Category Archives: Spicy

Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos

by
Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos - Colleen's Kitchen

Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity. I mean, there I was, rummaging in the fridge, trying to decide what to make for dinner. I have a tomato that’s just starting to pucker, a carrot that’s beginning to dry out, a bit of onion left over from a previous meal, some parsley that’s looking a little ragged, and a couple of portobello mushrooms left over from some grilling I did last week. And let’s not forget the hot Italian chicken sausage in the freezer.

Sounds like the beginnings of a fantastic meal, right?

Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos - Colleen's Kitchen

Of course you’re right. And, it’s easy too.

After a quick saute of the carrot and onion, I added some garlic and the chicken sausage until the sausage was browned and crumbled. Then I added in the tomato and let it cook until the tomato got soft and saucy. No need to add herbs because the sausage is already full of Italian seasonings.

Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos - Colleen's Kitchen

I then simply removed the mixture from the heat, mixed in a little parmesan cheese, and stuffed the portobello mushrooms, mounding the meat mixture generously. Once topped with another sprinkle of parmesan cheese, I baked them in the oven for 30 minutes.

The result? Perfection. At once tender, hearty, and spicy, it’s a gourmet quality dish that’s ready in almost no time. It’s also perfectly adaptable to baby portobello mushrooms for a superb appetizer.

What are you making with your fridge finds tonight?

Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 servings
  • Calories: 349.3
  • Fat: 15.7
  • Saturated fat: 6.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Monounsaturated fat: 4.7
  • Carbohydrates: 19.3
  • Sugar: 2.1
  • Sodium: 1208.2
  • Fiber: 4.5
  • Protein: 35.2
  • Cholesterol: 101.8
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Poultry
At once tender, hearty, and spicy, these Hot Italian Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobellos make a gourmet quality meal that is ready in almost no time.
Ingredients
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lb. raw, bulk hot Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 oz. shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and caps cleaned
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the carrot and red onion and cook for 5 minutes on medium.
  4. Stir in the garlic and chicken sausage and continue to cook until the sausage is browned and crumbled, stirring frequently.
  5. Add in the tomato and continue to cook until the tomato is soft and a sauce begins to form in the pan.
  6. Remove from heat and mix in the parsley and 1.5 oz. of the parmesan cheese.
  7. Place the mushroom caps on a baking sheet so that the tops are down and the stem side of the mushrooms are facing up.
  8. Stuff the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture, mounding it high above the mushroom caps.
  9. Top the mushrooms with the remaining parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew

by
Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

Getting back into the kitchen after my injury has not been so easy. I find that even minimal effort leaves me with an aching ankle and as exhausted as if I had just completed a hard workout.

Thank goodness for my slow cooker.

I use my slow cooker this time of year for many a dish, but I’ve found myself using it more since I’ve been slowly getting back into the kitchen. I can set it in the morning, dinner is ready for me at the end of the day, and I have leftovers to keep me fed for at least a few more days.

Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chorizo Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

This Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew makes some of my favorite leftovers. Rich red Rioja wine makes for a complex and tasty broth that swims with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo sausage. Chorizo sausage made from chicken lowers the fat and calorie content, making a great stew also good for you.

Bonus? The stew also freezes well. I like to ladle it into containers in individual serving sizes. Then it’s just a matter of popping the container into the microwave for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

What are you making in your slow cooker?

 

Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 5 servings
  • Serving size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 304.6
  • Fat: 8.5
  • Saturated fat: 2.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.0
  • Carbohydrates: 32.7
  • Sugar: 6.2
  • Sodium: 499.4
  • Fiber: 4.1
  • Protein: 16.3
  • Cholesterol: 120.0
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Rich Rioja wine makes for a tasty broth swimming with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo in this Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt crystals
  • ½ lb. bulk chicken chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup Rioja red wine
  • 1½ lbs red potatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups homemade, salt free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until the onions are transparent.
  3. Stir in the sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and crumbly and the onions are browned.
  4. Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, getting all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the contents into the slow cooker.
  6. Stir the potatoes, tomatoes, broth and paprika into the chorizo mixture in the slow cooker.
  7. Submerge the bay leaf in the stew, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  8. Stir in the fresh cilantro and ladle yourself up a bowl of steaming deliciousness.
Notes
Rioja wine comes from the Rioja appellation in Spain and is made primarily from tempranillo grapes. The wines from this region are beautiful and worth seeking out. If you're looking for a domestic wine, though, seek out a tempranillo for this recipe.

 

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams

by
Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

It seems like forever since I’ve posted on my blog. Not being able to really get into my kitchen, and advised by my attorney to limit any discussion of my accident and recovery, I’ve been at a loss for writing material.

Until now.

I moved back into my house 2 weeks ago, after outfitting it with wider paths for my crutches and scooter, a shower chair, and toilet safety rails, and moving my bedroom things downstairs into the spare bedroom since I still am unable to navigate stairs. My cooking, however, has primarily consisted of reheating frozen food in the microwave or assembling the basic sandwich. Not my idea of culinary fun, but it’s a start.

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

This past week, though, I started accessing my kitchen muscle memory with some extremely effortless dishes, like these Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams. I mean, I simply bake the yams whole, let them cool for a bit, scoop the meat out and mix it with some additional goodness, then spoon it back into the skin and bake it a little more. Easy peasy.

The bonus? It’s also scrumptious, filling, and perfect for Meatless Monday. As I’ve said many times, going vegetarian 1-2 times a week has been a cornerstone of my success in both losing and maintaining my weight.

What’s better than an easy, delicious and good-for-you meal?

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 stuffed yams
  • Serving size: 1 yam
  • Calories: 364.1
  • Fat: 8.1
  • Saturated fat: 4.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.0
  • Carbohydrates: 62.0
  • Sugar: 2.4
  • Sodium: 309.5
  • Fiber: 8.5
  • Protein: 12.4
  • Cholesterol: 15.0
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
These effortless, vegetarian Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams are full of scrumptiously sweet and spicy flavors that will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free!
Ingredients
  • 2 yams (5.3 oz. each), baked and cooled to the touch
  • ⅓ cup raw tricolor quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 oz. part skim queso fresco, shredded (divided)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Cut the top of the skin of each baked yam lengthwise to create a boat-shaped opening.
  3. Scoop the cooked yam meat out and into a medium mixing bowl. Place the yam skins, intact, into a shallow baking dish.
  4. Mix in the cooked quinoa, chipotle pepper, tomato, cilantro, and 1.5 oz. of the queso fresco.
  5. Spoon the mixture back into the yam skins. Sprinkle the remaining queso fresco over the top of the stuffed yams.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the stuffing is warmed through.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and dig in!
Notes
To prebake the yams, simply pierce them a few times with a fork, place them on a baking sheet, and bake them for 45-60 minutes at 375F. Test with a fork before removing from the oven; it should pierce the yam easily.

 

Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad

by
Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

With the coming of fall, I always look forward to experimenting with the bounty of squash. I especially love butternut squash. It’s so versatile, lending itself to steaming, roasting, or baking cooking techniques. And the sweet meat of the squash can be used in so many different ways, from my savory Butternut Squash Lasagna to countering the sweetness with a little heat, like I did in this recipe.

For this simple salad, I peeled, seeded and cubed the squash then tossed the pieces with a mixture of chili powder, cumin, coriander and paprika. Roasting the spiced squash brings out a caramel flavor so that when you bite into a piece you first taste the heat of the chili mixture and then the soft sweetness of the roasted squash. The flavor sensation is so amazing that I’m actually working on another recipe incorporating the same roasting technique.

Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Once the butternut squash is roasted, I let it cool a bit and then mix it with nutty farro, tender baby spinach, sweet chewy raisins, and salty pistachios. A simple dressing of honey and lime juice completes this hearty, entree salad.

