Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti

So I’ve been in a rut lately when it comes to food. I am very much a creature of habit and comfort, so while I love trying new things, sometimes I just need to push myself to do so.

Like last weekend, the husband and I were trying to figure out where to go for dinner. We kept throwing out “the usual suspects” until I said I was just wanting to try something different, like a Greek restaurant. I’ve eaten at Greek restaurants – but oddly enough, never in my hometown – which has a plethora of international cuisine!

So we ended up at a Mediterranean restaurant (the other 2 places we were going to try closed super early!) and I tried falfael for the first time! It definitely satisfied my craving, but I still want to try the Greek place. Who doesn’t love some spanakopita?

One of my comfort foods I haven’t made in a while is, well, pretty much anything Italian. I love Italian food and other than the occasional pizza, I just don’t make it much! I’ve definitely had a craving for it lately – so a few weeks ago, I decided to jazz up one of my favorite dishes, chicken Parmesan (which I shared with you in my first blog!).

What is better comfort food than spaghetti and meatballs? Try spaghetti with chicken Parmesan meatballs!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti (Serves 2 / 11 WW points per serving)

Ingredients

8 oz. ground chicken breast

1/2 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp. whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1 1/2 Tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning

1/3 cup reduced-fat Mozzarella, shredded (and chopped into smaller pieces)

4 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti

1 cup canned tomato sauce

Heat oven to 400 and lightly grease a small baking sheet. Start your water boiling for your pasta.

In a medium bowl, add chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and mozzarella. Mix together with your hands until blended well. If the mixture is too “wet” feeling, add a few more pinches of breadcrumbs or Parmesan. If it’s too crumbly, add a little more egg. Once the mixture is the right consistency, roll into ping-pong sized meatballs – should make 8-10.

MixtureBakingsheet

Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. The tough part with chicken is that it doesn’t “brown” like beef, so you will want to cut into one to make sure it’s cooked through – no salmonella with your spaghetti please!

Baked

While your meatballs are cooking, cook your spaghetti. Drain and set aside. Pour out water and in the same pot, add tomato sauce. This is where you have to play around a little with flavors. I added 1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning, probably 1/4 tsp. garlic salt and a pinch or two of black pepper. You can throw in red pepper flakes if you’re feeling feisty! Heat sauce and add the spaghetti and stir to coat.

Sauce

 

When the meatballs are ready, divide the spaghetti between two plate and top with meatballs.

PlatedMeatballs

Pretty simple, but incredibly delicious and a fun twist on a classic!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Have a wonderful GOOD Friday and Happy Easter!

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Faux Fried Pickles

Today is a very special post – because I am dedicating it to one of the most amazing women I know – my Biffer!

(For those of you who don’t know, that’s what my sister Lindley and I call each other.)

Why today? Because it’s her birthday!!!! Last night she kept texting me her age – I’m hoping it was because it was the last day she could say the younger year opposed to having to remind herself. Hey, senility is a serious problem for the elderly!

All kidding aside (for now), I truly value my relationship with my sister – I have always looked up to her. I still do today, and likely, I always will. Her relationship with the Lord is truly inspirational, and it shines through her in her daily life. Her marriage (to my rockin’ brother-in-law) of almost 13 years is a wonderful example for my husband and I. And she’s an amazing mother to my 4 adorably silly nephews. Yes, that’s 4 boys. And a husband. And a dog. And well, putting up with me sometimes. Let’s get this woman a cape already!

Biffers

Somebody as special as my Biffer deserves a treat, right? We love having Biffer nights out…and they usually involve some yummy food, beverages and a fun activity. I remember visiting her at IU – we had planned a Biffer craft night where we made lots of fun stuff and watched Moulin Rouge. But before such an intense evening, we needed some fuel. So we went to a local restaurant/bar simply because of an offering on their menu – fried dill pickles.

Now, some may turn up their nose at the sound of fried dill pickles. Especially if you are a semi-rational person freak and don’t like pickles. But they have been a favorite of ours since our childhood when we’d take road trips down to Gulfport, Mississippi to visit my grandparents and eat at the Catfish Shack (sounds pretty classy right?). We actually consider ourselves connoisseurs of the fried pickle – like if a place offers the fried pickle spears, psh, no thank you! It must be the chips!

Close Up Pickles

Whether it was me picking up a to-go order of fried pickles for her during her first pregnancy, or us shoving down an order before going to see Top Gun (she loves Tommy C.) at the Orpheum, fried dill pickles will always make me think of my Biffer.

So today, in honor of my Biffer turning 30 + some, I am sharing a recipe for Faux Fried Pickles – a healthier way to enjoy our obsession!

Faux Fried Pickles (Serves 2-4 / 8 WW points total)

Ingredients

Half a 16 oz. jar thick cut, oval dill pickle chips (I used about 24 slices)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. Tabasco

1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1/3 cup fat-free Ranch dressing

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a medium baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Lay your pickles on some paper towels and blot to dry.

Dry

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, Worcestershire and Tabasco. In a medium dish, mix together breadcrumbs, flour and seasonings. Working in batches, add pickles to the egg mixture to coat. Let any excess drip off, and then add to the crumb mixture. Press pickles into the mixture to ensure a good coating, then add to greased baking sheet. Repeat until all pickles are good and coated. Bake 10-12 minutes, then flip and cook another 5-7 minutes until golden brown.

PickleCollage

Serve hot with some ranch dressing for dipping.

Plated

Hope y’all enjoy…

Faux Fried Pickles

And Happy Birthday Biffer!

Crawfish Fettuccini

Confession – I am a total major sports event junkie.

Obviously, if you know me or have been reading this little blog ‘o mine for a while, you know that I could spend (and do spend!) my Fall Saturdays tuned in to college football. That’s just a given.

I’m talking about sports that I don’t really pay much attention to throughout the year unless it’s a big (read: rivalry or very meaningful) game. So while I read what’s going on and try to keep up with our local Memphis Tigers, I do not feel obligated to watch every single game or keep up with opponents during the season.

But now we’ve entered March Madness…whole different (pardon the pun) ball game. Heck, any excuse to make some festive food and watch sports is cool with me. But this one is different – it’s not one event, it’s days and hours of amazingness!

Like last night, I came home, ran in the door and turned on the TV to catch the very intense last seconds of the Gonzaga game. Then I had to watch the end of the Oregon game.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Quick meals are a must!

A few weeks ago, I tried a new seafood pasta recipe. It is the perfect recipe for a weeknight because it’s quick, easy and delicious – but it’s fancy enough to throw together for a weekend too.

Oh, right, and it’s WW friendly. Throw in a glass of wine and you’re doing it up right!

Crawfish Fettuccini (Serves 2 / 10 WW points per serving)

Ingredients

4 oz. fettuccini (I used Ronzoni Garden Delight)

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 tsp. minced garlic

8 oz. frozen crawfish tails, thawed

1/2 cup fat-free half and half

1/2 Tbsp. paprika

1/2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning

2 small tomatoes, diced

Tabasco sauce (optional)

Spray a medium skillet with non-stick spray. Melt margarine over medium heat and add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Saute 5 minutes until softened. Stir in crawfish tails and cook another 3-5 minutes until they curl slightly.

Add Crawfish

While the vegetables are cooking, go ahead and boil water for your pasta.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in half and half, paprika and Cajun seasoning. After this step, go ahead and add your pasta to the boiling water.

Add Spices

Cook crawfish sauce for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently and allowing the sauce to thicken. Add a few drops of Tabasco for a little additional spice. Once your sauce has thickened, reduce heat to low, stir in tomatoes. You don’t want them to cook too much, so do this when you are almost ready to serve.

Add Tomatoes

Drain your pasta and divide among plates. Top with crawfish sauce.

Plated Crawfish Fettuccini

I’d say total time including prep and cooking is 30 minutes. Not too shabby right?

Crawfish Fettuccini

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

White Chicken Enchiladas

So this week has given me two very sad instances of “Here’s how I know I’m getting old…”

  1. I was pumped that spring break was this week. Not because I’m in school or working for a school, allowing me a “free” week off, but rather because it was smooth sailing to work due to the amazing decrease in traffic.
  2. I looked at my calendar on Wednesday and was shocked to see St. Patrick’s Day was this weekend. I’m pretty sure it was a major social event in my previous life (read: my 20’s) – and my plans this year revolve around laundry day.

Quite honestly, I don’t mind – I love where I am right now in life! I have my best friend to come home to every night – so whether our social calendar is booked up every weekend, or we have a few nights to hang out at home and solve the world’s problems, I am 100% content.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t total shut-ins! There are definitely occasions when we need to get out with our friends. And with the weather pointing to Spring, I can’t wait for some patio nights at our favorite restaurants, which usually involve Mexican food, margaritas, and good friends.

So, I decided to whip up a diet-friendly Mexican dish that you can prepare for your next outdoor dinner party whenever the weather decides to cooperate in your area! Serve with a Skinnygirl Margarita for a totally guilt-free evening! I found a link to this one on Pinterest and made a few modifications – but you can find the original recipe here.

White Chicken Enchiladas  (Serves 2-3 / 6 WW pts. per enchilada)

Ingredients

1 cup chicken cooked and shredded chicken breast

1-2 Tbsp. taco seasoning

5 whole wheat tortillas

1/2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 Tbsp. Blue Bonnet Light margarine

1 1/2 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

2-3 oz. jarred jalapenos, chopped

Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 pan or dish.

In a medium bowl, mix chicken and taco seasoning until blended. In a small bowl, mix together cheeses. Add half of the blended cheese to the chicken and mix well.

Chicken Mixture

Place chicken mixture in the center of tortillas and roll tortillas. Place in pan.

Fill EnchiladaWrapped

Melt butter and whisk in flour. Stir in broth and whisk until thickened. Reduce heat. Add jalapenos and sour cream and whisk until incorporated. Do not bring to a boil.

Jalapenos

 

Pour sauce over the top of your rolled enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 25 minutes.

TopBake

 

Plate your enchiladas and pour a little of the excess sauce over the tops…

Plated Enchiladas

And then devour. Preferable on a beautiful evening on your deck or patio, surrounded by friends and family. And margaritas.

Close Up

Have a great weekend everybody!

 

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

I am so incredibly excited for this weekend! Not only is it a “we don’t have 15,000 things to get done” type weekend, but tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous! As much as I do love winter and cold weather precipitation, it’s March people. I need some sunshine.

I’m ready for pretty pastel colors and beautiful flowers! I need to break out the grill and make cold, refreshing fruity beverages!

I need some patio weather…and a tan.

The husband and I absolutely love our backyard, although I confess I do not always have a sunny disposition when it comes to yard work. Okay, I hate it. There, I said it!

But – I do love to entertain, so that kind of makes up for it right? He gets the yard looking nice, I whip up lots of goodies and everybody enjoys themselves. It’s a win-win people (any comments affirming that statement would be appreciated so that I can print and laminate and post on the refrigerator).

So in the spirit of entertaining, I’m sharing a delicious new recipe with y’all I whipped up a few weeks ago and had to make again so that I could get pictures for sharing. I tried a version of these out at lunch with my co-workers a few weeks ago and though, I could easily make a healthier version of these!

With Dip

And voila, I did. It should come as no surprise to you that it’s a buffalo chicken recipe…I’m pretty transparent huh?

Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg rolls  (Makes 8 egg rolls / 3 WW points per egg roll)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded

1-2 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup celery, chopped fine

1/2 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/3 cup Frank’s red hot sauce (this is a good medium heat and good consistency)

8 egg roll wrappers

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray

1/2 cup fat free Ranch dressing

Heat your oven to 350 and coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, mix together shredded chicken and cream cheese. Start with 1oz. cream cheese and see how it blends – shouldn’t be overly mushy, just enough to kind of hold the chicken together. Then add your hot sauce, celery and blue cheese crumbles and mix together until combined.

Cream CheeseHot Sauce

Blue Cheese

That was easy enough, right?

Now for the semi-tricky part – making the egg rolls look pretty decent. Make sure you have a clean, dry work surface and a small bowl of water and a pastry brush. Here are my step-by-step instructions…and some entertainment because I can’t be the only one who has it in my head while giving 5-step instructions. You know you love me.

Step 1: Take corner closet to you and fold up to filling. Brush top with a little water.

Step 2: Take side corners and fold inward on top of bottom fold.

Step 3: Firmly roll the wrapper up toward the top corner.

Step 4: Brush wrapper with water where the top corner is about to meet and press down.

Step 5: Place on baking sheet, spray with butter and repeat until done!

Eggroll Steps

It really is easier once you get the hang of it…and if they don’t turn out beautiful, at least they are still delicious right?

Once you have all of your egg rolls, um, rolled, bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, flip, spray other sides with butter spray, and return to oven for another 6-7 minutes. Plate and serve with Ranch dressing.

Plated

These are super delicious and actually pretty filling – the husband and I had these for dinner one night and 4 seemed to be the perfect amount! I’m sure you could cut these in half and serve as appetizers…but let’s be honest, you need a whole one to yourself!

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Chicken Picatta

It is March 1st. What is up with that?

I feel like I was just crying about celebrating the big birthday weekend, new hairstyle and all, but now you’re telling me it’s March?

I don’t even want to think about the fact that the weather will be warming up and the fact that bathing suits are hanging up in stores. *Shudder*

I’m not sure about y’all, but I definitely took a swan dive off the proverbial wagon and have some serious work to do before I’m bathing-suit ready. So back to hard work and discipline I go! Honestly, it’s just been pure laziness in my planning. If I don’t know what I’m making for dinner when I leave work, it’s easy to decide on take-out  – and I lack self-discipline when it comes to eating out!

If you’re in the same boat but still have a love for food, then I hope you enjoy some of the guilt-free recipes I have to share with you, such as what I think is my absolute favorite recipe, lightened up! (Side note – I love capers, olives, peperoncinis and can eat them out of the jar at any given time – so I usually hog the capers in this dish!)

Lightened Up Chicken Picatta  (serves 2 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

8 oz. chicken breast (I buy the thin cut ones, about 4 oz. each)

2 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine (chardonnay is my personal preference)

1/2 – 3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth

1 Tbsp. capers, drained

1 Tbsp. Blue Bonnet light (using a different reduced-calorie margarine may affect points)

1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 slices lemon

Begin by heating olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

While oil is heating, sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Coat in flour, shaking off any excess.

Flour

Add chicken to pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Set chicken aside on a plate and reduce heat to medium-low.

Saute

Now add white wine and garlic to the pan to de-glaze, scraping up any of the delicious browned pieces. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add broth, lemon juice and capers and stir. Return chicken to pan and cook 2 minutes one each side.

GarlicCapers

Add chicken to plates. Then add margarine to the sauce and stir until melted. Pour sauce over chicken and serve…

Close Up Chicken Picatta

Seriously my favorite, my mouth is watering right now…

Chicken Picatta

 

Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend!