Posts in the Main meals Category

Easy Chicken Burritos

There is almost no better feeling than when you spend the time to shop and cook a wholesome meal, and then your family actually loves it (I mean “lick-their-plate” loves it)! These burritos are so easy and versatile. Basically that means one meal the whole family will eat (I feel like finding recipes that the whole family will eat is like finding a group of Leprechauns planting four leaf clovers in your garden, complete with directions to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – impossible)! Here’s what you need to know, there are no rules when making these burritos. I use ground turkey (half white meat and half dark meat). You can use anything you want, hamburger meat, rotisserie chicken (shredded), tofu, or just veggies. I buy small, low carbohydrate whole wheat wraps from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any soft wrap, any size (in fact, I can buy all the ingredients from Trader Joe’s). You can even use a crunchy corn tortilla. I’m pretty sure Taco Bell once introduced a crunchy corn tortilla with a soft wrap on the outside! Then I add lots of vegetables to the ground meat: diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, pepper, jalapeno peppers, corn, beans, rice, etc. Use up what’s leftover in your refrigerator. I top it with store bought taco seasoning, though I am careful to find one that is MSG free and doesn’t have too much sodium (make sure to taste first before adding salt). Some of them are really spicy too. Then you can “go crazy” (literally or figuratively) with the toppings. Let your kids pick their favorite toppings. I like guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sliced lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, lime wedges, etc. The list is endless, but the pot will be empty! At the end of this post there a few pictures of “apps” made with Yellow Corn Chip Rounds (also from Trader Joe’s).

Hello . . . Trader Joe’s . . . I’d love a job writing recipes for you . . .

Easy Chicken Burritos

1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb. ground turkey
½ onion, small diced
1 pepper, small diced
1 cup frozen corn (I love the fire roasted frozen corn from Trader Joes)
½ packet taco seasoning (MSG free)
½ cup black beans
Salt and pepper as needed (please taste your mix first)

* Optional: Adobo seasoning (this adds lots of extra flavor)


Heat a large frying over a medium flame. Add oil. When hot add your ground meat and sauté about 5-8 minutes. Then add the onions and peppers and sauté another few minutes. Add the  Then add the corn and seasoning (most taco seasonings recommend mixing with ½ – 1 cup water). Let is simmer until the corn is hot. Add some chicken broth if it seems to be getting too dry. Adding some diced tomatoes is another good option. I like to serve this with all the trimmings!




These awesome looking appetizers or “apps” were made by my boys . . . anyone looking for pint-sized caterers?



Sour cream pancakes with caramelized apple compote

I am always looking for new, easy recipes to make with the kids I teach in cooking class. I like to use a secret (healthy) ingredient even when making sweets. Think carrot cake, zucchini muffins, or sweet potato pancakes. So when I found a great Apple Custard Cake from Dorie Greenspan, I hoped I could convert it into mini muffins (we have only 1 hour to prepare, bake and eat our creations). No matter how I tried I couldn’t quite get it to taste or cook the same as Dorie’s fabulous recipe. Sometimes perfection is not to be messed with. Here is a link to Dorie Greenspan’s Apple Custard Cake Squares:

I’m back to the drawing board. Should I try a more traditional apple muffin? Or pancakes filled with shredded apples? I started surfing some of my favorite cooking sites (hello Smitten Kitchen) and found Deb Perelman’s Lemon Ricotta pancakes with sautéed apples I also found a recipe on Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) food website for Edna Mae’s famous Sour Cream Pancakes Magic presto I turned 2 recipes into one (with a few changes here and there)!

The sour cream pancakes and caramelized apples are a delicious combination. As I write this I have made them with one class already. They were gone before they even hit the plate! Here’s my favorite quote “ I wish pancakes and apples would fall out of the sky so I could eat them all day long”! I am rushing to get this post up as I promised one of my friends he would be able to make these for Sunday brunch!


¾ cup flour
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1-cup sour cream
2 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
Canola oil or butter for frying

3 apples (I use whatever I have in the refrigerator), peeled and diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons sugar
1-teaspoon cinnamon


In a medium sized bowl mix all the dry ingredients. In a second bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. There will be lumps in the batter . . . perfect!

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour 1-2 teaspoons on canola oil into the pan. Using a paper towel rub the oil over the bottom of the pan to coat entirely.

Using a ¼ measuring cup to scoop the batter, drop it into the pan. When you see a few bubbles forming on the top of the pancakes, its time to flip them. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on the second side. Serve warm.


Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. When melted add the apples. Mix to coat with butter. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top and mix again. Allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken a bit as the water from the apples cooks out. Serve over the pancakes.


Cheesy Casserole

A few weeks ago I had a brilliant idea. I would make a butternut squash sauce with lots of fresh, grated cheese, a healthy version of Mac and Cheese. I even mentioned this award winning idea to a few people, who encouraged me unabashedly. Then I went home and flipped on the computer to check out my idea with Mr. Google. Turns out there are around 8,000 other brilliant chefs who share the same novel idea of butternut squash mac and cheese! Here are some of my favorite bloggers and their twist on this dish.

Skinny Taste: and

Two Peas and Their Pod:

Iowa Girls Eats:

Oh She Glows:

Pinch of Yum:

Simply Recipes:

Cooking for Keeps:

Ultimately, I tucked my tail between my legs and moved forward to set my own mark upon the butternut squash mac and cheese phenomenon. As always my motivation was to keep things as simple as possible (fewer ingredients, fewer pots) without compromising taste. I made some steamed butternut squash and onions, and blended them together with a bit of evaporated milk and mustard powder. Put the puree into a pot and added lots of grated cheese, Gruyere, Monterey Jack, and sharp cheddar.

I wanted a gluten free version, so I omitted the roux (flour and butter) that most recipes suggest. It works fine without a roux, but can be less stable when re-heating. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making a cheese sauce without a roux: 1) always use low heat 2) don’t use cheddar cheese without another type of cheese, it tends to become very stringy 3) the cheese should be grated and at room temperature (ideally grate your own, don’t buy pre-grated) before adding it to the butternut squash puree 4) don’t replace the evaporated milk for regular milk 4) American cheese is a good addition/substitution for this dish as it melts very well.

After eating several bowls of pasta and sauce, I realized I had a package of ground turkey in the fridge. So, I sautéed the turkey, added some chopped tomatoes and some of the butternut squash sauce. Mixed it with the pasta and topped the whole thing with more cheese and cooked it until bubbly. I left the casserole dish on the counter. I never served it for a meal. It was done before dinnertime even came around. A scoop here, a fork full there, and it disappeared. It came out great and everyone loved it. It might not have been a new, brilliant idea, but it certain became a family favorite.

Cheesy Casserole


10 oz. butternut squash, peeled and in ½” cubes

½ medium onion, diced

1-tablespoon water

6oz. evaporated milk

½ teaspoon mustard powder

1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded and divided into 2 half cups

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded and divided into 2 half cups

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided into 2 half cups

¼ teaspoon kosher salt



1 box pasta (I use brown rice pasta from Trader Joes)

1-tablespoon canola oil

1 lb. ground turkey or chicken

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi chopped tomatoes)



In a microwave safe bowl with a vented cover, steam the squash and the onions in a tablespoon of water for about 6 minutes. The squash is cooked when it easily pierces with a knife.

Transfer cooked squash and onions to a blender. Add the evaporated milk and mustard powder and puree until smooth and creamy. Be sure to remove the top from the blender just a bit to let the steam escape.

Add the pureed squash mixture to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer. With the heat on low, add half a cup of Gruyere cheese and whisk until well incorporated. Then add the Monterey Jack cheese and whisk again. Do the same thing with the cheddar cheese as well.


To Make the Casserole:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the ground meat, salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through (there should not be any pink meat). Add the chopped tomatoes, and the cheese sauce, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, mix well and transfer to a casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese (you should have ½ cup Gruyere, ½ cup Jack, and ½ cup Cheddar). Put the casserole into the oven for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve.




Forever on the look out for healthy, easy family dinners, I saw a recipe on two peas and their pod for Open-Faced Enchilada Veggie Quesadilla (say that 10 times fast!). Amber, at Sprinkled with Flour, originally published the recipe. And this is my own version of an open-faced vegetable enchilada.  This dish is great for dinner, a hearty snack, or even breakfast (think breakfast burrito with ham, egg, and cheese).

