Summer Zucchini Skillet

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We started a Quarantine Garden!  Is that what we are going to call them in history books?  Folks during WWII had victory gardens; we have quarantine gardens.  We planted zucchini squash, sweet banana peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, basil, and cilantro.  Y’all, we had zucchini running out our ears from only a few plants!  One of my favorite dishes to make with our plentiful harvest is this Summer Zucchini Skillet.  It’s so fresh and summery, hence the name.  It pairs perfectly with some grilled chicken and sliced avocado.  I chop my chicken and avocado in small bites and mix everything together on my plate.  It’s a perfect summer meal!  ~Erin

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1 – 1 ½  lbs zucchini, stems cut off and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 T. olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 small-medium tomatoes (such as Roma), seeded and chopped

½ a small red onion (about 1/3 c. chopped)

1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

10 ounces frozen or fresh corn kernels, thawed if frozen

1 T. chopped fresh cilantro

The juice of half a lime

Chili Lime salt to taste (I like Tajin brand, low sodium version)

Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook a few minutes, until it starts to look translucent.  Stir in the garlic and corn and cook until fragrant (a couple minutes).  Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and jalapeno and cook until zucchini starts to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Lastly, add the cilantro and lime juice and stir until heated through.  Remove from heat and add chili lime salt to taste. This is delicious served with grilled meat and avocado (will change the WW points).

WW info:  This recipe makes 4 large servings.  On Green plan, each serving is 4 points.  On Blue or Purple, each serving is 1 point.

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

TacoPoblanoLogo

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.

 

Mexican Chicken Cornbread Bake

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I saw a meme the other day that compared cooking during this time of “social distancing” to an episode of Chopped.  That could not be more accurate.  When I schedule and pick up my grocery order, only half of what I ordered is actually in stock, so my pantry is a random assortment of ingredients.  I stand there and stare, trying to figure out what I can put together to make an actual meal.  If you are doing the same, I have a good, pantry-and-freezer-friendly Mexican dish for you.  I know you’re all missing Mexican food right now, so here ya go.  If you lucked out and got chips in your grocery order, that would be great with this too… a real Mexican feast!  ~Erin

Ingredients:

4 cups chopped boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 4 large breasts or 5 medium):  I sprinkle the breasts with 1 tsp. each of chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and garlic powder; then bake or grill until fully cooked, let the meat rest/cool a few minutes and then chop.  Store in the fridge if made in advance.

1 (10 oz.) can Old El Paso red enchilada sauce, mild

1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild

1 ½ c. yellow corn kernels

8 oz. (2 small cans) Hatch chopped green chiles

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 (8.5 oz) package dry Jiffy corn muffin mix (or other cornbread mix – I prefer a sweet cornbread mix)

1 egg

½ c. reduced-fat Mexican shredded cheese, divided

½ c. unsweetened cashew or almond milk (skim milk will work too)

2 T. chopped pickled jalapenos

Chips and salsa, optional – for serving

 

Cook and chop seasoned chicken (see notes on first ingredient); set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spray a deep casserole dish (slightly smaller than a 9X13) with nonstick spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together:  enchilada sauce, Ro-Tel, corn, green chiles, 1 tsp. chili powder, and ½ tsp. cumin.  Add 4 cups chopped chicken and stir to coat.  Spread evenly into casserole dish.

In a small bowl, stir together:  dry cornbread mix, milk, egg, chopped jalapenos, and half of the cheese (about ¼ c.).  Pour mixture evenly over the chicken mixture.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

WW Info:  This recipe makes 8 servings.  Green plan – 9 points per serving; Blue plan – 6 points per serving; Purple plan – 6 points per serving

Super Simple Chicken Taco Soup

How many times in my life, after a very indulgent food weekend, have I said the words, “I’m going to have eat nothing but baked chicken and broccoli all next week!”?  I’m sure that those who know me roll their eyes as they laugh, because it’s no secret that I am not a fan of self-deprivation. This girl gotta eat!  In fact, I often find that when I try to deprive myself of food that makes me feel satisfied, I end up eating more in the long run.  Just about the only thing that helps me get myself back on track after a few days of eating “all the things” is doing some serious food-prep leg work.  

If you’ve been following around here for long, you know that I am a big fan of soups and stews.  I’m one of those people who can eat a bowl of soup or chili in the middle of an August afternoon.  Soups and stews are super easy to make and can easily fit into my food planning and pre-prepping rotations.  They are also great to help me feel full without going full-tilt down a crazy eating path. This Super Simple Chicken Taco Soup is one of my favorite make ahead meals.  It’s my go-to lunch this week and is saving me after a weekend of eating out.  ~ Tracy 

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Ingredients:

4 medium sized chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 can black beans, drained (15.5 oz.)

