Grilled Avocado Tacos with Creamy Jalapeno Greek Yogurt Dressing

I am about to change your life with two simple words that I frequently say separately, but never before together– Grilled Avocados. That’s right, I discovered avocados can and should be grilled! Tossing this creamy green fruit on the grates for a few minutes creates a smoky, simply marvelous flavor profile that plain ole avocados just can’t deliver. Grilled Avocado Tacos

With grilling season firing up and Cinco de May moments away, you’re definitely going to want to toss on a few avocados to go along with your barbecue. Or, if you’re vegetarian, vegan or just taking a plant-based day for variety, you’ll love my recipe for Grilled Avocado Tacos with Creamy Jalapeno Greek Yogurt Dressing

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Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – Good Game Day Grub!

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”

But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland?  I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips.  That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire Roasted Tomate Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.

I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which.  Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!

litehouse-blue-cheese-queso-snack-tray-beer-day

While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods.  Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)

Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.

If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.

Healthy Snack Stadium - TheFitFork.com

[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]

What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
  2. At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
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Olive You! Easy Holiday Recipes and Entertaining Inspiration

As the holidays approach, I think fondly of all those who are near and dear – and also my loved ones further away. And, of course, the readers of my blog and friends and supporters on social media are on my mind and heart, what would I do without you all! I just want to let you know that it would be the total PITS without you . . .  OLIVE YOU! Because OLIVE YOU so much (bear with the puns please), I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to use olives in holiday recipes.

Olive You

First, it’s cocktail hour. Might I suggest skewering up a salty olive to complement a sweet drink – you’d be surprised at how well the combination goes. Because I fall on my face easily enough sober, I typically limit myself to ½ a drink. With just one “mini” drink, I can still wake up refreshed for the fiercest workouts and morning to-do lists, but can still enjoy a little taste of fa-la-la libations.

Cranberry Martini with Mezzetta Olive

Here, I’ve added a Mezzetta Olive to a Mini Cranberry Martini – it’s a tablespoon each of vodka and cranberry juice along with a splash of lime juice – and cranberries for garnish.

Mezzetta Olives for a Cheese Board

Holiday Olive TrayNo cocktail party would be complete without an olive tray and cheese board filled with delicious noshes –  olives, aged cheeses, seasonal fruit, artisan crackers and an array of almonds. It’s simple yet sophisticated as a focal “snack” for your festivities and also makes a lovely prelude to any holiday meal and creates an abundance of Mezzetta Memories.

 

Pasta with Blue Cheese OlivesSpeaking of holiday meals, think of all those busy-night dinners leading up to and after the BIG DAY where a huge roast or bird isn’t on the menu – yet you have a house full of folks who have worked up quite the appetite shopping, wrapping, visiting, caroling, baking or being on hall-decking detail. My recipe for Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives is the easiest, most amazing holiday meal that comes together practically in the wink of an eye – or as long as it takes to cook pasta al dente. If you’re making it after Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or whatever your holiday celebration may be, feel free to toss in any leftover main course protein such as beef tenderloin, pork roast or turkey breast!

Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives Recipe

  • 8 ounces uncoooked whole grain pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Mezzetta Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives, halved crosswise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 12 ounces pre-cooked protein leftovers, like chicken, turkey, roast beef
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat up olive oil in large skillet and saute garlic and red pepper flakes for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add olives and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes until warmed.
  4. Toss with noodles optional protein leftovers (warmed) and a little extra olive oil, if needed. Season with salt to taste. Stir in blue cheese while still warm.
  5. Serves 4.

 

 

 

Pasta with Mezetta Blue Cheese OlivesBeing able to make a speedy yet special recipe like Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives which uses extraordinary ingredients I wouldn’t necessarily use every day (including gourmet olives, bold blue cheese and sun-dried tomatoes) frees up my time to make more meaningful Christmas memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. Plus, I appreciate the fact that Mezzetta, a fourth generation family-owned company, also values holiday tradition, family and providing the highest quality olives available from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. I like to keep quite a few varieties of Mezzetta olives stocked in my pantry for impromptu salads, pizzas, pastas, snacks and more — inspiration is just a twist away!

