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Friday, September 30, 2011

Cajun Chicken & Sausage Pasta

This dish is out-of-control good! It is full of so much yumminess that we were all members of The-Clean-Plate-Club! I use a lot of bell peppers in my recipes each week, my kids love them, which makes me happy but I love that as soon as I take them out of the fridge, clean and start slicing them, I have to watch out for little hands that keep coming towards my cutting board for more. I always buy more than I need because I know when it is dinner time and my kiddos are hungry they will start reaching for peppers and they do not discriminate, they love all the colors! We tried growing them in our garden this year but only ever got one because the deer beat us to them every time.
 This was pretty easy to make some chopping at the beginning but I just did it all at once, first the veggies, then the meat then it was show time! This recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman who makes this with a lot more, oil, butter and cream so if you want the heavy duty full fat version go here. If you want something light, delicious and still full of flavor without the fat then stay right where you are :)

3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
1 package low fat Turkey Kielbasa sausage, sliced
3 t Cajun Spice
2 t Olive Oil
Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
Roma Tomatoes, Diced
1.5 cups Chicken Stock
3 T Half & Half
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 package of whole grain Linguini, cooked in salted water

Slice all the veggies and put them aside, then dice the chicken and slice the sausage. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. Add to skillet when the oil is hot and let the chicken sit for about 2-3 minutes, if you start to move it too soon it will rip apart, which is no good, just let it sizzle and cook for at least 2 minutes then stir and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Place chicken on a plate then add the sausage to the pan, cook until browned on both sides, remove and place with chicken. At this point add one more teaspoon of olive oil, then add the veggies and the other teaspoon of Cajun seasoning, except the tomatoes. Toss around pan on high heat for about 2 minutes, if it seems like you need more oil, you can add a couple of spalshes of stock, it adds flavor and keeps things from sticking without added fat and calories, then move the veggies to a clean plate. You do not want the veggies overcooked, they may not seem done at this point but they will continue to cook while they are sitting on the plate. With the pan still on high heat add 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan and let sizzle and bubble while you scrape the bits of chicken, sausage and veggies off the pan and into the sauce, let it bubble for about 1 minute, then reduce heat and slowly add the half and half, one tablespoon at a time. Let the sauce cook for a couple of minutes but this will not be a very thick sauce, just a really yummy one! Finally add your cooked linguini, chicken, sausage and vegetables back to the pan, at this point add your fresh tomatoes and fresh parsley. Gently mix together and serve. 

Weight Watcher Friends: This was really good. I only used 1/2 a package of whole wheat linguini in the entire dish. There were so many vegetables and meat that we didn't even miss it! This amount made about 6-7 servings for 9 points per serving.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken Vegetable Soup

I am always on the hunt for yummy things to make and new ideas. I ran across Ree Drummond's site the other day and found her recipe for Italian Chicken Soup which this recipe is loosely based on, I changed a lot of things :) but the basic idea was from Ree.

1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots(6-8 baby), diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, sliced
2 cartons of chicken stock (NOT broth) 32oz each
1 can petite diced tomatoes, 28 oz
1-2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 bone-in chicken breasts (skin removed)
1 can Cannellini Beans (white Kidney)
1 cup dry Ditalini noodles
1 t Olive Oil
 Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop, chop, chop! There is a lot of slicing and dicing for this recipe, so I gathered all the items that needed to be chopped and sat down for the job :)

Once all your fresh veggies are prepared heat your dutch oven and add 1 t olive oil, then add, onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers. Cook for 3-5 minutes allowing the veggies to wilt a bit.

Then add the garlic and let the garlic cook with the veggies for about a minute. Turn up the heat to high and add both cartons of chicken stock. Make sure to use your spoon to stir the stock in and get any of the veggies bits that may be on the bottom of the pan into your soup. After a minute or two add the raw bone-in chicken breast, make sure they are covered by the liquid, bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low, cover and let the chicken cook for about an hour. (clearly this whole step could be eliminated and you could just use a rotisserie chicken but I think cooking the chicken in the soup adds to the flavor). After an hour remove the chicken from the pot, add your tomatoes, and beans, gently stir.

At this point you can cook your pasta just to al dente, do not over cook. I also am not a fan of putting raw pasta into a soup, it just soaks up too much of your good stock. So I cook mine in salted water then keep in a separate dish just until I serve. Once the chicken has cooled enough for you to handle, remove from the bones and shred to the size you want in your soup and add it back to your soup. At this point I add my zucchini and parsley then turn it to very low. I do not like 'smushy' zucchini so I add it about 5-10 minutes before we ready to eat. Use a ladle to serve it up and Enjoy! I just eat mine with a little bit of fresh grated Parm, but my kids load mozzarella on top of theirs :)

Weight Watcher Friends: This is a great soup for low points. It is so hearty and delicious! 1.5 cups only has 5points. If you add 1/4 cup of noodles to yours, add a point.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grilled Chicken Panzanella Bread Salad

I love making salads, I have so many recipes of different salads that I make for my family. My kids love salad which makes it even more fun to create different salads  and they are always game to dig in! This one is really good beacuse it has, chicken, beans, bread and cheese all in one. So we fill our plates and eat up!

