Broccoli Mac and Cheese

I can’t believe the weather here in Georgia…it goes from snowing, to 70+ degrees in less than a week!  We have been craving some lake time, so we cleaned up the boat and slipped on over to Lake Lanier for a family evening on the water.

I knew the hubs would be hungry so I whipped up some homemade broccoli mac and cheese for a dinner on the boat!


Its super simple, quick, and travels nicely in small containers.  Plus you get to toss in that serving of greens too…can’t beat that!  Enjoy!!

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 12 ounces elbow noodlesIMG_6040
  • 2.5 Tb light butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 oz fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 t oregano
  • cooking spray


  1. In a small bowl, mix together parmesan, bread crumbs, and oregano.
  2. Cook pasta to al dente (about 8 minutes) – do not overcook since it will continue to cook slightly in the oven.
  3. Put broccoli in a microwave safe dish with 2 Tb water – cook for 7 minutes.
  4. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. In a large heavy skillet, melt butter. Add onion and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add flour and cook another minute or until flour is golden brown and well combined.
  7. Whisk in milk and chicken broth, raising heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  8. Cook about 5 minutes whisking constantly, or until the sauce is smooth and thick.
  9. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  10. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese.
  11. Combine noodles, broccoli, and cheese sauce and then pour into baking dish.
  12. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
  13. Broil for a few minutes to brown the bread crumbs.


Roast Chicken in the Crock Pot

I absolutely LOVE chicken from the crock pot!  I feel like you just about can’t mess it up.  It always comes out tender and full of flavor.  Let’s also not forget the easy clean up, and dinner is practically done when you get home!  This week I tried out a whole chicken in the crock pot and used the meat for a couple of dinners!


Doesn’t it look so yummy!!!  I started by placing 4 foil balls in the bottom of the crock pot to keep the chicken out of the juices while it cooked.  Then I packed the inside of that 5.4 lb bird with 1/2 cup onions, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup celery, and 2 lemons.  I finished with a covering of Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper Seasoning over the outside of the bird.

I turned the crockpot on high for 4 hours and left for work.  I shortened the suggested cook time because I knew I would be gone 8+ hours for the work day.  Once my crockpot is done with cooking time, it will stay on the “warm” setting (which is still pretty hot for my crockpot) until I turn it off…so I knew the bird would keep cooking the remaining 4 hours. If you are home to watch it, cook for 4 1/2 – 5 hours (or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees).


I ALWAYS use a crock pot bag, so when I got home I just lifted the bag out of the crock pot and placed it in a roasting pan so I could easily slice the chicken.  Well, honestly I attempted to slice it, but it was so tender it just fell apart.  It was AMAZING!!!  SO much flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tender.


I pulled off enough meat for that night’s dinner, and then pulled off the rest of the white meat and put it in the fridge to make chicken and cheese quesadillas the next night!  I also pull off all the dark meat and save it for the dogs. 🙂



Italian Foil Pack Chicken

Are you looking for a simple, super delicious dinner?  Try this one out!


Have you ever made a foil packet dinner?  I have two on the meal plan for this week and I love them!  You literally toss everything into a sheet of foil, fold it up and bake it!  And the clean up is super simple too!

I sliced up all my veggies, but if you aren’t on a super tight budget you could make the dinner even faster to put together by purchasing veggies that are already chopped up! (I just loved cooked carrots!  So healthy and such beautiful color!!)


So here is the simple process.  Slice the veggies, cut the fat off your chicken, put it all on a sheet of foil, spoon a little dressing over the top, fold up and bake…yep thats it!


This particular recipe included 4 oz of chicken breast, sliced yellow onion, julienned carrots, julienned red peppers, and 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing in each foil wrapper.


** Don’t judge my wrapping skills…not pretty I know, but most effective! **

While these babies were cooking it filled out house with the most amazing smell!  They came out of the oven perfectly steamed to fork tender!  Hubs scrapped off the veggies, so I ate double helpings.  It was so delicious and definitely in our “make-again” folder!

Italian Foil Packet Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 heavy duty sheets of aluminum foilIMG_5319
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, julienned
  • 4 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basel
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian dressing


  1. Preheat your oven to 375.
  2. Cut excess off breasts, and cut into 4 oz pieces (if you have pups, don’t throw away your excess – see below)
  3. Put carrots in the  microwave with one teaspoon of water and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Mix the basil, garlic, and Italian dressing together in a small bowl.
  5. Place one piece of chicken on each sheet of foil (season with salt and pepper)
  6. Cover and surround each piece of chicken with carrots, peppers, and onions.
  7. Spoon 2 tablespoons of dressing mix over each chicken.
  8. Fold the sides of the foil over the chicken, covering completely.  Seal the packets closed.
  9. Place foil packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

So if you have pups, like we do….save your scraps you cut off of your chicken.  (Spilling secrets here – I always cut a little more off than necessary because I know it’s going to the girls ;0)  I wrapped up their scraps in foil, and only added carrots and 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing – NO onions, peppers, or salt & pepper.  Onions are BAD for dogs – DO NOT feed your babies onions!  I baked their chicken with ours and made a special dinner bowl for them when it all came out of the oven!


Yep – my 2dogs are spoiled rotten!  They loved the chicken of course and gobbled it right up!  The hardest part was keeping the kitty out of their bowls long enough for me to snap a picture.  And I leave you with a quick little video of  the girls saying “thank you” for their special chicken dinner! :0) Their sweet tails wagged the whole time they were eating!


Lightening up a Restaurant Favorite

Appetizers are my weakness, especially the fried ones! Winking smile  I especially like the fried Southwestern Egg Rolls are Chilies.  The definitely make the top of my list. BUT….lets look at the nutritional information for this favorite treat of mine:

Chili’s Southwestern Egg Rolls:  800 Calories, 41g fat, 82g carbs, 9g fiber, 21g protein – yikes…that’s a lot of calories!

So why not lighten them up a little, so I can still enjoy this yummy southwest treat, with a third of the calories!?




  • 1/2 lb cooked and shredded chicken (I cooked mine in the crockpot with my Chicken Noodle Soup)
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 (15 oz) can reduced sodium black beans
  • 2 cups shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can fire roasted green chilies, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium taco seasoning (1 package)
  • 24 egg roll wrappers

Preheat the oven to 4250.  Lightly mist two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  Drain and rinse your black beans.


In a small bowl, combine green chilies, taco seasoning, and ground red pepper.


In an extra-large bowl, combine corn, black beans, cheddar cheese, spinach, chicken, and onions.  Stir to combine, then add the green chili mixture.



Pour some water in a small dish and set aside.  On a flat surface, place an egg roll wrapper, corner facing towards you (like a diamond).


Place 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture on the center of the wrapper.


Spread the mixture in a horizontal line from the left corner to the right corner of the egg roll wrapper.  Leave a 1/2 inch empty space on each side.


Fold the bottom corner closest to you up over the ingredients and give it a 90 degree roll.


Fold the side corners in and tuck them as you give the filled section another 90 degree roll.


Dip your finger in the dish of water and lightly wet the edges of the remaining top corner of the wrapper.  Finish rolling the filled egg roll over the wet corner so that it adheres.


Place wrapped egg roll onto the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.


When all of the egg rolls are wrapped and on the baking sheets, lightly mist the tops with cooking spray.  Bake for 7 minutes, flip them over, and bake 8 more minutes, until the wrappers are golden brown.  Serve with cilantro ranch dip (I will show you how to make that tomorrow).


Serving Size:  4 Eggrolls, 216 calories, 5g fat, 37g carbs, 4g fiber, 19g protein

Wow!  1/3 the calories and 36 LESS grams of fat!  And they taste simply amazing!

A Weekday Favorite

I just wanted to share this super yummy, super easy, homemade chicken noodle soup with you…because it was oh so good!

My time-saving tip is to go ahead and cut the fat off your chicken, cut up your veggies, and put them in a bag the night before.  Then in the morning you just dump and go!



