Oven Fajitas

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One of the things that’s been difficult for me with October Unprocessed is that I tend to pick recipes that are more complicated and time-consuming. I’m not sure why they appeal to me so much, but they’re really just not ideal for busy nights when you’re also juggling a baby. I’ve had to made a conscious effort to find quick, easy dinners that don’t rely on processed ingredients.

This was one of the best dinners so far. I did the prep during nap time so when dinner time came, I just had to toss it with the seasoning and oil and stick it in the oven. I served them with lettuce leaves for wrapping to make it October Unprocessed friendly, but tortillas would be great too.

Oven Fajitas
(from Budget Bytes)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 small onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium lime
Tortillas or lettuce leaves for wrapping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a small bown, whisk together the first nine ingredients. Set aside.

Slice the onion, peppers and chicken into strips and place them into a 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoning over everything and then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, squeeze juice from half of the lime over everything. Serve on tortillas or lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings.


Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar

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While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished. I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.

Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar
(from Popsugar Fitness)
Makes 1

1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.


Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

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This is actually a dinner I made last month, but it’s something we’ll be repeating this month since it fits October Unprocessed well.

And by I made, I mean it was a group effort. Our friend, Chris, just took a job in Saudi Arabia (!) so we had him over for dinner as sort of a last hurrah. I started cooking and then Mark took over when I had to feed the baby. Chris pitched in by making the gravy as Mark got the pork cut and plated. You know you have good friends when they have no qualms about jumping in to help in the kitchen! We’re really going to miss having him around.

This is a nice dinner because it’s a one-dish meal. I’m always a fan of fewer dishes! The marinade made for a really flavorful pork tenderloin and we used the last of the green beans out of the garden. I served this with a nice, warm loaf of bread to round out the meal.

Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
(from The Other Side of Fifty)
Serves 6

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 lbs. medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, diced into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 heaping TBSP whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth

In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Add the pork, turn to coat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Heat the canola oil to shimmering in an oven-safe pan.

Remove pork and discard marinade. Sear on all sides then transfer to oven and cook until the pork reaches 140F degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove pork from pan and tent on a plate. While the meat cooks, microwave the potatoes on high for 8 minutes, stirring halfway.

Increase the oven temp to 450F degrees. Add potatoes and green beans to the pan and toss to coat in the oil. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter.

Whisk the flour into the juices remaining in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until smooth and reduced to the desired thickness.

Slice the meat and serve with vegetables and pan gravy.


Taco Stuffed Shells

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This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!

Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.


Thai-Spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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Meat on sticks. There hasn’t been enough of it this summer so I’m trying to remedy that before grilling weather is officially over. (It’s coming. Sigh.)

When I was making the meal plans for the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I already had all the ingredients for these skewers on hand, so they went on the menu. It’s simple ingredients, but they pack a big flavor punch here.

I set my chicken up to marinade in the morning, but starting to marinade the night before would be good too. I’d give this a few solid hours in the marinade to pack the biggest punch.

Thai-spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers
(from The Iron You)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

In a small bowl, whisk together the Chinese five-spice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken strips and toss until well-coated.

Add the chicken to a ziplock bag. In the same small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil and lime juice. Pour over chicken in the bag, seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate for several hours.

After marinating, place the chicken on skewers. (If using wooden ones, soak in water for at least a half hour beforehand.)

Preheat a grill to medium and oil the grates. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with Sriracha mayo for dipping.


Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo Garlic Mayo (+ Win a Hampton Creek Just Mayo Prize Pack!)

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A few weeks ago, the folks at Hampton Creek contacted me about trying out some of their Just Mayo products. A company that’s trying to make sustainable, healthy, affordable food? I was totally on board.

They sent three mayos to try – regular, garlic and sriracha. I’ve been incorporating all three into dishes the last few weeks and I can honestly say I’m impressed. The mayo is eggless, so it’s allergy-friendly and it tastes really good.

These burgers went on the menu so I had an excuse to try the garlic mayo. So delicious! The flavors really go together well here for an awesome, easy burger.

Interested in trying some Just Mayo yourself? The nice folks at Hampton Creek sent along a set of Just Mayo products for a lucky reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know how you’d like to use the mayo. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive three bottles of Just Mayo in original, garlic and sriracha flavors. You have until midnight eastern time on September 14, 2014. Open to US residents only.

Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Garlic Mayo
(adapted slightly from Handle the Heat)
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground chuck
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices Brie cheese
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup arugula
2 Tbsp. garlic mayo
2 burger buns

Heat the grill to medium heat.

Divide the meat in half and form into 2 patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway, to desired doneness. Top with the cheese and remove from the grill immediately. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers on buns topped with caramelized onions, arugula and garlic mayo.


Caprese Quiche

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Why, yes, I am still trying to use up the absurd amount of tomatoes coming out of the garden! I’ve officially given up trying to make Mark-friendly dishes out of them and have started cooking whatever catches my eye – including this Pinterest find.

We have a good bit of basil in the garden too, and I had fresh mozzarella on hand already (because Caprese salads have been in heavy rotation!) so this was a quick one to whip together and perfect for a quick lunch during the week.

I used a frozen pie shell to make this really easy, but if you have five extra minutes, this pie dough would work great too.

Caprese Quiche
(slightly adapted from 17 Apart)
Makes 1 8″ quiche

4 plum tomatoes, quartered
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
Small palm-full of fresh basil leaves
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-made, deep dish pie crust

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Arrange tomatoes and mozzarella in the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle basil leaves over.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into pie crust.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until egg is set. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.


Grilled Pizza

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This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.

We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.

It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!

Grilled Pizza
(as seen on Eat at Home)
Serves 2-4

 1 lb. pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Your favorite pizza toppings

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.

Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!

Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.

Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

 


Creamy Taco Mac

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This could also be called “DIY Hamburger Helper” – it’s the same idea, but from scratch. There’s nothing super novel here but it’s quick and good and generally a crowd pleaser.

It also freezes well. I cooked this up before Jacob was born and froze half, casserole-style, for afterwards.

Creamy Taco Mac
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 6

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onion together until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted as all is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and serve.


Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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Surprise! It’s a chicken recipe! This is the first chicken recipe I’ve blogged since getting pregnant that doesn’t involve bite-sized pieces.

For most of the pregnancy, I couldn’t handle chicken cooked at home unless it was bite-sized. So weird. But, the last month or so of being pregnant, I could finally tolerate chicken strips and breasts again – so I made them in force. Funny enough, even though I made these as strips, they would have been excellent bite-sized, too.

The sauce is spicy-but-sweet and even though these are baked, they taste just as good as a fried boneless wing. They tasted like something we’d order when out for bar munchies. I’m planning to make them again when football watching season is in full swing!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders
(adapted from Creme de la Crumb)
Serves 4

For the chicken strips:
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

Ranch dressing, for dipping

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and enough water to make the consistency a thick batter.

Dip the chicken into the flour mixture and then into the panko, coating well in each, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: combine all ingredients except the cold water/cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

After the chicken is done, dip strips into the sauce. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.