Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Brushetta Bake


Chicken Brushetta Bake
Recipe adapted from a Lauren’s Kitchen recipe (from Stovetop)
Makes 4 Servings

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package stove top stuffing mix for chicken
1/2 cup water
1 tsp minced garlic
18 oz. chicken
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated
2 oz. Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar, grated

Heat oven to 400°F. Mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened. Spray a square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Put raw chicken on bottom, then stuffing mix. Press until flat, then top with cheeses and basil. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

whole dish - 4 servings

Nutritional Information: 396 calories, 38 carbs, 7 fat grams and 41 protein grams.

Review: LOVED. Great mix and I never cook with stuffing so it was fun to use a new starch. The mix came out tasting a lot like brushetta, and I loved that it called for so much cheese, but was still so relatively low calorie. It was filling too - and the chicken layer at the bottom was moist. I love cooking chicken in the bottom of a casserole - genius. We'll be making this one again for sure -Austin was a fan, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to My New All-Recipe Blog!

Hi Friends! So... I never thought I'd cook much. I just wanted to lose weight and slowly found that an easy way to do it was by preparing my own food. Then I became addicted to finding new recipes, found myself pre-cooking for the week and making meal plans and now, here I am, devoting a site to over 200 of my favorite recipes. Insane the way things spiral out of control you develop a passion out of no where. A few things to note:
  • I rarely create my own recipes from scratch- most are inspired by fabulous bloggers like For the Love of Cooking, Real Mom Kitchen and Aggie's Kitchen. Or from sites like cookinglight.com. And of course I also get recipe ideas from my friends, co-workers, etc.
  • I find a recipe I want to make, and then get to work in Sparkpeople finding a way to tweak it to be filling but calorie-conscious. Sometimes this involves using fat-free ingredients, reducing the portion size, adding servings, etc. I also sometimes take out ingredients we don't like (i.e. peas) or add in ones we love (i.e. mushrooms). I aim for meals between 300 and 500 calories (most are around 400 or 450). I post nutritionals including calories, carbs, fat grams and protein grams.
  • Then I make the recipe, take a picture (if I can remember!), and post it on my main blog. Now i'll post it here as well, making it much easier to find what you're looking for with the categories and tags on the sidebars, and in the recipe index.
I'm so excited to get started. Next up for this blog?
  • Recook the recipes that are missing pictures and post them.
  • Finish the 'Products I Use' section.
  • Add many, many more meal plans. I only have two so far.
  • Make more recipes of course, and potentially foray into more desserts, side dishes, snacks appetizers and more!
If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions please email me at kellyfittingbackin@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fiesta Sliders


Fiesta Sliders
Makes 12 mini burgers
Recipe adapted from Lauren’s Kitchen

1 pound 96/4 ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
½ cup salsa
¼ cup breadcrumbs, plain
¼ cup onion
12 tbsp fat-free sour cream
12 slider rolls I like Martin's potato rolls (90 calories each)
Optional topping: 24 tsp salsa I don't think you need it!

inside

Preheat oven to 375. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine meat, taco seasoning, salsa and onions. Mix with a fork. Add breadcrumbs. Form into 12 mini burger patties and cook for 8 minutes on each side, or until done. Meanwhile, smear 1/2 tbsp sour cream on the inside of each bun. Add the patty and top with bun. Option: serve with toppings like diced tomatoes and lettuce.

Nutritional Information (per slider): 173 calories, 23 carbs, 2 fat grams and 12 protein grams.
Nutritional Information (for 2 sliders as a meal): 345 calories, 46 carbs, 5 fat grams and 25 protein grams.

Review: I thought these were excellent! The boys (Austin & his bros) gobbled them up! They definitely weren't traditional sliders as they had the mexican flavors, but they were yummy - loved sour cream as the spread instead of mayo on a traditional burger - I thought it was neat! Austin did note that they were more like sloppy joes than burgers, I don't think there was enough bread crumbs to hold them together so I upped it above. Great appetizer, and I think it would be a great meal if you had two and maybe a side of some chips!

Black and White Bean Dip


Black and White Bean Dip
My Kitchen Café recipe
Makes 20 Servings

1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of white beans, drained
1 can of shoepeg corn, drained
½ cup Herdez salsa verde
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
15 grape tomatoes, quartered (squeeze liquid out of tomatoes after chopping)
garlic salt to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse and drain both cans of beans. Also drain the can of shoepeg corn. Make sure to squeeze liquid out of tomatoes before chopping so the dip doesn’t turn runny. Put 1.5 cups of cheese and everything else in a bowl and mix together. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray before spooning in the bean mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and pop into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and it is all warm and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips.

Nutritional Information (without chips): 80 calories, 10 carbs, 3 fat grams and 5 protein grams.

Review: I thought this was excellent! Very different with all of the beans but super flavorful in the green salsa. The garlic salt definitely added a little something extra, and it bubbled up quick. This tasted good after it got cold, too, and it was good the next day. It makes LOTS of food –next time I may use a more shallow pan or pie dish so it’s not as deep.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Upside Down Pizza


Upside Down Pizza
Recipe adapted from an allrecipes.com recipe
Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients
1 pound 96/4 ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups jarred low-calorie spaghetti sauce
125 grams (a little over 1 cup) fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (divided)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, grated (divided)
1 (8 ounce) light crescent rolls
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1 egg white
Dried basil for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large pan. Add garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add onions and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add beef, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until beef is no longer pink, 6 – 8 minutes. Once done, add spaghetti sauce and stir. Add salt if desired. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread a layer of sauce. Top with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan cheese. Add remainder of sauce then remainder of cheeses. Top with crescent rolls, pinching seams together. Brush egg white on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is brown. Sprinkle with dried basil as garnish.

Full pan cut and ready to eat - 6 servings

Nutritional Information: 367 calories, 24 carbs, 18 fat grams and 29 protein grams.

