Quick & Easy Cashew Chicken

This cashew chicken is, dare I say it, better than take-out.  Made with simple, easily-accessible ingredients and ready in minutes, it’s great for a weeknight or a special meal.  If you love cashews, like I do, you will love this easy take-out fake-out.  ~Erin

1 ½ lb. chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ tsp. Salt

½ tsp. Black pepper

3 T. cornstarch

2 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil

¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce

½ cup chicken broth or prepared bullion

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)

2 T. brown sugar, packed

2 T. hoisin sauce

1 tsp. Sesame oil

1 c. roasted, salted cashews

Green onions, sliced

Cooked rice for serving

Combine salt, pepper, and cornstarch in a gallon size baggie. Toss the chicken in the cornstarch mixture until evenly coated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil; set aside.

Add olive oil or avocado oil to a large, high sided nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until golden brown on all sides.  Do not overcook.  It will continue cooking when the sauce is added.

Add the sauce to the pan with the chicken.  Add the cashews.  Stir until the sauce is thickened.  This just takes a couple minutes.  

Garnish with sliced green onions. Serve over rice.

This recipe makes 6 – ¾ c. servings.  9-11 points per serving, not counting rice.  Click here for the WW points calculator.

https://cmx.weightwatchers.com/details/MEMBERRECIPE:62918d19d8d71c1b1ebc1c56

Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus

People seem to either love hummus or hate it.  Personally, I’m not a fan of plain hummus, but I LOVE the flavored ones.  I make my own at home a lot.  My favorite variation, up to now, has been my Roasted Garlic Hummus.  A while back, I created this new flavor for a Cinco de Mayo cookout, and have made it several times since.  It’s been a hit every time… even with my husband who doesn’t usually love hummus.  It’s a totally different flavor variation from my Roasted Garlic Hummus, and just as good.  I paired it with homemade, air-fried tortilla chips, but store-bought would be just as good.  Let us know if you try it!  ~Erin

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas

2 T. chopped cilantro

1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced

½ a fresh jalapeno, seeded, veins removed, & finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tablespoons)

½ tsp. salt

1 T. water

2 T. avocado oil

Tortilla chips or veggies, for serving

Drain, rinse and remove the skins from the chickpeas.  Removing the skins will make finished hummus smooth and creamy.  The best way to remove them is to pinch each one between your fingers, and they will pop right out.  

Add all ingredients, except the water and avocado oil to  a food processor; blend until smooth. Finally, add the olive oil and water (stream in while the food processor is running, if possible) and blend until smooth.

Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.  

Blueberry Muffin Cookies

Blueberry Muffin Cookies

Blueberry muffins were a Sunday morning staple in our house – so easy to throw in while scrambling eggs and maybe cooking up some bacon.  I still find blueberry muffins to be such a comfort food – and nothing is better than when you have fresh berries to make them in the spring/summer!  This cookie spin on the old classic gives you all that soft, comfort food goodness and elevates it with a bright, scrumptious glaze and a little kick of lemon in both the cookie and glaze. You aren’t going to believe you’ve made it your whole life up to now without these.  ~Kathy

Cookie Ingredients:

  • ½ c. salted butter, softened
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 heaping T. lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ⅓ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 2 T. coarse sugar

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 T. lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Mix (hand mixer or stand mixer both work fine) until light and fluffy.
  • In above bowl, mix in eggs and vanilla well.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add flour (about ¼ at a time). Mix until mostly combined (a few dry streaks are ok). Mix in half of the sour cream followed by another portion of your flour. Mix in the last half of the sour cream and then the last couple of portions of your flour slowly until well-combined (no dry flour when you are mixing).
  • Add the blueberries and fold in gently (do NOT use the mixer for this portion – a spoon will do).    
  • Scoop the batter in large mounds (two or three tablespoons) and place well apart to accommodate spreading during cooking. Sprinkle the tops of the cookie dough with coarse sugar.
  • Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until the top springs back lightly. 
  • Move to a cooling rack once cookies are cool enough to relocate (a few minutes should be okay).  
  • For the glaze, in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. It should thicken but definitely needs to be a consistency that you can drizzle over the cookies.
  • If needed, add a little powdered sugar (a tablespoon at a time) to thicken; add a little lemon juice if you need to thin it (just a teaspoon at a time – don’t want to overdo it).
  • Generously drizzle the tops of the fully cooled (otherwise it will melt off) cookies with the glaze but don’t try to heavily coat them; you still want to be able to taste those beautiful cookies too! 

