Carrie's Kitchen: A trio of hearty but sensible dinner recipes

It’s Week 2 of trying to eat more sensibly. Take a deep breath. This doesn’t have to hurt.

The key is to find ingredients that you love and just don’t deep fry them, am I right? Add a little healthy something to the not-so-healthy something you really want to eat. Give yourself a portion that you think a dietician would dish out on your plate, and after eating it, walk away and allow your body to decide if you’re full or not. If you are still hungry, then go back for more veggies.


We can do this.

This week I have three dinner recipes, because I like having hearty meals for dinner and then eating the leftovers the next day for lunch. So cooking well for dinner pays off for two meals in my house.

First up, salmon with Swiss chard, apple and quinoa. This is a fairly easy recipe if you’ve already got cooked quinoa on hand, which is what the recipe calls for. You place all the ingredients on a baking sheet and roast it until the salmon is cooked to your liking, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 to 10 minutes. The Swiss chard will get wilted from the high heat, the apple will get lightly baked and the quinoa will probably get a little toasted, which can help add to its natural nutty flavor. Sheet pan dinners are so quick to make and so quick to clean up.

Which is why I chose a second sheet pan dinner — oven roasted fajitas. Here you chop up all your classic fajita ingredients — onion, peppers, and chicken — toss them with olive oil and homemade taco seasoning, and then cook them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Use whole-wheat tortillas if you want to go the extra mile, but not if they’re going to make you sad about these delicious fajitas.

And finally, a pork stew you can cook in the slow cooker with carrots, cabbage and marinara sauce. What makes it extra special? The author recommends a Penzeys spice blend called Sunny Paris, which, according to the website, is made from shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf (this sounds amazing). But you could also use a more Italian blend, or any favorite spice blend. It also uses some fish sauce, which can give it a more earthy (but usually not fishy) flavor. The author says you don’t even need to sear the pork beforehand. Pork shoulder isn’t the leanest meat, but I guess the recipe is carb free, which can be helpful to a lot of people, and it’s going to make that cabbage taste great, so that’s another bonus.


Sheet pan salmon with chard, apple and quinoa

1 cup Swiss chard leaves (or kale), thinly sliced

1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 teaspoons canola oil

¼ teaspoon cumin



1 salmon fillet (3 ounces), skin removed


Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Toss the chard, apple, quinoa, oil, and cumin on pan. Season with salt and pepper. Season salmon liberally with salt and pepper on all sides and place on top of kale mixture.

Roast 7 to 10 minutes (the thicker your fillet, the longer it will take) for medium rare. If you like your salmon more well done, remove chard and apple mixture from pan after 10 minutes and cook salmon an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Serves 1.


Oven roasted fajitas

1 onion, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper sliced

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lime, juiced

3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (recipe below)

Tortillas and your favorite fajita toppings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place onion, peppers, and chicken in 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish.

Drizzle and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle taco seasoning over dish and toss to coat.

Roast in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring once halfway.

Top with lime juice.

Homemade taco seasoning

1 and ¼ cup chili powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons dried oregano

4 tablespoons paprika

½ cup cumin

⅓ cup pepper

Combine ingredients. Makes about 20 servings

Slow cooker cheater pork stew

2 small onions, thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

½ pound baby carrots

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into 1.5-inch cubes or a 4 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast

1 tablespoon Sunny Paris seasoning (or your favorite seasoning blend)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 small cabbage, cut into 8 wedges

1 cup marinara sauce

1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar

¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Slice up the onions and smash the garlic cloves. Add them with the carrots to the slow cooker liner, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Cube the pork and toss with Sunny Paris seasoning and fish sauce. (No Sunny Paris? No problem. Just use an herb blend you like.) Add another sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Pile the seasoned pork on top of the onions and carrots, and tuck the cabbage wedges on top. Drizzle on the marinara sauce and some more salt and pepper.

Put on the lid and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

When the pork and veggies are fork-tender, adjust the stew for seasoning with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Top the stew with fresh Italian parsley.