Chicken, Spinach, and Cheese Meatballs

I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes from one of my favorite food blogs, Once Upon a Chef, and this was my take on her Turkey, Spinach, and Cheese meatballs. These cheesy, light meatballs pack the punch of a traditional meatball with a little extra flavor due to the added cheese.

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken breast

1 package sweet Italian chicken sausage, removed from the casings

1 yellow onion, finely diced

3 oz. chopped fresh and frozen spinach (squeeze the water out if frozen)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs

Olive oil spray, for the baking sheet

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

28 oz. can of tomato sauce

2 tbsp Italian seasoning (for the sauce)

Directions:

  1. Combine the spinach, onions, garlic, and egg in a large bowl
  2. Add in the ground chicken breast and ground chicken sausage, removed from the casings
  3. Mix in the seasoned breadcrumbs, parmesan, and mozzarella until well combined. Use your hands but be careful not to overwork the meat!
  4. Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil and roll 1-2 inch meatballs using your hands (my batch made about 20 large meatballs). Space them evenly on the baking sheet.
  5. Place under the broiler for 10-12 minutes, until the tops get a little golden and crispy looking.
  6. On the stovetop, heat up the tomato sauce seasoned with Italian seasoning. Add in the broiled meatballs and cover the tops with the sauce. Simmer on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes until fully cooked through.
  7. Serve over pasta or with a side of veggies!
Mix up the egg, spinach, onion, and garlic
Combine the meats and cheeses until well combined
Before broiling…
After broiling…notice those beautiful crispy tops!
Simma simma…
And enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Sausage and Spinach Over Pasta

While in quarantine during this crazy time, I’ve enjoyed clearing out some of my freezer staples to make a new dish. Today I took out two different kinds of Premio chicken sausage (Sweet Italian & Hot and Spicy) and a block of frozen spinach and made this delicious meal!

Ingredients:

2 packages Premio chicken sausage (any kind will do)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups chicken stock or broth (I actually used Better Than Bouillon chicken base and water — so good!)

10 oz frozen spinach

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb pasta of choice

1 tbsp butter

3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut up your chicken sausage into 1/2 inch slices.
  2. Heat a dutch oven or large skillet and add olive oil. Add in chicken sausage and brown fully for about 5 minutes.
  3. Next, add in diced onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Then add in garlic for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
  4. Add in chicken broth and bring to a slow boil.
  5. Add in frozen spinach and mix into the pot.
  6. Add in crushed red pepper, to taste (if you don’t like it too spicy, don’t add).
  7. Add in pasta and cook in the boiling broth mixture for about 10-12 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Leave the lid off the pot so some of the liquid can evaporate to thicken the sauce. (Add a little more broth if the noodles are not all slightly covered with liquid). Stir frequently to ensure even cooking of the noodles.
  8. Once pasta is done, turn off the heat. Add in parmesan cheese and butter and mix well. Add a little salt and ground black pepper, to taste.
  9. Serve and sprinkle with some more parmesan cheese!

Stovetop Chicken Broccoli Parmesan Pasta

As this quarantine continues, I have to ditch my regular rotation of recipes and utilize whatever is left in the fridge. Yesterday I was trying to figure out how to use the ground chicken I had along with the broccoli that didn’t have much life left. I wasn’t feeling an Asian chicken and broccoli dish, so I decided to do a pasta dish! With a little inspiration from a Woman’s Day recipe I found, we came up with this! And it was a hit!

Ingredients

1 pound pasta (I used medium shells)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can use ground chicken breast for a lighter take)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste for more heat)

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup Pinot Grigio (or some other dry white wine)

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 lb broccoli crowns, chopped finely

2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup finely grated Parmesan

2 tbsp butter

1 cup reserved pasta water (to thicken sauce at the end)

Directions

  1. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to their pasta directions. Add some salt to the boiling water to add some more flavor (we will be reserving one cup of this liquid before we drain the pasta!).
  2. Heat olive oil in a high sided skillet over medium heat and add in garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful not to burn!
  3. Add in ground chicken and red pepper flakes to the pan with the garlic. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Break up the chicken into small pieces as it browns in the pan.
  4. Once chicken is fully cooked (no more pink!), add in the white wine and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. It will evaporate a bit of the wine as it cooks.
  5. Add in the chopped broccoli and the chicken broth. Let it simmer and cook the broccoli for about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add in the lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and a little more salt and pepper.
  7. Remove from heat. Add in butter and reserved pasta water to thicken the sauce.
  8. Toss your pasta into the chicken and broccoli sauce. Make sure it is fully covered. If you need more flavor, add more parmesan cheese, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, or PEPPER! ( I love adding a bunch of pepper at the end!).
  9. Serve and enjoy!
Saute the garlic!
Add in chicken and red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
After you simmer in the white wine (for about 2 minutes), add in the broccoli and chicken broth.
Reserve one cup of that pasta water goodness!
Now we have added in cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, remove from heat and add in the butter and reserved pasta water.
Add in pasta and serve!
Delicious!

Chicken Cacciatore

So it has taken this quarantine for me to get back into my cooking! Tonight’s dinner is an old family favorite from my mom’s Northern Italy side of the family. The original recipe calls for mushrooms, but since I’m not a mushroom fan, I will put those in as optional. Enjoy this beautiful decadent stew-like meal over your choice of a creamy polenta (my go-to), a pasta, or another starch of your choice. Or eat it on its own! I found myself licking the spoon after serving!

Ingredients

8-10 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (remove skins and excess fat)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (separated)

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup Pinot Grigio (or other dry white wine of choice)

15 oz. can of tomato sauce (I love Hunt’s)

1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on your heat preferences)

Optional: 2 cups mushrooms (canned or fresh) – I omit because I don’t like mushrooms!

Directions:

  1. Combine the salt, pepper, and flour in a large bowl.
  2. Trim the skin / fat off of your chicken thighs, then cover each piece in flour mixture. Keep flour mixture that is left over!
  3. In a hot pan, add 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Once pan is hot, add in floured chicken and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. I season with a little Italian seasoning as they are cooking as well.
  4. Once browned, remove chicken to plate.
  5. Add additional 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Lower the heat so it does not burn too quickly. Add in onions. Saute until translucent.
  6. Next, add in garlic, about 1 minute more.
  7. Add in remaining flour mixture. Stir until well combined.
  8. Then, add in wine until it is combined and somewhat evaporated.
  9. Finally, add in tomato sauce, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and thyme leaves. Stir to combine. Add chicken back into the pan. Cover with sauce.
  10. Simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow chicken to cook through and for flavors to meld.
  11. Serve over polenta, pasta, or something else of choice!

Maple Glazed Brussel Sprout and Goat Cheese Flatbread with Balsamic Drizzle

I recently bought pizza dough with no plans on how I was going to use it. With some research and a belly full of regular pizza from the night before, I was inspired to try out this flatbread filled with notes of both savory and sweet goodness.

Ingredients

12 oz. pizza dough (I used Pillsbury)

1 red onion, chopped into thin strips

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1 package shredded brussel sprouts

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp flour

4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tsp herbes de Provence seasoning

4 oz. goat cheese

Balsamic glaze

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

These are the brussel sprouts I used – this size worked perfectly!
Freshly grate your mozzarella cheese for better melty goodness!

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven according to package directions on the dough. Remove pizza dough and roll it out with some flour to prevent sticking. Place the stretched dough on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet (on parchment paper if you have it!)
  2. While oven is preheating, add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add your red onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add in brussel sprouts and crushed red pepper (if you don’t like a little heat, you can skip this ingredient). Stir until the brussel sprouts begin to soften for about 3 more minutes. Then, add in 1 tbsp of maple syrup and stir to coat the brussel sprout and onion mixture. Cook for another minute and remove the pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Rub the pizza dough with about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a little more salt and pepper. If using Pillsbury, place it in the oven before topping, according to package directions.
  5. When ready for toppings, sprinkle fresh shredded mozzarella on top of the pizza dough. Then top with herbes de Provence and the onion/brussel sprout mixture. Break up some goat cheese and scatter over the top.
  6. Bake the flatbread according to package directions, or until crisped up and cooked to your liking.
  7. Take the flatbread out and let cool for a few minutes. Then, drizzle some balsamic glaze over the top, cut, and serve!
Almost ready to eat — before the balsamic drizzle!
Note: Nutrition information may not be exact. Ingredients were estimated and entered using verywellfit.com’s Nutrition Calculator. Calories reflect one serving.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

So I’m having a crisis. It is October, BUT, it’s still 80 degrees outside! Therefore, we can have our juicy chilled watermelon salad at the same time as our soups, chilis, and chowders. This bright, fresh watermelon feta mint salad is the perfect side dish or appetizer. It is so easy, but so satisfying!

Ingredients

12 cups cubed watermelon (1/2 inch-1 inch cubes), chilled

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

1 cup mint leaves, chopped

3 limes, juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl.
  2. Garnish with additional feta and mint.
  3. Serve chilled as an appetizer or side dish!

Weight Watchers Freestyle SP: 3 points per serving (12 servings total). Points were calculated using the Recipe Builder on the WW app.

Print a copy for your recipe binder!

Note: Nutrition information may not be exact. Ingredients were estimated and entered using verywellfit.com’s Nutrition Calculator.

Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings Soup

With tomorrow being October, soup season is in the air (though I never stopped making it)! This decadent soup is perfect for a cozy night in, and in the Instant Pot, it can’t be any easier!

Ingredients

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 cups celery, chopped

4 cups carrots, chopped

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cups chicken broth

1 package Grands! Homestyle Biscuits dough (8 biscuits)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Melt the tbsp of butter and add in onions. After a minute, add in carrots and celery.
  2. After you have sautéed for about 4 minutes, add in thyme, garlic powder, parsley flakes, ground sage, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir it together with veggies.
  3. Add in chicken broth and chicken thighs.
  4. Take biscuit dough out of the package and cut in quarters. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a little ground sage for flavoring.
  5. Place quartered biscuit dough on top of chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.
  6. Close and lock the Instant Pot. Set the valve to “sealing.”
  7. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. After pressure builds and cooking time has completed, allow to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes (timer should read LO:15). Then, do a quick release of the pressure.
  8. Break up biscuits that may have stuck together. Remove chicken thighs and shred. Return shredded chicken back to soup.
  9. Serves six!
Before cooking! Ready to place biscuits on top.
Raw dough placed on top! Ready to seal the Instant Pot for cooking.
Set timer for 5 minutes, high pressure.
After cooking is done, let pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Instant Pot should look like this! Then, quick release the remaining pressure.
Break up biscuits, shred chicken, and serve!