Carrot Snack Cake

Nothing says “I love you”  like saying to your child “eat another piece of cake”!  I have to tell a story on one of us sisters (ahem, Erin).  As a child, she refused to eat vegetables. She went to great and painful (for the rest of us) lengths to avoid eating almost every vegetable (and numerous fruits) known to man. Our poor mom resorted to extreme measures to get her to eat fruits and vegetables – especially vegetables which ranged from the more common, like trying to disguise them in cheese sauce, grinding them up and putting them in other things, bribing her with money, etc. Yes, you saw that correctly! She even offered to pay her to eat her vegetables. Oh, the misery for the rest of us to hear about this night after night, LOL!   This recipe was born out of our mom’s desperation to disguise vegetables in any way to get Erin her to eat them. It’s a simple snack cake with great flavor that has become a family favorite. All that agony paid off in the form of a new favorite treat for the rest of us. 

Ingredients:

8 T. butter, softened (1 stick)

2 c sugar

2 eggs

8 oz. baby food carrots (the pureed type)

1 (15 oz.) can carrots, drained and pureed

¼ c. milk

2 c., plus 2 T flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 ¼ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350˚F Grease and flour 9×13 inch pan and set aside.  

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer.  Add eggs and carrots. 

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients then mix together. Mix dry ingredients  alternating with small portions of the milk (beginning and ending with flour) into creamed ingredients. 

Pour into prepared pan. 

Bake approximately 30- 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.   
When cooled, can dust lightly with powdered sugar, if desired.  We actually prefer it plain.

Oklahoma Ice Storm Soup

So, the name of this soup… Why “Oklahoma Ice Storm Soup”, you ask? A friend of mine makes a version of this soup she calls Ski Soup. Apparently, that’s a thing. The internet tells me so. So named because it’s perfect for eating after coming off the slopes. Who knew? All I know is it’s delicious. My friend kindly shared the recipe and I adapted it slightly to be a tad bit more healthy – swapping regular macaroni for whole wheat and regular Italian sausage for turkey Italian sausage. I also upped the veggies a bit, but the flavor is the same as her original. The main change is the name. We don’t have a lot of ski slopes in Oklahoma – okay, none – but we have the occasional ice storm. Since this is the kind of soup you could make with staples from your pantry and freezer, without getting out on treacherous roads, I think this soup would be perfect for icy weather. It’ll warm you from the inside out!

Don’t skip the secret ingredient — I was skeptical about putting vinegar in my soup at first, but I promise it’s amazing. It’s not overpowering… just a hint of tartness in the background. Can’t wait for you to try it! ~Erin

1 1/4 lbs. (5 links) Hot Italian Turkey Sausage, casings removed

2 T. olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 large peeled carrots, diced small

2 large (or 3 small) ribs celery, diced

2 small (or one medium) zucchini, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14 1/2 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

2 (14 oz) cans cut green beans, drained

1 (14 1/2 oz) can who kernel sweet corn, drained

1/3 cup distilled apple cider vinegar (NOT the kind with the mother)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

6 c. reduced sodium chicken stock or broth

6 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni

crackers or croutons and grated parmesan, for serving (optional)

 

In a large stock pot, brown the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks until fully cooked and starting to brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Use a paper towel to clean out any residual grease from the pot. Heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, carrots, and celery to the pot, cooking and stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, green beans and corn. Turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, dry macaroni noodles, and the cooked sausage. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer the amount of time shown on the pasta box (about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers or croutons and grated parmesan, if desired.

