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.

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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

Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup

I almost feel bad for posting another soup recipe because I’m afraid y’all are going to think that’s all we eat, but it’s hard to feel bad with a big bowl of comfort food in front of me.  Can’t stop, won’t stop eating allll the soups. This particular soup is a favorite of my family’s. It’s rich and creamy and perfect with crackers on a cold night. Add it to your soup rotation!  I know I will. ~Erin

Ingredients:

1 c. chopped celery

1 c. chopped onion

1 c. diced carrots

1 T. minced garlic

32 oz. chicken stock

4 c. water

1 lb. raw boneless, skinless chicken breast or 12 oz. cooked, shredded chicken breast

¼ tsp. oregano

1 bay leaf

½ tsp. black pepper

½ c. all-purpose flour

1 pkg. Chicken Rice A Roni, including seasoning packet

1 c. fat-free half & half

Non-stick cooking spray

Saute celery, carrots, and onion in cooking spray until the onions are tender and translucent.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock and 4 cups water.  If using raw chicken, add it at this time and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked through.  Remove from pot and shred; set aside. If using precooked chicken, simmer the veggies and broth until the carrots are fork-tender.

In a small bowl, make a slurry with the flour and some of the hot liquid from the pot.  Whisk until smooth and then stir the slurry into the pot.

Add oregano, bay leaf, pepper, and Chicken Rice A Roni.  Simmer 15 minutes, covered, or until rice is tender.

Remove the bay leaf.  Sir in fat-free half & half and the shredded chicken.  

WW Info:  Green plan – 4 points per cup; blue plan – 3 points per cup; purple plan – 3 points per cup

Chicken Fajita Soup

chicken fajita soup

I love a re-make of a classic dish everyone knows and loves.  This recipe was actually born on a whim.   I was trying to think of something different for dinner (sound familiar??).  Chicken fajitas kept coming to mind but it really wasn’t quite what I wanted.   I decided to take chicken fajitas and all those great flavors and make it into a soup.  Why not!!??   It is hearty and delicious, warm and comforting.  It has all the familiar flavors but in soup form.   It’s fabulous and has joined the list of regular dinners in our house.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into half circles
  • 1 large medium bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 T. water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 c. canned fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. Ro-tel tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 T fajita seasoning (from the packet – I used McCormicks)
  • 5 c. fat free chicken broth

Slice chicken into thin strips and remove all fat.  Separate into two batches.   In a heavy dutch oven or soup pot spread 1 teaspoon oil in bottom of pan.   Turn on heat to medium-high.  Once pot is heated, add the first half of the chicken.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Add garlic powder and onion powder if desired.   Brown chicken on all sides then remove to a dish and repeat with second half, after adding the other teaspoon of oil to pan.    Keep chicken covered and warm.

After the chicken is browned and removed from pot, reduce heat to medium and add onion.  Sauté the onion for about 3 minutes, until it begins to soften.  Add bell pepper and 1 T. water.  Continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes then add garlic.  Continue until the garlic becomes fragrant.

Add fire roasted tomatoes, Ro-tel tomatoes, beans and seasonings.  Slowly add in chicken broth. Stir until combined.

Bring to a simmer and add chicken.  Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with heated tortillas, cheese, avocado or guacamole, if desired

Makes nine 1 cup servings.

WW Info.:  Makes 9 1-cup serving at just 1 point each.

Bruschetta Style Italian Chicken

Bruschetta Style Italian Chicken

One of my absolute favorite things about summer (aside from the fact that I have a lot of time off work), is enjoying the things that I plant in my garden.  I wish I could say that I’m as adept at gardening as my Mammaw and Pappaw were (they had gardens that would make Martha Stewart jealous), but I am a much more modest grower.  I plant several varieties of peppers, fresh basil, and several types of tomatoes.  I’ve tried planting more, but I’ve come to terms with what my time commitment can be (maybe more when I retire, right?) and also have gotten familiar with some of the folks at our farmer’s market.