What’s your favorite fall vegetable?

 

Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 servings
  • Calories: 425.2
  • Fat: 9.9
  • Saturated fat: 1.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9
  • Carbohydrates: 79.3
  • Sugar: 21.3
  • Sodium: 230.0
  • Fiber: 14.8
  • Protein: 10.6
  • Cholesterol: 0.0
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan
Sweet butternut squash is roasted in a spicy chili mixture then combined with nutty farro for a hearty fall salad that explodes with flavor.
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, cubed butternut squash (cut into ½" cubes)
  • ⅓ cup dry farro, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped, shelled pistachios
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Brush a baking sheet with the olive oil and set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, coriander and paprika.
  4. Toss the chili mixture with the butternut squash cubes in a medium mixing bowl until the squash is well coated.
  5. Spread the squash on the oiled baking sheet in a single layer and leaving room between the pieces so that they will roast up nicely.
  6. Bake the squash for 30 minutes or until browned and tender. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Combine the squash, farro and spinach in a medium salad bowl.
  8. Mix the raisins and pistachios into the salad.
  9. Whisk together the honey, lime juice and sea salt then pour over the salad and toss to coat.
  10. Serve immediately.
Notes
While high in carbs, the bulk of the carbs in this recipe come from the butternut squash, which is also an excellent source of potassium.

 

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew

by
Slow Cooker Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

Have you ever had a truly insane day at work? One of those days where time seems to fly, everything is urgent, and it’s all you can do to find time to even slip away to the bathroom?

I had one of those days this past week. There were so many demands being made of me that I didn’t know where to start, and it seemed like it was never ending. As the day started to ebb, and my energy levels were sagging, I began to dread going home and making dinner. I was just too tired to even think about cooking.

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

And then I remembered I had put this delicious Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew in the Slow Cooker before I left the house that morning. My spirits were buoyed. All I had to do to complete the meal was to warm up some crusty bread and ladle some stew in a bowl. Heck, there was even wine ready to be poured with it!

I first published this Slow Cooker recipe almost 2 years ago, but it has remained one of my all time favorites. I find myself in a bit of a bind right now because, while I have many recipes in the hopper that I’m working on, I don’t have one that is ready to share with you yet. You need to realize that I’m very particular about having things just right before I publish a recipe to the world.

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

So I decided to recycle one of my favorites, this gorgeously delicious Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew. It’s spicy and hearty, and the tomato and red wine infused broth is delicious soaked into a piece of warm, crusty baguette. What I love best, though, is that I can have a roller-coaster day at work, come home, and have dinner waiting for me. Perfect!

 

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Calories: 287.5
  • Fat: 3.9
  • Saturated fat: 0.7
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3
  • Carbohydrates: 34.8
  • Sugar: 6.2
  • Sodium: 1139.6
  • Fiber: 9.6
  • Protein: 25.4
  • Cholesterol: 58.7
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Poultry
Spicy sausage combines with buttery great northern beans for a hearty meal in this fix-and-forget-it Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. bulk spicy Italian chicken sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cans (3 cups) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups salt free chicken broth
  • 1 cup full-bodied, dry red wine (preferably Italian)
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine the chicken sausage, beans, carrots, onion, garlic, tomato paste, herbs, broth, wine, and salt in the slow cooker and stir well.
  2. Add the bay leaf, submerging in the liquid.
  3. Cover and cook on low for a minimum of 8-10 hours.
  4. Serve with each bowl topped with 1 tbsp of chopped fresh Italian parsley.

 

Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw

by
Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

I admit it: when it comes to food I love to play with color, texture, and somewhat unusual flavor combinations. Sometimes my ideas work out, sometimes they don’t. These Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw are a perfect example of a crazy idea gone right.

