Mexican chicken casserole

How do I get easy, and healthy meals on the table on a weeknight? Mexican, Thai, Chinese are usually my go to dishes. This Mexican Chicken casserole dish is a multi-purpose one. I either roast a chicken on the weekend or buy one from Costco. Make this dish using rotisserie chicken and you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. And best part, use the left overs for burritos and quesadillas in the lunch box the next day!!

Servings: 4

Time including prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
  • 4 Cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, diced
  • 1 cup black beans (can or soak overnight and cook first)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2.5 cups salsa (medium or spicy)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese (or Mexican blend)

Garnish

  • 1 cup sour cream (I use Greek Yogurt as a healthier alternative)
  • Guacamole
  • Green onions

Method:

  • Heat Ninja Foodie on Sear function
  • Add oil
  • When hot, add in the onion and garlic
  • Stir fry for a minute
  • Add in the green peppers and red peppers, stir for another minute
  • Switch off Foodi
  • Add in the beans, chicken, corn, salsa, cumin and chili powder. Mix well
  • Sprinkle the cheese on the top of the mix
  • Close the lid of the Foodi and turn on the Bake function. Bake at 350F for 5 mins or until cheese is melted
  • When done, turn off the Foodi
  • Serve garnished with onions, sour cream and guacamole. Optionally, serve with a side of Mexican rice or in a tortilla as a burrito.

Sauteed Spinach with oranges and almonds

Sauteed spinach gets a nice twist with the addition of garlic, orange segments and almonds. Another easy, healthy, quick week night option that takes less than 10 minutes to get to the table. And you won’t regret this approach to getting greens into your diet!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 2 minutes Cook time: 4 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 big garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 small navel orange, peeled, and each segment cut into three
  • 4 almonds slivered
  • Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan
  2. When oil is hot, add the chili flakes and garlic, let sizzle for about 30 seconds
  3. Add the spinach in heaping batches, stirring as you go
  4. Add in the orange and almond slivers
  5. Toss till all spinach has wilted about 3 minutes
  6. Add salt, if needed, and according to taste
  7. Serve hot


Sauteed cabbage

My nana Helen had the simplest of vegetarian recipes but they were always absolutely delicious so much so that even as kids we enjoyed eating the vegetables she cooked. This dish is one of those…simple, vegan, low sodium, low carb and full of flavor. Try this and you will be rethinking cabbage!

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup Green Peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 tap Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon /Lime Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds (see note)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds (see note)
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Salt, to taste (optional for low-sodium recipes)

Note: this dish tastes delicious even without mustard and cumin seeds and I’ve made it with and without those two ingredients

Method:

  1. In a work or large pan, heat oil
  2. When oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and red chili flakes
  3. When they splitter, add in the onions
  4. Turn flame to medium, saute the onions for 1-2 minutes until the onions turn soft and translucent
  5. Add the cabbage, tomato and carrots. Stir. Add the turmeric and salt
  6. Turn flame to low. Cover and cook for 2 minutes
  7. Remove lid and add the green peas. Cover the pan again and cook for 2 minutes
  8. Remove the lid, add the lime juice and cilantro, stir and then turn off the flame
  9. Serve hot with naan, chapatis or with my mom’s pilaf

Sticky chicken thighs

Looking for quick dinner ideas? This sticky chicken thighs recipe is one of those. And because I make it in the Ninja Foodi (that has been such a time saver), a healthy and tasty dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes.

