Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs tend to get a bad rep, especially when it comes to dieting. While being pretty strict on Weight Watchers, I was pretty wary of eating them… chicken breasts are always the go to “diet chicken” but it turns out when you use the boneless/skinless variety and trim the extra fat, they aren’t that bad for you. Adding a thin slice of¬†prosciutto gives the chicken much more flavor and crunch without adding a ton of fat¬†(for me it was just as good as cooking the chicken with skin on.) I served the chicken with a mix of roasted vegetables and brown rice.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs (Serves 2, WW points+ 7 points for 2 thighs)

Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Trim the excess fat from your chicken
3. Using tooth picks, secure 1.5 slices prosciutto to the chicken

4. Place in a roasting pan (I put mine on a roasting rack over my veggies)

5. Cook about 25 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife
6. Serve with roasted vegetables and brown rice for a complete meal

Bruschetta Chicken

A particularly warm and sunny April evening last night called for a more summery type of meal. Nothing says summer and warm weather to me like tomatoes especially when combined with something off the grill. Warmer weather also has me craving something lighter, and this recipe was just what I needed. You could also make a bruschetta chicken sandwich if you feel like getting your carb on ūüôā

Bruschetta Chicken (Serves 4, Weight Watchers Points+ 9 points – includes the cheese)

Ingredients:
4 – 6oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. tomatoes (I used mini heirlooms for this particular recipe), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-20 basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (I shaved mine into ribbons)

Directions:
1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar and a shake of salt/pepper. Let this mixture sit for up to an hour
2. Heat a gas grill to medium high heat
3. Sprinkle each chicken breast liberally with salt and pepper
4. Grill chicken 4-6 minutes on each side
5. Top each chicken breast with 1/4 of the tomato mixture and add 2-3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese on top


Chicken, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pasta

Asparagus is starting to pop up in grocery stores and fruit stands now and I couldn’t be more excited. I bought a bundle last week without even having a clear intention for them, so I set out to find a good recipe. I wanted something new and different and I wanted to make a main dish with the asparagus, not just put on the side like I usually do.

I stumbled upon an asparagus-goat cheese pasta recipe from Real Simple¬†which looked absolutely to die for.¬†¬†I wasn’t in the mood to be a vegetarian, so I decided to add some chicken to the original recipe. I also changed the amounts of some of the ingredients, but tried to keep true to the spring time flavors of this lovely pasta!

Chicken, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pasta Adapted from Real Simple (Serves 6, WW Points+ 11 points/serving)

Ingredients:
1 11/4 pounds chicken breast
1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound dry whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
4 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat a large pan of lightly salted water to boiling over high heat. Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces.
2. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
3. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken about 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Slice into strips, cover.
4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain.
5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour.
6. Add the broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly (make sure to stir constantly!), until the sauce thickens. Blend in the goat cheese and lemon zest.
7. Toss the spaghetti with the chicken, asparagus, sauce, and half the Parmesan. Serve with pepper to taste and the remaining Parmesan.

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wraps

*WARNING*: This recipe is very, VERY spicy. Like eyes watering, lips burning spicy. You can decrease the amount of jalapenos (depending on their actual spiciness level, it might not even help) or you could substitute jalapenos for poblanos, which have a slightly spicy aftertaste, but not the bite a jalapeno would have. I also served this dish with some brown rice on the side (rice not included in points value).

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wraps (Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen, 6 WW Points +/serving – serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 head butter lettuce, rinsed with leaves separated (I used green lettuce, but would recommend finding butter lettuce if you can)
4 jalapeno peppers (or 2 poblanos if you are using)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tsp.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 medium avocado, diced
1 lime

Directions:
1. Set your oven to broil
2. Place the jalapeno or poblano peppers on a sheet of foil, directly under and as close to the broiler as possible. Make sure to keep your eye on them and turn them every few minutes to get an equal char/blister on each side of the pepper
3. Remove, and let cool until you are able to handle them, and give them a rough chop
4. Using a mortar and pestle, (if you don’t have one – you could use a small food processor) combine the garlic, cumin and coriander. Add a pinch of salt and grind until it becomes a paste
5. Add the jalapenos, or poblanos, to the mortar and pestle and grind. Then slowly add the cilantro and 1 tsp. olive oil, grinding until you have a paste again
6. Combine the paste with the shrimp and let it sit for about 15 minutes
7. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear the shrimp (1 1/2 minutes on one side, 30 seconds on the other). Remove and set aside.
8. Saute the bell peppers until soft (you can add a bit more olive oil if needed)
9. Combine shrimp and bell peppers.
10. Add this mixture to a lettuce cup, top with diced avocado, more cilantro and a squirt of of lime

Slow cooked “bolognese”

So technically this a crock pot meal, but does take a bit of preparation before hand. I put bolognese in quotes because while it is slow cooked like a bolognese, I omitted the cream which I’m pretty sure you need to make a true bolognese sauce (let’s see how many times I can say bolognese in this post!) and added a few spices that are more likely to be found in a marinara sauce.

