Cooking

Chicken Pitas

How many calories are in a Chicken Pita?

The calorie count for these Chicken Pitas comes in surprisingly low at 418 calories per pita. Be sure to use the ingredients indicated to keep them light, including nonfat plain Greek yogurt and light sour cream. Using different brands and substituting ingredients can alter the nutritional content.Can I cook the chicken on the stove instead of an outdoor grill?

Yes. Just lightly coat a skillet or stovetop grill pan with olive oil and sear the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F.

Greek Potatoes

A white serving bowl filled with Lemon Roasted Greek Potatoes.

We love our potatoes here so I include a potato side dish in my menu planning at least once a week. These Greek Potatoes are joining my Oven Baked Fries as a dependably delicious and easy choice.

The simple method of slow roasting baby gold potatoes in a lemon-herb infused broth and oil mixture will forever have a place in my potato dish rotation. The result is crispy, creamy and so flavorful.

A closeup of a pile of Greek Potatoes.

The method creates perfectly crispy, roasted potatoes with a buttery interior.

Greek Potatoes are an excellent choice to serve with a wide variety of main dishes from steak, to chicken, to pork, to seafood.

All the ingredients required to make Greek Potatoes

Ingredients

  • baby gold potatoes (look for a 3 pound bag in the produce section of your grocery store)
  • the juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano, kosher or sea salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper

Read more about How to Buy and Store Potatoes like a Pro.

How to Make Greek Potatoes

This is a wonderfully easy and mostly hands off potato side dish.

Olive oil and lemon juice are combined in a glass bowl.
  • Add olive oil and fresh lemon juice to some low-sodium chicken broth.
Lemon rind and dried seasonings are added to the oil and lemon mixture.
  • Add the zest of 1 lemon and the dry seasoning – oregano, kosher or sea salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper.
The oil and lemon mixture is poured over sliced potatoes on a baking sheet.
  • Halve or quarter 3 pounds of baby gold potatoes so that they are about 1 1/2 – to 2-inches big and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. There is no need to peel these thin-skinned potatoes.
  • Whisk together and pour the broth and oil mixture over the potatoes. Toss them until they are all well coated with the mixture.
Lemon Roasted Greek Potatoes on a baking sheet shot from over the top.
  • Roast the potatoes in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and toss the potatoes, spreading them back out in an even layer.
  • Return the baking sheet to the oven to roast for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and fork tender.
  • Garnish the roasted Greek Potatoes with some fresh parsley to add bright herb flavor.
A small white bowl filled with Greek Potatoes.
A white serving bowl filled with Lemon Roasted Greek Potatoes.

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Greek Potatoes

These lemon roasted Greek Potatoes are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside! They are a delicious side dish choice for a wide variety of meals.

Course Side Dish

Cuisine Greek

Servings 6

Calories 292kcal

  • 3 pounds baby gold potatoes halved or quartered as needed to be 1 1/2- to 2-inches (I like Honey Gold Bite-Sized Potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place the potatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Combine the chicken broth, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat the potatoes. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast for 20 minutes and then toss the potatoes, spread them back out in an even layer, and continue to cook for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork tender and golden brown.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Look for 3 pound bags of baby gold potatoes in the produce section of your grocery store. Some stores also carry them in bulk. They may also be called creamer or new potatoes. Baby potatoes are naturally thin-skinned and should not be peeled before roasting. Serving: 0.5pound | Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 409mg | Potassium: 1016mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg

Pizza Pasta Casserole

Everything you love about pizza in casserole form. This Pizza Pasta Casserole is the definition of a family-friendly meal!

A spoon digs in to the center of the Pizza Pasta in a white casserole dish.

When times get tough, the tough eat pasta! But, seriously folks, is there anything more comforting than a great big casserole dish full of cheesy pasta in a bubbling meat sauce? An easy pasta casserole like this Pizza Pasta Casserole or my Lazy Lasagna Casserole happens at least once a month here. They are easy to make, substantial enough to feed my big group, and everyone loves them.

Just toss a simple green salad and slice some bread and dinner is served.

A serving of Pizza Pasta Casserole on a white plate with green salad and a slice of bread.

Ingredients

I like to use a substantial dry pasta for this Pizza Pasta Casserole, like the mezze rigatoni you see in this post. Any short pasta you like will work – regular rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, penne, or even bow tie pasta.

The necessary ingredients for making Pizza Pasta Casserole.
  • short, dry pasta of your choice (I love mezze rigatoni which is a smaller version of traditional rigatoni)
  • ground beef
  • diced bell pepper, chopped (any color or combination or colors)
  • diced yellow onion
  • sliced mushrooms
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • sliced black olives
  • sliced pepperoni (sub turkey pepperoni to reduce fat and calories)
  • shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • grated Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
The finished pasta dish on a white plate with green salad and a slice of bread.

The Difference Between Bell Peppers

If your kiddos or anyone else in the house objects to bell peppers I suggest going with yellow, orange, or red peppers. In addition to adding really pretty color and contrast to recipes, they are are sweeter and far milder in flavor than green bell peppers.

Suprisingly, all the colors in the bell pepper spectrum come from the same plant. When harvested early, you get the most strongly flavored green bell peppers. When allowed to ripen fully, the color turns to that bright, beautiful red. Yellow and orange fall somewhere in between. The longer the fruit is allowed to ripen, the milder and sweeter it becomes and the more nutritional value it gains. Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin C and nine times the amount of beta-carotene as the younger green variety! Check out The Science Explorer for more bell pepper nutrition information.

Instructions

  • Cook your pasta about 2 minutes shy of the package directions. While it is cooking, you can get started on the meat sauce.
Ground beef is cooked in a skillet with bell peppers and onions.
  • Cook ground beef until browned and crumbled. Drain off the excess grease and return the skillet to the heat.
  • Add diced onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Mushrooms and seasonings are added to the ground beef mixture in the skillet.
  • Add garlic and mushrooms and cook and stir for another three or four minutes, to soften the mushrooms.
  • Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Marinara sauce is added to the skillet and combined with the ground beef mixture.
  • Add the marinara sauce and water and stir well to combine.
  • Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Pizza Pasta Casserole

Cooked rigatoni is layered with ground beef mixture, pepperoni, and olives in a casserole dish.
  • Transfer half of the cooked pasta to the prepared baking dish.
  • Spoon half of the meat mixture evenly over the top. Scatter half the the pepperoni and olives over the sauce.
A final layer of cheese is added and then the layers are repeated.
  • Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
  • Repeat the layers ending with a final layer of the cheeses.
The Pizza Pasta Casserole after it is baked in a white casserole dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Ligthen it Up

  • Use 93% lean ground beef and part-skim mozzarella.
  • Opt for turkey pepperoni instead of the traditional variety to save on both fat and calories.
  • Reduce the sodium substantially by going with a reduced sodium marinara sauce like Silver Palate Reduced Sodium Marinara. I love this sauce and it’s easy to find major grocery store chains.
A spoon scoops up some Pizza Pasta from the casserole dish.

Make Ahead and Freezer Instructions

Assemble the Pizza Pasta Casserole as directed and then cover the baking dish tightly with heavy duty foil, crimping the edges tightly, and transfer the unbaked casserole to the refrigerator. Bake the casserole within 24 hours.

For longer storage, transfer your foil covered freezer safe casserole dish to the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend picking up some disposable foil pans for freezing recipes so you don’t have to be without your baking dish for a long period of time.

To serve, thaw the frozen casserole in the refrigerator overnight and remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off. Bake the casserole as directed, increasing the time as necessary to heat it through if it is still chilly when going in the oven.

A close up of the finished pasta dish on a white plate.
A spoon digs in to the center of the Pizza Pasta in a white casserole dish.

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Pizza Pasta Casserole

Everything you love about pizza in casserole form. This Pizza Pasta Casserole is the definition of a family-friendly meal!

Course Main Course, Pasta

Cuisine Italian

Servings 6

Calories 594kcal

  • 12 ounces mezze rigatoni or other short pasta of your choice
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper chopped (any color or combination or colors)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 25 ounces marinara (reduced sodium or regular)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoni sliced in half (can use turkey pepperoni to reduce fat and calories)
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Boil the pasta 2 minutes shy of the package directions, about 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, place a skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned and crumbled. Drain the excess grease and return the skillet to the heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook and stir for another three or four minutes, to soften the mushrooms. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add the marinara and water and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat.
  • Transfer half of the cooked pasta to the prepared baking dish. Spoon half of the meat mixture evenly over the top. Scatter half the the pepperoni and olives over the sauce and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano). Repeat the layers ending with a final layer of the cheeses.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Calories: 594kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 640mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1143IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 515mg | Iron: 3mg

Pizza Pasta Casserole in a white baking dish with text overlay.

The post Pizza Pasta Casserole appeared first on Valerie’s Kitchen.

Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

These rustic and substantial Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips are so delicious warm from the oven. This recipe is a fabulous way to make use of those overripe bananas!

A close up of a pile of muffins.

Have you noticed an unusual amount of banana bread while scrolling your feed on Pinterest or Instagram lately? There is definitely a banana bread baking frenzy going on. And, I get it. We’re stocking more food than usual these days and once those bananas start to get a little too ripe, there is always that irresistible pull to bake something.

Instead of following the crowd and baking a loaf, you should absolutely try these Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips. They’re good enough to start a new baking trend!

A Oatmeal Banana Muffin cut in half revealing the chocolate chips inside.

These substantial banana muffins are bulked up with oats and sweetened with chocolate chips. A heavenly match.

Toasting Oats in the Oven

Lightly toasting oats in the oven will enhance their flavor and texture. It’s an easy step that I like to do when making these muffins. Just spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet and pop them in a 375 degree F oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Let them cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Instructions

Oats being poured into a mixing bowl with flour and the remaining dry ingredients are added.
  • Combine the toasted and slightly cooled oats with all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add baking powder and salt.
Buttermilk and vegetable oil are added to the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk.
  • Add vegetable oil.
Melted butter, mashed bananas and chocolate chips are added to the wet mixture.
  • Add melted butter, lightly beaten eggs, and mashed bananas, and whisk to combine.
  • Add the wet mixture to the bowl with the dry mixture and stir just until all the dry ingredients are moist.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
A measuring cup scoops up some muffin batter and a muffin pan full of cupcake batter.
  • Scoop out a heaping 1/3 cup of batter to fill each cup in your muffin pan.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched. Remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly.

Kitchen Tip

To cleanly transfer muffin or cupcake batter to a muffin pan, spray a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray before scooping. Repeat as often as needed.

A muffin till full of Oatmeal Banana Muffins with one balanced on top.

Storing Muffins

If you plan to consume your freshly baked muffins within a day or two, cover the completely cooled muffins with foil or place them in a zippered plastic storage bag and store them at room temperature.

To extend their life for up to a week, store the bagged muffins in the refrigerator.

How to Freeze Muffins

To freeze, wrap the completely cooled muffins securely in foil or freezer- safe plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe zippered plastic storage bags. Label the bags with the date and use frozen muffins within 3 months for the best quality.

Thaw frozen muffins at room temperature and consume within a day or two.

A closeup of half of an Oatmeal Banana Muffin in a cupcake liner.

These muffins are fabulous served warm while the chocolate chips are still soft and a bit melted or the next morning with a cup of coffee.

For more easy baking inspiration, check out my full collection of Muffins and Quick Bread Recipes.

This recipe was originally published on September 26 , 2011 and has been updated with new text and images.

A close up of a pile of muffins.

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Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Rustic and substantial, these Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips are so delicious warm from the oven. This recipe is a fabulous way to make use of those overripe bananas!

Course Breakfast, Snack

Cuisine American

Servings 12 muffins

Calories 450kcal

  • 1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line it with cupcake liners.
  • Place the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer it to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  • Combine the oats, flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to mix.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, buttermilk, and oil. Add the melted butter, lightly beaten eggs, and mashed bananas, and whisk to combine.
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and use a spoon to stir just until all the dry ingredients are moist. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Spray a 1/3 cup dry measure with non-stick cooking spray.  Scoop out a heaping 1/3 cup of batter to fill each cup in your muffin pan.  You may need to spray the measuring cup with additional non-stick cooking spray in between scoops if the batter begins sticking.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and the tops of the muffins spring back when touched. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Delicious served warm or cold.

Serving: 1muffin | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 134mg | Potassium: 362mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 436IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 3mg

Adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

A pile of Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips with text overlay.

The post Oatmeal Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips appeared first on Valerie’s Kitchen.