Crockpot Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

I love anything I can put in the crockpot and basically forget about all day. This is one of those recipes. It’s beyond simple. The only real prep work is chopping the jalapenos. You know the appetizer where jalapenos are hollowed out, stuffed with creamy cheeses, wrapped in bacon, and cooked until hot and bubbly? This has all that flavor — but in soup form! It’s not overly spicy since you remove all the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos (that’s where the heat is) but it’s infused with that delicious peppery flavor. Topped with some bacon bits and shredded cheese, I’ve turned the popular popper into a warm bowl of comfort food. So easy, cheesy, and bacon-y.  Yes, that’s a word… at least in my vocabulary. Bacon makes everything better!  ~Erin

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Ingredients:

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (frozen in single pieces)

4 oz. low-fat or Greek Cream Cheese, softened

1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cheddar cheese soup

4-5 large jalapenos, seeded and chopped

32 oz. fat free chicken stock

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 T. salt

3 (15.5 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. black pepper

For serving:  real bacon bits (I like to cook mine for a few minutes in a small skillet to crisp them up.), reduced fat shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, chopped pickled jalapenos, chopped green onions

 

Instructions:

In the pot of your slow cooker, whisk together softened cream cheese and condensed cheddar cheese soup until well combined.

Whisk chicken stock, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder into cream cheese/soup mixture.

Add jalapenos and frozen chicken breast. (You can use thawed chicken breast as well but keep in mind, it will cook faster.)

Cook 4-5 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low. When 1 hour of cook time is left, remove the chicken breasts from the pot, shred, and return to pot. Add cannellini beans and continue to cook for the last hour of cook time.

To serve, top each bowl with 1 tablespoon real bacon bits, ¼ cup reduced fat cheese, and, if desired, pickled jalapenos and green onions.

 

Weight Watchers info.:   

This recipe makes 8 servings.  Each serving is 13 ounces (weight) or about 1 ½ cups.

Old SmartPoints plan:  7 SmartPoints per serving

Freestyle plan:  2 SmartPoints per serving

By adding the suggested amount of bacon bits (1 SmartPoint) and reduced fat cheese (3 SmartPoints), the total value of each serving would be 11 SmartPoints per serving.

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Chicken Chow Mein Spaghetti Squash

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So, Friday is my birthday.  It’s also my mom’s birthday.  Yep, I was born on her birthday (just barely – at 11:55 p.m.).  Hours and hours of labor with no drugs.  Happy birthday, Momma…you’re welcome!

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Mom always said I was the best birthday present she ever received.  She’s a sweet momma.  And I always loved sharing my birthday with her (still do).  It helped that she always let me have all the glory.  She’d cook my favorite meal and bake whatever flavor cake I wanted.  I’d always have all this planned out well in advance because I ALWAYS planned my birthday well in advance… like 6 months in advance.  That’s how much I love my birthday.  As an adult, I started celebrating my birthday ALL WEEK…because why not?  I did this until I had kids and then I had to give up my birthday week because… kids.  I still like to treat myself as much as possible all week though.  If nothing else, I make my favorite meals.  It’s my birthday week.  “I don’t care if you want hamburgers; I get to pick, kid!”  🙂  So this week I’ll be making one of my favorite healthy dinners:  Chicken Chow Mein Spaghetti Squash.

This recipe has a similar flavor profile as our most popular recipe to date, Egg Roll in a Bowl.  It is a bit more time consuming, since you have to roast the spaghetti squash, but that can be done in advance.  In fact, the chicken can be cooked in advance and the sauce mixed up too!  Combining them all at the end takes almost no time at all.  It’s worth the work because it makes a ton (Hooray for leftovers!) and the serving sizes are huge.  You can eat a whole plate full for very few calories/SmartPoints.  And it tastes amazing!  You don’t even notice that it’s spaghetti squash.  I don’t say that lightly because, normally, I believe there’s no substitute for real pasta.  However, in this recipe, it totally works.  And did I mention the serving sizes are huge?  Size matters.  ~Erin

 

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash (mine was almost 4 pounds raw and made about 5 cups of “spaghetti”)

Non-stick cooking spray – I prefer olive oil spray

1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat & cut into bite size pieces

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 T. garlic powder

3 tsp. sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/3 c. to ½ c. low sodium soy sauce (I use ½ cup.)

1 tsp. ginger paste or freshly grated ginger

3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

½ a large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced small

1 (16 oz.) bag tri-color coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with carrots)

Optional garnishes:  chopped green onions, sriracha sauce, or red pepper flakes

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 460°F.

Line a baking pan with foil and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.  Cut the spaghetti squash, length-wise, and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut side up in the pan and spray the squash with cooking spray.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.  (If you have a smaller squash, check it earlier.)  Remove the squash from the oven; using large tongs or oven mitts, carefully flip the squash over, cut side down, and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.  Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Scoop the strands & set aside.  The spaghetti squashed can be cooked in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, ginger, and minced/pressed garlic cloves; set aside.

Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a large, high-sided skillet, pot, or Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, & garlic powder.  Add the chicken to the pan and allow to brown.  Flip and brown the other side.  Remove chicken from the skillet & set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 tsp. of oil, then celery and onion.  Continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the last 1 tsp. of oil and the entire bag of cole slaw mix to the pan.  Stir until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Add chicken, spaghetti squash, and sauce to the cabbage mixture.  Stir until heated through.

Garnish with chopped green onions and, if desired, sriracha or red pepper flakes.  Serve hot.

Weight Watchers Info.:  This recipe makes about 7 servings at a mere 3 SmartPoints each.  Each serving is 10 ounces (weight) or about 2 cups.

The Best Mexican Casserole Ever

Do you have foods that immediately take you back to a certain memory in your life?  Fried chicken reminds me of my Mammaw, and snickerdoodles remind me of spending the night at my friend Dana’s house.  This Mexican casserole takes me back to the Home-Economics room at Chandler High School.  During an FHA (our younger readers will know this org. as FCCLA) cooking contest, my friend Sherri made this incredible casserole that was modeled after a recipe of her grandmother’s.  Every time I make this version (which is often), it’s 1989 again and we’re back in that classroom learning, laughing, and making sure our 80’s hair didn’t fall!  FHA_andbigHair

I’m still friends with all of those girls, and though we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, I’m so thankful for the memories of food, fun, and friendship that have stayed with me aaaaallll these years!   ~Tracy

MexicanCasseroleLogoIngredients:

1 lb. 95% lean ground beef

½ c. chopped onion

2 c. condensed cream of mushroom soup, unprepared*

½ soup can of water

1 can Ro-tel tomatos with green chilis

1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning

2 c. shredded sharp cheddar or your favorite blend of cheese*

6 to 8 flour tortillas*

Instructions:

In a deep skillet, cook hamburger meat and onion.  Add Ro-tel, water, taco seasoning, and soup.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, approximately 10 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with Pam or similar cooking spray.  Pour a thin layer of the meat mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Lightly sprinkle approximately ½ c. of cheese on top of mixture.  Tear tortillas into strips and place on top of cheese.  Continue layering the meat, cheese, and tortillas, working to end with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 375°F until bubbly and heated through.  Usually around 20 minutes.

Weight Watchers Info.:  Makes 8 servings at 5 SmartPoints each.

*WW points were figured using 98% fat free soup, 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, and 6 medium fat free tortillas.