Mezzetta MemoriesPlease visit Mezzetta to find daily inspiration and enter the Holiday Memories Sweepstakes for a chance to win the holiday memories sharing pack. One winner will receive an Instant Print Digital Camera plus an Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket and ten others will receive the Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket – I have one, it’s fabulous! Expires Dec. 31, 2015 – enter here.

What are your favorite holiday memories that involve gathering friends and family around good food? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

One-Pot Balsamic Chicken and Couscous + #Giveaway LitehouseFoods

One Pot Creamy Balsamic Chicken with Couscous - TheFitFork.com

Do you ever look around after preparing a meal and feel like you’ve dirtied up EVERY pot, pan and bowl in your collection? No one ever seems to honor the “I cooked so you clean” rule on those nights when I create a bit too much chaos in the kitchen!  But, wait until you see this delicious recipe I created for the Litehouse Foods blog —  One-Pot Cream Balsamic Chicken and Couscous!  It’s truly a busy-night blessing, only ONE dish and a couple utensils to clean up . . . and did I mention tasty?

This one-pot recipe is a well-balanced, nutritious meal inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, so pour yourself a glass of red wine if you must!  Featuring colorful red tomatoes (I love the little Cherubs) and yellow peppers, everyone’s favorite chicken breasts, whole wheat couscous, creamy balsamic sauce and a finishing crunch or garlicky croutons, I seriously doubt you’ll have any leftovers to scrape out of that one single pot!!

One Pot Balsamic Chicken and Couscous - TheFitFork.com

Please head over to Living Lighthouse to grab this recipe for One-Pot Creamy Balsamic Chicken and Couscous!

So, what’s for dessert? I love having “dressed up” fruit for dessert like my Salted Honey and Ginger Broiled Grapefruit or Watermelon with Fruit Salsa. But if you’re looking for a quick and healthy dessert that won’t dirty up any dishes in the making, how about just sticking some dark chocolate chips into raspberries and eating right out of the carton!

Chocolate Chip Stuffed Raspberries - TheFitFork.com

Win Litehouse Foods Coupons - TheFitFork.comTo encourage you to make some of these yummy recipes, I’m giving away five (5) coupons for Litehouse Food’s Products (they expire on 12/31/15).  Litehouse Foods makes all sorts of fresh products like traditional salad dressings and vinaigrettes; Greek yogurt based dressings and dips; caramels and sweet dips, freeze-dried herbs; artisanal cheeses and more. You can find most of these products in the refrigerated section of your market’s fresh produce section and gourmet cheese area. Two of the coupons are specifically designated for the Artisan Reserve Cheeses including gorgonzola, blue cheese and feta.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

So Good! Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.comSo good, so good, you see! These slow-roasted balsamic tomatoes transform a simple salad, piece of crusty bread or unadorned eggs into a masterpiece of epic, mouthwatering proportions. You can also use them on pizzas, blend into sauce, serve on an anti-pasta platter or just pluck them right off the pan. Lust-worthy, luscious and loaded with flavor, these tomatoes are super easy to make — however, don’t rush the job, you’ll need at least an hour. The result of this patience is an intensified breadth and depth of flavor that is to die for. The other thing I love about this recipe is that nearly every type of tomato works beautifully, from Cherubs to Campari to Romas. Make a big batch, they keep well in the freezer!

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Use them on a salad!

Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Use them on a steak!

Are you a tomato-phile or a tomato-phobe? Do you like little grape tomatoes or big beefsteak? Ever tried them slow-roasted?

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe
Print Recipe
This easy recipe is worth the wait -- roasting in the oven deepens the sweet, rich flavor of tomatoes.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe
Print Recipe
This easy recipe is worth the wait -- roasting in the oven deepens the sweet, rich flavor of tomatoes.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and gently squeeze out seeds or scoop them with a spoon --leave as much as the flesh as possible.
  2. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the thyme. Roast tomatoes on center rack for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to roast tomatoes about 20 minutes more, or until caramelized.
  3. Let tomatoes rest until reaching room temperature. The tomatoes will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Recipe Notes


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Quick & Easy Avocado Ideas and How To Freeze Leftovers

We love avocados!

