Chicken Fajitas

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It’s happened, guys.  I finished my first summer class, and now my brain = alskbxlzkjcgqergldknblddzweksdjclxdssalskdj.

As in, I cannot find the motivation to do anything more than lay in bed watching Gossip Girl and drinking insane amounts of green tea.  For the whole entire week.  (Also, don’t judge the GG.  It’s officially my guilty pleasure).

It is also this resignation of my cranium that has put me in a dark, uncharacteristic succession of intense procrastination that I cannot seem to shake off no matter how acute my anxiety becomes.

Side effects of my procrastination have resulted in me putting off shopping and packing for London until yesterday afternoon (I leave tomorrow) as well as clicking multiple “Read More” links on posts concerning Zodiac signs and guitar tuning (I don’t play guitar).  (Yet).

Luckily, I was able to force myself into packing and getting my shit together yesterday/today, and I’m (almost) ready to leave for London tomorrow!  Yay!

My new goal is to motivate myself for the two more summer classes I start in London on Monday.

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a sort of Mexican food kick lately.  First it was Chinese food, and now it’s cilantro lime shredded chicken and burrito bowls.

As it turns out, I need to get as much Mexican food into my body as I can in the next day, because Europe has no authentic Mexican food.

There are many European people that have never even had real Mexican (or Tex-Mex for that matter).

It’s the sad truth, and I’m not quite sure what to do with my life except console myself with Indian food and conversations with cute British boys.

(Life is so hard, right?)

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 bell peppers, cut into thin strips

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2-1 tsp. onion powder (to taste)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

Tabasco, to taste

1 lime, juiced

 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken strips, peppers, and onions in a zipper plastic bag or plastic bowl with a lid.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour marinade over chicken, peppers, and onions.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

When ready to cook, heat 2 Tbs. cooking oil in a large saute pan on medium heat.  Remove chicken, peppers, and onions, and add to saute pan.  Discard marinade.

Cook until chicken is cooked through and peppers and onions are soft, about 8 minutes.

Serve with tortillas, and other taco toppings.

Serves 4.

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I ❤ u Mexican food.

I’ll see you in a month.

Make sure to check in for my London posts in the coming weeks!

And while I’m gone, make sure to indulge in some tacos and cheeseburgers for me.

Signature

Song of the Day: Bear–The Antlers

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Beef, Vegetable, and Wild Rice Soup

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With fall making its slow appearance, all I can think about is soup at all times.  Even when it’s too warm for soup (a.k.a. right now, or even in the summer), soup is a (not so) guilty pleasure that I look forward to year round.  Right in the midst of midterms and projects, I’m always looking for easy, one-pot meals that can be simmered away while I study.  Enter beef, vegetable, and wild rice soup: a wholesome meal made in my dutch oven served with crusty, whole-grain bread and a simple, garlic-y side salad.  After a long day, nothing is better than cuddling up on the couch with this soup.  I promise.

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This soup can be changed based on whatever veggies/meat you have in your fridge.  Add onions, turnips, potatoes, replace chicken for the beef, use brown rice instead of wild rice, add some thyme, etc.  Just throw your veggies, meat, and rice into a pot.  Walk away for an hour or so.  Come back.  Bask in the glory of fresh veggies + earthy rice + seasoned beef.  Dinner plans finalized.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 lb. stew meat, cubed

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 qt. low-sodium beef broth

1/2 c. red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Few drops Tabasco

1 beef bouillon cube

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. wild rice

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 zucchini, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Brown the beef for a few minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until it starts to sweat.  Add garlic and wild rice.  Slowly stir in beef broth, red wine, marjoram, parsley, Tabasco, bouillon cube, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables and wild rice are tender.  Lastly, add frozen peas, and zucchini.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

*Notes*

You can use full sodium beef broth and exclude the bouillon cube if you prefer.  I just like being able to control how much salt goes into the soup, and I found this yields the best results.

Zucchini and peas are added last so that they do not get too soggy,

*To make in a crockpot*: I have actually never done this, but I do not think it would be too hard.  Just ad all of the ingredients excluding the rice, peas, and zucchini.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Add rice, peas, and zucchini 30 minutes-1 hour before serving.

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XO Sara

*Song of the Day: Trailer Trash–Modest Mouse*

(Crockpot) Light Zuppa Toscana

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I have been surprisingly social all weekend.  I went to a football game on Friday (we won!) (Go Wolfpack!) and then my roommates and I spent the rest of the night with Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and Cards Against Humanity.  If you have never played Cards Against Humanity, let’s just introduce you to their slogan : A party game for horrible people.

