Healthy Turkey Tacos

Tacos were pretty much an every-week staple at my elementary school growing up.  And I remember this being a crazy popular lunch day but I don’t remember eating them at school.  In hindsight, my brother and I were lucky kids; our mom was a work-at-home mom (almost unheard of in the 80s) and she had the ability to be there every morning to make our lunches.  Once a week, she gave us money to buy lunch at school and I picked carefully: either deli day (Thursdays) or pizza day (Fridays, naturally).  I don’t think my mom was ever exposed to tacos and refried beans until we were at a Girl Scout jamboree camping trip circa 1988 so until then, we never ate them at home either.  I couldn’t tell you if that was weird for the time but I can tell you tacos soon became a revolutionary meal in our house.

In our house now, you’ll see tacos show up on our menu at least twice a month and while Kyle and I love to make them traditionally with my homemade taco seasoning, we’re not against trying other varieties either.  These turkey tacos are a little different from the norm.  There’s a little brown sugar and cider vinegar added, both of which add a tiny hint of sweetness to the turkey and boost the flavor of the tacos exponentially, especially with the contrast of a little heat from the chili powder.  I’ve been heating up the leftovers for lunches this week along with the leftover refried beans I made to go with the tacos and either for lunch or dinner, these tacos are already a mainstay on our menu – we’ve made them 3 times in the past 6 weeks!

Healthy Turkey Tacos

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


    For the tacos:
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ lbs (20 oz) ground turkey (not 99% fat-free)
  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For serving:
  • 8 corn tortilla shells
  • Shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped red onion
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges


  1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste and stir for 30 to 60 seconds, until the tomato paste is evenly distributed.
  2. Add the turkey and cook for 3-5 minutes, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon into smaller pieces as it cooks; the turkey should be cooked through but still slightly pink.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, chicken broth, vinegar, and brown sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer; simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving hot in taco shells. Stuff your tacos as desired.


source: adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook by the editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated

Grilled Greek Chicken


Hunting for new and exciting boneless chicken breast recipes never gets old to me.  I would say that in an average month, we try 4-5 new recipes involving the “plain Jane” of chicken pieces but because you’re not seeing 4-5 new chicken recipes here each month, you can safely assume that most of them are not, in my overly selective eyes, worthy of sharing with you.

Lemon Thyme

And then along came this grilled Greek chicken recipe.  I was smitten at the word “Greek.”  Though you may have already guessed that from my professed infatuation for feta cheese.  Maybe to your dismay, this post isn’t about the feta though.  It’s about the chicken and after tasting this chicken, you may understand why I forgot to put the feta in the cucumber tomato salad (whoops).  The chicken really has a chance to cozy up with a marinade of bold citrus, a generous amount of garlic, and a handful of garden fresh herbs and after 48 hours in this marinade, the plain Jane chicken breast emerges as a Greek goddess.  It’s true.  The chicken is transformed and I can guarantee that, upon being grilled, you will not end up a with a dry piece of chicken.  The marinade penetrates itself into the chicken breast (after 48 hours in a plastic bag, it needs somewhere to go!), leaving the chicken fork-tender and dripping with the earthy flavor of the garlic and fresh herbs.  Overall, I’m thrilled at having found this recipe and I know it’s one that I’ll be excited to keep in our rotation.  And next time, maybe I won’t be so distracted by this glorious chicken that I’ll remember the feta.


Apple Pecan Chicken Salad


Some days I think I’ve lost my mind.  Saturday was one of them when I found myself making chicken salad for lunch.  There were a few things wrong with the scene.  1.) I was toasting pecans, 2.) I was adding fresh celery to a salad, and 3.) I was making chicken salad.  I don’t “do” any of those things and since I firmly decided as a child that salads with mayonnaise (aside from egg and tuna and only if my mom or I make them) weren’t touching these lips, I’ve avoided them at all costs.  Yet, I had this bubbling curiosity to make this salad when it came up for Project Pastry Queen this week.


And when I say this lunch was a treat, I really mean it.  Crisp apples, meaty yet almost sweet pecans, shredded chicken, and squeeze of fresh lemon juice all sandwiched within a toasty croissant – that’s what I’m calling a great lunch!  I passed on the homemade mayo since Kyle has sensitivity to uncooked eggs and I didn’t want a ton leftover but I’ve been reading today that the mayo was something else.  I also went really light on the mayo – maybe 1/3 cup as opposed to the 1/2 to 3/4 cup the recipe calls for.  Shawnda hosted this week’s Project Pastry Queen and you’ll see that she also served the salad on croissants for The Foodie Baby’s 1st birthday party.  I think it would also be great served on the mini croissants I saw in the grocery store yesterday for a cocktail party or bridal shower.  I’m thrilled with my picky self for making this salad and am even more thrilled that I’ve got leftovers for lunch this week!

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 sandwiches


  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecan halves
  • 2 whole boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 - ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, mix the pecans, chicken, apples, celery, green onion, red onion, and parsley together. Stir in the mayonnaise, starting with 1/3 cup and adding more to your preference. Give the lemon a squirt or two over the salad and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

Get ready for another diet-buster! We made this recipe just about a year ago for the first time and while I didn’t photograph it for blogging, I filed it away in the back of my mind as one of the best fettuccine alfredo recipes I’ve ever had.  We haven’t made it again in the last year because the three main ingredients in the sauce are heavy cream, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese – not quite a zip-up-my-skinny-jeans-friendly meal, but definitely one that deserves to pulled up from the archives on a rare occasion.  And I’m so glad we pulled this out back last week because it really is so deserving to be blogged and shared.  The sauce is just as thick and creamy as you would hope and it coats the pasta like the two were MFEO. Get the Sleepless in Seattle reference?  Yeah, this dish is definitely worthy of a good chick flick night – maybe the next one with your girlfriends?

Take-Out Fake-Out: Orange Chicken

Take Out Fake Out Orange Chicken

When ordering Chinese take-out, I feel like there are two schools of thought regarding that ridiculously long menu: 1. You have your regular favorite that you order every time, or 2. You’re either adventurous or completely indecisive and always order something different.  I’m of the first school…but would love to be more adventurous when ordering.  Take Orange Chicken, for example.  Our favorite Chinese place offers a dish called House Special Chicken that is described as, “Sliced chicken with mixed vegetable in orange flavor sauce,” but nothing named Orange Chicken so by this description, one could only assume this is what I’d be looking for.  But the orange “flavor” didn’t sound all that appealing to me – is it flavored with actual orange? Or with something like imitation orange extract?

So when I came across this recipe months ago, I was all over it like…white on rice. Ha!  The outstanding orange sauce is thick and sticky and it beautifully coats the chicken pieces, just as I hoped it would.  There is plenty of natural orange flavor that combines with just the right amount of heat from some cayenne pepper and while I don’t usually eat any rice when we order Chinese, I loved having it with this meal to soak up some of the sauce’s goodness. Kyle and I both flipped over it (and we almost fought over the leftovers) and I promise you that it will definitely satisfy any Chinese take-out craving you have. And what’s better than being able to make a restaurant meal at home?

Buffalo Chicken Pizza


Remember the days when you were convinced you didn’t like a certain food…and then by some unknown miracle, you found out that you actually loved that food?  Most of us have a food like that.  For me, it’s buffalo sauce.  When my girlfriends were putting down 10¢ happy hour wings in college, I was studying. Or working.  And when Domino’s showed up at the dorm in the wee hours of the night with a butt-load of extra hot wings after a long night at the bars, I usually was no where to be found (Read: already showered and in bed). I couldn’t be bothered with anything having to do with buffalo.


But in my post-post college years, something awakened inside me.  Now 10 years after college, my college girlfriends and I still meet up a few times a year and it should be no surprise that we meet for wings. It was a few years ago that something told me that I needed to partake in this wing obsession that my girlfriends still harbored  So I gave these much beloved buffalo wings a shot and through the sweaty red face and fingertips full of hot sauce and ranch dressing, I fell in love.  I couldn’t believe what I had been missing all those years ago!  So I pitched the idea of getting wings one night to Kyle and got a thumbs down. Another non-believer! Boooo!

But there was a way around this.  A way to get my way and get some of that winged goodness in my house without Kyle turning it down…I’d put it on a pizza.  And let’s just say that he loves this pizza just as much as I do.  It’s spicy.  It’s sweet.  The flavors almost caramelize together and make it impossible to resist going back for seconds.  You won’t see a pizza dough recipe below but I’ll tell you that I’ve tried 3 or 4 different dough recipes for this pizza in the past and I wholeheartedly recommend Annie’s favorite recipe (also linked below since I haven’t blogged about it yet).  Don’t wait like I did to try out a pizza like this one; I know you’ll love it as much as we do!

Still not ready for buffalo chicken pizza?  Here are some other recipes to try out:

Jerk Chicken Chili

The cold weather is upon us here in New England and when the days turn cold, all I want to do is cook warm food.  I’m no different than anyone else, right?  But I think I may have an advantage.  See, I’ve got Pam Anderson’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners and no matter my mood, there is always a fantastic recipe waiting for me to make in just one pot…err, dish.  So considering I’ve been working 10+ hour days for the past 3 weeks, this Jerk Chicken Chili couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for chili.  I love it any which way and this way is a definite winner.  Jerk Chicken Chili.  Rich, warm, and luxurious. The cinnamon brings flavors of the Middle East and North Africa and infused with some heat from the jalapenos and chili powder, you’ve got an incredible chili that makes me want to hop on a cruise ship and head towards the Caribbean.  I love that there’s lots of shredded chicken in this chili and I love even more that I didn’t have to cook the chicken.  Yep, take the easy way for this dish and pick up a cooked roaster from your grocery store – the most laborious part of the whole dish is picking the chicken but I certainly don’t mind doing so when someone else cooked it for me!

I made some small changes to the recipe and the recipe below reflects them.  Basically I omitted half of the tomatoes and drained off some of the bean juices before the beans went into the pot.  The chili starts out with quite a bit of liquid and I was afraid the chili would turn out more soupy than I wanted.  I also added a cornstarch slurry towards the end because the sauce just wasn’t thick enough for my preferences.  Regardless of my changes, this chili is awesome and since it makes enough for a crowd, it’s going on my Thankgiving weekend menu to use up some of that leftover turkey.

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Some of you may be wondering what the heck I’m doing posting a clear-cut cold-weather meal almost halfway through April.  Well, if you had some of the nasty weather that the Northeast endured during the final weeks of March and into the beginning of April, you know how much a warm meal on a raw and rainy night was appreciated.  This jambalaya was the perfect meal for that night. And maybe what was best about it (aside from it’s deliciousness of course) was that it was an easy meal to put together on a weeknight.

Let’s just say that regardless of the level of familiarity you may have with jambalaya, you’re going to love this dish.  I had been looking for a great jambalaya recipe for close to 3 years and since I had never made it before and had only eaten it a couple of times as a kid, I wanted to make sure I chose the perfect one.  This was it, thanks to Annie and her love of Cook’s Illustrated.  Kyle and I both adored this meal and I’m already looking forward to next fall when the weather will be calling for it again!

Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich

While I’m always up for a hearty sandwich, I just wasn’t feeling the big hunk of bread this week so I took the liberty of adapting this sandwich into a nice hearty chicken Caesar club salad.  It was easy enough to do but I went a step further in lightening up the this meal by using equal parts light mayo and nonfat Greek yogurt.  The bacon, of course, stayed and added the perfect amount of bacon-y flavor to this light and crisp salad.  You’ll see my changes below but if you’re not up for a salad, I’m sure the club sandwich would be fantastic with nice fresh piece of crusty ciabatta.

Many thanks to Karen of Shortbread for choosing the perfect recipe to welcome in Spring!  If you haven’t been there in a while, be sure to check out the Barefoot Bloggers!

Mini Meatloaves

Ever since I made Ina’s Turkey Meatloaf a while back, I’ve never had the inkling to try another meatloaf recipe.  Why mess with a good thing, right?  Well, when Tonya of What’s on My Plate? chose Mini Meatloaves for her Barefoot Bloggers recipe this month, my heart sank a little.  Just a little…it is still an Ina recipe after all.  But try another meatloaf recipe? And pass over my beloved turkey meatloaf? I suppose…but only for the love of all things Ina.

To my surprise though, the recipe for these Mini Meatloaves is essentially the same recipe as for Ina’s Turkey Meatloaf, except with ground beef in place of the ground turkey. YES!  So after having made the turkey meatloaf for so long, I had no issues with this recipe…and loved it just as much as I love the turkey version.  I do plan on sticking with the turkey due to the lower amount of fat (see the photo??) but I’m happy to have tried the recipe with ground beef in mini form…isn’t everything mini so much fun?!

P.S. – Although I’ve upgraded my camera since the turkey meatloaf photo, you wouldn’t really know, would you? I guess there’s just something about meatloaf that just doesn’t photograph well.  Oh well…at least the food’s good!

Chicken Enchiladas

Sometimes you just know.  You know when you’ve found a fantastic recipe.  One that’s better than anything you’ve made in ages.  One that’s better than anything you’ve blogged about in ages.  One that is so awesome you plan on making a huge batch in order to freeze multiple servings so that you can pull a pan out of the freezer whenever your little heart desires, pop it in the oven and an hour later pull out a no-fuss meal that continues to knock your socks off each time you eat it.  This, my friends, is one of those recipes.

I kid you not.  I know I said the baked shrimp scampi last week was incredible and I meant it but this is incredible on a different level.  On a I-can-finally-make-awesome-Mexican-food-at-home level! While I’ve made and enjoyed two other enchiladas recipes in the past, neither really had the WOW factor both Kyle and I need for a recipe to be compared to restaurant quality. These definitely do.  The red chile sauce was packed with flavor and it wasn’t overly spicy considering there is three tablespoons of chili powder (medium heat) and two jalapeños in it.  The act of simmering the chicken in the sauce brings new life to ordinarily bland chicken and we fell in love with the juicy and flavorful chicken this method of cooking yielded.  I realize this recipe can take on quite a few additions/substitutions so being the black bean lover that I am, I added a can into the mix – you’ll see my little change below along with the fact that I deleted the whole tomato from the recipe since Kyle isn’t a fan of chunky tomatoes in his food.  In all honesty, I never missed the tomato.  As I mentioned before, I plan to make a huge batch of these enchiladas in the next couple of weeks in order to have a bunch in the freezer…you’ll see my oven-freezer-oven-table instructions below…this recipe was that good!


Let’s talk freezer-friendly.  These enchiladas definitely are a freezer-friendly meal.  I split the full recipe in half, baking 6 enchiladas in an 8″x8″ glass dish for dinner that night and par baking the other 6 in an aluminum pan of the same size.  By par baking, I mean that I baked them for the original 7 minutes then for only 8-10 after that at 400 degrees – without any cheese.  I took them out of the oven to let them cool down to where the pan was cool to the touch (the enchiladas should not be completely cool at this point), wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil, remembering the writing the cooking directions on top with a Sharpie, and put the pan in the fridge to chill completely.  Then I moved the pan to the freezer where it sat for about 6 weeks.  They bake up after this freeze absolutely beautifully and if you can believe it, the edges retain quite a bit of the crunch you get from the original 7 minute bake at 425 degrees.

When you’re ready to bake them, here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375
  2. Unwrap the foil (reserving) and plastic wrap (discarded) from the pan, re-wrap it with the reserved foil
  3. Bake for 55 minutes or until the enchiladas in the center of pan are hot inside (check with a knife), add cheese (about 1/2 cup for an 8″x8″ pan), and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before you serve.


Chicken Chili


It’s been a while since the Barefoot Bloggers have done a Bonus Recipe Challenge (BRC) and during that downtime, I’ve been working up a big new BRC.  Based on my Week with the Barefoot Contessa I did last year, I wanted to expand the challenge to the whole group.  There are no set posting dates for the five recipes I chose, just that they are posted between November 2-6, and this is my first of the week. So over the course of this week, check back daily for a new Ina Garten recipe that I’ll add to the 70+ Ina recipes I’ve already posted about here!

So the first recipe of the week brings us Chicken Chili.  After having made my favorite chili recipe more times than I can count and after having won my department’s chili cookoff with the recipe last year, I’m finally trying a new chili recipe. Although, I guess you could say that I have been making a different recipe during the past year since discovering Penzey’s Chili 3000 but the recipes only differ by the spices. We’re totally in love with Chili 3000 by the way!

That said, I was looking forward to this recipe.  I’d been itching to try a chicken chili recipe and I certainly wasn’t let down by this one.  While the chili was a little on the soupy side (which can be easily fixed next time since we’re thick chili fans) the flavors were spot on. I loved the big chunks of peppers and chicken (which I grilled rather than roasted – you’ll see my changes below) and with the my addition of black beans, this chili was a hearty and satisfying meal on an unseasonably cold October night here in CT. Go ahead and give it a try for yourself!!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Typically, pasta is the enemy for me.  It’s a meal I always crave but is usually full of empty carbs and calories that usually makes me feel like going back for seconds is necessary.  So when I saw that Pasta w/ Sun-Dried Tomatoes had been chosen as July’s 1st BB recipe, my heart soared and sank at the same time…as in YAY for pasta but BOO for screwing with my WW Points.

In any event, I set out to make this dish as WW friendly as possible…and to make it so that I wouldn’t feel like going back for seconds.  To accomplish this task, I used whole wheat fusilli, reduced the amount of oil and cheeses, and added grilled chicken.  As a result, my dressing was more like a sun-dried tomato pesto (no complaints here!) and the chicken was the perfect addition to round out the meal.  With the chicken, I was able to modify the dinner to 9 WW Points – not too bad for what became a very filling and extra tasty pasta meal!  The original recipe is posted below but it’s a piece of cake to modify it to your own likes/needs so I won’t post my changes here.

I know I’m posting this one late this month…heck I posted the 2nd BB recipe before the first…but be sure to at least check out Cat’s version of this.  You can go here for her blog or scroll through the list on the BB blog.  Thanks for the great choice Cat!!!

Chicken Satay with Peanut-Chutney Sauce

July 2009 3 037

I’m all about trying new dishes these days.  And by new, I mean new recipes and new kinds of food I never thought I’d like.  I’ve been wanting to make some kind of chicken satay for months now and finally came across a recipe I was happy with on the Martha Stewart website one day a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, it took me some time to find the necessary mango chutney for the recipe but finally came across it last week in Whole Foods.  Love that store!

July 2009 3 036

This recipe definitely did not disappoint.  In fact, it was pretty damn awesome!  The sauce took 5 minutes to put together (not nearly close to the 45 minutes the recipe suggests) and was absolutely delicious with the soy sauce-grilled chicken.  I used natural peanut butter (as suggested) and added an extra tablespoon of the chutney to the sauce because 3 tablespoons wasn’t quite sweet enough to balance the peanut butter.  One note if you’re going to use wooden skewers for the chicken.  Be sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes.  It will prevent burning on the grill and will help to get the chicken pieces off after you’ve grilled them.  If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal or even a fancy appetizer for your next party, you must try this recipe – you will not be let down.

PS – This recipe makes a lot of sauce.  Either refrigerate the leftovers for another meal or cut the recipe in half.

Curried Couscous

curried couscous 1

It’s Thursday again, Barefoot Bloggers posting day…and for this recipe, I’d truly like to thank Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester for going out on a limb and choosing an atypical Ina Garten recipe that forced me to make something I would NEVER have considered making. Ever.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve loved just about every single recipe that has been chosen for the group so far but this one was different.  It had curry, the one ingredient that I’d been dying to try but was frankly terrified of.  I’ve kept my distance from Indian/Thai/Middle Eastern food where curry is the main ingredient because I’ve always been told that it is hot hot hot.  But Ina proved this absurd misconception wrong because this recipe calls for a sweet curry with just a wee bit of heat.  And that I can handle.

The recipe was a cinch to pull together even though I used Israeli couscous that had to be cooked according to the package directions (toast in a saucepan with some olive oil then boil for 12 minutes).  And I’m so so happy that I used Israeli couscous rather than traditional because not only did Kyle like the this couscous (he doesn’t like traditional) but it was so much fun to eat! As you can see in the photos the couscous are like little baubles and the texture was just great.  Speaking of texture though, it was a little awkward with small diced carrots (too crunchy) and next time I’ll  shred them so that they mesh a little better with the rest of the dish. I’ll also reduce the salt to 1 tsp next time as the extra 1/2 tsp seemed to really make a difference.  I’ve incorporated my changes below.

I was completely surprised with how much I loved this dish and am even more bowled over by how much better it was today as leftovers!!  We served the couscous as a side to grilled chicken sprinkled with Turkish seasoning so that the chicken complemented the couscous and didn’t overload us with curry flavor.  This is definitely another winner from Ina!!

If you haven’t stopped by Barefoot Bloggers recently, be sure to check out how this couscous turned out for everyone else!


One year ago: La Palette’s Strawberry Tart