Honey Dijon Chicken Pack – 500 Calorie Dinners #7

Last Tuesday was my 27th Birthday and in celebration I did not cook, nor did I count calories!  I ate delicious food all week and although I wasn’t counting calories I also did not go hog wild either.  I indulged in chocolate caramel truffles, pound cake and wine (all but the wine were reasonable quantities).  So today I am back and I have for you my version of a foil pack, including chicken, onions and green beans, some of my staples.

Honey Dijon Chicken Pack – Makes 1 serving, 483 Calories per serving


  • 1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (8 oz)
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion
  • 1 C Fresh Green Beans
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper


Place the chicken breast on two layers of regular foil, or 1 layer of heavy duty.

Combine dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey and olive oil.

Stir together in a small bowl.

Meanwhile get about a cup to a cup and a half of fresh green beans.

Cut the ends off and cut them in half then wash them.

Slice up some onion, about half an onion per pack.

Add the green beans and the onions to the chicken and fold up the sides so that the liquid cannot run out.

Pour the honey dijon liquid over the top, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Bake in the oven at 400° for 40-50 minutes.  Easy to make and even easier to clean up!



Spicy Southwest Chicken – 500 Calorie Dinners #6

This recipe is compliments of my husband and his love of the split breast chicken.  If you have never used split breast instead of boneless skinless chicken you are missing out.  The bone and skin keep the meat juicy and are much more forgiving on the grill.  Even if you over cook it a bit or burn the skin, the inside stays juicy and tender.  Last night we made this chicken in a cast iron skillet in the oven, but it works great on the grill as well.

Spicy Southwest Chicken – Makes 4 servings, 496 Calories per serving


  • 2 Split Chicken Breasts, with ribs and skin
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • 8 oz Frozen Green Beans
  • 1 tsp each: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups cooked Basmati rice


Place the chicken breasts (one breast is 2 servings, they are huge) on a plate and make sure there is no extra water on them.

Assemble your spices.  I am a huge fan of Penzeys Spices, high quality and for the same amount of money you would spend on the size in the grocery store (less than 1.5 oz usually) you get a 4 oz bag.

Sprinkle spices on top.

Add olive oil and rub the chicken, including under the skin, with all of the spices until both pieces are thoroughly covered.  Finish with salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° and heat a cast iron skillet on the stove to medium.  When the chicken is seasoned, place it skin side down in the pan for 2-3 minutes.

Flip it over and let cook until the oven is preheated fully.

Cut up an onion like this and add it to the skillet.  Cook chicken and onions in the oven at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165°.

Meanwhile I cooked up some green beans with a little salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

And my husband cooked up some Basmati rice.

Below is what my dinner plate looked like.  I didn’t have any of the rice because I snacked when I got home instead, but the above recipe and calories are based on 1/2 cup of Basmati rice with this dinner.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Italian Stuffed Zucchini – 500 Calorie Dinners #2

I will be posting a 500 Calorie Dinner Recipe every Tuesday and Thursday until I reach my goal weight of 135 lbs.  Since they are intended to feed the dieter and their family (without major complaints) I will stay away from salads.  This is also because I eat a salad almost every day for lunch, so I don’t usually want that for dinner.  Some of these recipes will be meatless or vegetarian, but most of them will be good food in reasonable quantities with some healthy substitutions that lower the calorie count.

This was our first time trying the Italian zucchini boats.  It went pretty well, but next time I will drain the excess liquid off of the ricotta and make sure to add plenty of salt and pepper.

Italian Stuffed Zucchini – 482 calories for 4 zucchini halves


  • 2 medium zucchini squash
  • 1/2 C part skim Ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 C part skim Mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh herbs
  • Garlic
  • Onion (diced)
  • 1/2 Can Stewed Italian tomatoes


Slice zucchini in half and scrape all of the seeds from the inside with a spoon, should look like a zucchini canoe when you are done.

Mix ricotta cheese and marinara sauce together along with any fresh herbs you have on hand and garlic to your taste, I am a garlic-aholic!

Fill each zucchini canoe with the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with mozzarella.  Broil for additional 3 min.

Serve and enjoy a delicious and filling vegetarian meal under 500 calories.

Getting Healthy 500 Calorie Dinners #1 – Chicken Soft Tacos

Back in December I looked at a picture of myself and realized that I was ‘pushing maximum density,’ at a weight that was 12 lbs over what I consider to be the max (150lbs).  The reason I set 150 at my personal max is because 148 lbs is the high end of normal according to standard BMI tables.  My BMI (calculator found here) was 26.1 – officially overweight. Something had to change and I got motivated.  I started the Couch to 5K program the day after Christmas.  This time I was serious, I was going to make a change!  I also signed up for the free calorie counter My Plate which I highly recommend.

For the first 8 weeks I did great! I set my calorie goal so that I would lose 1 pound per week, giving me a 1316 calorie limit unless I exercised.  In February we went on a long weekend trip, I didn’t do the Couch to 5k, we ate crap on the road, I fell off the bandwagon.  I didn’t get back to running right away and my weight plateaued at 154 lbs.  During Lent I didn’t eat white flour or sugar, which helped me maintain my weight, but I didn’t lose any more.  Over the following 5 months I continued to track my calories and didn’t gain the weight back, but didn’t keep losing it either.  So here I am in July, looking back and wondering “What happened?”  If I had stayed on track with 1 lb per week I would currently weigh 137, within 2 lbs of my target weight.  But alas I am still stuck at 154 lbs, 4 lbs above my maximum, 19 lbs above my goal weight of 135 lbs.

To help re-motivate myself I am going to be posting recipes for meals under 500 calories per serving (my goal for dinner).  To lose 1 lb per week my calorie intake should be no more than 1316 at my current weight.  For me breakfast and lunch are easy because I am only responsible for making my own meals. A typical day of eating (without exercise) is made up of the following:

Breakfast – Greek Yogurt – 110 calories

Morning Snack – Granola Bar – 100 calories

Lunch – Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, deli turkey or ham, blue cheese and light dressing – 250 calories

Afternoon Snack – Granola bar or Yogurt – 100 calories

Dinner – Under 500 calories

If you add all those up it only comes to 1060 calories, well below my goal.  Like most people I have weaknesses and so the extra calories are reserved for that piece of chocolate mid afternoon, a glass of wine after dinner or an occasional trip to TCBY for a kids size yogurt.  When I give myself a little wiggle room I don’t feel so deprived or guilty when I slip up.

I do most of the day to day dinner cooking in our house and find it hard to stay within a reasonable calorie count without starving my husband.  These 500 calorie meals will be easy to make in multiple servings so that you can stay within your goal, but other members of your family will not feel deprived eating what you cook.  Some of these meals will be meatless (not necessarily vegetarian) which my husband has agreed to eat once a week (Yay!). I hope you enjoy this recipe series!

We eat some variation on this dish almost every week.  If you like spice I recommend adding a serrano or jalapeno pepper to the onion and pepper mix.

Chicken Soft Tacos – 490 Calories per serving                                                         Makes 4 servings                         Calories: 490 per serving           



  • 2              Chicken Breast
  • 2 C           Onions&Peppers (Diced) Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 Can       Diced tomatoes
  • 1 C           Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 1               Avocado
  • 1 Tbsp      Lemon Juice
  • 1 C           Homemade Salsa
  • 4               Soft Taco Tortillas
  • 1 Tbsp      Cumin
  • ½ Tbsp     Paprika
  • 2 tsp         Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp         Onion Powder
  • 2 Tbsp      Olive Oil


  1. In a large sauté pan heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add onions, peppers and garlic to pan.  Saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes with juices.  Reduce heat to simmer.
  2. Cut chicken breast into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add spices and chicken breast to pot.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or longer.

4.While chicken and vegetables are cooking, mash avocado with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5.Serve on Soft Taco size tortillas with cheese, avocado and chicken and vegetable mixture.

Pork Tenderloin in Soy Dijon Marinade

Dinner on Monday’s are usually pretty simple. I have been to the grocery store the day before so I have plenty of good ingredients and ideas about what to make, but it is the beginning of the week and usually a bit rushed. I spent about an hour at the barn with Pepper, so by the time I got home I needed to whip up something pretty quickly. Pork tenderloin is a pretty quick main, with rice and a salad on the side. I marinaded the pork tenderloin in the following mixture (measurements are approximate, I rarely use my measuring cups, it’s the reason I am not much of a baker):

4 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I usually go for fresh, but in this marinade I got lazy and used the stuff out of a jar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Roll the pork tenderloin in the mixture, making sure that it gets on all the sides and down in the creases, more flavor. I let it stand about 10 minutes while my saute pan was heating up with a little bit of oil in it and the oven was preheating to 400. Once your oven-safe saute pan is heated to medium-high, place the tenderloin into the pan using tongs (the oil and marinade can pop up and burn you if your not careful). Saute and each side, turning to get a nice caramelized outer layer. On the last turn, pop the whole pan into the preheated oven and let it continue to cook for about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the pork tenderloin. I cooked mine about 30 minutes and it came about medium-well (slightly pink and very juicy in the middle).