The steak is easy, I simply slice pieces of lean top sirloin steak into thin strips and then marinate them in a simple mixture of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce and sweet orange juice. I like to marinate them overnight for maximum flavor. Then a quick grill and the steak is ready for primetime.

Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw - Colleen's Kitchen

The sweet beets and crunchy fennel create a crunchy, delicious dish with the spicy chipotle marinated steak.

The finishing touch is the slaw that I slather on the tacos. I thinly sliced some crunchy fennel which adds a delicious, lightly licorice flavor to the dish. I then peeled and julienned fresh, raw beets.

I know you’re asking, “You can eat raw beets?” Yes! They are delicious shredded in a salad or cut into thin sticks and thrown in a slaw like this.

Beets are naturally sweet and high in sugar and they balance the licorice flavor of the fennel perfectly. I then toss the fennel and beets with some sweet shredded carrots, peppery cilantro and a dressing of orange juice, honey and olive oil to create a sweet, crunchy slaw that is perfect with the spicy chipotle marinated steak.

Wrap the two in a corn tortilla and you have a pretty, perfectly delicious meal.

Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 2 tacos per person
  • Calories: 402.8
  • Fat: 13.3
  • Saturated fat: 3.6
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.9
  • Carbohydrates: 41.2
  • Sugar: 11.2
  • Sodium: 407.2
  • Fiber: 7.0
  • Protein: 31.1
  • Cholesterol: 75.7
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Beef
Tender steak is marinated in spicy chipotle peppers and served on a bed of crunchy, sweet fennel beet slaw in these Chipotle Steak Tacos with Fennel Beet Slaw
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. top sirloin steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 chipotle peppers, minced, + 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • juice of 2 oranges (divided)
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt (divided)
  • 2 fresh, raw beets, about 2" in diameter, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, sliced thinly across the width then coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (aka nigella)
  • 8 corn tortillas, wrapped in foil and warmed in a 400F oven for about 8 minutes.
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, juice of 1½ oranges, and ¼ tsp of the coarse sea salt.
  2. Cover the steak strips with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  3. Grill the steak strips on a propane grill or indoor grilling pan over medium-high heat for about 1 minute on each side. Set aside.
  4. In a large salad bowl, toss the beets, fennel, carrots and cilantro.
  5. Whisk together the juice of the remaining ½ orange, olive oil, honey, and remaining ¼ tsp of coarse sea salt. Toss with the beet and fennel mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over the slaw and gently stir to combine.
  7. Serve by layering the slaw in the center of the tortilla, topping with a couple of pieces of steak, and folding the ends of the tortilla around the filling.

 

Chargrilled Chipotle Salmon and Corn Salad

by
Chargrilled Chipotle Salmon and Corn Salad #recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

When it is a hot and scorching day outside, I love to cook on the grill. The clean up is easy, I keep the house cool, and I get to grill under the shade of my apple and pear trees while sipping a glass of wine.

Chargrilled Chipotle Salmon and Corn Salad #recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

Salmon, corn and a poblano pepper are cooked on the grill until they are lightly charred.

Salmon and corn are in season now so I’ve been playing with these a lot on my grill. For this recipe, I like to marinate the salmon in a simple, spicy chipotle sauce and then place it on the grill with some corn and a poblano pepper. I cook them until they get a nice char on the outside.

Chargrilled Chipotle Salmon and Corn Salad #recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

The finished product is as pretty as it is delicious!

This salad is meant to be served slightly warm. I let the salmon, corn and pepper sit for about 10 minutes to let it cool a bit before tossing it up with some cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and a light dressing. The result is a delicious entree salad that is hearty enough to fill you up yet light enough for the warmest of summer days.

