Easy Chicken Burrito Bowl with Homemade Guacamole Recipe

Easy Chicken Burrito Bowl with Homemade Guacamole Recipe

This easy chicken burrito bowl recipe is the perfect (mostly) pantry meal! Most of the ingredients are easy to keep in your pantry or freezer, so just grab chicken and avocado to round it out! Made with grilled, marinated chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, charred corn and an easy homemade guacamole over brown rice. Great for meal prep too!

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Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole with Peppers and Kale

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole with Peppers and Kale

Looking for something yummy and comforting to make on Christmas morning? This make ahead hash brown casserole with peppers and kale has all the comfort ingredients - melty cheddar cheese and sausage - plus a ton of veggies for flavor and nutrition! It's super easy but special enough for a holiday breakfast! 

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Fully Loaded Refried Bean Skillet

Fully Loaded Refried Bean Skillet

Remember when you used to eat tortilla chips with refried beans from the can? This is so much better. This fully loaded refried bean skillet tops homemade spicy refried beans with extra sharp cheddar, grilled onions and mushrooms, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and lots of fresh herbs. Serve with warm tortillas for dipping! 

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Epic Vegetarian Nachos

These epic vegetarian nachos are topped with pantry friendly ingredients - frozen corn, canned black beans, extra sharp cheddar and shredded zucchini. 

Going along with last week's guest post by Anne on meal planning for people who hate to meal plan, I thought I'd share one of my favorite TST (throw s*** together) meals - nachos!

One thing I've learned in my years of cooking: everything tastes good on tortilla chips. Well, maybe not chocolate. Or But you get it.

I've made these nachos a bazillion times (okay five or six), and they truly are as easy as it comes. For veggies, I use either squash or zucchini, grated on the large holes of the cheese grater. I'm not sure why, but this is my favorite way of cutting squash. I swear it tastes better and different than chopped or half-mooned but maybe it's just me. Anyone else here?

Speaking of nachos, remember when fancy nachos were the thing? I think it was my high school/college years. Growing up in Atlanta, but there was one restaurant in Phipps Plaza (the fancy mall) called The Tavern and I used to LOVE to go there with friends and order fancy nachos. Salmon with tomatoes, dill and lobster cream veloute...thai chicken with peanut sauce and sprouts...yum! Plus, there was the feeling of being fancy because even though you're just eating nachos, its next to Neiman Marcus and sometimes you'd see rappers or Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Anyhoo, these aren't very fancy. Just black beans, corn, zucchini and (obviously) cheese. But they're still pretty epic. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Epic Vegetarian Nachos

Serves 6

Get a good block of extra sharp cheddar instead of pre-shredded cheese. It has a lot more flavor so you can get away with using a little less.

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, grated on the large holes of a cheese grater
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • Guacamole, for serving
  • Salsa verde, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil on medium-high heat in a large sided skillet Add red onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add grated zucchini, season with salt and pepper and saute until zucchini is tender, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Place zucchini in a bowl, wipe skillet clean and add 1 teaspoon oil on medium-high heat. Add corn and saute until lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Spread tortilla chips evenly on a baking sheet. Top with zucchini, corn, black beans and shredded cheese. Place in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and chips are crispy.
  5. Serve topped with dollops of guacamole, salsa, cilantro and hot sauce.

More ooey, gooey, melty cheese: 

Whole Grain Potato, Corn and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Chimichurri
Whole Grain Potato, Corn and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Chimichurri
Mexican Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Mexican Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Polenta Vegetarian Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Kale
Polenta Vegetarian Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Kale

Black Bean Tostadas with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Black bean tostadas with creamy cilantro sauce! A healthy, budget-friendly and flavor packed meal!  

First, thank you so much for the support and encouragement after my big announcement about starting a private practice. As someone who generally isn't a risk taker, this decision was one of the most terrifying things I've ever done. Each comment, email, text and facebook message made me feel a bit more confident and for that, I am eternally grateful. I'm still scared, but I know the fear will always be there, I frankly, I kinda like it that way. As long as I can harness my fear as energy and motivation, I won't be paralyzed by it.