And that it is.

Just take a look at their website.  Or check out this and this.

I also spent my Saturday night bar hopping with one of my best friends/pseudo cousin.  Except that I had to drive home so my bar hopping experience was mostly just me getting leaned on by a bunch of drunk people.

Good times right?

The whole drinking and Cards Against Humanity thing ties together because:

1. Most of the time, if you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you are simultaneously drinking.

And 2. When I told my roommate, “The only two games I know how to play are beer pong and Cards Against Humanity.  What does that say about me?”, his response was, “You’re an evil alcoholic.”

So there’s that.

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And now about Zuppa Toscana.  It is that delicious soup at Olive Garden with sausage, potatoes, and kale.  The broth is lightly creamy and a little spicy.

It is also 220 calories for a bowl of it at Olive Garden.  That doesn’t seem tooooo bad, until you consider that it has 15 g of fat and 990 mg of sodium in it.  And when you consider that you’re going to have another bowl of it.  And a glass (or two) of wine.  And probably some type of pasta.  And that salad, which also doesn’t seem too bad until you see that there are 150 calories, 10 g of fat, and 760 mg of sodium in it. Also, don’t forget that you’re going to eat like, 4 of those bread sticks (140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium)

Holy shit, what is in this stuff?

Anyways, I definitely recreated the recipe and lightened it up quite a bit.  I calculated it all up and it was about 350 calories per serving.  The recipe serves 4, so you get quite a big serving of soup for less than 400 calories.  Also, you just throw it in a crockpot.  So easy guys.

Ahem.

*thunderous applause*

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*The recipe was originally from Fix it and Forget it, but has been changed dramatically*

Ingredients:

6 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. whole milk or half and half

2 carrots, grated

3 russet potatoes, sliced

4 cups kale, chopped slightly

1 lb. turkey Italian sausage

Dash salt and pepper

Sprinkle of garlic powder

Sprinkle onion powder

1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

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Grate 2 carrots into your crockpot.

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Pour in chicken broth.

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And the whole milk/half and half.

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Slice up your potatoes.

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Add them to your broth.

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Brown the sausage.

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Add it to your broth.

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Sprinkle your spices!

Cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring every once in a while.

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1 hour, I REPEAT, 1 HOUR before serving, stir in kale.  If you do it any earlier, it will be grossly soggy.  Do you want soggy kale?  Do you?!

No.  You really don’t.

Serve with a light homemade salad and some whole wheat rolls.  Sprinkle it with a little parm.

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Yum yum yum.  This is definitely going to be my fall favorite.

Bonus: It’s gluten free naturally!

It doesn’t taste exactly like the Olive Garden version, but it’s pretty damn close for a light version.  Sometime (when you feel really naughty) go ahead and use regular chicken broth, cream, and pork Italian sausage.  Or just go to Olive Garden and really go all out.  I’m normally not a fan of chains, but I still love Olive Garden every once in a while.

But just make this, okay?

XO Sara

Healthy Dirty Rice

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I know, it’s been like, a month.

But on the bright side, I got great grades from all of the finals I was studying for.  When I say that, I mean that somehow I got a full 100 on my calculus exam.  If you’re sitting here stunned, just know that I have been feeling that way since I found out two weeks ago.

I seriously don’t know how that happened.

Another plus is that I’m doing great in my three week mini class.

Three weeks, three credits.  No biggie.

(Kind of a biggie).

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On the bright side, I have definitely not forgotten all about the blog.  I actually have a bunch of great stuff coming up for you guys.  And in approximately a week and a half, I will be completely off of school and lots of great stuff will be coming your way!

But first, let’s start off with dirty rice.  I can recall a few times when I was little where my mom made the boxed Zattaran’s stuff on super busy nights, but we realized pretty soon after that we were not huge fans of the boxed dinners.

Luckily, dirty rice is super easy to make at home and tastes 10x better than Zattaran’s.  This is easily a 30 minute meal (excluding the rice prep but still…).  And, if you didn’t already expect this, the recipe is healthy.  Shocker right?

*Disclaimer:  This is NOT traditional dirty rice.  Traditional stuff uses chicken gizzards and livers and other leftover chicken parts.  Now, I know that they’re just some chicken parts, but they are just chicken parts I can not wrap my head around eating.  So therefore, I went the Zattaran’s route and used ground beef.  Also, this recipe was created completely according to taste/whatever I had in my kitchen so the spices may or may not be traditional.  End of disclaimer.*

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 c. hot water

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Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.

