Eating Well: Chili-Lime Chicken Tacos

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? Do it’s time, particularly since this recipe got my six-year-old’s stamp of approval. He declared that he wanted them to be his birthday dinner, which is high praise indeed! Oh, and it’s really simple to make.

Chili-Lime Chicken Tacos

  • 3 – 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin to taste
  • 1 medium onion
  • Taco shells or cabbage leaves
  • Toppings as desired

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into strips.
  2. In a large container, combine lime juice and spices. Add chicken, toss to thoroughly mix, and allow the chicken to marinate (I did 1 1/2 hours, but I don’t think there’s a hard rule here)
  3. Preheat a large skillet. Peel and chop the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until no longer pink. That took me about 10 minutes.
  5. Serve.

Boneless skinless chicken breast runs about 28 calories an ounce, and 1 did 4 ounces per taco for the two tacos I ate – that’s 224 calories. I used flour tortillas at 130 calories per tortilla, so there’s another 260 calories, and about a half ounce of shredded cheddar cheese for another 57 calories. That’s 541 calories in total, dropping to 331 if I’d used cabbage leaves to make a chicken wrap instead.

Clearly, this is a versatile recipe. Use it for chicken burritos instead, or maybe turn the marinade into a sauce and serve it over rice. Have fun with it, and enjoy!

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Eating (Kind Of) Well: Szechuan Chicken And Vegetables

Last night, I made a Szechuan chicken and vegetable dish from Martin Yan’s Yan Can Cook Book. I love this book, mostly because I remember watching Yan Can Cook on PBS back in the Seventies – he was my first exposure to Chinese food outside of La Choy canned chow mein of dubious authenticity (although, when I was six, I loved those crunchy noodle things they made…).

There was just one little problem.  I entirely cut the hot pepper oil and red pepper flakes from the dish, because it would have been far too hot for my wife and son (neither like really spicy food. But that left it with next to no seasoning. All it had was a little soy sauce, and a little chicken stock, and a dash of chili powder. The result was subtle. Or, less charitably, bland.

I liked it, enough to try to play around with the recipe and see if it can be salvaged when it’s not face-melting Szechuan hot. But it was uninspiring enough that, until I do, I don’t feel like posting it here.

Aw, what the heck. Bonus content!  Not a full recipe or anything, but a quick description. Shred 6 oz of leftover cooked chicken, a stir-fry it in hot oil with hot pepper oil and red pepper flakes to taste. Toss in and stir fry a shredded carrot, a shredded celery stalk, a shredded bell pepper, and 2 shredded soaked dried black mushrooms. Add a quarter cup of chicken stock, a tablespoon of corn starch, and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Serve over rice or rice noodles.  Assuming brown Jasmine rice, the dish comes out to 1157 calories and serves 4, so you’ve got a roughly 200 calorie meal here.

Eating Well: Peanut Butter and Jelly

I thought for sure, last night, that I’d have a new recipe to share with you today.  It seemed like it would be a win, because it was a cheeseburger macaroni casserole and I love that sort of thing.  And the calories wouldn’t even have been all that bad, really.  I did the math in advance, this time.

And then I ate it.

Well, let’s be honest here.  I ate part of it.  The first bite was just sort of, well, boring.  The second was unpleasant, and then I started getting this aftertaste.  And my son, who I’ve told time and again has to try the recipe before asking if he can have something different, gamely tried it as well.  Then, after his third bite, he looks at me.  “Dad?  This tastes funny.”

“Yeah, it does.  Doesn’t it?” I reply.

“Do I have to eat it?” he asks.

“No,” I decide, then and there.  “No, you don’t.  And I don’t either.”

So we threw it away, and we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit for dinner.  I won’t bother with the actual “recipe” for that meal, though.  Because it’s PBJ.

Man, though.  That specific cheeseburger casserole recipe was gross.

Eating Well: Scrambled Egg Enchiladas With Cheese Sauce

I’ve been eating a lot of eggs the past couple of weeks.  A lot.  See, in the interests of saving time, my family uses the Clicklist service from Kroger – we figure out our grocery list, enter it online, and let them get everything together.  All we have to do is go pick it up.  But, sadly, I didn’t notice that she’d added eggs to the shopping list and added eggs.  So, we had eight dozen of them.  In addition to the two dozen we already had in the fridge.  All of which are set to go bad at the end of the month.

Creativity was required.  Or, at least, scouring the internet for ideas.  Here’s one that worked out pretty well.

Scrambled Egg Enchiladas With Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

Directions

  1. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Chop the onions and green pepper (I tossed them in a food processor), and saute them in the butter until the onion is translucent (about five minutes).
  2. Beat the dozen eggs with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used cheddar).  Add them to the skillet, and scramble them with the onions and peppers.
  3. Spoon equal portions of the scrambled eggs into the tortilla shells, and wrap burrito-style.  Place in a baking dish (after rubbing the dish with butter or spraying a non-stick cooking spray on it).
  4. In a sauce pan, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter.  Add two tablespoons of flour and whisk until combined.  Keep whisking for another one to two minutes.  Then add the milk and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened.  Congratulations!  You’ve just made a Bechamel sauce, more or less!
  5. Add 1/2 cup of cheese, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1.2 teaspoon of cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder to the sauce, and stir until combined and the cheese is melted.  Pour the sauce over the enchiladas.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Notes

  1. The whole pan comes out to 3,227 calories, or 404 calories per enchilada.  I try to aim for around 800 calories for a meal right now (or around 400 for a Hobbit-meal), so two of them are a serving from that perspective.
  2. This recipe is pretty malleable.  Dice some ham into the eggs.  Top it with sour cream and crumbled bacon and chopped tomato.  Reduce it to eight eggs, and mix in leftover rice.  Add kidney beans.  Knock yourself out, and remember to account for additions and subtractions when calculating calories.

Things To Do With Leftover Ham

Yeah, I’m eating some of my leftover Christmas ham.  Why not?  I separated it into bags three days after Christmas and put it in the freezer, and now I can pull out ham and eat it.  It makes a good, quick meal.

For the meal I’m talking about in particular, I made a ham and cheese wrap.  Said wrap consists of:  6 ounces of spiral-sliced ham (320 calories), 1 1/2 ounces of Swiss cheese (162 calories), a flour tortilla (145 calories), and lettuce and tomato and a little mayonnaise.  So I’m staring at a 627 calorie sandwich wrap the size of a Chipotle burrito, only it’s about half the calories and it doesn’t wallow in that company’s anti-science fear-mongering (note to self:  must now sadly boycott Chipotle).

Oh, I also hit my calorie and my walking goals yesterday!  All of the unseasonable warmth, which sadly but thankfully seems to have gone away today, let me get out and knock out a mile after my son went to bed.  It felt pretty good, to tell the truth.

Bacon. It’s What’s For Breakfast!

All right, so the title’s a little bit hyperbolic.  I made myself a bunch of breakfast burritos last night, as a way of making sure that I eat a meal I’ve prepared myself instead of eating out.  Why?  A couple of reasons, honestly.  Portion control is one of them, because I know exactly how much of what I put into the food I make myself.  This makes it easier to track my calories.  Also, there’s a little matter of cost.  Making breakfast burritos, even with the time commitment required, costs a lot less than eating in the cafeteria at work or running through a drive through.

This time round, I made the burritos with bacon.  One strip per burrito, enough to add a nice flavor without overwhelming the meal.  The original recipe was posted here in October, so let me just recap how this works.

Breakfast Burrito

8 large eggs (70 calories each)
1 onion (46 calories)
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper (50 calories)
8 slices American cheese (78 calories each)
8 strips bacon (117 calories each)
8 8-inch tortillas (80 calories each)

Directions:

  1. Cook your bacon to the desired crispness, and set aside.
  2. Finely chop your onion and pepper.  Cook them in the bacon grease until the onion is translucent.
  3. Beat your eggs, add them to the skillet , and scramble them with the onion and pepper.
  4. Warm the tortilla shells and lay them out on sheets of tin foil.
  5. Place one strip of bacon and one slice of cheese on the center of each tortilla, then evenly divide the scrambled eggs between the eight tortillas.  Roll the tortillas, then wrap them in the tin foil.
  6. Freeze until ready to eat.  Reheating takes 3 to 5 minutes in a microwave, depending on the power of the microwave.

Notes:

  • This comes out to 357 calories per burrito, although be sure to check the specific calorie content for the items you use.  Not all tortillas or bacon or cheese are created equal.  The specific brands I used, for example, actually worked out to 302 calories per burrito.
  • Much like a sandwich recipe, a burrito recipe is more of an example of how to make a whole class of food.  Use sausage or ham or fish or whatever you like instead of bacon, or skip the meat altogether.  Don’t like American cheese?  Use cheddar or provolone or Swiss or whatever else strikes your fancy.  Want more vegetables, and two different types of mushrooms?  Knock yourself out.  Just think of this as an omelette wrap, and go crazy.  Be sure to account for the calories of the items you add and subtract, though.
  • I have no idea how long these will keep in the freezer.  I tend to eat them all within a week of making them.

That was… unexpected. Not disappointing, mind.

I can eat a shockingly large amount of mashed potatoes and still be under my calorie budget.

Yeah, that sounded kind of random, didn’t it?  Here’s what I’m talking about.  Yesterday, because I did a little extra snacking, I didn’t think I was going to hit my calorie goals.  By the time dinner ran around, I only had about 600 calories left for the day, and said dinner was going to be Thanksgiving leftovers.  I looked at the food in the fridge, and looked at that number, and said “there’s no way”.  But, I decided, I was at least going to track everything!  So I put my plate on my food scale, and started weighing everything out.  Six ounces of mashed potatoes, four ounces of turkey, two ounces of corn (I should eat more, but actually eating a vegetable is a good starting point), and a third of a cup of turkey gravy.

482 calories.

I actually ended up checking those numbers twice, because I didn’t quite believe it.  But it was true!  So, with only 600 calories left in my budget, I got to have a really filling dinner.

Also, I hit all of my goals!  The walking, the exercise, the calories (as noted above), everything!  Yay me!