Chicken Enchiladas with White Bean Sauce and Rice

This is a super easy and very light recipe that I’ve modified over the years, originally inspired by Cooking Light Magazine.  I like bring my staples into my recipes to keep things quick, and this recipe is an ideal way to use J’s Awesome Salsa.

For the Enchiladas

  • 1 cup J’s Awesome Salsa
  • 2  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast*
  • 1/3  cup  (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  cup  pepper jack cheese
  • 4  lime wedges
  • Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Combine chicken and cream cheese in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa. Reserve remaining salsa.

Spoon about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla; roll up. Place tortilla, seam-side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, and chicken mixture.

Pour remaining salsa mixture over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

*For the chicken breasts, simply bake or sauté and let rest for 5 minutes in a large bowl before pulling apart with two forks.

For the rice

Use measurements according to the package’s directions.  Substitute low-sodium chicken broth for water, and add a spoonful of J’s Awesome Salsa to rice and cook according to directions.

White Bean Sauce

I love beans, but refried? No, not so clean.  And we know most clean eating foodies will substitute black beans for refried with most Latin dishes, however, my other half does not care for black beans.  So, in experimenting, I ended up with a clean version of refried beans.  Tastes pretty much the same to me!  Simply take your favorite canned white bean (ours are Navy beans), rinse thoroughly to remove salt, puree and gently heat and top with pepperjack or queso cheese.  Enjoy!

Simple Asian Salad

For the dressing:

  • Light soy sauce
  • Minced Garlic
  • Red Wine
  • Olive Oil

For the salad:

  • Your favorite lettuce
  • Shredded carrots with minced ginger  or chopped red bell pepper that has marinated for 10 minutes in garlic chili paste
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Slivered almonds
  • Chopped scallions
  • Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Favorite meat or fish

Tender Pulled Chicken Sandwich

After several tests, I have put together a very simple recipe that makes a very tender and succulent pulled chicken sandwich that will now replace sloppy joes when we have the craving. Recipe for 2-3 sandwiches.  Enjoy!

  • 1 tablespoon buttery spread or margarine
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 cup favorite buffalo sauce
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • French hamburger buns (or favorite sandwich bread)

Heat margarine over medium high heat and add the onions, sauteing until translucent, but not brown. Add the chicken breast and sear both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Gently break up chicken into chunks with forks, but do not completely shred. Add the buffalo sauce and pepper, return cover and continue simmering 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. 20 minutes prior to serving, mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water until dissolved. Add to sauce and stir. The sauce will continue to thicken until serving time. If the sauce is too runny for your liking, simply cook 10 minutes longer with the cover ajar.

When ready to serve, spoon chicken over lightly toasted buns and serve immediately.

A Slightly Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo

Pasta is not bad for you.  The point is in moderation.  We have pasta about 3 times a month and enjoy it thoroughly, because it’s homemade and made from fresh ingredients.
  • 10 ounces fettuccine pasta (we purchase it locally from the farmer’s market)
  • 1/4 cup Smart Balance Omega with Extra Virgin Olive Oil Buttery Spread (or your favorite margarine)
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup skim or reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup half & half (because it’s a treat)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (we buy Parmigiano romano)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettucine pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet melt the margarine and add the chopped garlic. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the garlic.

Pour about a 1/4 cup of the milk into a small bowl. Add the egg yolk and beat together; put aside. Pour the remaining milk and half & half into the frying pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. As the cream starts to boil, mix rapidly using a whisk. Slowly add the cream/egg mixture. You do not want the egg to curdle. Continue whisking until well blended.

Add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and continue to mix the cream. Pour in the remaining cheese and parsley and mix until smooth.  Remove from heat, and serve over the cooked pasta.

Tuna Salad with Fresh Basil & Dill

Tuna Salad with Fresh Chives and Dill

I forgot to pack lunch today, so came home for an hour to keep things economical and healthy instead of giving into a restaurant.  Though I love going out of my way to plan and prepare meals with special trips to the grocery for key items, I’m also always a fan of coming up with something fresh with what I have on hand.

The cupboard led me to make a tuna salad sandwich with fresh herbs and toasted bun.  This was an interesting experiment, as I rarely have tuna salad and when I do I usually use a lot of fresh cilantro.  Being out of that, I chose chives and the result was a light, fresh lunch that left a nice taste on the palate.

  • 1 6 oz. can water-packed tuna, drained
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • freshly cracked pepper

Gently toss all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least half an hour.  Butter French buns or other favorite bakery bread (I used Smart Balance Buttery Spread) and toast on a grill pan. Assemble sandwich, garnish with fresh herbs (optional) and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

A Thai Dinner – Wontons and Shrimp Satay



We decided to go Asian tonight after a very successful Szechuan Pork dinner last weekend.  Tonight is Thai night, and we thought we’d stick with the starters and quality ingredients.  Below is my modified wonton recipe, followed by a shrimp satay recipe fromFood & Wine Magazine.  Great when served with garlic peanut sauce  and a side of steamed edamame (soybeans).

Vegetable Wontons

  • 1 package won ton skins 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 T low sodium soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons oriental dark sesame oil 
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced 
  • 1 T curry (optional) 
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced 
  • 8 scallions, cleaned and chopped 
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced 
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced 
  • 2 c. napa cabbage, chopped into thin shreds 
  • 8 water chestnuts, finely chopped (optional) 
  • Vegetable oil for frying
In a wok,  heat sesame oil and add the garlic curry and ginger. Stir with a wooden spatula for 1 minute. Add the carrot, celery, scallions, napa cabbage, and water chestnuts and sauté on high heat for another minute. Season with red wine vinegar and soy sauce. Sauté, stirring frequently until vegetables are seasoned and lightly cooked but still crunchy about 3 – 4 minutes. If more liquid is needed and vegetables seem to stick, add a few tablespoons of water or vegetable stock. Remove from heat and transfer to a stainless steel or nylon mesh strainer to drain off excess liquid.
On a clean working wooden surface, lay out the won ton skins. 
Place 1 teaspoon of the veggie mixture in the center of one side of the won ton. Fold over the edge to form a triangle. Seal the inner edges with a dab of water, then press down with a fork. 
Add veggie oil to a wok and heat on medium to medium-high heat, or about 365.  Working in batches, fry the wontons until golden and lay out on paper towls to dry.  Serve immediately!
NOTE: you can freeze the won tons and fry later.
Grilled Shrimp Satay
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, bottom third of the tender white inner bulb only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 30 large shrimp (about 1 3/4 pounds), shelled and deveined

In a mini food processor, combine the onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger and process to a paste. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion paste to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 25 minutes.

Add the ground coriander, sugar, ground fennel seeds, cumin, turmeric and salt to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the spice paste into a bowl and let cool completely.

In a large, shallow dish, coat the shrimp with the spice paste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Soak 30 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Thread 1 shrimp lengthwise onto each bamboo skewer and stretch each one out on the skewer. Grill over high heat for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, until the shrimp are nicely charred and just cooked through. Transfer the shrimp skewers to a platter, and serve immediately with the Garlic Peanut Sauce.

Note: Satay recipe courtesy of our friends at Food & Wine Magazine.  We could not get lemongrass at the time, and we tried pan frying instead of grilling because I don’t have a grill pan yet!

Baked Tomato Risotto

There is nothing like a creamy bowel of risotto on those nights where you have plenty of time to cook but want a simple, straight-forward meal.  For those of you who haven’t delved into the wonderful world of homemade risotto, check out this excellent article from National Public Radio.  Bon appétit!


  • 9 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes—peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 pound arborio rice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 500°. Butter a 9-by-12-inch glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a bare simmer; cover and keep warm over low heat. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the rice. Add about 2 cups of the hot stock, or enough to just cover the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed.

Continue to add the stock, 2 cups at a time, stirring briskly, until the rice is tender and the sauce is creamy, about 30 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Transfer the rice to the prepared baking dish. 

Bake the rice for 1 hour, uncovered, until richly browned on top. Serve at once or let stand for up to 20 minutes before serving.