Buffalo Chicken Salad with Lightened-up Ranch Dressing

I LOVE buffalo sauce. I find it funny that I used to hate anything spicy, and now I’m buying jars of jalapenos and Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce like it’s going out of style. Oh how things change! I also love my salads, so I figured why not combine my two loves into one? I prefer making homemade ranch dressing because it’s much healthier, I know all the ingredients, and I can make it lactose-intolerant friendly. Store-bought ranch (even the ranch seasoning packets) almost always have buttermilk as an ingredient, so I have to stay away from that. Not everyone with lactose intolerance can handle yogurt, but it doesn’t give my stomach any issues, so I used yogurt as the base for this dressing. It’s so yummy and tastes even better once it sits in the fridge overnight! This is one of those “I am claiming this is a recipe but it’s really a handful of things thrown together to suit my tastes” type of recipes. Which means you can adapt it to match your tastes too – like it less spicy? Use mild buffalo. Want to make more chicken? Just up the amount of sauce when baking. Like your dressing thicker? Use more yogurt. Go wild!

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Buffalo Chicken Salad with Lightened-up Ranch Dressing

Adapted from: The Skinny Fork

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (I like hot!)
  • 1 lb. salad mix
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp milk (I use soy)
  • 1-2 tbsp dried dill flakes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Lay out tenderloins and smother in buffalo sauce. Bake for about 20 minutes or until center is no longer pink. Let cool and shred chicken.

2.) To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, mayo, milk, dill, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk together. Feel free to add more of any ingredient as necessary, adding more milk to thin it or more yogurt/mayo to thicken. Put in a jar or container in the fridge; it will last about a week!

3.) In a large bowl, make your salad! Top salad mix with a handful of tomatoes, diced pepper and cucumber, and 1 tbsp each of sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles. Top with 1/4 cup of shredded chicken and the amount of dressing you would like. Enjoy!

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Asian Peanut Chicken

So this recipe was sort of a last-minute experiment, but somehow those always end up tasting the best! I wanted a protein/veggie combo for lunches this week, rather than my usual salad. So I decided on roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and some sort of chicken. I had recently seen a Pinterest recipe for a peanut sauce on noodles, so I figured “why not try making that with chicken instead?” Let me just say it is SO YUMMY and tastes like something you would get for take out, but much healthier. The sauce is so peanutty, yet a little salty and spicy, with the perfect consistency – even reheated. You could switch up the protein, make it over rice, quinoa, zucchini noodles, veggies, or serve with veggies and potatoes like I did! I like meals that I can make quickly yet also customize – since I tend to crave different things every other minute 🙂

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Asian Peanut Chicken

Adapted from: Kelley and Cricket

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenders, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce (or sriracha)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Directions:

1.) Over medium heat, melt butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent.

2.) Add olive oil and chicken cubes to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Turn heat to medium low and add peanut butter, vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, maple syrup, and sweet chili sauce. Stir until chicken is fully cooked.

3.) Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Stir again and add another tbsp soy sauce, if you’d like it to be a little more salty!

Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry

I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer weather! It’s been great to be able to swim, go for walks outside, grill, and just generally forget that snow exists. However, I’ve been a little lax with making new recipes because it’s hot and I don’t always feel like cooking. So I’ve been defrosting a lot of meals or making quick kebabs on the grill. I made this recipe a little while back and want to share it! It was from the Skinnytaste Cookbook and, like all the other recipes in there, it was delicious! I added some stir fry veggies, served it over rice, and it was so yummy – tasted like take-out!

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Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry

Adapted from: Skinnytaste Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3/4 lb. stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 tbsp cashews, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
  • 1 bag frozen stir fry veggies (about 5 cups)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked

Directions:

1.) In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, 1 tbsp soy sauce, the rice wine, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Add the beef, coat with marinade, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. While that is marinating, dice the ginger and chop the cashews. Steam the frozen (or fresh if desired) veggies.

2.) Once beef is done marinating, heat a large skillet over high heat and add 3 tsp sesame oil and the beef with marinade. Cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

3.) In the same skillet, heat the last 2 tsp of sesame oil and add garlic, ginger, and cashews. Cook about 30 seconds, then add the veggies, brown sugar, and remaining soy sauce for about 1 minute. Then add the beef and stir to mix well. Serve 1/4 of the beef mixture over 1/2 cup brown rice.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 400
Fat 12 g (3 g saturated)
Fiber 6 g
Carbs 45 g
Sodium 913 mg
Protein 27 g

Mexican Fiesta Salad

We all know how much I love Mexican food. Basically an obsession. If I were to ever turn down a taco (or a margarita), be worried, because the world may be ending. So when I needed to switch up my salad routine, I naturally decided to add some Mexican flair. Nothing is better than the combination of avocado, salsa, corn, black beans, cumin…yum! I bet some ground turkey or chicken with taco seasoning would have stepped this salad up a notch, but since it was my first week in the apartment and I didn’t have a lot of time to cook, I made it meat-free. That’s what I love about salads – so versatile, yet such a great way to get your veggies in! This is an entree-sized salad, so it’s enough to keep you full for a meal, but you could also make it as a side dish to go along with other Mexican favorites. Enjoy this colorful and delicious salad, margarita optional 😉

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Mexican Fiesta Salad

  • Servings: 6 entree servings or 12 side salads
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spring mix
  • 1 can reduced sodium black beans, drained
  • 1 can roasted corn, drained
  • 1 container grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp  ground cumin
  • 3 small avocados, sliced
  • 4.5 tbsp cilantro lime ranch (found it at Walmart!)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.) Top spring mix with black beans, corn, tomatoes, green pepper, sunflower seeds, and cumin. If serving the salad right away, top with rest of ingredients and toss. If eating one serving at a time, top each serving with 1/2 an avocado, 2 tbsp salsa, 3/4 tbsp cilantro lime ranch, and 1/2 tbsp oil. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 466
Fat 31 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 14 g
Carbs 39 g
Sodium 555 mg
Protein 14 g

Shrimp Parm Over Spaghetti Squash

It feels like forever since my last post – I’ve been busy busy! I have finals this week, so I am beyond ready for summer to begin. I also found my own apartment – yay! However, I move in this weekend, so I have been scrambling to find time to both study and pack; not easy. Therefore I have been relying on salads and freezer meals recently…a pat on the back to me for, at some point, making extra food and stashing it in the freezer! However, at the beginning of last week I made this yummy shrimp parm recipe. Another delicious and easy recipe from Gina at Skinnytaste! I decided to make spaghetti squash to go with it; however, she used zucchini noodles, or you could use your favorite pasta! I doubled the original recipe so I would have enough for the week. I also added pesto to a few of the leftovers and it was really good, so I may add that next time when I cook the sauce. My spaghetti squashes made a lot of cooked “spaghetti” so I made each serving of shrimp over 2 cups, which was very filling, but feel free to adjust that to your liking. Enjoy!

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Shrimp Parm Over Spaghetti Squash

Adapted from: Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb jumbo raw shrimp (buying peeled/deveined will save you time! Sadly, I did not do this)
  • 10 cups spaghetti squash, baked (about 5.25 lbs raw)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Italian seasoning and salt, to taste
  • 5 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2.5 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.) Prepare spaghetti squash – see here for instructions!

2.) Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray a glass baking dish or cookie sheet with oil.

3.) In a small bowl, whisk the egg. In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, panko, and grated parmesan. Dry the shrimp, then dip each one in egg and  roll in breadcrumb mixture until fully coated. Place shrimp on baking dish and spray them with oil.

4.) Bake until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through, about 20 minutes, turning the shrimp over about halfway through.

5.) While shrimp are cooking, heat the crushed tomatoes in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbly. Add Italian seasoning and salt, to taste. Once shrimp are done, serve over spaghetti squash and top with sauce, mozzarella, and shredded parmesan.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 292
Fat 6 g (2 g saturated)
Fiber 8 g
Carbs 36 g
Sodium 741 mg
Protein 26 g

Quick and Easy Veggie Pesto Pasta

Hello everyone! I have had a busy couple weeks…lots of tests and projects for school, a new position at work, and finally some sunny weather! Time is flying by; I can’t believe it’s already the middle of April and almost the end of my first year of grad school. Ah! But I have to say, I’m ready for this semester to be over and the summer to begin 🙂

Due to the hectic schedule I’ve had lately, I’ve needed to make some super quick and easy meals so that I can continue to eat healthy while constantly being on the go. I found a recipe for pasta with veggies and pesto, and since I had all the ingredients, it was perfect! It was delicious and super filling as well; I sort of forgot how yummy pesto makes everything until I made this dish!

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Veggie Pesto Pasta


Adapted from: iFoodreal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pasta, uncooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 bag raw spinach (8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or shredded

Directions:

1.) Cook pasta, drain, and put back into the pot. While pasta is cooking, cut cherry tomatoes into halves.

2.) In a large skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds and then add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and stir to wilt.

3.) When all the spinach is wilted, move over to one side of the skillet and add the chopped tomatoes. Add half of the pesto, stir, and let cook for a few minutes. Then add broccoli and stir again. Let cook for a few minutes to let the flavors develop.

4.) Add the pesto veggies to the pot with the pasta. Add cheese and remaining pesto and stir everything together. Serve with a little shredded parmesan on top!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 315
Fat 15 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 7 g
Carbs 32 g
Sodium 407 mg
Protein 13 g

Banana and Coconut French Toast

There’s nothing better than sleeping in on a Sunday and then making a yummy breakfast. My breakfasts during the week are always taken on the go, so it’s nice to have a hot, sit-down breakfast once in awhile! Today I was craving French Toast, so I whipped this recipe up. It was really yummy, quick, and easy – perfect for a lazy Sunday. Have a great week! 🙂

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Banana and Coconut French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread (or your favorite whole wheat bread!)
  • 1/8 cup soymilk (or milk of choice)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I didn’t have nutmeg!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 small banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Directions:

1.) Mix milk, spices, vanilla extract, and egg whites in a bowl and whisk together. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.

2.) When skillet is hot enough, dredge one slice of toast in egg white mixture, making sure to soak both sides. Lay on skillet and cook both sides evenly until browned and egg is cooked. Repeat with second slice.

3.) Cut up banana into slices and put on a plate. Drizzle with a little maple syrup and coconut and heat for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Lay banana slices on top of French Toast, drizzle with maple syrup, and then sprinkle the rest of the coconut on top.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 361
Fat 3 g (2 g saturated)
Fiber 8 g
Carbs 70 g
Sugars 33 g
Protein 15 g