Everything I need to know about avocados, I learned from my dad!

A box of bliss was delivered to my door last week – a case of Bravocado Avocados from my friends at the California Avocado Commission.  With the peak season being from May though September, California avocados are always on hand for my summer entertaining and I’ve been known to use avocados in everything from guacamole and “green eggs” to salads and smoothies.

Avocado Corn Relish

In fact, this latest windfall of ripe avocados was a reward for winning first place in the 2014 All-American Recipe Contest. You’ve might have seen my recipe for  Mom’s Black Bean Avocado & Corn Salad, it’s a favorite on Pinterest and has been popular pick at potlucks and family get-togethers.  The judges said it was packed with flavor and “combines sweet corn, black beans, bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and spices with fresh avocado for a flavor combination that stands strong all on its own, but goes perfectly with grilled meats or tortilla chips as a dip. Put this one on your must-try list stat”

There are just so many delicious things you can do with a case of creamy, dreamy avocados – but two of my favorite ways to eat them are just so simple. And, surprise – these quick and easy recipes not straightforward guacamole (although, if I could jump in a bathtub of mashed avocado with lime and jalapeno, I would).

Bacon Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes: These cute little cups made out of super sweet Campari tomatoes are the perfect vessels for avocado blended with lime, jalapeno, cilantro – okay, I guess that is guacamole. But, sprinkle on some crumbled bacon and serve on a bed of lettuce with black beans and corn and you have a light and healthy summer meal.

Salad with Guacamole Stuffed Tomatoes

Avocado and Lime on the “Half Shell”: It doesn’t get any easier than this – slice your perfectly ripe an creamy avocados in half lengthwise and pull out the seed. Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze fresh lime – and eat with a spoon!

avocado halves with lime

If, in the rare instance, you find yourself with too many avocados to eat before spoiling sets in, you CAN freeze them. Earlier in the year, I did a tutorial on how to freeze guacamole — check out the link. You can also freeze avocado slices with a pretty good outcome too! The texture is not quite as creamy when you thaw the frozen slices, but it’s still yummy and so much better than tossing your ripe avocados out.

freezing avocado slices

 

Do tell, what is your favorite way to eat avocados?

Healthy Grilling | Mojo Chicken Breast with Citrus Recipe

grilled chicken breasts and oranges

I rolled into the house a 6pm tonight after being away on a most delicious food experience at Travaasa Spa in Austin (more about that next week). Even though the kids are learning to hold their own in the kitchen and can make a few meals (mac & cheese, quesadillas, frozen pizzas) when I’m away, I did promise to make it back in time to get a more “mom-approved” meal (read, one with fruits and vegetables) on the table. Since I hadn’t been to the store in a while, there was no telling what would be left in my fridge after the four “bachelors” were left to fend for themselves.

This is where creativity in the kitchen comes in; no need to head to a drive thru when you can slice up the fruits and veggies found your fridge, whip up a quick sauce and serve with a lean grilled protein. Tonight I found a couple margarita-leftover limes and unloved oranges in the produce bin, along with some starting-to-wrinkle grape tomatoes that needed to be used ASAP.  Knew I had some chicken breast in the freezer, and that’s about it. Came up with this fresh and vibrant dish inspired by the Mojo Beef Kebobs I’ve made time and time again – the garlic citrus sauce pairs insanely well with beef, but also works wonders with chicken, pork and fish! Since I was too tired to chunk up the meat and fire up the patio grill, I just threw these pounded chicken breasts in an indoor grill pan. I even skipped the marinating step that I am recommending if you have time.  The family gobbled this healthy dinner recipe up and loved the fact that I added oranges to the mix (made the onions more tolerable said one son).

grilling chicken and fruit

This recipe works equally well in an indoor grill pan as on the outdoor grill.