The other day, I stumbled across a quote that I immediately connected with. 

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~

Dale Carnegie

(of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame)

Being in transition is probably the scariest part. Fear of the unknown is the most intense fear of all. I know with each action I take towards building my private practice, the more confidence I'll build. I keep reminding myself how scared I was to teach a nutrition class or stand up for what I feel is the most appropriate medical and nutrition care to other providers. Now these are things I do without a second thought.

My other big fear is how to make it work financially. Luckily, we've always lived well within our means. And starting a nutrition coaching practice doesn't require much capital, so it won't be as difficult or risky as it is for other entrepreneurs. Still, we need to cut back, like, a lot. 

When we sat down to look at our expenses, we found two places where we could realistically save money. The first was what we'll call the random nonessentials - a latte here, a Target run there, a 12th LBD - it adds up when you're not paying attention! The second category, of course, was food.

Gulp.

I've always been mindful of our food expenses. I purchase most of my pantry ingredients from the bulk bins. I rarely buy processed food or meat, the two biggest expenses for most people. I comparison shop. We don't go out to eat as often as most people our age. And as much as I like goji berries, raw cacao powder and kale chips, I don't buy them cause they're hella expensive. Still, it adds up. So here's a look at the steps Scott and I are taking.

1. Limit dining out to once a week.

2. Cut back on meat and dairy.

2. Purchase less organic food. Unless the price difference is insignificant, I'll be purchasing mostly conventional foods. One exception - I will continue to purchase organic meat, eggs and dairy.

4. Get a bit more liberal in my adaptions of recipes. I'm trying to be better at adapting recipes based on what I have on hand. For example, the bean dip recipe I made last night called for fresh mint, but since I had parsley, I just used that. Two bucks saved right there.

5. No weeknight drinking.

So get ready, cause you're going to be seeing quite a few budget friendly bean recipes here on this blog (as if there wasn't enough already). Might as well get started today with these black bean tostadas with creamy cilantro sauce!

Black Bean Tostadas with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

serves 4

This recipe is all about the cilantro sauce. I mean, the tostadas are good and all, but the cilantro sauce takes them to another level. You may never hear me say this again, but you could easily leave off the cheddar and not even notice the difference. I used a little bit of a high quality, aged cheddar I had leftover, but between the creaminess of the beans and the tangy sauce, I could barely taste it. Quick pickled onions are an easy and inexpensive way to dress up Mexican dishes. Try them in quesadillas, chopped salads, or to garnish my green posole. They'd even made a great condiment for my spicy tofu burgers.

Ingredients

Tostada:

  • 1/2 red onion, thin-sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced

Cilantro Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain, organic yogurt (preferably full fat or 2%)
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Juice from 1/2 lime

Instructions

  1. To pickle the onions, place the onions in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and sugar. Let sit at least 15 minutes, or until the rest of the food is done cooking.
  2. Next, make the sauce by blending the yogurt, cilantro and lime juice in a blender until pureed. Season with salt to taste.
  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat. Add peppers and saute 5 minutes until tender. Add onion and garlic, saute an additional 5 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Add cumin, stir, and cook 30 seconds. Add black beans, water and season with salt and pepper. Cook until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes. Mash lightly with a potato masher, so about half the beans are still whole.
  4. Toast the tortillas over a low flame on a gas stove.
  5. Divide the black bean mixture over the tortillas. If using, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and place under the broiler a minute or so until melted.
  6. Divide the shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and pickled red onion over the tostadas. Drizzle (or bathe) in cilantro sauce.

The Best Chopped Side Salad

The Best Chopped Side Salad

The BEST chopped side salad recipe! It’s not your ordinary boring old side salad with just tomatoes and cucumbers. This simple chopped side salad is made with chopped greens tossed with crunchy radish and cucumber, sharp cheddar, creamy avocado, and nutty toasted walnut with a mustard vinaigrette. Bring this chopped side salad to your next cookout!

