Mexican Stuffed Squash and Mango Ginger Ale

A week or so ago my friend brought me some produce from Market on the Move and I needed to use up some of the squash.  She had given me several zucchini, Mexican gray’s and a yellow squash.  After thinking on it for a while I decided that I was going to make some sort of stuffed and baked squash.  Here is what I came up with.

Mexican Stuffed SquashIMG_20140203_160820

  • Squash (zucchini, yellow, Mexican gray, whatever you have on hand or prefer)
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey or Ground Beef
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • Low-fat Cottage Cheese
  • Cooked White Rice
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Low-fat Mexican Blend Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°

Sauté the onion in about a tsp of olive oil.  Once the onion begins to soften add the turkey.  Brown the turkey and follow the directions that are on your taco seasoning.  Once done set the meat aside.

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

For the filling I used the following amounts (since I was just using what squash I had I mixed the filling in smaller batches so that I wouldn’t mix more than I needed;  you may need to make more or less filling to accommodate your squash)

  • 2 cups meat
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Fill the squash and then drizzle with the enchilada sauce and top with cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  I like my squash to be tender-crisp so depending on your tastes you may want to bake them longer or shorter.

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I also happened to have a mango hanging out in the fridge that I needed to do something with.  I had my Mom coming over for dinner so 1 mango wasn’t really enough for a dessert and then inspiration hit!  Let’s make it into a drink.

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Mango Ginger Ale

  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • Diet Ginger Ale

Peel the mango and slice into small pieces.  Place in a small frying pan and sprinkle the sugar on top of it, add the water and simmer until the mango has softened up, about 10 minutes.  Puree the mango and liquid using either an immersion blender or a regular blender and then put in the fridge to cool.  To serve put 2 spoons of the puree in a tall glass and then fill the glass half full with ginger ale.  Mix well and then fill with ice.  Enjoy!

 

Long Over Due Update and Honey Roasted Eggplant Sandwich

I know, I know it’s been much too long since my last blog post and much has happened, some of which will explain my lapse in blogging.  Since the trail run in my last post I have completed 3 more 5Ks, a 6K and a 7K.  The holiday season is a big time for races in Arizona as it’s too hot in the summer months to run/walk unless it’s super early in the morning.  The holidays also wrecked havoc with my healthy eating (don’t they always?) but I’m slowly trying to get back on track with cooking more frequently and making my choices healthier when I can.  Now comes the big news and the main reason for my hiatus…. I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!  Yup, after going back and forth and then finally searching for one I found a house.  I closed mid December and moved in right around Christmas.

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With all the races and the holidays and everything else I was without a kitchen for quite a few weeks and then just too busy to cook (ok that’s totally an excuse for eating badly and I admit it).  My kitchen is now in full working order and I absolutely love it!  Tonight I’m testing a new idea and decided it was a perfect time to start up the blog again.  Last night I just couldn’t sleep and suddenly I had an idea for a brilliant sandwich combination, so good in fact that I felt compelled to text my friend in Australia about it and then I promptly fell asleep.  It’s a good thing I did send the text or I probably wouldn’t have remembered it today.

Honey Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwich

  • 1 Eggplant
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Honey
  • French baguette
  • Goat Cheese
  • Arugula (Rocket)

IMG_20140127_181237IMG_20140127_185723Cut the eggplant into about 1 inch cubes.  Salt liberally (about 1/2-1 Tbsp of salt depending on size of eggplant) and place in a colander over a large bowl.  Salting the eggplant will pull out some of the bitterness and will also prevent the eggplant from soaking up so much of the olive oil when roasting it. Let the eggplant sit for about half an hour.  Rinse under cold water and then press between kitchen towels to remove the moisture.

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle with enough olive oil and honey to cover all of the pieces.  Salt and pepper then mix to coat then spread out evenly.  Check on the eggplant every 10 minutes until tender and caramelized which will take about 30 minutes.

Cut off desired length of baguette and slice in half.  Brush lightly with olive oil and broil in toaster oven or oven until edges start to brown.  Spread goat cheese onto bottom half of bread.  Top with eggplant and drizzle with a little honey.  Place arugula on the eggplant and lightly drizzle with olive oil and then top with the other half of the bread.

