Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Dinner

It has been years since I have been to Cracker Barrel. Truthfully when I hear the words “Cracker Barrel” I automatically think southern style comfort foods which are not the healthiest choices.  Considering I haven’t been to the restaurant in ages, I pulled up their menu online and I have to say I was surprised they had healthier options available.  The one downside is they do not offer nutrition information on their website.  Although, thankfully Weight Watchers has a handful of the restaurants foods listed on their website/app with the associated points plus values.
I decided to order the Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Dinner which comes with 6 marinated grilled chicken tenderloins along with your choice of 3 sides. After scanning over the available side dishes, I opted to go with a side garden salad with fat free honey mustard dressing, a baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli.
The salad was served first and was a classic mix of mixed greens. The salad dressing was of course the show stealer and was exceptionally delicious. When my entrée was served I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how good the grilled chicken tenderloin was! Typically I am very picky when it comes to getting chicken at restaurants – it’s either too rubbery, not cooked/seasoned to my liking, etc. But this was perfect. Aside from the few pieces of grizzle I found (only because I truly dissect my food when I eat), it was out of this world and the marinade that was used was fabulous. The sweet potato was delicious – cooked perfectly and the broccoli was steamed just right. The meal was flavorful, delicious and overall filling.
I actually enjoyed the meal so much that next time I go back to Cracker Barrel; it’ll be the exact meal I order.  The chicken tenderloin was 6 points plus, the salad dressing was 1 points plus, and I guestimated the sweet potato to be 3 points plus (it could have been 2, but I’d rather aim higher than lower).

Slow Cooker Sweet & Tangy Chicken Dinner

I was looking for something different to make for dinner, but I wanted something I could throw together in the crock pot because I had a busy day on my hands. After not being too impressed with the ideas I came up with I decided to check out Emily Bites blog. I know a lot of folks enjoy her recipes and I’ve looked but haven’t truly tried many of her dishes.
Looking over the dishes I opted to try out the Slow Cooker Sweet & Tangy Chicken(see recipe here) because I had all the ingredients on hand.
Like typical crock pot meals it was super simple to throw together.  Then before I knew it, the main dinner dish was ready. As the directions state, I removed the chicken from the sauce, transferred the sauce to a pot and thickened the sauce up on the stove. My sauce thickened up, perhaps a little too much – but nonetheless it was a great addition to place over the cooked shredded chicken.
I served this over white rice and paired it with fresh steamed green beans and some canned carrots.  Definitely a delicious diner!
A ½ cup serving of chicken with sauce is 209 calories or 5 points plus values.
The entire meal as pictured is 10 points plus values.

Dinner: Broccoli & Carrot Alfredo w/ Chicken Cutlet

This is a quick and easy dinner I whipped up the other night. I knew pasta was on the dinner menu, but I had no real other inclination as to what to do with it … until I saw a jar of Ragu Light Alfredo sauce. Alfredo pasta it shall be!
This was a rather quick, easy and filling meal I was able to whip up in less than 20 minutes.  I had some Tyson Lightly Breaded Chicken Strips that I popped into the oven to crisp up while I set a pot of water on to boil. I was boiling up some Al Dente Carba-Nada pasta for myself.  I popped a bag of fresh broccoli and carrots into the microwave and let them steam.  When the pasta was done, I drained it, added in some black pepper, tossed in the broccoli and carrots, then added in some Ragu Light Alfredo sauce. I actually made 2 servings, one serving for diner and another to have for lunch the following day.
Since pasta, without a protein is something I don’t eat; I weighed out 3 ounces of chicken and served that alongside my pasta dish.  It was delicious, filling and a perfectly different meal.  The entire plate was only 10 points plus values.
Do you like alfredo pasta?