Review: We loved it! I was a little worried about crescent on top and truth be told I probably could have closed the seams better, but I was ready to stick it in the oven and try it! The sauce mix with the layered cheeses was really good - almost tasted like a parmesany spaghetti. And the breaded top added a lot to it - the crescents really baked up when on top, whereas i'm sure if they were on bottom it would have been much less doughy. We really liked it and wouldn't change it a bit - i'm glad I added the red pepper flakes and seasonings - the extra heat made it even more appealing!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Szechuan Chicken and Rice


Szechuan Chicken and Rice
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe adapted from a Stephanie Cooks recipe (from Blog Chef)

16 ounces chicken
½ cup water
¼ cup ketchup
2 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp honey
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon minced ginger, jarred
1.5 tbsp canola oil
4 tsp minced garlic, jarred
3 cups white rice, divided

In a small bowl mix together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper flakes and ginger. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken and toss to coat with oil. Heat for 3-4 minutes. While it’s still a bit pink, pour in sauce. Heat until sauce is thick and bubbly, 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Serve over white rice.

Nutritional Information: 457 calories, 66 carbs, 7 fat grams and 27 protein grams.

Review: Amazing. Seriously. Austin had one bite and said it tasted ‘for real restaurant style.’ High praise. It’s spicy, but not too spicy, and I loved how thick it was and how much sauce it made. I felt like if it had been jarred this way it would have had way more calories. The recipe originally called for shrimp, which I’m sure would be great too. It also called for green onions which I would have used had I had some on hand. Great recipe, will make this again for sure. Could reduce oil to 1 tbsp if you want to lower calories a bit. This seriously may be my best Asian-inspired recipe yet!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Greek Style Shrimp with Christmas Quinoa

Greek Style Shrimp with Christmas Quinoa

Inspired by an April 2010 Fitness Magazine recipe
Makes 4 Servings

1 pound shrimp, raw and defrosted
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
3 oz. fat-free feta
4 servings quinoa, cooked per package instructions with chicken broth
2 cups chicken broth (for quinoa)

Place shrimp, 1 tablespoon of oil, half of lemon juice, 1 tsp garlic, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a large ziplock bag. Let it sit. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, parsley, feta and remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add cooked quinoa and mix well. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Place shrimp in pan in a single layer and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve with quinoa.

Nutritional Information: 392 calories, 36 carbs, 12 fat grams and 34 protein grams.

Review: Awesome! I really liked the flavors and it blended well (and quickly). I liked how the warm quinoa softened the tomatoes and parsley and almost melted the feta. I'm not sure how well this would reheat (i'm not a huge fan of reheating shrimp), but I think you could easily cook the shrimp for 2 and then reheat the quinoa the next day and cook shrimp for 2 again. It's just heating it up since the shrimp are already cooked. Just a thought - it's a great one though!

Greek Feta Chicken

Picture coming soon!

Greek Feta Chicken

Receipe Adapted from Kitchen Parade
Makes 4 Servings
Requires overnight Marinade

1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (0% Fage)
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 oz. fat feta cheese
3 cups white rice

Whisk together yogurt, garlic, oregano and black pepper in a bowl. Add chicken to mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the broiler. Add chicken mixture to shallow pan. Broil for 6 minutes, then flip over each piece of chicken. Sprinkle with feta and broil for another 5 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center shows juice that runs clear. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Information: 413 calories, 57 carbs, 1 fat grams and 35 protein grams.

Review: This one is a family favorite! I've tweaked it a lot, tried it with curried rice, fresh oregano, etc. but found that this way is just as good and much easier/more convenient. Aside from the overnight marinade, it's a very quick recipe since you broil and is great for weeknights. It heats up well too as the rice really soaks in the soupier chicken mix.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ricotta Tomato Toast and Italian Eggs

Ricotta Tomato Toast and Italian Eggs
Makes 4 Servings

4 slices whole grain bread
½ cup fat-free Ricotta Cheese (124 grams)
10 fresh basil leaves
8 slices tomato
11 eggs
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp parmesan cheese

Set a pan to medium and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together eggs, Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Add to pan and scramble until cooked. While cooking eggs, toast bread. Spread each slice with two tablespoons of fat-fat ricotta cheese and top with basil leaves and tomato slices.

Nutritional Information: 295 calories, 16 carbs, 16 fat grams and 25 protein grams.

Review: LOVE the basily eggs - so good! The toast is great too, but just make sure you're okay with the fact that it's a bit cold (if that makes sense). The eggs are warm (obvi) but the toast isn't!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hot Chicken Salad


Hot Chicken Salad
Adapted from a Fabulessly Frugal recipe
Makes 4 Servings

1 pound chicken, cooked and cubed
1 tbsp lemon juice
15 grams slivered almonds (2 tbsp)
½ cup fat-free mayonnaise
½ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup fat-free cream of chicken soup
½ tsp minced onion, dried
28 grams Cabot 75% cheddar cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
1 oz. potato chips, crumbled
4 Mission tortillas, burrito size

Toast almonds on cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes. While toasting, mix all the ingredients except cheese and potato chips. Remove almonds and add to mixture, then turn the oven to 400 degrees. Place mixture in baking dish and add cheese then chips to the top of mixture. Bake for 20 minutes Serve with wraps.

After baking - could easily spoon over noodles or rice instead! I wouldn't recommend lettuce though - I think it would make it welt. The recipe suggested croissants.

Nutritional Information: 451 calories, 48 carbs, 13 fat grams and 37 protein grams.

Review: Loved! These were insanely filling, which was awesome. The casserole could easily be put on rice or noodles, but we liked them in wraps. They were warm and gooey - the mayonnaise, cream of chicken, cheese mix really tasted like it was so bad for you, but 450 is great! Next time I may even try BBQ chips for a little kick!

Tomato and Mozzarella Sammy

Picture coming soon!

Tomato and Mozzarella Sammy
Makes 1 Sandwich

2 basil leaves, finely diced
2 slices of Nature's Own wheat bread
1/4 tsp olive oil
2 slices of tomato
2 tsp light butter
1 tsp minced garlic, jarred
2 tbsp low-calorie spaghetti sauce
55 grams fresh mozzarella

Turn George Foreman on to heat up. Spread butter on one side of each piece of bread. Place butter side down in grill, then quickly add sauce, cheese, tomato, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Top with second piece of bread (butter out) and close the lid. Heat for 4-5 minutes until desired crispiness.

Nutritional Information: 301 calories, 25 carbs, 16 fat grams and 20 protein grams.

Review: LOVE this sammy. Great flavor and love the fresh basil and tomatoes. The addition of butter and olive oil makes it taste very bad for you! For extra calories/protein - consider adding turkey pepperoni slices!

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad Pitas

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad Pitas
Cookinglight.com recipe

½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper, divided
¼ tsp salt, divided
Cooking spray
8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2.5 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
½ cup plain fat-free yogurt (Fage 0%)
1 tsp tahini
½ tsp minced garlic
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
8 grape tomatoes, halved
44 grams fat-free feta cheese

Combine oregano, garlic powder, ¼ tsp pepper and 1/8 tsp salt in a bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and spice mixture; sauté until chicken is done. Drizzle with 1.5 tsp lemon juice; stir. Remove from pan. Combine remaining tsp of lemon juice, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, yogurt, tahini and garlic in a small bowl; stir well. Combine lettuce and tomatoes. Top with chicken mixture and cheese. Add yogurt mixture and stir. Stuff ¼ to ½ a cup in 8” pitas (cut in half).

Tomato and Fresh Basil Crostini with Feta and Roasted Garlic Cheese Spread

Tomato and Fresh Basil Crostini with Feta and Roasted Garlic Cheese Spread
For the Love of Cooking recipe

1/2 cup fat free feta cheese
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 head of roasted garlic, chopped (recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 vine ripened tomato, sliced thinly
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely into ribbons
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine feta cheese, sour cream, 1/2 head of roasted garlic, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Lay the basil leaves on top of each other and roll into a tube, cut into thin slices. Spread the feta mixture evenly onto the crostini then top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle with sea salt & fresh cracked pepper and top with basil ribbons.

Roasted Garlic
1 head of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top of the head off so every clove of garlic is exposed. Place on a small square of tinfoil.Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Fold edges of tinfoil together and twist to make a sealed bundle. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the garlic. Let cool before serving. Squeeze to remove the roasted cloves.

Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette

Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette (on right)
For the Love of Cooking recipe

6 oz. rotini (or pasta of choice), cooked per instructions
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large cucumber, seeded & diced
1/4 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
Feta cheese
Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta per instructions, drain and cool. Once the pasta has cooled, add the cherry tomato halves, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, feta cheese and basil then mix thoroughly. Slowly add the vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Taste and add more dressing as needed.

Vinaigrette:
½ cup canola oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp spenda
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients with a whisk. Let it sit overnight so flavors marinate together.

Penne with Chicken Sausage

Penne with Chicken Sausage (on left)
For the Love of cooking Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 tbsp yellow onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 garlic and herb chicken sausages, chopped into ½” pieces
2 tbsp yellow baby bell peppers, diced
2 tbsp red bell peppers, diced
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
6 oz. penne, cooked per instructions (in boiled water for 12 minutes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray large, deep pan with olive oil flavored cooking spray, and set a pot of water to boil. Drop in 1 teaspoon of olive oil in pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and set aside on a plate. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the same skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add minced garlic, stirring constantly for 60 seconds. Set aside on same plate as onions. Add dry pasta to boiling water for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While pasta cooks, add sausage to skillet over medium heat and cook until brown, about 6-7 minutes then add onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and spinach to pan. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over mixture. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Stir, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well for 1-2 minutes then serve.

Marinated Mushrooms

Marinated mushrooms
Recipe Girl recipe

2 lbs fresh white button mushrooms
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed oregano
½ tsp chili pepper flakes, crushed

Trim mushrooms by cutting off a thin slice of the stem of each mushroom. Drop the mushrooms into boiling water and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes; do not boil. Drain the mushrooms and cover with cold water. Let stand until cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.Whisk olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, oregano and chili pepper flakes in a bowl. Add mushrooms to the olive oil mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or longer, stirring occasionally.

Tips: These mushrooms are best when they have marinated for a long time. Take them out of the refrigerator in time for them to return to room temperature before serving. Serve sliced baguette when you display your mushrooms. Baguette slices dipped in the drippings can be considered another appetizer.

Greek Salad Bites

Greek Salad Bites
Recipe Girl recipe

1 oz. fat-free feta cheese crumbles
½ cup fat-free sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cracked black pepper
¼ cup finely shredded fresh basil
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives, finely diced
1½ medium English cucumbers

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Slice cucumbers on a slight diagonal into ¼-inch slices. Spoon ½ tbsp of the cheese mixture onto each cucumber slice. Arrange on serving platter. Serve immediately.

Yield: 20 to 30 appetizers

Greek Appetizer Skewers

Greek Appetizer Skewers
Recipe Girl recipe

1 block feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch squares
30 pear or small cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, sliced & then slice slices in half (need 30)
1/4 red onion, cut into small strips (about 1 inch x 1/2-inch)
toothpicks

Thread red onion onto toothpick with purple showing on top, then tomato, then cucumber. Use feta cube as a base for the appetizer- skewer the feta on the bottom; place on your platter.

Optional: Just before serving, whisk together about 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle over skewers (try not to get too much dressing on the tops of the toothpicks, where people will pick them up to eat them).

Tips: Don’t attach feta until the end as it may break. And don’t use colored toothpicks – it dyes the cheese!

Yield: 20 to 30 appetizers.

Mediterranean Menu

Mediterranean Menu
  • Greek Appetizer Skewers from Recipegirl.com
  • Greek Salad Bites from Recipegirl.com
  • Marinated Mushrooms from Recipegirl.com
  • Penne with Chicken Sausage from For the Love of Cooking
  • Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette from For the Love of Cooking
  • Tomato & Fresh Basil Crostini with feta and roasted garlic cheese spread from For the Love of Cooking
  • Herbed Greek Chicken Salad Pitas from Cookinglight.com
  • Pitas + Hummus from Trader Joe’s (1 bag of mini pitas and 4 flavors of hummus)
  • Baklava + Chocolate cover Pretzels from Trader Joe’s
Recipes


Greek Appetizer Skewers
Recipe Girl recipe

1 block feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch squares
30 pear or small cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, sliced & then slice slices in half (need 30)
1/4 red onion, cut into small strips (about 1 inch x 1/2-inch)
toothpicks

Thread red onion onto toothpick with purple showing on top, then tomato, then cucumber. Use feta cube as a base for the appetizer- skewer the feta on the bottom; place on your platter.

Optional: Just before serving, whisk together about 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle over skewers (try not to get too much dressing on the tops of the toothpicks, where people will pick them up to eat them).

Tips: Don’t attach feta until the end as it may break. And don’t use colored toothpicks – it dyes the cheese!

Yield: 20 to 30 appetizers.

Greek Salad Bites
Recipe Girl recipe

1 oz. fat-free feta cheese crumbles
½ cup fat-free sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cracked black pepper
¼ cup finely shredded fresh basil
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives, finely diced
1½ medium English cucumbers

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Slice cucumbers on a slight diagonal into ¼-inch slices. Spoon ½ tbsp of the cheese mixture onto each cucumber slice. Arrange on serving platter. Serve immediately.

Yield: 20 to 30 appetizers

Marinated mushrooms
Recipe Girl recipe

2 lbs fresh white button mushrooms
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed oregano
½ tsp chili pepper flakes, crushed

Trim mushrooms by cutting off a thin slice of the stem of each mushroom. Drop the mushrooms into boiling water and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes; do not boil. Drain the mushrooms and cover with cold water. Let stand until cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.Whisk olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, oregano and chili pepper flakes in a bowl. Add mushrooms to the olive oil mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or longer, stirring occasionally.

Tips: These mushrooms are best when they have marinated for a long time. Take them out of the refrigerator in time for them to return to room temperature before serving. Serve sliced baguette when you display your mushrooms. Baguette slices dipped in the drippings can be considered another appetizer.

Penne with Chicken Sausage (on left)
For the Love of cooking Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 tbsp yellow onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 garlic and herb chicken sausages, chopped into ½” pieces
2 tbsp yellow baby bell peppers, diced
2 tbsp red bell peppers, diced
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
6 oz. penne, cooked per instructions (in boiled water for 12 minutes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray large, deep pan with olive oil flavored cooking spray, and set a pot of water to boil. Drop in 1 teaspoon of olive oil in pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and set aside on a plate. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the same skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add minced garlic, stirring constantly for 60 seconds. Set aside on same plate as onions. Add dry pasta to boiling water for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While pasta cooks, add sausage to skillet over medium heat and cook until brown, about 6-7 minutes then add onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and spinach to pan. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over mixture. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Stir, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well for 1-2 minutes then serve.

Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette (on right)
For the Love of Cooking recipe

6 oz. rotini (or pasta of choice), cooked per instructions
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large cucumber, seeded & diced
1/4 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
Feta cheese
Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta per instructions, drain and cool. Once the pasta has cooled, add the cherry tomato halves, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, feta cheese and basil then mix thoroughly. Slowly add the vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Taste and add more dressing as needed.

Vinaigrette:
½ cup canola oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients with a whisk. Let it sit overnight so flavors marinate together.

Tomato and Fresh Basil Crostini with Feta and Roasted Garlic Cheese Spread
For the Love of Cooking recipe

1/2 cup fat free feta cheese
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 head of roasted garlic, chopped (recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 vine ripened tomato, sliced thinly
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely into ribbons
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine feta cheese, sour cream, 1/2 head of roasted garlic, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Lay the basil leaves on top of each other and roll into a tube, cut into thin slices. Spread the feta mixture evenly onto the crostini then top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle with sea salt & fresh cracked pepper and top with basil ribbons.

Roasted Garlic
1 head of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top of the head off so every clove of garlic is exposed. Place on a small square of tinfoil.Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Fold edges of tinfoil together and twist to make a sealed bundle. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the garlic. Let cool before serving. Squeeze to remove the roasted cloves.

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad Pitas
Cookinglight.com recipe

½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper, divided
¼ tsp salt, divided
Cooking spray
8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2.5 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
½ cup plain fat-free yogurt (Fage 0%)
1 tsp tahini
½ tsp minced garlic
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
8 grape tomatoes, halved
44 grams fat-free feta cheese

Combine oregano, garlic powder, ¼ tsp pepper and 1/8 tsp salt in a bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and spice mixture; sauté until chicken is done. Drizzle with 1.5 tsp lemon juice; stir. Remove from pan. Combine remaining tsp of lemon juice, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, yogurt, tahini and garlic in a small bowl; stir well. Combine lettuce and tomatoes. Top with chicken mixture and cheese. Add yogurt mixture and stir. Stuff ¼ to ½ a cup in 8” pitas (cut in half).

Trader Joe's Baklava and Pretzels

Slowcooker Mac & Cheese Recipe

Picture coming soon!

Slowcooker Mac & Cheese Recipe
Recipe closely based off of Paula Deen's recipe

1 cup fat-free milk (she used full fat)
¾ tsp dry mustard (she used less)
1 tsp salt (she used less)
4 tbsp light butter with canola oil (she used full fat)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (she used full fat)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can campbell’s Cheddar cheese soup
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (next time i'll try light)
1 16-oz. box elbow macaroni (she used less)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Boil macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. In a slow cooker sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, combine cheese/butter mixture and add sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Add eggs. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Nutritional Information: whole recipe: 3,293 calories, 395 carbs, 228 fat grams and 137 protein grams. Makes 20 "side" servings: 165 calories, 20 carbs, 12 fat grams and 7 protein grams; Makes 10 "large" servings: 329 calories, 40 carbs, 23 fat grams and 14 protein grams.

Review: Amazing. It really is. It looks like old school mac & cheese and tastes absolutely sinful. It makes a big batch - would be perfect for a get together, a Thanksgiving sidedish, etc. The fat is way too high, but I didn't want to risk changing the recipe any more for the first time I made it! I think you could probably do light though which would really impact the fat. I need to make this again to take a picture, so I'll try it with light cheese!

Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette - Side Dish


Pasta Salad in Vinaigrette
Makes 5 Servings
Recipe by For the Love of Cooking

6 oz. cooked rotini
Cherry tomatoes
Small cucumber, seeded & diced
¼ cup Yellow Onion
¼ cup Orange Bell Pepper
1 oz. Fat-free Feta Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vinaigrette: ¼ cup canola oil, 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar, ½ tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ packet of splenda and salt/pepper

Mix together all ingredients and mix together vinaigrette. One hour before serving add vinaigrette. Put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve alongside chicken, shrimp or both (like me!).

Nutritional Information: 245 calories, 30 carbs, 12 fat grams and 6 protein grams.

Review: I love this dish of Pam's! I've served it at two parties and it's always gone over well! I have a larger dish of it on the blog as well that I make when I have more people (and it's not as calorie calculated!).

Marinade for Chicken & Shrimp Kabobs






Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs
Makes 4 servings

16 oz. chicken, cut in large chunks
16 oz. shrimp, defrosted

Marinade:
1 tbsp olive oil
Zest of half a lemon
5 leaves fresh basil, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Repeat recipe above for a second bag. Add Shrimp to one bag and chicken to the other. Add to refrigerator for 2-5 hours. Once grill is hot and its grtes are lightly oiled, thread chicken and shrimp onto separate skewers and discard excess marinade. Place kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 4-5 minutes on each side, and shrimp about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

Recipe by Gina's WW Recipes
Makes 4 Servings

12 large/extra large strawberries, washed
Fat free whipped topping

Cut greens off tops of strawberries so when you flip them around the strawberries sit flat. With a sharp knife cut slits all the way down the berry in an X shape, careful not to cut through. Arrange strawberries on a plate, and open them like a flower. Fill with cream.

Nutritional Information (per serving – 3 strawberries): 29 calories, 7 carbs, 0 fat grams and 0 protein grams.

Review: So yummy! and I love the presentation - adorable!

Snickers Pie

Snickers Pie

Recipe makes two pies
Recipe from Recipegirl

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (divided in half)
1½ cups powdered sugar (divided in half)
½ cup chunky or creamy peanut butter (divided in half)
3 regular-sized Snickers candy bars, chopped (divided in half)
16 ounces Cool Whip, thawed (divided in half)
Two prepared chocolate pie crusts
Lite Chocolate syrup for garnish
Caramel Syrup for garnish
Chopped nuts for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat 4 oz. cream cheese, ¾ cup sugar and ¼ peanut butter until creamy. Stir in one chopped candy bar. Add to pie crust, smoothing across top. Add whipped cream on top, smoothing for 2-3 minutes on top with a rubber spatula. Now, repeat with leftover cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter adding to other pie crust. Now you have two pies, with no toppings. Add syrups making a grid pattern, then top with nuts. Divide the third and final snickers bar in half, and top each pie with the pieces. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information: Not calculating! This is a sinful dish to enjoy without knowing. :)

Review: They were SO good – it went over well with Austin’s family and mine- love that the recipe makes two pies! Next time, I’m going to try reduced fat cream cheese and cool whip – I don’t think you would have been able to tell!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Adapted from Gina's Weight Watchers Recipes
Makes 4 servings

2 oz dark semi-sweet chocolate
20 small/medium strawberries

Rinse and completely dry the strawberries. In a medium microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until all the chocolate is melted. Dip strawberries and place on waxed paper to cool. Refrigerate to give it a hard chocolate coating.

Nutritional Information (per serving 5 strawberries): 93 calories, 14 carbs and 5 fat grams.

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Taco Salad

Taco Salad
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe idea from my co-worker & friend Stacy

1 can fat-free refried beans (400 grams)
16 oz. 96/4 ground beef
2 tbsp onion, diced
1 serano pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1 packet taco seasoning, divided
8 tbsp fat-free sour cream
4 cups lettuce
16 wedges of sliced tomato
¼ cup fat-free cheddar cheese (for garnish)
4 mission low-carb tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Ball up foil loosely and mold “shells” with the tortillas around the ball (picture bowl topside down). Place tortillas on a cookie sheet in oven for 6 - 10 minutes until desired crispiness. While tortillas bake, set pot over medium and spray with cooking spray. Add beans and 1-2 tsp of taco seasoning. Stir until warm. While beans are heating up, set a large pan on medium and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add onions and peppers and stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add meat, remaining taco seasoning, and a little bit of water (1-2 tbsp). Stir until meat is no longer red. While stirring, remove tortillas from the oven and set on a plate. Add lettuce layer, 100 grams of beans to each tortilla, 121 grams of meat mixture, lettuce layer, sour cream, tomato and cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information: 415 calories, 45 carbs, 8 fat grams and 38 protein grams.

Review: Yummilicious! So glad that I can make this at home - very exciting. I thought it tasted restaurant quality and loved all of the flavors - especially the sour cream topping with the beans - yum!

Sausage and Pasta Soup

Recipe adapted from For the Love of Cooking’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Sausage and Pasta Soup
Makes 4 Servings
Note: with it being 4 servings it makes it very soupy like – we like that and add noodles (baby wheels!) and eat it with a spoon.

1 tsp olive oil
3 links of chicken Italian sausage, diced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes and juices
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 tsp splenda
3-4 fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Reduced Fat Parmesan cheese
8 oz. pasta (we used wheels!)

Add olive oil to slowcooker over high heat. Add sausage, onion, red bell pepper and mushrooms. Add garlic, and stir for 60 seconds. Add basil, fennel, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix to combine well then add the sugar, tomato sauce and whole tomatoes and their juice; crush tomatoes with your hands. Cover sauce and cook on high for 3 hours. When you’re ready to eat, prepare the spaghetti per instructions. Taste meat sauce and re-season if needed. Add the fresh basil and parsley, stir and serve over your favorite pasta.

