Healthy Fried Green Tomatoes

Remember the other night when I really wanted to share with you the post about our dinner? Thanks for holding out on me, because I think you will find it worth it. I present…

Healthy Fried Green Tomatoes

These were a hit in my family, and hopefully you’ll take a half an hour out of your summer and give them a try, too. For the record, I stress again that they were a hit because Greg did not like tomatoes at all when I met him. So much so, I couldn’t hold them down when I was pregnant with Evan. And I love tomatoes, y’all. (Have you met my other kid who plants cherry tomatoes just so she can eat them all summer long?) So trust me on the tomatoes. Here’s what I need you to do.

1. Take the family shopping. Truth be told, I much prefer the selection at our local Farmer’s Market to anything I’ve seen when it comes to green tomatoes. The harder, the better. Kudos to you if you are a gardener and have some handy. This mama just doesn’t have time for that! 

2. Slice the tomatoes sort of thick – about 3/8″ thick. We sliced up 2 to make plenty for our family of four.

3. Dip the slices in egg whites.

4. Dip the slices in a mixture of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, onion seasoning, and garlic seasoning with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar.

5. Place the slices on a cookie sheet that you’ve sprayed with EVOO spray.

6. Pop them in a 425 degree oven for about 16 minutes, flipping them over at the half way point.

While you are waiting, you might as well prep some bacon and turn them into BLT’s. They are just fine to eat by themselves or with a little bit of tomato sauce on top, but there’s something magical about adding them to bacon, lettuce, and some cheese (bonus points if you can find “Thunderjack” at your local grocery store). Put them on wheat bread, and enjoy as we did.

You’re welcome.

And yes, Greg and I head upstairs to watch Fried Green Tomatoes when we were done. After he shared this photo to Facebook, of course. 🙂

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Blogger Swap: Pulled Pork Fajita Burritos

Today’s post comes from Jennifer of Firecracker, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Firecracker, where I am sharing my “Top 5 Places Along the Pittsburgh Marathon Course”.

Hey everyone! My name’s Jennifer and I write over at my own blog, Firecracker. I’m so glad to be here posting for Becky today as part of the Pittsburgh Blogger Swap!

Today I’m going to be sharing a versatile, simple pulled pork recipe that makes my life a heck of a lot easier on a million different levels. First, it’s a time-saver, and with how busy everyone is these days, who can’t appreciate that?  You can easily make it ahead and stash it away for later, or you can prep parts of it and throw it together whenever you get a chance. Second, it’s a chameleon: you can make a bunch of different dishes with it–it’s only limited by your imagination. Quesadillas? Check. Sandwiches? Check. Salad? You bet. (Today I’m making a burrito, but really, your options are limitless.) Third, you can eat it and feel good about it: it’s a healthy, well-rounded meal with tons of protein and as many veggies as you want.

The star of the show is the barbecue sauce. I’m not ashamed to say that my husband and I were about ready to drink this stuff right out of the mixing bowl (and maybe we kind of did…ahem). It’s tangy and vinegary with a touch of sweetness, but you could always adjust levels of brown sugar, ketchup, and vinegar to suit your tastes. Don’t omit the tomato paste, though: that’s where it gets its thicker texture.

Go for a leaner cut of pork, like pork loin—not tenderloin; that tends to be a little more expensive and not as large. You could always use beef or chicken if you prefer. Heck, I bet this would even be great with tofu if that’s more your style—skip the slow cooker, though; just marinate and sear. The brown sugar will make the sauce caramelize beautifully.

 

One thing I suggest, though, is adding additional seasonings after the slow cooker’s worked its magic. In my experience, even though it’s a super convenient way to feed your family, the slow cooker has a way of making things bland.

Another thing that’s great about this: the quantities can be adjusted up or down to serve however many people you’re feeding. You’re really just limited to the side of your slow cooker. When I made this, I cut my pork loin in half and stuck just a little over a pound of it into my tiny slow cooker, producing enough for five super-stuffed burritos.

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite South Hills restaurants, Mexi-Casa. Ever been there? All I have to say is…GO. Now. Get queso. Personally, I have dreams about their pulled pork fajita burrito. However…inhaling that entire one-pound monster—not to mention the obligatory margaritas—isn’t the most health-conscious of moves, so at least I can make this at home and feel good about it!

Oh, and just a note: the ingredient list looks intimidating, but there’s a lot of spices/simple stuff in there.  Also, I’m the kind of cook who tends to throw things together haphazardly.  Some measurements are approximate, so just taste as you go!

Pulled Pork Fajita Burritos

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  •  About 1lb. pork loin
  • 1 large onion, split
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2T apple cider vinegar
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 2T tomato paste
  • dash of worcestershire sauce
  • 1T dijon or brown mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • squirt or sriracha (or hot sauce of choice)
  • optional: cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • healthy dash of garlic powder
  • healthy dash of onion powder
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few handfuls romaine lettuce, spinach, or any green you have on hand
  • 5 sliced havarti cheese (sharp cheddar works well, too)
  • 5 large whole wheat tortillas (I love the 100 calorie whole wheat ones from La Tortilla Factory)
  • a few handfuls of chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • optional toppings: sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or queso

Directions:

  1. Make your barbeque sauce: combine the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, salt, paprika, sriracha, and cayenne (if using). Whisk together until smooth.
  2. Roughly slice half of the onion and lay it in the bottom of your slow cooker. Put the pork on top, then cover in barbeque sauce. Cover and cook on low for eight hours.
  3. When the meat is finished, shred it using two forks, then add cumin, coriander, garlic and onion powders and toss well to combine. Remove meat from cooker and set aside.
  4. Slice your bell peppers and onions into thin strips. Heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat; add the vegetables and begin to saute until softened. Take your time: if things start to burn, turn the heat down. Halfway through the cooking process, add some salt and pepper.
  5. Build your burritos: layer the cheese and lettuce on your tortilla. At this point, the pork should have cooked off enough that it won’t rip right through the tortilla. Top with pork, pepper and onion mixture, sliced tomato, and a good bit of cilantro. Roll everything up and serve with a side of sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or queso. Enjoy!

 

 

Turkey Meatloaf in a Crockpot

This week, the cold has been on. I meal planned and set my sights on some recipes I’ve been meaning to make for my family. One of the recipes was Turkey Meatloaf; however, I didn’t actually prep the meatloaf for plopping in the Crock Pot and actually cooking. 

The life of a busy mom, you know? 

So, when Greg texted yesterday asking what was for dinner (look on the fridge?!?!), I responded that I’d email him some instructions. This recipe is easy enough for Greg, making it perfect for those days when planning is low and hunger is high. Enjoy. 

Turkey Meatloaf in a Crock Pot

Mix 1 pound Turkey Ground Meat (thawed) with:
1 egg 
Squirt of mustard
Onions and Peppers (about 1/2 cup)
Squirt of ketchup
5 shakes of Parmesan cheese
5 shakes of hot sauce (red or green)
2 shakes of onion onion (this is a Tastefully Simple spice)
2 shakes of garlic garlic (this is a Tastefully Simple spice)
1/3 cup bread crumbs 

Form into a loaf. 

Spray small crock pot. 

Put loaf in crock pot, set on high. 

Cover top of loaf with a few spoons of tomato sauce and 6 cubed up potatoes (6-8 cubes per). 

Put on lid and let it cook for 4-5 hours, checking for excess moisture and no burning. 

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Since Arianna, Greg, and I devoured the meal, I didn’t get a chance to take a photo. Trust me, it was good looking. Instead, you get a photo of Arianna, our mustache-wielding meat eater.

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Snack Time: Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

With the new year, I am trying to get better at meal planning for not only me, but the family. That means actually taking time to sit down and plan our week.

This week, that plan included some pinned recipes. Today, I’m going to share one with you that I Becky’d up.

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

Calories: 155 in one big serving

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Ingredients:

1 Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, Plain

2 TBSP PB2 (this is powdered peanut butter and super low on calories, high on YUM and protein)

1/2 TBSP honey

Directions: 

Mix the three ingredients together.

Dip a banana in the goodness.

You’re welcome.

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Mango Chili Salsa

Thanks to Chili’s and the on-set of summer weather, I sort of have an obsessions with mangoes, avocado, tomatoes, freshness. The restaurant captures it all well in their Mango-Chile Chicken, and I wanted to give a homemade version of the deliciousness in Mango Chili Salsa a try myself.

Based on this recipe, I loosely interpreted what the salsa should look, smell, and taste like and made it my own. We’ll be using it this summer on chicken, tacos, burgers, heck, anything. Fresh is good, but mixing the tropics with things you can grow in your own backyard are even better. Yum.

Mango Chili Salsa

Combine these ingredients together (sans the cilantro) and refrigerate 2 or more hours. Amateur tip? Add the avocado in chilled near serving time to avoid it going brown. Enjoy over chicken, on chips, or with a burger.

1 Mango, cubed

1 Avocado, cubed

3 small vine tomatoes, cubed

1 small onion, cubed

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 good shakes of chili or cayenne pepper seasoning

5 good shakes of lime juice (helps keep avocado green)

sprigs of cilantro, fresh

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(Note–cilantro not yet added, will be picking fresh in the garden and adding when time to enjoy it.)

 

Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Today’s post comes from Emily of fooding with Emily, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Red Pen Mama, where I talk about motivation.