Weight Watchers Freestyle SP: 10 points per serving (6 servings total). Points were calculated using the Recipe Builder on the WW app.

Print a copy for your recipe binder!

Note: Nutrition information may not be exact. Ingredients were estimated and entered using verywellfit.com’s Nutrition Calculator.

Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan

One of my absolute favorite classic Italian-American dishes is chicken parm. The one thing I hate about it is pan frying the chicken and having all that greasy mess in my house and in my food. Enter the air fryer! This air fried recipe is delicious, crispy, and flavorful!

Ingredients

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin cutlets (about 6-8)

1 1/4 cups Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup all purpose flour

Olive oil spray

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups tomato/marinara sauce of choice

Directions

  1. Prepare three shallow bowls. Fill one bowl with the flour, one with the egg beaten with a little water to thin it out, and one with the breadcrumbs mixed with the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
  2. Pat each piece of chicken dry. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour. Shake off excess. Then, dip in the egg. Finally, coat evenly with the breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Set your air fryer to 375 degrees F. Spray the basket lightly with olive oil spray. Place chicken in air fryer in an even layer (you will most likely have to work in batches). Lightly spray the top of the chicken with the olive oil spray.
  4. Cook for 8-10 minutes on one side until chicken starts to look crispy and browned. Then, flip chicken in air fryer using tongs.
  5. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  6. Spoon tomato/marinara sauce onto cooked chicken in the air fryer. Then, layer with shredded cheese.
  7. Cook in the air fryer for an additional 2 minutes, or until melted to your liking!
  8. Serve with pasta or your favorite veggie!
Ready to coat the chicken! Note: I added a little salt and pepper to my egg bowl… I just love salt and pepper!
Coated and ready for the air fryer
Once the chicken is air fried and crispy, add the sauce and shredded cheese.

Weight Watchers Freestyle SP: 5 points per serving (6 servings total). Points were calculated using the Recipe Builder on the WW app.

Print a copy for your recipe binder!

Note: Nutrition information may not be exact. Ingredients were estimated and entered using verywellfit.com’s Nutrition Calculator.

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs

One dish that I never get sick of is a classic meatball. Now, being on Weight Watchers, I try to find some variations of meatballs that use as many 0 point foods as possible so I can pack as much flavor in without the guilt. These delicious teriyaki chicken meatballs are perfect as an appetizer or as a main dish over rice or noodles. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken breast

3 tbsp fresh minced ginger

3 tsp minced garlic

1/3 cup minced scallions (save additional for garnish)

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 egg

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Canola oil spray

Salt to taste

Garlic ginger teriyaki marinade, or other Asian sauce of choice (store bought)

Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken breast, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg, bread crumbs, and salt. Mix well with your hands or a hand mixer until well combined.
  3. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with canola oil.
  4. Form meat into 20-24 small meatballs and place on the baking sheet (If the mixture feels too wet, add some extra breadcrumbs, but this mixture may feel a bit more wet and sticky than a traditional meatball! No worries!).
  5. Baked meatballs for 13-15 minutes, until browned and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Turn meatballs with 5 minutes of cooking time left to avoid burning on the bottoms.
  6. Toss in a bowl with the garlic ginger teriyaki marinade and serve on their own for an appetizer or over rice or cauliflower rice!
Before cooking
Cooked and tossed in sauce

Weight Watchers Freestyle SP: 1 point per meatball with marinade. Points were calculated using the Recipe Builder on the WW app.

Print a copy for your recipe binder!

50 calories per meatball.
Note: Nutrition information may not be exact. Ingredients were estimated and entered using verywellfit.com’s Nutrition Calculator.

Trader Joe’s Hack: 5-Minute Gyros

Ingredients

Trader Joe’s fully cook gyro slices

Trader Joe’s cauliflower tabbouleh

Trader Joe’s tzatziki sauce

Pita bread

Hummus of choice ( I just used what I had, but TJ’s has a bunch of great options!)

Directions

  1. Heat the gyro slices and the pitas in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  2. Spread the hummus on the heated pita.
  3. Place the gyro slices on the pita.
  4. Spoon some cauliflower tabbouleh over the top.
  5. Top with tzatziki sauce.
  6. Serve! So simple and delicious.
Spread the hummus of choice
Place the heated gyro slices on the pita
Spoon on the tabbouleh
Top with tzatziki

Weight Watchers Freestyle SP: 10 points per pita with fixings. This recipe makes 4 servings total (I ended up using more meat than the serving size, oops!). Points were calculated using the Recipe Builder on the WW app.

Print a copy for your recipe binder!

**See packages for nutritional information and calorie counts.**