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!

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!

 

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!

 

A Week of Celebration

Do you know what tomorrow is? I mean, other than the day that adorable little Phil will tell us when Spring is set to arrive.

Tomorrow is my blog’s birthday! Or is it anniversary?

Let’s go with birthday since that’s the theme of the week. On Monday I said farewell to my 20’s – so today, as a way of celebrating this lovely occasion, my blog will say farewell to something too. Have you figured out the surprise? Check the top of your computer screen:

www.cookingonthebrightside.com

My blog has its’ own domain name now! Very nerdy of me to be excited about, I know, but hey – if you’ve been with me for a year, you expect it by now, right?

Have no fear – any older links will still take you to your favorite recipe. Now it’s just abbreviated, which means it’s easier to remember for when you’re passing it along to your friends. (Wink wink).

In addition to tomorrow being a very special day for my blog – Sunday is a very special day  for football lovers (like myself) and for food lovers (um, duh) and for those of us who just enjoy fun celebratory occasions in general.

So if you’re hosting a party for 50 on Sunday or just getting together with a small group and maybe tuning in to the Puppy Bowl – here’s a little recipe roundup for your menu planning!

Pre Game

AppCollage

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffa-faux Chicken Tenders

Mexican Dip

Skinny Faux-Fried Mozzarella Sticks

The Main Event

Main Course Collage

Buffalo Chicken Soft Tacos

Buffalo Chicken Soup

BBQ Chicken Stromboli

Cheeseburger Soup

Pizza Soup

Spicy Pulled Beef

Turkey Beer Chili

Of course, you can always jazz your party up with a fun theme. I’m talking about New Orleans. So serve up some festively Cajun recipes and throw back a Louisiana-brewed beer  (might I recommend Abita? Light and Amber are delicious!) and you’ll feel like you’re celebrating in the Big Easy!

Lagniappe (translation: a little something extra)

CajunCollage

“Fried Shrimp” with Spicy Sauce (or make some po boys cut up into sliders!)

Cajun Shrimp Casserole

Creole Stew

I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend celebrating – as they say in N’awlins…

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I have a serious issue.

I mean beyond my fear of balloons (also known as “globophobia” – which means I am not alone!). And okay, I’m also overlooking the rage incited within me when somebody confuses the words “flavor” and “scent.” Yeah, let that one marinate for a minute..it’s maddening!

The issue I’m talking about is my love for all things buffalo-flavored.

You’d think I would have fun out of buffalo inspired recipes by now. You, my dear friend, would be wrong.

I also have an obsession with potato skins. I love potatoes in pretty much every form – but roasted until crispy and topped with cheese and bacon? Right, no words needed.

Clearly, not exactly the healthiest of choices – but in my defense, I usually order this “appetizer” as a main meal. I’ll be debating my selection and the husband will look up from his menu and be like “You’re ordering potato skins aren’t you?” Yes, over that delicious famous local burger or yummy spicy hot wings. Over hot wings people – that speaks volumes, does it not?

Well, I have finally found a way to combine my two loves – and the best part is that this recipe is healthy for either a main meal or a snack! It’s the perfect thing to enjoy while watching college football this weekend – or to snack on next week when you’re burnt out on turkey!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins (2 WW pts. per skin with 1/2 Tbsp. Ranch dressing)

6 small russet potatoes

8 oz. raw chicken breast

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce

6 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Mix

6 Tbsp. fat-free Ranch dressing

Salt and pepper

Olive oil spray

Preheat your oven to 450.

Slice all of your potatoes in half. This will give you 12 halves. See? Math is fun!

Now scoop out the insides of your potatoes, leaving about 1/4 inch border to hold your filling and well, allow you to taste the potato. I used a melon baller to scoop since the potatoes are still raw.

Spray both sides of your potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. I sprinkled a little Ranch seasoning on the inside to give it a little extra boost of flavor – yum! Place skins on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until the potato flesh is tender and the skins are slightly crispy.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and add your chicken. When chicken is cooked (8-10 minutes is good) let chicken cool slightly and shred with 2 forks. Add about 2-3 Tbsp. hot sauce and mix well.

When your potato skins are cooked, remove from the oven and begin to assemble!

Add your shredded chicken and celery. Then add about 1/2 Tbsp. each of blue cheese crumbles and shredded mozzarella.

Return to oven for 5-7 minutes until cheese has melted.

Remove and drizzle remaining 2-3 Tbsp. hot sauce on potato skins. I also sprinkled with some dried chives due to lack of green onion, but that’s up to you!

Serve with some fat-free Ranch dressing for dipping and devour!

Try them while you’re rooting on your team this weekend…you won’t regret it!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Yes, you read that correctly. Chickenfriggincordonbleu – in. A. Casserole!

To be quite honest, I’d never had chicken cordon bleu until I made a skinny version a few months back. However, the whole pounding the chicken thin, rolling it and securing it usually puts me into a fit of rage and kills a bunch of toothpicks. Sometimes it’s worth it – as you saw with my Jalapeno Popper Chicken!

However, sometimes – life just calls for a casserole. And with the chill in the air, you’ll love this layered comfort food – but you know I have your back, so it’s lightened up as to not add layers to YOU!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole(serves 4 – 8ww pts/serving)

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

4 oz. lean sliced deli honey ham

2 oz. reduced-fat Swiss cheese

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

2 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

1 3/4 cups skim milk

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/8 tsp. white pepper

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tsp. dried parsley

1/4 tsp. Seasoned salt

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttter” spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray medium casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan, add butter and milk over medium heat and whisk until melted. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Bring to a light simmer and stir until thickened.

Then add lemon juice, mustard, salt, white pepper and paprika. Bring back to light simmer and remove from heat.

Now, take your shredded chicken and spread in the bottom of your casserole dish.

Chop your ham and shred your cheese. Spread ham over the top of the chicken, then spread cheese evenly over the top.

Pour sauce over the cheese and spread, ensuring it reaches the edges.

Sprinkle panko crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole, dusting with parsley and seasoned salt. Spray with butter spray.

Now bake uncovered for 45 minutes until browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

This dish is so low in points, you can serve with a delicious crisp salad and a slice of whole wheat bread to soak up the goodness.

Hope y’all enjoy…I know we sure did!

Buffa-faux Chicken Tenders

Let’s flash back to the year 2010 for a moment, shall we?

– New Orleans won the Super Bowl

– The Oil Spill

– The Winter Olympics in Vancouver

– Auburn won the BCS National Championship

Now, somewhere in there, I decided to do WW to shed some pounds that desperately needed to go. But like I’ve said before, I love my food. I didn’t want to give up things I love because I knew that would make me an angry person. Deny me a burger and fries? I might punch you in the face.

But I learned quickly that by limiting portions and well, “bad” stuff like, well, almost anything fried – I could make it! So I started making turkey burgers with baked fries. Greasy calorie laden pizza? I made my own crust and used smarter toppings and reduced fat cheese.

Buffalo wings? Oh buffalo wings, how I love thee. Now I will say that sometimes, I still just need the real thing. But in 2010 I did find a way to make some delicious buffalo chicken tenders that are baked and also incredibly filling if you eat 4-5 of them. Definitely fond of the year 2010 – discovered baked buffalo wings. Oh, and got engaged. It was a good year.

So anyways, I know one of the ingredients sounds a little crazy, but it’s actually pretty delicious. You should totally try it.

Buffa-Faux Chicken Tenders (serves 2 – 11 WW pts. per serving)

10 chicken tenders

1/2 cup reduced-fat buttermilk (Doesn’t all really “count” since you end up pouring out the excess)

1 tsp. Tabasco

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 1/2 cups ground Fiber One cereal

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1/2 Tbsp. honey

Olive oil spray

In a medium bowl or deep dish, pour in buttermilk and whisk with Tabasco and garlic. Add trimmed chicken tenders and let soak at least 1 hour. Best if they have 2+ to really marinate!

Grind your cereal and set in a large shallow dish. Add your onion powder, garlic salt, paprika and salt. Mix until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top. Spray rack with non-stick spray. This isn’t necessary, but it allows the chicken to get a little crispier.

Have your chicken, coating and baking rack set up in an assembly line and begin!

Pick up chicken and let excess buttermilk drip. Place in the dish with the crumb mixture.

Toss, roll, and press the mixture into the chicken. Then place on your baking rack. Repeat with remaining chicken. Spray the chicken with a little olive oil to crisp it up.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove from oven, flip chicken, and bake another 10-12 minutes until cooked through.

While chicken is baking, add your hot sauce and margarine to a small saucepan and head over medium-low heat. Whisk until blended. I added about 1/2 Tbsp. honey to cut the heat a little!

When your chicken is cooked, add to a plate and drizzle hot sauce over the tenders. It absorbs quickly – but it is quite delicious!

And this, my friends, is what really got me hooked on playing with recipes to make them healthy but still allowing me to eat my favorite foods…great when paired with my ranch flavored oven-baked fries!

Happy Friday everybody!