15 Minutes or Less

I think it would be an understatement to say that last week was busy for me. I had an event to go to every night of the week, including one that I was in charge of putting together. Plus, I had to do my best to study for the two tests that I took this afternoon and the one I have coming up on Wednesday. In light of my crazy schedule, I was only able to try one new recipe last week and I’m going to try to blog about it in less than 15 minutes, because I gotta get back to the books!

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos (turned Quesadillas)
I was so excited to try this recipe out, Cooking Light made the picture look so yummy. I was not disappointed either. This actually worked out great for my busy week too, I’m pretty sure the whole thing took less than fifteen minutes to pull together, aside from cooking the chicken. The recipe called for rotisserie chicken breast, but I already had a chicken breast at home so I just baked it and shredded it myself. Everything else just pretty much gets tossed together. The cumin and chili powder that you bring to a boil and simmer the chicken in, gives this meal great flavor. I really liked it! As you can see in my poor quality picture, they aren’t burritos like the recipe says. I already had some miniature tortillas at home so I figured I would just make little burritos. Wrapping chicken, salsa, black beans and cheese up in a mini tortilla is easier said than done, so I just put the filling in between two tortillas, cooked it in the skillet like the recipe said and ended up with quesadillas instead. It worked out really well, but I think I would suggest getting normal size tortillas and making burritos. I ended up having the leftover filling the next night for dinner, which was really good too. I just sprinkled some cheese on top and melted it in the microwave. So, once again, another quick, easy, and delicious recipe from Cooking Light. Click here for the recipe.

A Typical Lunch
I think I’ve mentioned on one of my home pages what I typically eat for lunch. A mixed baby green salad with canned tuna and Ken’s Steakhouse Northern Italian dressing. I never would have thought I would like plane tuna on top of a salad as a meal, but one day I just tried it out and I love it. I eat it almost everyday for lunch now. Trying new things out can be hard sometimes, but all it takes is one try to find out you like it. That’s what this whole healthy lifestyle change has been about for me, and so far it’s turned out pretty great.



Miniatures and Repeats

This past week was a little unusual at meal times, so I didn’t get to experiment as much with cooking. Michael was here for Valentine’s Day, so we went out for a nice dinner. My dad also came into town and we went out to dinner with my sister. By the time the weekend came around, I was dying to cook and try out the recipes I’d been getting all week in my email. I tried out five new things over the weekend and I’m excited to talk about all of them. I think all of the recipes had repeating/overlapping ingredients, which is a really great thing to look for if you have a busy week or if you’re working with a budget. For this post, I’m just going to talk about them all together and list the recipes at the bottom.

Friday night was meatloaf minis for dinner. I was a little weary about this one because meatloaf can be an iffy thing to make. I’ve always liked my mom’s recipe for it, but I’ve never made it myself. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe and they turned out great. It makes 5-6 loaves depending on how big you make them, so if you’re cooking for a family it’s great. For Michael and I, we still made the full recipe, ate one each for dinner and then put three in the freezer. Now, I can just pull one out and bake it whenever I don’t have something planned to make.

Since Mardi Gras season started, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to make a king cake. Cooking Light always sends out seasonal and holiday recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Mini King Cupcakes, I knew I had to do it. I got up on Saturday and made them. King cake is kind of a mix between cake and bread; I didn’t know how it would work out because I’ve never made any kind of bread. They weren’t that difficult though! The only setback is that they take a little more time because you have to wait for the dough to rise. Another thing that I’ve been wanting to try to make lately is

quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah). Coincidentally, I got an email full of different recipes to try with quinoa, so I picked one out and really enjoyed it. It was a quinoa tabbouleh, which is similar to a chilled salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and a few other things. This is a great thing to make because you can keep it in the fridge and eat it for lunch or just have it for a snack. I made the full batch and I’m keeping it in the fridge this week to have a quick option for my busy schedule.

Saturday night, we tried Chicken and Brussel Sprouts with a Dijon Mustard Sauce. It was pretty simple to make (the usual for the recipes I try), and I used orange juice instead of the apple cider because I couldn’t find it at the store.Last night, I was starving for something filling, and I needed something that would be quick to make. I made Pasta with a Chickpea Sauce.

It had simple ingredients but was a little bland so I might recommend adding a little spice, not sure what kind though. Both of these were great too! All in all I liked everything I tried this weekend. I know this week is going to busy for me, so I might be scarce on recipes and tips next week.

Hope you can try some out!

Mini Meatloaf                               Quinoa Tabbouleh
Mini King Cupcakes                      Pasta with Chickpea Sauce
Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

Too Busy!

Since I’m in medical school, my time is pretty occupied with studying, especially when I have an upcoming test, which is pretty much all the time. This semester started out kind of slow, but now it’s picking up speed and my free time to explore new recipes and exercise is dwindling. We had two tests today and I had plans to go out of town this weekend so I knew I would need quick and easy recipes so that I could spend more time studying. It’s also important to keep active even when you’re busy. I didn’t get to work out as much as I would have liked this past week, but I made sure to make time for at least two workouts of about 30 minutes. While it’s optimal to work out at least three times a week, working out twice a week is better than not working out at all. Here are a couple of the dinners from my week.

Fresh Margarita Pizza on Tortilla

I love a fresh margarita pizza! Basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese go together so well. This summer, I learned an easy and quick way to make a personal pizza that tastes great. All you need is a bag of tortillas, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Previously I have used the normal white flour tortillas, but this time I used a smaller size and whole wheat. You could use whatever you have at home or whatever looks enticing at the grocery store, it’s really up to you. The same idea works for the tomatoes and cheese too, I used cherry tomatoes and an italian cheese blend since I already had it in the fridge, but you can use whatever you like best and add other veggies or herbs that you like as well. As for the instructions, I preheat the oven to about 350 and let my tortilla get a little crispy as the oven heats up. While you wait on that, you can slice your tomatoes and herbs. I take the tortilla out once it’s gotten a little crispy, this usually takes 6-8 minutes. Next, just sprinkle on your cheese, tomatoes and basil. Place it back in the oven until the cheese melts and your ready to eat! This meal is super easy and surprisingly filling. I suspect it would be great for families with picky eaters, kids can add whatever they want and even make it themselves. Clean up is easy too, especially when you use a paper plate like I did.

Baked Cod with Salad and Vegetables

Another easy option for dinner when you are super busy is frozen fish. I try to keep a couple fillets of fish in the freezer for those days when I’m feeling lazy but still want a good dinner. Each time I go to the store I look at their fresh fish selection; if they have some that looks good and is relatively inexpensive, I’ll bring it home and freeze it. This way you can pull it out of the freezer and bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes. Lately I’ve been using cod, which I find to be light and flavorful at the same time. I’ve also used flounder, tilapia and salmon. When making any of these I just add some olive oil on the top of the fish and sprinkle it with a lemon pepper and a garlic and herb seasoning mix. Then, I just bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Usually fish is done when it flakes  with a fork. Different fishes may be different though, so just look it up online if you aren’t sure. If you are watching your sodium intake, be careful of what seasonings you choose to add, they make lots of low or no sodium options now, so try one of those out! To accompany my fish, I normally cook some frozen vegetables that I keep on hand in the freezer, and make a small salad. That’s pretty much it! Keeping things in the freezer makes things a lot easier when you have a busy schedule, it’s definitely made staying healthy on a busy schedule feasible for me.

Trying New Things

I tried a few more recipes this week, one of which wasn’t so successful. I like to try new things and I think it’s important to do so when you are trying to stay healthy. Many times people seem to start a new diet and lose interest because they think their food doesn’t have as much flavor as it did before they started the diet. So, I’ve continued to try new recipes every week that I receive through an email subscription through Cooking Light. While I love most of the recipes I’ve tried, there are always those that I don’t care for too much.

Shrimp and Arugula Salad
I especially love trying new things with salads so, I was really excited to try this one. I eat salad almost every day, but I’ve never really eaten arugula. Even though I was nervous about the arugula, the shrimp won me over and I decided to try it anyway. The cilantro, basil, white beans and pine nuts in this recipe all worked really well together. I also roasted my own red bell peppers, which was fun to try and exciting! Here’s the link to the recipe and a picture.

Portobello Cheeseburgers
I think this is the first recipe that I’ve tried that I’m not sure I’ll try again. I try to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week, instead of having something like chicken three nights in a row. I’ve had sandwiches with portobello mushrooms before and really enjoyed them, so I thought I would give one a try on my own. This was definitely easy to prepare, using roasted red peppers in a jar and sauteing the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic only takes a couple minutes. The only thing in this recipe that I hadn’t tried before was gorgonzola cheese. This was the fault in this sandwich for me. Turns out I don’t really like gorgonzola cheese. For those of you that do like gorgonzola this would probably be a great recipe for you to try. I do have a couple pointers that might make it better though. I wanted to try and be extra healthy, so I got whole wheat sandwich thins, which I really like for making sandwiches. However, with the juicy roasted red peppers and mushroom it made my bread soggy. I would definitely recommend using the larger sandwich rolls that the recipe calls for. Also, I found the mushroom to be a little too large for the sandwich, so I would recommend cutting it into slices and then sauteing it to make it a little more manageable. Let me know what you think if you try this one out, here’s the recipe.

I have a confession…
While I’m usually pretty good about sticking to my diet, sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you have to cheat a little. I happen to have cheated a lot this past weekend. My boyfriend, Michael, was in town and we kind of went out to eat almost every meal. We had sushi, mexican, brunch and chicken wings (for the Superbowl of course). Even though we ate out a lot, I still tried to watch my portion size and stop eating when I was full. It worked out pretty well, I wasn’t miserably stuffed after every meal like I used to be when I went out to eat. I still over ate though. Now that the weekend is over, all I want to do is work out and get back on track. It’s important to realize that when you start a diet and try to remain healthy, you can’t be perfect all the time. There are days that you won’t want to work out and days that you will want to eat fried chicken and french fries. The important thing is to let yourself have those days without going too far overboard and then get back on track the next day. Once you get used to being healthy and working out, you won’t even want to cheat for more than a couple days.