Black Bean Chili (Crock Pot)

This is one of the most awesome chili recipes I have ever made ! The depth of flavor was amazing. This is a truly authentic, rich, aromatic and spicy chili that is just plain PERFECT. Don’t forget the squirt of lime just before serving – it actually makes a big difference in the total package.

Black Bean Chili (Crock Pot)
Black Bean Chili (Crock Pot)

10 servings
280 calories per serving

1 lb. dried black beans, rinsed
1 T oil
1 T mustard seeds
2 T chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
1/2 t cardamom seeds (or ground cardamom)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
8 oz. jarred salsa verde (medium heat)
1/4 c water
4 c vegetable broth
6 oz. can tomato paste
½ t salt
2 T minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 1/4 c shredded low fat cheddar cheese
1/2 c low fat sour cream
1/2 c chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

Place beans in a bowl with 2 quarts of water and soak overnight. Mix oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom and place in a hot Dutch oven for 30 seconds to release more flavor then add in onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water. Cover and cook 7 minutes then uncover and cook 15 minutes to lightly brown the veggies. Then add broth, tomato paste, salt and chipotles and mix. Place beans in a slow cooker and pour over the vegetable mix. Cover and cook on high 6-8 hours. Place into bowls and garnish with sour cream and cilantro and squirt with lime.

Strawberry Shortcake

Where do I begin? Sweet angel food cake? No, that was good, but that’s not the start. Luscious homemade whipped cream? No, as decadent as that was, it’s not the start of the story. The best, best part of this was the strawberry mix – – combing the balsamic and sugar along with the berries enhanced the flavor so much that it was like eating strawberries to the 10th power. It was just wonderful ! When you combined that flavor with the whipped cream and cake, this was just the most perfect dessert. I think it was way better than regular Strawberry Shortcake !

At only 160 calories, there is plenty of room to add some chocolate sauce – I’ll have to try that next time :)

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake

4 servings
160 calories per serving

4 2 ½ inch thick slices Angel Food Cake (prepared)
1 pint strawberries, sliced
½ T balsamic vinegar
1 T sugar
¼ c heavy cream
¼ t vanilla

Mix berries with vinegar and ½ T sugar and let sit. Combine cream, vanilla and ½ T sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Top each slice of cake with cream and strawberries.

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

So easy to prep – and a great meal to do ahead of time and just throw into the oven later. All the creamy soup goodness and stuffing on top makes this one taste anything other than diet.

Chicken and Stuffing Bake
Chicken and Stuffing Bake

6 servings
399 calories per serving

6 oz. Stove Top stuffing mix
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1/4 c low fat Daisy sour cream (any will do, but I find Daisy the best low fat one on the market)
16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Mix chicken, soup, sour cream and vegetables. Place in a 13×9 baking pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

You can refrigerate at this stage and then finish later – if you do it this way, increase baking time by 10 minutes.

Or continue with the prep and cover the casserole with the stuffing. Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until chicken is done. This dish reheats well in the oven or the microwave.

Grilled PBF

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This is basically a ‘grilled cheese’ of peanut butter and fruit and it is just awesome.

Grilled PBF
Grilled PBF

4 servings
301 calories per serving

8 slices whole wheat bread
¼ c creamy peanut butter
1 apple, rinsed, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and cut into about 12 thin slices
Pam
ICBINB Spray

Assemble sandwich with ½ tablespoon of pea¬nut butter on each slice of bread then add two apple slices and six banana slices in the middle of each sandwich.

Spray both sides of the sandwich with a bit if I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray and then fry it up in a skillet sprayed with Pam – – just like a grilled cheese sandwich. You can add some cinnamon to the sandwich when it comes out of the pan for some extra flavor.

No matter how you put it together, this is a great nutritious breakfast that the kids will LOVE.

Chinese Pulled Pork (Crock Pot)

This recipe was really interesting. Usually when you think of pulled pork, you expect a spicy Southwest flavor. But this one has an awesome Chinese sauce that is mellow and mild and is perfect with pulled pork.

Chinese Pulled Pork
Chinese Pulled Pork

8 servings
227 calories per serving

1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c hoisin sauce
3 T ketchup
3 T honey
2 t minced garlic
2 t grated fresh ginger
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t five-spice powder
2 lb. boneless pork roast, trimmed
1/2 c chicken broth

Mix soy, Hoisin, ketchup, honey, garlic, ginger, oil and five spice and place in a zip loc bag. Add roast and mush it around so the spice adheres to the roast. Place in refrigerator for 3 – 24 hours. When ready to cook, place in crock and cook on low 8 hours. Remove roast and cover to keep warm. Place broth in croc, re-cover and cook another 1./2 hour or until sauce thickens. Shred pork and serve with extra sauce.