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Chop up veggies!  Yes, those are dried onions.  Yes, I forgot to buy a real onion.

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Saute the veggies until soft.

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Brown the beef.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  (Blurry picture alert.  Whoops!)

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Oh yeah, and dissolve that little guy.

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Add rice and spices to the mixture.

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Mix it all together and add beef bouillon mixture.  Let simmer until the liquid is absorbed!

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Serve to a group of very happy peeps.

Also, please note that you should adjust spices as needed for your tastes.  I decided to not use much salt since I used a beef bouillon cube.  Just taste and adjust accordingly.

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Serve this with a nice little side salad and you have a delicious dinner that will make the whole family happy!

*Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace ground beef with zucchini, tofu, eggplant, and other veggies.  Replace beef broth with veggie broth.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free

*Paleo: Replace rice with cauliflower “rice”.

XOXO Sara

 

 

 

Philly Cheesesteak Bites

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Do you ever get a really good idea and you need to make it a reality at that very moment?

Because that is basically my life at all points in time when it comes to food and music.

It’s almost addicting, but my blog makes it all seem okay.  So thanks you guys.

Anyways, my whole point is that that is how these little beauties came to be.  First, I made a French onion soup version my mom and I created over the phone (coming soon!) and then I somehow came up with these while craving Philly Cheesesteaks one day.

I’m quite a complex character, aren’t you impressed?

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Plus, aren’t they soooo cute?  I can’t get over how much I love them.

I just started with some good quality roast beef from the deli.  I’m serious about the good quality thing.  Don’t go cheap here, you really don’t need that much anyways.

Also, look for phyllo cups or  you may have to make your own which takes forever.  Really strive to find the premade cups and your life will be a breeze.

Other than that, it only takes about 5 minutes to throw together, and they freeze.  Easy appetizer much?

How great would these be for Superbowl?  I know what I’m making next year!

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Ingredients:

2 packages phyllo cups (15 per package)

1/2 lb. good quality deli roast beef, roughly chopped

Olive oil

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/4 onion, diced (or 2 Tbs. dried onion flakes, which is what I used)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 c. provolone, shredded + 30 small slices of provolone

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Place phyllo cups on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add bell pepper and onion.  Saute until soft.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add roast beef , salt, pepper, and cheese,  and heat until cheese is melted.

Spoon mixture into the phyllo cups.  Top with provolone squares.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly.

Serves 8-12

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These make me happy.  I even ate them for dinner.  I had no shame.

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Just put them on a cute plate, and you’re good to go.  Instant people pleaser.

*For a vegetarian alternative, use mushrooms instead of roast beef.

XOXO Sara

Light Skillet Lasagna

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Do you ever wish you could just always eat lasagna?  I am one of those people who has that wish.

Until I eat the leftovers for three weeks and then I take that whole statement back and regret ever making a whole pan of lasagna for just myself.

Which is why this easy skillet lasagna is just unbelievably wonderful and ever-so-helpful.

I started this whole idea of a skillet lasagna when trying to make a lightened up lasagna soup that is so popular on Pinterest and such.  However, the finished product ended up having a broth that made me feel like I was drinking tomato sauce.  Which just grossed me out for some unknown reason.  I had to try something different to satisfy my lasagna craving.

Enter skillet lasagna idea.

Plus I’m back on my healthy eating thing since the excuse “well it’s the holidays” does not apply for another ten/eleven months.  So also enter the healthy idea.

Yes I realize lasagna is not healthy and cheese is not healthy but being happy is and cheese and lasagna make me happy.  Life is too short to eat like a cow.

End rant.

Begin lasagna.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. turkey sausage (hot or mild)

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

14 oz. can tomato sauce

14 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2-1 Tbs. brown sugar (depending on acidity of sauce)

*About 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in bite sized pieces*

1/2 c. low fat ricotta cheese

1 c. part skim Mozzarella, grated

1/4 c. Parmesan, grated

Parsley, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Turn your broiler on (if you have the option for high or low, choose high but make sure to really pay attention to it!).  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. *Alternatively, you can use regular lasagna noodles, gluten free, sliced zucchini, or other whole wheat small pasta*.  Add sausage and onion in a skillet and cook until sausage is browned and onion is soft.  Drain fat, if any.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and brown sugar.  Mix together.  Bring to a simmer.

Drain noodles.  Do not rinse.  Add to the pasta sauce.

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Mix together.  It will look something like this.

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Spoon ricotta cheese over the top.  You can choose to spread it on or not.  I chose not to because I like large bites of ricotta.

