BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad
Serves Approximately 16 (one cup portions)

1 pound shell pasta
8 slices of thick-cut bacon (ideally, low sodium)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh arugala
1 bunch green onions, sliced, greens and whites

  1. Bring a large kettle to a boil. Salt the water. When boiling, add the pasta and cook until “al dente”, 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta boils, fry bacon until crispy. Chop and set aside. 
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease.
  4. Return the skilletto stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften (2 minutes.)
  5. Drain the pasta, saving 2 cups of the pasta water.
  6. Return the hot pasta back to the kettle. 
  7. Add the arugala and stir gently.
  8. Add the tomatoes and garlic, the green onion and one cup of the reserved water. Stir to mix.
  9. Top with bacon, and more pasta water if you think it needs it. 
  10. This can be served warm or cold.

Nutritional data for one cup:

Calories:         103
Fat:                 2.3g
Sat fat:            0.6g
Chol:              3.8g
Sodium:        47.9g
Carbs:           17.2g
Fiber:              1.3g
Protein:           4.4g

You can increase the health benefits by using a high fiber pasta, but Tammy and I don’t eat pasta that often and we simply prefer the “regular” white pasta.

Don’t forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational and weight loss podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my “Recipe of the Week!” 

Pan Seared Chicken, Roasted with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives

Pan Seared Chicken, Roasted with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken thighs, skin-on, but excess trimmed
2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 onion, diced
1-2 pounds cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup green olives, halved. (I used Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives)
Herbs of your choice (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces Marsala wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F.
Using a 12 inch, oven-safe skillet, preheat over medium high. Add the oil.
Season the chicken, both sides, with your spices, and salt/pepper if desired.
When the oil begins to shimmer, carefully lay the chicken in the skillet, skin-side down. Let the the skin get browned. Do not turn them, or even move them to get the best results. This will take 6-7 minutes.
While the chicken thighs sear and brown, slice the garlic, dice the onion, and halve the tomatoes and olives.
After 6-7 minutes, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

With all cooking juices still in the skillet, add the garlic and onion, then the tomatoes and olives.

Carefully return the chicken to skillet, skin side up.

Pour the wine into the skillet (if you are using this.)
Place skillet in oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or when the internal temperature of the chicken is 165F.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional data for one thigh and 1/6 of the tomato/olives:
Calories:          286
Fat:                 11.8g
Sat fat:              1.5g
Chol:               65mg
Sodium:     356.2mg
Carbs:             22.3g
Fiber:                2.9g
Protein:             26g

You could certainly serve this on a pasta, such as angel hair or linguini.

Don’t forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my “Recipe of the Week!”

Pulled Pork Chili

Pulled Pork Chili
Serves 10 (1 cup portions)

This morning I woke to 45F temperatures. To me, that means chili season. But some chili can be high fat, and some high sodium. This is neither, just high flavor. This is one of those little life hacks that I talk about on one my Make Your Someday Today Trevitorials. Make good food and eat it. When you make it yourself, you know what is in it!

In a large (3-4 quart kettle) add:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
Add your preferred chili spices

Sautee that together until the onions begin to get translucent (5 minutes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir to mix together, then add:
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained, and low sodium if available
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound pulled pork

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. After 30-40 minutes, taste and add more seasoning as needed. This is better if you can then chill it for a few hours or overnight.

So, why is the beer in the picture? I make my beans with a pressure cooker. I use 1 cup dried beans (here is a mix of white navy beans and black bean), one onion diced, 2-4 cloves garlic minced and 4 cups beer. This is one of my favorites, Green Bay’s own Wisco Disco. Put the lid on, set to high pressure and leave them cook for 45 minutes. When it is time to add the beans to the tomatoes, I dump everything in, beans, beer, onion and garlic.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         210
Fat:                  5.4g
Sat fat:             1.7g
Chol:           38.5mg
Sodium:      32.7mg
Carbs:            18.2g
Fiber:               4.6g
Protein:            19g

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

This is the sort of “Comfort Food” that my guests on my Make Your Someday Today podcast will talk about in our interviews. Comfort foods do just that. They make us feel safe, secure and warm. They tell us that everything will be all right, that success will arrive, but only if we get moving toward.

2 slices of your preferred bread
2 slices of your preferred cheese
2-3 slices of tomato
1 jalapeno cut into strips
1/4 avocado, sliced
1 teaspoon Vegemite (optional)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

  1. Prepare your ingredients. Preheat non-stick griddle or skillet.
  2. Spread the Vegemite on one slice of cheese (optional).
  3. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.
  4. Lay the bread mayo-side DOWN on griddle.
  5. Lay the Vegemite spread cheese on the bread, Vegemite down.
  6. Arrange the remaining ingredients on the cheese.
  7. Top with second piece of cheese and bread, mayo-side UP.
  8. Grilled until the edge gets brown (2-4 minutes, depending on the heat.)
  9. With a spatula, carefully flip and grill the second side.

