thing I can say is don’t over think it.  It shouldn’t be stressful. So don’t stress!  Just do what is easiest for you at that time.  There have been plenty of times I’ve added chicken to the crockpot with salsa and then just baked sweet potatoes and used a frozen broccoli.  That’s okay. It’s going to happen, life gets in the way sometimes and you can always tweak it to your lifestyle.

Stay tuned for some of my favorite recipes for my meal prep.

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Pork Tenderloin, roasted butternut squash and steamed broccoli

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Taco Salad with ground turkey, salsa, cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

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Crockpot lemon chicken, roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli.

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Pork tenderloin, white rice and grilled peppers and onions.

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Tenderloin, broccoli and butternut squash.

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Chicken, sweet potato, brussel sprouts or broccoli

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Turkey Meatballs, broccoli and

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Greek grilled chicken, tomato cucumber salad with red onion and feta topped with tzatziki sauce and couscous.

Favorite Breakfast Dishes: Savory Edition I

I’ve had a few people reach out to me on social media and ask what my favorite breakfast dishes are. It’s funny because I never use to like breakfast or really eat it.  I’d just snack on something mid morning and that would be it.  More recently I’ve been eating more for breakfast and I really enjoy making breakfast on the weekends.  I’m going to do 3 parts to my “Favorite Breakfast” dishes.  First part will be my favorite breakfasts, savory edition part I and then I’ll do part II and last will be a sweet edition.  Stay tuned for part II of Savory and then the Sweet Edition.

Now on to my favorite dishes some are pretty generic but nonetheless delicious!   Below you will see a few of my favorite ones with photos. The bacon and Swiss quiche is one of my favorites but I’m not adding to this list as I’ve posted recently.  Check out my previous blogs for that recipe.

Enjoy!

1: Spinach and Feta Omelet: Serves 1

Ingredients:

2-3 eggs

1/2 T water or milk

1/2 cup spinach, chopped

2T onion, chopped

3T feta, crumbled (more of less if desired)

Pinch: Salt and Pepper

1/2 T of butter or cooking spray

Directions: Heat a small sauté pan to medium heat. Crack the eggs and whisk with water or milk. Add in onion, spinach, feta and salt and pepper. Butter the sauté pan and add in the egg mixture.  Cook about 3-4 minutes and flip over and finish cooking. Then fold sides over. I like to make mine a little brown and crispy. Reduce cook time if you’d prefer to not have it that way.   Serve hot with last tablespoon of feta cheese over the top.

Note: This is not an omelet with the ingredients stuffed inside. You can also do it that way. I just like to have the spinach and feta through the egg vs just inside.

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2: Breakfast Egg Muffins

Ingredients:

2T water/milk

8 Eggs

Cooking Spray

Pinch: Salt and Pepper

2-3 Fillings

Examples: cheese, onion, mushrooms, spinach, cooked bacon, cooked sausage etc

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Spray cooking spray in 8-10 openings in a cupcake pan. Whisk together the eggs and add in the water or milk and salt and pepper. Add your desired fillings to the muffin tin evenly, you can add different fillings to some to give you variety.  Evenly add the egg mixture to the openings. Don’t over fill.  Bake for 20-22 minutes until cooked through.  Cooking times may vary.

Remove from the oven and let sit before removing. Run a knife around the edges to assist with removing the egg muffin from the tin.

Note: These can be reheated in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and they can also be frozen for a quick breakfast. Keep in mind you may loose some quality after freezing. wp-image-1324126044

 

#3 Egg “Waffles”

Ingreditents:

2 eggs

1/2 T milk or water

2-3 desired fillings

Examples: cheese, onion, mushrooms, spinach, cooked bacon, cooked sausage etc

Pinch: Salt and pepper

1/2T Cheese (Topping)

Cooking spray

Directions: In a bowl whisk everything together, eggs, water or milk, salt and pepper and the 2 desired fillings. Heat up a waffle iron to medium heat. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray. Cook 3-4 minutes, check once to make sure it’s cooking. Remove from heat and top with sprinkle of cheese.

Note: I’ll be honest this doesn’t taste strong like eggs.  I actually like it for that reason as sometimes I’m not in the mood for eggs but want the protein.  This is a great option. Try it with other fillings. Mine in the picture below is feta and spinach. (One of my favorite things with eggs!)

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#4 Breakfast Tacos

Ingredients:

4 eggs, scrambled and cooked seasoned with salt and pepper

4 flour tortillas, taco size, warmed

2-4T salsa

1 avocado, diced

1T shredded cheese

Directions: Add scrambled eggs to tortilla and top with salsa (as much as desired) and 1/4 of the avocado and top with shredded cheese.

Note: These tacos are super easy and can be prepped ahead of time. Just heat up the eggs in the microwave slightly and assemble the taco. Feel free to add additional toppings if you’d like. Picture below isn’t great, but I wanted to show an example of how it looks. (I will take a new picture next time I make them)

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Hope you enjoy all these! Stay tuned for part II of Savory Breakfasts coming soon!