The summer combination of fresh tomatoes and basil is definitely one of the things that keeps me gardening and those perfect flavors are why this Bruschetta Style Italian Chicken is frequently on our table this time of year.  And as every good gardener knows in those moments of “What am I going to do with all of these tomatoes?” a good, fresh tomato recipe makes all of that gardening work worthwhile. ~Tracy

For the chicken:

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning (I use McCormick)
  • black pepper

For the tomato topping:

  • 4 large tomatoes, diced (enough chopped tomato to equal 2 cups)
  • 2 T. finely chopped (chiffonade style) fresh basil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ T. balsamic vinegar
  • Shredded parmesan cheese

Combine all topping ingredients (except parmesan) in medium size bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for thirty minutes allowing the flavors to marry well.

Trim any fat from each chicken breast and pat dry with paper towels.  Lightly season both sides of each chicken breast with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and black pepper (a light dusting of all three on each side).  Grill the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill.

Top each grilled chicken breast with 1/2 cup of the tomato topping.  Top with shredded parmesan cheese if desired.

This recipe is ZERO WW Freestyle points, not including the parmesan cheese.

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.

Caribbean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Summer is meant for grilling.  It’s getting hot in Oklahoma and, because we’ve had a ton of rain, the humidity is at somewhere around 1,000%.  That means it’s too hot to cook a full meal in the kitchen.  I’m all about grilling out, as much as possible.  These Caribbean Chicken Lettuce Wraps are the perfect summer grill meal because you can put your chicken on the grill while you stay inside (for the most part), in the air conditioning, sipping a cold beverage and chopping a few fruits and veggies.  By the time the chicken is done, you’ll be ready to throw it all together, wrap it in a crisp lettuce leaf, and go to town on it… grilled chicken, mango, onions, jalapeno, and spices, wrapped in a big leaf of green lettuce… this recipe is the perfect fresh, light, summer meal.  It’s so flavorful, you might even find yourself eating it straight from the bowl with a spoon, like this little guy.  By the looks of that messy, nearly-empty bowl, he’s enjoying it!  ~Erin

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, seasoned lightly with garlic powder, salt, and pepper (baked or rotisserie chicken breast would also work fine) – room temperature
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ tsp. each of garlic powder, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt
  • ¼ c. chopped red onion
  • 1 c. diced mango
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded and deveined) chopped
  • Bib or romaine lettuce leaves, washed
  • Sliced avocado, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, and spices; set aside.

When the chicken has come to room temperature, chop in bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.

Add the onion, mango, and jalapeno.

Toss gently until the dressing and ingredients are evenly distributed.

Serve, topped with avocado (if desired), wrapped in a leaf of lettuce.

WW Freestyle Info.:  The recipe makes 4 servings of ¾ cups each.  Each serving is 1 SmartPoint, not counting the optional avocado.

Tip:  Measure your avocado in grams – you get more for the points!

Chicken and Tomato Crumble Casserole

I got this recipe from Tracy, and it’s one of the very first things I made on my own often.  As a sophomore in high school, I would have won the state level A-OK Cookoff with this dish had I not been marked down because I didn’t properly contrast my plate with the color of the meal (I’ve improved my presentation since then, my dear Home Ec. teacher — it’s Family & Consumer Sciences now — at the time would be proud to know, God rest Deanne Pence’s soul).  I had even learned how to make garnish roses out of tomato skin for the occasion, a skill I have since lost, but that’s okay because I think I was over-relying on those to get me through on the presentation category.  I got the highest marks in taste though, which is always most important to me!  The tomato is just the little bit of acidic kick this chicken needs to contrast with the creamy soup and the crunchy buttery topping.

It’s such a great comfort food dish that it’s the first thing I chose to cook for Barry when we were first dating.  I don’t have a picture of that date, but here’s Valentine’s Day just a couple weeks earlier (yes, my hair was made for the 90s); now our 18th anniversary is just around the corner, and we’ve cooked more than a few meals for each other.

