CEiMB: Greek Salad Pitas with Feta Spread and Turkey

Sorry for the not so great picture…my camera battery died so I had to use my phone!  When it was my turn to select a recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly, I knew I wanted to pick something simple yet satisfying since I knew I’d be about 8 months pregnant during what has turned out to be one of the hottest summers we’ve had in a very long time (go figure!).  When I saw these Greek Salad Pitas, I knew this was the perfect choice!  I’m always on the lookout for healthy lunch options, especially since my standard turkey and swiss on wheat isn’t allowed until after baby.  Even though this calls for turkey, I substituted leftover grilled chicken instead.

Let me tell you, this really fits the bill for a healthy and satisfying lunch option!  The feta spread only took a few minutes to throw together, and it stays good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – perfect for a week’s worth of lunches.  Outside of that, there isn’t really any prep time at all!  I omitted the lettuce and mint leaves, mostly because I didn’t have them in the house (forgot to get them at the store!).  I’m already looking forward to making this again, and again, and again!

To see how the other CEiMB members enjoyed this, check out the blogroll here.

Greek Salad Pitas with Feta Spread and Turkey

3/4 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (I used Athenos Sun Dried Tomato – YUM!!)
3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large whole-wheat pita breads
4 large pieces romaine lettuce, torn in half (I omitted)
1 English cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 bunch mint leaves (I omitted)
3/4 pound thinly sliced roasted turkey breast (I substituted leftover grilled chicken)

In a medium bowl, combine the feta cheese and yogurt with a fork, mashing any large chunks of cheese. Stir in the lemon juice, oregano, lemon zest, and pepper. The spread will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make a sandwich, cut a pita in half to form 2 pockets. Line each pocket with half a lettuce leaf. Spread 2 heaping tablespoons of feta spread into each pocket. Then fill each pocket with about 6 cucumber slices, 4 or 5 mint leaves, and 2 or 3 slices of turkey. Serve immediately or wrap in foil to go.

Source:  From page 80 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy

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CEiMB: Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup

This week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was my choice!  I had a hard time choosing as there are so many fantastic looking recipes in Ellie’s cookbooks.  I decided to choose this recipe for Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup as it sounded like a nice, warm, hearty soup to start of the new year, and it brings back fond memories of high school.  My best friend and I had this soup (school cafeteria style, so not nearly as delicious!) almost everyday while in high school, along with some grapefruit.  Kind of random, but we enjoyed it! 

While we enjoyed the school version of this soup, Ellie’s version is so much better!  Even my mushroom hating husband ate two bowls of this, as did the toddler.  The hardest part of this soup was locating barley in my grocery store!  Once that was taken care of, the rest was easy.  I really, really enjoyed this and will definitely make it again and again.  I followed Ellie’s recipe except I omitted the celery (I hate celery!!), and I forgot to add the parsley at the end.  Thanks to all of the other CEiMB cooks for cooking along with me this week…I hope you all enjoyed this recipe as much as we did!

Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup
Source: From The Food You Crave by Ellie Kreiger, page 89

4 tsp olive oil
3/4 pound beef stew meat (preferably from the shank), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces button mushrooms, coarsley chopped
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup) (I OMITTED)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
6 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 cup hulled or pearled barley
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried (I used dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I OMITTED)

In a large soup pot, heat 2 tsp of the oil over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the meat with the salt and pepper.  Add the meat to the pot and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total.  Transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the pot.  Add the onions and mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirrign, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth, tomatoes, browned meat, barley, and thyme adn bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is cooked and the meat is tender, about 50 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkling of parsley.

CEiMB: Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing

I am not a big salad eater, but I am a huge fan of taco salad, so I was excited about this week’s CEiMB recipe for Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing.  Let me tell you, we really enjoyed this!  Even the toddler ate this, and he’s never eaten salad before (although he is a tomato junkie, so he mostly ate it because of all the tomatoes).  The only thing I was nervous about was the dressing, but the lime vinagrette with the tomatoes was fantastic, and complemented the flavor of the beef nicely.  We will definitely have this again, especially since I had dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.  Quick, tasty, and healthy…you can’t beat that!

A big thanks to Peggy of Pantry Revisted for picking another great Ellie recipe.  You can find this recipe on page 77 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy or on Peggy’s blog.  You can check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else enjoed this one. Up next week, Baked Beans with Ham.

CEiMB: Beef Stroganoff

Stroganoff is one of my favorite foods, so I was very excited when Liz of The Not So Skinny Kitchen selected Beef Stroganoff as this week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe.  The husband is not a fan of stroganoff, mostly because he hates sour cream and mushrooms.  I was hoping that we would like this one since it used Greek yogurt and had onions as well.  Unfortunately, he was not a fan at all.  Both the toddler and I enjoyed this, even though I mostly overcooked the beef, and the sauce never thickened up for me.  Eh, you win some and lose some in this house.  I may give this another go if the husband is out of town for work, which is when I make my favorite Chicken Stroganoff recipe.

You can find this recipe over on Liz’s blog, or on pages 120-121 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy.  Check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else did with this one.  Next week, we’re making Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing.  I am very excited about this one as it is a recipe I’ve debated selecting!

CEiMB: Tortellini-Spinach Soup

I’ve mentioned before that soup is one of my favorite foods, so I’m always on the lookout for a good soup recipe that is relatively healthy.  Talk about hitting the motherload here…not only was this soup easy to throw together and absolutely delicious, but it is very healthy too!  I’m not a vegetable eater, but I made myself try a bite of this soup without picking out anything, and I loved it.  Definitely a great way for me to sneak in my veggies.  I followed the recipe as written, except I omitted the celery as I’m not a fan.  The husband enjoyed this as well (the toddler refused to eat any…apparently green pasta creeps him out our something…), so this will definitely be something I make again!

You can find the recipe for this delicious soup on Bri’s blog, Yoshimi vs. Motherhood, and also here.  You can also find it on page 90 of Ellie Kreiger’s cookbook, So Easy.  Check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this.  Up next week is Beef Stroganoff with Green Beans and Grainy Mustard.

CEiMB Rewind: Confetti Chili

I am not a fan of most vegetables, so in order to force myself to eat them, I have to hide them in my meals as if I were a little kid.  Ellie Kreiger comes through again!  This chili was a great way to do that, and was absolutely delicious.  Even the toddler ate a good sized bowl!  This has a nice smoky flavor from the chipotle chilis and adobo sauce, and the only vegetable I could taste was the corn (which I love).  So you get all of the nutritional benefits of the vegetables without having to taste them…just the way I like it!  I still like my homemade chili recipe better, but I will definitely be adding in some red peppers, carrots, and corn next time I make it. 

Confetti Chili
From Ellie Kreiger’s The Food You Crave, page 187

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup – I used 7 baby carrots, diced)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 pound lean or extra-lean (90% or higher) ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, with their juices
2 cups water
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 tsp of the sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, prefereably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kideny beans, prefereably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernals (I used one 14.5 ounce can of no-salt-added corn, drained)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring. for 1 minute.  Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipolte and adobo sauce, and oregano and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. 

Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer, until the chili is nicely thickened.  Stir in the corn and cook until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

CEiMB Rewind: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

This is another recipe the CEiMB group made prior to my joining, and was also one I really wanted to try after buying Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave.  As usual with Ellie’s recipes, this one did not disappoint.  The only thing I didn’t care for was the amount of onions and the celery, so next time I will cut the onion in half and omit the celery.  Other than that, this was a great dinner for a chilly, rainy day.  It comes together easily and I’m happy to have another soup recipe to add to my repoitre.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

4 tsp olive oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the pot.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes.  Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling. 

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs.  Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while.  Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened.  Do not let the soup come to a boil.  Add the cooked chicken to the soup.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Source:  From page 86 of Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave