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.
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Easy Sesame Noodle Bowl

We’re in the process of moving here shortly. Movin’ for the most part is fun because you’re either getting your own place, upgrading to a bigger home or about to live in a whole new city/state. We bought a home, had it gutted and added on additional square feet so it’s basically a brand new build. That makes it twice as exciting. But the packing up is not exciting at all. You don’t realize how much junk you own until it’s time to divide between what to box up and what to throw away. I guess that’s why most hoarders don’t move.

Inbetween packing this week, I will be spending a few hours here and there at the local pool to get some vitamin d for my pale skin. I have planned a easy sesame noodle bowl for my lunch and while some would prefer such a meal hot, I will be eating my chilled from sitting inside a portable cooler. Still same taste, but the being served cold will definitely help a cool down from the heat – it’s in the 90’s this week!

Easy Sesame Noodle Bowl
Serves 8
An easy meal made in 15 minutes tops that can be served cold or hot and with or without vegetables.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 12-ounces lo-mein egg noodles, cooking accordingly
  2. 4 green onions, sliced thin
  3. ¼ cup soy sauce
  4. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  7. 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  8. 4 tablespoons canola oil
  9. snap peas, optional
  10. cabbage slices, optional
  11. green pepper slices, optional
  12. diced cucumber, optional
Instructions
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. In the meantime, cut green onions. When noodles have finished cooking, drain in strainer. Using a large bowl, add noodles and set aside.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients into a medium size bowl. Whisk well and pour into large bowl of noodles and green onions. Use a large spoon or tongs to combine noodles and sauce well.
  3. Sprinkle with green onions and any additionally vegetables you like.
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Southwestern Tortilla Soup

chickentortillasoup

I know that it’s the beginning of summer and it’s probably a little too hot outside for soup. Over 90 degrees too hot. I still don’t care. I’ve been craving some good ol’ slow-cooker chicken tortilla soup for some time now and this is the week I have it for dinner three days in a row since my husband is out of town. 

I call this my favorite dump meal; because that’s basically what you’re doing – dumping all the ingredients into a slow-cooker. Other than shredded the chicken later on, there is no real effort needed to go into preparing this. You’d never guess that though by how good it tastes!

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Southwestern Tortilla Soup
Serves 6
A flavorful soup that's easy to prep and cooks throughout the day, leaving your home smelling delicious.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  3. 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  4. 10-ounce can rotel
  5. 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  6. 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 15-ounce can sweet corn, drained
  8. 1 package taco seasoning
Instructions
  1. Add chicken breasts to to slow-cooker, followed by all other ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 7 hours. Remove chicken from slow-cooker and shred into small pieces using two forks. Return to slow-cooker and cook for an additional hour.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, lite sour cream and tortilla soups.
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Homemade Medium Salsa

Can you go an entire summer without making some homemade salsa of your own? I can’t. I get the itch to create some as soon as I know the local Farmer’s Markets are open for the season. I know the ingredients are available year round in the grocery stores, but I feel more bountiful when the salsa I make is either from my own backyard growing, or from someone else’s. 

So I started seeds inside back in March, but because we are still in the middle of remodeling our new home, I didn’t have anywhere to store the plants outside and unfortunately they perished inside. Gutted, but I guess this year’s summer will be more about planning and building a special place for them to grow in the years to come. Luckily, I have perennials that I have planted that are absolutely flourishing outside right now to keep my green thumb busy. 

Homemade Medium Salsa
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 large tomatoes, diced (keep the juices if you like your salsa more on the juicy side)
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  4. 2 tablespoon minced garlic, or two garlic cloves diced
  5. 2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  6. 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  7. salt, for taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
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Chicken Caesar Salad (Homemade Dressing Included)

While we’re on this chicken and salad combo mix, I figured I may as well go ahead and add Chicken Caesar to the lineup. You can get as fancy as you want with salads, (or any meal for that matter) but you almost always go back to the basics when the plate is clean. See what I did there?

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When we go out to eat, 8/10 times I order the Chicken Caesar Salad no matter where we are. There are some places that I have had the salad quite a few times and I already know how good it is. There are other places where I am just going to assume the salad will be good enough because it’s a safe choice on the menu. Can you really mess up a caesar salad? Absolutely. Serve it with anchovies for someone who is deathly afraid of the look of anchovies. Sure, a lot of the times the dressing is made with it. I don’t need the proof right in front of my face though. 

I can totally avoid the anchovies at home because caesar dressing I’ve been using on my salads is actually really simple to make. It just consists of 6 ingredients: mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, worcestershire sauce and black pepper.

Nothing fishy going on here. 

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And remember, if you want to add a little extra to your salad; pasta is always a good choice. (Thanks for the introduction to it, Skinnymom) – Just be cautious with those croutons! While croutons in a salad are ohsodelicious, they’re also bread and you know what they say about bread: “All aboard the carb train.” 

Enjoy!

Chicken Caesar Salad
Serves 4
A simple recipe for chicken caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
For the Salad
  1. 8 cups romaine lettuce, divided
  2. 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  3. 1 tomato, deseeded and diced
  4. 20 fat-free caesar croutons
  5. 2 tablespoons reduced-fat parmesan cheese
For the Dressing
  1. 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon reduced-fat parmesan cheese
  4. ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  5. ¼ tablespoon minced garlic
  6. ¼ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Using a fork, remove pieces from rotisserie chicken, shredding and then placing in a large bowl. Add romaine lettuce, diced tomato. Toss well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing. Pour over salad evenly. Toss well.
  3. Add croutons (5 per plate) and sprinkle ½ tablespoon parmesan cheese on top.
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Greek Chicken Salad

When I decided on prepping Greek Chicken Salad, I did it knowing that I could enjoy it in a variety of ways. There are times when I become less enthusiastic about a meal that I’ve got repeated throughout the week; especially if it’s one that I don’t look forward to in the first place. That’s also when I decided to make my own meal-plans instead of following others. I love food too much to not look forward to a meal!

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I remember the first time I had chicken salad. My mom had brought home a container of it from Sam’s Club. I knew that I loved tuna salad, but after tasting that particular chicken salad, I found that I loved chicken salad more. 

Chicken Salad doesn’t have to be a basic recipe with the same ingredients every time. It tastes great on a plate of spinach, overtop a fresh loaf of bread, on-top of a cucumber, with a handful of crackers, or even just by itself. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy or prepare chicken salad.

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Generally each recipe I’ve came across has included grapes as far as fruit goes, but I think my favorite combination has been grapes and apples. Both flavors compliment each other well and you’re adding another texture which is always a good thing. There’s no such thing as too much fruit and that goes for chicken salad as well.

You’re always welcomed to add additional ingredients. This particular recipe calls for greek seasoning, but if you do not have all of the spices needed to prepare that; you can always just use ½ cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. 

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Doesn’t it look fantastic? I have to admit – I purposely prepared this shortly before lunch time so that after I was doing prepping the ingredients and taking photos, I could enjoy that open face chicken salad sandwich pictured above. And it was delicious. Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Salad
Serves 4
Chicken Salad can be a colorful recipe, with added ingredients and dressing adjusted.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups rotisserie chicken
  2. 1½ cups red grapes, halved
  3. medium apple, diced
  4. 1½ cups celery, diced
  5. ½ cup slivered almonds
  6. ½ cup mayonnaise
Greek Seasoning
  1. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  2. 2 teaspoons dried basil
  3. 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  4. 1 teaspoons dried thyme
  5. 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  6. 4 teaspoons onion powder
  7. 2 teaspoons onion flakes
  8. 2 teaspoons dried dill
  9. 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  10. 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  11. 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  12. 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  13. 1 teaspoons nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Using a medium size bowl, add mayonnaise and greek seasoning. Mix well.
  2. Combine chicken, grapes, apple, celery and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise sauce and fold, covering all ingredients entirely. Chill for 10 minutes before serving.
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Chicken Fried Rice

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I love recipes that call for rotisserie chicken. Not because it makes cooking slightly easier, you can always cook your own rotisserie chicken instead of buying one from your local grocery store. But because of the taste of a rotisserie chicken. 

We don’t necessarily have a good local take-out, or I haven’t found one yet. So as someone who personally loves fried rice, I’m always excited when preparing this one. I’ve been meal-prepping meals for fitness programs that I have been doing and Chicken Fried Rice is an awesome, low-calorie lunch. You’re getting your protein, vegetables and a healthy grain all in one dish.

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Chicken Fried Rice
Serves 4
Tastes better than take-out!
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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. Rotisserie chicken, divided into shredded pieces
  2. 2 cups brown rice
  3. 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  4. 1 cup onion, diced
  5. 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 eggs
  8. ¼ cup soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Cook brown rice according to package. While doing so, divide a rotisserie chicken into shredded pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic cloves, cook 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and carrots, cook 3-5 minutes. Push vegetables to the side of skillet. Crack eggs and scramble.
  3. Add skillet mixture and chicken to rice. Pour soy sauce gently overtop and mix well.
Notes
  1. Use whatever remaining leftover rotisserie chicken you have for another dish.
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Pesto Pasta Salad

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The thing I love about pesto is the variety of ways you can use it. It’s common for us to use it during the summer for a healthier version of grilled cheese for adults. I say adults because I cannot imagine either kid liking pesto and so I am saving myself the trouble of even wasting such a delicate and tasty sauce.

This Pesto Pasta Salad is a branch off of a Balsamic Mozzarella Tomato, or bruschetta salad. You’re welcome to use any sort of pesto sauce that you like, but I recommend making your own. 

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Pesto is pretty easy sauce to make. I prefer to make my pesto over purchasing it because I like to know everything that goes into it. A classic pesto recipe only requires a few things and just takes you a few minutes to make. Add each of the following ingredients (except cheese) into a blender until everything combined resembles a paste. Remove from blender and add cheese.

Pesto Sauce:
4 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried off with a papertowel
½ cup olive oil
¼ pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Note: If you’re making 1 day ahead, transfer sauce to a small bowl and refrigerate. 

 

Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Penne noodles with a homemade pesto sauce, diced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
23 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
23 min
Ingredients
  1. 8-ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  2. fresh mozzarella cheese
  3. 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  4. 1 cup pesto sauce, homemade recipe above
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook according to package. Drain and let cool water run over pasta until chill.
  2. In a large bowl, add pasta, mozzarella and tomatoes. Add pesto sauce and stir well. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a well-concealed container to chill.
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Egg, Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

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How delicious does a breakfast casserole sound? Not to mention the convenience of it already been prepared. All you have to do is pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and enjoy for the remainder of the week. Perfect if you’re like me and prefer to prep your breakfast and lunches for the week on Sunday. Afterall, if you “fail to plan, plan to fail” and I refuse to fail with just a little over fifty days left until summer!

So of course, a casserole is the way to go if you want a little bit of everythin’, There really is no wrong ingredient. I used turkey sausage for mine to keep the healthy factor still there. I basically use turkey for everything though..

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Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes Breakfast Casserole
Serves 6
A delicious breakfast casserole that can be prepped and enjoyed for an entire week, or served at brunch.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ cubes
  2. 1lb turkey or italian sausage, chopped
  3. 1 small onion, diced
  4. 1 red pepper, diced
  5. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 6 eggs
  7. 1/3 cup skim milk
  8. 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  9. ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Well-grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. Over medium-heat, boil a medium sized saucepan until water is boiling. Add diced potatoe cubes and cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until lightly browned. When sausage appears done, add onion, red pepper and garlic to skillet. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add to greased baking pan and set aside.
  4. Using a large bowl, add eggs, milk, 1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, and black pepper. Whisk well. Next add your egg mixture to the potato and sausage mixture in baking pan. Make sure to stir so that all ingredients are combined well. Sprinkle additional ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese ontop and cover with foil.
  5. Add baking pan to oven and cook for 20 minutes. When 20 minutes are up, remove foil and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cook off momentarily before serving.
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Quick “Beef” Tostadas

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A lot of households, including my own, participate weekly in “Taco Tuesday” or “Taco Thursday” if you’re running behind on schedule and refuse to miss out. I don’t want to say that eating tacos grows old, because quite frankly I don’t see any truth in that. It is nice however to mix it up a little here and there. You can still use your taco shells and taco seasoning. Just think of it as “dressing your taco up differently.” Change is OK. It’s not permanent unless you like it. 

Beef Tostadas are basically just an open taco.  

Quick Beef Tostadas
An open-faced taco on baked tortilla.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1lb ground turkey
  2. one taco seasoning packet
  3. 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  4. 1 medium tomato, diced
  5. shredded colby jack cheese
  6. romaine lettuce, shredded.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat a well greased large skillet over medium heat. Add ground turkey and cook until brown. Drain excess grease in a strainer. Return ground turkey to skillet and add taco seasoning with 1/3 cup of warm water. Mix well.
  3. When meat and taco seasoning have been well combined, add black beans. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Using a cup, trace the cup's edges on top of a tortilla, carefully cutting around with a knife. Add each tortilla cut-out to a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove tortillas, add ground turkey mix to each. Top with a fair sprinkle of colby jack cheddar cheese and return to oven to cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, or when cheese appears melted.
  6. Top each tortilla with diced tomatoes, romaine lettuce. Add salsa or sour cream as well if desired.
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