4-6 cups Romaine Lettuce
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber sliced
1/2 red onion sliced
1/2 multi-grain French Baguette
1 can Cannellini Beans (white kidney beans)
Fresh shaved Parmesan Cheese
1 lb chicken breast
1/3 cup Italian Dressing

I usually prep this dinner when my kids are school so all I have to do is pull out my marinated chicken and throw it on the grill/pan and it just makes it a more enjoyable evening when I am not in the kitchen for so long at dinner time.

For the salad:

Gather the cucumber, onion, lettuce and tomatoes.

Slice and dice and put the salad in your serving bowl and cover.

For the chicken you could use whatever chicken or marinade you like or not even marinate but this day I had time so I quickly whisked together, 1/4 cup of each red wine and white wine vinegar, 1 T olive oil, 2 T fresh parsley then I diced up a little extra red onion and a glove of garlic, Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, a few shakes of each Garlic Garlic and Onion Onion and I added a about 2T of water. I buy boneless skinless chicken breast but they are always so thick, so I take them and slice them in half to make 2 breasts out of each. Put the chicken in a food storage bag and pour the marinade over them and place in the fridge until we are ready to eat.

Then I make my croutons. Cube the baguette and put them evenly place them on a cookie sheet and in the oven at 300 degrees for about15 minutes then turn the oven off and let them sit for another 15 minutes to get crunchy.

When we ready to eat I pull out my chicken and either grill it or throw it in a skillet on my stove. Cook it 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through. At this point I finish assembling the salad by adding the Cannellini Beans once they have been drained and rinsed. I toss the croutons& beans into the salad and toss with dressing I only use about 1/3 cup of Italian dressing (my favorite go-to Italian dressing is Good Seasons, which I make with wither red or white wine vinegar, of course I lighten it up by adding more vinegar and water and less oil). I like for the croutons to get moist in the salad, it makes them extra yummy! Then slice the chicken and top with fresh parm and fresh cracked pepper.

Weight Watcher Friends: This can a bit tricky to calculate the points. Clearly the salad part has 0 so you will have to probably add the points according to your plate. I add 3 points for the chicken, 2 for the bread, 1 for the beans and 1 for the dressing, for a total of 7 points for a large salad. The amount this makes feeds my family of 4 plus I always have enough left over for lunch the next day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

OMG...Mediterranean Meatballs

I am not really a "meat" girl, If you have followed this blog for any time you have probably noticed that I have a good deal of vegetarian recipes. Just the sound of a-ball-of-meat, never did much for me, until now! I have adapted this recipe from my friend Rebecca who makes all kinds of yummy little meatballs and loves them so I thought I should open my mind. These are so yummy they practically melt in your mouth, they are incredible. Even my little Elle who doesn't like meat, gobbled them up!

My Marinara:
3/4 T olive oil
1 onion diced small
3-4 cloves garlic (sliced or diced whichever you prefer)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
fresh basil and parsley (as much as you like)
A few shakes of Garlic Garlic & Onion Onion
Salt and pepper to

Heat sauce pan add oil and taste onion, saute the onion for about 2-3 minutes then add garlic (careful not to burn) simmer another 2 mins.  Add tomatoes, let simmer for about 5-7 mins then add salt, pepper and herbs, bring to a rolling simmer, then cover and turn to low and simmer for 30 minutes, while you make your meatballs.

Mediterranean Meatballs:
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 T egg whites
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 T garlic, minced
1 t lemon zest
2-3 T fresh parsley
salt and pepper
2-4 shakes of Garlic Garlic (or just use garlic powder)
2-4 shakes of Onion Onion (or just use onion powder)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, take off your rings and get your hands dirty. Mix together very well then form into balls. Spray a foil lined cookie sheet and place the meatballs about an inch apart and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Once the meatballs are finished, place in the sauce and let them simmer together for about 5 minutes. Then serve over spaghetti and top with fresh parm & feta.

Weight Watcher Friends:  The sauce has 1 point for 1 cup. The meatballs have 5-6 points for 3 meatballs (depending on the size). The night I made these I had it over a cup of whole grain pasta and it was an 11 point dinner. But the next day I had it as leftovers and served it over spaghetti squash which has 0 points, it was AMAZING and only had 6 points for practically the same meal!

Source: A Dash of Thyme

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken

I am always looking for different ways to make chicken breast. This one was full of flavor and so delicious. I got the recipe from Gina at Skinny Taste. If you haven't ever been to her site, you totally should because it is a great source of low calorie recipes.

3/4 cup of diced tomatoes (I used about 10 grape and 2 Roma)
1/3 cup purple onion, diced
2 small garlic cloves
1 T olive oil
1 T Balsamic vinegar
2 T fresh basil or flat leaf parsley
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup diced fresh mozzarella
6-8 thin sliced chicken breast

Combine, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and stir together. Add tomatoes and herbs and gently fold together. Wait to add the mozzarella until just before you are ready to eat. Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. Either grill or saute in a non-stick frying pan with 1 t olive oil. Cook until chicken is done. Slice chicken on the diagonal and spoon tomatoe mixture over the top.

