Eating Light – Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Today, I invite all of you to head on over to my sister’s (aka my Biffer) blog to check out my guest post. I was able to contribute to Day 10 of her 31 day challenge on blogging about LIGHT – so I provided a recipe for eating lightBaked Mexican Quinoa Casserole

My sister has been on a major quinoa kick – so I figured I’d follow along. Check out my recipe for Mexican Quinoa Casserole on her site: Our Morning Glories.

It’s an awesome recipe for Meatless Monday – but honestly, I ate it for two meals after that! It’s packed with protein so it fills you up without filling you out (see what I did there?). So stop by her blog, stay a while and read about my stinking adorable nephews, and make sure to give this recipe a try!

Mexican Quinoa Casserole_cookingonthebrightside

Also, if you love you some quinoa like we do, check out some of these other recipes she has posted:

Cashew Quinoa

Quinoa Apple Salad

Thai Veggie Quinoa (where the broccoli is raw, right Biffer?)

Lemon-Cilantro Quinoa

And of course, you can find Buffalo Quinoa Cakes on my blog. Because here, we do all the buffalo-flavored things!

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Pizza Casserole

I realize I may be a little ahead of myself, but I am so excited that Fall is upon us.

Not only does it mean that college football is almost here (single digits!) but it also means cooler weather, delicious smells, beautiful colors, cozy clothing and of course, comfort foods.

Comfort foods vary for everybody – for some it may be grilled cheese. For some it could be chicken pot pie. For some (like me) it’s soup. Notice a theme here? A lot of comfort foods are best served hot! (Okay, except for ice cream, but that’s just in a class of its own, right?)

One of our favorite comfort foods is pizza. Sometimes we try to be good and make our own using whole wheat crusts and lighter ingredients. Sometimes the ease of picking up the phone and ordering enhances the comfort. But sometimes, we just want that comforting flavor of pizza, without the uncomfortable thought of putting on jeans the next day.

I know I’ve shared my ultimate comfort food recipe with you before (Pizza Soup – the most requested meal in our household of 2), but today I have another combo deal for you – Pizza Casserole!

Pizza Casserole (Serves 6 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

6 oz. whole wheat rotini pasta

1 cup Ragu Pizza Sauce

8 oz. fat-free cottage cheese

2 1/2 links Italian turkey sausage, hot

24 slices Turkey pepperoni

1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring medium pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions.

In a medium skillet, cook sausage (casing removed) and break into small pieces.

Mix pizza sauce, salt and pepper with the cooked noodles and spread into your baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix together cheeses with Italian seasoning. Spread cheese mixture over the top of the noodles. Top with favorite pizza toppings – we just went with pepperoni this time (and, of course, added some black olives after it was done cooking) – but make it your own!

Process

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.

Slice and serve…

Pizza Casserole Plated

and if you have picky eaters, you can top the individual pieces after baking like we have to do so my olives don’t “contaminate” the husband’s portion…

Bite

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Cheeseburger Casserole

So I mentioned last week that I started a new workout program. While I knew it would be a challenge to get back into shape, holy cow I did not realize how much of a challenge it would be physically and mentally!

I blame myself of course. I mean, what did I expect – I haven’t exactly done anything along the lines of “fitness” since I had to fit into a wedding dress…and that was a year and a half ago!

Well, I’ve learned a few things with my new schedule, aside from the fact that sports bras are my friend. During the week, the two things I learned the hard way were A – eating dinner before working out isn’t ideal for me and B – cooking dinner after working out isn’t ideal for me. Quite the conundrum, right?

So how do I eat dinner after working out (so that I don’t feel it coming back up on high cardio days) without having to make dinner after working out (so I don’t writhe in pain when I lift a saucepan after doing a zillion push ups)?

Enter the wonderful world of casseroles. I’ve had a few written down and decided week 1 would be the perfect time to try them out. Thanks to one of my food blogs, Skinny Taste (also a big proponent of Weight Watchers!), this casserole suited all of my needs! Quick, easy, delicious and healthy – I made everything ahead of time and popped it in the oven after my workout while I cried in fetal position showered! You should definitely try this one…it was great for a meal paired with some Alexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt.

Cheeseburger Casserole (Serves 6 / 6 WW points per serving)

Very slightly modified from original recipe here.

Ingredients

8 oz. lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes (I’d get petite if possible, lesson learned!)

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 oz. Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta

1 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup dill pickles, chopped

Heat your oven to 350. Lightly grease a small casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions.

In a medium skillet, heat oil and cook onions for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and ground beef and cook through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in tomato pasta, tomatoes and mustard. Let the mixture simmer slightly. Then add pasta and toss to coat.

StepbyStep

Add mixture to the casserole dish, spreading into an even layer. Top with shredded cheddar and bake 15-20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, add chopped pickles (only to one side if you have a family member who is a freak and doesn’t eat them) and serve.

Plated Casserole

Fries were great with this, but you could toast up a hamburger bun as a “roll” to eat on the side too! Gotta stick with the theme…

Cheeseburger Casserole

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Lightened Up: Green Bean and Corn Casserole

Um, did everybody know that Christmas is 4 days away? I wish somebody would have told me – I’ve just been assuming I have plenty of time! I guess that’s why the husband and I spent a few hours wrapping gifts last night…but at least we had A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer to keep us company and get us me in the Christmas spirit!

So now that the shopping is completely almost done, it’s time to focus on the food – not that I haven’t been focusing on food for the past month, but you know, food for Christmas day!

I think we all know that it’s okay to give in a little since “it’s the holidays” and all – but if you can still make something tasty and the recipe doesn’t start with 2 sticks of butter, then why  not save yourself a few calories to use on something sweet or a festive cocktail?

So here’s a recipe that’s been floating around my family for a while now – but I found a way to lighten it up and make it WW friendly! It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it’s super easy to throw together. (Fair warning – I made a double batch to take to a work potluck – so do not be deceived by the pictures!)

Green Bean and Corn Casserole (Serves 8 – 4 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

1 can ( 15 oz.) french cut green beans

1 can (11 oz.) white shoepeg corn

1 can (10.5oz) condensed cream of celery soup, reduced-fat

1 cup sour cream, fat-free

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, fat-free

3 medium ribs of celery, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

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

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, add your chopped onion and celery.

Chopped Veggies

Drain green beans and corn and add to the bowl. Then add salt, pepper, sour cream, soup and shredded cheese. Mix until blended.

Sour Cream and CheeseMix

Pour mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish. Top with corn flakes and spray with butter spray. (The original recipe calls for crushed Ritz crackers, 4 Tbsp. melted butter and sliced almonds – but beware added points!).

Topping

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes until bubbling. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Baked

Also, if you have a party to attend or just want something healthier to snack on between big meals – might I suggest an adorable Christmas tree vegetable tray that I made (inspired, of course, by Pinterest!) last weekend for our party. It was quite the hit…

Veggie Tree

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and get to spend some quality time with friends and family!

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!