skinny mac and cheese

Skinny Lady “Mac + Cheese” [recipe]

You know those weird family recipes that float around, like peanut butter and bacon sandwiches and spaghetti in hot dog soup?  Others would cringe at the thought of them, but we swear they are the “BEST EVER”!  Today, I’m sharing one of those.  Today’s recipe isn’t quite at strange as peanut butter and bacon, but its an unlikely combination that’s SKINNY and insanely good.  I’ve been enjoying this skinny pasta since I was a wee one and I now refer to it as Skinny Lady “Mac + Cheese”.  This sophisticated imposter doesn’t actually contain cheese, but one taste and you’d swear it did!

skinny mac and cheese

Skinny Lady Mac + Cheese
a childhood (and now adulthood) favorite

Gather up:

  • two cups of cooked angel hair pasta
  • 1/2 cup fat free (or low fat) sour cream (you can add more sour cream if you’d like your pasta more “cheesy”)
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1-2 tsp. garlic salt
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

Prepare two cups of cooked pasta, strain it place back in warm saucepan.  Add sour cream, milk, butter and garlic powder-stir.  You may add more sour cream or milk to thicken or thin the consistency.

Add salt & pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

DSCN0849 (800x565)

What strange family recipes to you have floating around in your repertoire?  Please do share!

new jordan sig

 

healthy-family-dinners-quick

10 Simple & Healthy Weeknight Dinners [recipes]

My typical weeknight goes a little something like this… I walk through the door at 7pm, Brett’s just coming home from the gym; we kick off our shoes and glance at each other with pained looks on our face and say “takeout?”, or “why don’t we just go out”.  Then it’s back out to the car for a trip to our favorite local restaurant, or worse…Chinese takeout…dun dun dahhh.  There are so many quick and healthy weeknight meals we could whip up, but most of the time we’re simply unprepared or “too tired”!  There’s always an excuse, but excuses no more!  I’ve put together a list of ten healthy family meals that are simple to make, hopefully I’ll give some of these a try this week ;)

healthy-simple-family-dinners

Simple & Healthy Weeknight Meals

 #1: Mac & Cheese with Roasted Chicken and Goat Cheese [recipe]

  skinny-mac-and-cheese

#2: Skillet Shrimp Cous Cous [recipe]

healthy-shrimp-cous-cous-bake

#3: Healthy Turkey Stroganoff [recipe]

healthy-turkey-stroganof

#4: Beef & Green Bean Stir Fry [recipe]

healthy beef stir fry

#5: Health Pasta Carbonara [recipe]

healthy pasta carbonara

#6: Cheesy Baked Pasta with Vegetables [recipe]

healthy baked pasta

#7: Chopped Greek Chicken Salad [recipe]

chopped-greek-chicken-salad

#8: Better Than Take Out Pad Thai [recipe]

easy pad thai

#9: BBQ Chicken Pizza with Califlower Crust [recipe]
califlower crust pizza-bbq-chicken

#10: Baked Stuffed Zuchini [recipe]
baked stuffed zuchini

new jordan sig

skinny-chicken-cacciatore2

Skinny Chicken Cacciatore [recipe]

During the winter, I’m all about hearty comfort foods for dinner. I love warming up my belly with a nice, big Italian dish like Chicken Parmesan and Chicken Cacciatore…who doesn’t, right? These dishes taste great, but they won’t help you get bikini ready any quicker, that’s for sure! It was Brett’s turn to cook dinner the other night, so he made one of our favorite Italian dishes, only with a much healthier twist…I think I’ll keep him around after this yummy dish =) This is Brett’s very first recipe contribution on Picklee, introducing Brett’s Skinny Chicken Cacciatore recipe!

Brett’s Healthy Chicken Cacciatore [recipe]
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. boneless  & skinless chicken breasts, sliced and pounded thin
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • cooked whole wheat thin spaghetti (standard serving is one cup of cooked pasta per person)

METHOD:

In a large skillet, bring 1 tbsp. olive oil to medium heat.  Lightly coat chicken with herbs de Provence, salt & pepper, then add to skillet.  Cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown, then remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, bring remaining (1 tbsp) olive oil to medium heat.  Add onion, carrots and bell peppers then saute for 4-5 minutes.

Add white wine and crushed garlic, cook on medium for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Last, add crushed tomatoes and basil.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top whole wheat pasta with a chicken, then pour sauce on top.  Sprinkle a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the sauce if you wish =)

YUM!


mint-painted dresser-buffet

Winter Mint Buffet Before & After [your pick]

As you all probably know by now, mint is my favorite color… hands down.  So you can imagine my delight when Bridgett, from Osie Moats sent in her incredible before & after buffet transformation.  Bridgett took an outdated thrift shop find and revived it by finishing it in a minty gray/blue…ahh, a girl after my own heart! 

Here’s what Bridgett’s buffet looked like when she picked it up:

 

Bridgett chose this buffet to transform because the quality was great.  Although it had laminate material on the cabinet fronts, all of the drawers had beautiful dove tail joints…a key factor when selecting a good piece of furniture to flip!  She chose to paint the buffet in Frozen Pond by Behr, but before she did so, she primed the entire piece to be sure the paint adhered to the laminate material.  Here’s how the buffet turned out!

What an incredible transformation!  Look at the beautiful mirror and striped accent wall too!  Well done, Bridgett!

Here’s a close up of the hardware.  Bridgett made a great choice in keeping the original hardware, which has a great aged brass patina…

Cheers to another successful transformation!  Share your thoughts and rate Bridgett’s transformation below!

pesto green pea pasta

Pesto & Green Pea Pasta {recipe}

I’m constantly finding myself stuck when it comes to weeknight meals…I always have trouble thinking of something quick, healthy and different to make.  Pasta is usually my go-to dish, I like to load it up with veggies and add a basic sauce like tomato, but that tends to get old after a while.  In an effort to mix things up, I experimented with a healthier pesto pasta dish the other night.  I mixed up a simple, fresh pesto then added some green peas for an extra pop of flavor!  I enjoyed this pasta as a main dish, but it would make a great side dish along too!  Here’s my simple Pesto & Green Pea Pasta recipe…

Pesto & Green Pea Pasta [serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side]

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound wheat linguine

1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed

3/4 cup packed torn basil leaves

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

Cook pasta according to directions.  In a food processor or chopper, combine basil, olive oil and Parmesan cheese, blend until chopped and well mixed. In warm sauce pan, combine pasta and pesto sauce, then add thawed peas. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alone or as a side =)

Enjoy!

strawberry spinach salad blue cheese recipe

Strawberry & Blue Cheese Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing {recipe}

As we transition into Fall, I’d like to share one of my all time favorite salads with you (second only to the La Grande’ salad!).  I usually associate this salad with Summer, but a few modifications (and variations) cozy it up perfectly for Fall.  The best part about this salad is that it is so versatile.  The spinach and strawberries are light and fresh, while the blue cheese and almonds hearty and savory.  So here it is, The Spinach & Strawberry with Blue Cheese Salad



Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Blue Cheese (and poppy seed dressing)

INGREDIENTS (for the salad)

1 package of baby spinach (washed & dried)

3/4 cup sliced strawberries

**You can swap out the strawberries for cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or just about any other fruit you like

1/4 cup sliced almonds (or halves if you prefer)

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

INGREDIENTS (for the poppy seed dressing)

1/2 small onion (minced)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp. poppy seed

METHOD

Mix the salad ingredients in a large serving dish, set aside. 

To prepare the poppy seed dressing, add all of the ingredients together in a blender and chop until dressing is blended well. 

Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss.  You will end up with extra dressing which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

Enjoy!

 

braised sea scallops

Braised Sea Scallops with Peanut Glaze & Coconut Milk Rice {recipe}

Living on the coast in New England, I find tons of inspiration for amazingly unique seafood dishes.  Our favorite restaurants are always coming up with innovative and delicious ways to prepare fresh seafood…dishes I could certainly never come up with myself!  This was the case with an amazing scallop dish I ordered recently.  The dish consisted of fresh braised sea scallops on a bed of sweet/creamy rice with a delightful peanut glaze sauce. It was simply euphoric.  I knew I had to try to recreate it at home.  I experimented with a bunch of different ingredients and combinations, and I finally hit on something amazing!  Here’s the my take on the dish, Braised Sea Scallops with Peanut Glaze & Coconut Milk Rice

braised sea scallops

Braised Sea Scallops with Peanut Glaze & Coconut Milk Rice {recipe}

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS (scallops)

8 large fresh sea scallops

2 tbsp. olive oil

garlic powder

salt & pepper

INGREDIENTS (rice)

one cup uncooked Jasmin rice

one cup coconut milk

one cup chicken broth

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

INGREDIENTS (peanut glaze)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. agave nectar

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. corn starch (to thicken if needed)

METHOD:

Coconut Milk Rice: In a medium sauce pan, bring to boil coconut milk, chicken broth, and garlic.  Add Jasmin rice, cover and reduce heat to simmer.

Peanut Glaze: While the rice is cooking, you can begin the peanut glaze.  In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients (except corn starch) to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Sauce should simmer for approx. 10 minutes, the consistancy should be a pourable glaze.  Add corn starch if needed to thicken at the end (a bit of water can be added if too thick).

Braised Sea Scallops: While your peanut glaze is simmering, you can start on the the sea scallops.  Add olive oil to a large skillet and bring to a high heat.  Quickly drop the scallops onto the skillet, dust the tops of the scallops with a bit of garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Cook the scallops on one side for approx. 2 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown, then flip the scallops and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side, dust with a bit more garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Once golden brown on both sides, remove the scallops from the pan.

Both the rice and peanut glaze should now be complete.  Prepare a dish with a rounded scoop of rice in the center.  Place four sea scallops on the plate and drizzle the peanut glaze all around the dish.  You can garnish the dish with a few peanuts as well.

Bon appetit!

chicken caprese sandwich

Chicken Caprese Sandwich {recipe}

The summer is a great time for light and refreshing meals, like my brussels sprout salad-yum… I digress… Actually, one of my go-to summer dinners is just a simply delicious chicken caprese sandwich.  These sandwiches are easy to make and VERY satisfying =)  I started making these sandwiches after falling in love with a grilled chicken & basil sandwich at one of my favorite restaurants and now I think I prefer my own creation!  Here’s my recipe for the Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich

Gather up:

one grilled chicken breast

two slices of bread (I use fresh baked sourdough, but you can use whatever you fancy)

4 slices of tomato

1/4 cup fresh basil

one slice mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar

 1/2 cup field greens (optional)

Instructions:

 Prepare one grilled chicken breast (you could also broil if you don’t have a grill).  Set chicken aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar onto the slices of bread.  Lay two slices of tomato on each slice of bread, then add mozzarella cheese to one slice. Place the slices of bread in the pre-heated oven (tomato and cheese side facing up) for a maximum of 3 minutes-keep checking so they don’t burn!  You just want the bread to lightly toast and the cheese to melt.  **If chicken is no longer warm, you can add the already grilled chicken to one of the slices and toast it along with the bread.

Remove the bread from the oven and transfer to plate.  Add grilled chicken (if you didn’t already toast it with the bread), basil and lettuce to the sandwich.  Slice in half and enjoy!

chicken tiki masala

Chicken Tikka Masala {recipe}

Ever since I discovered the benefit of spices for your metabolism, I’ve been trying to integrate them into more of my meals.  It’s no surprise that most Indian dishes are packed with tons of delicious spices and ingredients, most of which are great for you.  So the other night, while contemplating something healthy and different to make for a family dinner party, it occurred to me, why not make one of my favorite Indian dishes-Tikka Masala!  Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the lightest, most popular Indian dishes since it uses pretty common spices, and it’s more familiar to us because of it’s tomato based sauce.  I found a great recipe for tikka masala online and adapted it slightly to make it even better for you!  This dish should please even the pickiest of eaters, like my teenage cousin who plays online bingo for hours on end and eats nothing but mashed potatoes!  Without further ado, here’s the delicious (healthy) Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

chicken tikka masala

Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala {recipe}
Serves 4, adapted from FramedCooks

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt salt

1 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 cup skim milk

16 oz., or two containers of plain Greek yogurt (reserve 8 oz., one container for chicken)

1/4c up chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves

METHOD

For the Chicken

1. Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Apply the rub to chicken, cover and let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degree broil.

For the Sauce

2. Heat oil in large skillet oven over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until light golden, 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic, tomato paste, and garam masala; stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, milk, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in (8 oz.,one container) greek yogurt and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element). Using tongs, dip chicken into Greek yogurt (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil chicken until browned, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce.  Stir in cilantro or parsley, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

This dish is great served over brown or basmati rice.

Bon Appetite!

skinny broccoli alfredo

Skinny Broccoli Alfredo Pasta {recipe}

You might remember some of my favorite healthy pasta recipes from the past, like the Balsamic Chicken Pasta and the Kale Pesto Pasta.  I’m a firm believer that you should be able to eat whatever you want and stay healthy and fit, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed delicious broccoli Alfredo pasta for dinner the other night =)  I’m not a fan of the the standard creamy Alfredo sauce, so I made a few modificiations to the sauce…the result?  Skinny Broccoli Alfredo Pasta…

Skinny Broccoli Alfredo Pasta {recipe serves 2}

2 cups cooked broccoli

one cup cooked whole wheat linguini

2 tbsp olive oil

one clove crushed garlic

2 tbsp flour

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 skim milk

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions

Using a large skillet, heat olive oil, add garlic and cook until golden brown (about 1 minute).  Add flour to the skillet, whisk for about a minute.

Add in chicken broth, skim milk, Greek yogurt and salt & pepper, reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over cooked pasta then add broccoli.

Enjoy!