Lentils and Potato Tacos

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What is it with the beginning of the school year and illnesses? Both kids have been sick and now I seem to have caught it, so as I type this up I am “enjoying” a cup of hot alka seltzer and praying that my throat won’t feel as awful as it does now in the morning. Talk about not much of a productive past 7 days.

Anyhow – my husband is out of town, and while I had originally planned on slow-cooking some barbacoa for this Taco Tuesday, I felt it would be a waste if I had a 3lb chuck roast all to myself. Instead of spending more money at the grocery and dragging said sick child #2 out, I worked with what I got and I have to say; I was extremely pleased with the results!

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I was introduced to lentils via FitGirlsGuide a couple years back. I haven’t met a bean I didn’t like and I’ve used potatoes in place of meat before, so paired with pico de gallo, I can totally see why this combination can work great if you’re trying to do without meat or you’re a vegetarian. Just make sure you don’t go light on the lentils! They’re high in lean protein and a great source of potassium.

Lentils and Potato Tacos
Serves 2
Skip the meat! A delicious take on tacos using lentils and potatoes.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  2. 1 cup lentils, boiled
  3. 2 medium potatoes, diced small and cooked
  4. 3-4 tablespoons pico de gallo
  5. ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  6. ¼ teaspoon fresh cilantro, thinly chopped
  7. sour cream, optional
  8. salsa, optional
Instructions
  1. Using a small pot, bring 1 cup of lentils and 4 cups of hot water to a slight boil over medium heat. Allow to cook 25-30 minutes, or until lentils seem tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. At the same time, using a large skillet - add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set heat to medium. Add diced potatoes, making sure to stir with a spatula to prevent burning. Cook until potatoes seem crispy. Set aside.
  3. When both lentils and potatoes are ready, assemble your corn tortilla - beginning with potatoes and followed by lentils, 1 tablespoon of pico de gallo, cheese and cilantro. Top with sour cream or salsa, if desired. Repeat step with each tortilla.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Slow Roasted Seasoned Tomatoes (Sauce)

A gas range is something I am still getting used to. No one quite understands the difference between an electric stove and a gas range until they actually go from having one to the other. I’ve always heard that a lot of food not only tastes different when using a gas stove (or oven), but also cooks much quicker. It’s still too early for me to validate the taste answer, but I can absolutely attest to the cooks quicker one! I learned just how quick after burning french toast.

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Since we are now officially in the new home, I can settle in more comfortably and get back into the swing of things – meaning actually cooking again; something I desperately missed both mentally and physically. I always feel so much better about myself when I know where my meals came from and who prepared them. Don’t get me wrong, eating out every once in awhile is nice but not only does it get expensive but it’s also most likely not healthy.

Tonight’s dinner was a late one due to schedules so it had to be something more on the simple side. It’s been some time since I made a marinara sauce and pasta can be both satisfying to all tastebuds and a quick clean-plater. I had most things already on hand, aside from the tomatoes which I happily walked over to Whole Foods to acquire. It’s awesome just how good even a basic marinara sauce can taste. Those tomatoes really do their job!

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Tomato? Tomahto? Marinara is a personal preference. I happen to like mine sweet so cherry tomatoes that were roasted in an oven were sure to give my marinara a sweet taste. I made sure to marinate them with some olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, italian seasoning, oregano and fresh basil leaves before I cooked them in the oven for a couple hours. And if you don’t want to get out the whisk and crush your tomatoes after they’re done roasting; you can puree them the lazy (and super smart) cook way – in a blender! Just make sure to pulse for less than a minute if you would like to have some “chunk” pieces to your sauce.

What would you add in your marinara sauce?

