EZ Basil Pesto Sandwich

Open face Basil Pesto Sandwich

It was a typical Monday. The day was a whirlwind filled with every Murphy’s Law scenario imaginable. By 5 PM, I was panting for nourishment. Waiting more than 5 minutes for something to cook was not an option.

So what does Blimpy Girl do when pursued by a hunger attack… and trying to avoid the Cheez-it box and chocolate hidden in the 4th drawer next to the dishwasher? OK, OK, I’m getting a little sidetracked just thinking of what could of been… chocolate melting in my mouth intermingled with a handful (or two) of Cheez-its…

My strong will prevailed. Instead I walked outside, picked some fresh basil leaves from the garden and made these open-faced sandwiches.

Open face basil & tomato sandwich

Ingredients

  • Two slices French baguette bread (I used poppy seed flavor)
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • 2 tablespoon of marinara sauce
  • Onion slice cut in half
  • 4 teaspoons artichoke & asiago tapenade/pesto (purchase at Costco)
  • 5 pitted Kalamata olives cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons shaved/grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

How To

Add the following to each bread slice:

One tablespoon marinara sauce, 1/2 of the chopped basil, 1/2 of the sliced onion, 1 tomato slice, 1/2 of kalamata olives, a layer of cheese and 2 teaspoons tapenade/pesto.

Bake in toaster oven until bread is toasted and cheese has melted. About 5 minutes. You’re in the neighborhood of 302 calories for two open face sandwiches. Add a garden fresh salad with tomatoes and shredded carrots (drizzled with garlic balsamic vinegar) for an additional 20 calories.

Oops, let’s not forget the drink of choice for this dish… Pinot Grigio. A four-ounce serving will add an additional 98 calories. If you opt for Chardonnay, add 80 calories.

 

 

 

 

Henny Penny Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Cluck Cluck Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Half the fun of preparing Blimpy Girl meals is coming up with a name for the finished dish. This dish is named after one of my favorite story book characters. My concoction has chicken meat and eggs along with fresh garden goodies: tomato, onion, green pepper, pickle relish, celery and lettuce. I promise the sky won’t fall when trying this recipe and Henny Penny would be proud that farm fresh ingredients were used.

I threw together this dish before heading out for a steamy day on the lake. As usual, I grabbed food items available at the time. I keep plenty of chicken breast on hand (thank you, Costco) and garden items are at their peak (YES!!). When I discovered a loaf of French baguette bread in the freezer, the meal plan began to unfold.

This is a sandwich recipe  that “goes with the flow”. If you don’t have celery, then use grated carrot, if you don’t have green pepper, use diced green olives.

You can shred zucchini, add basil leaf, even serve the chicken mixture in red/yellow bell pepper halves. There are so many options for this easy-to-prepare dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 six-ounce cubed, cooked chicken breast
  • Chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (optional, but adds a nice crunch)
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped (you can substitute with 1/4 cup green olive)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion (look for the sweet Vidalia type)
  • Salt / Pepper to taste. NOTE: if using green olive, which are already salty, cut down the amount of salt used.
  • French baguette slices
  • Lettuce (or spinach leaves) & sliced tomato (I cut mine slices in half to fit the baguette)
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 3/4 cup low-fat mayo PLUS 1/4 cup no fat mayo

How To

Mix together all the ingredients except the lettuce and tomato slices. Top each baguette slice with a lettuce. Spread chicken mixture over lettuce and dress with a tomato slice.

This recipe makes approximately 12 sandwiches. Calories, depending on your options are around 170 calories per serving. Add a spinach salad with a low-fat vinegarette dressing, carrot sticks or broccoli florets and you have a 200 to 225 calorie meal. Heck, if you’re still feeling hungry, chow down a second sandwich. Omit the bread and save on calories for the indulgence.

Sicilian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Sicilian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s 90 degrees in Michigan and I’m making soup. That’s insane, but it’s what the grand kids requested for dinner this week. They wanted tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, but there was no tomato soup in Blimpy Girl’s pantry. OK, now what?

For those following my blog, you know, a pantry scavenger hunt is in order. In this case, I needed soup stuff. After searching for ingredients, I opted for a Sicilian Style Chicken Noodle Soup.

Add pineapple chunks to the soup.

It took less than 35 minutes to prepare the soup. I added grilled cheese sandwiches cut into fun cookie cutter shapes. The grand kids loved dunking the sandwich shapes into the soup bowls. Pineapple chunks add a subtle sweetness to the soup (a healthy sweet!).

Ingredients

  • 1 package Alessi Sicilian Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, dry mix
  • 1 package Roasted Chicken Ramen Noodles w/flavoring
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup Ditalini Pasta (very Short Macaroni-type Pasta Noodles)
  • 3/4 cup DaVinci Ravioletti pasta noodles
  • 1/2 cup medium size egg noodles
  • Add all the water listed on the soup mix packages, PLUS 2 cups additional water or broth.

How To

Prepare the Alessia Soup Mix as directed on the package. Add any additional pasta. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 12 minutes.

Add pineapple, ramen noodle packet (including any flavoring sauce) and additional water/broth. One-half cup of pineapple juice can be substitued in place of 1/2 cup water.

Simmer soup (uncovered) until pasta/noodles are softened. Salt and pepper to taste and serve while hot.

OPTIONS: Add 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken breast to soup. Shred cooked chicken with fork prongs. This will add 28 calories per serving.

We’re looking at 240 calories for a one cup serving (without the options). The grilled cheese sandwich (using spreadable Land O Lakes butter) is 330 calories. You can dump 79 calories if using a low-fat maragrine on the grilled cheese sandwich.

This recipe easily makes eight one-cup servings. Forego the grilled cheese for a green salad and you are well under 325 calories for a hearty lunch/dinner.

Low-fat cream cheese or non-fat mayo for buttering the inside of the sandwich is another way to reduce calories and fat intake.

Tomato Spinach Open Face Sandwich


Open face tomato-spinach-cheese sandwiches in just 10 minutes. 140 calories. Add a salad and you’re still under 200 calories!

Tomato Spinach Marinade

My daughter, son-in-law and kids stopped by after Upwards soccer practice last night. Everyone was starving. Pressed for time, I gave the kids crustless PBJ sandwiches (thank you Costco for these individually wrapped sandwiches!). It was open face tomato-spinach sandwiches for the big people. I used leftover bagels from our Easter brunch. Based on comments, I believe they were a hit. My daughter stopped by this morning for a second helping for her work lunch.

Open Face Tomato-Spinach Cheese SandwichTomatoes and toppings were baked in the oven and bagels toasted. Using a spatula, place the tomato topping atop the bagel. A vidalia onion slice with the tomato goodness is another great addition to this sandwich.

Prep time for this dish is 10 minutes. Bake time is 7 minutes.

Fresh spinach, tomatoes and cheese are staple ingredients in Blimpy Girl’s kitchen. My focus centered on a couple of tomatoes clinging to life on the windowsill. They rose to the occasion and, under the knife, their life ended with purpose.

Sprinkle Garlic Spinach Mixture onto Tomato SlicesIngredient List

    • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
    • 1 cup low-fat Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
    • Dash of lemon juice (about 1/2 teaspoon)
    • 5 whole bagels, cut in half (you can also use low-fat muffin halves)
    • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (reduce calories by avoiding those soaked in olive oil). I use the dried version in a bag.
    • 1 roasted red or yellow pepper. I keep roasted peppers on hand, if not available or pinched for time, dice the bell pepper and add to the spinach mixture.
    • 2 scallions, chopped (include the green stems)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle cheese on top of the spinach tomato mixture.
How To

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Dip tomato slices into balsamic vinegar. Or, drizzle vinegar onto the tomatoes. Place a single layer of coated tomatoes on cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add chopped spinach, garlic salt/pepper and lemon juice. Toss until mixed.

Place spinach mixture on top of each tomato slice. Add a slice of roasted bell pepper and top with cheese. Bake the tomatoes for 7 minutes in a 350 degree oven (or until cheese melts). While tomatoes are cooking, toast the bagel halves.

Roasted Red and Yellow PeppersRemove tomatoes from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the onion slice to bagel (if desired) and tops with a baked tomato slice (depending on diameter of bagel, you may want two).

Standard bagels are in the neighborhood of 230 calories (unless using a low cal brand). With all the other ingredients (if using low-fat cheese) you’re at 300 calories for two halves. Reduce the calories even more by using low-fat muffins instead of bagels.

On the Fly Cheese Taco

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On the Fly Cheese Taco

There are those hectic work days when finding time to prepare a healthy lunch seems impossible. Yesterday was one of those days and Blimpy Girl needed an On the Fly meal. My stomach was screaming for lunch and avoiding the Cheez-it box in the pantry was a battle of wills. Prying my hands from the pantry door, I embarked on a refrigerator scavenger hunt. I did a quick panoramic assessment of the shelves and decided on a cheese taco.

I discovered a tomato in need of rescue, a green onion tortilla shell, low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, baby spinach leaves and banana pepper rings. Perfect! A meatless, cheese taco I could whip up in under 5 minutes.

How To

Sprinkle low-fat cheddar cheese on tortilla shell and heat in microwave until cheese melts (it will only take about 30 seconds). Remove tortilla from microwave. Add chopped spinach, chopped tomatoes, salsa and banana pepper rings. It’s optional, but a dollop of low-fat sour cream is yummy.

This On the Fly cheese taco is in the neighborhood of 87 calories (and that’s with 1 tablespoon of low-fat sour cream).  If your tummy is begging for meat (protein), add 2 tablespoons of canned white chicken breast (drained). It adds an additional 50 calories. Two of these cheese tacos (with chicken) is just 274 calories.

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

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Easy Chicken Stir Fry

This recipe is a great way to use up left-over chicken. It’s quick, easy and tasty. I threw this meal together in about 30 minutes and served mock guack dip on the side. There really isn’t a recipe, per se, so I’ve listed what I included in my stir fry. You can switch it up to your liking.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning mix (or to taste)
  • Sliced bell peppers, I used 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow
  • 1/2 small onion sliced
  • Corn on the cob (pre-cooked), remove kernels cob
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Fat-free or low fat Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup chopped chicken breast

Arrange Romaine lettuce leafs on plate.

How To

If chicken is not already precooked, chop into bite size pieces and place in a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. Cook over medium heat until chicken just starts to brown, then add the peppers, corn and onion. If using pre-cooked chicken, add after the veggies have started to cook through.

Add taco seasoning to 1/4 cup of hot water and mix well. Pour into skillet and cook until the taco/water mixture is reduced and the veggies/chicken are cooked through.

The stir fry chicken veggie mixture.

Remove from stir-fry from heat and drain off any extra liquid from the skillet.

Spoon a 1 1/2 cup serving onto the bed of lettuce. Add a dollop or two of sour cream.

This dish served two. Calories are in the neighborhood of 225 per serving. If adding 1/4 cup mock guack, plan on an additional 59 calories.

It’s a meal well under 300 calories that is healthy, low-fat and easy. The marriage of flavor and convenience makes it a great “on-the-fly” meal. The stir fry also makes a great filling for fajitas.

Chicken Puffs

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Chicken Puffs

It was my usual Wednesday (sleep-over) with the grand kids. They drop book bags, hang coats, and run to the kitchen to see what Blimpy Girl NeeNee has prepared for dinner. This week I made appetizer-size chicken puffs. It’s a take off from another dish I’ve been making for the last 35 years called Chicken Balls. My family has tried to assign the dish a more appropriate name, but we still end up calling them chicken balls. I’ll share that recipe at a later date.

The kids were hesitant about trying the chicken puffs, but within their first bite I knew this recipe was scoring big points. Shredded chicken, cream cheese, cheddar, diced apple and chopped spinach fill each puff. Believe it or not, my grand kids love spinach. I think they were happy to see it served differently. I usually plate it as a salad with ranch dressing.

A baby spinach lead is inserted in each puff.

The recipe is easy and ready to serve in under 30 minutes. It also makes a great hot appetizer. The puffs can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake.

The yummy chicken puff filling.

Yummy chicken puff filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 can refrigerator reduced-fat crescent rolls
  • 2 12 ounces cream cheese (OK to use fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup chicken, use the white chicken in a can, drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded apple, no need to remove skin
  • 1/4 cup finely diced mild cheddar (use fat-free to reduce calories)
  • 1/2 finely chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 16 whole baby spinach leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How To

 Combine chopped spinach, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, apple, chicken and seasonings in a medium size mixing bowl. Blend well.

Finely chopped mild cheddar cheese.

Unroll the crescent rolls and cut each triangle into two triangles. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling and one spinach leaf in the center of each triangle. Roll the dough around the filling.

Wrap the dough around the chicken filling.

This recipe makes 16 chicken puffs, each in the neighborhood of 50 calories. Not bad! Six of these little guys can make a meal (at least for me). Add a side salad (fat-free dressing, of course) or vegetable dish to fill in the blanks.

Warning: Chicken puffs hot from the oven can be addictive. You might want to keep count of how many you are popping into your mouth.

Grilled Cheese Secret Revealed

Making Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

My granddaughter, Olivia, helped Blimpy Girl NeeNee prepare grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Because she loves all things pink, she requested her pink knife to butter the bread slices. You will note the knife in the butter container (far left).

My grown daughter swears I make the best grilled cheese sandwich EVER. To her, it ranks right up there with “no one cuts a PBJ sandwich like you do mom”. As a little girl she said the way I cut the sandwich made it taste extra good. I think it was because I made a nice clean cut with a chef’s knife instead of a butter knife. It’s funny the things your kids remember about their childhood.

Buttering bread for Grilled Cheese Sandwiches My grilled cheese secret is so simple. First, use whipped butter spread instead of stick butter. Low-fat whipped butter is even better and about half the calories. Now, the secret is revealed….

BUTTER BOTH SIDES OF THE BREAD SLICES and add butter to the skillet when cooking.

Oh no, the secret is out. My daughter always thought I did something magical to make the grilled cheese so yummy. All this time it was the butter fairy. For the record, grilled cheese is not part of my Blimpy Girl eating plan. My granddaughter’s feeling would be hurt if I didn’t partake of her buttered slices. My guess on calories… in the neighborhood of 400 per sandwich (we didn’t use low-fat butter spread). Fat from the butter…. well, let’s not go there!

Side note: Use low-fat cheddar cheese slices. A mere 25 calories and zero fat calories. That will help offset the butter and bread calories.  

 

Bunless Cheeseburger Deluxe

Bunless Cheeseburger (Low Calorie)

Who needs bread when you can eat a burger wrapped in Iceberg lettuce? This Boca Vegan burger is topped off with low-fat cheddar, tomato, fat-free thousand island dressing, dill pickle relish, mustard and onion. A 10 minute lunch on the fly.

A mere 165 calories. If you want to add a bun, use a 100 calorie Slimwich Bun. That still keeps your cheeseburger well under 300 calories. Heck, you can even add a dollop of ketchup if you want. Recipe coming soon!