1 can pinto beans, drained (15.5 oz.)

1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)

1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Ro-Tel

1 c. frozen corn

½ c. finely chopped yellow onion

½ c. finely chopped red bell pepper

1 c. water

2 T. taco seasoning

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

Add all ingredients together in a large stock pot or soup pan.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for approximately 30 minutes.

Serve topped with your favorite shredded cheese or sour cream.

This soup makes approximately 7 cups and is zero points/cup on the WW Freestyle/Blue plan.

 

 

Mexican Pulled Pork with Beans

There aren’t too many people that I know (in fact there is no one) that love to spend time planning meals. But imagine this… What if there was one thing that you could make and use for a variety of meals? Almost endless possibilities. How fantastic could that be?! This Mexican pulled pork is as close to perfect as you can imagine.  It’s that versatile.  Chalupa? Nailed it.  Maybe a tostada?  Done! You say you want a taco, you got it!  How about a burrito or a taco salad? Yep!  Oh wait, don’t forget about enchiladas! This meat can fill all of these, and probably some I haven’t thought of yet.  Listen, ladies and gentlemen, it is that good! ~Kathy

  • 4 lbs. boneless pork roast
  • 2 c. clean, dry pinto beans
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1 ½ T. ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 ½ T. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 (7 oz.) cans mild diced green chilies
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
  • Half of a large onion, trimmed and cut into wedges

Soak beans in water overnight; drain the next morning.

Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl.   

Trim fat from roast and cut into about 6 large pieces.   Rub about one tablespoon of the spice mix into the meat. Set aside. 

In a 6-quart slow cooker, place the onion and garlic cloves.  Position the pieces of pork over the onion. 

Add in the drained beans and remaining spice mixture; then add green chilies (undrained).

Add enough water to just cover the beans and meat.  Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for at least 8 hours, until beans are soft and pork will easily shred. 

To serve:   Remove pork and the beans to a large, deep bowl with a slotted spoon.  Shred pork and serve with your favorite toppings.   Reserve some cooking liquid for use if desired. 

 

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.

Creamy Cilantro Sauce

One thing I have missed since I started eating healthy (most of the time) is sauces.  Sauces – especially creamy ones – are often high in calories/Weight Watcher points.  When you have a tight points budget each day, you don’t want to waste points on things like sauces.  For this reason, I have started creating my own sauces.  I can make them in small batches, instead of having a large bottle sitting around until after its expiration date; I can make them as rich or as low-fat as I choose; and I can avoid all the preservatives and additives that are often present in bottled/jarred sauces.

This Creamy Cilantro Sauce is one of my favorite sauce concoctions.  It can be used a veggie or chip dip, a sauce for Mexican dishes (it’s great on tacos!), or a dip for something like these Chicken Fajita Meatballs (photo below)!  The possibilities are endless!  If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen dipping everything in this sauce.  Best part is, I can enjoy this with NO guilt.  Check out the stats at the end of this post!  Dip, dip, hooray for zero WW point sauce!  ~Erin

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. fat-free cream cheese
  • 1 (7 oz.) can salsa verde (I use Herdez brand.)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ a bunch of cilantro, stems removed
  • The zest of one lime (optional)
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice – about one squeezed lime

Blend all ingredients in a blender, scraping down the sides occasionally, until smooth.

WW Freestyle Info:  Makes 2 cups of sauce.  Up to 2 Tablespoons is zero points.  3-6 tablespoons is 1 point.  7-10 tablespoons is 2 points.

Taco Pasta Salad

I don’t know about you, but I feel like my family eats a ton of spaghetti and lots of tacos, mostly because they are family friendly, tasty, quick and economical. Personally, I get bored with the same-old, same-old for dinner so I try to mix it up when I can. This dish marries two of our favorites together — tacos and pasta! This would be a great “meatless Monday” dinner or as a side dish. We love it served with grilled chicken as our main course too. One of my boys says we should call it “Paco Salad,” mashing “pasta” and “taco” together.   Whatever you want to call it, it’s delish! ~Kathy

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. orecchiette (ear shaped) or medium shell pasta
  • 1 can (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c frozen corn, thawed and drained
  • ½ c. (loosely packed) cilantro
  • 1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ¼ c. red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jar (15.5 oz) salsa (roughly 1 2/3 c) – I used Tostitos Restaurant Style
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 3 T. taco seasoning, dry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Hass avocado, ripe but slightly firm, diced
  • 2/3 c. cheddar cheese, diced to about 1/4” cubes (a good ww friendly option is Cabot sharp light cheddar 50% reduced fat)*

Instructions: 

  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.  Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside to cool. 
  2. In a large bowl, add the pasta, beans, corn, cilantro, onion, tomatoes and salsa.  Mix gently together. 
  3. In a small bowl whisk olive oil, lime juice, garlic and taco seasoning.  Mix well.  Pour over pasta and mix to coat. 
  4. Gently fold in cheese and avocado just before serving. 

