Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it made me drool.  INSTANTLY.

Spinach Queso Pinterest | No Thanks to Cake(Source)

It has spinach and tomatoes… and has a base similar to that addictive white queso cheese from Mexican restaurants.  I did the right thing… I pinned the recipe to a “Dangerously Delicious” board on Pinterest and stepped away from the idea of ever making this mac and cheese.  Do you do that too?  Pin delicious foods that you’re never (ever) going to make?  I totally do…

However, this mac and cheese concoction stuck in my brain.  And, I wondered if there was a way to make this dish a little bit healthier.  And, I figured out a way!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

 I’m not going to tell you that this recipe is the same as the original.  That it has that creamy gooeyness that comes with that cheese sauce.  BUT… what I can tell you is, that for someone who has never tasted the original… I think this is the best darn spinach queso mac and cheese EVER!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

Inspired by Pinterest

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2 oz. whole wheat macaroni, cooked

2 Tbsp. diced onion

1 tsp. minced garlic, about 1 clove

1/2 can of Rotel Tomatoes – Original recipe, drained

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Queso Fresco and Chipotle flavor

 1 container Green Giant Just for One Broccoli and Cheese

Dash of Cumin

2 cups spinach

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Saute your aromatics in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray for 1-2 minutes.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Meanwhile, cook the tray of broccoli and cheese per the package instructions.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add the wedge of Laughing Cow and mix in.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add spinach to the pan, and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes) stirring frequently.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add your tomatoes to the pan.  Be sure to drain the Rotel before adding it to the pan.  Cook 1-2 minutes and mix well.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add cooked pasta to the pan and the cheesy broccoli mixture.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add a dash of cumin, optional.  Stir pasta well, cooking until cheese have combined and melted.  Stir often.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Move pasta to a bowl, and prepare yourself for a treat!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Per Entire Recipe:

CAL 320; CARB 57g; FAT 5g; PROT 14g; FIB 11g; WW Points Plus: 8

Related posts:

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine

Whenever I’m asked what my favorite type of cuisine is, I usually say Indian.  While I don’t eat it all that often, it is my go-to choice for my birthday dinner.  That must mean it’s my favorite, right??

The rich flavors of curry, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom… I always find that indian food has great depth and the spicy kick is what keeps me coming back for more.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about creating a Jenny meal that had Indian flavors, and this week, I finally made it happen!  So delicious and so much more filling with all the added flavors!

Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

1 pkg. Jenny Craig Chicken Fettuccine

2 cups spinach

2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced

1 tsp. ginger, grated

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. cumin

1/8 tsp. ground coriander

2 pinches turmeric

1 pinch ground cardamom

5 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Optional:  Cayenne powder, hot curry powder

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Cook your Jenny cuisine in the microwave for 3 1/2 minutes.  Note:  This is less than the package’s cooking time, but you will “finish” cooking the dish in a sauté pan.  So, a minute or so less is perfect microwave time!

2. Meanwhile, start to cook your aromatics in a pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add your spices:  turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and cumin.  Stir to combine.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Slice tomatoes and add them to the mixture.  Note:  Use whatever tomatoes you have on hand.  I just happened to have cherry tomatoes that I needed to use up.  Other varieties would work well too!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add your spinach to the mixture.  Stir frequently as the spinach cooks, and wait for the greens to wilt down.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Optional:  Add a few shakes of cayenne and 1/8 tsp. hot curry powder.  Note:  For some reason, I wanted a little extra spice so I threw it in!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add the Jenny meal to the pan and stir to combine the flavors.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Move to a pretty pretty plate and enjoy!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Enjoy!

Divider

If you love Indian flavors, here are a few other recipes you might enjoy!

Healthy Chicken Saag | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Better Butter Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Related posts:

Easy Bubble Up Italian Casserole

I love adding new pieces to my kitchen.  Whether it’s a new tool or a new set of Fiesta or a new appliance… I love it!

I actually find myself having to tiptoe through Target… not looking at anything that is not specifically on my list, or else I end up with new things at home that were not planned for.  Exhibit A:  These cute, cute serving bowls shaped like veggies from Threshold I spotted at Target.  So stinkin’ cute!

Threshold Serving Dishes | No Thanks to Cake

Can you even imagine how adorable that purple onion would be with dip in it on a buffet table?  Well… I soon may find out since it crept home with me.  :)

I also have dear, dear friends who spoil me with kitchen items, including this beautiful baking dish from Anthropologie.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  My friend Steffanie sent it to me for Christmas… and while it screams brownies, I’ve been using it to bake yummy casseroles.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Ever since I made the Easy Bubble-Up Enchilada Casserole, I wanted to try an Italian version.  And, because this recipe is so simple, I had everything I needed in the fridge.  Look how delicious it baked up!

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble Up Italian Casserole

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1 small onion, diced

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups fresh spinach

1 tsp. italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 (14-oz) can italian-style diced tomatoes

1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce

5 reduced fat Pilsbury Reduced Fat Grands, uncooked and quartered

1/2 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Brown turkey in a large skillet and drain if needed.  Grind up meat in a food processor until finely ground.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

3.   Add onions and garlic to the pan and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach to the pan, and cook for 60 seconds until wilted.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Return the meat to the skillet.  Stir to combine.  Cook 1-2 minutes.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

5.    Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Stir to combine.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

6.    Cut the refrigerated biscuits into sixths and stir them in the meat mixture.  Note:  This is the part in the recipe where I started to question what the heck I was making.  Don’t question it… keep going!

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

7.    Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and add the mixture evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

9.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

10.  Serve and enjoy!!

Easy Bubble-Up Italian Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1/8 recipe serving:

CAL 206; CARB 19g; FAT 8g; PROT 14g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 5

Related posts:

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken

After I made that decadent panini last week, I knew I wanted more of that spinach and artichoke goodness.

There’s really nothing that I don’t love about spinach and artichokes being mixed together.  Whether they’re coming together as dip or serving as toppings on pizza, they’re kind of amazing.

When I first moved to Colorado almost SEVEN years ago, my friend Jen came out to help me get settled in (thanks, Jennie!) and during her trip I whipped together a spinach and artichoke chicken that rocked our socks off.  It was creamy, delicious and I remember it having a WHOLE lotta mayonnaise.  Fast forward seven years, and I’ve never made an attempt to recreate this dish in a healthy manner until now.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

I’m so glad that I did!!!  I leaned on my friends at Laughing Cow Cheese to bring their wedged cheese deliciousness to the table… and to replace a lot of the creamy goodness that the mayonnaise delivered.  With the Laughing Cow added as my secret ingredient, I didn’t miss the extra mayo… not for a second!

This dish is not only incredibly flavorful, but the chicken comes out very tender through the process.  Try this one out for sure, and as usual, multiply the ingredients to make larger portions if you’re feeding a family or love leftovers…

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

1 4 oz. chicken breast

1 wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese – Light Swiss flavor

1 artichoke heart, chopped

2 Tbsp. diced onion

1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach

1 Tbsp. grated Asiago cheese

1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic (or 1 1/2 cloves)

cooking spray

salt

pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Add garlic, artichokes, and onion in a saute pan, coated with cooking spray.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add spinach to the pan, and sauté until wilted.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Remove your veggies to a bowl, and add your Laughing Cow Cheese and mayonnaise.  Stir to combine.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Place a piece of chicken in an oven-safe dish, sprayed with cooking spray.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Note:  I also added some crunchy Garlic Gold nuggets, because you can’t have too much garlic…

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Spread the “dip” on top of the chicken.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Top with the grated Asiago cheese.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until the chicken is done and the top of the dish is browned.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

9.  Plate that chicken and enjoy!!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Per entire recipe serving:

CAL 207; CARB 4g; FAT 9g; PROT 29g; FIB 0g; WW Points Plus: 5

Related posts: