Tag Archives: easy

Healthy Grab and Go Breakfasts for 2017

It may be a bit cliche to start off the new year with healthy recipes but its cliche for a reason!  We all over indulge during the holidays and start the new year with the best of intentions.  The best thing about these two recipes is that they are healthy and delicious but also appropriate year round.  No matter the season everyone is always looking for quick breakfast ideas what will keep them full until lunch.  Here I have for you an easy green juice and a delish smoothie.

Green juices are an awesome way to start your day – it seriously makes you feel virtuous all day long.  They look terrible but I swear once you get past the first sip and your skepticism they are actually really yummy.  Problem is you need a juicer for this – if that isn’t in your budget or you don’t think you will use it much, move on to the smoothie.  I have to admit that juicers take up a lot of real estate and can be quite pricey.  I don’t love mine but I also don’t use it a ton so didn’t want to spend a lot either.  I have this one from Hamilton Beach and it works pretty well but if you want the best of the best I suggest you check out Sweet Home, a great site that thoroughly reviews products.  They provide a range of options depending on your budget and have never steered me wrong.  For the smoothie all you need is a blender.  I use my Cusinart Smart Stick immersion blender that even comes with its own smoothie cup.  I have had it for years and its great for smoothies or pureeing soups etc.  I use a frozen banana so it almost drinks like a milkshake.  Whenever one of our bananas becomes too ripe to eat I just break one up into chunks, put them in a baggie and throw them in the freezer.  Each of these drinks only take minutes to make and really constitute a meal.  Throw them in a cute cup and you are ready to tackle the work day.  Happy New Years!

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ACC’s Green Juice (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  clean out your veggie drawer and your insides!
Special Equipment:  a juicer and a wire strainer (optional)

  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled
  • 1 apple, core and all, cut into 1/4ers
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots

Juice all of the veggies and fruit into a container.  If you would like, strain through a fine wire strainer, then enjoy over ice.

ACC's Green Juice

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a juicer and a wire strainer (optional)

  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled
  • 1 apple, core and all, cut into 1/4ers
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots

Juice all of the veggies and fruit into a container.  If you would like, strain through a fine wire strainer, then enjoy over ice.

Almond Chia Banana Smoothie (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  like a milkshake but healthier
Special Equipment:  blender

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 non fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

In a blender combine all the ingredients (I like to add the ingredients to the blender or smoothie bowl and let sit for a couple of minutes to soften the banana so it incorporates better but if you are in a rush you can skip that step.)

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Almond Chia Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Special Equipment:  blender

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 non fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

In a blender combine all the ingredients (I like to add the ingredients to the blender or smoothie bowl and let sit for a couple of minutes to soften the banana so it incorporates better but if you are in a rush you can skip that step.)

About that leftover chicken…

Everyone has done it – grilled too many chicken breasts, bought a rotisserie chicken with no use in mind, ordered a whole roast chicken at a restaurant and had to resort to a doggie bag. Often the already cooked chickens at the grocery store are actually cheaper than buying a raw one so I get one thinking it was a deal but it’s not if you end up throwing good food away.  No more!  One of my 2016 resolutions was to waste less food and I realized the leftover chicken theory meant all this perfectly good food was going into the trash.

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what do I do with you little chicky??

Total mistake – having leftover chicken means you are about 3/4 of the way to dinner.  I started going through my recipes and realized I already had a great collection of ways to use up chicken.  If the recipe calls for roasted breasts and all you have are grilled cutlets or leftover thighs, don’t worry – every dish listed here would be great with whatever chicken you have on hand to fold in.  These dishes are perfect for crazy weeknights when you don’t have a ton of time but really want to make something delicious and filling.  So next time you are at the store grab one of those chickens with no fear of running out of things to do with it.

Swiss Chard Pasta

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This is one of my biggest go to meals since it has veggies, carbs and protein all in one.  Just the other day I realized I not only had leftover chicken but also some swiss chard meant to go into a soup that never got used and was starting to go limp in the fridge.  I whipped this dish up, poured myself a glass of wine and had dinner on the patio (pictured above).  Totally elegant and no one would ever think it was leftovers.

Chicken Enchiladas

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This dish goes next level on using up leftovers because it freezes so well.  Often I have leftovers and then have plans the next several nights.  Make these enchiladas, throw them in the freezer and you have a full meal just sitting and waiting for you.

Classic Chicken Salad

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Probably the most obvious ways to use leftover chicken but I had include it because this version of chicken salad is so good.  Pair it with some chips and maybe a green salad and you can totally call it dinner.

Tortilla Soup

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What to do with an over ripe avocado and leftover chicken?  THIS.  So delicious and a great use up meal after taco night.  The chips, avocado, cheese, chicken – they all get used.

Chicken and Rice Summer Salad

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Make a big batch for dinner and then you can stretch that chicken even further by bringing in the rest for lunch the next day – it’s delicious cold or room temp.

And remember, whenever you are done with that chicken, if it’s on the bone, you make sure to save those in the freezer for the next time you want to make homemade chicken stock.  Waste not want not!

Host a Raclette Night

Melted cheese as the basis for dinner?  Yes please!!  No it’s not fondue, it’s raclette – the Swiss tradition that is becoming all the rage.  Raclette is actually a kind of semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, as well as a method of melting said cheese into a dinner party sensation.  Years ago as a wedding present, my family friend Beverly, gave us an 8 person raclette maker along with a mega waffle iron.  The genius of a large raclette maker is that the top acts as a griddle so she explained it would be great for pancakes etc but if we wanted to it also doubled as this thing called a raclette maker, something very popular up in Canada where she lives.

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The little raclette scoops go under the griddle surface to melt, while the top is left free to heat up anything you want to dip into the cheese.  Genius.

I sort of forgot about its secondary use until one day, low and behold, Crate and Barrel had an entire raclette display set up.  Up until then I didn’t realize it meant melting cheese and pairing it with all of my favorite things!  I ran home, pulled it out and raclette night has been popular in the Costello house ever since.  Friends love raclette night because it’s a fun communal way of eating that encourages sitting around, cracking into some bottles and experimenting with different combinations.  When I first started doing raclette it was hard to find the actual cheese but now I am seeing it everywhere.  If you are in DC, Righteous Cheese  carries an imported raclette from Switzerland (right) as well as one made in Vermont (left).  They also carry it at Trader Joes and Whole Foods.  As you can see it looks like Swiss cheese (duh) but has a much more nutty, rich flavor.

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You can always improvise with another kind of melting cheese if you can’t find raclette – I won’t tell anyone.  The real trick is getting one of the makers.  The 8 person version is the most popular because raclette is meant to be shared but I also found this cute one for 2 people.  I really like this version from Williams Sonoma as you can have a larger “coupelle” at the top to share but it doesn’t have the grill/griddle portion.  If you are going to get one I say go whole hog and get the one with the griddle on top so it’s a multi use item.  Now that you have your maker and your cheese you are going to need to find stuff to dip into that melty goodness.  I like to go classic with a mix of hearty vegetables, cured meats and of course BREAD.  The Swiss are also partial to pickled items with their cheese that gives it a nice tang.

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For this raclette party I served the following:  roasted brussel sprouts, prosciutto, calabrese salami, boiled baby new potatoes, cornichon, baguette slices, crackers, green grapes and grainy mustard.  Also good would be pickled onions, roasted turkey or ham, asparagus spears, chutney, kettle cooked potato chips…the list goes on and on.  That’s what is so fun about this dinner party is that all you really do is assemble.

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To go with the raclette I suggest getting some nice Belgian beer like these Chimays I picked up.  The beer makes a great foil to the cheese – we also had some nice artisanal cider from Millstone, which was particularly great with the Vermont raclette.

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Lest you think people will go away hungry, don’t – eating this much cheese really fills you up.  But just in case it is a good idea to end the night with something sweet.  I made this amazing blood orange tart with salted caramel on top.

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I have seen lots of local wine bars and cheese shops doing raclette nights so check out your local ones and see if you can get on the bandwagon.  I am sure once you have done it you will want to get a raclette maker for yourself!

Lemon Chicken

There was a time, that my family never lets me forget, that I basically only ate pasta with lemon.  I know most kids go through a “white food” phase but this was pretty specific and weird – I would bring in cold pasta and lemon wedges in my lunch box to school every day!  Luckily my palate has expanded since then but I must admit, a squeeze of lemon makes almost any dish better in my opinion.  I started making this dish back in college, looking for an quick dinner that didn’t require having a ton of ingredients on hand.  Make sure to get thinly cut chicken cutlets for this recipe or alternatively use your knife skills to cut a regular chicken breast in half or pound it out to an even 1/4 inch thickness.  You want to really quickly cook the chicken without it getting tough and then just zip up the quick pan sauce.  This is delicious with rice and some roasted veggies – I had it the other night with pasta tossed in Giada’s Spicy Pesto which went really nicely with the acidity of the lemon.  Either way this is a great one to have in your weeknight rotation, lemon lover or not.

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Lemon Chicken (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  lemon everything!
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets (i.e. thin cut breasts)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • splash of white wine, approximately 1/2 a cup
  • 2 lemons, one halved the other sliced thinly

In a shallow bowl mix the flour with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.  Dredge the cutlets and add to the skillet (do in two batches if your skillet isn’t big enough).  Really make sure to shake off the excess flour so they are just lightly coated.

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Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken browns then flip for another 2 to 3 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove to a plate and keep warm until foil.  If you need to do a second batch add more butter and olive oil and repeat.

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Once the chicken is all cooked add the lemon slices and cook for 1 minute until they get a little color.  Splash in the white wine and squeeze over the other lemon to deglaze the pan.  Add the chicken back in and cook all together for another minute.

