Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

 

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Guys, meatballs are kinda my thing.  As much as I love good old fashioned Italian-style meatballs in “gravy” (if you don’t call red sauce with meat gravy in Philly you just don’t belong here), the kind of meatballs I like to make are not what your Nonna might expect.  I’ve made meatballs that are stuffed with cheese, meatballs that taste like Chinese orange chicken, and most famously, my Raspberry Chipotle Meatballs– those bad boys won me a meatball contest at work last year.  Not kidding.  I even got a trophy!

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Photo Cred: Krissy Iaci 

There are so many different types and so much you can do with meatballs.  This recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by an appetizer dish from Rachael Ray.  Instead of serving them as an app, I updated the recipe a bit, added a serving of rice, and voila it was our dinner!

These Spanikopita chicken meatballs are so delish, and they are not bad for you at all!  They are jam packed with spinach and using ground chicken breast limits the fat in the meatballs too.  When I originally tried this recipe, I used real (whole fat) feta cheese, but I recommend if you’re trying to be “good” to use fat free or reduced fat feta.  The feta texture and flavor is still there, but won’t cost you as many calories (or points if you’re on Weight Watchers like me!).

Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from:  Rachael Ray 
Serves: 3 (18 meatballs total plus sauce)
WW Smart Points (with real feta): 7
WW Smart Points (with fat free feta):  3 (omg right)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (I use cheesecloth)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese *see note*
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, coriander
  • Salt

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Green Sunrise Smoothie

 

 

Green Sunrise Smoothie

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So, I know I promised that the next time I tried to do a green drank, I’d be brave and use Kale instead of Spinach… but this recipe just sounded too good to ruin!  I’m sorry!  I lied.  But it’s okay because now I have another awesome spinach smoothie recipe for you that is SO YUMMY.  I promise.  I actually think this is my favorite one.  Thank you, Rachael Ray!

And I guess I should warn you…

If you’re all like WHOA what is up with the super healthy green smoothie?!  I should definitely tell you that as of MONDAY, Dave and I are starting our back to healthy eating habits/lifestyle.  We had a few months off track and now we’re back on!  I made this yummy smoothie for us for breakfast and it will definitely be in our rotation.

Green Sunrise Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (fresh or frozen) Mango Chunks 
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4 cup Apple Juice (I used organic, no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) Baby Spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice (I used 1 packet True Lemon)

Directions:

1.  Put ingredients in a blender and blend for two minutes until everything is combined.

Slightly adapted from Rachael Ray

Trader Joe's frozen fruit is my favorite.  It's so cheap too!

Trader Joe’s frozen fruit is my favorite. It’s so cheap too!

This stuff is awesome.  Dave's Mom introduced me to it years ago.. it's great to have in the pantry!

This stuff is awesome. Dave’s Mom introduced me to it years ago.. it’s great to have in the pantry!

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Rosemary Balsamic Chicken

I’m running out of ideas for my Newly-Low-Carb-Eating boyfriend.  Running home from work on Tuesday at 8pm after working out all night, all I could think of was Chicken.  Grilled Chicken.  In a different way.  What now?!

Rachael Ray to the rescue!

Now, whatever her original dinner plan for this chicken was… I have no idea.  It’s a big huge mess of words.  (rosemary-chicken-breasts-brown-butter-balsamic-ravioli-spinach-salad-pancetta-sweet-vinaigrette-recipe … to be exact).  I knew I had rosemary and that I did NOT want to go to the grocery store.

This chicken ended up being really, really tasty and a big hit with Dave too.  If you don’t have fresh rosemary, just use the dried stuff, and you probably won’t have to leave your house either!

Rosemary Balsamic Chicken

Recipe inspired by:  Rachael Ray

Serves 2

Ingredients:

6-8 oz Chicken Breast per serving (so I had 14oz), cut thin

2 Tablespoons (about) Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

3 stems of Rosemary (or 1 Tablespoon Dried), stripped and chopped

Sea Salt & Black Pepper

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

Directions:

1.  Place the chicken breasts in a bowl or dish.  Season with Salt, Pepper, and Rosemary on both sides.  Pour Balsamic Vinegar over the chicken (if you’re using a flat surface, until it just covers).   Add the Olive Oil.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

2.  Heat a Grill Pan or non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Spray with Pam or a little bit of olive oil.  Add the garlic and then the chicken to the pan.  Cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through (depends on thickness. Cut a slit in the thickest part to check if you aren’t sure!)

I served this chicken for Dave and I with a big side of salted edamame and a salad.  I was also thinking that some Sauteed Squash or Zucchini would be great with this chicken.  MMM!

The balsamic created a really great sticky delicious crust on the bottom and top of the chicken that I wasn’t expecting… it made it so yummy.

Let me know if anyone has any great low-carb ideas!  I’m running out 🙂

Before…

 

… and after

Crabcake Mac and Cheese

Guess what?  This rockin’ recipe is featured on Foodie Friends Friday, a great blogging linky party… check it out!

Happy Friday, everyone.

I am so excited to share this recipe with you today!  I have had this recipe on the back burner for almost a year now, and I finally got a chance to whip it up.  This Mac and Cheese isn’t your typical Shells and Velveeta.  It’s Crabcake Mac and Cheese.  It’s a Rachael Ray recipe that combines all of your typical crabcake ingredients with a delicious cheesy sauce and pasta.

Dave helped me make this complicated recipe this past Saturday.  While it did take a lot longer than my normal recipes, we had a lot of fun making it.  I put a college football game on in the kitchen for him, and it was so nice for me to have the helping hand and company.

Before I tell you the ingredients, let me warn you:  do not get overwhelmed by the number of ingredients or steps in this recipe.  Nothing is difficult, it just takes a few steps.  Rachael even suggests that you make the pasta up until the last few steps ahead of time, and then you can finish it off closer to gametime!  … so make sure you block out some time for this one, it will be soooooo worth it!

Crabcake Mac and Cheese

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Rachael Ray

Makes:  4-6 Servings (I think mine made like 10… seriously)

Ingredients:

1lb Pasta (I used Gemelli because it’s so pretty!)

2 Tablespoons EVOO (in honor of Rach)

6 Tablespoons Butter, divided

4 ribs Celery

1 Onion, medium

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced (or 3 cloves)

1 Bay Leaf

2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped

1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest

1 lb Premium Crab Meat “special” (Rachael suggests 3/4lb Lump but it was super expensive.  Mine was still expensive though, I got it next to the seafood section)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 Tablespoon Old Bay Blackening Seasoning

3 Tablespoons Flour

2 1/2 Cups Skim Milk

1 Tablespoon Honey Dijon Mustard

1 + Cup Sharp White Cheddar Cheese (1 block Cabot with some leftover, shredded)

1 + Cup Gruyere Cheese (or swiss, again, shredded with some leftovers)

3 Tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs

1 Handful Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped

1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese (or grated if thats all you have)

Nutmeg, to taste

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.  Cook the pasta in salted water for 3-4 minutes.  Yes, it will be super-undercooked.  That’s what you want!  Cool in the pot of water and then drain.  Put it in a large bowl.

2.  Chop the Celery, Onion, and Red Pepper.

3.  In a Medium Saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons of EVOO and 1 Tablespoon of Butter over medium high heat.  Add the Veggies, Garlic, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Lemon Zest, Salt and Pepper.  Cook until tender while stirring, about 8 minutes or so.

4.  Add the Crabmeat to the veggie mixture and season with Old Bay (to taste… I used a little extra).  Stir and then remove from the heat.

5.  In a medium saucepot, melt 3 Tablespoons of Butter over low heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk.  Bring to a bubble.  Make sure you stir it or it will burn the bottom of your pot!  Season with Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg.  Cook for a new minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

6.  Add the Mustard and the Cheddar and Gruyere Cheeses.  Stir in a “figure 8” motion until all of the cheese is melted in and well incorporated.

7.  Add the Veggie and Crab mixture to the bowl of pasta.  Add the sauce too, and stir.  At this point, you can put into a casserole dish or individual ramekins and refrigerate until you are ready.  If not, put it in your desired dish and preheat your oven to 375!

8.  Next, melt 2 Tablespoons of Butter in a small skillet over low heat.  Add 3 Tablespoons of Hot Sauce.  Warm the sauce and add the Panko Bread Crumbs, tossing to evenly coat the crumbs in the sauce.  Cool for a few minutes.  Add the chopped Parsley and 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese into the crumb mixture.  Top the Mac and Cheese with the crumb mixture (only if you’re baking right away**).

9.  If you are using individual crocks or ramekins, arrange them on a baking sheet to catch any drips.  Otherwise, stick the casserole dish in the oven.  Bake until heated through with the following times:

Cooking immediately:  10-15 minutes

Cooking from refrigeration:  40-45 minutes **Add the bread crumbs onto the top within the last 10 minutes of baking**

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!  Okay I warned you it was long, but seriously just read it… you’ll be fine!  And check out these pictures, they’re mouth watering!

I thought all of the veggies chopped were so pretty! Thanks Dave!

Sauteed Veggies

I had to show you the Gemelli! I have a thing for pasta shapes…

Makin’ my sauce! Pre-Cheese.

Here we are, ready to be topped with crumbs and go in the oven.

Ta-Da!!! Baked and crisped topping to perfection.

Like, Oh my gosh.  This stuff is great!  It was a big hit with Dave, my sister, and I.  I brought some leftovers into work too, and my co-workers went crazy.  While this recipe might take you longer than your normal weeknight dinner, you should totally try it… I promise it will be worth your time.  The crab meat can also get expensive, but you can taste it in every single bite… and with all the leftovers you’ll have, you’ll be eating it all week!

PS I love this page!  If you share your love for adorable pasta shapes with me, check it out!

THANK YOU RACHAEL RAY, for yet another freakin’ awesome recipe!  You rockkkkk!

Creamy Penne w/ Sausage & Peas

So, I’ve been pretty busy.  I have been literally sitting here staring at a blank screen for the past fifteen minutes.  I’ve forgotten how to blog?!  Has it been that long?  You wouldn’t believe how time consuming this whole thing is…

1.  Find a recipe to make.  I will one day force myself to blog about my ever-growing recipe book I started almost a YEAR ago.  I’m not even ready to use it yet.  It’s a masterpiece in the works.

2.  Make the recipe.  Not that hard, normally… but remembering to take pictures while not screwing anything up can be annoying.  Oh, and I also take them all now with my Iphone… I want a blogging fairy to buy me a new camera!

3.  Eat the recipe.  YUM!

4.  Blog about the recipe.  Transfer the pictures to my computer, maybe edit some of them, upload them, write a story, recipe, etc… it takes a long time!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining… I’m just begging you all to forgive me for my recent lack of fabulous recipe posts!  I have just been so busy the last month or so, I hardly have any time to even make my own dinners… let alone interesting ones.

Also, it has been a difficult transition for the blog, going back onto weight watchers & my new diet from John the dietitian.  With holidays, long weekends, celebrations, and visitors… it’s been so hard to stay on track!

Well, this week I was able to have a good hour in the kitchen to test out a new recipe I got from Rachel Ray’s Magazine back in April.  I love trying new flavor combinations like this, and the best part about this recipe is that I didn’t even need to go to the store!

Creamy Penne w/ Sausage & Peas

Makes 2 Servings.  About 12 WW Points Plus.
Recipe adapted from:  Rachael Ray
Ingredients:
  • 4 oz Whole Wheat Penne
  • 1/2 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 8oz Hot Turkey Sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Directions:
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on the box. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl.  Set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the sausage, chopping as it cooks.  It took me not much longer than 5 minutes.  Add in the frozen peas and stir.  Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes until sausage is cooked through and the peas are hot.  The grease from the sausage browned the peas just a little bit. 
  4. Drain pasta and add the sausage mixture to the pasta.  Split into two bowls.  Top with a heaping spoonful of the yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of chopped mint.  

I took the original recipe and adapted it to work with the pasta I had in the house already.  I actually measured out the servings of pasta to make counting the meal for Weight Watchers easier.  Dave was a huge help with this meal- which I LOVE.  It’s always nice to have company in the kitchen… especially when they are helpful!  I normally love having leftovers and go out of my way to make them, but with this recipe being not so healthy, I halved the original recipe from Rachael.

Measuring out the pasta is a great way to make sure you don’t over-eat! Dad just picked up this measuring cup & scale in one for us… its awesome!

Cookin’ the peas and the sausage

Yummy and pretty

We both really enjoyed this pasta dish, and it was such a treat since we generally don’t eat pasta too often!  The mint was a great surprise.  I would never think to put mint in pasta.  I’m glad Rachael did!  It added just the right amount of flavor without being overpowering at all.

I also used some of the leftover mint to add to our lemonade!  YUM!

I seriously loved having some extra mint for my diet lemonade

That’s all for now, but I promise you I’ll be back with more this week!

I also am super excited to receive my June Foodie Pen Pal Package from Emily @ In the Moment!!