Friday, July 22, 2011

Tex Mex Chicken Pizza

I mentioned recently that I've been on quite a pizza kick lately.  Take out pizza is the pits in the DC area (or maybe I'm just a pizza snob having grown up in Chicago?), so the best it ever gets here is frozen or homemade.  Homemade wins in the delicious (and nutritious) department every time, but sometimes it's a pain to make your own.  But not with this recipe. 

This recipe peaked my interest immediately when I saw it in a magazine while waiting in the check out lane at Whole Foods.  In fact, it's the reason I decided to buy the $8 magazine (ouch!) in the first place.  It's incredibly quick, pretty healthy, and even my toddler eats it (minus the jalapenos).  It's truly a 30 minute meal, as the magazine notes, if you use a store bought rotisserie chicken.  I still keep it a 30 minute meal though and make my own shredded chicken in the crock pot (recipe included below) on a day in advance so it's all set to go when I want to assemble a quick meal like this one.  Plus, as an added bonus, any leftover shredded chicken is great to have on hand in the fridge or freezer to use in salads, quesadillas, soups, sandwiches, etc. later in the week.

That being said, this recipe is one of my new-found weeknight favorites that even my husband has started to regularly request.  We cook a lot and are always trying new recipes, so I always consider it a big, big win when a recipe strikes a chord with him so much that he actually requests it again and again.  In fact, since first discovering this recipe, I've made it at least 3 times, and I already have it on our weekly menu for next week.  I think it's time to put it on yours!

Tex Mex Chicken Pizza
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (16 oz.) can refried black beans
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 (8-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
8 teaspoons canola or olive oil
2 cups shredded Rotisserie or Crock pot chicken (crock pot shredded chicken recipe below)
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
½ cup chopped pickled jalapenos

1.     Adjust oven racks to upper and lower positions and preheat to 475 degrees.  Whisk together Greek yogurt, ¼ cup cilantro, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2.     In a second bowl, stir beans with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and chili powder.
3.     Brush both sides of each tortilla lightly with oil.  Transfer the 4 tortillas to 2 baking sheets and bake on upper and lower racks of oven until golden, flipping halfway through (approx. 5 minutes). 
4.     Spread ¼ cup of the bean mixture over each tortilla.  Top each tortilla with ½ cup shredded chicken, ¼ cup cheese, and 2 tablespoons jalapenos.  Bake on 2 baking sheets for 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizzas are heated through.
5.     Cut pizzas into quarters, top with a dollop of the greek yogurt mixture, and garnish with remaining cilantro.

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

4 chicken breasts (or as many as you want), thawed if frozen
½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1.     Place chicken breasts in crock pot.
2.     Mix water with spices and pour over chicken.
3.     Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
4.     Remove chicken from crock pot and shred with a fork.
5.     Use in pizzas, quesadillas, burritos, soups, salads, casseroles, etc.  Any leftovers can be frozen!

*Tex Mex Chicken Pizza recipe slightly adapted from the magazine America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Spring 2011 issue.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guacamole with Mashed White Beans

Guacamole is one of my favorite snacks.  It's also a great side or topping for just about any Mexican-inspired main dish, and is full of healthy fats, nutrients, and - thanks to the addition of white beans in this recipe - even more fiber and a good dose of iron.  A lot of people might balk at the idea of adding mashed white beans to a perfectly good guacamole recipe.  But what I've surprisingly found, after making it this way for several years now, is that I actually miss the addition of white beans whenever I have it elsewhere.  Shocking, right?  Well, it sure was to me.

But maybe you're still wondering, why add the white beans if you can't even taste them? 

Over the past several years I've learned more and more about the health benefits of including beans as part of your regular diet, and this is by far one of my favorite ways to include them.  White beans are a good source of iron, low in calories and sugar, but high in dietary fibery and protein, which may help control hunger, curb weight gain, and moderate peak blood sugar (source:  Sounds good to me...especially that part about curbing weight gain.  Can't hurt, right? :)

I’ve made this guacamole for friends and guests many times, never mentioning the healthy addition of white beans, and no one has ever suspected a thing.  They always devour every last speck of it, so I'm taking that as a good sign.  Even my young toddler devoured it as part of his lunch the other day…by the SPOONFUL.

I should note that this recipe works great as a base recipe.  For example, if you’re like my husband and don’t like tomatoes, leave them out or cut back a bit.  Same for the onions.  Or if you just don't like red onion, use white onion.  If you like a little kick, don’t forget to add the jalapeno.  If you’re nervous about adding a whole can of white beans, then only add a ½ cup or even a ¼ cup...and then try adding more next time when you realize it doesn’t change the taste.  I'll admit, that's what I did at first...shhh.

Guacamole with Mashed White Beans
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2 ripe avocados
1 (15 oz.) can white beans (“Great Northern Beans”)
½ cup tomato, diced (plum tomatoes are my favorite for guacamole)
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
Handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt (optional)
*Optional add-in:  1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1.     Rinse and drain the white beans.  In a medium sized bowl, mash the white beans until smooth using the tines of a fork (or potato masher). 
2.     Scoop out the flesh of the 2 avocados and mash until combined with the white beans.  If you like your guacamole a little chunky, don’t mash until completely smooth.  Leave some chunks of avocado in the mix.
3.     Mix in the tomato, onion, (jalapeno if using), and cilantro.  Add a pinch of salt if desired, and serve with tortilla chips.
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