What I like about these enchiladas is that they are really easy to make and the kids can help out in the kitchen too. You can fill them with whatever you like . . . I used onions, red pepper, black beans and spinach on a corn tortilla (gluten-free) when I made them for myself and onions, red pepper, black beans, corn, avocado and sour cream on a flour tortilla when we made them in cooking class. You can add olives, jalapenos, tomatoes, peas, chicken, rice, salsa, etc.

I often have tortillas of some sort in my fridge, along with some vegetables and cheese. Sometimes I even have a cooked vegetable mixture of peppers, onions, and pickled jalapenos that I make for omelets (and keep in the fridge) but could easily use here. I can usually whip these up without even going to the market, which is great especially for those busy nights when carpooling doesn’t stop until after 8 pm.  I’d love to hear how your family eats their enchiladas . . .

pepper and onion mixture

Open-faced Vegetable Enchiladas

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 peppers, diced
¼ cup black beans
2 large bunches spinach
Cooking spray
8 corn tortillas
1-12oz. bag shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican Blend)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté about 5-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the pepper and sauté another 5-8 minutes or until soft. Add the beans and spinach and sauté another few minutes. Season mixture with salt.

Using a lined cookie sheet, spray the corn tortillas with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Top with some enchilada sauce, then a large scoop of the onion and pepper mixture, and then a generous amount of shredded cheese. Return to the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Cheese should be melted and gooey. Serve hot with sliced avocado, shredded iceberg lettuce, and sour cream.

Enchilada Sauce (from

I’ve scaled back the seasoning on this sauce to make it more palatable for kids. If you like your sauce spicy add a bit more chili powder and cayenne pepper. You can try experimenting with different kinds of dried pepper or maybe add some chopped cooked green chili peppers.

2-tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 26oz. box diced (Pomi) tomatoes
1-tablespoon chili powder
1-tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper


Heat a deep-bottomed skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté about 5-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 5 minutes. Puree in a blender and set aside.




pumpkin pancakes

Starting to feel the blogging groove again! Thanks to all the kids I teach for keeping me focused and offering many suggestions for what to cook each week. Here is a sample of what they want to make: ice cream, cake, apple pie, more ice cream, brownies, cookies, candy, and more ice cream! Do you see a pattern? So we struck a deal . . . one week we would make sweet dessert foods (with a healthy secret ingredient) and one week savory foods (also with a healthy secret ingredient)! So far they seem pretty happy with the choices.

In honor of fall, Halloween, and a love of all things pumpkin, we made delicious pumpkin pancakes this week, with mini chocolate chips of course! They were a big success and the illustrated pictures they drew were even better! These pancakes are easy to make, use a good-sized helping of pumpkin, and are the perfect size for little hands!

The kids did a great job of polishing these off, even without my pancake consumption expertise. Did I mention the juice cleanse I started 4 days before my 20th college reunion? It’s actually great! It’s from Green and Tonic in Greenwich, CT. It’s called Jumpstart and is half juices (2 green juices, 1 fruitier juice, and a nut milk) and half small, portioned out meals. So today I ate a chia seed parfait, a tofu and raw vegetable salad, and a savory black bean soup (in addition to the juices). I am full, but not stuffed. I’m also really proud of myself for taking good care of me and eating foods that nourish my body.  It’s not easy when you dream about pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and simultaneously dream about wanting a body like Giselle. Sadly the two do not commonly co-exist! So I aim for a healthy balance . . . some days I indulge my inner pancake monster, while other days I fuel myself with beets and kale, hoping to be the best me possible! I hope to post some of my own juices and raw salads in the upcoming weeks (right after the chocolate zucchini brownies!).

Pumpkin Pancakes (adapted from i am a food blog)

makes about 24 small pancakes


1-cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

1 egg
½ cup pumpkin
¼ cup yogurt
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla

* ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Butter for frying (about 3 tablespoons)



Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix just until you don’t see any flour streaks. This is about 7-8 stirs. Do not overmix! Add the mini chips and stir another 2-3 times.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add a pat of butter. When hot, spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into the frying pan, leaving a bit of room between each pancake for flipping. When you start to see tiny bubbles in the middle of the pancake it is ready to be flipped. Once you flip the pancake it needs another 1-2 minutes before it is ready. Remove to a foil tray for easy re-heating in a 200 degree oven.