Let Hamburger Helper® do the work tonight with this wonderfully hearty chili-mac recipe for two.  I don't know what I love more about this dish -- how easy it was to make, or how great it tasted.  

Cheeseburger Chili-Mac Soup 
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

What you'll need
1/4 - 1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/4 medium onion, chopped 
1/2 bell pepper, diced (any color)
2 cups hot water
1/2 box Hamburger Helper® chili macaroni
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup diced tomatoes (from 11 ounce can, drained)
1 can (7 ounces) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained

1. In a Dutch oven or medium pot, cook beef, onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, while stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked through; drain.
2. Stir in hot water, half of the sauce mix from Hamburger Helper box, chili powder, garlic salt and tomatoes.  Continue to heat until broth comes to a boil, while stirring occasionally.
3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
4. Stir in half of the uncooked pasta from Hamburger Helper box and the undrained can of corn. 
5. Cover and cook for 10 minutes longer.
6. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker 
Ditch the mayonnaise and dress your pasta salad with flavors of the Mediterranean.  It's a lighter way to enjoy the traditionally creamy salad favorite.  And with orzo's "fancier" appearance and filling attributes, you'll quickly and easily take this dish from the picnic table to the dinner table. 

Greek Orzo Salad
Total Time: 25 minutes + marinating time 
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

What you'll need
For the Salad
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 cup bell pepper, diced (any color)
1/3 cup scallions, diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/3 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste 
drizzle of olive oil

For the Dressing
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
2. Combine salad ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Toss well. 
3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine salad dressing ingredients.  Mix well. 
4. Pour dressing over salad as desired.  Toss well.  Let salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
5. Serve it cold or at room temperature.  Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from epicurious.com
Happy Friday everyone!  Today I'm featuring a "little effort required" meal idea that leaves the heavy lifting up to your crock pot.  After all, the taste of the weekend is on the tip of our tongues, so it's time to take it easy.  

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili 
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2-4 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low

What you'll need
15 ounce can pinto or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced 
1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
3 cups chicken stock 
1 cup frozen corn 
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla strips 

1. In a slow cooker, stir together the drained beans, cooked chicken, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, cumin and chili powder.  Mix well. 
2. Stir in chicken stock.
3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 6 hours or high-heat setting for 2 to 4 hours. 
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, top with shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla strips.  Enjoy!
Spice up your caesar salad Southwestern style with this wonderfully flavorful salad for two.  The creaminess of the caesar dressing combined with a crisp blend of Mexican seasonings exudes a fiesta of flavors and textures in every bite. 

Southwestern Chicken Caesar Salad
Total Time: 30-35 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20-25 minutes

What you'll need
1 romaine heart, chopped
7 ounce can Green Giant Mexicorn, drained 
1 tomato, diced
4-5 scallions, chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/2 packet taco seasoning 
caesar dressing, as desired 
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
tortilla strips

1. Add lettuce, corn, tomato and scallions to a salad bowl. 
2. Combine panko bread crumbs and taco seasoning in a shallow bowl.  Mix well. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine egg and a splash of water.  Whisk well.  And in a third shallow bowl, add the flour. 
4. Dip chicken breats into flour then into the egg mixture, and finally dredge them in the panko mixture until they are well coated. 
5. Place chicken breasts on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 
6. Meanwhile, add your favorite caesar dressing to a small mixing bowl.  Stir in minced garlic.  Mix well. 
7. Add dressing to the salad as desired.  Toss well. 
8. When the chicken is cooked, carefully slice it into strips.  
9. Top the tossed salad with chicken strips and tortilla strips.  Serve and enjoy!
Get your week started off right with this light and nutrient rich dinner for two.  You'll love how easy it is to make a "good for you" meal that is rich in flavor, not in fat.  

Maple and Mustard Glazed Salmon
Total Time: 45 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes + marinating time 
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
2, 6 ounce pieces of salmon

For the Marinade
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix marinade ingredients together.  Divide marinade; set one half of mixture aside, which will be used later to create the glaze.
3. Pat the salmon dry.  Pour the other half of the marinade into a container, and put salmon in flesh side down.  Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
4. Once salmon is done marinating, put each portion on a piece of foil and form a foil packet. Pour the leftover marinade over each piece of salmon, and seal up the packets.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is opaque in the center.

Spinach Couscous 
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
6 ounces chopped  frozen spinach, defrosted (make sure to ring out extra water once it defrosts)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons whole milk
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup couscous, uncooked
3/4 cup water

1. In a medium saucepan cook oil and garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute. 
2. Add spinach, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the saucepan; cook for 5 minutes or until spinach mixture is warmed through.
3. Stir in couscous.  
4. While the spinach mixture is heating, place water in a microwave safe bowl; microwave for about 4 minutes or until water comes to a boil.  
5. Pour boiling water over the spinach and couscous, cover and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Maple and Mustard Glaze
1. Place the leftover marinade in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  
2. Turn heat down and let simmer, stirring occasionally until the glaze thickens.  
3. Pour over salmon and couscous just before serving.  Enjoy!
Beat the winter chill with a hot and hearty bowl of Turkey Taco Chili.  In 30 minutes your dinner table will be filled with the delightful aroma of a delectable bowl of taco infused chili.  And with every bite this flavor packed meal will warm your soul, while exciting your taste buds.

Turkey Taco Chili
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 medium onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 can (about 5 ounces) Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
1/2 can yellow corn, drained
4 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 packet taco seasoning (regular or less sodium)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla strips 

1. In a medium Dutch oven or pot, brown ground turkey over medium heat.  Continue to break up meat with a spoon until it is cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
2. Stir in onions and pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes. 
3. Add tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, taco seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Ladle chili into individual soup bowls.  Top with tortilla strips and shredded cheddar cheese. 
5. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste.com
Tacos in the form of a pot pie?  Sure...why not?  The flaky, buttery crust adds a comforting touch to the zesty flavors of taco meat, crisp vegetables, salsa and creamy jalapeño dressing.  

