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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mostly Healthy

I have three recipes to share today.  Two are healthy and absolutely delicious.  One is not healthy, but absolutely delicious!  And one is a repeat with a few tweaks.  Get excited, people.

Last night after a 2-hour trip to our new Pricechopper (which, by the way, is fabulous, just incredibly crowded right now), I did not have much time before I was heading out to a friend's house, but I have been dying to make Mexican tamale pies since I saw them on Pinterest.  They are meatless, which I love.  They are full of vegetables, which I also love.  And then they are topped with polenta.  I do not have much experience with polenta (besides the fact that Linny always said that her mom used to say "your mother eats polenta" as a horrible insult!), but in the pictures, it kind of looked like cornbread. So I was hooked.

This was so simple to throw together.  You basically whip the filling ingredients into a pan and simmer for 40 minutes.  Meanwhile you make the polenta topping, which felt like a science experiment.  It's just a cup of corn meal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2  2/3 cups of water.  It starts out looking like sandy water with the corn meal all sitting at the bottom.  Then you boil it and stir constantly, and the sandy water suddenly becomes this beautiful, yellow, thich mush!  That might not sound appetizing, but just trust me here.  Anyway then I got to finally use my cute little Le Creuset individual-sized bowls (along with 2 ramekins) to make 6 little pies.  The filling of corn, pinto beans, tomatoes, and zucchini (with delicious Mexican spices) goes on bottom, with the polenta on top.  Now it was not so easy to evenly spread out the polenta on top without it sinking into the filling, so some of my pies got way more filling than others, but just do your best and then bake them for 45 minutes, and prepare yourself to be in love with these little pies.  They taste like chili (vegetarian chili!!!) with a wonderful, thick, cornbread-y polenta-y topping.  Mom and I were both scarfing these down.  Today Susie came over and had one, and was thrilled to see that it only cost her 3 Weight Watchers points!  So, healthy, vegetarian, easy, and delicious?!  More Mexican tamale pies are in my future.

Today I decided to make some chicken salad with the leftover chicken that Mark bought Friday, and with the rotisserie chicken that I bought yesterday at Pricechopper because I had a coupon.  I do not usually crave anything with meat,  but I had made this salad before and I actually liked it.  As someone who hate mayonnaise, I was pumped when I found a recipe that calls for Greek yogurt instead.  I was shocked at how much I really enjoyed it!  The "sauce" is the yogurt, a little Dijon mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, and a smidge of cayenne pepper.  It's a weird mix, but it's really tasty.  Then the salad has chicken (duh), diced green pepper, and red grapes! I love the sweet and salty mix of flavors, and the crunch of the grapes and peppers.  The added benefit is that it's really healthy!  Low fat, low calorie, high flavor.  I will be taking this to lunch this week quite happily.  I am happy that I made the decision to double the chicken and peppers, triple the grapes, but not to double the sauce. Last time it was a little too wet, and this time it's perfect.  I will post my exact recipe below.  It makes a nice big Tupperware for multiple lunches!  If you want to follow the original, I'd still recommend cutting down the sauce recipe.  Trust me- I made it perfect :)
Okay they look like meatballs but they are good!

Then for a dessert today, I was reading of lists of options to Mom, Kenzie and my grandmother.  I read something about pecans, and my mom mentioned that pecan pie is one of Gram's favorite things.  I remembered pinning a recipe for pecan pie muffins, and I had the ingredients to make them, so I decided to surprise Gram.  They were very easy to make, but also kind of weird.  They only have a half cup of flour!  I think the majority of these babies is pecans!  And butter... and brown sugar.  Anyway they were fast to throw together, and I ended up with 24 mini muffins.  I am happy to say I have about 6 left!  They were a big hit with Mom and Gram.  Kenzie hates nuts, so she wasn't a huge fan, but if you like pecans, these are the perfect muffin for you.  They are nice and miniature, with a great pecan pie flavor in a little muffin shape.  In fact, Mom said they were in the top 10 best desserts that I have made.  Go figure!

Back to the grind tomorrow.  Can someone explain to me how it has only been one month of school?  Because it feels like it has been waaaay longer than that!


Recipes:
Mexican tamale pies
pecan pie muffins

healthy chicken salad
adapted from Fabtastic Eats

Ingredients:
1  1/2 cup diced green peppers
6 cups cooked chicken, cubed
5 ounces Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup quartered or halved red grapes (I quartered the big ones, and halved the small ones)
Honey Wheat Rolls (optional... I couldn't find them but I have had them with ciabbatta rolls and regular rolls)

Instructions
1)  In a large bowl add the green peppers and cubed chicken.
 
2) In a separate small bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, Dijon, lemon juice, brown sugar, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
 
3) Once completely whisked together, pour into the chicken and pepper mix. Toss to combine and thoroughly coat.
 
4)  Add the quartered grapes, and toss to mix.
 
5) Spoon into rolls or on a salad (but seriously, spoon into rolls) and enjoy!

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