Skinny Mac and cheese & the love of my life

Most of you who follow this blog have met or at least have heard of Bruin. He is undoubtably the most amazing, sweet, adorable and loving boy in my life. And…he is my one year old Boston Terrier. I don’t talk about him too often on here, but – like food, he is a huge part of my life.

We recently moved from Charlotte (where I adopted him) to Naples once I graduated from college. And no surprise to me, he LOVES it here. He gets to spend so much time with his friends Rocco and Sydney (my parents’ Australian shepherds), and gets so much love from his Gigi (my mom) and his grandpa. I thought it would be nice to share this picture I recently took of him so you all can see what an adorable little guy he is.

Like I said above, Bruin is my main man. BUUUUUT, this mac and cheese is pretty dang special too. I keep this one close to my heart and love it almost as much as Bruin.

Ingredients

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
3/4 lb whole wheat penne
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fat free milk
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese
1 Tbl whole wheat flour
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Boil water and cook pasta according to directions on the box. I tend to undercook it just slightly since it will cook for a little while longer in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a sauce pan, heat butter and oil together and add onion. Cook until onion begins to soften. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring the entire time, for about a minute. Slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil. At this point in should begin to thicken. Whisk in ricotta cheese, parmesam, and cheddar. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, spinach, and hot cheese sauce. Stir until combine and spinach has wilted.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and pour in pasta. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is brown and cheese is bubbling.

Enjoy!!!

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Beer braised chicken tacos with a mango corn and avocado salsa

I am craving summer time so badly. I have five weeks left of school, and then I am done. FOREVER. Thank goodness. This recipe brings me back home because during the summer, my family and I are always making all kinds of salsas and tacos to enjoy after a long day of fun in the sun.

These tacos are really tasty and super easy. Once your chicken is in the slow cooker, its smooth sailing. And this salsa. This salsa is amazing. Sweet, salty, tart, creamy. What more do you want? Well, I could use a drink, but this salsa will do for now. Next time I make this salsa, I might use it on top of some grilled fish – or even in fish tacos. And, just so you know – this recipe makes a ton of salsa. But that’s OK. Because you will not want to stop eating it. I personally polished off a bowl of it tonight.

Ingredients
Enough chicken for about 8 tacos

Flour tortillas
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle beer (I used Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy)
1 package taco seasoning

Place all of the ingredients except tortillas into your slow cooker on the ‘high’ setting and let cook for 4 hours. Once 3 hours have elapsed,, remove the chicken from the slow cooker (leaving all liquid in the slow cooker) and using two fork, shred on a cutting board. Place chicken back into the slow cooker and continue cooking for the remaining hour.

When the four hours is up, the chicken is done and you can begin to assemble your tacos.

Mango Corn Avocado Salsa

1 large mango
2 medium avocados
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 small red onion, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 small bunch cilantro, minced
Juice and zest from two limes

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and place corn on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until corn begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Set aside.

Peel and chop mango and avocados. Place into a large bowl and add in onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice and zest. Add in your cooled corn and mix all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to top your tacos with.

*I used low carb whole wheat tortillas, but feel free to use whatever you like. This chicken and salsa would also be really good over some lettuce as a salad.

** If you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t worry – you can still make this recipe. Instead of placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker, add it to a pot on the stove top and cook it over medium heat until chicken is shreddable. This should take about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it and occasionally add water or chicken stock into the pot so all of your liquid doesn’t evaporate.

Enjoy!!!

Slow cooker chicken caesar wraps

Many of you who know me, know that I have a dog that I am mildly obsessed with. His name is Bruin and he’s a 10 month old Boston Terrier. He is such a cutie and the best dog ever, so I thought I would share a picture of his adorable little face with all of you 🙂 .

Ok, enough gushing. Sorry I am a proud mom 😉 . On another note, these chicken caesar wraps are where its at. They are so easy. You just put everything in the slow cooker and basically just walk away for a few hours. Once they are finished, they have so much of that classic caesar flavor.

We had these for dinner tonight and then we washed them down with a variation of these.

You can substitute burger buns if you like, but honestly this chicken would be good eaten off a piece of tree bark. Promise me you will make these wraps. Promise??? They will become a definite favorite of yours.

By the way, I have nothing for dessert tonight and I feel sad. Feel free to bring me something if you live close 😉 .

Ingredients
Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup caesar dressing (bottled or homemade)
salt/pepper
Whole wheat wraps
Romaine lettuce

In your slow cooker, add in chicken and water. Turn your slow cooker to the high setting and cover. Let it cook for about 4 hours (Check it every so often. Mine took about 3 hours but it can vary depending on your slow cooker).

Once your chicken has cooked, remove from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Drain water from the slow cooker. With two forks, shred chicken into small, bite sized pieces. Add the chicken back into the slow cooker and add in parsley, cheese, caesar dressing, and salt and pepper. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.

To assemble your wraps layer the shredded chicken on tortilla and top with the romaine. If desired, you can add a little bit more parmesan cheese and caesar dressing.

Enjoy!!!

BBQ Chicken burgers

Make these now.

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (homemade or your favorite brand)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
salt/pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (extra for the top if needed)
Buns
Caramelized red onion
Cilantro
Spinach

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sliced red onion and cook and a pinch of salt, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Set aside until needed.

In a bowl, combine chicken, BBQ sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into patties (I made four rather large patties, but feel free to make yours smaller). Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat a large skillet or grill to medium high heat and add olive oil. Cook burgers on each side for about 6 minutes. Once the internal temperature reacher 165 degrees, you can remove the burgers from the heat.

I used these sandwich slims from Trader Joe’s instead of a bun and layered my burger with spinach, cheddar cheese, caramelized red onions, BBQ sauce and cilantro.

These are sooo good! If you have ever eaten the BBQ Chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, this tastes exactly like that!!