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I have quite the hate-hate relationships with diets.  I hate going on them.  I hate fat-free, ill tasting dishes.  I love to exercise (OK, I hate getting up, making myself go to the gym, I’m OK when I get there, I hate sweating, I hate feeling exhausted, but when I’m all done I LOVE IT – so I only ‘love’ exercising when I’m done). Trying to be healthy means exercising and eating healthy(er). I’ve had my fair share of yo-yo diets and none of them sticking.  But the one thing that has stuck is eating well and just move.  Indulge from time to time.  I will eat my cake! Just not every day.  I will have chocolate! Just not every day.  I will eat my brussel sprouts! I actually really like brussel sprouts.  Like a lot. Probably more than one should.  If I had to pick between chocolate and the sprouts, I’d pick sprouts hand down.  I know, I’m weird.  I would trade you my chocolate cake for your brussel sprouts and feel like I was the winner of that trade.

I’ve found this one recipe that is not only on the healthier side, but it’s QUICK. I love cooking, but sometimes when I am just tired on a Tuesday night, I’d rather pick up the phone and order a pizza. This recipe is my new saving grace.  It’s nothing terribly fancy so it will please most picky eaters.  It’s also tasty.  I can’t get enough of it.  I found it on Cooking Light and was blown away.  That magazine has had it’s fair share of ‘meh’ in my experience.  But since I have subscribed last year, I’ve been SOLD. And I’m sold again with this dish.

My only substitution was instead of using fresh tomatoes, i used canned diced tomatoes with some oregano and basil seasoning.  I cut corners where I see fit.  I hate chopping tomatoes.

You’ll need:

8 ounces uncooked penne
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

My only problem with this recipe is that I want to eat and eat and eat until it’s all gone.  Stupid diets!

 

   

Zucchini Stuffed Peppers

The Googlers have spoken. I swear that every.single.day someone searches the interwebs for “light and fluffy egg casserole” and they come across my ‘lil page. I mean, I personally love the recipe, so I don’t blame them. They’ve spoken, and I’m going to answer. It’s time to start sharing some recipes with you more often!

And what perfect timing because Red Pack Tomatoes is rounding out American Heart Month will a ‘lil contest between some Pittsburgh bloggers. They are looking for the contestants to share “heart healthy” recipes they’ve developed. Of course I was willing to throw my name into the hat. Not only do I love cooking with Red Pack Tomatoes (canned is always a great option when produce is hard to get/keep fresh in the winter), but I love cooking things that my family will benefit from yet enjoy.

Before I get to my first recipe of the contest (which is running today through the 28th between at least four bloggers), here’s a ‘lil bit of info from Red Pack:

February is American Heart Month and Red Pack Tomatoes offers heart healthy choices for delicious creations throughout the year.

Essential for good health, Red Pack Tomatoes are 100% natural. A tomato also is very similar to a heart in that it has 4 chambers and is red.

Red Pack has a variety of low calorie, low carb, low fat and low sodium recipes listed on their website here: http://www.redgold.com/redpack/tomato-recipes

Alright, so now on to what you are here for, the yum! Today I am sharing with you an adapted favorite, a good, easy weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Zucchini Stuffed Peppers
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That’s them on the right, ready to go for a dinner party!  Excuse my messy, well loved baking pan. I promise my brother hooked me up with a new one at Christmas. 🙂 

Ingredients:

8 bell peppers — I get two each: yellow, red, orange, and green — cleaned, seeded, and tops cut off
1 lb. ground turkey (browned–I like to do this with a ‘lil bit of EVOO and some chopped onion)
1 medium zucchini (grated)
2 cups brown rice (cooked)
1 14.5 oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Seasonings of choice–I use garlic and an Italian herb mix

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a 9×13 baking dish (sprayed with non-stick spray), arrange the 6 bell peppers so they are standing.
3. In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, grated zucchini, rice, and Parmesan cheese until well mixed.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings, then add 1/2 of the mixture to the first bowl.
5. Scoop the meat mixture into the peppers, spreading the love evenly.

6. Drizzle the remaining sauce mixture over the filled peppers and into the bottom of the baking dish.
7.  Cover the dish with foil and place into the heated oven. Bake for 35 minutes covered, then an additional 5 with the foil removed.
8. Enjoy carefully, these babies are hot!

Harvest Stew (ala @pghfoodbank)

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Last week while at BlogMob, I got to taste the delicious Harvest Stew (recipe above) that was being demonstrated to patrons. It smelled AMAZING and tasted even better.

On Monday night, we made this for dinner. Yup, I cooked collards and didn’t do a bad job of it.

Since tomorrow is the first day of fall, you should try it, too!