 

 

Chargrilled Chipotle Salmon and Corn Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Calories: 342.9
  • Fat: 12.9
  • Saturated fat: 1.9
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 3.1
  • Carbohydrates: 33.5
  • Sugar: 5.5
  • Sodium: 390.8
  • Fiber: 4.6
  • Protein: 27.2
  • Cholesterol: 57.0
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Seafood
Chargrilling sweet corn and tender salmon marinated in a spicy chipotle sauce brings out a delicious smoky flavor in this lean yet scrumptious summer salad.
Ingredients
  • 1 chipotle pepper + 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • juice of 2 limes (divided)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ lb. raw, wild-caught salmon filet
  • 1 whole, raw poblano pepper
  • 3 medium, raw ears of sweet corn, husked
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
Instructions
  1. Mince up the pepper and add it plus the adobo sauce to a shallow dish.
  2. Add the juice of 1 of the limes and a pinch of salt to the chipotle and whisk until well combined.
  3. Place the salmon filet in the marinade, meat side down and skin side up. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat propane grill to 600F then reduce flames to low and lightly oil the grate.
  5. Place the poblano pepper, corn, and the marinated salmon filet on the grill. Cook the meat/cut side of the salmon first.
  6. Cook the salmon about 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through. Cook the corn and pepper about 2 minutes on each of their 4 sides.
  7. Let the grilled salon and veggies cool for about 10 minutes. Then, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels of corn from the cob into a medium salad bowl.
  8. Add in the cherry tomatoes.
  9. Use a fork to remove the skin from the cooked salmon filet then flake the salmon into small pieces, removing any bones. Add to the salad bowl.
  10. Remove the stem from the poblano pepper then dice it whole and add it to the salad. Add in the cilantro and stir everything to combine.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of the remaining limes, extra virgin olive oil, coriander, cumin, and a pinch of salt.
  12. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Serve immediately.

 

Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad

by
Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

When I started my weight loss journey, I quickly found that I needed to prepare my own food more, instead of running through those all-to-convenient and abundant drive-thrus. This meant that I not only needed to up my culinary game, but I also had to change my cooking style. I turned to TV cooking shows for inspiration, and one of my absolute favorites was Food Network’s Ask Aida, featuring culinary curator and TV personality, Aida Mollenkamp.

Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

Try this Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad for a sample of Aida’s culinary talents!

I loved Aida’s scrumptious recipes, straightforward instructions, and helpful tips ranging from cooking techniques to how to use certain kitchen gadgets to how to select quality produce. I religiously watched her shows and together we made such delicious dishes as a vegan chili, chipotle chicken fajitas, shrimp piri piri, and steak with a compound butter that was to die for. The more I learned, the more confidence I gained in the kitchen and soon I was swapping out this for that and eventually crafting my own creations in order to get the lean calories I needed for my weight loss journey.

So when I was invited to participate in the Virtual Salad Party sponsored by California Walnuts and make a recipe from one of three featured chefs, I was beyond excited to select one of my virtual culinary mentors, Aida Mollenkamp. I chose her Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad because, while I’ve cooked a lot with other grains such as quinoa, couscous, farro and sorghum, I have not yet worked with wheat berries. I saw this as yet another opportunity to learn from Aida. Score!

Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

Raisins add a sweet, chewy flavor that really balances out the spice of the chipotle, the nuttiness of the wheat berries, and the smoky crunch of the toasted walnuts

Whenever I follow a recipe, I always like to make it as crafted first, and then recraft it as my own taste buds, style and dietary needs dictate. I have to say, though, that Aida created a real winner with this recipe because it was delicious. It was so good, I had to go back for seconds, and then I happily took leftovers to work for lunch the next day.

I did have to substitute hard wheat berries as my search of three local grocery stores could not find the soft wheat berries specified in the recipe. I followed the directions on the grocery store bulk bin and soaked the hard wheat berries over night before preparing them according to Aida’s instructions. The result was a delicious, nutty, slightly crunchy grain that I will absolutely be working with again.

Upon first bite, I thought that perhaps the recipe could use another chipotle. But then the finish left the perfect amount of heat. The real surprise, however, are the raisins. They add a sweet, chewy flavor that really balances out the spice of the chipotle, the nuttiness of the wheat berries, and the smoky crunch of the toasted walnuts. All of the flavors combine in perfect harmony like lovers destined for each other.

Win a copy of Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen

Win a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen below!

As part of the Virtual Salad Party, I’m really excited to be giving away a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s cookbook, Keys to the Kitchen. Designed to help home cooks become more confident in the kitchen, I just know that the winner will enjoys her tips, tricks and recipes as much as I have over the years. Just try this one for a sample of the deliciousness that awaits you then enter the contest below!

 

Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat Berry Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8
  • Calories: 340
  • Fat: 15
  • Saturated fat: 1.5
  • Carbohydrates: 49
  • Sodium: 85
  • Fiber: 9
  • Protein: 10
  • Cholesterol: 0
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Proof that whole grains don't have to be boring, this salad has a mix of spicy and sweet flavors and with 1.14 grams of omega-3's per serving, it's heart-healthy too!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed (about 12 ounces)
  • Kosher Salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces carrots, small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped chipotle en adobo plus 1 teaspoon chipotle en adobo sauce
  • 1 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 scallions, light green and green parts thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with heavily salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in wheat berries, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until tender but still chewy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. (Can be made through this step up to 4 days ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add carrots and a pinch of salt and cook until just softened but still retains some bite, about 5 minutes more. Stir in thyme and chipotle and sauce and cook until fragrant then remove from heat.
  3. Place wheat berries in a large, nonreactive bowl and add carrot mixture, nuts, and raisins. Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, and honey until honey is dissolved then stir into wheat berry mixture. Let salad marinate at least 15 minutes before serving or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours. Just before serving, add the scallions and herbs.
Notes
If you can't find soft wheat berries (like I couldn't) you can also substitute hard wheat berries. Simply soak them in a large bowl of water overnight before draining and cooking them as instructed in this recipe.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

by
Spicy Baked Mac & Cheese

I have studiously avoided making dishes like this. I mean, a classic macaroni and cheese is supposed to be decadent and creamy. It is difficult to lower the fat and calorie content while still maintaining that moist, creamy, cheesy flavor.

But I have changed that.

Spicy Baked Mac and Cheese

It took me several attempts to get this recipe just right. My first idea was to use nonfat, plain Greek yogurt instead of the cream that is found in traditional macaroni and cheese. This was perfect, except that when I tried to omit the butter of traditional macaroni and cheese, the result was a dish that was too dry.

In my early iterations I substituted pureed, roasted butternut squash for the butter to add some creaminess to the dish without the fat. This just didn’t do the trick, though, the macaroni still came out too dry. Then inspiration hit.

Spicy Baked Mac and Cheese

Avocado.

Avocados are creamy and higher in fat, albeit healthy fats, and it was the perfect substitute for butter. Plus it added an unexpected twist of flavor, perfect with the roasted poblano and jalapeno peppers. The result is an oven baked macaroni and cheese that feels decadent yet isn’t. Winner!

What’s your favorite trick to “healthify” a recipe?

 

 

Spicy Baked Mac and Cheese
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 229.1
  • Fat: 11.6
  • Saturated fat: 4.9
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Carbohydrates: 16.6
  • Sugar: 1.9
  • Sodium: 346.4
  • Fiber: 3.2
  • Protein: 14.5
  • Cholesterol: 20.1
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Classic macaroni and cheese is lightened up while still retaining all of its moist, cheesy flavor by injecting flavors from spicy roasted peppers and creamy, cool avocado.
Ingredients
  • 2 whole poblano peppers, roasted, stem removed and diced
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper, roasted, stem removed and diced
  • 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup mashed avocado
  • 2 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 6 oz. dry whole wheat macaroni, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed
  • 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peppers, yogurt, avocado, cheddar cheese, cumin, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Add the cooked macaroni noodles and stir to combine.
  4. Place the macaroni and cheese mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes until the parmesan cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
  6. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
To roast the poblano and jalapeno peppers, place the peppers on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 375F for 1 hour, turning halfway through. Let cool and remove the stem before dicing.