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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I understand most would think that with it being still summer, the temperature outside may just be a little on the “too hot” side for a bowl of soup. However, just because summer is still here doesn’t mean that we can’t feel under the weather and crave some chicken noodle soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Yields 6
A delicious homemade version of Chicken Noodle Soup cooked over the stovetop in just 30 minutes.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. ½ cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  3. ½ cup celery, sliced thin
  4. ½ cup yellow onion, peeled and diced
  5. 1 garlic clove, minced
  6. 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  7. ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  8. ¼ dried oregano
  9. 1 teaspoon pepper,
  10. 6 ounces wide egg noodles
  11. 1 cup shredded cooked rotisserie chicken
  12. ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  13. salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a large saucepan with 2 tablespoons olive oil over med-high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion and allow to saute for 8 minutes. Stir continuously. Add garlic and allow to saute an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Next add chicken broth, thyme, oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Check to make sure vegetables are softened, cook additional 2 minutes if not.
  3. Add egg noodles, stirring often for 10 minutes or until noodles appear thoroughly cooked.
  4. Throw in rotisserie chicken, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Cook an additional 2 minutes so that chicken combines with broth. Serve.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Creamy Tuna Noodle

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I always purposely plan meals that I know my husband or children will not eat on days when they aren’t home so that I may enjoy them for myself. It’s totally worth it, even if cooking what could be considered a big meal for just one individual sometimes doesn’t seem like it. 

No one in this house likes tuna fish but me. Actually, I don’t think I’ve met a kid who likes tuna yet. But this is a meal that I can remember my mom making every once in awhile. Definitely not the same recipe, but the same concept is there. 

Aside from waiting for your egg noodles to cook, this entree really doesn’t take long to make. And I love the fact that instead of traditional tuna noodle recipes that use cheddar cheese, you’ll be using parmesan. It gives the meal a lighter taste to it so you aren’t left feeling heavy and full when finished. That’s always a good thing 🙂

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Creamy Tuna Noodle
Serves 4
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-ounces wide egg noodles
  2. 1 cup cooked sweet peas
  3. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1 medium onion, diced
  5. ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  7. 1¼ cups whole milk
  8. 5-ounce can solid white tuna
  9. ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan full of water to a rapid boil and then cook egg noodles accordingly.
  2. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, add butter and stir until it has melted. Add onion, garlic and black pepper; stirring frequently until combined well. Next add milk. Continue stirring frequently and allow to cook until sauce has thickened and is bubbling. Remove from heat, adding both tuna (drained), cooked peas and parmesan cheese. Stir well.
  3. Add tuna sauce to your large bowl of drained egg noodles. Combine well until all noodles appear to be lightly covered with tuna sauce. Serve warm.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

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Whenever I think of macaroni and cheese, I think of comfort foods and a meal made in the middle of winter that has been slowly cooking inside my little side-dish of a crockpot. Neither of those things apply to this post; it’s the middle of summer and EXTREMELY hot outside. Also, this entree was cooked on the stove.

I don’t know that I would cook macaroni as much I do if I didn’t have children around; it seems like a entree dish fit for little mouths and just screams “CARBOHYDRATES” to me. But if I do, it’s either using this recipe that is baked overtop the stove or my son’s personal favorite that slowly cooks in a crockpot.

Here’s a recipe for your own mac and cheese lovers: 

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole
Serves 12
No more boxed mac n' cheese! Cook this homemade macaroni overtop the stove and add to the oven to give it a breaded top, if desired, and watch how fast kids ask for this version over Kraft.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 16-ounce box elbow pasta
  2. 10 tablespoons butter, or 1 butter stick, divided
  3. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 3 cups 1% milk
  5. 12-ounce shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  6. 4 tablespoons italian bread crumbs
  7. pinch of salt
  8. pinch of pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook elbow pasta according to package. Drain in a strainer. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Well grease a 8x8 casserole pan.
  3. In a medium size saucepan, add 8 tablespoons of butter. Melt, stirring often with a wooden spoon to speed up melting process. Add flour and stir well until brown. Begin to add milk, slowly, whisking while doing so. Allow to come to a boil and remove saucepan from heat.
  4. Add cheese, stirring continuously so that it is well combined. Slowly add elbow pasta, mixing well until pasta is entirely covered with cheese. Add to greased casserole pan.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of melted butter with 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add evenly as possible overtop macaroni. Add to oven and bake for 30 minutes.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Parmesan Chicken Casserole

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Have you ever wanted to take the same meal you enjoy immensely, but switch it up just a little bit? Same ingredients and hopefully the same taste; it’s just prepared a little differently. That’s what this casserole reminds me of. The list of items just scream Chicken Parmesan, you’re just giving it a whole new look!