Nutritional Information: 380 calories, 63 carbs, 7 fat grams and 20 protein grams.

Review: So yes, a little high on the carbs but so filling! You could easily take the pasta down to 1 oz. or 1.5 oz. per serving (instead of 2) and just add more sausage! (maybe one more link!)

Crockpot Pizza Soup

Recipe from A Year of Slow-Cooking’s
Crockpot Pizza Soup
Makes 4 Servings

1 jar (14 oz) of Ragu pizza sauce
3 empty jars full of water
1 cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 whole tomato, diced
2 already-cooked Italian chicken sausage links, diced
20 sliced turkey pepperoni, sliced in quarters
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 oz. mini farfalle pasta
60 grams shredded mozzarella cheese (to add later; divided into 4 15-gram toppings)

Wash and prepare veggies. Dump them into the crockpot. Cut sausage and pepperoni into small pieces and add to crockpot. Add basil and oregano. Pour in pizza sauce, and follow with three empty jars of water. Stir, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. After six hours, add dry pasta, and turn to high for 20 minutes or until pasta softens. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Nutritional Information: 338 calories, 47 carbs, 17 protein grams and 9 fat grams.

Review: I thought it was SO good – I’m a definite fan!! (and so are Austin and Devon!). If anything, next time I’ll add salt, maybe 5 oz. instead of 6 in pasta, and add more pepperoni! Still though – loved it!

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen.
Makes 4 Servings below (or 6 servings if you want to add garlic croutons or a side of bread to take up the calories)

1 lb 96/4 ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 ½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 32-ounce box fat-free chicken broth will reduce next time (note below)
2 14.5- ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
4 oz. mini farfalle pasta, uncooked
¼ cup of parmesan cheese
60 grams shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

In a large Dutch oven, combine beef, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well. Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions in a separate pan. Drain. Add cooked pasta to soup and stir in Parmesan cheese. Top each bowl of soup with shredded mozzarella.

Nutritional Information (for each serving above as 4): 430 calories, 47 carbs, 10 fat grams and 37 protein grams.

Review: Loved it! Great flavor and VERY filling. I will say that, for me, it was too soupy for 4 servings (probably great if you did 6 but that would be too low calorie for me). So next time I would cut the chicken broth in HALF to 16 oz. broth. If I did 6 servings, I would add garlic croutons like Real Mom Kitchen suggested to take it up!

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes 4 Servings

1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz size - southwest style)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can ( 10 3/4 oz) fat-free cream of chicken soup
2 cups fat-free milk
16 oz. chicken, boneless and skinless
Optional: 40 grams corn chips, divided

In crock pot, mix the taco packet together with the water and tomato sauce. Add cream of chicken soup and milk and whisk together until smooth. Add chicken. Pour drained black beans, drained corn and diced tomatoes on top of that. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Before serving, take out chicken and shred, then put back and stir it all together. Serve alone or with 10 grams tortilla chips.

Nutritional Information: 452 calories, 61 carbs, 4 fat grams and 40 protein grams. (before corn chips or other toppings).

Review: We really liked it! You could easily make it 5 or 6 servings, or less, and have as a side with a sandwich! I was just all about big, hearty bowls of soup!

Traditional Beef Chili

Traditional Chili

Makes 4 Servings

1 McCormick Mild Chli Packet
16 oz. 96/4 ground beef
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 14.5-oz can kidney beans
2 habaneros, finely diced
1 cup onions, finely diced
Toppings: 40 grams cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar, 4 tbsp sour cream and 40 grams of organic corn chippers (corn chips), divided

Spray slowcooker with nonstick spray. Add in all ingredients and cook on high for four hours. Remove from cooker, divide into four servings and serve each with fat free sour cream, fat free cheese and corn chips.

Nutritional Information: 340 calories, 28 carbs, 9 fat grams and 32 protein grams.

Review: We love it – but note that we like our chili a little spicy and a little thick… it’s both. It’s also kind of smoky if that makes sense. I’m a fan! You could easily pour the chili over low-fat hot dogs, over burgers for chili burgers or over pasta or rice for a change of pace.

Chicken & Tortellini Soup

Chicken & Tortellini Soup

Adapted from Betty Crocker from my friend Monica
Makes 6 Servings

1 tbsp Olive oil
¼ cup onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup water
½ tbsp Italian seasoning
12 oz. chicken, diced
2 10-oz. boxes of of Green Giant Broccoli & Zesty Cheese Sauce
1 12-oz. pack Trader Joe’s cheese-filled tortellini
½ cup tomato, diced
12 tsp parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini al dente per package instructions. Heat oil in pan and add onion and chicken. Stir frequently until chicken is cooked. Add salt if desired. While chicken cooks, cook broccoli in microwave per instructions. When chicken is cooked, shred with two forks, then add in broth, seasoning, water and cooked tortellini. Heat until boiling, then turn down to medium and add broccoli. Stir together for 3-4 minutes over low heat. Stir in tomato. Cook for one minute. Remove from heat and divide into 6 servings. Top each serving with 2 tsp cheese.

Nutritional Information: 394 calories, 44 carbs, 12 fat grams and 25 protein grams.

Review: So we loved. However, the recipe above was not the way we cooked it - it's how I'll cook it next time. For instance, it had it more 'all cooking together' but I worried the broccoli was getting overcooked while the tortellini wasn't getting cooked enough. I also added more chicken, and a bit more broth and added water - want it to be a bit more "soupy" and less "pasta-y." So again, we loved it as it was, but I hope the modifications will make it even better next time. Thanks, Mon, for the recipe!!

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, diced
½ large red pepper, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
2 ½ tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp paprika
¼ cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp fat-free sour cream
Jalapeno, sliced thinly

Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours. Shred chicken with two forks. Divide into four servings and serve with fat-free sour cream and jalapeno slices.

Nutritional Information (including sour cream): 417 calories, 55 carbs, 3 fat grams and 40 protein grams.

Review: It DID NOT disappoint – OMG. So good. Spicy but cool, flavorful, filling and I really felt like I was eating something really bad for me – but it’s not! I used all of Biz’s stuff – just cut it in half and decided to use the slow cooker...and was lazy and didn't puree the celery, garlic and red pepper!

spoonful

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Recipe from Hungry Girl
Makes 4 Servings

16 oz. chicken, diced
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
6 tbsp Frank’s cayenne pepper sauce
3 tbsp reduced fat parmesan cheese
8 turkey bacon strips, divided
1 large tomato, diced
8 cups romaine lettuce, divided
8 tbsp fat-free ranch, divided

Spray large pan with nonstick spray and add olive oil. Cook chicken with cumin, stirring until no longer pink. While it cooks, combine Frank’s and parmesan, cook bacon in microwave and dice tomatoes. Once the chicken is cooked, add to sauce/parm mixture and stir until the chicken is coated, then cook in microwave for 1 minute. Then put ¼ lettuce in each bowl, and top each with ¼ chicken mix, ¼ bacon, and ¼ tomato mix, then 2 tbsp of fat-free ranch.

Nutritional Information: 275 calories, 18 carbs, 5 fat grams and 33 protein grams.

Review: To beef this up, I added a slice of nature’s own bread with a ½ tsp of light butter – your call! We LOVED it! I also thought it looked so pretty with the toppings organized in thirds. The little things, people.

BLT pasta salad

BLT pasta salad

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine
Makes 4 Servings

8 oz. pasta
¼ cup milk
½ tbsp reduced fat parmesan cheese.
12 slices low-fat turkey bacon
2 medium ripe tomatoes cut into chunks
1 tsp garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
3 tbsp scallions
3 cups chopped romaine hearts
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and toss with milk and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Set aside. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan, and add tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper. Cut bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside ¼ cup for garnish. Toss remaining bacon and tomato mixture with pasta. Mix mayo, sour cream and 2 tbsp chives with pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with reserved bacon and remaining tbsp chives. Serve at room temperature.

Nutritional Information: 325 calories, 50 carbs, 7 fat grams and 15 protein grams.

Review: We REALLY liked it! I personally would have liked it better if it had cooled and like congealed together more, so I think the two servings we cooled for later this week will be better. But that’s okay – STILL very good.

Cranberry & Blue Cheese Salad

Cranberry & Blue Cheese Salad
Makes 1 Serving

½ cup romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula
14 grams TJ’s Blue Cheese Crumbles
2 tbsp TJ’s Raspberry Vinaigrette
15 grams TJ’s Dried Fruit Cranberries
24 grams avocado, diced
Optional: almond slivers

Nutritional Information (without almond slivers): 184 calories, 26 carbs, 11 fat grams and 4 protein grams.

Review: It was great and filling – I love the mix of these flavors! To make it lower calorie, I would just omit avocado – it was a nice-to-have but not a must-have. I was REALLY happy with the crumbles, dressing and cranberries though – I’m going to eat this salad A LOT.

Big Pigs in a Blanket

Big Pigs in a Blanket

Recipe by Hungry Girl
7 Snacks

1 package reduced fat crescent rolls (will not use 1 triangle)
7 Hebrew National 97% fat free hot dogs
2 wedges laughing cow cheese
7 dashes garlic powder
3 strips turkey bacon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside. Cook bacon in microwave and dice into small bits. Put bacon bits on a plate. Slightly stretch out one of the triangle-shaped portions of dough. Evenly spread with 1/3 a wedge of cheese, and then sprinkle with a dash of garlic powder. Place hot dog along the base roll it up. Squeeze dough gently to ensure it’s secure around the hot dog. Press dough-wrapped dog into bacon on one side, then set on pan. Repeat 7 times. Press any leftover bacon into tough. Bake for 15 minutes until dough is browned and crispy.

Nutritional information per snack: 153 calories, 12 carbs, 7 fat grams and 3 protein grams.

Review: YUM! Super flavorful and fabulous! I’m a fan. Honestly, I might remove the cheese next time – it was flavorful enough without it. And if you're feeling SUPER lazy, don't even do the bacon - just wrap those dogs in the roll and call it a day.

Turkey, Artichoke & Swiss Panini

Turkey, Artichoke & Swiss Panini
Recipe found on Our Best Bites
Makes 1 Recipe

First, make Garlic-Herb Sandwich Spread: ¼ cup fat free mayonnaise, 2 tsp minced garlic, juiced squeezed from ½ of a lemon, ½ tsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp fresh basil, ¼ tsp dried rosemary, ¼ tsp dried oregano. Put in a food processor and process until smoothed. Makes 3 servings.

Then use the following:
½ tsp olive oil
3-4 roma Tomato slices (2" diameter)
2 slices Hormel Natural Choice turkey (36 grams)
2 slices Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane (87 grams)
Artichoke hearts, quartered and marinated (25 grams; about 4)
1 slice light swiss cheese (I used Jarlsberg lite)

Spread 1/3 of the garlic-herb spread on each slice of bread, then layer cheese, turkey, tomato and artichoke hearts on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Put top on. Brush outer sides of sandwiches and grill on Panini maker (or George Foreman!) until golden brown. Put on a microwavable safe plate and cook for 40 seconds or until cheese is fully melted. Remove, cut in half and serve.

Nutritional Information: 374 calories, 51 carbs, 11 fat grams and 25 protein grams.

Review: It was SO good! The NI is up a bit on this one because I used much more bread (57 grams on last panini), but it was fab and FILLING. I had mine with a ½ cup of Amy’s Tomato Bisque (Austin had the rest of the can - 1.5 cups - and a larger Panini!).

Tomato and Mozzarella Press

Tomato and Mozzarella Press

Makes 1 sandwich

1 Arnold Sandwich Thin
½ tsp fat-free mayonnaise
1 tsp Trader Joe’s pesto
8 grams Fat-Free Feta Cheese
8 grams Fat-Free Mozzarella, shredded
4 grape tomatoes, diced
8 spinach leaves, halved
4 basil leaves, finely diced

Spread mayo and pesto on both sides, and top one side with cheeses, tomatoes, spinach and then basil. Put top on and drop it on the George Foreman for 3-4 minutes. Enjoy.

Nutritional Information: 182 calories, 30 carbs, 4 fat grams and 12 protein grams.

Review: I was a huge fan of this little guy! Austin was jealous so about an hour later I went down and made 2 more (I had another half – Austin had the other one and a half!). He loved it too! They’re just simple, yummy and quick – I’ll def be making these again!

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad Sandwich
Swanson website (Stacy sent it)
Makes 2 Servings

1 can (9.75 oz.) Swanson Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
2 tbsp chopped celery (didn’t include; didn't have any!)
½ tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp nonfat mayonnaise
1 tbsp nonfat plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices Whole Wheat Bread
2 tomato slices
2 lettuce leaves

Mix chicken, celery, onion, mayonnaise, yogurt and pepper. Divide chicken mixture among 2 bread slices. Top with tomato, lettuce and remaining bread slices.

Nutritional Information (with bread, tomato & lettuce leaves): 223 calories, 30 carbs, 6 fat grams, 24 protein grams.

Review: This was GREAT for packing for lunch – just made a baggy for bread, a baggy for tomato/lettuce and a container for the salad. I REALLY liked the salad, yummy and filling – but I definitely want to put the celery in next time –I like a bit more crunch ya know? And to add calories I would just serve with kettle chips or hummus + pita crisps.

Spicy Southwest Chicken Wraps

Spicy Southwest Chicken Wraps
Recipe from Aggie's Kitchen
Makes 4 Servings

First: make Chili Rubbed Chicken Breasts.

12 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tsp chili powder
3 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp cumin
3 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper

Turn on broiler. Combine all ingredients except chicken. Put chicken in a foil lined pan sprayed with PAM. Run spices over chicken and broil for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, flip it over, add 1 tbsp of water and broil for 3 minutes. While Chicken is cooking, make the Southwest mixture. For one serving:

4.5 tbsp salsa
150 g black beans, rinsed and drained
6 tbsp diced onion
150 g canned whole kernel corn
9-12 chopped pickled jalapeno
salt and pepper to taste
15 g fat-free cheddar cheese
6 Mission carb balance tortillas

In large bowl, stir together all ingredients except tortillas. Add the chili rubbed chicken. Divide mix into six and put on tortillas. Wrap and heat on the George Foreman for 3 minutes. Cut in half and serve!

Nutrition Information: One serving of 1.5 wraps is 371 calories, 46 carbs and 6 fat grams.

Review: These taste great the day after - easy to heat up and put in a wrap. Lots of flavor - especially the chicken and the jalapenos add a nice kick, too!

Roasted Chicken Pattie & Guacamole Pita

Roasted Chicken Pattie & Guacamole Pita
Inspired by a Trader Joe's sample test
Makes 2 Servings

2 6-inch pitas (about 120 calories each)
2 Trader Joe's roasted chicken patties
4 tbsp Trader Joe's spicy pico/guac servings, divided

Toast pitas in the toaster. While toasting, heat the chicken in the microwave for 1 minute. Put chicken onto pita, and then spoon guac/pico on top.

Nutritional Information: 295 calories, 29 carbs, 7 fat grams and 27 protein grams.

Review: We LOVED it. Amazing. It’s not much to look at but AWESOME. Would be a good snack to split with someone too (split one of them!).

Quesadilla Roll Ups

Recipe adapted from a Rachel Ray book
Quesadilla Roll Ups
Makes 4 Servings

16 oz. chicken + 1 pack taco seasoning, slow cooked for 3 hours on high and shredded; divided into 4 servings
4 mission burrito size tortillas
2 oz. cabot 75% fat-free cheese, grated, divided into 4 servings
2 oz. fat-free cheddar cheese, grated, divided into 4 servings
½ cup green salsa, divided

Add tortilla over medium heat. Top with cheese spread evenly. Cook until tortilla is slightly browned. Heat up a serving of chicken in the microwave (about 1 minute). Remove tortilla from heat and top with chicken. Roll up and cut into pieces. Serve each with 2 tbsp salsa.

Nutritional Information: 417 calories, 42 carbs, 7 fat grams and 41 protein grams.

Review: GREAT! I love these – super filling and flavorful. Next time I may add a tbsp of fat-free sour cream. For more calories (AKA for Austin) serve with chips and salsa on the side or a ½ cup of black beans. One thing to note – if you them crispy (which we did) make sure the chicken is dry – so pour some of the taco seasoning/sauce out (or just drain it). Also, you could easily skillet fry the chicken with taco seasoning on a pan - I just like to slowcook huge batches of chicken and use it in different recipes!

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Recipe adapted from cooking light
Makes 2 Servings

8 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breasts, halved
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder
.75 tbsp. plus ½ tsp. brown sugar
.75 tbsp. plus ½ tsp. cider vinegar
.75 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste

In large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil then chicken tenders and continue to cook until browned. Add paprika and chili powder to chicken mixture and cook through. Remove all the chicken and place it in a bowl. Shred each piece using two forks -- one to hold the chicken in place and the other to scrape across the meat and shred it. Return the shredded chicken to the pan. In small bowl combine tomato sauce, ketchup, cider vinegar, garlic powder and brown sugar. Add sauce to chicken and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes until sauce is warmed through and starts to thicken. Serve on whole wheat bread. If you like, season to taste with red pepper flakes.

Nutritional Information: 296 calories, 37 carbs, 5 fat grams and 33 protein grams. Without bread: 216 calories, 18 carbs, 4 fat grams and 28 protein grams!

Review: It was yummy and really filling! Next time I’m going to use less tomato sauce and add diced onions! To make it more low carb, I think it would taste good in a low-carb tortilla like La Tortilla Factory – next time I’m def going to wrap mine up.

in the pan