Monday, August 31, 2015

Pretzel Crusted Baked Chicken Tenders with Spicy Cheddar Sauce

A late summer heat wave is expected to hit here in Chicagoland later this week so before that happens I decided to make a recipe using my oven since I know I won't want to use it when it's 90 degrees outside! I've been making this pretzel chicken recipe for years but I normally serve it with a honey mustard sauce. I decided to mix it up this time around and serve it with a spicy cheddar sauce. Man, I am so glad that I did! It was a hit!

Pretzel Crusted Baked Chicken Tenders with Spicy Cheddar Sauce
Serves 4
Cal 199, Fat 2.2g, Carbs 15.2g, Fiber 0g, Protein 32.5g

16 oz. boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
2 cups crushed pretzels
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
3/4 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. horseradish sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix pretzels, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Dip each chicken tender into the pretzel mixture making sure both sides get well-coated.  Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pretzel coating is browned and chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Slice and drizzle with the spicy cheddar sauce. Enjoy!

For the Sauce:
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and horseradish sauce, and cook until slightly thickened. Stir in the cheese.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grilled Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Summer is quickly winding down so I am trying to use the grill as much as possible before it starts to get cold. I love jerk chicken because of the sweet and spicy combination. It's so good and since both my husband and I are fans of all things spicy, I knew this dish would be a winner. I topped this delicious chicken with a homemade Pineapple Salsa. Delish!

Grilled Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa
Serves 4
Cal 153, Carbs 6.7, Fat 3, Protein 21.5

16 oz. boneless skinless chicken (I used breasts and tenderloins)
1/2 cup marinade of your choice
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Ziploc bag combine marinade and chicken. Marinate in fridge for at least one hour. (Although I find the longer the better)

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa by combing the remaining ingredients. Cover and place in fridge until ready to eat.

Discard any leftover marinade and grill chicken over medium high heat for 6-7 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Top chicken with salsa and enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stove Top Tuscan Mac and Cheese

I have a crazy obsession with mac and cheese (with tacos being a close second) and I am always looking for new ways to prepare this comfort food classic. This Tuscan Mac and Cheese is ooey gooey and loaded with flavor! It's also a great way to toss in veggies that the kids may not normally eat. It was a hit with my 4 year old and my husband!

Stove Top Tuscan Mac and Cheese
Serves 8
Cal 356, Carbs 48.8, Fat 9.6, Fiber 5, Protein 17.8

1 16oz. box elbow macaroni (I used Ronzoni)
2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced fat milk (I like to use 2 percent in dishes like these)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups shredded 5 cheese Italian Blend
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup turkey pepperoni (I ended up dicing up some Italian chicken sausage)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. oregano

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water, to al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan combine cream cheese and milk. Whisk until smooth. Add in the garlic and bring to a simmer stirring often until mixture is thickened.

Slowly add in the shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. Next toss in the spinach,  pasta, oregano, diced tomatoes, and pepperoni. Stir to coat. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

I'm certainly not ready for fall although it sure has been feeling a lot like it lately around here! It's in the 60's and honestly, it feels downright COLD to me! I decided to break out the crock pot and make one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods. This Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff is ww friendly and does not contain any "cream of" soups. Hearty, healthy, and delish!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Serves 6
Cal 221, Carbs 9.5, Fat 11.5, Fiber 1g, Protein 14

1.5 lbs stew meat
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup fat free low sodium beef broth
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas)
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
Arrange stew meat in bottom of crock pot. Add in broth, soup, and garlic. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. 20 minutes before serving stir in mushrooms and sour cream. Serve over hot cooked egg noodles. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mini Chipotle Ranch Taco Pizzas

In honor of Taco Tuesday I am mixing things up a bit and making these Mini Chipotle Taco Pizzas. I love the versatility of this recipe and you can add whatever toppings you would like. They are also super easy to make and are perfect for portion control if you watch your calorie count. (like I do) They were a hit with the family!

Mini Chipotle Ranch Taco Pizzas
Makes 10 Pizzas
Cal 198, Carbs 8.6, Fat 11.5, Fiber 2, Protein 14.4

10 Tostada Shells
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey cooked and drained
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/3 cup Chipotle Ranch
1 1/2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
diced tomatoes, black olives, shredded lettuce, green onion, cilantro or any other toppings of your choice

Combine meat and taco seasoning together.

Arrange tostada shells onto a large baking sheet.