  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 3 ribs chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast (I added another 1/2 pound for another meal, which I will share later)
  • 32 oz container of fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup water (more if needed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 oz Rotini noodles (we use gluten free)

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray.  Add carrots, celery, garlic, onion, oregano, and basil.  Arrange chicken on top of veggies.  Add brother, salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred it (I reserved my extra half pound at this time).  Put this chicken back in the crockpot.  Add noodles and cook on high for another 20 – 30 minutes.  That’s it!  Done!

Makes 4 servings, 2 cups each.  340 calories, 6.8g fat, 32g carbs, 2.9g fiber, 32.1g protein.

Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole

You know we like Mexican, Tex-Mex, and American-Mex over here at our house.  I am trying to mix things up a bit and try some new recipes, so this casserole with quinoa seemed like a perfect thing to try.  First, I had to explain to my boys what quinoa even was. Smile

For your knowledge, here is what has to say about quinoa:

While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Try a quinoa salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa is my favorite whole grain for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet or teff. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and – yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.

I have tried a couple new recipes with quinoa lately and I really like it.  I had to get used to the texture because it is not like anything I had eaten before, but the flavor is so bland that you can really add it to just about any meal.  So on with the recipe already. Smile


  • 2 Tbl olive oilIMG_0178
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 Tbl chili powder
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce (1 – 19 oz can)
  • .5 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese


    1. Heat oven to 350o and spray 8 inch square dish with cooking spray.
    2. Heat 2 quart pot over medium-high heat.  Add oil and onion and cook 5 minutes, or until the onion is clear and soft.


    3.   Reduce the heat to low.  And quinoa, black beans, green chilies, chili powder and the enchilada sauce.  Stir well and remove from the heat.


    4.  Stir in the cheddar cheese and transfer to the backing dish.  Top evenly with pepper jack cheese.


    5.  Bake for 5 – 10 minutes, then broil for 1 to 2 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly.

    6.  Garnish with any of your favorite toppings like sour cream, cilantro, green onions or Mexican crumbling cheese.


    And just for fun, I had to share this with you all…

    As I was cooking, I was munching on cucumber, and as usual, sharing my fresh veggies with my4-legged side-kicks.  Harley was so funny about the cucumber.  Of course Willow chomped it right up, but Harley would take it ever so gently and walk around the corner.  After a minute or two she would come back begging for another piece.  When I went to check on her, this is what I found:


    That silly girl had ever so carefully taken all the seeds out of the cucumber and left it on the floor.  I mean come on…even I eat the cucumber seeds.  Such a silly dog!

    Enchilada Casserole in the Crock Pot

    We love any kind of Tex-Mex recipes around this house. Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Quesadillas, etc.  Anything with a little spice and a lot of cheese and we are bought in.  This Enchilada Pie grabbed my attention for two reasons, 1) crock pot (easy!) and 2) corn muffin mix (I love it!).  It was a big hit.  We all ate our servings and even had enough to pass on to my sister-in-law.  It is a vegetarian friendly recipe too!  I must say it isn’t the prettiest dish you will ever make, but it totally makes up for it in flavor!

    Crock Pot Enchilada Casserole


    • 1/4 cup canned diced fire roasted green chilies (divided)
    • 1/2 cup salsa
    • 1/4 cup green onions
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 15 ounce can reduced sodium black beans (rinsed and drained)
    • 11 ounce can corn with red and green peppers (drained)
    • 10 ounce can enchilada sauce
    • 1/2 cup egg substitute
    • 8 1/2 ounce package corn muffin mix
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded 2% cheddar cheese
    • reduced fat sour cream

    Put 3 tablespoons of the green chilies, salsa, onions, peppers, parsley, beans, corn, and enchilada sauce in the crock pot and stir well.  Cook on low for 4 hours.


    Combine the rest of the green chilies, egg substitute, muffin mix, and cheese in a bowl.  Spread the batter evenly over the bean mixture in the crock pot.  Cover and cook for one more hour, or until the bread is done.


    Top each serving with a sprinkle of cheese, a scoop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of parsley.  Enjoy!

    Makes 6 servings at 10 WW Points+ Value per serving.