Jill’s Sausage Dip

My friend Jill shared this recipe with me many years ago. Ever since, it has been a hit every time I take it to a party or family gathering.

Jill’s Sausage Dip
1 lb Jimmy Dean mild or hot sausage
2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, do not drain
2 blocks cream cheese (I use low-fat or fat-free, but any kind works well)
½ tsp. Chipotle Chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder

Brown sausage in a skillet. Drain off all grease and place sausage a Crock-pot. Add tomatoes, cream cheese, Chipotle Chili powder and garlic powder. Cook on low temperature until cream cheese melts enough to stir, then set Crock-pot to warm. Serve with tortilla chips, carrot sticks and celery sticks.

Recipe can easily be doubled.

Leftovers taste great the next day as an omelet filling.

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Quick and Easy Chicken Fajita Soup

This is a great quick and easy soup. It’s made from mostly pantry/produce items that I keep on hand all the time. You can use a store-bought roasted chicken or any leftover chicken that you have.

Store-bought jalapeño peppers are usually mild but occasionally you will get a hot one. Just use half the pepper, or omit if you are adverse to the heat.

Chicken Fajita Soup

Serves 6

32 oz. chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
½-1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
16 oz salsa verde (I used the roasted variety)
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes, not drained
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1½-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 package fajita seasoning mix
1 c. frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste

Lime wedges, guacamole, sour cream, and chopped cilantro if desired

Combine chicken broth and next 7 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shredded chicken, fajita seasoning mix and corn and cook an additional 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with lime wedges, guacamole, sour cream, and chopped cilantro if desired.

You can also crush tortilla chips and sprinkle over the soup.

Stuffed Baked Potato Salad

This is a great potato salad to take to family gatherings or on picnics. Roasting the potatoes gives them a depth of flavor that cannot be achieved through the standard method of boiling. Start off with just half the package of the Ranch dip mix and taste before deciding if you want to add more. It can overpower and make the dish too salty if you use too much.

Definitely not a low-carb dish, but my family loves it.

Stuffed Baked Potato Salad
3 lb small red potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
½ pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix
1 ½ c sour cream (I use low-fat or fat-free)
1 ½ c mayonnaise (try this mayo substitute)
½ to 1 c. green onions, green part only, sliced thin
1 pkg precooked bacon, 14-16 slices, chopped
1 c. shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into quarters. If potatoes are very small, cut them in half – they should be bite size. Toss potatoes in olive oil and spread out on a large baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, just until potatoes are tender and light golden in color. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Combine half the package of Ranch dip mix, sour cream, mayonnaise, green onions and bacon and in a large bowl. Taste to see if you want to add more of the ranch dip mix. Add cooled potatoes and stir gently until combined. Top with shredded cheese. Chill until ready to serve.

Quick Saucy Salsa Chicken

I made this tonight while searching for a quick, easy one-pan dinner. I had some chicken breasts that needed to be cooked, and all day I had been thinking about something creamy, yet spicy for dinner. After a quick search in the pantry, I came out with a jar of Bertolli Alfredo sauce and a jar of World Market Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa. Weird, I know, but somehow I knew it would taste good.

I’ve never been a fan of jarred Alfredo sauce on its own; it’s too easy to make the real thing. However, the ready-made kind makes a great sauce base and can be combined with all kinds of other flavors for quick meals. In this instance, the addition of salsa to the Alfredo cuts the fat and calories per serving, and amped up the flavor significantly. From prep to the table, this dish was ready in less than 30 minutes, and it was delicious. It will definitely be going into the dinner rotation.

If you are not on a low-carb meal plan, this would be good with Mexican rice, or spooned on top of a baked potato. I ate mine as-is, and Carla crushed a few corn chips over hers.

Quick Saucy Salsa Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1 jar Alfredo sauce
1 jar salsa
2 cups frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets (don’t thaw it)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes, just long enough to sear it on one side. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and cook about 5-6 minutes, or just until chicken is cooked through.

This was very saucy, which I liked. If you do not want a lot of sauce, you could use about 2/3 or 3/4 of each jar of sauce and salsa, or use 6 chicken breasts instead of 4.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Dinner cannot get much easier than this, and it freezes and reheats well.

Vegetable Beef Soup

2 lb ground chuck or ground round
1 large yellow onion, diced
28 oz can petite-diced tomatoes
14 oz can tomato puree
28 oz water
1 tsp. minced garlic
1-2 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Beef Base*
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 ½ c. frozen baby lima beans
1 ½ c. frozen yellow corn
2 c. frozen cut okra
salt and pepper to taste

Cook ground beef and onions together until ground beef is browned and onions are very tender. Add, tomatoes, tomato puree, water, garlic, bouillon and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 hour. Then add lima beans and simmer 20 minutes. Add corn and okra and simmer an additional 20-30 minutes, until okra is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it seems too thick, add more water and adjust seasonings.

*Be careful with beef bouillon concentrate, it gives a great flavor but if you add too much, it will be too salty. I add a little at the time and taste before I add more. Always add this before adding salt.

Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal Protein Bars

I found this great recipe from Natalie Hodson at bodybuilding.com. I made a few modifications to suit my taste and these protein oatmeal bars were born. They make a great quick breakfast or snack.

I used BSN Syntha-6 Isolate Vanilla whey protein powder.

Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal Protein Bars
Serves 8

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
4 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 Cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix well.

Spray a 8 inch or 9 inch square baking pan with non-stick spray. Pour oatmeal mixture into pan and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes until top is beginning to brown, or inserted knife comes out clean.

Let cool 10-15 minutes in pan, then invert pan on a cutting board and cut into 8 bars. You could also invert on a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

To freeze, make sure oatmeal bars are completely cooled first. Then wrap each bar in wax paper or parchment paper and place in a large freezer bag or container. For quick grab and go convenience, you can also place oatmeal bars in individual snack-sized plastic bags, then refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Per serving: 226 cal, 3 grams fat, 30 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 20 grams protein

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