To assemble pizzas, evenly spread chipotle ranch on to each tostada and top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Top with any other toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Italian Chopped Salad

I'm at the grocery store this morning planning to get some ingredients for what was supposed to be a Chicken Caesar salad, that is until I saw that they sell Olive Garden's italain dressing at my local grocery store. Maybe I've been living under a rock but I had no idea they sold that tasty stuff in stores! I quickly changed things up and decided on an Italian Chopped Salad instead. Let me tell ya....I'm so glad I did! This salad was so good. Fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese, chicken, pepperoni, fire roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and croutons tossed together with Olive Garden's Italain dressing. The flavor combo was amazing!

Italian Chopped Salad
Serves 4
Cal 328 Carbs 11.4, Fat 23, Fiber 3, Protein 18.8

4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup mini pepperoni
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/3 cup fresh shaved parmesan cheese
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cubed
1/2 cup croutons
1/2 cup Italian dressing of your choice (I used Olive Garden)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing on top. Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School and Lunches with Rubbermaid #BloxOff #ad #IC

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Rubbermaid. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

Hard to believe that the summer is almost over and that means it's back to school time. Back to early bedtimes and early mornings. My little guy starts his final year of pre-school at the end of August. I'm still trying to figure out where the time has gone! Before I know it he will be in Kindergarten!Now that my little guy is going into Pre-K I will be packing his lunch and I'm excited that I get to use Rubbermaids new LunchBlox kits!

If you aren't familiar with the LunchBlox, they are modular food storage containers that snap together to make lunches fit neatly and easily into the container boxes. They also come with a snap in ice tray to keep lunches cool. Something I am very happy about! These kits are perfect for school lunches and it's fun being able to pack a wide array of foods because the lunchbloxes come with multiple container boxes so I can pack more than just your standard sandwich. 

Lunchbloxes aren't just for kids either. They are great for adults who like to bring in lunch to work. These containers also come with measurements on the sides of each container which are perfect for those who are counting calories or dieting. The lunchbloxes are also BPA free and are microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe.

For more information on these great lunchbloxes please visit the Rubbermaid website.

You can also find more product information here as well:


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Roll Ups

In honor of throwback Thursday I decided to make one of my favorite all time pasta dishes. Yes, it's indulgent but every once in a while you just gotta splurge and in my case I'm splurging on these delicious Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Roll Ups!

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Roll Ups
Makes 10 Roll Ups

1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
15 oz container Part-skim Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese, Plus More For Topping
1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Freshly Chopped Parsley
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
10  Lasagna Noodles Cooked According To Package Directions And Cooled Slightly

For the Cream Cheese Sauce
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth and bubbly. (You can add as much or as little milk as you want depending on how thick you would like the sauce)

To prepare roll up start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the artichokes, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper,  and garlic until combined.  Spread a ladle or two of the cream cheese sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. 

Lay out one lasagna noodle on a cutting board, spread about 1/4 cup of the spinach artichoke mixture along the noodle and roll up the noodle from one end to the other. Lay the roll seam side down in the pan on top of the sauce.

Repeat with remaining noodles and filling, laying each on top of the sauce. Top with more sauce and as much mozzarella cheese as desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is browned slightly on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Chili

Is it weird that I am making Chili and it's the middle of August? Maybe to some but not to me! I needed a chili fix and this is one of my favorites! Simple to prepare and oh so tasty. Make this Chili the next part of your potluck, picnic, or tailgate party. Football season is just around the corner and I can't wait!

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Chili
Serves 6
Cal 190, Carbs 19.8, Fat 3.5, Fiber 3, Protein 21.3

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. dry ranch seasoning
1/2 bottle Frank's Buffalo Sauce (12 oz. bottle)
1 (15.5-oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cream-style corn
1/4 cup reduced fat ranch dressing
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

Dump (everything except blue cheese) into the crock pot, and stir well. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to slow cooker and stir. Top with blue cheese crumbles and crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Skillet Taco Pasta

It's Taco Tuesday in our house and I'm mixing things up by making this easy Skillet Taco Pasta. This dish combines my two favorites. You can't go wrong with taco meat and pasta and did I mention it is weight watcher friendly? Now that is my kind of meal!