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Sprinkle with parsley.  Take a blurry picture if you must.  Let the mixture heat up over medium heat for a little while.

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Sprinkle Mozz and Parm over the top.

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And then some more parsley and maybe another blurry photo.

Remove from heat and put it on the middle rack of your oven under the broiler.  Broil until it is heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly and even slightly browned if that’s your thing.

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And then eat a generous serving with some whole wheat French bread and a salad.  Your family will thank you.

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All in all, this only took me about 30 minutes to make total.  Which is super awesome for a super delicious and filling meal.  (And leftovers are pretty cool too).

Make this for your family this week and let me know how it goes.  You won’t regret it!

*Gluten Free: Use sliced zucchini/eggplant or gluten free pasta instead of lasagna noodles.

*Vegan: Replace sausage with mushrooms or other veggies such as eggplant or zucchini.  Replace cheese with tofu and veggies.

*Vegetarian: Replace sausage with mushrooms or other veggies such as eggplant or zucchini.

*Paleo: Replace pasta with zucchini or eggplant, sliced.  Replace cheese with mushrooms, peas, and other veggies.

XOXO Sara

Lightened Up Skillet Cheesy Sausage Pasta

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Hello hello!  Is everybody having a fabulous Thursday? Luckily for you, there are only 2 more hours until it is Friday! (On west coast time.  If you’re beyond that, congratulations!  You made it!  If you are hours behind, you can do it!)

I always like to start a day with a few words of encouragement, if that’s what you want to call that little number.

School starts back up on Monday which is giving me mixed feelings because how fun is college aside from all the school-y stuff?!  (Yes calculus tests, I’m talking to you).

But with the start of a new semester, I will now get out of my lazy funk of not working out and eating whatever I want.  You know, after I recover from my surgery (no intense physical activity for at least 3 weeks, doc?  You got it).

Although I have been doing pretty well with my “eating well” thing I have going on, tonight I couldn’t resist (and frankly, didn’t want to cook) and ended up ordering Chinese takeout.

I know, I’m being lazy.  And I’m going out tomorrow (Friday tradition).  If I go out on Thursday, I’m being lazy.  But on Friday?  Being lazy is my tradition.  Don’t mess with the traditions.

Do you guys forgive this food blogger?  Can you move past it and learn to love me again?

What if I share the recipe for this pasta….?

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Now we talkin.

I saw this recipe ALL OVER PINTEREST.  Everywhere.   For a good month.  I couldn’t escape it.

And even though I normally tend to avoid Pinterest trends, I decided to give this a go.  (It’s not that I have anything against Pinterest trends.  I guess I’m just too hipster.  Foodie hipster?  New blog name?!)

Of course though, I had to ruin all of the fun of pasta and lighten it up.  Because I couldn’t be too mainstream (foodie hipster strikes again) and it was just in my good nature to provide people with this kind of recipe.

The pasta turned out pretty good too.  Definitely not my fave, but pretty tasty and easy for a weeknight meal when I don’t have all the time in the world to cook.

Read on good friends…

*I could not find the original source for the recipe.  There’s a ton of bloggers who have posted this on their blog with no source.  If this is yours, let me know!  I will give appropriate credit where it is deserved.  I did make some changes to the recipe to “healthify” it and also a few more just because I felt like it.  I will post original content in parenthesis.*

Ingredients:

Drizzle of olive oil

1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, cut into rounds

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced (not in OG recipe)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 c. low sodium chicken broth (or regular chicken broth)

14 oz. no salt added diced tomatoes (or Ro-Tel)

1/2 c. milk (or heavy cream)

8 oz. whole wheat Fusilli (or regular penne)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 c. part skim Cheddar-Jack cheese (or 1 1/2 c. regular Cheddar-Jack cheese)

2 Tbs. chopped parsley (or 1/3 c. chopped scallions)

Heat oil on medium high heat.  Add sausage, onion, and bell pepper.  Saute until the sausage is browned and the onion and bell pepper are soft.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Let it simmer until pasta is al dente (could take up to 20 minutes for whole wheat pasta).

While the pasta is cooking, preheat the broiler.

Remove the skillet from the heat when pasta is tender, and top with remaining cheese and parsley.  Broil for a few minutes, until the cheesy is bubbly and slightly browned.

Serve with a nice light salad and enjoy!

Serves about 4

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What I liked about this pasta was that it was satisfying but still light and not overwhelming.  And it was awesome with a small green salad on the side.

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Look at that hot mess.  That’s the kind of hot mess you want.

Trust me.

XOXO Sara