Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Jumping on the Meatless Monday Bandwagon


Typically I don’t really like to conform to the latest fad, but eventually I usually “jump on the bandwagon” if it is actually a good idea…like “meatless Mondays”. I have been planning our meals in advance for quite some time now and in an effort to get skinny and healthy again I’ve really tried to make sure we are limiting our red meat consumption, as well as try to have a variety of different foods, which can be challenging. I know Hubby doesn’t want to eat chicken 5 times a week!  I guess another reason why I never considered a “meatless” day is because I love meat & so does Hubby. However, like I said I thought this would be a nice idea for a healthier me (& Hubby gets the benefits too!). I have to admit I was nervous that Hubby wouldn’t go for it, but so far (I’ve only done it two Mondays now) the meals have been a hit with him.

Last night I made 4 cheese stuffed shells with arugula. I know you’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound like a good meal to eat to achieve a skinnier body, but with a little tweaking and some fresh seasoning, this turned out to be one heck of a “Slimmed Down Sensation”! This recipe makes 3 servings (1 serving = 3 shells and approx. 2/3 cup of sauce) and one serving is only 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus. It is super tasty and better yet super filling! Usually I get pretty hungry again after dinner and before bed, but these bad boys filled me up for the whole night!

Can’t wait to try some more Meatless Monday Meals!!!

 

Slimmed Down Four Cheese Stuffed Shells with Arugula

(Makes 3 servings; 1 serving = 3 shells + 2/3 cup sauce = 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus)

9 jumbo pasta shells

1 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Filling:

1 cup fat free ricotta cheese

½ oz. parmesan cheese, grated

1 oz. asiago cheese, shredded

1 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups arugula, chopped

Sauce:

1 tsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper.

  1. Cook shells according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Make the filling. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. Cook garlic about 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant and just turning brown. Add the arugula and continue to cook for another minute or two until the arugula becomes just slightly wilted.
  3. In a medium size bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan and asiago cheeses. Add the arugula & garlic mixture and mix well to combine.
  4. Fill the shells with approximately 2 tbsp. of the filling.
  5. Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, except for basil and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Add about 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of an 8×8” glass dish, sprayed with cooking spray.
  8. Place the shells in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce.
  9. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake in a 350 degree F. preheated oven for 20 minutes. These can be made ahead and refrigerated. If baking from refrigerator cook for 30-40 minutes, or until shells are heated through and sauce is bubbly.
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Chicken Pomodoro


I came across this recipe in Cuisine at Home magazine. I had never heard of chicken pomodoro so I wasn’t exactly sure if the recipe is similar to an authentic version of the dish or not. An internet search didn’t provide too much information, so maybe one of you can enlighten me!?!? In any case this is a really good dish. It is definitely one of those restaurant quality meals that your guests and/or loved ones will think you slaved away making, when in reality, it’s pretty simple to make. I served this with a side of pasta with a light tomato sauce.

The recipe calls for vodka, which kind of intrigued me.  I cook with alcohol all the time, but if you are not too keen on doing this I’ve read that you can substitute white grape juice for vodka. However, I’ve never tried it so I am not saying that it will work or that it will taste good.  If anyone has tried it or has other suggestions please share!! Anyway, be careful with the vodka…it is best to remove the pan from the heat and then add the vodka to deglaze the pan. Don’t forget to pound your chicken to ¼” thick to ensure even cooking. Also, I didn’t have any scallions on hand so I just cut up some fresh basil and used that to garnish.

Chicken Pomodoro

Source: Cuisine at Home

10-12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded into cutlets

Salt & Pepper, to taste

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup vodka

½ cup chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp. heavy cream

Scallions, for garnish

  1. Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour.
  2. Heat a sauté pan to medium high and add the oil. When the oil is hot sauté the cutlets until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (approximately 5 minutes per side). Remove chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside.
  3. Remove pan from heat and deglaze with the vodka.  Return to heat and cook until nearly evaporated.
  4. Add chicken stock and lemon juice and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high. Stir in the cream and chopped tomato and heat through.
  5. Pour the sauce over the cutlets and garnish with scallions.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
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Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce


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I’m not quite sure if this is an “authentic” marinara sauce, but it’s easy to make & it tastes great (and way better than the kind in a jar). I always let mine simmer for about an hour, but if you’re really crunched for time you could get away with 30 minutes. The best thing to do, however, is to make it the day before…the flavors are just so much more prominent letting it sit for a day. This is nothing too fancy so you can definitely substitute dried herbs for the fresh, just remember to use less of the dried. I’ve done this plenty of times and it still tastes good (fresh herbs are better though!). As for the wine you can use any red wine. Up until tonight I had always used chianti, but today I used a Cabernet that I’d opened but didn’t really like for drinking. It tasted good in the sauce and didn’t taste all that different from when I use the Chianti. Serve over pasta or with whatever your heart desires (used mine for steak strombolis tonight)!

Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Red Wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
2. Add garlic & onion and cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add wine to pan and allow to reduce by about half.
4. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, parsley & oregano.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for an hour or more. 6. Stir in basil and serve.

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Italian Sausage and Three Cheese Raviolletti


This is a quick pasta dish great for a weeknight meal. Full of flavor and fresh ingredients the whole family will love it! I know my Hubby did! 😉 I originally saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine, but I did change it up significantly starting with the type of sausage and pasta. It is a pretty basic recipe, so you can definitely use any pasta you like or spicy sausage or a different type of meat. For this recipe I used Buitoni Three Cheese Raviolletti which you can find in the dairy section of the grocery store.

Back in the day  in high school (we won’t mention how far back)I had learned in cooking class to always get all your ingredients prepared and measured out and ready to go before you begin the actual cooking or baking part. Fast forward to adulthood and when I first started out cooking I seemed to have forgotten this important “preparation” step. My cooking was unorganized, timed poorly and just an all around mess. As a matter of fact my own Mother commented that I was “a messy cook.” Initially this didn’t really matter to me so much as long as the end result tasted good! However, as I’ve gotten better and better I realized taking 10-15 minutes to prepare everything and have it readily available makes everything run so much smoother and easier….no more running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off. As you can see in the picture, I took the time to chop the garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes, as well as cooking the pasta while I cut everything up. Once it was time to cook, I just grabbed everything as I went along. The total time for me to make this and put it on the table was about 40 minutes with minimal clean up afterwards. I guess those old cliche’s are true…practice does make perfect!

Italian Sausage & Three Cheese Ravioletti (Makes 4 servings)

9 oz. Buitoni Three Cheese Ravioletti

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Italian Sausage (casings removed)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp. salt

Black Pepper, to taste

1-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until it begins to brown.
  3. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, mushrooms, salt & pepper, stirring occassionally until the mushrooms start to brown.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften slightly, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the pasta and cheese, cook until the cheese has melted.
  8. Divide among bowls, topping each bowl with some parmesan cheese.
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Slimmed Down Sensation: Spaghetti & Turkey Parmesan Meatballs


Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Turkey Parmesan Meatballs

Here is a slimmed down recipe that even my husband enjoys! While neither of us are big fans of ground turkey, every now and then I come up with a perfected dish using it. These meatballs are a prime example. They are great in spaghetti or meatball subs or you could even serve them as an appetizer with a sweet & sour sauce. Typically, I make them with spaghetti and since this is a “slimmed down sensation”, I’ll be including the whole spaghetti & meatballs recipe, but you can use these however you like….and probably most people won’t even notice that they’re turkey. As a matter of fact, I made a big pot of these to take to a potluck party and no one knew they were turkey. The only reason I even decided to use turkey was to accommodate one of my friends who does not eat beef or pork…and she kept asking me “are you sure these are turkey?” I got lots of compliments and have kept these in my dinner rotation ever since (especially once I got the approval of The Hubby!).

These meatballs freeze really well and now that I am being a good little dieter and following appropriate portion sizes…I vacuum seal 4 meatballs in a bag (using my Food Saver), freeze them and use them as needed. I find that if I make more than one serving I am too tempted to munch on them, since they are small in size. Of course, if you are not concerned with portion control you can (A) make them any size you want & (B) eat as many as you want!

As for my slimmed down sauce, I use canned crushed tomatoes (I hate chunks of tomatoes in my food! Just one of my weird eating quirks) and to make it thicker I add canned pumpkin. This helps to add some substance to the sauce plus pumpkin is very low in calories and has no fat, is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants and is a good source of fiber. I know what you are thinking…pumpkin?? But trust me when I tell you that you won’t even know it is in there…you can’t taste it, smell it or see it. I am an extremely picky eater, which makes dieting even more of a challenge for me, so this is definitely a good find for me. Adding the pumpkin also makes you feel more satisfied than just using the crushed tomatoes for your sauce. In the recipe, I’ll list the herbs & spices I use to spruce up the tomato sauce, but like I always say the best recipes are ones you can change to meet your own preferences. I sometimes also add frozen chopped spinach to get more veggies and make it even more filling. For the pasta I use whole wheat thin spaghetti, about ½ cup cooked.

For those of you following “Weight Watchers Points Plus”, the meatballs should be made very small (about 1”) and you should get 28 meatballs.

  • 1 serving = 4 meatballs
  • Meatball recipe makes 7 servings.
  • 1 serving (4 meatballs) = 3 WW points plus
  • Tomato Sauce recipe makes 2 servings.
  • Tomato sauce = 1 WW point plus
  • ½ cup cooked whole wheat pasta = 2 WW points plus

Turkey Parmesan Meatballs (Makes 7 servings)

Ingredients

3 tsp. minced garlic

1 lb. uncooked 99% fat-free ground turkey breast

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 ½ tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. onion powder

¼ cup refrigerated egg substitute (ex. Egg Beaters)

1 tbsp. dried parsley

1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning

½ tsp. black pepper

1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or ½ tsp. chili powder if you don’t want it to be too spicy)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Roll into 1” balls (you should get 28 meatballs).
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Slimmed Down Spaghetti Sauce (Makes 2 servings)

Ingredients

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

¼ cup canned pumpkin

2 tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. dried Italian Seasoning

Salt & pepper to taste.

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, mix tomatoes and pumpkin until well combined.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and heat over low heat for a few minutes or until heated through.
  • If using meatballs, add to sauce and simmer for a few minutes. If meatballs are frozen, add to sauce and allow to cook over low heat until the meatballs are reheated.

3. Serve with ½ cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti.

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