Sunday, January 14, 2018

Chicken Cacciatore Pasta Bake


It's no secret that I love chicken cacciatore. It's one meal from my childhood that I still make (often) to this day. If I have an extra pepper and onion on hand you can pretty much guess that cacciatore is coming your way! This is a twist on my classic version, but a great make ahead option. I prepped the whole meal, minus the sauce, two days in advance and just added the sauce right before throwing it in the oven (if you add the sauce too far in advance it'll likely dry out).

There are many reasons I put on these pounds I'm working so hard to take off, but one of the reasons was I got lazy about cooking. It's just easier to eat a frozen pizza or some other frozen option than to cook when you come home from work and you're tired and have two little kids to care for. I've started really utilizing Sundays to get ahead for the week (like assembling this meal completely except the sauce... then when I got home and was ready to cook it I just stirred it in and baked). It's a learning curve but I'm proud to say in 5 weeks I'm down 10.6 pounds and still going! Meals like this help me to get there- they are hearty and comforting while also healthy and light.

Source: Stephanie Cooks Original

7 Smartpoints for 1/3 of recipe on the Freestyle Program*
*Points vary based on the brand of ingredients you use

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked pasta (I used white- you can use wheat and recalculate points)
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
1 bell pepper, diced into small pieces
1/3 cup diced onion
3 ounces of shredded light mozzarella cheese (I used Trader Joe's lite mozzarella which came to 3 sp)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (check the points- this can make the recipe more or less sp)
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


Ingredients:
1- Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and pour into the baking dish.
2- Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the pasta is hot.
3- Top each serving with 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies


Since I've recommitted to Weight Watchers my biggest struggle has been breakfast. I don't like eggs. I am not a big fan of yogurt. Truth be told when it comes to breakfast I love carbs- bagels, muffins, waffles... you get the idea. I've been having a protein shake, daily, for four weeks. It's gotten a bit monotonous (although I do really enjoy it) so I decided to try this recipe that I found on Instagram.

I had hoped these would be crispy but they were definitely soft. If you like oatmeal you will definitely enjoy these. They had a great flavor and were nice and portable for on-the-go breakfast options.

Source: Slightly modified from Instagram user "wwg4life"

 5 Weight Watchers Freestyle Smartpoints for all 6 cookies

Ingredients:
1 packet of reduced sugar oatmeal (I used the maple brown sugar)
1 egg
1/2 banana
2 tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt
1 3/4 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven to 350.
2- Mash the banana.
3- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well.
4- Divide into 6 equal sized cookies.
5- Bake for 18 minutes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Crispy Cheesy Crusted Chicken


Tomorrow we are supposed to get a big snow storm (both of my kids are already off school!) and something about the threat of snow had me craving a comforting dinner. I've been back on Weight Watchers for almost four weeks now and while my body is handling the adjustments and is getting used to smaller portions, my mind is lagging. Tonight my mind wanted comfort- cheese, warmth, and all things carbs. What can I say... I am who I am!

I made this recipe using what I had on hand and my husband and I both loved it. The breading is just so darn tasty. Please note, when I specify points it's based on the ingredients I used. If you use a different brand your points may be higher!

Source: Stephanie Cooks Original

4 Weight Watchers Freestyle Smart Points per chicken breast

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
Paprika
1 ounce low fat cream cheese, softened
2 ounces low fat mozzarella cheese (I used Trader Joe's lite mozzarella which comes out to 1 point per ounce)
4 tbsp corn flake crumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp seasoning salt
Dried parsley (a few shakes)
Cooking spray

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven  to 400.
2- Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Put each chicken breast in the dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some paprika.
3- In a bowl combine the cream cheese, mozzarella, corn flake crumbs, and garlic powder/seasoning salt. The mixture will be crumbly and loose.
4- Divide the topping over the two chicken breasts. It will be loose and not adhere to the chicken. Use a light coating of cooking spray over the two breasts. Sprinkle with dried parsley.
5- Bake at 400 for about 15-20 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through and the top is brown. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Everything Creamy Chicken Bubble Up


Look, I'm not gonna lie... this was so good it was almost TOO good. As I've gotten back on track with my weight loss program the hardest thing for me to adjust to has been serving sizes. I may be physically satisfied from a serving but I'm not MENTALLY satisfied if that makes sense. I want more. MORE! But I'm resisting and sticking to my servings. I know it gets easier with time. Sometimes the brain can take the longest amount of time to adjust to change.

This meal was tempting though, it's just all the things I love in life. Creamy? Check. Chicken? Check. Cheese? Check. BREAD? Check. It was approved by John who was just so happy to see bacon. I mean, bacon and cheese are always a winning combo in the Stephanie Cooks kitchen.

Source: Slightly adapted from Drizzle Me Skinny

5 Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints per 1/6 of the recipe

Ingredients:

7.5oz package of biscuits (This can be hard to find- I sometimes find them in a four pack or I did find an 8 oz package of light crescent rolls to use too)
4 oz softened light cream cheese
2 cups (8oz) cooked shredded chicken
⅓ cup light sour cream
¼ cup light ranch dressing
5 slices cooked and crumbled center cut bacon (low point bacon)
½ cup reduced fat shredded cheese
4 tsp Everything But The Bagel seasoning from Trader Joes
5 cherry tomatoes, diced

Directions:

1- Preheat oven to 375F, spray a 9x13 with some cooking spray.
2- Cut each  biscuit into 6 pieces each and spread across bottom of your dish.
3- In a bowl mix your cream cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing and chicken together, add in 2 tsp of everything seasoning.
4- Stir well and spoon on to your biscuits, spreading evenly.
5- Sprinkle another 1 tsp of your seasoning on top.
6- Bake in oven for 30 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle your cheese, tomatoes, crumbled cooked bacon and final 1 tsp of seasoning on top and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
7- Serves 6, each serving is approx 6oz

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lemon Chicken Orzo with Broccoli and Tomato


Ohhhhh....heyyyyyy! It's been... what? 8 months? Well, in those months life has gone on and I had basically decided I was done blogging. I "didn't have time" for this anymore and wasn't really passionate with the experience. However something changed and I'm back!

You see, I posted years ago about my experience with postpartum depression. To treat this I was placed on medication and this medicine led me to gain 30 pounds in the course of 3-4 months. I tried, desperately to lose the weight but couldn't. I then gave up and tried to accept that this was "just me" now. I tried hard to go off the medicine about a year ago but it was too soon. Two months ago I finally went off the medicine and am ready to tackle this weight that came with the medicine (and 15 pounds left over from my kids... so.... we've got a long trip ahead of us!) I rejoined Weight Watchers on December 8 and am down 8 pounds in three weeks! I've been making tons of great healthy recipes and really needed to start blogging again so I have a place to store them!

This recipe comes from Emily Bites, one of my all time favorites for WW recipes. I didn't modify her original recipe at all except to exchange asparagus for broccoli. I'm so excited to be back in the kitchen, back blogging, and back on the voyage of getting back to "me".

Source: Emily Bites

Makes 4 servings (1 1/2 cups per serving)- 6 Freestyle SP

INGREDIENTS:

4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon light butter (I used Land O’Lakes)
6 oz uncooked wheat orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups reduced sodium fat free chicken broth
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
Additional salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1- Combine the flour, garlic powder, pepper and salt in a small dish and stir to combine. Place the chicken pieces in a gallon zip-top bag and add the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake/massage it around until the chicken pieces are coated.
2- In a large saute pan, bring the oil over medium heat and then add the chicken. Stir to coat with the oil and then cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken pieces are cooked through and begin to brown. Transfer the cooked chicken to a side plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Wipe out the inside of the skillet.
3- Place the skillet back over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the orzo to the pan and stir to coat. Spread the orzo across the surface of the pan and allow it to cook for 2 minutes until a few of the orzo pieces begin to brown. Add the garlic to the pan and stir. Allow to cook for another minute.
4- Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to simmer and cover the pan. Simmer covered for 4-5 minutes and then add the broccoli and tomatoes. Stir and re-cover. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir. Add the lemon juice, with salt to taste. Stir together and then add the reserved chicken to the pan. Stir to combine and serve.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Grilled Potato Packets



The weather in NJ has finally gotten to the point where I can say, "Ohhhh it's grilling season!" Growing up it was always grilling season... my dad would be out grilling steak in the snow. I have to say I am definitely not that committed to the craft. Since I really only use my grill during the spring and summer I really look forward to it!

I had bought a few potatoes with intentions of making baked potatoes but at the last minute decided to throw them on the grill along with the steak I was making. These were to die for. I haven't had the best of luck with Pioneer Woman recipes but these were amazing. I mean... butter and cream really can't be bad. The sauce on these was incredible. I have a feeling these will be made again (and again) this spring and summer!

...you see that creamy sauce coating these? Mmmmm!

Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
2 Russet potatoes, diced
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp light cream
Salt
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Crushed black pepper

Directions:
1- Lay out two foil sheets.
2- Evenly place the foil in the center of each sheet of foil.
3- Top each pile of potatoes with 1.5 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp of cream.
4- Season well with salt, garlic powder, parsley, and black pepper.
5- Roll up the foil to form a packet.
6- Cook on the hottest part of the grill for about 30 minutes.
7- Carefully open the foil. Stir well to get the sauce from the bottom to coat all of the potatoes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Creamy Italian Chicken Rolls


Let's start off with saying these should totally be called "ranch chicken rolls" but I got to the grocery store, saw I had written ranch on my list but had no idea why I wrote it, and bought creamy Italian instead. I got home and saw I planned to make these (originally with ranch) and was bummed! But, we improvised people, we did. And by "we" I mean *I* improvised, while Landon told me it looked "gross" and Emmie begged for yogurt, bananas, and anything BUT what I was making. 

John loves "stuff wrapped in flaky pastry" (I think that's the scientific term for these things...) so I knew he'd love these. Tuesdays are easily my busiest day and since I'm just getting back into the groove of cooking these were a perfect meal option. I'm not gonna lie, these were super messy in the assembly process, but the end result was delicious. The dough wasn't really holding in the filling but I just pinched it together as best I could and they baked up beautifully. Best of all, this is the essential "semi-homemade" meal that I am able to make during the crazy weeknight routine. 

Source: Adapted from Pillsbury

Ingredients:
1 roll of crescent rolls
Creamy Italian salad dressing (can sub ranch)
1.5 cups cooked chopped chicken (I used rotisserie)
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven to 375.
2- Roll out your crescent dough. Press the seams together to make one large sheet of dough.
3- Top with the dough with a thin, even layer of creamy Italian salad dressing.
4- In a bowl mix the chicken, cheese, and green onion. Add a tbsp of dressing and stir the mixture well.
5- Top the dough with the chicken mixture. Roll up long side in. Slice. Transfer the rolls to a cookie sheet topped with a silpat.
6- Bake about 20 minutes, until rolls are golden and cheese is melted. Serve with additional dressing.