Mojo Chicken Breast with Grilled Citrus Recipe

  • 2 large chicken breasts (approx. 1 lb)
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 large lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 small oranges, slices crosswise
  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 (10 ounce) container cherry tomatoes

For Sauce:

  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1.  Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Butterfly chicken breasts and pound down to even 1/3” thickness.
  3. Pour half of the Mojo sauce as a marinade over the chicken in a medium bowl or food storage bag; cover or seal.
  4. Cover the remaining sauce; refrigerate both at least 2 hours.
  5. Heat outdoor grill to 400 F degrees or indoor grill pan to medium-high.
  6. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Season chicken with the pepper.
  7. Grill chicken for approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in center.
  8. Remove chicken from pan and add limes, oranges and onions, grill for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and grill for another 1 -2 minutes until soften, but not popped.
  9. Serve drizzled with the reserved sauce.

Serves 4.

Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes

Bumper Crop Boogie | How to Blanch and Freeze Summer Vegetables

The sun-drenched colors, the succulent flavors; summer vegetables make me want to dance! In my opinion, a person can’t have too much of a good thing when it comes to summer season vegetables. But, often in the warmer months, even though I don’t have my very own garden, the produce bin in the fridge runneth over. When I see a sale on corn for under a quarter a cob, I can’t pass it up. When my parents bring me surplus zucchini from their urban community garden, I welcome the windfall. I can’t pass up a farmer’s market or roadside stand without pulling over to check out the local selections. You get the idea and it’s inspired a ton of great recipes, like my Green Chile & Pork Stuffed Zucchini.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com summer veggies

This week, I had more veggies on hand than my family could scarf down in a week. So, rather than sit there and watch them wrinkle and rot, I decided to take a few extra minutes and prep the abundance for the freezer. Not trying to go all Little-House-On-The-Prairie on you but “putting up your vegetables” for the winter, or whatever time of year, is a great way to reduce needless waste (did you know 40% of America’s food goes uneaten?) and enjoy the fresh flavors of the season later.

Getting your veggies ready for the freezer is easy; the main point to remember is that most vegetables (except for herbs, green peppers and, in my opinion grape tomatoes) will need blanching. Blanching is just another term for par-cooking vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time. The process of blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color, texture and vitamins. The type of vegetable and how big of chunks it is cut up into (if at all) dictates the amount of time to blanch. The University of Colorado Extension Services has some good tips on how to prepare, blanch and pack your veggies for the freezer.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - tray freezing veggies

How to Prepare a Jumble of Fresh Corn, Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes for the Freezer

  1. Husk and remove silk from corn.
  2. Rinse grape tomatoes and set aside. I skip blanching and put my grape tomatoes straight in freezer.
  3. Slice zucchini into 1/2 inch slices; cut slices into quarters.
  4. Boil large pot of water.
  5. Add corn and blanch (boil) for 5 minutes.
  6. After 1 minute, add zucchini and blanch for 4 minutes along with corn.
  7. While veggies are blanching, prepare a big bowl of ice water.
  8. Remove zucchini and corn with tongs or a slotted spoon and place in ice bath to stop cooking process.
  9. After a few minutes, remove veggies to clean towel to drain excess water.
  10. Use sharp knife to remove corn kernels from cob.
  11. Lay veggies (including tomatoes) in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Freeze vegetables for several hours, until hardened.
  13. Repackage vegetable mix into zip-top bags, leaving a little bit of room at the top for expansion.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - frozen vegetables bag

Even though it might seem easy to dump blanched vegetables into a container for freezing, they’ll all end up hardened together into one big lump. That’s why tray freezing is so cool (pardon the pun) and totally worth the extra step involved. Whether you want a small portion or a large portion, you can scoop out exactly what you desire if you’ve tray frozen your vegetables before pouring into a freezer bag. Vegetables blanched and then frozen in this manner will have a life of at least 12 months in a freezer set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wondering how to cook this mix of tomatoes, corn and zucchini? Just thaw out a portion from your freezer stash and toss into a skillet that has been heated with oil good for sautéing. I like grape seed oil. Cook on the stove top for just a few minutes until heated through, but not overcooked and soggy. For flavor, toss in some garlic, chopped herbs and a dash of soy sauce. The mix also works great in other recipes and could easily be incorporated into my Crustless Calabacita Quiche!