WW Freestyle Info.:  Makes 12 one-cup servings at 7 points each.  You could  also add grilled chicken breast for zero ww points if desired! 

The Best Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Over the years I’ve seen lots of different recipes for Barbacoa.  Some had ingredients that I thought were a little weird, some had sugar, and some had dizzyingly long lists of ingredients.  The version that I’ve created has the perfect amount of spicy flavor, and it cooks to fall apart tender. It’s tasty enough that my oldest, who usually doesn’t care for shredded beef dishes, asked me to make him his own batch to take back to college with him.  He’s also not a fan of leftovers, so here’s hoping that this helps keep him (and his debit card) out of the Chick-Fil-A drive through! But let’s be honest, one of the best things about this dish is that it takes a few minutes to dice two ingredients and the rest is simply tossing stuff into the slow cooker.  My favorite way to eat this is on a soft taco with a little cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and of course, cheese, but it also makes a great base for shredded beef enchiladas. I think it’ll quickly become one of your favorites (and it’s only 3 WW points per serving)! ~Tracy

Ingredients:
  • ~One beef rump roast, approximately 3 lbs., with fat trimmed
  • ~1, 5 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I use Embasa brand)
  • ~1, 4 oz. can diced green chiles
  • ~1 cup diced white or yellow onion
  • ~5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ~juice of one lime, freshly squeezed
  • ~2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • ~3 to 4 bay leaves
  • ~1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ~1 tsp. black pepper
  • ~1 T. ground cumin
  • ~1 ½ tsp. oregano
  • ~1 c. fat free beef broth or prepared beef bouillon
  1. Place rump roast in slow cooker (I highly recommend using slow cooker liner. They make cleanup so much easier!)
  2. Remove the adobo peppers from the can and roughly chop them. Use the entire can if you like things fairly spicy. When cooking for my family, I use the entire can, but if you don’t love things very spicy, or are cooking for others, use half the can.
  3. Add the peppers (including seeds and some of the sauce) to the pot with the roast.
  4. Add all other ingredients.
  5. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. Remove the roast from the slow cooker using tongs or a large spatula.
  7. Remove the bay leaves from the pot while you have the meat removed.
  8. Shred the meat and return to the slow cooker to let it simmer in the juices for another 15-20 minutes before serving.
  9. Remove the meat from the liquid and serve.

WW Freestyle Info.: This recipe makes 15, 3 oz. servings that are 3 points each.

Black Bean & Beef Green Chile Bake

Black Bean & Beef Green Chile Bake
from Four Sisters Dish

I created this recipe because I wanted something new, but I also wanted something healthy that did not take any time to cook. Before I come across as too lazy, my kids had called me on the sugar cookies I promised before the school break had ended. Operation sugar cookie was already in full swing as dinner approached.

So on my wee end of the counter, I decided I could throw something Mexican together, and I realized I had never tried anything with beef and green chiles together, which I absolutely love. (I’m pretty sure Santa Fe, NM, might be heaven – at least during Hatch chile season…)

What emerged took only few minutes of prep and about 10 minutes of cooking in the oven. And it tasted like it should have been an old family casserole that had taken FAR more time. When it comes to meal prep, I’m always for fabulous foods making it seem like I worked harder than I did! ~Robin

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of 97% lean ground beef
  • 1 package of taco seasoning (I use Taco Bell brand)
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 8-inch tortillas (Tumaro’s 8” White Low-in-Carb Wraps)
  • 2 7-oz cans of chopped green chiles (I use Old El Paso brand)
  • 1 4.5-oz. can of chopped green chiles
  • ½ cup shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack (I like Kraft Natural)
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, sliced (if desired for garnish)
  • ½ c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (if desired for garnish)
  • Taco sauce or salsa, if desired, for serving 

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a 9”x 9” pan, take one 8” tortilla and tear it up into 1.5-2” square-ish chunks and spread across the bottom of the pan; set aside.  In a large skillet, cook lean ground beef until browned. Drain any fat that cooks out.   Add taco seasoning and ¾ c. water according to taco seasoning instructions (except I don’t let it cook down for a full 10 minutes – just until most of the water is cooked out).  Add drained green chiles and drained black beans.  Stir gently until mixed well and heated well throughout.  Then turn off heat.  

Into the 9×9 pan, pour ½ of the beef mixture into the pan over the tortilla chunks, spreading evenly.  Then do another layer of torn up tortilla spread evenly across the beef mixture.  Pour the rest of the beef mixture over this and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the top with your ½ c. of cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes – until bubbly hot and cheese is melted well across the top.

WW Freestyle Info.:  This recipe makes 6 very filling portions at just 4 points each.