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The sandwich turned out amazing and was truly the sandwich of last night’s dream :)

It’s OK to be last

For the last few years I have been doing various 5ks with my sister.  We have a blast doing them and they keep us moving.  Sometimes my sister will run (she has been battling sports injuries for a while so it depends on how she feels) and sometimes she will walk with me.  I ALWAYS walk.  Years ago after I lost all my weight the first time, I did a half marathon.  During training I really messed my knee up so I decided after proving to myself that I could do the 13.1 that I was done running and would stick to walking.  I usually do 5Ks but will do up to 5 miles depending on the race. We have done all sorts of races, races for causes, races for fun, color runs, mud runs, butt crack of dawn runs, big runs, little runs and we love them all.  One thing I have come to terms with though, especially in the smaller runs, is that I will most likely be last, and I really am ok with that.  Smaller runs, especially runs in their first year(s), tend to be attended mainly by runners and not very many of them at that.  So logically me being the only walker I will be last.  Want to know why I’m ok with this?  It’s because I did it. I go out there and I do my best and I meet my goals by just finishing.  I know there are people out there that will snigger and giggle at the heavy people out there in their exercise clothes that may be too tight (why do they not make readily available and affordable plus size exercise clothes????) as they are walking behind everyone else or at the gym sweating beyond reason but you know what?  They are doing it and that is all that matters.  This weekend I did the first in a series of trail runs with my sister and I PROUDLY finished last.

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BTW, my time really wasn’t that bad considering it was a 5k trail run and not a super easy trail at that.  58:21

Camping Pt 3 – Caramel Grape Delight and Pretzel Stuffed Mushrooms

I don’t know how your family is when packing for stuff but mine is notorious for over packing and our NASCAR family is just as bad.  So by the end of the trip we always still have tons of food left.  This year for the final night we decided to have an appetizer night and invited people from other camps as a way to get rid of some of the left overs.  We had planned for an appetizer to have one night, my Caramel Grape Delight, and we decided to save it for this night.  We also had some left over mushrooms from our dinner night so I decided to do a stuffed mushroom.  Lastly, we had leftovers from our dinner so I chopped up the chicken and veggies and threw it in the orzo and made a cold salad which was super yummy.  I’m not sure most people realize how many people camp out at NASCAR.  It literally becomes a city with the number of people there.  There is even a grocery store in the middle of the campgrounds!  Previous years the store was a Basha’s and it was absolutely amazing and had almost anything you could think of (except hard alcohol).  This year it changed and was a Safeway.  It was pretty disappointing and only had about a third of the stuff that the Basha’s used to have but at least it was something I guess.  For the mushrooms I was thinking of something with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion but all we had was the bacon from another camp so off to the store we went.  Well, they didn’t have any cream cheese or green onion so that put a bit of a damper on that plan so we got the cheddar cheese and headed back to camp.  One thing I’m pretty good at is just throwing something together with what I can find (my sister is always amazed with what I do and asks if she really had all that stuff in her house).  So I went hunting around to see what there was.  Since we didn’t have the cream cheese I decided to do some sort of bread stuffed mushroom.  We had hot dog buns but had donated them to another camp so there was only one left but they had some pretzel buns so I decided to use those.  Here is what I came up with and it was quite tasty if I do say so myself.

Pretzel Stuffed MushroomsIMG_20131110_174537

  • 1 pack of button mushrooms
  • 2 pretzel buns
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and then take the gills out using a spoon.

Fry the bacon up until crisp.  Remove and drain on paper towel.  Chop up into small crumbles.

Remove all but about a half tsp of the bacon fat.  Add butter and olive oil to the bacon fat.  Chop up the pretzel rolls into small cubes and add to pan.  Sauté until golden.  Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute or until fragrant.  Remove from heat and stir in bacon and cheese.

Fill the mushroom caps with the filling and then place in an aluminum pan.  Sprinkle with additional cheese.  Place on BBQ and cover.  Check after 10 minutes.  The mushrooms should be tender when done.

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The second appetizer is much healthier than the mushrooms and really quite addictive and refreshing.

Caramel Grape DelightIMG_20131110_173326

  • green grapes
  • low-fat caramel fruit dip
  • mini-chocolate chips
  • chopped nuts

Clean the grapes and put on a plate in a single layer.

Heat the caramel in the microwave in 30 second increments until it easily drips off of a spoon. (Do not heat entire container do small amounts in a separate bowl)

Using a spoon drizzle the caramel over the grapes trying to ensure that each grape gets some.

Sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips and nuts.

