Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Pockets

Becky gave me this recipe a while back and I never tried it...until yesterday...and it was DELISH!  The original recipe she gave me had a cream cheese chicken filling of some sort, but I was in the mood for some Mexican food this I changed it up a bit...well a lot actually!  This experiment definitely turned out to be a good one.  If you are a fan of the Southwest Egg Rolls from Chili's you will love these...especially because these won't cost you 810 calories and 42 grams of fat...not even close!

These would be really easy to put your own spin on and fill with whatever you are in the mood for...but for now...Mexican Chicken Pockets =)

FYI...I doubled the recipe since there are 4 of us eating now...which turned out to be waaaaay to much filling...I will probably freeze it and use it again, or put it into some tortillas for lunch.  So...this is the recipe for 8 pockets with lots of left over filling.

2 lbs frozen chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie or canned chicken would work, but you know how I feel about those)
2 6 oz containers of plain fat free Greek yogurt ("sour cream")
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can no salt added corn
handful of fresh cilantro
1/2 packet low sodium taco seasoning
2 packages of low fat crescent rolls

Once chicken is cooked and shredded, mix first 7 ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

To form the "pockets," open the crescent rolls without taking the triangles apart.  You will need rectangles, so keep the triangles stuck together in groups of two, pushing the dough together to get rid of the seams.

Place a large spoonful of the filling into the center of each rectangle.

Fold the sides around the filling, making a pocket.  Important to make sure all seams are sealed or the filling will leak out while cooking.  They don't have to be pretty!!

Place on a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray.  I topped mine with some spray butter and a little bit of cilantro...totally optional.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

I forgot to take an end picture AGAIN...dangit!  I also fixed the leftover zucchini from the Dinner Party as a side.  I combined them with 2 yellow squash, 1/2 an onion, about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remainder of my taco seasoning packet.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner Party!

Barry and I have some house guests for a while, so we had a dinner party to welcome them on Friday night.  It was small...nothing fancy, but my sister Becky, her husband Michael, and of course, CORA are going to be living with us for a little while before they head up to their new home in College Station.  So we had a few friends over for dinner...for appetizer I made "fried" zucchini, then we had light Caesar salad and baked ravioli for dinner and of course we had dessert!  I made an angel food cake (which is FAT FREE!) with a berry topping that was just sweet enough and somewhat healthy...well better than cheesecake or pie anyways =)

Apparently our party was boring!
Any time you can incorporate berries into your diet, you are doing your body a favor!  Berries in general are really high in fiber (raspberries are the highest in the berry family...FYI) and a great source of antioxidants.  Antioxidants have been shown to have tons of health benefits, the biggest one being cancer prevention, because they help prevent cell damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. 

So...for our appetizer, I combined a few different ingredients to make a marinara sauce.  But in hindsight, for time purposes...and for less dishes, I would have just used a jar.  For the zucchini you need:

2 eggs
1/3 cup light Italian salad dressing
1 cup bread crumbs
2 zucchini, sliced

After cutting up the zucchini into circles, combine the eggs and Italian dressing into one mixing bowl and put the bread crumbs into another.

I clearly went overboard with the zucchini...needless to say we will be eating sauteed zucchini for dinner this week!

Dip the zucchini slices into the egg mixture then into the breadcrumbs and place on preheated indoor grill.  I used my George Foreman grill.  The original recipe said they would take 2-3 minutes to cook...took closer to 8-10 minutes for me.  The grill cooled off too much in between batches I guess?

Zucchini will be done when tender and slightly browned.  Serve along side marinara sauce for dipping.

Our main course was pretty much pre-made low fat cheese ravioli (for Lent), covered in marinara sauce with a little bit of water, and topped with low fat mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.

And now for DESSERT!  My favorite part of any meal...

To make the berry topping you need:

2 lbs of strawberries, chopped
1 carton of blueberries
1 carton of blackberries
1 carton of raspberries (mine unfortunately turned into a science experiment before I made this)
1/2 (roughly) cup Splenda (or whatever you like) 
1/4 cup (roughly) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 box Angel Food Cake mix (or the premade kind you buy in the produce section)

Combine first 7 ingredients in mixing bowl, stir together.  Cover and place in fridge over night.

My phone died before I could snap a picture with all the ingredients in the bowl.  After sitting in the fridge over night the berries will have a nice glaze over them.  Prepare the cake according to package directions.  Or just take out of the container if you bought a premade one! =)

Serve each slice with a spoonful of berries on top.

Easiest dessert ever!  On a side note...I made WAY too much of the berry mixture (as I usually do with most things) so I put them on my waffle in the morning...DELISH!  And a way better option than syrup and butter!

WHEW!  That was a long one...sorry!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Cindy's Casserole

This recipe is actually called Chicken Divan, but I got it from my aunt - Cindy...I have to give credit where credit is due!  I always remember having this at her house growing up so whenever I got married and was quickly running out of things to make for dinner I called her up for this easy casserole recipe.  I changed a couple things...added some extra veggies, healthy request soups, leaner protein & low fat cheese...the usuals!  This one is fairly low carb and you get your protein and veggies in one!

Me and Cindy @ my Bachelorette party...I don't normally wear veils and shirts with my name on them!
I didn't do too much measuring with this one, so I will do my best to guess!

1.5 lbs cooked shredded chicken (I boiled chicken breast.  Rotisserie chicken would work, but not as lean)
3 cups frozen broccoli, cooked
2 cans Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise (It was supposed to be 1 cup, but 3/4 worked well.  I use Kraft Olive Oil Mayo)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar
1 cup bread crumbs (I used plain Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) - low in sodium)

Once broccoli and chicken are cooked, place chicken then broccoli on bottom of 9x13 casserole dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together soup, mayo and lemon juice.  Spread evenly on top of broccoli.


Sprinkle shredded cheese and breadcrumbs on top.

One of these days I will figure out how to take pictures without my shadow in them!  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Should be bubbly and browned on top.

I forgot to take the picture until after I started serving it...we were starving last night.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti...and a baby!

I bet you didn't think I could come up with yet ANOTHER kind of spaghetti...but I have! =)

I LOVE chicken spaghetti (obviously).  But, I have long been on a mission to find a recipe for this that does not include Velveeta.  There is something about cheese that can sit at room temperature in your pantry for years that just doesn't sit right with me.  I have finally found it...and made it a bit healthier...your arteries will thank me later! 

I made this recipe this week for my sister and brother-in-law because they just had a baby girl and I thought it would be an easy thing to freeze and heat up later.  I obviously can't talk about her without putting up a pic...or two...

That car seat picture just cracks me up!  She apparently is not a fan...

Back to the spaghetti...This is actually a Pioneer Woman recipe.  If you haven't looked at her website, you should stop reading this and go there immediately, its much more interesting than mine...I promise!  Her recipes are awesome, but not so much on the healthy side.  The three biggest things I changed are:

 2 cups of reduced fat shredded cheddar 
391 calories, 15.8 grams of fat, 55 grams of protein
3 cups of regular shredded cheddar
1366 calories, 112 grams of fat (!!!), 84 grams of protein

3 cups whole wheat spaghetti noodles
30+ grams of fiber (depends on brand)
3 cups spaghetti noodles
12 grams fiber

2 cans healthy request cream of mushroom
350 calories, 10 grams of fat
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
500 calories, 30 grams of fat

Makes a HUGE difference!!  On to the recipe...for real...

2-3 cups raw chicken
2 cans healthy request cream of mushroom
2 cups low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 diced onion (my onion was DISGUSTING when I went to cut it, so I actually left this out...either way!)
4 oz jar diced pimientos, drained
3 cups dry whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 2 inch pieces
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
pepper to taste

Start by boiling chicken until cooked, I used tenders so it took about 10 minutes.  Please take note of my new Le Creuset Dutch Oven I got for my anniversary...LOVE!!

Remove chicken from water when done, boil pasta in same water until soft.

Drain pasta, and put back in pot.  Add remaining ingredients.

Shred chicken and add to pot.

I forgot to take a picture of the end product, but mix it all get the idea!  I actually added a 3rd can of cream of mushroom because I knew I was going to freeze it and I didn't want to to be dry when it was reheated...just an option.

The original recipe called for it to be baked for 30-45 minutes with an additional cup of cheese on top, but I thought it tasted really good at this point, so I stopped.  And dinner was ready 45 minutes earlier than I complaints here!  Sorry for the SUPER long post...


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crock Pot Fiesta

This recipe literally took me 5 minutes to make.  And would probably take me 5 minutes to write about, so I am going to give you a nutrition lesson in the mean time!  You're welcome.  

I find myself talking about protein a lot these days, so I thought I would fill you in on some protein facts - it does tie into the recipe, I promise!  Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which the body can make (non-essential), and some of which must be provided to the body through diet (essential).  With proteins, there are what we call complete proteins and incomplete proteins.  Complete proteins contain all 9 of the essential amino acids and generally come from animal sources (chicken, fish, eggs, beef, etc...).  Incomplete proteins only contain some of the essential amino acids and generally come from plant based foods (legumes, grains, etc...).

So, especially for vegetarians, pairing incomplete proteins together to form a complete protein is pretty important!  Beans and rice is one of the most common food pairings that combines two incompletes to form a complete...and also happens to be one of my favorite foods. =)

Which brings us to the recipe...

1 lb frozen chicken breast (I used tenders because that's what I had)
16 oz of your favorite salsa
1/2 cup brown rice
2 cans of black beans, undrained (low sodium if you can find them, but it was slim-pickings at my store on Sunday night)

Place slow cooker liner into your crock pot and put frozen chicken on the bottom.

Cover with salsa.

Then add rice...

And pour in beans.

I cooked it on high for 4 hours, but I'm sure it would work on low for 6-8 hours.  Stir before serving.  Chicken should break up into smaller pieces upon stirring. We had this in some low carb tortillas for dinner, but I'm sure it would be good over a salad, or just by itself!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Christmas Pasta

This really has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas except that the veggies are red and green and it reminded me of Christmas...which I that's what I named it!  This is a one dish dinner entree that has protein, starch and veggies all in one - one of my favorites that we have had recently.  It was really easy and tasted like it had a cream sauce (a.k.a Fat Sauce - well maybe that's a little harsh, but there are definitely better options than cream sauce) but it didn't!  I didn't change much from the original recipe, just a few minor things.  For a 2 cup serving - which is a pretty good sized serving - it will cost you about 500 calories - not too bad...and no one says you have to eat 2 cups if you are looking for lower calories...just saying...

Don't be deceived by the kind of long ingredient list...

1-1.5 lb raw boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp butter, divided (I prefer a light, unsalted kind)
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy...but I'm a wimp!)
1/4 tsp oregano (from the original recipe, but I didn't have any so I used Italian seasoning)
2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (I used spirals, but whatever shape you have/like will work)
1 bunch of broccoli, tops cut off
1 sweet red pepper, 1-2 inch strips
1/2 c parmesan cheese

OK...season the chicken with salt and pepper, saute in 1 tbsp butter in large skillet until no longer pink.

Remove chicken from skillet onto a plate.  Using the same skillet, saute the onion in the other tablespoon of butter until tender.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano (or Italian seasoning) and cook for 1 more minute.

Add chicken broth and milk, bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add pasta and cook until tender - about 8-10 minutes. 

After about 3-5 minutes of the pasta boiling, add the broccoli and red pepper. 

Once the veggies are tender, add the chicken back to the skillet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.