Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grilled Chicken Tostadas

In case you haven't noticed, I get bored making the same things all the time. We're not a "Thursday night is pork chop night" kind of family...or at least I'm not that kind of cook. I've mentioned I'm trying to cook the majority of our dinners either using the grill outside or the crockpot so I can avoid heating up my house too much in the insanely hot Phoenix summer. I've been on the lookout for new grilling recipes, so I was excited when I saw this one in a daily recipe email I get from Cooking Light. I love finding things to cook on the grill that aren't usually cooked on a grill, and tostadas seemed to fit the bill!

Grilled Chicken Tostadas
Source: via Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon 40% less-sodium taco seasoning (such as Old El Paso)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cooking spray
6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
6 cups packaged coleslaw
1 (7-ounce) can green salsa
4 cups chopped tomato
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, chopped
1 1/4 cups fat-free refried beans
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkinseed kernels, toasted (optional)

Prepare grill, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Brush chicken with juice; sprinkle with seasoning and sugar. Place chicken on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Cool slightly. Cut chicken into 1/4-inch strips; set aside. Place tortillas on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown.
Combine coleslaw and salsa; toss to coat. Combine tomato and olives; toss gently.
Spread about 3 tablespoons beans over each tortilla; divide chicken evenly among tortillas. Top each serving with about 2/3 cup slaw mixture, 2/3 cup tomato mixture, 4 teaspoons cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and 2 teaspoons cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons pumpkinseeds, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving (6 servings total)
Calories: 361
Calories from fat: 23%
Fat: 9.2g
Saturated fat: 3.6g
Monounsaturated fat: 1.5g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g
Protein: 28.7g
Carbohydrate: 43g
Fiber: 6.8g
Cholesterol: 65mg
Iron: 3.7mg
Sodium: 844mg
Calcium: 221mg


For some reason, the husband and I decided we'd have these for dinner after the kids went to bed--a random, middle of the week date night. It worked out well to mix up the slaw and tomatoes/olives while the chicken was on the grill, then once the chicken was cooked through and the tortillas were crisped, all we had to do was assemble.

We both REALLY liked these. And they were so filling. I was a little skeptical about the slaw mixture, but it worked great and was super tasty. I don't know if my kids would like these or not, but just because the last few times we've had tostadas, they haven't been very happy with it. These are something I would definitely make again...a great quick, healthy, light summer dinner!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Drink Series #2: Watermelon Martinis

There's a blog I follow called Gina's Skinny Recipes. I don't remember how I came across it, but it's a great resource if you're doing Weight Watchers (WW) because she includes WW Points for all her recipes, along with the nutritional info. Since we're calorie counters around here I especially like knowing the calorie, fat, carb, etc. info from her recipes. Recently she posted this one for Watermelon Martinis. I had plans to buy a watermelon last weekend when they were on sale everywhere for the 4th, so I thought this would be a great drink to try for my second Summer Drink Series cocktail. Plus it's low cal! I made it according to the recipe, but the recipe below will include the changes I made. Check out her blog for the original version!

Watermelon Martinis
Adapted from: Gina's Skinny Recipes

2 cups seedless watermelon
3 ounces vodka
2 ounces melon liqueur
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 cup ice

Puree 2 cups of watermelon in a blender and add vodka, liqueur, lime juice and ice and blend well. Pour 6 oz martini into each martini glass.


I thought about copying the nutritional info, too, but since I changed mine up a bit (less watermelon, more alcohol) I figured it wouldn't be accurate. Gina's recipe called for diced up watermelon to be added to each glass, but I didn't really like the chunks of fruit in my drink. I left the watermelon pieces out in subsequent drinks and found it to be quite tasty. I had to brave the grocery store on July 4th for the melon liqueur which sucked, but I was a lady on a mission. I ended up buying melon schnapps over Midori because it was a lot more cost effective, but either would work equally as well. I'm just cheap. ;)

This is definitely something I'd make again. It was a great, easy drink and quite tasty for sipping on while floating leisurely in my pool. Plus I have a bottle of watermelon schnapps to use up. ;)

Friday, July 8, 2011 do I love thee, let me count the ways

On our recent vacation we spent a week on California's Central Coast. Several years ago--four I think it was--we vacationed with the husband's family in Monterrey, CA. Boy #1 was almost 18 months old, Boy #2 was no where near existing yet. The husband and I came up with the genius (insert heavy, dripping sarcasm for the word "genius") idea to drive home to Phoenix via the Pacific Coast Highway. We had driven it from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo when we were engaged and loved it. If you've never driven it, you really should because it's gorgeous. However, we somehow failed to take into account the extra time it would add to our drive and that we had a toddler with us who didn't care at all about driving along the ocean and the beautiful views it provides. Yeah...the last few hours of our trip were pretty miserable. We cut over from the PCH through Paso Robles which, unbeknownst to us at the time, is wine country. We passed vineyard and winery after vineyard and winery...with a screaming toddler in the car. Oh how we wanted to stop! But somehow we figured our presence would not be appreciated with said screaming toddler. The next time we were back in the area, I was pregnant with Boy #2 so wine tasting was out yet again. So this time we wanted to make it happen.

Originally we looked into doing some kind of tour or having a limo take us around so we didn't have to worry about who was going to drive us home. Instead we decided we'd just go to a couple instead of making a day of it. My in-laws agreed to watch the boys for us, so off we went. We hadn't really researched where to go; my friend Jess is a wine distributor, so I had texted her for suggestions, and she gave me some she liked and some to avoid. We ended up just stopping at random ones we came across.

Our first stop was Zin Alley. The husband used to not be a fan of zinfandel, but lately he's come around to them. We were a bit leery when we got there because there were no other cars and we weren't sure where to park. So we made our own parking spot and went inside. It turned out that the guy behind the counter pouring the wine was the grower as well. He told us all about the grapes and his vineyard. It's completely dry farmed (no irrigation other than what nature provides) and he uses no pesticides. We sampled a couple different zinfandels, including some from his son's winery further south. The bottles were a bit pricey, but it was hands down one of the best wines we've ever had, so we splurged. He also doesn't advertise or enter his wines into contests...he basically just makes wine because he loves it. How cool is that?! We were pretty pleased with our first stop and continued on our way.

Oh, and he had this sign on his door which cracked me up:

And a picture of the vineyard:

We continued on down the highway and saw a sign for two nearby wineries that were close together. Perfect, we thought. We turned and drove and drove and drove. Actually it wasn't that long but we did question whether we were making a good choice having veered off the main highway so far. Turns out we did.

Our second stop was Rotta Winery. It was one of three original wineries in the Paso Robles area and has been around since 1908. There was a gorgeous patio in front of the tasting room (actually Zin Alley had a gorgeous patio, too) and it was bordered by cool wine barrels:

There were two other couples in the tasting room, and it turned out they were all from AZ too. Weird coincidence, eh? Rotta had 12 wines for us to try...awesome! If I'm paying a tasting fee, I want it to be worth my money. ;) Our tasting started with a chardonnay, then a zinfandel rose (why are rose wines so hard to find?!??!), then it moved to reds. We had some tasty wines. We ended up getting two bottles. One was their Trinity Blend--a cab, merlot, and cab franc blend. In looking at the list now, I don't remember what the other one was we got. Cut me some slack, I had sampled 12 wines there and five at the previous winery...I was feeling pretty good. I think it was a Cabernet Franc, which normally is used as just a blend and not on its own, but it was really tasty.

The original sign we saw off the highway had said there was another nearby winery, so we followed the signs to Venteux Vineyards. It was yet another gorgeous looking winery. I don't remember how many tastes we got here, but we did leave with a bottle of a taste cuvee. The girl doing the pouring was really knowledgeable, too. Did you know that Cal Poly has a wine degree? Kind of makes me want to go back to school. She also gave us a map/brochure of the area, so that helped us quite a bit.

This was the bathroom at Venteux...yes, I took a picture of the bathroom because I thought it was super cool.

At this point we were getting pretty hungry, and I needed to eat something quick. We looked on the map we had just received and saw we were near the town of Templeton, so we headed there. The husband found somewhere for us to eat on the GPS, so we made our way there...and then found out they had closed for a break between lunch and dinner about 20 minutes before we got there. Oops. So instead we headed to a tasting room across the street because we were there, they were open, and it didn't seem that any other place right around there was. They featured wines from Clavo Cellars (and thankfully had a little snack paired with each wine, otherwise I might not have survived much longer). There were quite a few that we sampled (have you noticed that I remember less and less about each progressive place? Good thing the husband was driving and not me! I am not the drinker I used to be...), and once again the girl pouring the wines was very friendly and knowledgeable. We ended up getting a bottle of syrah to take home. The tasting fee was $5 each or waived if you bought a bottle; I think the bottle we got was $12 or $15, so we figured for a few more dollars we might as well go home for something.

We stopped for lunch after this, which I really needed. The girl at Clavo had recommended a seafood restaurant nearby, so we found our way there and had a bite to eat. We figured it was probably time to head back after that, but on our way home we passed another winery we figured we'd stop in and try. I had it in my head it was Lone Wolf (which made me laugh thinking about this scene from The Hangover), but it's actually Grey Wolf Cellars. There was another group in there that had consumed way more wine than we had by that point, so the employee kind of had her hands full with them. The husband and I got a nice picture taken of us there, but that was about the highlight.

We ended up coming home with quite a few bottles of wine. Some we are saving for special occasions, others we shared with the husband's family while we were still in CA. It was such a fun afternoon, and such a fun experience to try so many different wines and hear and learn about winemaking in the area. I won't say wine tasting is the main reason we want to go back to the area in future years, but it's definitely a perk of a Central Coast vacation!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back from vacation

We got back Saturday night from a ten day Griswald-style family vacation to California. Several months ago my husband decided he needed to get in shape and started swimming. He wanted a goal, so he signed up for the Alcatraz Shark Swim in San Francisco where participants swim from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park near Fisherman's Wharf. We spent four days in San Francisco with some of the husband's family touring around and fighting our way through the city with a stroller on public transit. We had a good time, but we decided we need to stick with relaxing vacations while our kids are little instead of trying to do a bunch of sightseeing. The husband's swim went great. He wanted to finish in under an hour and not be last, and he met both his goals!! I'm so unbelievably proud of him!! We ended up leaving San Fran a day early and headed south to the beach town of Cayucos in the Central Coast area where the husband's family had all congregated. We had two rental houses and spent a week with his parents, bro and his kids, sister and her husband and her kids. My kiddos had a blast with their cousins and being doted on by their grandparents. Cayucos may be the most perfect place on earth. I probably shouldn't have said's nice and not crowded and if word gets out, it may not stay that way!

In an effort to save money on our trip we did a lot of cooking and eating at the rental houses we had. We did get awesome Chinese take out our last night in San Francisco. I heart Chinese food so much, and it was awesome to get really yummy Chinese food. I ate to the point of almost being sick from eating so much, but it was so good! We ate at a couple places at Fisherman's Wharf with the husband's family, but there was nothing to write home about...or blog post about. We did have a yummy sourdough pizza snack at Boudin Bakery...sourdough crust, sauce, and cheese. Yum. On our way out of town we had lunch at a place I had heard about via Facebook, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. As you know, my family is crazy about all things cheese. When I told Boy #1 there was a grilled cheese restaurant in San Fran, he flipped out and insisted on going. We made sure to work it into our agenda and figured lunch there on our way out of town would be perfect. What happened when we got there? He wanted nothing to do with it. Ugh. My kids were beyond exhausted and I think just too worn out and tired to eat. I had a bite of their sandwich and it was tasty. They did end up eating it in the car later. I had a Mushroom Gruyere grilled cheese, fontina, gruyère, roasted wild mushrooms + gold potatoes, melted leeks, caramelized onions, thyme butter (per the website). It was tasty but not amazing. Honestly we were kind of wishing we had opted for clam chowder in a bread bowl at the wharf. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty but in the end it was just grilled cheese.

In Cayucos we mostly ate at our beach house except for a few lunches at Giovanni's in Morro Bay, the next town down the coast. We vacationed in Cayucos three years ago when I was pregnant with Boy #2, and I remembered eating there then. I told the husband we'd have to eat there again, and we ended up having lunch there three times in four days. I generally don't eat at the same restaurant multiple times on a trip so I can try new places, but it was so tasty, it wasn't worth finding somewhere different. The husband and I split clam chowder in a bread bowl and halibut and chips two of the times, then the last time I had a cup of chowder and fried clam strips. Yum. The halibut was fantastic, and the breading they use was just amazing. My mom is actually going to be up that way later this month, and I'm wondering if there's a way she could bring some back with her. I need to do more thinking on it. The house we were staying in was so gorgeous and had an amazing view of the ocean, we were really fine eating there and grilling. Want to see the husband grilling steaks one night?

Doesn't the background look fake?! It's not...that was what we had to look at for a week. It was a tough life, but we suffered through it.

So now we have to get back to the daily grind. The husband goes back to work today. It's insanely hot here in AZ, so I've planned a menu for the coming week of either grilled or crockpot dinners because with highs hovering around 110, the thought of turning on my oven makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

Oh yeah, and be on the look out for Tasty Summer Cocktail #2 coming later this week...maybe even today!