Total time: 20 minutes. Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bone-in chicken thighs, fat trimmed (can be with or without skin)
  • For the sauce:
    • 1tbsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp garlic, minced
    • 1tbsp ginger, minced
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    • 4 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
    • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce (optional if you dont like it too spicy)

Method

  1. Pour 1 cup water in the Ninja Foodi pot
  2. Place reversible rack in the pot, making sure rack is in the higher position
  3. Arrange chicken thighs , skin side up on the rack. Assemble pressure cooker making sure release valve is in the Seal position
  4. Select Pressure and set to high. Set time to 5 minutes. Select Start/Stop to begin
  5. While chicken is cooking, in a bowl, stir together the ingredients listed under the sauce and set aside
  6. When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure release valve to the Vent position. Carefully remove lid when the unit has finished releasing the pressure
  7. Gently move the skin to the side and brush both sides of the chicken with the sauce
  8. Close crisping lid. Select Broil and set time to 5 minutes. Select Start/Stop to begin
  9. At 5 minutes, open lid and baste with the two tbsp of sauce that was set side. Close lid, select Broil and set time to another 5 minutes. Select Start/Stop to begin
  10. When cooking is complete, serve chicken topped with spring onions on a bed of rice and with a side of steamed vegetables of stir fried green beans

Spicy Mustard Sauce

A delicious sauce to have on hand – on sandwiches, with roast meat, or just a dipping sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Method:

Whisk ingredients. Serve at room temperature


Healthy Chorizo Burrito Bowl

This Chorizo Burrito Bowl while packed with Mexican flavors, is a healthier than any version you’ll get in a restaurant but still just as delicious! Not only is it healthy, it’s a quick, delicious meal. Home-made chorizo takes center-stage on a bed of Cilantro Lime Rice along with tomato salsa, corn, black beans, lettuce, and so creamy guacamole. Pack it for lunch or get a quick dinner on the table, it’s a guaranteed favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup – Lettuce, shredded
  • 1 tbsp – lime juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup – Cooked Chorizo
  • 1 cup – Cooked Black Beans (see linked recipe for home cooked black beans or use canned – just rinse before using)
  • 2 cups – Cilantro Lime Rice
  • 1/4 cup – Queso Fresco cheese (I avoid it to keep it healthier, but use it for the kids)
  • 1/4 cup – Greek yogurt (replacing sour cream with yogurt makes it healthy while providing the same, delicious, creamy flavor
  • 1/4 cup – Pico de Gallo
  • 1/4 cup – Corn Salsa
  • 1/4 cup – Guacamole

In a rush: You can make it easier by using store bought chorizo (I have used V&V Supremo brand when in a pinch), and canned black beans – just rinse it out before using.

Method:

  1.  In a bowl, combine cabbage, lime juice, and salt . Combine and refrigerate until needed
  2. To serve:
    1. Layer each serving bowl with half a cup of the Cilantro Lime rice. Top rice with black beans, Chorizo, lettuce, cheese, yogurt, pico de gallo, corn salsa and guacamole, spreading it evenly across the bowls.
    2. Enjoy!

Note:

  1. If using store-bought chorizo, it will need to be cooked
    • Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp of oil
    • When oil is hot, add 1/2 a chopped onion. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes and then add chorizo.
    • Sauté for 7-8 minutes on a medium flame, stirring and breaking the meat up with the spatula, until it is fully cooked through and meat turns from bright red to reddish-brown

Black Beans

Tender, delicious black beans for just about any dish that calls for black beans like burritos, or a Burrito Bowl or Santa Fe Chicken. Yes, takes longer than beans from a can but so much better for you. Black Beans are full of protein, fiber, folate and magnesium. Cook up a pot and have them ready for soups, salads or just a side.

Servings: 6 cups when cooked

Time – if using a Pressure Cooker: 5 minutes prep time + 25 minutes cook time; if using stove top: 5 mins prep time + 1 hour cook time

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 6 cups water

Method:

  • Rinse the black beans twice, throwing out the water after each rinse
  • Pressure Cooker Method:
    • Next day, in a pressure cooker, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Close the pressure cooker and close steam valve. Set to high pressure for 25 minutes total. Then allow the pot to naturally release steam for 15 minutes
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Stove Top Method:
    • In a large pan, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Bring the water to a boil then cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low. Set timer for an hour and let the beans simmer. After an hour, check the beans – they should be plump and easy to press through with a fork. If still tough, continue to simmer in 5 minute increments until soft. If needed, add a little water.
    • When done, turn off the stove.
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Beans can be used right away in various recipes like a burrito bowl or Santa Fe Chicken stored in fridge for 5 days or in a well-sealed container in the freezer
Burrito Bowl
Santa Fe Chicken

Mexican pork stew

30 mins to get dinner on the table before ravenous kids burst through the door! All I had on hand was some pork in the fridge. A quick combination of pork, and beans in a tomato broth with some spices that are often used in Mexican recipes, resulted in a hearty stew that we enjoyed on a cold winter’s day.

Serves: 4 Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Bone-in pork loin – cut into small cubes while keeping the bone – adds flavor. Alternatively, 1 lb pork shoulder, small cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 15.5oz can white beans ( I had cannellini, you can use white kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt, if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

  • In Pressure cooker:
    • Put oil in pressure cooker
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Add the chii powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Close pressure cooker and pressure cook for 15 minutes
    • When done, let pressure off, remove kid and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice
  • On stove top:
    • In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Turn flame to medium heat, add the chili powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Stir, cover and cook on medium-low for about 25 minutes
    • When done, remove from heat and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice

Coconut tilapia curry

While living in Toronto, I was spoilt with some really good Thai restaurants. However, there isn’t a Thai restaurant near us that truly wows us. So, trial and error has got us to a point where we no longer need to drive out to a good Thai restaurant, chez nous kitchen beckons instead! And the best part of most Thai curries is they are easy to whip up allowing me to get a delicious, filling and health dinner to the table in 30 mins or less. And you can make a one-pot meal by adding vegetables to the curry.

Servings: 4 Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless tilapia fillets ( or vegetables like tofu, baby corn, bamboo shoots, if you want to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, small, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste ( or to taste, depending on the paste you use and spice level)
  • 1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (if vegetarian, omit fish sauce and brown sugar, and add salt to taste)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil leaves, for garnish

Method:

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When oil is hot, add in the onions and ginger. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn soft and translucent.
  • Add in the red curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes
  • Add half of the coconut milk to the pan and stir in, until the coconut milk and the curry paste are well blended. When the milk starts to bubble, add in the remaining coconut milk. Stir well for a minute
  • Add in the fish sauce and brown sugar and bring the curry to a boil
  • Lower the flame, add in the carrots and green peas
  • Stir and then add in the fish
  • Cover and let cook on medium-low flame for 5-6 minutes until the fish is cooked through
  • Remove from flame and garnish with the cilantro/basil leaves
  • Serve with brown rice

Val Papdi – Flat Broad Beans

This Indian winter vegetable is long, flat with a slight curve. The pods are smooth, thick, and pale green, tapering at both ends. Each pod contains 2-4 seeds that are slightly flat. This vegetable is widely used in Indian cuisine and also in Chinese cooking. According to the site tarladalal.com, it is a low calorie, low carb vegetable that is good for weight loss. It’s packed with nutrients and can provide your daily intake of calcium, iron and magnesium. In the US, this bean can be found in the frozen section of an Indian grocery store. Here’s a recipe that is simple and flavorful and can be made in a jiffy when you want a side of greens for your meal.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 12oz bag frozen val papdi
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp (take a small ball of tamarind, add a few spoons of water to it, microwave for 1 minute and when warm to touch, squeeze out the pulp)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (normal, not sweetened, can use frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan. When oil is hot, add in the mustard and cumin seeds, let them splutter for a minute
  2. Add in the garlic and red chili flakes and let it sizzle for 1 minute
  3. Add in the val papdi, season with salt and turmeric powder, stir well
  4. Cover with a lid and let it cook in its own steam for 12 minutes
  5. Remove the lid and stir in the shredded coconut. Stir for 1-2 minutes
  6. Remove from flame. Serve with hot chapatis or as a side
Picture courtesy Tarladalal.com