Skillet Taco Pasta
Serves 8
Cal 350, Carbs 47.5, Fat 7, Fiber 5g, Protein 22

1 16 oz. box pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente (I used ronzoni)
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 96/4)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 cup shredded four cheese blend (I used Kraft)
1 cup chunky salsa
1/2 cup light sour cream
cilantro, green onion, chopped tomato, for garnish

In a large skillet brown ground beef. Add in the chili, garlic, onion powder, and cumin. Stir in the salsa. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese and sour cream once melted toss in the cooked pasta. Garnish with cilantro, chopped tomato, or green onion. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Gyros

If there was ever a day to use the crock pot, today is definitely the day. It's stormy and muggy outside and I had to do a quick change up since I was originally planning on grilling. Luckily, I had all the ingredients to make one of our favorite slow cooker recipes. Easy and so good!

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken Gyros
Serves 4
Cal 255, Fat 1g, Carbs 34g, Fiber 1g, Protein 22.5

16 oz. boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
2 tbsp. Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper Seasoning Blend
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 whole wheat pita bread folds
sliced tomato
red onion
tzatki sauce, optional but I love it!

In a small bowl mix garlic, lemon-pepper seasoning, and oregano. Add chicken to the crock pot and coat with seasoning mixture. Pour in the lemon juice. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

About 10 minutes before serving, heat pita bread folds as directed on package. Meanwhile, remove chicken from cooker and break into chunks. Spoon chicken onto warm pita breads. Top with tomato, red onion, and tzatki sauce, if desired. Fold pita breads in half to serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Pasta

I love Chicken Parmesan but it sure doesn't love my waistline! This version is packed with flavor but low in calories and fat. So, I can indulge without feeling guilty! A win/win!

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Serves 4
WW PP=11
Cal 436, Carbs 51.5, Fat 10.5, Fiber 5, Protein 38

16 oz boneless skinless chicken (I used tenderloins since I had it in the house)
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup pasta sauce of your choice (I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
12 oz penne pasta (I used Ronzoni)

Pre-Heat oven to 375.

Pound chicken to an even thickness. Dredge each piece of chicken in the seasoned breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, cook pasta to al dente. Stir hot pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto.

Take each piece of chicken and place it on top of 1 cup cooked pasta, sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ravioli Carbonara

I love a good pasta dish and this is one of my favorites! What I like most about this recipe is that it is weight watcher friendly so I can enjoy it without all the guilt! If you are looking for a simple yet delicious weeknight meal then you have got to give this dish a try!

Ravioli Carbonara
Serves 6
Cal 291, Carbs 35.6, Fat 9g, Fiber 2g, Protein 15

1 package fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. light cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon or bacon bits

In a large sauce pan over medium heat whisk together milk, cream cheese, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese. Once thickened add in ravioli, tomatoes, and bacon. Toss to coat. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crunchy Chicken Fajita Tacos

Maybe I'm just a weirdo but flour tortillas are just ok. I'm sure I'm one of the few who actually prefer hard shell tacos or tostadas over tortillas and when it comes to fajitas I'd much rather have them in taco form, hence my Crunchy Chicken Fajita Tacos! A fun spin on the traditional!

Crunchy Chicken Fajita Tacos
Makes 10 Tacos
Cal 104, Carbs 8.7, Fat 3.2, Fiber 1g, Protein 9.9

16 oz chicken tenders
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. olive oil
10 Hard Shell Tacos
shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro for toppings

Sprinkle chicken with fajita seasoning.  Add oil to a large skillet.

Sauté chicken and veggies over medium high heat until no longer pink and veggies are softened. Spritz with lime juice.

To assemble tacos break up chicken into chunks and spoon into taco shells. Top with shredded cheese and any other toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crock Pot Cheesy Italian Beef Sandwiches

Italian Beef Sandwiches are a Chicago staple and are as popular as Chicago Hot Dogs and Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. I love a good Italian Beef but top it with cheese? Well, that just takes it from good to great! There is a local pizza chain here in Chicagoland that makes Italain Beef Sandwiches that are then top with sweet peppers and a layer of mozzarella cheese and then toasted until the cheese is brown and bubbly. They are so good and I wanted to recreate it at home. Such a simple recipe and it was a hit with the family!

Crock Pot Cheesy Italian Beef Sandwiches
Makes Approx 6 Sandwiches

2-3 lb top round beef roast
1.5 Cups Beef Stock
2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning blend
1 large green pepper sliced
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
6 Italian Beef Bakery Rolls
Giardiniera and Sliced Roasted Red Peppers (Optional but I love the peppers)

Place roast into the crock pot. Add 1 cup beef broth and dry Italain Seasoning. One hour before the roast is done add the peppers to the crock pot. Shred beef with two forks and evenly divide among rolls. Top each sandwich with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve a side of au jus and giardiniera or red peppers if desired. Enjoy!
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