 

That brings our culinary camping adventure to an end.  Everything turned out wonderfully and not only was the food amazing but it was great to visit with our NASCAR family!  Now to start planning next year’s menu…….

 

Camping Pt 2 – Chicken Caprese Packets, Parmesan Garlic Orzo and Campfire Cones

Our night for dinner was Saturday and I needed to come up with a menu to rival last years meal.  After searching Pinterest for campfire meals and BBQ recipes I stumbled across a recipe for Chicken Caprese Packets.  Now that I had the main dish I had to come up with some sides.  I looked through some of the pins on my Food To Try board and found the perfect one, a Parmesan Garlic Orzo.  I figured it would be easy to do on a small stove, have lots of flavor and go well with the chicken but not over power the flavor.  To finish it off I decided on grilled veggies and garlic bread.   Also, please note that I don’t have many pictures of the dinner since it was dark and difficult to manage.

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before cooking

Chicken Caprese Packets

You can find the recipe here.  At the request of the previous blogger I will not repost the actual recipe.  I did make the addition of salt and peppering the chicken and we cooked ours for about 20 minutes and it was perfect.

For the Parmesan Garlic Orzo we followed the recipe exactly.  We did use light butter and skim milk but you could skinny it up a bit more by using Brummel and Brown and decreasing the amount.  I have to admit I probably added a bit more garlic than what it called for but like I’ve said before I am a garlic fanatic!

Parmesan Garlic Orzo

  • 1 cup Orzo
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 2 tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook orzo in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic in melted butter until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir orzo into garlic mixture and mix in Parmesan cheese, milk, salt, black pepper, and parsley.

I used my grilled veggie trifecta of zucchini, mushrooms and sweet onion.  I cut the zucchini into about half inch slices, halved the mushrooms and then wedged the onions.  My quick marinade for grilled veggies is simply the light zesty Italian salad dressing.  Instead of doing skewers of large pieces we decided to do a grill basket that you place on the grate and then it prevents the veggies from falling through.  Just BBQ to your desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.

We did learn something about doing garlic bread on the grill.  You grill the bread first and THEN you put it in the butter and garlic.  As we didn’t know this we had bought the pre-buttered bread and the butter melted off almost immediately causing the flames to jump.  Luckily one of the other families had an oven in their trailer so they broiled the bread for us.

Even though we already had quite a spread we decided that we had to go that extra step and have a dessert.  One thing that both of us had seen on Pinterest were various versions of Campfire Cones.  The beauty of this dessert is that it’s a build your own so you can make it as sweet, not sweet, healthy or unhealthy as you would like.  The basics of a Campfire Cone is you take a sugar ice cream cone and you fill it with fillings of your choosing.  Then you wrap it in foil and throw it on the bbq or camp fire for about 5 minutes until everything is all warm and melty.  The flexibility of these come with the fillings and all the combinations you can make with them.  These are the fillings that we had outIMG_20131109_212847

  • Banana
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Black Berries
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Peanut Butter Chips
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Chopped Mixed Nuts
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Mini Fruity Marshmallows
  • Dried Cherries

The turned out amazing!  My favorite combo was banana, PB chips, Raspberries, nuts and some dried cherries.  They were quite toasty coming off the grill and you did need to let them cool for a bit after unwrapping before eating them.  You can use a fork but it was more fun eating them like an ice cream cone!

I think we did a pretty good job with our dinner night.  Everything was amazing and I think that the chicken will be showing up on several people’s menus quite frequently at home.  :)

