Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese

If I could face plant into a pile of all things Fall, I would. I know, I know – just living up to all of the internet memes out there. But I have my reasons…

Overhead_SproutsSalad

It’s not because of Starbucks…although their Salted Caramel Mocha does make a good case for itself.

It’s not because of scarves. Because no matter how many times I pin it, I still don’t actually believe there are 12 ways to tie a scarf cause they all turn out the same when I do it. I just get frustrated and give up.

It’s not because of the boots. Okay, I love boots – but I love looking at them in stores more than I actually love buying and wearing them. I’d rather a fancy pair of heels any day…I know, totally going against the grain here.

What I CAN (and do) get behind in the Fall are the colors (reds, yellows, jewel tones!), the smells (cinnamon, fires, pumpkin!) and the flavors (all of them!)…and yes, smells and flavors are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

Well here, we’re all about the flavors. Enter a delicious side salad that screams Fall. Roasted brussels sprouts? Toasted pecans? Bring it on!

Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese (2 servings/4 WW points per serving)

Ingredients_SproutsSalad

½ pound uncooked Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. minced garlic
Dash cracked black pepper & kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped/halved pecans
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Whisk together shallot, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350. Thinly slice sprouts and arrange on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange pecans on baking sheet. Bake (both) for 5 minutes to soften sprouts and toast pecans.

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Add sprouts to a small bowl and drizzle with dressing, stir to coat. Divide and top with 1 Tbsp. each pecans and blue cheese.

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Note that this is a small portion to be enjoyed as a side. We enjoyed it with some Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops and green beans for a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure red wine was involved as well, so there’s that.

On that note, hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

My goodness, what a week it has been! First week back at work from vacation is usually rough…but things got very interesting!

So, I have 3 amazing and adorable nephews from my wonderful Biffer and bro-in-law. Well, my sister was scheduled to be induced for baby #4 on Thursday, which was frustrating because she has ALWAYS wanted the movie moment of going into labor! She has tried everything – even got a ticket on her way to get spicy food for baby #3!

Monday she came over to drop off some garage sale stuff and was then en route to get the spiciest dish at her favorite Chinese restaurant. I offered to take her to Wal-Mart if she wanted to test the “stress induces labor” theory. She declined, because she can’t stand the place.

However, I totally think it worked cause guess what happened Tuesday morning? She went into labor! And Tuesday afternoon, my precious baby nephew #4 was born!

Proud Aunt moment:

Now, I won’t take full credit – as the spicy food probably had something to do with as well. So, I thought I’d share one of my new favorite spicy recipes with y’all on this Friday – and since it’s buffalo flavored, it obviously means good weekend food! It is also great for leftover lunches or dinners – serve with some bread or a crisp salad!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna (Makes 8 servings / 7 WW pts. each)

1 pound chicken breast, raw

3 cups spaghetti sauce (Ragu light)

1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot sauce (this is spicy – so use less if you are hesitant about spice!)

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup chopped celery

15 oz. reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1/2 cup egg beaters

1 Tbsp. ranch seasoning

1/2 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

10-12 pieces whole wheat lasagna

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Cook chicken (either boil or bake) and shred.

In a small bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, egg beaters and ranch seasoning.

In a medium bowl, mix together spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, water, celery and chicken.

Pour a small amount of the sauce in the baking dish. Layer with 3 1/2 pieces of lasagna. Spread with 1/3 ricotta cheese and another layer of sauce. Repeat noodle, cheese, sauce until left with sauce on top.

Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes…

Slice into 8 pieces…

And devour!

Happy Friday everybody, hope you have a great weekend!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

So it’s been a whole like, 5 blog posts since I did something buffalo-flavored so I just have to go ahead and rectify that issue.

When I started doing the weight watchers thing, I loved the frozen meals that already had the points included. I had a few favorites that I’d load up on during sales at the grocery stores! After a while though, I got bored. I’d walk to the freezer at work and look at my lunch for the day and think “Yuck.”

The problem is that when I cook recipes, I usually cook for two so it’s rare to have too many leftovers for lunch. So I decided to just make lunch dishes while making dinner!

I found that bringing a nice cold pasta salad for work is always refreshing (like the one I showed you last week) – and a homemade dish never makes me think “Yuck” as lunch time approaches! You should definitely give this one a try!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad (Serves 4 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

5 oz. penne pasta (enriched or whole wheat)

1 c. cooked chicken breast, shredded

1/2 c. carrot, chopped

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 c. Frank’s red hot sauce + 1 Tbsp. if desired

1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. celery salt

1/2 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Cook chicken by boiling or baking and shred with two forks. 

Add chicken to drained pasta.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, hot sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt.

Add chopped carrots and celery to chicken and pasta. Then add your blue cheese crumbles.

Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss until combined. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Serve cold…and enjoy a delicious lunch that beats anything you stick in the microwave…

Buffalo Chicken Soft Tacos

When I am asked to come up with my favorite foods, I am incredibly consistent and not picky with whatever form it comes in – like Tuna (a delicious fresh tuna steak, raw or canned) Artichokes (seriously, anything with them probably makes me happy) and anything buffalo/hot wing flavored.

Luckily, the husband shares my love for buffalo flavored anything. We love us some hot wings. We love buffalo shrimp, buffalo chicken pizza, buffalo chicken soup, buffalo chicken meatballs – clearly it’s a problem, but one of those good ones to have, right? I also feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump right now…

So I recently threw together some buffalo chicken soft tacos – and I figured we’d just go ahead and make this another edition of “Faux Bar Food Friday” – because we all know that an ice cold beer goes great with any and all buffalo chicken type items. And beer goes great with Friday. And long weekends.

See, that worked out so well!

This is one of those easy to throw together meals – especially because you can do a lot of the prep before you sit down to eat! I promise, once you smell the chicken cooking, you’ll want to devour it immediately! (And of course, it’s WW friendly – only 10 points…for dinner!)

Buffalo Chicken Soft Tacos (serves 2)

8 oz. raw boneless, skinless chicken breast

4 medium whole wheat tortillas

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1/4 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup raw celery, chopped

1/2 cup raw carrot, peeled and julienne

1/2 cup lettuce, chopped

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

Extra hot sauce for topping

Add chicken broth to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and cook 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

In the meantime, cut up your celery, carrots and green onion and refrigerate until ready to use.

Once chicken is cooked through, remove from pot – reserving 1/4 cup broth. Let chicken cool a little and then begin shredding with two forks.

Once all of your chicken is shredded, place back in the pot with chicken broth and hot sauce.

Cook over low heat until liquid is mostly absorbed.

While that’s happening, dampen two paper towels – place one on a microwaveable plate and add your 4 tortillas, and top with the 2nd towel. Microwave for 20-25 seconds. This makes the tortillas a little more pliable and less likely to tear when you fold them!

Grab your veggies from the fridge along with your blue cheese and get ready to assemble!

I spread about 1 tsp. ranch in the center of the tortillas and top with chicken, celery, carrots, lettuce, green onion and blue cheese.

I threw a few more dashes of hot sauce on top (because I’m just freaky like that) – but you can just go ahead and devour…

Have a very happy and safe Memorial Day weekend everybody!