Artichoke Pesto Chicken Pasta

Pasta is always good for my hungry crew after work, football practice, and a long day of school.  Almost as good as the flavor is the fact that I can make this Pesto Chicken Pasta in less than 30 minutes when I use rotisserie chicken and pre-made pesto sauce.  ~Tracy

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Artichoke Pesto Chicken Pasta
    Ingredients:
  • ~2 T. butter
  • ~½ c. finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • ~2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~¼ c. flour
  • ~½ tsp. salt
  • ~½ tsp. black pepper
  • ~½ c. 1% milk
  • ~1 ½ c. chicken broth
  • ~3 T. jarred pesto (I like Barilla)
  • ~half of a 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and roughly chopped
  • ~1 ½ c. chopped white meat chicken, I use chopped chicken breast from rotisserie chickens
  • ~1 lb. pasta, cooked in salted water according to package directions (I used Campanelle pasta)
  1. Melt butter over medium heat in large, deep skillet.
  2. Add garlic and onion, sauteing for a few minutes until onions begin to become tender.
  3. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine with onions and garlic.
  4. Add milk and continue stirring until forms a thick paste with the flour.
  5. Gently stir in the chicken broth until forms a thickening sauce.
  6. Stir in jarred pesto and chopped artichoke hearts.
  7. Add chopped chicken and cooked pasta stirring to combine well.
  8. Serve topped with shredded or sliced parmesan.

WW Info.: This recipe makes about 8, one-cup servings. Each serving is 9 WW Freestyle points not accounting for parmesan cheese topping.

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/10/04/artichoke-pesto-chicken-pasta/

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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!

Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms

Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms from Four Sisters Dish

    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
  • ~chopped fresh basil
  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.

Weight Watchers Info.: Each cheesy caprese mushroom is 3 SmartPoints.

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/09/13/caprese-stuffed-mushrooms/

Super Duper Spaghetti with Beef

We are huge fans of spaghetti at our house; it was (and still is!) always a favorite of both of my picky kids even when they were little…maybe that’s why we started calling it “super duper” — and it stuck!  (As you’ll see it the picture, it literally stuck everywhere too!  Luckily, since it’s been four years since this pic, they’re a bit neater these days!)  At any rate, all the prefab sauces are either way too sweet (yuck!) or just painfully bland – not to mention full of a zillion unnecessary additives and sugars.

My own recipe is almost as fast as opening a jar.  Plus you have to wait for the noodles to cook anyway; may as well take those few minutes to throw together this super flavorful, super healthy, super duper version!  ~Robin

Super Duper Spaghetti with Beef
    Ingredients:
  • ~1 ¼ lb. 95% lean ground beef*
  • ~ 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (or 1 ½ tsp. jarred, minced garlic)
  • ~14.5 oz. (1 large can) Hunt’s tomatoes, petite diced, undrained
  • ~15 oz. (1 large can) Hunt’s diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ~12 oz. (2 small cans) Hunt’s tomato paste
  • ~6 oz. water (one small tomato paste can-full)
  • ~4 tsp. dried oregano
  • ~½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ~4 tsp. Italian seasoning (I like McCormick’s)
  • ~2 -3 tsp. garlic salt, as preferred
  • ~1 tsp. garlic powder
  1. Put your spaghetti noodles on to boil (whatever your favorite brand is; I use Ronzini Healthy Harvest 100% Whole Grain); cook to al dente.
  2. While noodles are boiling, in a large stock pot, brown the ground beef with the minced garlic. Once cooked, drain any excess oil.
  3. In the same pot, add diced tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  4. Add the 6 oz. of water.
  5. Finally, add all the spices. (Add garlic salt 1 tsp. at a time so that you can measure it to your own taste.)
  6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated throughout and flavors have combined well.
  7. Add the sauce to your al dente pasta and enjoy!

*My package of beef was just a little bigger than usual, but the points are the same and all the other ingredients amounts don’t differ if you use exactly one 1 lb of 95% lean beef instead – I just went ahead and used this much since I had it.

Weight Watchers Info.: This meat sauce is only 2 SmartPoints per ½ cup serving. Makes 15 servings; freezes very well. (Remember to count the points for your pasta.)

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/08/06/super-duper-spaghetti-with-beef/

Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

This recipe came to me in church cookbook from a small town in western Oklahoma. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years but the original is from Rita from Fairview. I don’t know Rita but I am grateful to her for this recipe. Church cookbooks are the best, aren’t they? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my collection. They are always full of tried and true family recipes and time tested pot-luck favorites. I go through them page by page, flagging recipes I want to try with sticky-notes. This is one of those recipes I’ve had flagged for a long time. I keep coming back to it, making notes in the margins when I make it. It’s a good one, this meatloaf. Picture a giant stuffed Italian meatball. I serve it over spaghetti because, of course you have to have spaghetti with a giant cheesy meatball. Italian dinner perfection! ~Erin

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Making this Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf is so much faster and easier than making a million little meatballs, but you get similar results (only cheesier). Start by preheating the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl combine ground beef, onion, egg, 1 T. Italian seasoning, garlic, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and 1/3 cup of tomato sauce (reserve the remainder); mix until well combined.

Mix breadcrumbs into meat mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

Turn the meat mixture out onto plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a large rectangle. (Please excuse the blurry photo… my 11-year-old took it. 🙂 )

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Sprinkle the meat evenly with both cheeses. (Keeping it real with my cooking mess in the background.)

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Begin to roll the meat by pulling the plastic wrap up and toward you. Continue forming into a roll and tuck the ends under.

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Transfer the roll to a large baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 can plus what’s left of the other can of tomato sauce, ½ T. garlic powder, ½ T. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.

Pour tomato sauce mixture over meatloaf.

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Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Serve over spaghetti, if desired.

Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf
    Ingredients:
  • ~ 1 ½ lb. 96% lean ground beef
  • ~ 1 small onion or ½ a large onion, finely diced
  • ~ 1 egg, beaten
  • ~ 1 ½ T. Italian seasoning, divided
  • ~ 1 T. minced fresh garlic
  • ~ ½ tsp. salt, divided
  • ~ ½ tsp. black pepper, divided
  • ~ 2 cans (15 oz. each) tomato sauce, divided
  • ~ 1 c. garlic & herb seasoned bread crumbs (I use Progresso.)
  • ~ ½ T. garlic powder
  • ~ 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ~ 1 ½ c. low-moisture part-skim shredded Mozzarella
  • ~ ½ c. shredded (not grated) parmesan cheese
  • ~ fresh chopped basil, for garnish (optional)
  • ~ cooked spaghetti noodles, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine ground beef, onion, egg, 1 T. Italian seasoning, garlic, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and 1/3 cup of tomato sauce (reserve the remainder); mix until well combined.
  3. Mix breadcrumbs into meat mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Turn the meat mixture out onto plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a large rectangle.
  5. Sprinkle the meat evenly with both cheeses.
  6. Begin to roll the meat by pulling the plastic wrap up and toward you. Continue forming into a roll and tuck the ends under.
  7. Transfer the roll to a large baking dish; set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 can plus what’s left of the other can of tomato sauce, ½ T. garlic powder, ½ T. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.
  9. Pour tomato sauce mixture over meatloaf.
  10. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour.
  11. Serve over spaghetti, if desired.

Weight Watchers info.: This recipe makes 8 slices at 6 Freestyle SmartPoints each. Don’t forget to add extra points if you serve over spaghetti.

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/05/01/italian-cheese-stuffed-meatloaf/

Italian Turkey Sausage & Pepper Pasta

I’ve been making this for years…since before we had kids. In fact, when we were first married, we lived near a Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant and went there often. My husband always ordered a “Skilletini” which is a tomato based pasta dish served with peppers, onions, & sausage, much like this one. Maybe that’s why we love this so much. It reminds us of our newly-wed date nights. It was a favorite then and it’s a favorite now in our own home. ~Erin

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Ingredients:

8 oz. uncooked whole wheat penne pasta

1 ¼ lb. turkey Italian sausage (5 links)

1 bell pepper of each color: green, red, yellow, and orange; sliced into strips

1 lg. onion, sliced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 T. squeeze garlic)

1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. salt

3 T. of pasta water (reserved before draining cooked pasta)

1 T. olive oil

Parmesan cheese for serving, optional (not included in WW points calculations)

Crushed red pepper flakes for serving, optional

Instructions:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; reserve 3 T. of pasta water, drain, & set aside.

