Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baked Ziti

I would like to share a little pearl of wisdom with you today. I don't have many of these but this is one I feel strongly about. 

Ground turkey. I usually find it to be healthier than ground beef and changes very little with recipes. Ground turkey does tend to be less flavorful than ground beef and slightly drier. However, I use it for tacos, spaghetti, taco soup etc. and I have never noticed a difference. 

Anywhere where I can substitute I do. Especially because when I go out for those same aforementioned meals it is usually ground beef (especially burgers).

So just a little suggestion from me to you: use ground turkey in place of ground beef when you can!

We buy ours at Costco and freeze it so we always have it for tacos and what not when we want it, but you can also buy it at your local grocery store (Jenni-O, Butterball, Honeysuckle)

Anyways. I feel like this is pretty self explanatory even though I took pictures for each step. 

 Brown ground turkey with some Italian seasoning and minced garlic.

 Cook pasta for around 10 minutes or according to package.
 Spray 9 by 13 pan with cooking spray.
 Layer 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan.
 Layer some turkey on top of sauce.
 Run pasta under cold water and rinse.
 Mix together ricotta cheese, red pepper, 3 tablespoons Parmesan and 1/3 cup marinara sauce.

 Layer half the pasta.

 Layer the ricotta mixture on top of the pasta.
 Cover with half of remaining sauce and remaining turkey.
 Cover with other half of pasta.
 Cover with remaining sauce. Don't be stingy! If you think it needs more, do it! 
I felt like my batch was slightly dry and slightly underseasoned so add a little more than you think you will need!
 Cover with mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.
 Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned.

 Serve with a nice green salad. Enjoy!

Baked Ziti
adapted from Weight Watchers Online

Ingredients


3 spray(s) cooking spray   
1 pound(s) uncooked pasta, rigatoni or penne   
3/4 pound(s) part-skim ricotta cheese   
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste   
1/4 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese, divided   
4 cup(s) marinara sauce, store-bought, divided**   
1/2 pound(s) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheeses   
1/4 cup(s) basil, cut into ribbons or Italian seasoning   

      1 pound ground beef or turkey (optional)                  


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat bottom and sides of a lasagna pan with cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cool water and drain.
  • While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and 1/3 cup marinara sauce.
  • To assemble ziti, spoon 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of prepared pan; top with half of pasta in an even layer. Evenly spread pasta with ricotta mixture; cover with half of remaining sauce. Top with remaining pasta and spoon remaining sauce over top; sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining tablespoon Parmesan. Bake until cheese melts and is browned, about 20 to 30 minutes. Allow ziti to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing into 12 pieces. Yields 1 piece per serving. 
  • 7 points per serving without meat. 9 points with ground turkey. 


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar and Onions

This is another Weight Watchers recipe but honestly it is one of the best meals I have made in a long time. It was fresh and easy and really soft but wonderful flavors.

Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.

 Coat your chicken breasts in the flour mixture. Then heat 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

 Place your chicken breasts in the heated oil and cook for about 7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

 Rotate halfway through cooking.
Remove chicken breasts from heat when cooked and cover to keep warm. 
Chop up 1 large onion or about 2 cups of onions. [I think I had the wrong onions but they were still good]

 Add the onion to the skillet, adding more oil if no liquid is present. 

Saute for 4 minutes or until slightly browned.

 Add broth, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper. [Use fresh thyme if possible, it would make the flavors pop more. I didn't have it though so I used dried and the flavors still came through.]
 Bring to a boil and saute until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

 REmove from heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Butter? Amazing in a weight watchers recipe right? My advice? If you like a more liquid sauce, don't add it. The butter makes a thicker, richer sauce but you could go either way. The points plus value has the butter calculated in so I figured why not!?


 We served ours with zucchini fries! Enjoy!

Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar, Onions & Thyme
Weight Watchers Online Recipe

Ingredients


3 Tbsp all-purpose flour   
3/4 tsp table salt, divided   
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, divided   
  1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4 oz pieces   
2 tsp olive oil   
  1 small vidalia onion(s), cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)   
  1 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth   
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar   
1 Tbsp thyme, fresh, chopped, or less to taste   
2 tsp butter   

Instructions

  • On a plate, combine flour, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and turn to coat; shake off any excess.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until golden and cooked through, about 7 minutes; remove to a serving plate and cover to keep warm.
  • Add onion to skillet; sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add broth, vinegar, thyme and remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring often, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in butter until melted; spoon sauce over chicken. Yields 1 chicken breast and about 1/4 cup onion sauce per serving. 
5 Points plus values per serving. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

This is a clean yet flavorful meal that I found on the Weight Watchers website. 

Start with 3/4 pound of lean thin sirloin steaks.

 Cut the steaks into thin strips.

Heat 2 teaspoons of canola or olive oil over medium high heat.[Please note my beautiful Cuisinart stainless steel pan I got for Christmas! So great! Thanks Dad!]

Toss steak slices in 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
Transfer steak to skillet and saute until brown, about 4 minutes, then remove from pan and let rest in a bowl. 
In skillet, add 1/2 cup chicken broth and broccoli, toss for 3 minutes or until tender but still firm. Add garlic, red pepper flakes [don't be shy with these, you want some kick!], and ginger. Stir remaining liquid ingredients together and pour into pan. Let thicken for one minute. Then add back steak to pan and toss with sauce and broccoli. 


Serve with white or brown rice. Enjoy!

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Weight Watchers website

Ingredients

2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch, divided   
1/4 tsp table salt   
  3/4 pound(s) lean sirloin beef, trimmed, thinly sliced against the grain   
2 tsp canola oil   
  1 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided   
  5 cup(s) broccoli, florets (about a 12 oz bag)   
1 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, minced   
2 tsp minced garlic   
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste   
1/4 cup(s) low-sodium soy sauce   
1/2 cup(s) water   

Instructions

  • On a plate, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and salt; add beef and toss to coat.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick wok or large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 4 minutes; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  • Add 1/2 cup broth to same pan; stir to loosen any bits on food on bottom of pan. Add broccoli; cover and cook, tossing occasionally and sprinkling with a tablespoon water if needed, until broccoli is almost crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover pan and add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes; stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • In a cup, stir together soy sauce, remaining 1/2 cup broth, remaining 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch and water until blended; stir into pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Return beef and accumulated juices to pan; toss to coat. Serve. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.Each serving is 4 weight watchers points plus. Serve with white rice (1/2 cup is 3 points)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

I have had this one pie crust sitting around in my fridge leftover from the holidays. It has been becconing to me to become a delicious pie, but alas, I am trying to be healthy and detox from my holiday sugar overdose. So I decided I could make chicken pot pie with it! 

I looked around at recipes but I didn't have all the ingredients or I just was too stubborn so I made up my own recipe. It is very easy I promise! It is also hearty since you get all your vegetables, protein, and carbs in one bite. We didn't serve ours with anything and we were both full afterward.

 Mix together all cooked ingredients. 

 Since I only had one pie crust I put it on the top. It also cuts down on the fat by having only one layer of crust, but if you want two then go for it! 
I crimped the edges [or tried] a little for fun.
 If you have any cute cookie/pie cutters I added a few leaves just for a little something extra. 

 Bake until golden brown and your mouth starts watering!

It melts in your mouth. Literally. 

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:
1 chicken breast  [you could probably use canned here too]
1 large carrot
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 large potato or 2 small
1 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pie crust, premade or homemade
salt
pepper

Directions:
Start by cooking your chicken breast by your method of choice. I just cook mine in a skillet with a dash of garlic salt until no slightly pink, remember it will cook more in the oven.

Wash and peel your potatoes and carrots, then cut into bite sized pieces. Steam your vegetables prior to putting them in the pot pie since you don't want them to be hard or crunchy. For the frozen peas, run water over them in a colander and then they will cook just fine in the oven. 

Mix together the cream of mushroom soup with one cup of milk [skim is healthier, but anything is fine]. 

Stir together soup and milk mixture with potatoes, carrots, pies and salt and pepper to taste [this is a key step for flavor!]. 

Pour your pot pie mixture into an 8 x 8 square pan or a pie pan. Top with pie crust, sealing edges. Poke holes in the top of the crust to help the pie breathe. Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Makes 4 large servings. [1 was perfect for me, Jason had 2]

1 serving is 10 WW points plus. [If using skim milk]

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spicy-&-Garlicky Brussels Sprouts

I am excited to post this recipe for 3 reasons:
  1. I love these pictures because the brussel sprouts are so green and vibrant.
  2. I am sure everyone would like some healthy food recipes after a fat filled holiday
  3. I don't really like Brussels sprouts, but even I liked this recipe!
First of all, don't feel intimidated. When looking for Brussels sprouts, choose small ones with tightly wrapped leaves. Do not buy any turning yellow or with loose leaves. Keep in a cool refrigerator for a maximum of a few days. Additionally, Brussels sprouts can be prepared in several easy ways: steaming, stir frying or roasted. In this recipe we will simply be briefly boiling them and then sauteing them in olive oil. 

To begin, wash your Brussels sprouts and remove any dirty outer leaves. Then, cut your Brussels sprouts in half. 



Add Brussels sprouts to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until bright green, 2 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. 


In a large skillet heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but I would start with one or two and add more as you feel is necessary. You do need the oil to get the nice crisp on the Brussels sprouts but you don't want them to seem oily. 

Add garlic and Brussels sprouts to hot skillet. Cook over high heat undisturbed for one minute. Add crushed red pepper (according to how spicy you want them) and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat stirring occastionally until sprouts are browned and tender, about 3 minutes. 



If you don't have a skillet big enough to turn the Brussel sprouts easily, do them in two batches and just divide the garlic and pepper for each batch. 

Note: These will not be soft Brussels sprouts, they will be firm. This is part of the reason I liked this recipe is because it maintains the integrity of the Brussels sprouts by not turning them to mush. However, if you like your Brussels sprouts softer, increase times in boiling water and in skillet. 

Spicy-and Garlicky Brussels Sprouts
adapted from The Week magazine
6 servings

1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed (or minced garlic)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt

Wash and remove bad leaves from Brussels sprouts, cut in half. Add sprouts to a large pot of boiling water. Cook until bright green, 2 minute. Drain well and pat dry.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add garlic and Brussels sprouts and cook over high heat undisturbed for one minute.  Add crushed red pepper, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.

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