Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cheesy Pesto Stuffed Chicken

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Recently, I was honored to be asked to guest blog on my friend Katie's blog over at KTJWeighingin.  I met Katie through blogging and she is one of those types of people that you just want to be friends with.  She's encouraging and an inspiration to all of her followers including, yours truly.  I feel very lucky to have met her and she's been so helpful to me on this blogging adventure!  Pop on over to her blog and check her out.

Here's my guest post:

I’m super excited to bring you a fun, healthy, delicious recipe!  When I asked dear Katie if there was something special she’d like me to make, she told me that she loved chicken so that’s what I have for you.

Of course, there are a million ways to prepare chicken and it seems I’m always on the lookout for any and every way to make it.  This is probably one of my favorite recipes and I hope you like it, too.
Before we begin, I must first stipulate that I am a germophobe…seems irrelevant, but I'll get to the point...does anyone else hate to touch raw chicken as much as I do??   SOoo, with that in mind, please know the lengths I had to go through to bring this recipe to you.  I KID…no, seriously.
Second, and way more importantly - this chicken is gooood.  I mean CRAZY Good…you feel me?  Totally worth touching.
Now, let’s get to it!
4 – thinly-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts (if you can’t find thinly-sliced, you’ll have to cut the regular breasts in half lengthwise…which meeeaaans, you‘ll have to touch brave...if I can do it, you can do it.)
¼ cup light Pesto, divided – I used Eating Well’s Basil Pesto (this Pesto is amazing, and so many less calories than the typical jarred pesto – 166 calories in a ¼ cup vs. upwards of 270 calories for something like Buitoni Pesto; even their "light" version is still 230 calories)
1oz - 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1T – fresh chopped basil
¼ cup - seasoned bread crumbs
1T – grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick spray
Preheat oven to 375.
Spread 2T of the Pesto onto the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, just enough so that the chicken can sit on top of some of that delicious garlicky basil goodness.

In a small bowl, mix the last 2T of Pesto with the cream cheese and chopped basil.
In another small bowl or a pie plate, mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese.
Okay, so you ARE going to have to touch the chicken because you have to pound them out to be even thinner than they are, even if you are using thinly sliced chicken.  I placed one breast into some plastic wrap and pounded them out pretty thinly with my rolling pin.

Onto each breast, spread some of the cheesy pesto mixture thinly onto one side like so:

Now, roll the little breastesses up and then, roll them in the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture.  The breading will stick nicely to the breasts.  Then, place them into the baking dish seam-side down.  Yup that's me touching the raw chicken!  So brave I am, right??

Spray the tops of the chicken with a little bit of nonstick spray to help with browning.
Bake the chicken for approximately 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 170 degrees.  Remove from oven and serve!
I served these with steamed broccoli but sautéed green beans would pair deliciously!
I even scooped some of the yummy pesto from the bottom of the baking dish and put it on top...mmmm.

Serves 4
Calories 229 / Carbs 5g / Fat 10g / Protein 29g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 322mg
WW Points Plus: 6 ww+ points!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Baked Pork Chops

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Growing up, one of my parent’s favorite meals to make for us was Shake ‘n Bake, especially on nights when things were crazy with sports and other schedules.  It was quick and easy and my brother and I loved helping to make it – we always got to do the shaking part.  It brings back fond memories of eating together as a family; some of my most favorite childhood memories. 

This recipe is a nostalgic nod to those good times and not only is it still just as quick, it uses just a few simple ingredients that do not contain any extra sugars, salts, maltodextrin (huh??  It's a food additive...) or weird ingredients you don't know.  In fact, you probably already have most of these on hand.  So, it’s healthier, easier and most importantly, super delish, too!

1lb thinly sliced boneless center cut pork chops
1T all-purpose flour
2T Dijon mustard
½ cup French’s French-fried onions
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a large plastic bag, place the flour, onions, garlic powder and thyme leaves.  Using your hands or a rolling pin, crush the onions and mix all of the ingredients together.

Place about 3T of the onion mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, just to give the chops something to rest on…we want them to be comfy, right?

Before placing the chops onto the crumbly mixture, spread the Dijon mustard onto both sides of the chops.

Now, place them onto the crumb mixture and then coat the tops with the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned.

Remove from the oven and serve!

I served ours with mashed sweet potatoes and veggies.


Serves 3 – two chops each
Calories 251 / Carbs 7g / Fat 11g / Protein 31g / Fiber 0g / Sodium 494m

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

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Many of you know my love for spaghetti squash (which is not necessarily a love shared by dear Hubby, but he makes due and supports my obvious obsession), and I was super hungry for some last week.  Sadly, I could only find a teeny tiny one in my grocery store, but figured that maybe it was a good idea since many times, I have lots of innards leftover after baking.
If you, too, are a lover of this yellow oblong-shaped squash of goodness, this recipe is for you!
2 small/medium sized spaghetti squash
1 ½ cups turkey sausage crumbles – I used Jimmy Dean for ease!  You can certainly sub lean ground beef or turkey
2 ½ cups prepared pasta sauce – I used one can of Hunt’s Garlic & Herb
1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2T fresh chopped basil or 1 ½ tsp dried
Salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400.
Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Optional:  spray the inside of the squash with olive oil spray and salt and pepper. 

At this point, you can either microwave the squash (for a small one 7 minutes on high / for a larger one 10-12 minutes on high), placing the squash on a microwave safe dish, or bake it in the oven (insides facing down) on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.  I was short on time, so I microwaved!

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan on medium heat, heat the sauce and turkey crumbles to simmer.
Once the squash has been cooked – be careful, it will be hot! - scrape out the insides with a fork, making the lovely “spaghetti” strings we know and love.  Place the scooped-out insides into the saucepan with the sauce and crumbles. 

Place the squash shells back onto the foil-lined baking sheet facing up.  We are going to fill those.

Mix the spaghetti squash insides with the sauce and crumbles to incorporate and remove from heat.
Fill each spaghetti squash half with some of the sauce mixture.

Sprinkle 2T of Parmesan cheese onto each half, then sprinkle ¼ cup of mozzarella onto each half.
Sprinkle basil onto each half.

Bake the squash until the cheese is melty and beginning to brown.
Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes before diving in – just a warning from my burned tongue…couldn’t help it, it looked so yum!
Hello lover:

This is AFTER I dug my fork into it and BEFORE I burned my tongue - SOOO worth it...
Serves 4 (one half each)
Calories 283 / Carbs 28g / Fat 12g / Protein 21g / Fiber 7g / Sodium 1492mg (please note that the sauce you choose to use can raise or lower the overall sodium & calorie amount)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Toasted Mozzarella Tomato Sandwich

Here's a very easy lunch idea that's a fun version of the very classic toasted cheese sandwich - all adult-like and such!

Quick, run to your kitchen and pantry, I bet you have all of the ingredients you need already!

2 slices of high fiber wheat bread (I used Nature's Own, Double Fiber)
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
2 to 4 slices of a larger tomato like vine ripened (if you can find an heirloom, that's great!)
1/4 tsp dried oregano or basil
1tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to broil setting.

Using your toaster, on a very low setting, lightly toast the bread slices for just a little bit to crisp them up - don't toast too much or your bread will burn in the oven.

Place the lightly-toasted bread onto a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese onto each slice of bread.

Top each with one to two tomato slices (or more, whatever suits you!).

Sprinkle 1/8 tsp of spices on each half.

Broil the bread slices for just a few minutes - enough to brown the cheese and that's it!

Remove from the oven and pour vinegar (1/2 tsp each slice) onto each tomato.

Serve and enjoy!!

It's simply a rustic-y, adult-y, cheesy bundle of yumminess you can feel good about!