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Lemon Chicken

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets (i.e. thin cut breasts)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • splash of white wine, approximately 1/2 a cup
  • 2 lemons, one halved the other sliced thinly

In a shallow bowl mix the flour with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.  Dredge the cutlets and add to the skillet (do in two batches if your skillet isn’t big enough).  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken browns then flip for another 2 to 3 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove to a plate and keep warm until foil.  If you need to do a second batch add more butter and olive oil and repeat.  Once the chicken is all cooked add the lemon slices and cook for 1 minute until they get a little color.  Splash in the white wine and squeeze over the other lemon to deglaze the pan.  Add the chicken back in and cook all together for another minute.

Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce

Oh how I miss the summer days, strolling through the farmers market and taking advantage of the bounty of produce.  We have reached the doldrums of winter vegetables and it really forces you to get creative so it’s not the same roasted brussel sprouts or kale chips every night.  I have been seeing more and more carrot dishes on menus these days – the vibrant color can really help perk up a meal, they are wicked cheap and they last forever in the fridge.  This summer I posted this awesome carrot ribbon salad but for a winter dish you are going to want something warm and more hearty.  These roasted carrots are just the ticket – roasting the carrots pulls out their natural sweetness and also gives them a nice char.  I have done several different “sauces” with these carrots but this yogurt vadouvan is definitely my favorite.  If you have never had vadouvan is a kind of curry blend that to me is less spicy and more aromatic than the regular curry you are used to.  It’s really best paired with sweet veggies like these carrots or in the summer in a nice corn soup.  If you are in DC you can find it at Bazaar Spices in Union Market – nationally I have seen it at World Market or of course your local Indian grocer.  It’s becoming somewhat trendy lately, so it should be more accessible but if you don’t feel like tracking it down you can use regular curry.  Mixed with the fresh lemon zest and bite of garlic, fat free greek yogurt becomes super flavorful.  I like to serve these carrots with roasted pork tenderloin and then use the sauce for both the carrots and the pork.  I will be posting the perfect pairing, a pistachio crusted pork, on Friday.  So check your crisper drawer, I am sure there are some less then perfect carrots hanging around in there.  Roasting will hide any limpness or bruises and I will never tell.

Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   working through my spice collection
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut in half on a diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 container (mine was 5.3 ounces) of nonfat greek plain yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vadouvan (if you can’t find or don’t want to use this you can use 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or experiment with other spices)
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the carrots with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.

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Roast for 7 minutes and then toss the carrots, then roast for 7 minutes more.  While the carrots are roasting combine the yogurt, vadouvan, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper in a small bowl (this can be done days in advance).

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When the carrots are done spread the yogurt sauce on the serving plate and top with carrots.

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Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut in half on a diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 container (mine was 5.3 ounces) of nonfat greek plain yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vadouvan (if you can’t find or don’t want to use this you can use 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or experiment with other spices)
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the carrots with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.  Roast for 7 minutes and then toss the carrots, then roast for 7 minutes more.  While the carrots are roasting combine the yogurt, vadouvan, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper in a small bowl (this can be done days in advance).  When the carrots are done spread the yogurt sauce on the serving plate and top with carrots.

A Classic Chicken Salad Sandwich

I can be accused of tweaking and tweaking a recipe until it’s almost unrecognizable from it’s first incarnation.  I can’t help myself.  However, every once in a while I really love a classic dish that is simple and unmessed around with.  This isn’t to say boring – it’s just that the classics are classics for a reason and sometimes less is more.  This chicken salad is totally timeless with the snap of the celery, the herbaceous tarragon and creamy dressing.

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The addition of lemon zest and dijon mustard might seem like too much, but they actually bring out the flavors of the rest of the ingredients and help everything sing together.  I like my chicken salad to be pretty lightly dressed but if you want more sauce throw in a little more mayo.  I like the mix of mayo and greek yogurt which gives it some extra tang and makes it a little healthier but just use whatever you have on hand.  Paired with some chips and a cold beer you have the perfect afternoon meal.

Classic Chicken Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1/2 cup canola mayonnaise (or 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • bread and arugula for serving

In a large bowl toss the celery with the chopped chicken.  I used 2 breasts from a rotisserie chicken but you can also roast your own by baking bone in skin on chicken breasts on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 40 minutes until cooked through.  In a small bowl whisk the lemon zest, tarragon, mayo (and yogurt), dijon and salt and pepper.  Add to the chicken and celery and toss until coated.  Serve on toasted bread with arugula or just straight with a fork!

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Classic Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1/2 cup canola mayonnaise (or 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • bread and arugula for serving

In a large bowl toss the celery with the chopped chicken.  I used 2 breasts from a rotisserie chicken but you can also roast your own by baking bone in skin on chicken breasts on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 40 minutes until cooked through.  In a small bowl whisk the lemon zest, tarragon, mayo (and yogurt), dijon and salt and pepper.  Add to the chicken and celery and toss until coated.  Serve on toasted bread with arugula or just straight with a fork!

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