Creamy Crock Pot Spaghetti

You’ll never make spaghetti without your slow cooker after you try this recipe.  You don’t even have to pre-cook your noodles – the slow cooker does all the work for you.  The secret ingredient:  light cream cheese.  Makes 10 servings.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 jars 26-ounce pasta sauce
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese (half block), cubed
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth

What you’ll do:

  • Cook the beef (or turkey) in a large skillet over medium heat until crumbled and brown.  Drain excess fat.
  • Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  • Pour one jar of pasta sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker; set to high heat.
  • Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place on top of the sauce.
  • Pour the cooked beef over the noodles, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and top with the cubes of cream cheese.
  • Pour another jar of pasta sauce on top of the cheese layer.
  • Close the lid and let cook for 3 hours on high.
  • After 3 hours, give the pasta a good stir (don’t worry, it will be thick) and add the last jar of sauce plus the chicken broth (1 to 2 cups depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce).
  • Close and let cook another hour or until ready to serve.

Recipe and image from the Picky Palate.

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Honeyed Yogurt and Mixed Berries with Whole-Grain Waffles

This breakfast is full of protein, fiber and vitamins.  If fresh berries don’t look great at the supermarket, go for frozen – they’re just as healthy!  Simply thaw them in the refrigerator the night before.  Recipe makes 4 servings.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 frozen whole-grain waffles, toasted

What you’ll do:

  • In a bowl, combine the yogurt and honey.
  • Combine the berries, sugar and juice in a bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Top each waffle with 1 cup of the berry mixture and 1/3 cup of the yogurt mixture.
  • Serve immediately.

Recipe and image from Cooking Light.

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Turkey and Balsamic Onion Quesadillas

This is not your traditional quesadilla!  Turkey and cheese are a combo your kids are sure to love and the addition of the balsamic onions makes it not-so-ordinary.  Serve with a side salad and you’ll have dinner for 4 on the table in 20 minutes.


What you’ll need:

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices deli turkey (8 ounces)

What you’ll do:

  • Combine the sliced onion and vinegar in a small bowl; let marinate for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the onions from the vinegar.**
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tortillas over medium-high heat for 45 seconds, then flip.
  • Pull one edge of each tortilla over the side of the pan so that the tortillas are not overlapping.
  • On one half of each tortilla, sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese.  Cover with 2 turkey slices and 1/4th of the onion mixture.  Fold in half and gently flatten with a spatula.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.
  • Flip and cook until the other side is golden, 1 or 2 minutes more.
  • Remove from skillet and keep warm.  Repeat process with remaining tortillas.
** Reserve the leftover vinegar to use in future salad dressings, if desired.

Recipe and image from Eating Well.

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Chicken and Brown Rice Pilaf

Boring chicken and rice is taken up a notch with savory bacon and crisp sugar snap peas.  Serves 6 in 40 minutes.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 pound fresh sugar snap peas, cut diagonally in half
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups hot, cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

What you’ll do:

  • Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until crisp.
  • Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.  Discard drippings from the skillet.
  • Salt and pepper the chicken breasts on both sides.  Add to the skillet and cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and the juices run clear.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add the onions and peppers to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in the peas and the water; cover.  Simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender.
  • Stir in the rice and transfer to serving platter.
  • Top with the chicken and the Parmesan cheese.

Recipe and image from kraft foods.

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Mediterranean Penne with Roasted Red Peppers and Almonds

A vegetarian meal with Mediterranean flair.  If you’re not a fan of olives, substitute in chopped artichokes and/or a sprinkle of feta cheese.  This recipe serves 4 and is ready in 20 minutes.  A quick side salad will make your Meatless Monday meal a cinch to get on the table.

What you’ll need:

  • 12 ounces penne pasta (or other short pasta)
  • 4 red or orange bell peppers, cut into quarters, seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme (fresh, if available)
  • salt and pepper

What you’ll do:

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Once pasta is cooked, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
  • Return the pasta to the pot.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the broiler and place the peppers on a baking sheet, skin side up.
  • Broil the peppers until blacked, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • When cool enough to handle, scrap off the charred skin and cut into 1-inch strips.
  • To the pasta, add the peppers, olives, almonds, olive oil and 2 tablespoons of  the reserved cooking water.  Season with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • If the pasta seems dry, add a little more cooking water.

Recipe and image from Real Simple.

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Grill Pan Chicken with White BBQ Sauce

White BBQ sauce is an Alabama staple.  It’s peppery, tangy and creamy.  Here it’s served over grilled chicken – but it’s also delicious with roasted chicken, cabbage (to make coleslaw) and on turkey or chicken sandwiches.  Serve this chicken with asparagus (try THIS recipe) and whole wheat rolls.

What you’ll need:

For the chicken:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • salt
  • pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set to the side.
  • Heat a grill pan (or the grill) over medium-high heat.
  • Coat the pan with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt and pepper on each side.
  • Cook the chicken 6 minutes on each side, or until no pink remains.
  • Serve each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the white BBQ sauce.

Recipe and image from Cooking Light.

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Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole

This casserole is a classic because of how comforting and easy to make it is.  All it will take is 20 minutes of prep and then the oven does the rest.  Serve with a simple salad or roasted broccoli for a complete meal.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 can 98% fat-free cream of celery condensed soup (or substitute in cream of mushroom)
  • 1/2 cup 1% or skim milk
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimientos
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tuna (packed in water), drained
  • 2 cups egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

What you’ll do:

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray a baking dish (at least 1 1/2 quarts) with cooking spray.
  • Mix together the soup, milk, peas, pimientos, tuna and noodles.
  • Pour into baking dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  • Mix together the bread crumbs and melted butter.
  • Remove casserole and stir.  Top with bread crumb mixture.
  • Bake for 5 more minutes and serve.

Recipe and image from Recipe.com

So what are you waiting for…Get dinner on the table!