Getting Healthy in an Affordably Delicious Way

Welcome to The Newlywed Chef! My goal and desire will always be healthy and budget-wise cooking. If you aren't a follower yet, please become one! Always feel free to e-mail me recipes that sound good to you, and I will cook them! Or, e-mail some family favorite that you want posted for others to try, and I can do that as well, as long as its healthy, AND budget-friendly.

Enjoy the site, cast a vote in the poll, and come back each day to check for new recipes!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Parmesan Zucchini

Possible one of the best dinners I've made to date. No lie! Nick loved it. It was HARD for us to save some for leftovers, but we did it! Well, leftovers for ONE. The zucchini has no special trick to it, but somehow, yields this special taste as if you've been slaving over the dish. The burgers also have barely anything to them, and come out JUICY and tasty. TRY THIS ONE. You won't regret it!

For your Burgers:

1 to 1.25 pounds of lean ground turkey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese

Mix the turkey, paprika, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Make sure seasoning gets distributed throughout meat. Add more if you think it doesn't look like enough. Then divide your turkey into 4 balls. 

Take those 4 balls, and divide in half again. Take 4 halves and press them into patties onto a greased baking sheet


Now, divide your peppers into 4 equal parts and top each patty with them.

Do the same thing with the cheese!


With your four remaining meat-balls, form into patties, place on top of each dressed up patty and press edges together to form one STUFFED burger patty

After i had done that with each burger, I topped each patty with pepper and paprika.

At this point, refrigerate, covered, until ready to cook.

You could grill these, about 5 minutes per side. We don't have a working grill, so I broiled mine for about 7 minutes per side. If you have a meat thermometer, you want it to read 165.


Serve with ketchup, mustard, spicy mayonnaise, whatever you like on your burgers. Honestly, I didn't need any extra condiments. Nick used some mustard though!

Here's that cheesy pepper stuffing:

They were wonderful. We will be making them on a regular basis from now on! You could stuff these with feta cheese as well and I think you'd get a mighty tasty result! 

For the Parmesan Zucchini
4 medium zuchinni
1 large onion
1 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Slice your onion in half, and then make 1/2 inch slices.
Cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes until soft.

Cut your zucchini into 1/2 inch slices on a diagonal and add to pan with onions.


Add salt and pepper and toss frequently for about 15 minutes. I kept mine covered except when I was tossing, so that the zucchini would soften a little quicker for me!
Once cooked through, add Parmesan cheese, stir, and allow to cook about 30 seconds. Remove immediately and serve

You know by now I like close ups

I served all this up with a baked sweet potato that we always top with butter and cinnamon, but you could add any "starch" you want. Rice, couscous, orzo, baked potatoes, you name it! You can't go wrong with the meat and vegetable part, GUARANTEED



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Secret Ingredient Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip/Raisin Cookies

Warning: These may vanish before your eyes. They also may appear on your hips. Either way, TOTALLY worth it!

1 and 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or regular)
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the flour with the baking soda and set aside

1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 sticks of butter or margarine, softened (use butter- trans fat is a NO NO!)
2 eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, but I used smooth)
3.5 oz package of instant vanilla pudding and pie mix *Secret Ingredient*

Cream the above ingredients (Except the eggs) together. Then beat in the eggs. And lastly, slowly add the flour mixture from earlier.

Add in 3.5 cups of quick cooking oats to make a basic, stiff cookie dough

At this point, I divided the dough in half and added 1/2 cup of raisins to one half

And i added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the remaining dough

Drop by teaspoons onto a baking sheet. Bake them at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Let them cool on a cooling rack about 10 minutes.

In my case, cover immediately and save them to share at Bible Study and Small Group this week!

Enjoy these :) And play around with the basic recipe. You could add only chocolate chips, only raisins. You could add peanut butter chips
You could add butterscotch chips
You could add mini MnMs
You could add peanuts or walnuts or pecans
You could add dried cranberries

Just make them and eat them however you choose to accessorize them!

Enjoy :)

Poor Man's Greek Couscous Salad

Oh, this is a keeper. And I don't say that lightly. If I had enough of everything, I would have doubled the recipe and used it ALL week for lunches. Its easy, its fast, and its delicious! Nothing expensive to this dish. You'll see!

All you'll need

1 cup uncooked couscous (Whole wheat if possible!)
1 large tomato (seeded and finely chopped)
1 cup cucumber (finely chopped or not, if you like big chunks)
4 oz reduced fat Feta Cheese (or not reduced fat if you aren't health conscious)
1/2 cup zesty italian dressing, reduced fat (Kraft makes it, but use any italian you like)
1 tsp dried dill weed OR 1 T fresh dill (I used fresh)

All you'll do

Bring one cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add your couscous, stir, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool about 10 more minutes. In a medium sized bowl, add the remaining ingredients, toss well, and then refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving. The longer it sits in there, the better!

Serve, and of course, ENJOY :)

Options: Throw in some diced chicken to make it into a meal. Throw in some black olives if you have them on hand. Throw in some chopped onion if you'd like. ENDLESS possibilities with this.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ricotta Pancakes with Warm Blueberry Sauce

These were a tasty treat this morning. Luckily I had everything on hand, or I probably wouldn't have made them!

For the Pancakes:

1/2 cup pastry flour 
1/4 cup all purpose flour + 2T (I used whole wheat flour here)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t sugar
1/2t nutmeg
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup buttermilk (or add a teaspoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup skim milk)
3/4 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 t lemon zest
2 t oil

For the Sauce:

1 cup fresh or frozen, unthawed, blueberries
2 T honey
1 T lemon juice

First start the sauce by combining all ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cook about 10 minutes before serving.

Whisk your dry ingredients together in a small bowl

Whisk the wet ingredients together in a larger bowl.

Combine wet with dry and stir just until combined

Make your pancakes. Optional: sprinkle fresh or frozen berries on pancakes ONCE IN THE PAN. I didn't do this, but if you omit the sauce, you'll want the blueberries IN your pancakes :)

Serve them up :) Enjoy!

(You can also add some syrup, Nick did!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pocket Change: Budget Chicken Fajitas with Black Bean and Rice Pilaf!

Here's a recipe thats easy on the wallet and easy on the taste buds. Wow. That was cheesy. I don't care enough to delete that sentence and start over though! Last night I made these minimal ingredient "Fajitas." For those of you die hard Tex Mex or Mexican fans, these are not the sizzling plate they bring out that lights up the whole restaurant with good smells. Its a cheap way to have a healthy, affordable, and easy Mexican INSPIRED dish. I don't have a grill, or I'd have grilled up the chicken the way you're supposed to! So here it is- Nick loved them. He had 3!

Budget Chicken Fajitas

Less than 1 lb of chicken, cut into strips (I used chicken tenders and sliced them in half)
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup lemon juice (about half of a large lemon)
1 yellow onion, quartered, and the sliced (like fajita onions)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste (about 1/4 t salt, 1/2 t black pepper)
1/8 tsp red chile flakes
14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes (get fire roasted if you can find them), drained

For serving: Whole Wheat Tortillas, Salsa, and Cheddar Cheese

All you do is place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lemon and water, bring to a simmer, then add chicken and onions to the pan.

Cook until chicken is mostly cooked through, then add tomatoes and remaining ingredients.

Once chicken is completely cooked, and the juice has thickened up enough, you are ready to serve them. This is an extremely fast dish! We topped our tortillas with the chicken, then some cheddar cheese (skim of course!) and then a little salsa) Pretty tasty!

Black Bean and Rice Pilaf

1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I ended up using more like 3 cups by the end of the cooking time)
1 T Olive Oil
1 small onion, diced FINELY
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 stalk of celery, diced FINELY
1 large carrot, peeled and diced FINELY
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried chili flakes
15.5. oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 t fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Combine chicken broth and rice in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 35 minutes, adding broth as needed.

This starts pretty similar to a soup stock, just minus the broth! Heat your oil in a skillet and add onions, celery, and carrot. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Add garlic, oregano, cumin and chili flakes.

Now, toss in your black beans and heat about 2 minutes

Once rice is done, remove from heat and fluff with a fork, then add in your bean mixture and serve.

Yum :) Enjoy! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Egg-cellent" Eggplant Parmesan

This is a wonderful, easy, healthy, and CHEAP meal. No meat instantly saves you anywhere from 5-10 bucks! I originally pulled this recipe off of If you are afraid of eggplant, try this dish. You'll love it, and won't even know you're eating eggplant! The flavor is very dominated by the italian seasonings and sauce!


2 medium sized eggplants
3 egg whites plus 3 T water mixed together until frothy
1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat, but you don't have to!)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup slivered basil leaves
2.5 cups tomato sauce
(I used a Classico Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce that was on clearance for $1.50)
3/4 cups shredded part skim mozzarella (NOT FAT FREE- that stuff won't melt!)


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and coat 2 baking sheets, and one baking dish with cooking spray
2. Chop the ends off of your eggplant and then slice into 1/4 inch thick peices
3. Have your station set up:

- Small bowl with egg-wash mixture (3 egg whites and 3 T water)
- Medium bowl or plate with bread crumb mixture (1 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, salt and pepper)
- Baking Sheets Nearby (I needed 2) to avoid making a mess

Dip each slice in the egg-wash. Then lightly coat in bread mixture. Place onto baking sheet. Repeat until all slices are ready to go!

Here is what they look like before going into the oven


You'll want to bake them for 15 minutes, then remove and flip each slice, then bake 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, add your fresh basil to your sauce (you could use dried basil, or just omit it altogether, but I don't recommend it!)


Next, while they are baking, and don't forget to flip them, coat the bottom of your baking dish/pan/casserole dish with 1/2 cup of the sauce.

When eggplant are ready, place half of the slices on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 1 cup of the sauce. Then 1/2 of the mozzarella. Layer the remaining eggplant, top with remaining sauce, and top with the remaining mozzarella and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

Pop it all back in the oven to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Plate up, serve, and enjoy :)
This would go well with pasta and or a salad and maybe even some fresh bread. We just had leftover salad from Valentine's dinner. I think I'll make pasta when we have the leftovers!

Nick said it was a keeper. And please understand: it is rare that Nick says that about a meatless meal. He also isn't a huge fan of eggplant from past experiences, but he had 2 servings of these guys! I'M JUST SAYING! Take a chance on them!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Romantic Dinner for 2! PART FOUR: Angel Peanut Butter Parfaits

So, this was our favorite course of the evening. We really could have JUST eaten this for dinner, and been just fine. Maybe not the healthiest choice, but surely the tastiest!

And here is the recipe you get for voting for your favorite sweet: Anything chocolate and peanut butter!

I pulled this off of I highly recommend visiting their site if you are a peanut butter lover. They have recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert! Anyways, easy dessert. Here we go!


1 angel food cake (I bought mine at Kroger)
1 package (6 serving size) INSTANT sugar-free vanilla pudding and pie mix (JELLO brand)
1 package (6 serving size) INSTANT sugar-free chocolate pudding and pie mix (JELLO brand)
5 cups of Skim Milk
1/2 cup Reduced-Fat Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
Cool Whip (Optional)
Strawberries or any fruit for topping and garnish (Optional)


That's all you need . Here's how you make it:

Dice Angel-Food Cake into 1 inch cubes. Place in a large bowl

In a blender or food processor, combine vanilla pudding mix, 2.5 cups of milk, and peanut butter. Blend until smooth. Pour over cake and fold gently to coat the cake.


Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.
In a medium bowl, combine chocolate pudding mix and 2.5 cups of milk. Whisk about 2 minutes until well combined. Cover and put in the refrigerator at least one hour. (I didn't take a picture because I think you can all make instant pudding without me showing you how!)

When ready to serve, layer the peanut butter cake, then the chocolate pudding. Repeat until you get to the top of your serving cup. Top with Whipped Cream and Sliced Strawberry


These were TO-DIE-FOR. Wow. So, so good. You could make this into a small trifle if you wanted to serve it that way. But individual parfaits are the way to go on this one! I promise.
Enjoy :)

OH! And here was our "Table-scape" that I set up for the dinner.


You can't tell from this picture because I needed light, but it was all candle-light when we ate :) Such a fun date night!

Romantic Dinner for 2! PART THREE: Homemade Ricotta Cheese, Pine Nut, and Spinach Stuffed Ravioli

These guys were my pride and joy of the evening. I have wanted to make my own ravioli for SO SO long now! I saved them for Valentine's Day! I have never been happier with something I've made than with these guys! I cheated and used Won Ton Wrappers instead of true pasta dough, but, it still counts, right? See what you think!