I am still trying working on remembering to take a photo of every step. And thinking about a new camera for Christmas.

Roasted Tomato Salsas

Last night I tried a new recipe that I found on One Particular Kitchen.  The quantities listed here are huge and would make two large mason jars full of salsa, so I cut it down some.  I used:

  • 6 medium sized on the vine tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 large sweet onions (it does change the flavor to a sweeter after taste), quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Serrano chiles, tops removed and halved

I put all of these ingredients on a sprayed cookie sheet and popped it in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes.  I turned the broiler on for the last 8-10 to make sure everything had a nice roasted quality to it.  Meanwhile, I juiced half a lime into the food processor, and had salt and pepper and cilantro on stand by.  Once the veggies were done I let them cool for a few minutes and then pureed them into a fine salsa, added the salt, pepper and cilantro, give it another whirl or two and TA-DA!  Make sure to taste it at this point to adjust the salt and pepper to your liking, add more cilantro or anything else that sounds good.  I realized when I tasted mine that 2 Serrano chiles for this quantity of salsa gives it quite a bit of heat!  Its not HOT, but it is a solid Medium.

While I was waiting for my husband to come home for dinner I ate some of the salsa with chips, and then some more and some more.  The heat from the chiles gave it a nice kick, but did not build on itself the way that cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes will.  After I had consumed roughly half of the bag of chips and a good bit of the salsa, we had dinner.  Steak soft tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole.  My husband is a hot sauce lover and despite my warning to try to salsa first before adding his favorite, Texas Pete, to the taco he exclaimed, “Wow, that really is spicy!”  When will husbands start listening to their wives? Oh right, there’s a law of nature against that isn’t there? After further taste testing we both agreed that it was a far superior salsa to any store brands we had tried and it was at least as good, if not better than any of the Mexican restaurants around town serve.  Success!

Over the weekend I started to clean up the remains of my summer garden.  I should have done this about a month ago, but couldn’t bring myself to pull up tomato and pepper plants that were still producing.  If I don’t plant my fall garden in the next couple of weeks it will be too late and it won’t survive the frost.  So, I started untangling all of the long tomato branches that had sprawled out in every direction, crissing and crossing and tangling into each other. As I did this, green tomatoes and pepper began to fall off of the vines.  I collected all of the reasonably sized green tomatoes and a few of the medium spicy peppers.  Now, what to do with them?  Ah-Ha! Green roasted tomato salsa.  I used roughly the same ingredients, subbing in green tomatoes for red.  It turned out pretty well, not nearly as much zing as the red salsa, but still good.  I think it will go really well over some enchiladas.

Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Hummus

Mondays are the first day in the regular work week, of which I am a member.  But for some people, my husband for example, Monday might actually be Friday or Saturday.  This week, Monday was my first day of the work week, and the first day off for my husband.  Whenever his schedule and my schedule collide its hard to keep to the routine.

For example, Monday night after the work day I stopped by the barn and fed Pepper, then headed home.  I was tired, hot and not at all hungry.  My husband had just woken up a few hours before and he wasn’t hungry either.  I had planned out a whole weeks worth of menus, but no sense in making dinner if we weren’t going to eat it.  Then I remembered that I had bought the ingredients to make hummus, yum, a perfect snack without making a whole meal.

My hummus is a little bit different than most peoples.  It starts with the same basic ingredients: 1 can of chick peas, 3 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.  But then I also add a can of artichoke hearts.  Mix this in a food processor until your desired consistency (I like mine a little bit on the chunky side).  Last, but not least, add 2 – 3 roasted red peppers.  Mix just a few spins on the food processor, you want the red pepper to be chunky still, and oooh laa laa there you have my favorite hummus!  Drizzle olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt on top and serve with lightly toasted pitas cut into triangles.  The perfect alternative to dinner on a not so routine night!

