Spicy Air Fried Chickpeas

All the Christmas in July talk had me craving my Chistmas snacks.  For the last several Christmases my friend Kena has gifted us a large bag of her spicy pretzels.  They are so good and I look forward to her gift of them every year (are you reading this Kena?)!  They have the perfect combination of a salty crunch with a bit of spice to them.  The ONLY negative is that the pretzel recipe has a pretty significant about of oil in the ingredients.  I am a snacker, and often find myself looking for something to munch on.  These chickpeas satisfy my craving for that spicy crunch, but keep the snack on the healthier side  – and they let me keep looking forward to Kena’s Christmas pretzels! ~Tracy

chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used Bush’s Organic Garbanzo Beans)
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp. lemon pepper
  • ½ tsp. red cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. powdered ranch dressing mix
  • dash salt
  • dash black pepper
  • Canola oil cooking spray

Spread chickpeas evenly in one flat layer on paper towels.  Allow them to dry on the kitchen counter for three to four hours, rolling them occasionally so that they evenly dry on all sides.

Lightly spray chickpeas with canola oil cooking spray.  Roll them around and lightly spray again making an effort to coat them lightly, but evenly.

In a large zip style baggie, combine all dry ingredients and shake to combine well.  Add the sprayed chickpeas to the bag, seal, and gently shake to coat the chickpeas with the spice mixture.

Place chickpeas in the basket of air fryer and cook on 340 for 14-16 minutes. You can click here for the link to my air fryer.

Air fryers vary in power, so begin to check the chickpeas at about the 14 minute mark for the desired crispiness.  My family likes them very crispy, but I don’t mind them with a little softness in the center.  You can experiment with what you like.

Chickpeas are ZERO WW points!  Some may argue that with the cooking spray these should be counted on WW, but per serving I’m not going to count the negligible amount.

Spinach and Basil Pesto Spread

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I love a good pesto sauce, but it’s always been one of the things that my kids (and honestly, my husband) aren’t usually very excited about.  And let’s face it…pesto sauce can often be very oily, high in calories, and can sometimes be a bit ‘in your face’ in flavor.  So, I needed a way to satisfy my pesto craving in a little more healthy fashion, while not listening to anyone complain.  Isn’t this the basis for fifty percent of the new recipes created by moms?  I’m just over here looking for a way to eat what I want, without continually expanding my waistline, and without having to listen to anyone gripe about it!  This Spinach and Basil Pesto Sauce fits the bill on all fronts.  You can freeze it too, and have fresh basil flavor all year round! ~Tracy

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 2 c. fresh baby spinach
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ c. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, pausing occasionally to scrape down sides.

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Use this pesto as a spread with cream cheese or just by itself on a cracker.  It also works wonderfully on pizza and with grilled chicken.

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This recipe makes approximately 1 ¼ cup and is 2 WW Freestyle Points for a 2 Tablespoon serving.

Chicken Bacon Pesto Flatbread

I’m going to come right out and tell you the truth about something.  I like to leave the dinner table feeling full! Doesn’t everyone? I want my supper — do you call it dinner or supper? — to be the most satisfying meal of my day.  I’m not the kind of person who allows a lot of extra time in the morning — hello, snooze button! — so this often means very little for breakfast, and I don’t leave work for lunch.  Supper is my time to relax and indulge in good food. This leaves me looking for ways to feel like the meal was an indulgence without sending it into calorie overload. This Chicken Bacon Pesto Flatbread is so filling and full of flavor that you might even get away with eating half of one, but I think you’ll want the whole thing! ~Tracy

Ingredients:

3 Joseph’s Lavash Bread (I use the flax, oat bran, and whole wheat)

3 cups shredded white meat chicken (I often use rotisserie chicken)

3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

½ c. finely chopped purple onion

2 large cloves garlic, minced

4 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Spreadable Cheese 

¼ c. reduced fat pesto

3 T. real bacon bits

¾ c. 2% shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 ½ c. grape tomatoes, halved

3 T. grated parmesan

Cream the Laughing Cow cheese and pesto together in a small dish.  Set aside.

In large skillet, sauté the chicken and jalapenos until onions on medium-low heat until onions become tender.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the three Lavash breads on individual pieces of parchment.  Evenly spread one third of the pesto mixture onto each bread as you would a pizza sauce.  

Sprinkle 1 T. bacon bits over the cheese mixture on each bread.

Top each bread with one third of the chicken mixture, spreading evenly.  Add ¼ cup of shredded Colby Jack to each. Spread ½ c. of tomatoes on each bread and sprinkle on 1 T. shredded Parmesan over each.  

Bake each bread at 325 degrees for 10-15 min. or until cheese is melted and edges of bread begin to turn golden brown.

Each whole flatbread is 11 WW Freestyle Points or 6 WW Freestyle Points for half.

Crock Pot Spinach & Artichoke Chicken

Spring is finally here, which means we are reaching the season of the year when my husband and kids start hollering, “let’s go fishing!”  My husband is the type that will go fishing in a full snow-suit or rain gear.  He’s what you would call obsessed.  He reads fishing magazines and watches pro-fishing on TV.  Like I said… obsessed.  However, there are worse hobbies for a person to have, so I tolerate the fishing string remnants that gets caught in my vacuum cleaner beater bar.  I am more of a fair-weather fisherman… fisherwoman?… Let’s go with “angler.”  I like to fish but only when it’s sunny and warm.  I want no part of being on the lake in winter gear. 

Recently, on a particularly warm and sunny afternoon, we decided it would be a good day to do a little fishing.  Before we ventured out, I threw a supper in the Crock-Pot because I didn’t want to go straight to the kitchen after being out all day.  Oh man, I’m glad I did.  I wish I could say we arrived home with some fresh fish to fry, but let’s just say I was glad we planned to have chicken.  This Crock Pot Spinach & Artichoke Chicken smelled amazing after a day at the lake.  A few minutes to slice and toast some bread was basically all it took to have supper ready.  ~Erin

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (9 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, packed in water; drained
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 (8 oz) package fat-free cream cheese
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan
  • ½ c. low-moisture part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/3 c. fat-free half & half
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Sliced, toasted French bread, for serving

Place chicken in the bottom of a slow-cooker. 

Squeeze as much water as possible from the thawed spinach and add it to the slow-cooker along with the garlic and drained, quartered artichoke hearts.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8.

Remove the chicken from the slow-cooker and shred; return it to the pot.

Add cream cheese, shredded parmesan, mozzarella, half & half, and salt & pepper; stir until melted and creamy.

Serve on toasted French bread slices (optional).

WW Freestyle Info:  This recipe makes approximately 8 half-cup servings.  Each serving is 2 SmartPoints. 

Brown Sugar & Bacon Chicken

My daughter is turning 12 soon.  She’s just like me as a child in that she starts planning her birthday months in advance…. possible theme, cake flavor, birthday dinner, etc.  I give my kids the option of either going out to eat or having Mom cook whatever favorite dish they want.  This year she’s decided she wants her favorite food of all… bacon.  My response to this request was, “Bacon and what? It’s not really a meal by itself.” That’s actually not true, in my opinion, but she doesn’t need to know that.  So she decided on this bacon-wrapped chicken dish and mashed potatoes as the side.  No other veggies because she “doesn’t have to eat veggies on her birthday.”  You got it, Sweetie! 

This is no ordinary baked chicken.  Dredged in a spiced brown sugar mixture and wrapped in bacon, it’s birthday-dinner worthy!  ~Erin

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ to 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts; about 3 large breasts cut into 6 chunks each for a total of 18
  • 9 slices center-cut bacon, halved
  • ½ c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ T. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F (If using an air fryer, no need to preheat).

Line a sheet pan with foil and place a wire rack on top.  Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a gallon zipper baggie, mix spices together with brown sugar until well-combined. Place chicken pieces in the baggie, seal and shake to coat.

Take the chicken pieces out and wrap each piece in a half slice of bacon; place on the wire rack or in the basket of an air fryer.  Do not crowd together. Drizzle any remaining spiced brown sugar mixture left in the baggie evenly over the chicken.

Bake in the oven 30 minutes, or until bacon is crispy; or bake in the air fryer at 330° for 13-14 minutes. 

WW Freestyle Info.:  This makes 18 bacon-wrapped chicken pieces.  Each piece is 2 SmartPoints.

 

Chicken Fajita Meatballs

Like all great ideas, this recipe inspiration came to me in the middle of the night.  Every cloud has a silver lining – even a little short-lived insomnia. Surely I’m not the only one who makes meal plans when I can’t sleep!  Anyway, I love meatballs of all flavors and I thought a chicken fajita meatball sounded pretty tasty! After some experimenting in the kitchen (during daylight hours), these babies were born.

These are delicious served with sour cream and your favorite salsa, but they are even more amazing with this zero point Creamy Cilantro Sauce.  If you like cilantro, that is. I find that most people either love it or hate it. I happen to love it. This sauce is easy to make in your blender and will store in the fridge for up to a week. Try them together for the perfect healthy meal.  ~Erin

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb. 98% lean ground chicken (or turkey) breast
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper (I used half a red and half a green for color), finely diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • ¾ c. plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • The juice of half a lime

Optional serving choices: corn tortillas warmed in a skillet, chopped onion, cilantro, additional lime wedges for squeezing over meatballs, sour cream, salsa, and of course Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Instructions:

  1. If cooking in a conventional oven, preheat to 375° F.  If cooking in an air fryer, there is no need to preheat.
  2. In a medium skillet, sauté the onion and peppers in the olive oil until the onions are tender (about 5 minutes); set aside to cool to room temp.
  3. In small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the spices (chili powder, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and cumin) until combined); set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the ground chicken, the sautéed veggies, egg, and lime juice.  Then work in the bread crumb mixture.
  5. Roll the meat mixture into 18 golf ball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or in the air fryer at 350° F for 12-13 minutes.   
  7. Serve as an appetizer with dipping sauces or on tortillas.

WW Freestyle info:  This recipe makes 18 meatballs.  Each meatball is 1 SmartPoint.

Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms

I made these for New Year’s Eve a while back, and after setting them on the table, I stepped into the kitchen to get a couple more snack trays to bring over.  I got sidetracked getting one of the kids something for second, and I swear it had been maybe a minute by the time I came back; there was one left.  “Look, we saved you one, honey!” says my husband. 

So…I knew they must have been good!  And I’m glad they enjoyed them.  🙂 

These make an amazing appetizer or side dish.  Don’t skip the balsamic reduction. It really sends them over the top! And don’t turn your back on your friends once you serve them.  😉 ~Erin

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So easy…just make your Balsamic reduction (I mean, shockingly easy — recipe below).

Clean, stuff, cook, drizzle, and viola!

Ingredients:
  • 8-10 baby portabella mushrooms
  • Babybel mozzarella single serving cheeses (one for each mushroom)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 – 5 grape tomatoes, halved (one half for each mushroom)
  • ½ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • fresh basil, chopped

Instructions: 

  1. In a small sauce pan, stir the brown sugar into the balsamic vinegar; bring to a simmer over low heat and continue to simmer until it has reduced by at least half, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Clean the tops of the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and remove the stems.
  4. Brush the mushroom tops on all sides with olive oil and place them, top-side down, in a shallow baking dish.
  5. Fill each mushroom top with a little minced garlic.
  6. Place one Babybel mozzarella on top of the garlic; then place one tomato half on top of the cheese.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and drizzle liberally with the balsamic reduction.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.
  10. Serve immediately.

WW Freestyle Info.: Each cheesy caprese mushroom is 3 points.

Smoked Tuna Dip

Y’all know, from a recent post of mine, that my husband and I recently went on a trip to Grayton Beach, Florida.  Such a lovely little laid-back beach town.  We ate at some great restaurants while we were there, the first of which was called The Red Bar.  It’s a local dive that was packed with tourists and locals alike.  Their menu was a bit of a shock, as it was written on a chalkboard that they bring to your table.  Apparently it changes daily!  They had a couple of appetizers, around 5 entrees, and 2 or 3 desserts to choose from.  One of the appetizers was Smoked Tuna Dip.  Confession:  I didn’t order it; I went for the artichoke dip instead (which was also amazing), but my friend ordered the tuna dip.  Of course she shared, and, OMG, I was hooked.  We proceeded to order Smoked Tuna Dip at every restaurant we visited in the Grayton Beach area for the rest of the weekend.  I guess it’s a Florida thing?  Sadly, we don’t get smoked tuna dip in Oklahoma…I guess that’s due to the lack of fresh tuna.  Bummer.  So, I’ve done the next best thing and developed a recipe using packaged smoked tuna.  You’re welcome.  I mean, it’s not fresh from the sea, but it’s Okie style and, dare I say, it’s just as good!  ~Erin

Ingredients:
  • 2 pouches (2.6 oz. each) smoked white albacore tuna (I do not recommend canned tuna)
  • 2 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 T. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp. liquid smoke, optional (but it makes it more smoky)
  • ¼ tsp. creole seasoning or seasoned salt
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika, plus a dash for garnish
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • about a tsp. of fresh lemon juice

Instructions: 

  1. Mix all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Garnish with a dash of smoked paprika.
  3. Serve with pita chips or saltine crackers.

WW Freestyle Info.: This makes 5 servings of ¼ cup each. Each serving is 3 points.

 

 

 

Roasted Garlic Hummus

I LOVE hummus.  I often eat it for lunch or a snack with homemade pita chips.  My favorite hummus flavor is roasted garlic.  For years, I bought the prepackaged kind but, in an effort to cut down on the grocery bill, I have started making many of the snacks I used to just buy.  Making it yourself is WAY cheaper and just as good (or better!).  You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days so it makes a great snack throughout the week!  ~Erin

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Ingredients:
  • 1 (16 oz.) can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chick peas)
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (I admit I don’t really measure the lemon juice, I just squirt some in.)
  • 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 head of garlic
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. salt (or more, to taste)
  • 2-3 T. water, depending on how thick or thin you like it
  • Optional: more olive oil and/or dehydrated garlic for garnish

Instructions: 

  1. Cut off the pointy end of the head of garlic, to expose the cloves.
  2. Place it in the center of a double layer of foil & drizzle it with 1 tsp. olive oil.
  3. Wrap the head of garlic with the foil, enclosing it completely.
  4. Roast in the oven at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until it feels soft when squeezed. You can also roast it in the air fryer at 400° for 20 minutes, if you are lucky enough to have an air fryer. I love mine! (I’ll share more about it another time.) Set aside to cool.
  5. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Remove the skins by pinching them between your fingers.*
  6. When the garlic is cool, squeeze it all into the bowl of a food processor. Make sure you don’t accidentally drop in the papery garlic skins.
  7. Add the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, cumin, salt.
  8. Blend until well combined, scraping the sides often, adding a Tablespoon of water at a time, until the hummus is smooth.
  9. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of dehydrated garlic, if desired.

WW Freestyle Info.: This makes about a cup of hummus. Each ¼ cup serving is 1 point.

*It helps loosen the garbanzo bean skins if you shake them around in the colander while rinsing them. Then pinch the beans between your fingers and the skin should slide right off. This is a bit time consuming but removing the skins will make your hummus so much smoother. It’s a great activity for the kids! I mean, why do we even have kids if not to do the jobs we don’t want to do?! That’s a joke… sort of. Pretty sure my dad didn’t have to get up and change the TV channel ever in his adult life. Clearly, I’m showing my age. We had no remote but we only had 4 channels so, luckily, the manual channel surfing didn’t take long. I digress.

Greek Chicken Nachos

A few years ago, a new restaurant opened in my small town in Oklahoma. A Greek restaurant, to be more precise. I’m embarrassed to say, up until visiting this restaurant, I had never tried Greek food. Not even shopping mall gyros! I’m not sure why, but maybe because I was the pickiest kid in the universe and didn’t get brave enough to start trying new foods until adulthood. Now I eat pretty much everything. Anyway, I fell in love with Greek food immediately; unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t last long but my love for the cuisine persists. Since I don’t have a Greek restaurant nearby anymore, I make it myself at home! Mine would probably qualify as Americanized Greek food but either way, it’s delicious! ~Erin

GreekNachos

Ingredients:
  • 6 whole wheat pitas (I use Joseph’s Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Flour Pita bread.)
  • 4 medium chicken breasts
  • Greek seasoning, to taste (I prefer Cavender’s brand.)
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 c. low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella
  • 2 oz. (about 1/3 c.) crumbled feta
  • 1 T. finely chopped olives (I used black olives but Kalamata would be great too.)
  • ½ a medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
  • fresh chopped parsley, optional
Instructions for Pita Chips:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray both sides of the pitas lightly with olive oil spray.
  3. Cut into wedges like you would cut a pizza.
  4. Bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through cook time, or until brown.
  5. OR if you have an air fryer, you can cook them on 370°F for 4 minutes.
  6. Set aside.
Instructions for Nachos:
  1. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breast lightly with Greek seasoning and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked throughout.
  3. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes and then slice against the grain; set aside.
  4. In a large oven safe skillet or pan, layer pita chips, onion, bell pepper, mozzarella, feta, olives, & sliced chicken.
  5. Return the pan to the oven and bake about 5-8 minutes, or until cheeses are melted.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

WW Freestyle Info: This makes 4 servings at 6 points each.