Taco Pot Pies

Total Time: 30-32 minutes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10-12 minutes

What you'll need
4 ounce can Pillsbury Original (or reduced-fat) Crescent Rolls
1/2 pound lean ground turkey 
1/2 taco seasoning packet 
1/4 cup water
1/2 can (about 5 ounces) Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies 
1/2 can yellow corn, drained 
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced 
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
creamy jalapeño dressing 
2 x 14 ounce oven safe bowls

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. Brown ground turkey in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Continue to break up meat with a spoon until it is cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
3. Stir in water and taco seasoning; let simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Divide taco meat and pour into each oven safe bowl.
4. Return skillet to your stove top.  Add diced tomatoes with green chilies, corn, onion and bell pepper. Cook vegetables over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Divide and pour vegetables over the taco meat.
5. Add a layer of shredded cheddar cheese.
6. Open crescent roll package and unroll the dough.  Fuse two of the crescent roll triangles together to form a rectangle, then fold the rectangle in half width-wise to thicken the dough.  Place crescent rolls over the top of each bowl (I'd recommend greasing the rim of the bowl first).
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. 
8. Carefully remove the bowls from the oven.  Top with salsa and a drizzle of creamy jalapeño dressing.  Enjoy!
Be sure to save the leftover Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, yellow corn, onion, bell pepper and taco seasoning for tomorrow's recipe -- Turkey Taco Chili.  Stay tuned!
It's chicken fingers done "Italian-Style."  My want-to-be-Italian father (no joke my Dad loves to try to speak Italian, look Italian and eat and drink like an Italian.  He even tries to pass me off as his little Italian daughter, even though we don't have a drop of Italian blood in us) will be very proud to see that I've taken a classic American fast food dish, and turned it into a gourmet Italian dinner.

And let me tell you, these little chicken dippers are delicious, or as my Dad would say "molto bene," which is very good in Italian, but I don't believe it's being used in the right context?  Clearly, we are impostors. You can serve the chicken dippers on their own, or over a bowl of pasta.  Either way, you're going to love them.

Chicken Parmesan Dippers
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

What you'll need
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup Italian style panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese 
4-5 (about 1/2 pound) boneless, skinless chicken tenders 
pasta of choice 
marinara sauce 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Add flour to a shallow bowl, in a separate shallow bowl whisk egg, and in a third shallow bowl, combine Italian style panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Mix well. 
3. Dredge chicken tenders in flour, then dip them in egg.  Finally, dredge tenders in the panko mixture until they are evenly coated.
4. Place tenders on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 
5. Serve with a side of warmed marinara sauce. 
6. For a heartier meal, serve over cooked pasta and marinara.  Enjoy!
'Tis the season for warm and soothing comfort food, so I'm cooking up little crescent hot pockets of creamy goodness.  This quick and easy dinner for two offers a flaky, buttery crust with bursts of soup, melted cheese and crisp vegetables.  It's the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold winter night.

Vegetable Hot Pockets
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 can cream of chicken soup 
1 tablespoon onion, diced
1 cup mixed vegetables of choice, fresh or frozen (if unthawed)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper 
4 ounce can of Pillsbury Original (or Reduced Fat) Crescent Rolls

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, onion, vegetables, cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well. 
3. Unwrap crescent rolls from package.  Fuse two of the crescent triangles together to form a rectangle.  
4. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable and soup mixture to each crescent rectangle. 
5. Roll up crescent rolls and seal edges by pinching crescent dough together.
6. Place crescent pockets on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
7. Serve with a side of rice.  Enjoy! 
Note -- you can add any of your favorite vegetables to your hot pocket.  Here's what I used:
  • zucchini 
  • celery
  • peas
If you are hoping to fill your dinner plate with something spicy, flavorful and filling, but you don't have many calories to spare, then today's featured recipe for two is the answer to your dinner prayers.  The crisp vegetables and juicy buffalo chicken tenders smothered in a creamy jalapeño dressing come together to form one light, but explosive salad. 

And don't let the sound of a creamy dressing fool you into thinking this salad is drowning in fat and calories, because it's not.  The dressing gets its creaminess from buttermilk, which is naturally low in fat and calories.  One tablespoon of this homemade mixture of creamy, jalapeño goodness is approximately 6 grams of fat and 53 calories.  

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Creamy Jalapeño Dressing
Total Time: 27 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes

What you'll need 
For the Salad
4-5 chicken tenders (about 1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (I prefer Franks Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce)
3-4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cucumber, diced
handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese or blue cheese

For the Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt 

1. Season chicken with pepper. 
2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken tenders; cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through. 
3. Reduce heat to low.  Carefully stir in buffalo wing sauce.  Mix well until chicken tenders are evenly coated in sauce.  Let simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove chicken and set aside.
4. In two salad bowls, add lettuce, scallions, celery, cucumber, tomato and cheese.  Top each salad with 2-3 chicken tenders. 
For the Dressing
1. Add mayonnaise, buttermilk, scallions, jalapeño, lime juice, salt and cumin to a food processor.  Pulse until scallions and jalapeños are minced.  
7. Add dressing to salad as desired.  Toss well.  Serve and enjoy!

Note -- you will end up having leftover dressing.  I'll be using some of the leftovers later in the week in my Taco Pot Pies.  You can also add the dressing to a side salad, or serve it as a dip with freshly cut vegetables. Either way, it's a great way to spice up a dish. 

Creamy Jalapeño Dressing adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine