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 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!

Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Happy Friday everybody! I’m even more excited for this Friday, because it’s the start of a long weekend.

While I love weekends, they are definitely something I struggle with when it comes to food. There’s usually more “down” time, which means snacking. And obviously, if you’re somewhat social, there’s the temptation of alcohol and junk/bar food. Nothing wrong with that – but when you’re trying to shed some lbs., it can be tough!

When I started doing the WW thing, it was easy to change dinner habits. Basically just make dinner before going out, and not getting carried away with the festive beverages. But for some reason, lunch was a struggle for me!

I’ve shared some pasta salads with you that are great for lunches (especially if you get easily burnt out on those frozen things) but I think since I get to sleep in a little more on the weekend, I don’t have breakfast so I’m usually pretty hungry come lunch time – and have some extra points at my disposal!

Well, I found a great sandwich to make that is a little higher in point values, but it’s easy to throw together, super filling AND I’ve already shared a pizza with you that will allow you to utilize any leftover ingredients you have. That’s what I call a win-win my friends!

Cheese Steak Sandwiches for 2 (13 WW Points each)

Ingredients

5 1/2 oz. tenderized sirloin, trimmed

2 demi baguette or hoagie rolls (I get the “Archer Farms” brand from Target – 7 WW pts.)

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

1/2 small onion, sliced

2 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. A1 steak sauce

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray

Heat your oven to 350.

Coat a medium skillet with non-stick spray and head to medium. Add your chopped onion and bell pepper. Spray with butter and sprinkle with 1 tsp. garlic salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes and add 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Toss and cook another 5-7 minutes until peppers have softened and onions have caramelized slightly. Set vegetables aside.

VeggiesCooked Veggies

Spray your skillet again and add your sliced sirloin. Sprinkle with remaining garlic salt and pepper and cook 3-4 minutes. Add remaining Worcestershire sauce and cook another 507 minutes until steak is cooked through.

Steak

While all of this sauteing is going on, slice your rolls in half. (Hint: If you want to decrease the point values a little, you can scoop out some of the “insides” in the roll, which also leaves more room for veggies!). Arrange rolls in a baking dish. Spray with some butter and sprinkle a little garlic salt if you’re feeling sassy. Arrange one slice of cheese on each sandwich.

BreadProvolone

Add cooked steak on top of cheese, and your cooked veggies on top of that. Then, drizzle each with 1 Tbsp. steak sauce. “Close” sandwiches as much as you can (you may have to use some special arrangement skills) and bake for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted.

ToppingSandwich

This could be the perfect lunch for watching some NFL playoff action on Sunday…or even a great dinner paired with an ice cold beverage.

Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Have a great weekend!

Potatoes, Po-Boys and Smokies…Oh My?

So I’m newly married (6 months is coming up quickly!) and I work full-time. The husband is in study mode, so I have a lot of just “me” time – both good and bad! I am loving having a blog as a great creative outlet and something to DO, but recently, it’s been hard to get into a rhythm. It’s been so nice out – so some days I want to come home, sit outside with a glass of wine and read cookbooks instead of, well, actually cooking. Sometimes, the day just takes a toll on me and I’m exhausted by the time I get home!

I guess my point is – yes, there are some days where cooking doesn’t seem like a delight to me – but a chore. I get tired. I get lazy. I get frustrated. And I love to cook!

Usually, these days come after several back to back days of recipes and meals that dirty up lots of dishes. I seriously love all of my new pots, pans and knives – but I hate having to hand wash and dry them all. Why can’t everything be dishwasher safe?!

So this is the point in time when the whole diet thing could come crashing down. But luckily, I have back-up plans for when the thought of planning a three-course meal that uses 4 knives, 3 pots, 2 baking dishes (and a partridge in a pear tree) makes me cringe.

Exhibit A:

Baked Potatoes. It’s so easy to throw scrub a potato and throw it in the oven and find something to do for the hour and 15 minutes or so. Usually my potato includes some butter spray, fat-free cheddar, salt, pepper and barbecue sauce.

But a few weeks ago, I was dying for something spicy! So I decided to make a Buffalo Baked Potato. I added some spray butter, salt and pepper (the base of all my baked potatoes). Then I added some reduced fat blue cheese crumbles, hot sauce, celery, fat-free shredded mozzarella and more hot sauce! It was quite delicious.

Exhibit B:

Another easy thing to throw together that’s also filling is a hoagie of some sort.  Remember when I said I wanted to try to make a shrimp po’ boy with some easy faux fried shrimp? I did and it was delicious! I just sprayed some butter on the bread and sprinkled with garlic salt and baked for a few minutes before topping with shrimp, sauce and some lettuce.

Exhibit C:

Now this last one was just something I had to do. I was in Target last week (anybody else have to go to like, 3 stores to get everything they need? Reduced-fat and non-fat dairy products have me running around like a crazy person) and I noticed a new Jennie-O product. Turkey cocktail sausages/weenies. Or as my family knows and loves them “Smokies.”

I was talking to my Biffer this weekend while she was at the beach (so jealous) and she was up in the condo making lunch. I asked her what she was making and she said “Smokies!” I started salivating. I had to try the “diet” version…even though the husband kind of looked grossed out when I told him what “Smokie Sandwiches” were. Embrace it people, don’t fear it!

Heat your oven to 350.

So you take some smokies (I used 20 total) and cut them in half. Heat up a skillet with a few sprays of olive oil. Add the smokies and cook over medium for 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes until they are all cooked through and have a nice dark color to them.

                                     

In the meantime, take 4 slices of rye bread (this was for 2 sandwiches) and lay them on a sheet of foil and place on a baking sheet. Take 2 slices of reduced-fat Swiss cheese and break into pieces, covering one half of each sandwich. Bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese melts. I added a little caraway seed since the bread didn’t have any.

Arrange your smokies on top of the cheese.

Spread spicy mustard on the top half of the sandwich…and maaaybe drizzle a little over the smokies.

Serve with some sauerkraut…I have to have mine on the side because I’m a weirdo. That, and I eat really slowly and hate my bread getting soggy. I know, I know I have issues.

So moral of the story? A meal doesn’t always have to be elaborate or take a ton of ingredients – but you don’t have to sacrifice healthy for quick/easy! Now THAT is Cooking on the Bright Side!