 

Smokin’ Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

by
Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I love Mexican food, and I especially love enchiladas. It’s so hard to make these cheesy, oily, carb-loaded tubes of deliciousness into a healthy meal, though. And, let’s face it, enchiladas are a lot of work! First you have to soften the tortilla in oil, fill it, roll it up, and then repeat a dozen times.

Ugh.

I mean, I love to cook, but if I’m making a time intensive dish, I prefer something that has fewer touch points so I can just let it cook and do it’s thing. Like the Smoky Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup I posted last week.

Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

My enchilada casserole is layered and ready for the oven!

So I love this enchilada casserole, it’s sort of a lazy man’s enchilada. I get the great enchilada taste without all the work. Who wouldn’t love that?

I also put another twist on the enchilada in this dish by stuffing it full of seasonal vegetables. One of my tricks to bulking up recipes to add nutritional value as well as making the dish more filling, while keeping the fat and calorie count low, is to add in loads of veggies. In this case, I used roasted, mashed butternut squash to add to the creaminess of the filling and some baby kale for added fiber and vitamins, as well as the pretty green color it adds to the filling.

Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Baby kale leaves add a pretty pop of green to the color palette.

Yes, I said pretty. I love pretty food.

Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Baked and brimming with creamy goodness!

I also love spicy food. In this case I used a bit of chorizo chicken sausage for flavor and a bright, peppery spice. For an added complexity, I then also used a chipotle enchilada sauce which has a darker, smokier spiciness to it.

The best part of this dish? It’s a one pot wonder.

Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Yummy, good-for-you veggies spill out on the plate.

That’s right, I cook it on the stove and then bake it in the oven in the same 8″ cast-iron skillet for minimal clean-up.

So why are you not in your kitchen making this right now? Get to it!

 

 

Smokin' Hot Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchilada Casserole
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: ¼ of the casserole
  • Calories: 286.4
  • Fat: 11.3
  • Saturated fat: 3.4
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4
  • Carbohydrates: 29.8
  • Sugar: 2.7
  • Sodium: 864.1
  • Fiber: 4.9
  • Protein: 18.5
  • Cholesterol: 31.6
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Spice up your dinner with these lazy enchiladas turned into a spicy casserole stuffed with veggie goodness, like roasted butternut squash and baby kale. Lowfat, calorie-friendly, and gluten-free. Score!
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ lb. bulk (raw) chorizo chicken sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup 2% cottage cheese
  • ½ cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 cup roasted, mashed butternut squash
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby kale leaves
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup chipotle enchilada sauce, divided
  • 3 corn tortillas
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in an 8" skillet on medium heat.
  3. Add the chorizo chicken sausage to the pan. Cook until browned and crumbly.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan. Set aside.
  5. With pan still on medium heat, add the onion and cook in the renderings from the sausage until transparent.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese, ¼ cup of the Mexican cheese blend, tomato, butternut squash, kale, and a pinch of salt.
  7. Add the cooked chicken sausage and onion to the vegetable-cheese mixture and stir to combine.
  8. Spread ¼ cup of chipotle enchilada sauce over the bottom of the now empty skillet. Lay 1 corn tortilla in the skillet on the sauce. Cover with half of the filling. Lay another corn tortilla over the filling, and cover that with the remaining filling.
  9. Top with 1 more corn tortilla. Spread the remaining ¼ cup chipotle enchilada sauce across the top of the tortilla and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend. Cook covered for 30 minutes at 375F, then uncovered for 15 minutes.
  10. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing into 4 equal wedges and serving.
Notes
Cooked, pureed butternut squash is widely available in the freezer section of the grocery store now, but it's super easy to make your own! Simply halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and pulp, brush with a little olive oil and bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes. Scoop the roasted butternut squash meat out of the shell and mash up.