Happy Wednesday! Let’s get cooking with our cook-once-a-week, eat the entire week strategy.
This week’s menu is:
- Stuffed peppers (and/or mushrooms)
- Chicken enchilada casserole
- Easy Jambalaya
- slow cooker veggie chili
Our grocery list is:
- 8 green peppers* (6 whole for stuffing, 1 diced for jambalaya, 1 chopped for veggie chili)
- 4 onions, chopped (1 per dish)
- 4 stalks celery, 2 diced and 2 chopped**
- 1 squash (zucchini or yellow), chopped
- 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro, divided into 1/3 and 2/3
- 1/4 lb. lean ground turkey**
- 1 (16 oz.) Italian sausage, cut in half (8 oz. chopped, the remaining 8 oz. sliced into rounds approx. 1/4″ thick)
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cut into bite-size pieces, divide into 1 lb. and 1/2 lb. sections)
- 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 3 (16 ounce) cans diced Italian tomatoes
- 1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
- 3 (15 ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained (use black, white, kidney, red, garbanzo… whatever you have)
- 2 (14.5 oz.) cans whole-kernel corn
- 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilis
- 1 (8 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
- 1 (16 ounce) can black bean soup
- 1 package enchilada seasoning (I only use 1/2 packet)
- 1 package chili seasoning (I use 1/2 packet)
- 1 (8 oz.) jar of salsa
- 9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 1/2 c. lowfat grated parmesan cheese (I use Kraft)
- 1 (2 cup) bag 2% or lowfat shredded 4-cheese blend
* Substitutions for green peppers (because I dislike them): red peppers, portabello mushroom caps, ramekins (the filling can be served with salad if you don’t want to stuff it in something)
** If you aren’t going to eat the rest of the celery (like me), you can always substitute with 1-2 tsp. celery salt in the jambalaya and 2 carrots, chopped, in the veggie chili.
*** You don’t have to use lean ground turkey. You could use more sausage, lean ground beef, 1 chopped squash (zucchini or yellow) or chopped mushrooms for vegetarian substitutions.
- garlic bread (to go with jambalaya)
- corn bread (to go with chili)
- chips, salsa & guacamole (to go with chicken enchilada casserole)
- additional sliced reduced fat cheddar cheese (to top chili)
Things you should already have in your pantry:
- 1 c. brown rice
- 1 1/4 cups white rice
- 1 c. marinara sauce, no-sugar added is best
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 (8 oz.) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- olive oil
- Cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning: oregano, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper
- 8 garlic cloves, minced (or 8 tsp. minced garlic)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a slow cooker, combine 1 can black bean soup, 3 cans beans, rinsed and drained (black, red, white, kidney, garbanzo, baked, whatever), 1 can diced Italian tomatoes, 1 can corn (drained), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped bell pepper and 2 stalks chopped celery (or 2 chopped carrots). Season with 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 (or 1) packaged chili seasoning, and chili powder to taste (chili powder adds heat!)
- Stir all ingredients together. If it’s thicker than you like, add water as necessary. Cover and cook on low at least 2 hours (but it’s good to go for 4 or 6, as long as you check and add water if necessary).
- Cook brown rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker (1 c. rice + 2 c. water)
- Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Rinse 6 bell peppers. Trim the bottom so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. Cover a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil and mist with cooking spray. Place hollowed-out peppers on the dish.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat skillet with cooking spray. Then saute two minced garlic cloves, chopped squash and equivalent of 1 chopped onion (it’s easier if they’re both diced) for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren’t browned.
- Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then place chopped sausage in the skillet and cook until it’s lightly browned. Pour off excess grease.
- Add lean ground turkey to pan, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until turkey is barely pink (it will finish cooking in the oven). Pour off remaining grease.
- Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage and turkey. Add at least 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors.
- Add cooked rice, 1 c. marinara sauce, 1 can diced Italian tomatoes, and 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese. Season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.
- Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it’s tightly packed into the pepper shell. (If using portabello caps, top caps with generous amount of filling.) If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated 4-cheese blend on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Note: You can freeze leftover peppers for a month or two, although the frozen peppers will be a little softer in texture (but still very tasty.) I cut them in half top-to-bottom before freezing and freeze two halves in a small baking dish with a snap-on lid.
- Chop 1 lb. of chicken thighs into bite-size pieces.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 3-4 minutes on each side until somewhat cooked but still a little pink inside (these will finish cooking in the oven).
- Remove chicken from pan and place in a medium bowl. Add to chicken: 1/3 c. chopped cilantro (use more or less to taste), 1 can corn (drained), 1/3 c. cream cheese, can cream of chicken soup, 1 can diced green chilis, 1 jar of salsa, 1 package (or 1/2 package) enchilada seasoning; toss to combine. Leave mix in bowl.
- Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 chopped onion and 3 minced garlic cloves (or 3 tsp. minced garlic). Sauté 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic is browned and onions are translucent. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
- Cut tortillas into quarters.
- Increase oven temperature to 400 F.
- This is a good time to check peppers and probably top with cheese. They will cook faster once oven temperature is increased. They may be about ready to come out.
- Coat 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup chicken mixture in the bottom of the dish. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Top with scant amt of 4-cheese blend. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle generously with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.
- cook white rice according to package directions or use a rice cooker (1 1/4 c. rice + 2 1/2 c. water. Be sure to rinse rice before cooking).
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil (or cooking spray) in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage (sliced into rounds), 1/2 1b. chicken (cut into bite-size pieces), and 1/2 lb. shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Saute sausage until browned about 4-5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside (I like to set sausage on a plate covered in a paper towel, to drain some of the excess grease).
- Spray the dutch oven with cooking spray. Cook the shrimp over medium-high heat until pink, 2-3 min per side. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Spray dutch oven with cooking spray. Saute chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
- In the same pot, saute 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped bell pepper, 2 stalks chopped celery and 3 cloves minced garlic (or 3 tsp.) until tender. Stir in 1 can crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper flakes, 2 Tbs. Cajun seasoning (or the equivalent of oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper for heat), black pepper, salt, and 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce.
- Return chicken, shrimp and sausage to pot. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until flavors have absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the cooked rice.