Brown sausages in a large skillet over medium-high heat; remove from pan & set aside. You can either leave them whole to cook them, then slice each into four pieces; or you can slice and then cook them. I prefer to slice first and then cook the pieces because they cook faster. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Cook peppers and onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until they are crisp-tender (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).

Add the Italian seasoning, salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta water, and sliced sausage pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add penne pasta and stir to heat through.

Serve with parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.: This recipe makes 10 servings. Each 8 oz. serving (about 1 ½ c.) is 5 SmartPoints.

Pizza Dip

Any time I make this dish, I get numerous requests for the recipe.  It is a true crowd pleaser. What could be better? Pizza, but in a dip! Make this and please the folks at your next get together.  ~Kathy

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Ingredients: 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ tsp. onion powder

12 – 15 pepperonis, chopped

½ c. pizza sauce

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

2 T. sliced black olives

1 green onion, sliced

Instructions:

Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl. Spread into a small baking dish. Top with chopped pepperonis, pizza sauce, cheese and black olives.

Bake at 350˚ for 15-20 minutes, until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Top with green onions.

Serve with garlic bagel crisps or garlic parmesan pretzel crisps.

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Italian Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a hit at our house.  My husband says it’s better than lasagna (one of our favorites)! These are great for dinner at home or would be a crowd pleaser at a pot luck.  Truly, Italian comfort food.  With simple ingredients, you can crank out an impressive dinner for your family. Serve alongside a green salad, and ta-da, dinner is complete!  The mix of cheese….  Come to Mama!   ~Kathy

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Ingredients:              

12 oz. Jumbo pasta shells (make plenty – some will break; you need about 34 for this recipe)

½ lb. 96% lean ground beef

1/3 c. chopped onion

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese (not the powdered type)

1 c. (1% fat) cottage cheese

1 (7.5 oz.) package cream cheese with chive and onion

2 c. low moisture part-skim mozzarella, shredded (reserve ¾ c.)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)

¼ tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried parsley

1 (24 oz.) jar reduced fat spaghetti sauce

3 T. water

Optional garnishes:  fresh chopped basil or parsley

Instructions:

In large pot, bring salted water to a boil.   Cook pasta just until al dente (about 10 minutes).  Drain, rinse in cold water and turn open side down on paper towels to dry.

While the noodles are cooking, cook ground beef with onion.  Season with salt and pepper.   Drain grease and set aside.

Combine parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and 1¼ c. mozzarella.   Stir in eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper and parsley.  Stir in ground beef mixture.  Combine well.

In a small bowl, mix together water and ¼ c. spaghetti sauce.   Spread into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.

Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture.  Set into pan open side up.  Continue filling shells until cheese mixture is gone.   Top with remaining sauce.

Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for 40 minutes.   Turn oven off, remove foil.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Leave in oven for an additional 5 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.

 

Weight Watchers Info.:  This makes approximately 34 stuffed shells.  A serving of 2 shells is 7 Freestyle points.  A serving of 3 shells is 11 Freestyle points.

Pizza Pasta

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When my husband I first met, we spent every Tuesday night at the local pizza place with a group of friends.  I got to know him over slices of pizza and pints of beer.  I realized he’s funny, sweet, and maybe worth seeing as more than just a friend.  Pizza is good for getting to know people.

I love pizza in all forms.  This one-skillet Pizza Pasta is all the flavors of pizza in a scoopable form.  What’s not to love?  ͂ Erin

Ingredients:

½ a large red onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 c. jarred pizza sauce

8 oz. dry whole wheat rotini pasta

4 oz. mild turkey breakfast sausage

2 oz. pepperoni*, chopped in small pieces

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 c. water

Shredded parmesan cheese & crushed red pepper flakes, for serving

Instructions:

Cook and stir breakfast sausage, onion, and bell pepper in a large skillet until sausage is browned.  Drain sausage mixture on a paper towel-lined plate. Carefully wipe out any excess grease from the skillet. Add pizza sauce, water, rotini pasta, pepperoni, sausage mixture, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil until pasta is tender and sauce is reduced (about 12 minutes). Serve sprinkled with parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Weight Watchers info.:  This makes 6 servings.  A serving is 1 cup (about 7 ounces by weight).  *If you use regular pepperoni, each serving is 9 SmartPoints. If you use turkey pepperoni, each serving is 7 SmartPoints. (If serving with parmesan cheese, be sure to add those points.)

Ham & Pepperoni Stromboli

This is something I make a lot on weeknights. It literally takes 5 minutes of prep, and my family devours it!  I also like to throw this together to take to get-togethers. I took it to Bunco with my teacher friends quite a bit, and everyone asked for the recipe. Make this next time you need a quick dinner or appetizer.  It’s family-friendly and always a crowd-pleaser!  ͂ Erin

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Ingredients:

Refrigerated pizza crust (I use Pillsbury Thin Crust)

12 slices thin deli ham

25 slices turkey pepperoni

1 cup shredded mozzarella (I use Kraft 2%)

1 T. Italian Seasoning (plus more for the outside of the crust)

½ tsp. garlic powder, optional

1 egg white

Non-stick cooking spray

Pizza sauce or Ranch dressing, for dipping

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Unroll the pizza dough on the sheet pan.  Arrange the ham in a single layer across the crust, then spread the pepperoni over the ham.  Top with shredded mozzarella and sprinkle the Italian seasoning across the cheese.  Roll the stromboli and place, seam side down, in the center of the pan, tucking the ends of the roll under.  Brush the outside of the dough with egg whites and sprinkle lightly with Italian seasoning.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Slice into 6 pieces and serve with pizza sauce and/or Ranch dressing.

Weight Watchers info.:  6 servings at 7 SmartPoints per serving, not counting dipping sauces.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

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We live near a town known for its Italian food, Krebs —  also known as “Oklahoma’s Little Italy.”  It was settled by Italian immigrants years ago, who soon opened several restaurants, cafés, and shops.  In fact, two of my favorite foodie establishments are there.  Lovera’s Italian Market makes their own award winning cheeses, sauces, sausages, marinades, dressings, etc.  When I go into their shop, I want one of everything.  It’s a foodie’s dream.  My other favorite Little Italy stop is Rosanna’s Italian Food.  Their Chicken Parmesan is to die for.  Rosanna’s also makes cheesecakes from scratch.  Again, a foodie’s paradise…however this Weight Watcher has to enjoy these things in moderation.  When I’m craving Chicken Parmesan but don’t want to spend the calories or cash, I make this easy, healthy spin-off.  It’s baked instead of fried and has all the best parts of Chicken Parm, complete with that crunchy crust which makes it worthwhile.  Plus, it’s much faster and easier for busy cooks!  Serve it with spaghetti or all by itself.

͂ Erin

 

Ingredients for chicken layer:

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into small pieces

1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 packet McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix

1 T. garlic salt

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ to ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I use ½ tsp. – plus I add more on my plated serving.)

Non-stick cooking spray

 

Ingredients for topping:

2 c. low moisture, part skim shredded mozzarella

2 c. panko breadcrumbs

½ c. shredded parmesan

1 ½ T. extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp. garlic salt

Basil, for garnish (optional) – I buy the chopped, lightly dried kind in the produce section

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread chicken pieces evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with 1 T. garlic salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk McCormick seasoning packet into tomato sauce until well combined.  Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the chicken.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over sauce; set pan aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine panko, shredded parmesan, olive oil, and ½ tsp. garlic salt.  Spread this topping evenly on top of mozzarella layer.

I usually spray a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray over the top, to ensure even browning, but that is optional.

Bake on the center oven rack for 45-60 minutes until very bubbly and browned on the top (most importantly, until chicken is 165°F in the center).  If it starts to get too brown before fully cooked, cover loosely with foil.

Sprinkle with chopped basil before serving, if desired.

 

Weight Watchers info:  This recipe makes 8 servings.

Old Smartpoints plan:  8 SmartPoints per serving

Freestyle plan:  6 SmartPoints  per serving

*Many have asked why spaghetti is not included in the SmartPoints calculation.  This is so you can customize it to your needs.  You can eat it with a big serving of spaghetti or a small serving, zoodles (zucchini noodles), spaghetti squash, or no spaghetti at all.