Weight Watcher Friends: This dish has 6 points. I served it with some whole grain pasta and fresh broccili.
Source: Skinny Taste

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garlic Garlic & Onion Onion

A couple of years ago a friend of mine, Lynn Barnett, asked me to host a party for her, she is consultant with Tastefully Simple. It was a really fun party with friends; we laughed, drank and ate some really great food. That night I bought several things from her, all were good but Lynn keeps me stocked with my two favs, Garlic Garlic and Onion Onion. I love them both, they add great flavor to my cooking. The ingredients in them are all things you already know, nothing artificial or that you can't pronounce. I often use them in addition to fresh onion and garlic because I think they really bring out the flavors and they have 0 calories/points. On several recipes that I have on this blog I use them (pretty much anytime I have garlic or onions in a dish, these two are also in there, I never measure it out, just shake and taste until it's right. I don't always mention it because I know they are probably not staples in every one's kitchen but they are in mine :)

Broiled Parmesan Talapia with Polenta and Mixed Vegetables

I love to make fish, I know it is healthy and my kids and husband love it! I usually dip it in lemon zest infused olive oil, then bread it with a mixture of panko, ground flax and parm, then saute it in olive oil. It is super delish that way. But I was trying to make it with less fat/oil so this past Sunday night I tried it this way and it was great!

Weight Watcher Friends: can you believe that this whole plate only has 7 points??

4 Talapia fillets
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Grated parm
1 lemon, juice and zest
salt and pepper

Turn broiler on. Use some olive oil spray and coat your pan, then place the fillets on the pan. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over each fillet, add lemon zest and salt and pepper to each fillet. Then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon each of the bread crumbs and parm to each fillet. Place under the broiler for about 5-8 mins, checking to make sure they don't burn, broiling can turn from perfection to disaster in seconds :)

I served this with Polenta, I buy it at Trader Joes ready and in a tube for under $2.00 it is a yummy side dish that I just slice then sear on each side in a non-stick frying pan with about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. I season them with salt and pepper and Garlic Garlic and cook them for about 5-7 minutes per side.

I also served this with steamed broccoli and sauteed mixed vegetables.

Weight Watcher Friends: The fish as prepared in this dish only has 4 points, the polenta has 2 and there is a small amount of olive oil on the sauteed veggies so they have 1 point at the most. This is a ton of food for 7 points and very filling.

Roasted Okra

Labor Day weekend we spent up at our family farm in Jasper. One day I will post some pictures, it is truly a  beautiful place, 30 acres of pasture, creeks and precious white house with a wrap around porch! Our friends Tom and Tara were heading up to Blue Ridge for the weekend and stopped by our place. Our neighbor had just dropped off a bag full of fresh okra from his garden. My friend Tara who is a fabulous cook, said have you ever just roasted okra? So that night we did and it was so simple, healthy and a hit with everyone!

20-30 whole okra
1T olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the fresh okra, toss in olive oil make sure the pieces get evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 mins, open the oven and give the pan a little shake to turn them over then bake for about 10 more minutes. Eat right away!

Weight Watcher Friends: This has 2 points if you eat it all! And less if you share :)

Source: Tara Bates

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nacho Casserole & Fiesta Rice

So this afternoon, my sweet friend, neighbor and fellow blogger, Rebecca at A Dash of Thyme, came over and spent the afternoon with me and helped me give my blog a face lift. We let our kiddos run wild around my house and chatted and worked on my blog. She has had a food blog for a while and has a beautiful website with lots of great recipes!
I took this recipe from Rebecca's site (with her permission of course) It was very yummy :) Of course I altered it a bit to make it lighter, enjoy!

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 can fat free refried beans        
1 cup fresh salsa ( I love La Mexicana, in the produce section at Publix, 0 points!)
1 onion diced
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic season (I use Garlic Garlic from Tastefully Simple)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent add spices at this point and taste the ground beef mixture to ensure flavor. Spread refried beans in the bottom of a casserole dish, top with beef onion mixture, add salsa then sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  This is a yummy dinner but would also be delicious as a dip with chips or even put in a tortilla. My kids dipped tortilla chips and added sour cream and extra salsa.

Weight Watcher Friends: 1.25 cups is 6 points

Fiesta Rice

I love Trader Joes, I buy a lot of things there, one of the things I love is their frozen brown rice. It is fully cooked and ready to go, just pop it in the microwave for 3 mins and voila! It is ready!

1 pack Trader Joes brown rice
1/2 cup fresh salsa
1 T diced cilantro
1/2 lime juice and zest
salt and pepper

Cook rice for 2-3 mins, toss with the remaining ingredients and serve!

Weight Watcher Friends: This rice is quick, healthy and convenient but it is not low in points, the rice has 6 points. All the additional ingredients have 0 points so for a 1 cup serving it is 6 points.

Source: A Dash of Thyme