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (And I mean FINELY)
1/2 pound baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
8 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Flour for dusting
1 (12-ounce) package won ton wrappers
1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons butter

For any of you who are unfamiliar with shallots, they look like this. VERY similar to onions. I ordered mine from They deliver FRESH produce to your door! Very exciting. They gave us a dozen red roses for free just for ordering around Valentine's Day!

Here we go, hang on tight!

First, you want to saute your shallots in a large skillet in oil for about a minute over medium heat. Then, start adding your spinach in batches and let it wilt.


Good to go:


Once all spinach is wilted, remove from heat and put into a medium-sized bowl. Allow it to cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
Once cooled and ready, remove from refrigerator and place in a sieve. Squeeze all excess liquid out of the spinach leaves. If you don't have a sieve, then just take balls of it in your hands and squeeze out the liquid that way. Once dry, chop up the spinach, place it back into the bowl and mix with ricotta cheese, 6 T of pine nuts, 2 T Parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Ta da! You have your ravioli filling. I wish you could smell this right now!


At this point, you want to lightly flour your counter, and lightly flour 2 baking sheets. Have your egg-wash mixture ready to go and a pastry brush (or clean paint brush) nearby.

Take your Won Ton Wrappers and lay about 6 out on your surface. Paint the edges with egg wash


Take a small spoon and scoop a drop of filling into the center of each wrapper


Take 6 new wrappers, and place them right over top. Seal the edges (Leaving no air bubbles inside) and place on your baking sheet Repeat until all wrappers are used up.


I had about a tray and a half, with lots of leftover filling. At this point, cover them with a damp towel and refrigerate until ready to cook. You can also freeze them at this stage, and then cook them right out of the freezer if you want to. 
I saved my leftover filling. I plan on stuffing it into some chicken next week. Check back to see how it goes :) 

About 2 hours later, I was ready to cook. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add raviolis. Stir GENTLY to keep them from sticking to each other. It would be okay to do them in batches if necessary.

Meanwhile, bring butter to a frothy simmer over low heat in a large skillet. As ravioli finish boiling, drop them into the butter. Once they are all in the skillet, add the remaining Parmesan and Pine Nuts. I added some salt and pepper here as well.


I heated up some plain pasta sauce to serve over top (and underneath) 


Sprinkle with some grated Parmean, serve, and enjoy. These were SO delicious!

Romantic Dinner for 2! PART TWO: Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Bisque

So, our second course of the evening was a squash soup that I had made before. We both liked it, so I took the safe way out instead of trying something new! It's a little involved, but nothing fancy or tricky that you can't handle .. do I ever give you stuff you can't handle?


1 medium butternut squash
2 T Olive Oil
1/2 cup celery chopped
1/2 cup carrot chopped
1-1/2 cup onion chopped (one medium-large onion)
4 cups chicken stock
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp chipotle pepper seeded and minced
Pinch of tyme
Pinch of sage


Slice your squash in half lengthwise, reserving seeds, and discarding pulp (like a pumpkin) - and place flesh side down in a greased baking dish. Pierce all over with a fork:


Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until VERY fork-tender. It should come out soft and very orange:


While the squash is cooling, begin sauteing your onion, carrot, and celery in the oil


I let these cook about 5-7 minutes until soft (Not brown!) Then add your garlic and cook about 1 more minute. Then, add your broth and start scooping the flesh of the squash into the pot as well. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 mintues. Meanwhile, begin to toast your squash seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until dry and crunchy. Add salt and set aside.


It will be chunky, and that's okay! FOR NOW! Add in your thyme and sage. I also added some salt and pepper. Once it has finished simmering for 30 minutes, get out a blender or food processor and start pureeing the soup in batches. Once all of it is pureed, pour back into your pot and keep warm.


At this point, stir in your 2 teaspoons of chipotle pepper for a little kick. Ladle into bowls, top with toasted seeds, and serve! Last time I made this, I stirred some chipotle pepper sauce into a half cup of sour cream and served a dallop of that on top along with the toasted seeds.

However you top it off, just enjoy it :) Its a good, warm, winter soup. Its healthy, but not at the cost of taste!