I make this dish year-round, but I like it best when I have fresh garden tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Now is the time to give it a try! ~Robin

Ingredients:  

  • 2 lbs. of chicken breast
  • 8 slices of American cheese (Kraft 2% slices)
  • 2 10.5 cans of cream of chicken soup (98% fat free)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • Pepperidge Farms Herb Seasoned Dressing (Dry bag of breadcrumbs)
  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • White rice (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat dressing crumbs lightly before opening the bag to create fairly consistently sized crumbs.  In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter, then add the whole bag of crushed stuffing and stir to soak all crumbs with butter.  Set aside.

Slice tomato as you would for a burger (or maybe a bit thicker) and set aside.

Trim fat from chicken and cut into chunks (about one inch cubes).

Place chicken evenly across the bottom of a 9×13” pan.  Add salt and pepper.

Cover chicken with soup and salt lightly again.  Then lay cheese over the top of the soup evenly across the pan.  It will fit about 8 slices.  On top of each piece of cheese, place a slice of tomato.  Finally, spread dressing crumble over the top.

Bake for about one hour; keep a close eye on the topping. I usually have to cover the top of the dish with foil after about 15 or 20 minutes to keep it from getting overly browned.

This dish may be served over rice, but I prefer it on its own myself.

WW Info.:  This serves 8 really generous portions at 14 points each.  This is more of a point splurge than I normally do, but in my book it’s well worth saving some points.  (Does not include optional rice.)

Avocado Chicken Salad

Don’t you love it when two of your favorite things come together in perfect harmony?  Things like your favorite song on the radio and being in the car alone, hitting all of the green lights when you’re in a hurry, or the perfect concoction of chicken and avocado?  I know, I know…these things rarely happen, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t help you with the traffic lights.  I can, however, hook you up with the perfect summer combination in this Avocado Chicken Salad!  It’s become one of my favorite summery dinners – especially if I can make it with at least a few of the ingredients right out of my own garden (though I haven’t yet figured out how to grow avocados in the Oklahoma climate).  Everyone in my family goes back for seconds on this dish, and sometimes, when they aren’t looking, I might indulge in a third helping! ~ Tracy

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Ingredients

  • 350 grams of avocado, usually 3 medium avocados
  • ½ c. finely chopped yellow or white onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c. grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ c. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped grilled chicken breast
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the avocado from the rind.  Discard rind and pit.

Roughly mash the avocado with large fork or potato masher.

Mix all ingredients together, stirring gently.

Serve in your favorite tortilla or wrap.

Makes 4 cups.  Each ½ cup serving is 2 WW Freestyle Points.

Spicy Asian Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli

Confession…I did not grow up an adventurous eater. I was sort of a poster child for, “I won’t eat this, or I’m going to pick that out.” I’m pretty sure I never ate in an Asian restaurant until after I was married. As an adult though, I realized that if I was going to have anything remotely close to a healthy diet, I was going to have to branch out beyond my favorite comfort foods. Confession number two….I’m still not all that adventurous, but I’ve learned to introduce myself, and my kids, to different flavors and foods. I’ve learned that there are better sauces than barbecue or ranch, and that fruits and vegetables can add beautiful flavor and color to our plates. Don’t get me wrong – I still load up my plate with macaroni and cheese on occasion (try ours here), but more often than not, we’re eating something like these Spicy Asian Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli. I think you’ll like it just as much as that take-out comfort food! ~Tracy

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Ingredients for meatballs

  • 1 ¼ lb. ground white meat chicken
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. bread crumbs.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T. fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

Ingredients for sauce

  • ¼ c. teriyaki sauce
  • ½ c. water
  • 1 T. fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ c. lightly packed brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 c. steamed broccoli (reserved until adding sauce to meatballs)

Mix all meatball ingredients until well combined. Use a small ice cream scoop to form 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs on large baking sheet, lined with parchment.

Bake at 350, for approximately 25 minutes, or until each meatball begins to turn golden and all juices are clear.

While meatballs are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients (except broccoli) in a small saucepan and whisk together. Heat to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for two minutes.

Place cooked meatballs and steamed broccoli in a large metal or glass bowl. Cover with sauce and toss together.

This recipe makes 6 servings (4 meatballs per serving). Each serving is 3 WW Freestyle Points.

Serve over rice, but remember to figure WW points on rice separately if desired.