Sandy's Kitchen: Appetizers

Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts
With the football season, I know that it can be difficult to find delicious appetizers that will appeal to everyone! But trust me... there ARE healthier food options out there that actually taste good! I mean... yeah... I still love buffalo hot wings, a yummy bowl of chili with all the fixings, burgers, sub sandwiches, chips, etc, but I have found some pretty tasty alternatives to my favorite party foods. This is one of them! I love spicy jalapenos mixed with ooey gooey cheese and the creamy goodness of Greek yogurt and cream cheese. Adding chicken packs this dip with extra protein and makes it more filling so you can have it as a complete meal with veggies!

What makes this dish even better is that you can prep your chicken ahead of time. Prepping your chicken ahead of time makes this dish so easy to put together right before game time! No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen during game time! Come on! You can always buy a rotisseries chicken from the grocery store. Remove the skin and bones and shred it up.

If you want to prepare your own chicken, my favorite way to cook chicken breasts is in the slow cooker. The slow cooker always gets the chicken breasts really moist as long as you do not over cook it. This is how I make my shredded chicken breasts:

Quick and Easy Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

3 pounds of chicken breasts or tenderloins (6 Leaner)
1 cup chicken broth (1 Condiment)
Seasonings of choice ~ subtract from your Condiments
(I like salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder)

Season the defrosted chicken and then place them in the slow cooker.
Pour chicken broth over the chicken.
Cook 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on High.
Drain the chicken and shred the chicken with two forks. 
All done! Now you have enough chicken for a few meals!

Makes 6 Servings
Each serving provides
1 Leaner (Condiments will vary)

Weigh out 6 ounces of chicken and then place the portions into Ziploc baggies. Usually I put a few bags in the fridge and the rest in the freezer for later. These little baggies are great when I am craving chicken or need them for a recipe.

This recipe calls for 12 ounces of cooked chicken so I used my awesome scale to do all the measuring for me. Not to mention if you try to eyeball how much chicken you think you should have, it may not be accurate. You may be cheating yourself of some much needed protein or you may be eating too much.

Now that your chicken is measured out, you can add all the other ingredients except half the cheese which is for the topping. Give it a good stir because you wouldn't want any pieces to feel left out!

Pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread it out evenly. Then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

The entire dish makes 4 servings. I took out my portion and put it in my own personal ramekin and served it with sweet mini peppers. Those darn veggies are addictive! This dip would also make a delicious wrap because they have a thick consistency like chicken salad. Enjoy!

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Dip

12 ounces cooked shredded chicken breasts or use the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (2 Leaner)
3/4 cup Fage low fat plain Greek yogurt (1/2 Leaner)
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (4 Healthy Fats)
6 slices turkey bacon cooked and crumbled (1/2 Lean)
3 ounces canned jalapenos, diced (3 Optional Snacks)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1 Condiment)
1/2 tsp onion powder (1 Condiment)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (4 Condiments)
1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided (1 Lean)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine shredded chicken, yogurt and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl.
Add crumbled turkey bacon, diced jalapenos, garlic powder, onion powder, parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
Stir until combined. Pour mixture into a baking dish.
Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Makes 4 Servings
Each serving provides 
1 Leaner, 1 1/2 Condiments, 1 Healthy Fat and 3/4 Optional Snack

This is such a great dish to bring to your next potluck or BBQ! I substituted plain Greek yogurt for most of the mayo to lighten it up.

This healthier version is delicious and has added flavor from sliced almonds, bacon bits and cheese! 

So let's get to the recipe which is so easy because it doesn't involve cooking! No need to get your kitchen hot when summer comes around the corner. Just take 3 cups of broccoli florets in place them in a bowl. Make sure the broccoli has been washed. If you want to save time, you can purchase the broccoli florets already cut up.

Next, you will need to make the yogurt sauce which consists of yogurt, mayo, sweetener, apple cider vinegar and salt. I like to use NuNaturals NuStevia white stevia powder packets. I find they do not leave a bitter after taste, but you can use your choice of sweetener. If you are interested, I get my stevia packets on Amazon.

Get that broccoli coated!

Add the sliced almonds for added crunch!

Add  some yummy savory bacon bits that go well with the sweetened yogurt sauce.

And of course we can't forget the cheese! Stir it all up and you have a delicious quick and easy side dish!

 Skinny Broccoli Salad

3 cups broccoli florets (6 Greens)
1/4 cup 2% Fage plain Greek yogurt (1/6 Lean)
2 tbsp reduced fat mayo (2 Healthy Fats)
2 packets Nu Naturals Stevia or sweetener of choice (2 Condiments)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (1/2 Condiment)
1/4 tsp salt, optional (1 Condiment)
2 tbsp low sodium real bacon bits (2 Condiments)
1 oz sliced almonds (2 Optional Snacks)
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (1/3 Lean)

Place washed broccoli florets in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mayo, sweetener, vinegar and salt. Stir until smooth.
Pour yogurt mixture over broccoli and stir until all combined. Add sliced almonds, bacon and cheese. Toss gently until all pieces are evenly coated. 

Makes 2 Servings
Each Serving provides:
1/4 Lean, 3 Greens, 3 Condiments, 1 Healthy Fat and 1 Optional Snack 
You still need to add 3/4 Leaner or Leanest to complete your Lean for the day.

Some examples:
4.5 oz chicken breast from the Leaner category
5.2 oz of shrimp, tilapia, 99% lean ground turkey, or 1 1/2 cup egg beaters from the Leanest category plus 1 additional Healthy Fat

I have been hearing about kale chips for some time now, but never got around to making them until now. I never thought I would get a delicious treat out of these green veggies, but boy was I surprised! They were crispy, but very delicate, almost to the point of being crumbly. They had a nice salty flavor, but you don't have to use just salt. I think I am going to try garlic and parmesan or possibly a little soy sauce for an Asian flavor next time. Variety is key for me. I will also tell you that they are extremely addictive and just like potato chips... you can't eat just one, at least I can't! I did learn not to sprinkle too much sea salt on the chips because the cooking process gives them a salt like taste as they get crispy so go easy on any spices or flavorings you decide to use.

These kale chips are wonderful for movie night! My husband and I enjoyed these yummy snacks but my son and dog definitely wanted a piece of the action too! My son was more interested in crumbling these chips between his fingers, while my dog just wants to eat EVERYTHING! For a night of entertainment, these were easy and yummy to make!

Separate the kale leaves from the thick stem. Then tear the kale into pieces or cut them with a knife. I used my fingers. No need to make the leaves pretty. Wash the leaves in water and let them air dry or you can use a salad spinner to dry them faster. 

Spray the kale with olive oil cooking spray and massage the leaves so that the olive oil is distributed evenly. Then spread the leaves on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 min turning the leaves halfway through. Cook until the edges start to get a light brown color, but don't burn them. Burnt chips do not taste very good. Then enjoy these delicious crispy veggie chips!

Kale Chips

4 1/2 cups or 11 oz kale, after leaves are removed from stems (9 Greens)
Olive oil cooking spray or 1 tbsp olive oil (3 Healthy Fats)
1/4 tsp sea salt or your favorite seasonings (1 Condiment)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the center stem from the leaves and discard. Tear the leaves into 2 to 3 inch pieces. Wash the leaves thoroughly and let dry. 

In a large bowl add kale and spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale to distribute evenly. Place the kale on the prepared cookie sheet in single layers. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake until the edges are brown but not burnt, 10 to 15 min, turning halfway through. Watch closely so they don't burn! Try 10 min first and add more time if needed.

How to store them:
Your best option is to store them in a dry paper bag or in an air tight container at room temperature. If they're less crispy the next day, dry them out a bit in the oven at a low temperature (175 F) for 15 minutes.
Over time, the chips will absorb moisture from the air, so a batch will probably last a few days (a week at the most).

 Try experimenting with various spices such as smoked paprika, garlic, Italian spices, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, etc.

Makes 3 Servings
Each serving provides
3 Greens , 1 Healthy Fat and 1/3 of a Condiment

To air fry:
Air fry at 280 degrees for 6 to 8 min, shaking the basket halfway through. Make sure to check the basket often after 6 min so you do not overcook it.

This avocado chicken salad is pretty amazing! I was a little surprised on how much I really enjoyed it. I mean come on... it's just chicken salad ... well chicken salad that is all jazzed up! We all know the combination of avocado, lime and cilantro go great together. Add some Greek yogurt instead of mayo and it makes a fabulous Lean! Serve with your favorite Greens and you have a complete Lean and Green meal. Yum! Talk about a fiesta in my mouth!

I grilled some chicken breasts and cut them into bite size pieces. Measure out 10 oz of cooked chicken. You can also use a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Use the breast of the chicken with skin and bones removed.

Then I added the avocado and used my food scale to measure out 3 oz. Add cilantro, lime juice and your seasonings. Then add the Greek yogurt to give it that creamy goodness without all the fat of mayo. Enjoy!

Avocado Chicken Salad

10 oz finely diced chicken, about 2 cups but weigh for accuracy (1 2/3 Lean)
1/2 cup 2% Plain Greek yogurt (1/3 Lean)
3 oz chopped avocado (2 Healthy Fats)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1 Condiment)
1/4 tsp salt (1 Condiment)
1/8 tsp pepper (1/2 Condiment)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp lime juice (2 Condiments)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (1/4 Condiment)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Divide into 2 servings.

2 Servings with 

1 Lean, 2.37 Condiments and 1 Healthy Fat per serving

Good news everyone! I am doing totally awesome on all four of my DietBet challenges! Yes, you heard me... FOUR! Yeah, I think I am officially addicted to DietBet! Being addicted happens to be a good thing for me because it has really kept my booty motivated and I hate to say it... that is kind of hard to do! I need all the motivation I can get. Losing weight and gaining a little extra cash sounds like a great combo to me! I am losing steadily and I am feeling wonderful! As some of you guys know, I started my own DietBet challenge called Sandy's Kitchen July DietBet that is still going on right now, but I also started one for August! Actually it starts July 31st, but runs through August. If you want to join us, click the link below. It costs $25 to play which goes into one large pot. You must lose 4% of your starting weight in 4 weeks, if you do, then you get to split the pot with all the other winners. Simple as that! Come join the fun!

So far I am down 22 pounds since I started Medifast. I still have 35 to 40 pounds left to go until I hit my goal weight. I am not entirely sure what I want my official goal weight to be. I am thinking 130 pounds since I am only 5'2", but may aim for 125 pounds. We will see as I get closer and closer to 130 :)

 As you can tell, I still have a ways to go to get to goal, but I am getting there one packet at a time! Soon I will be saying Hello to the 150's and Good Bye to the 160's! Sorry I won't miss you 160's, but it is time to move on! Good riddance!

I know this is almost too easy to be classified as a recipe, but I thought I would share it because it tastes too good not to post a little something about it. The recipe is just a mixture of Guy's Smokey Garlic Sugar Free BBQ sauce and low sodium soy sauce poured on top of Trader Joes turkey meatballs. That's it! Yeah, I know... definitely not Betty Crocker, but we all need these quick and easy recipes for days that are crazy busy! 

I have to say... these meatballs sure did hit the spot! I am a BIG fan of BBQ sauce! I love to put it on all my meats and use it as dipping sauce. Yum, yum, yum! Quite honestly, it is really hard to find a great tasting low carb sauce but this one works for me. I am really glad someone turned me on to this one! Thanks fellow reader!

Don't know where to get Guy's BBQ Sauce? Don't panic! You can get at Netrition's website. This is the best website to find all your low carb items and the price is very reasonable too, not to mention flat rate shipping! Just in case it is STILL sold out on their website, here is Guy's BBQ Sauce's main website, Guy's Award Winning BBQ Sauce. It is more expensive on their own website because of their shipping costs are really high so you my want to wait until it comes back in stock on Netrition's website.

Easy BBQ Meatballs

5 Trader Joes Turkey Meatballs OR
6 Jennie-O Homestyle Turkey Meatballs OR
10 Butterball Italian Style Turkey Meatballs (1 Lean)
1/4 cup Guy's Smokey Garlic BBQ Sauce (2 Condiments)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce (1/2 Condiment)

Bake meatballs according to package. Trader Joes is 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Combine BBQ sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl and pour over meatballs.

1 Serving with 1 Lean, 2.5 Condiments and No Healthy Fats Required

I always thought I was a slow loser because it is no secret... I am a daily weigher. As a daily weigher, for some reason I always expect a loss, at least I always hope to have one anyways. I used to get discouraged when I weighed myself, but not anymore. Now I look at the overall picture. I look at how much I have lost during my entire weight loss journey and to be honest, I am pretty darn happy with my overall loss. My total weight loss is 17.8 pounds. On June 1st, I joined two DietBet challenges and since then I have lost 8.6 pounds. As you can see, 8.6 pounds is a great number to focus on for 3 1/2 weeks rather than focusing on my scale not moving for three days! What is important is that I feel fabulous!

Now what about this awesome looking recipe I have below...

Chicken parmesan made into meatballs? Yes please! Meatballs, Italian diced tomatoes and ooeey gooey cheese always make a perfect combination. This is definitely comfort food! I am all about making food that reminds me of good old fashioned home cooking! For the sauce, I just blended diced tomatoes in a small chopper to get it to the consistency of tomato sauce or you can leave it slightly chunkier, depending on how you like your sauce. I like mine a little chunky. Use Italian diced tomatoes instead of the regular kind because it already has the spices inside of it. Also, make sure to check your carbs on the back of the can. Some brands are 5 grams of carbs, while others are 10 grams per 1/2 cup! You need to find a brand that has less than 5 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup. I love Great Value Italian Diced Tomatoes. Enjoy this recipe!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

1 lb 95 to 97% ground chicken (2 Leaner)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (4 Condiments)
1/4 tsp pepper (1/2 Condiment)
1/2 tsp salt (2 Condiments)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1 Condiment)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (1 Condiment)
1/4 tsp onion powder (1/2 Condiment)
1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided (1 Lean)
1 1/2 cups Great Value Italian diced tomatoes or 3/4 cup low carb marinara sauce, divided (3 Greens)

Spaghetti Squash:
3 cups cooked spaghetti squash (6 Greens)
1 tbsp regular butter (2 Healthy Fats)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray a 13 x 9 inch glass dish with cooking spray.
Blend diced tomatoes in a blender or small chopper to resemble tomato sauce or until desired consistency.

Melt butter in a  non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add cooked spaghetti squash strands in skillet and saute for about a minute. Set aside.

Combine ground chicken, parmesan cheese, and spices. Add 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Measure out 3 tbsp of the blended diced tomatoes and add to the ground chicken mixture until completely combined. Form into meatballs. Since this recipe makes three servings, I made twenty-one meatballs. It is so much easier to divide the meatballs evenly when they are in increments of threes such as 15, 18, 21, and so on.

Place meatballs in prepared glass dish. Bake for 25 minutes.
Spread tomato sauce over meatballs and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.  Divide the meatballs into 3 servings. Place each serving of meatballs over 1 cup of spaghetti squash. Enjoy!

Makes 3 Servings
Each serving provides
1 Lean, 3 Greens, 3 Condiments and 2/3 Healthy Fat for the 2/3 Leaner

This is a super easy recipe that you can literally throw together in a matter of minutes. One of the reasons why this recipe is so  quick to make is the use of frozen meatballs. You can use Trader Joe's Flame Broiled Meatballs (5 count as 1 Lean), Butterball Italian Style Turkey Meatballs (10 count as 1 Lean), Jennie-O Homestyle Turkey Meatballs (5 count as 1 Lean), Foster Farms Homestyle Meatballs (5 count as 1 Lean) and Market Pantry Turkey Meatballs (12 count as 1 Lean).

You only need a few ingredients to make the sauce: beef broth,
cream cheese, parsley, pepper and Greek yogurt. You can leave out the Greek yogurt but I added it to give the sauce a little tangyness. I served these meatballs over zucchini ribbons which is a great substitute for pasta! Enjoy!

Swedish Meatballs with Zucchini Ribbons

10 Butterball Italian Style Lean Turkey Meatballs, cooked (1 Lean)
1/2 cup beef broth (1/2 Condiment)
1 wedge light laughing cow cheese (1 Condiment)
1 tbsp sour cream (1 Condiment)
1/8 tsp pepper (1/4 Condiment)
1 tbsp fresh parsley (1/4 Condiment)

Zucchini Ribbons
1 1/2 cups zucchini noodles (3 Greens)
2 tbsp water

Heat beef broth and laughing cow cheese over medium high heat. Heat until laughing cow cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and add pepper; stirring until combined. Add to heated meatballs.

In a non-stick frying pan add water. Throw the zucchini noodles in and lightly toss until the zucchini starts to soften - about 3 minutes. The zucchini will cook quickly. Serve hot.

Serve meatballs over zucchini ribbons. Garnish with parsley.

1 Serving with
1 Lean, 3 Greens, and 3 Condiments

Before I share this recipe, I wanted to share my happy news! I lost another pound bringing me down to 145 lbs! That is the lowest weight I have been in a long time! I am getting closer and closer to goal eating recipes like this one without feeling deprived! Woo-hoo!

This is a yummy cool cauliflower salad recipe that is perfect for a Summer BBQ! It is a mixture of fresh cooked cauliflower, celery, hard boiled eggs, mayo, dijon mustard and spices that make this a delicious copycat version of traditional potato salad but without all the carbs and calories! Give this healthier version a try!

Cauliflower Salad

2 3/4 cup fresh cauliflower, 
cooked and chopped (5 1/2 Greens)
1/4 cup celery, chopped* (1/2 Green)
2 hard boiled egg, chopped (2/3 Lean)
3 tbsp light mayo (2 Healthy Fats)
2 tsp dijon mustard or yellow mustard 
(2 Condiments with dijon mustard or 2/3 Condiment with yellow mustard)
1/4 tsp salt (1 Condiment)
1/4 tsp onion powder (1/2 Condiment)
1/8 tsp black pepper (1/4 Condiment)
sprinkle of paprika

Steam cauliflower until cooked for about 5 minutes 
or until cauliflower is fork tender. 
Make sure cauliflower is still firm but fork tender. 
Rinse in cold water to cool; pat dry with paper towel until dry. 
Add the cauliflower to a bowl with celery and eggs. 
Stir in mayo, dijon mustard, salt, onion power, and pepper stirring until combined. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. 
Chill for at least 1 hour.

Makes 2 Servings
Each serving provides
1/3 Lean, 3 Greens, less than 2 Condiments, and 1 Healthy Fat

Serve this with 2/3 Leaner or Leanest option such as 4 ounces of grilled chicken breasts or 4.6 oz shrimp

*Don't like celery? Try 1/4 cup sliced green onions in place of celery.
*Don't like eggs? Omit them and eat a full serving of protein from the Leaner or Leanest category (add 1 more healthy fat).

These are a great snack if you don't burn them like me! I tried to follow the recipe and bake it 7 to 7 1/2 minutes, but it was just way too long in my oven (hence some of the burnt pieces in the photo). It was still pretty good though. Use your favorite seasoning! I just used Cajun, but you can always use salt, pepper and chili powder like the original recipe suggests. They puff up into weird shapes so mine did not come out very pretty, but the taste was there. Make sure you do not put them too close together or they will combine with the other pieces. Enjoy the recipe!

Cheese Crisps and Mock "Goldfish" Crackers
Recipe courtesy George Stella

2 slices 2% American cheese (not "cheese food") (1/3 Lean)
1/4 tsp Cajun Seasoning or your fave seasoning (1/2 Condiment)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Stack the slices of American cheese and cut it into 16 small squares. Separate the pieces, and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the salt, chili powder, and garlic powder toss to combine. Arrange the 32 cheese pieces in 4 rows of 8, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving as much space in between each as possible. (This is important because it will combine with the other cheese pieces!).

Bake both until well-browned and crispy, about 7 and 7 1/2 minutes. As you can tell from the photo, mine were burnt at 7 minutes. I will try 6 minutes next time. Still good though : ) If undercooked, they'll be soggy, so don't be afraid to check them and put them back in for more time, if needed.
Cool the crisps and crackers completely before serving—as they cool, they'll crisp up. Store on the counter in an airtight container for a few days.

1/3 Lean and 1/2 Condiment

(You could also use 1 slice of cheese and use it as your additional 2 oz of protein a day and not subtract from your lean. Nutrition support said we can have up to 2 oz of additional protein a day on occasion and not hurt our weight loss)

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