Chicken, Spinach, and Feta Pizzadillas

Ladies and gentlemen, I present…the pizzadilla. Where pizza meets the quesadilla in a delicious, cheesy, heavenly combination that’s perfect for dunking in marinara. The best part is that it can be ready in about 10 minutes! Go crazy with whatever pizza toppings you like…I picked my go-to combo of chicken, feta, and spinach and added some extra tomatoes and garlic. Holy yum. I used brown rice tortillas which I found at Trader Joe’s…I usually use whole wheat, but these had less ingredients so I figured I would try them. They are less soft than regular tortillas, which worked perfectly here; it made the pizzadillas more crunchy and crispy. I made them in my quesadilla maker, which is basically a Mexican George Foreman grill that puts the indentations into the quesadilla so you know where to cut it. So quick and easy to make! These would be great as appetizers too; you could make a bunch of different combinations and have them out for people to enjoy. Or you could eat them all yourself, like I did here. Whatever your heart (and stomach) desires!

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Chicken, Spinach, and Feta Pizzadilla

Ingredients:

  • 2 tortillas
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza “toppings” of choice!

Directions:

1.) Cook pizza toppings (I sauteed the veggies and added cooked chicken) or use them cold. Take 1 tortilla and lay it on a plate. Spread a thin layer of marinara on the tortilla and add a sprinkling of mozzarella. Add pizza toppings and sprinkle with more mozzarella. Put other tortilla on top and place in quesadilla maker, pressing top down, or cook in a skillet, flipping once cheese starts melting.

2.) While pizzadilla is cooking, heat a small bowl of marinara sauce in microwave. When cooked, let pizzadilla cool, then cut into 6 triangles. Serve hot and dip in marinara!

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Red Pepper

I suppose I should start by saying, yes, I am alive…I haven’t posted in almost a month! Life has been crazy with work and school and all sorts of other things, so cooking new recipes has fallen on the backburner. I’ve been making lots of easy dishes that I’ve already posted on here, just because I haven’t had time to be adventurous. But this week I found time!

A few weeks ago I purchased the Skinnytaste Cookbook, which was written by Gina Homolka, the genius behind the Skinnytaste blog. I’ve always loved her recipes because she lightens up meals but still makes them taste amazing! She also makes a lot of Italian food lighter, which is a favorite of mine. You should definitely pick up her cookbook; everything looks mouth-wateringly good and there are appetizers, entrees, desserts, the whole 9 yards! I’ve been meaning to start making some of her recipes but hadn’t had time, so this week I found one that was quick and easy but looked delicious (and it was). Here it is!

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Red Pepper

Adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 20 oz (6 links) Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 6 cups baby kale**
  • 13.25 oz (1 box) whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to taste)

Directions:

1.) Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

2.) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Heat olive oil, then add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until soft, then add the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Cook until sausage is lightly browned.

3.) Add in baby kale and cover the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook until kale is wilted.

**Use baby kale or cut the “stem” off regular kale! I had never cooked with kale before and I just used regular kale without cutting it, and the stem tastes bitter. So don’t make my mistake!

4.) Add cooked pasta to the skillet (or use a big pot if the skillet isn’t big enough). Turn to medium-high heat. Mix everything together and add 1/3 of the pasta water and stir. Add more water if it seems dry.

5.) Add parmesan, salt, pepper, and red paper, to taste, mixing everything together. Serve and top with a sprinkle of cheese!

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

Calories 418
Fat 8 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 7 g
Carbs 59 g
Sodium 858 mg
Protein 30 g

Lightened-up Spinach Parmesan Orzo!

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I tried Thai food for the first time (really good!), had some friends over for drinks, and soaked up a little sunshine. I also got the chance to try this Pinterest recipe that I had been meaning to make for awhile. I love anything involving cheesy pasta, and I had never cooked orzo before, so I was excited to try it! I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my tastes and made some breaded chicken to go with it. It came out delicious!

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Ingredients (makes 6 servings)

  • 3 1/2 cups uncooked orzo ( use whole wheat if you can find it!)
  • 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond!)
  • 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded, plus extra for garnish
  1. Cook orzo according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add half of the flour to form a roux and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add about 1/2 cup of the milk to the pot and whisk to work out any lumps from the roux. When lumps are worked out, add the remaining milk and flour and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add chopped spinach to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes or until spinach has cooked down. Remove sauce from heat.
  5. Stir parmesan cheese into sauce. When cheese has melted, add cooked orzo to sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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All the ingredients, ready to go! [Pardon those cupcakes in the back…]

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Cooking up a LOT of orzo

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Stirring milk in with the roux

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Add in as much spinach as youd like!

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Stir in cheese! Yummm

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Finished product!

** To make the breaded chicken, I simply dipped chicken breast tenderloins in a mix of olive oil/garlic powder/Italian seasoning to coat both sides, then dredged them in Italian breadcrumbs and baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Simple and delicious breaded chicken!