I had spotted this recipe while browsing my Pinterest feed quite some time ago and was intrigued. I’m not quite sure who came up with this fun recipe, as I quickly jotted the ingredients down and added it to my list of potential meals. I can see how this can be either a family favorite or something you bring to a potluck party at work.

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Unlike the original recipe for Chicken Parmesan, you’re using creating a base for bake (breadcrumbs) last instead of coating the chicken in it before adding the marinara sauce and cheese. It gives it a crispier outer shell, while enjoying a more moist italian taste when you bite in. I recommend using rotisserie chicken if you’ve got it, but any leftover shredded chicken will do.

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I allowed my casserole to bake for 25 minutes, but that can always vary depending on your oven. If your breadcrumb topping has begun to take on a golden brown shade, there’s a good chance it’s ready.

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Serves 6
Craving something hot and easy to prepare? This Chicken Parm Casserole is a great bake for when you've got leftover chicken and an extra jar of marinara sauce.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2-4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  2. 28-ounce jar marinara sauce
  3. 1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. ½ fresh parmesan cheese
  5. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
  8. 1 tablespoon oregano
  9. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use cooking spray to well coat an 8x8 casserole pan. Add chicken to bottom followed by marinara sauce. Mix well, evenly spreading throughout the pan. Cover with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
  3. Add panko bread crumbs, olive oil, italian seasoning and oregano to a medium size mixing bowl. Stir well and add a pinch of both salt and pepper. Spread bread crumb mix over-top cheese layer, covering well.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Taco Tuesday: Stuffed Potato-Style

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I have no problem whatsoever dedicating a night each week to tacos. And for the most part traditional style tacos always hit the spot, but I like to switch it up every once in awhile. So why not combine a taco with something else I love to eat: a potato! I originally wanted to test this on a sweet potato, but we only had russet potatoes in the refrigerator and I wanted to avoid a trip to the grocery store for at least one day. Does anyone else feel like they’re at the grocery so much they may as well have stock in it? 

Did you know that potatoes are the number one vegetable crop in the United States? That’s crazy! It probably helps that the low-calorie veggie is loaded with potassium and Vitamin C; both essential things needed in our daily dietary. In my book, that makes it A-OK to stuff them with some extra stuff; especially if it’s additional healthy things like ground turkey, beans and corn.

Stuffed Taco Potatoes
Serves 4
This is a recipe for taco styled potatoes that are chockful of all your favorite mexican toppings. Great to use for any Taco Tuesday or Mexican-themed meal.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 russet potatoes
  2. 1lb ground turkey
  3. 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  4. 8-ounces low-fat refried beans
  5. 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  6. 1 medium onion, chopped
  7. ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes well, pat dry with a paper towel and add to oven rack to bake for 1 hour. While doing so, line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, brown ground turkey and onion in a skillet over med-high heat. Drain excess grease in a strainer and return turkey mix to skillet. Add taco seasoning, corn and refried beans; stirring well to combine. Lower heat to low and allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. When potatoes have finished cooking, remove from oven and allow to slightly cool down before cutting in half. Scoop the inside out, leaving a thin layer at bottom of potato. Spray potato inside and outside with cooking spray. Place each individually on baking sheet, upside down, and bake for 5 minutes.
  4. After potato skins seem crispier, add turkey mix. Top with a tablespoon of salsa and sprinkle cheddar cheese. Add to oven and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
  5. Serve with additional garnishes like sour cream, green onions, bacon.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

 

Meatless Monday: Margarita Pasta

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Holy smokes! I can’t believe it’s already Monday again. I know that the previous week was short because of the holidays but I’m still trying to gather myself together enough to start this week. I intentionally posted this meal today because it is Meatless Monday and my version of this pasta does not have any meat. Who needs it?! There’s enough flavor in the “sauce” as is. If you feel you must have some sort of protein, feel free to add chicken.

