Chicken Parm Sliders

I have been a burger-like mood lately. I mean way more than usual. The delicious burger I shared last week is great – but obviously, like I said, more of a “cheat day” type meal.

Lucky for you, this week’s post is still a between-the-buns offering, but is more on the healthy side. Best news? Perfect for a game day gathering – which is majorly important now that football is upon us (Woo hoo!). These savory sliders are easy to prep ahead of time, pop in the oven and during a time out, dress them up and plate them!

Sliders_cookingonthebrightside

I had some ground chicken to use and I can only imagine your surprise that it didn’t go towards buffalo something or other. Instead, I added some sautéed onions and marinara sauce that keep the patties from drying out while cooking. I’ve done this as a dinner for two with some crispy zucchini chips as a side, and have also done a big batch for a larger gathering – easy to customize for any size group!

Chicken Parm Sliders (Makes 8 sliders / 5 WW points per slider)

2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped.

2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 pound ground chicken (I usually opt for ground chicken breast – leaner)

1/2 cup reduced-fat grated Parmesan

1 Tbsp. bread crumbs (I use whole wheat crumbs if possible)

1 cup Prego Light Smart sauce, divided

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

8 whole wheat slider buns

1/2 cup reduced-fat mozzarella, shredded

Fresh basil leaves for topping

Spray butter (I use “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and Italian seasoning and saute for 3-5 minutes until onions are softened.

In a medium bowl, add ground chicken, half of the Prego sauce, grated parmesan, sautéed onions, bread crumbs, salt and peppers. Mix together by hand until ingredients are dispersed evenly. Form into 8 small patties. Line a plate with wax paper and add patties. Cover and chill at least 20 minutes to ensure binding.

When you’re ready to cook, remove patties. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cook at 375 for 15 minutes. Flip and cook another 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Remove patties from the oven.

Add a cooked patty to the bottom half of each slider bun. (I also spray the top halves and put them in next to the patties to let them toast a little.)Top with about 1 Tbsp. of shredded mozzarella. Add 1 Tbsp. Prego sauce from the remaining 1/2 cup. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted slightly. Top with a basil leaf and bun.

Then, well, you know what to do…

Chicken Parm Sliders_cookingonthebrightside

Have a great weekend y’all!

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Chicken Veggie Bake

So leading up to our vacation this summer, I really wanted to get myself in shape so I could feel good about myself. I signed up for a virtual challenge through a friend of mine which emphasized being physically active and eating clean.

I was a little hesitant about the clean eating part of it (it has nothing to do with the 5 second rule people) and while it’s not necessarily always going to be something sustainable for me personally, it really challenged me to find some new recipes and gave me a new outlook on food and how it fuels my body.

I found Pinterest to be a great resource for inspiration, which lead me to one of our new favorites – even when we aren’t aiming to eat clean! It is my go-to recipe for a crazy weeknight when I have other stuff to get done – like preparing other meals for the week or getting a workout in. It’s filling and packed with protein and flavor. It takes 10 minutes to prep! Oh, and the best part? It only takes 1 dish. You chop everything, throw it in a dish, stir it and bake it. No messy bowls, pots and pans to worry about – just the dish you cook it in.

So recap:

Easy – check!

Quick (and you can get other stuff done while it cooks) – check!

Healthy – check!

Delicious – check!

1 dish – check!

You’re welcome.

Chicken Veggie Bake (Serves 2 – 8 WW Pts./Serving)

Ingredients_ChickenVeggieBake

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray.

12 oz. raw boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces

4 oz. red potatoes, diced

1 cup asparagus, trimmed and chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced (I halve some of the slices to spread the love)

1/4 medium red onion, diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. dried rosemary

2 tsp. dried Italian herb seasoning

Salt and pepper

Add chicken and vegetables to your baking dish. Add olive oil, garlic, rosemary, Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Stirandcook_ChickenVeggieBake

Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Take this 30 minutes to check something off your list. Get in a quick workout. Make your lunch for the next day. Call your mom. Take a bubble bath. Pay your bills – the possibilities are endless people, because your work is done when this thing goes in the oven!

I add a side salad…and usually a side of wine too.

Chicken Veggie Bake_cookingonthebrightside

Let me know if you try this and if you love it as much as we do.

Barbecue Chicken Enchiladas

Y’all – I am trying my very hardest not to be an incredibly jealous person right now.

And quite honestly, I think I’m a jealous person by nature. Obviously, we all are – it’s just a human trait. But I live in Memphis. I work downtown. It’s beautiful outside. And it’s the third weekend in May.

What does that mean? Well, for those of you not from these parts – Memphis has a month long celebration every May (dubbed “Memphis in May”) and the third weekend, this weekend, is the World Championship Barbecue Festival – aka “Barbecue Fest”.

It’s an awesome weekend if you’re on a team. Or know someone on a team. Or, you know, are married to somebody on a team. However, the past few years, the husband has been in lock-down study mode so we haven’t been able to attend. So we were of course pumped to be able to go this year – until he found out he had to go out of town for work.

So yeah, I’ve tried not to be jealous. Of the smell of barbecue wafting through downtown as I walked to grab a turkey sandwich and head back to work. Of the pictures of people enjoying the beautiful, cool, sunny day down on the river just steps away from my office. And the thought of those same individuals, parking a chair in the grass, holding a cold beer, doing some high-quality people watching and shoveling down all of the delicious, smoky, sticky barbecue they want this weekend.

I might not get to celebrate with them – but I do have my ways of celebrating in spirit. Enter barbecue chicken enchiladas. Perfect to enjoy on your patio with a cold beer or two! Happy BBQ Fest weekend everybody!

Barbecue Chicken Enchiladas (Makes 5 enchiladas / 5 WW pts. per enchilada)

Ingredients

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded

5 tortillas (I use Ole Extreme Wellness, High Fiber Low Carb)

3/4 c. shredded fat-free cheddar (divided)

1/4 c. shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

3 Tbsp. chopped green onion

3/4 c. barbecue sauce (divided)

10 oz. red enchilada sauce

1 Tbsp. barbecue seasoning

3 Tbsp. chopped red onion

Heat oven to 350.

Begin by mixing 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cheddar together in a small bowl. Toss shredded chicken with mixed cheese, red onion, barbecue seasoning and 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.

In another medium bowl, mix together enchilada sauce and remaining 1/2 cup barbecue sauce.

BBQChickenEnchiladas-Assembly

Lay out your tortillas and start with 1/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each one. Fold lengthwise, and then tuck the ends under. Repeat until chicken mixture is gone.

Spread a very thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add your enchiladas and pour remaining sauce on top. Bake 20 minutes and remove. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and return to oven, baking another 5-7 minute until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbling.

PlatedBBQEnchilada

Sprinkle with green onion and serve.

BBQChickenEnchiladas-CookingontheBrightSide

Okay, I’m a little more in the spirit now!

 

 

BBQ Potato Skins

So my fair city of Memphis, Tennessee just came in 2nd. In worst cities for allergies.

Imagine my surprise. As I gasp through my watery eyes and itchy throat. And sneeze. Three times in a row. Boo on allergies.

But I can endure allergies this time of year. You know why? Cause Memphis ranks #1 in something else – barbecue. We know our barbecue. We take it very seriously. I mean, have you ever had BBQ nachos at a ball game? If not – you just haven’t lived my friend.

This is the time of year when outdoor festivals boast tons of delicious food. We have several crawfish festivals. We have a hot wing festival. And of course, there’s Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest, celebrating all the “swine” things in life. Yes, I went there.

Plated BBQ Potato Skins_Cookingonthebrightside

I had to satisfy my craving for BBQ the other night and needed to do so in healthy way! It was a beautiful weekend – and being a Memphian, I know that nothing goes with beautiful weather like hot BBQ and cold beer. So I whipped up these beauties which are great as an appetizer or for a dinner (since I love eating finger food for dinner!).

BBQ Potato Skins (Makes 10 skins / 2 WW Points each)

Ingredients

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast

5 small/mini russet potatoes

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, fat-free

1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided (I use Corky’s – a local BBQ establishment)

1/3 cup chopped red onion

BBQ seasoning (I use Rendezvous – another local BBQ establishment.)

Salt and pepper.

Heat your oven to 400. Slice your potatoes in half and scoop out the centers, leaving a thin border around each one. I use a melon baller and throw the extra potato in some water so I can make mashed potatoes later in the week.

Sprinkle the insides of each potato skin with salt, pepper and some barbecue seasoning. Place the potato skins on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, then flip each one and bake another 10 minutes until “flesh” is tender when pierced with a fork.

Step by Step_BBQPotato Skins

While the skins are cooking, cook your chicken breast. Allow to cool and then shred. Mix with 3-4 Tbsp. of barbecue sauce and a few dashes of seasoning.

Once your skins are ready, divide shredded chicken between each skin. Sprinkle with red onion and cheddar. Bake another 8-10 minutes and then you are in business…

BBQ Potato Skins_Cookingonthebrightside

I hope y’all have a great weekend!

Chicken Gyros

So I’m about a month into my “back on track” talk I had with myself.

And surprisingly, things are going pretty well! I did celebrate a birthday recently and I certainly believe in celebrating up right, but other than that – I’ve been staying the course!

I sat down with some of my co-workers to discuss our strategies for losing weight and being healthier and one of the big things we talked about was stress. Stress is a huge trigger for me when it comes to food. So one of the things I set out to do was identify some of my triggers that I could actually control.

Like time.

I get so stressed out when I have a small window to throw a lunch or dinner together and sometimes, I don’t want a sandwich or something out of a can.

So impossible situation right? Home cooking that’s good for you and ready in no time?

Turns out – it’s not impossible. But I’ve learned it takes some planning ahead! A few weeks ago we had a conference at church that started on a Friday night and I needed something that I could make in 15 minutes. And now I’m obsessed with this recipe. I made the tzatziki sauce the night before and marinated the chicken overnight so all I had to do was throw it in a skillet. Seriously, I want to try this marinade on all of the things. So give it a try whether you’re short on time or just want to spend your evening out of the kitchen.

Chicken Gyros (2 stuffed pita pockets = 1 serving / 1 serving = 11 WW points)

Chicken Gyros - ingredients

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cucumber, shredded and pressed of excess moisture

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. champagne vinegar

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle of olive oil

Chicken gyros

1 tsp. garlic

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano

Salt and pepper

10 oz. raw chicken breast, cubed

4 (halves) whole wheat pita pockets

Sliced Roma tomato

Sliced red onion

For the tzatziki sauce:

Shred the cucumber in a small food processor. Place on paper towels to drain excess liquid. Then mix with yogurt, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Steps

For the chicken:

Cut chicken into small pieces. Whisk together garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, Greek yogurt, oregano, salt and pepper. Add chicken and marinate at least 1 hour.

Once chicken has marinated, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and pour in marinade. Turn chicken while cooking and once the marinade has thickened or evaporated, it’s ready!

Chicken gyros_devour

Spread a little tzatziki sauce in each pita and distribute chicken between the 4 halves. Add tomato and onion slices and devour.

Seriously, I’ve already made this 3 times in the past 10 days. I hope you like it too.

Chicken Gyros

Have a great weekend y’all!

Recipe Round Up: “The Big Game”

This Sunday is kind of a big deal.

I mean there’s Groundhog Day. Obviously we’re all pumped for that – who doesn’t love chubby little Phil?

There’s also the Super Bowl – which I am always pumped for, since it combines one of my passions with my profession (that would be football and marketing).

Both are probably marked on your calendar for grocery shopping and wardrobe planning, but do you know what else happens Sunday? This little blog celebrates 2 years!