To keep this a low calorie and low point meal,  you can serve over roasted spaghetti squash РI served it over some multi-colored pasta.

Slow cooked “bolognese” (5 servings, 5 p+/serving)

Ingredients:
1/4 lb. center cut bacon, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
2 carrots, minced
1 lb 95% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup white wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano (dried)
1 tsp. onion powder
2 bay leaves
salt and fresh pepper

Directions:
1. In a large saute pan, saute the bacon until the fat starts to render.
2. Add celery, carrot and onion. Cook until soft (about 4 minutes) over medium heat.
3. Increase the heat to medium high and add the meat. Season with salt and pepper, saute until brown.
4. Drain the fat, then add the wine. Cook 3-4 minutes.
5. Add meat mixture to crock pot along with tomatoes, a bit more salt and pepper and the bay leaves.
6. Cook on low for 6 hours.
7. Season with garlic powder, onion powder and oregano and cook 30 additional minutes.
8. Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

In an attempt to beef up my meals without sacrificing my precious Weight Watchers points, I sacrificed my pasta one night for roasted spaghetti squash. If you are a true pasta lover, this might be a stretch for you, but I quite enjoyed it. The squash doesn’t have a ton of flavor so it lends itself well as a substitute for pasta.

I tried cooking the squash a few ways, cutting it in half first and cooking squash side up, cutting it in half and cooking rind side up and then cooking whole and cutting after. The best way I’ve found is the rind side up method, I think it keeps the squash firmer.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash
(1 large squash is enough for about 4 people for a main dish. 0 P+/serving)

Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash
PAM or an other Non Fat Cooking Spray
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut the squash in half length-wise (use a sharp knife, it can be a bit hard to cut if you are using a dull knife)

3. Scoop out the seeds and fibers from the inside of the squash
4. Spray the squash lightly with the cooking spray and liberally salt and pepper each half of the squash
5. Line a cookie sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash rind side up on the baking sheet
6. Cook for 45 minutes
7. Remove the squash, flip it over (use caution, it’s hot!) and let it rest for 5 minutes
8. Using a fork (and pot holders), scrape out the flesh of the squash a little at a time – it will separate into spaghetti like strands
9. Place in a serving bowl and top with pasta sauce, pesto or just some butter and cheese!

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Andouille Sausage Pasta

I am writing this post as I am eating the leftovers of this dish for lunch, it’s almost better the next day! Lately on Weight Watchers, I’ve still been hungry after dinner so I was looking for a creative and healthy way to get more volume into my dinners.

Last weekend one of my girlfriends made fabulous roasted vegetable and chicken enchiladas. I was inspired to turn that into a healthy pasta dish. The amount of vegetables in this gives it the bulk I was looking for, and one serving of the sauce plus one cup of whole wheat pasta came in at 10 points and left me feeling full. If you don’t like my selection of vegetables below, by all means add ones that you like. The addition of the butternut squash made it more hearty, but you can use any squash you like, or leave it out all together. (Forgive my glad ware in the last photo, was too hungry to take a pic last night!)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Andouille Sausage Pasta
Serves 4 – Weight Watchers Points+ 6 points/serving of sauce

Ingredients:
One pound chicken andouille sausage (I get mine at Trader Joes), cut into small pieces
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
A few glugs white wine (about 2 Tbs)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 medium bell peppers (red, orange or yellow) cut into small pieces
1 medium white onion, sliced and quartered
2 cups cubed butternut squash
4 garlic cloves cut in half
Handful of basil, roughly chopped
Salt
Pepper
Cooking spray
4 cups cooked whole wheat pasta

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the peppers, butternut squash and garlic cloves. Spray with cooking spray and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
3. Remove baking sheet and redistribute the veggies. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
4. In a large saucepan heated to medium/high heat, add the tomatoes, garlic powder, wine and basil. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
5. Remove the veggies from the oven and add the sausage and onions to the baking sheet distributing equally among the other vegetables. Place back in oven for an additional 15 minutes, redistributing a few times.
6. Add the roasted veggies to the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then take it down to a simmer (low) and cover for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
7. Add sauce to 1 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta and enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Stuffed Chicken

Last night I had a craving for the Chicken Verde burger from a local burger place called Red Mill. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to fit within my Weight Watchers points I had left for the day, so I had to get creative. I wanted to go bun-less so I could enjoy some sweet potato chips on the side, so I decided to stuff a chicken breast instead. I sliced the chicken breast in half width wise, grilled each piece of chicken, then laid the peppers and cheese in the middle. It was not even close to my favorite burger, but I tried…

Roasted Poblano Stuffed Chicken (serves 4, WW Points+ 7 per serving)

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts, about 10oz each
3 poblano peppers
4 slices pepper jack cheese
salt/pepper

Directions:
1. Set your oven to broil and move the oven rack to the highest position. Set poblanos under the broiler. Make sure to keep an eye on them (you’ll hear some popping noises) and turn them as the skin starts to blister/turn black. This whole process should take about 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove peppers from oven and place in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
3. While the peppers are resting, cut each chicken breast in half and then slice each half width-wise creating two thin pieces. Salt and pepper each side.
4. Turn on an outdoor grill on medium high heat
5. Place the chicken on the grill, cooking for about 3-4 minutes per side.
6. While the chicken is cooking, remove the stems, seeds and skins from the poblano peppers (it should pull off easily). Cut each pepper into 4 large pieces.
7. Once chicken is almost done, top four pieces of the chicken with pepper slices and one slice of pepper jack cheese. Place the other piece of chicken on top of cheese and peppers.
8. Heat on the grill for an additional 2 minutes to melt the cheese and serve with fries or in my case, sweet potato chips.*
*To make sweet potato chips:
-pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
-thinly slice a large sweet potato (I used my mandolin)
-place slices in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, mix thoroughly
-on a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay each chip out individually
-bake for 5-7 minutes on one side, flip and bake another 5 on the other

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Ok, so these “meatballs” are more like mini hamburger patties, but serve the same purpose. In fact, there was discussion in my kitchen the other night about possibly turning these into sliders at some point… we’ll see. For now, they make a perfect addition to a rice filled lettuce cup. (The points listed above do not include rice, but with a 1/2 cup of rice, the points would be 9).
They are pretty quick to prep, and make for an easy but healthy meal. They are even better the next day as the flavors really come together overnight. And just a disclaimer, I did not actually cook this meal – my wonderful boyfriend David Fisher did. So kudos to him!

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
(makes 5 servings, WW Points+ 6 points/serving)

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T soy sauce
4 T rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Meatball Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey (99% Fat Free)
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger root
2 T finely chopped green onion
1 T Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and let the dressing flavors blend while you make and cook the meatballs.
2. Chop garlic and grate (or finely chop) fresh ginger root, then add sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
3. Put ground turkey in a bowl, then use a large spoon to mix in the seasoning mixture you created in step 2.
4. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large heavy frying pan, then use a tablespoon-sized measuring cup to scoop out turkey to make meatballs (or in my case small patties), adding each one to the hot pan as you make them.
5. Cook the meatballs/patties in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan, cooking each batch until the outside is lightly browned and they’re cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
6. While meatballs cook, wash and dry mint leaves and green onion, chop cilantro and wash and dry lettuce leaves.
7. Once meatballs/patties are done, make lettuce wraps by putting 2-3 meatballs/patties inside a piece of lettuce, drizzling on sauce, and topping with mint or cilantro.

Roasted Salmon with Shallots, Grapefruit & Ginger

This post is written by one of my besties – Jenny Spurgin who is amazing cook!

Guest Post: Alaskan Jen
Roasted Salmon with Shallots, Grapefruit & Ginger 
Adapted from Ellie Krieger, Food Network – Makes 3 servings, 6 WW P+/serving

In tribute to my college nickname, and as a result of the salmon that is still in my freezer from this summer, a fish recipe seems like an appropriate contribution to Megan’s terrific blog! So last night I tried a new recipe to break out of my fish traditions. I found this one online from Food Network’s Ellie Krieger and tweaked it a little to my taste. I made Israeli couscous and asparagus on the side… a lot of asparagus to be precise. They were good complements as the grapefruit and ginger in the sauce were potent! I poured the sauce over the whole piece of salmon and it steeped into the couscous (yum). I was happy that even with fish that was, ahem, less than catch-of-the-day, the fish tasted great and the sauce was bright and spicy.

Ingredients:
Salmon (roughly 12oz)
Salt & pepper
2 grapefruits
Olive oil
1 shallot
1 small (1-2 in) piece of ginger root
1 tbsp honey
Sprinkle of cayenne (it comes through nicely with the citrus so it doesn’t take much)
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 basil leaves

Directions:
1. Trim and clean the salmon, dry with a paper towel (if moist). Season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and put in a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven until cooked through (but not overdone!). For the piece of salmon I used, this took around 20 minutes.
2. While the salmon is baking, juice one of the grapefruit, including the pulp, but making sure to separate any seeds (juicing over a small mesh sieve works great and you can pull out and keep the pulp). With the second grapefruit, cut out the citrus segments. If you’ve never done it before, the best way is to cut the top and bottom of the fruit off (just through the skin) and then cut down the sides of the grapefruit removing the peel and white pith. Then, cut along both sides of each of the little membranes that separate the grapefruit segments, creating little grapefruit slices. Set these and the juice aside.
3. Slice the shallot thinly, peel and grate the ginger root and thinly slice the basil leaves and set aside.
4. Heat about 2 tsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is warm, add the shallot and saute until browning slightly. Next, add the grapefruit juice & pulp, grated ginger, honey, cayenne and lemon juice. Stir around and let the sauce simmer and reduce.
5. Pull the salmon out when it is done.
6. Finish the sauce by putting the grapefruit segments and basil leaves in and stirring around until they are warm and incorporated.
7. Pour the sauce over the salmon and serve!

I really liked the combination of the salmon and the couscous. I might even try making a couscous with a similar base just for the strong and unique flavor as a side dish for a more subtle main course. Enjoy!