Adventures of Eating with dReJ: healthy, cheap, delicious

Archive for March, 2011

Whole Wheat Hawaiian Pizza

Pizza is one of those meals that I grew up eating every week. My brother’s two favorite food groups are Pizza and Hamburgers. So growing up – our choices were pretty limited one what we ate for family dinners or going out to eat. And it seemed like ordering pizza to be delivered continued to be a constant thing among friends in college or even at events we’d go to – there was always delivery pizza. RJ and I were on the same page about delivery pizza from the beginning…it’s just something that is never an option. We were both “pizza’d out.” Since 2008, we have ordered delivery pizza ONE time, and that was because friends were over who wanted it.

SO – some of the reasons we don’t enjoy delivery pizza is due to the greasiness of the pizza and all the calories you consume with just one little slice in most cases. But we do enjoy the occasional meal out to a place that does what we like to call “gourmet pizza.” They are usually really thin crust, fresh ingredients, and healthy toppings. But it’s even more likely for us that we’ll make our own at home, and today I’ll share one of our  recipes in case you’d like to borrow some of our ingredients for a good base level pizza at home.

The first thing is to find a good base. We’ve tried a lot of different approaches to this, and a lot of recipes will tell you to make your own crust. But we like to keep this meal simple and quick, so we use a pre-made whole wheat crust by Mama Mary’s. It’s easy, delicious and still really thin crust so you don’t get a bunch of additional calories from the base layer. Our pizza crust options in the grocery store are usually over in the refrigerated section…in like a “end of the aisle” area. Be sure to check out the calories for whatever crust you choose, because they add up quickly if you are planning on eating half the pizza! It’s a 12″ pizza, so you are looking at 6 slices per pizza. We make ONE 12″ pizza to share for dinner, and that is 100 calories/slice JUST for the crust. So make sure you keep this in mind as you are picking your toppings to still keep this light!

Ingredients:
1 12″ Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (like Mama Mary’s)
3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese (choose a Part Skim or 2% option here)
2/3 cup marinara sauce (we used Classico brand Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic)
1/2 Fresh Pineapple, cut into small pieces
1 lean ham steak, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 Diced & seeded jalepeno (use as much as you can handle spice wise, if you like it spicy use more and don’t seed it!)
4 oz mushrooms chopped (pick your favorite kind)

What to do:
Dice the onion first so you can saute the onions & jalapeno with a LITTLE bit of olive oil and minced garlic (if you are a garlic lover)
Spread the marinara sauce onto the pizza crust evenly
Sprinkle half of your shredded cheese onto the marinara
Add your pineapple, ham, mushrooms and cooked onions/jalapeno (it will be piled high with pineapple!)
Put the rest of your shredded cheese over the toppings
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until crispy!

Cut into 6 slices and share with a friend, or eat the leftovers the next day!

This meal works out to be about 600 calories for the whole thing, which isn’t too bad considering it’s pizza, the slices are pretty big and the toppings are GOOD FOR YOU! Feel free to change up the recipe to make it match your favorites!

Enjoy!

You can see our emphasis is on fresh toppings!

RJ’s Soon to be Famous Blue Potato Salad

Colorful, interesting, and delicious!

So you’ve had a million potato salads over the course of your festival attending, church reception eating and picnic going lives. But I have to tell you RJ’s recipe is among my favorites. It’s simple to make, and always a crowd pleaser. And if you can’t find Blue Peruvian Potatoes – you can certainly sub red potatoes.

Here’s the recipe (again, nothing fancy, just deliciousness)

Blue Potato salad (Serves 10 – and people will want more!)
2 lbs purple potatoes (Peruvian Blue) diced and boiled until tender (you can use what ever potatoes you want, but blue ones are so much more fun)
1 diced red onion
1 diced green pepper
1 diced jalapeno (add more to spice it up or omit if you can’t take the heat)
4 strips of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1.5 C cheddar cheese (2% skim or part skim, or to save more calories, use fat free)
3/4c Light mayo
3/4c fat free sour cream
2 T dijon mustard
1 T oregano
salt and pepper to taste

After you cook the potatoes and the Bacon, let them cool, then mix in a large bowl, and get let sit for 1hr for the flavors to meld.

Then – enjoy and let your friends think you came up with this delicious idea 🙂

Mediterranean Inspired Shrimp Gnocchi – a dReJ original

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Mediterranean Inspired Shrimp Gnocchi

 We felt a little inspired to create our own dishes this week, so here’s our take on Gnocchi with a Mediterranean spin. We didn’t make our own gnocchi or anything – and it’s easy to find delicious pre-made types and this recipe is easy to interchange to include your favorite fish or meat.

Look for the pre made gnocchi in the pasta section of your grocery store. I know that is weird, but it IS there among all the boxes of pasta. Ours was a little plastic pouch type container!

Ingredients  (serves 4)

1 12oz package of pre-made Gnocchi* (we used Del Cecco)
1 yellow squash (sliced thin)
1 green zucchini  (sliced thin)
1/2 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 15oz can Fire roasted diced tomatoes (do not drain!)
1 15oz can artichoke heart quarters (roughly chopped)
4oz green olives
1/4 cup red wine
1 lb shrimp (or sub your fav meat) 
1/2 Tbsp oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Boil gnocchi until done (al dente)
Meanwhile, saute in a sauce pan the squash, zucchini, garlic and onion until the onion is soft.
Next, Stir in tomatoes, artichokes, olives and cook until the tomatoes are broken down (2-3 min)
Stir in wine slowly and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. 
Stir in shrimp and cook until just pink.
Add the gnocchi, salt pepper and oregano and simmer until shrimp are done. 

Serve and eat (we topped it with a touch of Kraft Parmesan cheese mix that we love)

*Pro Tip – Pre-made gnocchi is the same nutritionally and will save you about an hour of work

We did a rough estimate of the calories, and this meal was right under 400 calories. One trick to keeping the calories down for pasta is to not use as much of the actual pasta, and rely on other ingredients such as healthy vegetables and lean meats or fish to make up for the difference. The gnocchi we used was actually 3 servings but we spread it out across 4. It was still a very filling meal – and delicious, too! This also reheated very well in the microwave for lunch at work.

Barbeque Chicken Salad – a dReJ original recipe

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We had a cookout last weekend and our only instructions for our friends who were coming over was to “bring your own meat.” We started up the grill and were ready for whatever they brought us. It’s funny that sometimes the most delicious thing is the most simple….our friend brought over some chicken breasts and some barbeque sauce for them. One of the breasts were left over after everyone had eaten and gone home, so RJ & I were thinking about how to incoporate the leftovers into our meals for the week. We quickly agreed that a barbque chicken style salad would be great. But not like a salad on greens – sort of like a tuna salad, but sub the grilled chickecn with barbque sauce!

It turned out to be delicious. Here’s what we used:

Chicken salad (Serves 4)
2 large chicken breasts (about 1 to 1.25 lbs)
bbq sauce (i used sweet bubba ray’s) just enough to cover when brushed
1/2 red onion (diced)
1/2 green pepper (diced)
1.5 T light mayo (we use KRAFT Free)
5 cherry tomoatoes halved
1 t tarragon
1 t oregano
pinch of salt and pepper
Remember to pick out some bread to eat this on! We used some leftover whole grain bread slices, but you could use anything!

What to do:
Grill the chicken, brushing with bbq sauce when about 2 minutes from done, turning once. (If you don’t have a grill, you could use a george forman, or cook them up in a pan and add the barbeque sauce to them as directed)
Saute or grill onion and peppers until tranlucent
Dice the chicken and put in medium to large bowl along with onion and peppers let cool
Once cool mix in the vegetables and seasoing and eat! 

dReJ Tip: If you are going to make this “ahead” then make sure you add the mayo the morning that you plan to eat it, or else it can get a little runny. So just mix everything EXCEPT your mayo – and store it!

Enjoy! We served this up with a 1/2 cup of baked beans and RJ’s soon to be famous Blue Potato Salad.

Jump N’ Java Cafe – Breakfast in Fort Mill

Hmm, can I get some more toast?

RJ and I were up earlier than usual on Saturday due to meeting a guy to buy a road bike for me pretty early across town. Since we were up anyway and RJ has a gift card for a bike store in Fort Mill we decided to head that way and see if we could find somewhere to get some breakfast grub. Strangely enough, a place right next to the bike store had a sign for breakfast so we turned in and hoped for the best.

We stumbled upon a real gem at Jump N’ Java cafe. From the outside, it looks like a tiny coffee shop, but when I walked inside I realized that the cafe was connected to the catering business – so they were literally one big place! When we walked in, we weren’t sure what to do, so we just sat down. Someone from behind the counter asked if it was our first time and a “local” jokingly asked her how she could tell (We found out that you have to go to the back bar and order/pay for your food and then they bring it to your table). So if you go – save yourself the embarrassment and just go right to the back and grab a menu to order!

They had a little bit of everything. From bagels to bagel sandwiches, muffins to delicious french toast, build your own omlets…bacon, sausage, grits..you name it. The help was friendly and suggested the french toast to me since it was our first time. She mentioned a secret recipe that guests were always trying to figure out the ingredients that made it so delicious. That’s all she needed to say – I went with the french toast and it came with a side of meat. Of course, I picked bacon and yes, it was delicious.

Drizzled with a little syrup, this one was delicious!

I liked that their meals were priced with a side and a drink. I got this yummy breakfast for $6.25. They had about 5 different coffees to pick from, and you could get free refills which was also a big plus for me!

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RJ went with the Spanish Omlet – it included Sausage, salsa, onion, green peppers, Cheddar & jack cheese, sour cream. I think he was trying to have Mexican food without going to a Mexican restaurant personally. 🙂 The omlet wasn’t too fluffy, which I personally like.  He said it wasn’t anything fancy, but he enjoyed it. He ordered a side of grits and I’m pretty sure he cleaned his plate. Other than the huge amount of sourdough toast they gave him!

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Making RJ happy since 1980

 

Rj was pretty excited that you could choose your drink selection from anything they had in the back and when he saw they had Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda he quickly changed his Diet Pepsi order to the Cream Soda. He felt the need to take a picture of it for you all so you’d know the BEST cream soda in the world.

 

Overall, we were really pleased with breakfast. We happened to have a City Pass coupon, so we only spent about $9 on breakfast for the two of us. They also serve lunch.  Everything seems homemade here – really fresh ingredients and some fun loving wait staff who aren’t afraid to kid around with you and make you feel like a long-time customer.

Fun place to try if you ever find yourself in Fort Mill for breakfast or lunch! They don’t have a website that I could find – but here’s a link to their menu and address: http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/jumpin-java-fort-mill-10613/online-menu

Enjoy!!

Classic Revisited: Gourmet Hot Dogs

Remember when you were little and hot dogs were so delicious? If you are like me, that was the result of ignorant taste buds! Now I have a hard time eating a generic hot dog because I think of all the terrible things (read: ingredients) in them. Somehow, that childhood magic got lost.

But a few years ago, I started rethinking the hot dog situation (I don’t know why, too much free time I guess). Why couldn’t I just forget all those terrible things and enjoy one again? I ran across organic chicken hot dogs and after some research I decided to give hot dogs another chance.

The result has been a few years of childhood relived via my dinner plate – except now I’m grown up enough to want grilled or sauteed green peppers, mushrooms, and onions on top of it. Oh, and sauerkraut. Bring on the veggies.  And of course now, I’m a complete potato bun freak – anytime you put me in charge of bringing buns – just expect potato buns. Potato hot dog buns. Potato rolls. They are awesome, and for once in my life – they are actually pretty darn healthy for you compared to other options! How about that. This hot dog journey has been a total revelation for me.  You can take something you loved when you were little – and make it healthier and maybe even a little gourmet. (more…)

Artichoke & Ripe Olive Tuna Salad – Easy & Delicious!

As the weather warms up, it’s hard to pass up such an easy lunch idea like tuna salad. You can do a million different things with tuna salad, even switching it up and making it a chicken salad works, too. So many options!

This week we went with a unique route with our tuna salad by incorporating two of my favorite ingredients: artichokes and olives! Honestly, this recipe could NOT be easier, and it’s perfect for a warm sunny day!

We call this a pile up sandwich!

Here’s the link from one of our favorite recipe sites: Eatingwell.com –> http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/artichoke_ripe_olive_tuna_salad.html

Coming in at 210 calories, you can splurge on some yummy bread. We picked out a honey wheat loaf from our grocery’s deli. Even with the bread, we’re still under 400 calories. Just enough calories left to have an extra snack as this is a light lunch, although super delicious.

One tip if you aren’t going to eat it right away – we like to mix everything up EXCEPT the mayo. We add the mayo the morning we bring it with us to work to eat. This keeps it from getting runny if you are making it in advance!

Enjoy!

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