Obviously a day this epic deserves a recipe round-up – so if you’re looking for some snacks to whip up for “The Big Game” – you have come to the right place. Should I even mention the fact that this might be the best blog to come to for all things buffalo, which is like, a staple for Super Bowl Sunday? That and the game is being played in close proximity to the origin of “Buffalo Wings“. Boom. Droppin’ knowledge.

I’ll stop now.

The Game Plan

The Warm-Up

Warm Up - Super Bowl Recipes

Buffalo Hummus

Buffalo Egg Rolls

Buffalo Chicken Potato Sins

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Fries

Faux Fried Pickles

The Big Game

Big Game

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Game Time Chili

New York (close enough) State of Mind

I had to put this in there because I’m a sucker for a theme. When I think New York – a few staples come to mind. Italian delights – mozzarella sticks and pizza. And of course salmon, bagels and cream cheese, which comes to you in flat bread form below! Maybe I’ll drum up my own creation with some pastrami this weekend!

New York State of Mind

Faux Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Pizza Soup

Smoked Salmon Flatbread

And let’s be honest, I could LIVE off snack foods along – so don’t be ashamed if you just make a bunch of appetizers and call it your meal. That may be exactly what happened in my household last year…and I certainly did not hear any complaints!

Hope you find something you enjoy! Have a great weekend and enjoy the festivities!

 

Chicken with Pepperoni Marinara Sauce

Dear October,

Where did you go?

Y’all, seriously. I just looked at my calendar and freaked out a little. I have been a very very bad blogger! It has been absolute chaos (the fun kind!) in our house these past few weeks. Just a little overview:

  • Wrapped up Sept. with a church community service project and then drove to Oxford, MS for a cousin’s wedding and some family birthday celebrating.
  • Then finished our bathroom (woot woot!).
  • Rang in October by celebrating our 2nd anniversary which included a delicious meal cooked by my husband and one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in my life at a restaurant I’d been dying to try. I may have made reservations in July to make sure we got there.
  • Hosted a couple’s shower for some friends – I love throwing parties, but they leave me exhausted. At least we had leftovers to eat for 3 days before we packed up again!
  • Headed to Orlando for another wedding – this time one of my best friends from college. Spent a day with Mickey and the gang, ate our way around the world at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival (which was AMAZING), got some girl time with my besties (sadly minus my Punk – but gotta keep her baby safe!) and celebrated the marriage of two wonderful people.
  • And this past weekend we celebrated another wedding – one of the husband’s best friends from college. He was in the wedding – so a whole weekend of festivities.

So – all of that to say. Hi. I’m back. And happy to be back in my kitchen cooking meals for 2 people for a little while. In order to get back in the swing of things, I needed a super easy recipe with stuff I had on hand and I found this little gem on the Cooking Light website.

Chicken with Pepperoni Marinara Sauce (Serves 4 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

Original recipe found here.

4 (5 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I buy thin sliced or cut a big one in half)

1 tsp. olive oil

Garlic powder and pepper

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. Italian herb seasoning

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

16 slices Turkey pepperoni, chopped

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/2 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Heat a large saucepan to medium. Coat with nonstick spray and add olive oil.

Sprinkle chicken breasts with a little garlic powder and pepper on each side. Add to skillet and cook 3-5 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside.

Steps

Add garlic and chopped pepperoni to pan and cook about 2 minutes. Pour in marinara sauce and stir in Italian herb seasoning and garlic salt. You may want to add a little more salt or some pepper depending on the sauce you purchase – I like to cut the sweet a little.

Pour sauce over the chicken breasts and add 2 Tbsp. cheese on top of each piece. (To make this an easy one-pan meal – I pushed the sauce to one side and then added the chicken back in.) Cover for 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted.

Close Up

This was super easy and required ingredients I usually have on hand – so it worked out perfectly, I didn’t even have to make a run to the store! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did…

Chicken Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce

Have a great weekend y’all!