Camping Pt 1- Coconut Banana Bread and Orange Campfire Cinnamon Rolls

Every year my sister and I take delight in a guilty pleasure.  We go camping out at the NASCAR races in Phoenix.  Yeah, yeah I know NASCAR doesn’t always have the best connotation for lots of people.  We rarely go to the actual races and usually just go out to camp, party, have fun and enjoy some amazing food!  We’ve been doing this for quite a while now (my sister 12 years and me a few less than that).  The best part about NASCAR is if you renew your spots you have the same ones year after year and this means that the people around you are there year after year.  You create some amazing friendships and we love our NASCAR family.  Some years we tent it and some years we splurge and rent an RV.  This year we did a tiny RV and it was fantastic.  Cooking-wise you are limited in the RV to two small gas burners and a convection microwave.  Other than that it’s just the campfire and bbq.  There are 3 families in our group and there are always additions up or down with extra people.  In the beginning we did a semi potluck style and just tried to add stuff to the meals.  Last year we decided to try something new and each family took a night of the cooking.  This was a great idea since that way the meals were cohesive in what was being served instead of a mismatch and you were only working to feed 7+ people for one night instead of 3 or 4.  Also, it gave me a chance to show off my cooking skills.  This year we went with the same plan.  I will admit that as this was a vacation not all of the recipes I will be sharing are exactly “healthy” but some of the less healthy ones could be skinnied up a bit and the really unhealthy ones just need to be used as an occasional treat.  As I did quite a bit of cooking for this trip I will break the blogs into a few editions or it would be quite a read.  The first recipe that I made was actually prepared the night before while I still had access to a real kitchen.  I have made this recipe a few times now and it is absolutely amazing every single time.  I discovered this recipe for Coconut Banana Bread on Pinterest and it is not only tasty but it’s also healthy, it substitutes the fats and oils with Greek yogurt.

Coconut Banana BreadIMG_20130805_204334

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1¼  teaspoon baking soda
3 Large ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup of brown sugar
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons skim milk
¼ cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup orange juice

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda together in mixing bowl.
  • In separate large mixing bowl combine mashed bananas, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg whites and mix together until smooth. Next add oil. Then, slowly add in flour and combine until moist. Next add Greek yogurt and orange juice. (Depending on the consistency you can add two tablespoons of skim milk. If you like your bread more dense —omit the milk — but if you like it more airy or lighter you can add it.) Lastly add ½ cup of coconut and mix together.
  • Pour into greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle two tablespoons of coconut on top.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and the bread is golden brown.

Normally when I make this bread I use a normal metal pan.  This time I used disposable aluminum pan and it increased the cooking time greatly so be sure that you are checking your bread with a tooth pick to ensure that it is completely baked through.

The first morning we decided to try out one of my sister’s Pinterest finds (she is the one of us with the major sweet tooth :) ) We found a few versions of this one and this was the way that we adapted it.

Orange Campfire Cinnamon Rolls

4 Oranges

1 can of Pillsbury refrigerated Orange Cinnamon Rolls

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Cut your oranges in half and scoop out the inside leaving some pulp still in the rind.

 

 

 

 

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Put one cinnamon roll in each orange half and press in gently.

Place the oranges in an aluminum foil tray and cover with foil.  Make sure to tent your foil slightly to allow room for the rolls to rise.

 

 

 

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Put the tray on the grill and cover.

After 10 minutes check the rolls and see if they are brown and crusty (you don’t want them to still be gooey in the center).  If your heating element is not even then move the oranges around to get them evenly cooked.  Check in 5 minute increments until done.

 

 

Top with the icing from the package.

Enjoy!

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Tuna Pasta Salad

The other night I really wanted to make Tuna Spaghetti (I will blog this sooner or later, don’t worry, as it’s a frequent repeat in my menus) but I went to the store and they were OUT of green onions.  Who runs out of green onions?  Anyways, I didn’t feel like stopping at another store so decided to make a tuna pasta salad recipe that I had seen on Pinterest.  I made some changes to make it a bit healthier, cut the recipe in half and made some additions and adjustments.  The result was absolutely fantastic!  Not only was it great for dinner that night but it was even better today for lunch after sitting over night.    Some of the changes I made were the addition of the celery, additional pickles, used low fat mayo and less of it and extra lemon juice (still used a half a lemon even though the recipe was basically cut in half).  I was a bit worried that the dressing may be too lemony and that there would not be enough to get a good coating but it worked rather well.  You can find the original recipe here or here is the recipe for the variation that I made.

Tuna Pasta SaladIMG_20131028_181813

½ lb bow tie pasta

½ cup frozen peas

¼ diced red onion

½ cup kosher dill pickle diced

¼ cup chopped celery

1 5 oz can of tuna

Juice of half a lemon

1/3 cup low fat mayo

½ tbsp. dried dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Stir in frozen peas and cook 30 seconds. Drain pasta and peas. If you want room temperature pasta salad, don’t rinse. If you want cold pasta salad, rinse with cold water.

In a small bowl combine the mayo, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper to make the dressing.

In a large bowl combine onion, pickles, celery, tuna, the pasta and peas.  Add dressing and stir until everything is evenly coated. Serve or refrigerate covered until ready to serve.