Adventures of Eating with dReJ: healthy, cheap, delicious

Posts tagged ‘food’

Summer Squash and Broccoli Casserole

We’ve been getting a lot of squash and zucchini in our Spring CSA box the last few weeks. So we decided to put it to good use as a side this week for our meals. We found a makeover recipe that sounded tasty and gave it a whirl. Obviously we are sharing it with you because it was super simple and delicious….and of course – healthy!

The recipe comes from Taste of Home and you can view the original recipe here.

We made a few changes so I’m listing the ingredients and showing you our changes:

This recipe makes 15 servings – we cut this in half, so please make sure you take that into account if you want to make this!


  • 3 pounds yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 medium onions, sliced (we used both red and yellow onion)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided (we used less better than this)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 reduced-fat butter-flavored crackers, crushed (we didn’t crush ours – see picture!)
  • We added about 1.5 cups (uncooked) broccoli (sans stems) to the very top of this mixture (well, right under the cracker “crust

Up close so you can see the yummy layers

We followed the directions provided on the website pretty faithfully other than reducing the amount of butter (since we didn’t make the crust “crushed” there was no reason to add the extra butter to the crackers) and adding broccoli. We actually added broccoli after we poured the egg/flour mixture on top of the squash/onions, but you could certainly add the broccoli before pouring the mixture over everything. I think it would taste good either way.

We had it on the side of our grilled hamburgers last night and it was super yum. We give this 2 dReJ thumbs up. At about 200 calories per serving this is a great side dish for a meal or a fun potluck dish to bring to share at a party.

Turkey Sausage Pasta Bake (easy, peesy!)


Quick & Easy Pasta Bake

You are right, this does look delicious.

Lucky for you, it’s easy to make and we’re going to tell you how. We didn’t follow a recipe on this one, it’s straight out of the dReJ Original Recipe book. But it’s really just a healthy version of your standard pasta bake – so feel free to change up the ingredients to reflect your preferences.

What you’ll need:

Turkey or Chicken Sausage (we used hot Italian turkey sausages that they stock fresh in our grocery meat department). They usually come with about 5 links in a package.

1 package spinach (we thawed out a package of frozen spinach because it’s cheaper than fresh!)
1 small container (15 oz) of Fat Free Ricotta Cheese
4 servings of a whole wheat pasta noodle (we went with rotini)
1.5 cups (you can do more or less depending on your preferences ) 2% skim shredded Mozzarella cheese
Seasonings (we went with Salt & Pepper + some Italian ones like oregano, parsley, etc.

3/4 – 1 cup Low Sodium or Low Calorie Marinara Sauce – pick one that is not loaded with sodium, fat and sugar! Check your label!

What to do with all that stuff:

Cook up your sausages – you can do this on the stove or grill them, use your George Foreman, etc. Once they are cooked, slice them into thin bite size pieces.
Cook your pasta and drain, add the marina sauce and stir until coated.

Meanwhile, put the spinach (make sure you’ve drained it so it’s not wet if thawing), ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the shredded cheese and seasonings into a large bowl and mix it up. It will be a little hard to stir, but you want it to be pretty mixed up. Once you have accomplished that, add the sausage (a little at a time) until everything is mixed together.

Pull out a casserole dish (something that is 9×13 will work – but you can work with whatever you have) and spread the pasta/marinara into the casserole dish evenly. Spoon the spinach mixture on top. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese on top and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 375 or until it’s nice a bubbly.

We used a pretty big casserole dish, so when we cut it up, we actually had 2 thin layers. So when I put in our to-go containers for lunch, it sort of felt like lasagna because I stacked it. If you have a smaller casserole dish – you may end up with just one thick serving and that’s okay, too.

It all goes down the same way, anyway – right?

If you plan to bring this to work and heat up later, I recommend adding a tiny bit of water to the dish prior to microwaving it. It just helps everything stay good texture wise.

This meal was super easy to make, and took maybe a half hour total. You can make this dish healthier by using less cheese and leaner cuts of meat – or you can add on the  calories by doing the opposite. But since this is a healthy, cheap & delicious website, I won’t be encouraging that!


Barbeque Chicken Salad – a dReJ original recipe


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.

Brazilian Feijoada


Okay - SO not our photo,but you'll see below why...

Here’s the link to the recipe from Cooking Light:

Okay – so this meal was so yummy that we actually forgot to take pictures of the meal before we devoured it….yes, times 4! We changed this recipe up a bit so i wanted to point out what ingredients we left out – but for those of you who do eat red meat – this includes some, so go big!

This is a slow cooker recipe – so think ahead with this one so you can cook it while you are at work or asleep. We served ours over white rice – so just remember to pick up your fav rice because that is NOT included in the recipe.

What we changed:

So this calls for:

  • 1  pound  boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • But we used:

    1/2 pound pork tenderloin ( remember that you have to keep in mind that this serves 8 – so we cut the portions in half).

    It wasn’t that we have anything against pork shoulder – we just couldn’t find it at our usual store in a small quantity – so we just did the pork tenderloin.

    We also just excluded:

  • 3  bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
  • We didn’t sub anything else – we just left this part out.

    So it’s hard to say what this would have tasted like with the beef short ribs – but RJ and I both say that this meal was delicious! You serve it with orange slices (we used blood oranges which is same flavor, but adds a gourmet flair) – and that makes the flavor really pop. I’m not a huge fruit fan – so i simply squeezed the orange slices over my meal and it was great. Rj says that the orange adds the sauce to this meal – so don’t skip out on the fruit!

    You may feel like this meal is sort of dry when you are cooking it – don’t worry, we thought that, too – but it turned out great. Just don’t forget the rice, especially if you are forgoing the short rib, because that will make this meal a lot less calories!

    Again – we suck and don’t have a pic. But you could imagine us both with happy, satisfied smiles on our face after eating it for lunch 2 times this week. It reheated very well – perfect to bring to work!

    Honestly – this meal would have been a mutual favorite if we hadn’t ALSO made the Skinny  Gumbo this week. So – please try it. And then let us know how much you loved it!

    Happy cooking!

    Rj & Dre

    Seafood Chowder Casserole

    Shrimp & Crab Yumminess!

    Quick Link:

    So for any of you Harris Teeter shoppers – we live by “what’s on sale” via their weekly VIC email promotion. This week, I noticed their crab meat was on sale – 16 oz for $11.99 so i figured we should do something with it. But, I have to admit, I’m very picky when it comes to seafood. Usually when I say I like Crab – what i really mean is: I like crabcakes.

    With some left over frozen shrimp from last weeks VIC special (buy 1 get 2 free!) – we looked for a recipe that involved crab meat and shrimp. A fav recipe site of our is (sign up for an account for free to save your recipes!) – and we found this Seafood Chowder Casserole.

    If you click on the link – you’ll find the recipe calls for white fish, shrimp and crab meat – but again, I’m picky and we left out the white fish and added extra crab meat.

    I’m eating it for lunch at this very moment – so it heats up surprisingly well for seafood.  The cheese and breadcrumbs really bring it together for the casserole feel, and the portion is pretty decent since it includes 2 types of fish and a potato.  If you aren’t familiar with clam juice – look for it where you’d find the canned meat (like tunafish) at your grocery store. We got ours for under $3. To save more – we just used dried dill instead of fresh. Also – we cut this recipe in half since it serves 8! So that helps, too.

    It comes in a 377 calories if you make it the way the recipe goes, so be sure to account for the  changes you make!

    All in all, pretty decent meal. Whether it goes or not, I added a little hot sauce to spice it up. The only thing that semi-stinks is literally, it smells fishy! Hard to avoid. So watch out if you are bringing this to work with you…although, its pretty yummy so who cares what the co-workers think! 🙂



    Chicken Mushroom & Wild Rice Casserole

    We’re back! Slowly but surely, we’ll catch up on what we’ve been eating. We picked this recipe over the holdiays – and we were SO pleased we did. It was majorly delicious. It’s still that time of year when casseroles just sound so much better than they do in the summer.

    Here’s the quick link for those of you tired to reading ABOUT it and just want to check it out:

    Toasted Almonds were the perfect topper!

    8 servings (remember to split the ingredients in half if you are cooking for just yourself or for 2)

    Active Time: 1 hour  Total Time: 1 3/4 hours


    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 cup wild rice (we just used brown rice)
    • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 leeks, chopped and rinsed
    • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 cup dry sherry (see Note)
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups low-fat milk
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
    • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
    • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

    dReJ Say:

    So this one is pretty straight forward. You cook the rice (that’s easy), you cook the chicken (simple) and then you just slowly keep adding stuff to a skillet and cook it up. Pour it in a pan, sprinkle almonds on top and bake. Really not a rocket science recipe. Don’t be freaked out if you aren’t used to cooking with Sherry. There are lots of recipes that will require cooking sherry – and it’s not hard to find (check the vinegar section of your store).

    This comes in at 371 calories – and it was pretty filling. Great recipe to make and take for lunch the next day as well. I am not usually a a huge almond fan – but they went with this dish very well – and gave it a nice “crunch.” Highly recommend this one!


    Fear not follwers

    I know we have been slacking in the posting department, but fear not. We have been tracking our food, and taking pics of all of the wonderful food that we have prepared and eaten. We just got caught up with all the holiday hoopla, as i am sure some of you have. So stay tuned, as soon we will be posting our wonderful healthy food options for you and your family.

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