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Pork Chops and Balsamic Sauteed Apples

Challenger Brandi offers her take on cooked fruit. We’ve seen a few variations on pineapple, but this time it’s apples. Sounds like a simple dinner with a lot of satisfying flavor.

Pork Chops and Balsamic Sauteed Apples

I was so excited when I saw Chef Devin’s mini challenge to cook with fruit. I love cooked fruit and you’ll rarely see me turn up my nose at it. So tonight we embraced the warming spring weather and threw pork chops on the grill. I do nothing more than salt and pepper these.

Then I sautee the apples. I thinly slice a Fuji apple while a drizzle of olive oil heats in the pan. Then toss the apples in and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Next I throw a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and let the apples cook until they are soft.

Tonight I had half a yellow squash left from a previous meal, so I cut thick slices and sauteed for about 5 minutes in olive oil, pepper and salt. Not too soft and still a little crunch.

I topped the pork chops with the apples, served the squash and added a handful of spinach leaves with vinaigrette… and we had dinner! The plates were empty. The whole prep took less than half an hour.

Chicken Something

Challenger Brandi offers a good “lesson” in keeping a well-stocked kitchen. It can really be one of the keys to make cooking at home a breeze any day of the week.

The answer to “what’s for dinner” around here is often “chicken something.” Not in a creepy mystery meat sort of way. We eat a lot of chicken so dinner is often “chicken something” – meaning at the heart of the meal will be chicken and I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with it later.

Last night, we had chicken something. And the something turned into quite something. I had two chicken breasts thawing in the refrigerator in a baggy. I realized I had a package of fresh rosemary and oregano leftover from a meal last week and half a lemon leftover from the previous night’s meal. So I stuffed the bag full of herbs, squeezed and then sliced the lemon and put that in the bag, added a couple cloves of garlic, kosher salt and cracked pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil. The entire process took less than five minutes. And then I let it sit all day.

After work I tossed the contents of the baggy on top of some fingerling potatoes and baby carrots that were in the refrigerator and baked for about an hour at 375.

It turned out really well, the house smelled amazing and the food tasted even better. Plus, there was extra chicken so I can toss that on top of a salad for lunch today.

It was one of those meals when I’m really thankful I keep a fairly well-stocked kitchen. I’ve yet to go to the grocery store this week, yet I had more than enough things on hand to whip up a meal that tasted and looked like a lot of planning had gone in to it.

Chicken Fajita Baked Potatoes

Thanks to challenger Brandi for sharing her personal recipe for what looks like a seriously delicious dinner. Not only that, sounds pretty easy, too!

Tuesday night is Biggest Loser night and that means we stay in and make a healthy meal each week. My husband isn’t here so it’s “date night” with my mom and I try to fix something fun and different each week.

Tonight, it was my chicken fajita baked potatoes – and they are SO good and so simple!

Chicken Fajita Baked Potatoes

This recipe will feed 4:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. EVOO
  • Cumin, Ancho Chili Powder and Coriander

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Wash the potatoes, wrap each in foil, poke holes in the outside. Bake about 60 minutes.

Heat EVOO in a skillet. Slice peppers and onions and saute in skillet until they start to carmelize and slightly blacken.

Season chicken and grill on medium heat. Then slice thin or shred.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the potatoes and slice length wise for two halves. Place potatoes on a baking sheet, then top with chicken, fajita vegetables and cheese. Bake until cheese has melted.

For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with black beans.

This is one of those meals that I always make more than we need. Then I freeze each potato in an individual baggy, making it easy to grab for lunch during the week or for last-minute dinners.

Fruit Smoothie for Lunch

Everyone is always talking about having a liquid lunch, and challenger Brandi shows us that it’s possible without any repercussions! This is one of those sneaky ways to fit in a bunch of fruits and vegetables and rack up your servings for the day.

Fruit Smoothie for Lunch

This is one of my favorite breakfasts, in fact, I have it most days of the week. But this morning, scrambled eggs came calling. In a tight schedule for lunch, I knew my go-to smoothie would be filling and delish!

I love this smoothie because it seriously takes a minute to make, is very filling, and has 3 servings of fruit and a serving of vegetables. Four fruit/veg servings in one glass – BAM!

I use one cup of Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt, a very generous handful of fresh blueberries, 3-6 strawberries (depending on size), a generous handful of fresh spinach, one banana, and maybe a quarter cup of ice. I also put in a splash of 100% no-sugar-added cranberry juice – this helps break up the ice and adds some sweetness. Hit blend and you’ve got lunch… or breakfast… or a snack.

All the fruit naturally makes it sweet, no need to add sugar, sweeteners or honey. Don’t scoff at the spinach until you try it. You literally cannot taste it, and it’s a super easy way to squeeze in a serving of this uber-healthy leafy green veggie.

I love smoothies because it’s an easy way to get rid of a bunch of produce before it goes bad and then you don’t regret spending the money. Last week I tossed half an avocado in because I didn’t want to waste it, sometimes I throw in roma tomatoes.

Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas

OK, the title had us hooked, how about you? Challenger and senior editor Brandi shows us how a really simple recipe can make it easy to get in to the kitchen, whip up a healthy dinner in, did she say twenty minutes?, and have a new family favorite!

Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas

To kick-off the Cook at Home Challenge, I tried a brand new recipe. I wanted to share with you how easy it can be when you find a simple recipe that has a lot of flavor and is really good for you.

These were outstanding! I found the recipe in Chef Rocco’s new book Now Eat This. Six ingredients and maybe 20 minutes of work for a healthy, filling, crazy-yum dinner. If you like spicy, this had some kick. Much better than enchiladas you get from a restaurant because there wasn’t any grease!!

Challenge Kick-Off: Benefits of Cooking at Home’s senior editor Brandi Koskie welcomes you to the Cook at Home Challenge with a few reasons why cooking at home has been so beneficial for her family. She’s got three very appealing reasons to get out of the drive-thru and back in to the kitchen!

I’m so excited about this Cook at Home Challenge! I have a love affair with cooking, but just like most people, my schedule doesn’t allow me to do as much of it as I want. But for the next six weeks I’m going to stop making excuses and just make it happen!

When we started cooking more at home and eating out less, I noticed a few things.

1. More money in our pockets!

2. More face time with one another.

3. Better tasting food that was MUCH better for us.

Seriously, I tend to like the food I make at home more than the food we’d order at a restaurant. We can taste the fresh flavors, rather than have them buried under salt and grease.

While I’m not eligible for the awesome prize packages like all of you… I do hope to share some of my love of cooking and my tips for managing a busy life while making time to cook at home as often as possible.

Welcome to the Cook at Home Challenge… and good luck!! I look forward to seeing what all of you are, um, bringing to the table.

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