This soup makes about 16 cups. For me, this soup came to 3 WW Personal Points per cup. Click the link below to see your stats:  https://cmx.weightwatchers.com/details/MEMBERRECIPE:61c51053ae524b2031e8d944?shared=true

 

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Casserole

I don’t know about you all but I am always looking for something new and different to feed my family for dinner. We love a variety of things at our house. We are eclectic eaters! One of the things we love are jalapeño poppers, so I decided to create a casserole out of one of our favorite flavors. This one is a hearty, flavorful casserole. If your family likes a little spicier, add an extra jalapeño. It’s certainly not the same old, same old boring casserole. You and your family will love it! ~Kathy

6 chicken breasts

2 T. butter, divided 

3 medium sized jalapeños, julienned, ribs and seeds removed

3 green onions, chopped

1 (10 1/2 oz) can cream of chicken soup

1 T. milk

1 c. Philadelphia Chive and Onion Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

pepper & salt to taste

2 c. cheddar cheese, grated, divided

5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

 

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Dice chicken into 1” pieces. In large skillet, over medium-high heat, place 1T. butter. Brown chicken quickly in skillet, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Remove to plate. Sauté jalapeño and green onion in remaining 1 T. butter until crisp tender.

Place chicken in casserole dish, top with vegetables.

For sauce combine soup, milk, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix in 1 c. of cheddar cheese. Spoon over chicken and vegetables. Top with crumbled bacon.

Bake covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining 1 c. of cheddar cheese. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Three Cheese Steakhouse Pizza

I’m going to admit that’s it’s pretty darned rare that there is leftover steak at my house.  However, if I’m smart and plan my meals the way I know I should, I cook a little extra so that I can make this pizza.  It’s so easy, so good, and looks like something you’d get at a fancy restaurant (at least the “fancy” restaurants that I go to).  The best thing about it is that you can use almost all pre-made ingredients for a quick dinner that your whole family will love. ~Tracy

Ingredients:

4 naan flatbreads

1 T. butter

1 jar of your favorite Alfredo sauce (I use Prego or Classico Light)

½ of a large onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves minced garlic

2 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed and sliced chiffonade style

1 lb. steak, thinly sliced

½ c. shredded parmesan cheese

½ c. crumbled feta cheese

1 8 oz. package mozzarella balls

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, melt butter.  Sauté onions in the melted butter until translucent and just beginning to turn brownish/caramelized.  Add spinach and garlic to sautéed onions.  Cook just until spinach fully wilts.  Add the jar of Alfredo sauce and cook all together until bubbly.  Stir in ½ c. of parmesan cheese until incorporated into sauce.

Preheat oven to 425℉.  Place naan flatbreads on a large sheet pan or pizza pan.  Top each with Alfredo sauce mixture making sure to get equal amounts of onion and spinach on each flatbread.  Add an equal portion of steak, approximately ¼ pound to the top of each flatbread.  Finish off each pizza with an equal portion of the feta cheese and mozzarella balls (you can always substitute shredded mozzarella).

Bake at 425 until cheese melts and just begins to brown and bubble.

Bacon & Mushroom Pasta in Cream Sauce

It’s summer and I really can’t be bothered to thaw meat some days.  Do you ever feel like that’s too much trouble?  I have too many other summery things to do… like take a nap.  Ha!  On days like that, it’s salad for dinner or a (mostly) meatless dish like this one.  If you love mushrooms, you will love this pasta.  It’s chock full of meaty baby portabellas, but perfectly balanced with a little bacon in a creamy sauce.  After making this a couple times, it hit me that the perfect finisher for this would be some finely diced green onions.  So, if you have those in the fridge, throw those on top at the end and finish it with some extra crisp bacon and shredded parm.  Perfection! ~Erin

6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces (plus more for serving if desired)

1 lb. uncooked whole wheat linguine

¼ c. reserved pasta water

1 lb. uncooked baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. olive or avocado oil

2 T. all-purpose flour

1 ½ c. fat-free half-and-half

Shredded parmesan and extra cooked bacon, optional – for garnish

Chopped green onions, optional – for garnish

 

Cook the linguine in salted water, according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water before draining. Meanwhile, in a large, high-sided skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Set aside. Carefully clean out remaining bacon grease with paper towels. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced mushrooms and stir and cook until mushrooms are fork-tender (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute). Stir in the flour and stir and cook until no white flour is visible and mushrooms are sizzling – about a minute. Add the bacon back to the skillet. Stir in the fat-free half-and-half and pasta water; bring to a simmer.  Simmer and stir until it starts to thicken – about 3 or 4 minutes.  The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.  Add the cooked pasta into the mushroom sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with extra bacon and parmesan if desired (will add to points on WW).