Simple and delicious breaded chicken!

Side Note: the original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups orzo, which I assumed meant uncooked…so I decided to double it since I had two boxes of orzo (each were 2 1/2 cups). So I doubled every other ingredient, but then realized I had a BOAT LOAD of orzo and not quite as much sauce. Hence why I mentioned to use 3 1/2 cups UNCOOKED orzo, because that cooks to about 6 cups of orzo haha. I ended up with about 9 cups total of pasta, so I saved what I didn’t add to the parmesan sauce to make another orzo recipe later in the week. Just goes to show how unpredictable cooking can be sometimes…

Stay tuned for another orzo recipe soon!

Yup...I made THISSSS much!

Yup…I made THISSSS much!

Three-Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake

So I will start with a confession: dairy-free May failed 😦 However, I would say I at least succeeded in less-dairy May! I did well for about a week or two, but then I really started missing the feta in my salads, had a family party with pizza, etc. Yet I am glad I found the soy shredded cheese, because I think I will continue to use that in place of typical shredded cheese in many recipes! With that in mind, here is this week’s recipe, a tried-and-true favorite of mine (but it does contain dairy)! I have recently been making it with spaghetti squash, but I have also made it with traditional pasta and it is just as good. It’s a very filling dish with a tasty sauce that is easy to make and gets in some veggies as well as lean protein. And if you use spaghetti squash, it’s very low carb! I usually bake spaghetti squash, but this time I tried it on the crock pot since I had recently seen it done on Instagram…I thought it was much easier since I could cook it the day before. It does get a little mushy, but I still liked the taste! I put instructions below for both squash cooking methods.

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Three-Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb chicken tenderloins, raw or pre-cooked
  • 1 large spaghetti squash [or pasta, cooked (about 3 cups)]
  • 1 package spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp basil leaves (or Italian seasoning)
  • 1 jar (14.5 oz) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  •  2 oz cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat or Neufchâtel cheese)
  • Shredded soy/mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan or feta cheese

1.) Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook pasta**.

2.) Heat olive oil and minced garlic in large skillet on med high heat, add spinach and cook until wilted. Add chicken (if raw) and basil, cook for about 3 minutes. Add sauce and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Simmer until chicken is done, then cut into bite size pieces. Stir in cream cheese.

3.) Drain pasta, pour into baking dish/Dutch oven (if chicken was pre-cooked, add bite-sized pieces of it here). Stir in sauce mixture with a handful of shredded cheese.

4.) Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan/Feta cheese on top and bake for another 3-4 minutes.

**If you want to use spaghetti squash instead of pasta:

Oven directions: cut a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp in middle. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray/brush olive oil and salt and pepper onto the inside of each half. Lay each half of the squash, open side down, on the sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes until the sides/bottom get slightly brown, the flesh can be easily poked, and the insides can be easily scraped out with a fork. Let cool. Scrape out all the “spaghetti” and put into a pasta strainer lined with paper towels to soak up excess water. Then use in place of pasta!

Crock pot directions: cut a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp in middle. Put both halves into crock pot, open sides touching, with 1/2 inch water in the bottom. Cook on high for 2.5 hours (don’t overcook, it will get really soggy!) Take halves out with tongs and let cool. Scrape out all the “spaghetti” and put into a pasta strainer lined with paper towels to soak up excess water. Then use in place of pasta!

Also, my sister sent me this article written by a fellow dietitian (I say fellow like I already am one); it is definitely a true and interesting read about nutrition and diet “fads” and why people think they may be doing something healthy that isn’t working!

The Eight Nutrition Trends That Drive This Dietitian Crazy

Happy Thursday!

Recipe of the Week: Creamy Tomato and Veggie Polenta

So I once again slacked and didn’t take any step-by-step photos of my recipe this week :/ I tend to cook while doing other things and before I know it I’m done and out the door! However, this recipe was really good and I sort of made it up in my head, so I’m proud and wanted to share it (hence the Tupperware lunch photo). I decided to make this because I love polenta, I found pre-cooked polenta at Trader Joe’s (in a cookie-doughish tube, so it was super easy), and I wanted to recreate the Polenta Provencale that I had bought from Trader Joe’s last week, but without the peas (I’m not a big fan). So here’s what I came up with!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package pre-cooked Trader Joe’s polenta (or you can make your own from scratch!)
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves
  • Grape tomatoes, halved (however many you desire)
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato and Basil sauce
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  1. Boil about 1.5 cups water and add the bag of frozen broccoli. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender. While broccoli is simmering, open tube of polenta and cut into small slices, then into cubes, and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and spinach leaves, cook until wilted. Then add the polenta cubes and cook for a few minutes in the oil. Mix in the broccoli and tomatoes and stir-fry them all together.
  3. Once cooked, add the jar of sauce and mix well. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste (depending how spicy you would like it).