Serves 1 (below calculations are based on the bread I used - your sandwich may vary if you use different bread)
Calories 256 / Carbs 32g / Fat 11g / Protein 20g / Fiber 10g / Sodium 631mg

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Taco Bake

Last week was crazy insane with so much going on.  I had a bunch of these ingredients on hand and was feeling like I wanted something creamy, but obviously healthy, and I was feeling like Mexican.  So lo and behold, I made a taco bake!

I was so excited this turned out because the smell was amazing and the anticipation I was feeling at 8:15pm when I was starving after soccer practice was killing me...if you can make this sometime before bedtime, good on ya!

4 - medium sized low carb/high fiber tortillas like La Tortilla Factory
2/3lb - 99% lean ground turkey breast - I believe the entire package is about a 1lb
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
3oz - 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup salsa of your choosing, divided
1 cup 2% or reduced fat Mexican shredded cheese, divided
Optional toppings:  shredded lettuce, diced jalapenos, sliced black olives, tomatoes, reduced fat sour cream, and more salsa

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, using a fork, mix together cream cheese and 4T of salsa together until creamy; set aside.

In a skillet, brown turkey breast and add the taco seasoning following instructions on the back of the packet, except replacing tomatoes with the remaining 4T salsa. 

Add the black beans and corn.  Heat through then remove from heat.

Now, let's build this baby!

Spray a pie plate or pie plan with nonstick spray.
Place a tortilla on the bottom of the pie pan and cover it with about 1 cup of the meat mixture.

Follow that up with 1/2 of the cream cheese/salsa mixture.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded cheese on top of that.

And repeat with another layer.

For the third layer, just add the meat mixture and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

For the final layer, just add the final tortilla and the last 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the top begins to brown.

Remove from oven and let sit for about 2 minutes before slicing.

Serve with toppings of your choice!  Isn't it so pretty??  But more importantly:  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Serves 4
Calories 349 / Carbs 28g / Fat 13g / Protein 35g / Fiber 12g / Sodium 913mg

Monday, April 1, 2013

Turkey Divan

So, can you believe that I have never had chicken/turkey divan?  Supposedly, it's this amazing throwback casserole that practically the entire world loves and I've never had it??
The old version calls for canned soups and all kinds of additional items like mayo that can bump the calories on this up, up, and away!  I decided that I was going to try to make a lighter version and I am so happy that I did!  I don't even NEED to have tasted the older version because this was so delicious, I swear that the unhealthier version could not taste better.
The sauce is wonderful and this casserole is going to be a favorite from now on! 
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know the correct pronunciation of this dish??  Is it Dye-VAN or Di-VAHN or Dye-Vahn.  If you know, tell me!
I had turkey cutlets on hand so I decided to use those, but chicken would be just as devine...heh heh, get it?  Devine Divan???  Dork alert.
1 package turkey cutlets – about 1lb
2 broccoli crowns, chopped – this should give you about 4 cups broccoli
¼ cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1T butter
2tsp olive oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup lowfat milk – I used 1% (fat free would also be fine)
1 cup low sodium fat free chicken broth
2T dry Sherry (not to be confused with cooking sherry)
½ cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, divided into ¼ cups
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1T Dijon mustard
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Place chopped broccoli in the baking dish.

Season turkey cutlets with salt & pepper then sauté turkey in a skillet until just cooked – about 5 minutes each side.  Remove from heat and cool.  Once cooled, slice into bite-sized pieces.

Using the same pan, heat butter and oil over medium heat adding onions and garlic; stir and soften – about 1 minute.

Add the thyme and pepper.

Sprinkle in the flour and mix, coating the veggies.

Whisk in the broth, milk, and sherry and bring to a simmer...keep whisking.

Remove from heat and add the Dijon, Parmesan cheese and ½ of the Swiss cheese, stirring to combine and the cheese is melted.

Pour half of the sauce over the broccoli.

Top the broccoli with the slices of turkey.

Cover the turkey with the rest of the sauce.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and the rest of the cheese, spraying the top before placing in the oven to help with browning.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the sauce is good & bubbly.


Serves 4
Calories 334 / Carbs 15g / Fat 13g / Protein 36g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 698mg