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Cheese Grits Stuffed Poblanos with Tomato Gravy

These cheese grits stuffed poblanos with tomato gravy and melty cheddar cheese are comfort food to the max! 

If you are from the South and do not own a Lee Brothers cookbook, then you're not really a southern. Perhaps I'm being a bit extreme.  And as someone who has lived a third of her life above the Mason-Dixon line, I probably shouldn't be judging ones southern-ness. But seriously, if you love southern food as much as I do, then you need to familiarize yourself with Matt and Ted.  Like me, the Lee Brothers were born in New York. Also like me, they moved down south as young children, ending up in Charleston, SC, the mecca of low country southern cuisine.  Their first cookbook, "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook", tells the story of falling in love with Charleston through recipes, anecdotes from their childhood and bits of culinary history. 

Both brothers moved back to New York for college.  In a city that has an Italian, Moroccan, French, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian and a Jewish deli on every block, there was just one thing they couldn't find - boiled peanuts. So, they started making and selling their own.  Soon after, they founded the Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, where they sold artisan southern foods like sorghum syrup and pickled peaches to displaced southerners. Eventually, this led to a career as food and travel journalists, and finally, cookbook authors.  

The Lee Bros. hawk legit southern food.  No Paula Dean style "let's-throw-in-another-stick-of-butter-deep-fry-it-and-call-it-southern" recipes here.  Many of the recipes have been passed down generation after generation from places all over the south - small family-run farms in Tennessee, bayou-dwellers in Louisiana, Mexican immigrants in Texas, or from another must have southern cookbook, "Charleston Receipts."  In "Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," you'll find recipes for perfect jambalaya, baked country ham, low country boil and of course, boiled peanuts. 

What I like most about their recipes is that they aren't too stuck on finding "The Most Authentic ______."  Just the version they think tastes best.  Many of the recipes, like this one, are modernized but inspired by traditional southern foods.  

The other thing I love is that they dispel the myth that all southern food is all lard, butter and white flour. Sometimes that's correct, but the south has it's roots in agriculture so southern food was traditionally plant-based with very little meat - think collard greens, red beans and rice, pickled veggies. Although you won't find the Lee Bros. cookbook in the diet section of your bookstore, (not with that four-layer red velvet cake on page 466!), you'll find many whole food recipes with an emphasis on plants. Cornbread and tomato salad, squash and mushroom hominy, whole roasted fish with sweet potatoes and scallions and pickled okra - all dietitian approved!

This recipe was inspired by the chiles rellenos the Lee brothers enjoyed from a random gas station cantina on Johns Island.  =It catered mostly to Mexican farm workers, so the food was authentic. As they point out, southern food and Mexican food have a lot in common - corn, squash, hot peppers, pork and cheese! The pairing of cheese grits and mildly spicy poblanos is perfection!

Cheese Grits Stuffed Poblanos with Tomato Gravy

Serves 4

Adapted from Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook

Ingredients

Grits:

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Chiles:

  • 1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (ditto on above)

Instructions

  1. First, make the grits. Bring the milk and water to a boil on medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When it comes to a boil, slowly pour in the grits and salt while stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes, for a total of about 30-40 minutes until thickened, soft and creamy. Turn off the heat, add the black pepper and cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted into the grits.
  2. While grits are cooking, preheat the broiler to high. Arrange the peppers, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet. Brush the vegetables lightly with olive oil. Place in the oven about 3 inches from the heating element. Turn the peppers about every 3 minutes until the skins are blistered and well-charred on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover with saran wrap. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently rub away the skins. Cut a slit into each pepper and carefully remove the seeds.
  3. When the tomatoes, onions and garlic are cool enough to handle, transfer to a food processor and puree into a chunky sauce. Season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Divide the cheese grits evenly between each pepper half. Press the grits into the pepper lightly with your hands or a spoon. Place in a baking sheet and pour the tomato sauce over the peppers.
  5. Place in the oven and bake at 400 degrees until the sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes until the cheese is browned and melted.