I know, I know, who’s ever heard of Irish Nachos? Well I hadn’t either, but I was channel surfing last weekend and hit on some special on the Travel Channel where they were talking nachos, and they mentioned some Irish pub somewhere that made nachos using potatoes. Of course they made theirs by making fries. I healthied it up a bit by baking the potatoes. We declared this a really interesting variation on our usual nachos.
1 large russet potato
1 oz. smoked cheddar
1 oz. monterey jack cheese
1 pound ground beef
2 cups black beans
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 packet Sazon
1 heaping teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 cup water
ancho chili powder
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the potato thin (I used a mandolin slicer on medium thickness).
Toss potatoes in olive oil.
Lay potatoes out on a baking rack suspended over a baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and ancho chili powder.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown your beef.
Drain and rinse.
Add back to your skillet with the black beans, water, Sazon, heaping teaspoon of ancho chili powder. Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is reduced.
Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and layer them in a cast iron skillet (either 2 small ones or 1 huge one).
Top with 2/3rds of the beef and bean mixture (we used the rest for burritos).
Top with the cheese.
Pop back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is all melty.
We went to a party this weekend and as I didn’t have what was required for my usual 7 layer dip, I had to come up with something else. What I arrived at was an adaptation of this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. The end results were delicious, lighter than my usual dip, and disappeared just as fast.
4 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup light sour cream
1 packet Sazon (I’m sure you’re seeing a theme here–I adore this stuff)
1/2 cup shredded fiesta blend cheese, 2%
1 can rotel
1 cup shredded fiesta blend cheese, 2%
In a large bowl, combine the half cup cheese, sazon, sour cream, black beans, and rotel.
Mix until well combined.
Pour into a greased baking dish (I think mine was like 7×11)
Top with remaining cup of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
After last week’s meh Mexican spoon bread, I opted to try a jazzed up version of my mother’s Mexican cornbread. Since we were taking it to a party, I thought muffins would be best (and it fits with my obsession for mini these days). Results were moist and flavorful, a nice side to a Mexican themed dinner (these are being paired up with tamales and chili). Makes 18 muffins that work out to 110 calories and 4.9 grams of fat apiece.
1 can cream style corn
1 can mexicorn, drained
1 box Jiffy mix cornbread
1 packet Sazon
1 pound ground beef, browned and rinsed
1 poblano pepper, finely minced
1/2 cup fiesta blend cheese, 2%
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the beef, then drain and rinse.
In a large bowl, mix the corn, cream corn, egg, sazon, and poblano pepper.
Add the beef and stir until well incorporated.
Add the cheese and stir until well incorporated.
Spoon into muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pans, before removing to a wire rack to cool until touchable.
I have no idea why I’m so into the mini versions of stuff this week I was really enamored after buying the new mini muffin pan, I guess. In any event, I had a package of sweet peppers in the fridge, plus a few from the garden that were close to the same size that I decided to stuff. But with what? I had leftover rice from another night, and wanted to do something cheesy and kind of Mexi-themed. Add in some cream cheese, sazon, and a few other things, and we have a tasty, bite sized snack at only 33.5 calories and .8 grams of fat per pepper. Makes 20 peppers.
20 mini sweet peppers
1 cup pre-cooked rice
2 oz. neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 packet sazon
1/2 teaspoon cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the stock over medium low.
Add in the neufchatel cheese in cubes and stir occasionally until melted.
Meanwhile, using a small knife, cut the tops out of all the peppers so as to remove the seeds and such.
Add in the tomato paste, sazon, salt, and cilantro.
Add in the rice and stir until well coated.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a small spoon, stuff the peppers with the rice. I found it helpful to use the handle end of a wooden spoon to poke the filling into the bottom of the pepper so that it was properly full.
If you can find a small dish to arrange them all filling side to the top, that’s great, but it’s so thick you probably wouldn’t lose any if you had to bake them on their sides.
The inspiration for this recipe hails from the April 2010 issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray (pg. 83). I offer this up as a homemade alternative to stuff like Totinos pizza roles. They’re fresh, light, easy as can be, and a WHOLE lot healthier. I made a few substitutions to the original recipe to lighten things up. These are a fantastic appetizer for parties or snack to keep around the house. Freeze on a cookie sheet and pop into a freezer bag then reheat at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Makes 24 puffs at 47 calories and 1.8 grams of fat apiece (not counting the pizza sauce for dipping).
Variations: You can change up the fillings to any of your favorite pizza toppings so long as you chop them small.
Edited: I can and have made this with gluten free flour (no xanthan gum necessary) and with Daiya to make them dairy free.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup skim milk (original recipe called for whole)
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (original called for 4 oz.)
3.5 oz. turkey pepperoni, diced (original called for 4 oz.)
3.5 oz. baby bella mushrooms, finely diced (my addition)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (my addition)
1/2 cup store bought or homemade pizza sauce (I actually like Ragu Light Tomato and Basil marinara for this)
Preheat oven to 375.
Spray a 24 cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and egg.
Add the flour and baking powder and whisk until there are no clumps.
Add the Italian seasoning.
Stir in the mozzarella, pepperoni, and mushrooms.
Allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Stir batter well and divide among the mini muffin cups.
Bake until puffed and golden, about 20-25 minutes.
After the peach and red pepper salsa I made last week, my daily grilled cheese at lunch seemed positively naked with nothing else on it. So this week I went a bit more tropical and made up a version with mango. I have always adored mango salsa, especially with blue corn tortilla chips. It’s just a really great, all around topping. The stuff at the grocery store is made with tomatoes–as in they think that it’s acceptable to just mix in mango with regular salsa. Bleh! This is so much better! The flavors are bright and fresh. My only gripe with this is that I should have added one more mango (I only had 2 on hand).
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled mango
1 1/3 cups chopped roasted red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Directions: Prep ingredients, mix and serve. Can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
Part of the many dishes I made with last week’s Peach and Red Pepper Salsa was a straight up basic quesedilla. It was a classic “use what you have in the fridge” sort of dinner that took advantage of the leftover shredded chicken from the enchiladas, the salsa, and some cheese. The end result was a fabulous blend of savory and sweet for a light and satisfying dinner.
Ingredients (per serving):
1 whole grain, low carb tortilla, 8 inches
1/2 cup peach and red pepper salsa
1/4 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup 2% fiesta blend shredded cheese, divided
Heat a skillet over medium heat.
Spray with cooking spray.
Add the tortilla.
Sprinkle half the cheese on one half of the tortilla.
Top that half with the chicken.
Top that with the salsa (you’ll want to be sure to drain off any excess fluid)
Top that with the cheese.
Fold the quesedilla shut.
You may need to use a spatula to hold it folded shut while the first side toasts.
Carefully flip and toast the second side.
Slice and serve! This would be great with fresh guacamole.
My fellow food loving pal Jessica Tudor pointed me to this recipe last week, and I just had to try it. Of course, being me, I had to make a few small modifications based on what I had on hand or personal preferences. You will never see me eat a habanero pepper. The end result is 3 cups of lovely, seasonal salsa that’s a great balance of savory and sweet. Anybody who loves a good mango salsa will be sure to enjoy this. Enjoy with homemade tortilla chips, as bruschetta, on sandwiches, over fish, over pork, or mixed up with cheese in a quesedilla. This works out to 21.5 calories and a quarter gram of fat per 1/4 cup serving. A great way to add flavor without fat and calories.
Possibly our favorite eat out appetizer is cheese sticks. Ooey, gooey melty cheese, breaded in yumminess and fried. Can you get any better? As it happens it can get considerably better for you. Know why? Because–NEWSFLASH–you can bake ’em! Combine that with reduced fat cheese sticks and some marinara sauce and you have a healthy snack. Okay, maybe not something to eat every day, but definitely a fabulous treat for once in a while that won’t shatter your diet goals. It’s all about the method. Serves 2. Not quite sure about the fat and calories because I can never manage to calculate how much breading I use. But it’s not bad.
4 reduced fat mozzarella sticks like Frigo Cheeseheads
pulverized corn flakes
1 egg, beaten
Slice the cheese sticks in half so you have 8 sticks.
Set up your breading station with a bowl for the egg, a plate for the corn flakes and a baking sheet.
Dip the cheese in the egg, one piece at a time and roll in the cornflakes. Place on the cookie sheet.
Repeat with all of them.
Allow the sticks to rest for about twenty minutes for the breading to harden.
Then repeat the egg, breading, rest.
And repeat one more time. Yes, really. Three layers of breading.
Allow to rest again.
Now slide the cookie sheet in the freezer. Yes, the freezer.
Freeze them for at least an hour and a half (I never said this was a FAST snack).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Bake for 6 minutes.
Crank the heat down to 350 for the final 4 minutes, keeping your eye on them to make sure there’s no serious ooze. If it starts oozing too much, remove them from the oven, allow to cool for a bit, then pop them back in for another few minutes.
Serve with your choice of marinara. We like Ragu Light Tomato Basil.
I’ve gotten into veggie trays and veggie dips lately. It’s become my go to thing to take to get togethers so that I am assured there is at least ONE healthy thing there. After the last one, the celery and carrots were decimated, but I was left with a big pile of bell pepper strips. I wasn’t in the mood for my usual garlic and herb veggie dip, so I opted to try something completely different. I’ve been hearing about sazon on the Food Network for ages, but I’d never actually seen it to try. It’s a sort of Latin flavored seasoning salt. Lo and behold, I found some in the ethnic foods section at Walmart recently. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I had a half a brick of neufchatel cheese in the fridge, and thought I’d try it mixed with a packet of sazon. The results were explode in your mouth awesome. There’s something in this mix that is what’s been missing from the Mexican food I’ve made at home. I think it’s the annato. Either way, this was a totally addictive dip with my bell pepper strips. This would be AWESOME in a 7 layer dip. Each tablespoon is 70 calories and 2 grams of fat.
1 packet sazon seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
This is kind of a no brainer. Mix until well combined.