WW info:  This recipe makes 8 1 ½-cup servings.  Green plan – 8 points; Blue plan – 8 points; Purple plan – 3 points

Cajun Sausage & Cabbage Hash

Wow, what a school-year! Between quarantines and trying to enforce social distancing and masking guidelines, it was a wild ride and this teacher is tired. I will say, this school year was much better than I initially predicted and for that I’m grateful. That being said, I’m soooo ready for summer!  

Summer makes me want to cook, but I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. This quick dinner is just my speed. The sausage is fully cooked so, with minimal prep time, this can be on the table. It makes a lot and the leftovers make a fantastic breakfast with a couple of over-easy eggs. Supper leftovers that can be made into breakfast are the best kind of meals!  ~Erin

3 T. oil, divided (I used avocado oil)

Non-stick cooking spray

2 packages (13 oz. each) smoked turkey sausage, thinly sliced (I used Hillshire Farm)

1 medium onion, diced

1 (32 oz.) bag frozen Southern style hash browns

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s) 

1 (16 oz.) bag tri-color coleslaw mix

Spray a large, high-sided non-stick skillet cooking spray. Add the thinly sliced turkey sausage and cook over medium-high heat until the sausage pieces are brown on both sides. Transfer to a large serving dish. Next add 1 T. oil and reduce heat to medium.  Add the diced onions and stir and cook until onion is translucent – a couple minutes; then add garlic and cook about another minute. Add the coleslaw mix and Cajun seasoning and cook and stir until the cabbage is tender, about 4-5 minutes; transfer to the serving dish with the sausage. Lastly, heat the remaining 2 T. of oil over medium-high heat. Add the hash browns in an even layer; cook until fork-tender and browned, flipping every 2-3 minutes. Transfer the hash browns to the serving dish and gently combine with the cabbage and sausage mixture.  

WW info:  This recipe makes 7 large 2-cup servings.  Each serving is 9 points on both Blue and Green plans, and 6 points on the Purple plan.

Recipe not found

Tortellini with Sundried Tomatoes, Chicken & Sausage

What’s the food that you can eat multiple times a week without getting tired of it?  I think for me it’s any type of pasta. I’m telling myself that this pasta dish is more healthy since it has some vegetables.  I’m not sure if that’s reality, but it’s one of my absolute favorite pasta dishes.  It has just enough spice to give the flavor an extra boost, but if spiciness isn’t your thing you can always omit the red pepper flakes.  Recipes with easy adaptations and adjustments are our favorite around here and we can’t wait to hear from you about how you love this one! ~Tracy

4 T. butter, cut into 1 T. pieces

1 T. sun dried tomato oil (from jar)

3 T. chopped sun dried tomatoes

4 oz. chopped baby bella mushrooms

2 T. minced garlic

¼ c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. dried basil leaves

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

½ tsp. paprika

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 ¼ c. milk (I use 1%)

1 cup chicken broth (can use prepared chicken bouillon)

½ c. shredded parmesan cheese (more for topping)

2 packages cheese tortellini (such as Louisa Four Cheese tortellini, 19 oz. bags)

1 cup shredded chicken (I use rotisserie)

½ c. cooked/crumbled pork sausage

2 c. fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

Cook your sausage, drain any excess grease and set aside.  Shred your rotisserie chicken while the sausage cooks and set it aside as well.

Begin cooking tortellini according to the package directions.  Leave the pasta slightly al dente as it will continue to cook when added to the other ingredients.

In a large skillet, melt 1 T. of butter and 1 T. of the sun dried tomato oil.  Sauté the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the sun dried tomatoes and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes.   Add the minced garlic and heat through for another 30-45 seconds. Remove this mixture from the skillet and set it aside.  

Add the rest of the butter to the skillet and allow to melt.  Whisk in the flour until smooth.  Add all dried seasonings and mix together.  

Gradually add the chicken broth and milk until the mixture begins to thicken.  Slowly stir in the ½ c. parmesan cheese.

Add chicken and sausage to sauce.  Stir together and then add the cooked tortellini and the spinach, mushroom, tomato mixture.  Stir all together until well mixed and top with a generous helping of parmesan cheese.

WW Info:  This recipe makes approximately 10 cups at 13 points each on all three plans.