Nutritional data:
Calories:       274
Fat:             16.8g
Sat fat:          5.7g
Chol:           25mg
Sodium:     354mg
Carbs:            25g
Fiber:            6.9g
Protein:          14g

Please be aware that those nutritional numbers are specific to my sandwich. Adding to deleting ingredients, using different cheese, or not using Vegemite will change all the numbers.

Served with Wisco Disco, a great American Amber Ale

Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my “Trevitorial”, where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.


Serves 2

Such simple ingredients. Stale bread, ripe tomatoes, onion, basil, olive oil and vinegar. It’s amazing how basic items can be used to create delicious food and good lives. We talk about make simple changes on MakeYourSomedayToday, my twice a week motivational podcast.

2 tablespoon olive oil (use the best you can afford, because you will tastes the difference in low quality oil)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pieces of bread, dried completely and broken into bite sized chunks
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/8ths or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut (Roll the leaves into a tight tube, and then cut across the tube into thin strips.)
1/4 cup diced red onion

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the last five ingredient in a bowl. Toss to mix.
  3. Pour the dressing on top, toss and let the bread soak up the dressing for 3-5 minutes.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       178
Fat:            14.4g
Sat fat:         2.0g
Chol:            0mg
Sodium:    110mg
Carbs:        12.6g
Fiber:           3.7g
Protein:        2.8g
Note: you can use any bread that you prefer. I use Healthy Life’s High Fiber because of the good fiber content along with the low calories and sodium. It also tastes good, dries well, and is easy to find in stores.

I used a very high quality olive oil from Olivada Oils in Sheboygan, WI which was a Chipotle Infused Olive oil. It gave this salad a delicious heat and a nice kick to balance the sweet tomatoes and tart vinegar.

I think another variation would be to replace the red wine vinegar with a white balsamic (I think a traditional balsamic may overpower the other flavors, but that is a theory that is untested as of right now.) Olivada carries excellent balsamic vinegars, too. (I receive no compensation from Olivada, I just like promoting local businesses with great products. They will sell online and ship to you.)

Question of the day:
You are abandoned on a deserted island. Which THREE vegetables would you bring (and only three veggies, no fruits)? After I get responses from at least 10 people, I will tell you my three choices.

Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my “Trevitorial”, where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.

Chicken Enchiladas

These may not be 100% authentic, but they are fast, easy, healthy and most of all, delicious!

My Simple Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 7-8 (one piece)

8 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup black olives
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (divided)
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 – 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 soft tortillas (6-8″)
1/2 cup salsa (divided), red or green.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together chicken, olives, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, the goat cheese, onion and cilantro.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  4. Spread 1/4 cup salsa on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Taking a tortilla, scoop 1/8 of the mix, place on the tortilla and roll as in the above picture. Place in the baking pan.
  6. Repeat with all tortillas.
  7. Spread remaining salsa on the top of the tortillas. Top with the remaining cheese.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the cheese begin to brown.
  9. Serve with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream (or Greek yogurt.)
Due to poor planning, I only had 8 inch tortillas, so the nutritional data will reflect that. I think it would have been better with 6 inch tortillas, and would have obviously had fewer calories. But sometimes you need to work with what you have.

This is another great way to use “chicken over-production” (aka “left-overs.”) You could also replace the chicken with ground beef, or shredded beef, pulled pork, or even fish (tilapia, whitefish, flounder.) Or replace the meat with beans. The key to making this easy is to use what you have on hand, and when you use precooked meat, all you are doing is reheating it. You could even make these, wrap them tightly and freeze them individually for later use, and just thaw and heat in the microwave. (If you do that, don’t top with the sauce and cheese until you are ready to heat them.)

Nutritional data:
Calories (per piece): 179
Fat:                         10.2g
Sat fat:                      3.4g
Chol:                    31.5mg
Sodium:              641.4mg
Carbs:                     19.3g
Fiber:                      12.2g
Protein:                   15.5g
The high sodium level is due to almost everything about this recipe: the tortillas, the salsa, the cheese, the olives. And once in a while, I am okay with that, because this is such a good meal.

Here is a quick question for any beer drinkers out there: 
If I were making this for you, which beer would you most want me to serve with it, and why that beer?

Baked Caprese Salad

Baked Caprese Salad
Serves 4

1 large tomato
Fresh basil
2 ounces mozzarella
4-6 cups arugula
Olive oil

  1. Preheat broiler in high. Move the top rack to the highest position in the oven.
  2. Slice tomato into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Season with salt if desired. Place on baking sheet.
  3. Lay the fresh basil on the tomato.
  4. Top with cheese. (I used shredded.)
  5. Place in oven for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is browned.
  6. Place arugula on plate. Top with broiled tomato and drizzle with olive oil.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       135
Fat:             11.1g
Sat fat:          3.5g
Chol:           10mg
Sodium:  168.5mg
Carbs:          4.7g
Fiber:           1.5g
Protein:        6.4g
My wife told me not to take pictures of this because the baking sheet is not spotless. I told her that cookware that get used will not be spotless. (Sort of like a cookbook that doesn’t have drips, spatters, stains and spills on the pages obviously doesn’t contain any good recipes.)

Tomato, Spinach and Feta Topped Chicken Thighs

Tomato, Spinach and Feta topped Chicken Thighs
Serve 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I prefer Penzey’s Greek Seasoning)
4 chicken thighs (skin on, and bone in)
1 medium onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 cups diced tomatoes, or about 16 grape tomatoes, halved.

4-6 ounces of fresh baby spinach
4 ounces white wine
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese, divided
8 kalamata olives, sliced

  1. Drizzle olive oil over skin side of chicken thighs. Sprinkle seasoning and herbs on, and let rest for 30 minutes (in the fridge.)
  2. Preheat a 10-11 inch non-stick skillet over med-high heat (if it has a lid, that will help.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350F
  4. Lay chicken thighs in skillet, skin side down. Sprinkle additional herbs.
  5. Fry until the skin browns (8-10 minutes). Turn over and brown the opposite side.
  6. Lay the thighs in an 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. (If you insert a sharp, narrow knife into the thickest part of the thigh, clear juices will run out when fully cooked.)
  7. Carefully pour any residual grease out of the skillet. Reserve one teaspoon of grease. Do not wash or wipe the skillet clean.
  8. The topping will take 15 minutes, so time it accordingly.
  9. In the same skillet saute the onion in the reserved teaspoon of cooking grease until translucent (5-6 minutes over medium-high heat.)
  10. Add tomatoes, and let cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the garlic and stir everything together. Cook for one minute.
  12. Lay the spinach over the onions and tomatoes. If possible, add all, otherwise just half at a time.
  13. If all the spinach fits, pour the wine over the spinach. (If you have a lid, cover the skillet now and reduce the heat to low.)
  14. If only half the spinach fit, start with half the spinach and half the wine. When the spinach wilts, add the remaining spinach and wine.
  15. To serve, place a chicken thigh on the plate and top with 1/4 of the topping. Add 1 tablespoon feta, and 1/4 of the sliced olives.
Note:  I am providing the nutritional data for the topping only. You can made this with chicken thighs (my preference), or breasts (my wife’s preference.)  Skin on, or skin off. Large pieces or small pieces. One thigh (my portion) or three thighs (my college son’s portion.) All those options will vary, and to give you the number for what I ate will not mean much to you. But regardless of how much protein you serve per portion, the amount of topping remains unchanged.
Nutritional data for the topping:
Calories:    132
Fat:            7.8g
Sat fat:          2g
Chol:        12.3mg
Sodium:     266mg
Carbs:        8.3g
Fiber:         2.2g

Protein:      3.6g

Personal Pizzas, Two Ways

Personal Pizzas, Two Ways

We woke up this morning and decided that we wanted leftover pizza for breakfast. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any. But we had some ingredients on hand and I made these. They both start with a 6 inch La Tortilla Factory Wrap. I spread one teaspoon olive oil on each and then added the various toppings.

In the background is the Mushroom, Tomato and Spinach Pizza. I layered, in this order:
4 ounces sauteed crimini mushrooms
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 Kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded cheese

In the foreground I have a Mushroom, Onion and Bleu Cheese Pizza. Again, in this order:
1 ounce bleu cheese
4 ounces sauteed crimini mushrooms
1 medium Vidalia onion, sauteed with 2 ounces port wine
1 ounce bleu cheese (I was fortunate to find a mild bleu jack cheese, cut into 1 ounce slices. that made making this pizza easy.)

Sauteing onions with port is also easy. Thinly slice the onion. Heat a non-stick pan and heat 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add onions and cook over medium-high heat until they are getting translucent. Pour port in the pan, cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until very soft.

Bake these pizzas on a pizza stone or other pan, at 375 for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Nutritional data:
Mushroom, Tomato and Spinach Pizza
Calories:    296
Fat:                21g
Sat Fat:         6.7g
Chol:             30mg
Sodium:      848mg
Carbs:           22g
Fiber:         10.5g
Protein:     14.1g

Nutritional data:
Mushroom, Onion and Bleu Cheese Pizza
Calories:    483
Fat:            29.6g
Sat Fat:      13.4g
Chol:            60mg
Sodium:     464mg
Carbs:       32.2g
Fiber:        10.2g
Protein:       21g

Simple Tomato Salad

Simple Tomato Salad
Serves 1

3 slices red tomato
3 slices yellow tomato
4 kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Layer tomatoes on the plate. Arranges olives and cheese. Top with olive oil.

(The garnish is thinly sliced fresh basil.)

Nutritional data:
Calories            162
Fat:                   15.5g
Sat fat:                2.7g
Chol:                   17mg
Sodium:            441mg
Carbs:                5.5g
Fiber:                 2.1g
Protein:             1.9g

The sodium is primarily due to the olives. Remove or reduce them to help limit your sodium intake.