Dinner: Country style pork ribs, potato and salad

This is a delicious dinner I had this weekend. Yes, that’s a marvelous thing about Weight Watchers – I can eat homemade barbecue without guilt and it’s deliciously fabulous.
Country style pork ribs were on sale at a local grocery store, so I picked up a pack. Since I was going to be gone for the better half of the day, I asked my mother if she wouldn’t mind making some ribs (she makes the best ribs, BTW). She agreed, so she whipped up a batch – typically she boils them with vinegar, water and an onion and then bakes them off in the oven with some barbecue sauce. Usually it’s a homemade sauce, but she decided to use Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.
I requested that she leave my ribs aside (after baking for a few minutes) for me to pull the meat off the bone, separate the fat and mix with barbecue sauce. I ended up getting two meals out of it.
What I had for dinner was 3 oz country style pork ribs (off the bone) w/ sweet baby rays bbq sauce (7 ppv), 5 oz potato (3ppv) & side salad w/ 1 tbsp light italian (0 ppv). It was a delicious 10 points plus and worth every point!
Do you like having barbecue for dinner?

Autumn Chicken Pasta

I was inspired by a Skinnytaste recipe but decided to throw a spin on it since I had chicken out to cook and not sausage and ground beef.  I was actually at Trader Joe’s when I spotted the brussel sprouts and pulled up the Skinnytaste recipe to have a peak since I had never looked at the regular recipe before then (I’d only seen the picture of it).
Deciding since it was later in the afternoon and I didn’t want to head to my regular grocery store, I’d make due with what I had on hand and what I could pick up at Trader Joe’s.  With that a lot of the ingredients I used are Trader Joe’s brand, but comparable products can be picked up at a regular grocery store.
This was a delicious meal. Quite interesting with the brussel sprouts in it, and the flavor category was fabulous. Packed with flavor, a heaping serving and the leftovers were able to marinate a little further while in the refrigerator overnight.
Serves 6. 1 ¾ cup serving. 10 Points Plus Values.
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/8 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into small chunks
  • 28 oz. can of Trader Joe’s Trader Giotto’s Low Fat Tuscano Marinara Sauce (you can substitute with another variation of low-fat marinara sauce)
  • 12 oz. spaghetti (I used Barilla White Fiber Spaghetti)
  • 10 oz. shaved brussel sprouts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp water (optional)
Add raw chicken to a bowl, season with garlic powder a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Toss to combine, stabbing the chicken with a fork to get the flavor into the chicken pieces.
Fill a large pot with salted water. Once brought to a boil, add in your spaghetti and cook until (I recommend) al dente.
In a large non-stick skillet, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Once hot add in garlic and let sauté for roughly 30 seconds before adding in the brussel sprouts – season with remaining salt and pepper.
Saute the brussel sprouts for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften.  If they begin to stick to the pan add in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until cooked through. Remove brussel sprouts from the pan and set aside.
In the same non-stick skillet, add the remaining 1 ½ tsp of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add in chicken and let brown and crisp up on both sides until cooked through. Try not to move the chicken much on each side to allow it to brown and get some color.
Once chicken is cooked, combine with brussel sprouts and toss. Pour in can of sauce and begin to add spaghetti, tossing to ensure the whole dish is combined and coated with sauce.
Remove from the flame and enjoy!

