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.     

Lemon Zucchini Pasta

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My sisters and I grew up with grandparents who had huge gardens!  They may not have been as big as my childhood memories make them seem,  but my sisters and I helped harvest more goodies than you can imagine. We learned to dig potatoes and peanuts, how to pick okra and how to shuck corn, and of course we learned how to snap beans.  I remember sitting outside in the summer and eating fresh watermelon (with salt, of course).  I think that’s one of the reasons that I’ve developed such a nostalgia about growing anything that I can manage, and I love using those things in my kitchen.  The fresh zucchini and basil in this dish are so summery tasting!  I wish I could say that I grew the dill.  Our Mammaw often had dill growing in her back flower beds, and it smelled better than any flower.  Good food is a source of such good memories – and this is definitely good food! ~Tracy 

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

Zest from 1 lemon

½ c. finely chopped white or yellow onion

2 c. zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ tsp. salt

2 T. finely chopped capers

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 lb. spaghetti noodles

3 T. finely chopped fresh dill

3 T. finely chopped fresh basil

2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ c. fresh grated parmesan

½ c. crumbled feta cheese

1 c. reserved hot pasta water from spaghetti

Cook spaghetti in large pot, with salted water, according to package directions.

While spaghetti is cooking, heat olive oil in large, high-sided skillet. Saute onion and zucchini until zucchini begins to soften and onion begins to become translucent. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and capers, continuing to simmer on low for another minute or two.  

Add cooked and drained spaghetti to the pan with the zucchini. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, and basil.  Toss the entire mixture with the spaghetti to combine. Add in ½ c. of the reserved pasta water and stir (you can gradually add a little at a time before serving if pasta appears too dry). Remove from heat and allow to sit for two to three minutes to begin the cooling process.  Then toss in both the parmesan and feta cheese.

Serve immediately with grilled chicken or enjoy as a tasty meatless pasta dish.

This recipe makes 8 servings at 9 points per serving on all three WW plans. 

Sunday Picnic Chicken Salad

Many years ago, Barry worked at a certain chicken sandwich place — for three years in high school and all five years of college, in fact. When he started working there, he learned to make chicken salad from a VHS training video (nope, we are not spring chickens).

Many years later, he tried to make it from memory – he did not remember. 🙂 His creation was nothing like what they had – it was much better! While I tend to think of chicken salad as a summertime dish, my kids ask for it all year, and they don’t really have to twist my arm to get me to make it any time.

This is such an easy make & take recipe for a big gathering – or a small one. I am persnickety about my hot food being really hot, so when we picnic at the lake (which is one of our favorite family activities after work while we continue to social distance) this chicken salad is a frequent choice for us. I really love it served on a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll for a slider sized sandwich, but Barry prefers it on the King’s Hawaiian sandwich slices. Either way, it’s fantastic; I’m really glad he couldn’t remember the chicken joint’s recipe! ~Robin

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Trim any excess fat from the chicken, then cut into chunks to boil. Remove chicken from the water carefully once it’s cooked using tongs and place on a large cutting board (make sure it’s completely opaque in the center). Then finely chop the chicken and place in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Chill before serving.

WW Info: This makes 8 generous 2/3 c. servings. On purple or blue, it’s 3 points. On green, it’s 4. Remember to calculate your choice of bread separately.

Taco Poblanos

After a long day with Zoom meetings sprinkled throughout for everybody (which is, I’ll go ahead ahead and tell you as a 100% biased mama, super cute for Kindergarten) the last thing I want to do is cook a complicated meal.  Is “Zoom fatigue” an official thing yet?  Just me?

Anyway, who doesn’t love all forms of tacos?  Whether you’re reducing carbs, going full Keto, or you’re like me and just love peppers, this really easy taco recipe is just what your taco repertoire needs. ~Robin

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A poblano is a really large, slightly sweet pepper, especially once it’s roasted so you’re not going to get a ton of heat, but they can still have a little heat once roasted.  It’s a good idea to use gloves when you’re handling them raw.  In this case, since the meat will be cooked and you’ll just be heating everything together, you’re going to roast the peppers first.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (97% fat free)
  • 1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning
  • 1.5 avocados
  • 3 oz. low fat Colby Jack or Mexi-blend cheese (I prefer Colby Jack because its flavor is a little bolder)
  • Pam cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Wash and cut the peppers in half length-wise so you have two pretty equal halves.  Remove the stem from whichever side it ends up on.
  3. Place the halves open side down in an oven-safe skillet, spraying the top of the peppers with cooking spray well.
  4. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the skin of the peppers begins to blister quite a bit.
  5. Remove skillet from the oven carefully and set aside.
  6. On medium heat in a separate skillet, cook your beef, seasoning with taco seasoning using instructions on the seasoning packet.
  7. Flip the peppers over in the oven-safe skillet so they’re open on top.  The spoon in about 1/8 of the beef into each pepper half.  They may flatten a little but they’ll still hold the contents.
  8. Wash, then cut your avocado in half, lengthwise.  Remove the pit.  Then cube in about ½” sized cubes.
  9. Sprinkle the avocado chunks across the tacos fairly evenly.
  10. Finally, sprinkle with your cheese evenly and return to the oven.
  11. You’re just going to roast these again until they’re heated through well and the cheese is nice and melted – around 8-10 minutes but keep an eye on them.
  12. Serve with your favorite salsa.

WW info:  Makes 8 poblano tacos – On Green, Blue, or Purple:  1 taco = 3 points; 2 = 7 points; 3 = 10 points.