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!

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Chipotle Chicken Croquettes

Okay, I am officially running around like a crazy person this week getting ready for one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties this weekend! I’m so excited to get a weekend with my girls – and I’m sure I’ll have some fun things to share with y’all when I return!

So when I find myself super stressed out, for some reason, I turn to the kitchen. I recall one time in college I gave up sweets and caffeine around Valentine’s Day. Not to cut back on calories, but to prepare my body for a 48-hour dance marathon! Well, I got super stressed out and turned to baking. Yes, that thing I have a love/hate relationship with. I made a ton of cookies, peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy treats, brownies and another type of cookie. Luckily we had male neighbors in our apartment building…so home-baked treats were easy to pawn off on them!

The other day, I went for something more practical and good for me so I wouldn’t be extra stressed trying to shed pounds from eating a bucket of baked goods! I had written down a recipe a while back that I ran across on a fabulous website (she also does WW recipes!) and so with a big ole chicken breast thawed, I decided to try a new recipe for dinner.

Chipotle Chicken Croquettes (Serves 2 – slightly modified from “Eat Yourself Skinny“)

1 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

2 1/2 Tbsp. minced orange bell pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp. minced green bell pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp. minced onion

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (I just used 1 big chicken breast I had, about 8-10oz.)

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. Chipotle mustard

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. chipotle powder

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Spicy Mustard Sauce

1/2 clove minced garlic

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 fat-free sour cream

1/2 Tbsp. Chipotle mustard

1/2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/2 tsp. chipotle powder

About 1-2 hours before you’re ready to eat, whisk together garlic, mayo, sour cream, mustard, lime juice and chipotle powder until smooth. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the chicken. Reduce to medium-high and cook 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. While chicken is cooking, go ahead and chop your veggies. Saute them in 1/2 Tbsp. margarine.

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, chipotle seasoning and salt.

Once your chicken has cooked and cooled, chop and shred. Add to a medium bowl with bread crumbs and add your sautéed veggies and combine.

Take the small bowl with the mayo/mustard mixture and add to the chicken. Combine with hands until blended and form into 5 patties.

Heat remaining 1/2 Tbsp. margarine in a skillet and cook the patties over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve with a dollop (or more if you desire!) of the spicy mustard sauce and dig in!

Note that this is probably a great appetizer, but I tested it for dinner and 2 1/2 patties was a great portion…

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 Shrimp

I know, I know – “Another ‘buffalo’ recipe? This chick is cray – to the – z!”

You may be right. But you know what? I am okay with that!

Seriously, when the husband and I started losing weight – the one thing I said I couldn’t do was give up foods I love. I love buffalo anything and everything. But it usually comes deep-fried and loaded with butter. Nothing wrong with that, unless you’re trying to avoid fried food and excessive butter.

So I needed ways to curb my craving so I didn’t go on a crazy hot wing binge.

Enter a really easy and delicious buffalo-style shrimp. This is great with mashed potatoes (particularly blue cheese mashed potatoes) – buuut I didn’t have potatoes on hand so I just poured the shrimp on top of some whole wheat couscous! Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Buffalo Shrimp (2 servings – 6 WW Points per serving)

8 oz. shrimp

1 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

3 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Thaw your shrimp and remove tails if needed.

Mix together your flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Add to a small Ziploc bag and shake until combined.

Pat shrimp until slightly dry. Heat your oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat.

Add your shrimp to Ziploc bag and seal, leaving some air. Toss until shrimp is coated with flour and seasoning mixture.

When oil is heated, add shrimp to the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then flip, cooking another 3-5 minutes. You should get a good golden brown color and a crisp coating on the shrimp.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and whisk in hot sauce. If you don’t have a great heat tolerance, you can add some honey to tone it down a little (this would affect your points value).

Add shrimp to sauce and toss to coat.

Serve with potatoes, couscous, rice or just by itself and dig in!

Try this and you won’t question my buffalo-obsession any longer…

Promise!

Spicy Peanut Chicken Salad

I feel like I did a marathon this weekend!

I was so fortunate to be able to drive up to St. Louis this past weekend for one of my dear friend’s bachelorette parties.

St. Louis Arch

Clydesdale at Anheuser-Busch: St. Louis

Home of the World Series Champions!

Since I went to school at Penn State and live in Memphis, it’s very rare that I get to spend a weekend with my best friends from college. Like, seriously, we hail from Florida, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh both represented), Connecticut and Illinois. So getting together can be a challenge – but when we do, there is no shortage on fun – which includes choreographed dances and Beauty and the Beast sing-a-longs! More to come too – because since November, three of my girls have gotten engaged!

So before I had headed out on my solo road trip that involved a lot of jamming out to my favorite artist (Eric Church) – I made a delicious pasta salad-type dish with an Asian twist.

I could totally eat this for dinner, but it made up a lot of my lunches last week. And man, were my lunches good. Like, seriously. You don’t even have to wait in line for a microwave in your break room at work – because you eat it cold. And dear goodness, it is incredibly delicious.

And only 8 WW points. I know, I know. You love me. =)

It’s a lot of ingredients – but don’t be intimidated! You won’t regret making the full recipe – or even doubling it if you are one of those people (aka me) who let produce die in your refrigerator drawers after 1-2 uses.

(Oh, and I am certain this would make a great vegetarian dish if you just omit the chicken – so let me know, well, if you try it either way what you think!)

Spicy Peanut Chicken Salad– (6 servings)

1 cup red or orange bell pepper, Julienne

1 cup carrots, shredded

1 cup raw zucchini, shredded

1/2 cup raw broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

8 oz. raw chicken breast (boneless/skinless)

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti

For Dressing:

6 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. water

2 Tbsp. reduced-fat peanut butter

2 Tbsp. sesame oil (Vegetable oil is okay)

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar (regular works too)

1/2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. pickled ginger, chopped

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. Sriracha (I promise this isn’t too spicy – I actually added more to each serving)

3 Tbsp. chopped peanuts

Boil pasta according to directions. Drain, set aside and let cool in a large bowl.

Boil chicken breast for 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Cool 3-5 minutes. Shred with two forks.

Add bell pepper, carrots, zucchini, green onions and broccoli on top of pasta.

Add chicken.

For dressing:

In a food processor, add soy sauce, water, peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic and Sriracha. Pulse until smooth. Add peanuts and pulse a few more times.

Pour dressing over chicken/veggie/noodle mixture and toss until combined.

Chill at least 1 hour.

Serve and devour. I did add a little more Sriracha and soy to the top of mine and mmmmmmmm was it delicious…

Clearly my goal in life is to make your co-workers jealous…

Guest Blog: Brittany From “Everyday Thoughts”

I am so excited to be the guest blogger today on Cooking on the Bright Side! Mary and I have been great friends for just over five years. We met in a senior-level college class at the University of Memphis and found commonality in our love for beer, boys, and big ten football (a great starting point for any friendship). I learned quickly how much Mary values and loves her family and that’s something I really admire about her. We shared our love for family and food one evening when my mom was in Memphis visiting. Mary invited my mom and I over for dinner with her and her dad. We enjoyed a beautiful meal. We drank wine and laughed, we drank more wine and cried and by the end of the night I left with this incredible sense that I had found a friend for life. That time around the dinner table was so important to our friendship and its a memory that I’ll carry with me forever.

Our lives are so busy but I think it’s important to make time for the people who matter most in your life and what better way to slow down than some time at the dinner table. The very first time my husband (then boyfriend) prepared a meal for guests we made this recipe. So every time we prepare it we eat at the table. This is one of those meals that just helps us slow down. I hope you enjoy:

Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta

1 box Bowtie Pasta (14 Oz)
1 pound Peeled And Deveined Shrimp
2 Tablespoons Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, Divided
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
12 ounces, weight Andouille Sausage, Sliced
1 Yellow Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed, Then Sliced Into Strips
1 Red Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed Then Sliced Into Strips
1 Onion, Sliced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ cups Mozzarella Cheese

Preparation Instructions:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.

Place shrimp in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of theSlap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. Stir so that the shrimp is well coated, set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat add peppers and onions. Saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. 

Add an additional 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and add shrimp to the vegetable mixture.

Cook the shrimp for about 3-4 minutes or until theshrimp turns pink and is fully cooked.

Similar to the shrimp, use the remaining 1 tablespoon of Slap YaMama Cajun Seasoning to coat the andouille sausage. Add the remaining oil to the skillet if necessary and cook theandouille sausage in with the shrimp and vegetable mixture for about 3 minutes or until sausage is fully cooked.

Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Remove from heat.

If you’d like to add a little heat stir in some crushed red pepper (to taste).

In a large pot combine the pasta and the entire shrimp and sausage mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sit at a dinner table with someone you love and enjoy.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you take a second and check out my blog if you have a minute www.everydaythoughtsbybrittany.blogspot.com

Brittany (of Everyday Thoughts)

Chili-Mango Shrimp

So I don’t know about y’all, but the weather in Memphis has been pretty glorious lately! It’s starting to warm up – lots of food festivals (the Memphis in May BBQ Fest is going on this weekend) and I’m loving soaking up whatever outdoor time I can get!

Which also means lots of patio time…which is where I am currently blogging from right now!

For me, the summertime means lots of delicious seafood. It also means some glorious fruit! I love anything with a citrus flavor to it – or any fresh berries or “tropical” type fruit. I am an equal opportunity fruit consumer!

I think the seafood thing is because my family has always spent time on the coast of Florida during the summer – which means days (or a solid week if I’m lucky) of some fresh and amazing seafood.

So I decided to create a dish that combines seafood and fruit – with a little spice to it, of course. The husband and I love our spice!

This is one of those easy dishes to throw together and pair with a salad or just plain rice. Since it has an Asian influence, I paired it with my vegetable fried rice. Make it with whatever you want – but I promise, you’ll love it (and it’s good for you, of course!).

In each bite you get a little heat and a little sweet…

Chili-Mango Shrimp (serves 2 – 6 WW points/serving)

8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp, tails removed

1/2 Tbsp. sliced pickled ginger, diced

1/2 cup chopped mango

2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce

1/4 tsp. Sriracha

1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. green onion, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. peanut oil, for cooking

Pat your shrimp dry and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add soy sauce and minced ginger. Add chili sauce, then cornstarch and sesame oil. Add your green onion and Sriracha and whisk until blended.

Add shrimp and toss to coat.

Add your mango. Now, I have read “how to” cut mango and I still find it difficult. So I pretty much just hack away until I have as much as I want. The core is pretty tough, so just start by trimming away the outside and removing the peel until you have good tender “meat”.

See? Pretty!

Now add the mango to the shrimp mixture and toss to combine.

Refrigerate at least 30-45 minutes.

Heat your peanut oil in a medium skillet until hot. Using a slotted spoon, add shrimp (try to reserve as much sauce and mango as you can for now) and saute 3-5 minutes. When you flip your shrimp, add the remaining sauce and mango. Cook another 5 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and sauce thickens slightly.

Serve and devour! Like I said, I served mine with some fried rice – but as I’ve also mentioned before, I’m one of “those people” who doesn’t like my food to touch – so I don’t top it. But if that’s your thang, go right ahead! I’m not here to judge…

I just provide the deliciousness and let you do the rest!

Thanks for stopping by – and be on the lookout tomorrow for a special guest blog from my friend Brittany over at “Everyday Thoughts“!