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.

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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.

Spicy Pimento Cheese

Are there foods that you wouldn’t touch as a kid that you later realized were actually really tasty?  There are several things on that list for me, but one of my adult-discovered favorites is pimento cheese. Looking through random recipes one day, I realized that with the addition of a little spice, pimento cheese had a lot of potential! By adding the jalapenos for just the right kick and using a good quality cheddar cheese, I turned pimento cheese into one of my favorite snacks or lunches.  I really think you’ll love it too!  ~Tracy

Four Sisters Dish Spicy Pimento Cheese

8 oz. softened cream cheese*

¾ c. mayonnaise (don’t use Miracle Whip)*

1 T. Sriracha sauce

3 T. finely chopped yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp. celery salt

¼ tsp. kosher salt

3 T. finely chopped pickled jalapeno

1/3 c. chopped roasted red peppers

2 chopped scallions (using all of white and approx ½ of greens)

1 8 oz. block reduced fat sharp white cheddar, grated (equal to about 4 cups)*

toasted French bread or crackers for serving

In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, mayonnaise, and Sriracha. Stir in onion, garlic, celery salt, and kosher salt. Add the jalapeno, scallions, and red peppers. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the peppers further. Finally, gently stir in the cheddar cheese. Serve on toasted French bread or with crackers. Refrigerate unused portion.

Note:  Depending on the level of spiciness you like, you can add more or less jalapeno.  Keep in mind that jalapenos sometimes become a bit more spicy the longer they sit within a mixture.

*Use either Fat-free mayo and cream cheese or reduced-fat mayo and cream cheese (see WW Info. below for points).  Both versions were figured using reduced-fat cheddar.

WW Info: 5 points per half-cup serving on all three plans if using fat free mayo & cream cheese; 8 points per half-cup serving on all plans if use reduced fat mayo & cream cheese. Both points values are figured with reduced-fat cheddar. Points values do not include crackers or bread.  

WW Info: If use fat free mayo and cream cheese, this recipe is 5 ww points on all plans for a 1/2 c. serving; with reduced fat mayo and cream cheese, it’s 8 ww points on all plans for a 1/2 c. serving. Makes 8 servings. Bread or crackers not included in points.

 

Chipotle Chicken Stew

I absolutely love chipotle flavors with chicken, and this recipe was invented out of my wondering what it might be like if I could turn a chipotle chicken bowl into a stew. The fresh red onion and cilantro at the end really kick it up giving it an amazing fresh taste, but you could leave out the cilantro if that’s not your jam. I am so glad I followed my wacky whim to see how this would shape up, as it’s become a family favorite and is SO different from anything else. Super hearty and layered with flavor for days, you’re going to be glad you have leftovers – like most soups/stews, it just gets better each day, and if you don’t get to it all in time, it freezes well too. ~Robin

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped (pretty small pieces – about ¾ to 1 inch chunks) 

2 tsp. olive oil 

1 T. diced chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (I use a La Costeña)*

¾ tsp. chipotle chili powder 

½ tsp. cumin 

1 tsp. jarred, minced garlic 

1 1/2 tsp. salt (divided – 1 tsp. for cooking chicken, another ½ tsp. added to soup) 

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

½ white onion, diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 

1 (11 oz.) can shoe peg corn 

32 oz. chicken broth

½ tsp. chicken bullion 

1/4-1/3 c. red onion depending on preference – I love the fresh kick of the red onion, so I use 1/3 

1 can original Rotel (can use mild if prefer less heat) 

2 c. cooked minute rice

½ – ¾ bunch cilantro (depending on how much you love it) 

juice of 2 limes (I usually just add a touch more to my bowl when I serve it up but see what works for you) 

½ tsp. garlic powder 

Instructions:

Add two teaspoons of olive oil to a large stock pot and heat to medium-high heat. Add chicken, minced garlic, chipotle peppers, onions, jalapeño, chipotle chili powder, cumin, & 1 tsp. salt.  

Cook minute rice according to directions on the box while your chicken is cooking. 

Once chicken is fully cooked (will no longer have any translucency or pinkness), add chicken broth, chicken bouillon, black beans, corn, Rotel, garlic powder, and salt if desired (may not need this salt if chicken broth isn’t low-sodium).  

Cook on medium heat, stirring often to avoid sticking, for about 10 minutes.  

Add cooked rice, red onion, cilantro, and fresh lime juice and continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes or until heated throughout and flavors have a chance to mingle a bit more.  

WW Info:  Makes 11 filling 1-cup servings at 3 points/serving on the green plan; 2 points/serving on blue and purple. 