Roast Chicken Dinner

I typically don’t make whole chickens, but once in a blue moon I do.  I’m more of a white meat kind of girl – but since my boyfriend likes legs and wings the bird doesn’t go to waste.  We happened to be given a whole chicken, so I decided to whip together a dinner that could have been straight out of a Martha Steward magazine.
I cleaned out the chicken carcass, rinsed it down with water, and then put it into a basket which I had set inside of a casserole pan. This way the grease could drip from the meat and the air could evenly circulate around the bird crisping it all up … instead of crisping the top and leaving the rest a greasy, soggy mess.  I went into the cabinet and concocted a dry rub mixture, adding salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning, McCormick chicken seasoning, Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute, and oregano into a bowl. I mixed it together then evenly rubbed it over the skin (top and bottom), then separated the skin from the meat and rubbed the seasoning over the meat as well.  I stuffed a medium quartered onion into the cavity and popped it all into a 350 degree oven and baked it for roughly 1 ½ hours.
I cut some washed yellow skinned potatoes into chunks and put them into a pot of salted water.  When the chicken had 30 minutes left to cook I put my potatoes onto boil. I didn’t peel my potatoes because the skin is about as thick as red skinned potatoes. Plus I like my mashed potatoes with skin on them. I mashed them up with a teaspoon of margarine, some skim milk, salt and pepper.
I had some French style frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s.  I took half the bag and defrosted them in the microwave, drained the water from them, then tossed them with minced garlic. I then popped the green beans onto a non-stick baking sheet, which was coated with non-stick cooking spray and roasted them off in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Since I had some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, I decided to chop them up and make a childhood favorite – tomato, onion and cucumber salad. It’s simply pickling cucumbers, sliced, tomatoes sliced or quartered and scallions that are chopped. Before serving I simply toss it with 1 tablespoon of the dressing of my or my guests’ choice.
At dinner time I heated up some canned chicken gravy and opened a small can of jellied cranberry sauce. It was literally like Thanksgiving dinner … and what’s even better was it was delicious WITHOUT my beloved stuffing.
My whole plate for dinner was 10 points plus!
Do you like Thanksgiving-esque dinners?

Stuffed Peppers

Growing up my mother made THE best stuffed peppers (she still does).  She makes them the way my grandmother made them which also means they’re a family favorite. I’ve since learned how to make them and since becoming a Weight Watcher I’ve changed the recipe up just a tad (really only changing the ground beef and the choice of sauce) to make it a bit more point friendly.  The flavor is still there, it’s still reminiscent of my mother’s stuffed peppers and better yet she has even given them the stamp of approval!
As I got older, I realized that stuffed peppers can and are made in a wide range of ways. Bake, boil, par-boil, etc. Ingredients are plentiful and widely different.  You name it, it’s done.  But I will say, I’ve tried stuffed pepper recipes which are baked and par-boiled … but this way has always stolen my heart and taste buds. Perhaps that’s just because of how I’m used to having them but they’re perfect.
These can be eaten plain, as they are … but I do enjoy them with a little bit of ketchup on them. Again, childhood thing and it’s something I’ve never outgrown.  Another great thing about these is you can increase or shrink the recipe to however many peppers you’re aiming to make.  I’ve made 6 which was dinner for 3 individuals back-to-back, and then I’ve made 12 because we were having dinner guests.
I will point out my favorite way to have the peppers is with a tried and true green bell pepper. I feel it brings out more of the meat flavor and holds up during the boiling process a bit better.  I’ve also switched out my choice of pasta sauce using either canned (when making a smaller batch) or jarred when making more than 6.
Serves 6. Serving size 1 stuffed pepper. 10 points plus values.
          6 Medium Bell Peppers (red or green – just try to keep them around the same size)
          1 large onion, chopped
          1 ½ lbs 93% lean ground beef, raw
          1 ½ cups uncooked white rice (I prefer Goya Golden Canilla I find the rice keeps shape and doesn’t mush up but any white rice will do)
          1 can Hunts Pasta Sauce – Chunky Vegetable
          1 ½ tsp salt
          1 1/2 tsp black pepper
Wash peppers and cut to remove the stems and inner seeds. You can either take off the whole top, or cut a hole into it. Make sure to leave the pepper intact – like a bowl.
In a large bowl combine raw ground beef, rice, onion, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine (I use my hands).  Add in about ½ can of sauce and combine until well incorporated throughout the meat and rice mixture.
Stuff each pepper with equal amounts of meat. It’s okay if the peppers have a rounded top to them. Place the peppers into a deep pan that has a matching lid.
Fill the pan with water so the peppers are covered roughly ½ way up the sides.  Pour remaining sauce over the top of the peppers and into the water.
Place the pan over a medium flame until water begins a mild boil.  Cover, lower flame to medium-low.  Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes.  You can test if it’s done by making sure the rice granules are cooked through. If not done after 45 minutes, cook for 5-minutes longer.

Fit For You Mushroom Bleu Top Sirloin @ 99 Restaurant

My boyfriend and I decided we were going to go out to eat one night, so we opted for the 99 Restaurant – which is a local chain restaurant that can be found scattered around the East Coast.  The 99 happens to be one of my boyfriend’s favorite chains, so when we do go I tend to order off the “Fit For You” menu, which offers meals under a specific amount of calories.  The 99 does offer their nutrition information on their website, which is helpful in aiding me in deciding what I’m going to eat when we go there.  I have to admit, some of the dishes are completely shocking so I tend to go with what I’m craving that day.
On this particular night I really wanted a piece of steak so I ordered the Fit For You Mushroom Bleu Top Sirloin.  According to the menu the dish is 420 calories and is “a 6 oz. top sirloin steak is flame broiled and crowned with fresh sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of bleu cheese crumbles. Served with a grilled tomato and fresh broccoli.”
Seemed like it would be delicious and it was – although I believe next time I will order it with the bleu cheese on the side. The cheese gave the steak and mushrooms a nice kick, but I’m typically sensitive to salt and the natural saltiness in the cheese was more than enough to make me shiver. The sirloin was delicious, cooked perfectly and relatively lean.  The broccoli was perfect, as it always is and the grilled tomatoes were really a unique twist on a naturally cold side.
The whole dish was 10 points plus. Well worth it for a meal out on the go.
What is your favorite dish to order while eating out?

Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Potato and Caesar Salad

This is a unique twist on a typical dinner. Normally, I don’t eat Caesar salad, but the kit was on sale at the grocery store and my boyfriend enjoys it – so Caesar salad it was! My personal request was the potato because for those of us Weight Watchers folks, we know potatoes are a power food.  Power foods mean I’m a lot more satisfied with my dinner and I’m not poking around the kitchen a few hours later looking for a snack.
This dinner was quite filling and delicious.  We cooked the chicken out on the grill and cooked the potatoes in the microwave – which really simplifies the process and leaves you with a firm but soft, ready to eat potato. The salad really threw a curve ball into the staple dinner, completely changing up the flavors. The entire plate pictured is 10 points plus.
4 ounces of grilled chicken
7 ounces of potato, seasoned with black pepper and spray butter
1 cup of light Caesar salad
What are your favorite sides to have with grilled chicken?

Dinner: Carba-Nada Pasta with Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatballs

It’s been a while since we had pasta and I really had a hankering for it.  Since we were having pasta, I decided to try out two Trader Joe’s products I had picked up for a pasta night – turkey meatballs and garlic marinara sauce.
I’ve grown into quite a loving fan of Carba-Nada pasta. 1 ½ cups of pasta is only 3 points plus which is quite a bang for my buck, points wise.  Not only am I getting a bigger serving of pasta, but I’m getting it all for almost half the points of regular pasta.  I made myself two servings of pasta – one to have for dinner and the other to have as leftovers the following day. Of course, we made regular Barilla pasta for my boyfriend to have with his serving of pasta.
I had some red peppers on the countertop that I had picked up at the grocery store. I typically like to boost up my pasta with extra flavors, so I sliced up a whole red pepper, a medium onion and put it into the oven to roast.  When the pasta and onions were done, I simply tossed them into my cooked pasta dishes.
I tossed the pasta with servings (1/2 cup) of Trader Joe’s Garlic Marinara Sauce.  The sauce is thick and sticks to the pasta.  Each ½ cup serving is 2 points plus. The sauce is incredibly flavorful and adheres to the pasta nicely.  Nothing is worse than runny sauce on pasta that just makes a soupy mess.
As a side to our pasta, I cooked the Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Turkey Meatballs in the oven. I let the outside brown until heated throughout and then garnished the pasta dishes with the meatballs on the side.  A serving size is 2 meatballs which calculate out to 3 points plus values. I decided to have a double serving for 5 points plus values.  The meatballs are totally delicious – my boyfriend quite enjoyed them and they were a hit. So much of a hit, I repurchased a bag on my last Trader Joe’s trip. They don’t have that “frozen meatball” flavor that I find frozen meatballs typically have.
The whole dish shown was only 10 points plus values! Quite a steal for a boatload of delicious food!
What is your favorite way to have pasta?