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Anytime I know a meal is a skillet-cook, I get excited. My husband bought us this fancy s’mancy gas range for the new place and I am dying to cook on it. I absolutely love the taste of anything gas cooked. Some don’t think there is a difference; oh there is, and I compare it from cooking on an indoor grill to cooking on an outdoor grill. You know the difference once you take that first bite.

I imagine a gas grill also makes a skillet picture just a little more fancy s’mancy looking too.

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My favorite part about this meal is that you’re using all fresh produce. The only thing really considered processed is the noodles and you can make those yourself if you want to be COMPLETELY clean and have a lot of spare time on your hands! I have a pasta maker. I’m not quite a pro at using it yet so I will save myself the embarrassment and just use store bought penne pasta until I have correctly learned how to use it to create presentable noodles.

Enjoy!

Margarita Pasta
Serves 4
A delicious serving of pasta that is sauteed with homemade clean sauce over a hot stove.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 2½ teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  5. 5 roma or 2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
  6. ¼ cup tomatoes, chopped and slightly pureed (optional)
  7. ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
  8. ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta accordingly.
  2. In the meantime, using a large skillet combine olive oil and butter over med-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently 1-2 minutes or until it begins to sizzle. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, followed by tomatoes and basil. Allow to cook for 2 minutes so that juices combine well.
  3. When pasta is finished cooking and has been drained, add to skillet and stir well to mix. Add parmesan cheese and stir again. Serve immediately.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Italian Sloppy Joes

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Italian sloppy joes. You know, for when you’re tired of the same ol’ sloppy joes recipe, or if you have a jar of marinara that you need to get rid of.

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Italian Sloppy Joes
Serves 4
The italian version of an old-fashioned sloppy joe, cheese included.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1lb ground turkey
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 onion, diced
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  6. 2 cups marinara sauce
  7. 4 hoagies or italian buns
  8. 4 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
  9. parsley for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and allow to saute for 5 minutes. Add ground turkey, oregano seasoning and cook until browned. Drain excess grease in a strainer.
  2. Add marinara sauce and lower heat to simmer, cooking for an additional 8-10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  3. Meanwhile, set the oven to broil. Arrange 4 hoagies on a baking sheet. When meat sauce is thick enough, add 4-5 tablespoons full and fill hoagie bun. Add shredded cheese on-top and cook until cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from oven and add bun to top. Serve immediately.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Skinny Lasagna Roll-ups

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While making up my weekly menu this past Sunday, I realized that I use a lot of ground turkey and chicken breasts and not enough pasta. I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way from the recipes I have posted so far in this little corner of mine, but because most pasta revolves around cheese and cheese makes some of us in this household sick; I really try to avoid it as much as I really can. It’s crazy how many recipes involve a lot of cheese, especially some of my favorites. I just cross my fingers that it’ll be a side dish at a family party…

(Hashbrown Casserole)

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My husband is in the middle of a juice cleanse, so I snuck these Skinny Lasagna Roll-ups into this week’s dinners since it’s just the kids and I eating whole foods. They’re an easy prep and they’re cute. Plus they reheat well the next day if you want to take one along with you to work.

And you never know…you may never want to go back to the traditional lasagna cooking way again.

Skinny Lasagna Rollups
Serves 4
Lasagna on the go? It could be. Individual lasagna roll ups are not only cute, but they make your favorite pasta dinner a little less messy.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 16-ounces lasagna noodles
  2. 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  3. 15-ounce skim milk ricotta cheese
  4. ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
  5. ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  6. 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add lasagna noodles to a large boiling pot of water. Cook according to package and drain in a strainer while rinsing with cold water when noodles are throughly cooked.
  2. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan so that it is just slightly covered. Set aside.
  3. Using a medium size mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Whisk well until combined.
  4. To fill lasagna noodles, place each individually across a large plate. Use a spoonful of cheese mix and thinly spread across entire noodle. Gently roll up until you've reached the end of the noodle. Add seam-side down to 9x13 casserole pan. Repeat with each lasagna noodle until you've run out of pan room or noodles.
  5. Cover casserole pan with foil overtop and add to oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and return to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve 2-3 rollups per plate.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/