*This recipe will not use more than a bit of the can; however, I freeze mine in ice trays so I can grab a serving size as needed for cooking later.  To do this, fill ice trays about ¾ of the way full with chopped peppers and sauce, then cover the top with plastic wrap.  Once the cubes are frozen after about 24 hours, I dump them into an airtight freezer-safe storage container. They can last up to six months in the freezer this way. Don’t worry if it’s a little messy; they don’t freeze quite as hard as other things, but they’ll stay good & fresh like this for the next time you need some chipotle in your life.     

Classic Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

We love all cookies at our house, especially those that are part of a holiday tradition. These are a simple recipe that taste like they are very complicated. They’re the perfect whipped shortbread cookie that isn’t overly sweet, but is filled with jam and rolled in pecans and delicious coconut. As the cookie bakes the coconut and pecans become toasted.  Delish!  Our favorite filling is plum jam, but other great options would be strawberry, blackberry or raspberry.  This recipe can also easily be doubled.  Any way you make them, they will be fabulous! ~Kathy

½ c. butter, softened

½ c. shortening

½ c. brown sugar, firmly packed

3 egg yolks

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

2 c. flour

¾ c. coconut

½ c. finely chopped pecans

½ c. plum jam, stirred smooth

Heat oven to 350˚ F.

Beat butter, shortening and brown sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, vanilla and salt. Mix on medium until combined.  Add flour and mix just until blended.

Mix coconut and pecans on a plate. Roll dough into 1” balls. Roll in coconut and pecans to coat. Place on cookie sheet. Using your knuckle or fingertip, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven. Press indentations carefully again if needed. Spoon ½ teaspoon jam onto the center of each cookie. Bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the cookie is just slightly browned.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  

Honey Beer Bread

I love to bake, especially in the Fall.  Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to wait for bread to rise.  Plus, I’m very impatient.  That’s where this bread comes in.  Have basic pantry ingredients?  Have a beer in the fridge?  Then you have the ingredients to make this quick bread.  My family loves it and begs for it on holidays.  It’s perfect for a dinner bread or as a dessert bread, spread with butter and drizzled with extra honey.  I think that’s why we love it so much… bread with dinner and bread for dessert!    ~Erin  

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. honey, plus 2 T. for drizzling (optional)
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer
  • ¼ c. butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

In a non-metallic bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Make a well in the center and pour in a ¼ cup honey and the beer.  

Using a non-metallic spoon, stir the dry ingredients together with the beer and honey until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Pour a little of the melted butter in the bottom of a loaf pan and brush it up the sides of the pan.

Pour in the batter and spread it evenly.  

Pour the remaining melted butter over the top of the loaf.

Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Optional:  Microwave about 2 tablespoons of honey for 5 seconds to thin it, and drizzle it over the loaf during the last few minutes of baking.  This gives the top a sweet, buttery glaze my family loves.

Let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing to a bread board/cutting board.

Slice with a serrated bread knife. 

Serve with butter and, if desired, honey.

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Salsa

It’s the time of summer when I’m watching my garden’s production dwindle.  The days are finally beginning to stay out of the 90 and 100 degree temperatures and our daylight is getting noticeably shorter.  As much as I love fall, it makes me sad when I know I’m picking what are probably the last of my summer tomatoes and peppers.  After tending my little plot for many months, it is a bit hard to let it go, but I make sure to let nothing go to waste!  This weekend I made a batch of this Roasted Tomato and Pepper Salsa.  It’s such a fresh addition to your favorite foods and also tastes pretty darned good while you sit on the couch with a bag of chips (I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing)! ~Tracy

6 – 7 cups of halved tomatoes (enough to lay flat on 2/3 of a 12×17 baking sheet)

1 large yellow onion, quartered

5-7 jalapeno peppers, halved with seeds and ribs removed

8 – 10 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 T. coarse salt

½ to 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, washed and chopped

Juice from half a lime

Line a 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice tomatoes in half and lay them skin side up on the baking sheet.  Use enough tomatoes to take up about 2/3 of your baking sheet. You can use Roma tomatoes or any variety that you have on hand.  I grow several varieties in my garden and use a mixture of all of them.

Arrange halved jalapenos on the other end of your baking sheet, skin side up.

Disperse your onion pieces among the tomatoes and peppers. 

Roast the vegetables in the 375 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes, rotating the pan half way through cooking. 

Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow to cool completely.

After the vegetables have cooled, carefully peel the skin from each tomato.  You should be able to pinch the skin on each tomato and peel it off easily.  If you don’t mind the tomato skins in your salsa, you can certainly leave them, but my family prefers that they be removed.

Gently mash each clove of garlic with a knife or back of a spoon (this allows it to mix more evenly into the salsa).

Place the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic into a food processor.  Add the cilantro and salt. Pulse the food processor until the salsa comes to your desired consistency.  Add freshly squeezed lime juice and stir.

Salsa will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Freeze extra in air tight containers or freezer bags.

Salsa is ZERO WW points per serving.