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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Greek Chicken Pasta Toss

We were out of town last week and I am heading to New York this weekend for a girls trip of eating at great restaurants and lots of shopping, with my mom, aunt and cousins. So I don't have much in the fridge this week. I was trying to not make a trip to the store and just use what I had on hand. So all day I was staring at these two red bell peppers and some bacon in my fridge thinking 'what the heck am I going to make for dinner?' Around 5pm when I was getting pretty hungry, this somehow all came together...and we ate every bit of it. But about half way through I had a feeling this was going to turn out just fine, so I grabbed my camera. I was feeling so proud that I used things I had in the pantry and freezer to pull off something healthy and delicious. Funny thing is at that momemnt my husband came to the table took one look at the dinner and said, "what is that?" I said,  "ummmm, Greek Chicken Pasta Toss" (completely making that up) he made a weird face like he wasn't too sure, then he looked at me and said "you know I don't like olives." So I said (in my OMG-is-this-guy-for-real-after-all-I-did-today-and-created-this-dinner-out-of-thin-air tone) "then don't eat!" About half way through dinner he looked at me and said, "wow, this is really good!" And I felt some serious satisfaction, for a job well done! Both of my kids loved it and ended up eat the rest of the olives in the can, stuffing them each with feta cheese, YUM!

1 large onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 chicken thighs, diced
3 T Greek Dressing
1/2 cup chicken stock
10-12 Olives
1/4 cup feta cheese
3 cups cooked whole grain pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium high. Add bacon and cook until done, remove bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Add the diced chicken thighs to the pan, there should be just enough bacon grease to cook the chicken without it sticking to the pan and it will add flavor to the meal. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan and cover. Add the the onions and red bell peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then turn the heat to high and add the chicken stock, bringing to a quick boil and scraping the bits of chicken and bacon from the bottom of the pan. After about a minute add the 3 T of Greek dressing stirring constantly to combine with the stock. At this point you may need to add a bit more stock just a tablespoon at a time to get to your desired consistency and flavor.  Finally add the pasta to the serving dish then add the onion, pepper, sauce, top with chicken, bacon, olives and feta. Toss together and serve.

Saute the onions and peppers quickly, it's better if they are still a bit crisp
I love this dressing from Trader Joes
This is how the sauce should look, a light and delicious
I used Rotini but you could use whatever you have in your pantry

Pour the veggies and sauce on top of the pasta

Top with bacon and chicken

Then add the feta and olives and toss together!

Weight Watcher Friends: This dish serves 4 the points value for mine was 9 points per serving. Obviously this will depend on the Greek dressing you use. I used one from Trader Joes it added 4 points to the total dish so if you just use chicken stock and Greek seasoning then it would be 1 point less.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad

At my Publix there is always this cute little man cooking something up that my kids just have to try. A couple weeks ago he was making a BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad and it was great! He made it with breaded chicken tenders and lots of cheese and those fried onion things it was really good, but it wasn't a healthy salad! But I knew I could skinny it up, make it cleaner and healthier without losing any of the flavor. My kids never even noticed that mine didn't have the junkie ingredients that are full of additives, preservatives and artificial flavors. This was a great weeknight dinner for me, I prepped the salad and chicken while my son was at school, then just chopped the apple and added the chicken on top right when we were ready to eat.

3 heads of Romaine, cleaned and chopped
1 large Granny Smith Apple, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup BBQ Sauce plus 2 Tablespoons
1/4 cup light ranch
3 cups cooked chicken breasts, diced

Toss the diced chicken breast with 2 T of the BBQ sauce and set aside.  Next, spread the lettuce in the bottom of a large serving dish. Then in rows spread the following ingredients cucumbers, corn, chicken, apple, tomatoes, red onion. Next mix the ranch and BBQ sauce together and serve on the side.

You could use a rotisserie but I just took some chicken breast, seasoned them with salt, pepper and paprika and sauteed them in a pan.

Then I diced them up and tossed them with my sauce.

Once the chicken was cooled I added it to the salad.

Don't cut the apple until right before you are ready to serve!

Tips: I layered mine in a large Tupperware dish so I could save the salad and eat it all week. I pulled out part of it and tossed it in a separate bowl with the dressing for my family so the dressing wouldn't wilt the lettuce. If you want, add some lemon juice to the apple before you throw it on your salad to keep it from browning in the leftovers part.
Weight Watcher Friends: The salad without dressing has 4 points for 2 cups. The points of the dressing you use will depend on your BBQ sauce and Ranch. I make my own BBQ sauce and use Naturally Fresh light ranch. I need to post my homemade BBQ sauce recipe just need to take some pictures the next time I make it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Skillet Lasagna

My mom has been making this for that past few months and telling me that I HAVE to make it. I have tried it at her house and loved it but I just never made it, not really sure why. This week with it being the start of school I wanted to be super organized, I planned my menu on Sunday and shopped for everything. I am so excited this is the 1st week in forever that I have actually only been to the grocery one time and not back for 3-4 extra trips where I spend $40-$60 each starts to add up after a while! Ooops let me get back to this lasagna, so here is the thing about lasagna to me, I love it, it is such a hearty, filling meal but it is just so much work that I never want to go through all the trouble, well trouble no more with this one-pot-wonder, we can have lasagna all the time.When I brought it to the table my kids were already smelled amazing! And although it doesn't look quite as pretty as layered lasagna, it tastes just the same, and oh so much less work and ready in 30 minutes, what's not to love?

1 t olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 of a 14oz can of tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt
fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 T fresh chopped parsley (that's what I had on hand)
3 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into 3-4 pieces each
1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese (my husband HATES ricotta so I used cottage)
1/4 cup grated parm
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided 1/4 cup and 3/4 cup
2 T liquid egg whites or 1 whole egg

Using a large skillet add the olive oil and heat to high, then add the ground beef. Cook until beef is mostly brown, breaking into small pieces with your spoon, then add the onion and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Next, add both cans of tomatoes and half the can of tomato sauce then season with the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, let cook for 3-4 minutes then taste the sauce and add more seasoning if needed next, add your fresh herbs. Now take the broken lasagna noodles and shove them into the meat sauce, make sure they are covered by the sauce so they cook through, put the top on and turn the heat to medium. Set a timer for 20 minutes. While that is cooking together, in a small bowl mix together the cottage cheese, 1/4 cup grated parm, 1/4 cup of the mozzarella and 2 T of liquid egg white. I usually season this mixture with a little garlic and onion powder, one or two shakes of each. After 20 minutes open the top of the skillet at this point the noodles should be cooked through but if they aren't yours may need 5 minutes more. Next spoon the cheese mixture randomly on top of the sauce then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Put the lid back on for 5 minutes just to melt the cheese. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes then serve.

It is hard to make ground beef look appetizing but had to show you this step...

There add some tomatoes and it looks much better!
Break the noodles into your sauce (don't leave them like this, cover them with sauce or they won't cook)

Mix up your cheeses...
Dollop the cheese on top!
Then add more cheese, YUM!

Put the top back on and just like that you made lasagna without all the fuss!

 It looks great on the plate so eat up!

Weight Watcher Friends: This makes 6 servings and each serving has 7 points! Not bad for a yummy hearty dinner!