Fajita Bowls

rice-bowls

Rice bowls are kind of having a moment, and it’s because of a lot of reasons. For starters, they are highly customizable. I’ve used brown rice, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and even a fried egg over the years.

In addition to their flexibility, they also come together really quickly. You can easily scale them up and down, which makes them perfect for an evening alone or a night spent with family. Don’t you think a “Build Your Own Bowl” night would be a fun way to entertain with friends?

rice-bowls-avocado

I’ve been making different versions of this meal for Ellie and I for years for those very reasons. With blistered peppers and tart lime, this particular version is a new favorite. It also can be ready in a little over 30 minutes. #winwin

Fajita Bowls
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 c. basmati rice
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1-2 inch strips
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. shredded white cheddar
Half of an avocado sliced
1 lime
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the rice. Then, turn down to medium. Boil for 16 minutes or until tender.

While the rice is cooking, slice the peppers and cut the chicken into 1-2 inch strips. Keep an eye on the rice. Once cooked, drain and rinse it. Set aside.

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Then, add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Spread it out. Leave it alone, so it can develop a little color. After a few minutes, lower the heat and cook over medium low. Once cooked through, remove to a bowl (This should take about 6 minutes.).

Now, add the pepper and crank the heat up to medium high. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil. Stir and cook until the peppers start to blister. This should take about a minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Slice half an avocado and toss with the juice from half a lime, salt and pepper.

Now, begin to pull the dish together.

Divide the rice evenly between two bowls. Top with 2 tbsp. cheese each. Then, add the chicken and peppers. Squeeze lime over the top. Add a few slices of avocado and enjoy.

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Grilled Chicken Tacos in 30

chicken-tacos

These grilled chicken tacos are currently on repeat at our house. They’re fast, flavorful and a total crowd-pleaser. Ready in around 30 minutes, no one will be disappointed when you make these for dinner.

chicken-tacos-close-up

Grilled Chicken Tacos
Serves 3

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. onion, diced
1, 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 chicken breasts
1 avocado, cubed
1 lime
1 package of flour tortillas (taco size)
Salsa
Cotija or feta cheese
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil over medium low. When warm, stir in the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sautée for 10-12 minutes or until tender.

While the onions are going, slice the chicken breasts in half vertically. This will give you four pieces that are thin, but still the same shape as they were before. Season both sides of each with salt and pepper and toss in a tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Add the chicken breasts. After about 4 minutes, turn them. They should be golden on one side.

Your onions should be tender now. Dump in the black beans. Stir, reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper.

Now, back to the chicken. After another 4 minutes on the other side, turn the heat on the grill down to medium. Tent a piece of alumninum foil over the chicken and let it continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. The juices should run clear when finished. Remove when cooked to a cutting board. Squeeze juice from half a lime over it and let it rest.

While it’s resting, cube the avocado and toss it with juice from the other half of your lime and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now, chop the chicken into large, bite size pieces.

Turn your grill back on and toast the tortillas on it for a minute or two on each side. As the tortilas are ready, spoon in the black beans, top with some chicken and then, continue to add avocado, salsa and cheese until you’ve reached your favorite combination. Eat and enjoy!

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French Toast

french-toast-close-up

When I was a little girl, I was sick a lot. My allergies and asthma kept me away from school more often than I liked. The upside to these bouts of illness was that anytime I started to feel better my mom made french toast. To this day, it is my favorite food.

Up until a week ago, I had tried to make it only a few times, but never cracked the code. I’d use wheat bread, challah and a few other bakery finds. And then, I had an “aha!” moment. The secret is white sandwich bread.

While pizza is still Ellie’s favorite food, her eyes light up at the sight of French toast, which makes me very happy.

ellie-lane

French Toast
Serves 2

Ingredients:
6 pieces of white sandwich bread
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla in a low bowl. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a slice of butter to the pan. As it melts, dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, coating each side. Let the excess drip off. Add the bread to the pan. Repeat until the pan is full. (Mine only holds two to three slices at a time.) Cook for a few minutes or until golden. Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Put the cooked slices on a baking sheet in the warm oven. Repeat until all the pieces are cooked. Serve with a little butter and maple syrup.

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Fast Food: Vegged Out Sloppy Joes & Potatoes

When Keegan is away, I like to make all the vegetables he doesn’t like. Do you do that too? I’m always sad to see him go, but manage to console myself with mushrooms* and tomatoes.

Some of his least favorite foods are ones that both Ellie and I like a lot. In particular, they are red peppers and tomatoes.

sloppy-joes-fries

In honor of our girls’ night, I decided to doctor up my usual turkey sloppy joe recipe with veggies. Because after a weekend of gluttony, I’m always trying to get more vegetables in both of our diets.

veg-sloppy-joes

Ready in around 30 minutes, ground turkey sloppy joes are spiked with carrots, red bell pepper and diced tomatoes. I served ours with roasted potato wedges, which were quickly gobbled up by both of us.

If you decide to try this out, I have two tips. I’d recommend that you start with the potatoes and then, chop the veggies for your sloppy joes before you even turn on the stove.

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Roasted Potatoes
Ingredients:
2 red potatoes per person
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the potatoes in half vertically. Then, cut each half into three wedges. Place on a baking sheet. Toss with the oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Then, turn and cook for another 15 or until tender.

Vegged Out Sloppy Joes
Serves 2 1/2

Ingredients:
2 1/2 whole wheat buns
2 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 c. red bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces
1/3 lb. ground turkey
1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes (with juices)
1/2 c. canned tomato sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
3 shakes Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Now, add the peppers and carrot (These should be bite size pieces.). Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Add the ground turkey to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Put the veggies back in the pan. Add the diced tomatoes and sauce. Then, season with mustard, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until reduced (about 7 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. I added a touch more brown sugar to ours. Serve on whole wheat buns.

*Full Disclaimer: Ellie used to eat mushrooms, but is now a little wary of them. I’m doing my best to pretend it isn’t happening, because I love them so much. It’s not really working.

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Fast Food: Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and White Beans

pork-chops-sauce

Pork chops should be your kitchen secret. Serving them for a weeknight dinner looks very impressive, but they take about 15 minutes to make. That’s it.

I won’t tell if you won’t, okay?

pork-chops-sweet-potatoes

To complete the pork chops, I made a quick pan sauce with white wine, but you could easily use chicken broth instead, if that’s not your thing.  You could probably stop right there and serve this with some frozen veg or a salad, and the people around you would call you a queen.

sweet-potatoes

But, if I can, I’d like to recommend making the easiest sweet potato and cannellini sautée. It is so good, I was sneaking leftover bites out of the pan as I was “doing the dishes” – dipping each bite in the remnants of the sauce. Very glamorous things happen in my kitchen.

Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and White Beans
Serves 2 1/2

Ingredients:
2 bone-in pork chops
3 garlic cloves
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. minced shallots, divided
2 c. sweet potatoes, cubed
1, 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Fresh thyme (1 tsp. thyme, plus one sprig)
1 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Begin by making the side dish. Heat 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. shallots and sautee for 3 minutes or until translucent. When cooked through, add the sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

In a separate, oven safe pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to begin making the main course. Season the pork chops on both sides. Add them to the pan when the oil is hot, along with the three garlic cloves. Brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side).

While the pork chops are browning, uncover the sweet potatoes and add the beans, along with 1 c. vegetable broth. Place a sprig of thyme in the pan. Then, put the lid back on and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

When the pork chops are golden on both sides, put them in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Then, remove them from the pan, set them aside and cover them with foil.

Check on your beans and sweet potatoes. When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the pan sauce, heat the pan the pork chops were in over medium low heat. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of finely minced shallots to it. Cook until translucent. Add 1/2 c. wine or chicken broth to the pan. Let it bubble up and reduce a bit. Whisk in the mustard to thicken the sauce. Then, off the heat, add in the butter and 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme.

To serve, add some of the bean mixture to each plate. Top it with a pork chop and then, drizzle the sauce on top.

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Fast Food: End of Summer Vegetable Soup

soup

Zucchini, yellow squash, corn and tomatoes shine in this “end of summer vegetable soup.” Ready in around 30 minutes, this is your new weeknight meal. Trust me.

soup-closeup

Not sure what to make for dinner? Be sure to sign up for the Missalaneyus newsletter. The first edition will go out tomorrow, and it includes a meal plan for one week, along with a grocery list. You’ll also find my recent beauty buys and a few book picks in it.

End of Summer Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup zucchini, thinly sliced (see below)
1/2 c. yellow squash, thinly sliced (see below)
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. vegetable stock (unsalted, if you can find it)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 c. frozen corn
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided (optional)

Directions:

Cut both the squash and zucchini this way:  Cut off one end. Make a short cut horizontally, creating a shorter tube. Now, cut that piece lengthwise, creating two halves. Then, cut each of those pieces in half lengthwise again. Next, thinly slice each of these pieces. The final result should be shaped like triangles or pizza slices.

Dice the onion and heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the diced onions. Season with salt and pepper. After the onion is soft (about 5-10 minutes), add the zucchini and yellow squash and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium low and stir occasionally. When these are softened, add in the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice and all). Then, toss in the cannellini beans. Stir and add salt and pepper. Now, add the vegetable stock and thyme. Raise the heat, bringing it to a bubble. Stir in the frozen corn and red wine vinegar. Let it bubble for a minute or two. Then, lower the heat. After a few minutes, taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated cheese (about 1 tbsp. per bowl), if you like.

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Fast Food: Pork Chops with Grilled Plums & Bacon, Goat Cheese Corn

pork-chops-potatoes

After wrangling Ellie into her seat and glancing at the table, Keegan said, “You made all this in about 45 minutes?” Yes, yes I did. I am a wizard.

pork-chops-plums-corn

Okay, maybe not, but the key to fast dinners is using ingredients that can be prepared quickly. Pork chops take between 10 and 15 minutes to grill, so they are perfect for weeknight meals. Corn is ready in minutes, and adding small pieces of bacon brings lots of flavor, but only a little more time. Mashed potatoes are ready in around 30 minutes when you don’t take the time to peel them (which is how I always make them).

corn-bacon-tomatoes

For this quick meal, I grilled plums alongside pork chops, as the main course. The sweet, salty combination is really wonderful, but the real star of this plate is the corn. Fresh corn kernels are stirred together with sliced cherry tomatoes, pieces of bacon, scallions and goat cheese.

It was so good Keegan and I finished off Ellie’s plate after she pronounced she didn’t like tomatoes (a lie). When opportunity knocks, open the door.

pork-chops Gameplan

  • Start the mashed potatoes.
  • When those are on the stove, prep the ingredients for the corn, halve the plums and start your grill.
  • Add the pork chops to the grill.
  • Start on the corn.
  •       Continue reading

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    Fast Food: Grilled Chicken Salad with Nectarines & Fresh Corn

    nectarine-saladDoes anyone else feel like their hot dog/brownie/ice cream intake is off the charts lately? No, just me? Hmm. Well, if like our family, you’re in need of a recharge, I’d like to suggest a market fresh salad full of sweet nectarines, creamy fresh mozzarella and peppery arugula. salad-close-up

    Salads are the original fast food, which means they should be on high rotation in any busy household. But, salads and toddlers rarely mix – not even at my house. In fact, as soon as Ellie could start eating solid foods, our consumption of greens took a sharp decline. So, when Keegan suggested we have one for dinner, I was immediately skeptical, and then, I had a major duh moment.

    I thought, “Of course, we can do this. I’ll just feed her a deconstructed version of our meal. The same way I do for most sandwiches.” On her plate, she had bits of grilled chicken, chopped nectarines, some mozzarella and fresh corn kernels. It was a hit with all three of us.

    chicken-corn-arugula

    This whole meal can be ready in around 30, is healthy and has a short ingredient list. I think we just found our new summer salad.

    Continue reading

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