If you do not have Chinese 5 spice, here’s a quick recipe so you can make it yourself:

Mix all of this in a spice grinder and then use the appropriate amount in your recipe:

1 T peppercorns
1 T cloves
1 t anise seed or 1 T star anise
1 T fennel seeds
1 T cinnamon

Apricot Sweet Rolls

These are sooooo easy to put together. Serve warm from the oven and you’ll have the family waiting in line for the sweet goodness of these perfect sweet rolls.

Apricot Sweet Rolls
Apricot Sweet Rolls

8 servings
160 calories per serving

1 can low fat refrigerated dinner rolls or biscuits
1/3 c apricot – pineapple preserves (or any flavor preserves that you like)
2 t sugar
¼ t cinnamon
¼ c sliced almonds
Pam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch round cake pan or a deep dish pie plate with Pam. Separate dough into individual rolls and place in pan – I do a circle around the edge with 8 rolls and 2 in the center. Starting ¼ inch in from the edges cut a deep X into the top of each roll then open slightly by pulling the dough toward the edges. Fill each with 2 t of the preserves. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle with almonds and bake ½ hour or until golden. Serve warm.

Roasted Green Beans

Get the pre-washed, pre-trimmed beans and your prep time is literally 1 minute. Using kosher salt can really make a difference in recipes and it does in this one. Kosher salt is a much larger crystal (much like sea salt) and instead of melting into the food, it kind of stays on the surface giving you a much bigger burst of the salt flavor – I think it works really well with green beans.

Roasted Green Beans
Roasted Green Beans

4 servings
42 calories per serving

1 pound fresh green beans
1/2 T olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
2 t minced fresh basil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Mix together green beans, oil, vinegar and basil. Place on a non-stick baking sheet in one layer and roast for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lunch Nachos

Sometimes you are just in the mood for ‘junk food’ for lunch. This junk food favorite gets pretty healthy when you bake your own chips and add healthy toppings. So go for it !!

Lunch Nachos
Lunch Nachos

6 servings
344 calories per serving

12 6 inch corn tortillas, quartered
Pam
1 T oil
2 t ground cumin
1 ½ t chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
30 oz. pinto beans, undrained
1 c crumbled queso fresco or shredded low fat cheddar cheese
1 c chunky salsa
1 c diced avocado
6 T chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with Pam. Sprinkle tortilla quarters with salt and ½ t chili powder and bake 8 minutes or until crisp. Work in batches. Heat oil and add cumin, 1 t chili powder and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add pinto beans and bring to a boil stirring frequently. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes then partially mash beans. Place 8 chips per plate and spoon bean mix over the chops. Top with cheese and microwave 30 seconds to melt cheese. Add salsa and avocado and garnish with cilantro.

Mini Calzones

Here’s another one of those appetizers that also makes a great dinner side – these are great served next to a hearty bowl of minestrone soup.

Mini Calzones
Mini Calzones


24 servings
50 calories per serving

1 11 oz. can soft breadsticks
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 c shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
6 slices very thin deli ham, each rolled and cut into 4 pieces
¼ t oregano flakes
2 T grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Let dough come to room temperature then unroll it and separate into 12 sticks then cut each in half making 2 short sticks. Flatten each piece of dough to about a 2 inch wide piece. Sprinkle all the dough pieces with garlic powder. Place 1 t mozzarella cheese in the center. Fold ham and place over the cheese making sure to leave a border so you will be able to seal the calzones. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges to seal and make a little pocket. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the parm and oregano. Bake 15 minute or until golden brown.

Green Beans and Tomatoes

This just has ‘summer’ written all over it. Use garden fresh or farmer’s market fresh veggies for the best flavors :)

Green Beans and Tomatoes
Green Beans and Tomatoes

8 servings
90 calories per serving

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces
2 lb. beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and cut into ½ inch wedges
5 T balsamic vinegar
3 t minced garlic clove
½ t Kosher salt
½ t pepper
1 anchovy fillet, minced
3 T oil

Boil green beans 3 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Add tomatoes. Whisk vinegar, anchovy and oil and add to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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