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. 

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.

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.

Crock Pot Pork Roast in Gravy

I don’t know about y’all, but pantry-friendly recipes are my go-to right now.  I need meals that don’t require grocery runs because that’s not happening.  This is one of those recipes.  My kids love it and I love how easy it is to make.  In literally 5 minutes, I can have supper going in the Crockpot.  Eight hours later, I’ll bake up some potatoes, open up a salad mix and BAM dinner is on the table… hot and delicious with minimal work.  That’s my kind of meal.  ~Erin20200507_182133

Ingredients:

2 ½ pound pork roast, trimmed

1 (10.5 oz.) can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup

1 (10.5 oz.) can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Celery soup

1 soup can full of water

1 (1 oz.) packet Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup and Dip Mix

Baked potatoes, for serving

Place the trimmed pork roast in a slow-cooker pot.   In a medium bowl, stir together all other ingredients.  Pour the mixture over the roast.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, until meat is cooked and shreds easily.  Shred the roast and stir it to incorporate the gravy/sauce.  Serve over baked potatoes.

WW info.:  This recipe makes 6 1-cup servings.  Each serving is 6 points on all plans, not including the baked potato.

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.

 

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

Chicken Club Pasta Salad

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Sometimes things “hit me” at random times.   Like in the shower or while driving.   This recipe was born one day while I was driving to work and dreaming of warmer weather.   I made a few notes on my phone (thanks to talk-to-text) and ended up with this great spin-off of a deli classic. It has a great balance of fresh and crunchy mixed with the creamy dressing and avocado.  This are finally starting to warm up a little here in my neck of the woods, and I think this Chicken Club Pasta Salad will be one of the first things you’ll want to make as Spring finally arrives.  ~Kathy

2 c. cellentani (cork screw shaped) pasta, uncooked (whole wheat for lower point option noted in WW info.)

2 c. cooked, diced chicken breast

5 slices center cut bacon, cooked

4 T dill pickles, chopped fine

2 T purple onion, chopped fine

1/3 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

2 c. chopped napa cabbage

1 avocado, diced

½  c. plus 1 T  light miracle whip

1 T mustard

2 to 3 T 1% milk

1/8 tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

Dash of each of the following:  onion powder; black pepper; and paprika

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions.   Drain, rinse and set aside to allow to cool.

Once the noodles are completely cooled, transfer them to a large mixing bowl.  Add chicken, bacon, pickles and onion.  Toss to mix.  Add tomatoes and napa cabbage.  Toss gently to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together miracle whip, mustard, milk and seasonings.  Add more milk if needed.  It should be a slightly thick mixture.  Pour over the pasta mixture and stir to coat.

Add avocado and gently mix to coat, trying not to smash the diced avocado.

Allow to chill for one hour.  Serve alone or with your favorite crackers or toasted bread.

WW Info.:  Makes about 6 cups.  Each serving is 11 Points on the WW Blue Plan, 11 on Purple Plan, and 12 on Green Plan.  For a far smaller point tally, on purple, using whole wheat pasta drops it to just 4 points!