Labor Day Weekend

As 9-5 (or 7:45 – 4:45) workers, we hold dear the three day weekends of the year. We get one in January, May, July, September, and various combinations of days off during November and December depending on where you work.  We savor these long weekends because it is a departure from the normal routine, a free day to do anything or nothing.

This particular 3-day weekend, Labor Day, was especially special because here in our hometown it was also the first college game of the season.  College football is a big deal across the country, but being from the South it is truly a season that is looked forward to all year, lived and breathed in the moment and grieved when it is over for the year.  Last year, Auburn won the National Championship!  So amazing, wonderful, proud, exciting!  The only downside is that many of our great players were seniors last year and therefore graduated and/or went on to the pros.  This brings us to this year, our team is relatively unknown and inexperienced, but we are ranked #23 in the nation.

The tailgaters began arriving on Thursday, bringing RV’s, lawn chairs, satellite tv, grills, and plenty of libations with them.  By Friday morning the campus begins to transform from groups of bustling students hurrying to and from class to retirees camped out under tents with widescreens and generators.  By Friday about 3, only the most devoted employees are still at their desks, most have gone to check on their tailgate spot, smokers, or guests in from out of town.  This year my dad decided to keep his season tickets and go to some games, taking me along to the season opener.

Saturday morning I got up, ate a big breakfast, put the dogs in the car, went to the barn and fed Pepper, then headed over to Mom and Dad’s to get ready to go to the game.  Orange Auburn shirt, check, orange and blue shakers, check, sunscreen and sunglasses, check.  Off we went, driving as close as we could get to campus and then finding a parking spot.  We thought that we would stay until half time and then go home, we were sure to beat the un-ranked Utah State team, right? Wrong.

We were tied or trailed the entire 1st half, getting back some momentum before halftime.  The third quarter we both continued to run the score up, we did not lead once during the game.  By the end of the fourth quarter it was looking desperate, with 4 minutes left in the game Utah State scored again, bringing their lead to 10 points.  Many of the fans gave up at the point, left the game, blaming the defense, the offense and bad coaching.  We decided to stick it out, yes it was hot, yes we were tired and thirsty and out of money because we had already spent approximately $100 on water.  But we were there and we were going to see them through to the end.  After an amazing drive and an onside kick followed by another touchdown, we won the game in the final seconds! War Eagle!

My husband and I spent a very rainy (thanks to a tropical depression) Sunday and Monday on the couch with good movies, catching up on Dexter season 4 and a cuddly Emma dog.  I started a new knitting project for a niece, reteaching myself to purl.  I signed up for a knitting class later this Fall that helps you complete a whole sweater, so I had to refresh on the basics!  One of the best things about a really rainy, crappy day off is that is gives you an excuse to do absolutely nothing!  We took full advantage, being very lazy and cozy on the couch all day long.

Monday night we had my parents over for dinner.  We made a new recipe, Greek Burgers, but used pitas cut in half instead of rolls.  Especially good with a side of scalloped potatoes and brownies, brought by Mom.  What a great way to spend a long weekend full of rain that we desperately need!

Meatless Dinner #1

Over the weekend I decided to try a new recipe, from Pioneer Woman, Spicy beans.  I have been looking for a few meatless recipes that might also be hearty enough to satisfy my meat and potatoes husband.  This one looked delicious and easy.  My husband will tell you that it is pretty much impossible for me to follow a recipe, so as usual it was based on her recipe, but I did as follows:

1 bag of pinto beans, soaked overnight in cold water                                                            2 cans diced tomatoes, chili style with seasoning, plus 2 cans water                            1 onion diced                                                                                                                                            1 red bell pepper diced                                                                                                                        Healthy amount of salt and pepper, I didn’t add quite enough salt to mine    Several dashes of Worcestershire                                                                                        Chili Powder and cayenne to taste, ours was not very spicy                                Smoked ham product, I think mine was a shoulder bone of some kind

Add all of this together in the crock pot, give it a stir and put it on low for 8-10 hours.  The longer it cooks, the better the flavor.  We served it over buttermilk cornbread, with cheddar cheese, sour cream and fritos as toppers.  A delicious and hearty meat free dinner that got the thumbs up from my husband and my dad, both big meat eaters, success!