Grilled Steak Tacos

Taco Tuesday is my favorite non-weekend day! I just love tacos.  Any kind of tacos, any toppings, any meat, any tortilla it fine. I would eat tacos every single day for every meal if I had a choice.  Unfortunately, I don’t do that. However, I do eat tacos probably more then the average person. I wonder how many tacos I’ve eaten over my life time.  Probably too many!

I’ve been trying to be healthy and lose weight so when I have that craving for tacos the best thing for me to do is make it at home. I then have complete control over what I put into the dish and I make it as guilt free as possible.

My favorite tacos, are steak! No question about it. Check out my steak street tacos recipe below.

Grilled Steak Tacos

Marinade:

2T-Soy Sauce

1/2- Cup Oil
2T- Red Wine Vinegar
4- Garlic Cloves, grated
3- bunches fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/2 T garlic powder
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 T paprika
1/2 T chili powder
Pinch:
Salt
Pepper

1lb- Flat Iron Steak

6 street taco tortilla, corn or flour

Directions: Whisk together all marinade ingredients then add in flat iron steak. Marinade for at least 2 hours, turning a few times.

Remove from marinade and let excess oil drip off. Grill the steak over medium heat until cooked to your liking. Cut steak into pieces.  Add the meat to heated tortillas and add your preferred toppings.  I use chopped onion, cilantro and queso fresco and sometimes sour cream or guacamole.

These will be your go to steak tacos recipe. It’s much healthier then take out and taste just as good.

Take a look at the pictures below.

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Traditional steak tacos. Street corn tortillas, cilantro, onion and queso fresco.

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This has avocado crema on the flour tortilla.

9/11

Today is September 11th, a day Americans reflect on with such sorrow. Today we remember all those who were affected by 9/11.

I still remember that day so vividly. Let me give you some background.  My Dad was born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey about 10 miles from New York City. I lived in Bayonne, for 5 years up until I was 7.  We moved to Chicago in 1993. I spent a good amount of my summers visiting family and friends in Bayonne up until I was about 20 years old. It was my second home. I still remember the feelings I get when I’m on the NJ Turnpike when leaving the airport driving into Bayonne, I can’t even describe it.

When 9/11 happened, my Dad luckily was home in Chicago but I had family and friends who worked in Manhattan and right near where the World Trade Center was. That day I was sitting in class as the news broke about the attack and I started to panic about everyone I knew who would have been in the city that day.  Luckily, by late evening we had confirmation that everyone we knew was accounted for and physically okay. I still remember going back east later in September when my Grandfather passed away and still seeing the smoke from the World Trade, it was unbelievable.

My heart broke for everyone who was there and had to experience this horrendous act. Today we are reminded of all those lives lost, all those first responders and all those who had to endure that day.

When you think of days like today it really makes you realize that life is short and that it can change in a blink of an eye. Be happy, take that trip, buy that purse, eat the pizza and live your life to the fullest!

We’ll never forget!!
Photo courtesy of my cousin, Elisha DeMaria of New Jersey!  wp-image-1724532683

Oven BBQ Chicken

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I’m really loving this weather! Tonight I decided to make bbq chicken inside. I had ran out of gas for my grill and decided to just make it inside. My Dad use to always cook chicken on the stove in a pot with bbq sauce and some water and pretty much boil the chicken in this liquid prior to putting on the grill. It’s so good because the flavor really soaks in. I decided to do it like that today. Check out the recipe!

Oven BBQ Chicken

4 Chicken thighs, bone in and skin on

2 cups + 2T bbq sauce

1 cup water

1/2 T garlic powder

1/2 T onion powder

1/2 T chili powder

Pinch: salt and pepper

1/2 T oil

Directions: Heat a deep saute pan on high heat. Season chicken with spices and salt and pepper. Add oil to pan and place chicken in pan skin side down, cook until slightly golden, flip the chicken over. Add in bbq sauce and water and mix well. Covering the chicken with the sauce. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, half way through flip the chicken over and cook another 20 minutes. When done turn off the pan and let sit until ready to finish cooking. Once ready to finish cooking, add chicken to a baking dish and put in a preheated 400° oven. Bake in the oven 10-15 minutes till the chicken skin starts to crisp up. The last 5 minutes, brush the chicken evenly with 2T of bbq sauce. Place back in the oven and turn up heat to 425°. Bake remaining 5 minutes. You can also put on the broiler for a few minutes, but watch the chicken as it can burn quickly.

Once done remove from the oven and serve with your favorite sides. This is a great recipe for when it’s 10 degrees here in Chicago. You can add the chicken to the grill vs finishing it in the oven. Same thing goes, add to a heated grill and cook only about 5-7 minutes and then brush with bbq sauce.

Enjoy!